Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Monday, April 27, 2015

A MassMutual CMO Answers 4 Questions for Marketing Innovators

Heather Smiley, CMO, Retirement and Worksite Insurance at MassMutual, will address these 4 questions;
  1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
  2. Why is this so important?
  3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?
  4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
Please send your feedback and ideas for people you would us to interview to ernan@erdm.com

Alisa Norris
Heather is the Chief Marketing Officer of Retirement and Worksite Insurance at MassMutual, a Fortune 100 financial services company. Her focus is to help people secure their future and protect the ones they love through employee benefits at the workplace. MassMutual currently serves 3 million American workers at over 40,000 companies and organizations.
A strong supporter of our military and their families, Heather is active with the USO and the Wounded Warrior Project.
1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
MassMutual's mission is to help Americans secure their future and protect the ones they love. To make that mission a reality, our customers need to be informed and motivated about something that is often out in the distant future or hard to imagine.
And when we do succeed in creating this "motivated moment", it needs to be easy to take appropriate action. Creating and managing increasingly targeted, personalized and action-oriented messaging across today's many and changing marketing channels is our biggest strength and continued opportunity.
2. Why is this so important?
The stakes are high when your mission is to help America's greatest asset - its workforce - insure their family from the losses of a major illness or untimely passing and having an adequate retirement income. So, whatever we can do to enable our customers to take action is a win for both the customer and our business.
We sell and service through the workplace where a business-level sale happens first, so having a unique and comprehensive employee benefits experience across human, mobile, social and web formats differentiates us and helps us win us the privilege of working with America's employees.
3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?
A major business principle for us is being easy to do business with, which is at its core about constantly improving the customer experience. Knowing what's important to our customers given their life stage or job role and where they consume information helps them to quickly get guidance and make decisions on critical matters. We do this by matching images and messaging that fits a customer's age, gender and life stage. They can then increase their savings rate by checking one box on a business reply card or one click on an email. Attention spans are short and our offering isn't often top of mind for much of our audience, so we'd better get it right within seconds.
4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
No matter if you are buying for your company or buying for yourself, today's consumer expects that you understand them and their unique needs before you even engage. They expect you to make use of information that they know is available or are willing to give to you — if it leads to a higher quality, faster interaction. When a customer enrolls in their 401k plan, we ask how they'd like to be contacted and about what. Print, email, or phone call? Webinars about paying off student loans or teaching your kids about money? We have seen a clear pattern in superior marketing results coming with deeper targeting through increased knowledge of the customer's preferences and behavior. My marketing leadership philosophy is simple - do more of what works and less of what doesn't, and better personal relevancy works.
What is your favorite activity outside of work?
Outside of work I like to spend time with my children, but my husband and I are on the verge of being empty nesters so that dynamic is changing. I'll have more time to focus on my passions of being physically active, driving fast cars and keeping up with the latest in fashion.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Don't Ignore These Three Customer Journey Experiences

