How Macy's Views Data Analytics
An intuitive approach is easy for most people to understand and communicate, as the language is simple and the logic is generally self-evident, if flawed. It's quick and easy to change course if something isn’t working as expected. But which way should you reorient the ship? You could correct the course so many times that you lose track of how you got there.
“Complications arise due to knowledge gaps and serial battlefield repairs," Coleman said. "You patch, change again, patch the patches, and end up not really knowing what you did. After a while, there’s no plan.”
In contrast, an analytic approach provides a consistent and reproducible structure for the decision-making process. Not the creative content, but the process. Everything has a place and makes sense, even if the behind-the-scenes logic is so complex that it requires blind faith in a model. Build your elegant vessel on facts and it will have a greater chance of reaching its destination, again and again.
Coleman concedes that it requires some sophistication for users to understand and trust a model. “I can’t tell you how often people ask, ‘What’s inside your models? I believe in them, but I want to try something else.’ My answer is that whether you believe in the models or not, the models believe in you. If your data went properly through all the steps in the modeling procedure, you’re going to get the results.”
For Macy’s, the valued proof of analytics is borne out by the return on investment. Even a small increase in response rates per campaign can make a significant impact on the bottom line. “Our use of analytics over the last two years has improved marketing results by millions of dollars,” says Coleman. "And that’s just for direct mail campaigns."
Coleman's advice for marketers seeking to exploit analytics to improve their results: “Quite frankly, the business managers don’t need fashion advice from me, and I’m probably not looking for statistics advice from the fashion director. The real win is to have people doing what they do best.”