Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Monday, March 26, 2012

Are You Engaging and Empowering Your Customers?

THE CHALLENGE: Consumers have shifted from being passive recipients of “push” marketing to selecting companies who seek their voice and reflect their input. Engaged customers offer exponentially greater value than passive buyers.
Seek Out and Act On Customer Input
At Adobe, customers have the opportunity to submit ideas and vote on ideas submitted by others in the “Labs Ideas” forum. Analysts at the company discovered that customers with the highest feedback scores also had the highest lifetime values. Differences in lifetime value among key business accounts were as high as 288 percent. And according to Sloan Management Review, 95 percent of customers at the community-driven on-line apparel retailer Threadless.com had previously voted and made comments on the site.
Songza App
Recently, the online music service Songza launched “Music Concierge” in response to learnings from in-depth Voice of Customer (VoC) research regarding what listeners expected from a high value music experience. Songza, backed by Amazon, among others, is one of the most innovative new players in the digital music space. (Full disclosure: Songza's CEO, Elias Roman, is my son)
Songza’s Voice of Customer (VoC) Research Learnings:
#1: Existing streaming services were too difficult for music fans.
While music aficionados were thrilled to discover services that offered infinite variety, most music fans were overwhelmed. According to Elias Roman, CEO of Songza, "We gained valuable insights regarding what people want from a music service ... They found other services too hard: the enormous selection they offered was lost on them, because they didn't have the time, knowledge or inclination to navigate it."
#2: Music fans wanted soundtracks for specific activities.
The major discovery of Songza's VoC research was that people associate music with activities in their lives and want music discovery to reflect that fact. "Some customers told us that they were much more productive with film scores on in the background. Others would mention specific playlists that helped them run their best mile ever." Songza responded by launching Music Concierge, which provides situationally-appropriate playlists, pre-filtered based on the time of day, day of the week, user device and observed preferences. They range from “Just Waking Up” on a Wednesday morning to “Hosting a Cocktail Party” on Saturday night.
The result? A recent headline said it nicely: "Spotify, we need a break. I'm falling for Songza."
Per Elias, “Music Concierge impacted our metrics in a big way. New users are spending an average of 45 minutes on the site. No other new feature has given us such a big boost to traffic or engagement, which has nearly doubled since we introduced concierge.”
Key Takeaways for Marketers:
»  Update Your Understanding of Customer Expectations More Frequently than Ever Before. The speed of change in what customers expect and consider to be competitive differentiators is unprecedented. Marketers that are too slow to respond are losing market share. If you haven't recalibrated your understanding of customer expectations within the last 12 months ... you are out of date.
»  Empower Customers by Making Changes Based on their Input. Songza’s VoC research revealed that customers wanted guidance, and Music Concierge provides it. Nothing makes customers feel more empowered than seeing you make changes as a result of their feedback. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Improve How You Integrate Your Media Mix

THE CHALLENGE: New findings from Voice of Customer research we just completed indicate that customers want brands to get better at using an integrated multichannel mix that engages them to share their preferences regarding offers, alerts, frequency of contact and media preferences.
Integrate Your Media
According to a study from the Direct Marketing Association, 93% of marketers using multiple channels indicated they have attempted to integrate their messaging, but only 27.4% of these said their efforts are ‘effective’...”
Marketers need to deploy an integrated multichannel mix…at key points in the customer’s lifecycle with the company. Assume that both "old" and "new" media play a role in your customer's personalized multichannel mix. Elements of a preference-driven mix include web, social, email, direct mail, print, broadcast, narrowcast, and all possible person to person touch points, including face to face and phone interactions.

Per an excellent Epsilon study, The Formula for Success: Preference and Trust, referenced here, "Consumers use and trust certain communications channels more than others. This means that marketers need to understand which channels resonate most at various points in the consumer purchase cycle and incorporate a cross-channel strategy that leverages data and technology to communicate on a one-to-one basis....”
This multichannel mix must be deployed at key points in the customer’s lifecycle with your company and per the consumer's individual preferences.
Four Takeaways for Marketers:
» Trust Your Customers To Tell You:
Gather Voice of Customer (VoC) research-based insights regarding how your customers define a truly personalized multichannel relationship, and which communications are most relevant at key points in their relationship lifecycle with you.
» Understand the behaviors that equal "engagement":
Use VoC insights to understand what range of actions from your side drive engagement from the consumer's side, such as recognition, personalized rewards, the opportunity to share their point of view, the chance to enter a contest, etc.
» Be media agnostic:
Offer both "old" and "new" media options your customers can select to satisfy their media preferences.
» Measure it:
Track the results carefully over time, and revise your strategies based on empirical data.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Tablet Revolution: 3 Marketing Takeaways

THE CHALLENGE: The rise of tablet computers (such as the iPad) has changed the playing field in profound ways for marketers ... and those who do not adapt to the new environment quickly will miss important opportunities in the marketplace.

