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"…It's worrying how many consumers feel misunderstood and [feel] that brands aren't listening to them."
These are the thoughts of Jeremy King, CEO of Attest, regarding his company's consumer study, which revealed that over a third of UK consumers feel 'misunderstood' by brands. This could be why, according to Teradata, nearly all (90%) of marketers now believe individualized messaging is the future of marketing moving forward, "beyond segmentation to true one-to-one personalization."
If you don't already have voice of consumer-driven relevancy at the top of your marketing priority list consider this; in a study by Janrain and Blue Research it was noted that 94% of survey respondents took at least one of these actions in response to irrelevant messaging:
The study also found that the irritation threshold is now so low that it takes only a few mistakes to turn off consumers: almost half said they automatically delete emails or categorize them as "junk" after being mis-targeted twice; 38% unsubscribe after receiving two mis-targeted emails.
One brand that has re-evaluated how they personalize the customer experience to ensure relevance is beauty retailer, ULTA, which has more than 16 million active loyalty members. And, Fortune recently selected ULTA's CEO, Mary Dillon as one of the most powerful women for 2016.
One of the main reasons ULTA has grown so quickly was the realization that because their products are available through multiple channels, their differentiating factor had to be their consumer experience. To facilitate their omnichannel personalization strategies, they leveraged technology in a campaign they named "connected beauty," which integrates in-store, mobile, social, online and app experiences. "Our concept of connected beauty is really about making sure that we connect with our guests across all touch-points in the same way," says Diane Randolph, CIO at ULTA Beauty.
And according to Lockie Antonopoulos, IT director of mobility at ULTA Beauty, "Technology is giving ULTA the opportunity to strive toward its goals. By giving information at a quicker pace to both our executive team and our store associates, they are able to react in a more timely manner."
Technology allows ULTA customers to get real-time inventory for their local store so they know whether their chosen product is available before they arrive. Consultants can use tablets in-store to access customer information such as shopping history, previous purchases, loyalty point balances, and previous loyalty program redemptions. "We're thinking about the loyalty experience every day... We then attach the info we get from the [in store] consultation to our loyalty program, which enables further personalization," Antonopoulos stated.
ULTA's CMO Dave Kimbell goes on to state, "We're trying to innovate to meet her needs and get ahead of her expectations to personalize the experience whenever she wants it in the store, online or on an app. It's critical to our competitive success because that's how she wants to shop and other retailers that are focused on one or the other can't do that."
Publish Date: December 19, 2016 5:00 AM
Grumbling about holiday décor in your local store? You're not alone. In fact, nearly three-quarters of Americans agree. A Creditcards.com poll showed that 73 perfect of polled adults agreed with the statement "it is annoying that the holiday shopping season has gotten earlier." Yet that doesn't mean they're boycotting the shopping lists – in fact 14 percent of survey respondents said they had started holiday shopping. One percent says they're already finished!
The good news is that aside from the over-achieving 1 percent of holiday shoppers, the rest are either at it already or about to be. As marketers, we've got work to do. Since the majority of shopping takes place in the month of December, right now marks the point at which you should be double-checking that your customer-facing systems are presenting a cohesive message to consumers. Avoiding unnecessary frustrations across touchpoints ensures they have a unified experience across platforms. Over time, your trustworthiness and familiarity proves that consumers can return to your brand for many of their holiday needs.
But even more important than the immediate to-do is following up on any advances you've put into place to capture consumer preferences. Preference management, the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference and frequency of communication, is the best way to encourage customers to engage with you on their terms. By acting on data provided by customers themselves throughout the year, you're able to shape and build relationships over time. Which means that come holiday shopping season, even that one percent of earlybird shoppers will have made their purchases thanks to guidance and communications from you that reflect their stated needs.
Another finding of the same survey? "Younger shoppers are also more likely to welcome an earlier start to the holidays. About one-third of millennials said they are not annoyed by early holiday shopping, double the rate of baby boomers... Not surprisingly, millennials are the most excited about shopping via mobile. One in five people ages 18 to 35 said their mobile devices would be their primary way to shop for the holidays."
