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How You Should Engage at These 7 Points in the Customer Lifecycle

Here's how Fran Horowitz-Bonadies, chief executive officer, Abercrombie brand/Hollister & Co. describes consumer communication in 2017:

"For the past year, we spoke to one-and-a-half million consumers on what they are looking for in their shopping experience… There's been almost a 180-degree turn on making sure we keep the customer at the center of everything we do. It's been [our] most important singular focus…"

But, it's not only about keeping customers at the center of your communication and engagement strategies. Research findings from thousands of hours of VoC research conducted by our firm, ERDM, indicate that customers want unprecedented levels of personalization at 7 very specific points in their lifecycle with a brand. Think about how savvy customers are to identify the following points where they want brands to engage:
  • Purchase
  • Onboarding
  • Reach out when you see Decreasing Engagement
  • A Poor Experience
  • Surprise & Delight / Thank You
  • Value Added Cross Selling
  • Value Added Repeat Sales.

However, to deepen relationships at these key points, brands must shift to truly relevant and value-driven communications. Per the research, traditional transaction / persona / implicit data based communications are not viewed as relevant.

Using the 7 VoC research-based lifecycle points, here are ways that marketers can add value to communications.

New Purchases and Onboarding—You Need to Become Part of the Consumers' Lifestyle
Bacardi Limited Chief Marketing Officer Mauricio Vergara recently noted:
"We need to get our brands back into culture, so we're moving away from a traditional marketing model of talking to consumers to really being part of their lifestyle…If we are true to that philosophy of being part of their lifestyle, a brand that they actually relate to in their day-to-day life, we cannot just be present in the high-selling moments… It's been a learning process…but we're definitely seeing the payback."

When You See Decreasing Engagement/Poor Experiences – You Need to Understand How to Win Back Trust
V. Kumar, a marketing professor at Georgia State University outlined in a Harvard Business Review article, the key factors marketers need to keep in mind when attempting to win back lost consumers, "Too many companies go after whoever they've lost, throwing all these offers at them, hoping something will work," Instead what he recommends is fully understanding which group of lost consumers will yield the best bet to come back and not depart again, then crafting an offer or message that is compelling to that segment.

Here is what the study advises: "firms will be more efficient if they focus on people whose prior behavior suggests a predisposition to return. The researchers found that customers who have referred others, who have never complained, or who have had complaints that were satisfactorily resolved are the best bets. Reasons for leaving are also predictive: Customers who canceled because of price are more likely to come back than those who left because of poor service, and people who cited both reasons for quitting are the least likely of all to return."

For Cross Selling/Thank You/Repeat Sales – Use Value Added and Emotional Engagement to Strengthen Connections
Recently, Yeti — a manufacturer of coolers used primarily for outdoor and camping pursuits — decided to open their first retail location. But, rather than building a transaction based store, the brand decided they wanted an experiential, emotional, connection-building brand immersion. The brand noted, the goal was less to "find a way to sell a lot of coolers to people who come inside and more to create a permanent brand activation that allows people to interact with Yeti in ways that they'll hopefully take with them in the future."

Corey Maynard, Yeti's Vice President of Marketing explains "It's meant to be much more of an immersive Yeti experience…than it is to be a transactional space… Yes, we're selling coolers…but it was much more important to us that people could have fun with the Yeti brand and see it brought to life …than just be a place that's driven by transaction." Tony Kaplan, YETI Director of Consumer Experience "YETI's flagship is not a typical retail store… [it is an] authentic experience that allows our customers to interact with the YETI brand in a whole new way."

In summary, think about the 7 stages in the lifecycle which emerged from the research and see how many opportunities exist for you to deepen your relationships with customers!



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/

Be Human with Birthdays

Memorial Day Doorbuster!

Fourth of July Bonanza!

Labor Day Deals!

Every other month marketers have an opportunity to connect with customers – reminding them of a promotion, providing them an opportunity to interact, increasing the likelihood of positive customer experiences.

The issue at hand is that pretty much everyone is getting the alert, even if it's personalized in some way. On the one hand, it's an easy opportunity. On the other hand, it's a catchall.

Yet when presented with simple opt-ins, customers can lay the groundwork for more individualized communications that allow us to be human in a digital world, avoiding mass messages. One easy way to cut through the promotional noise, be human and meet expectations? Wish your customer a happy birthday.

