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TMW #015 | Synthetic content, marketing agility, and behavioral economics.

Hi everyone!

Last week I did a little subject line test. The goal was to see which one would be clearer for you. Thanks to everyone who gave some helpful feedback!

Here's the results: 

Highest open rate: 💸 Twilio going vertical. ‍💻 The CMO's new job. ‍⚖️ Copyrighting APIs. 📊 25 years of the Gartner Hype Cycle + 12.3% above baseline. It’s only 0.3% above my default subject line. 

Highest click-through rate: The Martech Weekly | #014 + 12.0% above baseline. This is significantly higher than all other versions. 

So what’s the outcome? I think it’s still a little blurry. It seems like the emoji version was popular, but there’s always the risk of those little guys not rendering properly. Looking at engagement in the email The Martech Weekly | #014 was the strongest, but also had the lowest open rate. Mind you that the emoji version had the lowest click-through rate. So it’s a little too early to call a winner. I might do a little more testing. 

This week I've gone deep into marketing and customer experience strategies, looking at behavioral economics, agile marketing practices, and what AI is doing to content. So get your thinking caps on. It's a big one. 👒

Here's everything you might have missed in marketing and technology 👇

😁 Cheeky Plug

Over the past three months, I’ve had a great time mentoring four university students for their year end advertising capstone project. Turns out they got a 95/100 for their project. Blown away by the rigor applied to their strategy, but it’s rare that you see a uni working group set themselves up as a mini agency which not only created a marketing strategy but also built an audience for their client from scratch. If you’re looking for marketing interns or junior staff, I've been beyond impressed with this team. Link 


👌Top #3

🏴 Synthetic Content is an emerging trend where content is increasingly becoming automated by machine learning algorithms. It’s both a serious misinformation problem and a significant opportunity for marketers and advertisers. This is because the concept of a machine learning algorithm producing articles, creating fake people to place in advertising and even producing realistic, human-like responses for messenger services all point to reducing content costs without a significant trade off in customer experience. As we're starting to see the lines between real people doing things online and bots powered by misinformation hackers, it's becoming all too real and kinda scary. GPT-3, the latest in ML technology is now writing highly acclaimed thought pieces for major news publications, writing emails for people and creating movie scripts. We can see the potential of synthetic media with IKEA’s use case where the brand created "fake" influencers to showcase their products, with the reception from customers largely positive. We'll eventually see that consumers will care less and less if a real person is endorsing a brand or even if the content they are browsing is even real as the machines start ramping up production. For many brands going synthetic, it can be a significant cost saver, all of sudden you don't need a videographer, an actual celebrity, a set or a lunch table to feed the crew - you just need a few engineers in a room and some computing power. Also, if GPT-3 can continuously crank out marketing copy and design variations for personalisation, the scale of what's possible becomes limitless. Companies like VWO are already doing this, with many to follow. However the question should be asked from an ethics standpoint - what's the trade off when tools like these are in the hands of bad actors? Deep fake videos, and the like are a serious problem for misinformation and one that we're just starting to grasp. But just like the online advertising ecosystem, what makes sense for business may not make sense for society. Artificial Intelligence and it's by product, synthetic content, is already shaping societies, but we all have a responsibility to think about how companies adopt such tech. Here's a fascinating listen on the issue. Link (podcast).


🏃‍♀️ Marketing Agility. Deloitte has recently released their Global Marketing Trends 2021 report with a major focus on agile ways of working and digital transformation. It's a survey conducted with over 2,500 marketers and 400 C-Suite professionals. It's not surprising to see trends towards digital agility in marketing as companies are attempting to adopt more technology to meet their customer’s needs or are pushed into digital channels by the pandemic. If you ask most people working in customer experience what their number one complaint is, most of the time it has something to do with operational silos, lack of resources or process to help them build what they need to build or complexities around data. Another recently published piece of research from Salesforce and Datorama highlights that marketers are spending around 64% of their week harmonising data, which again is compounded by a lack of process to activate on and use technology effectively. But that's changing. Leaders are now seeing that agile ways of working, when pulled off correctly can drive a significant improvement in the ability to deliver customer experiences progressively and at scale. To highlight one success story (in everything else below), is how The New York Times reconfigured their business to digital channels over the past 10 years to bring journalists, IT, design product and marketing together within agile frameworks and saw the newspaper see its first cash positive balance of the decade this year. One of the challenges for non-agile companies is that people in traditional business structures tend to look at principles like decentralised decision making and the concept of cross functional squads and can't make sense of how it can be efficient outside of a hierarchical framework. But as more companies adopt agile as the norm, the trend is moving toward greater creativity, flexibility and innovation which is driving business value and delivering experiences for customers who are increasingly digitally savvy and are expecting nothing but the best from the brands they interact with online. Link


