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.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Alibaba's Success; 3 TakeAways to Help Your Marketing

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CMO.com
Marketing Lessons from Singles DayHow did online retailer Alibaba leverage Singles Day into an event that will trump Cyber Monday in sales volume?
Singles Day, which originated at China’s Nanjing University in 1993 as an occasion for singles to party with fellow single friends, grew from a collegiate Internet sensation into a full-blown phenomenon when Alibaba transformed the Nov. 11 occasion into a day of sales.
Analysts expected this year’s Singles Day sales to surge to a new record. Six million products from approximately 40,000 merchants and 30,000 brands went on sale (as opposed to 1 million in 2014, according to Comscore). Chinese consumers were predicted to spend 1,761 yuan ($277) per person, which is a rise of 22% year over year (YoY).
Well, preliminary, unaudited numbers indicate that Alibaba broke records with sales of $14.3 billion, a 60% increase YoY.
As you plan for 2016, consider how Alibaba brilliantly listened to the needs of its target demographic and hit three key triggers to drive sales:
1. Singles Day is both a social/online event and a demographically targeted event: According to “The Millennial Consumer” study, events such as Single’s Day touch on many key points for this important segment: Millennials don’t associate with traditional media sources or advertising. To reach this group, brands need to use social media, events, and peer-to-peer connections; 33% said blogs are their top media source, fewer than 3% rank traditional media sources as purchase influencers, and only 1% said an advertisement would make them trust a brand.
Alibaba’s use of social media to unite this group around a common event was key because 62% of Millennials said they are more likely to become a loyal customer if a brand socially engages with them.
Takeaway Tip: Listening to the voice of your ideal customer is more essential than ever. If your content and user experience are not relevant, relatable, and readily accessible to your audience, the impact will be diminished because you are not connecting with your audience.
2. Singles Day is a technology empowered event--specifically from mobile: According to the Millennial study, 87% of Millennials use between two and three tech devices at least once a day. This is critical when you consider that 43% of Alibaba’s transactions on Singles Day last year occurred on mobile.
According to Pew Research, “Nearly two-thirds of Americans are now smartphone owners, and for many these devices are a key entry point to the online world.” Additionally, one in five Americans stated that they “do not have broadband access at home, and also have relatively few options for getting online other than their cell phone.”
Takeaway Tip: Developing specifically mobile strategies is no longer an option. It is essential.
3. Singles Day consumers favored U.S. brands, and that’s what they were provided: Chinese consumers like U.S. brands, and Alibaba said U.S. products were the top sellers on Singles Day. In all, 130 U.S. brands and retailers were a part of the Singles Day party in 2015.
What’s more, this year U.S. consumers got in on the buying at Singles Day discounts on several U.S. sites, such as Newegg Inc. and Nasty Gal Inc.
Takeaway Tip: A sale for the sake of short-term revenue will not set you up for ongoing success. The event has to have meaning to the audience and comprise merchandise that conveys value, sparks excitement, and communicates time-driven urgency.
What you can learn from the success of Singles Day comes down to this: You must think holistically about your marketing and be a creative risk taker. Identify your priority segments and design the experience, merchandise, and meia mix to be special, differentiating, and an event consumers want to be a part of again and again.
In other words, create meaningful customer experiences that are more than just transactions.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Customer is Wrong and Cannot Be Trusted

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CustomerThink.com
The customer is wrong and cannot be trustedHaven't we all had those beyond awful customer service experiences? I recently had one of "those" experiences and was stunned that every interaction and communication with this major brand assumed that the customer was wrong and could not be trusted. It is shocking that this kind of behavior is still so pervasive today.
According to Shep Hyken, customer service expert, "Customer service is not a department, it is a philosophy."
And, this is why so many companies still get it wrong. Most customer service departments are disconnected units built as battle grounds to defend corporate policies or disseminate complicated procedures that presume the customer is always wrong.
Companies must finally fix this by imposing customer engagement and retention behaviors and metrics for every channel used by customers.
According to the report Customers 2020 by Walker Information in collaboration with Customer Think and the Chief Customer Officer Council, by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
Here are some other stats to consider:
These insights are corroborated by findings from Voice of Customer Learnings from 15,000+ hours of research conducted by our firm, ERDM;
  • High quality customer experiences must occur at every point of contact, every medium and every part of the customer journey.
  • High value experiences are now a key competitive differentiator for consumers.
Marriott International Puts People First
With a slogan, putting people first, Marriot International has recently been named to the "2015 Customer Service Hall of Fame" by 24/7 Wall Street.
On their website Marriott International notes:
  • We put people first – Take care of associates and they will take care of the customers.
  • We pursue excellence – Marriott's reputation for superior customer service dates back to J. Willard Marriott's original goal for his business… We take pride in the details…
  • We embrace change – We're driven to continually challenge the status quo and anticipate our customers' changing needs.
Marriott trains its staff to understand each other so that it can understand consumers. According to Nancy Curtin Morris, Marriott's National Director of Training:
"Our focus on customer service has been strong for more than 70 years. (The ability of) managers and their staff to understand and relate to customers—and that is where the payoff comes in…"
Marriott's Second quarter 2015 net income totaled $240 million, a 25 percent increase over 2014 second quarter net income.
1. Don't think of customer service as call-center or chat based. Think of customer service as a company-wide commitment that transcends every touchpoint throughout the customer journey.
2. Companies need to develop customer service policies and metrics that are relationship builders rather than merely avenues to defend company policies or disseminate impersonal information to customers who cannot be trusted.
3. Train employees on communication and empathy so they can better navigate situations with each other and with customers to more efficiently and effectively.
According to Scott Broetzmann, president of Customer Care Measurement & Consulting, "Many companies today are simply awful at resolving customer problems…" And in the Arizona State University's "customer rage" study it was noted that "satisfaction with service is actually no higher than it was in the 1970s."
Companies need to take a new look at old, outdated customer service that cultivates a combative "us vs. them mentality." Companies must rethink customer service as a revenue generating skill that builds, repairs and grows long-term relationships.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Customer-driven Innovations Deliver 8 Times the Revenue as Employee Ideas

