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Brilliance@Work: Laura Eddy Shares Her Insights Journey from Packaged Goods to Technology

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar marketing professionals and their best practices at work. During the next couple of months, we’ll feature market research experts.

Creating an effective customer story starts with empathy. Help your organization transform the value they create for customers, employees and other key stakeholders by understanding your audiences’ key emotional drivers, like they do at Zillow.

Laura Eddy is Senior Director, Consumer & Customer Insights at Zillow. She’s also a presenter at The Market Research Event (TMRE) on Nov. 5-7, 2019 at The Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Laura Eddy

Laura Eddy

As a preview to her presentation, Laura shares her perspectives on “My Insights Journey from Packaged Goods to Technology.”

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How did your experiences in consumer insights shape your character and career?

Laura Eddy: Working in Consumer Insights over time makes you empathetic to the people around you. You begin to really internalize that everyone has a unique story and it is likely not just the story that they may present on the surface. That leads to listening more closely to what people tell you, and almost more importantly, what they don’t say.

I like to think this skill set has been applied to my job and career in a way where I can hear the deeper questions and needs that leaders have when facing critical decisions to drive business forward, even if they can’t always fully articulate them. This leads to stronger solutions that address the underlying issues and can significantly change the strategic direction of the organization.

PB: What role does technology play in the performance of a brand?

LE: Technology works on many different levels. First, we use technology to gain insight. It should be no secret that new technology is enabling us to understand our customers in new and interesting ways. For example, we listen to social chatter to learn about topics that we did not think to ask consumers about, and we leverage new tools like AI to determine consumer needs and wants without having to constantly ask. Second, we use technology to better access our customer and every bit as importantly, let them access and interact with us. We need to be where the customer is and as they get deeper into new technologies, we need to be there to deliver the very best context appropriate content. Third, we use technology to create better communication. New technology is allowing our marketing teams to create new and stimulating communication with improved media devices, enhanced graphics, and new voice technology.

Finally, we use technology to build better products and services to meet our customer’s ever-changing needs.

Zillow was built on the idea of data transparency and giving people the power of that data to make decisions for themselves in the real estate space. Keep in mind, as recently as 15 years ago, if you wanted to know what your house was worth, you were dependent on a real estate agent or your city’s tax department telling you that information. With technology, people now have that kind of information easily accessible. We continue to push the envelope in helping people stay informed.

PB: What are some of your most notable projects?

LE: There have been a few projects over several employers that I have been very proud of:

In 2010, Walmart became one of the first major companies to leverage Facebook to make social and local connections with customers – while there is a lot of value to this from a brand building perspective, the question came up of whether this drove actual business revenue. My team developed one of the first analyses for determining the value of a Facebook fan, even before Facebook themselves did this kind of analysis. I remember presenting that work to Sheryl Sandberg in a converted warehouse office at Walmart. Once Facebook developed their protocols, we went back and checked the results – it turns out we were off on our estimates by less than 10% of actuals, which felt pretty awesome.

At Amazon, one of the really cool insights we produced was around the idea that Alexa was seen by customers as a beloved member of the family (in fact, at the time, one of the top questions asked was “Alexa, will you marry me?”), which drove a step-change in how Amazon marketed some devices. Rather than focus on the hardware or on the device and ancillary features directly, the Marketing team pivoted its attention to Alexa and the AI. This idea helped create the idea of a device ecosystem all connected via customer-favorite Alexa for Amazon to interact with consumers.

Zillow, though, has been the place where I think I have had the greatest impact on the brand and business. We have delivered foundational work that showed just how painful the home selling process is for consumers, which led to the creation of a new business called Zillow Offers – this business now accounts for over 40% of Zillow’s revenue and is growing by leaps and bounds. Some of our new projects include envisioning the future landscape of the real estate marketplace – we are combining a series of methodologies like customer journey mapping, futuring and war gaming to construct an ideal customer experience. We are incredibly fortunate that hunger and willingness to embrace the needs and wants of the customer are the guiding principle at Zillow.

PB: What will people gain from your conference presentation?

LE: Insight, of course! Great insight is often generated by real emotion, and making a major career change from one industry that you are familiar/comfortable with, to an industry that is new, different and constantly changing can create many meaningful emotions. We want to shine a light on the process of transitioning from one industry to another, and share what you might expect and how to prepare for it.

We want to try and answer the questions that might be keeping you up at night about making this kind of move – the risks, the reward, the effort. It is no secret, companies are not as loyal to their employees as they once were, you must be prepared for an ever changing future.

If you have been wondering if you should make this type of move and just want to learn more, please join us.

Want to hear more from Laura? Join us at The Market Research Event (TMRE). Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in market research. Stay connected at #TMREVENT.


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Marketing Analytics & Data Science Insights from San Francisco

Golden Gate BridgeGolden Gate Bridge photo by Pixabay

As I reported last month and confirmed in person this month, learning opportunities are blooming in Marketing Analytics & Data Science.

Here’s a brilliant collection of marketing analytics and data science insights from the Marketing Analytics & Data Science Conference in San Francisco.

Please read and share these stories so we can all learn how to deploy marketing analytics and data science to drive our businesses and organizations forward.

All of these stories are featured on The Market Research Blog.

Thanks to Edmund Balogun, Conference Producer; his fabulous team; and Amanda Ciccatelli, Content Marketing & Social Media Strategist, for inviting me and for producing and promoting an outstanding conference!

