intu: Using preferences to meet customer expectations in the inbox

In 2018 brands should be basing their communications on customers’ preferences. This ensures that every message resonates with them, regardless of whichever channel they chose.

It’s a lot to take on board to ensure that customers are engaging with the content brands are putting out. One of the brands that has recognized the importance of this complex strategy is intu, the UK’s largest online shopping center.

intu created a bespoke preference center to ensure that their customers can update or change their preferences on their mobile phones – all with a few swipes and taps of a finger.

The customer

intu has bricks-and-clicks shops, managing several shopping centers throughout the UK (and Europe) and hosting an online shopping portal that showcases the UK’s best brands. intu also allows in-center stores and online retail behemoths to showcase their full collections, aggregating in-center and exclusive online offers and promotions.

What did they want to achieve?

intu hadn’t used dotdigital Engagement Cloud previously. Working with various members across the account management, custom technical solutions (CTS), and onboarding teams, intu was given a thorough grounding in our core product and bespoke solution capabilities. This meant that they could hit the ground running.

Making the most of our bespoke technical services team, Intu wanted to build a preference center that allowed subscribers to change their personal details and update their preferences directly from email. As many customers now check their emails on their mobiles, intu knew that making their preference center look sleek on handheld devices was important; the brand needed a mobile-first preference center.

In addition to a responsive design across mobile and desktop, the preference center needed to be easy to use, not compromising on functionality or data capture. Ensuring the preference center was mobile-ready meant that their customers could take advantage of intu’s free Wi-Fi hotspots and directly update their preferences in-center.

How did the customer work with CTS?

intu’s preference center is built to extract updated contact information and pass it back to CRM so that intu always has current and relevant unsubscribe data. Off the back of the data collected, intu can trigger birthday programs, personalize emails with first names, and tailor email content based on gender and location.

intu and dotdigital approached the preference center as a collaborative process. dotdigital provided expert technology and intu provided high quality designs that minimize scrolling and produce a seamless user journey. The result is stunning.

The whole process worked really well. Our PM [Project Manager] not only kept us up to date with the progress at each stage, but also adapted to our ever-changing needs quickly and professionally. The preference center will allow us to power our segments fully and automatically. These preferences are key to ensuring we deliver the right message to the right person at the right time and have already started to see our enriched profile numbers increase, as well as engagement. So far, the preference center hasn’t had its own awareness campaign, but we are seeing around 1% of clicks on this organically which is an increase of 50%. Our enriched profiles have gone up an average of 2% extra this month, with this being a strong contributor to this growth. We will be utilizing this on the back of our Wi-Fi welcome journey. As 90% of our new sign-ups come from our center Wi-Fi users, we need to enrich these profiles quickly as we only get their email address. This will allow them to opt in and out of different communications and submit their preferences easily.

Shane Bond, Email Marketing Manager at intu

We are really looking forward to working more with Shane and the rest of the team at intu to harness the power of their data and enable them to make data-driven marketing decisions.

Looking for a preference center? For either simple or more sophisticated preference centers, check out the creative services and custom technical solutions sections of our service station.

The post intu: Using preferences to meet customer expectations in the inbox appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 3 weeks ago from blog.dotdigital.com

Ignoring big data is hurting your customer experience

We’ve all heard the saying before – content is king.

So, what does that make data? If we’re sticking with the analogy
of chess in regards to marketing efforts, where on the board does big data
fall? You might be surprised to know that big data
isn’t a chess piece at all, it’s the clock off to the side of the game that
you’re playing against.

In the game of chess, you can lose if you focus too much on the moves your opponent makes and not enough on how much time you have left – the same is true for marketing.

Technology is changing the way we do business. We have more data at our disposal than ever before, and we’ve reached the point that not utilizing that data could eventually render your business obsolete. Passively tracking the latest data tools and tips isn’t enough anymore, you need a proactive approach to integrating big data into your customer experience plan.

How does ignoring big data affect your business?

Software is eating the world and it’s fueling itself with user
data.

