“Few marketers would say that their website experiences are perfect,” Kevin Moffitt, VP of eCommerce strategy, Office Depot, suggested during his keynote at eTail. He added that in many cases there are opportunities for improvement in, for example, site search or checkout.
“I certainly don't feel special on most of the sites I visit,” Moffitt said of his customer experiences. “It's certainly not for a lack of tools, and not for a lack of data. We have access to more data than any other retailers who came before us. Then what's holding us back?”
The answer, he said, is a lack of customer centricity.
“Customers want us to care about them as individuals,” Moffitt said, pointing out that if a brand is focused on customer centricity then its customer experience would show it. “Everyone is unique, and…everyone is trying to interact with you for a different purpose. So start there. Be easy to use and intuitive to start.” Moffitt reminded attendees that what marketers and designers think is simple isn't necessarily aligned with what customers think is simple. So, he said, involve customers in the usability process, which is one way Office Depot ensures that it delivers a stellar customer experience. Be creative about it. In one case, Moffitt took gift certificates to an Office Depot location and offered them to shoppers to participate in a virtual shopping experience. He got a 90% take rate.
That was one small part of an ongoing effort to ensure that the retailer's customer experience is satisfactory. “You have to integrate customer feedback into everything you do, not collect it once or twice a year,” Moffitt said. “We start every morning by reading customer feedback from the day before.”
One way customer feedback and customer satisfaction studies comes to life is in how Office Depot builds and manages its online customer experience. Over the past 18 months the retailer has updated its website, leading to significant increases in satisfaction and conversions. “We made small changes, iterative, over that time,” Moffitt said, noting that it took six months to move from the site's old navigation style to current one, which includes a more visual and simple design that works better on mobile. “If you introduce a large change at one time customers have to reorient themselves.” Small adjustments are less interruptive, he added. Another benefit of taking a more deliberate approach was the ability to use A/B testing to ensure that the changes didn't negatively impact the business. “If we found issues from testing or feedback it was easy to make adjustments since the changes were small.”
Other aspects of Office Depot's online customer experience that are a hit with customers is its 24/7 chat and social sign-in. But these aren't just customer conveniences. The data allows Office Depot to deliver a more relevant experience. “Once a customer creates an account and gives us more detail, we want to ensure that we make their experience as relevant as possible,” Moffitt said. The retailer currently does this through personalized product recommendation, and is planning to launch personalized promotions “We've been experimenting,” Moffitt said, adding that personalization leads to double and triple percentage increases in click-through rates. In fact, Office Depot has seen a 700% increase in email performance when its emails are personalized. “We need to focus on optimizing segmentation to maximize this,” he said.
Of course, customers today are multichannel, so the customer experience is, as well. For marketers, that means ensuring that it's easy for customers to interact with you in their preferred channel at any given moment. “When you're a multichannel retailer, it's hard to know where conversion is happening,” Moffitt said. “But most sales are still happening in-store.” So Office Depot makes it easy for online and mobile customers to locate a nearby store, know what's in stock, and find in-store promotions, he said. “We make online purchase to in-store pickup easy, and arm store associates with customer information so they can deliver a relevant experience to customers picking up their orders.”
Office Depot is using mobile as part of its customer experience to empower associates and customers alike. Mobile in-store gives associates access to the same information that customers have, so they can better assist customers. And in the in the past year the retailer updated its mobile app significantly to make the mobile customer experience as simple as, if not easier than, it is on the desktop, Moffitt said. “We focused on small real estate and specific behaviors.”
The retailer is succeeding with its multichannel customer experience for several reasons, Moffitt suggested, including a willingness to take risks, testing, and a dedicated omnichannel team. But most of all, Office Depot considers its experience from the individual customer's point of view. “We treat different customers differently,” he said. “All marketers need to think about customers not as an ID number, but as individuals.”
I rarely use this space to promote productive and even time- and cost-saving offerings from digital marketing suppliers, choosing instead to fill it with half-baked but amusing (I think) opinions on the state of Marketocracy or horror stories about bots. This week, however, in the interests of a quaint but noble journalistic aim called “reader service,” I make an exception. During a catch-up call with Patrick Tripp, product manager of Adobe Campaign (nee Neolane), I learned of a website his unit had just put up called the Campaign Management Self-Assessment Tool that offers what may be the best 20 minutes an inquisitive digital marketer can spend on the Web.
The program presents seven capability areas—among them customer knowledge, channels and execution, real-time engagement, and reporting and analytics—in which you are asked to gauge your performance in five categories. “We use or import predictive models to help reporting and targeting” and “We have fatigue rules in place to avoid reaching out to individuals too often” are the types of things you're asked to rate your operation on.
Once that's done, Adobe scores you from 1 to 5 in each of the seven general areas and each of the individual questions. Being the inventors of Photoshop, Adobe even present your results in a colorful pie chart benchmarked against five industry verticals. Before constructing the tool, the company surveyed 300 marketers across all the big verticals to assess their campaign proficiency. You the user can therefore be informed as to whether you are a beginner or a world class player in the game of digital campaign management. You can also match your results against any one of the different verticals.
“This can be used as a great team exercise. Getting your key people together and drilling into each question is a great way to set goals,” says Tripp, who then turns devious. “Of course, you can also use it to root out gaps in perception of your efforts among staff. Have them do the survey individually and see where they disagree.”
After all this effort, you have to fill out a form with your personal contact information to get your complete assessment and action points returned to you in a PDF report, sure to be followed by a call from an Adobe sales rep. (Something tells me Adobe probably aced its own test.) You know the drill. You do it yourself with your website visitors and white paper readers. So, when an Adobe rep calls you, just tell him or her that Al Urbanski told you that Patrick Tripp told him that you didn't have to buy anything.
Unless, of course, your results so move you.
When it comes to subject lines, marketers are constantly on the prowl to find “the one.” But often, they end up settling for losers. You know, the bossy ones (“You need this shoe. Now.”), the slightly immature (“Who Charted?”), and the ones that are way more into you than you are into them (“Elyse, we really like you”).
It's OK. We've all been there.
“It's almost like dating sometimes,” says Jerry Jao, CEO and cofounder of customer retention solution provider Retention Science. “If you give too much information, then the person loses interest. But if you're a tiny bit secretive, then the girl or boy you're trying to date will be a little more interested.”
While there's no Cupid's arrow for crafting the perfect subject line, Jao advises marketers to focus on three key elements: being clear, being concise, and being real. Here are four ways marketers can write one-liners their subscribers will love.
Don't play games: Honesty is crucial in any relationship—especially the one brands form with their customers. When writing subject lines, marketers should always tell the truth. If an email contains information about a webinar, don't write a subject line hinting towards a sale or new blog post.
“You don't want to say things that are misleading but are going to capture someone's attention and, as a result, get higher open rates,” Jao says. “You're not going to carry them throughout the entire funnel through click-through and, ultimately, conversion. You're also hurting your brand along the way.”
Don't talk too much: According to a recent Retention Science study, subject lines containing six to 10 words perform the best and have a 21% open rate while subject lines containing 11 to 15 perform the worst and generate a 14% open rate. Yet, 52% of emails sent still contain 11 to 15-word subject lines.
While Jao doesn't know why shorter subject lines perform better, he suspects that the increase in mobile email opens plays a factor. He also presumes that marketers cram as much information into subject lines as possible out of fear that they'll leave something out that could generate a click.
Test the waters: Thirty five percent of emails are now opened on mobile devices, according to Retention Science's research, and Jao suspects that some companies see even higher mobile open rates. As a result, Jao encourages marketers to make their mobile emails responsive and to test their appearance before they go out. In other words, try out a few different outfits in front of the mirror before settling.
“Look at your own iPhone before you run a campaign and then count the number of words you can fit in,” Jao says. “A lot of times marketers forget that that's the easiest [way] to just test whether things are going to work.”
Be interesting: We generally like to date people who know what's going on in the world. Consumers like to know that their favorite brands are on top of pop culture, as well. In fact, subject lines containing movie or song references generated a 26% open rate, compared to traditional subject lines that generated 16% open rates.
Jao says that movie and song references can make email seem timely, relevant, and interesting. For instance, one Retention Science customer referenced singer/songwriter Adele with a "Rumor Has It" subject line. The company experienced results that "jumped out of our stats board," Jao says.
"It 's very short, and doesn't tell you anything," Jao says. "But because Adele was so popular, everybody opened the email."
Retail today requires being where customers. And since customers are omnichannel, retailers must be, too.
During a session on “migrating from multichannel to onmichannel” at eTail West, moderator Jonathan Ricard, SVP, sales and business development, North America, for BrightTag asked panelists from Gamestop, Seventh Generation, Toms Shoes, Williams-Sonoma, and 360pi to discuss where they are on the omnichannel journey and what it takes to move forward successfully. Here, an account of their responses.
What does omnichannel mean to you?
Angela Caltagirone, VP, online marketing, Williams-Sonoma: Omnichannel is about creating an integrated experience for customers and how that drives your vision.
Leah Stigile, VP, global eBusiness, Toms Shoes: Being where your customers are when they want you to be there.
Reid Greenberg, director, consumer, creative, and digital, Seventh Generation: Omnichannel has the social blending, which multichannel doesn't have.
Jason Allen, VP, eCommerce, Gamestop: It's about understanding how our customers are shopping and want to interact with us and then delivering than.
Alexander Rink, CEO, 360pi: It's marketing and responding to customers in real time across all channels.
How are you investing in omnichannel analytics?
Caltagirone: Williams-Sonoma strives to understand which customers use specific channels based on their activities across touchpoints. So attribution modeling is essential. How are we driving transactions? What's the social impact? How does mobile fit in?
Allen: Gamestop's loyalty program, PowerUp Rewards, has 25 million members who deliver more than 70% of the company's revenues. The program allows Gamestop to track those customers' behaviors, including purchases. “Forty six percent of PowerUp members who visit our site purchase in-store within 48 hours,” Allen said. “That lets us have that discussion about the omnichannel experience.” And it takes the guesswork out of decision making.
Greenberg: Analytics shows that customers who are Seventh Generation Facebook fans and on its email list have a $25 higher average order value than other customers.
Stigile: Toms looks at conversions and traffic, as well as campaign metrics. For example, it aims to track campaign performance back to sales and ROI. “For our brand it's not always about dollar ROI,” Stigile said. “We invest in brand ROI, too.”
Greenberg: “We try not to activate campaigns in silos,” he said. Seventh Generation analyzes what channels and devices customers are using, and then aims to be there and be relevant to its customers at those touchpoints. Additionally, the company works to ensure that its shopper marketing efforts are cohesive and that it is present and responsive in social.
Rink: It's essential that companies have a strong brand identity that serves as the foundation for its marketing strategy and initiatives.
Allen: It's necessary to step out of a myopic departmental view and show how a decision can make a larger impact on the overall company. For example, Gamestop asked the e-commerce team to think about driving sales across channels, not just via the website. As a result, sales actually grew online.
Stigile: “Luckily, we have buy-in from across the organization for omnichannel,” she said. But the company still takes steps to ensure that cohesion over time. For example, Toms' annual “One day without shoes” event helps people across all of its customer touchpoints come together around a single message and drive awareness about the issue of some people lacking such a basic as shoes.
Caltagirone: “Make the experience easy for the customer, not just the company,” she said. It's about using each channel's strengths to serve the customers who are there at that time. For example, Williams-Sonoma use store associates to acquire customer email addresses. Additionally, don't think in silos, and have an organizational structure that helps achieve that. At Williams-Sonoma, IT, online marketing, and Web analytics are now a part of one team that looks at what's best overall instead of for one channel or group. “Making it easy internally makes it easy for the customer,” Caltagirone said.
Greenberg: Marketing is a 24/7 role. “We always need to know what our customers are talking about and be ready to respond appropriately,” he said.
Is outstanding customer service a marketing asset? Brad Wolansky, president, consumer direct and CMO, Yankee Candle, asserts that it is.
Consider: A customer has an issue that's resolved or not. At a minimum, resolving it saves the relationship; doing so also may create a raving fan and increase lifetime value. Not solving it leaves the customer dissatisfied. She buys less or leaves—and then you need to replace that customer. “Do the math,” Wolansky said during his keynote at eTail West. “Customer service is an investment, not an expense.”
In fact, Wolansky recommends that companies fund customer service from marketing. “Invest in it and run it like any other marketing program,” he said, adding that marketers fund programs like retargeting, so why not do it for service? “Service is a marketing interaction.” And that interaction reflects on the brand and bottom line.
Wolansky shared his top 10 reasons to get service right:
10. Price isn't the only differentiator
9. The current sales tax advantage will go away
8. It's not that hard to do
7. It doesn't require leading edge software
6. Happy customers are good customers
5. It's cheaper to retain than acquire customers
4. Any company of any size can do it well
3. Happy customers find new customers for you
2. It pays for itself; think of good service as a marketing investment
1. Most others are lousy at it, so here's where you can win
Bringing marketing and customer service together may seem impossible, but there are companies doing it. To sell the CEO on the partnership, use math to show the benefits of having customer service be a part of the marketing organization, Wolansky said. “Math convinces all CEOs and CFOs,” he said.
Indeed, measurement is integral to the success of the service-marketing partnership. As the adage goes, Wolensky noted, what gets measured gets done. So, measure how customer service impacts marketing performance and revenue. Measure what you can, he said; 80% is good enough. “Don't wait to be perfect,” he said. Measure what matters most to your goals—and avoid measures that can lead to bad service. For example, measuring talk time in a call center often creates a poor customer experience that may lead to negative word of mouth—bad for brand image and propensity to repurchase.
Another measurable area where marketing and customer service overlap is in social. “Create great service in social,” Wolansky said. “Be present and respond. If you're not going to do those things, don't be in social media.” The more present and responsive you are, the more positively it reflects on your brand.
Wolansky reminded attendees to listen to customers' feedback in social and elsewhere, like the contact center and via surveys. He recommended that marketers ensure that buyers are listening to customers, too, and taking action on what they learn to better meet customers' needs and expectations.
“Everyone in the company has a role in customer service” and delivering an outstanding customer experience, he said. It's about attitude, but also about the programs you create and how they're executed. When all employees consider themselves part of the “customer service team” is when a company will deliver a level of service that will be a competitive differentiator.
“Pay back your customers with excellent service,” Wolansky said. “Raving fans will evangelize your brand. Like all your acquisition efforts, think of customer service as one element of your overall marketing strategy.”
Magical thinking never got anyone to click on a link. If you're spending time and energy on producing quality content (and I know you are—according to the Content Marketing Institute, 58% of B2B and 72% of B2C marketers said they were looking to increase their content marketing budgets this year), then it makes sense to be systematic. In other words, if you're not measuring the impact of your content marketing, you're a bit like this guy—and as much as I love faux hawks, you don't want to be this guy.
To make sure you never have that look on your face in a departmental meeting, focus on strategy and metrics. However: “There is no one set of metrics that's the [magic] bullet for all content marketing programs,” says Alex Krawitz, VP of content development at Firstborn. “Prior to determining how best to measure content performance, marketers need to have a clear picture of how they want consumers to respond to their content, what actions, if any, they want consumers to take, and, most important, how that ties in with the brand's goals and marketing objectives.”
But it's not just about tracking the impact of the content itself—marketers need to measure what kind of effect it's having on the overall mix.
“What typically isn't measured is the effectiveness of each piece of the content strategy as a function of the whole, so while success is measured by each type of content, how each type affects the other is often overlooked,” says Liju George, Firstborn's associate director of analytics. “For example, if a print ad includes a call-to-action on a social site, adding a unique hashtag that appears on that print ad adds in a layer of measurement that's cross-platform [and] measuring the effectiveness of this cross-platform outreach allows [you] to understand a brand's success within its content platform and as a whole.”
But, of course, it all starts with the content itself. It doesn't matter what you're creating—if your eBook, advertorial, infographic, or microsite isn't engaging, there won't be any impact to track.
Are you ready to roll up your sleeves? If so, Karen Helweg, VP of user engagement at WebMetro, suggests asking yourself these seven prep questions. If you can answer them, you're well on your way to creating content that drives conversions.
1. Who are you talking to? Know your audience. For example, if you're targeting the B2B space, your content should concentrate on how your brand, product, or service will solve a business problem and improve the bottom line. B2C audiences are generally more interested in the specifics of the “what,” as in how a certain soft drink will quench your thirst like no other or how a particular skincare product will make your face as smooth as that of a newborn babe.
2. What's on their collective mind? Do research. Social and search data are a great place to start. See what kinds of questions your customers and potential customers are asking, where they're being asked, and what key topics or phrases they're using. A review of your competitors' customers also wouldn't go amiss.
3. How's the content landscape looking? Conduct a broad media review and audit. Analyze your website content, blog posts, press releases, whitepapers, videos, etc., to give you an idea of what can be leveraged and what might be missing that needs to be created. It's also crucial to see what your competitors are doing.
4. What's the storyline? Make sure your story centers on the key differentiators of your product or service. Make it easy for consumers to understand what sets you apart.
5. What are the optimal content formats? Create an adaptive content plan to maximize your investment in content creation—that way you can create content once, repurpose it multiple times, save production money and time, and, most important, ensure that your message is consistent (and recognizable) across all touchpoints.
6. Where will consumers be interacting with your content? Having answered the questions above, you should know where to distribute your content to reach the intended audience. If your audience is Facebook-obsessed, turn to Facebook. If your audience is composed of YouTube junkies, get some TrueView ads in the mix. Does your audience respond well to email? Well, you know what to do.
7. Did it work? To determine the success of your content marketing, you need to measure reach, visibility, and impact. With reliable tracking tools and by collecting integrated data across all the touchpoints you've tapped, you'll be able to determine the value of actual transactions at any given point, as well as your content's value in the overall media mix.
Having done all that, there'll be no need to cross your fingers and frantically furrow your brows. You don't have to rely on hope when you've done the legwork.
Now, you're this guy:
The biggest night in Hollywood, Oscar Night, is not only a winner for the stars, but also for customers who marketers want to woo during award season. Major events—including the Academy Awards, the Grammys, and the Tonys—provide great momentum and attention that marketers can leverage in their campaigns. A number of marketers across varying industries are riding the wave and crafting campaigns that tap in to the interests and wants of customers.
“Marketers have the ability to make use of the brand and personality that's already there,” says Tim Halloran, president and CEO of Brand Illumination, a brand strategy firm. “But be sure to pick the right awards night.” For example, the Academy Awards are great for brands that focus on fashion, sophistication, and glamour, Halloran says. He adds that marketers can and should choose the best event for their brands—events including everything from NASCAR and the Super Bowl to the Olympics and rap or rock concerts. “The idea is to personify your brand with something that already has a personality that's in sync with yours.”
So, which strategies can marketers use to ride this momentum? No longer are marketers limited to the traditional—and expensive—30-second TV or radio spot. Today, a growing number of marketers are getting in on the social media buzz already in play well before the big award night. Savvy marketers know that most viewers aren't just sitting idly by watching the Oscars; most spectators have cell phones, laptops, and devices in hand. And customers are ready to tweet, post, and comment—not just about the big night—but also about the campaigns, contests, and promotions that share the award night theme. Halloran cited as examples several major brands and their creative Oscar-night campaigns that harnessed the power of social media and event buzz. Banana Republic hosted a red carpet event on YouTube featuring the retailer's spring collection. Evite invited customers to dress as their favorite celebrities and tweet the pictures with hashtag #AwardsParty2014. Other brands, such as People magazine, reached beyond the virtual space and held sweepstakes for subscribers. “[Marketers] often think social media is a panacea. But it's a tool that has to be used to tie in to an experience.” Social media, he says, should be part of an integrated plan.
Halloran adds that marketers don't have to have a big budget to make a major impact. The same principles apply no matter the size of the business. “Every campaign should make customers feel special. Go beyond functionality. Create an emotional connection.” He says it's that connection that builds customer relationships.
One of the best ways to create an emotional connection is to include a customer's story in a campaign. Another is to share customer stories on the brand's platform. Halloran says once consumers have fallen in love with a brand, they're more likely to be committed to it. “When [customers] are infatuated, they're not so easily persuaded [by competitors].” But they will try to persuade others, especially during major events such as the Oscars. “Let the customer spread the word,” he says. “Word of mouth is one of the best types of marketing.”
Americans are a tad more paranoid than their consumer counterparts in other English-speaking countries when it comes to privacy concerns. But all consumers are looking for ways to engage in safe relationships with brands online according to a new report called “Marketing Data and Consumer Privacy: What Your Customers Really Think.” Perhaps not surprisingly, digital interactions between brands and people carry some of the same unrealistic expectations of relationships between people.
“There's this expectation around customer experience. Brands are compelled to deliver it. They constantly hear that it's a requirement. They're supposed to know their customers, to know where they're coming from when they engage them. Then consumers have the experience and get creeped out,” says Paige O'Neill, CMO of SDL, a global provider of customer experience analytics that produced the report from a survey of more than 4,000 consumers in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia.
Even though mobile-tracking of shoppers in stores is a new pursuit—and one used largely to inform merchandising and staffing decisions based on aggregate traffic patterns—82% of Americans surveyed told SDL they worried that retailers were tracking their every move. Brits (74%) and Aussies (75%) felt digital eyes on them in stores, too, though to a lesser degree. More than 60% of all those surveyed fretted that their personal information was being used for marketing purposes, yet an even greater number felt it wasn't their job to see that it wasn't. Nearly three quarters of the sample said they rarely or ever use “Do Not Track” features and that they expected consumer protection groups to monitor how brands use their personal information.
O'Neill has seen this all before. As a public relations staffer for IBM's fledging e-commerce business in the mid-1990s, one of the biggest obstacles she had to overcome with consumers was online payment. “It was one of the first platforms in what we then called ‘electronic commerce,' and there was a lot of trepidation by consumers in entering their credit card numbers on the Internet,” O'Neill says. “We're on a similar place in the timeline now with customer data.”
Brands still have an opening, however, to get consumers to trust them with their email addresses as much as they trust them with their bank accounts, according to SDL's survey. When asked what would make them surrender personal details, more of them said they'd do it to join a branded loyalty program (49%) than would give it up for free products and services (41%). What's more, nearly 80% of them said they would share personal information with “trusted brands.”
Attaining that status requires a three-part strategy, O'Neill says. “Prove that you're being responsible with the data over time, be transparent, and leverage the data to provide specific value-added service,” she says. “We have to change consumers' expectations about the way data is traded in the modern world.”
Small businesses owners can often feel like Goldilocks when selecting services. A database might be too small, or a technology solution might be too big. But rarely do they find services that fit their needs. Global insurance company Hiscox sought to change all of that by using data and segmentation to deliver personalized experiences that are just right.
Hiscox started selling small business insurance three years ago and claims to be the first U.S. insurance company to do so direct and online. “Think of the GEICO and Progressive model for auto,” says Phil Thorn, head of U.S. marketing for Hiscox. “We're trying to replicate that for small businesses.”
The small business owner is Hiscox's target demographic. And after listening to feedback from focus groups, the company discovered that this segments' primarily insurance-related complaints were regarding non-responsive policy brokers, drawn-out renewal processes, and complex terminology.
“It really is the business owners who are doing everything,” he says. “They're running the business and finding new customers. And if they need insurance, they put it on hold because it's static, it's complicated, it's confusing, and they don't know what products they need.”
Hiscox wanted to enable small business owners to buy the plans they want directly. But not every business has the same needs; an IT consultant might need different coverage than a graphic designer, for example. To provide tailored experiences for each industry, Hiscox partnered with multivariate testing and website personalization company Maxymiser in 2012.
Counting your losses
Hiscox and Maxymiser then analyzed ways the insurance company could push people through the quote process—such as by looking at which pages had the highest traffic, bounce rates, lost leads, and opportunities—and conducted multivariate testing for about six to eight months. For example, from January to March 2013, the companies tested redesigns of the Start Quote page and measured the number of online quotes submitted.
The insurance company also decided to implement Maxymiser's MaxSEGMENT technology to segment its incoming site traffic and tailor the content accordingly. If a prospect enters the Hiscox website from a brand search, for instance, Hiscox can direct her to a page that talks about Hiscox as a company, Thorn explains. On the other hand, if a prospect comes to the site from a pay-per-click keyword, Hiscox can direct him to a page that showcases different Hiscox products. The company also can segment its audience by whether they're a first time visitor.
In addition to tailoring its content based on different segments, Hiscox can customize its content through the information it collects onsite. For example, when consumers inquire about a quote, Hiscox asks them for two main data points: the industry they work in and their geographic location. The brand is then able to customize the rest of the quote process, including the policy application questions, product suggestions, savings messages, and testimonies.
“If I'm an IT consultant, I might see a testimony from an IT consultant like me,” Thorn explains. “These small messaging points through the journey reinforce this idea that we specialize in your industry and that we customize our coverage to your needs.”
Through this combination of data and segmentation, Hiscox has been able to identify the top 10 occupations that are most likely to buy and provide them with specific user messages.
Breaking down the basics
But if Hiscox wanted to empower small business owners to make informed policy purchases, it needed to educate them on how to do so. For instance, Hiscox discovered that about 12% of its audience spent more than five minutes on the first page of the quote process before clicking “Start Quote.” Consumers were spending a “significant” amount of time on this page, Maxymiser's Blumenfeld says, because they were searching for product information. “They should be educated before,” he says.
To inform its prospects before they started the quote process, Hiscox produced an educational video campaign in 2013. These 60-second videos were featured on Hiscox's product pages and helped break down the complex policy terminology so small business owners could go through the purchase process and buy the insurance policies on their own, Thorn says.
“It's not like you're buying a movie online or a video game,” Blumenfeld notes. “It's something that's going to impact them in the long term.... To [prevent] someone from leaving and abandoning, we really needed to make the content not only pop to increase page stickiness, but we needed to give them the right education.”
The videos generated an 8.97% increase in conversions for started quotes and a 9.58% increase in conversions for completed quotes. In addition, there was a 9% increase in conversions for Start Quotes and a 9.6% increase in conversions for completed quotes by testing the sizing and placement of the “Start Quote” button.
In terms of future developments, Blumenfeld says that Hiscox plans on investing in predictive modeling. But for now, on-site customized content continues to be Hiscox's claim to fame.
Imagine yourself in a real-life social situation. You're at a cocktail party hovering by the cheese table wondering when the waiter's going to come around with another tray of those tasty little mini quiches. A distant acquaintance sidles over and strikes up a conversation…
Scenario #1: Boring
“Hey there. Wow, that cheese looks good. Stilton, eh? I love Stilton. But I also really like feta. Feta is good, but if you really pushed me—I mean, like really pushed me to the limit—I'd have to say my favorite cheese is plain old cheddar. That said I wouldn't kick string cheese out of bed, but…”
Scenario #2: Bully
“You're eating American cheese? Kinda lame. Just saying. No one eats American cheese at a party.”
Scenario #3: Boasting
“I know everything there is to know about cheese. Ask me anything. I spent seven years working under the tutelage of an Italian affineur in Southern Italy.”
Scenario #4: Begging
“I know we don't really know each other, but…can we be friends? I'm lactose intolerant, but if you like cheese, I like cheese. I'll just take a pill…every day for the rest of my life.”
When it comes to interacting with consumers via social media, the intuitive etiquette that applies in reality applies online. It's what McCann Truth Central, the research hub housed within agency McCann Worldgroup, refers to as the “4 Bs,” the avoidance of which is ground zero for brands that don't want to turn off their consumers.
“Who wants to live with jerks and boring bullies?” joked Kevin Nelson, global planning director and global telecom lead at McCann NY, speaking at Social Media Week in New York City. “I certainly don't.”
Simply put, brands need to behave themselves online, just like people do (or rather, should) at parties. According to a recent piece of qualitative research from McCann Truth Central, 57% of people think automated “personalized” messages are uncool. Genuineness goes a long way—and so does letting consumers have control of their own data.
“We all know what it feels like to be a bit bullied by a brand when they're going at you with a lot of content and emails and requests—and honestly, the way to make this better for brands is to let consumers feel like they've let you in,” said McCann Truth Central's Deputy Director Nadia Tuma. “Empower them; make them feel like they want you there. In fact, in our research, we found that consumers are much more likely to opt in than companies think.”
Because I like analogies, I'm going to belabor the cheese-related metaphor above.
Scenario #5: Balanced
“Hey, what's up? I'm just hanging out by the cheese table because there's a good sight line to the kitchen door. Can't wait till they bring out those awesome little mini quiches. Oh, you too? Ha, totally. So, anyway, what do you do…?”
Converse with your consumers like it's a conversation and not a creepy barrage, and you'll reap the benefits in sentiment and dollar signs. The same goes for data—use it wisely, said Laura Simpson, global director of McCann Truth Central.
“When it comes to using consumer data, there's a bit of delicate balance: If you don't use any consumer data as a brand, consumers actually start to get a bit irritated now, like, ‘Don't you know me better? Show me things I actually want,'” Simpson said. “But then, if [a brand] starts to use too much…people started to get creeped out.”
So, just remember the cheese table. If you wouldn't even talk to you...then how do you expect your customers to want anything to do with you?
Guest blogging is a powerful tool for marketers. The potential benefits are endless: enhanced credibility, bolstered company reputation, industry insight for customers—you name it. During my days as a fledgling writer, guest blogging allowed me to expose my personal brand as a freelance writer to editors and potential hiring managers. (Plus it built my confidence in my journalistic skills.) And after I sent those guest blogs as writing samples to hiring managers, I got a job offer. In the same way I used guest blogging to illustrate my writing skill set, marketers can show off their knowledge, products, and services through guest blogging. They can boost SEO, gain links, and build authority.
But in recent weeks guest blogging has come under fire. The spark was ignited by Matt Cutts, head of the Webspam team at Google. In January, Cutts published a post, “The Decay and Fall of Guest Blogging for SEO.” Cutts' new position? Anyone using guest blogging as their primary way to gain inbound links is abusing the system. “Over time it's become a more and more spammy practice, and if you're doing a lot of guest blogging, then you're hanging out with really bad company,” Cutts says. Ouch. That audacious post left readers to assume that Google is fine tuning its ability to detect the authenticity of links and content.
Granted, if employees are guest blogging solely for link building and higher page ranking, they should consider revamping their marketing plans. In this case, Cutts is right to urge us all to take a good look at our content marketing strategies. However, marketers shouldn't throw out the baby with bathwater. Guest blogging—in its purest form—remains a respectable, effective strategy in marketing.
For the many marketers who want to continue to use authentic blog posts to help build a brand, consider these effective practices for guest blogging.
1. Be selective. When someone on your marketing team writes a guest blog, he or she should be judicious about the topic, where the blog will be published, and for which company the marketer is guest blogging. Choosing a company whose reputation, products, and mission are respected may help to boost your company's credibility. Selecting a company with a damaged reputation could have a negative reflection on your products and services. Take the time to research and build relationships with other companies that provide great exposure, similar target audiences, and have a mission with which your company can be aligned. And remember that selectivity goes both ways. If your marketing team has a blog, be selective of the writers who are allowed to write on your company's platform. Selectivity will help boost your company's credibility.
2. Focus on building a brand and a reputation. Remember that guest blogging is all about exposing your brand to the right people and getting those people talking. Write about the unique aspects of your brand. Have a clear message that you want the readers to know. Part of building a brand is positioning your company as an established authority in your industry. Guest blogging is a great way to show that the people on your team have valuable information, can identify trends, and can add to the conversation.
3. Provide lots of insight. Give your target audience a behind-the-scenes look at your business. Share business tips that may help small business owners. If your company has an amazing, dynamic office space, post those pictures with your guest blog. Most importantly, give your readers an understanding of your industry. Your marketing team has a plethora of knowledge that readers want to know. When marketers provide insight to customers, they often reciprocate that insight with loyalty.
4. Be original. Every guest post should be unique. The goal isn't to churn out innumerable posts in an effort to gain backlinks to your company's site. The goal is to build a brand, make a connection with your target audience, and provide potential customers with original stories, insight, and advice. The more original and distinctive your content, the more likely others will want to share your company creed, advice, and products. Also, be genuine. Guest blog only when your company has a message to share or a story to tell.
There are so many buzzwords out there. Is “Big Data” one of them?
“Regarding data and Big Data, in general there's a level of misinformation out there that can send marketers off down the wrong path and after the wrong kind of outcomes. Big Data needs to be stripped down and simplified. Harper Reed, who worked on the Obama campaign, spoke at a [Social Media Week] session where he talked about the expanding role of CMOs and what Big Data means. His overall point was: Let's just focus on the data. There are so many tools out there for analyzing data. Harper looked around the room and asked, ‘Who here has Excel? If you have Excel, then that's all you need.'”
What can brands do with social data?
“Of the data a brand can actually collect on a particular individual, a channel like Facebook provides the richest amount of data on individual preferences and behavior; what people like, what they share, what they're talking about. As a result, the profile on that individual is going to be much more granular than the dataset you might collect through other means. The next part is being able to target these individuals contextually and behaviorally—and, obviously, in the environment where there's a high propensity for that person to take some kind of action, whether that's clicking on something or making a purchase.”
How big does Big Data need to be?
“Some people are saying you should collect more data than you need. Measure everything you possibly can because at some point, as your methodology for analyzing data becomes more sophisticated, you'll be able to make use of it more. But if you don't have legacy data, it's going to be hard to make good decisions in the future. Adopt a methodology that can be iterated upon over time. You don't necessarily have to analyze all that data on Day One, but at least make sure you have it.”
Because then, when you're ready, you can use that data for smart targeting?
“Targeting opportunities now exist across multiple platforms so brands can target you in every environment in which you spend your time, but in a consistent and coherent way. If a particular brand is targeting and retargeting me because I've indicated that I have an affinity for or an interest, it's very powerful for that brand, product, or service to be able to find me in the environment where I spend my time and to be contextual.”
What's the general industry vibe out there right now?
“It feels like we're constantly in a state of transition. To a certain extent this is obvious and natural as we move forward, but the transitional state we've been in, which has felt quite chaotic, has actually been in existence now for more than a decade. Not that the situation hasn't changed and improved, but new opportunities are emerging faster than we can get on top of. It's a mess, honestly. There are more questions than there are answers.”
Why do so many people pay a premium for Build-a-Bear teddy bears when, at their core, they're not patently different than other stuffed bears? The answer is simple: Folks are in for the experience, paying to be a part of the brand's story. That's the future of advertising, according to SapientNitro's Chief Creative Officer Gaston Legorburu and Chief Brand Strategy Officer Darren (Daz) McColl, who wax episodic about storytelling in their upcoming book Storyscaping: Stop Creating Ads, Start Creating Worlds.
Direct Marketing News recently spoke to the authors about what narrative means for marketers, what plots work for different verticals, and how marketers can use storytelling to make bestsellers of their products and services.
What's a good example of storytelling in marketing?
Legorburu: Look at the Cabbage Patch Kids doll. The product itself isn't very unique and it doesn't really do much. Frankly, it's not even cute by some standards. The reason it commanded a premium is that it came with a story. It got the consumer to be a part of the story. Those things still go for 50 to 100 bucks.
How about an example of a brand that delivers a great experience but is light on story?
Legorburu: Build-a-Bear is an example of experience-based differentiation. People are willing to spend a lot more money to go through the experience of creating and naming the bear, but again, the product itself isn't anything remarkable. The challenge with experienced-based differentiation is that they're easy to duplicate. You could open another Build-a-Bear, call it something else, throw it in a mall, and it'll work. There isn't much affinity to the actual Build-a-Bear brand. It's really the idea of putting together the bear that's appealing and, frankly, the idea isn't very ownable. There are plenty of examples in the book that do a good job of combining story and experience in a way that creates something that both the consumer and the brand share.
Is good storytelling especially important for direct marketers?
McColl: Direct marketing is still about building a relationship between the brand and the consumer. The tools we have are many and varied now. We need to assess what that relationship actually means at this point. Is someone following your brand or retweeting your content a relationship? Or is that simply part of a behavior pattern? Where do principles and tools of direct response and personalization play out in all of that? It's about how we build a world around those principles through different channels and have those worlds connect. There's no premise for having things disconnected anymore.
What about businesses in other verticals? What about B2B companies?