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CustomerThink.com
Don't Ignore These Three Customer Journey ExperiencesOnce upon a time, brands made products and consumers bought them. But not anymore.
Today, it's all about what people want to buy — not what companies want to sell. Consumers have very smart and specific ideas about the products they are willing to purchase. And, it's the brands that listen who get their business.
In a study from the Institute of Management Sciences the following findings were reported:
  • Customers can have very innovative ideas.
  • User-created innovations have been successfully utilized to turn around "innovative slump periods."
Additionally the study followed products developed via employee input vs. customer input:
  • Customer/User innovations had an average revenue of $146 million dollars (in 5 years).
  • Internally generated/Employee innovations had an average revenue of $18 million (for the same span of time).
Nestlé Gets the Message – Less is More for Consumers
Consumers are increasingly outspoken about their expectations of the quality, content and information regarding food. Per Paul Grimwood, CEO of Nestlé USA, "The clock is on every one of our businesses to make sure there is consumer demand, that it ticks off the right boxes for us as a health and wellness company."
Consumers are telling all manufacturers that they want to recognize all of the ingredients in their food…" To meet the demand for more natural and simpler labels and ingredients, the corporation is transitioning the formulation of its most popular chocolate brands, keeping consumers apprised of the changes at every stage.
Nestlé CEO Paul Bulcke commented: "The consumer has changed what he values." To keep up with the wishes of consumers, the company used various research reports to understand the exact changes desired. Company executives noted, "We conducted consumer testing to ensure the new recipe delivers on our high standards for taste and appearance."
In its most recent financial call, the company noted that it is now moving on to innovate and adapt to consumer trends in regards to all of its brand products. Nestlé reported 4.5% organic growth for the first half of the year, which beat analysts' estimates.
Target Changes Store Signage to Gender Bias
According to its website, Target recently announced, "… we know that shopping preferences and needs change …we never want guests or their families to feel frustrated or limited by the way things are presented. Over the past year, guests have raised important questions about a handful of signs in our stores…We heard you, and we agree… We thank guests all the time for challenging us to get better at what we do and take the shopping trip to new levels. We're always listening."
In direct response to consumer feedback over the next few months, Target will change in store signage and labels on toys and other areas after it says customers raised raising concerns about unnecessary gender-based product associations. Besides accommodating consumer requests, this move immediately sparked (predominately) good will among consumers through social and blogger posts in which consumers acknowledged that their opinions and voices were heard and acted upon.
1. Your most valuable business growth resource is the input of your consumers. By understanding how they want to buy, you can innovate your brand and products to increase value based on meeting customer demands.
2. Don't get so caught up in your corporate environment and historic brand or product positioning that do not hear essential consumer feedback. Cultivate avenues of communication and listening so that you can hear and act on customers' viewpoints and opinions.
3. Develop an ongoing process for gathering guidance from surveys, social media, customer service comments, etc. Then be prepared to take action so you can demonstrate to consumers that you are in fact responding to the voice of your customer.
In summary, understand that there has been a fundamental shift in the product creation-consumer purchase cycle. It is no longer about how brands want to sell, but how consumers want to buy. Missing the message on this is no longer an option. Your customers are now your brand partners and listening is now one of the primary keys to business growth.

