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Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

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.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

5 Smart Social Community Strategies That Boost Sales

Business 2 Community
By Ernan Roman
Reprinted from: Business 2 Community


The Challenge: Social media has evolved into more than just another advertising channel, with communities transcending traditional social media channels. To make the most of these new opportunities, marketers need to learn what it takes to drive sales through relevant and targeted conversations.
Strategy One: Be authentic to your brand… and to customers
Online CommunityEvery brand that succeeds on social media does so by achieving a consistent voice that’s authentic to its core message. By connecting with a responsive social audience through communities, meaningful conversations become building blocks for achieving sales objectives. For example, CLIF Bar in keeping with its message of fitness has joined the People For Bikes initiative, which is consistent with its brand message, and provides a way to directly interact with their proven customers.
Per Eric Nystrom, Director, Social Media Services Group at Dell, “In today’s world people are not interested in talking to brand spokespeople or marketers. They are interested in connecting with empowered employees and subject matter experts. Social is about relationship building”.
Strategy Two: Connect through communities
Social communities resonate with customers and let brands connect on a deeper level via viral conversations which can far surpass the reach of a singular post on a social wall. As a matter of fact, social interactions now go beyond traditional social media into mobile experiences, television events, webinars, chats, and more. Two-way interactions enable customers to become part of the brand because they can gain answers to questions, address objections, and understand brand value. Coca Cola took advantage of the recent World Cup with the goal of creating the most inclusive FIFA World CupTM Coca-Cola campaign… ever. Emmanuel Seuge, Vice President Global Alliances & Ventures stated that, “…we set out to create the most inclusive and participatory FIFA World Cup™ ever. … we gave fans from all around the world the unprecedented opportunity to be a part of the greatest soccer stage of all… “
Strategy Three: Really understand how your customers connect
Turns out the way people interact on social media is similar to that of real life. In a joint study by the University of Georgia, Pew Research Center, and Social Media Foundation it was discovered that when people interact in social media they create patterns of social interaction. Identifying the specific groups of people talking about you, lets you understand who they are, what they are saying, and what connects them to your brand.
Strategy Four: Know where to find your customers and how they communicate
Additionally, the same study found that when marketers, target key meaningful communities they also zero in on key conversations, key words, and hashtags being used about the brand.
Gatorade reached out to its core customers with a “Beat the Heat” campaign that let them connect with their key groups of customers with a message of safety and health.
Strategy Five: Understand what information customers need
Sears has created Shop Your Way Rewards which gives customers a place to find product information, ask salespeople questions, and share recommendations.
According to Eric Jaffe, Senior VP “In the grand scheme of things, social media is …about building engagement and promoting conversations… around our brand…. We are focusing around the members, and building relationships with them that go beyond what they purchase from us…. Groups, especially social communities, are the most valuable to retailers….Highly engaged members end up spending more and — more importantly — shop more frequently.”
5 Takeaways that boost sales through social communities
1. Engage consistently in a manner that that reinforces your core brand message. Make sure that every channel delivers a reinforcing statement that helps customers move towards a purchase.
2. Understand which groups are the most valuable to your sales objectives. Not all consumers or social audiences have a purchase intent. Understand what social avenues best address buyers’ needs for actual purchase information.
3. Do what it takes to address consumer needs. Put in place strategies that let actual staff members interact with potential buyers so that they have access to the brand and have the resources necessary to move forward with a purchase.
4. Empower consumers to strengthen their voice. By giving your customers a platform you are empowering and respecting their voice.
5. Deliver the latest information, news and trends about your brand. If customers do not fully understand why they need to buy, they won’t go down the purchase journey with your brand. Social communities let existing customers and potential buyers understand what you are offering and your brand’s value proposition.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Multichannel Engagement; 6 Requirements and 3 Takeaways

There’s an ever increasing range of media and channels with which to engage customers. And although companies know an integrated multichannel engagement strategy is a must, most still struggle with how to do this well - and how to integrate the data into a singular customer centric vision and process.
Multi-Channel EngagementFor starters, marketers need to understand that the world is shifting from forcing customers to sort through piles of spray and pray stuff to find useful communications, to a world where personalized, relevant multichannel communications find consumers based on their opt-in preferences.
The average U.S. consumer spends 60 hours a week consuming content across devices. Many channels are also delivered via multiple devices, making marketing and data collection increasingly more complex. With customers coming into companies from multiple directions, the challenge is to generate seamless, consistently high value, integrated customer experiences—no matter which medium a customer selects.
Multichannel strategies have to begin with an understanding of the requirements customers use to define “Engaging Customer Experiences”. Following are the 6 requirements that have emerged from over 10,000 hours of Voice of Customer research conducted by our firm, ERDM for clients such as MassMutual, IBM and QVC:
1. Improve the customer experience across every point of contact with your organization.
2. This applies to all elements of the media mix and all departments of your organization.
3. High quality experiences must be maintained throughout the relationship, not just when you are “selling.”
4. Customer experiences must be driven by the customer’s individual preferences regarding message, timing, frequency and media mix.
5. Preferences must drive high quality personalization of communications and experiences.
6. Absolute commitment to safeguarding privacy of preference information is essential.
A company that has used its multichannel insights to develop new marketing initiatives is Beyond the Rack, which uses customer data based on media usage to shape its future engagement strategies.
The company’s sales for mobile users skyrocketed from 10% of total revenue in mid-2012 to nearly one-third by 2014. Most recently, Beyond the Rack has revealed that their new focus centers around taking their mobile insights to set the standards for all interactions with customers.
Three Key Takeaways for you based on Beyond the Rack’s strategies:
1. Using its data to understand that 40-50% of their 12 million daily e-mails are opened on mobile devices, the company maximizes the impact of their mobile emails to make them more appealing on mobile devices. All marketers should identify and optimize the most active media channels to make them more engaging for customers.
2. Beyond the Rack continually engages with customers via contests such as its web-based model search. This gives customers an active opportunity to become a part of the brand through multiple media channels and not be just an impersonal buyer.
3. Yona Shtern, CEO of Beyond the Rack, stated that “Consumers have very different expectations of what they want you to be …. [at Beyond The Rack] we spent a lot of time figuring out who we needed to be.” Marketers need to build their media and marketing strategies around what customers want and where they spend their time.