Legorburu :We're talking a multi-dimensional approach to marketing here. It applies to any business in any vertical. Another example, UBER [a New York taxi hailing service]. It's an experience. If a brand comes to an agency asking for help the first thing we'd say is ,“let's craft a compelling story about your product and find a clever way to put it in front of people.” Whether it's B2B or B2C, this same idea has worked for decades and it will continue to work. What's different today is that we could have come up with something like UBER for that hypothetical brand and maybe made some ads too. You have to leverage technology and create unique, memorable experiences for your customers and connect them to your brand purpose and story. If you have a pizza parlor and you choose bring in new customers through offering a buy one-get one free coupon, you'll probably have some short term success but eventually you'll run into problems. You have to think about how you differentiate that business?
McColl: American Express is doing this in the B2B sector with its Small Business Saturday Program. The core relationship is AmEx to small business. Through socialized content and operational tools, AmEx has created a world for these businesses to be a part of. I think it's really forward thinking B2B play because it actually takes the small business to the consumer.
How can experience and story based marketing be quantified, if at all?
Legorburu: It absolutely can be quantified. I think that folks should really think about marketing mixed-modeling as opposed to the more myopic view of media-mixed modeling. As marketers, much of the data we're driven by looks at paid media much more it looks at earned or owned media. Data is incredibly important to doing this successfully. There's so much hat you can do but you have limited resources and time. That said, one of the things we say in the book is that once you have crafted your brand story that's when data and spreadsheets become nifty tools. We don't believe you can build a brand on a spreadsheet.
If you start with math to develop your story then you end up with the same answers as everybody else. Once you have that story crafted, math and all the other tools we have help our ability to create worlds and provide insights to help us continue to improve what we're doing. That's amazing! It really is a right-brain, left-brain connection you need to shoot for.McColl: In the book we share a model we call the “return on experience.” It represents the inclusion of experience optimization to the mix of metrics we already measure as marketers. Everyone looks at ROI in media and channels, but no one is really looking at the experience. For us, experience is the third part of the triangle and gives us a more selective viewpoint of the relationship between experience and the other metrics.
I realized a long time ago, back in about the fifth or sixth grade when they threw fractions at us, that I was not someone who was going to be on a fast track to MIT and Bell Labs. I remember watching Carl Sagan on TV and saying, “He's making this stuff up.” There are people so smart that, well, I don't know why they even bother trying to explain their theorems and formulae to such as me, and I'm guessing such as some of you reading this. Let's face it; if you were the guy who invented the algorithm to print money, you'd be off captaining a competitive yachting team and conferring with Vladimir Putin, not sitting in a cubicle 10 hours a day marketing that guy's money machine.
Last week, Time magazine ran a cover story about a company called D-Wave that builds and sells $10 million computers based on quantum physics that are capable of performing 2512 operations simultaneously. For nonmembers of the Math Club like me, that's more operations than there are atoms in the universe. In quantum computing, there are no measly binary bits that can represent only 1 or 0, but “qubits” that can be either 1 or 0 and essentially blow computer mechanics out into 3D.
This is made possible by a quantum concept called “superposition.” (So they say. This could all just be Larry Ellison or Warren Buffett punking us.) A mega-brain named Erwin Schrödinger explained this with a “thought experiment” in which you have a cat in a box with a flask of poison and some Strontium 90 that could break the bottle and release the poison. Old Erwin's thinking was that, until you opened the box and observed the cat, it was in superposition—in other words, the cat was simultaneously alive and dead. Someone call Stephen King, quick!
Why do I bother pressing this feeble wordsmith's mind against the overwhelming questions of the universe? Because of the solemn oath I took to spend my working hours deducing and writing about what busy marketers should and should not be concerned with, that's why. There was a lot of media pickup of the Time story last week and I pictured some of our poor readers—already fighting a bloody battle with Big Data, hampered by small budgets, and bad IT relationships—hearing a magazine plop on their faux wood desks and looking up to see the company president lurking overhead and asking, “So what are we doing about this quantum computing thing?”
Your suggested answer: “Nothing.”
You're welcome. Don't mention it. It's my job.
How do I know that's the right answer? Because I did what I do just about every day when some mindboggling new technology crosses my desk: I asked a former member of the Math Club. But because this particular question had cosmic implications, I turned to the club member who also played bass in a rock band—Todd Cullen, chief data officer at Ogilvy & Mather.
“This calls to mind a time 50 or 60 years ago when we were first able to build computers,” Cullen mused. “We said, ‘Let's build a rocket and go to the moon.' So I'm not sure that we should use quantum computing to solve every marketing problem as fast as possible and put things in front of people at exactly the right time. I think we should let the rocket scientists figure it out before we give marketers a go at it.”
Mobile is a blossoming channel for many marketers. Floral and gift retailer 1-800-Flowers is consistently looking for new ways to integrate mobile into its multichannel arrangement. And while innovation may be sweet, a Valentine's Day fiasco reminded the retailer that basic customer service is what really causes business to bloom.
1-800-Flowers has a history of adopting budding technologies. In 2002, the retailer implemented AdWords. Google first introduced the online advertising service just two years prior and released a revised version of AdWords the same year as 1-800-Flowers's implementation. In addition, 1-800-Flowers adopted mobile search ads in 2010 to drive customers to its mobile site and app.
“The history of the company has been very intertwined with being innovative in both the marketing and the communication that we put out,” says Amit Shah, VP of online, mobile, and social for 1-800-Flowers. “It's very much a part of our DNA to be experimenting ahead of our customers to make sure that we are relevant to them when they do become part of a certain medium.”
To ensure that its multichannel marketing continued to bloom, 1-800-Flowers also implemented click-to-call ads. Click-to-call ads allow retailers to list location-specific business phone numbers within mobile browser ads. Customers viewing the ads on their smartphones can then click on the phone number and call the business directly. Shah estimates that 1-800-Flowers first instigated click-to-call ads in early 2011. Today, about 8 to 10% of 1-800-Flowers's revenue comes from click-to-call advertisements. Shah says click-to-call advertisements enable customers to get in touch with the brand through multiple touchpoints.
“At the end of the day, customers might have specific questions for us,” he says. “Maybe you want to send something for a funeral, but you're not sure what the appropriate item is. In those cases we think having the click-to-call extension is a big win for the customers.”
And the role of mobile only continues to grow. Using estimated cross-device conversions—an element of Google's new Estimated Total Conversions metric—1-800-Flowers discovered a 7% increase in conversion when a conversion started on one device and finished on another. In addition, the brand discovered a 4% increase in total mobile conversions when it tallied up the number of conversions that began with a mobile ad click.
Given that 95% of 1-800-Flowers's transactions involve two people—the purchaser and the recipient—it's important for the brand to deliver positive customer experiences for both parties, Shah notes.
“We are obsessed about customer service,” Shah says. “That's one of the distinguishing features that we have. Because [1-800-Flowers is] such an easy-to-remember phone number, we are just a call away if you have any problems. We tend to think that those are the key message points that resonate with customers.”
However, 1-800-Flowers found itself in the weeds this past Valentine's Day after customers took to social media to vent about their failed deliveries. Customers ranted about no-show orders, dead flowers, and unresponsive customer service representatives.
“Their biggest money-making holidays are Valentine's Day and Mother's Day,” one customer wrote on Facebook. “They will never again see a dollar out of my pocket. They don't answer anything. Ever.”
1-800-Flowers has been messaging individual consumers on Facebook and Twitter to rectify the situation. Shah says that the average social response time is about five minutes. However, on February 15 the brand posted on Facebook that customer service “wait times are longer than we would like” due to inclement weather and high volume of customer service requests.
Sometimes a word or phrase becomes so bloated, so overused, it's hard to know what it means anymore. (Big Data, calm down. I'm not talking about you right now.) In this case the offending term is “content marketing,” which seems to mean anything from a tweet to blog post to a webcast to a whitepaper, depending on who you're asking.
The act of naming often can elucidate; other times monikers act as a sort of handy fog. They obfuscate rather than clarify—but they're also convenient. That's why buzzwords are widely used despite having little real meaning. Of course, I'm personally guilty of using the term "content marketing" and I'm sure I'll be guilty again in the future. Probably even later today.
But to my mind, good content marketing is basically just good marketing—it's simple, it's clever, it's memorable, it sells. There's not really a need to tack “content” onto the beginning.
I checked in with Troy Hitch, ECD at EnergyBBDO/Xi Chicago and one of the minds behind “You Suck at Photoshop,” to talk about what makes good
Is there a secret sauce marketers need to brew up really delicious content?
Hitch: Tell a story, something indispensable to the brand. The story you tell has to make sense for the brand. One brand that did a really great job of that was IKEA and the ‘Easy to Assemble' series it did with Ileana Douglas. The story was told inside an IKEA and it brought the brand idea of having fun inside an IKEA to life. There were even people dressed up in bad blonde wigs. IKEA let itself be the butt of a joke, and it never let its pride get in the way of telling a really great story.
What's more valuable, emotional loyalty or behavioral loyalty—or are they linked?
Hitch: They're sort of inextricable, but for me, the trump goes to emotional. If you have someone committed to you emotionally, you can eventually trigger the behavior you want, but the other way around is impossible to do. You can knee-jerk a consumer into doing something, but if there's not a deep, emotional connection there, the behavior won't last.
What kind of tone should a brand adopt on social media?
Hitch: Keep it authentic. What's so beautiful about social media—and so scary and horrible for some brands—is that it gives them the chance to do the things they espouse to stand for. For example, if a brand says it's about social change, like TOMS, for example, social media gives that brand the power to prove it. It's one of the things brands haven't really had to do for the last 150 years. A lot of brands don't know who they are and that's a big problem. Their products are well-defined, but not who they are as a brand. When you start to chip away at that veneer, it's the strong brands with something underneath that will win out.
I've heard you're really into the Curators of Sweden, where a different Swede takes over the country's Twitter account every week. What about that ongoing campaign does it for you and why has it had such lasting power?
Hitch: The ‘why' is because it's so simple—but it's not just simple, it's also perfectly formulated. The brief was to demonstrate Sweden as an open, authentic, democratic place, and the medium, the message—everything—correlates to exactly that. It's also an excellent use of an existing platform that took zero extra technology or support and very little cost.
But when you do something like this, you also have to be prepared for what authenticity really means. They give the password to the country's Twitter handle to someone new every week. When the council of the elders of Sweden, or whoever it was who okayed this thing, decided to go ahead, they put a lot of faith in people, and there's something so emotionally powerful about that.
People are the essential fuel that makes it work, and that's why it's such a timeless idea.
Listen up, folks! I'm @kwasbeb, a regular swedish dude, and I'm taking over this goddamned account for a week! Expect bad sex and slapstick.— @sweden / Drott (@sweden) December 10, 2011
Cart abandonment emails. They're becoming a standard among marketers in retail and ecommerce. My guess is that if you are a heavy online shopper like me, you've experienced them yourself.
Abandonment emails are those emails you receive after putting at least one item in an online shopping cart, but for some reason, you don't buy. Although you've chosen products—and in some cases even dared to submit your personal contact information—you don't follow through. But a few hours later, or perhaps the next day, you receive a reminder email of what you first though about purchasing.
These emails are getting more creative, personable, and alluring. So much so that Pinterest users are paying homage to some of the most creative abandonment emails. Yes, entire Pinterest boards are dedicated to some favorite designs of these emails.
A couple of weeks ago I received a cart abandonment email that stood out to me. I love unique fashion. And I found a pair of leggings from London designer House of Holland that caught my eye. (The stockings had the letters of the alphabet all over them. Très cute, right?) So, I went to the designer's ecommerce site, put the leggings into my online cart and filled out my contact information. But when it came time to type in my credit card information as the final step, I decided to not purchase leggings, and wait for my next paycheck in a couple of days. But even before 24 hours passed, I got a sleek, fashionable email from House of Holland, reminding me that I didn't finish buying those fabulous leggings.
Abandonment emails help marketers reconnect with customers, reinforce a brand, and possibly recapture a lost opportunity. (You can see I'm still thinking about those Alphabet Black leggings.) They allow marketers to collect actionable data—email addresses, ZIP Codes, addresses—or even predict similar products shoppers may like. These email campaigns are successful because they're relevant, and are becoming more creative, engaging, and personal. For those reasons marketers often are seeing higher conversion rates than with batch-and-blast emails.
When I think about abandonment emails, a mantra made popular by British writer W.E. Hickson comes to mind. “If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.” From a marketing standpoint, these emails help you to market, market again with customers who have shown that they're interested in buying your products. If your marketing team has never used or considered this strategy, it may be worth incorporating abandonment emails into your campaigns. And be creative with the design and message. You never know. Your reminder emails may even be featured on the latest Pinterest boards.
Valentine's Day is often associated with long-stem roses, heart-shaped candies, and Hallmark cards. But sometimes these tangible tokens replace the sharing of sentiments Valentine's Day is supposed to be about. So instead of running a commercial that mimicked the “cheesy” card shop experience, Evian allowed consumers to express themselves through social with its “I Love You Like” campaign.
“People are often reluctant to get caught up in the usual Valentine's cliches, so we're hoping this campaign encourages them to have some fun with their loved ones instead,” said Laurence Foucher, global digital manager at Evian, in the campaign's official press release.
To participate, social savvy consumers can share Evian's “I Love You Like” valentines—which include messages such as “I love you like a chef loves an empty plate,” or “I love you like Jamaica loves their bobsled team”—along with the #ILoveYouLike hashtag.
“Once we got an original content idea, it was about how can we really drive engagement around this concept?” says Amy Hambridge, account director for social media agency We Are Social. “That's when we started looking at the social channels available.”
Evian let its Cupid consumers spread their love through Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. And while Evian produced content for all of its markets, each local market was responsible for determining the best ways to leverage that content and engage its regional markets, Hambridge says. For example, Evian posted the phrase “I love you like” on its Facebook page and asked consumers to fill in the blank with their own comparisons. Some local markets—including France, the UK, and the US—rewarded participants with candy from Evian partner and professional tennis player Maria Sharapova: Sugarpova.
Evian also encouraged people to tweet their Valentine's Day messages along with the hashtag to its UK and US Twitter handles. In addition, the brand pinned its content on Pinterest along with generic hashtags, such as #love, so that its “I Love You Like” images would show up in more search queries. And to stay true to Instagram's organic nature, Evian hid its “I Love You Like” messages in photos displaying real-life scenarios. For example, the mineral water brand showed an “I Love You Like” picture that featured headphones lying next to a smartphone with the words “headphones love knotting” on the phone's screen.
The campaign, which also promotes Evian's ‘Live Young' campaign, launched on February 5 and is running until February 14. Evian accumulated more than 1.2 million Twitter outreach impressions within the the first 48 hours of the campaign, Hambridge says.
“The benefits of launching a campaign like this on social [is that it] gives the ability to reach a large amount of people in a very cost effective and engaged way,” she says.
And like in any relationship, a brand's relationship with its social consumers needs to be built on communication and a sense of give-and-take.
“The biggest mistake is when you think too much about what your brand message is, and it becomes too much of a push message on social,” Hambridge says. “Ultimately, it's all about driving conversation. You're not going to drive that conversation unless the content that you're creating resonates with your audience.”
Experiential marketing is all about giving customers a taste of a brand through in-person experiences. Pepsico recently took that literally with PepCity, a three-day celebratory event in Bryant Park in New York leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII that centered on tastings of its food and beverage brands as reinvented by three well-known local chefs. I had a chance to visit the installation and speak with Kristina McCoobery, managing partner at inVNT, the company that produced PepCity for Pepsico. McCoobry explained that everything in the space was designed to be a reflection of the brand, especially the 200 staffers there to serve and interact with guests. “During training we emphasized, ‘You are Pepsico,'” she said.
About 4,000 people visited PepCity each day to taste food and beverages created from Pespico brands by local chefs David Burke , Marc Forgione, and Michael Psilakis. Also on site were several art installations, including a re-creation of the famous Pepsi sign in New York's Long Island City visible to drivers traveling along the FDR in Manhattan. The event included entertainment, as well. There were three concerts—Austin Mahone, Prince Royce, and Ziggy Marley—a rap battle between rappers Yonas and Dylan Owen with New York sports as the theme, and Broadway performers from such shows as Chicago, Mama Mia!, and Rocky.
Because experiential marketing aims to make direct connections with customers and prospects, and direct marketing is about making relevant connections with customers to drive specific actions, I asked McCoobry for her thoughts on where the two met for Pepsico.
What is PepCity and what's behind it?
Pepsico decided that because Super Bowl was in its backyard this year it would give a gift back to the residents of New Jersey and New York with PepCity, a 10,000-square-foot brand activation event space. It's free and open to the public and includes food, entertainment, and art installations, and at the center of it all is Pepsico's products—from Pepsi and Mountain Dew to Fritos and Cheetos. Pepisco has taken its products and brought on celebrity chef such as David Burke and created unbelievable food and beverages using its products. Entertainment includes Broadway performers, a rap battle, the Tony-award winning spoken poet Lemon Anderson, and much more.
Every night there's a free concert. The first night was Austin Mahone; we had about 750 screaming teenage girls in the space. Prince Royce and Ziggy Marley also performed.
How do you take the experience and make a “direct” connection:
One of the strategic goals of Pepsico in creating this, in addition to sharing its world with the public, is to grow the personal relationship it has with its customers. Coming to this space where you can touch and feel and taste and see its products come to life, it's a personal connection between the brands and consumers that, in my opinion, is unmatched. There are social media components, of course.
It's a visceral response that people have as they come in and have an experiential time with these brands. And then when they leave, every time they log on to Facebook or Twitter they'll have that visual and personal memory of having that time here, and that experience. I think it's invaluable for the brand.
How's the social buzz?
The tweeting has been out of control. And it changes with the audience that's here. We've had such a wide breadth of people here, from the young girls coming to see Austin Mahone and sampling Flavor Splash, to the guests coming to see Ziggy Marley, to the general public coming during the day to see the Broadway performers and taste the food.
We've taken the tweets and projected them into the space; we're interacting on Facebook—mostly with older consumer because the teens are interacting with us more on Instagram. It's been great.
While legislators continue to debate over the looming postage increases, direct marketing consultant and mailer Craig Simpson remains bullish on direct mail. Simpson, with author Dan S. Kennedy, recently released The Direct Mail Solution: A Business Owner's Guide to Building a Lead-Generating, Sales-Driving, Money-Making Direct-Mail Campaign to help other mailers remain positive, as well—by improving their results.
The book comes during a period of uncertainty for direct mail marketers, but Simpson believes that things may not be quite as bad as they seem.
Here, Simpson discusses why direct mail is coming back in vogue, how mail and online support each other, and how mailers can make lemonade out of exigency-flavored lemons.
You say this is the first comprehensive direct mail book in 10 years. Discuss what's been going on with direct mail over the past decade and why it's time to rethink direct mail.
I think there have been a lot of other shiny objects out there than direct mail over the last few years. People have been focusing more on online marketing, email marketing, SMS, things like that. People haven't necessarily forgotten about direct mail, but it hasn't been that shiny object that marketers are attracted to.
The timing for this book is good because now a lot of these companies are coming back to direct mail. They tried online media, they've tried SMS, and many of them found [that] ROI wasn't that great. Many of them are turning back to the more traditional practice of direct mail.
What I find interesting is that just last year Google was the eighth largest technology direct mail company in the U.S. Why are they sending out millions of pieces of mail? Because it works. They're using this traditional, old, offline media to drive customers to their online advertising service Ad Words.
As a mailer yourself, what trends are you seeing in the direct mail business?
I send out almost 300 mailings a year for a variety of niches. About 100 of them are using direct mail to drive customers online. It seems we're combining the two methods. We're taking direct mail, an offline source, and using it to drive customer online to take the next step whether it's to watch a video, make a purchase, or whatever it may be. This method of marketing is working extremely well right now.
According to a USPS study you cite in your book, 60% of people who received a catalog in the mail were driven to that brand's website. Can you speak more on the interplay between direct mail and online marketing channels?
With any kind of marketing, the more channels you can involve the better. Even though I'm a direct mail guy I encourage my clients to use more than one form of media. Online is great. Direct mail and online used together is even better.
Given the current state of technology, direct mail can still get you very targeted prospects and you can move them to an online sales funnel. A lot of times businesses will have an online store or other sales funnel that's proven to work well for them. A way to tap into a group that may not be online is to pull them in using a different source, which can be offline mail.
From what I'm seeing, most customers' lifetime values are higher when pushed from direct mail to online than those that originate and close online.
What would you say to direct mailers who are concerned about the postal reform bill?
Anyone that's doing direct mail wants to see reform happen and it is discouraging to see the postage increase. But this is what we have to work with. I don't see the increase as something that will make me cut my budgets or the size of my campaigns. It's actually something that will work to our advantage in many ways.
Mail isn't as saturated as email in the first place, but there are going to be a lot of companies pulling out of mailing due to the costs increases. That reduces the saturation of the mailbox. I'm not happy about the postage increase, but it's not necessarily a bad thing either. It gives you a better chance to stand out in the mailbox each day.If you look at response rates and compare them to mail volume you'll find response rates are higher when volume is lower.
Twenty-five years ago, before the Internet ruled the world, marketers had limited opportunities to connect with target customers. They might grab a few minutes of their time via broadcast and newspaper ads while these customers showered and ate breakfast, maybe bang them with some with some outdoor branding on their way to work, and then make a big play with direct mail and TV appeals when they got home, opened the mail, and collapsed into their Barcaloungers.
Today's Americans, however, rarely put their feet up. In fact, they're hardly ever separated from a connected device wherever they go. About half of the Americans are what Vivaldi Partners call Always-On Consumers. Some 92% of them own smartphones and 78% have tablets, as opposed to only 55% and 62%, respectively, of the general population. More than 70% visit social networks every day, and 56% share content on a weekly basis, according to a study of 574 consumers released by Vivaldi, a strategic branding and consulting firm whose clients include Adidas, General Motors, Marriott, Schering-Plough, and Unilever.
A far cry from the TV dinner crowd of old, Always-On consumers own an average of three connected devices and regularly access the Web from at least three different physical locations. When they're not sharing and downloading information on devices, they're buying stuff. They are a bobbing brace of digital ducks traversing a targeted marketers' shooting gallery on a 24/7 basis. But not all ducks swim the same way, and Vivaldi was kind enough to sort them out for us:
Mindful Explorers: At 27%, this is the most common variety of the Always-On Consumer, according to Vivaldi. They're news junkies and gamers and they closely guard their personal data and reputations online. Explorers can quickly transform into evangelists for the right brand, however. They're less likely than most AOCs to spend time on social networks, but more likely to take surveys and join online brand communities. They make just one online purchase a month, but they spend five hours a day online and value recommendations, customer reviews, and information received directly from brands and retailers.
Social Bumblebees (22%): They have an average of 400 Facebook friends and post up to four status updates a day, often with links. Busy professionals, they know that clients and marketers can see their posts, but they're not overly concerned with privacy. They're very likely to post funny video content, branded or not. iPads are their favorite shopping medium and they're impulse buyers. If an item's pricey, though, they'll Google it, read reviews, and delay a decision for a day or two.
Ad Blockers (20%): To this group, social media is purely social. They pay little notice to any online content that's not from someone they know, though they're not overly protective of their online privacy. Ads, branded videos, and blog posts hold little interest for them. Blockers spend less money shopping than other AOCs, both on- and offline and, when they do buy, it's practical items like household staples.
Focused Problem Solvers (18%): Mature, upscale professionals, their online activities are business-driven—managing finances, booking flights, and making restaurant reservations. Solvers have a stable of tried-and-true brands they cling to, though customer reviews and friend recommendations can steer them on to new things. When it comes to big purchases beyond personal and household items, they prefer the hands-on experience of brick-and-mortar.
Deal Hunters (13%): Though Hunters spend more personal time online than any other AOC segments (seven hours a day) and may have in excess of 500 Facebook friends, they tend to listen more than they broadcast, and when they're listening, they're looking for deals. Groupon is very likely to be among their most-used apps. They spend lots of time online researching products and prices, and while they will frequently visit brand and retail websites, they're not overly engaged with branded content.
The Vivaldi report cautions marketers that AOCs are truly a moving target, with their product preferences shifting by the day and even by the hour. While brands spent decades shaping the attitudes and perceptions of consumers, AOCs are an independent lot. To reach them, marketers have to focus on influencing their behavior and solving their problems.
In other words, unfortunately, marketers have to always be on, as well. Nike Fuel Bands just don't wear well on Barcaloungers.
Getting the word out about a product is always challenging. But photo sharing may be one answer to those marketing woes. Billions of photos are shared every day on prolific social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, as HTC Corporation discovered, even when social media users share photos and post comments about a company's products it takes a creative approach to cut through the noise.
HTC Corporation, a China-based creator of cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices, wanted to launch a campaign for HTC One, a popular smartphone, to drive engagement and sales. The campaign strategy was to incorporate social media and user-generated content in a way that cut through the typical social media chatter. The campaign needed to work in several markets with varying cultures and include a personal element that would encourage individual connections to the brand.
The HTC One digital campaign, which had a theme around “beautiful” (referring to the phone's design), asked consumers in China, Taiwan, the UK, and United States to submit personal photos of themselves, friends, family, pets, or anything they deemed beautiful via email, HTC's website, and social media sites including Twitter and Chinese-based Weibo and Wiexen. “The campaign went to another level because of its multichannel nature,” says Sanjay Manandhar, founder and CEO of Aerva, a mobile-connected digital signage company that HTC worked with for the campaign. “These days, consumers demand cohesive, multichannel branded social experiences that allow them to take part in their brands' stories.”
Aerva powered the 11-week campaign and displayed select user photos on billboards in New York's Times Square and on HTC.com. “The campaign gave us a unique and visible way to engage consumers,” says Ben Ho, CMO of HTC.
Adding to the momentum, participants received a Digital Keepsake, an image of their photos as displayed in Times Square. “The campaign skyrocketed because of the Digital Keepsake,” Manandhar says. “Having proof that your picture was displayed in Times Square makes friends want those pics and continue sharing them.” The campaign culminated with a substantial HTC One giveaway: a holiday season drawing awarded a few chosen customers 24-carat gold plated HTC phones worth $2,500 each. HTC gave two of those phones to winners in the U.S.
Users actively engaged in a photo sharing digital campaign that allowed them to make personal connections to the brand. Consumers shared more than 54,000 photos through multiple platforms. “People love [the campaign's] emotive nature. It's a very emotive thing to have your personal photos displayed anywhere, especially in a place like Times Square,” Manandhar says. And the same principal can work for smaller businesses, he adds. “Lots of small brands have smaller screens of their own, LCDs in retail locations for example. Small businesses can replicate the campaign with their resources.”
The HTC One campaign continues to live on as selected pics are housed in the Keepsake Gallery on HTC.com. As a result of the campaign, HTC amassed a collection of personal, actionable data, such as email addresses and Twitter handles.
David Steinberg was only 16 when he started his first company. That was in 1985. As of today he's founded and run three $100 million companies—and we're just talking so far.
Of course, it hasn't always been smooth sailing, but Steinberg, CEO of the recently rebranded CRM firm Zeta Interactive (formerly XL Marketing) is an inveterate optimist. He understands that if you don't learn from your mistakes, they'll either haunt you or they'll be repeated. It's part of what makes him a successful entrepreneur.
Steinberg took a few minutes to chat with me about start-ups, the rise and fall of his second major multimillion-dollar company, and the lessons he learned from it.
In 1999 you founded a company called InPhonic, whose main business was selling wireless phones over the Internet. For a while, it was wildly successful. What was it like in its heyday?
At one time, we were a pretty fast-growing company, and by 2004 we were the number one company on the Inc. 500—and in the same year we took the company public for a billion-dollar IPO. People went from not buying any wireless phones on the Internet to that being the dominant market share at 30 to 40%.
So, what happened next?
Well, much like a lot of companies that grow very quickly, we didn't have good internal control processes in place. We took a company from zero to $400 million a year organically in about five or six years—and then we ended up getting caught in the 2007 debt crisis. We had a very large loan at a big national bank and they called our debt. They were calling everyone's debts at that time, and we didn't have the ability to refinance.
What were the big takeaways for you from that experience?
There's an interesting lesson there about growing a business that quickly. We tried to grab the tiger by the tail—and there was too much tail wind, so to speak. At Zeta, we're still growing the company—we went from zero to almost 1,000 employees in about five years—but we're doing it slower and with more thought.
The hardest thing you have to learn how to do as an entrepreneur is to be able to pivot. I was not as willing to do that in my earlier career as I am now.
Do you have any tips for staffing a start-up?
This might sound callous, but the people who get you where you are, aren't always the right people to take you where you want to go. One thing a lot of entrepreneurs do is focus heavily on loyalty. Of course, you don't want to be disloyal to your people, but at the same time I would argue that if you outgrow people and keep them where they are or find a new place for them in the organization, that's not the best way to help you or them.
What advice would you give the marketing-tech start-up kings and queens of tomorrow?
First of all, be true to yourself. Raising money for a start-up is akin to the political process in the U.S. For candidates to win the nomination they have to move so far to one side or the other that by the time any election comes around they've already been tagged as either a crazy conservative or a radical liberal. Often entrepreneurs have to do a similar thing. They say whatever they have to say to raise enough capital to get started—and then when they get to the part where they actually get to run the company, the company isn't what they started out to create.
The other thing—and everyone says this, but so few people do it—is to understand your own weaknesses and hire people are really good at that stuff. When I was 23 I thought I was the best at everything—sales, marketing, accounting, organizational stuff, you name it. It took me 20-plus years of running my own companies to understand the fact I'm not good at a lot of things. Hire people to compensate for your flaws.
Number one piece of advice for a budding entrepreneur?
You've got to be positive. People don't want to follow someone with a negative attitude—I don't care who you are.
A lot of entrepreneurs get started in their college dorm rooms. You got started when you were still in high school. What was the first company you ever founded?
I started a nightclub production company in New York City when I was 16. I was out in the Hamptons one summer. I was already 6'3" and I walked into a bar called The Polo Club, which was a pretty hot club in West Hampton back in the day. OK, now I'm really dating myself. Anyway, it was empty and I said to the owner, "You give an hour of open bar and I'll charge a $20 cover at the door. I'll keep what I make at the door and you keep what you make at the bar." He went for it and it worked. That was the start, and I did it right up through college. It was a pretty great job for a 16-year-old.
The catwalk is usually reserved for women with Amazonian statures and microscopic waists. But Carrie Hammer, founder and creative director of the eponymous professional women's apparel brand, replaced runway models with role models by having female executives and philanthropists strut their stuff at her February 6 New York Fashion Week debut show.
“You have to be looking up to the role models, not the runway models,” Hammer said at her show.
To illustrate the importance of beauty and brains, Hammer featured 21 role models, including Nana Meriwether, Miss USA 2012; Kristen Morrissey Thiede, business development leader for Google Fiber; Shenan Reed, CMO of interactive marketing agency Morpheus Media; and Lizz Winstead, founder of The Daily Show.
“It's more important what you do, what you put out in the world, and who you are on the inside,” Google Fiber's Thiede says. “And if you're not six feet tall [and] 13 walking the runway, that's OK.”
Leslie Hall, CEO of digital marketing agency ICED Media, admits that sauntering her 5'2” frame down the catwalk seemed daunting at first. But after learning more about the show's women-empowerment message, she agreed to participate. “After the initial shock [and] learning more about Carrie...it was very refreshing and exciting,” Hall says. “I was so honored to be asked."
Before delving into fashion, Hammer served as an advertising sales executive at Tremor Video, a video advertising solutions provider that went public this past June. But after spending a summer at Parsons The New School for Design in Paris, Hammer knew she needed a career change.
Despite the transition, Hammer hasn't abandoned her advertising roots entirely. For example, most of Hammer's designs are made to measure. But after realizing that many women don't know how to take their own measurements, Hammer created a series of videos showing women how they could measure themselves at home. Women can then enter in their specific sizes and place orders online. Women who prefer to be measured in-person can also visit Hammer's studio or have a representative visit their homes. Hammer says providing both online and in-person experiences is critical because custom-made clothing isn't as popular for women as it is for men.
“Standard sizes—two, four, six, eight—are really arbitrary,” Hammer said. “It's important for customers to know that a dress is supposed to fit them and that they're not supposed to make their body fit into a dress.”
In addition to her online and in-person experiences, Hammer maintains her own blog. She also promoted her fashion show, which she managed to pull together in three weeks, through social media. Hammer says that Facebook and Pinterest are particularly valuable in terms of portraying the visualization of the clothes.
Hall of ICED Media, whose clients range from Kmart to Louis Vuitton, agrees that visualization plays a major role within the fashion industry and says that fashion brands are often early adopters of emerging technology and marketing trends.
“The new trend of visual sharing, [which is] really driving the consumer discovery process, is perfectly suited for fashion brands because the level of creativity that you're seeing, as well as the newness of the trends, lend themselves well to how people are consuming content online,” Hall says. “Fashion brands have an advantage over other products [in that] the lifetime of each collection may not be so frequent. Fashion brands have new collections every season—beautiful colors, bold patterns, everything from illustrations to sketches. All of that serves as amazing content.”
Direct Marketing News will be hosting its own women empowerment event—Marketing Hall of Femme—on March 21. The Marketing Hall of Femme recognizes 18 women who are leaders in the marketing realm.
Many marketers struggle when it comes to innovation. A few tech start-ups managed to obliterate the status quo almost overnight, and marketers have been trying to keep up ever since–but to some of those marketers, it's not clear why consumers have taken so well to these new companies. Companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google. Simply put, it's because those companies know their customers. They understand them. They are relevant to them.Brodeur Partners CEO Andrea Coville teamed up with long-time New York Times contributor Paul B. Brown to address relevance as a marketing concept in their forthcoming book Relevance: The Power to Change Minds and Behavior and Stay Ahead of the Competition. Here, they discuss the concept of relevance marketing and why relevance is the key to innovation.
Why should marketers care about being relevant?
Coville: Marketers are famous for being incredible about using data. The idea of relevance is that it goes beyond just the data; the data is a part of a more holistic experience. Other things like values, the sensory side of an experience, the community, are important, as well.
[But] marketers struggle with creating long-lasting creative concepts—ones that stay popular outside of the traditional campaign. So much of our thinking is around annual campaigns. What I've seen missing…[is] connecting marketing communications more directly to behavioral change. To do that your marketing has to be relevant enough to…gain an individual's attention.
Brown: Relevance is something useful that will make your life better, something you use to forge a relationship as a marketer with your customers, or people you'd like to become your customers; people who's behavior you'd like to change. If you think about direct marketers, this is exactly what they do. They have something useful, they communicate it in a way that resonates, and they solve problems.
You mentioned, Andrea, that marketers are famous for their love for data and analytics. How can marketers measure relevance?
Brown: What we argue in the book that any marketing communication at all that doesn't boost sales is a waste of time. So, if you implement a relevant campaign you should be able to see a rise in metrics that are important to you. If repeat visits are important to you, after the relevance campaign, you should see a rise in repeat visits. If it's reaching millennials, you should be able to see that you are.
Coville: This is the area of our research that we're focusing on right now. Yes, there is a return on relevance. We believe that the more relevant you are, the better chance you have of capturing new customers, and once you do, retaining that customer over a longer period of time. It goes back to the classic customer value chain where you get far more profit from a long-term customer.
What exactly is a “relevance campaign” then? What are some examples of relevant campaigns?
Coville: A relevance process starts as a strategic planning process [that includes] some form of qualitative and quantitative research.
Brown: If you want a bad [relevance campaign] then you'll go…in and say, “I know what's relevant to my customers. I know everything there is to know about every part of my customer.” That's just stupid. And yet, you'll hear marketers say this, and then they'll outline what's relevant to them. That's lovely if they're selling to people exactly like them, but most people aren't like them. By doing both the quantitative stuff and then the four pillars [of community, sensory, thinking, and values] you get a deeper understanding of what's relevant not only to people like you, but to everybody else.
Coville: A great example of sensory relevancy is what Apple's done to revolutionize the sensory elements of smartphones via the touch screen.
