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Omnichannel Serves Customers at Crucial Points

We're collecting more and more data every day, through every channel. And many believe that such a vast amount of data will somehow add up to reveal a consistent identity – a unified picture of a consumer that can aid personalization and customer experience initiatives.


I hate to break the news, but that's an over-exaggeration. Data can't be a game-changer for your company unless your data is organized. Without cross-channel identification, all the data in the world can't array itself into a neat, synchronized snapshot of your customer when it really counts.

This often comes to a head when customers reach out to companies, and that's almost always in search of assistance – a time when they're expecting a certain level of service that anticipates their needs. Those moments are decisive in the customer's journey!

But the inability to anticipate and react to customer needs quickly leads to a sub-par customer experience. And a bad customer experience means a lost customer more often than not. In fact, a report by Ovum found that 82 percent of consumers in Australia, Europe, New Zealand and the US said they would stop doing business with a company following a bad customer experience.

These obstacles are best addressed with preference management, which benefits the company in ways that prevent and minimize the potential for poor customer experience interactions, while also boosting marketing outreach efforts.


Preference management, the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference and frequency of communication, is an essential tool in creating seamless user experiences, customer engagement and, most importantly, a whole picture where there were once just pieces.

Data fragmentation can be an overwhelming challenge for marketers – but it also burdens the rest of the company at critical points in the customer journey. Without cross-channel identification and wide views of the consumer, the company is left with pieces of the puzzle that never quite add up, leaving themselves open to poor customer interactions at those important moments. Having a lot of data is one thing, knowing how to connect it is another.

Is your data supporting the best customer experiences possible? Or are you losing consumers at crucial moments?





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

Tumi's CDO Answers 4 Questions For Digital Innovators

Charlie Cole, chief digital officer of Tumi, has been overseeing and developing the luggage and travel accessory brand's global e-commerce and digital platforms since 2015. When Samsonite acquired Tumi last year, he also took on the official role of global chief e-commerce officer, which includes oversight of global strategy for brands such as Samsonite, American Tourister, Hartmann, Gregory, and High Sierra.

Prior to Tumi, Cole held various leadership positions, including CEO of The Line and head of e-commerce for Lucky Brand and Schiff Nutrition.

Cole recently participated in our "4 Questions for Digital Innovators" series.

1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
The balance of art and science in marketing is the single most important topic to make sure I am open to being self-critical and constantly evolving my thinking. When I was younger, I believed that nothing was more sacrosanct than listening to the numbers, and if you did that, you'd be fine. However, I've realized that at a premium brand, in particular, everything starts with creative and merchandising–and your job as a marketer is to support that, not overrule that.

This requires reciprocation. Merchandisers and creative directors need to be open to analytical feedback and evolve as well. I have framed this to other people as: Creative and merchandising set the guardrails, and it is my job to widen those guardrails as much as possible through education provided by the digital marketing sphere.

This is a big ask for a lot of marketers: You're not the center of the universe, and you are, in fact, a service department. It's very normal for marketers to be fairly exalted in business because we get to do a lot of sexy stuff. But, in reality, we are a support industry, not the driving function.

2. Why is this so important?
You can't be binary. You are seeing the ultimate personification of this taking place in the e-commerce ecosystem today. Amazon–arguably the greatest analytically driven company in history–is struggling to penetrate the luxury market. Brands rightfully fear Amazon's completely democratic approach to brand protection. While this may be a bit unpopular to say, great brands still drive the conversation. Yes, social listening and feedback is important, but the fact of the matter is people still wait for truly special brand newness.

If you are not self-aware and don't evolve, you will lose. The scariest thing? We're not talking about losing your job. We're talking about losing your career. If all you are is a brand marketer who can't listen to numbers or just a brilliant analytical marketer with no respect for the brand you're supporting, you're a dinosaur and more likely already dead.

3. How can this improve the customer experience?
The customer is the big winner. You get creativity, inspiration, and aspiration, and then it's mixed with evolution and personalization as you engage with the brand further. My mom bought me a pair of Air Jordans when I was 9 years old, and now I'm 34 and can design my own Nikes! Talk about a win for me.

4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
Customers will get what they didn't expect, what they didn't know they needed, and then practically give you the playbook on how to continue to market to them. For companies, you have to let your artists take the first guess; that's their job. Raw, pure creation. From there you can invest in iteration–which means investing in analytics plus science. If you balance those two things, you are letting people do what they do best. The biggest challenge for a larger company culture is to instill the trust throughout the organization to drive a collaborative environment between two types of people who think completely differently.

