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Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Monday, January 25, 2016

Chasm Remains Between What Customers Want and What Marketers Deliver

Chasm remains between customers and marketersThe gap between marketer's perceptions of how well they are doing and how customers feel remains incredibly large and dangerous.
According to IBM’s "Listening to the Customer: 7 New Research Findings", "almost 90 percent of marketers agree that personalizing the customer experience is critical to their success. Despite this…nearly 80 percent of consumers stated that the average brand doesn’t understand them as an individual."
And, according to a brand study by Bain & Company the characteristics of winning brands center around the cultivation of deep understanding:
  • Winning companies invest to understand what can truly bring new users to their brand
  • They rely on deep insights about consumers to guide innovations
  • Winners build brand memorability by steadily and repeatedly reinforcing and nurturing the brand around consumer-relevant needs and occasions.
Vitamix – Uses Customer Understanding to Grow
As a 95 year old company, Vitamix continues to be one of the most trusted blenders and a market leader in a very competitive industry. They attribute growth rates of up to 52% to understanding that their customer is at the heart of everything they do.
According to Jodi Berg, fourth generation President and CEO of Vitamix, here are a few of their guiding principles:
  • "We really feel the best way to get new customers is to never lose a customer we already have … We focus on customer retention by building relationships with them."
  • "We have a philosophy that we aren't actually hiring a new customer when we sell a machine, we are hiring a new salesperson."
  • "We would only reach out to you if we felt you were a good candidate to hear our message."
  • "At the leadership level, you make sure everyone understands the direction you're going. You stay focused, align everything you're doing in the organization to set the playing field."
  • After we develop strategic objectives, we go back to the team and say "How does this feel? Does this work? Do you understand it? Does it make sense? Will you be able to apply it so that people know whether we're on track or not?"
  • "We do a lot of market research and have a lot of conversations with our customers. We focus on understanding what the challenges are and what is really happening in stores. We also know what people are eating, how they are eating and how they want to interact with the machine, and we work on those challenges."
3 TakeAways
1. Marketers must create tactics that define the brand message, not dilute it. However, in the IBM Trend report, "Listening to the Customer: 7 New Research Findings" it was noted that there is "a massive perception gap between how well businesses think they are marketing and the actual customer’s experience."
2. Consumers need to clearly and quickly understand brand advantage when faced with a purchasing decision. When brands are side by side in the moment of a purchase decision, it is perception and understanding that will sway a consumer towards or away from your brand.
3. Brand identity needs to be inline with consumer values. Brand marketing needs to be deeply rooted in consumer-relevancy to present a unified, clear brand statement that is not only understandable—but also acceptable to their core concerns.
If consumers do not have a clear understanding of who you are as a brand, then they have no awareness of what you are trying to sell to them. Equally important, if you do not have a laser focused understanding of your core audience then message relevancy is impossible.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Put Life Into Your Customers' Life Cycles

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CMO.com
Customer Life CyclesThe term “closing a sale” is unfortunate. It reflects marketers’ thinking that with the acquisition of a sale they can move on to something else.
Instead, the sale should be viewed as a unique opportunity to begin to engage the customer across what will hopefully be a multiyear customer life cycle.
According to a Forrester report on the customer life cycle, CMOs need to take specific life-cycle actions to win, serve, and retain customers:
  • CMOs must match specific customer activities with tailored marketing actions to deepen engagement and enhance customer relationships.
  • CMOs must use the customer life cycle to reorient measurement and analytics approaches—from measuring specific touch points and transactional activities to measuring the value of the full customer relationship.
Generic messaging simply is not working for consumers who expect brands to present them with experiences based on their interaction history. In addition, an Accenture study found 55% of consumers also want a personalized experience on all engagement channels.
Here are two examples of brands that are getting it right—and how.
BCBGMaxAzria: Use Automation And Dynamic Personalization Women’s fashion company BCBGMaxAzria has been in business for more than 25 years, but it did not have a customer life cycle marketing strategy. It did, however, understand that its customer base was divided into three different types of fashionistas, and each group required unique actions to become interested and engaged. It used marketing automation to capture customer behavior on the site to send triggered emails to the right customers at the right times.
“We had one welcome email and then maybe they bought, or maybe they didn’t, and we would just batch-and-blast marketing emails to them,” Tommy Lamb, manager of ecommerce marketing at BCBGMaxAxria Group, told MarketingSherpa. The company learned that generic conversations were not working, so it used automation to help achieve more personalized connections with customers.
  • BCBGMaxAzria identified four key “triggers” and developed associated triggered email messages deployed according to a customer’s actions or inactions.
  • Additionally, notification messaging based on shopping behaviors were sent, which not only referenced a clothing item viewed or a new arrival, but associated wardrobe items that might be of interest.
The company reports that triggered email pushes average a 525% increase in click-through rates when compared to nontriggered sends. In addition, open rates have seen a lift of more than 220% when compared to the brand’s nontriggered sends. The company is now working on customized landing pages so that when consumers click through an email, they will be taken to a page with the BCBG branding that also is dynamically populated with a personalized product assortment.
AMResorts: Use Data For Greater Understanding
AMResorts, a luxury leisure company, needed a better way to view its entire guest life cycle across its 37 upscale resorts in order to deliver more personalized guest engagement. It used a data solution to study consumer actions and gain insights that drove new tactics.
Guest data from all six AMResorts was integrated into one central data warehouse. This enabled guest segmentation to drive rules-based decisions on personalized marketing content and communications to three key life stage consumers: prospects, reservation-holders, or recent guests.
By delving deep into its data, AMResorts was better able to understand the impact of its campaigns across all digital channels. This, in turn, enabled the company to fine-tune specific messaging and actions relevant to each segment, thereby driving more personalized and meaningful communications, according to Erica Doyne, senior director of marketing of AMResorts.
In summary, customers will continue to expect greater relevance and higher quality brand experiences. The only way to keep them and deepen engagement is to provide increasing levels of relevance and value across their ongoing customer life cycle.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Are You Leveraging The Power Of Surprise And Delight?

