Five steps to omni-channel marketing - step one

As a customer intelligence adviser, my work exposes me to a wide range of organizations with various marketing challenges and available resources. Over time, some common themes have emerged, one of which is omni-channel marketing as a business imperative. Changes in the ways customers engage with brands across an explosion of channels have prompted the need for organizations to engage in omni-channel marketing.

Best practices are starting to emerge for mastering omni-channel marketing, and I've seen that they seem to fall into a five-step pattern, which I will lay out for you in this short blog series titled, Five steps to omni-channel marketing.

Steps to omni-channel marketing

Steps to omni-channel marketing

During recent customer visits, I have noticed assumptions being made about making the transition from mass marketing to omni-channel marketing - at times expecting it to take just a month or two. Most of the time customers are surprised when I explain that there is a maturity curve you need to go through. In today’s blog post I will try to explain my vision on moving from mass marketing to fully omni-channel marketing.

We have detected 6 maturity levels when it comes to omni-channel marketing. Every level requires a more advanced step of analytics. So the evolution from one level to the next is directly linked to the maturity of the insights you can create. For example event-driven campaigns on churn may prove much less effective if you don’t score the people that have a high probability to churn.

The goal of omni-channel marketing is to deliver the right message, at the right time, through the right channel, taking into account your commercial strategy. The inclusion of your commercial objectives is important because achieving customer centricity is only meaningful when it supports your business goals. So on that basis, let's examine the first step in this process. Read More »

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6 things to know about data storytelling

The Fitbit. I wasn't convinced I really wanted one until a coworker showed me a staggering number of pounds lost on a very colorful dashboard. In her sweet Texas drawl, she explained, “It’s all here. My sleep patterns, amount of water I drank, calories eaten, and even steps taken.” One little wristband collects all kinds of data and pushes it to the user in a fun, easy to use format. The data collection is great, but what really fascinated me was what the dashboard meant to her.

Bree's Fitbit.

Bree's Fitbit.

Before the Fitbit, Bree didn’t understand what patterns and behaviors were the most damaging to her health. Seeing her data brought to life inspired her to overhaul her entire lifestyle. And this lesson from the Fitbit is one of data storytelling across multiple media, or "transmedia storytelling" as Bree puts it in this fantastic three-part blog series.

Through a simple dashboard Fitbit painted a picture of someone’s reality. Hearing about Bree’s experience made me truly appreciate the impact of visuals on how we think and feel, and the art of data storytelling. Yes, all data tells a story. However, applying a meaningful narrative to the data is what makes storytelling an art. Data visualization can help you get there.

Here are some best practices you can use to build your credibility and solidify your expertise as a visual storyteller:

  1. Remember who the expert is

The subject matter expert’s job is to ensure the relevancy and accuracy of the data. We all know the perils of manipulating data to serve our own purposes. Act continuously as a steward for your data by omitting (or at least admitting) your own biases and assumptions. This is especially important when you construct visualizations. Sure, scaling a weight-tracking graph to make it appear someone is losing more weight than in reality sounds nice, but it is a disservice to the person relying on it.

  1. Research your audience

Knowing your audience will clarify who the story is for and help you establish relevancy. Jeff Bladt and Bob Filbin of and Crisis Text Line point out in their HBR post the importance of focusing on data that affect their key metrics. Their goal is to get teenagers involved in volunteering. Therefore, they want to know what motivates teens to volunteer and how to recruit them. When presenting findings to employees their conversation and supporting data visualizations focus on engagement not on regression analysis and R plots. Likewise, Bree’s Fitbit dashboard isn’t going to show a molecular analysis of the nutrients she eats. Rather, it simply shows whether she has eaten too many or too little for her weight goals.

  1. Don’t forget context

When we start building a narrative around our data, it is easy to omit context. I still remember my college statistics professor teaching us about correlation and causation. “See, this graph shows a correlation between murder and ice cream.” The obvious lesson was ice cream does not result in murder. In the case he presented, it was a spike in crime during the summer. Data visualization is so powerful that we can easily overlook omitted information. As a storyteller, your job is to make sure you have presented the data in a fair and complete manner. If you are not sure what factors are influencing your results, you may have some more exploring to do.

  1. Design Matters

Data visualization reduces our information processing time. We processes visuals far faster than any other kind of information. So how you display information matters. Be selective about the amount of detail and color you use. Provide comparative charts and data when appropriate. They work - our brains are optimized to consume information visually.