Monday, November 2, 2015

J&J Worldwide Director of Digital Strategy Answers 4 Questions for Marketing Innovators

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CMO.com
Jeremy Dalnes is worldwide director of digital strategy and platforms for Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices, where he is responsible for shaping global digital strategy, enhancing and extending digital platforms, and delivering digital activation programs to drive customer engagement and loyalty.
Jeremy DalnesPrior to joining Johnson & Johnson/DePuy Synthes Companies, Dalnes served as vice president of e-business and mobile commerce for Zeo Inc., where he was responsible for customer acquisition, driving revenue through direct sales, and building strategic partnerships to expand Zeo's product and service offerings. Before that, he was VP of e-business for Panasonic North America, where he was responsible for all online sales and marketing for Consumer Electronics North America.
Dalnes 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?
Deep listening, which I define as understanding customer/prospect sentiment and automatically integrating that data with your existing analytics. In practical terms, it's understanding how a select visitor or group of visitors feels about an experience and then digging deep on how that same group behaves [Tweet this]. It involves asking very simple sentiment-based questions, like “Did this content inspire you?” “Do you believe in the solution we are offering?”—answers to which cannot be derived by standard analytics—and then using those responses to refract and understand online behavior through that lens. Some great examples of this in use by Facebook and others were recently highlighted in a New York Times article.
2. Why is this so important?
It's always a challenge to tease out of your big data the small data that really matters. With deep listening, we use microsurvey responses as a “trail head” into the big data that we’re constantly capturing but never know quite what to do with. Only then can we truly begin to understand the unmet needs of our customers/prospects, walk in their shoes, and deliver value back to them. One example of this at J&J is DePuy Synthes Advantage, where we are leveraging this tactic to calibrate and align our messaging hierarchy on the value-added services we offer to the needs of the health-care professional and provider (i.e., hospital) audience.
3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?
We can finally create value for the end user in exchange for giving us their feedback. Imagine if you could personalize every subsequent page view of your site/app based on your knowledge that a particular person feels that price/reputation/user reviews/brand/etc. is most important to them? Alternatively, what if you knew a particular user was extremely skeptical about your product/service? How might you approach your CRM, content strategy, and information hierarchy differently? It¹s hard to understate the application of responding in real time or almost real time to customer-expressed need.
4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
The current state-of-the-art in programmatic media buying and optimization relies on conversion events that are typically transaction-oriented: Did you buy something? Download something? Install an app? The algorithms that optimize against these events eventually reach a point of diminishing return where they simply can’t buy more of that super-high-performing traunch of media without breaking the cost-per-acquisition ceiling. However, if you could ask a simple question that would help you identify a prospect that’s just about ready’ to transact but hasn’t yet, you can enhance your optimization algorithm with that survey response answer, rather than a transaction event. This allows you to widen the net of your media buy to include those prospects and increase the size of the acquisition pie, not just optimize it.
Bonus: Favorite activity outside of work?
Playing electric cello in a few projects in and around the Boston area. I am a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, so I try to stay connected to cello in one way or another. Lately it’s been watching my kids begin to explore and play a 1/4-size cello.

Monday, October 26, 2015

How Brand Ambassadors make social...more social

Don't Ignore These Three Customer Journey ExperiencesPeople are social beings. So why is it that most corporate social postings are both irrelevant and anonymous? Tweet this Putting a personal, social component into your social marketing is imperative to engaging 2-way communication.
Here are some thoughts to consider from a consumer perspective:
Here is the all too often reality for consumers when interacting with companies on social media:
  • One of the keys to developing a strong brand is to develop a culture of brand trust….Realize that improved Customer Experience strengthens trust. And, trust is the foundation that builds brand, communication and good experiences.
  • Developing a strong brand is a continual circle of interaction with your brand, what it stands for, how it is conveyed by employees and the experience it delivers.
Nokia Turns Employees into Social Brand Ambassadors
Nokia empowers employees to engage in social conversations for feedback, promotion of new products/services, and to just be available throughout social networks as real brand ambassadors. Nokia's talent stories are credible because they're from Nokia employees. Additionally, all the videos and photography on the Nokia sites and social media platforms feature Nokia employees.
Here are some tips from Becky Gloyne, Social Media Manager and Global Marketing Talent Acquisition Manager at Nokia:
  • “Use social media in a very effective way, create your own content (photography, video etc.), and be as creative and original as possible. This brings the “human element” into the picture and it puts a face to the brand, which is what people want to see.”
  • “Have a focus, a target, use social media effectively, and understand your audience.”
  • “We regularly communicate with our employees to make sure they all understand what is going on within our brand.”
Adobe's Social Shift
Realizing that social has shifted, Adobe has implemented what it calls, its “Social Shift” program to better connect with consumers. The program helps to educate the company's employees on the company's social media guidelines, shares best practices for social sharing and ultimately helps them to become brand ambassadors.
Here are some tips from the Adobe “Social Shift” program:
  • The Adobe blog, “Adobe Life” posts, pictures, videos, and perspective. The content is also syndicated to other parts of the business for further social optimization.
  • According to Natalie Kessler, Head of Employment Branding at Adobe, they make social posting fun for employees with contests, visual #AdobeLife reminders throughout offices, and acknowledgement for posting activities.
  • Develop a brand ambassador program in your organization.
In closing, here a few takeaways from Brian Fanzo, Chief Digital Strategist at Broadsuite from an IBM Center for Applied Insights' Talking Insights Podcast:
  • “… Companies are afraid of employee advocacy …. I think the true sign of a great culture is not what's on a website or not what a CEO says in the presentation, but it's on the faces of their employees and that can be a scary element for a lot of leaders…”
  • Employees are a company's greatest social tool. Therefore, brands must embrace employee advocacy to have a truly authentic social presence.
  • “A lot of business is done on social… it bridges that gap when we can create that same relationship that we would on the golf course, we would at a happy hour, via these social tools.”
Improved Customer Experience via interpersonal social interaction strengthens brand trust. Via a personal interaction with employee brand ambassadors a continual circle of interaction can become a key differentiator for both BroB and BtoC consumers.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Damage Brands Suffer From Breaking Promises

