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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lifetime Value, to Your Customer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visit his blog at: