Big brands with small insight teams

Last week I attended The Market Research Event in Orlando.  The conference has been one of the largest conferences for Market Researchers.  After sitting through three days of sessions I was struck by how many sessions that included large brands mentioned the size of their teams and just how few team members they were working with.  These are not small companies.  For example I attended sessions with speakers from; Dominos, Roche, IBM, Sephora, Lyft, Coke, Colgate, and many others.  Each one, at some point in their talks about how they addressed a research challenges mentioned the size of their team.  I was surprised at how many global big brands are operating with research teams less than 10 and most with teams of 5 or less.  

Another common theme to all the talks was the adherence to a short cycle methodology.  Many of the presentations talked about Agile and Lean.  Only one from the Garage Group detailed the way they used the build–measure–learn from the Lean methodology but each one had cues to how their internal processes were structured.  Going beyond rapid research methodologies and technologies some clients mentioned their usage of communities and platform data analytics.  

The talk in the hallways and exhibit halls was about shrinking staff and budgets in the research function.  This theme was echoed this morning in Bob Lederer’s daily YouTube report.  Bob’s story of the day highlights the major players in market research reporting down numbers.  While the numbers may be off a little, they are not off much, many companies are reporting a 5% or less miss of their targets.  In my opinion this is a signal to shifting efforts and not a signal to an industry downturn.    

11 Herbs and Spices

Someone on twitter pointed this out for me.  The twitter account for Kentucky Fried Chicken has over 1.23 Million followers. BUT @KFC only follows 11 people (6 guys named Herb and 5 Spice Girls) so they have the 11 Herbs and Spices!  

The future is here now, for some

I am currently reading “WTF What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us” by Tim O’Reilly.   Early on I was struck by the passage; “William Gibson famously observed, “The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.””.  A big part of my conversations with clients and potential clients is uncovering their perspective.  I ladder the conversations so that I can understand their ‘today’ and what they want their ‘tomorrow’ to be.  It helps me to determine if my company is a good fit to help them achieve their goals.  In some conversations they are interested in understanding their data and have only a popular news understanding of machine learning and Ai.  In other cases they are very versed in the nuances of machine learning and artificial intelligence and automation as it relates to their data and business.  The quote from William Gibson helps me to keep perspective that “The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.”

Sometimes you will get crapped on

We are having a very mild fall in New England so yesterday we took some time and the family went apple picking.  When we got to the orchard there were tons of people that had the same idea.  Despite a little concern that the crowds were going to get all the good apples we decided to give it a go.  As we were walking in, I felt a knock on the top of my head, but then it was warm….  yep, a bird shit on me.  Not a little either, but a direct hit on top of my head.  My wife was kind enough to stop laughing long enough to use a napkin and kind of clean most of it out.  It was a nasty way to start, but I was not going to give up.  We hiked to the top and wandering down we found a section that was ripe and ready.  The moral of the story is, sometimes when you start something you might get shit on…  wipe the crap off your head and keep going, the sweet fruit in the end will be worth it.  

Set up your beta testing for success

Bringing early users into the beta version of your software can be stressfully fun.  User testing is always fun and working for years in the software industry they are always so insightful.  No matter how many times I have done it, I always get excited and a few butterflies.  Any release of software is taxing on your nerves.  It is the culmination of all your user stories, requirements and countless hours of development time.  The entire process needs to viewed from multiple perspectives.    

The Marketer Perspective

How will the impressions of this beta version affect the overall brand?  Remember there is no such thing as a neutral brand interaction.  You are either increasing or decreasing. How will the communications inbound and outbound be routed and measured?  If there are new automated messages that will be generated from the software it is important to make sure that your branding is consistent.  How does the new system exceed the original brand promise?  Of course, the new release is going to provide additional features and functionality but which ones matter most to which customers?  It is important to ensure that early users see the original brand value.  

The Customer Success Perspective 

Your customers are your most cherished assets.  If you are part of a larger organization that has the resources for a dedicated customer success team they must be involved in the plan and communications for all beta testing.  How will beta users be recruited?  Are you going to use customers only, non-customers, or a mix?  

The Development Perspective 

This is going to be the stress test for all the hours of programming.  Did we get the requirements right?  Even after a good QC review, users always have a tendency to find something.  How will the results be communicated back to development and what is the mechanism for tracking and prioritizing any feedback or bug discoveries?  

The Customer Perspective

A company that you use/buy from has invited you to join a beta group for their next release.  Why do you want to participate?  The new version will, of course, have additional power/features that the old version did not have, which ones mean the most to you?  When I say we need to look from the customer perspective, I mean that we need to bring the value to them out.  It is our job to remove as much friction from the process as possible (that is just good marketing right).  We need to “see” through the eyes of the customer (maybe through the eyes of each persona) what the value is to them.  