That contingent represents a massive opportunity to coordinate across touchpoints for preferences. By offering personalization, time-saving opportunities or anticipatory answers to questions, you can be the big win in a hectic season that ends all too quickly.
Ninety-nine percent of customers are waiting for you. Have you spent the year earning your spot on their must-shop list?
Publish Date: October 27, 2016 5:00 AM
Recently I wrote about how to determine whether your company is truly committed to personalizing the customer experience (CX) and building loyalty. I presented the first half of eight questions to ask yourself; now I offer the rest.
My goal: to help you develop the strategies, action plans, and employee initiatives to satisfy unprecedented customer expectations for high-value engagement, personalization, and loyalty.
Question 5: Do you have in place the necessary CX/loyalty/CRM technology to connect with customers?
"Forward-looking organizations are making strides by focusing on three key ingredients: technology, data, and ownership," said Jefrey Gomez, managing director, Asia Pacific at Econsultancy, in this B&T article. Michael Kustreba, managing director of Epsilon, Asia Pacific, agreed: "The good news is that there are valuable insights from data, technology and proven methodologies that organizations can adopt to help them improve their customer experience delivery."
Case in point: Online retailer Zappos has devised "Zappos Labs," which focuses on solving consumers' pain points and creating optimized customer experiences across all channels. The brand's mobile app allows consumers to send Zappos employees a photograph of items seen on the street via text, email, or Instagram. A link is then sent back to the consumer to purchase it online.
Additionally, Zappos' customer service agents are reminded of their CX commitment with a "Happiness Experience Form," which reminds them to attempt at least two personal connections with consumers throughout interactions to address any needs and provide an "overall wow experience."
Question 6: Do you have a dedicated budget for new research to drive innovative CX/loyalty strategies?
Per research conducted by Epsilon, "Only 7% of companies have a single, dedicated budget for understanding the customer journey, and 27% have a dedicated budget split across different departments."
Jonathan Serebrin, user experience researcher for The Home Depot, advises that companies include all teams in research results and learnings to make them part of the company culture. Make sure that all departments understand how customers feel about the brand and products, he said. Every step of the testing and development process needs to assure synchronization with customers.
While CMOs are now understanding that a dedicated CX budget is essential to transformation, in the "Spotlight On 2016 CX Helps And Hurts" study by Forrester, a notation was made regarding budgets: "CMOs won't simply write blank checks. Instead they'll require CX teams to prove that their projects improve key performance indicators that marketers care about, like customer acquisition and engagement."
Question 7: Do the highest levels of management in your company support CX programs and staff?
The "Shifting Sands Of Marketing: Gartner 2015-2016 CMO Spend Survey" reported, "Business leaders understand that consumer expectations for fast, informative, convenient, and personalized transactions will continue to grow and that staying ahead of the competition is paramount."
And according to the Forrester/Heidrick & Struggles "2016 Evolved CMO report," "Evolved CMOs will need to commit to understanding customers and to driving that philosophy throughout their organizations with a customer-obsessed mindset."
Question 8: Does your company have a cross-functional and integrated culture?
The Deloitte "Global Human Capital Trends 2016" report stated that in today's evolving marketplace, companies need to adopt a new organizational structure to be more of a "network of teams" with strong communication and rapid information flow cross functionally. Additional data points from the report include:
Publish Date: October 25, 2016 5:00 AM
Too many companies are still struggling to achieve deep and high-value relationships with customers. As a result, churn, attrition, and high opt-out rates continue to be significant problems. This is especially true among Millennial customers, who expect unprecedented levels of value and personalization from brands.
These findings are based on results from more than 160 VoC research studies our firm, ERDM, has conducted for brands such as Microsoft, HP, MassMutual, Gilt, and QVC.
In response to requests from CMOs, who are understandably frustrated and concerned by these persistent issues, we prepared eight questions to help determine whether your company is truly committed to personalizing the customer experience (CX) and building loyalty.
This article will be presented in two parts. Here are the first four questions, along with some possible answers and action items.
Question 1: What is your company's true appetite for CX and loyalty transformation?
According to Mike Polner, director of product marketing for Five Stars, a mobile loyalty app provider: "The most successful businesses ensure their staff is engaged and understand the value of loyalty."