How about relevance for B2B marketers?
Coville: [One] example is what we did with a client. They had just came up with something they coined Gorilla Glass. This protective coating is now on most of the smartphones on the market. At the beginning they wanted to make their product relevant to both consumers and businesses.
Using research, we worked with an advertising firm on a series called “A Day Made of Glass.” It was based on insight and data and the content was so relevant to consumers that it set a record for YouTube views in a B2B category.
Relevancy can work anywhere, in any market.
You mention in the book that innovation and relevance are hopelessly intertwined. What did you mean?
Brown: One of the things that happen when your company is stuck with innovation is your boss will come in and say, “If money were no object, if gravity didn't exist, what would you do?”The problem with that is that money is always an object. Gravity will always exist. If you make relevance part of the innovation process it becomes a way to check yourself at every step of the process. There's pressure on every company to innovate. But if you come up with new ideas that don't make money then you've wasted time or created a hobby. You have to check that you're creating something useful that resonates with people.
“If you want exceptional results, you need to deliver exceptional experiences.” So says Lior Arussy, president of Strativity Group.
This applies to marketing as much as it does to other customer-facing teams, such as customer service and sales. In fact, customer experience (CX) often starts with the customer journey, Arussy told the audience at the CXPA's New York Local Networking Event on February 6. And marketing is integral to moving customers along that journey.
But as Arussy pointed out, “no one needs customer experience for the sake of customer experience; they need a financial driver.” He asked attendees to determine what the driver is for their organization. “What's the real issue, where do I start, and how does it connect to financials?” he asked.
CX today, Arussy noted, should be strategic, driven by the CEO, designed to drive the business, branded, organizationwide, and transformational. And if it's not going to be those things, then don't bother focusing on it. “We're living in a new world of exceptional or nothing,” he said. “This is what customers expect and what we need to deliver.”
For companies that plan to rethink or reinvent their customer experience, including the many elements of marketing that influence it, Arussy outlined 10 rules to help ensure their CX success:
Rule 1: Know why you're focusing on the customer experience. What's the financial driver? What money are you leaving on the table by not improving the customer experience? Business leaders need to define CX as a value proposition. Talking financials changes the conversation.
Rule 2: Create an exciting vision. CX isn't customer service. It's not the fix-it department. It's about delivering exceptional experiences at every touchpoint. So paint a vision that employees want to be a part of. And clearly articulate the full scope of the transformation.
Rule 3: Develop a CX discipline and supporting skill set. Enthusiasm is not enough to get you past “random acts of customer experience.” Develop a comprehensive long-term plan, recognize the available skill set in the organization, develop those skills in others, and appoint ambassadors to maintain the momentum.
Rule 4: Integrate with other initiatives. CX shouldn't complete with other ongoing initiatives like customer engagement, leadership, and innovation. CX complements them, so identify mutual agendas and linkages. “All of these initiatives are about creating a stronger organization that delivers exceptional value to customers,” Arussy said.
Rule 5: Design measurements with impact. Develop metrics that will have consequences and that are clearly connected to customer-related measurements. Metrics that are siloed means no one is accountable to the customer measures. And, of course, develop accountability processes.
Rule #6: Unify customer information. Break down customer data silos to enable better decision making. The more holistic the view of the data, the smarter—and more fact-based—that decisions will be.
Rule #7: Create a sustainable customer-centric culture. “The number one enemy in your organization is the people who think you're doing customer experience already,” Arussy said. According to a Strativity study, 76% of employees said, “I often go above and beyond,” but only 26% of their customers agreed. To change the mind-set, focus on the impact of CX on customers and on business performance, and create a clear line of site that connect each employee's role to the customer experience.
Rule #8: Active your number one asset. CEO involvement is not optional. The CEO is the only one who can break down silos and approve the budget required for real transformation. “CX is a strategy for growth, not the initiative of the day,” Arussy said.
Rule #9: Put people ahead of products. “Are you in the people business that happens to have processes and products, or are you in the product business?” Arussy asked. “Only people can exceed customers' expectations and surprise and delight them.” Products and processes are too easily copied, but human interactions are unique.
Rule #10: Appoint everyone to be in charge. Avoid complete centralization of your CX efforts; every employee should have a stake in the customer experience. CX leaders should provide the training and tools to empower employees to deliver exceptional customer experiences.
Bonus: Celebrate big and often. Demonstrate what you can do in your organization, loudly. Recognize early CX adopters and ambassadors in a big way.
Like data, content can be overwhelmingly plentiful—but exceptionally useful. So I've pulled together some of our top content on data to help you find quick answers to your data-related questions. Here, in case you missed it, select advice, insight, and opinion on ways to quench your thirst for data-driven marketing.
Set your strategy: “Businesses, especially businesses getting into the analytics game for the first time, should really scope out what they want to do before they try to do it,” says John Foreman, chief data scientist for MailChimp.com and author of Data Smart. “Rather than just reading a bunch of news articles about what other people are doing, actually look at your business and the problems you're having and the places you can see the most gain from using analytics. It's best to pick one problem and try to solve that.”
–When (and How) to Bust Down the Data Door
Follow the leader: “I feel like I have a canoe full of data and there's a cruise ship right next to me full of data that I don't know how to use,” Jeff Mirman, VP of marketing for Turner Sports, told the audience at the Direct Marketing News Marketing&Tech Partnership Summit. So, instead of trying to redefine its own data model, Turner Sports decided to emulate the leader in the video-on-demand (VOD) Big Data space: Netflix.
– Turner Sports Uses Big Data to “Future Proof” its Media
Be clear: “I don't think [Big Data] is a particularly helpful term because it's sort of lost all meaning through terminological inflation, hype, and so on. So I argue that you should be clear about what kind of data you're using,” says Professor Thomas H. Davenport, author of Big Data @ Work. “You'd be better off saying something like, ‘We're trying to understand customer perception through analysis of video at ATM machines,' which would actually tell you something rather than saying, ‘Oh, we're working on a Big Data project,' which sounds pretty much useless.”
–Q&A: Why Big Data Works
Share responsibility: “[Customer data] is about partnership…about cooperation. This is not about ownership,” says Bruce Biegel, senior managing director at Winterberry Group, noting that not only should marketers foster and nurture a collaborative relationship with IT, but they also should include legal as early in the process as possible. “They're the ones who understand what's going on in Washington and on the regulatory landscape.”
–Who Really “Owns” Customer Data
Rethink what you measure: “Given the almost universal acknowledgement on the part of marketers that first click, last click, or subjective rules-based measurement methodologies for attributing marketing success are flawed, it was extremely surprising that the overwhelming majority of marketers still use these techniques,” says Manu Mathew, CEO of Visual IQ.
–CMOs Are Measuring Data All Wrong
Differentiate by using data you have in-house: “We were able to optimize marketing spend based on this in-house Big Data,” says Eric Helmer, T-Mobile's senior manager of campaign design and execution, “and that's a competitive advantage that some other industries don't have.”
–Subscribers Follow the Leader
Be customer centric: “We keep our guests at the center of our attention,” says Menka Uttamchandani, VP of business intelligence at Denihan Hospitality Group, “and to do that we must understand what they experience, their preferences—it's a great window for us.”
–Customer Data at Denihan's Service
Read between the lines: “Your data analysis won't come without establishing an understanding of the nuanced parts of your business—the data that's not being used,” says Michael Caccavale, CEO of Pluris Marketing. “It's the data that's not in the system—or is in the system but deserves an asterisk. It lives between the lines.”
–Counting Context: The Sneaky Data that Moves Margins
Consider tracking social data: “Any organization [can gain] some benefit from using analytics. But the correct type of data to look at is dependent [on the] industry,” Erick Brethenoux, director of business analytics and decision management strategy at IBM. “In spite of the big talk from many organizations, few businesses today take advantage of social media data in their decisions. They talk a lot about it, but not many use it pragmatically. But think about it: If I post five or six reviews on TripAdvisor every year, for example, and so do you, and so does everyone, that's a lot of information.”
–Q&A: The Power to Act
Get personal: “[Our] ‘Your Personal Sale' functionality…was a true collaboration between technology, marketing, and merchandizing, and it allows us to create a truly personalized customer experience,” says Tamara Gruzbarg, senior director of analytics and research at Gilt Groupe. “There is no shortage of data and frankly, with as much as we know about customers, we don't have an excuse not to be personalized.”
–Data: Go Big or Go Home
Marc Jacobs Fragrances, the perfume division of Marc Jacobs International, has a blossoming social following. The creator of the popular scent Daisy has nearly 111,600 Facebook likes and 17,000 Instagram followers. In addition, the fragrance brand promotes its products on Marc Jacobs International's social channels, which exposes it to more than 1.3 million Facebook fans and 1.45 million Twitter followers.
And while the brand has gathered quite the bouquet of fans, it's the amount of engagement—rather than the number of followers—that really generates buzz. “Not only do we have a lot of fans, but they interact and engage with us more than any other fragrance out there,” says Lori Singer, group VP of global marketing for Coty Prestige—the licensing company for Marc Jacobs Fragrances.
Social media gives followers a place where they can express their brand affinity and be heard. Singer says that Marc Jacobs' followers frequently conduct their own product photo shoots and share their images with the brand. To thank its followers for their engagement, and in turn drive future interaction, the fragrance division turned followers' creativity into currency with the launch of the Daisy Marc Jacobs Tweet Shop.
The pop-up Tweet Shop will debut on February 7 during New York Fashion Week and run until February 9. During this time, fans will be able to pay for Marc Jacobs products with their social posts, rather than with their wallets. People visiting the shop can post pictures of their Daisy inspirations along with the hashtag #MJDaisyChain on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in exchange for a deluxe sample of Daisy or a travel-size rollerball. And participants will really want to get their creative juices flowing because the post-to-prize ratio is scaled. For instance, those who post a more creative perfume picture can win necklaces containing a solid form of the fragrance. The brand will also be giving away several Marc by Marc Jacobs bags every day for the most inspiring images.
“There are a lot of fragrances out there on the market, and we're fortunate to have consumers of who are loyal and fans of Daisy and Marc Jacobs in general,” Singer says. “It's just a way to give back and say thank you.”
But the Tweet Shop is only one component of Marc Jacobs' campaign. In addition to the shop, Marc Jacobs is promoting Daisy through print ads, in-store materials, and TV and digital commercials. The print ads will start running in March while the commercial, shot by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Sofia Coppola, will debut within the next few months, Singer says.
“Print has always been the backbone of what we've done since the beginning of time,” Singer says. “As far as TV and digital [goes], we certainly know that our consumer is so involved in the digital channel. By having TV commercials that are shot by Sofia Coppola, we can not only run them on TV, but certainly online, which is where many of these young girls are.”
Furthermore, the brand is inviting bloggers to cover the Tweet Shop and share exclusive content with its followers. And to ensure that the campaign flourished from the start, Marc Jacobs hosted Daisy Day on January 28 in London, New York, and Berlin. To celebrate the day, the brand handed out daisies to people on the street.
Singer admits that trying something new, like the Tweet Shop, without knowing what to expect can be a challenge for marketers. However, she says that the brand is prepared to learn and to continue to keep consumers at the center of its developments.
“We have to meet their needs,” Singer says. It's not really about what we marketers want. It's about what our consumers want.”
Seasonal marketing is about relevant marketing—and relevant marketing is often about identifying an opportunity and then systematically planning to capitalize on it. The Super Bowl, back-to-school, Mother's Day, spring cleaning—if you do the research and leave yourself enough time to act on your findings each one of these annual events is a golden chance to relate to consumers.
Newell-Rubbermaid, the global CPG marketer responsible for brands like Sharpie, Paper Mate, Goody, and Rubbermaid, has recently started taking serious advantage of seasonal marketing opportunities, namely the Super Bowl. Sixty-seven percent of Americans follow two or more sports (football tops the list), and about 180 million people tuned into the big game on Sunday—which is one heck of a captive audience.
But Newell-Rubbermaid's Super Bowl strategy didn't include flashy TV ads—it went deeper than that, relying on insights that the company used to pair its brands with consumer need.
Take Rubbermaid food storage containers. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Super Bowl Sunday is the second largest food consumption day of the year. (Thanksgiving of course takes home the trophy in that category.) And Shopperscape and Kantar Retail recently released data stating that nearly one fifth of all shoppers prepare a special meal or entertain guests. Invariably there are leftovers (and popped buttons).
Now take Sharpie. Fans like to support their teams with handmade signs and posters—so why shouldn't they be using Sharpie marketers to do so?
“Be relevant. I wouldn't exactly call it our mantra, but it certainly is smart,” says Joe Cavaliere, chief customer officer at Newell-Rubbermaid (right). “Consumers are looking for different things at different times of the year, and it's easier to get an extra item in the basket if it's tied into what he or she is thinking about when they're shopping.”
Newell-Rubbermaid also works with participating retailers to extend their football promotions to cover the entire quarter, a push collectively referred to as “Game Time.” As big as the Super Bowl is, it's only one day, and consumers care about football throughout the entire season.
“You buy certain food items for ‘Game Time,' so if a display placement is in the right place at the right price at the right time, you might get a consumer to pick up something like a Rubbermaid container or a Sharpie, something they weren't planning on purchasing but that makes sense,” Cavaliere says. “Insights lead to action—everyone knows the Super Bowl is big; we dug deeper and extended that passion.”
Part of what allows Newell-Rubbermaid to so seamlessly implement its seasonal marketing strategies is the company's recent transition from a collection of separate brands operating independently to a cohesive organization that shares insights across its many brand holdings.
It's all part of Newell-Rubbermaid's overall push to become more “customer intimate.”
“We're starting to become a truly customer-centric organization by looking at customer insight,” Cavaliere says. “Once we have that, we can then have true customer intimacy.”
Don't drop the ball in 2015
The Super Bowl may have just ended—but according to Cavaliere's clock, it's just about time to get started planning for next year. Below are his tips for implementing a seasonal marketing strategy that'll totally score:
1. Start planning at least a year in advance. (Tick, tock.)
2. Ask yourself: Is what I'm planning relevant?
3. Be creative—just make sure your ideas make sense. “The more ideas you give people to use your product the better,” Cavaliere says. “Our ideas come from insight-based research—getting people to use Sharpies to make banners and posters at their Super Bowl parties isn't a stretch.”
4. Stick with it—Consumers won't suddenly associate you with a particular season just because you want them to. Says Cavaliere: “You've got to build and build and continue to cement the idea in the minds of your consumers.”
It was a day packed with insight, networking opportunities, laughs, revelations, and an agenda starring industry luminaries from Huge, Winterberry Group, Gilt Groupe, Ogilvy & Mather, and Mondelēz International and many others.
The 2014 Marketing&Tech Partnership Summit brought together marketers and their IT colleagues in a uniquely collaborative environment to discuss the major trends in the ever-evolving marketing-tech space. Whether or not you were able to join us, the content below will give you a taste and serve as a handy refresher.
||Don't Fight Hackers, Join Them: If you want to win the digital marketing wars
of the future, you've got to start hacking, says Mondelez International's
VP of global media.
Digital Isn't an Oddity, It's a Necessity: Like it or not, today all brands are
in the technology business, says Aaron Shapiro, CEO of Huge.
|Collaboration May Be Key to Improving Customer Acquisition: Marketing teams
can't do it alone. Collaborating with tech teams is key in growing customer base.
||Data: Go Big or Go Home: The million dollar question posed at the Summit:
What can marketers do to take best advantage of the Internet of Things?
||Marketing Conversation Starters: 20 opinions, observations, and recommendations
that will get you thinking about how to approach marketing in 2014 and beyond.
Turner Sports Uses Big Data to "Future Proof" its Media: The sports media
|J. Hilburn's Customer Experience Is Made to Order: Say what you will about
direct selling, for custom men's luxury clothier J. Hilburn, direct-to-consumer is the
|For AOL Paid Services, Optimization Is the Name of the Game: The organization implemented a new marketing solution to target customers with more relevant offers.|
|Who Really "Owns" Customer Data? With Big Data comes big responsibility.
So, between marketing, IT and legal, who exactly owns this data? Winterberry
Group's Bruce Biegel breaks down data ownership once and for all.
“Write something that's going to stop the world!” That was the admonition Steve Jobs gave to Chiat Day creative director Steve Hayden (the future Ogilvy vice chairman) at the conclusion of the October 1983 meeting that gave birth to the Big Brother of all Super Bowl ads.
We know that because we heard it from the mouth of a man who was in the room, then Apple CEO John Sculley, the father of the Pepsi Generation hired by Jobs to rebirth the Apple brand. Sculley recounted the moment at an event commemorating the 30th anniversary of the “1984” spot, just off “Super Bowl Boulevard” in New York.
The commercial conceived by Hayden and executed by director Ridley Scott created a stir far beyond the world of football fans who watched the 49ers defeat the Dolphins at the stadium at Stanford University (home of so many future i0S programmers; how apropos). Scott presented an Orwellian vision of colorless masses obediently huddling before an image of their Big Brother, when in sprints a blond beauty in a white-and-red track suit and hurls a Thor-like hammer at the video screen. The crawl: “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce McIntosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like ‘1984.'”
“It was the first viral ad,” said David Steinberg, CEO of Zeta Interactive, which sponsored the celebratory event, “except the social medium was the office water cooler.”
But Scott's marketing masterpiece almost didn't make it out of the Betamax in Apple's boardroom. After securing two minutes of Super Bowl advertising time, Jobs convened the board of directors and showed them the spot, which didn't include even a parting shot of the product. “There was dead silence,” Sculley recalled. “Then one board member turns to me and says, ‘You're not going to run this thing, are you?' The board discussed it and told us to sell the Super Bowl time.”
Ah, but Steve Jobs is not the hero of a generation for nothing. He and Sculley sold one minute and kept the other. The spot ran, and if it failed to stop the world, it at least paused the hoisting of millions of Bud Lites to millions of lips. Advertising, computer, and football history was made. Indeed, says noted adman Y&R CEO David Sable, it was an historical achievement rarely replicated to this day.
Sable, who was also on hand for the event, said that “1984”--as well as a subsequent Apple spot that launched the iPhone during an Academy Awards broadcast--displayed a level of customer insight and inspiration that is now sorely lacking in the rush to achieve video virality. He questions the current trend toward pre-releasing Super Bowl ads on YouTube prior to the big event. “So you get millions of views on YouTube, but by who?" Sable said. "In 1984 people saw the ad and went out and bought Macs.”
Sable maintains that today's Super Bowl advertisers play a silly numbers game, eschewing data-informed targeting, and instead practicing what he calls GMOOT, or “give me one of those.”
“Instead of looking for customer insight, they look at what gets shared and emulate it. They're juking the system,” Sable said. “A cat pissing on somebody's shoes gets shared a lot, but nobody remembers it. Ninety-five percent of stuff shared on the Internet doesn't sell anything.”
Insights abounded at the Direct Marketing News 2014 Marketing&Tech Partnership Summit earlier this week. Here, 20 opinions, observations, and recommendations from the Summit's speakers that will get you thinking about how to approach marketing in 2014 and beyond.
“The interplay of mobile with other channels is where the opportunities lie for customer engagement. Mobile with TV is twice as effective as TV alone.” –Bonin Bough, VP of global media and consumer engagement, Mondelēz International
“Everyone is the technology business, and if you're not acting that way, you're not set up to succeed.” –Aaron Shapiro, CEO, HUGE Inc.
“Technology is the strongest foundation for customer experience.” –Banafsheh Ghassemi, VP, marketing, customer experience, and CRM, American Red Cross
“Today there's no excuse not to be personalized with your marketing.” –Tamara Gruzbarg, senior director of analytics and research, Gilt Groupe
“Marketers are stewards of customer data. It's a noble and responsible calling to handle customers' data.” –Todd Cullen, chief data officer, OgilvyOne
“The emphasis should be 20% on technology, 30% on process, and 50% on people to succeed with any marketing-technology initiative.” –Barton Goldenberg, president and founder, ISM Inc.
“You have to get email right the first time. It's often the first impression customers have of a company's communications, so it sets customers' expectations of future communications.” –Greg Grdodian, CEO, Reach Marketing
“If you don't have original content on your site, our SEO will be limited.” –Adam Reinebach, EVP of marketing solutions at Source Media
“The four key use cases for customer data are attribution, insight, optimization, and targeting—and they all required a different approach.” Bruce Biegel, senior managing partner, Winterberry Group
“The biggest offense marketers make is not to treat customers and prospects differently.” –Katrina Conn, VP of marketing services, StrongView
“It's scary and exciting to be a marketer today.” –Pete Scott, VP of emerging media, Turner Sports
“People ask how we were able to react so quickly with the Oreo tweet, ‘You can still dunk in the dark.' The 100 days of the Oreo Daily Twist developed the muscle memory we needed to react in real time.” –Bonin Bough, VP of global media and consumer engagement, Mondelēz International
“Technology strategy is often the biggest inhibitor of organizational success. Marketers should approach their technology with a Web ethos that allows for iteration, [not a CapEx approach].” –Aaron Shapiro, CEO, HUGE Inc.
“It's great to have data, but what does it mean? What story does it tell? It's that insight that's valuable.” –Tamara Gruzbarg, senior director of analytics and research, Gilt Groupe
“Marketers should think of themselves as anthropologists when using data to [better understand customers].” –Todd Cullen, chief data officer, OgilvyOne
“Every marketing email needs an IOU: generate Interest, provide an Offer, and have a sense of Urgency.” –Greg Grdodian, CEO, Reach Marketing
“Ninety-three percent of marketers [we polled] plan to increase their marketing budget in 2014; 52% plan to increase spending on email marketing; 34% expect to spend more on lifecycle programs; and 38% will spend more on automated or triggered campaigns.” –Katrina Conn, VP of marketing services, StrongView
“We've transformed from a company that took data for granted to one that's focused on harnessing it.” –Jeff Mirman, VP of Marketing, Turner Sports
“Millennials expect a digital orientation. They're 52% of the population…and expect instant access. If you're oriented to provide that, you won't succeed long term.” –Aaron Shapiro, CEO, HUGE Inc.
“Competing on analytics is table stakes in marketing today.” –Todd Cullen, chief data officer, OgilvyOne
I've only been alive for two full decades. But I have to say, I strongly prefer the first. The 1990s were a blissful time. There was great fashion (just look at my stylish turtleneck in the picture below); amazing music (Backstreet Boys Millennium was my first CD); and awesome television. And when my brother and I weren't tuning into Doug or Rugrats, we were watching Full House (listen to the epic theme song here).
For those deprived of 1990s pop culture, Full House is about a single dad, Danny Tanner (played by Bob Saget), who moves in his two best friends, Jesse (John Stamos) and Joey (Dave Coulier), to help him raise his three daughters. My brother and I used to tape episodes onto VHS, and I'd wish that a hot Uncle Jesse or a goofy Joey would move into our house.
So, when Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt announced that it was reuniting the trio for its Super Bowl commercial, I couldn't help but feel giddy.
“This is meant to be a very and entertaining spot,” says Lexie Leyman, communications and community affairs associate for The Dannon Company. “Our community will be able to laugh, have fun, and engage in a way that has not traditionally been focused on for better-for-you snacks.”
Oikos launched a Super Bowl teaser on January 20 and ran the sneak-peak on the brand's YouTube channel and campaign site: oikosbromance.com. So far, the teaser has accumulated more than 1.26 million YouTube views. Michael Neuwirth, senior director of public relations for The Dannon Company, says that the teaser also achieved a like-to-dislike ratio of more than nine to one. Five days later Oikos released its official Game Day commercial on YouTube, which now has more than 2.28 million YouTube views.
Oikos's decision to debut the spot on YouTube prior to Sunday's game was fueled by competition for consumers' attention, Neuwirth says. Although he admits that competing for attention is a challenge for Super Bowl marketers, he says that it also inspires them to deliver highly creative messages in a short period of time.
“We launched our Super Bowl ad on YouTube [and] that's not something that a traditional marketer would normally do,” Neuwirth says. “But we chose that route because of the scale that YouTube affords leading up to the game. We wanted to break through loud and early.”
However, the TV commercial isn't the only ingredient in Oikos's Super Bowl mix. In fact, the Greek yogurt brand whipped up an entire multichannel campaign. For instance, to demonstrate how Greek yogurt can fit into the traditionally unhealthy Super Bowl spread, the brand provided recipes on oikosbromance.com. Oikos also posted behind-the-scenes videos of Saget, Coulier, and Stamos on the site that feature the campaign's hashtags #fuelyourpleasure and #oikosbromance. This multichannel approach, Leyman says, is critical to driving engagement both before and during the Super Bowl.
“Part of the fun about the Super Bowl is that you have the opportunity to engage weeks before the actual event,” Leyman says. “It's a chance for us to really spread our reach to different consumers.… Not every consumer may be watching the Big Game on Sunday, but they may be tuned into social media and different channels. It's also a way for us to engage in different channels and bring some awareness outside of just the Big Game.”
After the Super Bowl, Oikos plans on driving sampling trucks across the country to give consumers the opportunity to try the yogurt featured in the ads, Neuwirth adds.
This is Oikos's second Super Bowl appearance. The brand made its first Super Bowl debut in 2012, and Neuwirth says that the company is going into this year's event with a more agile game plan.
“We went into 2012 with a pretty clear idea of what our plan would be from the very early stages,” he says. “In the process of the execution in 2012, we made a lot of adjustments…. Part of our thinking for the 2014 plan is to have a clear idea of where we want to land, but to maintain flexibility in how we get there. It's made us more nimble in our decision making.”
Oikos isn't the only brand to use nostalgia to its advantage. Last year Internet Explorer, through “Child of the 90s,” showed the maturation of the company and trends by featuring major 1990s fads in its ad.The spot has accumulated nearly 48.6 million YouTube views to date. Similarly, Samsung showed clips of iconic characters using its smart watches—including 1990s live action heroes the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers—for the launch of its Galaxy Gear this past October. This spot has earned more than 3.5 million YouTube views to date.
Jonathan Perelman, VP of agency strategy and industry development at BuzzFeed, says tapping into nostalgic sentiments can help brands relate to their consumers on an emotional level.
“As humans, we love to look back at times gone by. We love being brought back to the foods we love, shows we watched and grew up on, and other shared experiences,” he says. “It's part of being human. Add a favorite brand into the mix, it heightens the experience and emotional connection that we have.”
However, brands must understand the context of wistful references if they hope to leverage them successfully, Perelman says. And taking consumers down memory lane helps marketers expand their reach. For instance, when consumers relate to a brand's memory, they're likely to share that memory with those in their social tribes who can also relate, Perelman notes.
“You can never force it,” he says. “To do it well, a brand needs to understand the cultural place that they occupy.”
So whether you embraced the Beanie Babies era or couldn't wait for the days of the scrunchie to end, knowing how to leverage consumer emotions through memories is one marketing tactic that will live on for decades.
John Foreman, chief data scientist for MailChimp.com, learned an important lesson from the 1992 movie Sneakers, a lesson marketers might do well to learn, too. There's a scene in which Robert Redford and Dan Aykroyd's characters struggle to hack a keypad to open an office door. Eventually, Redford just kicks it in. “The takeaway there is you don't have to hack the keypad if you can just break down the door,” Foreman says.
In his new book, Data Smart, Foreman argues that many businesses are metaphorically hacking keypads with their approach to analytics and data. We spoke with him to get some clues as to when that's needed, and when it's time to go all Robert Redford on the door.
What are your best pieces of advice for marketers struggling to turn all of their data into insights?
Businesses, especially businesses getting into the analytics game for the first time, should really scope out what they want to do before they try to do it. Rather than just reading a bunch of news articles about what other people are doing, actually look at your business and the problems you're having and the places you can see the most gain from using analytics. It's best to pick one problem and try to solve that. What I do in my book is go through a bunch of techniques and the types of problems they solve so people can know what's possible. If you know what's possible then it's easier to pick out a problem to solve.
What would you say are some of the most common issues companies run into with data?
Some people run into issues with trying to build the perfect solution when often an 80% solution will do. You'll see companies hire some Ph.D. who's extremely proficient in some type of analytics and they'll try to build some gold-plated solution that would've gotten them recognition in academia or something. That's not terribly useful for a business. Rather, you should build an analytics solution that can live on even if the person who built it gets hit by a bus.
At what point is it is an analytics model too complex?
People should try to avoid complexity, specifically the kind of complexity that requires that they care for and feed their data-driven models all the time. It becomes such a real hassle that no one wants to use it and then you turn it off and you've wasted your time. You have to balance ease-of-use and complexity with whatever you're getting out of it.
Do you think marketers put too much or too little emphasis on performance of their data?
I've seen marketers run into issues with performance a lot where they think, “I've got to get bigger and better performance out of whatever I'm building with this data.” It's often important to step back and figure in what context are you going to be using this model or data tool. Is this the kind of thing you need to run in one second or is it the kind of thing that can take an hour? Can you change your business so that taking an hour to run this thing is acceptable? I think with analytics projects in particular people just tend to spin their wheels trying to make them perfect when often that's not necessary. You get a better product in the end by releasing it into the wild faster and learning from how it does than you do from sitting there making it so good that you've gone bankrupt or something.
What other advice would you offer marketing people in terms of handling data and analytics?
Companies will often segregate the data or analytics people from the marketing folks. You'll get people that are in leadership that will come up with a problem that they'll want the analytics folks to solve, and they'll just kind of throw it down to the basement. That can often be the wrong approach because the analytics people will solve the exact problem they've been told to solve, but was that the right problem to solve to begin with? You enter a situation where a problem that's been given to analytics is one that's been interpreted by management and leadership who might not understand analytics at all. They cast the problem in a light that might actually obscure the original goal. I encourage people to include the analytics team as early as possible.
You're cleaning your apartment or you're driving to work. Nothing too exciting. Then a song comes on the radio. It's your favorite song. Or it's just a snappy tune. Doesn't matter. Suddenly, you're dancing around the living room using the broom handle as a microphone or tapping your feet—somewhat dangerously—on the gas pedal in time to the tune.
Music just does that to people. It happened to this guy.
It's also the idea behind the multichannel “Music Unleashes Us” campaign for the 56th annual Grammy Awards, which went down last night in Los Angeles. Developed by TBWA\Chiat\Day and production company Tool, the campaign's CTA goes something like this: Dance like nobody's watching. Dance like everybody's watching. Just dance.
“Music Unleashes us” features a cocktail mix of print and out-of-home, social media, TV ads, digital activations, and video content, including these gems:
But one of the coolest elements by far is a video of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis taking over a New York City bus for an impromptu rendition of “Can't Hold Us” (see the video at the very top of the page). It's a fun video just on the surface, but there's also a little secret lurking within. For eight hours yesterday (between noon and 8 p.m. on 1/26), the video was available via a special player on wonderwall.msn.com, where it was actually “backmasked”—as in, when you played it backwards, hidden footage was revealed, just like the cryptic messages the Beatles and Led Zeppelin snuck onto their albums in the mid-1960s, but with a twist.
With a record, all you have to worry about is the audio. With a video, every second of the choreography, space, and overall narrative has to be spot-on and strategically arranged for the thing to work.
“Nowadays, more and more people are experiencing music via digital videos, so we thought it would be fun to bring the technique back using modern technology,” says Bob Rayburn, creative director at TBWA\Chiat\Day. “Once the video finishes playing, the viewer is prompted to click on a special vinyl button to ‘unleash' a new story; [then] the scrubber bar begins to move backwards and the new video plays.”
Backmasking aside, filming the video itself—without leaking anything before its release—was a feat of organization. The bus was specially rigged with 12 hidden cameras and a troop of extras were hired to serve as the “passengers.” But they weren't told any specifics about the project (just that they were being taken to a secret film shoot), so their on-camera reactions are genuine.
“We also had to carefully plan Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's entrance; we asked them to arrive at the shoot wearing hoodies to conceal their faces, and without any members of their entourage,” says Tool Director Geordie Stephens. “After the shoot—which only took about 20 minutes or so—we had everyone sign nondisclosure agreements and carefully explained the importance of keeping the project off social media.”
Until it was time to keep the project on social media, of course. YouTube views of the video were at three million after a week. The stunt also garnered quite a lot of media and major network coverage.
TBWA\Chiat\Day Creative Director Rick Utzinger attributes the high engagement levels to the simplicity of the universal “human truth” behind the campaign. “We focused on the undeniable fact that we are powerless against music,” he says. “It will tap our toes and shake our hips for us, whether we want to or not.”
It's also not always about a having a big celebrity star in your video.
“I would encourage marketers to focus on coming up with a simple, relatable idea, and to execute it in a simple, entertaining way,” Stephens says. “Of course it helps to have someone like Macklemore show up—but often the best commercial work I've done has involved no celebrity talent at all.”
The first step to overcoming an addiction is admitting the problem. Ryan Phelan, VP of global strategic services for Acxiom, did just this and admitted that email marketers are "addicted" to the word “sale.”
“And sale's cousin ‘discount' and third cousin ‘free shipping,'” he confessed to the crowd at the closing keynote of the Direct Marketing Association's Email Evolution Conference.
This “sale” obsession, he said, causes marketers to forget the customer mind-set. Once marketers lose this mind-set, they forget that customers experience different brands in different ways, he said. As a result, they start “naming” their customer segments. This approach causes marketers to blur customers together, send batch-and-blast emails, and ultimately, treat customers like a list, rather than like individuals, Phelan said.
“[It's] like we're paying them to be friends with us,” he said. “Humans don't act that way.”
And customers are beginning to detect this lack of empathy. According to Acxiom's research, 72% of consumers read email when they're bored. Not to mention, solely focusing on customers who don't care detracts from the customers who do, Phelan noted.
“We have to be realistic in that consumers care as much about the email we send as we put into it sometimes,” he said.
So how do marketers design a brand experience when every consumer experiences a brand differently? And how can marketers service their customers when they don't understand how to piece all of their multichannel experiences together? After asking these questions, Phelan said marketers need to initiate a new conversation with customers, as well as adjust the way they think, act, and market. “Look at the experiences our customers have with our brands…beyond, ‘What's the discount for next week?'” he said.
Here are the four ways Phelan said marketers can get back into the customer mind-set.
Focus on strategy, not on tactics
Gather your social, mobile, and other marketing teams together for a day-long, strategy meeting.
“We're in an industry that's incredibly good at tactics…but we don't spend enough time with the strategy of our program,” Phelan said.
During the session, focus on the following four objectives, he advised:
“Remind yourself that it's OK to not be perfect,” Phelan said.
2) Analyze current programs
Instead of hitting your subscribers with a hard sell, envision how they'd use the product and build a campaign around this notion, Phelan suggested. Then start small. Test one email, see how it performs, and ask the boss if you can try another one, he said.
“Develop one email that seeks to engage the consumer and have a conversation that talks about the experience of the product and the experience of the brand,” Phelan said.
3) Evolve reporting concepts
The world didn't end at the end of 2012 like the Mayans predicted. But Google did introduce Gmail tabs five months later and that was sort of the same thing from an email marketing perspective. Phelan recalled marketers' despair when they claimed that their open rates were plummeting. However, this calamity occurred, he said, because marketers looked at their open and click-through rates as a whole. So, they looked at one giant user base population instead of smaller segments, such as those who made a purchase or those who are new customers.
“We have to change our concept of reporting [and] look at not the aggregate number, but at the cluster number—our group of customers and who they represent,” Phelan said.
4) Test more
When it comes to testing, subject lines get all of the attention. But it's important for marketers to test other email components, as well—such as calls-to-action, imagery, and placement and length of text—Phelan explained.
“We're in an industry of people who know how to write really good subject lines. We have to be better at building really good emails,” he said. “You can only do that through testing.”
There's plenty of email jargon in the marketing industry today, and these buzzwords can make the simplest concepts seem complex. At the Direct Marketing Association's Email Evolution Conference yesterday, four email marketing gurus went back to basics and discussed a few old-school email life cycle rules that still apply today.
Listen to what customers don't tell you: To solicit more data, or not to solicit more data: That is the question many marketers ask when evaluating their signup processes. Asking for more data allows marketers to send more targeted emails; however, it can deter customers from signing up altogether. Sam Crosby, marketing program manager for daily deal site LivingSocial, addressed the dilemma by considering how consumer resistance—such as not wanting to provide an email address—ultimately affects email performance.