It's one of my favorite simple statistics – 52 percent of millennials in the US and UK expected retailers to remember their birthdays. The survey, by retail research agency Conlumino, found that remembering birthdays and responding accordingly was more expected than retailers remembering a size or even past purchases.

Here's why I love this stat: we spend a lot of time thinking about how much information a consumer might be willing to share and how we can leverage that data to better position our products and services. But we don't think nearly enough about social and emotional impact of our work and how it plays into loyalty and engagement.

The simple truth is that millennials expect companies to wish them a happy birthday. They've shared that information, along with their likes and dislikes, wish lists, dream vacations and more. And if the point of customer engagement is to form a sort of friendship, shouldn't we remember their birthdays along with purchase history and billing information? We stay human in a digital world by listening, remembering and responding – especially when we want to wish someone a happy birthday.

Have you forgotten your customer's birthdays? If so, what do you plan to do about it?







Rob Tate
As Vice President of Sales, Rob is responsible for growing the client base and market share and helping his sales team achieve their goals. He also develops partnership opportunities and industry relationships. Rob focuses on generating consistent results, utilizing sales and opportunity management tools and implementing best-of-class sales methodologies all of which have enabled him to build a scalable sales organization. He continually studies how metrics, leadership, culture, and innovation drive business value in the SaaS and marketing automation fields.

Don’t Be Shy: Opt-in Customer Data is Essential for CX Success

A full 96% of digital marketers say personalization advances customer relationships, according to a new study from Evergage and Researchscape International. Yet more than 55% say the industry isn't getting personalization right. And nearly 50% give their company's personalization efforts a "C" grade or below.

So how do CMOs raise the bar?

To develop an effective personalization strategy, CMOs need to start with a solid foundation of traditional customer data. But that is not enough. The essential next step is building deeper levels of human data gained via preferences and attitudes.

Some brands already understand that.

"To achieve truly meaningful personalization and CX, we needed more than traditional purchase history and overlays of behavioral/inferred data. We needed to get customers to opt-in and tell us their individual preferences," said Scott Emmons, head of the Neiman Marcus Innovation Lab. "But to earn that deeper level of information, we had to offer something meaningful. Our Memory Makeover smart mirrors are a high-value way for customers to share their individual preferences regarding cosmetic products. We make it clear that this information will be used to serve them in the stores and as part of ongoing email communications to reorder products or learn about new products that are uniquely relevant to them."

Why Traditional Data Approaches No Longer Work
Findings from over 16,000 hours of Voice of Customer research conducted by our firm indicate that traditional customer experience, personalization, and personas are no longer effective. That's because the B2B and B2C decision-making journey is neither linear nor simplistic, and customers are complex humans, not cohorts.

However, marketers must realize that they are not entitled to deep customer information. They have to earn it. A reciprocity of value is required, where customers opt in to provide deep preference data in exchange for smart, useful personalization.

But here's the caveat: This data must be explicit data, meaning it is self-profiled preference information delivered via a site's preference center or through dialogue boxes. Explicit data indicates deeper or longer-term preferences versus traditional implicit data, such as data-mined information or short-term consumer interests or needs.

"Too often, personalization relies on statistical inferences from a customer's purchase and browsing history. This will likely be subject to error and spurious correlations, one reason why many customers are unimpressed with today's attempts at personalization," said Wayne Duan, director of merchandising and merchandising operations at Walgreens Digital Commerce. "The retailers who will win are those that successfully collect explicit customer input and harness those direct and intentional actions to improve the customer experience."

Duan cited as an example Walgreens' Beauty Enthusiast program, which asks customers their preferences, such as makeup style and skin needs. "We use this clearly expressed data to personalize the customer offering and experience within our beauty category," he said.

Kevin Lindsay, director of product marketing at Adobe, built onto that with a point about context. "Historical customer data, such as purchases, is important but not predictive," he said. "It must be enriched with contextual information to drive truly relevant personalization and CX. Contextual information provides the uniquely rich opportunity to understand the human dimension and situation of customers."

Betabrand, a crowdsourced apparel company, is another brand that understands the fundamental shift in personalization. "Betabrand has a unique ability to measure and react to every click, vote, comment, purchase, etc., on our site," said CMO Aaron Magness. "We use this rich data to provide a personalized shopping experience that goes way beyond the old-school segmentation mindset and truly serves you what's relevant, not what's relevant to people like you. Having data is one thing; understanding how to act on the important data is what matters."

