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Is Customer Centricity Within Reach?

Creating customer centric business practices is one of the most important factors in a company's success - so say 73 percent of 300 survey respondents, including senior marketing executives in a new survey from the Chief Marketing Officer Council and SAP. Yet in the wider scheme of their respective companies, the same group of respondents agreed that it’s a case of easier said than done.

Sure, marketers know that synchronizing the facets of a customer's experience pre- and post-sale is one of the best ways to convert a first-time or occasional customer into a loyal, evangelizing fan. That positive customer experience can translate to exponential success for your business. But if the rest of your company isn't on the same page, customer centricity can get lost in a grab bag of priorities. Of those surveyed, 86 percent of respondents didn't agree that "customer centricity is a hallmark of their company."

One way to re-orient the culture of a company is to ensure you have the tools to do so. A failure identified by respondents was that the technology and ability to leverage customer data was lacking. Less than 20 percent of respondents thought their technology platforms could deliver on marketing promises, and only 10 percent of companies were "highly confident in their ability to leverage data." That state of affairs does little to craft a customer centric experience. 

Well-meaning marketers can hire talent, establish processes and talk priorities, but without functional tools to harness the wealth of information in the customer’s experience, you’re treading water. In addition to (and often prior to) marketing automation solutions, more and more CMOs are implementing SaaS-based preference management platforms designed to deliver on campaign promises. 

Preference management, the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference and frequency of communication, empowers a company to honor a customer’s wishes and refine their communications accordingly. In doing so, the reduce opt-outs and boost marketing ROI. 

Get beyond saying and start doing by offering your company a solution to the challenges it faces. Customer centricity is a goal that’s absolutely within reach once you can automate data and re-orient priorities.



About the Author: 
Rob Tate is the Director of Enterprise Sales at PossibleNOW.






Even the Skeptics Want Personal Attention

As we barrel toward a future where personalization extends to our wearable technology and our home appliances, there's always that nagging industry chatter about consumers who are holding out and unwilling to share personal data. As marketers, that population can seem like a stubborn, self-quarantined no-man's-land of anonymous hermits.

But a recent study by Accenture found that the privacy holdouts aren't actually that untouchable - they're after the same personalized shopping experiences that everyone else is getting. They might be wary, but they're still more than willing. Of those that expressed concern that their data was being tracked, 99 percent of that subset of consumers acknowledged that their personal data made it possible to experience customized interactions with a brand.

In fact, that same study indicated that doing business with brands that utilize personal data is a priority for 73 percent of consumers across the board. That means if you're not talking to your customer, sorting her data, offering her ideas based on prior purchases, remembering her birthday and contacting her through preferred channels, but your competitor is - you've lost her.

Customers, even the cautious ones, are looking for companies that can engage them because that personalized experience is vastly better than an anonymous, cookie-cutter transaction. Moreover, with preference management, you have the tools to both reach out and reassure customers on all comfort levels.

Preference management, the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference and frequency of communication is not only the first step to learning more about your consumers, but the only way to create the experience they expect, whether they like to admit it or not. 






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 last summer. 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



Super Bowl Ads Use Robots And Your Data To Get Personal


Brands are at the ready to engage in personalized and spontaneous communications on social networks during the Super Bowl, thanks to a combination of pre-programmed technology and real-time human creativity. Click here to read more.


Nike To Create 100,000 Personalized Videos For Nike+ Users


Using data captured by Nike+ users in 2014, the company is creating customized videos based on the workout achievements of individuals. By using location, weather, activity and movement data, Nike is able to produce one-minute illustrated videos of a user's year that can be shared on social media.  Click here to read more.


In-Store Marketing Will Use Biometrics to Target Shoppers


At the National Retail Federation conference in New York City, NEC Corporation of America is set to unveil new biometric technology that could be used to identify the demographics of shoppers. In-store marketing could then be adjusted based on gender, age, or even whether there’s a VIP shoppers (or shoplifter). Click here to read more.