“If someone won't give us more information…we might not want to email them in the first place,” he said.
Read between the lines: But a blank field shouldn't discourage marketers from obtaining the information that they seek. For instance, Rajan Mohan, VP and GM of social commerce for media company Gannett, said that while many consumers are hesitant to list their gender, they are willing to provide their salutation, such as Mr. or Mrs.
“Look at the fields you collect and infer data,” he said.
Think outside the inbox: The great debate around unsubscribing inactive addresses is a heated one. While Crosby admitted that LivingSocial has unsubscribed inactive people in the past, he said that the company doesn't count them out right away.
“A significant portion of our revenue comes from people who haven't opened an email in a year,” he said.
Before removing subscribers from its list, LivingSocial cuts back on its number of email sends, such as only sending emails once a week or once a month instead of every day. He also said that the company ranks subscribers on their activity.
However, Mohan—a “firm believer [that] nobody goes off the list”—argued that inactive subscribers can still be active customers. So it's important, he argued, to look at signals outside the inbox—such as purchase history.
“If you're an email marketer, you have to be open and working to leverage data outside of your ESP,” added Erik Severinghaus, founder and CEO of digital marketing company SimpleRelevance.
Encourage engagement: An attention-grabbing pre-header can lure consumers into opening an email. But if used incorrectly, it can also discourage consumers from interacting with a brand. Putting “unsubscribe here” in the preheader is one of the most common misuses, Severinghaus pointed out. “They're encouraging me to unengage with their brand,” he said.
Forget the Magic Hour: Marketers like to try to test and pinpoint the one optimal time to send an email. But Phil Davis, CEO of Rapleaf—a division of email solution company TowerData, argued that this “magic hour” doesn't exist. Instead, he argued, it's individualized per customer.
Don't be afraid to start small: Personalizing email can seem like a giant, intimidating feat. But Crosby encouraged marketers to take baby steps. He said that LivingSocial started by differentiating between male and female consumers and eventually became more granular, such as using personalization to provide relevant interest and life-cycle messages.
“For the most part,” he said, “the most blunt personalization has the most obvious impact.”
“Her all-in personal investment makes her a driving force for our organization and customers.” This quote from a colleague about 2014 Marketing Hall of Femme honoree Protection 1 Director of Marketing Madolyn Wagner is representative of the laudatory sentiments expressed in all of the nominations submitted for the Direct Marketing News' 2014 Marketing Hall of Femme.
As most of you recovered from your New Year's Eve celebrations, the editorial team here at Direct Marketing News was immersed in reading about the amazing accomplishments of the nearly 50 chief marketers nominated for the 2014 Marketing Hall of Femme. As I read through each, I could barely sit still; popping up from my seat to give air high-fives to women who were there only in spirit, or turning to my colleagues longing to ask whether they had read about this accomplishment or that, only to bite my tongue until after the judging was complete.
This year's honorees—18 exceptional female marketing chiefs—stand out not only for the success of their marketing strategies, but also for their outstanding leadership. Their methods have improved marketing performance for their current and previous companies alike, and have yielded measureable results, from revenue growth to increases in customer engagement. Their leadership inspires colleagues to achieve greatness; their stories are ones of dynamism, decisiveness, and determination.
Who are they?
The 2014 Marketing Hall of Femme honorees are…
Their successes are truly inspirational. It's our honor to highlight their achievements. Watch for their full profiles in March.
Additionally, Direct Marketing News will celebrate this award of distinction on Friday, March 21 in New York City at a festive awards ceremony set amid a half day of education and inspiration. The day will feature a keynote presentation and panel discussion on how to succeed as a chief marketer and on marketing leadership, as well as the awards ceremony and brunch. It's an event you won't want to miss.
You know that classic Saturday Night Live “Cowbell” sketch? The one where Christopher Walken plays a music producer and tells big-bellied Will Ferrell that his band's song needs more cowbell. As the skit goes on, and as Jimmy Fallon continues to lose his composure, Ferrell beefs up the bell. And the more he bangs on the bell, the more Walken loves the song.
Often, email marketers sing the same tune: The more email they send, the more likely they are to engage subscribers. In fact, marketers send so much email that the average worker receives 11,680 emails per year, Barry Gill, enterprise consultant and product marketing manager for Mimecast writes in the Harvard Business Review. But Brian Solis, principal analyst for Altimeter Group and author of the book The End of Business as Usual, says that more isn't always better.
“The answer isn't more email—maybe more cowbell, but not email,” he told the audience during his keynote at the Direct Marketing Association's Email Evolution Conference in Miami. “The answer is spending more time thinking like a human being again.”
The mentality of today's human beings is to be constantly plugged in. Solis referred to this connected segment as Generation C and defined the population as anyone with a smartphone or tablet. So instead of just trying to engage a single audience, marketers now have to attract “an audience of audiences”—audiences that are constantly communicating and sharing.
But connecting with this group is challenging. For one, everyone uses technology differently; yet marketers assume they use their devices the same way they do, Solis says. And this audience doesn't sit still. They switch between the on- and offline world seamlessly and expect marketers to know who and where they are at all times. But while traveling across digital and offline channels is intuitive for consumers, executing these integrated experiences isn't intuitive for marketers, Solis said.
Thankfully, there's something that all consumers, including those in Gen C, share in common—empathy, and the desire for shared experiences. Solis said that this involves focusing on the main "P"s--not product, price, place, and promotion, but people, promise, and purpose. So instead of focusing on what message they want to say to consumers, marketers need to focus on what experiences they want them to have and want them to share.
"Email is about dialogue [and] it's about communication," he said. "It's not just one-way talking to people."
So how can brands humanize their marketing? To create this empathy, marketers need to rethink the term "omnichannel." Omnichannel should mean using multiple channels to create experiences that unlock emotions all humans share, Solis said. A break in this experience, he says, can cause consumers to abandon their journey altogether. But creating empathy-infused experiences designed around devices and desires attracts consumers and brings their "moments of truth" together, he said. This makes consumers more apt to listen to future messages and keep those messages in their inbox, he added.
But humanizing this data is no easy task. To help, Solis advised appointing someone who's responsible for making sense of complex data and why it matters from a human perspective.
So stop adding to all of the email noise, and start ringing in the empathy.
"More email is not the answer," he said. "Strategy and empathy is how we win."
Bruce Dern got the nomination for Best Actor in Nebraska, Alexander Payne for Best Director, and June Squibb for Supporting Actress in this picture that presents a stark accounting of a common American family. But the central instigator of plot in this film is a classic piece of direct mail that all who read this column have seen, or maybe even sent. It serves as the switch that ignites resentment, greed, longing, familial love, familial resentment, pettiness, and, ultimately, hope.
Dern plays Woody Grant, a slipping into senility ex-mechanic in Montana, who receives a letter in the mail that infuses his life with new promise. It's one of those magazine clearinghouse subscription pieces that says, “We are now authorized to pay $1 million to Woodrow T. Grant of Billings, Montana.” Woody either doesn't see, or refuses to acknowledge, the fine print that adds “…if yours is one of the winning numbers.” He tells people he wants to use his windfall to buy a new truck and an air compressor, but it soon becomes clear that Woody sees the letter as his ticket to a higher plane, his final chance to rise above his unremarkable life and thump his chest in front of loved ones and despised ones alike. With no driver's license, he takes to the highway on foot and only state troopers can delay his pilgrimage to contest headquarters in Lincoln, Nebraska.
His wife and oldest son recognize his behavior as a sign that it's time to dispatch pops to a nursing home. But his younger son David (Will Forte) realizes that the only way to get Woody to see the light is to drive him to Lincoln to confront his destiny. On the way, they stop in Woody's Hawthorne, Nebraska, birthplace, where he lets on about his windfall and is hailed as a local celebrity. He's then frisked and set upon by members of his family and his old business partner who angle to grab shares of the winnings. Ultimately, two of his nephews mug him for the letter, see what it is, and make him a laughingstock.
But the arrival of this mail piece incites revelations. David learns that his dad almost died in the Korean Conflict when his plane was shot down, that the kindly and educated owner of the hometown newspaper once hoped to marry Woody, that he ended up losing his garage in town because he was too generous with his friends.
I don't mean to overstate the role direct mail plays in this compelling film. It's just that, while watching it, I couldn't help thinking about all the attributes that list brokers and printers and bulk mailers ascribe to the marketing tool. That it's intrusive. That it arrives in your mail box and forces you to deal with it. That it can offer pleasant promises of cures to the mundane through colorful magazines or vacations.
When Woody finally arrives at the marketing agency office in Lincoln, director Payne keeps it real, as he does throughout the movie. The office is not a plush, scammers' paradise. It's a small, two-story brick affair on an industrial side-street littered with collateral. The receptionist respectfully takes the ticket Woody proffers, checks her computer, and says “Oh, gee, I'm sorry, Hon, but yours wasn't one of the winning numbers.” She offers Woody a consolation prize, which he accepts, and that, plus a loving contribution from a newly enlightened son, allows Woody to finally ride high, one more time, through Hawthorne, Nebraska.
All thanks to direct mail.
When it comes to the point of purchase, CPG brands can feel like they're in a long-distance relationship with their consumers. Although shoppers seem distanced and detached, CPGs yearn for an intimate connection. To ensure that the relationship endures, CPGs have to offer consumers value both on and off the shelf throughout the entire purchase process.
Liqueur brand Kahlúa did just that it in its “Taste the Spirit of the Holidays” campaign by helping target shoppers prepare for their holiday festivities. The coffee-and-rum spirit leveraged in-store and digital touchpoints to better understand and engage shoppers all the way to register.
“Having access to that consumer throughout the shopper journey creates a more intimate relationship between Kahlúa, or any Pernod Ricard brand, and the shopper,” says Tim Murphy, VP of digital and media for parent company Pernod Ricard USA. “It helps us understand more deeply what content, assets, or values are going to drive consumers through to purchase.”
One of the campaign's key digital ingredients was the Kahlúa Pinterest sweepstakes. To illustrate the versatility of its products, Kahlúa promoted eight cocktail recipes and eight baking recipes through interactive advertisements. The ads were hosted on the brand's partner sites, such as Allrecipes.com, and pushed consumers through to the sweepstakes. Participants then had to pin six Kahlúa-inspired recipes, cocktails, or gifts to their Pinterest boards. In addition to pinning the recipes featured in the ads, consumers could pin their own inspirations. Kahlúa even asked bloggers to create their own recipes and videos to generate more "pinspiration." The winner of the sweepstakes received $5,000 for their holiday party preparations. The contest ran from mid November to mid-December and was also pushed out through the brand's Facebook page and a campaign landing page.
After partnering with Curalate to analyze the sweepstakes performance, Kahlúa determined that more than 8,000 people entered the contest. These participants generated more than 10,400 pins and 1.4 million impressions. Kahlúa also acquired more than 3,800 Pinterest followers during the 35-day campaign—a 1,432% increase from its 267 follower count before the campaign—and more than 16,000 entrant emails.
But the sweepstakes wasn't the only way Kahlúa helped customers tackle their party preparations. The brand also pushed out recipe banner ads to party hosts who sent invitations via online invitation company Evite. And to make sure that guests didn't show up without a gift, Kahlúa sent banner ads containing liqueur coupons to invitation recipients. Kerri Owen, brand manager of liqueurs for Pernod Ricard USA, says that ads containing a recipe--such as those featured on Evites--saw response rates that were 3.5 times greater than Kahlúa's standard media ads.
“We knew that we had to put recipes, coupons, and a great sweepstakes all at [shoppers'] fingertips,” she says. “There were several different tactics and sites that we knew [prospective customers] were using to find them so that when they showed up at the point of purchase, they already knew what they were going to buy.”
However, if Kahlúa wanted to get as close to the point of purchase as possible, it had to target consumers while they were in-store. So Kahlúa also sent consumers mobile coupons to retailer shoppers via mobile ad network Jumptap (now Millennial Media). The brand also hosted cocktail and dessert tastings in-store and handed out recipe cards.
And to reward its customers for shopping in-store, Kahlúa teamed up with mobile shopping app Shopkick. Consumers could use the app to scan in-store items to earn points. Once they earned a certain amount of points, they could cash in their points for products. After consumers scanned one of Kahlúa's product, the brand distributed a short survey asking shoppers if they actually purchased the product.
And while every brand craves consumer engagement, Murphy says that it's important to not lose sight of the end goal: a purchase.
"It's all about driving that purchase," he says. "One of the challenges that we all have as marketers is that we talk in terms of likes, shares, retweets, tweets, followers, and so on. But if you can't convert that engagement into a purchase, then you have to wonder if you're doing the right things."
Murphy says that the percentage of consumers who said that they did make a purchase after scanning an item “over-indexed Shopkick's benchmarks.”
And the app doesn't just benefit consumers. It benefits brands, as well. Brands can use the app to serve out messages to its in-store consumers. For example, Kahlúa sent its customers mobile look-books featuring different Kahlúa-inspired cocktail, gifting, and baking ideas.
Owen says providing digital utility allowed Kahlúa to adjust its advertising on the fly. For instance, after learning that the brand's Jumptap coupon downloads didn't perform as well as the brand's recipe interactions, Kahlúa shifted its game strategy and added more recipe content. Murphy points out that the best way to determine what works for a brand is to just give it a go. “Just try it,” he says “If it works, scale it up. If it doesn't, move on.”
Based on the success of its efforts so far, Owen says, Kahlúa plans on continuing to interact with shoppers across channels in other key spirit seasons.
With our 2014 Marketing&Tech Partnership Summit coming up, I asked a few of the speakers: What's one piece of advice you'd give to marketers looking to improve collaboration with their technologist counterparts?
As creatives and geeks, we are all dealing with a paradox (create, or analyze?) but we all share a noble calling. As highly trained experts in our fields (marketers and technologists), we've been entrusted with one of the most valuable assets our society has ever created: Information about people. It's a noble calling because people matter. The way we view and handle data shapes how people interact with their world. Keep this calling in mind as you deal with the marketing paradox.
—Todd Cullen, chief data officer, OgilvyOne
There's something incomparable to throwing yourself into new experiences in a corporate environment. Through my experience creating J.Hilburn, I have upheld this learn-as-you-go mentality not only with my own education, but also with my employees', as well. I urge all employees to try to grasp projects from other departments' eyes.
For example, with marketers looking to improve collaboration with their technology counterparts, I urge these seemingly opposite departments to come together to educate and brainstorm. Push technologists to go through the full product experience if at all possible. Motivate them to understand and become more involved in the sales process. Fully understanding the inner workings of each department will only make them stronger at their own job.
Taking this a step further, executives should require technologists to create a case study or other project specifically incorporating one of the company's business problems—even if it's swayed toward a marketing/sales challenge. It's probable that their solution will not be dead on, but the point is to use this as an exercise to see how each of the departments think and problem solve and determine how the two separate departments can better partner with one another.
—Veeral Rathod, cofounder, J.Hilburn
First marketers need to understand what else is on their technology counterparts' list of deliverables for others in the company. Then marketers need to be able to speak to [technologists] in a common language, with clear scope and definition of the project(s) that need to be completed. The more information that can be provided, including the longer-term plan, the better the collaboration will be.
—Bruce Biegel, senior managing partner, Winterberry Group
Marketers need to be very clear with their technology counterparts as to what they're trying to accomplish from their Big Data analysis and insight activities. It's important to undertake a small analysis effort initially with a keen focus on the interpretation and actionability of the resulting data analysis.
— Barton Goldenberg, president, ISM Inc.
Have scheduled, recurring meetings on your calendar. The best way to ensure positive collaboration with your technology counterparts is to involve them in your planning and development. By getting them onboard from the ground up, they'll have a vested interest in your program's success, and contribute significantly more in both strategy and execution.
— Greg Grdodian, CEO, Reach Marketing
To hear more on collaboration strategy like how marketing and IT should collaboratively “own” customer data, as well as the business benefits of a marketing-tech partnership, join us at the upcoming Marketing&Tech Partnership Summit in NYC on January, 28, 2014.
I generally don't keep paper receipts, and when I do, it's usually by mistake. Getting undressed at the end of the day I might find three or four crumpled receipts from sundry bodegas or coffee shops stuffed into the pockets of my jeans, all of which immediately make their way into the trash bin. Sometimes when I'm rooting around in my wallet for my driver license I'll come across an old receipt with such faded print it might as well be blank. Into the circular file.
From that vantage point, receipts are not the most inspiring medium…or really a medium at all. But according to Square CEO Jack Dorsey (you know, the guy who also cofounded that Twitter thing), digital receipts are a potentially rich, interactive communication channel—”if you consider the receipt to be more than just a piece of paper with coupons on the back that you probably throw away.”
Large, medium-size, and small businesses between them produce millions of (usually unwanted and quickly discarded) receipts every day, and the lifespan of the vast majority of those ill-fated receipts goes a little something like this: print receipt, hand over receipt, discard receipt into nearest trash receptacle.
“What's the one thing people walk away from every single transaction with?” Dorsey rhetorically asked the NRF crowd. “Commerce has been with us since the dawn of civilization, and so has the receipt—for every transaction a receipt is given, but often it's not taken because it's not useful.”
Traditional receipts also don't do much for retailers in terms of data collected. Phone numbers, email addresses, names, preferences—there's a lot of good data out there not currently being mined at POS; data that many consumers would be more than willing to hand over if they knew it would be used responsibly and to provide them with a better, more personalized experience.
Square's technology, which allows merchants to accept mobile payments by attaching a nifty little card reader to their tablet or smartphone, is about revamping the humble receipt into something better. A corresponding app acts as a kind of digital wallet. Consumers download the app, create an account, and associate a credit card. Having done that, they never have to hand over a credit card to a Square merchant, as in any business that accepts Pay with Square, ever again.
In other words, you could stroll through the door of your favorite coffee shop and the barista behind the counter will already know your name and your favorite/most frequently purchased items. He or she will also see your photo pop up on the POS screen. No money has to change hands. The purchase is automatically put onto your credit card followed by a push notification after payment, and you can browse your past purchases and access your digital receipts whenever you want from the app itself. You can also rate your experience, the store can send you specials right to your phone, and you can share your purchases with your friends—all that good stuff. When was the last time you shared a paper receipt with your friends (homophonic receipt hoaxes aside)? (A: probably not recently/ever.)
It's a simple idea and that's why it's so potent; a totally frictionless experience powered by technology.
And the possibilities here are endless, Dorsey said—it's just a matter of keeping your eyes peeled for opportunities to make the retail experience smoother, more intuitive, and mutually beneficial for brand and consumer alike.
In the words of Dorsey's favorite science fiction writer, William Gibson, author of Neuromancer and coiner of the term “cyberpunk:” “The future is already here, it's just not very evenly distributed.”
As a term, Big Data has become a bit too nebulous and loaded. Bestselling author and distinguished IT management Professor Thomas H. Davenport's new book Big Data @ Work grounds the marketing world's newest challenge and examines the utility of big data analysis.
Davenport has written more than 100 articles and 13 books on analytics and IT management. We spoke with him about some of the issues covered in the book and asked for a deconstruction of Big Data: What does it actually mean? Who does it help and who could it help more? What about small businesses that don't have the budget for advanced analytical tech?
Big Data has become a pretty loaded term. Deconstruct the term for us and discuss the merit behind the hype.
I don't think [Big Data] is a particularly helpful term because it's sort of lost all meaning through terminological inflation, hype, and so on. So I argue that you should be clear about what kind of data you're using.
Is it the unstructured aspect of Big Data that you're focused on—which is in fact much harder to deal with than the size for most organizations? Do you have a particularly high level of volume—which isn't particularly difficult for most organizations to deal with? Or is the fast-moving nature of it that's continually flowing and you're trying to address how to make decisions and take actions on data that's changing all the time?
So, I'd say you'd be better off saying something like, “We're trying to understand customer perception through analysis of video at ATM machines,” which would actually tell you something rather than saying, “Oh, we're working on a Big Data project,” which sounds pretty much useless.
What separates Big Data from past marketing trends like OLAP or business intelligence?
When I first started researching [Big Data] I had written a few books on analytics; I just thought it was analytics under another name. But I do think the unstructured nature of Big Data does put it in a different category. Basically, what it means is that you have to do a lot of things before you can do the kinds of analysis you describe. You have to get it into rows and columns.
If it's video you have to do facial recognition on it. If it's text you have to count word frequency, that sort of thing, before you can do any real analysis and make any decision on the basis of it.
The other difference is that because analytics have gotten a bit more advanced compared to OLAP and BI, it's a little bit more likely for people to do statistical analysis on it. There's a very high interest in visual representation of Big Data. That's not terribly different from BI, but there's a little stronger emphasis I would say. Obviously, we have some new visual tools that are a little bit more sophisticated like heat maps and moving bubble charts and so on.
Which industries stand to gain the most from Big Data?
There are some industries that could have done a lot with data in the past, but didn't really do much—at least not in any way that benefits their customers—so I call them underachievers. Big Data gives them sort of a new chance to do more. I would say banks, consumer financial services, are a good example of that. With some new data that is a little bit less structured—as I mentioned, video or maybe cell phone location data or something along those lines—they could start to do more.
Telecom has been a real underachiever with its data in the past, and now that we have smartphone location data, some companies like Verizon (I use them as an example in my book) are starting to do a bit more with that kind data.
I think healthcare is coming on strong. It was not an underachiever in the past; it was just sort of disadvantaged because there wasn't much data at all. But we're pouring a lot of U.S. taxpayer dollars into electronic medical records and we have all of these connected health devices. So, that's coming along quite strongly.
Retail has always been pretty strong and will get stronger with this sort of thing. Travel and transportation have always been relatively good, but are already doing more. Companies like UPS and Schneider National are doing a lot with Big Data at an early stage.
Those would be some examples.
Would you expand on some the companies you think are shining examples of Big Data done right?
Well, the companies that were the earliest adopters of this, of course, were the online companies. The eBays, the Amazons, the Googles, and LinkedIns, etc. I think to some degree what we're seeing now is that more large, traditional companies are saying, “You know, we can do some interesting things too in this regard.”
Some of them are industrial companies. GE is doing a huge amount with Big Data, putting sensors on air craft engines and gas turbines and so on. You have companies like Proctor and Gamble, which are not direct marketers because for the most part they don't have direct access to consumers, but are doing a lot with things like social media data on customers. They've been really big consumers of third-party syndicated data about what consumers are up to. They're certainly playing a very strong role in terms of being early adopters in the consumer products space.
As I've mentioned, UPS is doing a whole lot with Big Data to plant its roots more effectively. You know, saving tens of millions of gallons of fuel already—even though they aren't entirely finished in this space. I've been very impressed with USAA and I talk a fair amount about them in the book. [USAA has] done a lot with Big Data to understand customers better, to understand the implications and effects of its advertising. This whole marketing mix analysis, they've been quite active with. Another company I'd put into that category is Fidelity Investments, which has done a lot to figure out, “Does my advertising really, really pay off.”
How would you suggest smaller businesses go about using the millions of gigabytes of data they've gathered?
Well, I think some human labor, in terms of analytical labor, is still required. The good news for smaller businesses is that it's getting less and less expensive. The software for doing Big Data analysis is largely free; much of it is open source. The hardware tends to be quite cheap and commoditized; you know, cheap server farms. And you can get it in the cloud if you don't want to make the capital investment. Expertise is still somewhat expensive in this area, but increasingly you can get it off-shore. Other organizations will provide some analytical capabilities for you as a service so you don't have to build it all yourself.I think the biggest thing that's lacking for small businesses is some sense of what the possibilities are. They too can play in this space now. It's typically been the larger companies and the online companies in Silicon Valley that have been the early adopters, but it certainly doesn't have to be that way.
If you're a marketer who hasn't bothered to look into digital wallet technology, there are two reasons you may want to start looking, according to a panel convened at the National Retail Federation show in New York:
1. In 2017 Millennials will eclipse Baby Boomers as the largest generation extant
2. In 2015 EMV chip-and-pin credit cards standards take over in the U.S.
The first reason is a marketplace driver. Smartphones are essentially appendages of Millennials' bodies. They use them intuitively, and every mobile device in the marketplace will soon be equipped with mobile wallet apps. Not only are Apple, Amazon, eBay, and Google in the business, but last year AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon teamed up to form Isis, a mobile wallet provider that offers a standard platform for all devices from those leading wireless services' ubiquitous stores. (Isis sponsored the NRF panel.)
The second reason is a financial driver. This year nearly every business that accepts card payments has budgeted for converting their POS systems to accept EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) standards in which magnetic strips will be replaced by computer chips identifying the particular cardholder. The system helps protect ID theft by requiring the holder to insert the card in a payment terminal and enter a PIN. The card must remain in the cardholder for the duration of the transaction, however, which is troubling for both customers and retailers, who must train employees to be sure to return it. Customers with digital wallets enter their PINs on their phone apps and pay by waving their phones over a terminal configured with near field communication (NFC) technology. As a result, it's expected that retailers who have already budgeted for POS overhauls will consider NFC, as well, so they can accept “contactless” payments from digital wallets and EMV cards alike.
“We want to be tech agnostic and support multiple digital wallets,” said panel member Robert Notte, CTO of Jamba Juice, which completed a test of NFC installations in Austin and Salt Lake City, Isis's initial markets. NFC technology allows customers to employ Isis's SmartTap technology (and similar ones from Google, et al) to complete purchases by opening the digital wallet and waving it over a terminal.
“NFC is quick, easy, and secure. It gives us entry to the entire ecosystem and allows us to amplify our message to our consumers. It's another consumer channel,” Notte said. A single tap of the app not only completes the transaction, but also automatically awards loyalty points or prompts customers to spend points.
“It's very interesting to speculate how companies will be able to use this technology to interact with their customers,” said Daniel Thomas, senior director of professional services at Epicor, a retail systems software provider. “You could use it to promote loyalty memberships or to feed customers offers.”
Although all members of the panel (save Notte) were in businesses that will benefit from widespread implementation of digital wallet, they answered convincingly in unison when moderator Tony Sabetti of Isis asked for their chief advice to retailers. “Do it now,” was their reply.
“In the last few years, we chipped away at mobile wallet. Many acceptance devices couldn't handle it,” said Erik Vlugt, VP of product marketing for VeriFone. “But now all the elements you need to do it are here. If you don't do it now, you'll be chasing your competition.”
One of those expecting to be chased is Jamba Juice's Notte, whose company is expanding digital wallet chainwide in the U.S. following Isis's nationwide rollout last fall. “Digital wallet is a great fit for us. Our customers tend to be tech savvy. They're on their phones while waiting for their smoothies,” he said. “We did 100 million customer transactions through digital wallet last year. We find it is enhancing customer experience as well as the speed of spend.”
Mobile is an essential part of a healthy marketing regimen.
“We're seeing many organizations where mobile represents 50 to 60% of the traffic,” says Bernd Leger, VP of marketing for Localytics, a marketing analytics platform for mobile and Web apps. “If that's the case, you have to have a different mind-set of ‘how do we engage users on mobile, and what's that experience like?'”
Jon Gilman, product manager of fitness technology company RunKeeper, admits that apps are the “bread and butter” of the brand (carbs aside). More than 25 million organically acquired users have downloaded RunKeeper's flagship iPhone and Android apps to track their workouts, share their successes, and integrate their activity data into other health-related apps.
Traditionally, RunKeeper focused on the cardio activity market by offering tracking and integration capabilities for biking, running, and walking workouts. But after listening to its users, the company discovered that many people were participating in other forms of exercise, such as downhill skiing and meditation. So RunKeeper decided to redesign its app to enable those engaging in other fitness activities to track their progress.
“What we wanted to do was start expanding the base of RunKeeper beyond just running, walking, and biking and move to activity types like yoga [or] strength training," Gilman says. "Though we knew those activities were an important piece of our users' fitness lifecycle, they weren't [being] captured."
But RunKeeper didn't want to jump the gun and overhaul its app without knowing how that might affect metrics. So the company decided to focus on its starting screen first. RunKeeper then teamed up with mobile A/B testing organization Vessel and Localytics this past July and conducted a one-month A/B test to see if people would be more likely to log fitness activities other than running if given the option.
To conduct the test, RunKeeper randomly assigned Android users to one of two groups: A and B. Group A users saw the app's old starting screen, which featured a form listing users' activity type, attributes associated with that activity (such as whether they shared their workout), and a start button. RunKeeper automatically set the activity type to running. If group A users wanted to select a different activity, they would have to change it manually. For group B users, however, RunKeeper didn't automatically select an activity. Unlike group A, group B saw a new screen featuring eight different activities to choose from.
RunKeeper saw a 235% increase in non-running activities logs when it showed consumers the group B version. Furthermore, RunKeeper didn't experience a decline in GPS-tracked walk, run, or bike activities. Since conducting the A/B test, RunKeeper has improved entry flow by eliminating extra starting page steps, and increased the number of people who complete an activity after manually logging it.
While A/B testing can seem like an intimidating exercise, Gilman says it can lead to big benefits.
“It's OK to try testing big things,” Gilman says. “The benefit of having an A/B testing and analytics framework is that you can make wholesale changes to an experience that you think are risky or may not work. But, being able to measure and quantify the exact impact of those changes against your old experience gives product managers [and] designers a lot of flexibility to try new things and think outside the box.”
It's the Catch-22 of B2B marketing: If you want lead quality, you probably have to sacrifice lead quantity; if you're looking for lots of leads, quality's out the window.
A traditional lead database isn't going to cut it anymore because it doesn't scale and it doesn't pull in dynamic customer data. In Mishor's view, the future belongs to something he refers to as the “lead cloud”—the real time and on-demand analysis of information gathered from the social Web and married to ideal buyer profiles. In other words, using Big Data analytics to get a bead on your leads before they even engage with you.
To get that done, B2B marketers need to model their ideal customers and think about investing in tech solutions to gather a volume of relevant data—and it all comes back to quality versus quantity, although from Mishor's perspective, if B2B marketers get on the tech train (predictive analytics, machine learning, natural language processes, automation), “quality versus quantity” can easily become “quality and quantity.” No need to choose between them—which is good because one is just as important as the other. A quantity of bad data won't serve your marketing goals; but too few leads, even if they're of quality, won't make an impact.
“If you can get rid of the junk, it's good, but you must have the quantity, as well,” Mishor says. “Don't believe any solution that tells you you'll get a better lead base with Big Data analytics without scale.”
Take a traditional lead gen effort. Let's say you're trying to reach out to IT people. What do you do first? You hit up your database or you buy a list of however many thousands of IT job titles you think you'll need. Then you try to market your product to them.
“When you just stick to inbound marketing, all prospects fill out the same form; they all choose from the same categories—‘Yes, I'm in IT;' ‘Yes, I'm in marketing,'—but it doesn't matter if they're a consultant or if they're high level or low level,” Mishor says. “In that case, all the leads just look the same.”
But if you're making an effort to collect more nuanced data about prospects—culled from comments they leave on blogs, from what they tweet about, from what they share—you can go well beyond the job title to pull in information like seniority level, interests, whether a person is in a position to spend money with a vendor.
The same goes for qualified leads garnered from, for example, event attendance. When a prospect attends an event, it's pretty clear he or she is interested in what you're about, but that kind of lead is costly—maybe even hundreds of dollars each. By looking at what prospects say online, you can identify their interests and target them just as accurately—but infinitely more easily and cost-effectively.
It seems like the future of database marketing won't actually include any databases—at least not in the conventional sense.
One thing about marketing, it's never boring. Change and challenge are ever-present. In fact, 2014 promises to be filled with as much opportunity and angst as last year.
At Direct Marketing Club of New York's Annual Outlook luncheon, keynote speaker Bruce Biegel senior managing partner of Winterberry Group, not only shared the management consulting firm's predictions on 2014 marketing spending (e.g., “direct and digital” marketing spending will increase about 5.5%), but he also revealed 10 marketing trends to watch.
1. Content. Big Data's days as a marketing darling are numbered. Content is the next big thing. “Content matters because people consume content, they don't consume data,” Biegel said. Mobile content marketing that is app driven and device driven will increase in importance. Director of content marketing becomes a job. Sponsorship will grow, fueling content marketing further. But marketers are still trying to figure out formats, ways to measure success, and how to automate delivery, he said.
2. Direct mail. Winterberry Group projects that direct mail spending will increase 1.1% in 2014, but the recent decision on exigency may negatively impact that growth. “The exigent increase may have marketers saying, ‘I don't know if I can afford this.' This is a real threat,” Biegel said. “I don't quite believe [the exigent increase] temporary.” Even so, Biegel believes that direct mail “should be growing because it works.”
3. Programmatic. “This is a freight train coming and either you're on board or not on board,” Biegel said. Programmatic real-time bidding (RTB) accounted for $3.56 billion in 2013 marketing spend, which was 23% of all display ad spend last year. Winterberry Group expects programmatic RTB to reach $4.45 billion in 2014, and predicts that, in 2016, 35% of all digital display ad spending will be RTB programmatic.
4. Attribution. The industry is getting to where a measurement standard for digital display ads is becoming a top priority. “There's no ROI for an ad that was never seen,” Biegel said. Viewability becomes a key issue in 2014. Performance and quality will improve as a result of implementing viewability metrics, so prices will go up.
5. Social targeting. Increasingly, companies will use their CRM data to target customers on social sites. “This is one of the most fascinating things going on,” Beigel said. Facebook has custom audiences, Twitter announced tailored audiences, and Yahoo just jumped into the fray with its own service. “Other platforms will follow,” he said. “And it will perform more like direct mail. Expect it to outperform search.”
6. Merging on- and offline data. Marketers need all their data in one place to build optimal segments and take an omnichannel approach. The spend and growth are coming in data management platforms and tag management as marketers collect and use more and more online data.
7. Campaign management platforms. Marketers want to manage their campaigns centrally and vendors are responding with solutions. “Vendors are saying, ‘How many campaign channels can I add so I can be the platform to manage all campaigns?'” Biegel said. “It's going to take a while to integrate all these platforms, but we'll see some providers get there this year.”
8. TV and video evolve. Most consumers don't care about pixels, they want a great connected experience, and marketers need to address that by sending communications and content in the right format. Additionally, tablets and connected TVs will fuel cross-platform video advertising. “It's all about connectedness,” Biegel said.
9. Marketing talent. The demand for marketing talent will continue to evolve. Many marketing layoffs in 2013 represented a shift in talent needs and roles, Biegel said. Companies are reallocating their marketing staff; reducing lower-value, less efficient functions as programmatic grows and moving more staff to strategic roles.
10. IPOs and consolidation continues. “Who's next?” Biegel asked. “We probably don't need as many companies as we have out there.” Consequently, he predicts a strong M&A and IPO year. Companies don't want to fall behind the curve if they're mature and they don't want to leave money on the table if they're younger, fast-growth companies, he said.
“This is what you should be thinking about not just for the next 12 months,” Biegel said, “but for the next 12 to 36 months.”
To hear more from Biegel on data and privacy issues, and on how marketing and IT should collaboratively "own" customer data, join us at the upcoming Marketing&Tech Partnership Summit in NYC on January, 28, 2014.
Joe Schick wasn't surprised by the lumps of coal left in mailers' stockings by the Postal Regulatory Commission on Christmas Eve. Like other stakeholders who'd been following the exigency drama, he'd hoped a reduced number might be put into play by the PRC, but he didn't blink when he learned that the PRC went for the full 4.3% increase. Instead, Quad/Graphics' long-time director of postal affairs had the resigned attitude of a man whose wife had run off with his best friend and stole his car to do it.
“I'm never surprised at what comes out of the Postal Service or the Commission,” Schick says, though it's clear that the timing and the aggressiveness of the Christmas assault on mailers had cut to the bone. “When we used to do rate cases, there would be some work-sharing opportunities that would let us reduce costs for our customers, but there's none of that here. A lot of mailers were not happy about it coming down on Christmas Eve, and then two days later they file for an advisory opinion on load leveling that takes some Monday deliveries away from us. So that's the way it's going to be going forward. If the Postal Service has a problem it can't fix, it can raise prices and cut services, like it did Christmas week.”