And while having the technology to analyze the data is important, equally important is not solely relying on it. "Companies tend to be lazy and arrogant by trying to mass-produce marketing or solve the problems by buying the latest march tools," said Silver Star Brands CMO Kathy Hecht. "One cannot achieve true personalization without deep human data from your customers."



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

These Color-Changing Tattoos Monitor Your Health, No Wearable Needed

Researchers at MIT and Harvard University are exploring the possibilities of real-time bio feedback using tattoo methodologies that turn the skin into an interface. Traditional tattoo ink is replaced with biosensors that change color depending on changes in your body's system, like blood sugar, hydration, sodium, or pH levels. The researcher in charge has also experimented with other "beauty technology" like smart fake eyelashes, conductive makeup and RFID-enabled nail polish. Click here to read more.

Gatwick Airport now has 2,000 beacons for indoor navigation

Smartphone navigation using GPS tends to suffer in places like malls or airports. One solution had been 3D sensors on smartphones, another option has been to outfit an interior with "Bluetooth beacons," creating location-based information that can relay to your smartphone where exactly you are. The latter has been implemented at Gatwick, the United Kingdom's second-busiest airport. The beacons allow digital map users to get a more accurate location, can also power a wayfinding tool for use within terminals, and allow airlines or airport retailers to connect with users in the future. Click here to read more. 

Google Is Going Ahead With Controversial Ad Blocking Plans For Chrome

Google's internet browser, Chrome, will now include ad-blocking filters by default – hiding ads that don't fit Google's new standards. If a website has too many ads requiring blocking, then no ads will be shown at all. Being blocked are ads like pop-ups, auto-play videos and ads that time out on a countdown before a reader can view the page's main content. While it's expected to improve the web experience, it still raises questions about the reach of Google's digital reach. Click here to read more. 

Pandora Is Building Branded Radio Stations That Offer On-Demand Listening

As Pandora works to compete with other streaming music services, it's beginning to incorporate a selection of on-demand music for subscription members. Gatorade-owned Propel recently launched a campaign on Pandora that offers curated playlists by fitness personalities – within each playlist are options to save specific songs. The fitness influences campaign is the first time on-demand streaming has been built into an ad since the subscription service launched last year. Click here to read more. 

Google's A.I. Program Rattles Chinese Go Master as It Wins Match

A computer program called AlphaGo is two-for-three in a competition centered on Go, considered the world's most sophisticated board game. Nineteen-year-old Ke Jie, a Chinese prodigy, was hopeful during the second match – but the emotion may have been his downfall. The "cold focus" of artificial intelligence makes it preferable in some cases, yet computer scientists say that often the best use of artificial intelligence is not to pit it against humans, but to pair it with them. 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

Lifetime Value, to Your Customer

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

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

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

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






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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

Dia&Co Chief Answers 4 Questions For Marketing Innovators

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

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

Boujarwah recently participated in our "4 Questions for Marketing Innovators" series.

1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
I'm obsessed with the importance of a strong brand promise. Before setting any marketing strategy, you must have a crystal-clear articulation of your commitment to the customer—and I highly recommend putting it in writing. At Dia&Co, ours is: "We promise to understand her better than anyone else will. We put her first, always."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

Ask for the Conversation

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

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

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

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

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

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




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


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

ICYMI: Preferences, Privacy and Personalization in the News

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

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


8 high-tech innovations transforming how autistic children communicate

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


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

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


Hacking Attack Woke Up Dallas With Emergency Sirens, Officials Say

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


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

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





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

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

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

How Should I Organize My Preference Center?

A preference center represents a centralized location for your customers to manage communications and interactions with your company. But more importantly, your preference center also represents an opportunity for customers to become empowered and begin to understand the ways in which they can personalize your conversation with them.

When your company is initially creating its preference center, there are some simple techniques in organizing it to get your customers to understand the ways in which your company can and should communicate with them.

By introducing clear methods and levels of opt-ins, your customers can identify the communications they'd like to receive while being reminded that they can change their preferences at any time – increasing, decreasing and ultimately customizing your communications with them.