And according to Jeroen Hoencamp, CEO of Vodafone UK: "Transformation needs to take place both internally and externally. ... Listening to customers and understanding customer value from their perspective will allow customer-centric transformation to take place."
Question 2: Do your fellow execs have a deep understanding of why you are focusing on CX and loyalty?
Brands that have successful consumer engagement strategies put consumer understanding at the top of their priority lists.
Bloomingdale chairman and CEO Tony Spring noted that consumer understanding is paramount in every aspect of the company's marketing. Here are some key quotes:
Additionally, John Gerhardt, senior vice president, creative branding direction, at LVMH-owned DFS Group, noted: "Every person has a story to tell about where their loyalty lies, and we were thrilled to explore that concept ... to celebrate and thank our customers for the immense loyalty they show us. ... We wanted to celebrate the value of loyalty, which is at the core of all these experiences."
Question 3: Do you have the right data, metrics, and segments to measure CX impact and success?
In structuring its loyalty program, Safeway examined many data factors, some of which were surprising. Here is an important note from the agency that structured the program: "You will run the danger of cannibalizing your business by giving rewards to people who are going to shop with you anyway. ... It is better to target your programs mainly to those whose behavior you want to change."
Prior to instituting the program, Safeway surveyed its customers and asked: How much do you spend on groceries every week, and where else do you shop? Answers were combined with the actual spending data to determine Safeway's "share of wallet" and gain understanding of new opportunities that could be uncovered with a loyalty program.
Question 4: Does your staff have the right CX and loyalty skills, and do you have a customer advisory group?
Nick Mehta, CEO of marketing firm Gainsight, noted that having a dedicated customer success team, as well as a group of consumer advocates, is a necessity for building successful loyalty and CX. "The customer success team should be your eyes and ears. ... CS can tell you which users love using your service. ... Many times, users can offer informal advocacy and on-the-ground feedback that decision makers can’t. In addition, there are usually far more users than decision makers."
Part 1 Takeaways
Publish Date: October 5, 2016 5:00 AM
Raul Ortiz is marketing director for the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands in the Americas. He has oversight for the teams that develop the annual marketing plans for the brands, execute integrated marketing programs behind one big brand campaign idea, and develop long-range, demand-generating, brand-building capabilities.
Publish Date: September 28, 2016 5:00 AM
Preference Management Video Series
In one of the largest ever consumer marketing studies, Edelman's 2014 Brandshare Report, 212 companies were evaluated based on 11,000 customer interviews across eight countries. The findings were illuminating when it comes to brand narratives and communication practices.
The study found that 9 in 10 consumers were looking for markets to more effectively share their brand story. Only 1 in 10 felt any given brand was already doing that. Further analysis showed two ways in which companies could better shape their marketing efforts:
First, involving customers in the brand-development process – rather than just at the end. The study found that consumers have a great affinity for a shared product, one in which the customer feels they had a hand in designing and/or developing. This shared approach was desired by 91 percent of respondents.
Second, companies should create a singular narrative that engages consumers with the brand story. Shared values and company history are often communicated to a broad range of stakeholders, but not always consumers. Shared beliefs are another way to effectively create affinity for your company.
Both of these ways of reaching consumers are well within your company's control. Meanwhile deeper findings of study showed that two-way dialogue was essential in your company's method of communication. This requires a new approach to share, listen and respond to consumers.
This quick video touches on how consumers want to hear from companies, a chapter within a new whitepaper, Preference Data ROI, which contains a new methodology to assess customer relationship maturity levels.
In the following weeks, we'll continue to roll out videos to guide you through the power of preference data. If you haven't yet explored our Resource Center, you can download the Preference Data ROI whitepaper here.
Publish Date: August 1, 2016 5:00 AM
Getting back to basics is a great way to remind ourselves of the simplicity of what we work on, yet the power it has when used correctly. Sometimes a start back at the beginning helps us refresh and re-set our course.
Publish Date: July 27, 2016 5:00 AM
"You can only eat so much plain white cake. The 30 percent is the icing." This is just one of the statements Joe McFarland, J.C. Penney's executive vice president, made during a recent company conference. He then went on to instruct attendees, "We want you to stop doing things that don’t focus on the customer."
