Customer loyalty programs failed me three ways in one day

Many loyalty programs have tags for your keychain.Just this week, I had a whirlwind experience with three customer loyalty programs that left me scratching my head
(and not necessarily feeling loyal):

Loyalty Experience#1: No value

The other day, I went out to dinner with a friend of mine. The restaurant we went to is part of a small group of local restaurants. When the check arrived, our waiter asked us if we had signed up for the reward program. Well, I had, but it was something like 10 years ago.

  • Waiter: “Do you know what phone number it’s under? I can look it up that way.”
  • Me: “Uhhh….no. I have like a bunch of phone numbers and I don’t remember which one it might be under.” (And I don’t care enough to have you run through all of them JUST to give me some points.)
  • Waiter: “Well, do you want to sign up again?”
  • Me: “Sure?” (Nooooo!)

I’m not sure what I thought would happen next. I didn’t really care about the points or rewards – I only go there a couple of times a year; and after all, I deliberately unsubscribed from their email list no less than two weeks ago. The waiter hands me an iPad: It’s dark in the restaurant, it seems there are a hundred questions, and I don’t have my reading glasses. But I signed up again, and now that I think about it, I don’t remember which phone number I put down. Shoot, now I’ll have to unsubscribe from that email again.

Lesson learned:
Actually, loyalty programs for small businesses can have a big payoff. Repeat customers and word-of-mouth marketing from your loyal customers can drive more traffic in the door and help you compete against larger competitors. But don’t be pushy and don’t ask your customers to give you too much information, especially if you’re not clear on how that information will be used. Read More »

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Three retail predictions from The Big Show

The SAS Booth at Retail's Big Show

The SAS Booth at Retail's Big Show

If you’ve been watching the news out of The Retail Big Show, you've been hearing about omnichannel, big data and the Internet of Things. Now that the show is over, don’t forget to follow @SASRetail on Twitter for continued retail news, and watch the SAS Marketing Insights Center for coverage of the presentations I attended from eBay, Chico’s, Brooks Brothers and

Here on the Customer Analytics Blog, I wanted to give you an exclusive on some long-term retail predictions we gathered when we asked retailers to look five to ten years into the future and give us one prediction about where the industry is heading:

  1. Global availability of almost anything. Gayatri Patel, eBay’s Director of Global Data Infrastructure, says she expects the global aspect of retail to continue to grow. “The omnichannel environment is important because it’s global,” she says. “This will continue to give consumers access to goods and services they never had before. It will become easier to drop and ship across any site, with the flow of traffic locally and internally. How we exchange goods and services will have to simplify, and the inventory of products available to us will continue to broaden.
  2. Near real-time delivery. Sahal Laher, Brooks Brothers Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer, predicts an increase in the real-time nature of customer demand. “We have a new partnership with Uber using their courier side of the business to make same-day deliveries within New York City.” As mobile continues to grow and the demand for same-day delivery grows, this market will spread to more cities, says Laher.
  3. In-home manufacturing. Eric Singleton, Chico’s Chief Information Officer is looking at 3D printing and similar technologies. He says, “I predict a tremendous rise of in-home manufacturing. It won’t replace all products but it will be nothing to produce a range of products in the home. That may sound very futuristic, but a decade’s a long time.”

What do you think? Are our experts on mark – or being somewhat fanciful? What will you look forward to manufacturing at home, and what do you wish you could have delivered within a day? Tell us in the comments.

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Bank experience offers five content strategy lessons

When you search “business planning resources US,” Google serves up pages and pages of results without a single bank website. When you search “business planning resources New Zealand,” ANZ BizHub is No. 3 on page 1. Page rank is everything if you want to increase your online sales.

Bank Content today: Less coins and bills and more digital images.So how did ANZ Bank get such a high page rank while the others didn’t rank at all?

Content. They provide content to answer consumers’ banking questions.

In April 2013, ANZ worked with The Small Business Company to implement a content strategy that would help them become No. 1 in customer satisfaction and growth among retail bankers (pretty lofty goal). Today, that content strategy has helped the bank dramatically increase total online sales of its business products, and online sales of small business startup packages has more than tripled.

