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Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Monday, August 18, 2014

7 Game-Changing Marketing Trends To Engage Customers, Build Your Brand

Game-Changing Marketing Trends Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CustomerThink.com

Given the need for speed and agility, a critical priority for marketers is to reevaluate your current marketing strategies to determine if they are achieving two key objectives; competitively differentiating your brand and engaging customers across the multichannel mix.
Lays - Do Us A Flavor
Here are 7 game changing marketing trends you need to consider as you reevaluate your strategies. As you read these trends you’ll see that they address these key customer needs and expectations:
  • Empowering the buyer to become an active participant in their experience
  • Increasing relevance
  • Increasing differentiation and engagement
  • Solving problems and needs.
#1 Extreme Creativity
Extreme creativity is now required to help you achieve competitive differentiation in an increasingly cluttered and distracted market.
To target business decision makers and reinforce their message of big technology and big data to increase efficiency, GE used extreme creativity in the form of popular Sci-Fi movies in their “Brilliant machines” campaign. The TV spots use creative approaches to show how GE can solve major problems. GE also launched an innovative social campaign which generated 200,000 social engagements across #GEInstaWalk posts, 3.5 million unique viewers and over 3,000 new followers to the GE account.
#2 New Technology
There is a constant stream of new technology to enhance user experiences at every touch point. What’s key is to understand how your specific customers want to use technology to improve their experience with your brand.
HDFC Bank, winners of the Gartner CRM Excellence award, used technology to unify sales, service, and relationship management processes for a concerted CRM experience across all channels and devices, including branch, internet and mobile banking. This integrated, technology-based solution covered more than 40,000 users and its entire 3400+ branch network. The bottom line is that this new use of technology resulted in many improvements including reducing customer complaints by 30%.
#3 True Personalization
According to the 6th Annual Personalization Consumer Survey “consumers expect and desire personalization throughout their online shopping experience. And, 83% see value in being recognized with personalized experiences across channels.”
LE TOTE, an online shopping platform that launched in 2013 breaks new ground in the online fashion shopping experience through true personalization. The company’s personalization algorithm presents merchandise to each customer based on their supplied personalization elements such as measurements, age, location, as well as the items placed into their online “dream closet.” It has achieved rapid success because it provides a uniquely personalized online shopping experience.
#4 Leveraging the Power of Community
The power of community has taken consumer participation to a whole new level by empowering traditionally passive buyers and turning them into active brand contributors.
A powerful example is Quirky, which provides potential inventors with an online “store” to bring merchandise “made by real people” to audiences of “real people.” The concept of empowering the community to vote on which new product ideas have potential and should go into manufacturing, resonates. This community wants to participate in every facet of the process; from idea to development, marketing and ultimately buying these products. This very active community of over 200,000 people is able to vote, rate, and comment on potential new products.
Other notable community marketing campaigns are Lays, “Do us a Flavor”, Crocs social media contest (to vote on new products) and Sharknado2 ‘s fund raising efforts. All of these work because they actively engage fans by allowing them to become participants in the experience. Additionally, it gives brands relevant consumer insights about market preferences.
#5 Embracing the real customer journey
The path to purchase of your buyer is one that every business needs to understand in order to offer necessary education and a seamless experience. Understanding the path to purchase lets you make it simple and easy for people to do business with you.
Online travel site, TripIt believes that the customer journey is not a series of events, but a continuous experience. “It’s about the journey we’re on with the customer,” director of marketing Elisa Haidt. The company gives customers a way to make real-world journeys easier by organizing a trip into a master itinerary. A recent promotion for customers with one-year anniversaries offered a trial version of the premium version which resulted in a 900 percent increase in adoption because it integrated the buying journey into the fully-rounded customer experience.
#6 Multiscreen communication
Whether BtoB or BtoC, customers are accessing content on a multiple screens. According to new data from Usablenet; mobile traffic to BtoB sites will soon outpace B2C traffic and 52% of business people reported that they are using mobile devices to research products for their businesses.
Microsoft Advertising’s Cross-Screen Engagement study found that 68% of consumers engage in “content grazing,” multi-tasking using several devices at once. This leaves marketers with the challenge of rethinking how they present marketing messages so they deliver a good user experience no matter how the customer is digesting online content.
At this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity the company showcased a campaign by Lexus using Microsoft solutions for a multi-screen consumer experience.
#7 Location based marketing
Though this trend is still somewhat controversial, there is no doubt that location-based marketing is here to stay. The ability to use location to target consumers with messages based on not just who they are, but where they are, opens up tremendous opportunities for marketers.
An innovative example is Livedeal.com a geo-based deal engine that connects merchants and consumers via a mobile marketing platform. The service lets 8,000 restaurants publish over 10,000 deals “real-time” and “instant offers” to nearby consumers, who download the app to use the service. The company recently ran its first media awareness campaign which increased traffic by nearly 250 percent, showing that consumers are warming up to the benefits of sharing their location info in exchange for a discount at a nearby business.
Additionally, many online location-based price comparison services, have embraced the popular consumer trends of location-based mobile shopping as well as the phenomenon of “showrooming” (checking prices on a mobile device while in a brick and mortar location.) RedLaser, lets shoppers access current deals at local stores or scan the product’s barcode, to discover if a better price is close by. This works because rather than being targeted, customers are offering up their location to seek out helpful information.
We live in exciting times. Innovation is marketing’s best friend. We hope you’ll think about how these 7 marketing trends can transform the quality, relevance and ROI of your marketing.

