Companies that avoid change management, eventually change management

Digital transformation is all around us–no company can escape. Most companies recognize this, and focus on managing the change in an effective way. But then there are others that think they can avoid digital.

I have been in meetings with clients in which I patiently explained all the forces buffeting their business and what they needed to do to at least cope. (They weren’t ready to compete.) And, on many occasions, I heard excuse after excuse for why they can’t make the needed changes.

My favorite was the time that the manager leaned back in his chair and said, “We understand what you are saying, but it’s just not in our DNA.” I leaned forward and reminded them, “You know that your company can get new DNA, right?”

Six months later, I heard that the manager was let go. When companies avoid change management, eventually they change management.

Don’t let this happen to you. Maybe you think you can ride this out. Maybe you think that digital is coming. It’s not coming. It arrived quite a while ago. If you think digital is coming, you are going.

Instead of waiting to get disruption, you should be figuring out how you can disrupt. I especially see this change avoidance in my largest clients. Instead of trying to avoid the changes, it’s time to embrace them. (Give them a big hug.)

Big companies fail to realize that they have an advantage in digital that upstarts lack–data.

AI has changed the game–large companies are sitting on gobs of data that AI can analyze to find patterns that unlock huge return on investment.

Instead of letting that data lay fallow, it’s time to start using it to unlock the value that AI can bring. To do that, you need to change.

Change, or get changed out. Your choice.

If you’re ready to take the plunge, check out my workshop in June on using analytics to increase conversions at the Marketing Analytics Summit.

Originally posted on Biznology

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About Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, a leading digital media marketing consultancy based in New York City. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm.

What Marketers Can Learn From Facebook’s Privacy Mess

In my work at SoloSegment and with individual clients, I spend tons of time working at the intersections of marketing, artificial intelligence, data, and privacy. I suspect the same is true for you too. Of course, that means we all spend lots of time working with — and worrying about — the role played by Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and especially given their recent missteps with regard to data and privacy, Facebook. Which is why Mark Zuckerberg’s recent opinion piece in the Washington Post proved so fascinating. Zuckerberg talked about Facebook’s challenges, and to address these asked for government regulation in a number of areas:

“But if we were starting from scratch, we wouldn’t ask companies to make these judgments alone…From what I’ve learned, I believe we need new regulation in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.” [Emphasis added]

Why does Facebook think that’s important? The main reason is because, as Zuckerberg continues:

Lawmakers often tell me we have too much power over speech, and frankly I agree. I’ve come to believe that we shouldn’t make so many important decisions about speech on our own. So we’re creating an independent body so people can appeal our decisions.

Whoo-boy. There’s a lot going on here that needs unpacking. So, let’s dive in.

First, kudos to Facebook for recognizing two facts:

  1. Whether intentionally or not, the social giant has actively contributed to divisive, harmful conduct on the Internet.
  2. They probably shouldn’t be the final arbiter of the solution.

I agree wholeheartedly with both points. And good on Facebook for acknowledging their mistakes. Seriously. As, the saying goes, “the first step is admitting you have a problem.”

At the same time, I have a number of issues with the rest of the op-ed due to its potential effects for consumers and competitors alike.

For starters, as Brian Heater and Josh Contine write at TechCrunch:

“The op-ed rings somewhat hollow, though, because there’s plenty that Facebook could do to improve in these four areas without help from the government.”

Yep. Facebook is wise to turn over disputes around its policies to a third party, but why does it need a third party — in this case, the government — to tell them what its policies should be? In part, I suspect, because Zuckerberg and Facebook want to shape whatever form those regulations take.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not opposed to government regulating customer privacy, election integrity, or use of customer data. I would argue they haven’t done enough in those areas. But I have a huge issue in Facebook driving that discussion.