The fact that the PRC limited the exigency to two years or the collection of $2.8 billion in added revenues gave mailers little solace. Even if exigency were to be phased out—and no mailers we spoke with were optimistic that the federal government would shut off a running revenue stream—their businesses are and will be handicapped by the rate hike for years to come.
AmeriMark, an online retailer of apparel and general merchandise for which mail order is still a huge component, sees its mailings declining by more than 13% within two years of exigency rates being put in place. What's more, it sees an 8% decrease in the mailing costs it will pay to USPS as a result. “The exigent increase leads to reductions in circulation which actually leads to lower gross revenue for the Postal Service,” says AmeriMark president Louis Giesler. “It can set in place a death spiral.”
USPS won't see the decrease initially from catalog companies, most of which have already printed catalogs for their initial 2014 mailings. However the drop-offs will come fast and furious from catalogers and direct mailers alike, most likely culminating with cuts during the fall, a period USPS counts on to bolster its Fiscal Q4 numbers.
“We're a P&L oriented company, so we're going to cut our circulation more than what the postal increase is,” says AmeriMark VP Marketing Dale Fujimoto. “We can never really recover from the postage increase, we can only mitigate it. So, we're going to take away the mailings that fall below our profit cutoffs. Cutting out prospects leads to shrinkage of your 12-month file, and once that happens, it's hard to build it up again. We're going to have fewer orders and less customer retention.”
Paul Ercolino, president of US Monitor, which tracks and measures direct mail campaigns for large mailers and fundraisers, sees this becoming an industry-wide dynamic. “You're not going to prospect as much when you're facing a 6% postal increase,” he says. “If you planned on doing 12 campaigns, you cut it to 10.”
Ercolino actually sees the exigent increase as a potential boon to US Monitor's business, as clients endeavor to explore efficiencies. However, he doesn't see it being a net revenue boon for the Post Office. “It's going to take some time to regain that [$2.8 billion] because of the declining volume,” he says. “It's going to be difficult to get it done in two years.”
The irony is that the organization that stands the most to lose in new customer acquisition as a result of the exigency increase is the Postal Service itself. That's the view of Brian Kurtz, EVP of Boardroom Inc., a newsletter publisher that relies almost exclusively on mail to prospect, as well as to deliver its printed products.
“Direct mail still works, it still scales beautifully. It has so many advantages over digital, like merged and purged lists with upfront credit scores. It gives us the opportunity to send bill-me offers instead of up-front credit card purchases. That gives us a four-time greater response, and more than half are going to pay, so it's two to three times the conversion rate. ” Kurtz says. “A lot of digital marketers are starting to figure out how to use direct mail in their mix. This is a huge new potential market for the Postal Service, but the Postal Service is pricing a lot of them out of the business.”
Amid the flying arrows and slinging stones filling the direct mail skies in recent weeks, there remains a whiff of hope, like the lingering aroma of the perfume of that two-timin' wife. It's called postal reform, and it was a constant topic of discussion among both congressmen and mailers until exigency passed and the topic was apparently dropped. Mailers, by and large, remain confident that the passage of a new reform bill might lift the horrifying specter of exigency and allow them to go back to business as usual.
“I think postal reform should take exigency off the books,” US Monitor's Ercolino says. “If they get the reform package and they eliminate Saturday delivery, savings should already be in the $2 billion range.”
But Quad/Graphics' Schick is not so sure that even reform will have mailers smelling roses again. “The indications given by the Postal Service is that this exigency will give them enough to carry them through 2017, so I don't see why Congress would even consider it,” he says. “[Rep. Darrel] Issa has come out and focused on the five-day delivery, but I don't see that as a positive for mailers. The Senate wants to take away the governance of the regulatory commission. It's only bad stuff.”
What once was a symbiotic relationship between post office and mailer is over. They still need and depend on each other, but the separation papers have been filed and approved by the PRC. “We'll muddle through,” Schick says, “but it's not going to be easy.”
Marketing is all about taking risks and being bold. And it's always the leaders, rather than the followers, who reap the most benefits. Here are four brands that set the 2014 marketing bar high with their ingenuity.
Old Spice: I first spotted this Old Spice commercial while watching the Green Bay Packers versus the San Francisco 49ers football game last Sunday. (Don't even talk to me about it. To say that I'm heartbroken over the outcome would be a true understatement.) The creepy moms spying on their sons from behind their bedroom doors, on the back of their convertibles, and at the beach definitely caught my attention, as well as the attention of others. The 60-second spot featured on the P&G brand's official YouTube channel has racked up more than 3.1 million views since being uploaded January 3. Fans can even download the “Mom Song” track from SoundCloud so they can listen to moms gripe about their sons' entrance into manhood on repeat.
Old Spice has also been humorously promoting the spots, done in partnership with Wieden + Kennedy, on its website, Twitter, and Facebook channels as part of its “Smellcome to Manhood” campaign. And whether customers consider the ad funny or downright disturbing,it generates word of mouth either way—proving that humor, when used appropriately, can sometimes go further than any marketing budget ever could.
Charmin and Denny's: Oreo's Dunk in the Dark tweet during last year's Super Bowl blackout taught brands that providing timely, relevant content can have big payoffs in terms of earned media.
“Creating content around up-to-the-minute happenings is something that consumers have been doing ever since Twitter launched—and until recently, brands have moved too slow to get into the act,” Shankar Gupta, director of social marketing strategy at 360i, told Direct Marketing News for its July 2013 “Under (and so over) the Influence” feature. “But if you can set up your brand and your agency to take advantage of this white space, you can reap enormous benefits.”
Toilet paper brand Charmin and family restaurant chain Denny's followed Oreo's lead this week by creating humorous tweets surrounding the BCS National Championship. For example, Denny's tweeted an image of a map showing Auburn fans all of the places they could score a Denny's meal on their drive back to Alabama. The tweet generated more than 6,433 retweets and more than 2,993 favorites.
Likewise, Charmin's tweet about college football fans getting ready to “sheet their pants” achieved 1,470 retweets and 828 favorites.
These tweets support the trend that TV and social are becoming more interconnected. So it's important for marketers to have the right staff and resources in place so that they don't miss a game-winning opportunity.
P&G: Don't even watch this ad unless you have a box of tissues next to you. In P&G's touching “Pick Them Back Up" spot, four mothers of Olympic athletes discuss the role they play in helping their children achieve their dreams. The online film is the latest addition to the company's ongoing Thank You Mom campaign and the sequel to the film “Best Job,” which debuted at the London 2012 Olympic Games and earned more than 21 million views.
The brand debuted the two-minute film on January 5 in preparation for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games and has since received more than 2.8 million views. The film, also done in partnership with Wieden + Kennedy, will be shown in more than 20 countries in the form of shorter TV spots. P&G is also promoting the film, as well as its “Raising an Olympian” video series, via its social and online channels.
Not only do the spots capture all of the emotions and national pride that go into the Olympics, but it also pulls on the heart strings of its target audience—making it relatable to moms everywhere and causing P&G to bring home the gold.
It's easy to succumb to the so-called ostrich effect, especially in the face of something intimidating, new, and seemingly unpredictable. But you can only put your head in the sand until you can't put your head in the sand anymore. Avoidance is not a long-term strategy—but it's one that many people, even top-level brand executives and agency heads, adopt when confronted with the digital world.
So says Tim Leake, global creative innovation and partnership director at Hyper Island, a Sweden-based digital education company that offers media and communications programs attended by executives from big-time companies like Capital One Investments, McCann, Target, and L'Oreal, at locations around the world.
In fact, the idea that digital is daunting or in some way inscrutable is one of the biggest misconceptions floating around the water cooler today.
“It can be scary if you didn't grow up with it, but feeling like you can't understand it is not true,” Leake says. “If you get curious about something and you want to understand it, it's easy.”
The antidote is actually fairly simple. Mostly, it's about a perspective shift—and realizing that you don't have to do everything yourself. Take apps. To integrate them into your mobile strategy, you have to know why they might work for your audience, what marketing problem you're looking to solve, how they'll fit into what you know about the way your customers use or don't use mobile devices…
…but it's not like you actually have to know how to build an app from scratch, though it does help to have a basic understanding of how things work to keep your ideas grounded. In other words, don't get hung up on the tools; do get hung up on the human behaviors.
“People do put that expectation on themselves, that they have to do everything on their own—but it's really about understanding what the attraction is to a piece of technology,” Leake says. “You have to get to a place where there's confidence around digital—otherwise you're just adrift in a sea of buzzwords.”
If you're producing a TV commercial, it's not like you have to go to film school to learn about camera angles and how light refracts off a lens, Leake jokes. “But if you're writing a script for a TV ad, it does help to have a basic understanding of how something gets filmed,” he says.
Leake and his Hyper Island cohorts see buzzwords as particularly nefarious.
“A lot of so-called digital gurus try to overwhelm you with the tech, but that's because they get ‘digital' and ‘technology' confused,” says Leake, who himself spent seven years at Saatchi & Saatchi before joining Hyper Island. “People go to a digital class or a conference and all they hear is more and more buzzwords—but the screen's not the thing; it's connecting to people that's the interesting part.”
I sat in on part of a recent three-day Hyper Island master class held at the NYC campus in mid-December to get an idea of the kind of things that make these top-level executives tick. There were about 30 people in the room, which was a cool, stripped down space with concrete floors and boldly colored accent walls in orange and teal. The day was a mixture of discussion, interactive sessions, and what the Hyper Island crowd referred to as “reflection,” during which the attendees jotted down and then discussed their biggest takeaways from the previous day.
Nearly every person shared something, and what seems to have been the most common revelation is that we're not living through a technology revolution—we're living through a customer behavior revolution. Technology is just there to help. Once you understand customer behavior, it becomes a matter of using technology to address it, rather than running about in a controlled panic acquiring the latest tech first and trying to figure out where to squeeze it into the mix later.
As one person noted, “We're not born having learned how to swim. It's comforting to know we're all going through similar things and it's good to know we can help each other.”
Marketers have kind of a bad rap. Their ability to get along with customer service and sales has long been questioned. Now the same is happening with marketing and their technology counterparts in IT, web development, and the like. But succeeding at these relationships has become an imperative. Marketers use more and more technology to communicate with and engage customers, and even with the proliferation of SaaS tools, they can't go it alone.
Consider Timex and J.Hilburn, both of which were able to profitably improve their online customer experiences through marketing, IT, and e-commerce collaboration.
In the case of Timex, the goal was to enmesh its brand experience with its customers' lifestyles. While its marketing teams worked to craft engaging content—i.e., relevant to individual customers' preferences and locations—its IT and Web teams worked to ensure consistent site performance. The result is an online customer experience that successfully blends content, community, and ecommerce.
For men's custom luxury menswear brand J.Hilburn, the goal was to create a highly interactive online experience that “integrates” with the in-person experience its customers have working with its stylists. “They don't have to replicate each other; they just have to work really well in harmony,” says Veeral Rathod, cofounder of J. Hilburn. For example, the site has an online configurator for purchasing shirts. When the IT team was developing it, they initial tried to re-create the experience a customer would have with a stylist, but the resulting purchase process was becoming too complex. The marketing team advised IT to keep it simple online—and leave the complexity to the stylists. Once the website team launched the simplified configurator, there was an immediate lift in sales.
“There's a natural tension between technologists, who want to develop the latest and create sizzle through technology, and marketers, who are focused on how to engage the customer and generate transactions and conversions,” Rathod says. “When you have a team that works well together, the technologists are committed to solving the business problem for the marketing folks and the marketing folks are aligning with the technology to say, ‘Here's what we're ultimately trying to deliver, let's work together to get there.”
In other words, when marketing and technology feel the love, sparks ignite to create a sizzling customer experience.
To get the full story behind these marketing-tech successes, as well as those of Gilt Groupe, Turner Sports, and AOL Paid Services, join us at the upcoming Marketing&Tech Partnership Summit in NYC on January, 28, 2014.
$2.8 billion versus $6.6 billion.
That might be a quick way to sum up the outcome of the U.S. Postal Service's request for a 4.3% exigent rate increase, which was approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) on Christmas Eve—approved, but for a limited time only. The PRC recognized the Great Recession as a valid reason for the unprecedented price hike, but ruled that the Postal Service must surrender the increase once it recaptures the $2.8 billion in revenue the Commission figures USPS lost to the devastating economic event. The Postal Service, for its part, had pegged its recession-related losses at $6.6 billion and wanted the increase to be permanent.
So, although mailers welcomed their unwanted Christmas present with howls of execration (to borrow from Camus), the PRC's decision handed them an unexpected gift they could put some stock in: Exigency isn't necessarily forever.
Indeed, figuring that the exigent increase will add $1.8 billion a year to Postal Service coffers, the PRC placed a limit of two years on the 4.3% surcharge and requested a quarterly revenue tally from USPS that could end the State of Exigency sooner.
In its decision, the PRC stated that it considers the recession to be a continued contributor to mail volume loss only until: “(1) a sufficient number of relevant macroeconomic indicators demonstrate a return to positive trends; (2) the rate of change for Postal Service mail volumes is positive; (3) the Postal Service regains its ability to project mail volumes; and (4) the Postal Service demonstrates an ability to adjust operations to the lower volumes.”
“Not getting the 4.3% baked into the rate base forever is a significant victory,” Paul Miller, VP & Deputy Director of the American Catalog Manufacturers Association (ACMA), wrote to members earlier this week, adding that “there are at least a few positives we can take away from what's otherwise an abomination.”
Echoing Miller, Janet Lockhart-Jones, a postal education expert for Pitney Bowes, wrote in a company blog that “this is a huge win for the mailing industry; the exigent price increase is not a permanent one.”
The PRC, in alignment with the thinking of mailers, stated that “the Postal Service proposal to collect this rate adjustment [is] indefinitely inconsistent with the fundamental policies underlying the price cap.” Further, the Commission directed the Postal Service to develop a plan for phasing out exigent rates once the $2.8 billion recovery had been made.
But ACMA President and Executive Director Hamilton Davison wonders if mailers will ever see that day. “The decrease in volume that will occur due to the exigent increase may take the recovery period beyond two years and give cause to the PRC to extend the increase,” he said.
It's the end of the year. In fact, it's the last day of the year. December is the month of countdowns, roundups, and lists of every description, so I thought I'd get my own in, just under the wire.
Please to enjoy this listicle (yeah, I said it) of five neat campaigns from 2013:
A Pollo 13: Soy Vay slow-cooks marinated teriyaki chicken in space (as in, outer space)
Some food is just out of this world—literally. To demonstrate the versatility of its sauces—and to boldly take its kosher, preservative-free marinades where no marinades have gone before, sauce brand Soy Vay (best name ever) put together a crazy little stunt that saw it send two perfectly innocent chicken breasts into the stratosphere in a specially designed polystyrene “space cooker” made to resemble a Soy Vay bottle and to withstand the sub-zero temperatures of the upper atmosphere. (Check out the video above.)
A squad of actual physicists and rocket scientists built the thing, inside of which was deposited one pound of organic, free-range chicken breast marinated in Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce and vacuum-sealed in plastic and suspended over a water bath. The chicken, which was launched from a park in Nashville, reached a height of 104,572 feet and spent just shy of two hours slowly cooking at 155 degrees Fahrenheit, before returning to Earth. A team of Soy Vay “chicken chasers” tracked down the Soy Vay pod using GPS and sampled the chicken within. The verdict: Yum.
Yeah, it was kind of silly. But it was also kind of hilarious. And it wasn't just a stunt for the sake of doing a stunt. Soy Vay made sure the crowd that had gathered to watch the chicken launch was packed with bloggers, all of whom were sent little care packages—which included astronaut ice cream, light saber chopsticks, and NASA-branded oven mitts—to get them in the mood. Results were also pretty tasty: Just two weeks after the event in October Soy Vay garnered more than one million organic social impressions across Facebook and Twitter, and gave away more than 20,000 product taste samples to Nashville-based consumers.
IBM gets smart
IBM's Smarter Planet ads, created by Ogilvy, have been around for several years and I really dig them, I must say. They're stylish, they're boldly colorful, the taglines are simple and informative—I wouldn't mind wearing these ads if they were made into t-shirts. (IBM, you can use that idea for free.)
Each ad takes on a different aspect of IBM's Smarter Planet initiative, which is all about streamlining technology to make the world a better place to live. One ad talks about how IBM analytics are being used to cut crime in NYC; another demonstrates how the healthcare industry is being personalized in Spain.
This year, one ad in the collection got a little competitive, informing the public about IBM's standing in the cloud-computing race. As the ad, which ran in The Wall Street Journal (click image to enlarge), saucily asks and answers: “Whose cloud powers 270,000 more websites than Amazon? If your answer is IBM, you're among the well informed. The IBM cloud offerings also support 30% more of the most popular websites than anyone else in the world.”
Gimme some sugar
God help us all: The word “Selfie” (self-portraits taken with a smartphone) was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013. (Sorry, posterity.)
But however you feel about selfies, SugarCRM successfully harnessed the power of the selfie for a cute engagement effort at this year's Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. The concept behind “Escape Dreamforce,” which SugarCRM created with help from Gyro San Francisco, is simple and fun: Dreamforce attendees who snapped selfies of themselves wearing SugarCRM t-shirts—tagged #SugarSelfie and #DF13—were automatically entered into a contest for the chance to win a vacation to Hawaii or a cash prize.
SugarCRM promoted the effort on taxi-tops in the San Fran area and through geo-targeted mobile banners. Each of the 4,000 T-shirts distributed by the company was emblazoned with the words: “This is how I CRM.”
Hilarity on (fantasy) draft
So, I don't know anything about Fantasy Football and I still think this is funny: Lenovo, an NFL sponsor, partnered with DigitasLBi and king of sarcasm The Onion for a mockumentary Web series called Tough Season about the trials and tribulations of Brad, a hapless fantasy football coach who's desperate for FF glory after coming in last place in his fantasy league eight years running.
As a “sponsor” of “Brad's Awesome Team,” Lenovo gets lots of nice product placement in the series and it's not forced at all. Several NFL stars—including Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte—even make cameos. But the series is just a jumping off point for a nicely integrated interactive campaign.
Not only did Lenovo host a “Fantasy Football Coach of the Year” contest on NFL.com—grand prize: a trip to Hawaii (seems like everyone's giving away trips to Hawaii) to help select one of the 2014 Pro Bowl squads—fans of the series were able to interact with the Coach Brad character on Facebook and Twitter.
The whole thing was very polished, with real celebrities, seamless social engagement, quality digital video, and a multichannel push that included everything from email to mobile display. In total, the Web series and related social content generated more than 12 million video views.
The back story is this: Apparently there has been a growing number of requests from the Spanish populace for exorcisms and to meet the demand, the Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid actually selected and trained eight Catholic priests to take on Satan. Yep. That happened.
Anyway, Spanish distribution company Betta Pictures, with help from Proximity Barcelona, decided to cheekily hinge the promotion of horror flick “The Last Exorcism Part II” on this bizarre-but-true news by offering the eight exorcist priests free VIP access to a special premiere screening of the film to help them complete their training. Free entry was also offered to any and all Catholic priests looking to learn more about exorcism. Interested priests could sign up for their free tickets via a microsite at entradasparasacerdotes.com (add /en to the end of that if you want to see it in English).
The archbishop was also invited as a guest of honor, but nowhere could I find online whether he actually attended.
The year may be winding down, but email marketers are busy gearing up for 2014.
So, in case you missed it, here's a list of must-see advice you can use in your 2014 planning from 10 email marketers and email industry insiders who shared their stories and opinions with Direct Marketing News in 2013:
Respect customer preferences. “We can expect that deliverability will continue to be a challenge, as [will be] maintaining mailer reputation,” says Jeannette Kocsis, EVP of digital engagement at The Agency Inside Harte-Hanks, adding that “when a customer chooses channels, content, and frequencies, their preferences need to be respected.”
--Email: What Should Marketers Expect in 2014?
Be relevant. “We don't want to bother people with an email about something that's happening in Texas when they're in Alabama,” says Kathy Doyle Thomas, EVP at Half Price Books. “You get a better return, and you don't tick off your customers.”
--Channeling the Customer
Keep it fresh. “As a company...we're relatively risk-averse,” says Jarrod Purchase, email marketing manager at Best of the Best. “But on the flip side, because email is such a strong revenue driver for us, we need to keep it fresh and keep trying new things as a way to stand out in the email world and stand out in the consumer's inbox.”
--One Email That Packs the Punch of Three
Think (differently for) mobile. “A few years ago we didn't have to worry about [conversion]. We knew that if [consumers] checked their email they would be at their desktop and it would be very easy to complete a transaction,” says Jordan Cohen, VP of marketing for Movable Ink. “Email on the mobile phone is not at all the same as it is on the desktop in terms of how likely a consumer is to respond to it.”
--Not all Mobile Emails Are Created Equal
Don't fear unsubscribes. Make uninterested folks unsubscribe. The more emails you send that are not opened or clicked, the more ISPs will identify you as a spammer," says Eddie Howard, senior product manager at Vocus. "Plus, this is a great step in list hygiene: You're not wasting resources emailing people who don't want to hear from you."
--3 Counterintuitive Tips to Boost Your Email Marketing
Maintain a good mailer reputation. "Every IP address and domain has a reputation based on factors such as history of hard bounces and spam complaints," says Kate Nowrouzi, director of product policy at Message Systems. "Domains and IP addresses with a good reputation have a better delivery rate, so building and maintaining a good reputation should be central to the mission of your email operations."
--The Dollars and Cents of Email Deliverability
Use email as a conduit to content. “Our email program has become content leveraged through automation,” says Nathan Decker, senior manager of e-commerce for online retailer Evo, adding that instead of focusing solely on transactional messaging, “now there's all kinds of fun stuff in our emails.”
--Emailing in Synch With the Customer Lifecyle
Pull the trigger. "Triggered messages like browse emails..., abandoned cart series, and even thank-you-for-purchase emails are extremely effective," says Liz Gould, director of strategic accounts for cross-channel marketing at Experian Marketing Services. "We've seen a 54% lift in revenue when sending a second abandoned-cart reminder, a 3.4x increase in revenue with browse emails, and 13x increase in revenue with thank-you-for-purchase emails.
--Overlook This Email Issue and Customers Will Opt Out
Be bold, but brief. “Historically, people spent up to five seconds on a desktop email, but on mobile devices they're spending less than two,” says Wacarra Yeomans, director of creative services at Responsys. “So you need a combination of copy and images, which can get a complex message across in less than two seconds.”
--Email on the Move
Build trust. "There is a penalty for irrelevancy in email marketing that doesn't exist in other channels called the Report Spam button," says Stephanie Miller, VP, member relations at DMA. "Clicks on that button, whether the cause is dissatisfaction, ignorance, or annoyance, affect our sender reputation, and thus our ability to reach any inbox at all."
--Email's Role in Customer Trust
With so much focus shifting from traditional to digital channels, you may ask yourself whether you're actually a direct marketer. Since direct marketing is a practice that's channel agnostic, even if your focus is primarily on digital marketing, it's likely that you may very well be a direct marketer. To be certain, consider these 10 signs that point directly to direct marketing.
You're a direct marketer if you:
Obsess over lists. Creating and maintaining customer lists tops your to-do list on a daily basis. You're in contest turmoil over how best to balance list purchase with organic list growth. You have lists for prospects and customers by segment and a finely honed process for moving them to more appropriate lists as they move through the customer lifecycle.
Love data. Big, small, first-party, third-party—you don't discriminate. You collect as much data as you can about your customers so you can segment and target them with precision, craft the perfect message, determine the optimal channel mix, and measure marketing performance.
Use testing. Every campaign, website design change, subject line, and promotion is subject to testing Control groups, A/B and multivariate testing, and more are staples in your marketing processes. You just sit back and watch your results improve as you hone your messaging and design, and dispatch the top performers to the rest of your customers or into the broader market.
Measure your results. Fear marketing accountability? Ha! You live to track the performance of your marketing initiatives and campaigns, measure outcomes, and use that information to make improvements to future marketing efforts.
Live to optimize. The data, testing, and measurement are all about one thing: optimization. You optimize your channel mix, timing, segments, and anything else you can to perfect your marketing strategy and improve your marketing performance.
Segment your customers. You don't create just a few basic customer segments; you build personas, segment customers in multiple ways. Your segments have segments. And as a result, your targeting hits the bull's eye with the right message or offer to the right customer.
Learn from customers then act. You seek customer knowledge from direct channels like surveys and branded customer communities and indirect ones like social conversations. You track customers' behaviors and interactions via transactions, email opens and clicks, and digital body language. And then you take that information and use it to inform your segmentation, targeting, messaging, and more.
Trade value for data. Sure, customers are happy to provide you with information about themselves—for a price. More masterful at enticing customers than Monty Hall, you determine what that price is and make an even exchange; offering a discount or unique experience in trade for invaluable customer insight you can use to better reach, target, and serve those customers in the future.
Drive action. The point of direct marketing is response, and your campaigns and communications get high-value prospects to convert by making a purchase, and get customers to repurchase. What's more, your finely honed, targeted messaging gets engaged customers to share their good fortune in purchasing your brand with their social networks.
Acquire and retain high-value customers. You use your focused approach to capture the attention of the right prospects and maintain the loyalty of existing customers—perhaps not in equal measure, but certainly in a continually optimized mix of acquisition and retention efforts. And your obsession with lists, data, and segmentation help you concentrate your efforts on the prospects and customers who matter most to your organization.
Was the Postal Regulatory Commission's startling award of the full 4.3% exigency increase to USPS a fait accompli?
So much of what gets handed down to us by people in power depends on their definitions and interpretations of words. The Postal Regulatory Commission's definition of the peculiar word “exigent” is in line with Merriam Webster's interpretation of “needing to be dealt with immediately.” It is, however, the Commission's interpretation of the “exceptional circumstance” behind the 4.3% surcharge on direct mailers that is questionable.
The PRC denied the Postal Service's first request for an exigent increase in 2010 on the basis that USPS failed to provide enough financial evidence that the Great Recession represented an exceptional circumstance. This time around, USPS came loaded for bear with extensive econometric models presented by financial consultant Thomas Thress. But the irony of the PRC decision handed down on December 24, 2013—a date that will live infamy in the history of direct mail—is that while it recognized Thress's assessment of the recession's cataclysmic effect, it ignored evidence in his report that showed many of the recession's effects to be permanent, thereby eliminating it from the category of exigency and placing it into the realm of the “new normal.”
That was the assessment of the lone dissenter in this week's decision, PRC Vice Chairman Robert Taub, who wrote that “the principal flaw in the Commission's order is the failure to recognize that, regardless of the volume loss found due to the Great Recession, the financial harm of that loss does not end immediately.”
In granting the Postal Service the 4.3% increase for a period of two years or less—rescindable when losses due to the recession are deemed to have been recovered—the Commission stamps the effects of the recession as exigent when, in fact, they have permanently altered the habits of the marketplace, Taub contends. He wrote that USPS and his fellow commissioners failed to factor out the loss in mail volume that occurred, and continues to occur, due to electronic divergences such as email.
“How is it,” Taub wrote in his opinion, “that the Postal Service suddenly experiences no further impact from the Great Recession and that the continuing financial harm attributable to volumes lost due to the Great Recession has ended?”
What's more, Taub avers that his colleagues chose to deny such evidence presented by the USPS's own economist, Thress.
Order No. 864, which sets parameters for the establishment of exigency, holds that the Postal Service must support its request with credible proof based on econometric models and expert opinion. “The Postal Service, through Thress and its entire postal demand analysis group, provides both,” Taub wrote. “However, the Commission now dismisses critical aspects of the Postal Service's data. The Commission claims that Thress's conclusions regarding the relative roles of the Great Recession versus ongoing electronic diversion, and his choice of macroeconomic variables are ‘not justified.' The Commission criticizes Thress for not including certain variables in his model, yet acknowledges that no commenter offered a model that included these variables and that the record is void of a model that is available to do so. The Commission appears to believe Thress should have developed one nonetheless.”
While mailers can take some solace in PRC's decision to limit the duration of the 4.3% hike by establishing a formula to rescind the increase based on a quarterly evaluation of additional revenue, the ameliorative can also be interpreted as an irritant. The time limitation on the increase ultimately identifies the recession as an exigent cirmcumstance, a quantifiable one-time belly blow to the Postal Service, which to Taub's way of thinking it was not.
Taub also is of the opinion that mailers' voices were quelled in the granting of the exigent increase and will continue to be during the process put in place to rescind it. “I am concerned that this formula is being imposed without the full benefit of broad public input and an opportunity to fully assess potential unintended consequences on both the Postal Service and mailers,” he wrote.
What makes marketing compelling? Stories. The story a brand tells may be implicit: “Coke Adds Life.” The customer fills in what that means to them. Or a brand's story may be explicit, like Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty. When brands use storytelling well it can capture customers' attention, spark their imagination, and build the kind of engagement that leads to advocacy and sales.
But storytelling isn't a phenomenon for B2C alone. B2B marketers can use storytelling to engage current customers and attract new ones. One of the most persuasive types of storytelling in B2B is customer case studies. Executives are hungry for insight on how to succeed in their job, solve problems, and harness opportunities. B2B brands can use storytelling to share insights with prospects into how customers successfully use their product or services to accomplish those outcomes.
It's no wonder that content marketing continues to grow in popularity. Content marketing in part is about communicating a brand's promise through storytelling. Customer success stories are an integral element of that approach. Whether it's a two-sentence testimonial or a 2,000-word case study, the story of a customer success can motivate prospects to become customers and inspire customers to stay engaged.
Why all this harping on storytelling? An insightful campaign or customer success story can help make the case for marketing investments as surely as they move prospects and customers through their company's funnel. Learning about and keeping up on strategies and trends is important, but they're made concrete when exemplified by a related real-life experience—when the “What's in it for me?” is clear. Storytelling can provide that clarity.
At Direct Marketing News, we're always looking for compelling customer success stories to share with readers. And we know you have them. So, what's your story?
This post was recast from a blog post written by me for Direct Marketing Club of New York.
Silly marketers. All day long I listen to them tell how they will, through the wonders of modern data science, get the right message to the right customer at the right time. Their marketing automation and CRM systems will tell them exactly what return to expect on what investment. Their business plans will be sewn tightly with binary code and their worlds will be ensconced in a bright bow, like the neatly wrapped packages they will present to their perfect families at precisely the right hour on Christmas Day. The scientific fact almost all tend to forget is that there are flesh-and-blood people on the receiving ends of their methodical, data-driven appeals and that people are irrational and unpredictable. Some of these people are United States Senators, and they proved their humanity all too plainly yesterday at a hearing of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology investigating data brokers.
Direct marketers, while you read the following, ask yourselves this question: How can one expect the masses to understand and respond to your appeals in the way you expect when some of the best educated people in the country do a year-long study of data-driven marketing and emerge from it sounding like they'd never purchased a voter list or joined a frequent flyer program?
At least 20 years ago, a company called Scarborough Research had split the nation up into large-scale segments with telling names along the lines of Up-and-Comers and Urban Blighters. Other demographers did the same to aid efficient deployment of marketing dollars. But Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, great grandson of one of the most astute and successful businessmen in history, was incensed that marketers placed consumers into categories such as “Rural and Barely Making It” and “Zero Mobility.”
“I want to know why [data brokers] are putting people into categories like these,” Rockefeller insisted. Could it be to provide them with stuff they need and can afford and do so in an efficient fashion that leaves some room for discounting? Sen. Rockefeller fails to see the logic in that. Apparently, he finds it discriminatory that people living at or near the poverty line don't get offers to test-drive Audis.
Sen. Blumenthal of Connecticut was appalled that marketers offered different prices to different people based on their purchasing habits and affluence. It's surprising that a man who served for more than 20 years as a state attorney general doesn't grasp the concept of discounting. Think plea bargaining, counselor. Perhaps it has something to do with his disdain for the Federal Election Commission's $2,600 limit on personal campaign donations from manual laborers and magnates alike.
Sen. Markey of Massachusetts found it demeaning that marketers would buy lists of people with certain diseases (even though the only reason those people would end up on those lists is because they chose to be on them.) “Oh, let's put these guys over here and avoid them,” he sniffed, as if reciting a Bible tale about lepers. Marketers don't buy lists to shun the people on them, Senator. They buy lists of arthritis sufferers to give them offers on anti-inflammatories, and of paraplegics to educate them about funding programs for wheelchairs.
Among the key findings of the committee's investigation into data brokers:
The Senators' big discovery: Marketing exists! Now just hope they don't discover it's illegal.
Revitalizing a brand is always a challenge, especially when it comes to winning back customers. But focusing on reengagement, rather than sales, can help marketers breathe new life into customer relationships. New Zealand's first group buying website Dailydo experienced its own reincarnation and turned to email to regain customer interaction.
Dailydo acquired three of its competitors since October 2012—Groupy, Spreets, and Yazoom—and now operates all four brands in parallel. However, Spreets had not sold a single daily deal since June 2012.
So at the end of October 2013, Dailydo relaunched Spreets, and turned to email service provider CakeMail to reengage Spreets' inactive subscribers.
Instead of blasting out deals to Spreets' database, Dailydo attempted to recapture Spreets' subscribers through a prelaunch email campaign. Rather than sending out a commercial message, Dailydo explained Spreets' comeback and described some of the brand's changes. The company also provided an unsubscribe link at the top of the email so that customers who had moved on to other daily deal sites could remove themselves from Spreets' list.
On October 28 Spreets sent out its first deal offering consumers a frozen yogurt with up to three toppings from Wendys Supa Sundaes for $2 (a $4.50 value). The company sold 5,287 deals. Dave Healy, managing director of Dailydo, says that although the deal didn't generate significant profit, it did generate engagement, such as getting people to log in or create a new Spreets account.
“The margin wasn't a lot,” he admits. “But that was a promotional thing for us.”
Emailing consumers who actually want to engage with the brand has helped Spreets see consistent open rates of more than 20%, Healy says. But it isn't all smooth sailing. For instance, the site's dormancy caused many customers to forget their account information. Some customers forgot their passwords, while others were under the impression that they had created an account in the past, even though they hadn't. As a result, customers would become frustrated and abandon their purchases. To solve this dilemma, Spreets employees had their friends test the account log-in and account creation process. The brand also solicited feedback from customers. As a result, Spreets reduced the number of clicks needed to create a log in, and learned to detect whether a customer was a member, an email subscriber, or neither so that it could tailor its messaging accordingly.
“It's really listening to your customers and almost not assuming that just because [something] worked once previously that it's going to work again,” Healy says. “You really have to put your ego aside and listen to what they say.”
If I were to sum up my recent interaction with Gap Visa and GE Capital Retail Bank in tweet form, it would go something like this: "#ThatAwkwardMomentWhen your credit card is declined at a diner and the cashier looks at you like you're a #totaldeadbeat Thanks @GAP @Visa."
Several months ago there was some fraudulent activity on my Gap Visa card. Gap cancelled the card and issued me a new one. Totally standard operating procedure with which I have no complaint whatsoever. It's what happened about a month later that got my dander up.
Having received my brand new card in the mail, I that very day went online to Gap's eServices payment portal to associate my checking account with my new Gap card. You know, so I could pay my bill on time because I'm a good customer. In entering my checking info I transposed a couple of the numbers, which meant I wasn't able to successfully make a payment. After two unsuccessful attempts, I phoned Gap customer service to iron out the problem and while I was at it I made my payment by phone.
It was a case of human error and human resolution. I made the mistake and then I spoke to a person who told me everything was back on track. But then automation kicked in and messed with my credit score, which is when I got a little angry.
Fast forward to one month later. I'm at a diner in Tenafly, New Jersey, and I'm picking up the check after dinner. I hand my card over to the cashier and—declined. Concerned that there was a hold on my card as the result of more fraudulent activity, I called Gap customer service again to get the scoop. And the scoop was this: Apparently it's GE Capital Retail Bank policy (GE is the consumer lending unit that powers the Gap credit card through Visa) and GE Capital Retail Bank prerogative to, without notice, cancel any card within 30 days of two unsuccessful payment attempts. In other words, despite the fact that I'd spoken to multiple customer service people and made a large successful payment after the two unsuccessful attempts, neither Gap nor GE thought it pertinent to tell me that my card was akin to a ticking time bomb. I was allowed to keep using the card for 30 days and then, at the end of that time, it was closed without even an automated email to tell me.
