Data Scientists: Have you picked the right target for that marketing campaign?

Data Scientists: Have you picked the right target for that marketing campaign?

Data Scientists: Have you picked the right target for that marketing campaign? Use your company’s mission statement to prevent optimizing models to local goals at the expense of the overall company goals.

You can develop the most amazing machine learning model in the world. It can optimize to the target, your results presentations look great, and your business partners are thrilled. Then four months later, someone suddenly pulls the plug on the program. You’re stunned. What happened? The goal the business team set had a negative impact on overall company goals. Your reputation takes a hit, your performance goals bomb, and you kiss your year-end bonus goodbye. I will present one way you can help prevent this from happening.

The scenario

Our business partners define a goal:

  • Campaign A: We want more customers to upgrade plans
  • Campaign B: We want to increase the number of email opens

All of those seem like reasonable goals. Each is easily measurable. What’s the problem?

What happened IRL

  • Campaign A: The model was designed to maximize the number of people who upgraded. More customer upgraded plans at a higher price point. They stuck around for three months then decided to drop the service completely. Those at the lower price point had a much lower churn rate. Overall, the total revenue generated per customer went down, and the churn rate increased. Because overall revenue and customer churn were not part of the model and measurements, they were missed. The business partner got blindsided at a staff meeting when someone presented the issues.
  • Campaign B: The model optimized the email content and title towards a ‘clickbaity’ presentation. More customers opened the initial two emails, but then engagement dropped off a cliff. If the subject line doesn’t represent the email content, you lose credibility with your customers. What was once a ‘successful’ model is now detrimental.

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