Monday, August 4, 2014

5 Tips to Boost Native Advertising Effectiveness

There’s good news for marketers when it comes to consumer acceptance of contextual advertising. Consumers have come to terms with these ads... but only if the content is relevant, authoritative, and trustworthy.
Watch Orange is the New Black on Netflix
According to a study Edelman/Berland, Getting In-Feed Sponsored Content Right: the Consumer View:
» 86% of consumers feel that online advertising is necessary to receive free content online.
» 60% of consumers are more open to in-line ads that tell a story than ones that simply sell a product.
» Relevancy (90%) is the top factor in sparking interest in in-feed sponsored content, it is the top factor in the ultimate success of this type of native advertising.
Online entertainment company, Netflix has embraced the concept of native ads in a big way with a series of campaigns that has presented different content applicable to targeted audiences in varied media. It ran a contextual native ad campaign which discussed the popular TV show, “Orange is the New Black” on the New York Times website. Based on the positive results of the New York Times campaign the company decided to ramp up on native ads with an initiative on Wired which discussed TV viewing habits over the years. Netflix is using the articles to reach digital audiences looking for good storytelling—and then reinforce the message of a subscription-based entertainment service. 
Both campaigns had the intended result—shares that helped the company reach an even larger audience beyond the original viewership. And while there is some discussion over which outlet ultimately netted the bigger catch, both avenues together resulted in approximately 140,000 shares. But that is not the whole story, because the posts were also viewable on social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter. The average time spent on the ads topped a desirable 3 minutes.
5 Takeaways to Boost the Effectiveness of Native Advertising
1. Be Transparent; Own up to owning the sponsored content. There is a fine line between the “advertorial nature” of native ads and actual in-your-face in-line ads. But customers are just beginning to understand the concept of native advertising so to earn viewer trust, brands need to be upfront that the content being published, while relevant, is advertising with a message.
2. Fit In; Understand the look, feel, and format of the media you are using, so that your native ad fits what viewers expect to find on the site. As mentioned earlier, being disruptive rather than informative is a sure fire way to ensure that your native ads won’t work.
3. Keep VoC Front and Center; As in all marketing listening and understanding what customers want from you is key to delivering content that will be accepted and embraced. Fill a need with your native ads or be entertaining in a manner that fits the personality of your key customer.
4. Be a Good Storyteller; You want your native ad to go viral, so present a good story that viewers will want to share.
5. Be You; consistency across all media is key. When you are not true to your core brand message (no matter where or how it is presented) it is confusing to consumers who know you for who you are. If you are going to go in a new direction then be upfront about it so readers can go with you.

Monday, July 21, 2014

5 Tips for Using Customer Data to Deliver High Value

Customers have learned that in order to have a more customized experience they need to provide the data to drive those high-value communications and experiences. However, the burden is on marketers to become better in delivering on that expectation in order to give customers a reason to supply the necessary data.
Values for Customer
In a recent study by Consulting firm Emnos, it was noted that shoppers want relevant solutions – tips and advice that will simplify their lives, save on time, and deliver information. However, 83% feel that retailers are not providing sufficient information and resources.
This should be a wakeup call to marketers to do more than just collect data. They should use customer information to provide a clear and obvious improvement in the customer experience.
This fact is reinforced by a recent survey from data insight company ClickFox, which stated that about 32% of consumers said they're most willing to share personal data if they feel loyal to a brand.
Data influences every decision that Avis Budget makes, from product, to distribution, to communication.
With records from 40 million customers, finding data to analyze wasn’t an issue, it was how to structure the use of data that was the challenge. Understanding the value of the “total” customer through data helped the company to determine communication strategies and helped to differentiate customer service solutions.
Jeannine Haas, CMO, Avis Budget Group stated, “...we look for ways to infuse the customer experience with data… It helps us organize our contact strategy..., which in turn increases [its] effectiveness ... The most critical achievement of the project may be the “single view” of the customers...Information is consolidated into a web-based dashboard that the front-line customer-facing employees can access.”
The company used data technology to get a single 360-degree view of its customer by applying a segmentation strategy called 'customer lifetime value.' They looked for ways to infuse the customer experience with intelligence Tim Doolittle, vice president of CRM, Avis Budget noted that “Differentiation today is based on customer service and customer experience... We lacked an organized process and analytics infrastructure to leverage our data assets, to improve marketing ROI and the customer experience and to drive long-term customer value...”
“...We've added win-back and peer prospecting for a total of six segments, and that's how we organize our contact strategy group. That approach has increased the effectiveness of our contact strategy, in many cases above 30% over control.”
5 Takeaways for Using Customer Information to Drive High Value Customer Experiences
1. Use Data to Provide Useful Information - Make it easy for shoppers to understand that you’re collecting data in order to give them a better experience.
2. Use Data to Solve Problems - Identify issues and solve problems based on customer input and customer communications.
3. Positive Experiences Drive Customers to Share Data - Marketers need to continuously provide excellent customer experiences because this is what proves knowledge of customers as more than a transaction--but as a person.
4. Use Data to Actionably Improve Customer Communication - Due to lack of customer insights companies are often only able to provide generic responses, leaving the customer feeling more frustrated. Personalize communication, responses, and experiences.
5. Don’t Just Collect Data ... Use it as a Tool - Look beyond the last click, or the most recent search, to provide an experience that covers a consumer's entire purchasing journey.