As the joke goes about where an 800-lb gorilla sits (answer: Anywhere it wants to), Facebook’s size almost certainly guarantees them a seat at the table when it’s time to shape policy in these areas. But, ignoring that reality for a moment, given their past actions, do you really think Facebook has demonstrated it’s the right company to shape regulations around customer data and privacy? Yes, we’d hope they can provide plenty of lessons for others. The question is whether or not they’ve learned those lessons themselves. Offering them a role in the process feels a lot like letting the fox guard the henhouse after that fox has already helped himself to an all you can eat chicken buffet.

Facebook has continually failed to demonstrate that they’re a trustworthy advocate for consumers or competition. And please don’t misunderstand. I don’t think they’re actively evil. They’re simply untrustworthy in the same way a small child is untrustworthy. After all, you wouldn’t let your three year-old play with matches or sharp knives, would you? Of course not. Except in this case, the “three year-old child” is a $55 billion company, which makes it hard to make them sit in in the corner.

Still, the evidence is compelling for why that’s necessary. As recently as early February, TechCrunch reported this about Facebook:

“Since 2016, Facebook has been paying users ages 13 to 35 up to $20 per month plus referral fees to sell their privacy by installing the iOS or Android “Facebook Research” app. Facebook even asked users to screenshot their Amazon order history page…[Update 11:20pm PT: Facebook now tells TechCrunch it will shut down the iOS version of its Research app in the wake of our report. The rest of this article has been updated to reflect this development.] Facebook’s Research program will continue to run on Android.” [emphasis added]

Remember, these are often the accounts of minors. The company also appears to have shared data about users’ health without their consent and stored “hundreds of millions of user passwords…in plaintext.” We talk about these privacy breeches in a recent podcast.

Um, wow.

They also bought Instagram and WhatsApp when faced with competition that they couldn’t defeat. And, frankly, flat-out copied SnapChat’s most innovative features such as Instagram (and later Facebook) Stories when they could.

Is this the kind of company you can trust guiding regulations that will affect your privacy and personal data as an individual, to say nothing of the environment your company must compete in?

Remember, data is an increasingly valuable commodity in today’s business and marketing landscape. Would Facebook’s proposed solutions really protect consumers? Or would they simply pull up the ladder behind themselves now that they’ve scaled that solution and already have access to, oh, I dunno, more data than just about anyone?

Again, beware three year-olds with sharp knives.

(By the way, I’m scrupulously avoiding the topic of government regulation of “harmful content.” My thoughts are summarized best here.)

So, what should you do about all of this? Basically, there are two things you should focus on:

  1. Don’t wait for regulation to do the right thing by your customers. The worst excuse you could make for treating your customers badly is “well, technically, it was legal.“ GDPR exists because marketers did not treat customer data or customer privacy with the attention and respect it deserved. Facebook simply exhibits the worst of these tendencies But they’re hardly alone in acting less than perfectly in this regard. Don’t be “that guy.”
  2. Continue to pay attention to what’s happening with data privacy regulations. And then try to do better. This story has a long way to go. Between Facebook, Google, next year’s US elections, GDPR, the beginnings of the California Consumer Privacy Act, and other efforts around the world, we’re not done with this yet. You owe it to your customers — and your business — to stay informed.

Again, Facebook deserves credit for recognizing that there’s an issue in the way that it — and plenty of other marketers and businesses — treat customer data and privacy. And government undoubtedly has a role in helping to protect consumers’ best interest. However just because both of those statements are true, doesn’t mean that Mark Zuckerberg’s proposed solution is the right way to get there.

Instead, look out for your customers both because it keeps you on the right side of the law and because it’s the right thing to do. Better self-regulation is a strong first step towards doing what’s right by customers. And strong self-regulation practices will likely reduce the impact any government oversight will have on your business. Plus, I don’t know about you, but I find that customers generally prefer companies that treat them with respect.

Facebook has provided a roadmap for what not to do. Learn from their lessons. In the long run, your customers — and your bottom line — will thank you for it.

Originally posted on Biznology

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About Tim Peter

Tim Peter is the President of SoloSegment. An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, web development, search marketing, and analytics, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

SearchChat Podcast: How Marketers Can Use Data to Keep Your Seat at the Table

There’s major power for automation within marketing, and not everyone is harnessing it. This episode of SearchChat Steve Zakur and I ask: how can CMOs use both automation and data to keep their seat at the table as companies evolve?