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CMO.com
Every consumer is on a journey when they interact with your brand. And each of their journeys are likely to be quite different.
Don't Ignore These Three Customer Journey Experiences
Recent findings from Voice of Customer (VoC) research conducted by our firm for Fortune brands indicates that customers feel that brands are missing significant opportunities to earn the sale and then build engagement and loyalty.
While there are many stages in the customer journey, following are three critical opportunities that emerged from our research.
1. Prepurchase: Clear And Credible Omnichannel Information
At this stage, buyers want you to help them make a smart purchase decision. Clear, credible, and easily accessible information is required by the empowered prospect who is doing a major amount of research before ever contacting your company. And because shoppers are multichannel and multidevice, your high value information must be accessed and delivered omnichannel.
UnitedHealthcare launched an online informational series, Becoming Dr. You, which offers tools and resources to accommodate a variety of learning preferences: guides, booklets, and brochures in print format, blogs, quizzes, and videos. It's the latest example of the company's longstanding commitment to educating and empowering prospects and customers.
2. Post-Purchase: Immediate Onboarding
Your customer-friendly and engaging onboarding process should begin immediately after purchase. Per VoC findings, the customer decision-making process regarding likelihood to repurchase begins immediately upon the initial purchase.
Another factor at this early stage that drives likelihood to repurchase is how thoughtfully and responsively the company handles problems.
After a purchase, customers want ways to incorporate the product into their lives. Perhaps no one does this better than Apple, which develops problem-solving tools, such as the ApplePay "pay by your phone" app. According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, "... in just three months after launch, ApplePay [now] makes up two out of three dollars spent on purchases using contactless payments across the three major U.S. card networks."
Apple's approach must be working because recently, and for the first time, Apple platform sales outperformed Android due to the strength of products with consumers. In a Xerox survey that measured brand magnetism, 76% of iPhone owners said they were sticking with Apple.
3. Building Loyalty: Show Your Appreciation
Research findings indicate that customers often feel taken for granted. They want to feel as though they are valued and appreciated for spending money with your company. They now expect to be more than a number and generic message.
According to Hanover Research, customer loyalty programs "enhance the overall value proposition of the product or service ... to motivate buyers to make the next purchase." Additionally, according to a study by Technology Advice, 80 percent [of consumers are] more likely to shop at stores that offered a compelling loyalty program.
Customer Journey Takeaways
  1. At the prepurchase stage, prospects expect companies to provide information to make a knowledgeable purchase decision. If your information is not helpful or easy to understand, you're likely to be eliminated at that early point.
  2. At the post-purchase stage, new customers want help in learning ways to incorporate the new product and brand into their lives.
  3. At the loyalty stage, customers want appreciation and ways to be rewarded for their continued brand support.
Understanding every stage of the customer journey is essential for the highest levels of initial conversion, repeat purchase, and retention. The mind-set of customers is different at each stage. Respect where they are in their journey with your brand. Do not attempt to use "one size fits all" generic messaging for customers in different stages of the journey.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Sephora Innovation Lab VP Answers 4 Questions for Marketing Innovators

Bridget Dolan, Vice President, Sephora Innovation Lab, will address these 4 questions;
  1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
  2. Why is this so important?
  3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?
  4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
Please send your feedback and ideas for people you would us to interview to ernan@erdm.com

Bridget Dolan
Bridget Dolan is Sephora's Vice President of the newly formed Innovation Lab evaluating new technologies, inspiring an innovation culture, nurturing strategic relationships and setting the future vision of technology within Sephora. Bridget has led Sephora's online marketing efforts for the last 14 years, launching social site features such as BeautyTalk, The Glossy, SephoraTV and The Beauty Board, as well as expanding Sephora's social presence and engagement in Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Google Plus and Instagram. Prior to Sephora, Bridget worked in online advertising for Eve.com, Amazon, and drugstore.com and worked in offline marketing for Castrol and Walgreens.
1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
I'm most passionate about finding new ways for a woman to use her own mobile device as a way to personalize her store shopping experience.
2. Why is this so important?
I've seen our clients come to rely on mobile during so many phases of the shopping experience. Whether she's at home watching a video tutorial on her phone or scanning products in the store, the phone has become her own personal shopping assistant. We see women use their phones in our stores daily to text beauty looks to friends, scan their Beauty Insider cards, and pay with a stored eGift Card or Apple Pay.
3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?
Mobile empowers the shopper to have all the information they need at their fingertips at all times. Millennials learn through watching and doing. Women who want to learn a skill will search first on YouTube and see it in action. Women's phones are an extension of her hand as she shops, and she can finally use her phone to personalize the store shopping experience and learn more about products she's considering by watching videos, reading ratings and reviews, and even seeing the products being worn by other women on The Beauty Board.
Part of our job is educating our shopper — if we have not taught her, we've failed her. Since mobile has become an extension of her hand, we put all this content easily accessible when and where she needs it. We've crafted the mobile experience to help her find the information she needs while in our stores — like Augmented Reality to allow her to easily hover her phone over a product to watch informative videos and demystifying new beauty trends like contouring with our new Pocket Contour tutorial. Now we can use mobile to connect with clients to teach them how to use products in very personalized ways. For example, with Pocket Contour Class, clients upload a selfie to the mobile site and receive step-by-step contouring instructions and product recommendations that will complement her unique features.
We want to empower clients to be in control of their shopping experience and have everything they need to be confident in their purchases, while making the omni-channel shopping experience as seamless as possible — and mobile is at the heart of these initiatives.
4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
We've already started to see the impact that mobile has had on our marketing programs. With our mobile-first digital gifting strategy, for example, we saw eight times eGift card revenue growth in the first year and an over 70% lift in average in-store purchase size over the initial gift card value. The growth of mobile gift cards is huge, but the ease of redemption is game changing. We partnered with CashStar to be one of the first to allow clients to save both their Sephora eGift Cards and plastic Gift Cards to Passbook, as well as to our own app for iPhone. Clients now have their gift cards with them whenever they are in our stores, because they never leave home without their phone. So we know mobile is effective and impactful to the bottom line, and will continue to invest in this area through our new Innovation Lab.
What is your favorite activity outside of work?
When I'm not working, I hike and explore the forest and creeks of Healdsburg, California with my 3 imaginative kids and husband. The WiFi is horrible, so I get to think deep thoughts and truly connect.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Are You Having These 3 Customer Conversations Every Day?

