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Good Enough Marketing Isn’t Good Enough Anymore

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Marketing in the modern digital age has done great damage to the term “good enough.” It wasn’t that long ago when good enough was a quality standard that meant, “This will work well enough and nothing better is needed.” But in times of great change, the term good enough needs to be seriously rethought.

Good Enough Isn’t Good Enough

So what changed? For starters, we’re a decade or so into the challenges of Big Data—also known as the digitization of nearly everything a marketer cares about. Customer information, including their past history, preferences, and even where they are in this moment, are flowing across many different devices and channels. What was good enough to work with the data we used just five years ago is very unlikely to be good enough today.

Secondly, our ability to analyze past behaviors to predict future ones has grown as quickly as the data that feeds those analytics. Once we can know what’s likely, we have a need to do something with that information, meaning we need new ways of interacting, nudging, and influencing our customers digitally, and otherwise. The old execution tools and techniques simply aren’t good enough.

Lastly, the customer has transformed into an always-connected, mobile—and much, much pickier—shopper. The customer has the ability to know and choose like never before. Good enough for the new customer is also a moving target that will certainly be not good enough at a point in the not-too-distant future.

What Can You Do About It?

When good enough is such a moving target, maybe the term itself needs to be tossed out in favor of something that better defines the marketer’s needs. But what, exactly, does the marketer need? Today’s marketer needs to tool up with technology that goes beyond the needs of right now. Choices need to reflect that we don’t know what’s coming, but we can be sure that things will evolve to become more digital, faster, more predictive—and that customers will expect a better experience than we can even imagine right now.

Hear more in the webinar, Nudges, Influence and Rewards: Must-know Factors for Success in Retail Customer Loyalty.

Why Haven’t You Defined Customer Loyalty Success?

We’re way beyond the point where the world debates whether customer loyalty works.  When we think about customer loyalty’s broad goals, whether the focus is on retention or brand affinity, investments in customer loyalty have shown repeatedly to provide a very strong return. So everyone is measuring that success, right? No.

What Are Your Goals?

The idea that customer loyalty works may seem obvious to some, but many sophisticated programs in place today lack clarity and fail to answer the simple question, “When we look back a year from now, what will have happened to say we achieved success?”

Without a clear definition of customer loyalty success, there is real risk that great, successful programs will be undervalued and underfunded, and—even worse—that programs with poor success rates will continue, wasting valuable and often scarce resources. Success needs to be defined through clear planning and objective measures, meaning the only guarantee of success is through clarity of both purpose and intended outcome.

Have You Defined Success?

Having a good definition of success—whether the goal is retention, shopping frequency, preventing high-value customer erosion, basket size increase, or another target—is foundational to every other factor. Know your problem clearly and choose a definition of success that directly addresses the issues or goals you’ve chosen.

Hear more on defining success for customer loyalty from Michael Greenberg in the webinar, Nudges, Influence and Rewards: Must-know Factors for Success in Retail Customer Loyalty.   

The Bar Is Higher Than Ever for Customer Experience

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Customer experience is going through rapid change. At the Forrester East Coast Customer Experience Forum in New York, the hot topic—and even the title of the conference—was “Why Good Enough Is Not Good Enough.” We’ve entered a new age of competitiveness that raises the bar significantly and forces brands to rethink the ways to know the customer better, and to trigger their passions where possible. Where it was once all about stocking the right products and having well-trained sales and customer service associates, today’s customer experience is defined by, as Forrester puts it, “…your people, processes, and technologies.”

Outperforming the Market

Is it worth the cost of making your customer’s experience that much better than with your competitors? A 2013 study by Forrester showed that customer experience leaders, over a six-year period, outperformed the broader market with returns that were three times higher than the average S&P 500 company. Likewise, customer experience laggards underperformed against the same S&P average with returns of -33.9 percent. Those are compelling numbers and reflect the benefits that great customer experience management confers on the brand: higher retention rates, lower acquisition costs, and greater customer lifetime value. A focus on customer experience is a gift to the customers for sure, but also clearly a gift back to the giver.

What Can I Do About It?