In just the span of a year, the number of marketing automation software
products listed on G2’s website jumped from 129 to 260. That’s an increase of
201.55% and that number is expected to keep increasing. The biggest names in
marketing are investing more time and resources into gathering customer data to
drive customer engagement
and improve the consumer experience.

That’s not all – they’re also seeing a huge return on their investment. The total revenue generated from hardware, software, and professional services associated with big data will reach $92.2 billion by 2026. And that’s a conservative estimate, some experts predict that number to spike even higher.

If you’re not already making data a priority for your marketing strategy, you may be falling behind the competition without even knowing it. While you’re watching the pieces on their chess board, the clock is ticking and you’re running out of time to switch your strategy in time.

How can you harness big data to engage your customers?

Knowing why you need data for your customer experience is just one piece on the board. The real question is do you know how to move the pieces to win the game? In order to beat your opponent, you’ll need to understand the different ways you can use data to improve your customer experience and drive conversions.

Think of these strategies as your chess openings. There are three
main uses of big data in relation to the customer experience:

1. Using big data to increase customer acquisition

2. Using big data to increase customer retention

3. Using big data to drive customer expansion.

Let’s break these down one by one.

Using big data to increase customer acquisition is pretty straightforward. You can use big data to learn more about potential leads, what motivates them, what they like and dislike. Big data can provide you with information about their purchasing behavior, which of your competitors they’ve checked out, and more. All of this information can be given to your sales team to help them close deals and acquire new customers.

Once you acquire customers, you can use big data to keep them
engaged. Netflix is at the
forefront of the conversation when it comes to harnessing big data for a unique
customer experience. They use AI and predictive analytics to pinpoint what
their customers like and offer them new features and products before customers
even know they want them. With the right data, your company can do the same
thing.

Attracting and keeping customers isn’t all big data can do – it can help you save time and resources by knowing which leads aren’t worth pursuing. You can use CRM software to track your customer data and build consumer profiles that will help you decide the likelihood a lead will convert to a sale.

You can save your employees time, money, and frustration by using
data to equip them with the tools they need to be more effective. And in the
same breath, you can create a more personalized user experience to your
customers. Unlike chess, this is a game where everyone can be a winner.

Don’t let the clock run out on your company

Change isn’t coming, change is already here. Thankfully, it’s not too late to make a shift and get back in the game. If you haven’t taken a hard look at how big data plays into your marketing strategy, make it a priority. You’ll be having your competition in checkmate before you know it.

The post Ignoring big data is hurting your customer experience appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotdigital.com

Brightpearl and dotdigital: tackling the customer engagement iceberg

Every marketer wants more customers to engage more frequently with more of their content. After all, engagements are generally considered positive key performance indicators. If customers are opening your messages, clicking through to your site, and ultimately buying from you – your job as a marketer is done, right? Wrong!

All too often, customers have negative experiences after they click ‘buy’. It might be that their order is delayed because the product’s out of stock. Perhaps they receive the wrong item. Or maybe they simply change their mind and don’t want to engage in your returns process.

These types of experiences are part of the engagement iceberg, where less-visible interactions can cost a lot of money and undo your hard-spent marketing dollars. To illustrate, it takes 12 positive customer reviews to make up for one negative customer review.

Brightpearl automates retail: all the tasks in the back-end associated with placing and receiving an order. Their mission is to reduce errors, eliminate bottlenecks, and make the customer experience painless.

dotdigital and Brightpearl are pleased to announce a new integration

The new connector helps brands sync their back-end retail operations with dotdigital Engagement Cloud. Marketers can achieve a more robust single customer view and take control over how and when they market to someone.

The integration lets retailers sync:

  • contacts
  • contact tags
  • orders
  • unsubscribes

Doing your data due diligence saves you time to re-market to a new or automatically created address book(s). You could even create a new marketing segment combining contacts with related Brightpearl contact tags. Cool, huh?

