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Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Monday, September 25, 2017

All These Mergers... Consumers Are Asking: Will Their Brand Connection Still Be There?

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CustomerThink.com
“By combining companies, we believe will be able to…enhance the customer experience, increase customer value and put ourselves in an even stronger position to help shape and lead the next generation of shopping,” So said Mike George, QVC’s president and CEO.
But will they?
When brands merge are they diluting the brand message and connection with consumers? With so many mergers and acquisitions recently, you have to wonder what it means for brands and their connection with consumers.
L’Oréal which owns 34 brands has a unique perspective—let the brand be itself and be what consumers want. Jean-Paul Agon, L'Oréal CEO, noted, “Brands have to be authentic, but for [consumers], it means the brand is transparent and there is sincerity in what they express… We have to adapt permanently, or even anticipate permanently, the consumer’s demands…”
The lesson for brand managers going though mergers it that it’s essential to both respect and reassure consumers who have made a financial and time investment in selecting and patronizing “their brand.” When things “change” due to merger, an emotional connection could be at jeopardy if doubt sets in that that their original decision to become a customer is no longer valid.
The Harvard Business Review noted that an emotional connection between a brand and its consumers is a significant differentiator. “On a lifetime value basis, emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers.
Here’s a bit of insight they share that brand managers should take note of:
  • “Most companies lack a strategic objective that spans the customer journey.”
  • “Our research across hundreds of brands in dozens of categories shows that the most effective way to maximize customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level – tapping into their fundamental motivations.”
The advice In our ERDM learnings from 15,000+ hours of VoC research interviews, consumers told us that understanding them and developing relationships is a competitive differentiator for maintaining a strong brand connection:
  • “Your generic communication make it obvious that you don’t understand me. You are trying distill my complex needs into simple generalities to make it easier for you … and useless to me!”
  • “You marketers don’t understand that personalization is valuable … it forges strong ties when there is the almost-certain outreach from competition.”
One of the issues in meeting consumer connection needs according to Adobe Digital Insights (ADI), is that brands think that they are delivering this experience but according to consumers—they are not.
Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst at ADI, explains why value is always the key to connections.
“[Brands] have to demonstrate value to the consumer. Companies are still not built to be able to do that…. At a time when marketers are competing for time and attention…Organizations, themselves, are fragmented, and, on top of that, their technology is fragmented, making it difficult to make progress…We’re in a really high-pressure environment where marketers need to not only protect their loyal base, but also efficiently steal from the competition… The winners are going to be the companies that have the technology and chops to serve relevant, personalized communications to consumers, consistently…”
TakeAways:
1. Consumers want meaningful relationships with brands. When doubt creeps into a consumer’s mind they lose the original motivation that sparked their connection in the first place. Brands need to be sincere and clear in all touch points so that the value “reason” is continually reinforced and present.
2. An emotional consumer connection with your company is a primary driver of engagement. Actively involved consumers are far more likely to be not only be top purchasers but also vocal and authentic brand ambassadors. But this takes a continual commitment to demonstrate understanding and develop highly personalized experiences.
3. To grow, companies need to protect the investment they have in their already loyal consumers while simultaneously reaching out to new prospects. And, finding ways to be relevant to both.
With so much merging and blending, the question is; will these combined companies thrive or not? However, one thing is for sure; consumers will want proof that any new union deserves their patronage. In an interview, Doug Rose, SVP of programming and marketing for QVC, said, “Amid the rapid transformation of our business, our recipe for cultivating loyalty has not changed: To deliver a shopping experience that fosters enduring relationships, rooted in trust.

