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Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Monday, June 12, 2017

How You Should Engage at These 7 Points in the Customer Lifecycle

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CustomerThink.com
Here’s how Fran Horowitz-Bonadies, chief executive officer, Abercrombie brand/Hollister & Co. describes consumer communication in 2017:
"For the past year, we spoke to one-and-a-half million consumers on what they are looking for in their shopping experience… There’s been almost a 180-degree turn on making sure we keep the customer at the center of everything we do. It’s been [our] most important singular focus…"
But, it’s not only about keeping customers at the center of your communication and engagement strategies. Research findings from thousands of hours of VoC research conducted by our firm, ERDM, indicate that customers want unprecedented levels of personalization at 7 very specific points in their lifecycle with a brand. Think about how savvy customers are to identify the following points where they want brands to engage;
• Purchase
• Onboarding
• Reach out when you see Decreasing Engagement
• A Poor Experience
• Surprise & Delight / Thank You
Value Added Cross Selling
Value Added Repeat Sales.
However, to deepen relationships at these key points, brands must shift to truly relevant and value-driven communications. Per the research, traditional transaction / persona / implicit data based communications are not viewed as relevant.
Using the 7 VoC research-based lifecycle points, here are ways that marketers can add value to communications.
New Purchases and Onboarding—You Need to Become Part of the Consumers’ Lifestyle
Bacardi Limited Chief Marketing Officer Mauricio Vergara recently noted:
"We need to get our brands back into culture, so we’re moving away from a traditional marketing model of talking to consumers to really being part of their lifestyle…If we are true to that philosophy of being part of their lifestyle, a brand that they actually relate to in their day-to-day life, we cannot just be present in the high-selling moments… It’s been a learning process…but we’re definitely seeing the payback."
When You See Decreasing Engagement/Poor Experiences – You Need to Understand How to Win Back Trust
V. Kumar, a marketing professor at Georgia State University outlined in a Harvard Business Review article, the key factors marketers need to keep in mind when attempting to win back lost consumers, "Too many companies go after whoever they’ve lost, throwing all these offers at them, hoping something will work," Instead what he recommends is fully understanding which group of lost consumers will yield the best bet to come back and not depart again, then crafting an offer or message that is compelling to that segment.
Here is what the study advises: "firms will be more efficient if they focus on people whose prior behavior suggests a predisposition to return. The researchers found that customers who have referred others, who have never complained, or who have had complaints that were satisfactorily resolved are the best bets. Reasons for leaving are also predictive: Customers who canceled because of price are more likely to come back than those who left because of poor service, and people who cited both reasons for quitting are the least likely of all to return."
For Cross Selling/Thank You/Repeat Sales – Use Value Added and Emotional Engagement to Strengthen Connections
Recently, Yeti — a manufacturer of coolers used primarily for outdoor and camping pursuits — decided to open their first retail location. But, rather than building a transaction based store, the brand decided they wanted an experiential, emotional, connection-building brand immersion. The brand noted, the goal was less to "find a way to sell a lot of coolers to people who come inside and more to create a permanent brand activation that allows people to interact with Yeti in ways that they’ll hopefully take with them in the future."
Corey Maynard, Yeti’s Vice President of Marketing explains "It’s meant to be much more of an immersive Yeti experience…than it is to be a transactional space… Yes, we’re selling coolers…but it was much more important to us that people could have fun with the Yeti brand and see it brought to life …than just be a place that’s driven by transaction." Tony Kaplan, YETI Director of Consumer Experience "YETI’s flagship is not a typical retail store… [it is an] authentic experience that allows our customers to interact with the YETI brand in a whole new way."
In summary, think about the 7 stages in the lifecycle which emerged from the research and see how many opportunities exist for you to deepen your relationships with customers!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Don’t Be Shy: Opt-in Customer Data is Essential for CX Success