Relevant and valuable communication with clients is one of the cornerstones of customer-centric retail. We’re excited to partner with dotdigital to provide our mutual customers the capacity to enhance their customer engagement with accurate operations data. This will give Brightpearl and dotdigital Engagement Cloud users the ability to avoid disjointed or irrelevant communication to clients, and instead will lead to the kind of seamless customer experience both platforms are already known to provide on their own.

Rob Beattie, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Brightpearl, UK

The partnership with retail operations experts Brightpearl
makes a lot of sense. We have a number of mutual clients who have all expressed the need to be able to link up their business systems, front- and back-end. As an increasing amount of businesses feel fierce competitive pressure, having the ability to respond to end-to-end experiences, both good and bad, becomes increasingly important when trying to gain an edge over the rest.

Simon Lye, Head of Partnerships at dotdigital

For more information on the integration with Brightpearl, please contact a sales representative or just get in touch with your account manager.

Brightpearl is an omnichannel retail operations platform
that helps retailers streamline the back office. Brightpearl’s complete
solution includes financial management, inventory and sales order management,
purchasing and supplier management, CRM, fulfilment, warehouse, and logistics.
Integrated with major ecommerce platforms and online marketplaces, Brightpearl
is designed to scale as retailers grow.

The post Brightpearl and dotdigital: tackling the customer engagement iceberg appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotdigital.com

3 ways to drive customer engagement

Customer engagement is earned through trust and over time. It’s no easy feat for brands; our noisy digital age means that connecting with customers is rather challenging.

What’s more, customer engagement is intrinsically hard to measure. Sure, you can track email opens, clicks, and conversions. But what about word of mouth and brand awareness? The important stuff.

What is customer engagement?

Put simply, customer engagement is attracting and influencing customers in order to capture and retain their attention. Brands seek participation from consumers at length: a collection of individual moments that make up a customer’s experience or journey.

Customer engagement is a persuasion game and has more than one facet. To nurture prospects into customers effectively, you’ll need to tap into the following three layers of the consumer psyche:

  • Emotion

In the very first instance, you should look to engage your customers at an emotional level. They need to ‘feel’ something for your brand and trust your proposition.

  • Rationale

Secondly, you need to lock in commitment and ensure that what you’re offering makes logical sense to the customer.

  • Ethics

Lastly, and most importantly, you’ll have to communicate your brand virtues. Ethical marketing helps nurture promoters – people who will actively advance your brand’s influence.

Let’s look at the best tactics for smashing all three:

1. Trust-building

Inspire emotions to engage customers.

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelou, American poet

As human beings, our decisions are influenced by our emotions. We love authenticity and hate deceit, so brands need to come across as trustworthy. Only then will customers respond positively.

Design beautiful emails

Make an offer of trust at your debut; design carries a lot of weight in trust-building, so you want to be looking your best in your welcome program. Let your color palette intertwine with copy, and ensure those social links and calls to action are clear. Design email for mobile, too. Did you know that mcommerce sales reached 59% of ecommerce spending overall in 2017? Adopting a mobile-first strategy has never been more important.

You can download our customer engagement guide for some stellar examples of email creative.

Personalize your message

74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases engagement. A first-name greeting, albeit a simple tactic, can put a smile on your customer’s face and prompt them to act. Why not try embedding their name onto an image using liquid script?

Tell, don’t sell

An authentic brand narrative is important for creating brand relevance. Millennials in particular will respond better to emotive marketing than promotional ads. Enchanting subscribers with storytelling means activating memories, feelings, and desires. Relevancy is key: Use the customer data you hold to create meaningful campaigns. EasyJet’s anniversary story is a lovely example.

Put your social proof to use

Customer-first businesses earn social proof. The important thing is to let the customer do the talking. Ratings, reviews and testimonials, and user-generated content (UGC) are all great examples of social proof that can influence broader engagement. Shout about your endorsements and broadcast what other customers are buying. You’ll soon spark interest from similar consumers who are in the market for your product or service.

2. Commitment-building

Now that you’ve struck up an emotional connection with your customer, it’s time to appeal to reason. They’ve built up enough trust to hear you out.