The Technology Perspective

There are two main categories of the technical perspective, the software itself and the research tools.  For the software, this is the system that your beta users will be using.  Because software is very specific I will not go into too much detail here.  Depending on how your system is deployed there are many metrics that you should know.  

Just like live software you will want to track.  You should have these stats for your current software so you should have a baseline to compare this beta group to.  

  • DAU – Daily Active Users
  • WAU – Weekly Active Users
  • MAU – Monthly Active Users
  • # New Accounts (this can be broken into new Orgs and Users if applicable)
  • Usage Metrics:  This can be the number of docs/projects/images/etc… that are created in total and how many the average user creates.  

The second category is the research tools that can provide a ton of insightful data.  I have been involved in several SaaS companies so Google Analytics is where all tracking starts.  For SPA (Single Page Applications) you can setup a google property for the sub-domain for the application and you can gather some good quantitative measures.  With Google you can easily setup multiple properties to track separately.  There are several session tracking tools on the market, some are free, some are paid.  There are enterprise systems from ClickTale and Loop11 that provide a ton of integrations and features.  One of the tools that I have used frequently is HotJar.  The team at HotJar have recently added the ability to have ‘incoming’ feedback from users which is a very nice addition.  HotJar allows you to record a sample of user sessions.  This lets you see through your user’s eyes what your software is doing.  The recordings can then be shared with the development team to track bugs and/or user interface issues.  If you are following SCRUM, the information from the recordings provides the highly valuable user impact to the backlog issue and the development team can judge the number of points it will take to correct any issue.  

Finally, having the quantitative and qualitative data collection in place will provide you and your team with the best information to make tomorrow better than today.  

When is a Rock not a Rock?

I am reading a great book called ‘Turn the Ship around‘ by L. David Marquet.  I found out about it from an off hand mention by Simon Sinek in an interview he was giving.

“A little rudder far from the rocks to prevent needing a lot of rudder next to the rocks”  

The idea being that if you adjust your ship earlier to avoid a known problem it will take less effort/work than if you wait till your close.  For a submarine no one debates weather a rock is dangerous for the ship.  In business how can we apply this?  It got me thinking how not all hazards to the business are agreed that they are hazards, sometimes a rock isn’t a rock.

In what ways can we identify the rocks in our business path so that we can apply a little rudder?  How do we unify everyone on the team so that we can all agree that running ashore isn’t what we want to happen to our ship?

A note on the power of social proof

Your current customers can be great advocates for your brand.  They can take your marketing, add their personal perspective and show the world what being a customer of yours can be like.  Turning customers into advocates is the basis for the Net Promoter Score (NPS) where your 9s and 10s are your promoters.  This is based on the question, how likely are you to recommend ____ brand?  

Yesterday we were taking a hungry group of teens out to lunch in busy Provincetown, MA.  The challenge was finding a resturant that could take 12 people and a dog with no notice.  As we wandered down Commercial Street we found Govenor Bradford had a back porch with open tables.  

We approached the hostess and asked (even though we could see 4 big open tables) if they could accomodate 12 people and a dog.  The hostess disappeared without saying yes, no, wait and I will check…  nothing just walked away.  As we were standing not sure what to make of her reaction a mom who was sitting at one of the table leaned over and told one of our group to NOT EAT HERE.  She said you will not be happy.  The Governor Bradford had a good menu, outdoor seating, and, seamed like a fun atmosphere from 30 feet away.  BUT the social proof of a fellow parent when we were standing there was all it took to take our business elsewhere.  

As we wondered down Commercial Street in search a resturant that could handle the group we passed The Crown and Anchor (  As we approached (with our dog) to look at the menu there was a group already eating and said you will love it here, and look they have dog bowls at every table.  Guess where we had lunch.  

Negative Social Proof:  A fellow parent with a warning that this place isn’t good for families and we would be better anywhere else but there. 

Positvie Social Proof: A fellow pet owner that showed us how happy their dog was with the accommodations.  

Enough marketing for today, I’m on vacation :-). 

A little wind blown while trying to find a place for lunch. 