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on Forbes.com
Don't Ignore These Three Customer Journey ExperiencesAccording to a recent report by Gallup, a brand promise represents everything a company stands for, it is the unique statement of what the company offers, what separates it from its rivals and what makes it worthy of customers’ consideration.
Yet Gallup finds that "only half of customers believe that the companies they do business with always deliver on what they promise." When asked, only 27% of employees strongly agree that they always deliver on the promises they make to their customers.
Across the board, brand promise turns up as a major differentiating factor. Consider the following:
A Harris Poll EquiTrend study on the top 10 most-trusted packaged goods brands reported that the brands that men and women trust are those with a long history of consistently delivering on their brand promise.
In a MediaPost study that analyzed 10,000-plus consumer conversations across a broad cross-section of social media platforms, brand promise is the most important benefit category for luxury brands, with 42% of conversations on this topic.
In 1906 Harvey W. Wiley, an American chemist whose bureau was part of the Good Housekeeping Institute’s laboratory, began a legacy of brand promise that’s still going strong today. So why are consumers still avid believers in this brand promise? Trust. Consumers know that the seal has delivered on its promise. Additionally brands need to earn the seal—not buy it.Because of this there is authenticity in what the brand promise represents.
Trust is one of the key factors cited again and again when it comes to consumers buying into a brand’s promise. This was confirmed recently in VoC Relationship Research conducted by our firm, which determined that trust has to be earned by going through specific steps which comprise a Pyramid of Trust.
Here are a few of the steps:
  • Trust is the foundation and prerequisite for obtaining deeper engagement with customers.
  • Consumers want brands to do what they promise, and actually deliver on the fundamental brand promise, consistently, over time.
  • Improve my experiences: Use my stated preferences and aversions, to significantly improve my experiences.
  • Protect my information: Explain the reasons for the opt-in information requests and assure me of the privacy and safety of my data.
The Reader’s Digest US Trusted Brands survey, meanwhile, revealed that 79% of participants said they opt for a "trusted" brand when choosing between items of equal quality and price.
But on the flip side, a report by Credit Suisse regarding falling trust in our food supply cited that the largest 25 companies saw their control slip from a combined 49.4% share in 2009 to 45.1% share in 2014. Campbell Soup Co. CEO Denise Morrison, noted, "We are well aware of the mounting distrust of Big Food…. We understand that increasing numbers of consumers are seeking authentic, genuine food experiences and we know that they are skeptical of the ability of large, long-established food companies to deliver them."
Edelman’s Managing Director of Corporate and Public Affairs Ron Guirguis summed it up well regarding brand promises: "People don’t just buy products anymore, they buy the companies that make products, the values they represent and what they stand for."
So here are some takeaways:
Trust in brand promise is universally a top priority for consumers in determining whether to do business with a company. But trust cannot be assumed or bought. It needs to earned through actions.
Delivering on promises such as "FREE" wins trust. But when FREE becomes FREE* the small print under the asterisk undermines brand trust.
Consistency is a key factor in gaining and keeping consumer’s trust in a brand promise. It is not about fulfilling the promise once and moving on to the next campaign. It is a sustained building of trust that nurtures brand loyalty.
Marketers need to rethink their brand strategy to ensure that they deliver on brand promises. Promises that are kept strengthen. Broken promises diminish and set the stage for a long and possibly impossible win back.

