Chief Marketing Officer

Sr. Director of Market Growth and Business Operations at Evernote on Being Creatively Analytic in Marketing

Jordan Hwang, Senior Director of Market Growth and Business Operations at Evernote, talked about the value of crafting the right message and delivering it at just the right moment.

At the outset of his keynote presentation at the 2018 Leadership in Digital Marketing Forum held on June 6 in San Francisco, Hwang stated, “I’m going to be talking about the use of data to improve how we market to people. With the proliferation of SaaS and other online businesses, the expectation from the executive suite and the board rooms for marketers to deliver immediate, quantifiable results has never been greater. At the same time, the traditional toolset of email and other channels has never been less effective. So, in this environment, how can marketers thrive? We need to find ‘creatively analytic’ ways to grow,” he said.

“Evernote has hundreds of millions of users across every UN-recognized country on the planet, but our budget is so small that if it was spent in traditional ways of buying media, it would barely make a dent in a single city. Given this scenario, I asked myself which of these things I should be thinking about the most: effective story-telling, channel optimization, or speaking to people at the right moment,” said Hwang.

“As marketers, we’ve been taught that our core competence is storytelling. Stories are undoubtedly powerful. A strong message allows us to worm our way into the hearts of people. And as a marketer, being able to deliver your message with a story allows that message to live for years. However, there will always be people for whom a particular story doesn’t resonate, so we need to raise the bar. We do this by building more personalized stories so we have stories for every individual,” he said.

“Digital marketers will tell you that the only thing that matters is the channel, but all the traditional marketing channels are becoming less and less effective. Email click-through has gone down by about half in seven years, but this is still a better click-through rate than many of the other strong, online channels.”

Hwang continued, “Too often, moments get disregarded, but moments can be magical. Have you ever been on a plane and had somebody next to you start to cry while watching a movie? Psychologists have studied this and discovered that 55% of people experience a heightened state of emotion when flying on a plane, so airlines are issuing emotional warnings before playing movies like Toy Story.” He then asked members of the audience to imagine showing their company’s ad in such a heightened emotional environment and what the reaction might be.

“What I’ve learned is that speaking to someone at the right moment is two times as important as having the right channel, which is two times as important as saying the right words. While copy testing is still important, we should really be moment testing instead,” he offered.

“What I call creative analytic marketing means realizing it’s no longer about the story you want to tell. It’s about the specific message a user wants to hear. Time is relative and personal to the individual, so you have to be able to use data to find the moments in which users will let you speak to them—when that right moment in time is. Marrying these two concepts produces the outsized outcomes that we’re looking for.”

Hwang then talked about how this realization was implemented at Evernote, which founded the personal productivity category. In 2015, six years after it was founded, the company was struggling because of budget constraints, but, in 2018, the company is doing well. What turned the business around was looking at data. “When you’re constrained by budget as much as we were, you have to be creative. We first realized that people are willing to pay for value. We next figured out what people valued—which, in our case, was access anywhere. The next step was figuring out what to offer that people would happily pay for and where to introduce the paywall. To do that, we had to craft a compelling personal message and deliver it at exactly the right moment.”

Hwang summarized with these three suggestions for how to make an organization creatively analytic:

  • Track and instrument everything (“You can’t analyze what you don’t track.”)
  • Analytics must be part of everything everyone does, not just used to track how they did.
  • Start nowdon’t wait for the perfect plan.

Visit Argyle Executive Forum's CIO/CMO DINNER: Closing the Gap Between IT and Marketing to Get Superior Actionable Customer Insights- New York in New York, NY on Jan 29, 2020

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