Bonus Question: What is your favorite activity outside of work?
Well, it's 70 degrees and sunny outside, so that may be influencing this answer a little bit, but I would say my absolute favorite thing to do is to sit on my back porch with my wife, throw the stick for our lab Tucker, and watch him romp around while sipping on a nice, dry rosé. Yup, that's the ticket.



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/

ICYMI: Preferences, Privacy and Personalization in the News

Google and Levi's tech-enabled Jacquard jacket feels like the future

Wearable tech gets a solid review from a Mashable editor who, for a few days, wore the new Levi's Commuter Trucker Jacket with Jacquard by Google. The jacket's left sleeve allows wearers to tap or swipe on a designated area woven with conductive thread. Abilities like tapping and swiping can be assigned actions, like skipping a song or relaying navigation instructions. Click here to read more.



YouTube's Technology Can Now Spit Out Thousands of Different Video Ads at Once

New targeting options have been added to the marketer's YouTube toolbox. The Custom Affinity Audiences tool lets marketers target searches and zero in on intent-based keywords. The targeting parameters have also expanded to include other apps the consumed may have downloaded, or locations they've been. Brands can also upload creative templates and assets and have "tens, hundreds or even thousands" of custom ads for specific audiences. Click here to read more. 



Apple starts collecting browsing data in Safari using its differential privacy tech

Apple's release of High Sierra OS this week includes interesting updates for Safari – including data collection to identify websites that crash the browser. The differential privacy method leaves users' personal data alone while collecting broad data that will provide insight into user habits and patterns. The data-sharing will remain an opt-in for users. Click here to read more. 



Baseball pitches augmented reality to catch fans

Sports fans may be getting another method for crunching statistics while partaking in the game. Apple and Major League Baseball are working on an alternative reality feature that will debut in 2018. Using MLB's At Bat mobile app, users would be able to hold the phone up to a game and get metrics and trivia – appealing to both casual fans and sports devotees. Click here to read more.



Snapchat's new filters make your photo backgrounds look surreal

Snapchat continues to utilize augmented reality in its filters, like its latest offering, Sky Filter. When the app detects a sky background, the filter options will present multiple versions of artistic skies, initially ranging from starry nights to sunsets or rainbows. 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

All These Mergers... Consumers Are Asking: Will Their Brand Connection Still Be There?

"By combining companies, we believe will be able to…enhance the customer experience, increase customer value and put ourselves in an even stronger position to help shape and lead the next generation of shopping," So said Mike George, QVC's president and CEO.

But will they?

When brands merge are they diluting the brand message and connection with consumers? With so many mergers and acquisitions recently, you have to wonder what it means for brands and their connection with consumers.

L'Oréal which owns 34 brands has a unique perspective—let the brand be itself and be what consumers want. Jean-Paul Agon, L'Oréal CEO, noted, "Brands have to be authentic, but for [consumers], it means the brand is transparent and there is sincerity in what they express… We have to adapt permanently, or even anticipate permanently, the consumer's demands…"

The lesson for brand managers going though mergers it that it's essential to both respect and reassure consumers who have made a financial and time investment in selecting and patronizing "their brand." When things "change" due to merger, an emotional connection could be at jeopardy if doubt sets in that that their original decision to become a customer is no longer valid.

The Harvard Business Review noted that an emotional connection between a brand and its consumers is a significant differentiator. "On a lifetime value basis, emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers."

Here's a bit of insight they share that brand managers should take note of:
  • "Most companies lack a strategic objective that spans the customer journey."
  • "Our research across hundreds of brands in dozens of categories shows that the most effective way to maximize customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level – tapping into their fundamental motivations."

The advice In our ERDM learnings from 15,000+ hours of VoC research interviews, consumers told us that understanding them and developing relationships is a competitive differentiator for maintaining a strong brand connection:
  • "Your generic communication make it obvious that you don't understand me. You are trying distill my complex needs into simple generalities to make it easier for you … and useless to me!"
  • "You marketers don't understand that personalization is valuable … it forges strong ties when there is the almost-certain outreach from competition."

One of the issues in meeting consumer connection needs according to Adobe Digital Insights (ADI), is that brands think that they are delivering this experience but according to consumers—they are not.

Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst at ADI, explains why value is always the key to connections.

"[Brands] have to demonstrate value to the consumer. Companies are still not built to be able to do that…. At a time when marketers are competing for time and attention…Organizations, themselves, are fragmented, and, on top of that, their technology is fragmented, making it difficult to make progress…We're in a really high-pressure environment where marketers need to not only protect their loyal base, but also efficiently steal from the competition… The winners are going to be the companies that have the technology and chops to serve relevant, personalized communications to consumers, consistently…"

TakeAways:
  1. Consumers want meaningful relationships with brands. When doubt creeps into a consumer's mind they lose the original motivation that sparked their connection in the first place. Brands need to be sincere and clear in all touch points so that the value "reason" is continually reinforced and present.
  2. An emotional consumer connection with your company is a primary driver of engagement. Actively involved consumers are far more likely to be not only be top purchasers but also vocal and authentic brand ambassadors. But this takes a continual commitment to demonstrate understanding and develop highly personalized experiences.
  3. To grow, companies need to protect the investment they have in their already loyal consumers while simultaneously reaching out to new prospects. And, finding ways to be relevant to both.