  1. Use data visualization strategically

When my colleague first told me about the Fitbit, she hooked me by showing me one number first, her total weight loss. I couldn’t help but pay attention. Once she had my attention she walked me through what each visualization meant literally and to her overall goals. It was logical and sequential. Every visualization had meaning, which is critical to both understanding and adoption. Don’t believe me? Our average attention span is roughly 8 seconds.

  1. Share your story

Think back to your audience. Your audience will determine the best method of delivery. Chances are it will involve some degree of visualization, if you are smart. A well-constructed story will carry across many different channels (transmedia).

Joan Didion once said, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live...” For my colleague Bree, it is was about changing her lifestyle. Seeing her life in pictures helped her understand what she was doing well and what she needed to improve.

Storytelling is a combined ability to understand the larger context and link together threads of data in a meaningful way. Visualizations are one of the most powerful ways of deriving meaning from the data. They help us connect the dots and share our findings with those around us. So, what story will you tell?

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Customer loyalty is earned with customer experience focus

Use analytics for best customer experiences that build loyalty.

A happy customer will be a loyal customer.

Collecting and counting points in order to reach a threshold - and ultimately receive some sort of reward - these are the loyalty programs we know of today. Recently I have read a lot about how brands are looking to overhaul their loyalty programs - to reach more customers and generations and to provide more relevant rewards. All to improve the customer experience and provide more relevant and contextual offers than what consumers receive today.

The fact of the matter is this - loyalty programs are ubiquitous. According to Maritz the typical household has 21.9 loyalty program memberships, with the average person belonging to 7.4 unique programs. The question is: are organizations using them effectively, to keep customers truly loyal over time?

A recent study from the International Institute of Analytics (IIA) and SAS titled, Keeping Customers: Successful Loyalty Through Analytics, looked at the current landscape for loyalty programs in the U.S. from the perspective of loyalty managers. Disappointingly, only 16 percent reported they have a “very effective” loyalty program. This seems to echo that same research from Maritz that reports only 35 percent of members are engaged in all of the loyalty programs they belong to; on average, people are active in 4.7 of the 7.4 programs to which they belong.

So, what is going wrong? To answer that perhaps we should focus on what highly successful programs are doing right. Read More »

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How a successful marketing strategy drives revenue growth

A great marketing strategy should always include research and reporting components to help sales find “gold” in potential and existing customer data to gain new revenue.

Successful marketing strategies drive revenue growth.

Successful marketing strategies drive revenue growth.

Sales teams are always looking to their marketing counterparts to help get new leads to turn them into successful opportunities. It's simply not enough to just provide names and contact information of someone who dropped their business card into a bowl at an exhibit booth. They need much more.

In order to drive revenue growth, successful marketing strategies must also focus on providing contacts at viable prospect companies with key details, such as: identified industry, location, company size/revenue, department, title, job, current technology utilized for the business need (if available), and specific future growth plans (if available). Those data points are essential prior to formulating your plan.

The best results happen when everyone remembers that marketing and sales are a team with both functions supporting the other. For instance, marketing can fuel revenue growth by providing sales with research data about the prospects at the heart of specific interactions, which can include behavioral data, such as response rates, which can confirm business needs and the relative interest level in a given topic. Both teams will flourish if marketing strives to assist and encourage sales to uncover more knowledge of their prospects and customers through social selling resources and channels and by collaborating throughout the process. Read More »

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Marketing accountability is trending up with marketing analytics

Marketing Accountability is trending up.

Marketing Accountability is trending up.

The topic of Marketing Accountability is very hot right now. Also known as Marketing Measurement or Marketing Attribution, it looks at how brands can demonstrate the value of the marketing programs they put in place and execute.

In order to demonstrate this value, organizations often use software or programs that are based on analytical techniques - such as attribution, model scoring, forecasting, and optimization. This piece looks at how we believe programs used to measure marketing will continue to increase in popularity as more and more marketing departments at global brands are measuring everything they do inside of the marketing department.

With that backdrop, I found the trends indicated in the marketing analytics portion of the 2015 CMO Survey, intriguing, specifically three items:

  • Marketing analytics spend will increase 3 percent over next 3 years (the italics are mine).
  • Marketing analytics usage by project has decreased to 29 percent, down from 32.3 percent.
  • Only 30 percent of all companies evaluate marketing analytics quality.