Additionally, J.C. Penney CEO Marvin Ellison made the following statements: "Our marketing has to be more specialized," "We have great data; we just aren't using it," and, "The customer loves us, and we need to love them back."
Shifts from traditional corporate policies toward customer experience-focused improvements are reinforced by two important research reports:
One company that has put both money and policy behind its commitment to better its consumer experience via corporate policy is Chick-fil-A, which is currently the highest-scoring restaurant brand in the U.S. Customer Experience Excellence rankings.
The company spends more than a $1 million evaluating its service. In addition to traditional focus groups, the company conducts a quarterly phone survey with customers from each restaurant. Each location receives a two-page report detailing what's working and what needs improving.
"My business grew on the understanding that customers are always looking for someone who is dependable, polite, and will take care of them," said S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A.
The company has a dedicated area on its site for Chick-fil-A stories. Additionally, its 80,000-square-foot Hatch Innovation and Learning Center is dedicated to helping the company invent next-generation customer experiences.
My three takeaways for marketers:
"Marketing can't deliver a great customer experience independent of sales, service, and any other part of the organization. ... Without a holistic approach, you are really only hoping that you can deliver a great experience," said Gartner analyst Jake Sorofman.
It is now no longer an option that marketers in every industry challenge their corporate structure to understand whether legacy policies are building barriers to, rather than enabling, customer engagement.
Publish Date: July 18, 2016 5:00 AM
"It's summer! Is your body ready for the beach?"
Publish Date: June 23, 2016 5:00 AM
It's tempting to believe that with smartphones in every pocket, consumers are relying on lightning-fast access to information at their fingertips instead of resorting to brand loyalty. Connected consumers are quicker to compare products, but does the simple fact of access to information affect buying decisions as much as we think it does? Not necessarily. How do I know? I cut through the case studies and looked at ten years worth of data.
Data from over 6,000 mergers and acquisitions between 2003 and 2013 shows us valuation trends over the decade. Pulling data from the Markables database shows us the dollar valuation of a company's assets, which include the trademarks and customer relationships—an ideal data set to provide answers for those hypothesizing marketers. An analysis by the Harvard Business Review showed that over ten years the trend lines are clear: brand valuations declined while customer relationship values rose.
So it's less about whether customers can or will sift through information to make (or not make) decisions about brand purchases—it's about whether or not you have a relationship with them. That relationship is quite literally more valuable than your brand.
Luckily, marketing technology now allows brands to optimize the consumer's journey and leverage effective communications. Preference management, the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference and frequency of communication is the best way to engage with customers and ensure that they are leading that relationship on their own terms. When they have an affinity for the brand, it's due to their personal relationship with it, not necessarily the research and development behind the product.
Think about how your company would be valued—are relationships with your clients worth double your brand? Investing in those relationships now has an increased ROI for your company as a whole.
Publish Date: June 13, 2016 5:00 AM
Preference Management Video Series
As preference data continues to collect, it's imperative that the data is thoughtfully interpreted, and that you and your team are on the same page. Moving from preference management implementation to improvement hinges on defined and applied business rules and what meaningful metrics are used. These metrics may range from "hard," measurable key performance indicators (KPIs) to "soft" KPIs that are oriented around baseline customer expectations and customer interactions.
There are five categories of hard KPIs that can be measured when considering preference management performance. Those include:
In this 12-minute webinar, Eric Holtzclaw walks viewers through the ways to define return on investment and success factors with KPIs. Do any of them ring true to you?
Don't forget to consider those soft KPIs, too. Customer conversions are easy to quantify but customer retention, engagement and lifecycle are about qualified perceptions. However with preference management tools in place, tracking soft KPIs becomes much easier. Customers will select useful or timely communications and opt out of ill-conceived campaigns. In the short term, the data will empower marketers to course correct, reducing churn and improving marketing efficiency. Over the long term, that data will represent an actionable sample size from which to make large-scale marketing decisions.
In the following weeks, we'll continue to roll out videos to guide you through interpreting preference data. If you haven't yet explored our Resource Center, you can download the Interpreting Preference Data whitepaper here.
Publish Date: May 31, 2016 5:00 AM
Once again, our own Eric Holtzclaw is featured on CMO.com—this time writing on the challenges of "Preference, Privacy, and the Internet of Things" with advice for marketers and customer experience professionals.
Eric is absolutely right that connected devices are booming right now, and consumers are inevitably faced with a bevy of choices to personalize each one—deciding which devices can or should link with one another and determining what each device should track, listen to or do.
As the popularity of Internet-enabled devices continues to soar, it's preferences and privacy that will drive customer experiences – and that’s something that marketers should keep in mind.
By embracing transparency, dialogue and trust, Eric illustrates the ways in which smart technology can remain convenient and personalized without overstepping privacy and overlapping preferences. Check out the whole article here.
Publish Date: May 23, 2016 5:00 AM
Recently, we conducted VoC research for an innovative company that prides itself on having achieved high levels of customer personalization due to significant investments in technology, algorithms, and analysts. But the company was shocked when findings from our interviews uncovered that people were unsatisfied with the personalization, referring to it as "old-fashioned" and "not smart."
Following are additional representative quotes from the research:
Results from more than 15,000 hours of VoC research for brands such as MassMutual, Gilt, and QVC have identified a unique convergence of three factors that present CMOs and marketers with unprecedented challenges:
Factor 1: The power of technology, especially mobile, is an unprecedented enabler of better informed and faster consumer actions and purchases. To keep up, marketers need to develop strategies for high speed and high relevance engagement. A recent report noted that 69% of Britons are unsubscribing, closing accounts, opting out of emails, and deleting apps due to poorly targeted communications.
Factor 2: Consumers, in general, and millennials, in particular, are feeling a sense of tremendous empowerment and entitlement in terms of what they expect from brands. In the Deloitte report "The Growing Power of Consumers," the authors stated that "there is an increasing expectation gap as businesses struggle to keep pace with more informed, more connected and more demanding consumers ... consumers have come to expect more, making it harder for businesses to keep up ... empowered consumers are actively sharing their views ... and becoming more involved."
Factor 3: As illustrated by the ongoing Apple controversy with the FBI, consumers understand the value of their personal information, yet they desire higher levels of personalization. And, per our VoC research findings, reciprocity of value is a fundamental requirement for earning the right to in-depth customer information in exchange for significantly improved preference-driven personalization.
How can marketers better listen to their customers? Here are a trio of action items:
Marketers are dealing with the most demanding consumers in history. Leveraging new listening and responding capabilities is now essential in order to acquire and retain this empowered consumer. By acting on these three listening factors, marketers will be able to provide the highest levels of customer experience, value, and personalization.
Publish Date: May 16, 2016 5:00 AM
Aside from what I hope to be a much less absurd political cycle, 2020 is shaping up to be a landmark year, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit. Their latest report highlights the intersection between technologies and customer trends and the ways in which 499 CMOs and senior marketing executives plan to shape their next four years.
The report, The Path to 2020: Marketers Seize the Customer Experience, has a section titled "Personalisation at Scale," which I found was incredibly validating. Mid-way through the report, that section details marketers' agreement that personalization across touchpoints is earning recognition as an essential feature for marketing departments. By now we know that relevant content and responsive communications aren't just good ideas, they're expected by the customer. Therefore personalization will continue to offer a bridge between the customer and the brand wherein timely, relevant content is welcome and actionable.
But what I found remarkable was the speed at which everyone was transitioning their focus from traditional, mass marketing and publishing to customizable channels like social media, because technologies inevitably differ in their delivery of personalization. Whether marketers reach out through media channels, email, mobile or traditional advertising like print or TV, they'll be aiming to deliver branded messages to multiple audiences—not the same message though.
When they were asked about the top three channels in which customers experience their brand's marketing efforts today, connected media like the internet, social media and email took the top spots. When asked the same question, but focused on the year 2020, marketers put an emphasis on the importance of social media while the internet declined. They state, "By 2020, mobile apps and mobile web will overtake e-mail as a top channel to the customer… this suggests that by 2020, the top three channels to the customer will be those that focus on personalization and engagement."
