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When It Comes to Personalization, Good Intentions Won’t Get it Done

If your company is working toward personalization, you're on the right track. But if you're overwhelmed at the possibilities, remember that all you're trying to do is be human: Listen to your customers, remember what they say, and respond to them. Personalization is immensely valuable, but the longer you wait to get started, the further you get from your goals.

Research out this spring indicates that 95 percent of World Retail Congress retailers surveyed by Periscope By McKinsey say that personalization is a strategic priority for their business. In fact, just about two-thirds (64 percent) say that personalization is one of their brand's top three priorities. Yet implementation stunts progress across the board. A mere 15 percent say they've fully implemented personalization and 43 percent saying they're somewhere in the process of aligning efforts for this or next year.

We're well aware of the challenges that companies face once they've realized the power of personalization and the interconnectedness it entails from within the company's departments. Not to mention, how the proliferation of channels and touchpoints that the customer uses to communicate back to you complicates matters.

Ordinarily, collected preferences per channel would be stored in siloed databases across business units. And in many cases, data comes from both internal and third-party systems. Synthesizing all that data (and keeping it compliant!) is one of the biggest hurdles companies encounter. With all the incoming information, it may seem easy for your company to listen to its customers, but it gets increasingly difficult for your company to then remember and respond to customers.

The survey I mentioned earlier? Sixty-seven percent of respondents said that "gathering, integrating, and synthesizing data was their greatest challenge, with the same volume admitting they did not have the correct tools to execute personalized offers and marketing."

We've heard it before and we know that preference management can help enterprises make sense of data in ways that are simple, actionable and effective.

Your customers are expecting personalization – if you’re listening to them, how have you responded?




About the Author: 
Eric V. Holtzclaw is  Chief Strategist  of PossibleNOW. He's a researcher, writer, serial entrepreneur and challenger-of-conventional wisdom. His book with Wiley Publishing on consumer behavior - Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior - hit bookstores in the summer of 2013. Eric helps strategically guide companies with the implementation of enterprise-wide preference management solutions.


Follow me on Twitter: @eholtzclaw | Connect on LinkedIn: Eric Holtzclaw

Forrester: Enterprise Preference Management is “Marketing’s Most Overlooked Tool”

As marketers, we're constantly chasing better, newer technology as we refine the ways in which we can gain insight and engage with our customers. As we've know, technology is moving along at the rate of our customers – that's to say, quickly and creatively, crunching data as fast as it's created.

An April 2017 report by Forrester affirms the broad selection of technology options available to marketers – a difficult-to-classify collection of thousands of products – while helping us navigate the essentials.

"The Top Emerging Technologies for B2C Marketers: Eleven Technologies to Future-Proof Your Customer-Obsessed Marketing Strategy" is a helpful report for those B2C marketers who want to match technical capabilities with the range of opportunities available to them. Download your own copy here.

Forrester describes the martech stack as "terrifyingly dynamic" – writing about the rapid pace of change within the market, the expansion of touchpoints and a glut of trendy, niche solutions. Yet the report identifies 11 technologies split between three categories: systems of insights, systems of engagement, and enabling technologies, all of which contribute to long-term success in customer-obsession.

Enterprise preference management, or as Forrester calls it, "marketing's most overlooked tool," was cited for having a "critical and direct impact" on both the customer-led and connected criteria, two principles of customer obsession. Forrester's rubric defines "customer-led" as "[understanding] customers and [cocreating] value with them," while "connected" relates to technology's ability to "link both internally across silos and with partners, suppliers, and customers."

More than just simple opt-ins and opt-outs, enterprise preference management's place as a system of insight arms B2C marketers with "an understanding of their customers and the visibility to craft highly relevant interactions."

Moreover, Forrester notes that as a system of insight, enterprise preference management allows companies to "harness data in new ways to orchestrate customer experiences that are more personalized, timely, and consistent." That's a big deal and a leg up for those of us trying to stay competitive in a constantly changing digital world.

Read Forrester's full report here and let us know if we can help answer questions about preference management or whether you’re ready to get to work gaining accurate data and building trust with your customers.



Eric Tejeda is the Director of Product Marketing for PossibleNOW and CompliancePoint. Eric supports the organization’s growth objectives by productizing and launching innovative new products and services that fill critical needs in the marketplace. 

With 25 years of experience, Eric firmly believes that permission-based marketing and preference management is a mega trend and the path to success for marketers today. 

Follow me on Twitter: @EricTejeda | Connect on LinkedIn: Eric Tejeda

Lifetime Value, to Your Customer

If you've been following our new video series, you've just read about how to organize your preference center and you know that it's crucial to think from the customer's point of view.