Monday, October 12, 2015

L'Oréal USA's CMO Answers 4 Questions For Marketing Innovators

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CMO.com
Marie Gulin-Merle has more than 15 years of experience in managing communications and digital strategies for fast-moving consumer goods and beauty luxury brands.
Marie Gulin-MerleBefore she was appointed CMO of L'Oréal USA nearly a year-and-a-half ago, Gulin-Merle served as global head of integrated marketing communications for L'Oréal Paris.
Gulin-Merle is credited with successfully reinventing integrated communications for L'Oréal Paris. Through her strategic leadership in the digital space, she also overhauled the content strategy for the brand's product innovations and modernized major events, such as L'Oréal Paris' involvement in the Cannes Film Festival.
Gulin-Merle 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?
The shift to data-driven marketing in the consumer packaged goods world is changing the way we do business. [Tweet this] At L'Oreal USA, we're leveraging this to cultivate more intimate relationships with our customers, who expect more value, more services, more engagements, and more conversations with our beauty brands.
2. Why is this so important?
Data-driven marketing unlocks immense possibilities of personalized brand experiences and puts the consumer at the center of each and every marketing decision. It has the power to change the way we develop products, campaigns, and our go-to-market strategy.
The development of mobile is crucial for customization; the content has to be even sharper and continuously adapted and adjusted. One survey found that nearly two-thirds (62%) of Millennials feel that online content drives their brand loyalty. We're constantly using consumer insights to connect with them in innovative ways on mobile to build brand loyalty and trust so they feel satisfied with their shopping decisions.
Our Makeup Genius app is a great example of how to connect with consumers through innovation. The app transforms the front-facing camera of your phone into a virtual mirror where users can try on products virtually. The app uses advanced facial-mapping technology that has previously only been used in Hollywood and in the gaming industry to overlay products, like lipstick and eyeliner, onto the user's face.
3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?
This new area creates value for consumers through more effective engagement. Consumers' digital expectations toward our brands have changed with the influx of data-driven marketing, and we're responding by using consumer data to help personalize our message, optimize investments, and engage with our customers at each and every step of their shopping journey.
We want our consumers to continuously engage with products and be given an easy, seamless way to merge online and offline experiences. Customers expect L'Oreal USA brands to understand their needs. We're providing more customized, dynamic content to do just that.
4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
Technology-driven marketing means that any contact with our consumer will provide data, and that data will make the brand experience richer and tailored to each individual customer. This also translates to efficiencies to better measure our media return on investments, as well as better consumer engagement and loyalty.
Bonus: Favorite activity outside of work?
I'm a voracious reader. I love books about political history, revolutions, and French novels of the 19th century. Can't pass up a good autobiography either!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Marketers Must Understand The New Mobile Mind-Set Of Immediacy

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CMO.com
In the spring, Google rolled out algorithm changes to devalue “non-mobile-friendly” websites in its search rankings. This has added additional fuel to the ongoing mobile marketing conversation.
However, your website is only one component in your total ability to connect with consumers, who have an entirely different mind-set in their personal mobile world. Another phenomenon rules mobile marketing: the concept of immediacy. [Tweet this]
Understanding mobile mind-setAccording to Forrester:
Two brands that have applied immediacy to their mobile marketing are Budweiser and Krispy Kreme. Read on for what they’ve been doing right.
How Budweiser Gave Buds Instant Access
Budweiser wanted a way to create a user experience that transcended the journey from social ads and posts to mobile video, sharing, location-based guidance, and point-of-sale experience. And it wanted to do all of that in in a way that gave consumers immediate excitement.
The brand came up with its Buds for Buds campaign, which enabled consumers to gift a beer directly from budweiser.com and send it to a friend via Facebook, to be redeemed for immediate or future redemption at a list of local bars identified right on their phones.
Consumers were activated via targeted Facebook ads and guided to a mobile site that authenticated both the purchaser’s and recipient’s ages. They could then share their “Bud moments” on their timelines.
As for results, the program achieved a 3x in-bar sales lift—meaning people spent three times the value of the beer when redeeming at the bar/POS. Redemptions were 100% of participating bars (thereby increasing on-premise spend and traffic during the program), and purchase conversion rate was 7x industry average. Additionally the program received global media coverage. A larger campaign is planned for the future.
Krispy Kreme Lets Consumers Know When To Come ‘N Get ‘Em Hot
Most people would agree that donuts are better when they are hot out of the oven. This is especially true for Kripy Kreme, which has trained its legion of devoted fans to look for the red light indicating a fresh batch is waiting.
Understanding mobile mind-setTo take advantage of the reach and immediacy of mobile, the company launched its “Red Light App,” which lets users map the nearest Krispy Kreme location from their phones and receive an alert when a “Hot Now” light is activated in their area. The signs have a sensor that transmits a signal directly to a software server when illuminated. Once happy donut eaters have satisfied their cravings, they are encouraged to use the hashtag #KrispyKremeMoment to post the hot word to others.
According to Forrester, which used the app as a case study, without spending a penny on marketing, Krispy Kreme saw a 6.8% increase in same-store sales since the app hit the market. In its most recent financial call, the company disclosed systemwide domestic same-store sales rose 5.2% and revenues increased 9%.
What can marketers learn from these examples?
1. All marketers know they need a mobile component to their overall plan. However, mobile and its nuances need to be considered a lifestyle connection rather than merely as another form of media.
2. How consumers incorporate their phones and tablets into their lives requires marketers to develop a new mind-set of delivering a satisfying experience with an aspect of immediacy.
3. Mobile marketing is more than a one-dimensional SMS text message. It needs to be incorporated into every aspect of touch points and interaction, from Web to bricks and mortar.
Your consumers’ personal mobile worlds are a direct extension of their lives. Therefore, a successful mobile strategy needs to find the missing links to fulfill needs, offer solutions, and deliver value. With mobile being a prime access point to sales, it is innovation and, most of all, relevancy that ultimately determine your success on this ever-growing platform.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Founder Of Stitch Fix Answers 4 Questions For Marketing Innovators