These numbers are great, but what can you as a brand do to improve your customer’s experience? For starters, you can make sure you’re collecting data about your customers that helps connect you not only to their preferences, but to their passions as well. The North Face has done a remarkable job at capturing what its customers care about—not just how they shop. Secondly, you can take steps to make your brand trusted, remarkable, unmistakable, and essential, aligning with Forrester’s Tracy Stokes’ acronym, T.R.U.E. These are the four concepts that create a brand compass for customer experience.

Lastly, you can make sure you’ve created the technology environment to manage the ever-increasing amount of data that great customer experience requires. People can be trained and processes determined, but having the right foundation of technology is a key differentiator. With it, you can discover your customers’ patterns and propensities, “see” them in the moment, and respond in ways most likely to result in a positive outcome for both the customer and the brand.

To learn more about bolstering your customer experience, download our whitepaper, Customer Loyalty Management: Finding the Holy Grail of Marketing.

Mobile Is More Than a Channel—It’s a Lifestyle

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

When it comes to marketing, mobile is too often considered a channel—one of several ways to reach the buying public. In reality, mobile is far more than one of many pathways to and from the consumer. Mobile is, in fact, a world apart from Web, in-store and kiosk. It’s not only a channel for purchase, but also a pathway to a brick-and-mortar store or website, and it’s certainly a channel for engagement. Are you treating mobile as the nuanced channel that it truly is?

Taking Advantage of Mobile’s Differences

The differences matter and here’s a breakout of each:

Mobile for purchases - Purchases on mobile have been the long-sought-after goal of many retailers, but are a challenge in the real world. Small screens and being on the go aren’t the best circumstances for getting consumers to buy. We love rich visuals (bigger screens or being there live) when we make our decisions.

Mobile as a pathway to other channels – Consumers are easily encouraged to head for the website or the store by communication on a mobile device. Quick research and location-based searches are mobile’s stock in trade. Notifications of special deals and location-specific events are also ideally suited for mobile, where the goal is to intercept the consumer and steer them to the best places for purchases to occur.

Mobile as a channel for engagement – Engagement is highly contextual, which makes mobile the ultimate channel—it travels with us, sharing the context of our lives. Consumers who are engaged with a brand through a mobile channel are more likely to share the context that makes engagement more relevant and allows for brand advocacy in the perfect moments, like being with friends and family.

A Bigger Mobile Opportunity

These factors, when used together, make mobile a bigger opportunity for those who recognize its subtleties. Capturing the value of mobile’s differences involves understanding the user’s individual motivations and varieties in paths to purchase. This is a modeling exercise of its own, not unlike the way other propensities are discovered, modeled, and executed in real time. Brand awareness, engagement, loyalty, advocacy, and creating a path to other channels are all valid outcomes of a great mobile strategy.

Learn more in our webinar: Success with Mobile Loyalty.

It May Not Feel Like It, but Christmas Is Coming

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Christmas is coming. Yes, it may seem a long way off, but if you started with December 25th and worked your way backward, you’d see that for retailers, Christmas is just around the corner. The fact that Christmas is coming is the good news…the bad news is that customer expectations are higher than ever.

Here are four ways you can make yourself ready to serve your customers with excellence, despite the craziness of the holidays.

Start the conversation – Starting a conversation around Halloween is bad business. If you’re not engaging your customer now, you’re missing the chance to know them better and for them to appreciate you more than your competitor. Getting interactive just for the holiday feels opportunistic and hollow to your customers.

Get ahead of differentiation – There’s not a more focused and noisy promotion time than Christmas. Loyalty programs, personal touches, and a grasp of your customer’s history and propensity to buy from you are key things to set up now. Once the heat turns up, it gets much harder to make this work efficiently.

Solve your customers’ problems – The holidays can be a hassle for everyone, and anything you bring that makes it easier for your customer to shop is appreciated. Offer the same experience across all channels and make your loyalty program meaningful and omni-channel. Make it easy to know how Christmas shopping can be a loyalty-benefits bonanza.

Get creative and test it out – Marketing has become more and more about statistical probabilities. Even so, there’s an enormous amount of room for creative ways to engage the customer, make interesting offers, and let your customer be an advocate for your brand. Creative campaigns need to be tested against your existing propensity models to find the programs that will get the best return despite noisy channels.

With the weather still plenty warm, now is the time to start thinking about and preparing for the biggest shopping time of the year. Christmas in July? For marketers, it’s true!