So as you unroll facets of preference management and begin to listen, remember and respond, don't forget to think about all you're offering your customers and what that means for them. These initial conversations lay the groundwork for a lifetime of value to them, not (just) your company. By being human in a digital world, your brand positions itself as a partner in communications, ready to respond – that's essential in our changing world.

By taking these first steps, your company's long-term ability to provide value is enhanced. What does that mean? Thank about it like this: While the future might see your customers' preferences change, your company's initiatives change, or even the channels themselves changing, your preference center and ability to be human means that the company can continuously provide value to customers – staying up to date, in compliance and able to talk to the customer on their own terms.

This short video features Eric Holtzlcaw, Chief Strategist of PossibleNOW, who talks about the ways we should think about managing communications and how we can effectively use our tools and expertise to listen, remember and respond to customers across an enterprise.






Eric Tejeda is the Director of Product Marketing for PossibleNOW and CompliancePoint. Eric supports the organization’s growth objectives by productizing and launching innovative new products and services that fill critical needs in the marketplace. 

With 25 years of experience, Eric firmly believes that permission-based marketing and preference management is a mega trend and the path to success for marketers today. 

Follow me on Twitter: @EricTejeda | Connect on LinkedIn: Eric Tejeda

Webrooming vs. Showrooming: Are You Engaging Both Types of Shoppers?

According to Forrester, "webrooming consumers will bring in $1.8 Trillion in sales in 2017."

Marketers need to understand this new type of shopper. If you are not adjusting your strategies to keep pace with this new reality, you could be setting your brand up for missed opportunities.

Here's a quick overview:
  • Webrooming Consumers: research products online before buying them in a physical store. (78% of consumers say they have webroomed in the past 12 months.)
  • Showrooming Consumers: visit store(s) to examine a product before buying it online. (72% of consumers say they have showroomed in the past 12 months.)

Understanding why consumers engage in these practices is critical for strategy development. Per the Forrester study,
Webroomers don’t want to pay for delivery and want instant gratification. Showroomers want to touch and feel a product prior to purchasing.

What can marketers do to engage this new shopper?
In a Think with Google report it was noted that 82% of shoppers say they consult their phones on purchases they're about to make in a store.

Beauty retailer Sephora has embraced the showrooming and webrooming concept. Mark Alexander, director of mobile product management at Sephora USA Inc. commented, "Mobile continues to be our fastest growing channel," Alexander says. "We're really excited about what mobile can do for online and in-store sales."

Sephora's mobile app offers an "in-store" mode which consumers can use while they browse to scan in a product to read online ratings and reviews and access the loyalty program to check reward points. The store can also send personalized messages and alerts to consumers with the app via Bluetooth beacon technology.

Recently, Walmart also embraced the Webrooming/Showrooming trend and responded with some innovative offerings. Understanding that two of the big "asks" of today's consumer are immediacy and free shipping, the company has adjusted its online shipping policies to make it easier, cheaper and faster for consumers to get their selected merchandise. Walmart's new 2-Day Shipping is available on popular products and applies to orders over $35. The company also offers free shop on line/pickup in store as well as free grocery shop online/pickup in store.

Marc Lore, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. eCommerce noted that "Two-day free shipping is the first of many moves we will be making to enhance the customer experience and accelerate growth… In today's world of e-commerce, two-day free shipping is table stakes. It no longer makes sense to charge for it…"

And, taking things one step further, Home Depot not only offers order online and pickup in store, but the company also offers to "do the heavy lifting" by letting customers order online and have it delivered from the store at their chosen delivery time and date that can be selected from a scheduling calendar.

Take the time to listen to the Voice of your Customer
More so than ever before it is no longer about how brands want to sell, rather it is all about how today's omnichannel consumer wants to shop and buy. Marketers need to meticulously watch, learn, and re-evaluate shopper behaviors so new practices and technologies can be developed in response to demands.

Understanding the ever-changing purchase journey is the first step in meeting a new type of shopping expectation. Not embracing Webrooming or Showrooming actions could jeopardize current and future relationships as consumers gravitate to brands that step up to deliver innovative purchase options.



About the Author:
Ernan Roman Direct Marketing's Customer Experience strategies achieve consistent double-digit increases in response and revenue for their clients, which include IBM, MassMutual, QVC, Microsoft, and Symantec Corp.

As a leader in providing Voice of Customer research-based guidance, ERDM has conducted over 10,000 hours of interviews with their clients' customers and prospects, to gain an in-depth understanding of their expectations for high-value relationships.

