Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Multichannel Engagement; 6 Requirements and 3 Takeaways

There’s an ever increasing range of media and channels with which to engage customers. And although companies know an integrated multichannel engagement strategy is a must, most still struggle with how to do this well - and how to integrate the data into a singular customer centric vision and process.
Multi-Channel EngagementFor starters, marketers need to understand that the world is shifting from forcing customers to sort through piles of spray and pray stuff to find useful communications, to a world where personalized, relevant multichannel communications find consumers based on their opt-in preferences.
The average U.S. consumer spends 60 hours a week consuming content across devices. Many channels are also delivered via multiple devices, making marketing and data collection increasingly more complex. With customers coming into companies from multiple directions, the challenge is to generate seamless, consistently high value, integrated customer experiences—no matter which medium a customer selects.
Multichannel strategies have to begin with an understanding of the requirements customers use to define “Engaging Customer Experiences”. Following are the 6 requirements that have emerged from over 10,000 hours of Voice of Customer research conducted by our firm, ERDM for clients such as MassMutual, IBM and QVC:
1. Improve the customer experience across every point of contact with your organization.
2. This applies to all elements of the media mix and all departments of your organization.
3. High quality experiences must be maintained throughout the relationship, not just when you are “selling.”
4. Customer experiences must be driven by the customer’s individual preferences regarding message, timing, frequency and media mix.
5. Preferences must drive high quality personalization of communications and experiences.
6. Absolute commitment to safeguarding privacy of preference information is essential.
A company that has used its multichannel insights to develop new marketing initiatives is Beyond the Rack, which uses customer data based on media usage to shape its future engagement strategies.
The company’s sales for mobile users skyrocketed from 10% of total revenue in mid-2012 to nearly one-third by 2014. Most recently, Beyond the Rack has revealed that their new focus centers around taking their mobile insights to set the standards for all interactions with customers.
Three Key Takeaways for you based on Beyond the Rack’s strategies:
1. Using its data to understand that 40-50% of their 12 million daily e-mails are opened on mobile devices, the company maximizes the impact of their mobile emails to make them more appealing on mobile devices. All marketers should identify and optimize the most active media channels to make them more engaging for customers.
2. Beyond the Rack continually engages with customers via contests such as its web-based model search. This gives customers an active opportunity to become a part of the brand through multiple media channels and not be just an impersonal buyer.
3. Yona Shtern, CEO of Beyond the Rack, stated that “Consumers have very different expectations of what they want you to be …. [at Beyond The Rack] we spent a lot of time figuring out who we needed to be.” Marketers need to build their media and marketing strategies around what customers want and where they spend their time.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Driving Word of Mouth Referrals: 5 Research Findings and 5 Tips

The Challenge: Companies rely on customer referrals to bring in new business. But, they continue to struggle to interact, listen, and respond in a manner that provides the engagement and motivation for customers to actually provide those referrals.
Word of Mouth ReferralsOnline customer word of mouth interactions and reviews have always been a part of Google, which now has new rules in place that will boost business reviews to a greater degree of importance in 2014. For example businesses will now be able to feature a small 67 character review right under their PPC ad. Additionally, Google will gather and display photographs, comments, and reviews in organic search results if a prior related search had been commenced.
Five new findings regarding word of mouth marketing have emerged from thousands of hours of Voice of Customer research conducted by our firm, ERDM;
• Engaging and competitively differentiating customer experiences are the foundations of today’s customer relationships.
• Personalization of content, communications and experiences per customer's individual preferences are proof points that you care about your customers.
• Spray and pray blasts yield ever lower response rates and hurt your brand.
• It’s not about self-serve. It’s about providing customers with guidance and education which provides value and saves time.
Authenticity, storytelling and emotion are the most powerful elements of marketing communications.
One especially innovative organization that has embraced deep customer engagement is Thrillist Media Group, the leading men's digital media company. They have focused on differentiating themselves through personalization across channels, to their savvy male audience. Per Ben Lerer, Co-Founder & CEO of Thrillist Media Group, "Word of Mouth Marketing has played a huge role in our growth... The key has always been to think about our content creation purposefully: why does someone need this information and how will they be better and have more fun as a result of it."
Examples of how Thrillist has engaged customers to buy and be brand advocates include;
» They refined their marketing lists to identify specific audiences for relevant “This is recommended for YOU” emails sent on selected products.
» They have taken the time to understand the personality as well as the purchasing history of their customers in order to present them with a humorous display of products portrayed to make them “disturbingly more handsome”.
» The company took measures to speak to their customers in a consistent tone and “be the brand” in every channel. And, though each medium was customized for its own unique experience, it presented a concerted and consistent personalized message for its consumers.
This resulted in;
» Increased traffic to the site
» Decreased “unsubscribes” by 50%
» Increased engagement by 15%.
5 Takeaways to Cultivate Customer Referrals:
1. Create methods of direct conversations. Give customers ample avenues to engage in conversations with your company through the touch points of their choice.
2. Develop strategies for active listening. Let customers know that you are listening and that you are giving them empowering levels of knowledge. Customers will not provide a referral if they do not understand the company, the products, or your company’s perceived value. Empower them with the knowledge to go forth and tell others what they’ve learned.
3. Provide a consistent value-driven customer experience. Customer’s own reputations are on the line when they recommend your company to others. By providing them with good customer support, it gives them confidence that others will have the same high quality customer experience.
4. Be humble. Acknowledge what you don’t know about how your customers truly define engagement. Ask for voice of customer insights from your customers and then trust their wisdom and act on their recommendations.
5. Achieve frictionless, high-value, engagement across every medium in the multichannel mix. And, select channels that serve the customer. For example, texting an offer is intrusive, but using text as a reminder for something they want is value.