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CMO.com
Inspired by the opportunity to create a truly personalized online shopping experience by blending the best of brick-and-mortar retail with an innovative approach to data and technology, Katrina Lake founded Stitch Fix in 2011 while she was a student at Harvard Business School. She has since grown the company to more than 2,000 employees across the country.
Alice MilliganPrior to founding Stitch Fix, Lake honed her skill set at the intersection of fashion, retail, and technology at social commerce company Polyvore; she also consulted with a variety of e-commerce and traditional retailers during her time at The Parthenon Group. Lake holds a B.S. in Economics from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Lake 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?
I'm most passionate about personalization. I firmly believe that personalized experiences with brands will most drive loyalty and relevance for customers in the future.
2. Why is this so important?
Personalization is a popular word in retail, and people often misuse it to describe simple marketing tactics, like segmenting emails or using big data to identify the likely gender of a visitor to their websites. But the true art of personalization at a one-to-one human level is what I consider true personalization--and I see very little of that happening today in the online world. Figuring out how to scale the very human art of personalization is difficult, but I believe that it is also the key to building a lasting connection with customers for the long term.
3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?
Fundamentally, personalization is bringing focus back to customer centricity--really being able to understand what it is that your customer loves about your brand and how you can better serve her. Today’s customer is less about the “it trend” or the “must-have jeans.” What is more important to her is feeling like an individual and how what she is wearing or doing reflects her as an individual. Brands that are successful will help each customer feel like she is the best version of herself.
4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
Delivering a service that consumers feel truly connected to and providing an experience that people love and love to organically share and talk about is the most effective form of marketing I know. Just as people who have an amazing meal naturally tell friends about the dining experience, we find that personalization can create amazing experiences that people love to talk about.
Bonus: Favorite activity outside of work?
Outside of work, I love running, cooking, and eating with family and friends.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Tips for Innovating with Integrated Messaging and Experiences to Engage Customers