Ben Green, Marketing Manager, Business Banking at ANZ, says they believed helpful content could differentiate them from their competitors, engage their customers, demonstrate their expertise and help boost search traffic. Read More »

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How retail gets it right with analytics

Retailing is fascinating because it’s the very essence of a market – a place that begins and ends with the customer. And the cash register / online shopping cart is where the supply curve and the demand curve meet, generating an endless stream of customer data made very valuable with analytics.

Retail Silhouette2

Your customers know when you get it right.

So what can retailers do with analytics?

  • First and foremost – ask and answer questions more quickly and completely.
  • Solve more complex problems than previously thought possible.
  • And gain deeper insights into customers’ tastes, preferences and likely next moves.

Some retailers, such as Chico’s, use analytics to link web browsing to store purchases so they better understand the overall shopping patterns and preferences of customers.

With analytics, retailers can know exactly what customers want – and make sure they get it. Wouldn't that make a difference?

Imagine knowing their preferences, buying behaviors and what they are thinking (and saying) about your brand. Retailers are doing that with analytics. Then imagine using that insight in both marketing and merchandising decisions – so everything in your operation begins and ends with the customer. Accurately. Profitably. And more meaningfully for the customer.

With analytics, retailers can know every customer and make interactions more personal – online, offline and omni channel.

With analytics, retail gets it right. Everything at the right price, in the right place and at the right time.

Want to learn more? Click on the video frame below and watch – it’s only a minute and a half and well worth your time.



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Email marketing is dead. Long live email marketing!

Like many people, I had a bit of a break over the holiday, and like many people, I did a little early Spring-cleaning during my time off. But unfortunately, my house is still messy, because the cleaning I did was electronic: After recently merging my four email accounts into Outlook, I noticed the incredible amount of irrelevant marketing emails I was receiving. I made it my mission to unsubscribe from as many of them as possible.

Email is dead

When will email marketing finally be obsolete but still quaint?

I’m sure that you’ve noticed that many websites ask for your email address before you view any of their content. This is where the trouble starts. If I’m just browsing, I might be interested in a single article or post, but I don’t really want a long-term relationship with the content provider. But once you’ve provided that email address, you suddenly find yourself attached to what seems like zillions of emails from organizations you’ve never heard of (oh yeah, that’s because they sold your email address to other providers). The default option for many websites is to sign you up for every email subscription that’s available and then it’s your responsibility (that’s right – YOU!) to determine whether the content is relevant or not. Even if it's a company that you like doing business with, you're likely to be bombarded with content. I’ve seen some organizations where the marketers are actually incentivized on the number of emails (or "leads") that go out, not the quality of the lead or the relevance of the content to a target audience.

The industry term for this effect is “contact fatigue,” which is what led me to my electronic housecleaning. Too many irrelevant messages clogging up my very important inbox. But email is still an important marketing and communication tool if the message is meaningful to your customer!

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Ten big issues to watch out for in 2015

Daniel Franklin presenting The Economist's "The World in 2015."

Daniel Franklin, Executive Editor of The Economist

Kicking off the new year is a great time to assess what's worked and what hasn't, take inventory, check assumptions and do other things to prepare you for a fresh new year. It's also a perfect time to get a broader perspective on world events and what might happen in 2015 that will impact our customers and inform our strategies (or rewrite them).

An excellent source for such a broader perspective is Daniel Franklin, Executive Editor of The Economist, and Editor of The Economist's annual publication, "The World in 2015."

I had the privilege to hear Mr. Franklin summarize his views on what's to come in 2015, which I am happy to share with you as ten big issues to watch out for in 2015:

  1. New Engines of GDP Growth
    Top GDP growth in the coming year will all be in developing countries in Africa and Asia. What's noteworthy is that recent engines of global growth (BRIC and CIVETS countries) are all missing from the Top 10. Even China is expected to downgrade its growth projections in 2015 to just 7% from the current 7.5%.
  2. Nasty Economic Shocks: 
    1. Slower Growth in China
      As one of the main engines for global growth, the potential danger in China is that it slows more abruptly than expected. This contrasts with greater growth on a global level and is a concern because such a development could spark a wave of burgeoning bankruptcies in China. Read More »
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Your customers are already omni-channel. Are you?

Companies like Travelocity, Uber and Yelp have forever changed the way consumers plan their travel and entertainment. Can you remember when you had to book your trips through a travel agency? These innovators have raised the bar for other industries, so can the banking experience be changed in the same way? At least one banking executive thinks so.