With so much merging and blending, the question is: will these combined companies thrive or not? However, one thing is for sure; consumers will want proof that any new union deserves their patronage. In an interview, Doug Rose, SVP of programming and marketing for QVC, said, "Amid the rapid transformation of our business, our recipe for cultivating loyalty has not changed: To deliver a shopping experience that fosters enduring relationships, rooted in trust."



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/

4 Requirements for Linking CX to ROI

Eighty-one percent of consumers are willing to pay for a better experience, according to the Capgemini's study "The Disconnected Customer." Yet, customers don't feel that companies are delivering high quality customer experience (CX), and one in five consumers stopped purchasing from a company after a poor experience, Capgemini's research found.

In our own ERDM learnings from more than 16,000 hours of VoC research interviews, consumers were emphatic that short-term sales-focused tactics were irritating, brand damaging, and undermined loyalty. As empowered consumers, they expected engagement oriented communications and experiences.

Here is a representative quote from the research: "You marketers don't understand that personalized engagement post-sale is valuable for the customer and... forges strong ties with your company that serve as a 'grace account' upon which to draw when there is the almost-certain problem or outreach from competition."

Chris Hull, Chief Merchandising Officer at the iconic American luxury lifestyle brand Shinola, puts it this way, "Consumers are looking for meaningful experiences that differentiate one brand from another. One way we do this is by designing our stores to engage the five senses:
  • Sight – see team members build bicycles or do personalized embossing;
  • Sound – a warm welcome and vinyl playing on our Runwell Turntable;
  • Touch – well-crafted products, such as watches and leather bags;
  • Taste – a complimentary bottle of Shinola Cola;
  • Smell – the smell from our Shinola candles lit throughout the store.

This is all part of conveying our distinctive handcrafted products and has resulted in higher engagement, satisfaction, and conversion rates."

With this in mind, here are four factors that will help you link CX to improved ROI:

1. CX strategies must align with consumer demands
Too often sales strategies are spray painted to look like CX strategies. However, customers are smart and know the difference between sales pitches posing as engagement and true CX. They resent when marketers think that customers are too naïve to know the difference.

According to Nike Chief Executive Mark Parke in comments about CX strategy development, "The important thing to point out is that changes are being driven by the consumer…. They want it fast, easy, and [they want] personal service." Nike has implemented measures to drive personalization and has seen sales improvements in a landscape where so many other retailers and brands are failing.

2. Accurate data is essential for driving CX initiatives
As Jim Conning, managing director at Royal Mail Data Services so aptly puts it, data accuracy is non-negotiable for ROI: "CMOs and marketing directors all understand the importance of accurate customer data, but I'm not sure that more inexperienced members of the team understand the increased ROI of more accurate data." The company's research indicated that 34% of marketers fail to fully understand the financial impact of poor quality data; 70% of the 300 companies surveyed admit to having incomplete or out-of-date customer data; and 6% of annual revenue is being lost through poor quality data.

3. ROI also requires CX-focused content
Irrelevant content hurts your brand, so stop sending spray-and-pray blasts!

This quote from our VoC research is a blunt reminder. "When I receive generic emails, it’s obvious that you do not care enough to understand my individual needs. Instead, you are trying distill my complex needs into simple generalities to make your email blast easier for you...and useless to me!"

Consider this from a Salsify Study: "If you provide superior content, and a competitive price, you have the opportunity to both close the sale and build long-term consumer loyalty." The study found that…
  • 88% of consumers say that product content is extremely or very important to their purchase decision
  • Price matters, but it's product content that gets consumers to buy

4. Establish CX-oriented metrics and compensate accordingly
New and additional metrics are required to track and compensate for CX-oriented behaviors. Too many companies fail to change metrics to reflect their CX strategies and still compensate based on legacy "sell 'em and forget 'em" models.

In this blog post, Michael Klein, director of industry strategy for the Adobe Marketing Cloud, presents some effective soltuions that brands can implement to select the optimal CX metrics. One, from Epsilon's Rob Cantave, especially stood out: "CRM data helps us understand what current customers are interested in seeing. Combining that with our third-party data lets us better understand what clusters of customers have in common. We present that information to the automated models and have them test and ultimately identify the product, categories, or content most likely to be of interest to returning customers and brand new unknown users who’ve been seen elsewhere in our network."