Preference management, the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference and frequency of communication, will be essential to the growing priorities of mobile and social media. It's preferences that will be able to drive the customization and personalization of your brand's communications. Without customers' preferences, we'll struggle to identify which customers are opted-in to what channels and why.
Incredibly sophisticated preference management is possible, and it's on the horizon for more and more marketers, but if you're not using preferences yet, you should get started now. Before you know it, it will be 2020—and some people are already have their game plans together.
Publish Date: May 12, 2016 5:00 AM
Before he was appointed executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Nestlé Waters North America in 2014, Antonio Sciuto oversaw the brand's digital transformation as its global head of e-commerce. Prior, he was global strategy and organization manager for customer and sales.
A graduate of Bocconi University in Milan, Sciuto began his career in 2000 at Procter & Gamble, where he spent seven years in marketing and sales roles. He then worked as a consultant for McKinsey and Co. from 2007 to 2010.
Sciuto recently participated in our "4 Questions for Marketing Innovators" series.
1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
The evolution of the marketer's role to win in the omnichannel consumer journey.
The centricity of the consumer journey is shifting marketing's focus from building databases to fostering communities by leveraging social and mobile platforms. In the past few years, we have focused on big data: building things like databases, consumer segmentation, and predictive behavior. All of these initiatives are still relevant, but we need to shift our mindset toward understanding that the best databases are ones that are available at our fingertips (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.). Data from these platforms may not be owned in the traditional sense, but they are certainly usable as long as we leverage the data to make better business and marketing decisions.
An important part of our job must be to leverage social databases and their roles in consumer behavior. We do this not only by engaging with consumers when responding to inquiries, but also by fostering a more modern, proactive approach to satisfy consumer needs and enrich their consumer experience. Our scope is no longer just limited to demand generation; our mission should be building a holistic relationship with our consumers by leveraging all engagement opportunities across all available channels and touch points on their journey.
2. Why is this so important?
This new reality is blurring boundaries between marketing, sales, customer service, and IT, requiring an end-to-end approach that will transform the entire organization, rather than merely adding incremental online revenue. This is critically important considering the implications on three key components: role of content, definition of community, and evolution of marketing approach.
Branded content is the new advertising. The development of the right content by touchpoint is key to driving conversion along the entire consumer journey, from basic product information to brand campaigns. Most importantly, it's critical to understand how content and the role of the touchpoint are changing.
Our definition of "community" has changed as well. We have seen that community is no longer a place where people gather around similar interests, but rather something that forms temporarily and elastically around content people share similar interests in.
Last but not least, the marketing approach needs to evolve to smarter brand campaign content, complementing the traditional agency model with a faster go-to-market model built for more intelligent, higher quality content creation and distribution. We've found this in both agency partners, like Deep Focus and its DFx platform, and new content partners (e.g., BuzzFeed, Tastemade), who are changing the rules of the game. They offer not only more collaborative content production, but guaranteed targeted distribution and engagement at scale as part of a turnkey offering.
3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?
In this changing environment, the integration between marketing and technology will allow brands to build a deeper relation with consumers. This integration will make a significant impact by supporting the collection of consumer data, mapping of consumer profiles, and building lookalike models to amplify campaign effectiveness. This offers new possibilities to build more valuable brands and businesses by personalizing the consumer experience. Now marketing is not a sequence of different campaigns but an integrated and automated journey to better satisfy consumers' needs.
At Nestlé Waters North America, our approach is to offer consumers a unique and complete set of omnichannel solutions aligned with their needs by offering the ideal product assortment in-store, e-retailer content to overcome online shopping barriers, content worth sharing in their social channels, and delivery directly to their home with "Ready Refresh," our direct-to-consumer business.
4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
This renewed digital approach, enabled by marketing cloud technology, will allow brands to amplify their marketing efforts beyond the main campaign. Marketers now have the opportunity to proactively engage with consumers on social platforms and to build additional consumer journey and content based on online consumer behavior amplifying campaign results.
To improve marketing effectiveness and capture this opportunity, there are three key enablers for success:
Bonus: Favorite activity outside of work?
Traveling and enjoying time with my lovely wife and my daughter.
Publish Date: May 10, 2016 5:00 AM
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