Omni-channel customers use many channels - sometimes simultaneously.Gareth Gaston is the Executive Vice President of Omnichannel at US Bank, but he hasn’t always been a banking exec. Before his recent move to US Bank, Gaston spent 20 years in the travel industry. It’s probably those years in travel that helped him see what type of experience consumers expect. He says, “The consumer doesn’t give us a pass because we are a bank.”

During his 2014 BAI Retail Delivery keynote presentation, Gaston defined omni-channel marketing as a shift from individual, in-person interactions to transactions across multiple channels. He chuckled at the obvious understatement when he said, “Omni-channel marketing is marketing on all channels where your customers expect to find you.”

Did you hear that? All channels, not just the bright shiny new channels. It’s not about killing the branch and jumping into social and mobile. It’s a call to provide information and functionality to all of the channels where your customers expect it, including social and mobile, the call center, branch and Internet. “Omni-channel is about moving beyond the digital obsession toward customer centricity,” says Gaston. Getting there is a matter of knowing your customers' expectations. Read More »

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How Cabela's masters multiple channels with analytics

If you like hunting, fishing, hiking or camping, chances are you not only know Cabela's but you're also a customer. Cabela's is one of the most well-known outdoor recreation brands in the world and was founded as a direct retailer in 1961.

Cabela's distinctive retail stores are destinations in and of themselves.Cabela's now engages with customers across all 50 U.S states and in 125 countries around the world.

In addition to their traditional catalog business and online store, they operate 29 retail stores that have become destinations because they are so distinctive with cavernous interior spaces, aquariums and other unique features.

Each year, they distribute over 120 million catalogs in 100 different varieties targeted to specific customer profiles, all while successfully meeting their goal of offering a wide and distinctive selection of high-quality outdoor products at competitive prices while providing superior customer service. Read More »

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The art of possibility: connected vehicles and big data analytics


Just imagine the data streaming from each connected car.

Decades of Westernized television and cinema have featured fantastic imagined car technologies, including many that now actually exist. Think of the autonomous car from Knight Rider and today’s self-parking capabilities. Or the ongoing James Bond series with tracking devices that resemble the well-established GPS systems in our cars, phones and even wearable technology.

Art has become reality, and it continues to evolve for automotive manufacturers. Why? The short answer is that we’re obsessed with innovation. And while the connected car concept isn’t exactly new, the sheer breadth of the concept certainly raises new questions. Consider this thought in light of the opportunity made possible by analytics:

Machine-to-machine (M2M) connections
are expected to reach an estimated
1.8 billion worldwide connections by 2022. 

At a recent Connected Vehicle Trade Association (CVTA) summit, the reality of automotive connectivity and associated big data challenges were explored. If an estimated one terabyte of data per hour is generated, according to Andreas Mai, Director of Smart Connected Vehicles for Cisco Systems, consider the opportunities to transform the automotive customer experience. Read More »

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All I want for Christmas - my customer view

Way back when my brother and I had different wish lists for Santa Claus

Two brothers: same hat, different wish lists for Santa Claus.

As my followers can attest, my normal viewpoint in this blog is as a marketer focused on marketers. And I try to stay true to the tagline of this blog: Evolving relationships for business growth.

I chose those words very carefully so that evolving could with be interpreted either passively (as if describing what’s happening with marketing and customers), or actively (as in the deliberate process of changing how marketers engage with their customers). I think both equally are valid reasons for a blog, but I happen to find it more interesting to talk about the active approach.

So today, I intend to share my viewpoint as a customer as a way to highlight some of the main themes we’ve explored on this blog. And since it’s Christmas Eve (very soon Christmas morning on the eastern Pacific Rim), it made sense to make it a Christmas list (like the kind Eartha Kitt warbles in “Santa Baby”). If I could ask Santa Claus for what I want from my vendors and service providers, this is my list.

  1. Be respectful

I am busy, and I try to be my best whenever I am wearing the many hats I wear – as a marketer, father, husband, son, Scout leader, community member. If you and your product / service can help me meet my goals in one of those roles – great! If not, please leave me alone. I’ll call on you when I need you. If you pester me, I’ll get annoyed and just might look elsewhere when I need it.

For marketers, this means respecting do not call lists and email opt-outs. Ideally, it means using opt-ins instead of relying on opt-outs. Read More »

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