Monday, September 11, 2017

4 Requirements for Linking CX to ROI

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on crmirewards.com
Eighty-one percent of consumers are willing to pay for a better experience, according to the Capgemini’s study The Disconnected Customer.” Yet, customers don’t feel that companies are delivering high quality customer experience (CX), and one in five consumers stopped purchasing from a company after a poor experience, Capgemini’s research found.
In our own ERDM learnings from more than 16,000 hours of VoC research interviews, consumers were emphatic that short-term sales-focused tactics were irritating, brand damaging, and undermined loyalty. As empowered consumers, they expected engagement oriented communications and experiences.
Here is a representative quote from the research: “You marketers don’t understand that personalized engagement post-sale is valuable for the customer and... forges strong ties with your company that serve as a ‘grace account’ upon which to draw when there is the almost-certain problem or outreach from competition.”
Chris Hull, Chief Merchandising Officer at the iconic American luxury lifestyle brand Shinola, puts it this way, “Consumers are looking for meaningful experiences that differentiate one brand from another. One way we do this is by designing our stores to engage the five senses:
  • Sight – see team members build bicycles or do personalized embossing;
  • Sound – a warm welcome and vinyl playing on our Runwell Turntable;
  • Touch – well-crafted products, such as watches and leather bags;
  • Taste – a complimentary bottle of Shinola Cola;
  • Smell – the smell from our Shinola candles lit throughout the store.
This is all part of conveying our distinctive handcrafted products and has resulted in higher engagement, satisfaction, and conversion rates.”
With this in mind, here are four factors that will help you link CX to improved ROI:
1. CX strategies must align with consumer demands
Too often sales strategies are spray painted to look like CX strategies. However, customers are smart and know the difference between sales pitches posing as engagement and true CX. They resent when marketers think that customers are too naïve to know the difference.
According to Nike Chief Executive Mark Parke in comments about CX strategy development, “The important thing to point out is that changes are being driven by the consumer…. They want it fast, easy, and [they want] personal service.” Nike has implemented measures to drive personalization and has seen sales improvements in a landscape where so many other retailers and brands are failing.
2. Accurate data is essential for driving CX initiatives
As Jim Conning, managing director at Royal Mail Data Services so aptly puts it, data accuracy is non-negotiable for ROI: “CMOs and marketing directors all understand the importance of accurate customer data, but I’m not sure that more inexperienced members of the team understand the increased ROI of more accurate data.” The company’s research indicated that 34% of marketers fail to fully understand the financial impact of poor quality data; 70% of the 300 companies surveyed admit to having incomplete or out-of-date customer data; and 6% of annual revenue is being lost through poor quality data.
3. ROI also requires CX-focused content
Irrelevant content hurts your brand, so stop sending spray-and-pray blasts!
This quote from our VoC research is a blunt reminder. “When I receive generic emails, it’s obvious that you do not care enough to understand my individual needs. Instead, you are trying distill my complex needs into simple generalities to make your email blast easier for you...and useless to me!”
Consider this from a Salsify Study: “If you provide superior content, and a competitive price, you have the opportunity to both close the sale and build long-term consumer loyalty.” The study found that…
  • 88% of consumers say that product content is extremely or very important to their purchase decision
  • Price matters, but it’s product content that gets consumers to buy
4. Establish CX-oriented metrics and compensate accordingly
New and additional metrics are required to track and compensate for CX-oriented behaviors. Too many companies fail to change metrics to reflect their CX strategies and still compensate based on legacy “sell ‘em and forget ‘em” models.
In this blog post, Michael Klein, director of industry strategy for the Adobe Marketing Cloud, presents some effective soltuions that brands can implement to select the optimal CX metrics. One, from Epsilon’s Rob Cantave, especially stood out: “CRM data helps us understand what current customers are interested in seeing. Combining that with our third-party data lets us better understand what clusters of customers have in common. We present that information to the automated models and have them test and ultimately identify the product, categories, or content most likely to be of interest to returning customers and brand new unknown users who’ve been seen elsewhere in our network.”
Linking CX to ROI is a complex, multiphased, and corporate-wide pursuit. Remember:
  • CX requires company-wide consistency and communication so employees understand and are trained on the goals and behaviors they need to demonstrate every single day.
  • It also requires an omnichannel, data-driven strategy that’s based on meeting the requirements consumers indicate are important—to them. CX is useless without a consumer-focused approach because it will be observed as sales-y and meaningless.
  • Similarly, irrelevant content is perceived as demonstrating that a brand does not care about developing long-term customer relationships.
To achieve maximum ROI, companies need to rethink how they view CX and build impactful and sustainable strategies to satisfy customer needs over the customer lifecycle.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Moosejaw CMO Answers 4 Questions For Digital Innovators