Linking CX to ROI is a complex, multiphased, and corporate-wide pursuit. Remember:
  • CX requires company-wide consistency and communication so employees understand and are trained on the goals and behaviors they need to demonstrate every single day.
  • It also requires an omnichannel, data-driven strategy that's based on meeting the requirements consumers indicate are important—to them. CX is useless without a consumer-focused approach because it will be observed as sales-y and meaningless.
  • Similarly, irrelevant content is perceived as demonstrating that a brand does not care about developing long-term customer relationships.

To achieve maximum ROI, companies need to rethink how they view CX and build impactful and sustainable strategies to satisfy customer needs over the customer lifecycle.



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/

GDPR data fundamentals: Dealing with existing data

An educational series on the EU's soon-to-be-implemented General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The compliance challenges presented by GDPR will be significant for new companies setting up the rules and boundaries for their data collection and storage. It is more than significant for existing companies sitting on massive databases of existing records, many with records divided among divisions, units, brands, partners and vendors.

For companies already holding personal data on EU citizens, the choices are clear. They could, in theory, destroy everything and start fresh. None will do this for obvious and insurmountable reasons. That leaves them with virtually no choice. They must locate and map all relevant data and data sources in order to plan next steps.

Having mapped their data inventory and systems, these companies should remove or destroy irrelevant or expired data. An example of expired data would be customer records obtained through a prior, now defunct, relationship with a vendor or partner. Knowing that GDPR calls for specific and limited use of data, the dissolution of the original reason for data capture renders the data useless. Therefore, it should be destroyed.

Data that is destroyed due to expiration of use have no responsibility to make consumers aware of the action. In fact, they can reasonably assume that they are meeting the consumer's new, GDPR-influenced expectations. In instances of requests to be forgotten, companies must prove complete erasure of personal data, likely within 30 days of the request.



With full implementation scheduled for May 2018, companies with existing records of EU citizens must begin their mapping and risk mitigation efforts now. Laggards will face a difficult choice – face the risk of massive fines or erase all data as a last-ditch preventative measure.

For more informative videos about GDPR, click here, or to view a full webinar on GDPR and consent capture best practices, click here.




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

GDPR data fundamentals: Storing consumer data

An educational series on the EU's soon-to-be-implemented General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

GDPR compliance means that companies can no longer collect consumer data and figure out what they intent to do with it later. Many companies, recognizing the inherent value in personal data, have long operated under the assumption that more is better as it affords them greater flexibility in campaign creation and personalization.

While this is already inadvisable, GDPR will make this approach downright foolish for companies communicating with EU citizens. Once implemented, GDPR will present companies with two challenges:

  • You must plan and declare your data usage intentions in advance, and
  • Your systems must be able to remove the data when you are done with it.


Taken together, these challenges will require companies to adopt a "privacy by design" approach to customer and prospect communications. That means a foundational recognition of the contact's right to privacy, a clear goal for all data collection and an efficient means for locating and destroying all data that directory or indirectly relates to a contact should the need arise.



For more informative videos about GDPR, click here, or to view a full webinar on GDPR and consent capture best practices, click here.




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

Moosejaw CMO Answers 4 Questions For Digital Innovators

Dan Pingree is the chief marketing officer of Moosejaw Mountaineering, where he oversees the outdoor retailer's marketing initiatives, including search engine marketing, search engine optimization, email, photo, video, graphic design, content production and publishing, social media, brick and mortar marketing, catalogs, direct mail, A/B testing, and data analytics.

Moosejaw combines his love of e-commerce with a passion for the outdoors, and admits to owning doubles and triples of basically every piece of climbing equipment. He has held previous digital marketing and e-commerce leadership roles at Drugstore.com (Walgreen's), Housevalues, and Microsoft and holds a Master's degree in business administration from Harvard Business School. When not at work, he enjoys climbing, skiing, and trips with his family, the most recent of which was a trip to Cuba.

Pingree recently participated in the "4 Questions for Marketing Innovators" series. His topic is very timely: experiential marketing.

1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
In today's retail environment where fierce competition abounds and continued retail bankruptcies dominate the business headlines, creating a notable, unique experience through various marketing activities has never been more important in defending against the assortment, convenience, and pricing pressures of Amazon. This is our focus every single day at Moosejaw.

We define "experiential marketing" as a series of marketing events or interactions that are unique and memorable to the customer and help him or her feel understood. This includes all touch points that a customer can have with Moosejaw, from initial introduction, site experience, emails, product recommendations, customer support, and even order packaging.

One of the key attributes of surviving and thriving retailers over the next five to 10 years will be their ability to effectively and consistently deliver those unique and memorable interactions to customers.

