Common Marketing Outliers & How to Manage Them

The chances are high that your audience across your various
channels is diverse and made up of people with different needs,
different values, different constraints, and more. That’s why
smart marketers develop
marketing personas
to help them better cater to
the various groups of people that their brand attracts.

However, sometimes one or more small groups is so extreme in
their behavior that they skew the overall behavior of your channel
audience in a way that’s detrimental. These groups are called
outliers and can cause multiple problems, including:

  • Clouding overall performance data, making it appear that
    you’re doing much better or much worse than you actually are

  • Obscuring how your core audience is performing

  • Concealing trends in your customer data, causing you to miss
    opportunities or fail to address challenges

  • Skewing A/B test results
    and leading you to
    implement the wrong changes or strategies

Let’s talk about some common outliers
marketers might encounter across their marketing
channels and how to manage potential issues with them.

Common Marketing Outliers

Here are some common outliers that companies might encounter
across their marketing channels:


These people spend or donate massive amounts—like 100 times
your average audience member. For example, for one of the
department store clients we work with, they have a group that’s
only about 1% of their audience that spends at exceedingly high
levels, says Doug Sundahl, Senior Director of Strategic &
Analytics Services at Oracle CX Marketing Consulting. 

“Most of them spend over $100,000 every month—and some of
them spend many multiples of that,†he says. “It’s likely
that these individuals represent a
audience of interior designers, resellers, or
other businesses.â€

JT Capps, Director of Strategic & Analytic Services at
Oracle CX Marketing Consulting, adds, “These mega-spenders may
also be unauthorized resellers of products. Their purchases then
show up across online marketplaces or international markets, which
is a big problem for fashion and luxury brands in

We also see the effects of mega-spenders among our travel and
hospitality clients, says Jared Polidoro, Head of Website
Optimization & Personalization Services at Oracle CX Marketing
Consulting. “Group reservations are an example that could
contribute to revenue outliers,†he says, “with one visitor
booking a block of 10 rooms for a family reunion or school trip
when their average visitor is booking one or two rooms maximum.

Mega offline spenders who never open emails

Unfortunately, never-openers are not uncommon. However,
never-openers who spend a lot—particularly offline—are rare. At
a glance, it can seem like your emails aren’t impacting these
subscribers, but it could be that the presence of your email is
having a brand impact on them and that your subject lines and
preview text are driving them to your offline channels.

Always openers

These email subscribers open just about everything that you send
them, but that behavior often doesn’t translate into them being a
valuable customer.

“For some clients, I have seen the top 2-3% of the list open
at close to 100%,†says Sundahl “On the flip side, they don’t
click as often as others, and there are opportunities to try to
influence their behaviors.â€

Influencers & detractors

Your influencers rarely purchase, but they’re incredibly
engaged with your emails, social posts, web content, or other
content, which they often share with their large personal audience.
The dark side of influencers is detractors, who are non-purchasers
who are highly critical of your brand and seek to pressure or
punish your company with their behavior.

Mobile website visitors

Some of these visitors may exhibit strange behavior or convert
at a much lower rate than other visitors. Often, poor internet
connections for mobile visitors and the resulting slow page load
times are the reason, says Polidoro.


Unfortunately, bots are everywhere. On social media, bots may be
sharing your posts on certain topics. 

“When doing social listening, it is really important to ensure
topics are set up to reduce noise that comes from spammy bot
accounts,†says Vicky Czarniecki, Senior Strategic Analyst for
Social Media Strategy & Analytics Services at Oracle CX
Marketing Consulting. “Otherwise, your data set is overrun with
noise that doesn’t apply to the goal of the analysis.â€

On the web, it is important to keep in mind that some marketing
technologies account for bots, says Polidoro. “Some tools filter
out their own bots,†he says, “while other tools may not do

For bots on your email list, in addition to opening just about
everything, they are also likely to be clicking at a high
rate—sometimes at a ridiculously high rate.

“We had a project where we identified a lot of bot email
signups on a list and click rates in the 99th-percentile were at
about 3,000%,†says Clint Kaiser, Head of Strategic &
Analytic Services at Oracle CX Marketing Consulting. “We found
over 200 Gmail subscribers that were clicking everything.â€

That said, not all click bots are bad. For instance, some
companies use email bots to help prevent malicious emails from
entering their corporate mail systems. Typically, these bots click
but don’t open emails, says Kaiser. We classify click bots as
beneficial, malicious, or exploitive, and
we recommend different approaches for dealing with each type of
click bot


You want your employees to be engaged with your brand’s

social media posts
email marketing campaigns
, and
web content
. However, it can be a problem if you
don’t account for it.

