Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Why You Need Human Data For Real Customer Engagement

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on Forbes.com

A cataclysmic shift is occurring in BtoB and BtoC marketing. Customers are ignoring generic messaging and demanding personalized and relevant communications based on their individual preferences.

Human EngagementBased on research findings, the good news is that customers and prospects are willing to provide personal or business information in exchange for more personalized offers, communications and experiences.
Marketers must meet these consumer demands by transitioning from impersonal transaction-based marketing to highly personalized, preference-based, experiences.
The Reciprocity of Value Equation
A profound finding has emerged from more than 12,000 hours of Voice of Customer (VoC) research our firm has conducted for companies including MassMutual, IBM, Norton AntiVirus, QVC, NBC, Microsoft and Songza. Notwithstanding privacy concerns, BtoB and BtoC customers are willing to provide detailed information in exchange for increased value and relevance.
To satisfy these demands, marketers must adopt transformational strategies that recognize the value of human data; true personalization of communications, offers and experiences driven by deep opt-in individual preference information provided by customers in exchange for receiving unprecedented levels of preference-driven personalization.
We call this the Reciprocity of Value Equation.
Customer Reciprocity: Recognition by customers that to receive more relevant and personalized communications and offers, they need to provide marketers with personal or business preference information.
Business Reciprocity: Recognition by marketers that they have to provide significantly more personalized communications and offers. To be truly personalized these have to be based on more than just transactional, overlay and inferential data.
"Human Data:" BtoB or BtoC opt-in self-profiled information regarding key issues, needs and expectations; decision-making process, messaging and media preferences; self-described personality types/attitudes/life stages.
Customer Experience Transformation.
But, Marketers Have to Earn the Right to Request Human Data
By earning trust through value propositions that motivate customers to opt-in and provide deep preference information, marketers will create a high quality database of responsive customers who truly want your messages.
Based on the VoC research findings, customers (BtoB and BtoC) confirmed that human data has to be earned by going through specific steps that comprise a Pyramid of Trust:
Do what you promised: Deliver on your fundamental brand promise.
Treat me fairly: Fair pricing and customer service policies.
Protect my information: Explain the reasons for the opt-in information requests and assure me of the privacy and safety of my data.
Improve my experiences: Use my stated preferences and aversions, to significantly improve my experiences.
Gilt Earns Trust and Engagement
Gilt, a top internet retailer, has used high levels of personalization to deliver relevance and drive engagement for both new and existing customers. Results of these efforts have included increased orders, decreased email and mobile push notification unsubscribe rates and boosted higher repeat-purchase rates.
According to Welington Fonseca, VP of marketing and digital analytics, “Gilt’s commitment to a personalized experience is evident when customers return to the home page of the web site or mobile app. Sales within the store (men, women, kids, home) with the highest affinity to a consumer’s past behavior and preferences (browse, purchase, favorite brands, wish list) are presented at the top of their home page with all other sales ranked according to relevance based on previous shopping behavior and collaborative filtering.”
Another example of personalization is “Your Personal Sale,” which displays the most relevant brands and products based on shopping patterns and self-stated preferences and provide Gilt with another way to interact with the customer to understand preferences in order to further refine their personalization algorithm.
According to Fonseca, “All communication is personalized, with the company sending [more than] 2,500 versions of personalized emails and mobile push notifications on a daily basis, eight times per week. Results have been a double-digit increase in orders and reduction in email and mobile push notification unsubscribes.”
Five Takeaways:
1. Differentiate your business by providing highly personalized communications, offers and experiences.
2. True personalization must be based on preference-based “human data,” not just traditional inferred or transactional data.
3. The right to ask for increasingly deep levels of preference-based information is not a “given.” It must be earned.
4. Deliver clear and obvious value based on preference information.
5. Customers see reciprocity as a valuable exchange of information that improves their experience.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Free The Children Co-founder Answers 4 Questions for Marketing Innovators

Craig Kielburger, who at the age of 12 co-founded the remarkable charity Free The Children, now a worldwide organization, 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.