2. Why is this so important?
Consolidation within retail is happening at a rapid rate. Amazon continues to put smaller pure plays out of business and is no doubt directly responsible for mall closures and big-box retailer downsizing. Amazon's strength is within the transaction—that is, their assortment, aggressive pricing, and world-class logistics and delivery capabilities.

Retailers would do well not to attempt to "out-Amazon" Amazon but rather seek to build unique, notable experiences for their customers—experiences which help customers feel understood and valued at every touch point. Experiences that are consistent and unique, which other retailers—including Amazon—are not offering.

At Moosejaw, we sell outdoor clothing and gear, most of which is available at other retailers. Because of this, we have to constantly ask ourselves, "Why would somebody buy from Moosejaw?" The answer, of course, is because of the unique and notable experience Moosejaw offers its customers.

As we are successful with our experiential marketing efforts, I have no doubt that Moosejaw will be a strong, healthy retailer in the years to come, Amazon's meteoric rise notwithstanding.

3. How can this improve the customer experience?
Experiential marketing enhances the customer experience because you're creating interactions where you are demonstrating a clear understanding of who the customer is and what she wants. If it is known, based on your previous and current site browsing and past purchase history, that you like the Canada Goose brand, it doesn't make any sense to show you promotions related to backpacks and climbing ropes. If you do, you may lose this customer forever because they feel misunderstood.

Every customer is an individual with unique tastes and preferences, and our marketing efforts must treat you as such. On the other hand, if the site experience involves changing the home page, search slots, navigation, and product detail pages by exposing the kinds of brands, categories, and offers that we know you like based on the data we've collected about you, we can create an experience that is welcoming, engaging, and worthy of your time.

Doing this well creates a differentiated experience versus every other retailer since nobody has truly cracked the code—yet. For all retailers big and small, there is a huge opportunity to win in this area. The slog is hard, long, and expensive, but ultimately those who figure it out will have a defensible position against the retail headwinds caused by Amazon.

4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
Dollars spent on experiential marketing simply perform better than generic marketing. We've seen it repeatedly in our results in areas such as time spent on site, add-to-cart rates, conversion rates, open rates, click-through rates, and many others.

The challenge is that the upfront investment costs in technology and people—not to mention the time required to test and learn which experiences are most meaningful—are huge barriers to most companies. But those who stay committed to experiential marketing will find the reward to be well worth the investment.

Bonus Question: What is your favorite activity outside of work?
One of my favorite activities is alpine mountaineering. I love being outside, on high mountains, in beautiful and remote locations. I've been working on climbing the highest mountains of the seven continents, of which I've managed to climb three so far. I hope to complete them all before too long, including Mount Everest.



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/

Companies That Thrive During Tough Times Share These Traits

In the same economy and same consumer market in which thousands of retailers and brands are struggling, others are thriving and growing. Why? What drives the outcome of "something went wrong" versus "things are going great"?

Their "secrets" become apparent by understanding who they are, who they serve, and how they connect with customers in a value-driven, sustainable way. It all starts at the very top.

"CEOs must create a culture where the key measure of success is the success of your customers," said Serge Saxonov, CEO of biotechnology company 10x Genomics. "To achieve that, the company must constantly seek unbiased, unadulterated, and blunt feedback from customers and prospects. That will keep the company from creating its own version of 'marketplace reality.'"

Employees also factor into the equation. "CEOs must ensure that every employee cares passionately about the success of customers and make decisions based on ensuring that customers succeed," Saxonov told me. "This will drive the sustainable success and growth of the company."

Here's a look at three success traits traits driving success at a trio of top brands.

Success Factor #1: Meet A Clearly Defined Need
According to the Accenture study "Technology Trends 2017" (PDF), relationships are no longer about keeping customers happy as the company guides them toward a goal. Relationships will be about walking with people on a path they define.

In the very competitive fitness sector, Orangetheory Fitness has received the workout world's attention with 600 studios across the country and $450 million in revenue. To differentiate itself from competitors, Orangetheory Fitness aimed to satisfy the needs of high-tech, fitness-oriented consumers with a technology-driven solution that participants monitor to pinpoint the effectiveness of each workout.

"Technology enables the consumer to ... work out better. ... I think the lack of technology made it very hard for people to hit their fitness goals," said CEO David Long.

Findings from 16,000-plus hours of VoC research interviews conducted by our firm, ERDM, make it evident that success depends, in large measure, on understanding what it takes to earn the customer relationship. Consider these representative quotes from the research:
  • "It's not just what we buy from you; it is the total experience that determines whether we buy from you again ... or go to the many other choices in your category."
  • "If you want to keep me as a customer, I expect what you market to me to reflect my individual interests and preferences."

