Scot Wheeler

Director, Consumer Insights & Analytics at Peapod

Scot Wheeler is an Adjunct Lecturer in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University, where he teaches Digital Analytics. He is also the Director of Consumer Insights and Marketing Analytics at Peapod. Wheeler’s book, Architecting Experience: A Marketing Science and Digital Analytics Handbook for Optimized Digital Experience Delivery, was published by World Scientific in 2016.

Mastering Change Through Marketing Science

Addressing change has always been a key factor in marketing strategy; specifically recognizing and reacting to changes in competition (alternatives and substitutes), market demographics, cultural trends, consumer preferences, consumption habits, and the methods and modes of communication with consumers.

Adapting to what drives performance in the delivery of consumer experiences (CX) takes rapid and intelligent development of people, process, and technology. This development involves applying a variety of scientific models and methods from the social sciences (sociology, anthropology, psychology, and economics), statistics, and engineering. Each company in a market has some level of development in the combination of these sciences into a discipline that can be thought of as Marketing Science.

It is easy to look into many markets today and see a distribution of levels of adaption through Marketing Science to the volume, velocity, and variety of change in the marketing environment. Markets have a few innovators in customer experience out in one tail of the distribution: companies that are best amongst competitors at meeting user needs in a personalized way and without noticeable barriers. Markets also have laggards in the opposite tail: companies that still insist on doing it their way, with commodity offerings and hassles in the customer experience. [Figure 1]

The majority of most markets are still composed of incumbents delivering an average experience. However, the winds of change blowing from the leading edge of each market are a powerful force to push what is average today into what is lagging tomorrow.

There’s no perfect formula for creating a Marketing Science discipline to advance your firm toward the leading edge of CX delivery, but there are plenty of places to start. There’s the way you think about data and analytics, the way the marketing team makes its decisions and does its work, and the technology that enables that work.

Data & Analytics

Many businesses’ data is collected and organized by business function, with the record of each individual customer’s interactions in these areas splintered across functional silos.

Data that is not connected to understand what happens within each stage of the experience and how each stage impacts the others is only telling part of the story. Building business advantage through CX innovation means having customer-centered data and insights that show where the experience can be most effectively optimized to produce consumer responses that deliver business results.

Marketing Management Processes

Our analytics and research should tell us what is causing issues for consumers across the journey and what can be done to improve engagement at each touchpoint, for each type of person. This understanding of barriers and motivations to engage with our brand is where the social science aspects of Marketing Science are applied.

With these insights, our management decision-making processes must allow us to prioritize the benefit that will be accrued by each improvement, and the long-term (staffing and infrastructure) and short-term (creative and tech development hours) cost to attain it. With accurate predictions around expected benefit and clear understanding of expected costs, management can make informed decisions around CX optimization for competitive advantage.

However, this decision-making process must be nimble, making the accuracy of predictions all the more important. Management must evolve and continually improve experience design and delivery processes to facilitate rapid development and ongoing measurement of optimized elements of the brand experience: from efforts to build awareness and consideration, through the purchase flow and into post-purchase retention and loyalty efforts.

Marketing Technology

The decision-making process is not the only aspect of marketing that needs to become more nimble to apply the benefits of Marketing Science. The process of effectively delivering the right content to the right person at the right time is critical to optimizing the digital experience, but is accomplished far less often than it is talked about.

Programmatic marketing means using predictions in computer programs to decide at millisecond speed whether to buy an ad impression, which content to show in that impression, what Call-To-Action to serve on the website landing page, what promotional offer to show, or what email subject to use in follow-up to the last visit all based on the computer’s prediction of what creates the highest probability of producing the desired result.

So a key change required to effectively orchestrate programmatic marketing is the integration of content management systems, data and predictive decision, and targeting engines with the array of channels where consumers interact with your brand, from paid media to the website to the call center.

Written by Scot Wheeler, Director, Consumer Insights & Analytics
Edited by Qianyu Xu, Medill IMC Class Of 2017

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