March 22, 2007

NEMOA Thursday

There were many interesting discussions today.

A couple of memorable things from the Small Cataloger Panel
  • Jim Ruma, Ruma's Fruits and Gift Baskets ... "A lot of sales cover a lot of sins".
  • Peggy Glenn, Firefighters Bookstore ... "Sales were down in 2001. You have to remember, I lost 345 firefighters / best friends on 9/11".
If only the folks who write about customer service could see the passion these folks had for their customers. Their desire to please reaffirms one's faith in business.

Industry legend Tim Litle hosted the lunch discussion, talking about the sixty year history of NEMOA. When we think about tricks for measuring things, we sometimes forget our history. Tim spoke of putting mail orders (the orders that came in envelopes in the 1970 and early 1980s, with a check inside the envelope) on a scale. The weight of the envelopes was directly correlated with the sales expected for that day. Wow.

Today's badge of honor goes to Laura Wojtalik of Abacus. She spoke about developments at Abacus surrounding the allocation of orders to the advertising path that led to a customer purchasing merchandise (frequently referred to as a 'Matchback Analysis').

Laura exhibited a tremendous amount of professionalism, following her presentation in front of a standing room only crowd (and the term is appropriate here, there wasn't a place to sit in the overcrowded room). Many in the audience peppered Laura with "what if" questions that were theoretical in nature, questions that don't necessarily have (and may never have) straightforward answers.

The audience had every right to ask the questions of Laura. It is not easy to measure the vehicle that drove the response when a customer received three catalogs and six e-mails in a twenty-one day period of time, and yet purchases following a search on Google on day twenty-two.

In today's world, Google gets paid for this --- yet online and catalog marketers are aware that the three catalogs and six e-mails played an equal or greater role in driving the order. I think the audience wanted a definitive answer on how to quantify this in a way that makes the audience feel comfortable. I don't think a definitive answer will ever happen, it is part of our new reality. When Laura gave honest and fair answers, some in the audience weren't thrilled.

This is yet another reason I harp on online businesses and catalogers getting in too deep with Google. I don't think Google is trying to be evil. But we pay them anyway for actions/purchases they didn't fully cause, because Google takes the credit for the last action in the "path to purchase", as coined by Coy Clement of Clement Direct.

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