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CMO.com
Surprise and Delight MarketingI recently had a surprise show up in my inbox--a $20 appreciation gift certificate. It was also the spark that reignited my loyalty to this particular company--a shirt maker--which went the extra mile to appreciate my business.
“By showing sincere appreciation with unexpected rewards, brands can build a greater connection to customers on an emotional level,” said Scott Matthews, CEO of CrowdTwist, a social loyalty rewards platform. “If implemented successfully, brands can realize increased customer engagement, reduced churn, and greater ROI.”
When embarking on a surprise-and-delight campaign, it is critical that marketers make the experience authentic and meaningful. This message from Charles Tyrwhitt, the company that sent the $20 gift certificate, caught my eye: "When you are a small company, it is only with the support of your customers that you can succeed, and that's you. So thank you. This voucher is yours to spend, it doesn't matter how large or small your purchase is."
Surprise-and-delight marketing is more than a “nicety.” It is powerful marketing! Here are some stats to keep in mind:
  • More than half of shoppers say they would pay a higher price for the customer experiences they value most, and 77% of shoppers would be more loyal to stores that provide their personal top ... customer experiences.
  • 68% of companies report they are allocating less than 20% of their marketing budgets to loyalty, yet 58% of companies say that more than 20% of total sales or revenue is attributed to the program.
Let’s take a look at two companies that know how to surprise and delight their customers.
MasterCard Brings Consumers Priceless Surprises
MasterCard began its “Priceless Surprises” campaign last year, but has taken it to the next level by introducing a mobile aspect to the already successful initiative that lets partners geotarget consumers with spontaneous treats. For example, if a customer is in an airport, an airline will have the option to send them a “Priceless Surprise,” which could be anything from a complimentary drink to a free upgrade, or they could receive a ticket upgrade at a sporting event.
“Mobile is something which people carry with them all the time and provides the best opportunity to reward the consumer with Priceless Surprises, more than any other media ... surprising cardholders across areas like sports, music, and fashion,” said MasterCard global chief marketing officer Raja Rajamannar in an interview with The Drum. “The activity has gone on to become one of the most successful marketing drives to date–delivering an engagement rate three times higher when compared against other brand programmes.”
Lego Surprises, Delights–And Wins
Surprise and delight can be in the form of an unexpected bonus, but it can also be in the form of an unexpected occurrence or event.
During the recent Oscar broadcast, dancers fanned out through the audience to hand yellow Lego Oscar statuettes to a celebrated audience of stars whose look of surprise and delight reached 35 million viewers. According to Amobee Brand Intelligence, Lego dominated the night with close to 47,000 social mentions on Twitter, 44% of the real-time discussion, and approximately $7.5 million of free advertising.
Three Takeaways For Your Brand
What can you learn from these examples?
1. 61% of consumers will tell friends and family about their experiences, so it only makes sense for marketers to use surprise “thank you” or rewards to enhance customers’ experiences.
2. According to Synchrony Financial’s customer experience study: “Certain experiences matter more than others to different shopper segments.” So going the extra mile to develop experiences targeted to specific segments will cultivate the value-based mindset that builds brand loyalty.
3. Know your customers and what they want; a surprise is only a delight if it is presented in a personalized manner that demonstrates your brand has taken the time to be relevant and sincere.
Marketers need to step outside of traditional strategies to give customers the types of unanticipated thanks, perks, and bonuses that give new reasons to be brand-positive and brand-loyal.