Dan Pingree is the chief marketing officer of Moosejaw Mountaineering, where he oversees the outdoor retailer’s marketing initiatives, including search engine marketing, search engine optimization, email, photo, video, graphic design, content production and publishing, social media, brick and mortar marketing, catalogs, direct mail, A/B testing, and data analytics.
Moosejaw combines his love of e-commerce with a passion for the outdoors, and admits to owning doubles and triples of basically every piece of climbing equipment. He has held previous digital marketing and e-commerce leadership roles at Drugstore.com (Walgreen’s), Housevalues, and Microsoft and holds a Master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School. When not at work, he enjoys climbing, skiing, and trips with his family, the most recent of which was a trip to Cuba.
Pingree recently participated in our "4 Questions for Marketing Innovators" series. His topic is very timely: experiential marketing.
1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
In today’s retail environment where fierce competition abounds and continued retail bankruptcies dominate the business headlines, creating a notable, unique experience through various marketing activities has never been more important in defending against the assortment, convenience, and pricing pressures of Amazon. This is our focus every single day at Moosejaw.
We define “experiential marketing” as a series of marketing events or interactions that are unique and memorable to the customer and help him or her feel understood. This includes all touch points that a customer can have with Moosejaw, from initial introduction, site experience, emails, product recommendations, customer support, and even order packagin
One of the key attributes of surviving and thriving retailers over the next five to 10 years will be their ability to effectively and consistently deliver those unique and memorable interactions to customers.
2. Why is this so important?
Consolidation within retail is happening at a rapid rate. Amazon continues to put smaller pure plays out of business and is no doubt directly responsible for mall closures and big-box retailer downsizing. Amazon’s strength is within the transaction—that is, their assortment, aggressive pricing, and world-class logistics and delivery capabilities.
Retailers would do well not to attempt to “out-Amazon” Amazon but rather seek to build unique, notable experiences for their customers—experiences which help customers feel understood and valued at every touch point. Experiences that are consistent and unique, which other retailers—including Amazon—are not offering.
At Moosejaw, we sell outdoor clothing and gear, most of which is available at other retailers. Because of this, we have to constantly ask ourselves, “Why would somebody buy from Moosejaw?” The answer, of course, is because of the unique and notable experience Moosejaw offers its customers.
As we are successful with our experiential marketing efforts, I have no doubt that Moosejaw will be a strong, healthy retailer in the years to come, Amazon’s meteoric rise notwithstanding.
3. How can this improve the customer experience?
Experiential marketing enhances the customer experience because you’re creating interactions where you are demonstrating a clear understanding of who the customer is and what she wants. If it is known, based on your previous and current site browsing and past purchase history, that you like the Canada Goose brand, it doesn’t make any sense to show you promotions related to backpacks and climbing ropes. If you do, you may lose this customer forever because they feel misunderstood.
Every customer is an individual with unique tastes and preferences, and our marketing efforts must treat you as such. On the other hand, if the site experience involves changing the home page, search slots, navigation, and product detail pages by exposing the kinds of brands, categories, and offers that we know you like based on the data we’ve collected about you, we can create an experience that is welcoming, engaging, and worthy of your time.
Doing this well creates a differentiated experience versus every other retailer since nobody has truly cracked the code—yet. For all retailers big and small, there is a huge opportunity to win in this area. The slog is hard, long, and expensive, but ultimately those who figure it out will have a defensible position against the retail headwinds caused by Amazon.
4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
Dollars spent on experiential marketing simply perform better than generic marketing. We’ve seen it repeatedly in our results in areas such as time spent on site, add-to-cart rates, conversion rates, open rates, click-through rates, and many others.
The challenge is that the upfront investment costs in technology and people—not to mention the time required to test and learn which experiences are most meaningful—are huge barriers to most companies. But those who stay committed to experiential marketing will find the reward to be well worth the investment.
Bonus Question: What is your favorite activity outside of work?
One of my favorite activities is alpine mountaineering. I love being outside, on high mountains, in beautiful and remote locations. I’ve been working on climbing the highest mountains of the seven continents, of which I’ve managed to climb three so far. I hope to complete them all before too long, including Mount Everest.
For additional Marketing Innovator stories, click here.