Now matter how long it takes to perfect, your work it will never be done. That’s because everything requires data and feedback. 61% of marketers said creating an automation strategy for their practices is a top priority, according to a recent study. The amount of data available to us defies human capability to process it. What’s more, people often struggle to believe that the data they are seeing is more accurate than their intuition.

Letting data lead often produces results we can’t get any other way. This year we saw a 6 year high in the percentage of time data is used in decision making–and it’s actually still a low number. In our last podcast we saw a similar trend, where most CEOs agree that AI will be bigger than the internet and yet 20% said they had no plans to do anything about it.

The DNA of marketing teams is creativity — but sometimes means data gets lost among unfounded opinions. One of the most powerful moments you can have as a marketing professional is refuting an executive’s intuition with hard proof.

Speak in the language of data to get your seat at the table.

0:00 Intro

1:50 Let the market tell you when you get it right

5:48 Automation is a top priority

10:55 Are you letting data lead?

21:40 Why CMOs need tech alliances

30:28 Outro

SearchChat is available on

Search Chat is SoloSegment’s podcast dedicated to all things search AI and content marketing related. Who is SoloSegment? We’re a technology company focused on site search analytics and AI driven content discovery to improve search results, increase customer satisfaction and unlock revenue for your company. If you think we might have the answer to your conversion problems, feel free to connect with us.

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About Tim Peter

Tim Peter is the President of SoloSegment. An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, web development, search marketing, and analytics, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

Are You Considering Behavior-Based Personalization?

If you are like most marketers, you’ve probably been salivating over personalizing your website for years. It has always seemed like a good idea, but it’s never seemed possible.

At first, you thought, “If Amazon can do it, we can do it!” But then your IT folks told you the way Amazon does it. Amazon has so many products and so many purchases in its history–and so many repeat visitors–that it is relatively simple to guess what people want. But your site isn’t like Amazon.

Then you thought, “Well, if we know something about our visitors, we can use that to personalize.” But no one wanted to register on your site, so you didn’t know who they were. And privacy regulations came along, and you weren’t sure you wanted to know anything.

Does that mean that you have to give up the dream? No!

You actually can personalize using your visitors’ behavior. With the right technology, you can watch what visitors do on your site. With a bit more technology, you can find the patterns that lead them to success. And with one last dollop of tech, you can use that data to suggest successful paths to others on that same journey.

That’s the beauty of behavior-based personalization. It doesn’t require registrations. It’s GDPR-compliant, because it doesn’t require any personally-identifiable information. It doesn’t require a a slew of products or  return visitors. Or heavy traffic.

If you’ve been waiting for the easy way to add personalization to your site, it’s time to check out behavior-based personalization.

Originally posted on Biznology

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About Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, a leading digital media marketing consultancy based in New York City. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm.

SearchChat Podcast: Customer Intent is New Again

Alternatively: Chicken Soup for the Customer’s Soul

It’s time to start thinking about the value of intent based marketing differently. The idea itself isn’t new, but now the data is finally there for people to solve their business problems.

What is your customer experience like if you could walk into a diner feeling under the weather, and are immediately offered chicken soup? Online companies don’t have to lose that personal touch. 

You can improve your buyer’s journey by optimizing results to find specific answers to specific questions. But those are hard to predict. Rather than optimizing the result, how can you optimize the experience — the full journey, whatever it might look like? 

These are questions that need answers. Because the reality is: you compete with all the experiences your customers have everywhere online. When a customer goes to Amazon and has a great search experience, they ask — why doesn’t everyone work this way? Your competition isn’t just other B2B companies, it’s Amazon too. High standards and a poor experience will send visitors looking somewhere else — anywhere else.

The data you gain from having a better site search lets you optimize the rest of the experience. Websites can be intelligent when this data is put to work. Do people who buy chicken soup also usually buy herbal tea? Desserts? Your data knows, and your site can make suggestions. Want to make it happen right away? Check out our technology solutions.

