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The Usability Blog
A Practical Guide to User Experience Insights

CMOs Want CIOs to Support Agile Marketing On Cue

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Over the last few months, I’ve been researching the changing relationship between the CMO and the CIO.  If you have any exposure to marketing or IT industry publications, you will already know that the topic is red hot.  Social marketing’s rapid emergence is responsible for driving the two disciplines closer together.

Marketing, especially in the world of ubiquitous social technologies, needs to respond at the speed of light.  IT’s mission, however, has traditionally emphasized network security and system availability, a mission for which “slow and steady” is the sensible course.  In the world of social marketing, “slow and steady” is the fast track to oblivion. And as companies strive for ever greater customer-centricity, marketing’s role as the controller of brand messaging (and to a great extent, brand experiences) will make it ever more influential.  IT, therefore, must change the way it supports marketing technology and technology touchpoints.

Marketers don’t need perfect, they need NOW!

As brands turn more and more to social channels to build loyalty, consumer touches become more and more frequent.  Touch points proliferate, interactions overlap, and iterations multiply.  In this kind of world, brands undertake fewer and fewer large-scale market research projects each year.  Deep, systemic research that takes months to complete no longer fits the day-to-day needs of a marketing function that emphasizes speed over perfection.  “Good enough” has become marketing’s watchword and speed-to-answer dictates much of the supporting research strategy.  As Razorfish CEO Bob Lord recently wrote: “Agile isn’t just for software development anymore. There’s a burgeoning agile marketing movement that’s a breath of fresh air for anyone used to the long planning cycles of campaign-based advertising. Marketing now is 24/7, which means that you need the faster, more iterative approach that agile provides.” Agile marketing points to the need for agile research — that is to say, quick answers.  Recent Gartner research tells us that CMOs still regard the website as their primary digital investment.  Agile research can best be executed by tapping a company’s website visitors for answers to customer-related questions.  Agile research, however, typically depends on an agile IT department to deploy it, and that’s where things get complicated.  Research questions that could be quickly answered by website visitors often remain unasked because IT departments are neither staffed nor set up for that purpose.  It makes IT look unresponsive.  Yet it is generally not a matter of attitude, but one of process and priorities – IT just can’t have anyone jamming tags for this and tags for that onto web pages and hope to maintain any sort of performance integrity or system security.

Cue OnCue

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One way IT can begin to support corporate imperative for speed and responsiveness is to make the website much more accessible as a market- or user experience research platform.  Visitors to a company’s website go there of their own volition, which makes them well-qualified for most customer-related research, especially when they can be targeted by their on-site behavior.  OnCue is a website research management tool that allows the CIO to support agile research (and agile on-site marketing) by transforming the website into a 24×7 research platform.  Once IT has deployed and tested the OnCue tag, the software allows the end user (the researchers or marketers) to deploy surveys, marketing messaging, or other popular UX tools.  IT effectively adds a “rules” layer to research activity, assuring that the integrity of site experience by not allowing visitors to be over-sampled.  Beyond that and other appropriate restrictions, the IT department can make the researcher/marketers self-sufficient, even to the point of targeting research against specific behaviors.

Demonstrating IT Agility

Most IT departments these days rely on tag management technologies to control anything to do with site tags, but these are typically not designed to facilitate research activities, so the actual deployment burden still falls on IT’s shoulders. In contrast, OnCue enhances productivity across the spectrum of roles traditionally involved in defining, designing, and deploying research.  This starts at the most basic level by freeing expensive IT resources from the mundane effort of adding, testing, and removing research projects.  It reduces dramatically the time required for IT to make tools from disparate 3rd party vendors work together (which can be inordinately time consuming).  On the research side, it can reduce the need for and cost of recruiting qualified respondents from 3rd party panel providers.  It should reduce radically the time-to-answer for all ad hoc research, and it enhances researcher productivity.  Perhaps most importantly, it enhances decision-making by providing data where none might previously have been available. Ultimately, however, it helps the CIO demonstrate in a visible, practical way that IT really is serious about supporting marketing and the corporate imperative to become ever more agile and ever more customer-centric.

– Roger Beynon, CSO, Usability Sciences

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