Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mercedes-Benz Marketing Exec Answers 4 Questions for Marketing Innovators

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CMO.com
Dr. Jens Thiemer, Head of Marketing Communications at Mercedes-Benz 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

Dr. Jens Thiemer
Dr. Jens Thiemer is the Head of Marketing at Mercedes-Benz Cars.
Before rejoining Daimler AG in 2013, he was an equity partner at CNC Communications & Network Consulting AG, where he was in charge of the firm's international rebranding and marketing communications. The automotive industry was one of the key areas of Jens' client portfolio. Prior to joining CNC AG, Jens worked for almost a decade in various management positions for what is now Daimler AG.
1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
We are always seeking new ways to inspire existing customers and attract new customers to our brand. That is why we provide customers with a one hub access into the world of Mercedes-Benz called Mercedes me. Mercedes me is a digital ecosystem, combining owned vehicle related solutions with lifestyle content, e.g. travel, music. etc. As Mercedes me revolves around the customer's personal needs, we even call it an ecosystem. This initiative is on the way to setting a new benchmark for customer engagement since having started in the spring of 2014.
2. Why is this so important?
Mercedes me allows customers to be part of the Mercedes-Benz community. It bundles innovative and customer-focused services, products and lifestyle offers from Mercedes-Benz, Daimler and partners that go beyond the "car" as a product and tailors them individually for the customers.
In this context, Mercedes me opens up various service worlds and stands for "The best for me". Our goal is to engage people in their living environment with tailor-made offerings and make their lives easier. Mercedes me addresses existing and future Mercedes-Benz customers primarily via a digital, dynamically growing platform, but also via physical touchpoints, like the Mercedes me Stores.
3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?
The Mercedes ID provides the user with access to tailor made, personalized and pre-filtered information and services, which makes it easier for customers to access and administer their accounts. The new dialogue options further optimise support, mutual exchange and interaction.
4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
With customized content we increase the retention period of customers using Mercedes me. It is our goal to provide relevant content that makes life more convenient, never mind whether a customer is about to buy or has already afforded a Mercedes-Benz. We want to give our customers the Best Customer Experience thinkable.
What is your favorite activity outside of work?
I am a passionate G-Class driver. I am married and have two sons.
Other favorite activities are long-distance running and classic car rallies.

Monday, May 18, 2015

3 Websites That Are Winning With Consumers

Forbes Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on Forbes.com
Results from Voice of Customer (VoC) research our firm has conducted for major brands among 25 to 55 year old shoppers indicate just how important website experiences are to customers and prospects today. Additionally, per the research findings, consumers continue to be disappointed by web experiences. A major reason is lack of a truly personalized experience.
Important Website Research and 3 Sites That Are Winning With ConsumersFindings from hundreds of hours of research interviews also indicate that companies which view certain customer segments as "mobile customers" are often not correct, as those customers indicated that their time is divided between mobile and web, often with a preference for web over mobile. Therefore, the important research-based message for CMOs is: do not overlook the power and importance of the web experience for millennials and older shoppers.
According to Adobe’s The Power of Websites in Influencing Consumer Purchasing Behavior 62% of respondents said they would either stop gathering information or not buy a product if the website didn’t meet their needs. “This makes it clear that there are major risks in losing sales opportunities if websites do not deliver the appropriate experience to visitors.”
Here are 3 customer focused websites that illustrate key learnings from the VoC research;
1. Make it Easy to Engage
Bass Pro Shops
Much has been written about Bass Pro shops’ ability to engage customers in store. But the experiential retailer had to get down to grass roots in order to translate that same level of engagement to their website.
In order to do this, each location managed its own local web page which was a forum for employees, who are local outdoor enthusiasts, to share their experiences personal tips and personal videos.
2. Design a Multichannel Experience
In the same Adobe report it was noted that 88% of consumers gather information on websites after becoming interested in a product introduced on television, magazines and newspapers.
Twining’s Tea recently won Site of the Year for a website that showcases their product line with stunning photography that carries through a responsive, mobile experience which ensures a compelling experience across devices. The company recently launched a TV campaign that ties into images on their site.
According to Heather Hartridge, marketing director, the brand is seeking to develop a “highly distinctive, ownable and emotionally engaging [experience]… that is built on clear consumer insight…to drive awareness and engagement.” Nielsen figures show that Twinings was outperforming the category, growing by 9.4% compared to market growth of 0.4%.
3. Deliver a Personalized Experience Based on Preferences
Caribou Coffee offers visitors the opportunity to complete a questionnaire in their online profile in exchange for rewards such as a free beverage. Fans receive unexpected rewards via the device/medium of their choice.
Per Mike Tattersfield, president and CEO of Caribou Coffee, "Our guests are extremely loyal and passionate about our product offerings, and so we are thrilled to be able to reward them for simply being our fans.”
VoC Research-Based Takeaways:
“Make your site a destination I want to return to!” - Through constantly refreshed content and relevant incentives, provide visitors with reasons to keep returning to your website so they feel a part of your brand.
“Make it a fun experience" - Provide content that is interesting to visitors so they feel the site is a fun and exciting place to seek information.
“Make your brand multichannel” - Your customer is multichannel and multidevice. Integrate all channels so it's effortless for customers to engage via their channels of choice. And promote the benefits of visiting your site in all media promotions and advertising to drive traffic and encourage sales.