Obama calls for data breach notification law, privacy bill of rights


President Obama calls on Congress to enact two bills to ensure online safety and privacy. The first would require companies experiencing data breaches to notify customers within 30 days. The second law would be a privacy bill of rights ensuring consumers can decide what pieces of personal data are collected and how the digital data is used. Click here to read more.


Overstock.com's Take on Customer Experience: Leave an Impression 


From site design to campaigns, Overstock.com keeps a focus on customer experience by tracking customer journeys on the site and looking for interactions that signal long-term engagement. J.P. Knab, Overstock.com's Vice President of Marketing, says that the company has moved away from short-term strategies in favor of creating consistent, branded relationships. 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

The Evolving Expectations of Personalization

Modern consumers have come to expect that companies will remember key information about them, from saving shipping addresses to which brand of dog food the vet recommended last year. 

The idea of retaining essential customer information is nothing new, but the ways in which we use that data can have wide-reaching impacts on different audiences. To begin with, personalized communications are not only welcome, but often expected. 

Findings from AgilOne show that the consumer pivot from appreciating personalization to expecting personalization hovers at 79 percent for American shoppers. 

Seventy-nine percent! Seventy-nine percent of American shoppers expect some level of personalized communications. That includes abandoned shopping cart reminders, knowing a customer's size, and remembering how long he or she has been a customer.

But when you drill down, it's the younger generation that has the highest expectations for personalization. For example, remembering a customer's birthday or their size - one in five in the 65+ crowd think you should know that information, while more than twice that amount of 18-24 year-olds expect it. 

As brands work to customize conversations with consumers, they should also be leveraging the readiness of certain demographics to share more personalized information. Preference management, the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference and frequency of communication, is the best way to identify the wants and needs of your many different customers. 

Are you asking the questions your customers are ready to answer? Key groups of consumers are expecting you to engage with them - and if you're not reaching out to them, someone else might be. 






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 last summer. Eric helps strategically guide companies with the implementation of enterprise-wide preference management solutions.



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

Increasing Click-Through Rates by Optimizing an Audience

With every new year, marketers reset their annual goals. Or, on occasion, have their goals reset for them. Regardless, it’s the season of big numbers and big ambitions. 

One priority on the wish list for marketers recently surveyed by Campaigner found that their 2015 resolution is to increase click-through rates on email marketing - more than half of surveyed marketing professionals listed it as their number one priority for the year. 

That priority caught my eye because while the metric we're focusing on might at first glance seem like the click itself, I think it’s really the consumer that warrants a closer look. 

Let's back up for a second: Click-throughs prove that content pushed to a customer is worthy of them, plain and simple. It means you’ve hit the sweet spot in the Venn diagram of educational and exciting - information that’s useful and warrants immediate gratification. When your company keeps this communications objective at the forefront, consumers are bound to click, click, click their way to you.

But how can you make sure the right content is getting to the right consumer? That’s the transaction we need to be watching. There’s little point in crafting the perfect message if it’s headed off into the ether of the Internet with no target in mind. It’s preference management, the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference and frequency of communication that can assist a brand in fine-tuning its audience per each message, thereby generating those valuable clicks. 

Personalized communications based on stated preferences ensures that your customers are no longer sending you to their junk mail folder. In fact, they’re eagerly opening messages, anticipating the insights that you, and you alone, have for them. When you connect the correct content to consumers, your brand is maximizing its opportunities for that all-important click-through. 

If you’re one of the marketers counting click-throughs this year, are you first making sure your audience is optimized?



About the Author: 
Rob Tate is the Director of Enterprise Sales at PossibleNOW.






Neiman Marcus CMO 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 toernan@erdm.com 


Wanda Gierhart is the SVP and CMO for Neiman Marcus, the premier omni-channel retailer of luxury and fashion merchandise in the US.

Since its founding in 1907, the company has been known for its commitment to merchandising excellence and customer service.