Eye-opening research from Adobe and Bizrate/Forrester provides the following insights:

Smart Phone Expectations
from BizRateInsights
⇒ Usage of tablet computers is on the rise. Recently, the size of this user sector shot up from 9% to 12% in just one month, following the introduction of the iPad 2. Current research suggests that 26% of computer users who do not own a tablet computer now plan to buy one within a year. (Bizrate/Forrester.)
⇒ Tablet buyers have desirable demographics. These buyers tend to have higher household incomes, and are more likely belong to the Baby Boomer or Generation X groups, than computer users who do not own tablets. (Bizrate/Forrester.)
⇒ Tablet users buy more online. Tablet owners who visited e-commerce websites spent 54% more per purchase, than smartphone visitors ... and 21% more than desktop or laptop visitors. (Adobe Systems.)
Read these three key takeaways for marketers based on recent Voice of Customer research conducted by our company and the findings above:
Ernan Roman Insight's Blog
1Expand your mix of marketing channels. Multiple, integrated points of contact with your customers are now essential ... and if at least one of those points of contact isn't a platform that's specifically designed for ease of use with a mobile device, you're probably frustrating some part of your customer base.
Learn how your customers and prospects use tablets and other mobile devices.Through direct interviews, social media feedback, and other communication channels, find out how your customers and prospects are using mobile and tablet devices relative to other elements of the media mix, such as the web, email, social media, direct mail, CSR’s, retail, etc.
You should also analyze usage patterns to determine whether tablet/mobile purchases areincreasing your revenue stream ... or cannibalizing previous sales that came in via other media.
3Consider investing in an app. If your VoC feedback indicates that customers would value and use an app, consider creating and testing an app that makes it easier for consumers to interact with, and buy from you.
Among consumers who used their tablet for online shopping, 56% downloaded a shopping app. (Bizrate/Forrester.)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lessons to Learn from Amazon and iPhone

What can you learn from the quality of the Amazon customer experience and the magic of the iPhone user experience ... to improve your customer's experience?

Lessons from Amazon and iPhoneTHE CHALLENGE: Your customers are trying to tell you something. Thanks to two innovative, successful platforms, customers in both the BtoB and BtoC sectors now expect much more from their user experience than they did just a few years ago. Marketers who ignore these higher expectations will lose out on opportunities for engagement, advocacy, and repeat sales.

The two influential drivers of the "new normal" in customer experiences are Amazon.com and the iPhone/iPad. They have not only emerged as critical online purchasing portals for millions of consumers, they have also provided customers with a specific sense of entitlement ... an expectation other marketers are now obligated to fulfill if they wish to remain competitive.

The Amazon Standard: Customers expect meaningful personalization. Whenever you log in at amazon.com, or read messages from the site, you realize that the on-line retailer knows what you looked at last time, knows what you are likely to want to look at this time, and knows what you will consider buying next. This sense of instant, easy access to the most relevant products and services is now a core expectation of on-line consumers.

New Workshop from the DMA and Ernan Roman: Customer Experience Marketing: 5 Steps to Ensure Success Featuring speakers from: Gilt, Semantic, MassMutual, Macy’s. Click here for details.

To meet the Amazon Standard: Strive to ensure that your enterprise's online experience conveys an understanding, not only of past purchases, but also of present tastes and predispositions. BtoB and BtoC marketers now have to at least match Amazon!

Per our recent Voice of Customer, (VoC), research findings:

Many BtoB decision-makers use Amazon as an important reference point regarding expectations for BtoB personalization.

Online customers now say things like: “When I go to the Amazon site, I feel like they know what I like.” You should, too.

To meet the iPhone/iPad Standard: Make sure your user experience is both intuitive.... and fun. The iPad and its smaller cousin, the iPhone, created an instantly enjoyable, totally accessible user experience. Apple used this operating environment to dominate categories and change popular culture. They also raised the bar for all of us. If our user experience isn't as enjoyable, simple, and lightning-fast as these devices, customers will seek other options.

How much has the landscape shifted? A recent online poll at todaysiphone.com found that 70% of respondents would now rather give up alcohol for a week than give up their smartphone; 22% of respondents would rather give up their toothbrush for a week than give up their smartphone. 33% said they would prefer to give up sex for a week.

Scary, or sobering, depending on your point of view. Either way, ignoring new user expectations for short-term engagement and enjoyment – expectations arising from the “iRevolutions" of the past few years – would be a big mistake.

To maximize the quality of your customer experience, challenge your enterprise to meet both the Amazon Standard and the iPhone/iPad Standard.