“I’ve seen employees of a company who open and click
everything skew email tests,†says Kaiser. “If you’re judging
the winner of an A/B test based on engagement and employees are on
the list, it’s possible that they might change the

Whatever the behavior, sometimes all it takes is just one person
to throw off your metrics in a huge way, says Sundahl.

“Years back I was doing a customer analysis and
realized that a single outlier was skewing our data,†he says.
“It was the CEO’s mom. She had spent hundreds of thousands of
dollars on high-price point items.â€

How to Manage Marketing Outliers

Our consultants see three major ways of handling outliers:

1. Excluding outliers so they don’t cloud the
behavior of the rest of your core audience

The most common remedy for outliers is to identify and exclude
them from your data. Sometimes you can do this preemptively.

“It’s important to think through a campaign from start to
finish through the eyes of the visitor and then try to account for
negative scenarios or potential conflicts to the campaign logic,â€
says Polidoro. “Planning ahead to account for common or known
outliers can minimize their impact on a campaign.

For the web, especially when running tests, we recommend
whitelisting employee IP addresses or diverting them into sandbox
environments, so their behavior doesn’t skew results. “This
empowers marketing teams to play around within their web campaigns
as much as they like without affecting any of the final performance
data,†says Polidoro.

Even if you can reduce outliers ahead of time, you’ll often
need to filter outliers from your data. Sometimes you need to do
that manually, and other times your marketing platforms will be
able to help.

“For instance, website testing and personalization solution

Oracle Maxymiser
allows you to filter out outliers
at five levels: 99%, 95%, 90%, 85% and 65%,†says Polidoro.
“The 95% level will exclude the top and bottom 2.5% of your data
points. Looking at reports with these outliers excluded will let
you get a more realistic view of your data that allows you to
understand which experience is truly outperforming the other
without these external factors contributing.â€

For example, our Website Optimization & Personalization
Services team worked with an American gifts retailer during the
holiday season and helped them filter out customers who would make
gift purchases for 10+ recipients. “They surmised these were
business entities making bulk purchases for clients and
partners,†says Polidoro. “While an important part of the
overall business, our client was more focused on the 90%-97% of
their overall revenue that comes from buyers with a smaller cart

Our Social Media Strategy & Analytics Services team has
assisted multiple customers through crisis situations where some
customers have expressed their disagreement with a retailer’s
decision by vigorously commenting on their social media posts.
“It is frowned upon to turn off comments on owned content, as it
can send a message to customers who are upset that a retailer is
hiding or potentially dismissing opinions,†says Czarniecki.
“The tactic that was used in a recent retailer situation when
every single social post was hit hard by negative comments was to
continue to allow comments while identifying who the main
detractors were. We kept one eye on that detractor group for any
escalation, while also keeping an eye on our core audience.â€

2. Segment this group out and send them different

While outliers are often bad from a data perspective, sometimes
they’re good from a business perspective. For example,
mega-spenders, influencers, and even employees are good great
segments worth cultivating.

Consider doing direct outreach with surveys and polls to learn
more about an outlier audience and what they want and why. Then
test offers and incentive strategies to maximize value and

“For instance,†Sundahl, “some mega-spenders might be
re-sellers looking for items that they can mark up and drop ship,
or items with discounts so high they are willing to buy in bulk for
resale. You can change your messaging to highlight recently deeply
marked down items of which you may have high inventory.
Understanding their needs will help you align them to some of your
business goals and derive even more value from your relationship
with them.â€

You may already have a program in place for engaging influencers
on social media. Here are some tips for
building successful relationships with social media

3. Diagnosis whether there’s a technical or design
flaw in the user experience that’s causing the outliers

It’s also possible that some outliers represent opportunities
to improve your customer experience. If a segment is
underperforming in a big way, it may be due to a bad experience
that you’re delivering, rather than anything intrinsic to the
audience itself, says Polidoro.

“For example, is it people using a specific device or browser
that are the outlier?†he asks. “Is their behavior truly
different or is the experience inconsistent and broken for that
segment of visitors?†

Whatever marketing outliers you have in your company’s
it’s important to properly identify each group and then
come up with a plan for how to deal with them—whether you exclude
them, build a messaging strategy around how to directly address
their needs, or evaluate whether their behavior is a symptom of a
poor customer experience. 


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Website Optimization & Personalization Services,
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Source: FS – Marketing 3
Common Marketing Outliers & How to Manage