Broadly, your preference center organization should utilize three categories:

  1. Messages they want to receive – this would generally include alerts, notifications and reminders
  2. Messages you want to send them – things like marketing and promotions communications
  3. Messages you must send them – required items like company or legal notices, EOBs for insurance companies


By sorting your preference center this way, customers get clarification on the types of messages they can receive, eliminating confusion or mass rejection of messages. You also reinforce the ways customers understand what they can (or can’t, in the case of the third category) change about the communications you send them. But by giving them these opt-ins on multiple channels, they're able to tweak and personalize the conversation.

Watch and save this short video as a reminder of the best way to organize a preference center:



This organization also allows your company to think about the communication matrix in simple ways that your customers do too – their wants, your wants, and everyone's requirements.

By following a clear organization technique like this, you're able to show customers that you can listen, remember and respond to them. And more importantly – follow through on it.




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

Stop (ONLY) Marketing To Millennials

"There's both ageism in our culture and ageism in our profession of marketing. But some of it's not even malicious ageism. Some of it is just, 'I want my brand to feel young and modern and youthful, and the only way to do that is to be targeting it to the young and modern and youthful.' But that's simplistic thinking." This according to Denise Fedewa, Executive Vice President/Strategy Director, Leo Burnett.

Many marketers have invested significant portions of their budget chasing the millennial consumer. But, here's a fact that might make some rethink that strategy. According to DataMentors, while Millennials do make up the largest generation today (86 Million), Baby Boomers still take second place (77 Million.)

If marketers are putting all their chips on Millennials, they could be in for a surprising loss when they realize just how much they are leaving on the table by excluding other demographic groups in their marketing mix and messaging.

But marketers are just not marketing to this lucrative "older" consumer: "[Baby Boomers] can sustain and be a strong driver of the consumer economy over the next five to ten years especially the upper-income households. They have the money to spend. It's a different mindset …now saying, I've got to spend it while I'm here," says Doug Hermanson, principal economist at Kantar Retail.
  • The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) calculates that less than 15% of firms have developed a business strategy focused on the elderly.
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit found that only 31% of firms took increased longevity into account when making plans for sales and marketing.
  • A report by the McKinsey Global Institute points out that older consumers are one of the few engines of growth in an otherwise sluggish global economy.
  • According to DMN3, online research shows an overwhelming 82.3% of Boomers belong to at least once social networking site and over half of Boomers who use social networking sites will visit a company website or continue their search on a search engine as a result of seeing something on social media

According to Morgan Stanley, "As consumers age, their spending increases, with the U.S. consumer's peak earnings, spending, and investing years between ages 35 and 55. Boomer generation will still maintain enormous spending muscle. In the next two decades, spending by Americans over 50 is projected to increase by 58%, whereas spending by Americans 25-50 will grow by 24%…"

In learnings from 15,000+ hours of VoC research interviews, consumers have told us again and again that they want needs-based personalization that connects with them at a human and genuine level. To develop relationships with all consumers, marketers need to devise personalization that drives engagement by increasing conversion rates and return visits because the consumer feels that the brand understands them. But unfortunately for many age brackets, this is not the case.

"Most of the female baby boomers feel as if marketers don't really understand them, and they're not making a really strong, concerted effort to speak to them as an individual," says Dave Austin, managing director of marketing agency Influent50 "There's this misnomer that boomers are not… digital-savvy, which is just not true. They're one of the first generations to use technology in every portion of their life."

However, a savvy few companies have tapped into the digital-loving Baby Boomer market, such as Stitch, an online dating, activity and travel community for those over 50. According to founder, Marcie Rogo, "[Boomers are] brand loyal. This is what I love about them. They like the real talk. If they trust you as a brand, they will stay with you. They're not going to hop around like millennials."

L'Oareal has recently announced that it has added 69 year old actress, Susan Sarandon, to its roster of over 50 brand ambassadors for its beauty product line, which has made a choice to have a representative from each generation to portray their message that beauty 'transcends age'. In their "senior marketing" the company notes that their new brand ambassadors, "embody the new kind of radiant 60-something women."