For practical tips on retail customer engagement design and analysis, check out our webinar on-demand, Nudges, Influence and Rewards: Must-know Factors for Success in Retail Customer Loyalty.

The World Cup Reminds Us That Marketers Are Architects of Passion

Watching the World Cup 2014 in Brazil is an excellent reminder of the power of passion and the role of marketing. World Cup passion is found on the football pitch, in amazing quantity in the stands and streets of Rio, and in pubs and offices around the world. It would be safe to say that the tournament has become synonymous with passion, excitement, and shared experience.

The Roots of Passion

In the World Cup, passion comes from players and fans putting all of their energy into something bigger than themselves. For a short period, footballer players aren’t free agents taking in millions—instead, they are playing for their countries. None of the passion of the World Cup is accidental, and there’s an enormous amount of work that goes into whipping it up and serving it. This is no different than what happens between a strong brand and its most passionate customers. Today’s marketer needs to be an architect of passion.

Passion Defines

For consumers, passion drives nearly everything they do—what to eat, what to wear, and how and where to spend their time. Connecting with that passion involves making the brand a part of how consumers define themselves and live their lives. Tapping into it requires a different flavor for different products and services, but here are common ways to foster and benefit from consumer passion:

  • Create a strong, omni-channel loyalty program that ‘returns the favor’ for your customers’ business.
  • Give your customers an outlet for expressing their passion that includes social media.
  • Capture the context of your customer’s buying moments, and serve the most relevant interaction possible.
  • Find ways to surprise and delight your best customers and draw them even closer to your brand.
Fire up your customers by stoking their passion, and turn them into fans! For more ideas on how, download our whitepaper, Marketing Transformed: Big Data Sciences and the Revolution of Customer Engagement and Loyalty.

Using Nudges, Influence, and Rewards For Marketing Success

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Success in customer loyalty marketing doesn’t arrive from just a single contact with a customer or even from a single approach to interaction. Customers are growing more savvy every day; their expectations are shifting. Marketers need to know and take advantage of the many different factors that will draw in and delight, and—most importantly—the factors that will increase customer loyalty and lifetime value.

Nudges, Influences, and Rewards

Customer loyalty marketing is all about working to make a brand top of mind, the first place customers thinks of for spending their money. Success comes from using a series of well-timed and relevant nudges, finding places and channels of influence and creating rewards that drive customer spending behaviors.

There are key things to know before you can expect to find success,  including:

  • Critical pieces of program setup
  • Investing in the right places
  • Generating customer insights
  • Building your context platform
  • Increasing meaningful frequency
  • Effecting racking and monitoring

Join me for a webinar with TIBCO Loyalty Lab’s Michael Greenberg as he takes us through the critical factors best correlated with success in customer loyalty marketing. Greenberg is an expert at laying out the latest successful approaches to customer loyalty marketing and has extensive experience with top international retail brands. I hope to see you there. Register here.

The World Will Compete on Customer Experience

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

The time is fast approaching where the stiffest competition for a customer’s wallet share will come from customer experience and the ensuing loyalty. You might think from everything you hear that we’re already there, but we’re not. Despite the rapid growth of smartphones and tablets, we haven’t yet reached the point where the majority of consumers are shopping digitally—yet. That leaves a little time, but very little, for brands to gear up to compete on customer experience.

Brands Are Already Investing

The brands that recognize what’s approaching are already investing in a platform approach to gain their customer’s trust and loyalty. A platform approach, rather than cobbling together point solutions, is a key part of making sure that the data necessary to create great customer experiences is available to the marketer, and ready for analysis and action.

Why a Platform?

The world will compete through customer experience platforms because we’re in a fast-moving digital data age that requires significant integration to make the concept work. This is due to the fact that customer experience is affected by a rapidly increasing number of touch points with the customer. What used to be face-to-face is now on the web or on a smartphone, any time of the day, and in many different contexts.

The diversification of context, in fact, is what makes customer experience such a challenge and, at the same time, such an opportunity. Context used to be far more simple. Is the customer on the website or in the store? Are they known or unknown? Going forward, the questions will range far further and have far greater dependence on interconnected data and systems. The new questions will include: When did the customer last interact? What was the outcome? What’s most likely to be an effective response in this moment?