Top 5 Powerful Analytics KPIs

Top 5 Powerful Analytics KPIs

    Key Performance Indicators are important, and particularly important when performing text analytics with survey data.  When conducting text analytics it is important to know which KPI metric you are interested in.  There are many outputs when conducting text analytics and it is imported to have the output in mind before you begin.  The output from text analytics can be a coded list of topics with the frequency counts.  If the data is from hotel customers you may want to know how often customers mention; linens, comfort, TV, and room service.  Another objective that uses the same hotel data could be to understand if mentions of room service have an impact on NPS ratings?  Yet another KPI could be revenue.  The objective might be to explore the relationship between mentions of room service and how much a customer spends at our hotel.  In this example you are using the revenue amount as your KPI.  In this post we will discuss the five powerful KPIs that we see used frequently when conducing text analytics.   

KPI #5 is Sentiment analysis  

    Sentiment looks at the words and compares them to an established dictionary for what words are positive, which words are negative and which are neutral.  When using Sentiment as your KPI the analysis is focused on uncovering which words, combination of words and which topics are increasing or decreasing sentiment and by what amount.  Sentiment is one of the most popular KPIs in text analytics because it can be conducted on almost all unstructured text.  This makes it useful on social media data where structured variables are limited and sentiment can be used to enrich other metrics such as percentage of mentions and reach.  


KPI #4 is Customer Satisfaction Score or CSAT

    CSAT is a broad term that describes many different types of customer service survey questions. The goal of any CSAT score is to measure a customer’s satisfaction level with your company.  The scale for measuring CSAT isn’t strictly defined.  Some have it on a 5 position scale ranging from very unsatisfied to very satisfied.  Others use a score that is derived from calculating the number of happy customers divided by the number of customers asked.  


KPI #3 is Customer Effort Score or CES Score

    Customer Effort Score is a metric to measure customer service satisfaction with one single question. The belief is that service organizations create loyal customers by reducing customer effort.


KPI #2 is Net Promoter Score  

    The NPS score was created by Satmetrix in 2003.  The NPS question is “How likely is it that you would recommend [company X] to a friend or colleague?” and the answer is offered as an 11 point scale.  When consumers answer zero through six they are considered detractors.  Customers that answer with a seven or eight are passive and those that answer nine or ten are the promoters.  In the HBR article The One Number You Need to Grow, “By concentrating solely on those most enthusiastic about their rental experience, the company could focus on a key driver of profitable growth: customers who not only return to rent again but also recommend Enterprise to their friends.”  According to (the website run by Satmetrix) “More than a decade after it transformed the business world, NPS® still stands alone as the only customer experience that predicts business growth.”

There are some that are critical of and question the predictability of NPS. “To this date there is not a sigle scientific (peer reviewed) study supporting that NPS predicts growth. The study that was used to launch NPS in HBR is also flawed (and HBR is not a peer reviewed magazine).” – Sven-Tore Bengtsson (Source: Link

    When using NPS as your KPI you can explore what topics are driving up or down your NPS score.  Using the output to focus the team on what areas of focus will have an impact on the score that matters to you.  

KPI #1 is Revenue

    The KPI that is most sought after is of course revenue.  It is the R in ROI and if your data can link customer comments to the amount of revenue that is generated by a customer than your text analytics will be able to provide insights into what is driving actual customer spending.  We have a case study example on (here is the link: ).  The case goes into detail on how Jiffy Lube was able to perform such an analysis in order to better understand which customer comment topics were driving revenue.  


When performing text analytics it is important to know which KPIs are available for you to include in your analysis.  


  1. Sentiment Analysis –
  2. Mining the Web for Feelings, Not Facts – 

Do you clean up your digital garbage?


Taking out the trash is a chore.  In our homes, we take out the garbage to keep a tidy home.  What about our digital garbage.  As you can see from the snippet, we are creating 2.5 billion gigabytes of data every day.  While this sounds like an amazing amount of information, I am wondering how much of it is crap.  When was the last time you cleaned up an old digital account?  Do you close your online account and delete the data or do you just move on?  When you no longer use an online account and then don’t close the account or communicate to the vendor they are stuck with your digital trash.   

I got an email today from Optimum informing me of a change to their email system.  

Starting May 13, 2016, if you haven’t accessed your Optimum Online email account for 90 days, your email account and its contents will be permanently deleted and cannot be recovered. This change only impacts your Optimum Online email account. Your access to using your Optimum ID will not be affected.

— Optimum Customer Service Email

When you get cable internet or heck internet service from anyone these days they all offer a bunch of FREE email accounts.  The account was setup automatically and there was no way to deny it.  Now Cablevision/Optimum is stuck with all these user accounts and undoubtedly lots and lots of junk mail and spam that is filling up the unused accounts.  Bravo to Optimum for taking a step to clean up some of the digital garbage.  Can you think of one or two accounts that you don’t use anymore?  Why not take a few minutes to go and delete those old accounts?