Special thanks to Carl Bieniek @sqltigger, for helping to keep the #MADSCONF socialsphere active! 🙂


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Create Your Social Media Masterpiece with The Art of Social Media

Art of Social Media Book-Cover

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell.” – Seth Godin

Need a new plan to share your stories? Learn to be a power storyteller in social media with The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick.

The Art of Social Media is the latest book in my collection of Resources to help you and your organizations succeed.

What are some of your favorite resources that inspire your work?


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Transform the Way You Communicate

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Chicago Buildings” photo by Dasha

Next week, communicators from all over the globe will come together to learn and share ideas about reinventing their organizations’ intranets.

If you are unable to attend next week’s 2014 Intranet & Digital Workplace Summit, check out these pre-event stories to help your organization create digital workplaces that drive productivity, innovation and measurable business results.

How is your organization integrating social, mobile and video tools to evolve a traditional intranet?


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What do Hashtags, Speeches and Intranets Have in Common?

Wanaka_(8326144391)Photo by paul bica

Answer: Interaction, collaboration and engagement.

Here are some creative ideas to use as “springboards” for launching new communication programs that will encourage interaction, collaboration and engagement with your internal and external audiences:

What are some resources you’ve discovered that transformed your communication programs with interaction, collaboration and engagement?


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Building a Better Blog One Week at a Time

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Photo by paul bica

When I launched Starry Blue Brilliance last September, I promised myself I would continue to learn how to make this blog even better for all of us, week by week. Thanks to your loyal following and sharing of my blog, I stay focused on fulfilling that promise.

Here are three articles that are helping me pursue blogging “brilliance:”

Please share your ideas on topics or people you’d like to see featured. You are my inspiration to continue the masterpiece we’ve collectively created on Starry Blue Brilliance.

“For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” – Vincent Van Gogh


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How to Move Brands Faster and Longer in the Social Media Era

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Photo by paul bica

With new social media networks and platforms emerging almost every day, organizations must efficiently engage customers while delivering a cohesive experience that drives customer loyalty. During the Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit earlier this month, Nestor Portillo, Director, Social Communities and Customer Experience at Microsoft, shared why customer experience is key to make the content viral and engaging.

Customers in the social media era are in control and are setting companies’ agendas. They:

  • Trust in advice made by online acquaintances and strangers
  • Read and create product reviews, product rankings and blog posts
  • Want to provide feedback about the product, brand and the service
  • Seek support to connect with like-minded peers


To move brands faster and longer in the social media era, Nestor contends that organizations must provide a consistent experience across all social media platforms. It should be successful, effortless and quick.

Most importantly, organizations must have a game plan that supports the customer journey by:

  • Considering the different ways people learn
  • Pivoting on experience and products
  • Delivering an emotional hook


This game plan must also include a community that:

  • Is healthy and is not intimidating
  • Provides a framework for user-generated content and word-of-mouth triggers
  • Adds authenticity to help establish brand trust


Following this model will lead your customers to buy more, use more, consume more and tell and share more.


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Together We Can Succeed on Pinterest

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Photo by paul bica

Following up on last week’s “Show Me the Story” post about the power of visual storytelling, I’m creating a Pinterest site to complement our work on Starry Blue Brilliance.

I would love to hear how you use Pinterest to tell your organization’s story. I’m just starting out with Pinterest, and I would value your ideas and best practices to incorporate on my site.

I found these great articles to help me get started:

Together we can help each other succeed. After all, this is why I created Starry Blue Brilliance – with your help, as always.


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Build Customer Relationships That Matter Through Social Media

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Photo by paul bica

Today on Customers 1st, I posted “Build Customer Relationships that Matter through Social Media” as a follow-up to last Friday’s post, “What Your Customers Say When You Don’t – or Won’t – Listen.”

I’m enjoying guest blogging for the Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit, April 9-11, in Miami, Florida. This year’s Summit focuses on “Return on Relationships: Factoring Empathy into the Stakeholder Equation.” To learn more about the event and register, go to http://www.iirusa.com/totalcustomer. Stay connected with TCEL:
  • twitter.com/TotalCustomer #TCEL14
  • linkedin.com/Total Customer Experience Leaders
  • facebook.com/TotalCustomer

How do you build customer relationships on Twitter?


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Revisiting Chat Republic: The Human Approach to Communication in a Web 2.0 World

Princes_Gate_at_nightPhoto by paul bica

Last time we visited Chat Republic, Angelo Fernando, prolific blogger of the Hoi Polloi Report, http://hoipolloi.wordpress.com, spoke about “how we ought to be more authentic even as we embrace the tools that turn us into non-stop communication machines.”

Now we can view Angelo’s presentation “The Human Approach to Communication in a Web 2.0 World” from last week’s IABC Phoenix professional development luncheon.

Angelo is the author of the recently released book Chat Republic: How Social Media Drives Us to Be Human 1.0 in a Web 2.0 World. I invite you to check out my review of his book on Amazon. For more information, visit www.chatrepublic.net.

Revisit Chat Republic, a “very young place with deep and diverse conversations; our constitution is a work in progress. Social media is the pervasive ‘software’ we use to hammer out the constitution.” Well said, Angelo!

What are your thoughts on Chat Republic? What does it mean to you?