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CustomerThink.com
Michaels and Sally’s are taking omnichannel to new levels through interconnected campaigns that blend and blur the lines between media boundaries to achieve a united 360-degree presentation of messages and experiences to consumers.
The key to mastering an interconnected media, messaging and experience strategy is to:
1. Be in your consumers’ preferred media spaces and offer avenues for cross media interaction.
2. Use various forms of media united together in a cohesive communication strategy to reinforce your messages and experiences consistently, supportively and seamlessly
3. In developing campaigns, have a clear path that guides and entices consumers to take your brand journey across channels.
Here are two examples of integrated messaging and experience innovation:
Michaels Arts & Crafts Wants “Makers”
Specialty retailer, Michaels Arts & Crafts, is creating a sense of community that guides consumers effortlessly between its bricks and mortar and digital spaces within one comprehensive marketing umbrella.
Their all-encompassing marketing program, “Michaels Makers”seamlessly integrates Online and In-Store classessummit events, and blogger outreach programs. Additionally, they use a combination of web and social to actively involve their audience inmonthly online craft challenges. Crafters can also post their own projects on social media using #MadeWithMichaels for a chance to be featured on Michaels’ social channels.
Discussing their most recent “Makers” summit, Steve Carlotti, Michaels Executive Vice President Marketing states that “Our Michaels Makers Summit was the largest-ever craft retailer event of its kind…In our increasingly digital world, bringing these makers together face to face was powerful – we came here as individuals, but we left as a creative community.”
In their most recent earnings report, Chuck Rubin, Chairman and CEO reported:
"In marketing we continued our efforts to balance our mass and personalized marketing messaging… In the last 12 months alone we have expanded our email database by more than 10%…. In March, we had our first Springtime in Paris event. We used all of our different marketing channels … we had a dedicated website for the event that received almost 400,000 visits. Customers also shared [via] Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and email. And in store we had classes…. our customers [had the] ability to [create their own art and] send us a picture to enter a drawing for a free trip to Paris. Over 11,000 entries were submitted for the contest."
Sally’s Is Getting Viewers Involved in its New “Project”
Sally Beauty Supply is so excited by its new association with TV show, Project Runway,that it decided to take its customers along for all the backstage fashion glitz and glamour. The company is cultivating a community with an interconnected marketing campaign that directly ties in both the looks created on the show as well as some behind the scenes “dish”.
Via the newly launched interconnected marketing campaign, consumers are sent email messages that reference the most recent hair and makeup looks along with the actual products used and the step by step guidance to achieve looks at home.
The campaign includes email messaging, a large mix of social media, YouTube videos, plus a dedicated section of their website. Consumers can additionally enter online or in store to win the“Runway Your Way” sweepstakes for a trip to New York City to see the show’s finale.
Currently Sally’s has 416,000 Facebook likes, 53,000 Twitter followers.
1. An interconnected media strategy must include a fully rounded media mix that reflects the avenues your customers prefer. Understand where and how your customers are spending their time and then develop strategies for cross-linking action points to move them on a predicted path.
2. If your interconnected campaign does not offer points of value, consumers will not participate. Develop meaningful ways to connect with your consumers through education; tips; “in-the-know” background info they can’t get elsewhere; videos; social interaction; web involvement, etc.
3. Encourage the feeling of community and value in your interconnected media campaign. When consumers feel that they are a part of a “movement” they are more inclined to want to participate and be a part of a true “event.”
Omnichannel is a proven strategy, but now is the time to take it to the next level with anintegrated mix of media, messaging and experiences.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Citi Cards' Chief Customer Experience Officer Answers 4 Questions For Marketing Innovators

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CMO.com
Alice Milligan is the chief customer experience officer for Citi Cards, the world’s largest credit card issuer, where she is responsible for driving all aspects of customer experience and engagement globally.
Alice MilliganMilligan joined Citi in 2014, bringing along more than 25 years of experience in curating the customer experience. She was most recently SVP of global digital and North America marketing at Coach, and before that spent 15 years with American Express, where, as senior vice president for American Express Interactive, she was responsible for the delivery of digital sales and servicing across Web, mobile, and e-communications.
Milligan 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?
I am passionate about collaborating with our customers because their insights help us create a digital experience that is intuitive and based on not only what they explicitly tell us, but on their implicit motivations and needs. We strive to enable customers to get things done in just a few moments and just a few clicks to make banking with us simpler, easier, and better than banking anywhere else.
2. Why is this so important?
How our customers engage with us is evolving. Today, more than 70% of customer inquiries are made digitally, including @AskCiti on Twitter and online chat. And two out of every three emails we send are read by customers on their mobile devices, so we make sure that every email we send is mobile-responsive. What’s constant is that customers want a consistent, easy, and reliable experience–whether they are making a bill payment on their smartphone or managing their account via tablet.
Our job is to craft an engaging experience that makes customers feel good about their relationship with Citi; our approach is to marry data-driven decisions with a human touch. To guide our agile development, we use both data and customer verbatims to create principles that look at everything we do through the eyes of the customer. Every day our teams focus on the customer and how they want us to value, protect, and know them, and ultimately to make using and managing their card easy for them. We know that we must serve their needs first and help them accomplish what they want to. We need to add value to the relationship and experience by not only helping them do want the need to do, but showing them how to make the most of the benefits, services, and offers that come with their card.
One example is our recent work is our online account dashboard, which is the place customers visit most frequently and has a high impact on how they feel about their interactions with Citi. We want to ensure they have the information and tools they need to successfully manage their account. Over the past six months, we completely redesigned the dashboard with a streamlined, visual design and engaging tone. Front and center is account balance and reminder of payment due date and status, and the ability to keep track of rewards points, miles, or cash. We also saw an opportunity to ensure customers are taking full advantage of complimentary benefits, like their FICO score and Price Rewind, which searches hundreds of online retailers for a lower price on purchases. If a lower price is found within 60 days after the item is purchased, Citi Price Rewind refunds the difference, saving our customers time and money.
We also provide timely, contextual messages on the dashboard. For example, if you recently booked travel, we may share information on travel insurance, lost luggage, or accident protections. And we can prompt you to tell us the dates you are traveling so we can monitor for unusual purchase activity. These enhancements already have resulted in increased engagement and satisfaction–and we’re not stopping there.
3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?
Our use of analytics and customer co-collaboration helps us to fully understand the customer’s life, mindset, and values. We don’t just hear what they need; the conversation enables our team to paint a picture of what tools could be helpful to the customer that they might not have said or even realized yet.
For example, we saw that customers were earning rewards but were not as engaged with enjoying them as they could be. We added information on their account dashboard so they can easily view their rewards balance. If the account was recently opened with an introductory offer for 50,000 points after $3,000 in spend during the first three months, they can see how their monthly spend is adding up. Our customers can also click through to see rewards presented in a more compelling way on our ThankYou Rewards site, which has been redesigned so that it looks and feels more like a retail storefront.
4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
We continue to see that engaging and really listening to our customers enables us to deliver more personal and customized communications and reinforce product and service benefits in a very relevant and meaningful way. For example, if you make a purchase at a retailer that accepts Apple Pay, we will share relevant offers you can use the next time you are in the store. When you provide customers with value at the right time and place, because you know who they are and what they are interested in, it really creates a strong relationship. I believe that effective marketing is about adding value and building a relationship that helps customers achieve what they want in life—however, the customer defines what that means for them personally.
Bonus: Favorite activity outside of work?
I love to spend time with my family. I'm an avid Jets and Yankees fan, and when not designing the cardmember experience at work I enjoy home improvement projects.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

