Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Monday, September 29, 2014

Use Human Data to Provide True B2B Personalization

Game-Changing Marketing Trends Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CMS Wire

An enormous shift is occurring in how B2B customers think about engagement and relationships. Customers expect marketers to achieve relevance by providing personalized communications based on their individual preferences, rather than continuing with irrelevant “spray and pray” marketing blasts. It’s this new way of thinking that’s unlocking the true potential of human data.B2B - Personalization

A Shift in Strategy

Gone are the days when B2B prospects and customers would sort through piles of spray and pray “stuff” to uncover the few relevant messages. They expect marketers to find them and provide relevant offers and communications based on their individual needs and preferences. This means that marketers must develop bold new strategies that achieve the delicate balance of requesting in-depth data in exchange for providing the value of significantly improved customer experiences.
That is why after careful research, The UPS Store repositioned itself as a small business peer to peer company which made it more relevant to its target audience. Its research showed that 90 percent of small-business owners would prefer to do business with other local business owners. The UPS Store targeted this small biz niche and carefully crafted its messaging to directly answer their specific requirements.
A marketing initiative was created to let UPS directly connect with this audience in order to provide personalized services, products and offers of real value. They launched a Small Business Solutions portal, offering resources for small-business owners and the Small Biz Buzz, an online community of more than 300 small-business owners.

An Exchange of Value  

Just like their B2C counterparts, B2B marketers are realizing that to be truly personalized, marketing must be based on more than transactional, overlay and inferential data. It has to be based on the individual customer’s stated needs and self-profiled preference information.
However, developing a program to gain progressively deeper levels of self-profiled data must start with a foundation of trust. Per findings from Voice of Customer research conducted by ERDM, B2B customers and prospects are willing to provide trusted brands with meaningful information in exchange for more personalized offers, communications and experiences. We call this exchange of value the “Reciprocity of Value.”
This Reciprocity of Value, built on trust, is the critical aspect of both B2B and B2C data-driven marketing. It is trust, and a perceived reciprocity, that will motivate customers to provide the preference-based information needed to drive truly relevant, engaging communication.
Keep in mind:
bullet Trust is the foundation and basis for obtaining deeper levels of personalized, preference-based data.
bullet Marketers must earn the right to obtain deeper levels of preference data by delivering on the promise of truly personalized communications.
bullet Marketers should strive to build sustainable relationships with customers based on trust, commitment and reciprocity, from the initial prospecting phase to every aspect of the customer lifecycle.

Microsoft's Move Beyond the Product

To better connect with B2B consumers and develop a relationship program that transcended product transactions, Microsoft sought to gain a deeper level of customer understanding. Through VoC research with Microsoft’s SMB business consumers, key factors for improvement in personalization were outlined:
bullet Understand my unique business needs.
bullet Create user levels based on business size, industry and product focus and then create targeted content based these levels.
bullet Develop a relationship program based on the user’s unique needs, not Microsoft’s.
bullet Request user feedback at every touch point. And use that feedback to evolve the customer experience and provide relevant content and communications.
After a comprehensive program of gaining data through a preference-based, easy-to-navigate opt-in process, Microsoft developed ways to deliver on the promise of an enhanced experience. Customers received a welcome email, monthly personalized e-newsletters, and ongoing personalized offers and training.
The results were powerful:
bullet Opt-in rates up to 95 percent.
bullet Open rates greater than 50 percent.
bullet Response rates performing in the double-digits.
bullet Revenue increase of 2 times.
This is what the Reciprocity of Value looked like:
Customer Benefits Microsoft Benefits
Deeper level of personalized experience
Customized communication, training, and services
Improved information relevant to business needs
Opt-in Profile information to drive personalized content and communications
Ability to analyze web and email interaction behaviors
Improved Cross sell/upsell opportunities
In summary, earning the in-depth “human” preference data that drives personalized marketing is an essential strategy for B2B marketers looking to go from transactions to a long-term, value based relationships with customers.

Monday, September 8, 2014

5 Emails Which Drive Value and Response

We all struggle to create emails that are worthy of being opened.
We have to overcome the instinctive “Delete” reflex by our customers and prospects.
Following are 5 opportunities for emails that provide value, engagement and drive response.
1) Triggered messaging
Triggered messages (meaning those that are personalized, real time, or event related such as confirmations that are sent to subscribers in response to a specific action,) outperform generic emails. One of the reasons these types of emails are so effective is because they are relevant and personalized.
Ideas for triggered emails include:
  • Cart abandonment reminders
  • Order confirmations or shipping confirmations that include a personal thank-you with a time frame based thank you discount on their next purchase.
Additionally, according to eMarketer, for retailers, triggered emails enjoy an open rate nearly 75% higher than nontriggered emails, while clickthroughs more than tripled.
2) Transactional Messaging
According to the Experian’s “The Transactional Email Report, transaction-related emails, [prompted by] customers’ buying behavior, can provide marketers with great opportunity for improving customer service, gaining repeat sales and deepening customer engagement compared with standard bulk mailings…the average revenue per email is two to five times greater and can be up to six times greater than the all-industry average of $0.13.”
But don’t send “off the shelf” impersonal sales-based emails. Today’s transactional messaging, according to the survey is “branded, relevant and engaging...to take full advantage of the high level of customer interest and brand engagement that naturally follows a purchase.” Ideas for incorporating personalized Transactional Messaging include:
  • Re-order reminders, accessory replenish reminders, or sales alerts on products or accessories that obviously relate to a previous purchase.
  • Win-back emails for lapsed customers with personalized incentives based on buying history and preference data.

3) Engaging Email Subject Lines
Being engaging is more than just using your recipient’s name. Be relevant. Be “to the point” and deliver on what was promised within the body of the email. These, according to Christopher Lester, VP of sales at Emma, an email marketing platform, are the keys to successful and engaging email marketing.
Ideas for engaging email subject lines:
Lester advises that, “The email subject line is probably one of the most important pieces of a campaign... It's the beginning statement of the story… The email subject line is just a…way of giving the user [a] quick analysis... what is the value of the email compared to the amount of time dedicated to opening and reading the message? ...You're building relationships and making full connections... If you deliver [on] the value consistently, you will never have to beg for an open.”
4) Mixed Media Emails
Mobile is changing many of the rules for email. Marketers must now create messaging that is delivery-friendly to traditional email inboxes as well as those on mobile devices.
Ideas for mixed media emails include:
  • Today’s consumer is multi-screen and multi-device. Make sure your email messaging provides a mobile device experience that is as good as your desktop experience.
  • Be sure your landing pages are also dynamic so that mobile or tablet users can view your messaging clearly, get to forms, or be able to click with ease.
5) Personalized Emails
There is nothing more engaging than a truly personalized email that is all about you, the individual customer.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Learn from Amazon how they have taken personalized emails to a new level. The company has the ability to analyze and personalize both online and email content based on preferences, search history and previous purchases. Amazon sends its customers personalized product recommendations that entice a recipient to purchase a previously viewed item.
According to an in-depth white paper from Amazon, “The click-through and conversion rates - two important measures of Web-based and email advertising effectiveness - vastly exceed those of untargeted content.” Recommend that you read this report to gain thoughtful insights on sophisticated and effective personalization.

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.