And while impulse can sometimes mislead, logic isn’t as easily fooled. Rational engagement will consolidate emotive desires with reasoning: Do I actually need this Klimt print? Can I afford it? Where would I hang it? I’d need to buy a frame, too.

Convincing customers of your products or services requires some fine-tuning. You need to align your proposition as a solution to an existing want, need, or problem. After all, no one likes buyer’s remorse.

Position your product to meet a need or desire

53% of consumers rate quality over price when making a purchasing decision. Focusing on feature benefits will reassure consumers, while banging on about price can sometimes dissuade them from engaging further. Content needs to be relevant and sell the dream: Paint a picture of where your customer is going to be once they’ve purchased your product.

Use data to segment your audiences

While stories can be broad in their message, communications such as email need to be tailored to specific individuals. Base campaigns on personas or use preferences and behaviors to customize your content. Remember that, to satisfy the customer’s rationale, there should be a reason behind every message.

Relevancy improves the likelihood of engagement. The knock-on effects include: increased customer satisfaction, retention, and cross-/upselling. 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize and provide relevant recommendations. Plus, 83% are willing to share their data to make this possible! Do you have a preference center?

  • Segmenting based on explicit preferences, like product tastes, enables you to power dynamic content in email.
  • Tracking implicit data, such as online activity, allows you to recommend highly relevant products.

Leverage different channels

Armed with a mobile device, consumers can shop wherever and whenever they please. And while email is the undisputed king of ROI (£42 for every £1), other channels such as SMS and push notification warrant equal attention.

Consumers, who perceive SMS as a direct and service-based communication channel, are super-responsive on mobile. They engage with messages instinctively. It’s no surprise that SMS has an unbeatable open rate of 98% and a response rate of 45%.

Marketers have a real opportunity to capitalize on this near-perfect engagement score. Sending highly contextual and timely SMS messages, such as dispatch notes or appointment reminders, can instill consumer confidence in your brand.

Drive context with lifecycle automation

Lifecycle marketing is about taking your customers on a journey. Automation empowers brands to logically structure their campaigns and content around the customer. The premise is context; every message should be relevant to the customer at their point in the journey. Think: welcome series, birthday trigger campaigns, post-purchase content, and loyalty programs.

Fancy your hand at lifecycle automation? Download our worksheet here.

3. Promotion-building

Lead the charge on ethics! Happy customers aren’t always active promoters; brand promotion is at its strongest when they experience a sentimental connection with your brand.

Remember, customers love companies who show they care for something other than the bottom line. Putting ethics before profit not only builds trust, it inspires customers to become actively involved in your brand. And that means more sales.

66% of consumers are willing to spend more money with an ethical businesses. What’s more, 92% of millennials are more likely to buy products from companies that value their ethics.

Engage customers in ethical conversation:

  • Business transparency
  • Charity work
  • Fair trade practices
  • Gender equality
  • Good working conditions
  • Respect for the environment

Ask yourself, what does your business care about?

Make a commitment – and stick to it

Commit to something that both your brand and your customers care about. You might want to donate a percentage of your profits to charity, or plant a tree for every 10 products you sell. Showing that you’re making a difference can earn you more trust and cement your brand reputation.

Use holidays to inspire giving

Anniversaries are a great cause for celebration. They’re a time for reflection and inspiration, so brands need to get stuck in. Making a campaign all about compassion – rather than promotion – can go a long way in customer engagement. Perhaps organize some business-wide charity work on your company’s birthday, or use Black Friday sales as a reason to donate to an important cause. Maybe your customers will follow suit?

Download our customer engagement guide for some killer examples.

Make customers feel after they’ve purchased

Let customers know what their purchases go towards. A compelling aftersales moment can stay with customers forever. That feeling is something brands can’t buy. Go up in customers’ estimations by highlighting the contributions you’re making to a specific cause.

Make it about more than the transaction

Promoters will advocate brands that provide special customer experiences. You’ve got to make the transaction extraordinary so that it sticks out from the others.

Customers will, for instance, be delighted that their purchase is helping others in need. Having felt something meaningful, they’ll continue to purchase with the brand and recommend it to their peers.