Success Factor #2: Abandon The Ego Of 'That's How We Do It'
According to John Rand, senior vice president of retail insights for Kantar Retail, "As a response to the many obvious challenges to the traditional business ... seek to differentiate, adopt new practices, and reconsider the brand and shopper focus."

A few years ago, Lego's CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp told colleagues, "We are on a burning platform ... [and] likely won't survive." Recently, however, the company announced the highest revenues in its 85-year history. What made the difference? Perhaps Julia Goldin, Lego's chief marketing officer, has the answer: "Every year [we] recruit every child again and make the brand exciting for them."

Two key strategies that keep Lego ahead of the game are:
  • It cut its losses and outsourced ventures that were outside of its core expertise: According to Simon Cotterrell of analytics firm Interbrand, what has made Lego successful comes from knowing what it is good at. "That's a very brave thing to do, and it's where a lot of companies go wrong," he said. "They don't understand that sometimes it's better to let go than to hang on."
  • The company found new ways to listen to its customers: Anne Flemmert Jensen, senior director of Lego's Global Insights group, noted, "My team spends all our time travelling around the world, talking to kids and their families, and participating in their daily lives." The company also rolled out Lego Life, a social network for kids.

Success Factor #3: Don't Just Market--Understand And Communicate 
Urban Outfitters has experienced an 146% increase in revenue and 75% gain in conversions through the use of new, personalized marketing opportunities and innovative use of tools, such as very targeted location data.

"Our goal is to provide better experiences for our audience in this competitive landscape," said Andrew Rauch, senior director of global digital marketing at Urban Outfitters. Additionally, Trish Donnelly, CEO of Urban Outfitters Group, commented on the brand's use of social to connect: "This channel has given us yet another relevant way to connect with our customers and engage in two-way conversations."

In summary, a combination of clarity of vision and focus, agility, and strategies that stress connections and relationships that evolve over time with customers is what separates companies that still thrive in a landscape of tough times versus those that don't. This final quote from the VoC research says it all: "The brands that earn my loyalty are those that make the effort to understand me and help me over time. The brands that sell and disappear haven't done anything to earn my loyalty and dollars."



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/

GDPR data fundamentals: Do you know where your customer data goes?

An educational series on the EU's soon-to-be-implemented General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Many marketers are concerned about GDPR because of its stringent consent requirements. Others are focusing on use requirements and their ability to quickly "forget" a consumer if requested to do. These and other aspects of the regulation revolve around one key variable – do you actually know where all your consumer data goes?

Unfortunately for many marketers, the answer is often no. That's because data collection often occurs through separate, disparate systems such ESPs, marketing automation software, CRM systems and more. The picture gets blurrier when you factor in brand, department, language or regional differences that add yet another layer of separation.

The net effect of all these data siloes is an insuperable obstacle to GDPR compliance. Companies that lack a central repository of customer and prospect information should address their data storage and access challenges before worrying too much about collection best practices.

After all, if you can't locate all of it or offer specific evidence of how you are using it, it doesn't much matter how you got it in the first place. You will already be in violation and facing severe penalties.



For more informative videos about GDPR, click here, or to view a full webinar on GDPR and consent capture best practices, click here.




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

GDPR data fundamentals: Definition of customer data

As marketers and customer experience professionals around the world prepare for the implementation of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), many want to dig deeper into the regulation to ensure compliance and best practices are in place.

With that in mind, we're kicking off a series of posts designed to ground readers in in GDPR's data fundamentals, the building blocks of the regulatory framework. And we'll begin in a pretty obvious place: what is customer data?

It's a simple question with a scary answer.

Under the regulation, "customer data" is anything that can directly or indirectly trace back to a EU consumer. Ordinarily, we think of customer data as a name, email address or other direct information. GDPR's definition includes a consumer's IP address, cookies used to track their web browsing and other records that exist outside the traditional database server.



Consider the consequences of this definition on a request to be forgotten. While you may be able to easily delete primary information from your database, this broader interpretation of personal data requires you to scour outside sources and aggregators to fully (and provably) cleanse your systems.

In other words – sound storage and data management are a must once GDPR goes into effect next year.

For more informative videos about GDPR, click here, or to view a full webinar on GDPR and consent capture best practices, click here.




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

GDPR 101: How GDPR Impacts Marketing

An educational series on the EU's soon-to- be-implemented General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Most marketers think about customer data in terms of its potential use. Personal data fuels campaigns, tailors landing pages and drives bottom line results. How can they be effective under GDPR?

To begin, they need to think about the basis of their efforts. Does it begin with consent tied to specific use? Or was this data obtained by other means?