0:00 Intro

1:20 Intent based marketing is new again

11:45 Your competition is the whole internet

16:48 Search is intent, fundamentally

19:05 How do you utilize data to improve the customer journey?

29:05 Outro

SearchChat is available on

Search Chat is SoloSegment’s podcast dedicated to all things search AI and content marketing related. Who is SoloSegment? We’re a technology company focused on site search analytics and AI driven content discovery to improve search results, increase customer satisfaction and unlock revenue for your company.

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About Tim Peter

Tim Peter is the President of SoloSegment. An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, web development, search marketing, and analytics, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

SearchChat Podcast: Can You Personalize Without Creepy Data?

Is the dream of the visitor journey dying? How do we make journeys more functional without using data people don’t want us to have?

Marketers are starting to learn they can’t just orchestrate a visitor journey from start to finish. It’s all about improving the journeys people actually make. They’re complex, not straightforward. Steve and I discuss how visitor journeys are a big data problem. Machine learning allows you not to have to manually deal with that data. It makes Big Data little.

Data can be put to work automatically to make the journey better — and it doesn’t have to be a ton of data. We often start with search data, and it works great since it connects people directly with the thing they want. “Behavioral personalization” means personalization but without all the creepy data. Instead, it’s personalization that customers are asking for. This matters in a post-GDPR world.

Google’s policy is to get right up to the creepy line without crossing it.  Most people don’t know that smart TVs are cheap because they are tracking your data.  How long will models built on creepy data survive?

The three laws of robotics initially were just about making sure robots don’t kill humans. Now we’re thinking much further beyond that — how to create ethical artificial intelligence for business. Interested in the podcast and behavioral personalization options? Check out SoloSegment’s technology solutions.

Tune in and discover more!

00m 00s — Intro and overview

2m 00s Visitor journeys are changing

7m 05s AI for developing visitor journeys

11m 05s Behavioral personalization

15m 25s Creepy Data

19m 30s 3 Laws of Robotics — how do we create ethical AI?

22m 45s Is it just “legal,” or is it good for customers?

29m 35s Outro

SearchChat is available on

Search Chat is SoloSegment’s podcast dedicated to all things search AI and content marketing related. Who is SoloSegment? We’re a technology company focused on site search analytics and AI driven content discovery to improve search results, increase customer satisfaction and unlock revenue for your company.

Originally published on Biznology

Avatar

About Tim Peter

Tim Peter is the President of SoloSegment. An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, web development, search marketing, and analytics, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

SearchChat Podcast: Ring in the Year by Putting Data to Work

Analytics matter: this is the unavoidable fact of digital marketing, even for those digital marketers that fear it. But are you even measuring the right things? Do you know how to make meaningful improvements?

In this episode of our SearchChat podcast, Steve and I talk about site search, personalization, and big data. In our work in website search, we’ve seen that clicks are a measure of activity, but not necessarily an indicator that something good happened. Did the click lead to a purchase? Did the click answer to a visitor’s question?

First, a brag: Marketing Tech Outlook named SoloSegment to its top 10 marketing analytics solutions. We talk about what we’ve learned and what we now offer our customers. When I first heard about receiving the award, SoloSegment was mostly collecting data. Now, we realized what sets us apart is automating changes using that data.

Our focus for 2019 is on  putting data to work. It’s not an easy task — it means determining if your data is accurate, as well as usable to measure success. 

We discuss personalization, which every marketer wants to jump into. Not everyone is ready.  Do you have the data to identify your audience, what the right content is, and identifying whether it’s working or not? If you want to put your data to work, feel free to check out our technology solutions.

Tune in and discover more!

00m 00s — Intro and overview

02m 00s — SoloSegment named in top 10 marketing analytics solutions

5m 20s — Why measurements like clicks fail

9m 25s — Can you use your data to power success?