So, whether it’s on your homepage or product pages, in email or on social, communicate your ethical activities. They’ll draw the eye, because your actions speak louder than your words.

Customers buy brands, not products

Remember that an authentic narrative will always inspire customer action. People will always pay attention to your business if you’ve got something worthwhile to say. Engagement is the result of a good brand story. It’s just a case of getting the balance of emotive and rational marketing right.

Your brand proposition needs to feel right, make sense, and convey compassion.

For more customer engagement tips and some great examples, download our full guide here.

The post 3 ways to drive customer engagement appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 2 months ago from blog.dotdigital.com

How Amazon Moments affects customer loyalty in the most unexpected way

Zsuzsa is
co-founder and CMO at Antavo, the leading customer loyalty technology partner of
dotdigital, specialized in helping
fashion and retail brands in Europe. They provide technology and strategy to
create customer retention programs so brands can form real connections with
their customers through engagement, exclusivity and advocacy. Their clients
include LuisaViaRoma, Represent, and Jimmy Jazz.

Amazon Moments

This year Amazon
gave a very unique Valentine’s Day gift to CRM teams all around world: Amazon
Moments
. The concept in itself was enough to turn everyone’s head:
imagine a cross-platform marketing tool where you can quickly and easily set up
campaigns that reward various customer interactions – most of which aren’t tied
directly to transactions – with tangible benefits. So, does this mean Amazon
has entered the ring of loyalty programs with its own product?

No, not really. As
you’ll soon see, Moments does not include several key features, which
top-of-the-line reward programs provide. Nevertheless, Amazon’s initiative
pushes customer retention in the right direction by proving that brands need to
move beyond transactional rewards.

How does
Amazon Moments work?

Before diving into the details, let’s examine what Amazon Moments offers marketers. The system is a framework that allows companies to set up industry-specific campaigns to reward customers when they meet the requirements of a custom trigger (called a ‘moment’).

For example, mobile game developers can give a free mobile skin to users who defeat the dragon on level 15. Any reward can be chosen from the company’s catalog, and Amazon will take care of the delivery.

Rewarding
every interaction, not just transactions

After a closer inspection, it’s clear that Amazon Moments is not a loyalty program, but a reward fulfilment platform that works on a global scale. Unlike a full-fledged loyalty program, Moments doesn’t offer any points or rewards tiers – which are very important elements in maintaining customer interest – and it also lacks a critical feature for marketers and CRM teams: insight.

Offering people rewards without understanding their needs and motivation is a huge gamble. So, if you don’t do your homework, you might end up losing money with this system.

But to give credit where credit is due, Amazon Moments has taken a very important step in customer retention by offering a reward model that uses physical and digital incentives instead of discounts.

Giving users a small token of appreciation for enjoying your product or service fosters true brand love and helps increase customer lifetime value. We’ve been on this soap box for years, telling brands and retailers that the future lies in engaging customers outside of the buying cycle.

This chart illustrates the tendency perfectly, and it’s gratifying to see that Amazon shares the sentiment.

Who will
win big with Amazon Moments?

After laying down
the pros and cons, let’s see who will benefit the most from using this new
feature:

  • Businesses that lack the
    fulfilment capabilities to reach a global audience
  • Small companies that always wanted
    a loyalty program, but never reached the point of designing one
  • Brands with a large audience that
    wish to deliver rewards quickly and easily
  • Ecommerce players who don’t want
    to compromise their profit margin with discounts, but still seek a potent
    customer retention campaign

…And
who should pass on the offer?

  • Companies in direct competition
    with Amazon
  • Businesses that have already
    established their own fulfilment channels
  • Luxury brands, because gifts from
    Amazon may feel off-brand – or even insulting – for affluent buyers
  • Retailers that seek a more
    fleshed-out loyalty program, which offers features like tiers, gamification, a
    single customer view and insights, as well as personalization

Whether or not you use Amazon Moments, you’ll be affected by its presence on the market. It will no doubt open up people’s eye to loyalty programs.