The results achieved by ERDM's VoC-based strategies earned Ernan Roman induction into the Marketing Hall of Fame.

Visit his blog at: http://ernanroman.blogspot.com/

Dia&Co Chief Answers 4 Questions For Marketing Innovators

Nadia Boujarwah is the co-founder and CEO of Dia&Co, an in-home shopping experience for women who wear sizes 14 and up. A lifelong fashionista, Boujarwah founded the company on the belief that style can act as a catalyst for self-love. Prior, she worked as an investment banker at Perella Weinberg Partners, and most recently served as COO and CFO of New York-based jewelry brand Frieda and Nellie.

Also of note, Boujarwah was the first Kuwaiti woman to graduate from Harvard Business School; she also holds a BS,  in economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

Boujarwah 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 obsessed with the importance of a strong brand promise. Before setting any marketing strategy, you must have a crystal-clear articulation of your commitment to the customer—and I highly recommend putting it in writing. At Dia&Co, ours is: "We promise to understand her better than anyone else will. We put her first, always."

By codifying your commitment, you not only clarify the most foundational elements of your strategy for yourself, you also clarify it for your team. Put your brand promise at the end of every internal email. Put it on a sticky note on your laptop. Put it on your office walls. At the end of the day, upholding the brand promise is each employee's most important job responsibility, and teams become much more aligned when that's made explicitly clear.

Moreover, in my experience, teams also become more invested when they know that they're part of a collective promise to the customer. It creates a powerful bond and a true sense of accountability. It becomes a part of the culture. "Earn the trust you are given" is one of our core values at Dia&Co—and it’s one that was suggested by our employees.

This core value has also become an intrinsic part of our hiring process. The one non-negotiable trait that all prospective employees must have is a commitment to our customer. We screen for that qualification explicitly; it's built into our interview rubrics. Protecting and nurturing that internal culture is an imperative.

2. Why is this so important?
Our goal is to be the beloved brand in the lives of our customers. In a world with more and more options, only a singular focus on her makes this possible.

You earn loyalty from a customer the same way you earn loyalty from a friend: by building trust. To build trust with your customer, you must understand her better than anyone else will, you must clearly communicate the value that you will bring to her, and you must consistently exceed her expectations.

3. How can this improve the customer experience?
The process of defining your brand promise requires you to go beyond the data and to connect with your customer on a human level. I believe it's critical for any B2C business to stay focused on the human need they serve. What sometimes gets lost in personalization is the person. It's important to remember your customers are humans, driven by deep needs and desires, as we all are. To create successful personas, you need more than observations of behaviors. Your personas should be supported in data, yes, but more importantly, they should be rooted in the psychographics of your customer and the emotional benefit you are providing.

It may sound obvious, but it's worth stating: To connect with your customers on a human level, you have to actually meet them. One way our team committed to this was by embarking on a six-city listening tour, where we traveled around the country to meet our customers and hear what they wanted from us, what was providing value, and where they thought we could improve. Listening is at the core of our business and the secret to providing unparalleled service. When a brand takes the time to understand you and treat you like a cherished friend, it creates a meaningful and positive connection.

This approach acknowledges that the most powerful customer experiences are rarely functional. The products we love most are products that have a real emotional benefit that we come to depend on.

4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
Focus begets success. Ultimately, the power of knowing your customer deeply and putting a fine point on the value you are committed to delivering is twofold: It allows you to make better decisions, and it allows you to move more quickly.

We all make dozens of judgment calls a day. Take some of the guesswork out of success by doing the most valuable work with your customer up front.

Bonus Question: What is your favorite activity outside of work?
In my free time, I love catching a spin class and cooking. My current dish of choice is a cauliflower rice risotto. It’s so delicious you won't miss the real stuff!



About the Author:
Ernan Roman Direct Marketing's Customer Experience strategies achieve consistent double-digit increases in response and revenue for their clients, which include IBM, MassMutual, QVC, Microsoft, and Symantec Corp.

As a leader in providing Voice of Customer research-based guidance, ERDM has conducted over 10,000 hours of interviews with their clients' customers and prospects, to gain an in-depth understanding of their expectations for high-value relationships.

The results achieved by ERDM's VoC-based strategies earned Ernan Roman induction into the Marketing Hall of Fame.

Visit his blog at: http://ernanroman.blogspot.com/

Ask for the Conversation

Imagine someone striking up a conversation with you just based on your street address. Can that start a conversation? Sure. Can it sustain a conversation? Not really. A simplistic start to personalization can only get you so far. Flat data gathered from purchases or web browsing, like geographic location and age, deliver limited context about your customers. But we know the rich data is only an ask away – just like a better conversation topic.