15m 15s — Why your B2B content marketing isn’t ready for personalization

20m 45s — How to think about Google Discover

28m 02s — Subscription links and outro

SearchChat is available on

Search Chat is SoloSegment’s podcast dedicated to all things search AI and content marketing related. Who is SoloSegment? We’re a technology company focused on site search analytics and AI driven content discovery to improve search results, increase customer satisfaction and unlock revenue for your company.

Check us out on FacebookTwitter, or email info@solosegment.com.

Originally posted on Biznology

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About Tim Peter

Tim Peter is the President of SoloSegment. An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, web development, search marketing, and analytics, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

Clarke had it right, AI is magic

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic


Arthur C Clarke

It seems like AI has been on everyone’s minds lately. It definitely has been on ours, as Tim Peter and I spoke on AI on our latest podcast. AI has been particularly hyped up, with plenty of big ideas emerging about what it can do for website owners. But I’m fearing, that like blockchain, we’re heading for Gartner’s fabled Trough of Disillusionment if we’re not there already. AI can’t solve all your business problems, though there are those that are well suited with the tools that are available today. But like any solution you have to have a valuable problem and the right approach to applying the solution.

So, how do you get started? There are three real impediments to getting AI off the ground.

  1. Unreasonable expectations
  2. Concerns about data
  3. Skills and Experience

The AI Expectation Problem

We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.



Bill Gates

The Trough of Disillusionment is largely filled with folks, especially at B2B companies, who came to AI with unreasonable expectations. Like any new technology our expectations for near-term impact are always too high. There are no magical powers, there’s only hard work. So the first step in applying AI to any business problem is assessing the measurable value of the problem (make sure you have a business case) and think small.

Most “big bang” projects — large budgets, lengthy schedules, massive business cases — fail to meet expectations. With new technology the risk is even greater because not only are you proving that the project is valuable, but also that the platform can deliver.

To minimize your risk, think MVP (Minimum Viable Product) which is really just a fancy way of saying “Proof of Concept”. Identify a handful of experiments that you can run. This reduces the risk of failure — the likelihood that all the experiments fail is low — and set out goals that aren’t purely business value. For instance, teaching your dev team how to set-up a text analytics platform has a lot of value in the long run.

The AI Data Challenge

One of the intimidating challenges for AI projects is getting the data. Modeling can consume a fair amount of data but it’s not usually the volume of data that trips companies up, it’s that availability of that data. 

Many problems where AI can help requires data from across the organization. Building the connections, both technically and within the management system, with other organizations to access the data is critically important. Ideally, availing yourself of data from work that’s already being done within the company will provide you with the right access. Of course, normalizing that data to work together can still be a challenge.

The AI Barrier: Cost

One of the largest barriers to getting started is skills and expertise. Competition for data scientists is fierce and consultants who do this work can be costly. There are essentially two types of consultants that can help. Domain experts with software that focuses on one specific type of problem and custom development shops. 

Working with a software vendors can provide you with a quick start, but it often presumes that you have a problem that fits with the software that they’re selling. What we’ve seen in the marketplace is that the best packaged AI solutions are in very narrow domains. If that’s a fit for you it can be a great accelerator.

Custom development is a great option when you have a rather unique problem. The downside of this approach is that you’re often building both the platform for the application and the application itself. The timelines for this approach can be long and the cost high. 

One of the the ways we’ve found successful is to find a vendor who has both domain expertise and a good platform but not necessarily an application that meets the need. If they have application expertise in a close swimlane, they may be able to provide you with something that is specialized for your use case but not rigid like a prebuilt application. This allows you to enter with a modest investment and a solution that meets your solution needs.

It’s not magic, it’s work. Valuable Work.

When AI works, I think Clarke was right, it does seem magical. And what business can’t use a little magic? But don’t buy into the hype. Don’t be frightened by the expectations curve. Do find a valuable problem. Do run a few experiments. Do start. Build the muscle memory. Find the place where AI allows you to build a valuable customer experience.

If you want help figuring out how to use AI to convert your customers, check out SoloSegment’s technology solutions.

Originally posted on Biznology

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.