More and more companies will start offering their own campaigns, prompting brands and retailers to focus more on personalization, email marketing, gamification, and advanced loyalty solutions, such as Recognition Loyalty.

The post How Amazon Moments affects customer loyalty in the most unexpected way appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 2 months ago from blog.dotdigital.com

How to build customer loyalty during peak season?

According to eMarketer, only around 46% of customers claim that the overall price is the number one reason why they buy gifts from a particular retailer. This leaves plenty of room for other forms of customer retention that don’t involve ridiculous price drops, which compromise your company’s profit margin.

On top of that, more and more companies are realizing that brand loyalty cannot be gained through discounts. Private White, a British outerwear brand for men decided to launch a Black Friday campaign that offers 0% off. See James Eden’s LinkedIn post for more details on why they left the price wars for the competition.

Here are the three most powerful practices that ensure shoppers stay with you – even after the holiday craze has quieted down.

1. Personalized emails

If there is something customers like, it’s being treated like a VIP by their favorite company. Sending your customers a message or newsletter that is tailored to their shopping persona will no doubt make them feel appreciated.

Make sure to craft an email template that reflects relevant information. Don’t stop at simple data such as the name, spice up the message with product recommendations that match their purchase history. Pay attention to subtle additions as well, such as changing the backdrop to match the recipients favorite color or showcasing a tier-specific logo. The possibilities are endless, so be creative!

Harvey Nichols loyalty program

It goes without saying that your emails should reflect the atmosphere of the current season. To add more spice to your campaign, consider assigning different pictures and content to male and female customers, or creating higher quality designs for top-tier members.

2. Loyalty program

Launching a loyalty program is a valuable way to increase customer engagement, especially during the retail rush.

  • A loyalty program elevates your existing customer retention strategies
  • Reward additional actions that aren’t related to the buying cycle, such working out or referring friends
  • Use points, or scrap points altogether; both systems work
  • Add alluring bonuses, like discounts or free shipping, or take the concept to the next level and use experiential rewards to give customers personal treatment

On the other hand, loyalty programs can help you better understand your customers because you can reward customers for taking part in surveys or completing their profile. Doing so provides valuable information that could be later used for personalization. Think about the rich data you could acquire, such as birthday, gender, sizing, favorite color or brand preference.

It’s also worth mentioning that the concept of Recognition Loyalty™ further expands the possibilities by introducing the concept of membership tiers.

Represent loyalty structure

To give you an example, Represent, a shared client of dotmailer and Antavo, has six tiers. Each tier offers incremental benefits. Participants are ranked according to their overall spending value, which motivates them to increase their purchase frequency throughout the year, so they can climb the ladder and unlock more rewards.

3. Memorable experiences

My final piece of advice for improving customer retention during peak retail seasons is to focus on surprise and delight elements. People love to receive gifts, and the gesture is even more impactful when the recipients aren’t expecting it.

So, what should be in your gift box? Sweepstakes are a good start because they have a game-like feeling. During Christmas, a calendar that offers limited-time bonuses each day would amaze your customers, no doubt about it.

Of course, no one can resist a great deal, especially if there is a time limit attached to it. Granting double or triple points for products during the holidays has the power to mobilize shoppers.

Luisaviaroma loyalty program

To illustrate the power of surprise and delight, look at the email campaign of one of Antavo’s clients, LuisaViaRoma. Their birthday emails not only increased the active members of the Privilege Program by 50%, but these emails ended up among the company’s Top 3 highest netting campaigns.

Maintaining Engagement Requires Constant Effort

If you really wish to stand out from the competition and keep the customers you gather during the peak season, then you need a constantly-evolving strategy that implements the latest innovations.

The time of ‘set it and forget it’ or ‘one size fits all’ solutions are over; customers want a more personalized experience that constantly gives them new opportunities to interact with your brand –not just when they open their wallets, but also when they’re living their lives, outside the buying cycle.

Interested in learning more about customer retention and engaging your customers in a meaningful way? Here is the Definitive Guide to Creating a Successful Loyalty Program that dives even deeper into the topic.