And, interestingly, while organizations seem to use marketing analytics for customer acquisition and retention, social media, product optimization, and multichannel marketing, they are using it less frequently for promotion strategy, marketing mix, and to serve recommendations (next best actions or offers).

So marketing analytics spending is going up, but usage is going down. And those who do use it are limiting the scope to tactical projects. Why? There may be several reasons, but most of them point to a common theme: Marketing accountability. Analysis associated with large data volumes is complex. Managing, cleaning, and processing the data are arduous tasks. But poor-quality data generates analytical results that are equally deficient. The fact that only 30 percent of all companies are quantitatively measuring the quality of their marketing analytics tells me that gut feel marketing still rules in far too many places.

Here’s where the accountability comes in. Read More »

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How to give a "magic" customer experience every time

Basketball Fans 3In today’s digital world, even the most dedicated customers can have different needs and preferences at different times and places. And while customers can certainly be fickle, that’s not what always drives the situationally-dependent nature of the customer relationship. It’s life today that makes it so complex.

Think of your own customers and the many ways they interact with your organization. Are there times and ways the same customers want to interact with you differently? It’s a rare business where the answer to that question is no.

For a sports franchise, their customers are known as “fans.” And the fan experience for most professional sports has evolved to the point where it involves much more than the seat in the arena. It’s in merchandise and paraphernalia, it’s at the concession stand, it’s on social media, it’s in the online store, it’s on television, it’s on bumper stickers and bobble-heads, and it’s just about anywhere the fan is wearing the team jersey.

Not all businesses have customer relationships with those same elements, but all of our customer relationships are similarly complex. And customer expectations have evolved across all the channels. Analytics have enabled forward-thinking companies to keep up with these changes so they can deliver the right customer experience at the right time.

One such business is the Orlando Magic - the successful NBA franchise basketball organization in central Florida. Given their operating environment amid other world-class attractions and year-round warm, sunny weather, their success demonstrates the power of using analytics to manage the customer experience across all the different ways their fans engage with them.

Tune into the short video below and hear first-hand from executives about how using analytics in marketing makes a big difference to the Orlando Magic's bottom line:

 Let me know what you think. And as always - thank you for following!

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A great digital customer experience is not accidental

The digital customer experience should look nothing like this.

The digital customer experience should look nothing like this.

Providing a great digital customer experience is more and more important, and yet many brands seem not to care by providing less than stellar experiences over and over again. It's like déjà vu, a French term that means “already seen,” which is used to describe the sensation that you have already experienced something that is actually happening for the first time. Up to 70 percent of people report having experienced some form of déjà vu, and for me it seems to happen all the time - especially in my experience as a digital consumer.

I am a modern consumer guy who uses multiple channels to engage with brands of all sizes, which marketers frequently refer to as a “hyper-connected consumer.” And along the way, I leave bits of information behind via online searches, Twitter comments, online surveys, online purchases and live chats. The idea of using all that data to make improvements in marketing is not new, and yet I often have the strong sensation that I've been here and done that when engaging with a brand.

Sadly, I still get poor customer service from cable, media and wireless companies. Financial institutions send me irrelevant credit card and mortgage offers and retailers have insufficient product selection and inventory when I visit -- either online or in-store. It doesn't have to be like this, I promise.

Organizations can and should use all the channels and resources at their disposal to provide the hyper-connected consumer with a stellar experience regardless of channel. But how can they harness their marketing automation and digital experience initiatives accordingly to manage the digital customer journey?

There are three key areas organizations can focus on to ensure that great digital customer experiences are not accidental - collect digital data, use digital intelligence and analytics, and integrate the digital ecosystem. Here are the approaches I recommend in these three areas: Read More »

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Three ways that analytics fuel a digital business

We’ve heard a lot lately about digital transformation, the idea that businesses are evolving how they operate – moving from traditional channels towards all things digital through the use of mobile apps, in-store digital offers, and more digital communication in general. My own experience confirms this. I love mobile banking, I’ve been spotted “showrooming” at brick-and-mortar stores, and my apps manage everything from my remote control to my alarm system.

Analytics can fuel your business with no messy drilling or pumping.

Analytics can fuel your business with no messy drilling or pumping.

However, as we think about businesses of the future we must consider speed to decision. The faster a business reacts to a consumer, the more likely it will secure that consumer’s business.

