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Insights from baseball promotions for Digital Marketers

Baseball has long been dubbed ‘America’s favorite pastime‘ – but baseball owners sure do wish some of that time is spent watching the game from stadiums as opposed to in-front of television and smartphones. Of course some of the storied franchises such as the Red Sox and Yankees have less to worry, and even the long suffering Chicago Cubs bring in 30,000+ faithfuls on average to their games. However for many others, half-full stadiums are the reality of game days.

Baseball owners have studied the problem deeply and undertaken various measures to promote in-stadium attendance, including extensive use of data science and analytic techniques to promote attendance – and their experience offers much insight for digital marketers.

1) Understand attendance (traffic) patterns – The start and end of baseball’s regular season (April/September) sees a peak in attention, and a mid-season peak occurs when summer is in full swing (typically July).  These are times to make a great impression on your audience, and a good effort will help you retain more of the audience during the leaner months.

2) Focus on what you can control: Baseball suffers from a basic issue of a high-supply of games (160+ games per team every season). But owners cannot really control that year-in/year-out. It is far more useful to focus on how to retain fan attention and on creating promotions/events to get them into the games.

3) Know your (real) competition: In baseball, it is natural to think of other baseball teams as your competition – but that is true only on the field and during the game. The real competition is for the entertainment dollar share of the average fan. Movies, video-games, television shows, concerts are the real competition and emphasizing everything that a 1/2 day at the game can offer becomes a real differentiator. Top-teams playing in town are part of that appeal.

4) Understand your market position – and be honest about it: Several baseball franchises offer promotions such as bobble heads, shirts, head gears, fireworks to attract audience to stadium. These work really well for mid-major market teams, but are a wash for the highly successful teams. In other words, special promotions do not add much value to teams whose brands sell themselves. An honest assessment of your market position goes a long way towards picking the right promotions/activities.

5) Defray cost of promotions/events whenever possible – Baseball is already putting on a show – and is guaranteed a certain viewership. There is no reason to also bear the expense of promotions and special events on top-of-that. There are many who would love that same exposure – baseball consistently uses sponsorship (with complementary firms to be sure) to defray the cost associated.

6) Use analytics to fully understand the lift of various promotional activities – Most baseball teams have a resident data science team that is focused on attendance and other revenue opportunities and the cost/benefit analysis of each action. Focus on the best opportunities available.

And baseball owners are not content with what they have – they are constantly pushing the envelope on what they can learn about their market and audience and how can they use the information they gather to keep the sport relevant, entertaining and win a greater share of your wallet!

I will be presenting a session at the upcoming Predictive Analytics World 2014 on impact of promotions on baseball stadium attendance – look-up the session (and me!) if you plan to be at the conference!

Likelihood or Probability – What’s in a Word?

It is always interesting how commonly understood terms turn into nuanced expressions in the hands of specialists – whether they be lawyers, accountants, doctors – or indeed data analysts and statisticians. One pair of expressions in this regard is likelihood and probability – which may seem to hold similar meanings in common parlance, but hold distinctly separate purposes in the world of data analytics.

Probability is simply the probability of an outcome, given a set of parameters. 

Given a person’s

  • Salary
  • Credit History
  • Criminal Record
  • Length of Employment  and more

Q.What is the Probability of Default against a Loan?
A. Probably some number between 0 and 1 !

This is classical probability and what it is understood to be in common language as well.

Likelihood however flips the equation, and seeks to estimate the values of the parameters of the equation/formula/model, given a set of outcomes across several observations.

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Marketing Analytics adding heft to Digital Analytics

The worlds of Digital Analytics and Marketing Analytics have frequently led somewhat independent lives – with the Digital Analyst spending time looking at digital channels (web/mobile/social), reading out metrics, understanding conversion rates, focused on conversion funnels, A/B and multi-variate testing and the like while the Marketing Analyst was more concerned with Survey Analysis, developing “What-If” simulators for product features and concerning themselves with ROI from campaigns.

