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Back to Basics: What is an Opt-In?

Back-to-Basics-Opt-in
Getting back to basics is a great way to remind ourselves of the simplicity of what we work on, yet the power it has when used correctly. Sometimes a start back at the beginning helps us refresh and re-set our course.

We've just added new definitions to our Resource Center, and the second is "opt-in" – think you know what it means? In customer experience vernacular, an opt-in is the act of giving a business permission to contact you.

While a customer may have provided preferences on the type of information they'd like, a company is prevented from following through with the desired information unless the customer has also opted-in. Often this can be a simple confirmation click, but without it, brands run the risk of compliance issues. Governments across the globe have created laws to ensure that its citizens aren't bombarded with unwanted information, even if we think they might want it. 

So while preferences are what we act on and use to stay in touch with loyal customers, it's the opt-in that we need to start that relationship. 



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

Retailers Seeking Brand Loyalty Challenged by Volatile Store Traffic Environment


Retailers-Seeking-Brand-Loyalty-Challenged.jpg

In the past year, a plethora of retailers made assertions pertaining to a "challenging store traffic environment," and its negative impact on sales and, ultimately, brand loyalty.

What's more, these retailers have spoken of a challenging environment, with volatile macros globally, and an increasingly competitive landscape replete with digital technologies disrupting many aspects of their respective business models.

Ernan Roman, President of ERDM, told Loyalty360 that the challenging store traffic environment can certainly have a direct impact on loyalty marketers.

"Our firm, ERDM, recently conducted 2000-plus hours of voice of customer research interviews with millennials to understand their expectations of the retail shopping experience," Roman explained. "The findings explain why many retailers are finding this to be a challenging time in terms of store traffic. Per the findings, millennials take for granted these factors in the shopping experience; choice, price value, service, speed, convenience, contextual relevance, and frictionless purchasing."

A retailer's shopping experience has to satisfy all these criteria in every element of the omnichannel mix, Roman noted.

"If the retail shopping experience does not bring additional value to the online and mobile shopping experience, why visit a store?" Roman said. "Marketers must learn from the omnichannel convenience, personalization, service, engagement and magic of the retail experience provided by leaders such as Burberry, Rebecca Minkoff, and Sephora."

Based on the research findings, Roman recently visited a Sephora store and observed how the use of in-store technology, tutorials, and demos enhanced the customer shopping experience.

"But, the really thrilling part was how sales reps entered customers' personal preference information on their tablets so customers would have their updated information as part of their profiles, therefore improving their future online or retail shopping experiences!" Roman said. "The Sephora reps were focused on improving the customers' omnichannel experience and providing guidance to help them make informed decisions across all channels. The sales flowed naturally from this value-added engagement. Retailers that are not embracing this holistic, customer-focused and omnichannel vision will not win."


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/

Persistence, Patience, Preferences

Persistence, Patience, Preferences
If you've been following our video series over the past year, it might seem like we imagine that customer decisions and their data points are definitive. Customers either shop or they don't, they buy or they don't – right? If only it was that easy. Our video series are a great resource for beginning with preference management, but don't lose sight of the big picture: that collecting preferences and creating a fuller picture of your customer gives you more insight than single data points.

Whether customers are curious or bored, impulsive or research-driven, short on time or ambivalent can change by the day – but what research does confirm is the growing power of branded interactions before or between the sale.



A poll from SAP found that buying decisions are greatly affected by customized interaction with a brand and that tailored subjects and methods of communications lead to invested customers. More than half of those surveyed (54 percent) would like – or may like – an offer of help before they have to ask for it. Nearly one-third of respondents (30 percent) cited "shared values" as a reason they are loyal to a brand.



These statistics point to the larger trend of affinity-building communications and the realization that long-term loyalty is a gradual process. So how do we track shared values? How many times should we help or share expertise before a prospect makes a purchase? It all depends. After all, customers make their decisions on any number of factors.



We talk a lot in this space about sharing ownership of the conversation with prospects and customers. We would be remiss if we didn't also emphasize the element of patience in that equation. Respecting a prospect's wishes on the timing and content of your marketing messages also implies a similar respect for their journey to purchase, however long it may take.



And as marketers, patience can be in short supply. Armed with the best tools, virtually unlimited communications channels and looming deadlines, we want instant results. Yet without patience, we neglect the pre-sale and between sale interactions that are proving so valuable to building loyalty.



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

Back to Basics: What is a Preference?