But do you really need powerful data management and analytics to operate an efficient digital business? I say yes, in fact - that the better your data management and analytical processes, the better the results. So ask yourself this question: Does your organization have powerful enough analytics to fuel a digital business?

Let’s talk about the role analytics plays each step along the way.

  1. Finding the secrets the data hold. It’s no simple task. Just gathering the data from all parts of an organization is daunting; few firms have the infrastructure even for simple data sourcing. And then, once you’ve collected data across channels (web, email, call center, social) and departments (sales, service, support), you have to apply management and analytical techniques. Data management includes performing data quality, data integration, and data structuring exercises – an arduous but essential undertaking because in order to have good analytics, you need good data. But now comes analytics – the fun part – uncovering unexpected insights unique customer behaviors based on data. It's best to think of analytics in terms of four basic forms:
    • Descriptive analytics answers the question of what happened in the past.
    • Diagnostic analytics helps determine why something may have occurred.
    • Predictive analytics delves into what might happen in the future.
    • Prescriptive analytics – the realm of the most mature organizations – posits how to replicate an event to make it occur again.

    A true digital business needs to have at least descriptive and diagnostics analytics covered. And you must articulate a vision for performing predictive and prescriptive analytics if not already employing them. Read More »

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Television Upfronts explain the impact of content marketing

Showing a television and a viewer with a remote.Television is a great equalizer – everyone has one or surely knows what it is, making it easy to relate to. For instance, just about anyone could tell you their favorite program. In my case right now, it would have to be a tie between Scandal and Modern Family.

So as a devotee of those programs, my ears perked up when I heard a radio news story that specifically mentioned those shows, and as I listened it occurred to me what a compelling analogy the story made to my current focus at work on content marketing.

The news was about the Television Upfronts (“Upfronts”) which have been happening this past week in New York. Upfronts are when television networks showcase the programming they have planned for the next season to advertisers with the goal of getting them to reserve time for their commercial messages.

As I listened to the news, it occurred to me how TV programs and the way advertising is selected to air during the shows is similar to the value that content-driven approaches add to marketing. So using these two programs, let's take a closer look at how they illustrate the impact of content marketing.

Modern Family
From the title, it should be no surprise that this show likely attracts a wide range of viewers with children since it features an extended family made up of many types of families - blended families, same-sex families, December-May families, adoptive families and so on. That profile explains why air time during Modern Family would be more valuable to businesses that want to communicate with families, such as theme park operators, game and toy makers, household product distributors, multi-passenger vehicle makers, and the like.

In the case of Scandal, you might expect the show to attract female audiences and professionals of both sexes because the main character, Olivia Pope, is a powerful lawyer in Washington, DC that stays busy with her team of “gladiators” fixing problems (“scandals”) in the ecosystem around the American President. She has a Princeton + Georgetown pedigree and happens to have an intimate relationship with the President, making her quite powerful. Based on that description, this program would be prized for ads by high-performance auto manufacturers, upscale clothing and footwear retailers, designer brands, wine makers, and the like.

The common denominator between these two shows is that their story-lines (i.e. their content) are what attract their respective audiences, so in other words:

The content is what creates the value. Read More »

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How analytics serves up a great customer experience

Things haven’t changed as much as you’d think. Some 14 years ago, as a young whippersnapper in customer analytics PR, my interviews often centered on tearing down silos and building a 360-degree customer view. Still do. But while we mulled over the mechanics of understanding the customer through analytics, we didn’t talk much about the customer’s viewpoint.

Strive for excellence with analytics.

Strive for excellence with analytics.

At the most recent SAS Global Forum conference, it was all about customer experience. No matter the industry, or whether the topic was digital marketing, data visualization or price optimization, presenters were all looking to analytics to elevate the customer experience.

Let me give a couple for instances:

Chico’s FAS uses analytics to think like the customer.
In fact, the company’s new CMO consolidated its entire marketing department into one unified group. By eliminating silos (yes, that’s still important), they’re focusing the lens on the customer, regardless of channel. New segmentation models use data from every channel. The result: consistent messaging across all touch points. At every point in the customer journey, Chico’s uses analytics to examine how its campaigns affect customers and manage the level of contact by looking at customer engagement across all channels.

The Orlando Magic is set on personalizing fan experience while respecting their privacy. At first, the deluge of fan data seemed like a windfall – or maybe too much of a good thing. Read More »

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