How IBM, Similac And Other Marketers Think Beyond The FAQ When It Comes To Customer Support

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on Forbes.com
Recently, the annual list of companies with the worst customer service came out and it got me thinking. It’s time that marketers seized the opportunity of “helpfulness” and use its value at every stage of the purchase journey, from prospect to long-term, raving fan. All too often, helpfulness is dismissed as a throwaway, when it can be transformed into your most valuable engagement strategy.
According to Forrester, good customer service is all about being anticipatory, helpful and responsive using predictive analytics and cognitive engagement.
Customers want effortless interactions over web and mobile self-service channels as well as via new channels such as video chat.
Proactive engagement for pre-purchase consumers answers the questions that drive the pre-purchase journey. Learnings can then be used improve operational performance and to predict future customer behavior.
Post-purchase satisfaction is dependent upon preemptive service that offers faster resolution at lower costs, with deeply personalized engagement, better planning and anticipation of future customer needs.
Similac Offers Help Now For Goodwill On Purchases Later
It may seem counterintuitive to offer breastfeeding help when you are a baby-formula company, but Similac knows that information means goodwill. And goodwill breeds legions of devoted customers.
The company offers a wide array of online help as well as communities on its website that range from “My Pregnancy” to “My Baby” to “Feeding Expert.” This demonstrates that the company is offering help quite literally at every stage of a new mom’s and new baby’s lifecycle.
The company took on the controversy of breastfeeding in a TV commercial campaign called “The Sisterhood of Motherhood.” “We make formula, and parents who use our products are often judged for how they parent and the decisions that they make,” said Misha Pardubicka-Jenkins, director of Pediatric Nutrition at Abbott. “So we’re putting a stake in the ground and we want everybody to support one another in the spirit of acceptance. All moms want to feel empowered in the decisions they make and feel supported by everyone.”
The feedback since the video went up has been “very positive,” with more than eight million views onYouTube. Additionally, Similac ranks in top spots on the 2015 list of leading baby formula brands in the U.S.
IBM Gives Business What It Needs To Succeed
In a b-to-b environment, IBM has taken not only the necessary steps to understand the industries it supports with products and services that help businesses perform at a higher level, but they have also gone one step beyond to offer helpful research and studies on topics that are important to those industries.
Regarding the use of Instagram for b-to-b engagement, Katie Keating, social content & engagement strategist at IBM, commented, “We prioritized engagement over number of followers. This put the IBM account way ahead of larger b-to-b companies [that] are well-known for their social media prowess… [We] curate content that is intriguing to our audiences, that maybe teaches them something simple but useful, and builds trust among our followers…. We don’t want to speak into a void but to an engaged, interested audience, so listening and gathering feedback is a critical first step before we publish anything… give access and meaning to your brand. Don’t try to promote, sell, drive clicks … You will drive engagement and preference for your brand by being real and staying true to the platform.”
IBM is one of the top Instagram accounts named as No. 1 by the simply measured “Retail Brand Social Media Report,” with 9,265 followers and an engagement rate of 4.04%, (versus the average engagement rate for the top retail brands of 4%).
1. Marketers need to stop thinking of support as a list of stale FAQs.
Being truly supportive means being relevant and helpful at every step, addressing everything from pre-purchase questions to post-purchase issue resolution.
2. Develop value-based content and resources outside of sales-driven messaging that demonstrates authentic understanding and concern for your customers.
3. Create resource centers that are accessible on multiple media, address the needs of a variety of consumers and where they are in their life stages, careers and their dealings with your company.
Marketers need to position themselves as invaluable resources for “helpfulness” to customers throughout every step of the purchase and post purchase journey. Now is the time revisit support strategies to transform them into powerful engagement vehicles.