Research findings indicate that customers welcome ongoing communication with brands…if they are based on relevant two-way conversations.
Are You Having These 3 Customer Conversations Every Day?
Learnings from Voice of Customer research we have conducted for Fortune brands indicates that customers want the relationship building process to extend beyond the sale, in fact post sale is when they want deeper levels of personalization and targeted offers and communications.
The following three types of conversations were identified as critical;
1. Reviews as Conversations
When a consumer writes a review it is a conversation starter with your business. Whether good or bad it is a "hello" that should not go un-noticed or without a thank you or reply.
  • Nearly 9 in 10 consumers have read online reviews.
  • 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Additionally, according to BazaarVoice 95% of dissatisfied buyers state they'll buy from a brand again if a complaint is resolved quickly.
Valspar Paint, used this strategy with their online reviews to further connect with customers and resolve issues. The company was able to respond to reviews comments/ questions within 12-hours with authentic answers from expert voices. Valspar now trains all customer service reps on "brand voice guidance" which includes answers to identified common questions and concerns thus improving efficiency of customer service at every touchpoint. The strategy must be working because the company has shown five straight quarters of double-digit-percentage earnings growth.
2. Social as Conversations
Social interaction is perhaps the most important 2-way conversation you can have with both prospects and existing customers. They are taking the time to find your business and comment on your social page. This is an action that cannot be ignored and deserves both respect and response.
Moving equipment and storage rental company U-Haul uses social media to connect with customers and get in on daily conversations to improve experiences and resolve issues…quickly.
According to Toni Jones, social media director for U-Haul International, "It's extremely important for us to have an open dialogue with our customers and potential customers online….When our customers are talking directly to us about our products and services, we find those to be the most important to engage in—immediately…. We have escalation cues… [and] we're going to address those quickly because we're able to track those messages."
The company organizes social conversations with tags—or subject codes—that categorize topics of discussion. The marketing team has set a stringent standard to respond to complaints and comments on social within 30 minutes during operating hours. The company reports that about 70% of all issues are resolved in a half hour; about 49% are addressed in fewer than 15 minutes.
3. Seamless Cross Channel Conversations
Consumers want to interact and converse via multiple channels, often at the same time. Being available to converse on multiple media lets consumers know that you are making the effort to be accessible to them.
According to the Accenture report, The Secrets of Seamless Retailing Success, "retailers struggling to provide a seamless, cross-channel customer experience may need to re-think key aspects of their approach."
  • Shoppers are both looking online then buying in-store as well as looking in-store before buying online.
  • They value the ability to reserve a product online before trying it in-store.
  • And they want the ability to check product availability across channels in real time.
Beauty retailer, Sephora's cross platform strategy uses digital to enhance the store experience. Their ColorIQ program lets consumers interact in store with sales reps with a facial digital wand that provides feedback about skin tone to ensure appropriate product recommendations. This information is also stored in a consumer's Beauty Insider web account where it is available anytime for shopping online or in store.
3 Takeaways
  1. Monitor online reviews to gain insights about issues that must be addressed to improve brand image and consumer experience.
  2. Respond in a speedy manner to all consumer inquiries, questions, comments and complaints to demonstrate a high level of customer service.
  3. Be available to consumers online, via mobile and at bricks and mortar locations to promote an easy and seamless purchasing journey.
While there are countless ways to engage in meaningful conversations with your prospects and customers, make sure that you are having these three critical conversations daily and effectively.