Secondly, do you have the capability to prove that consent, answer consumer questions about it and, if necessary, completely erase a contact if a consumer requests to be forgotten?

These factors undoubtedly lessen marketers' freedom to use data for outreach. But it doesn't completely bar them from sound, effective interaction and loyalty cultivation so long as they are supplied with the technology and data governance needed to succeed in a GDPR world.



For more informative videos about GDPR, click here, or to view a full webinar on GDPR and consent capture best practices, click here.




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

GDPR 101: Clear and Conspicuous Consent

An educational series on the EU's soon-to-be-implemented General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Under GDPR, companies must earn unambiguous consent in order to communicate with an EU consumer or collect data from them. However, this consent cannot be hidden in the terms and conditions language or tied to a condition of service.

Instead, consent must be clear and conspicuous. So what does that mean?

On a web page, consent language should be prominently featured immediately above or below the "submit" button where a user would request or volunteer information.

For some marketers, this will mean a fundamental reconsideration of page design and conversion opportunities. It will likely lead to a new design approval processes as companies pivot to GDPR risk mitigation strategies. Regardless, it demands that anyone collecting info from EU consumers consider the definition of "unambiguous" and re-orient sales, marketing, support and billing communications accordingly.



For more informative videos about GDPR, click here, or to view a full webinar on GDPR and consent capture best practices, click here.




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

GDPR 101: Controllers and Processors

An educational series on the EU's soon-to-be-implemented General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Understanding your company's GDPR risk exposure is essential. To this, it is often helpful to identify how regulators would categorize your company.

In other words, are you a controller or a processor?

A "controller" is the party that ultimately owns the relationship with the consumer and determines what happens with their data. A "processor" is the party contracted by the controller to execute its decisions with regard to consumer data.

For example, imagine an insurance company that represents EU citizens. It collects information from its customers and emails them from time to time. To do this, the insurance company uses an Email Service Provider (ESP). The insurance company is the controller and the ESP is the processor.

Under GDPR, most of the regulatory onus is on the controller. But there are some obligations that processors must meet as well.

In many cases, controllers are liable for the actions of their processors. Companies must ensure compliance across all vendor relationships that manage data in and out of EU sources.

In turn, processors can get their clients (and themselves) into very hot water with GDPR violations. They must understand their responsibilities and in fact can gain a competitive advantage by demonstrating their GDPR preparedness as full implementation of the rule approaches.



For more informative videos about GDPR, click here, or to view a full webinar on GDPR and consent capture best practices, click here.




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

GDPR 101: Specific Use Requirement

An educational series on the EU's soon-to-be-implemented General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

GDPR will govern more than just permission to communicate with EU consumers. It will also influence how companies use data collected from EU citizens and limit their ability to use personal data for multi-channel marketing.

Simply put, GDPR requires companies to clearly identify the "specific use" a piece of information will serve. While the exact definitions around specific use are still gray, experts recommend that companies select and declare specific uses for any and all data collection.

For example, student loan provider might request an email address specifically for loan payment reminders. A financial services company might seek a birth date in order to make an investor aware of change-of-life effects to insurance or other financial products.

Regardless, GDPR prohibits the collection of personal data for one purpose (loan payment reminders) and its use in other purposes (email marketing).



Specific use definitions will likely be clarified in court as early challenges and violations come to light. In the meantime, consider your intended uses and declare them clearly at the point of collection.

For more informative videos about GDPR, click here, or to view a full webinar on GDPR and consent capture best practices, click here.




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

GDPR 101: Right to Know?

An educational series on the EU's soon-to- be-implemented General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

GDPR doesn't just limit the rights of companies. It empowers consumers to hold greater leverage against the companies that collect and use their personal data.

Once implemented in May 2018, GDPR will enable EU citizens to request explanations from companies about the personal data they have, the uses they intend for it, how long they plan to keep it and more.

Experts suggest that companies will likely face 30-day deadlines to comply with such requests and if they want to file an extension, they should be prepared to demonstrate very convincing reasons for needing more time.

What's unclear is how consumers will react to this newfound power. Will they bombard companies with requests, questions and objections? Or largely ignore their right to know out of indifference or trust in the companies that serve them?



Regardless, any company communicating with EU citizens must be prepared to answer right to know requests accurately and in a timely fashion.

For more informative videos about GDPR, click here, or to view a full webinar on GDPR and consent capture best practices, click here.




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

GDPR 101: Right to be Forgotten

An educational series on the EU's soon-to-be-implemented General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Over the course of this series, we've written quite a bit about the rules that govern company-consumer relationships under GDPR. But what happens when a consumer wants to end their relationship with a company?