When the 2016 Econsultancy Conversion Rate Optimization Report came out, there was one thing we noticed in it – the uptick in personalization efforts by brands. In the two years since the survey first began asking about personalization, the number of companies using personalization technologies slightly decreased in 2015, but resumed growth in 2016. Although only a quarter of those surveyed currently use website personalization to improve conversion rates, more than half (55 percent) plan to implement it.

So while the race to personalize is on, there's still a speed bump in the road that Econsultancy identified: companies' challenges in implementing the technology. Though there are many approaches to reaching customers and anticipating their wants and needs, the truth is that any customer-facing strategy that attempts to convert without a conversation is falling short in the long-term.

What we know is that when you're aiming to deliver personalization, you need more than single data points and fragmented customer journeys to engage consumers. By initiating a conversation with customers, you can then invite them to share the ways in which they'd like to communicate with you. One opt-in can launch a conversation if you listen, remember and respond.

To get started, kick-start customer engagement with a preference center – simply ask your customers about product interests, communication channel preference and their preferred frequency of communication. This single entry point allows customers to indicate the ways in which they expect or would like communications from your company. By allowing customers to share those preferences, you offer an opportunity for your customers to guide the conversation.

The ability to collect initial preferences paves an inviting and compliant path for customer conversations. Best of all, this recreates the ways in which we naturally communicate: listening to a friend, remembering what they say, and responding based on your knowledge.




About the Author: 
Eric V. Holtzclaw is  Chief Strategist  of PossibleNOW. He's a researcher, writer, serial entrepreneur and challenger-of-conventional wisdom. His book with Wiley Publishing on consumer behavior - Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior - hit bookstores in the summer of 2013. Eric helps strategically guide companies with the implementation of enterprise-wide preference management solutions.


Follow me on Twitter: @eholtzclaw | Connect on LinkedIn: Eric Holtzclaw

ICYMI: Preferences, Privacy and Personalization in the News

Expedia Wants You to Use VR to Choose the Right Hotel Room

Travel company Expedia is reportedly working on virtual reality options for their booking process. Users may be able to walk through rooms, view amenities and even check out balconies and a room's view. The company's CEO has said in the past that VR could be an important part of travel research and a means of inspiration. Click here to read more. 


8 high-tech innovations transforming how autistic children communicate

Smart toys, robots and AI are increasingly changing lives for children with autism. By finding creative ways to communicate and interpret responses, kids are bridging communication gaps with their families and peers. Customizable robots, Google Glass and even mood-predicting wearables enhance or clarify conversations and interactions. Even nonverbal children are using tech gadgets to "speak" to others. Click here to read more. 


How Delta's Focus on Customer Experience Turned a Bankrupt Airline Into a Powerhouse Brand

In an AdWeek company profile, Delta’s SVP and CMO Tim Mapes describes the ways in which the Atlanta-based airline moved to enhance its employee and customer experiences. By leveraging technology like heart rate monitors to trace volunteers' journeys through their travel experience, Delta was able to identify stressful moments – including parking, security and boarding – and find ways to improve the experience at each moment. Click here to read more.


Hacking Attack Woke Up Dallas With Emergency Sirens, Officials Say

On a recent weekend in Dallas, Texas, residents were woken up between the hours of 11:40 p.m. on Friday night until 1:20 a.m. Saturday morning. Emergency sirens – typically used for weather and other emergencies – blasted for 90-second durations about 15 times. City officials say a local hacker set off the alarms and that the breach in security represents the growing need for more secure infrastructure. Click here to read more. 


Ford built a baby bed that feels like it's driving around the neighborhood

A custom-made baby crib has been built by Ford and generating interest from parents. The reason? Ford's crib, dubbed Max Motor Dreams, simulates the feeling of riding in a car – a typical way to soothe babies. The crib combines street sounds captured by your smartphone, gentle car-like rocking motion thanks to small motors, and LED lighting to mimic streetlights. Unfortunately, the crib hasn't been mass-produced, but the public interest hasn't gone unnoticed. Click here to read more.





Eric Tejeda is the Director of Product Marketing for PossibleNOW and CompliancePoint. Eric supports the organization’s growth objectives by productizing and launching innovative new products and services that fill critical needs in the marketplace. 

With 25 years of experience, Eric firmly believes that permission-based marketing and preference management is a mega trend and the path to success for marketers today. 

Follow me on Twitter: @EricTejeda | Connect on LinkedIn: Eric Tejeda

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