Monday, May 11, 2015

How to Use VoC Insights from Employees & Customers to Improve Experiences

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CustomerThink.com
We are often asked what sources of VoC insights should be used to improve the company's customer experience. And often, these insights are right in front of you—from your own customers and employees.
Gain Insights From Your Customers
Direct Mail Enriches Customer Experience"We see the members of our Emerald Exchange Community as the eyes and ears of our team," said Carol Jones, Director of Insights & Intelligence for National Car Rental ," …they come back to us with photos, videos and narratives about what they've seen and experienced. They really are an extension of our team and their insights are truly invaluable."
These insights have paid off for National Car Rental; Emerald Club membership are up 27% and revenue is up incrementally.
Gain Insights From Your Employees
Every member of your team has some type of interaction with customers whether directly or indirectly. And all can benefit from a united effort to understand VoC insights across all departments and levels.
Fast food company Chipotle has stated that they owe much of their growth to developing an atmosphere in which employees
have unique access to customer experience via an experience culture. According to Steve Ellis Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer for Chipotle, "Our focus on our unique people… for a restaurant experience that is redefining fast food for the better."
The company has taken the customer experience and broken it out by experience components called "4 pillars of throughput":
  • Expediters: keep track of every detail between the order placement and payment to be sure all is progressing well with a customer's meal.
  • Linebackers: Make sure that everything is in place to prepare food so that the employees serving customers never turn their backs on them.
  • Mise en place (French for "putting in place"): Chipotle has a zero tolerance for not having absolutely everything in place for a good customer experience and these employees ensure that things are ready.
  • "Aces in their places": A commitment to having the most important positions filled with experienced employees at the busiest times so that there are no problems or delays in customer experience.
This approach has paid off for Chipotle; Revenue is up 24.4%; same-store sales are up 13.4%; and net income is up 8.5.
How to Formulate Your Own VoC Insight Strategies:
  1. Evaluate Multiple Sources of VoC Insights.
    Evaluate the multiple sources of VoC insights available to you and their strengths and weaknesses. This can include: feedback from a Call Center, Field and Retail Reps, NPS, Email surveys, etc.
  2. Create Specific Questions Appropriate to Each VoC Vehicle.
    Develop strategies and questions specific and appropriate to each VoC vehicle, yet keep it easy for customers to rate their experiences. This might include an email survey the day after their sale; a tab on your FaceBook page for Customer Experience Ratings or, a form on your website for comments or questions, etc.

    There may also be complex strategy goals which require in-depth, one on one VoC conversations with customers to understand what is not working and how they want it fixed.
To fully benefit from VoC insights first define how the information will be used and how it will be visible to multiple departments. Then put in place a set of appropriate actions for each set of learnings. This must all be actionable.

Monday, May 4, 2015

3 Ways Mobile is Impacting Your Marketing Right Now

In-store mobile use is on the riseYour company has become a mobile experience for customers whether you are ready for it or not. Today's multi-device consumer is increasingly accessing your information, messaging and ads on a mobile device. Your challenge is how to utilize mobile to take consumer experiences to a higher level.
1. Mobile Has Changed the Path to Purchase
According to retail strategy and marketing firm InReality's report, "Reality of Retail", it was noted that;
The following three types of conversations were identified as critical;
  • 71% of shoppers who use loyalty programs still use their mobile for price comparisons.
  • 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • And, “technology, especially mobile, is having an impact on the store—changing the shopper's path to purchase.”
With the knowledge that smartphones are innovating customer experiences, Outback Steakhouse is utilizing the medium to provide real-time wait time data via their “Clickthru Seating” app. The development of the app was driven by a consumer survey that discovered there was a wait of 40 minutes to be seated. According to Elizabeth Watts, director of media and community relations, “Our number one priority is to provide our guests with the best customer experience possible….Click Thru Seating empowers our guests [to] get a table when they want it.”
Guests use a mobile device to access current wait times and place a reservation. This new feature is an addition to the company's existing 365 app which offers surprise deals with a countdown clock and notifications of nearby restaurant special events.
2. In-Store Mobile Use is on the Rise
Accenture's survey of U.S. retailer operations across multi channels, found that enhancements in the mobile in-store experience are needed to meet consumer expectations;
  • 39% said they would like the opportunity to earn loyalty points and save money by using in-store mobile phone offers.
  • 45% want to receive real-time promotions via their mobile device.
3. Email Access via Mobile
Consumers and prospects are increasingly using mobile devices to access email messaging.
According to the full year 2014 Litmus study of 12 billion worldwide opensnearly half of emails are opened on smartphones and tablets—a 500% increase in four years. Additionally, in the Yesmail's “Email Marketing Compass” 4Q 2014 report;
  • Email mobile-open orders increased by 58%.
  • Breakout of those orders by device type; 24% iPhone, 59% iPad, 16% Android phone.
Avenue, a plus-sized women's retailer understood two things about their clientele; they love their mobile phones and they love a bargain. So the company used SMS mobile messaging to connect with their customers to offer bonuses, discounts, and introductions to new fashions. The opt-in effort included traditional emails, in-store signage, and web signup links. The campaign was so engaging for customers that the company reports the mobile messages generated 97% percent open rate with 71% of users accessing deals from their smartphone.
3 Takeaways:
  1. Utilize mobile to take consumer experiences to a higher level. Don't embrace mobile for the sake of technology. Embrace it for the benefits it can bring to your consumers and for the insights that it can net for your company.
  2. Use mobile as a positive influence tool. In the Telmetrics third annual Mobile Path-to-Purchase report it was noted that 60% of consumers used mobile exclusively to make a purchase decision.
  3. Be sure to have responsive versions of emails and web. A study by mobile marketing firm NetElixir Inc. finds that “conversion rate for smartphone shoppers on mobile-optimized sites is 160% higher than the rate for smartphone shoppers on non-optimized sites.”