The customer service representative I spoke to reopened my card, but told me that the credit bureaus had already been notified of the closure. They would, within 30 days, be notified that Gap had reopened the card, but by then it's possible that the brief, temporary closure would have already negatively impacted my credit score.
When I mentioned to the customer service rep that I was a little ticked off not to have been informed over the course of the previous month that my card was destined for closure, I was told rather brusquely that “that's not the way it works. It's not like we purposely didn't tell you, OK? It's just that the information doesn't show up on our screens that way.”
Now, I know that it's perfectly legal for a credit card company to cancel a card without warning and I also know how credit cards work. Credit does not = my money. Credit is a privilege, not a right. But it's a privilege I think I've earned with a clean record of always paying on time—and 99% of the time in full.
In an ideal world a long-time customer—I've been with Gap Visa since 2010—would receive the benefit of the doubt before having her account shuttered without so much as a by-your-leave. At the very least, although it's not a credit card company's obligation to do so, it would have been nice to have received an automated message informing me of the account's closure so I didn't have to find out from a disapproving cashier. Having your card declined is embarrassing, to say the least. So is promising you'll “be back in a second, I swear!” and running off to find an ATM to settle your debt.
Gap's Visa is just one of hundreds of credit card options out there—and in the age of the empowered consumer, brand loyalty should be the first thing on a credit card company's proverbial mind.
I sent a complaint email to both the general Gap customer service address and to GE Bank on Friday afternoon. (You can read it above by clicking the link under the headline if you are so inclined.) There was no automated message to confirm receipt, so I assumed it had slipped into a kind of email wormhole, never to be seen or heard from again. Then on Monday morning at about 9:15 a.m. I received a phone call from a woman named Jennifer in Rapid City, South Dakota, to tell me that GE had received my email and would be reviewing my case in the next one to two days. She said GE would be responding in writing within seven to 10 business days.
I asked Jennifer if all complaints to email@example.com are acknowledged with a real, live phone call, and she answered in the affirmative. It's a nice touch, but an automated response immediately upon receipt would do the same thing; just saying.
Now, that's all well and good, and I look forward to hearing what GE Bank has to say, but the damage to my credit score is done, and the way I feel about the brand has been seriously tarnished. Whereas before I might have recommended the Gap Visa card to someone (“It's great! You get all these discounts on Gap stuff."), my feeling now would be more along the lines of: “Well, they closed my card without warning. And all you get is discounts on Gap stuff. Whatever.”
I'm not asking for special treatment, but I am saying this: A little customer service goes a long way in filling the gap between brand and consumer.
Updated Wednesday, December 18:
When I got home last night from work a letter from GE bank was waiting for me in my mailbox. Dated December 10 (the same day my card was terminated), the letter informed me of the card's closure. About a week too late, but thanks.
A few things wrong here, I think:
1) Has GE Bank ever heard of email? There is no use in sending a physical letter than takes a week to arrive in a case like this. Clearly a card owner will encounter difficulty, confusion, and/or embarrassment in trying to use his or her card before the letter arrives. It's kind of like having someone sneak into your bedroom at night and shave your head and then send you a postcard to tell you about it. The next time you look in the mirror, it's going to be pretty clear you have no hair. Seems to me as if some kind of lazy automation system spat that letter out of its corporate maw.
2) If an automated system can produce a letter, it can easily produce an email, which would have been way more appropriate and could have gone out the day before the closure to warn me. I have an excellent history with Gap. That should count for something in my dealings with the company's incompetent credit arm.
3) Why didn't the customer service representative I spoke with who reopened my card for me tell me to watch out for, and ignore, the letter that was already on its way? If she forgot, fine. If she didn't know, why didn't she know?
Updated Thursday, December 19:
Today a man named Kevin Maher, senior operations leader at GE Capital, called me on my cell phone. He was a “real person” in every sense of the term: a human with a job title and a direct phone line who knew the particulars of my specific case. He'd looked into my complaint personally and listened to a recording of my actual customer service call from the day after my card was closed.
When you have an issue with a company and you send a complaint email to a general address, this is the kind of follow-up you want.
First, he apologized profusely for the inconvenience and gave me a little more background on the ‘why' behind the closure. GE Capital, like any creditor out there, has to stay on top of fraud and potential fraud. “We have lots of strategies to prevent fraud, and even I don't understand all the intricate details,” he said.
Just look at what's going on with the massive Target data breach.
He explained that there's a trend out there right now for people to open credit cards, inflate the available credit while a payment is being processed—a payment they never intend to make because they've purposely provided bogus payment information—and then scoot off like a fraudster in the night. To combat this kind of behavior, GE's policy is to close cards after several unsuccessful payment attempts. When a card like mine gets closed, that's the “unintended consequence of us trying to stop fraud, and unfortunately that impacts some of our really good customers,” Maher said.
And I accept that. Maher said GE has had several issues in the recent past of customers complaining about sudden card closures, seemingly without cause, and the bank's looking into creating a fraud prevention strategy for this scenario that doesn't ensnare innocent bystanders. Another fraud prevention strategy currently in play means that my card could be closed anytime within the next three months if there's another unsuccessful payment attempt. After three months I'm in the clear. That's just the way the system works at the moment. Maher said he and his team are also looking into that.
Maher assured me that my card's brief closure would not affect my credit score; the credit bureaus had been immediately notified about the situation. He also apologized for the embarrassment at the restaurant and said he'd be adding a $100 credit to my card for “a nice dinner on GE.” I thanked him.
So, what do I take away from this whole situation?
1) It pays to stand up for yourself.
2) Consumers (and I of course include myself in that designation) want to be treated well by the brands they choose to do business with. But brands aren't people. Brands can make mistakes, but it's up to people to fix them.
3) $100 will buy a lot of diner food.
The axiom that we're all creatures of habit extends to what we purchase, or don't. And to what we pay attention to, or don't. “Much of our daily behavior is habituated, so a marketer's job is to break—or break into—customers' habits and rituals,” Marsha Lindsay told me during a recent conversation about marketing strategy. “How marketers do that often lies in connecting with a customer's subconscious.”
Lindsay, CEO of brand strategy firm Lindsay, Stone & Briggs, went on to explain that we as consumers are driven by our subconscious and our emotions; we create rituals and form habits to get us through our daily routine. So, the trick for marketers is to help their brand become a part of those rituals and habits. She cited as an example KFC. To reach on-the-go customers—whose usual habit is to have a beverage within reach in their car's cup holder, and who sometimes eat while driving—KFC created a container for chicken nuggets that fits into a cup holder. It's a simple way to be a part of an existing habit among some of its customers, she said.
The trick for marketers is to frame their objectives differently, Lindsay pointed out. “Most marketers' goals are more focused on gaining awareness or trial: ‘I need an ad that generates X.' Instead, they need to frame a brief in terms of, ‘How can I break into customers' autopilot?'” To do so, she recommends considering what's not top of mind for customers; what's in their subconscious when it comes to a specific product or service?
Amazon's one-click purchase is masterful in this regard because it makes purchasing “mindless,” Lindsay said. “It's simple: The tougher you make it to complete a purchase, the less likely customers will complete it. So, the question marketers need ask is, ‘How do I habituate engagement?'”
One answer, she said, is to step back from day-to-day marketing tactics to take a broader look at your marketing strategy—and see how you can weave in messaging or interactions that address customers' habits and underlying motivations. “Behavioral marketing is coming of age,” Lindsay said. “Marketers need to understand customers' subconscious rituals to find creative ways to break through and become a part of those habits.”
As mom walks the perimeter of her son's dented car, he waxes poetic about the amazing Allstate QuickFoto app she can use to submit a claim. Our hero mom is one step ahead. Proudly holding up her phone, she gloats that she's already done so. For a moment mom is modern and cool. As a consumer I'm starting to identify with her, building toward an affinity with her and the brand.
And then we see dad pulling up in the distance and suddenly it's 1950, as mom tells her son while gesturing toward the dented car, “Maybe you can find an app that will help you explain this to your father.”
Now, I'm all for both parents being involved in parenting, and certainly the “is there an app for that” joke is amusing. But let's just say that it turned out that I'm clearly not in Allstate's target audience for this ad, so the ending disappoints. My affinity is lost.
Allstate isn't alone in its targeting (at least in this instance) of families where dad still (mostly) wears the pants. Medication Eliquis is another brand that aims for Men Wearing Pants. However, while the Allstate ad engages at the outset—and for some, likely the whole way through—the Eliquis ad is just awful start to finish. The man speaking in the commercial seems to be telling his wife about Eliquis, but he never actually looks at her. Plus, it looks like he doesn't really care if she's there or is interested in what he has to say, he's just going to talk anyway.
Fast forward to the end of the commercial: The guy's now outside shooting hoops in the driveway with his son as the wife looks on through the kitchen window. Ick. He sinks a basket and the wife's arms go up in celebration—except his back is to her. Double ick. Why bother even having the poor, ignored woman in the ad at all?
My guess is that Eliquis conducted some research and this ad was actually appealing to, well, someone.
Of course, these ads aren't meant to appeal to everyone. But many ads—especially those on TV, on the radio, or in other more traditionally mass channels—will reach beyond their intended audience. Sometimes this is a good thing and a brand catches the attention of an interested consumer it might not have reached otherwise. In other cases an ad turns off a set of viewers and may even generate negative word of mouth.
This is the challenging of targeting in a more typically mass channel like TV. But when doing so, better to be more like Allstate, where there's plenty of appeal for even non-target customers who might spread the word to friends or family who are in the target segment, than like Eliquis, whose ad misses just about every mark.
Last week Unilever sent shivers down the spines of marketers everywhere by cutting 1,000 marketing-related jobs as part of a restructuring that had a total of 5,000 employees clogging the circuits of ResumeBuilder.com. But interested parties would err if they interpreted Unilever's action—or similar moves made this past year at H.J.Heinz, Energizer, and Colgate-Palmolive—as a decrease in emphasis on marketing. Hardly. It's more a decrease in emphasis on the marketing of the past and the mass-marketing practices of a bygone era that have continued to hold sway in a slow-changing CPG industry.
But it's not just CPGs challenged by serving demanding customers on 40 different channels instead of four. All B2C marketing departments are up against it. A survey of senior consumer marketing executives released today by Forrester research showed that direct marketing, digital tactics, and content marketing were claiming a third of their budgets. Meanwhile, only 6% was devoted to the data analytics that would show them just which of all the new gew-gaws and gimcracks of the social, mobile, and Web worlds were working for them. Big consumer companies like Unilever are fumbling about in the depths of a dark, scary coalmine, and they need to find some new canaries and dig back in.
“What you might be seeing [in the Unilever move] is not so much a change in spend, but in allocation of resources. The marketer is becoming more of a systems integrator of third-party tools and agencies, and that requires a new skill-set,” says Rich Walker, managing director of the Winterberry Group, a marketing strategy consulting firm. “As tech becomes more scalable, you work with providers in a different way. I wouldn't be surprised if what you're seeing here is a harbinger of innovation to come, a clearing of the way to bring in more third parties and adopting new technologies and data analytics.”
In fact, what we may be witnessing here, like the first entomologists who sat down and watched a chrysalis metamorphose into a butterfly, is the ultimate blossoming of consumer marketers into…direct marketers!
“Direct marketers are constantly retraining their people and making adjustments on the fly. It's the nature of their business,” Walker says. “CPGs business cycles are much slower. They have less frequent, bigger reactions. Reactions like [Unilever's] indicate that the face of marketing is changing dramatically.”
The first few years out of college are an awkward time. You realize that life no longer contains summer or winter breaks, you decide to learn how to cook because the dining hall (which you so often took for granted) is gone, and you start to think that going to bed at 11 p.m. doesn't sound like such a bad idea. But probably the biggest shock to your system is that practically everyone you know gets married.
My former college roommate was invited to a wedding a few weeks ago. When she asked the bride what the wedding attire was, the bride had a one-word response: “Designer.” Now, I don't need to tell you that weddings are already crazy expensive. There's the attire, the gifts, the bachelor/bachelorette party, and the travel costs. All of these expenses can quickly chip away at an entry-level budget. So instead of buying a dress that she would only wear once, my collegiate comrade rented her gown from Rent the Runway—a membership-based site that rents out designer clothes and accessories for a four-day or eight-day period at a fraction of the purchase price.
It turns out that my former roommate isn't alone in her renting inclination. Thirty-seven percent of adults 18 to 28 years old have rented instead of bought in the past year, according to “Walker Sands' 2014 Future of Retail Study.” This number is expected to surge to 63% (a more than 52% jump) in 2014. In fact, 18- to 25-year-old consumers are 90% more likely than those 60 years old or older to have rented a product instead of bought one last year. But that doesn't mean that millennials are the only ones jumping on the renting trend. According to Walker Sands, 27% of consumers across age groups (ranging from 18 to 61 or older) rented instead of bought last year and 56% intend to do so in 2014.
Given that many millennials have lived through the recession and are now graduating from college with loans, their tendency to rent makes sense from an economic perspective, says Tory Patrick, account director and lead of the retail technology practice for Walker Sands. She also notes that millennials tend to be more willing to adopt new technologies.
“The 18- to 25-year-old age group has grown up with cell phones, Facebook, and Instagram,” Patrick says. “So for them to go to an app and rent something, it seems more second nature than a 60 year old who's used to balancing a checkbook and trying to come to terms with [new technology].”
According to the study, some categories are experiencing more rental growth than others. The tools category is expected to experience 129% rental growth in 2014, and the sporting goods and luxury categories are expected to grow by 123% and 113%, respectively. Consumer electronics (90%), books (69%), and clothing and apparel (48%) are also expected to see high rental growth in the new year.
Boutiques and small etailers seem to be driving this trend, but the big box retailers have yet to catch up, Patrick says. She attributes this divide to the notion that major retailers would have to implement new technology that many smaller companies have built their foundation on.
And renting has many benefits. Besides being cost effective, renting can alleviate common shopping pain points. For instance, 76% of consumers have ordered a product online that didn't meet their expectations. But out of those consumers, only 59% returned the product, meaning 41% did not, the Walker Sands study notes.
Rent the Runway addresses these pain points—like fit and quality—by having customers share their own garment experiences through photos and reviews. For example, my former roommate submitted a picture of herself at the wedding along with the following: age, height, body type, occasion, size she usually wears, size she ordered, and a description of how the dress actually fit. She also included a star rating and wrote a paragraph about what she liked and disliked about the dress. Customers can also flip through a digital look book to see how other customers wore the garment and click through to rent the featured outfit. This allows customers to find the right items by relating to others who share a similar body type.
Patrick says that, like Rent the Runway, it's important for marketers to keep customers' needs and wants in mind when creating a rental strategy. “When we talk omnichannel and what retailers can do for consumers,” Patrick says. “It's [about] responding to what the consumer wants.”
It was just supposed to be a nice little Twitter chat, but when a colossal bank whose name has become almost synonymous with the financial crisis creates a hashtag as open-ended as #AskJPM and just tosses it out there with a goofy smile on its face, it's hard to expect anything other than a sh#tstorm.
This happened not because JPMorgan is too big to tweet—but because the bank didn't do any planning and because it seemingly checked its self-awareness at the door.
It's easy to see what the JPM execs were going for. Social media means engagement, engagement is good—let's get people talking about JPMorgan. And considering how the whole thing turned out, that's probably as far as the planning discussion went.
JPMorgan began soliciting questions the day before the chat was scheduled, presumably to grease the conversation wheels, although, clearly, no grease proved necessary. JPM ultimately aborted the Q&A less than 24 hours before it was slated to begin. And no wonder. There are literally thousands of negative tweets tagged #AskJPM. Reading them, I can feel the hot prickle of sweat and semi-nausea that probably washed over whoever was managing the @jpmorgan handle when he or she read some of these gems:
When you collapsed the global economy did it interfere with your vacation in the Hamptons? #AskJPM— Goodjobguru (@GoodJobGuru) November 14, 2013
Every time another person loses their home to an illegal foreclosure, does a bell ring? #AskJPM— Amy Hunter (@amy10506) November 13, 2013
Even semi-legitimate #AskJPM questions were quickly derailed (although, note the replacement of # with $ symbols in the hashtag):
Now, seeing all this, some brands might get scared off. Why bother trying something new when you could be setting yourself up for a harrowing, and embarrassing, debacle? No one wants to become the poster child for how not to do something.
But that's not the right way to think about it, says Brian Martin, SVP of marketing and communications at Project: WorldWide. Martin applauds brands for experimenting. There's no rule book and everyone's bound to make some mistakes. The point is to be self-aware and have a tight little game plan in place before firing up the Twitter machine.
I mean, brands and executives plan for press conferences like soldiers equipping themselves for war, mapping out every possible contingency and girding themselves with answers to any conceivable question that might pop up. Social forays really aren't all that different. In fact, something like Twitter leaves you even more exposed than a traditional press conference.
Having drunk copious amount of its own Kool-Aid, JPMorgan somehow neglected to appreciate the enmity lying in wait for its hapless social venture.
“You run into that a lot; people get so caught up in the company culture that they build up a kind of callous to the company's vulnerabilities,” Martin says. “That's why it's always smart to bring in outside agencies to paint more realistic pictures for you.”
The amorphousness of the #AskJPM hashtag was also problematic. Several years ago, McDonald's vague #McDStories hashtag suffered a similar fate. A more specific hashtag and a more clear directive regarding the kind of questions JPMorgan was looking to get might have saved #AskJPM from its ignominy.
“Brands need to be more diligent in understanding how someone might take the opportunity to hurt them, especially when we're talking about big brands,” Martin says. “I think JPMorgan meant well, but it left itself very vulnerable.”
OK, so let's just say the milk is already spilled. You're a brand and you messed up big time. What should you do to fix the snafu? People love a comeback kid. If you acknowledge that you made a mistake and deal with it right away, your customers will respect you and, likely, forgive you.
Just look at Salesforce.com and the way it dealt with the controversy over the Dreamforce hackathon, where its $1 million prize for the best team of developers was given to a group that, it was later revealed, had broken the rules. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff immediately calmed the Twittersphere by saying he would get to the bottom of it. Shortly thereafter he announced that Salesforce would award another $1 million to the second place team.
“It ended up costing Salesforce an extra million, but that's a drop in the bucket for them—and it's an especially small amount to eliminate all the snarky responses and bad press,” Martin says. “They did the right thing by acting quickly and decisively.”
JPMorgan's response, by contrast, was a little tepid.
Tomorrow's Q&A is cancelled. Bad Idea. Back to the drawing board.— J.P. Morgan (@jpmorgan) November 14, 2013
Along with millions of others, no doubt, I fell victim to the countless 60 Minutes ads that ran during football coverage on Sunday showing Amazon's Jeff Bezos opening a mystery door to an incredulous Charlie Rose, unveiling a new magical addendum to one-click shopping and free delivery. These incessant 60 Minutes teasers usually turn out to be as disappointing as a sideshow barker's, but I cover this stuff, so I thought it should check it out before switching over to the Giants-Redskins game.
The big moment came. Bezos opens the door. Rose shrieks like a boy on Christmas morn. What could it be? The camera cuts to what looks like an erector set creation with little toy copter blades attached. Jeff Bezos is bringing back erector sets for Christmas? No, Jeff Bezos is plotting to launch his own air force of drones that will carry packages directly from the warehouse to the collective doorstep of an eager consumer world. My mouth fell open. He's insane, I thought.
Charlie was delighted, meanwhile, guffawing in awe of Bezos's mad genius. I, however, looked at the slight, cue-ball-headed e-tailer as he reacted to Rose with a slightly spastic giggle and had a flashback to Donald Pleasence as the similarly strange and bald villain Ernst Blofeld in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice who secretly created a space program in hopes of leading the U.S. and the USSR to annihilate each other. That would leave Blofeld in charge of the world, as apparently Bezos is now, since Rose had no questions to ask about Bezos's bizarre plan to assault American air space with flying merchandise. Nor did Farhood Manjoo, who gushed in the Wall Street Journal about Bezos's high-flying PR coup at the onset of the Christmas shopping season. Who knows? Bezos bought the Washington Post. Maybe he's got his eyes on the Journal as well.
Here are a few questions I would have posed to Bezos:
What does the FAA think about this? The Federal Aviation Administration tends to look skeptically at flocks of tiny whirly-birds interfering with a busy schedule of commercial, passenger, and military aircraft. Even hero pilot Sully Sullenberger, who withstood an onslaught of Canadian Geese to bring his airliner down safely in the Hudson River, might meet his match in a squadron of flying toaster ovens.
Is it safe? How do you possibly control clouds of drones descending on suburbia? A few rogues are bound to lose their way and land on some old ladies and kindergartners on tricycles. Are you prepared, Jeff, to deal with the collateral damage?
What about the criminal element? How long after the first Amazon PrimeAir fleet takes wing do ne'er-do-wells begin disarming them with baseball bats and .22 rifles and running off with the merch? Hours would be my guess.
Since, as far as I know, Bezos the media magnate isn't bidding to buy Direct Marketing News, I will boldly suggest that all that's left for Jeff to do is find himself a decidedly ominous-looking sidekick to swiftly dispatch government inspectors and secret agents snooping around Amazon headquarters. Al Gore is sufficiently connected in the digital demi-monde, and equally quick with other-worldly whims. I see him lurching behind Bezos in a sky blue Nehru jacket with the big beard he sported during his stint as a college professor. Your nominations are welcome in the comments area below.
It's the most wonderful time of the year!
With brands big-time selling, and every store telling you,
“Come and shop here!”
It's the most wonderful time of the year!
Customers started singing brands' praises a little early this year as most kicked off their holiday shopping on Thanksgiving Day and continued all the way through Cyber Monday and the extended sales of "spillover Tuesday." And while some retail emails brought tidings of good cheer, others left customers feeling like Scrooge.
The Nice List
Tell consumers how to shop
Traditionally, marketers like to deck their emails with products, promotional codes, and discount offers. But Davidson says cluttering emails with extra trimmings can leave subscribers feeling overwhelmed. Instead, he applauds brands that took the simpler route this Thanksgiving holiday and focused on how consumers could shop and save.
Outdoor apparel and accessories retailer Eddie Bauer was one brand that made Davidson's nice list this season. On Black Friday, Eddie Bauer gave the gift of simplification by telling consumers exactly what they needed to know to save online and in-store. On the left side of the email Eddie Bauer catered to online shoppers and announced that the brand was having a 30% off sale and that it was offering free shipping and returns on all orders. It also included the promotional code and two call-to-action buttons that allowed people to shop by gender. On the right side the brand addressed in-store shoppers by announcing a 40% off in-store sale and by providing a “find a store” call-to-action button.
“It's taking out all of the typical things that you see in a lot of these emails—[like] shipping expiration dates and additional product images—and really getting to that point of, 'Get on our site, start shopping, here's how you save,'” Davidson says.
Check those automated messages twice
Rather than shoveling on the emails, marketers need to tailor their automated messages—such as their welcome emails and daily deals—to make sure that they don't repeat messages or send more emails than necessary, Davidson says.
“[The Thanksgiving holidays] are the busiest days for the inbox, and a lot of retailers forget to look at their automated messages,” he says. “I saw a lot of retailers introduce additional messages into this very high cadence day that they probably didn't even think about.”
Bags and accessories company eBags was one retailer that followed this advice. The retailer transformed its “Steal of the Day” email into “Steals of the Season.” It also featured a Black Friday announcement at the bottom of the email and included a code customers could text to receive alerts throughout the season, Davidson says.
Optimize for mobile
Given the high number of in-store shoppers during the Thanksgiving weekend who were toting their mobile devices for price checks, promotions, and purchasing, optimizing emails for mobile should be a no brainer, Davidson says. He also says creating emails that can be read, engaged with, and clicked through are essential to making a sale.
“You have to really think about that multidevice, multichannel shopper,” Davidson says.
Home furniture and decor brand West Elm is another brand that made the nice list this year. Davidson says one of West Elm's Thanksgiving holiday weekend emails highlighted the brands sales with large content in a large font. And although West Elm packed a lot of different discounts into one email, all of the content was tappable and easy to read on a mobile device, he notes.
Davidson points out that designing emails optimized for mobile doesn't have to be a huge undertaking. A few quick tweaks marketers can make include featuring only the navigation items that drive the most sales and segmenting shoppers based on previous purchases, he says.
The Naughty List
Don't make them work for it
Holiday shoppers don't want to waste time searching for the best deal. They want it right in front of them so they can purchase an item and cross one more name off their shopping list. Making shoppers hunt for deals causes them to lose time and interest, which can lead to lost sales.
For example, Davidson says that one cosmetic company featured a mystery savings event in its Black Friday email. And while mystery coupons are great for getting customers to visit a site and put items in their cart, the Thanksgiving holiday rush isn't the time to do it, he says.
“One thing you really want to think about…as you get closer to those shipping expirations and the 25th, is that you're lowering the amount of work that your customer has to do to find savings and buy the product rather than putting the barrier between those,” Davidson says.
Deliver fresh content
Retailers sent an average of 1.7 messages on Cyber Monday this year, Davidson says. So, most brands were sending more than one email a day. Davidson says this can be an effective strategy as long as the brand doesn't deliver stale content. For example, one retailer sent him the same email—featuring the same products, images, and offers—nine times within 48 hours.
“You need to illustrate a variety of products and different visuals to really keep your message fresh and speak to the sales that you have, the availability, and how they're going to save,” Davidson says.
Be smart with your timing
Announcing a sale early to build anticipation is effective, but only if marketers plan their timing correctly, Davidson points out. For example, he says that he received an email from a craft store at 8 a.m. on Black Friday announcing its Black Friday Night Madness Sale, which began at 7 p.m.
“Here I am going through my inbox, trying to find some deals and buy some stuff, and I get this email for a sale that I can't even shop,” he says.
What if I told you there was a magical wonderland where mobile commerce is expected to grow by 35% through 2015? A phantasmagorical place that boasts the largest and fastest-growing Internet economy in the world. Where the number of Facebook users surpasses the U.S. by 13% and where, by 2016, one out of every two mobile handsets sold there will be a smartphone.
Well, that place is Latin America, and with the FIFA World Cup draw scheduled for December 6 in Brazil, there's a prime chance for savvy global marketers to make their mark. The World Cup won't actually take place until June/July 2014, but between now and then are many months of first-class marketing opportunities—and if you're interested, it's time to get your gluteos in gear, so to speak.
For the uninitiated, as I recently was, the World Cup draw on Friday is about determining which teams will face off during the actual Cup, according to a series of somewhat complicated rules I wasn't totally able to decipher from the related Wikipedia page.
Facts: Brazil is serving as the host country this year, and it's already pumped more than $70 million into World Cup-related tourism and publicity. Seven million visitors are expected to descend on Brazil for the games. To put that into perspective, the 2010 World Cup in South Africa drew about 3.5 million visitors. Live TV and streaming viewing is projected to be off the charts. Seven of the 32 participating teams are from Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Uruguay—some of the largest consumer markets in the region all primed, pumped, and ready to engage. Sixty-four games total will be played over the course of 32 days. The World Cup and futból in general are the most popular topics on social media, bar none.
Soccer is popular almost everywhere in the world—and almost nowhere is it more popular than in Latin America.
“We're expecting record mobile engagement during the World Cup in 2014 and a big rise in real-time marketing from brands, as well as a huge spike in second-screen engagement and record-breaking streaming numbers across the globe,” says Maren Lau, partner/SVP of IMS (Internet Media Services). “That means the opportunity for brands to be present on the second screen is bigger than it's ever been before.”
Digital will play a particularly prominent role in the World Cup not only because of the tenor of the audience, but also because of the lack of traditional marketing opportunities. Futból is played in two 45-minute halves with a commercial break at halftime only, so unlike the Super Bowl, the TV land grab isn't all that juicy. Brands can also sponsor players or teams and get their logos on jerseys—but the real meat will be online where the fans will head to share their passion and air their ire.
“Marketers need to realize that they're going to see lots of online conversations take place on global platforms—Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, even YouTube,” Lau says. “Limited commercial availability on television means marketers should be turning to these digital engagement opportunities.”
One big thing marketers should keep in mind before launching any World Cup-related marketing is that Latin America is not one place with one identity. It's a collection of 20 multilingual countries, each with its own history, cultural nuances, and preexisting sporting rivalries—the latter of which is taken particularly seriously.
“Fans need to be spoken to differently in different markets,” Lau says. “You need to keep aware of language nuances but you also need to keep each country's history in mind when developing advertising—there certainly is not a one-size-fits-all solution for Latin America.”
For example, take Brazil and Uruguay. The national teams of those two countries have a longstanding rivalry that goes all the way back to the last time Brazil hosted the World Cup in 1950 when Uruguay beat Brazil on its home turf in the final match. With its Ghost of 1950 campaign, PUMA, the official sponsor of the Uruguayan team, pokes fun at Brazil's storied 1950 loss (see the video above in which a ghost in a big blue sheet—the color of Uruguay—terrorizes locals on the beach and on the streets). The reaction's been mixed: Uruguay obviously loves the ad; Brazil significantly less so. But the point is it shows a nuanced understanding of the lay of the land on the part of PUMA.
According to Lau, there are quite a few large brands out there that do a good job at adapting their global messaging to local regions, among them Samsung, Coca-Cola, and Sony (all World Cup partners), and McDonald's (a World Cup sponsor).
“Every innovative brand that understands global marketing will also be tailoring their messages to local audiences,” Lau says. “To be successful with World Cup marketing you need to be able to anticipate the global passion, but on another level also capture the local spirit and flavor.” Because the world will be watching.
Imagine the Super Bowl happening every day for 32 days. Now imagine more than 700 million people are watching. That's going to generate a lot of engagement.
“During the 2010 World Cup there were people from 172 countries tweeting in 27 different languages, and the moment of the final goal, people from 81 countries tweeted in 23 different languages,” Lau says. “The World Cup isn't just about the two countries playing each other in a match; marketers need to remember that there is always a global audience.”
Good or bad, retailers and shoppers' impatience for Black Friday has pushed a growing number of brick-and-mortar businesses to open for all or part of Thanksgiving. Some retailers and other companies are taking a more digital approach. They're sending emails on Thanksgiving Day offering one-day-only deals. No need to hit the stores, shoppers; just click through and buy, buy, buy.
In fact, I received emails from numerous retailers with Thanksgiving Day offers, including Desigual (30% off), White House | Black Market (subject line personalized with my first name in all caps, plus a 25% offer), and Williams-Sonoma (20% off one item plus free shipping). But they weren't the only businesses getting in the holiday game. I also received emails from MLB team the New York Mets (subject line: “Just for You, 25% off sitewide”; um, I doubt that it was just for me) and home security company Vivint (limited-time referral offer), among others.
In discussing this shift with Senior Editor Al Urbanksi this morning, he quipped that because Thanksgiving is growing in popularity as a shopping day, it, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, needs its own shopping nickname. I dubbed it Thanksgetting.
Not surprisingly, overall online sales increased by 20% on Thanksgiving Day and purchases made via mobile devices accounted for 26% of those online purchases, according to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark. I mean, hey, why schlep to the store when you can stuff your belly with Thanksgiving dishes, then move to the couch and stuff your digital shopping carts with holiday delights.
On November 26, comments demanding the rejection of the U.S. Postal Service's request for a 4.3% exigent rate increase were filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission by 13 mail industry stakeholders, among them the Direct Marketing Association and the American Catalog Mailers Association. Their argument centers on countering USPS's contention that lingering effects of the Great Recession demand the rate hike. Here are key excerpts from the filing.
“[USPS economic analyst] Thress's analysis purportedly shows that essentially the entire net decline in percent—between Fiscal Years 2007 and 2012 was caused by the 2007-2009 recession. These claims are implausible on their face. First, the percentage decline in mail volume that Mr. Thress attributes to the recession is several times deeper than the percentage decline in the overall economy during the recession. Second, the overall recession bottomed out in 2009, and the economy has been recovering since then.”
Christian T. Lundblad, Professor of Finance, University of North Carolina.
“To date, consumer spending and business investment since the end of the recession have not provided the growth stimulus necessary to boost mail volumes. Due to the long-term impact of technological change, discussed above, we do not anticipate volume ever returning to the levels which we experienced in the mid-2000s. In fact, we anticipate that mail volume will, for the most part, continue to decrease for the foreseeable future.”
USPS Form 10-K for FY 2012
”The Postal Service's financial dependence on First-Class Mail has been precarious for the last 16 years, as the expanded use of the Internet has made First-Class Mail less relevant to mailers.” --Lundblad
“Thress's attempt to blame the decline in advertising mail volume on a recession-related decline in overall advertising spending, rather than electronic diversion, is also largely incorrect. The Postal Service contends that the decline in advertising mail volume between FY 2007 and FY 2012 was due in large part to a cumulative decline of approximately 15 percent in total spending on advertising, a decline that the Postal Service attributes to the recession. In fact, total spending on advertising other than direct mail declined by no more than 5 percent. --Lundblad
“It is hardly news that Americans—businesses and consumers alike—are growing increasingly comfortable with living and transacting business electronically, and that this growing comfort has resulted in substantial shifts from paper to electronic communication. It is also hardly news that the pace of these changes has increased over the past few years.” --Lundblad
“Based upon an economically sound interpretation of the Postal Service's econometric models, I estimate that the impact of the recession on USPS finances peaked in FY 2009, at a cost to the Postal Service of about $900 million in lost contribution in that year. The loss in contribution caused by the recession has moderated since then, to approximately $500 million in FY 2012. The same analysis indicates that the 2007-2009 recession caused the Postal Service to suffer a volume loss that peaked at 5.9% in FY 2009, and has moderated since then. These estimates, unlike those offered by the Postal Service in this case, are consistent with the effect that the recession has had on the economy as a whole.” --Lundblad
“Electronic diversion is the primary driver of First Class Mail volume decline . . .The economy is NOT the main cause of diversion.”
USPS Plan to Profitability: 5 Year Business Plan
“The Postal Service, forced by the CPI cap to economize, downsized and cut costs. Congress provided relief by allowing the Postal Service to forego or defer several years of annual contributions to the Retiree Health Benefit Fund. The Postal Service continued to operate, meet payroll, and provide mail service. For these reasons, the Commission should require that any exigent rate increase approved in this case be rescinded on January 26, 2016, or 24 months after it takes effect.”
One of my favorite things about fall is the array of flavors associated with the season: pumpkin, apple, cinnamon, butternut squash—the delectable list goes on. It's like brands want people to put on a little extra blubber to stay warm for the winter. But after I consume my fourth pumpkin muffin and drink my eighth pumpkin spice latte, I become stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey and get a little pumpkined out. So it's up to brands like fast casual restaurant chain Cosi to keep me coming back for seconds—or tenths—until it moves on to the next limited time menu.
Marc Lapides, director of marketing for Cosi, admits that this is no easy feat.
“We notice that the limited time offers take off like crazy in the beginning,” he says. “But then as people eat it every day for three weeks, it starts to tail off a little bit.”
To drive new customers in-store, and ultimately maintain sales of its seasonal items, Cosi partnered with ePrize for the “Fall into Cosi” digital sweepstakes, which ran from October 4 to October 31. Cosi hired street teams to hand out 125,000 game pieces featuring scrambled codes during key breakfast and lunch hours (from about 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.) in Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. The restaurant chain also sent email notifications including game pieces to the quarter of a million people in its database. Participants could then print out the game pieces or bring them on their mobile devices to Cosi locations and use a decoder to unscramble the code and see if they won a prize. The grand prize was a trip to Paris in honor of the original Cosi. The brand also gave away 1,000 $5 Cosi gift cards. Cosi promoted the sweepstakes via its Facebook and Twitter channels, which have more than 33,400 and 3,300 followers respectively.
“What we work with our clients on is motivating a specific behavior from a consumer,” says Sara Kowal, VP of innovation for ePrize. “In this case, the specific behavior was to drive somebody into a Cosi store by adding that 'chance to win' element that is the extra motivation, the extra incentive for them to register for the program, head into a store, and have an engagement with Cosi."