TakeAways:
  1. Millennials represent significant buying power, but they are not the only ones. When marketers put most of their marketing eggs in one demographic basket they are missing opportunities and revenue from other segments that feel the brand does not want their business.
  2. Marketers must make the effort to understand the needs, actions, and buying patterns of every demographic group.
  3. Marketing needs to "speak" to consumers in a voice that is both authentic and genuine. If the message is stereotypical, consumers have no reason to identify with a brand they feel does not accurately understand their needs or lifestyle.

One of the key lines from Madonna's Billboard "Woman of the Year" acceptance speech was, "The most controversial thing I've done is stick around." Marketers have fallen in love with the pursuit of a digital demographic at the exclusion of other demographic age groups. Now, the key is for marketers to see past the obvious to gain a deeper understanding that all age groups are digital—and have big buying power.



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/

Begin with Compliance for a Complete Conversation

Once companies have a grasp of what communications their customers are receiving, and why, it might be time to take a step back and reflect. But that doesn't mean your communications should suffer – in fact, drilling down and considering the ways in which you initiated relationships with your customers could provide more opportunities to respond to them.

Too often, companies want to initiate more conversations with their customers, but they err on the cautious side, not knowing whether their compliance language allows for new communications. They may decide not to send any communications at all. While caution should be used if your company truly isn't sure of their communication permissions, the best way to figure out what you can send to your customers is to go back to the original compliance language on what they've already agreed to receive.

If compliance information has been properly managed and stored from across the organization, then companies should be able to determine the ways in which they can talk to their customers in the future. However, if that information hasn't been managed, it's an opportunity for your company to reconsider whether it's time to revise compliance language, organizational storage, and ways to improve the overall customer experience.

This short video explains the ways in which communications compliance helps your company listen, remember and respond to customers.



When you think about compliance, think about the ways in which it creates more opportunities for you to give your customers what they're asking for – a real conversation. If you can remember what they want to receive, then you can respond correctly and in a compliant manner.




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


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

ICYMI - Preferences, Privacy and Personalization in the News

Smart dancing shoes make sure you don't have two left feet

Leveraging the Internet of Things for a little bit of boogie, a new startup crowdfunding campaign aims to bring smart shoes to the uncoordinated masses. Dubbed "Rhythm Shoes," wearers get vibrations and real-time guidance to learn dance steps. Sensors help users analyze their progress and the shoes synch with an app that can provide visuals. Click here to read more. 

Netflix will reportedly launch a choose-your-own-adventure show later this year

Content creator and streaming service Netflix is reportedly developing programming that will allow viewers to control the plot lines of shows. A Netflix spokesperson confirmed the company's exploration of interactive shows. The technology would allow viewers to choose to follow certain narratives or choose different linear plots. Click here to read more.

Lyft offers ride hailing for developers to use in their apps

While on-demand ride-hailing service Lyft has already provided third-party integration, this month marks a move toward new ways to call a car. Using a dispatch developer program, the company allows its services to be used by those without a smartphone or Lyft account. The new integration options mark a business transition toward logistics rather than transportation. Click here to read more.

Pizza Hut Made 'Pie Tops,' With a Button on the Tongue to Order Pizza, for March Madness

The bar is raised. The pizza is on the way. In celebration of March Madness, Pizza Hut teamed up with the custom sneaker maker Dominic Chambrone. By pressing a pizza icon on the tongue of limited-edition high top sneakers, wearers are connected with a Pie Tops app to order pizza. While anyone can access the Pie Tops app through multiple smart devices, only 64 pairs of the Pie Top-connected sneakers were made. Click here to read more.

Self-Driving Cars Might Need Standards, but Whose?

As self-driving car technology gets closer to consumer release, developers and automotive engineers will need to find common ground on platforms and materials. Centralization could bring cost savings and standardization could affect software choices. Industry titans, however, are opposed to one-size-fits-all systems, saying they'd inhibit innovation. 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

Close the Communications Loop

So you've already consulted the matrix and have a more well-rounded idea of what communications your customers are already getting from your company. Now it's time to consider the types of conversations you're having with customers, and the methods by which you determine those conversations.

Think about the ways your company can listen, remember and respond to your customer. If you're interested in sending them a new piece of communication, what are the ways you might assess who to send it to? If you're listening, you can do one of two things – you could come right out and ask your customers what they'd like to receive, or you could use their behavior and interactions to suggest additional communications they'd like to receive.

The former requires remembering and responding as your customers. The latter requires a closed-loop relationship – in other words, a way to correct the conversation, like an opt-down.