And from the customer side, there are also far more questions: Does the brand recognize me quickly and easily? Does the brand value me as a repeat customer in a way that matters to me? Can I maintain my expectations regardless of the time, place, and platform that I prefer in the moment? The answers to these questions will determine whether a brand is able to compete on customer experience.

If you can’t answer those questions for your customers, it could be time to take a step back and change your approach.

For more on improving your customer experience, don’t miss our webinar, Nudges, Influence and Rewards: Must-know Factors for Success in Retail Customer Loyalty.  

 

How Relevant Is Your Marketing and How Do You Know?

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

By definition, for something to be relevant, it needs to be important to the matter at hand. For marketing, the matter at hand was once simply reaching the public’s consciousness through mass media with hopes that your product would be remembered at buying time. Being relevant today, however, is another matter entirely. Today’s consumer has a shorter attention span and is living in a noisier world. Today’s marketer needs to tunnel through the noise and meet customer expectations in ways that are completely tied to customers’ “matter at hand”—their preferences, history with the brand, and current context.

The Matter At Hand

For a marketer, knowing a customer’s preference, history, and current context isn’t a simple matter. It requires a platform that brings together the right information quickly enough to engage the customer in the moments that matter.

That information includes:

Transactional data – Knowing what your customer has done before is a head start to being relevant today. It’s not just about purchases—transactional data includes all interactions with the customer, including inquiries, returns, product reviews, and more.

Online data – Knowing how your customer has surfed your sites, both web and mobile, will tell you which pages or products have receive the most attention.

Social data – Getting your customers to engage socially provides a rich look into their interests, travel, and other information that supports relevant messaging.

Location data – Perhaps the most relevant data of all, a customer’s location allows a brand to reach out at moments that are fleeting, like proximity to a store.

These pieces of information, together, feed an ability to determine when and where a customer is most likely to respond positively to a message. Every communication needs to be relevant and should feel more like a service than a marketing push. A customer that finds a brand relevant feels served with useful and meaningful information rather than noise and pressure.

Customers are increasingly able to filter out noise and irrelevant information. This is a critically important concept and core to relevance. Focusing on this gives brands an ability to separate themselves from the crowd and be more effective marketers. These efforts feel like special treatment rather than promotion and allow customers to feel comfortable providing more information about themselves. When your customers feel like your marketing is a service, you know you’ve reached the point of relevance.

When the CMO and CIO Collaborate, Anything’s Possible

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Forrester’s Sheryl Pattek wrote a few months back on the hot topic of cooperation between CMOs and CIOs. Summaries of Pattek’s thoughts were captured in this SlideShare.

Pattek cites three reasons why these two organizational leaders are finding themselves as allies in ways that were unthinkable a few years ago:

  • Digital changes the game – As organizations become infused with data, more and more are finding ways to use dynamic data to create digital experiences. In this new world, attracting and retaining customers is closely connected to developing customer insights, and having the right process and technology in place to respond quickly and appropriately in a variety of situations.
  • Traditional departmental boundaries no longer apply – Where Marketing and IT were once silos of differing skills, CIOs are becoming much more business-minded and CMOs are having to learn more about technology. The two need each other to succeed as the CMO’s business knowledge and the CIO’s understanding of integration and risk are two halves of their shared challenge.
  • CIOs feel the pressure of a strong business technology agenda – Where IT was once the keeper of enterprise data and information flows, Marketing is rising as a business priority, increasingly using business-focused apps delivered through SaaS, and asking for support for a new generation of digital customer experience technology.

Pattek has advice for both the CMO and CIO on working together closely:

  • Be customer-obsessed and develop a joint strategy for innovation.
  • Make sure goals, priorities, and metrics are aligned between the two organizations. Only when organizations have alignment can they trust each other to act in predictable, mutually beneficial ways.
  • Speed up! The need for constant innovation means that the traditional pace for projects and introduction of new technologies isn’t sufficient. What took years needs to take months and what took months need to take weeks.

CIOs and CMOs are a powerful team if they can see through individual agendas and put the organization first. The key is to rely on each other for domain-specific expertise and put in place a spirit of (and system of rewards for) collaboration between their teams.

Marketers or technologists: Don’t miss our upcoming webinar, Nudges, Influence and Rewards: Must-know Factors for Success in Retail Customer Loyalty.