Kowal says enabling customers to access the game piece on-the-go played a critical role in the campaign. In fact, she says that 20% of sweepstake registrants came from mobile devices and 30% of participants opted in for ongoing email communications with the brand.
But according to Lapides, providing multiple customer touchpoints is just part of being where customers are at all times.
“The reason that TV was so popular between the ‘70s and early 2000s is because that's where people were,” Lapides adds. “Today, [consumers are] on mobile phones, on their laptops, and looking at email. That's where they are now.”
While getting all of the tools to work together proved to be a bit of a challenge, Lapides says marketers can see big benefits from campaigns when they have a strong underlying strategy behind them.
“If they're intelligently planned, promotions can move your business,” he says. “They're not just for fun, [and] they're not just for making people happy.”
Mobile is especially crucial, Kowal says. Not taking mobile into account when planning a campaign is one of the biggest mistakes marketers can make.
“It's not [just] understanding how consumers are using their devices and figuring out how to fit into that channel very organically with consumers,” she says. “You need to be cognizant of the designs and the experience and, moving forward, assume that a big portion of your audience is going to see your content on mobile.”
So long, silos; hello digital omnichannel.
That, in essence, is the idea behind the recent strategic partnership announced last week between digital creative shop Nomadic and shopper marketing agency MARS: the former knows digital, the latter knows retail—the match is made.
Although the two agencies had been working together previously on projects here and there for the past several years (see above for an adorable Pop Secret case study the two collaborated on back in 2010), now it's official. Says MARS Chief Operating Officer Rob Rivenburgh (left in the photo below): “The evolution of the marketplace, whether we're talking about the combination of technologies or their rapid growth and expansion, is forcing consumer and shopper behavior to change profoundly.”
And to pivot to meet that change head-on, some agencies are looking to their counterparts in other areas to fill gaps and share capabilities for maximum effectiveness.
While it's true that the big guys are also joining forces—the coming together of colossal holding companies like continents creakily shifting their positions—Tim Washburn, EVP and creative director at Nomadic, says he sees this kind of collaboration as a growing trend at the boutique independent agency level.
It's a notion most of the agency world still needs to get hip to. In other words: Form strategic partnerships that focus on the retail landscape. After all, the point is to sell stuff, right?
“From our perspective, agencies are living in silos because they're built around marketing organizations and disciplines, and they've been in those silos for so long because they had specific formulas for how to market things—but those formulas are eroding,” Washburn says. “Selling products and marketing have become more complex, and every agency should be investigating their options.”
Part of the beauty of the MARS/Nomadic partnership is how the respective expertise of one fits so snugly with the offerings of the other. MARS will provide the customer insights and do the planning, and Nomadic will take care of the technological side and the digital execution.
By focusing on shopper needs, rather than obsessing about marketing budgets and wearing channel blinders, agencies could be more successful, Washburn says.
“The truth us, the MARS planning department doesn't separate traditional from digital; they don't think like that,” Washburn says. “What they think about is changing customer behavior; what they think about is how people shop.”
And how people shop is fluid. It's mobile, it's in-store, it's online, it's everywhere. “You have to understand how multiple channels are all tied together now,” Washburn says. “It's the way of the future, but really, it's the way of the present and everyone in this space needs to realize that.”
Nail down customer behavior and you're golden. What, specifically, will go through a customer's head before she decides on this product or that product on the shelf? Get in the customer's shoes, or behind the customer's eyes, or in the customer's head—or whatever reference works for you—just get there.
Not like it's easy or anything. It takes constant awareness, vigilance, iteration, and optimization.
“As much as I'd love to eat lots of donuts at the Kraft service table and make TV spots all the time, there's more to it,” Washburn says. “We all need to get closer to the point-of-sale.”
Marketers love their data. It allows them to target customers most likely to buy. It helps predict which customers will buy what next. It adds context to build relevancy in customer interactions. But, according to Niraj Dawar, author of Tilt: Shifting Your Strategy From Products to Customers, one-to-one marketing will eventually lead to no more than a short-term tactical advantage, instead of a sustainable long-term competitive advantage.
“When every competitor becomes equally good at predicting each customer's next purchase, all of the companies will spend effort and money to capture that purchase,” Dawar writes in Tilt. “In fact, they'll spend so much effort and money that they'll wipe out their profits from the marginal transaction.”
Dawar isn't suggesting that marketers stop trying to predict customers' next and future purchases. Instead, he recommends that marketers also use the vast sources of data available to them to create a unique, big-picture view of their customers—and use that distinctive perspective to inform marketing strategy and determine the ideal customer interactions.
Because no two companies have the same sets of data, each company that takes this approach is guaranteed to have a customer view unlike any of its competitors, Dawar points out. “The big picture that any company develops, the insights that come from it, and the value it can deliver for your customers will always be unique. None of your competitors have the same combination of customers or customer interactions that you have; nor do they see the industry from the same perspective that you do…,” he writes. “The pieces of the puzzle that you assemble will be impossible for competitors to replicate.”
Dawar compares this shift in perspective to photography: Instead of creating portraits of customers, marketers should be creating a view that's more like aerial photography. The benefits brands will gain by building this one-of-a-kind customer view, he notes, include pricing flexibility, increased customer engagement and loyalty, and a long-term competitive advantage.
Dawar recommends that marketers ask themselves the following before taking a big-picture approach:
In a hotel meeting room in Manhattan, Kiril Tsemekhman stood before a projected display of the screen of an active PC in Brooklyn. Kiril and coworkers at Integral Ad Science had purposely infected this machine with a virus that would attract the botnets, the mafia families of computer fraud, as he characterized them. The same Brooklyn PC screen was displayed, blank, on a nearby laptop. But the screen forming Tsemekhman's backdrop, specially coded through Wireshark , was firing page after page of URLs—retail sites, sports sites, cooking sites in a steady stream, creating a false profile of a non-existent person who would be served “relevant” ads via automated ad buying programs.
The guy from Brooklyn who owns the computer will never see the ads served to any of his alter-PC-egos, but the marketers whose ads got served will still pay for them. Fifteen minutes after the Brooklyn PC had engaged a browser, an ad blocker showed that 974 ads had been served on it. “At any given time, the average botnet has access to about a hundred thousand PCs, and we've just seen they can serve each one 4,000 ads an hour,” said Tsemekhman, Integral's chief data officer. “And the ads are invisible.”
Integral had called a summit to share what it's learned about online fraud over years of selling ad viewability and safety services to the marketing industry. It had long approached the problem from a stealth positioning, noted Integral CEO Scott Knoll, but the time had come to go public with the severity of the problem. Here are some statistics the company compiled from its extensive client dealings:
Some networks have created blacklists of botnets hoping to reactively deny supply to the bad guys, but they just reappear with new sites and new names. And anyway the lists aren't frequently updated.
What to do? Now, the Integral folks don't invite members of the press to fancy breakfasts in hip hotels just because they like our company. They sell tracking services, and their take is that only detecting and preventing of ads serving at the impression level can put the bots out of business.
“The imminent risks are great,” Hahn said. “Programmatic buying is here to stay.”
Marketing, at its best, doesn't feel like marketing. It feels like value. It's when brands create experiences that educate, engage, and entertain consumers in the channels that they want to interact in. Gaming has become a popular way for marketers to generate these experiences. Family restaurant chain Denny's created its own tasty gaming experience by launching a digital challenge to drive guest traffic and sales.
This past July Denny's reintroduced its Build Your Own Pancakes menu. However, the menu was only going to be available for one month. So, Denny's needed to notify customers of this limited time menu—and fast. To drive brand awareness and traffic—and ultimately sales—Denny's partnered with Dailybreak Media and launched the Build Your Own Pancakes Challenge. After logging into Dailybreak's platform via Facebook or email, diners could participate in a seven-step challenge—such as by watching videos, answering pancake trivia, and designing their own digital pancakes. Once consumers added their favorite toppings and named their pancakes, they could share their cooking creations with their social networks. They could also locate the nearest Denny's on a digital map in case they wanted to sample their maple-syrup masterpieces. Consumers would win Dailybreak digital coins for completing the challenges, which they could then cash in for rewards, such as discounts or gift cards.
Erik Jensen, director of advertising and merchandising for Denny's, says the company targeted young families and launched the campaign to align with the back-to-school season. Along with driving in-store traffic through the challenge, Denny's drove traffic through its mobile store locator. The mobile store locator used geo-fencing to find the closest Denny's restaurant. Jensen says Denny's also promoted the campaign via TV, radio, print, banner ads, paid social, and search. In addition to working with Dailybreak, Denny's worked with media agency Optimedia and advertising agency Erwin Penland.
Jensen says targeting young millennial families requires Denny's to be where the customers are at all times. “Our guest was constantly moving, and we had to move with them,” Jensen says.
Within just four weeks Denny' experienced more than 30,000 engagements, more than 25,000 pancake design submissions, and more than 26,000 store locator searches. Jensen also says that the average pancake participant spent three minutes engaging in the challenge, and 84% of users completed all seven steps. Furthermore, Denny's achieved a 572% return on ad spend, Jensen says.
He adds that Denny's uses consumer feedback resources, such as qualitative studies and brand trackers, to determine where diners want to engage. However, he says that marketers also have to stay on top of budding trends, like social gaming, by simply staying alert.
“You have to be in the space, [and] you have to be present,” he says. “You have to keep your eyes and ears open for emerging trends.”
Before I get started, I should probably define my terms.
Trend: The changes or developments that over time come together to shape human culture, for example, the growth of social networks and an increasing gravitation toward meaningful communities.
Fad: The Harlem Shake.
There's been a blurring of the lines between the definition of “trend” and “fad” over the years, but the difference is substantial. If fads are the reflections that momentarily glint off the side of a trend, trends are the building blocks that comprise an entire culture.
“A trend is much less about the color orange versus the color green in a fashion collection and much more about how, inherently, society is changing,” says Domenico Vitale, founder and chief idea architect at creative shop People Ideas & Culture. “And trends don't happen overnight.”
Vitale launched the agency, which currently boasts high-profile clients like the Waldorf Astoria and match.com, back in in 2009 as a way to blend strategy and creative insights. All the ideas are developed in house, but the agency depends on partners to bring its ideas to life. It just makes sense: Find the top makers out there—whether they be into sdigital or print, TV or mobile—and tap their expertise to develop best of breed creative.
One major trend that's been on PI&C's radar for a while now is the attitudinal shift toward a more sustainable way of living and of regaining the attention to craftsmanship, detail, and authenticity lost in the face of industry and profit, says Vitale.
“There's an awareness that industrial products have led us to a really bad place and that over-consumption and disposable culture can't go on forever,” he says. “It's not about the environment only; it's about how we live, how we work, and what products we choose to consume.”
Putting its money where its mouth is, PI&C is in the midst of launching several businesses out of its new Copenhagen office. The first, a fashion line called Social Aesthetics set to launch in the spring of 2014, will design, create, and sell clothing made from unused vintage textiles from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s salvaged from warehouses in France and Italy. The second, a food and wine e-commerce business called Passione Italiana, is scheduled to go live at some point this month.
It's a unique model, to be sure, but why shouldn't agencies also create products?
“It's up to agencies to recognize our own potential and I think we cut ourselves short when we only do stuff for others to make money,” Vitale says. “I love meeting clients and I have a lot of respect for that side of the business, but this is an opportunity for us to own some of what we do—we have a lot of smart, creative people around here, so why not come up with stuff for ourselves and become our own clients?”
According to Vitale, the agency world is plagued by an inability to get really multichannel. In a weird way, agencies are sometimes stymied by their own expertise.
“If you go to a digital agency and you have a hundred people coding all day, that agency is going to try and sell you something digital; if you go to a traditional agency where they have lots of people making print ads and doing outdoor, then they try to sell you that,” Vitale says.
But it's hard to deliver multichannel with silos and time-starved creatives running all over the place. PI&C employs production partners to bring its creative, digital, and traditional initiatives to life. If you need an app to make a client happy, go to the best mobile producers out there; if you need an amazing TV spot, find the best director. That, Vitale says, gives his people time to focus on client needs.
“And that's where we can get to the real solutions that are not only multichannel, but are channel-neutral,” Vitale says. “In other words, the right solution for whatever the problem is."
What does it mean to be courageous in marketing today? According to Peter Horst, SVP of brand marketing and CMO of Capital One—it takes being unique and true to your brand. Certainly Capital One's ongoing “What's in your wallet?” series of campaigns exemplifies this.
Horst, Caples 2013 Honorary Judges Chair, shared his 5 keys to disruptive marketing during Caples Reveal 2013.
1. Be strategically brave. Make an “all-in commitment” to building your brand. Spend in the right channels for your brand; mix in high-impact, low-cost channels; and use analytics to track it all and make informed decisions.
2. Stand for something. Take a position on issues relevant to your business that are important to your customer and stick by it. Carry that messaging through in your marketing and content so customers understand your shared values.
3. Know thyself. Create and communicate a concise definition of who you are as a brand; what's your brand personality and brand voice. Capital One's brand personality is “authentic, credible, and trustworthy,” Horst said. That means being a customer advocate and an innovative leader that drives change for the industry. Its voice is about being engaging by clear, conversational, compelling, and “Capital One clever.” Once you define your personality voice, you need to “bring it to life everywhere,” he said.
4. Earn share of heart. Mind share and wallet share are important, but once you have the former, earning share of heart will help increase the latter. What will customers love about your brand? Use it to make an emotional connection with your customers.
5. Go where the puck is going. Borrowing from hockey great Wayne Gretzky, Horst advised attendees to understand marketing and consumer trends and take action early. For example, brands should engage customers in social on topics that matter to them. “Customers don't want to tell stories about their savings accounts,” Horst said, “but they love to tell stories about travel.” So Capital One talks to customers about the destinations on their bucket list (and helps some customer get there, he said).
Revenue hunting is genetic. Not everybody has the need to bag big game by day's end. All successful salespeople have it. Not all marketers have it--but the ones who do may well be joining the vanguard of revenue marketers who are transforming the customer acquisition process at B2B companies. One of the prophets of the growing movement is Debbie Qaqish, who bought an automation program from Eloqua in 2005 and wound up joining with the company's former support chief Jeff Pedowitz to spread the gospel through The Pedowitz Group. We asked Qaqish, whose new book, Rise of the Revenue Marketer, was released last month to indoctrinate us.
The revenue marketing movement has taken wing in only the past five years. But sales and marketing organizations have been butting heads for decades. Can so much change so fast?
It's not going to change that fast. What's changing fast is corporate readiness for revenue marketing in organizations where there is a climate for recognizing revenue generation. Very often, that's a company where there's been a major disruption in the business—a loss of key people or key accounts. I spoke about revenue marketing at one company where sales was meeting and exceeding its number and the VP of sales was not going to go for it. He was making his numbers. Then I sat down with him and learned that half of his reps weren't hitting their numbers and they had high turnover. He could really have benefited from a shorter sales cycle and a higher average deal, which is what revenue marketing could do for him.
How do you know when you're a revenue marketer?
It's funny you ask that question, because I'm distant relation to Jeff Foxworthy and I do a little routine called, “You know you're a revenue marketer when…”
Give us a sample.
You know you're a revenue marketer when you walk into a meeting and not only share revenue booked in the last quarter but give a forecast for the next quarter. You know you're a revenue marketer when you walk into a bar and ask the girl at the end for an opportunity for advanced communications.
How many B2B marketers are ready to become revenue producers? What's the biggest change to their mind-sets they need to make?
I did a lot of reflecting on this in the interviews with marketers I did for the book. One of the most consistent things I heard from them was that it's not about buying a piece of technology, it's about having to be a leader of change. I presented to a big retailer once and the boss told me afterward that I spent too much time talking about change management. A year later, after she was a year into the process, I met with her and she said, “You know, you guys should have spent more time talking about change management.”
Is the group of potential change agents a small one?
If we're talking about the CMO level, yes. They're digging in for dear life and trying to hold onto the world they know until it's time to retire. It's the VPs below them driving the change. The VP marketing level is where it's happening. You've got to be a certain age and a certain background. It requires new skills, with a big focus on technology.
So while revenue marketing's about more than buying a piece of technology, it's also about buying a piece of technology.
You can't do it without [technology]. You have to have marketing automation integrated with CRM, integrated with the Web. If you don't, it's going to be like running through peanut butter.
Three words: Repeatable, predictable, scalable.
It's the definition of revenue marketing. You know what your results were last quarter and you can forecast what you're going to do next quarter. You can't do that unless you are processing what's going through the funnel. Then you have a marketing machine. When you have it humming and know about how much sales is going to convert, then you're running a funnel the way sales runs a funnel. If you talk to a revenue marketer, you think you're talking to a VP of sales.
It pushes marketers off the ivory tower?
There's a woman I write about in the book. She walks into a job interview and says, “I'd like to own some revenue, please.” I know two people who got their jobs this way.
Which marketers should be scared about this development and which should be happy?
With some marketers, financial responsibility is not in their nature. Then there are those who always intuitively felt that marketing should be playing a role in revenue. But there are still many, many marketers who don't get it. I walked into two companies last year where the VPs of marketing had stars in their eyes, but they were not remotely ready, not remotely interested in doing what had to be done. This is still the early days of revenue marketing.
When sales and marketing finally become happy partners, won't there be something left for them to find intolerable about each other?
Oh, baby, there will always be something! They'll always find something!
Mobile has received a lot of attention this past year. But marketers still tend to refer to mobile as a separate channel, rather than an integral part of their overall mix. And today's consumers don't want to be viewed in silos. They demand that businesses recognize who they are and what they want across all channels and devices. Michael Becker, marketing development and strategic advisor for independent global marketing agency Somo in North America, says mobile plays a vital role in engaging consumers across the entire customer journey. Here are his five ways marketers can make mobile a critical part of the multichannel experience.
Marketers like to toss around the term omnichannel, but not all marketers define omnichannel the same way. Becker says marketers need to think of omnichannel as being responsive to consumers and their needs in any medium, as well as being able to do so at any stage of the customer journey.
“Omnichannel means that you have to be ready to engage and communicate with the consumer at any point in time in a relevant way through any medium,” he says.
Understand consumers' multiple personas
Part of being omnichannel is understanding consumers' multiple personas, Becker says. For example, a consumer may have multiple phone numbers or email addresses, but that doesn't mean that they want brands to contact them via all of these points of contact. Hence, marketers need to rely on data to paint a “complete [and] addressable picture of an individual.”
“[Omnichannel] means to be ready and relevant with the consumer regardless of how they approach you—whether it's from email, from text message, from a website, [or] from an application,” Becker says. “You need to make sure that you're telling an appropriate story in a consistent way and that you're not over-communicating with them in that situation.”
Optimize Email and Websites for mobile
Having mobile-optimized sites and emails is equivalent to “just breathing today,” Becker says. Not doing so, he says, can result in a missed opportunity for engagement.
“Right now 48% of consumers open their emails via a mobile device. Ninety percent of the time the consumer only opens that email on one screen,” Becker says. “If your email is too difficult to read or not optimized and they've opened it on their mobile device, they're going to delete that email, move on, and you've lost an opportunity for engagement.”
Provide more value than promotional messaging
While Becker says a discount is a value, he says it's not the “primary value.” Value, he says, may take on different meanings for different consumers, such as content, educational material, or incentives. Hence, understanding consumers and their needs is vital to identifying what they value most.
“You need to consider the utility and the value the consumer's looking for a long the way,” he says.
Don't distress over downloads
App downloads is a metric many mobile marketers tend to home in on. However, Becker says this may not be the best tactic.
“What a lot of marketers don't take into consideration is that the average app is used less than five times over 90 days,” Becker says. “After that 90 days, it's not used anymore.”
Instead of focusing on downloads, marketers need to home in on how the app fits into the brand's broader story and what kind of value and utility the app is providing consumers. Hence, marketers need to view app as a way to establish and retain customers, not just as an initial and individual program.
Imagine you're in the market for a vacuum cleaner. You're idly watching TV and you see an ad for the new Dyson DC-Pivot Ball Action Whatever Thing. The product appeals to you, but you change the channel because you need to get back to the ancient rerun of Buffy the Vampire Slayer you're watching for some reason even though it's 3 a.m. and you have work in the morning…anyway.
There's nothing wrong with a late night DRTV spot—but how much more engaging would the whole experience be if you also received an augmented reality-enhanced direct mail piece delivered to your doorstep smack-dab in the middle of your consideration period?
“You could hear directly from Mr. Dyson with his nice British accent explaining all the features and providing more information right there,” says Maarten Lens-Fitzgerald, cofounder and U.S. general manager of Layar, an AR and interactive print app founded in the Netherlands in 2009, with offices in Amsterdam, New York, and Toronto. “One little postcard-sized insert can be made so much richer without having to do any more printing, in essence opening up a whole new channel.”
With the mobile market literally exploding—Gartner predicts smartphone and tablet sales to top two billion by 2015—more and more printed matter is starting to include an AR element. Juniper Research says the revenue generated by mobile AR apps is set to grow from what it is now at about $300 million to a Home Alone cheek-slapping $5.2 billion by 2017. And according to digital agency Hidden Creative, consumers are 135% more likely to buy after viewing an AR-enhanced version of a product. Layar itself has 35 million users globally and more than nine million users in the U.S. alone, and boasts a client list of big-time publishers, including Meredith, Hearst, and Condé Nast.
Clearly, there's mad money to be made—but Lens-Fitzgerald warns against AR for AR's sake. The point, as always, is to be relevant. Just because AR's cool, doesn't mean every coupon in the world should be jumping off the page into your face.
“Compare it to a website—if you make a site about stuff no one cares about, no one will come; it's the exact opposite of the saying, ‘If you build it, they will come,'” Lens-Fitzgerald says. “With augmented reality, because there's a wow factor, people will probably come initially, so marketers sometimes forget they need to provide something of value. Yes, 3D animation is cool, but it's not going to keep working every time.”
The law of diminishing returns applies. It's a phenomenon Lens-Fitzgerald calls “clown suit marketing.”
“The first time you see me in a clown suit, you'll notice,” he says. “But by the second time, you're probably not going to like it anymore, and by the third time you'll start wondering what else I have to bring to the table.”
AR, like any marketing tool, should create value, which means step one has to be about the ‘why.' Why are you adding augmented reality to a printed piece? If the reason is more about your image—making your logo dance or something—and less about adding value for the consumer—providing a link straight to Amazon from a catalog or allowing readers to scan a code to provide their feedback on an opinion piece in a magazine—then AR might not be the way to go.
That said, augmented reality can be a great way to collect consumer data. Want to know how many people were activated by your print ad? Well, just go and check how many people used their phone or tablet to scan the code you included.
“It's a way to do something more with a print insert,” Lens-Fitzgerald says. “It's a way to prove how valid print still is as a channel.”
Thinking about getting into the augmented reality game? Consider these tips from Lens-Fitzgerald:
Do provide something of tangible value. “Video is always good, but will people want to watch and share what you're providing? The video you use shouldn't just reiterate exactly what you wrote about.”
Don't think small. “I see a lot of marketers say, ‘I should try this,' and then just do one button or link to a website that's not even mobile-optimized or offer a video no one is going to share.”
Do think mobile. “Make sure you're mobile-friendly and make sure you do more than just slap a link on there and forget about it.”
Don't be afraid—or rash. “Publishers and marketers need to have the balls and the belief to make AR work. Understand what it is and make it work for your client, but also make sure it's what your client actually needs.”
Do be clever, but also clearly explain the rules. “Not everyone will automatically know how it works and what they need to do. Always include well-placed instructions with specific calls-to-action.”
The future of online is offline, says Lens-Fitzgerald.
“More than 90% of retail still happens in the real world,” he says. “With all the talk of Amazon, some people seem to forget how important the real world is—and the same goes for print.”
One would think entertainment companies have it easy. We're all familiar with the Hollywood superhero blockbuster with a built-in fanboy audiences that “sells itself,” or uber-popular musicians with tens of millions of Twitter lackies. One need only look at the top five accounts with the most followers: four of them—Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift—are singers (the one anomaly is President Barack Obama).
This popularity should be a marketer's dream come true, yet the reality is that without the right infrastructure and governing policies, it's a nightmare managing all of the customer data coming in. Consider Universal Music Group (UMG), the largest American music corporation which has 13 record labels just in the U.S. And each label contracts with hundreds of super-popular artists including Katy Perry (Capitol Records), Justin Bieber (Island Def Jam), and Lady Gaga (Interscope UMG).
The problem is that these artists—and the corporate labels that support and sell their records—are active in numerous channels, through which fans expect different types of interactions. “Twitter is personal publishing for each artist,” says Lee Hammond, VP of digital at Interscope UMG. “And the dot-coms [i.e. official artist websites] are largely brands. There's an element of the artist publishing directly there, but they're largely brand experiences. And Facebook is sort of in the middle.”
Unfortunately, the data in each channel is heavily siloed—a tremendous issue that Interscope, with its disparate content management systems, had to overcome. But social media is a channel that's difficult to reign in. “When [music labels] noticed their artists engaging on social networks, it was almost a problem for them because they'd lost control of the consumer relationship,” says Kristin Hersant, VP of marketing at Livefyre, a vendor whose technology Interscope uses to manage its social media campaigns.
Still, social media and music go together beautifully and the effect social has had on the music industry is deeper than other verticals. Celebrity activity on Twitter, for instance, popularized the now-ubiquitous site. And social media like MySpace and YouTube were the launching vessels for previously unknown talents like Justin Bieber and Adele.
When Robin Thicke's latest album Blurred Lines debuted last March, Interscope built a campaign using Livefyre tool Storify, through which the label collected social media and online messages from fans and critics anticipating the album and built a marketing narrative around it.
The fervor around social media was once so heated in the music industry, Hammond recalls, that there was a mass exodus away from traditional websites in favor of social media. “I've seen the pendulum go back and forth, as far back as MySpace,” he says. “We don't need a website. Then we do need a website.”
But websites are important as are other “traditional” channels like email. For all its benefits, social media has severe limitations when it comes to doing one-to-one engagement. Communicating through social media confines businesses to each network's unique and often-shifting terms of service.
“Your posts don't make it out to everyone,” Hammond says. “You're throttled by Facebook rules saying this user won't see your post. It's very clear that Facebook and Twitter are ad platforms. They'd rather us buy our way to reach that fan.”
Email, he adds, is a better sales channel—Interscope has seen people on its email lists purchase in higher percentage rates than social media fans. But email also has limitations, Hammond points out. “If you're on a mailing list for a given artist, that's a moment frozen in time,” he says. Meaning that someone on a Lady Gaga mailing list might also be on a mailing list for Robin Thicke—another Universal Music Group artist—and the email system won't realize it.
And this is why Hammond and his team have worked to combine all data from all channels—bringing the wide reach of social media (through which fans often follow numerous artists) combined with the one-on-one capabilities of more intimate channels like email. Part of this effort involves using tools from Janrain to create a common registration system, which enables social log-ins. If a fan interacts with numerous UMG artists, that information gets pumped to Interscope's ExactTarget email system, such that even if a fan signs up for only one artist's email list, UMG knows the other musical properties that fan enjoys.
Interscope applied this omni-channel experience to the social campaign around Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines release. Social media users interacting with various Robin Thicke-related assets might get more personalized email messages about the album, rather than basic batch-and-blast spam.
“What [Hammond] is doing now, other's will do a year from now,” says Livefyre's Hersant. “The results are just amazing—60-80% open rates on B2C email. He's the only one who ties [social media] to the direct marketing funnel.”
Going forward, Lee envisions more implementations of technologies that will bolster customer acquisition and activation channels, acquiring more fans and leveraging the data in automation to speak intelligently to them. There are still hurdles, however.
“Internally, we're still dealing with a lot of channel conflict, which is true of every industry,” he says. “Someone in the social media channel thinks the solution is in social media. Someone who runs the iTunes account thinks the solution is in iTunes. The cultural shift is in understanding the value of our technological stack, in conjunction with the deployment of that stack, and finding the right mix.”
Call me crazy, but if you woo me as a customer with your distinctive merchandise, then the next thing you do is offer a discount, you've turned me off. Sure, many customers are strictly deal hunters and if price is your competitive differentiator, then so be it. But if your business is all about cool products or unique customer experiences, then starting off with a discount undermines the rest of your marketing efforts.
Consider my recent experience with The Grommet, a retail site that offers an assortment of curious but useful products. I visited the site, joined its email list, and dropped an item in my cart. It was a gift, so I wanted to double check that it would be a hit (versus a “What were you thinking?”) so I closed out of the site and went on with my day.
Fast forward a few days and the Grommet emails me with $5 off to purchase the item in my cart (and whatever else might strike my fancy). What I learned from that email: Anytime I want to buy something from the Grommet and don't want to pay full price I can just drop it in my cart, close out of the site, and wait for an offer.
But, wait, there's more. I didn't bite at the $5. I was still torn about the item; price wasn't the issue. So a few days later I get another email from the Grommet offering $10 off a purchase. I have to admit that it was tempting. And a way of showing how much the retailer wants my business. However, let's put that aside for a moment and focus on what The Grommet taught me with that email: If I'm really patient, the offer will double.
Certainly, the Grommet isn't the only retailer guilty of these tactics. But it's not what I expected from a company with a tagline of “Buy Differently.”
Contrast this with clothing retailer Anthropology, whose emails I also get. Last winter I clicked through to a sweater that had my name all over it. I dropped it in my cart, and then started to have second thoughts. It was pricey and I was concerned about fit. So I decided to check it out in store. Anthropology sent an optimally spaced series of reminder emails. Not one of them included an offer. Instead, the messaging was around this special item I shouldn't miss out on.
The final reminder email was months later, so I decided to click through it since I hadn't bought the sweater. Surprise! The sweater was actually on sale, which wasn't noted in the email. But Anthropology isn't about price. Sure, like most every retailer, it puts items on sale at the end of the season, and will send a separate email about that. But unlike far too many retailers, the bulk of its emails are about what makes it unique, what makes customers want to shop there in particular: its merchandise. And over months of emailing me about that one sweater, it stuck to that messaging. You have to admire that. I certainly do.
Again, many customers are bargain hunters, and if that's who you want as your customer, make every email about what's on sale. But if you want customers who will stick around despite price, who will pay more for your cool stuff or unique experiences, then lay off the constant deals. All you're doing is training customers to never pay full price and creating price-based promiscuity, instead of long-term customer loyalty.
Note to all B2B marketers who think interaction is what prospects do on your website: You've got another thing coming. In fact, Gavin Finn predicts that, when it comes to moving leads through the pipeline, websites may soon become as quaint as 10-pound Yellow Pages. PDFs? Pretty Darn Funny. PowerPoints? Invest in a power suit instead.
Finn, whose Kaon Interactive creates virtual product presentations incorporating 3D and augmented reality for marketers and sales teams of high-consideration products, claims that in the next few years B2B companies will learn what true interaction is. Nurturing leads based on their website behavior is all well and good, but Finn maintains it is hardly the B2B equivalent of customer engagement.
“People don't remember much of what they read or what they heard in a presentation, maybe about 20 to 25 percent,” Finn says. “If they're involved in the process, though, they remember 75% or more.”
The concept is hardly new. In fact, according to Finn, a Ph.D. from MIT, it goes at least as far back as the mid-20th century when a professor named Edgar Dale created the “Cone of Learning,” stating that people remember 20% of what they hear, 70% of what they say, and 90% of what they say and do.
What B2B salespeople and marketers didn't have 70 years ago, however, were mobile phones and tablets that can turn sales calls into interactive demo sessions. The irony is that these technological advances may serve to separate them from their computer monitors and send them packing on more old-fashioned sales calls. Marketers can afford bigger travel budgets on the savings they'll realize from not having to ship vans full of equipment to trade shows. At shows and in client offices they'll use 3D screens and iPads to let prospects flip over, turn, pull apart, and even measure their complex, high-priced merchandise.
One Kaon client, Michael Rapp, senior manager of marketing operations for Fujitsu's network communications business, says he was able to increase sales while saving more than $100,000 on not shipping “big silver boxes” to trade shows. “We now call those the ‘Rolling Iron Days,'” Rapp says.
There are three keys to creating true interaction in presentations, Finn says:
Sensory engagement. Get prospects to use their senses of sight, hearing, and touch in a presentation. Employing all three is crucial for attaining high retention rates.
Intellectual engagement. Get people actively probing the product and questioning it during the presentation. “Just think about all the trade show booths you've been in with funny themes and kitschy games,” Finn says. “After 20 minutes, you don't remember what they were selling.”
Emotional engagement. Surprisingly, Finn says this is the most important of the three. The more you can create an emotional response, he claims, the higher the retention rate goes. And he's not talking just about delight; he's talking about disappointment, concern, and anger. “If people recognize a great cost opportunity,” he says. “They will exhibit a sense of urgency and frustration about why they're not doing things that way.”
Ah, remember the late 90s? A time of great promise, like a verdant digital spring bursting with vivid, varied color and light-headed anticipation.
“I like to refer to it as the time of the great happiness, when all boats were rising,” said Rick Chavez, chief solution officer at Microsoft Marketing Solutions, with a jokey wistfulness, speaking at ad:tech 2013 in New York City.
The marketing world was abuzz with talk about digital as a transformative force. The feeling was: CHANGE IS AROUND THE CORNER. IT'S HAPPENING. IT'S HAPPENING... Well, we overestimated how soon it would all go down, but not how impactful digital would become. It'd be impossible to do that.
“Consumers at work, at home, and on-the-go at their jobs, at night, on their mobile devices—their facility with technology is outstripping our ability to fulfill their needs,” Chavez says. “It's a strange, interesting, and challenging thing.”
That's why Microsoft recently conducted a study with Future Laboratory and IPG Mediabrands into global digital trends for 2014. I mean, it's good to know what you're dealing with. Microsoft posed a series of probing questions to 45 top digerati around the world (in USA, Sweden, Brazil, Russia, UK, Germany, Czech Republic) and talked to 8,000 online consumers to discern preferences, needs, and behaviors—basically, to figure out where the puck will be and where the puck is right now, “not in our own prognostications, but in their minds and their views,” Chavez said.
Microsoft and its partners identified eight major trends, most of which reflect what's happening already, right now. In 2014, and beyond, we'll just see more and more of it. But before delving into the trends, an important point from Chavez: We don't just have half a brain."
“We're all clearly whole brain people—we have a left brain and a right brain,” Chavez said. “In the research it seems like some of the patterns and trends are about data initially, or just the experience or the emotive side, but there's starting to be a combination of these things, which feeds into the challenge we face as marketers.”
As Chavez pointed out: We're not “digital people,” we're just people who use digital, which means putting the consumer at the epicenter.
Okay, let's do this thing:
Digital trend #1: Value Me
Basically, if consumers are giving you access to their data, you'd better give them a valuable experience in return. Consumers want their data cultivated to meet their needs, not to help you sell your product—brands that can provide the former and still do the latter are the smart ones.
Digital trend #2: Enhancing the Real
This one's about combining the digital and the physical worlds. “Give me the blended, intimate experience I expect because I'm a human being,” Chavez said. “I live in 3D, not in a bit stream.”
Digital trend #3: Intelligently On
Consumers are super-connected—everything from their phone to their fridge—which means they're probably getting about 27 zillion marketing communications and push notifications and who knows what all almost 24 hours a day. Devices should make a consumer's life more convenient, not more annoying.
Digital trend #4: Age of Serendipity
Technology that's functioning how it should be will help consumers discover things about themselves they didn't even know—new hobbies, music tastes, interesting content. Just look at the capabilities of a learning technology like Pandora.
Digital trend #5: Right to Anonymity
“This speaks to my desire as a human being to be able to control my data and my digital footprint,” Chavez said. “There might be some interesting photos of me in college I'm fine with when I'm 20, but I might not want job recruiters to see them when I'm 25.”
Digital trend #6: Niche Networks
Massive social networks are fine, but the next big thing is about connecting with smaller groups of like-minded individuals.
