Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

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.