What is a Preference
Getting back to basics is a great way to remind ourselves of the simplicity of what we work on, yet the power it has when used correctly. Sometimes a start back at the beginning helps us refresh and re-set our course.

We've just added new definitions to our Resource Center, and the first is "preference" – think you know what it means? In customer experience vernacular, a preference is simply telling a business what kind of information you want. 

Regardless of permissions or extraneous decisions on timing or channel, a preference is a powerful tool for marketers, providing guidance for what consumers are interested in receiving. Customers can have a single preference or, if prompted, select multiple preferences to build a customer profile with a breadth of information. 

Whether you have a single preference or have access to multiple preferences, you can create a dynamic, engaging customer experience that honors the customer's wishes and allow you to build trust and loyalty. 



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

Are Your Policies Helping Or Hurting Customer Engagement?


"You can only eat so much plain white cake. The 30 percent is the icing." This is just one of the statements Joe McFarland, J.C. Penney's executive vice president, made during a recent company conference. He then went on to instruct attendees, "We want you to stop doing things that don’t focus on the customer."

Additionally, J.C. Penney CEO Marvin Ellison made the following statements: "Our marketing has to be more specialized," "We have great data; we just aren't using it," and, "The customer loves us, and we need to love them back."

Shifts from traditional corporate policies toward customer experience-focused improvements are reinforced by two important research reports:
  • Forrester principal analyst Laura Ramos noted: "Customer-centric companies must figure out how to engage customers on their terms throughout the customer journey. ... In order to become a customer-centric company, old metrics and models need to be thrown out. ... It doesn't work that way anymore."
  • A McKinsey report advised, "As improving customer experience becomes a bigger component of corporate strategy, more and more executives will face the decision to commit their organizations to a broad customer-experience transformation."

One company that has put both money and policy behind its commitment to better its consumer experience via corporate policy is Chick-fil-A, which is currently the highest-scoring restaurant brand in the U.S. Customer Experience Excellence rankings.

The company spends more than a $1 million evaluating its service. In addition to traditional focus groups, the company conducts a quarterly phone survey with customers from each restaurant. Each location receives a two-page report detailing what's working and what needs improving.

"My business grew on the understanding that customers are always looking for someone who is dependable, polite, and will take care of them," said S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A.

The company has a dedicated area on its site for Chick-fil-A stories. Additionally, its 80,000-square-foot Hatch Innovation and Learning Center is dedicated to helping the company invent next-generation customer experiences.

My three takeaways for marketers:
  1. Make it a priority to challenge your corporate policies and procedures to determine whether they are creating obstacles or facilitating employees' ability to provide the best possible customer experiences.
  2. Regularly engage consumers in "real life" customer experience surveys and conversations to determine what is and isn't working. Listen. Learn. Make changes.
  3. Do you have a formal training to make sure your CS strategy is put into action, with clear benchmarks to measure success? If the answer is no, fix that right away.

"Marketing can't deliver a great customer experience independent of sales, service, and any other part of the organization. ... Without a holistic approach, you are really only hoping that you can deliver a great experience," said Gartner analyst Jake Sorofman.

It is now no longer an option that marketers in every industry challenge their corporate structure to understand whether legacy policies are building barriers to, rather than enabling, customer engagement.


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/

Preference Data ROI: The Growing Demand for Experience

Preference Management Video Series

During the economic downtown there were certain companies that didn't flounder – Whole Foods, Starbucks, Trader Joe's and Zappos, for example. While groceries and coffee (and shoes) are perennial shopping needs, there were a handful of reasons that these companies didn't suffer like their cohorts. Most important was their focus on customer service. Rather than reacting, these companies were proactive and they leaned on their customer relationships knowing that engaged customers are loyal customers.

While marketing often focuses on the acquisition of new customers, it's your existing customers that are much more likely to be the next sale. Marketing Metrics found that the probability of selling to an existing customer is between 60-70 percent, while netting a new customer is just 5-20 percent. So it's easy to see why building and maintaining quality customer experiences relationships is beneficial.

Are your customers satisfied? This quick video introduces a new whitepaper, Preference Data ROI, which contains a new methodology to assess customer relationship maturity levels. With the appropriate strategies and measurement tools in place, companies can harness the power of preference data to move engagement strategies forward and offer better, more cost-effective marketing programs.




In the following weeks, we'll continue to roll out videos to guide you through the power of preference data. If you haven't yet explored our Resource Center, you can download the Preference Data ROI whitepaper here.


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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