This short video explains how you can know what your customers want and why a closed-loop relationship helps your company listen, remember and respond.



By taking your customers' preferences into account throughout your enterprise, you can move from explicit to implicit conversations. Ready to learn more? Browse our Resource Center for information on customer preferences and how to store, share, and react to them.




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

Your Data Is Your Strategic Firewall Against Competition

"Rivals cannot unlock or simulate your data. Data is the defensible barrier—not algorithms." These are the words of Andrew Ng of Chinese search giant Baidu in a recent New York Times article.

The article also stated: "For decades, dominance in the technology industry was based on software or hardware. Now it is increasingly based on who owns the best data."

Data Is A Competitive Advantage—If Used To Improve Customer Experience
Data is the competitive differentiator in terms of preference-driven customer experience and personalization. It is also a strategic firewall against competition.

Your competition cannot duplicate or simulate your data. But data sitting idly in your servers or used only for sales messaging will not catapult your company to the next level. It is the customer insights in your data that are your competitive uniqueness. Success will be based not only on the quality of data, but its creative utilization.

In an Infosys whitepaper, "Transforming Big Data Analytics into a Competitive Advantage for Insurers," it was noted: "Having access to rich sources of data and using that data to enable effective decision-making are two separate aspects."

Per VoC research conducted by our firm, today's personalization is broken. It relies on implicit data, i.e., web browsing behavior, data mined from social media, data modeling, and purchase-based behaviors. These are not providing the necessary depth of information to drive relevant communications and offers. As a result, most attempts at personalization simply do not drive the expected increases in response.

Marketers must now make a profound shift and move to human data, which is based on explicit, self-profiled, opt-in preference data. Human data personalization is unique in that it lends itself to segmentation based on self-described personality types, attitudes, and life stages. Human data-based personalization is consistently driving double-digit response rates.

New Data Collaboration Partnerships Are Essential
The acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft was an innovative strategic data-based move. With the acquisition, Microsoft can now leverage the approximately 467 million names in LinkedIn's database to market its products, such as Office 365. According to Bill Phillips, vice president business applications at Microsoft, the LinkedIn database along with other sources "will power a set of insights that we think is unprecedented."

Realizing the importance of the data it has mined, Progressive Insurance joined forces with European insurance company The Generali Group to enter into a research and development collaboration to improve their individual data analytics capabilities.

"Collaborating internationally with Generali allows us to further expand and deepen our customer insights," said Pat Callahan, personal lines president of Progressive Insurance. And Valter Trevisani, chief insurance officer of Generali, said: "The collaboration with Progressive allows Generali to accelerate the execution of the strategy in regards to connected insurance and advanced analytics."

Advanced Human Data: The Ultimate Tool For Preference And Customization
In a McKinsey & Company report, the following points were noted:

  • "Advanced data analytics is a means to an end. It's a discriminating tool to identify, and then implement, a value-driving answer. And you're much likelier to land on a meaningful [answer] if you're clear on the purpose of your data."
  • "The impact of big data analytics is often manifested by ... incrementally small improvements. If an organization can atomize a single process into its smallest parts and implement advances where possible, the payoffs can be profound."


There is a consumer expectation gap between what consumers want delivered and what is actually being presented to them. In findings from our own VoC research, we have identified the following requirements:

  • Marketers must rethink data strategies to provide "smart" personalization that goes past short-term implicit data to long-term, relationship-building human data.
  • Every department and channel must respect customer preferences.
  • B2B and B2C customers are willing to provide trusted brands with deep business and personal information in exchange for more personalized offers and communications.


Sportswear manufacturer Adidas has committed to improving customer relationships by merging previously siloed data to enable the company to move away from atomistic bits of data to an interconnected 360-degree approach. Per senior project manager Sokratis Kartelias, the data overhaul uses "shared metadata service to deliver the most compelling, relevant, and relatable content to the right consumers. The company plans to do this by processing their consumers' responses database to continually update personalization to be as relevant as possible."

For years, data was something collected and used primarily for outbound sales. Recently, marketers are expanding the vast possibilities that human data provides for customer insights, product development, new channels of engagement, deep-level personalization, and so much more. This high-value data will help propel your business to the next level and serve as a formidable firewall against competition.



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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