There has been an inevitability in the growth in popularity of the digital medium even as more and more content was consumed through digital channels – and quite naturally, the marketing and advertising dollars followed suit. This graphic from IAB captures this rapid growth:  Read More »

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AEM, Jive and an updated Cisco Mobile App!

It’s the New Year here at Cisco, at least from a fiscal perspective, and one of the most exciting projects we have completed this year within our Digital team is the updated version of the Cisco Mobile App!

The new Cisco App!

The new Cisco App!

If you haven’t already, you can download it through the iTunes Apps Store for iOS or Google Play for Android. The latest release of the App includes many upgrades including real-time Cisco news feeds, enhanced video capabilities and product updates.

As we march in to the New Year, we continue converging and standardizing our assortment of Digital tools. Specifically, we are very focused on Adobe AEM and Jive.

  • Adobe AEM – We continue expanding our use of Adobe AEM to manage our web properties like The big news here is that we plan to start using AEM in a Cisco hosted hybrid cloud to also power our INTERNAL web properties.  As I alluded to in a blog post back in February, we are hoping to drive both content and process efficiencies from standardizing on a single platform for web in the the cloud.
  • Jive – Similar to AEM, we are already using Jive on many of our external communities and the new move is to use the same platform for our INTERNAL communities. Starting in September, we plan on using a Jive cloud service for internal Cisco communities. This will be on a limited basis to begin with, but we hope to expand the usage throughout the year.

I think there will be some interesting possibilities and benefits with integrating Jive Communities in to an AEM powered web experience. Social will become more and more integrated within the daily digital workflow on our web properties. Furthermore, by converging our platforms, we will put Customers, Partners and Employees in closer contact with each other.

Any large companies (10,000+ employees) that have either implemented both AEM and Jive or have implemented either one for both internal and external use interested in sharing best practices?  Let me know and let’s get together!

The Power of Hashtags

Log on to most social media platforms and you’ll likely see a bunch of # signs floating around. No, they do not designate a phone number; instead, they’re an easy and useful way to grow your products and brand in a way that consumers are familiar with. Not sure what they mean or how they work? Stick with me. I’ll explain what hashtags are, why they’re useful and how to use them in your marketing practice.

The Power of Hashtags

What are hashtags?

According to Twitter, “The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.”

Now, they’ve expanded beyond Twitter to many other social sharing sites—namely Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest—as a way to group like items into one. You simply put a # with a single word or phrase (make sure not to use punctuation or spaces) in your post, and it automatically turns into a clickable link.

It’s common to use hashtags for a big event, promotion, or product launch. For example, say you’re going to one of Cisco’s largest events, Cisco Live! You document your days by sharing your pictures on Instagram and stay updated with regular tweets, but add in the #CiscoLive hashtag and boom – you’re suddenly synced up with others who are also talking about Cisco Live!  You instantly have a connection to others in the industry, thanks to this little symbol.

Why do hashtags matter?

  1. Networking. Using hashtags allows you to reach a new audience you might not have interacted with.
  2. Advertising. If people start hashtagging their photos or tweets with something related to your company or a campaign you’re running, their followers will also see this, possibly driving them to your site and, fingers crossed, becoming a new partner or customer.
  3. Building relationships. Click on a hashtag related to your product or industry and you’ll see not only what customers are interested in, but also what they’re saying. You can then start a conversation with these folks, leading to an introduction about your company or a solution to a problem they might be having.
  4. Relevance. By clicking on a hashtag, you’ll find tons of other tweets, images, and posts that are related. Try it: head to Twitter, search #CloudComputing and you’ll see hundreds of comments, articles, and photos related to the subject. It’s worthwhile to take some time to search for hashtags relevant to your company and industry to see what other products or information comes up.

There are a number of benefits to start adding that # sign to your posts. Does your company use them? Have you tried using hashtags in a marketing campaign? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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