Wanda joined Neiman Marcus in 2009. Previously, she was President and CEO, Travel Smith Outfitters; EVP Merchandising and Marketing, Design within Reach; and EVP and CMO at Limited Brands.







1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?

There are numerous fronts in which we are innovating but the most important is personalization.

2. Why is this so important?

At the core of our business, Neiman Marcus is about delivering an incredible luxury service experience. We've been doing this in-store for over 100 years and with the increasing use of the internet, mobile devices, social, and other channels, maintaining that high touch service is more important than ever.

3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?

We believe that excellent personalization helps bridge the gap between the store and digital or e-commerce experience and improves service regardless of how the customer shops with us. While we've all heard success stories in personalization online, and we have many of our own, there is plenty of room for improvement.

Just like a great sales associate knows the tastes, preferences, and important details about a customer's life and uses that to deliver world class service, exceptional personalization online though a mix of innovation, people, and technology is working toward doing the same.

Some examples of our innovation include the introduction of Snap.Find.Shop. and MyNM.

MyNM is a new section on NeimanMarcus.com that is about all things personalized and trending.

Right now customers can find product recommendations, items that are new since they've last visited the site, top trending items in their local area, most popular products from their favorite vendors, events in their local store, and other popular content. Keep an eye out over the next several months for additional features making the experience even more personalized.

Just like a customer can bring in a photo or magazine and show something they saw to a sales associate and say "I want something like this" we wanted a way for customers to do this at the moment of inspiration, wherever they were.

As a result, we are the first luxury retailer to offer our customers a visual search technology solution that allows them to use their smart phone to photograph any shoe or handbag they see, literally anywhere, and find a similar item for immediate purchase. Snap.Find.Shop. is a feature on Neiman Marcus' Shopping App, available for download here.

4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?

As our personalized e-commerce service moves closer and closer to an in-store experience, we develop a deeper relationship and further trust with our clients. Relationships and trust result in customer loyalty. And loyalty means business.

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?

Wanda's favorite out of office activities include watching her daughter dance and supporting the arts through her involvement with organizations like TACA.




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/

Momentum Consulting Services Speeds the Distance from Strategy to Execution

When we launched MyPreferences Momentum just six months ago, we knew we were addressing a significant need in the marketplace. Designed to help internal stakeholders build a business case and develop a plan for preference management implementation, Momentum projects fill the strategic gaps that often impede loyalty and compliance programming. We assumed this would be appealing to a number of CMOs and customer experience specialists who were bogged down in logistics and internal approvals.

Today, I'm pleased to report that we were right. In fact, the response to Momentum has exceeded our expectations. We’ve executed Momentum projects for leading companies in commercial air travel, insurance, financial services, agricultural manufacturing, payment processing and more.

In each instance, the process includes:

  • Onsite Evaluation and Assessment. PossibleNOW's multi-disciplinary team includes experts in information technology, marketing, user adoption and regulatory compliance. They conduct a series of interviews with key stakeholders in your organization to uncover and understand the need for preference management in each functional area.
  • Functional Area Evaluation and Documentation. Building on the initial onsite evaluation, our experts continue in their areas of focus to document existing requirements, review secondary discovery information and apply best practices and knowledge gleaned from preference center implementations at similar organizations. They'll create a strategic roadmap that outlines the project plan, scope, gap analysis and considerations for an enterprise-wide preference management implementation.
  • Needs Assessment Report. PossibleNOW's team presents the results of the Needs Assessment to a cross-functional team of internal stakeholders and decision-makers. The report includes an understanding of the near term steps necessary to successfully implement a preference management solution, the steps to create a preference center and what must be done to integrate with desired systems and touch points. Companies receive a high level competitive industry analysis to see where they align with their peers in terms of preference management. The report outlines the strategic steps to holistically implement preference management across the enterprise.

We're excited to grow our Momentum consulting practice in 2015 and help more and more companies speed the distance from planning to execution. To learn more about Momentum and how it might make a difference for your company, click here or give us a call at (800) 585-4888.