Moving forward, EU citizens will hold the "right to be forgotten." In certain circumstances, consumers will be able to request that companies destroy all records related to them. Having done so, the burden of proof will lie on the company in any instances where records must be stored or maintained to comply with other, superseding regulation.

Even in instances where all data can be destroyed without repercussion, doing so is much easier said than done. Companies with siloed data storage systems, whether by division, language, geography or something else, will have to track down everything related to that customer and prove that it has been erased.



EU citizens right to be forgotten underscores the urgent need for centralization of customer data inside companies along with accurate causation, transition and changed state records to track down every last trace.

For more informative videos about GDPR, click here, or to view a full webinar on GDPR and consent capture best practices, click here.




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

Does Your Brand Experience Align with Customers’ Voices? Elizabeth Arden Shows How

"Our leaders quickly realized that before we could use digital to transform our customers and the world, we needed to transform ourselves." This according to General Electric Co. CMO, Linda Boff, "Over the last few years the company changed its way of doing business at every level." And, per Boff, "When we apply these technologies in our teams and facilities, our customers and markets can reach their potential."

"Listening" has been the industry buzz word for years and is key to building relationships for both BtoB and BtoC businesses. And although many companies have put in place extensive systems for "listening" very few are responding to what they are "hearing."

So, the action companies must take is to share customer listening insights across all departments involved in product development and marketing. They must ensure that the actual brand experience and products align with BtoB and BtoC customer's voices.

Elizabeth Arden Goes Inside to Get Insights
Going beyond traditional focus groups has been a strategy for beauty company, Elizabeth Arden who looks to their "Arden Insiders," insight community of more than 4,000 women, to inform the direction of innovation and critical product and design decisions. Utilizing consumer opinions and feedback, the company can make educated decisions to stay aligned with consumer sentiment.

Celia Tombalakian, the senior director of global insights and product development commented on their new customer-insight driven marketing, "…[The] Customer intelligence platform allows us not only to identify our customer's likes and dislikes…but to stay current on who she is and where she is going from a beauty point of view—typical focus groups or questionnaires just can't capture this."

The company uses this insight group to test copy, print ad concepts, promotional offerings, product claims, model photography, and branding and new product ideas. The feedback drives decisions on all aspects of creative and design. Per Tombalakian, "We launched our community as a one-year pilot and within the six months we were discussing plans for geographic expansion. The ROI was very apparent to all stakeholders."

The company uses real time feedback on initiatives they are working on through their Arden Insiders insight community customer intelligence platform. Noted Tombalakian, "Arden Insiders transformed how we are making many decisions…this is critical because they can weave [the customer] point of view through all stages of product or program development rather than just key junctions."

The company also implemented a dedicated market research and customer insight department to assure that their customers' voice is incorporated in all decisions. Tombalakian summed up the investment payoff, "We launched our community as a one-year pilot and within the six months we were discussing …expansion. The ROI was very apparent to all stakeholders."

Use Insights to Connect
Findings from 15,000+ hours of VoC research interviews indicate that customers want deeper engagement throughout their brand lifecycle. This means that marketers should utilize Voice of Customer (VoC) insights from your customers and prospects to improve their experience during all these key points: acquisition, activation, loyalty—and critically, deepening the relationship.

Here are a few quotes from recent VoC research to consider as you develop your strategies:
"When a supplier proactively works to understand my needs, we can develop a personal connection. That forms the basis of a long-term relationship that will remain when we are approached by their competitors or have the occasional problem with their solution."

"I appreciate you asking for feedback and clearly listening and taking action based on what we are saying. Very few companies ask for our opinions regarding how they can get better and what I would like to see them do. That’s cool. It means you are trying to get bigger and better."

It's not just BtoC companies that are seeing results from customer listening, BtoB brands such as GE have devised campaigns to target niche audiences to gain insights on sentiment. GE's #CC9900 GEEKS GO campaign connected with coders in a challenge environment on social media that used a game-style conversation to spark interactions.

Make Listening an Everyday Marketing Practice
In a research report by Wharton, Listening to the Online 'Voice of the Customer', the following points were cited:
  • Large online customer discussions boards carry the potential to revolutionize the world of market research, offering businesses a massive and free data base of what customers think about their products.
  • Traditional surveys and focus groups are flawed because the process of identifying the specific product attributes in a customer survey [are] typically guided by company marketing managers, [and] often ignore issues being raised by customers. In addition, focus groups might not always reach the most passionate and engaged customers who are voluntarily discussing products and brands on the Internet.
  • [There are] "unseen attributes of a product" – that is, issues that buyers are discussing which executives back at the headquarters are not even aware of.

The takeaway for brands is that actual customer sentiment needs to be a prime focus and that listening (rather than assuming or modeling) must become a regular part of everyday marketing practices.



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/

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