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CMO.com
A full 96% of digital marketers say personalization advances customer relationships, according to a new study from Evergage and Researchscape International. Yet more than 55% say the industry isn’t getting personalization right. And nearly 50% give their company’s personalization efforts a “C” grade or below.
So how do CMOs raise the bar?
To develop an effective personalization strategy, CMOs need to start with a solid foundation of traditional customer data. But that is not enough. The essential next step is building deeper levels of human data gained via preferences and attitudes.
Some brands already understand that.
“To achieve truly meaningful personalization and CX, we needed more than traditional purchase history and overlays of behavioral/inferred data. We needed to get customers to opt-in and tell us their individual preferences,” said Scott Emmons, head of the Neiman Marcus Innovation Lab. “But to earn that deeper level of information, we had to offer something meaningful. Our Memory Makeover smart mirrors are a high-value way for customers to share their individual preferences regarding cosmetic products. We make it clear that this information will be used to serve them in the stores and as part of ongoing email communications to reorder products or learn about new products that are uniquely relevant to them.”
Why Traditional Data Approaches No Longer Work
Findings from over 16,000 hours of Voice of Customer research conducted by our firm indicate that traditional customer experience, personalization, and personas are no longer effective. That’s because the B2B and B2C decision-making journey is neither linear nor simplistic, and customers are complex humans, not cohorts.
However, marketers must realize that they are not entitled to deep customer information. They have to earn it. A reciprocity of value is required, where customers opt in to provide deep preference data in exchange for smart, useful personalization.
But here’s the caveat: This data must be explicit data, meaning it is self-profiled preference information delivered via a site’s preference center or through dialogue boxes. Explicit data indicates deeper or longer-term preferences versus traditional implicit data, such as data-mined information or short-term consumer interests or needs.
“Too often, personalization relies on statistical inferences from a customer’s purchase and browsing history. This will likely be subject to error and spurious correlations, one reason why many customers are unimpressed with today’s attempts at personalization,” said Wayne Duan, director of merchandising and merchandising operations at Walgreens Digital Commerce. “The retailers who will win are those that successfully collect explicit customer input and harness those direct and intentional actions to improve the customer experience.”
Duan cited as an example Walgreens’ Beauty Enthusiast program, which asks customers their preferences, such as makeup style and skin needs. “We use this clearly expressed data to personalize the customer offering and experience within our beauty category,” he said.
Kevin Lindsay, director of product marketing at Adobe, built onto that with a point about context. “Historical customer data, such as purchases, is important but not predictive,” he said. “It must be enriched with contextual information to drive truly relevant personalization and CX. Contextual information provides the uniquely rich opportunity to understand the human dimension and situation of customers.”
Betabrand, a crowdsourced apparel company, is another brand that understands the fundamental shift in personalization. “Betabrand has a unique ability to measure and react to every click, vote, comment, purchase, etc., on our site,” said CMO Aaron Magness. “We use this rich data to provide a personalized shopping experience that goes way beyond the old-school segmentation mindset and truly serves you what’s relevant, not what’s relevant to people like you. Having data is one thing; understanding how to act on the important data is what matters.”
And while having the technology to analyze the data is important, equally important is not solely relying on it. “Companies tend to be lazy and arrogant by trying to mass-produce marketing or solve the problems by buying the latest martech tools,” said Silver Star Brands CMO Kathy Hecht. “One cannot achieve true personalization without deep human data from your customers.”

Monday, May 15, 2017

Webrooming vs. Showrooming: Are You Engaging Both Types of Shoppers?

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CustomerThink.com
According to Forrester, “webrooming consumers will bring in $1.8 Trillion in sales in 2017.”
Marketers need to understand this new type of shopper. If you are not adjusting your strategies to keep pace with this new reality, you could be setting your brand up for missed opportunities.
Here’s a quick overview:
  • Webrooming Consumers: research products online before buying them in a physical store. (78% of consumers say they have webroomed in the past 12 months.)
  • Showrooming Consumers: visit store(s) to examine a product before buying it online. (72% of consumers say they have showroomed in the past 12 months.)
Understanding why consumers engage in these practices is critical for strategy development. Per the Forrester study,
Webroomers don’t want to pay for delivery and want instant gratification. Showroomers want to touch and feel a product prior to purchasing.
What can marketers do to engage this new shopper?
In a Think with Google report it was noted that 82% of shoppers say they consult their phones on purchases they’re about to make in a store.
Beauty retailer Sephora has embraced the showrooming and webrooming concept. Mark Alexander, director of mobile product management at Sephora USA Inc. commented, “Mobile continues to be our fastest growing channel,” Alexander says. “We’re really excited about what mobile can do for online and in-store sales.”
Sephora’s mobile app offers an “in-store” mode which consumers can use while they browse to scan in a product to read online ratings and reviews and access the loyalty program to check reward points. The store can also send personalized messages and alerts to consumers with the app via Bluetooth beacon technology.
Recently, Walmart also embraced the Webrooming/Showrooming trend and responded with some innovative offerings. Understanding that two of the big “asks” of today’s consumer are immediacy and free shipping, the company has adjusted its online shipping policies to make it easier, cheaper and faster for consumers to get their selected merchandise. Walmart’s new 2-Day Shipping is available on popular products and applies to orders over $35. The company also offers free shop on line/pickup in store as well as free grocery shop online/pickup in store.
Marc Lore, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. eCommerce noted that “Two-day free shipping is the first of many moves we will be making to enhance the customer experience and accelerate growth… In today’s world of e-commerce, two-day free shipping is table stakes. It no longer makes sense to charge for it…”
And, taking things one step further, Home Depot not only offers order online and pickup in store, but the company also offers to “do the heavy lifting” by letting customers order online and have it delivered from the store at their chosen delivery time and date that can be selected from a scheduling calendar.
Take the time to listen to the Voice of your Customer
More so than ever before it is no longer about how brands want to sell, rather it is all about how today’s omnichannel consumer wants to shop and buy. Marketers need to meticulously watch, learn, and re-evaluate shopper behaviors so new practices and technologies can be developed in response to demands.
Understanding the ever-changing purchase journey is the first step in meeting a new type of shopping expectation. Not embracing Webrooming or Showrooming actions could jeopardize current and future relationships as consumers gravitate to brands that step up to deliver innovative purchase options.