Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

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.

Monday, December 7, 2015

IBM Chief Strategist for Watson Trend App Answers 4 Questions for Marketing Innovators

Justin NorwoodJustin Norwood is chief strategist for the IBM Watson Trend app, and is an executive in IBM's Commerce business.
He has 14+ years of experience in initiatives that help clients use data for competitive advantage. Justin's eCommerce background blends expertise in cognitive computing and predictive analytics with experience in consumer products, retail, manufacturing and wholesale distribution industries.
Justin recently participated in our "4 Questions for Marketing Innovators" series.
1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
Personalization at scale. While 1-to-1 marketing has long been the aspirational goal, in practice most retailers are falling far short of delivering on the goal at scale. I believe that cognitive computing – of which IBM Watson is the leading example – is the missing link to making mass personalization a reality.
Many people know Watson from Jeopardy! but it's come a long way since then. Today Watson represents a new era in computing where systems understand the world in the way that humans do. Watson continuously learns, gaining knowledge over time, and it engages with people in a way that helps them quickly discover new things that wouldn't be possible otherwise.
2. Why is this so important?
Customers have been over-marketed to -- receiving scores of irrelevant, untimely messages and offers every day. This has numbed the collective senses of consumers and distanced people emotionally from the retailers and brands that they buy from. Shoppers long for serendipitous moments -- when a retailer seems to know them as an individual, sends the right message or offer at the right time, and delivers an exceptional experience. Shoppers want to be known by the companies they buy from - not as a segment or cohort, but as an individual.
3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?
A good example is our new iOS app, IBM Watson Trend, which can be downloaded for free. Shoppers can use the app to understand why people are buying certain products or brands this holiday season, and it also can tell what products will be hot next, before they sell out. The app does this by distilling sentiment of tens of millions of online conversations found in 10,000 sources across social media sites, blogs, forums, comments, ratings and reviews - something no human being could do.
The app has already improved my personal gift giving experience. I am a father of two girls, and my eldest daughter, who is 10, recently expressed her interest in building robots. We have looked for robot kits online and even visited a local hobby store, but we never found quite what we were looking for. Then last weekend I found the Meccanoid personal robot trend on the Watson Trend app. Meccanoid robots are targeted at 8 to 12 year olds (perfect for my daughter!) and come ready to assemble and program. I want to encourage my daughter's interest in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), so buying the Meccanoid is a no-brainer, but I doubt I would have found it without the insights of the app.
4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
In today's world of mass marketing and segmentation, there is so much inefficiency in the system. As marketers, our expectation of conversion rates is dismally low. But we aspire to something higher -- we want to create unbreakable bonds between our brands and customers. We want to know our customers and exceed their expectations, and when we do, customer satisfaction and conversion rates will grow exponentially.
There's a philosophy at my company that a customer's last, best interaction with a brand becomes their minimal expectation for every future interaction with any brand. At present, the expectation for serendipitous moments (such as finding the Meccanoid robot) is rarely being met, so customers are disappointed on a consistent basis. But with the right insights, retailers and brands can design mass personalization at scale for every shopper who decides to opt in. And for those shoppers, I think the serendipity uncovered by cognitive computing will become a normal course of daily life.
Bonus: Favorite activity outside of work?
Family and friends are very important to me – so spending time with the ones I love is a big priority. I am also very motivated to see an end to hunger and malnutrition in Africa in my lifetime, so I recently partnered with an organization called Seeds of Action to work towards that.
For additional Marketing Innovator stories, click here.