Jeff Jarvis, Vice President of Professional Services at PossibleNOW

Jeff has an extensive background in domestic and international business environments helping companies drive business growth, develop high-performance sales and service organizations and implement process best practices.



ICYMI: Preferences, Privacy and Personalization in the News

CES 2015: Samsung calls for openness on net of things


In a keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Boo Keun Yoo, chief executive of Samsung, urged other electronics firms to collaborate more openly. Samsung’s chief says the potential of technology and the opportunities for people to manage and personalize their smart gadgets will be lost unless appliances from other companies can communicate with each other. Click here for full story.

Cord Cutters Rejoice: Dish Is Bringing Live Sports to Internet TV


Dish Network just announced its newest product: online streaming called Sling TV. The service is noteworthy because it includes live programming as well as on-demand content from channels including ESPN - a game-changer for younger demographics who’ve cut the cable cord, or in fact never subscribed to it, and instead use Netflix and Hulu for entertainment. The network’s validation of changing attitudes about preference and value is sure to net them new subscribers. Click here for full story.

Customer Experience Lights the Way at Publix


Publix Super Markets, a grocery chain based in the Southeast, says that customer experience and engagement are essential to their long-term success. Constantly seeking feedback and opinions from customers and associates means their responses are considered when evaluating Publix’s buying decisions, products and new services. Click here for full story. 

How Cosmo saw a 200% increase in Facebook engagement with video content


When Cosmopolitan magazine began producing a series of videos specifically for its Facebook account, they found that engagement soared compared to regular content. The secret of their success was a combination of video titles that shaped viewers’ perception of the content while keeping in mind its ideal audience. Click here for full story.

Your phone says: “Cheer up!”


A startup called Beyond Verbal wants to harness the power of consumers’ voices so that technology can instantly sense your state of mind. Emotional-analytics software could be used in phones, fitness gadgets and cars and could tell whether you’re excited, sad, or have even had one too many drinks - then engaging technology’s customized response to the situation. Click here for full story.




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

Customized Communications for Captive Audiences


A recent announcement from General Motors piqued my interest—they’ve just unveiled an innovative feature through OnStar, called AtYourService. The service utilizes always-connected LTE technology to deliver hyper-relevant information to drivers. Ask for directions to a point of interest and the OnStar advisor can send offers and provide data. Already on board are coupon providers RetailMeNot and Entertainment Book, Parkopedia, Audiobooks.com, Priceline and Dunkin’ Donuts.

For drivers, it’s safe way to efficiently gather and sort information. For marketers, it’s a massive opportunity to engage with a captive audience.

Drive somewhere new and before you exit your vehicle, you’ve already got context: where to shop, where to eat, where to sleep, where to park. Sounds like a slam dunk, right?   

Maybe.

AtYourServices’s success will be determined by how it reacts not only a driver’s location but also their preferences. Personalization without preference is not only meaningless, it is often infuriating. Siri doesn’t shout from your pocket when she triangulates your location as being near a Dunkin’ Donuts and likewise no driver wants AtYourService urging them toward a hotel when they’re just running to the store for milk.

This is where the principles of effective preference management come into play. Honoring the customer’s wishes about timing, volume, and other matters make a personalized experience truly effective.


The rapid advances we’ve made in connectivity mean that opportunities for communications between consumer and brands are multiplying. Moreover, the information we can share is based on any number of things – previous purchases, GPS location, who’s in the car, or what book we just read. As long as we keep preference management at the forefront of our communications, I think we’re on the right road.




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

The Importance of Retaining Holiday Campaign Customers


At the end of every holiday shopping season, infographics and statistics are trotted out to illustrate how successful marketing campaigns were in netting new customers or pushing receipt totals higher. From my point of view, these two data points are not only connected, but easily built by fostering a relationship with consumers based on personalized communication. Getting a new customer is one thing - getting them back again is quite another.