Digital trend #7: My Analytics
There's a mountain of personal data out there; data on our sleep habits, our fitness, our favorite movies. What we'll see more of is the creation of dashboards that combine all this data, thereby “allowing those moments to be moments of marketing possibility for brands to reach me with offers that matter to me,” Chavez said.
Digital trend #8: Creator Culture
Once the analytics are in place, that'll lead to consumers co-creating experiences with brands, rather than consuming experiences the brands create.
“To win in this new highly digitized world that's both right and left brained, both analytic and emotive, takes a village; it takes multiple disciplines to pull this off,” Chavez said. “The takeaway for you as marketers is this: Left brain, it's time to meet your right brain.”
Twitter will join the rest of the bulls and the bears this Thursday when it begins trading its 70 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange. The social network and microblogging service set the entire social sphere aflutter this week when it announced a last-minute raise to its initial public offering price from $17 to $20 per share to $23 to $25 in a United States Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The Wall Street Journal also reported that Twitter is expected to raise the price again to $25 to $28 per share. But is Twitter (TWTR) worth the extra pocket change? Here are ten Twitter statistics to help you determine Twitter's monetary value in 140 characters or less.
When you see a niche in the marketplace you fill it. That's part of the driving force behind Net Texts, a company that works with schools to replace textbooks with multimedia courses served up on smart devices.
According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, the number of U.S. teens with smartphones went up 14% between 2011 and 2012, bringing saturation in that age group to about 37%. Add to that the fact that one in four teens (23%) owns a tablet—a percentage almost equivalent to the general adult population—and the trend is clear: Textbooks are not long for this world.
It's easy to get sentimental about the death of textbooks and lump that nostalgia in with some kind of rant about how soon students won't know how to do anything if it doesn't involve a touch screen—but there's a difference between playing Candy Crush on your tablet and doing your homework on it.
What's really interesting, though, is the technology behind the Net Texts offering—a proprietary content management system developed by software development company Icreon Tech akin to the kind you'd see at any big marketing organization. Teachers can tailor their course offerings by using one of a variety of Net Texts apps to upload their existing courses and/or mix what they have with content from an archive of open source educational material. The content is then delivered directly to a student's mobile device, be it Chromebook, iPad, Android, or Nexus.
If marketing is getting more engaging, why shouldn't school—and if a student is more likely to learn about the Gettysburg address if they can pop in their ear buds and listen to it instantly, why not? I love books (I love them), but thinking back to some of the moth-eaten dog-eared hand-me-down textbooks I used back in the day, I can't say they were all that enthralling.
The Net Texts platform is strictly for the classroom, but the concept behind it could be applicable to brand marketing.
“At the core of it is the content creator, a platform that can be used to distribute Web content to, say, different clients and their devices,” says Devanshi Garg, Icreon Tech's chief operating officer. “Imagine L'Oreal, for example, wants to distribute content from its latest project and have it update in real time—you can send that information out to people on the ground who are speaking directly the with the consumer or to salespeople who need access to information locally.”
More than 50 schools already use the platform, including several in districts throughout Massachusetts and Texas—but sometimes the adoption process can be a little rocky. Some teachers aren't ready to give up the course notes they've been using for years, and Net Texts has a bit of convincing to do. The company spends a lot of time targeting teachers who already have a fair share of digital content in their curriculums to help pump up saturation levels.
“With our marketing, we've focused on the problem of textbook cost and relevancy,” says Nick Wheatley, technology manager at Net Texts. “The books aren't updated as quickly as multimedia Web content, which is inherently more current, relevant, and engaging.”
And engagement's been good. According to independent research firm Metis Associates, more than half of teachers surveyed said their students showed an improvement in classroom attention levels and collaboration with Net Texts, and more than a third of parents surveyed said their child was more excited about school since the Net Texts system was brought in.
In a way, it's like educational content marketing; engaging lessons to reach your target market—students. It'll also make backpacks a lot lighter.
Direct mail and cereal? It's not always the most appetizing combination since the cost of sending out a coupon to entice a $3 or $4 cereal purchase doesn't always make sense. Yet consumer engagement company Linkwell Health has worked with the Kellogg Company on three major direct mail campaigns.
Linkwell is a little different than most direct mail companies because it partners closely with 14 health plans comprising 90 million members. “We provide, for our CPG partners like Kellogg's, a targeted and unique distribution network,” says Gregg Michaelson, Linkwell's CEO.
Specifically, Linkwell creates mail content that's health- and wellness-related, combines it with coupons (for certain Kellogg's cereal, in this most recent example), and markets it out through multiple media, of which direct mail is a major component.
Michaelson says this collaboration, which involves not only Kellogg's but a trusted insurance provider, generates higher redemption rates than most coupon campaigns, as well as long-term purchasing behavior. Distributing coupons to health plan members under the health plan's insignia, Michaelson says, is “a very nice thing, as opposed to newspapers or direct mail you might get at home through an un-targeted source.”
Moreover, Linkwell also targets by condition—such as diabetes or cardiovascular issues—and adds supplemental and relevant content. “By combining content with coupons, we see an engaged consumer,” Michaelson says. “By the time [the consumer] gets to a supermarket, they know what they want and why they want it because we've explained it to them.”
The Kellogg's campaign naturally focused on health brands, including Fiber Plus, All-Bran, Special K, Mueslix, and Smart Start.
“We look at more than just coupons redeemed and so does Kellogg's,” Michaelson says. “In addition to looking at redemption rates, we partner with a loyalty research company to conduct a study that analyzes shopper loyalty card data from a leading U.S. retailer.”
The partnership with the loyalty card provider with widespread influence is key: In doing so, Linkwell can cross-reference how its coupons did versus a control group to determine the success of a coupon campaign.
In this way Linkwell can understand redemption rate as well as household penetration—for instance how many purchase occasions each household had during the campaign's duration (for Kellogg's, this was 13 weeks), and how many units sold for a specific product in a specific category.
What's the one thing loyalty marketers want most? OK, sure, repeat purchases. But what drives those repeat purchases? Passion.
You may get repeat purchases from behaviorally loyal customers, but they'll switch at any better opportunity. It's the truly passionate customers who stick around despite price differential, level of convenience, etc. It's the person who drives a mile out of her way and past Dunkin' Donuts to go to Starbucks every morning.
I was reminded of the power and value of these customers yesterday as DMN Senior Editor Al Urbanski talked about “his” team—MLB's Boston Red Sox—winning the World Series. He talked about the plays “they” made. He wasn't alone; reading friends' comments on Facebook about the game revealed the same sentiment.
No, this is nothing new. But it amazes me every time I hear sports fans talk about their favorite team as if they're actually on the team, too. That's passion. That's the loyalty that keeps raving fans coming to games or buying team gear even when their team is in the basement.
That, my friends, is the passion that all loyalty marketers crave for their brands.
You may think that only sports teams, entertainers, and maybe cars and motorcycles, can achieve that deep level of passion and commitment. I'll have to disagree. You don't need to tattoo a logo on your arm (like Harley-Davidson fans do) to be passionate about a brand. Consider: There are customer who are enthusiasts of just about product type you can image. Tropicana orange juice has more than a million Facebook likes; Tide, more than 3 million.
I'm a crazy passionate fan of Shout laundry spray and Dawn dishwashing liquid. So much so that when I moved to London for a year I brought enough of each to last the whole time, in case it wasn't sold there. Actually, I brought so much that I had enough to bring back with me and last about three months. You may think I'm odd (you wouldn't be alone), but the marketers of those brands think I'm golden.
The other day I heard someone say that, in the case of retail, instead of trying to get an impassioned Coca-Cola drinker to switch to Pepsi (uh, not gonna happen), it's better to try to get them to buy more Coke, or other Coke products. CVS and Target could give me 70% off coupons for competitors of Shout and Dawn and I'd just toss them in the trash. Truly. However, if they gave me no coupon, just information about a new type of Dawn, say a different fragrance or strength, I'm likely to try it and purchase it there instead of at my local grocery store.
Building passion among customers starts with amazing products and compelling stories, delivering on the brand promise and creating what Seth Godin refers to as a tribe. That's the home run. Tapping into customers' passion is where marketers can step up to the plate and hit a grand slam.
“Don't do this to me.”
No, don't do this to us, Kathy. We want our Obamacare, and you won't give it to us! The above verbal aside from Kathleen Sibelius was caught by an open mike yesterday while the Health & Human Services Secretary was being grilled by members of congress about why she didn't sign up for an Obamacare plan. Her answer was that it would be illegal (wrong!), but the real answer is that she couldn't, just like millions of potential policy buyers couldn't when they visited Healtcare.gov or called its customer service numbers. The website proved unable to deal with the onslaught of health plan shoppers or even answer their simple questions without requiring them to fill out detailed personal histories. Most deferred and instead called toll-free numbers that put them on hold and played them a recording suggesting they visit the website.
For this digital marketing debacle, Sibelius invested $118 million. Members of Congress wanted to know why. A good question, considering she could have gotten better results for a much smaller investment with an existing e-commerce provider or even a cloud-based SMB service that provides a combined website, SEO, email, and customer engagement system for the remainder of the 21st Century on her budget.
Well, Kathy, being patriots, we're here to help you free of charge. We contacted several digital marketing experts and asked them what would be the first thing they'd do if they were tasked with fixing the marketing of Obamacare. Their prescriptions for the cure:
Marcus Fischer, president and chief strategy officer, Carmichael Lynch: If I were in charge of marketing Obamacare, the first thing I'd do would be to make live human beings available by phone or chat during the sign-up process. Sometimes new technology adoption requires a human touch. People need a life-line, especially for things they don't understand. Healthcare is one of the scariest topics there is. Add to that all the confidential personal information you're giving up, and it is intimidating. If people have a bad, scary, frustrating, or unsatisfactory experience, they may never come back. I would also market the experience of signing up. Prepare for the haters. No government process is a pleasant one. Who likes going to the Department of Motor Vehicles? Managing expectations is a huge part of successful marketing. So much attention has been placed on the end benefit of Obamacare, but very little was placed on marketing the experience of the sign up.
Bill Fleig, GM and VP of client services, JUXT: Digital marketers and online product providers learned a long time ago that requiring sign-up to browse products is an immediate turn-off to consumers. It's not rocket science. If I had to walk into a store and provide my personal information to the person at the counter before I could check out their wares I'd be out the door in a heartbeat.
Jason Marks, executive creative director, Partners + Napier New York: I would change my perspective on the registration process. You should not think like a government agency, but like a digital marketplace. You want to build the Amazon of health insurance, the eBay. You want the site to work like Uber or Seamless. What you don't want to build is the world's largest health insurance site.
Dave Martin, SVP media, Ignited: What they should be doing is optimizing the conversion path based on where consumers are dropping out. They should have had this flexibility built into the system before launch. It's almost as if they didn't do any user testing before they flooded the page with millions of consumers. They also probably should have moved the “learn more” section above the fold. The media is effectively split on the benefits of The Affordable Care Act and it would have made sense to give the consumers a quick overview, maybe in video form, before asking them to enroll. Ideally they're running retargeted ads to consumers who didn't convert on the site. Those ads could be more educational in nature, ideally bringing consumers with higher intent back to the site. Another element clearly missing from the website is social integration. They should have made it easier for consumers to share content and also to get answers to questions they might have during the process.
Shane Diver, executive creative director, JUXT: Obama wrote the book on using social for a political campaigning. Use lessons learned from that experience in marketing other aspects of the administration's policies, specifically Obamacare.
Feel better now, Kathy, with people hurling constructive criticism at you instead of knives? I'm sure our digital doctors would be happy to give you phone consultations. You could find their numbers on the Internet… On second thought, you'd better have an aide do it.
How often do you think about your underwear? If you're anything like me, it's not very often. But marketers may want to give their skivvies a little more thought because the undergarment industry is a blooming business. In fact the lingerie retail market, which includes bras, briefs, daywear, and shapewear, was estimated to be worth about $29.23 billion in 2012, according to just-style, a research house focusing on the apparel and textile industries.
Because Jockey competes against undergarment manufacturing behemoths like Hanes and Fruit of the Loom, it has to do whatever it can to stand out. Traditionally, I've thought of Jockey as a brand that my father and brother would buy from. But the manufacturer is changing its brand perception and targeting a younger, more feminine demographic. In its new “Redefining Comfort” campaign, Jockey shows 25-to-40-year-old women that they don't have to sacrifice fashion for a comfy pair of panties.
After analyzing a slew of consumer insight—including CRM data, quantitative and qualitative research, and social data—Jockey heard consumers' cry for a granny panty upgrade. In mid-October Jockey activated an integrated marketing campaign—which will run through Spring 2014—designed to drive awareness around Jockey's “sexy and pretty products." The underwear giant hopes to attract younger, more fashion-conscious consumers and drive sales of its new feminine undergarments.
“As we look at the consumer data, it's very clear that consumers love Jockey for the fit, for the coverage, and the fabrics that we use,” says Dustin Cohn, CMO of Jockey. “But it didn't give us enough credit for having a taste level that incorporates great colors, prints, and details. We do have that product.”
Jockey aimed to reach female fashionistas in the channels in which they already seek style advice. These include print ads in Glamour, In Style, Elle, and Cosmopolitan, and digital ad buys on various Conde Nast properties. The brand also launched a mobile-optimized campaign microsite and a Pinterest campaign in which women pin images of fall outfits they could wear with Jockey's new Skimmies—a hybrid between a slip, shapewear, and shorts.
Jockey is also leveraging the power of brand influencers and partnering with fashion stylist Rachel Zoe. In addition to tapping into Zoe's social media following (she has more than 700,000 Facebook likes and nearly 1.7 million Twitter followers) the brand has also been featured in Zoe's daily newsletter “The Zoe Report” and on her Bravo TV series The Rachel Zoe Project. But Zoe isn't the brand's only influencer. Jockey has also partnered with Julia Engel, founder of fashion blog GalMeetsGlam.com. Engel brings the more “everyday” woman perspective while Zoe brings the celebrity influence, Cohn says.
To see if these efforts are paying off, Jockey will track how women's perceptions of the brand change over time. The brand uses a third-party screener who hosts an online survey and recruits women who have seen Jockey's advertisements or purchased a product. Those willing to participate in the quantitative study are given a list of brand descriptions—such as “Is the brand sexy?” or “Is the brand on trend?”—and then asked to rate Jockey on how well they fit these descriptions.
Cohn says it's too early in the campaign to reveal any solid results; however, he believes the brand is beginning to change perceptions already.
“By every measure that we track, the research suggests that this really will communicate to new consumers that Jockey has the perfect combination of comfort and fashion," he says.
The history of man started with cave drawings, strolled through some metal-centric ages—Bronze, Iron, et al.—and then made its way into the Industrial Age about 250 years ago. The personal computer hit in the late 70s, the Information Age revved up, we all got desktops and laptops and phones and tablets and mini tablets, and here we find ourselves today. Something like that, anyway.
According to IBM, we create about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, which sounds like the made up number of dollars an evil villain asks for in a Saturday morning cartoon.
“As a consumer of data, I'm experiencing a bit of Big Data overload,” said Alton Adams, national lead of the customer strategy and growth group at KPMG, speaking at the Media Technology Summit last week in New York City.
For the typical consumer, the amount of content out there can feel a little overwhelming. All you hear marketers and agencies say, over and over again, is how the digital landscape has transformed them into publishers. There's the conception that all people want is content, content, and more content and it's up to the content producers to be in a continual state of red alert to fill the gaping maws of consumers with the content they crave.
There's no doubt consumers want content, but it's not just any content they're looking for. Consumers want relevant content, because otherwise there just isn't enough time in the day. And that makes the marketer's job a little tricky, because soon it's not just going to be about content; it's going to be about personalized content.
The word of the day is convergence, said Lisa Caputo, CMO at insurance company Travelers. The lines between paid, owned, and earned are blurring together like the semi-concentric circles in a tie-dyed t-shirt. But Caputo sees the new media landscape as an opportunity for smart marketers willing to take the plunge.
“What's pivotal for us and for any brand is to think of ourselves as storytellers, and we're finding creative ways to tell stories around our content through an omnichannel approach,” Caputo said. “In a world that's converging, it's important to put content out there in the right way and at a time when customers and prospective clients actually want it.”
For example, Travelers, in partnership with The Weather Company, uses Facebook's Open Graph to help insurance agents track people who might be in a storm's path, and to share tips with those affected by bad or dangerous weather.
In a sense, publishers, née marketers, need to create the content—but they also need to manage its flow.
As Sean Coar, group VP of strategy at Time Warner Cable, put it: “We can't forget that content needs to be curated.”
In other words, it's a matter of quantity and quality rather than quantity of quantity.
The summit's de facto MC Shelly Palmer, host of DigitalLiving, summed it up thusly: “Today we're heterogeneous in the most serious way.”
When Facebook went public last year analysts wondered if ads on the social network giant would actually generate revenue substantial enough for the company to stay in the black. Indeed, Facebook's potency as an advertising and marketing platform—in providing return on paid and owned media—is experiencing hockey stick growth, according to Adobe's first-ever 2013 Social Intelligence Report, released today. Facebook isn't the sole beneficiary of this trend either, says Joe Martin, analyst for Adobe Digital Index, as marketers on Twitter and Pinterest also are seeing substantial growth in key advertising metrics.
These predictions are supported by data from 130-plus billion Facebook ad impressions, one billion-plus Facebook posts, 2.3 billion-plus Facebook engagements (which includes comments, shares, and likes), and 400 million-plus unique visitors to social sites.
For Facebook, the social network seems to be vindicated in an area that had many analysts skeptical: its ads. (Of course, all questions will be answered on October 30, when Facebook releases its Q3 report.) Adobe's report notes that click-through rates (CTRs) have exploded by 275% year over year (YoY), whereas cost-per-clicks (CPCs) are down 40%—which Adobe claims makes this an optimal time to purchase Facebook ads.
Martin suggests that the CPC decrease is due to more brands buying on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) basis for Facebook advertising, which has a YoY increase of 120%.
“Marketers are better optimizing for social,” Martin says as the reason for the increase in CPM and the decrease in CPC. “If you're really good at [CPM], you can pay less than what you bid on.”
Facebook, of course, isn't just about paid ads—it also serves as a medium that refers potential customers to online retail outlets. Currently, 67% of all social media referrals come from Facebook—though it's notable that this is a decrease of 20% from this time last year as Pinterest (an increase of 84% YoY), YouTube (increase of 130% YoY), and especially Twitter (increase of 258% YoY) become increasingly influential as referrers.
And those referrals are significant because they tie directly into increasing revenue growth for all social media sites. For instance, retail revenue per visitor (RPV) from Facebook is now worth $.93, up 39% YoY. Pinterest RPV is $.55, up 150% YoY, and Twitter RPV is $.44, up 300% YoY.
But despite Twitter's significant growth in referrals and referral revenue, Martin is especially bullish about Pinterest's prospects. “Pinterest is referring more traffic to retail sites than Reddit, YouTube, and Twitter combined,” he says. “By next holiday season I think Pinterest could be equal to or even higher than Facebook in terms of [overall] referring revenue.”
The reason for Martin's enthusiasm over PInterest: images. According to Adobe's research, images produce the highest engagement (defined as a comment, like, or share) rates at 4.3%, compared to text links, which have a .7% engagement rate. That's a 600% difference.
Consumers today often only pay attention to the loudest and most visible campaigns, says LeAnna Carey, chief digital and healthcare officer at Innovation Excellence and a speaker at the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association Leadership Conference. This makes it essential for marketers to innovate, she notes.
Carey points out that the challenges marketers may face in terms of being innovative aren't due to a lack of ideas, but instead are often caused by an inability to put those ideas into action. She discusses what marketers can do to overcome obstacles and innovate their way to standing out from the competition.
What's a challenge marketers are facing, and what's something that can be done to overcome that challenge?
I think the biggest challenge is that we have an attention-deficit society. There's a lot of noise out there and there's a lot of broadcasting noise, so [your company needs] to have that strong, unique singularity. The second part of that is the engagement factor. It's about how you build a tribe, or a community. Normally, you'd look at metrics, but traditional marketing is different. People actually come to the website because they want to engage with you. The public is a participator in brand sustainability these days, and the engagement factor is the reason why.
What does it take for marketers to be innovative and different?
I'm a non-traditional type of thinker. And being in innovation you have to be able to really think. The first question you have to be able to answer is: What is the change that you can bring to the table? Not “I've done this or I've done that,” but rather, what you envision. What I'd want to hear is how you are going to drive change.
What's an example of a recent campaign that was innovative and successful as a result?
I think a good example is Apple. It just hired a woman that turned around Burberry, and I think that is a huge risk in one sense, because she comes from a whole different field—retail—than technology. But research would say that hiring a woman on a board is revenue producing. I applaud the move; I think its capstone to the idea of cross-pollenation.
What's the biggest possible setback to marketers right now who aim to be innovative?
There's so much emphasis on ideas and more ideas right now. When you're in marketing, you're responsible for ideas, but I think what happens is that you can get lost in ideas. It should really be about managing ideas and managing growth and opportunity—[and about] finding a platform that can bring [those ideas] along.
So, what's something that marketers can do that is actually different?
Social business is absolutely critical. I think the other thing is [recognizing that] all innovation does not have to be disruptive. For example, in bigger companies you cannot be disruptive. Incremental innovation is OK, and can work. The thing is, is that if you're not innovating in certain parts of your business model, you will fail in today's world.
You've heard it before: Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do it. This is the message Scott Stratten aims to deliver to marketers in QR Codes Kill Kittens. Stratten, who also authored UnMarketing, points out that marketing leaders and other senior executives need to be more customer centric, treat employees better, and think before acting—whether that action is something as small as using a QR code or as big as introducing a new corporate policy.
Part of the problem, Stratten suggests, is that executives are too easily distracted by shiny objects. “We ignore the things we should be doing in our business to create and place [QR codes instead],” he writes. “We ignore fixing problems. We put aside improving our products, listening to our customers, and cleaning up the tools we are already using…. We yell, ‘Squirrel!' and run after them.”
Here, a few tips from QR Codes Kill Kittens on putting the horse back in front of the cart:
Consider functionality: If customers take action on your promotion, they should be able to successfully complete it. For example, does your QR code take customers to a mobile-optimized website? Is it placed somewhere that people can actually scan it?
I often come across QR codes on ads in subway cars. I guess people could scan the code and go to the link when they're back above ground, but I'm not sure that's an ideal user experience. Depends on how compelled people are to complete the action.
Pursue the right customers: As much as we all love promotions and contests, all too often running them attracts people who want discounts or prizes and don't really care much about engaging with or purchasing from the brands offering them in the future. Is your Facebook contest, for instance, getting your page likes from people who will never return or view your posts or who will unlike you as soon as the contest ends?
Devise your strategy first: Rushing in to keep up with or stay ahead of competitors has its merits—if thought through enough. Sure, it's fine to experiment, fail fast, learn, and improve. But does that test make sense in the first place? Consider the mobile app that has no unique functionality and is basically a fancy link to a brand's website. But, hey, at least you have an app… Sure, but customers may only open it once.
Be social: OK, we all know the whole point of building customer relationship is to sell more stuff. Most customers want to be wooed first, and feel that you're as interested in their needs and preferences as you are their wallet. So it's important to be social on social networks and to create a connection before pitching. Offer advice and content, for instance. Like dating, building relationships over time will help marketers gather more data and make more sales. Unless you're drunk in Vegas, rarely do marriage proposals fly on the first date.
Think before you post: Whether it's a video or photo, a tweet or pin, a blog or comment, or some other form of online interaction, think twice before you post it. Does it reflect well on you personally and professionally? Does it represent your brand? Putting “my comments are my own” doesn't really fly. And automating responses is rarely a good idea.
Have the courage to say good-bye: Not all customer relationships are good ones, and not all customers are right for a business. Embrace opt-outs.
The government had barely reopened its doors last week before an FTC commissioner returned to the issue of privacy. This time it was Maureen Ohlhausen addressing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce about privacy and the “Internet of Things.” She mentioned a case the FTC prosecuted against a social networking company called Path that collected information from consumers' mobile device address books without consent.
“This has obvious implications for other Internet-connected devices that collect personal information about users, and prudence suggests that such technologies should include some way to notify users and obtain their permission,” Ohlhausen noted.
Web-linked sensors are being applied to everything from refrigerators to cars to medical devices to security cameras. Internet connection will be ubiquitous, and so will intensified concerns about privacy.
This week Gartner analyst Carsten Casper released a report on “Privacy by Design.” It's a concept that has had more relevance among IT executives and security professionals to date, but it's one that marketers ought to get familiar with. With privacy regulation a moving target, and donning different camouflage in different parts of the world, the only way to deal with the issue logically is to design products, services, and processes to anticipate it. Soon it may legally be the only way to deal with it. Casper notes that it is an emerging principle behind privacy legislation in many countries.
“Put privacy in from the very beginning. Companies bring products or services to market and then address privacy when they must. An outrage occurs and then they start tweaking. But it's cheaper to build it in from the beginning,” Casper says. “They've used this process in security for many years, but I haven't seen it yet in consumer privacy.”
The first thing companies unfamiliar with the concept should do, according to Casper, is designate a champion. Some companies have chief privacy officers, but all that's needed at the outset, he says, is someone with a strong privacy interest and knowledge base—preferably in legal issues—who's willing to work with disparate functions to weave privacy into a company's fabric. Aside from business units, departments that must be involved include HR, procurement, legal, and IT.
Casper counsels marketers to pay special attention to one of Privacy by Design's best practices: Sensitive data is never held in a cache. “First and foremost, step away from collecting everything and turn to a more purpose-driven collection of personal data,” he says. “Don't collect data and say, ‘We'll figure out what we'll do with it later.'"
Casper warns global marketers that there is more interest in this topic abroad, especially in Europe. On the home front, marketers have some time to take stock before imbuing their cultures with privacy.
“The success of the Internet has in large part been driven by the freedom to experiment with different business models, the best of which have survived and thrived, even in the face of initial unfamiliarity and unease about the impact on consumers,” Ohlhausen told the Chamber of Commerce. “It is thus vital that government officials, like myself, approach new technologies with a dose of regulatory humility and… if harms do arise, consider whether existing laws and regulations are sufficient to address them, before assuming that new rules are required.”
As cofounder and chief technology officer of mobile development agency VOKAL Interactive, Brandon Passley constantly struggled with one key issue: Finding knowledgeable app developers. He would talk with recent computer science graduates who expressed interest in the mobile industry; however, many lacked the skills needed to actually build an app. To solve this dilemma, he launched an apprenticeship program in which he would hire “wannabe developers,” train them for six months, and then bring them on. Similarly, Don Bora, cofounder of Eight Bit Studios, was also running his own digital and mobile agency and doing a lot of community outreach and mobile mentoring. The two decided to join forces and launch Mobile Makers Academy—an eight week full-time program that trains people with little to no development knowledge on how to create iPhone and iPad apps.
When the two cofounders launched Mobile Makers Academy last October, their classes consisted of five people. Now, Mobile Makers Academy hosts 20-person classes four times a year. And the curriculum is vigorous--with a $7,000 price tag, it better be. Students build more than 30 iOS apps by the end of the program and also gain experience in working on a mobile developer team.
“They know 95% of what they're going to need to know to develop apps that come across them from a team perspective and from a content perspective,” Bora says. “That means that they've been exposed to almost every layer of iOS development and many layers of [a] computer science curriculum and background, [such as] algorithm work, infrastructure, methodology, [and] team work.”
And because the mobile landscape is a constantly evolving, there's always room for a little extra schooling. Here are three lessons from Mobile Makers Academy's top profs.
What is the biggest misconception marketers have about mobile today?
Passley: When mobile first came out, a lot of the people directing it were from the marketing side: CMOs or the marketing side of the company. A lot of times people wanted to check it off the box of ‘yes, we have a mobile app.' [It was the idea that] not only was it easy but it was something that you could put on a shelf and leave there because it's in the app store. Now [we're] helping businesses understand that it's just like any other software. It's a living breathing organism that they have to continually change and continually work on, especially in the mobile field where there's a new device or a new operating system pretty much every year.
What are three things every marketer should keep in mind when including mobile in their overall mix?
Passley: Because it's always in [users'] pockets, definitely understanding the context over content. What is the user is doing at that time? Is the user in line at a Starbucks, or in a cab? It's lean forward and lean back. Is the user needing to make quick decisions, or sitting on the couch with his iPad? It all goes back to context versus content.
Bora: When you're making applications for these devices, as they get more powerful and more capable, what you really want to do is make sure that you're coming up with a product that takes advantage of the capabilities of that device. In some instances, a marketing push might be missing the mark on that [device's] capability. If you just come up with something that shows a picture and animates it around, that may get the goal of eyeballs on a page from a marketing perspective; but from a strategy perspective, there might be more opportunities. Focus on the capabilities of the devices...so that you take your marketing experience, which is a usually a tactical viewpoint, and turn it into something more strategic by leveraging more of the device.
Passley: It's how to build a team, as well as understanding who a good partner is. Good developers are essential.
Where do you see mobile going over the next year?
Bora: I think the mid-range devices are going to take off. For better or for worse, the gamification of experiences—so taking a natural experience and turning it into something that's fun and engaging or interesting and engaging, but not necessarily gaming—I see that taking off. As we look at things between tablet size and phone size that's where I think we're getting a magic mixture of hardware meets processing meets enough screen size for content.
Passley: You look at what Google's doing with Google Now. It's starting to understand where you are at that moment. [If I'm] in the city, it may know that I'm leaving, that I always leave at 6 p.m., [and that] I always take the same the bus. So, it actually pops up while I'm walking out. I can set my reminders to know when I get home—not just at a specific time but a specific location.... Where is the person, at what time, and what do they need?
Bora: There is a big surge in Big Data, home automation, and healthcare, and the nexus of those three is going to be a huge industry.
Let's say you're a marketer on a Lost-inspired desert island (minus the polar bears). Which marketing tool would you wish you'd brought with you? Assuming there's Internet...and electricity...and The Swiss Family Robinson happens to be there with credit cards…
I posed that question to Michael Litt, CEO and cofounder of video marketing company Vidyard, and asked him to make the case for video to be that tool.
“Well, you could probably create some really awesome content about what life was like on that island,” Litt jokes. “But seriously, tweets, written content, and photos can only go so far; video is the most engaging medium on the Web—it's the next best thing to being there in person.”
Consumers clearly agree, as is evidenced by their actions. According to Cisco, by 2017 online video will be responsible for nearly 70% of all consumer Internet traffic. Within three years, nearly one million minutes of video content will cross content delivery networks every second. By then Cisco estimates it would take an individual more than five million years to watch the amount of video content generated each month. To put that into perspective, the genus of great ape from which modern humans derive still hadn't evolved five million years ago.
Video is a handy marketing tool at any stage of the funnel, Litt says. A brief consumer-facing introductory video on your homepage to entice a visitor at the beginning of the process; a testimonial from a satisfied customer after some initial interest has been shown; and perhaps a training video towards the end of the process when your prospect has already bought your product or signed up for your service.
In a weird way (bear with me) video is a bit like a gun...or at least the use of video, or any marketing tool really, is a bit like that old, dog-eared expression: Guns don't kill people; people kill people. Well, videos don't convert prospects; marketers with a smart video strategy convert prospects.
For example, take that consumer-facing introductory video for your homepage. You may have a great product to sell with 74 amazing features, but no one at the top of the funnel is going to watch an in-depth documentary about them.
“Some brands make the assumption that people have massive attention spans for content and they'll make a 15-minute video for their homepage and then not even track who's watching it,” Litt says. “A video like that should be one minute or a minute and a half at the most and brands should be tracking everything their audience is doing.”
Another misconception about video content: That one big budget video will change your world and go so viral the CDC will have to get involved. Litt warns against unrealistic expectations. Effective video is part of an overarching strategy rather than a magical lightning strike.
“You don't just create one tweet or one blog and walk away, and the same is true for video,” he says. “You have to consistently improve and reiterate your message in different ways.”
In the same vein, there's little point in looking at the number of views as any real indication of a video's overall success. Know who you are. It makes sense for Nike or Dove to get millions of hits on their videos, but there's no need to be Nike or Dove to have a business impact.
“Marketers often expect thousands of views on YouTube,” Litt says. “But if a brand gets 100 views and they're all targeted at the right viewers through Google search—then that's actually a huge win.”
Product sampling: Everyone loves it (Hey, free swag)—but it's grossly inefficient.
“It's the most effective means of promoting a consumer product [in the CPG space],” says Jeremy Reid, founder and executive chairman of PINCHme, an Australian Web service, set to launch in the United States November 12, that allows its users to select and sample products for free.
Research supports Reid's claim—the trade organization Promotional Products Association International has stated that American consumers tend to better remember advertisers, messaging, and products after sampling.
Of course, that was in 2009. Since then, digital channels have proliferated and CPGs, Reid says, are behind the curve. Essentially, they're blind to what happens after consumers sample a product. Did they like it? Did they become a loyal customer? Brands can, of course, extrapolate that a sales boost following a product sampling campaign is correlative. But in today's era of consumer-centric marketing, that all seems a bit imprecise.
It's a pain point that drove Reid to launch the PINCHme service last February, working with 50 major CPG brands, including Procter & Gamble, Nestle, and Johnson & Johnson. Consumers that sign up are incented to fill out a more in-depth profile through which brands can target segments (health products for workout warriors, for instance), and consumers can select two from a list of available products to sample for free (capping the number of samples keeps consumers interested and engaged, Reid says).
The theory behind PINCHme is that its platform provides a more efficient way for brands to sample and gain consumer insight around that sampling.
“Right now every major CPG company is focused on targeting the right consumers, ensuring they have the right engagement, and digital,” Reid says, pointing out that PINCHme touches all three of those areas.
PINCHme requires returning customers to fill out a six-question mini-survey about the product they sampled previously, then drives those insights back to the brand. Additionally, the service provides a gateway for users to purchase the product they sample—which shows whether sampling led to revenue on the PINCHme platform. In the U.S., Reid has struck up partnerships with retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target, CVS, and Walgreens. (Currently the platform doesn't have a price comparison feature, but Reid has been considering it).
Brands in Australia have used the platform for product launches—PINCHme helped launch a new candy product for Kraft—as well as to expand the reach of established household products. In Australia, PINCHme has done well—Reid says 2% of the Australian population were on PINCHme within four to five weeks of its launch. To date it has around a half million Australian users.
But the bigger fish—and the bigger test—is in the U.S., where PINCHme currently has 100,000 sign-ups—with the goal of reaching one million by the year's end. Australia has a population of 25 million, compared to the U.S.'s 314 million. And more potential users means a greater need to scale and to ensure PINCHme and its brand partners retain the sample inventory to reliably meet consumer demand.
Innovation can be a marketer's most strategic asset, says Shideh Sedgh Bina, founding partner of Insigniam, and a speaker at the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association Leadership Conference. Here, Bina shares her insight on how marketers can overcome obstacles and improve results through innovation.
What are some challenges marketers are facing these days, and can they be resolved through innovation?
“Everyone's trying to come to terms with the digital channel. It's not so much about innovation. It's about dealing with the innovation that the digital space has provided. The digital space is innovation in and of itself, and it's about creating value in that space.”
“[At Insigniam,] we define innovation as anything that creates more value. You want to constantly be creating more value as your customers need it. Internal innovation is also about adding value. And I don't think innovation has to be housed in marketing functions; I think that innovation is a key enabler of marketing functions.”
What are some specific ways that marketers can innovate and create value?
“For Insigniam, at least, it's about creating platforms that are interesting and conversations that are worth engaging in. I see CMOs dealing with that a lot. How to add value to the conversations they are having in their various channels.”
What's an example of something Insigniam has done or is doing to support innovation?
One of the things we've done is Insigniam Quarterly. This is a print magazine that allows executives to share their story. It's also digital. Our biggest challenge right now is to create something that's compelling, and this helps.
How do you envision the next era of marketing, in terms of where we are now with mobile marketing? How might the landscape change over the next few years?
“I think we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg about moving into a more mobile [marketing] environment. I think that what we are doing in the mobile marketing environment is going to be obsolete in the next 10 years. At the beginning…the app was like a portal to a [company's] website. But I think it's going to expand; we're going to get more sophisticated mobile apps.
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