Craig Kielburger
Craig Kielburger is a social entrepreneur and NYT-bestselling author. He is the co-founder of the children's charity Free The Children, the youth empowerment event We Day, and the social enterprise Me to We.
Free The Children is an international charity and educational partner that believes in a world where all children are free to achieve their fullest potential as agents of change.
1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
Cause-related marketing, linking your product to an organization or cause that customers care about, so that buying your product has a tangible, positive social impact.
2. Why is this so important?
Consumers are increasingly seeking a sense of purpose in their purchases. The millennial generation, in particular, is highly aware of social causes and more likely than any previous generation to actively look for companies and products that make a positive social impact.
We also live in an age of parity. The marketplace is filled with similar offerings that start to blur together on retail shelves and online. Consumers are looking for a true differentiator and asking, what's unique about this product? Social impact is an under-tapped way to make your product stand out among the crowd.
At the same time, consumers are growing cynical of donating a dollar at the check-out. They're looking for some accountability on where their donation is going. As we say, they want to track their impact.
We've seen this phenomenon with our Me to We products, which include artisanal items handmade by women in Africa, sweatshop-free clothing, eco-conscious school supplies, and a recycled stationary line. Each item has a unique Track Your Impact code printed on the tag. With that code, we promise a specific impact to a community overseas, such as clean water, a vaccination, or a financial literacy class to empower a person in a developing country. Customers can enter their code online to see precisely where their gift is making an impact. Track Your Impact is cause-related marketing with an unprecedented level of transparency‹, a specific purchase linked to a specific outcome.
3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?
People want to feel and be seen as being socially conscious. They want the emotional attachment and empowerment of knowing that their shopping choices benefit someone else's life. Buying a product they need, and then seeing that purchase deliver a tangible outcome for a better world, fulfills a basic human need we all have to do good.
4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
It's the future. People want to know the story behind their product to track where it was made and its social impact. Consumers are also parents, grandparents, siblings, real people who care about making a difference. They rarely have a strong emotional resonance with a deodorant, or a can of soup. But if you attach your product to something that people care about enormously, you differentiate your product. If a consumer knows their gift planted a tree, their shirt provided seeds for a family to grow their own food, or their kid's lunchbox gave another child a year of school supplies, then they feel empowered and good about their purchases. Suddenly, they have an emotional attachment to your product ‹that's marketing gold.
Track Your Impact has been so successful that we've been approached by other companies that want to attach impacts to their products, and we'll soon license the system. It's the future of marketing.
What is your favorite activity outside of work?
I love to travel and explore new cultures. Although I've been to dozens of amazing countries, one of my favorite places to visit is Kenya – it truly is my home away from home. I go back at least twice a year to visit our Adopt a Village communities in the country.

Monday, February 2, 2015

HackerAgency CEO Answers 4 Questions for Marketing Innovators

Thanks for all the positive feedback regarding our recently launched 4 Questions for Marketing Innovators. Each blog features one marketing innovator who addresses 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

Spyro Kourtis
Spyro Kourtis is President/CEO of HackerAgency, a global digital/direct marketing agency with expertise across all media channels and a focus on the metrics that matter. Clients include Coca-Cola, Volkswagen, One Medical Group, Essence Healthcare, Hyatt and Microsoft. Spyro spearheaded the movement that brought the agency to the point where it synergistically uses and optimizes all digital and traditional media to achieve superior ROI for its clients.
When not at work, Spyro is involved with the local community, including Family Law CASA and Gilda's Club.

1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
I want to achieve a more holistic understanding of how marketing communications drive ROI.

2. Why is this so important?
Many marketers are still looking at ROI in linear terms: send mail, respond by phone, measure sales, etc.. But with the technologies at our – and consumers – disposal, that linear model fails to account for the impact of other touch points.

Until recently, many interactions were not visible to the marketer, they were conversations between two people with no opportunity to track, guide, inform or influence. Now, that reality has changed significantly. With the growth of social and explosion of mobile, many of these interactions are now visible to marketers, so it is easier to guide and help the consumer.

Is this immersive path more effective? Yes. But it's also, admittedly, more challenging to measure.

3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?
They'll receive more timely and relevant communications, more one-to-one conversations with a broader audience. We can better inform them based on their specific needs and situation – it becomes as much helping as it is selling. A great example of this power is how we can politely present the Volkswagen consumer in China a 4-door vehicle option when they select that they have a baby. It's done in an informative way, offering relevant, tailored options that will improve the customer's experience with the brand.
I think of personalized offers as relevant offers - maybe best restated as an intuitive use of facts that enables the offering to match the customer's needs versus what may be on the company's "hot list" at large. Some people (I'm one of them) have an adverse reaction to retargeting online. After I've shopped for something, it can be a little spooky to see that same item repeatedly served up to me seemingly all over the place. That "big brother effect" doesn't apply here, since we're applying information in an intuitive way that can enhance their relationship with the brand.
4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
Here's the great thing: More customer-centric marketing communications mean greater ROI for the marketer, a more valuable experience for the consumer, and a more fulfilled agency staff because they see their work perform better. Now that's a win-win-win!
It's a cycle, more loyalty means more business, more business means more innovation to better service our customer. 

What is your favorite activity outside of work?
I spend my free time with family. Travel, food and tennis are my vices.