Retention Science found that gross sales for 2014 Black Friday to Cyber Monday jumped 649 percent, on average, compared to a typical Friday-to-Monday period for its eCommerce customers. The same companies saw a 22 percent increase in average order value, indicating that holiday promotions and marketing campaigns were effective in getting people to spend.

While that's certainly reason to celebrate, it's still just a jumping off point. The same study also found that existing customers spent 30 percent more than newer shoppers in the time period between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Moreover, the existing shoppers were 16 percent more likely to make multiple purchases during that period.

That begs the question - are your holiday campaigns coming full circle and engaging a consumer with the foresight that they'll be the latter data set next year?

Preference management, the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference and frequency of communication is the ideal first stop for a new customer. By starting off on the right foot - learning what would make them a returning customer, engaging with them in the ways they self-identify - you have a better chance of converting that first-time customer into a long-term shopper. Come 2015's shopping season, you can be confident that last year's new shoppers are this year's existing 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

The Potential for Personal Technology


How personal can personal technology get?

Just a generation ago, the phrase "personal computer" was a valuable descriptor. Nowadays, it's hard to imagine a computer being anything but personal. We've gone from bulky desktops to light laptops, progressed to sleek tablets, made our phones smarter and now access the internet on multiple devices a day. The newest way to sport a computer is on your wrist. It's not just personal but wearable technology.

A December poll found that nearly 20 percent of American adults plan to purchase a wearable device in 2015 - that includes both wearable fitness monitors and wearable computers. And that particular tech purchase rates a higher priority than other big-ticket items like streaming media devices (16 percent), eReaders (15 percent) and 4K TVs (10 percent).

We’re continuing to make huge leaps in hardware innovations with products like Apple Watch and Android Wear.  Are brands maintaining consistent communication and personalized experiences across all of these new devices? Too often the answer is no.

For marketers, the progression of technology and the immersion of our lives with more data means that we should not only consider these devices another channel of communication, but another opportunity to cultivate meaningful, customized communication.

Preference management, the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference and frequency of communication, are integral in capturing consumers' attention and imagination on their newest devices. With technology literally less than an arm's reach away, the potential for engagement is limitless. Brands will be able to get personal feedback by the minute, and this tiny hub of information can be a powerful catalyst for conversation between consumer and company.

How personal can your company get with a consumer and their wearable technology? 






About the Author: 
Robert Galop is the Senior Director of Product Architecture for PossibleNOW.

Male Shoppers: An Opportunity, not an Oxymoron

As marketing experts, we know that women are the most important decision-makers when it comes to making purchases. Women make an estimated 80 percent of all buying decisions, so it’s no surprise that many of our efforts are spent engaging the almighty women in hopes of inspiring loyalty.

What we miss out on when we rush after the big market - women - are the essential bits of information related to male shopping habits that help us close the circle of spending. Men are making plenty of purchases, albeit coming to their conclusions about what to buy in different ways than women are. Those differing habits are where we can personally engage the male audience in ways that inspire long-term loyalty. 

When new research by SAP busted the myth of the last-minute male shopper over the holidays, we were able to glean more information on capturing the elusive male shopper. Turns out that nearly 40 percent of men seek advice on what to buy loved ones, either in-store, looking online, asking friends and relatives or checking social media posts. What that means in practice is that men are utilizing available resources and past experiences to make buying decisions. If he’s already familiar with your brand, think how much more likely it is that you’re his starting point for any purchase. 

Preference management, the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference and frequency of communication is the best way to ensure that any shopper is an engaged, loyal customer. However, for male shoppers especially, that conversion could mean that you’re their first - and potentially only - stop for shopping, depending on the occasion. Starting that conversation with male consumers early and often means that you're laying the groundwork for men and reaching all shoppers regardless of gender.





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 last summer. Eric helps strategically guide companies with the implementation of enterprise-wide preference management solutions.

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

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