👨‍⚕️ Behavioural economics and CX. We're all vulnerable to psychological tricks, clickbait headlines, coloured buttons, sales promotions, buy one get one free and the list goes on. We also know the kinds of brands that over expose themselves to manipulative heuristics in their marketing and digital experiences. Daniel Kahneman, who wrote the book Thinking, Fast and Slow speaks to this concept as the two brains; a system one and a system two. Most marketing and advertising relies on system one thinking (the lizard brain) which is the instinctive part that creates quick emotional reactions, connections and assumptions. System one is usually the driving force behind a customer's decision making process. Now I'm not saying that it's unethical to leverage the way people think to drive marketing outcomes, after all people have been doing it for thousands of years. I'm saying that there's a right way and a wrong way to go about it. One great example of applying behavioural economics to marketing is Simply Energy, an Australian brand who sought to differentiate themselves from price comparison marketing which is very prevalent with energy brands to a "zero risk bias" concept to get behind why customers compare prices in the first place. Andrea Bernard, the GM of Marketing and Sales,   suggests that introducing concepts like zero risk bias and others along with a reframing of how their marketing team thinks about their customer has led to a significant improvement in online performance. It goes to show that investing in behavioural economics training is a worthwhile investment that can be applied across the entire customer experience ecosystem. But please be responsible, we need less growth hacking and more measured and considered approaches to understanding and acting on customer behaviour. After all, the last thing any brand wants is a customer to regret their purchase decision. Link


📈Chart Of The Week

Forrester has done some interesting research for CDP week, Segment's annual conference. The research focused on how marketers and digital professionals are using data in their roles in the US and EMEA markets. One interesting insight was when respondents were asked to identify what is the most valuable CX capability for their company - the most popular response was "single view of the customer." Now, what does that exactly mean? Many leaders want it but the definition is so blurry that it's hard to determine how a single customer view is a capability and how it translates into value. My working assumption is that people are saying "single view of customer" and are meaning "a unified customer profile that brings together all of our siloed data points around a central identifier." Some technology vendors will show a single view of a customer with a profile of Joe Bloggs detailing all of Joe’s transactions and the emails they've received. But unless you're in a call centre or a service depot those kinds of details are not really valuable for marketers and customer experience professionals, purely because marketers mostly work in aggregates of customers - segments, cohorts and personas. After all, the definition is still blurry, but one thing leaders can’t miss out on building is the capability to bring multiple data points together to enable clarity on who your customers are and how they are interacting with the brand. Link (sign up needed).


📚 Everything Else

The Broem is those super annoying clickbaity LinkedIn posts that are so popular right now. You know the ones that read as one sentence at a time? Here's a great read on why people are doing it and some history behind the trend. Link

6 Months later, Quibi is shutting down. Not surprising. They were burning through $1,400 in cash per minute and spent more than $60 million in advertising. Hubris, over confidence and over investment to the tune of $1.8 billion saw this streaming company's short demise. It’s a cautionary tale for brands who are investing into ideas that have not yet been validated. Link ($)

Disney's digital transformation. An interesting read on Disney's pivot and how the brand is consolidating everything into a digital ecosystem. Link

Holocaust Denial. Facebook has now broken their own freedom of speech rules to remove holocaust deniers the ability to publish on their platform. Things are moving towards social media moderation, can we really still say that Facebook is not a media company? Link

What are the teens doing online? A fascinating report into teenage consumer behaviour during the pandemic. Link

How the New York Times turned things around. The company has seen it's first positive cashflow year in a decade. They got there by investing more into journalists and their digital brand. Currently sitting at 6 million paying subscribers. Link

The Ocean Spray TikTok moment. What can brands learn about that Fleetwood mac video everyone on earth now knows about? Well, you really can't force accidents like that happening. Link

Organising Idea. How can teams move from a customer experience vision to a tactical and strategic direction to realise it? Create an organising idea. Link

AfterPay and Westpac. AfterPay is partnering up with Westpac (Australia’s oldest bank) as a win-win to power next generation banking technology. Also AfterPay gets a proper banking platform to expand their capabilities. Link

Google and Antitrust (again). The US department of justice has filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against Google for maintaining a monopoly on search products. There's some noise about that Chrome will be put forward as one of the business divisions jettisoned instead of a break up of the parent organisation. Link

Barriers to marketing growth. Recent research out of Salesforce and Datorama suggests that marketers are struggling the most with alignment between teams and technology, and it's taking a toll on the bottom line. Link

Hum to search. Forgotten the name of a song but remember the tune? Google has released a product that can detect a song from just a hum or a couple of lines. Link

ABC as a social media company? The Australian broadcasting company (ABC) has put forward an initiative to build its own social media network. Which is very strange. Link

Dave Perell and influence. A reverse engineering piece on how David Parell (CMO of Privy) became such a prolific and prominent voice in marketing. Link

The citizen browser project which attempts to analyse the world's most prolific algorithms in search and social media. The way it's going about it is by asking people to download and use a browser that will collect data on the browsing habits and social media algorithms. The goal is to give the public domain more visibility around the configuration and use of algorithms. Link

RnD and Generalists. As a self-professed generalist I have always been fascinated by how people innovate when they have broad experiences across multiple industries. This article does a very good job putting words to some of my half thoughts. Link

Organic shopping ads. Google has switched on organic shopping listings in search, which means that the search giant is challenging Amazon to take back some mindshare of customers searching for products. Link

TikTok for podcasting. A great little app that aggregates podcasts into social feeds, plays you little snippets of the podcast and has some interesting social features. Link

Stay Curious,

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