The post How to build customer loyalty during peak season? appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 7 months ago from blog.dotmailer.com

What the Local Customer Service Ecosystem Looks Like in 2019

Posted by MiriamEllis

Everything your brand does in the new year should support just one goal: better local customer service.

Does this sound too simple? Doesn’t marketing brim with a thousand different tasks? Of course — but if the goal of each initiative isn’t to serve the customer better, it’s time for a change of business heart. By putting customers, and their problems, at the absolute center of your brand’s strategy, your enterprise will continuously return to this heart of the matter, this heart of commerce.

What is local customer service in 2019?

It’s so much more than the face-to-face interactions of one staffer with one shopper. Rather, it’s a commitment to becoming an always-on resource that is accessible to people whenever, wherever and however they need it. A Google rep was recently quoted as saying that 46% of searches have a local intent. Mobile search, combined with desktop and various forms of ambient search, have established the local web as man’s other best friend, the constant companion that’s ever ready to serve.

Let’s position your brand to become that faithful helper by establishing the local customer service ecosystem:

Your Key to the Local Customer Service Ecosystem

At the heart sits the local customer, who wants to know:

  • Who can help them, who likes or dislikes a business, who’s behind a brand, who’s the best, cheapest, fastest, closest, etc.
  • What the answer is to their question, what product/service solves their problems, what businesses are nearby, what it’s like there, what policies protect them, what’s the phone number, the website URL, the email address, etc.
  • Where a business is located, where to find parking, where something is manufactured or grown, etc.
  • When a business is open, when sales or events are, when busiest times are, when to purchase specific products/services or book an appointment, etc.
  • Why a business is the best choice based on specific factors, why a business was founded, why people like/dislike a business, etc.
  • How to get to the business by car/bike/on foot, how to learn/do/buy something, how to contact the right person or department, how to make a complaint or leave feedback, how the business supports the community, etc.

Your always-on customer service solves all of these problems with a combination of all of the following:

In-store

Good customer service looks like:

  • A publicly accessible brand policy that protects the rights and defends the dignity of both employees and consumers.
  • Well-trained phone staff with good language skills, equipped to answer FAQs and escalate problems they can’t solve. Sufficient staff to minimize hold-times.
  • Well-trained consumer-facing staff, well-versed in policy, products and services. Sufficient staff to be easily-accessible by customers.
  • In-store signage (including after-hours messaging) that guides consumers towards voicing complaints in person, reducing negative reviews.
  • In-store signage/messaging that promotes aspects of the business that are most beneficial to the community. (philanthropy, environmental stewardship, etc.) to promote loyalty and word-of-mouth.
  • Cleanliness, orderliness and fast resolution of broken fixtures and related issues.
  • Equal access to all facilities with an emphasis on maximum consumer comfort and convenience.
  • Support of payment forms most popular with local customers (cash, check, digital, etc.), security of payment processes, and minimization of billing mistakes/hassles.
  • Correctly posted, consistent hours of operation, reducing inconvenience. Clear messaging regarding special hours/closures.
  • A brand culture that rewards employees who wisely use their own initiative to solve customers’ problems.

Website

Good customer service looks like:

  • Content that solves people’s problems as conveniently and thoroughly as possible in language that they speak. Everything you publish (home, about, contact, local landing pages, etc.) should pass the test of consumer usefulness.
  • Equal access to content, regardless of device.
  • Easily accessible contact information, including name, address, phone number, fax, email, text, driving directions, maps and hours of operation.
  • Signals of trustworthiness, such as reviews, licenses, accreditations, affiliations, and basic website security.
  • Signals of benefit, including community involvement, philanthropy, environmental protections, etc.
  • Click-to-call phone numbers.
  • Clear policies that outline the rights of the consumer and the brand.

Organic SERPs

Good customer service looks like:

  • Management of the first few pages of the organic SERPs to ensure that basic information on them is accurate. This includes structured citations on local business directories, unstructured citations on blog posts, news sites, top 10 lists, review sites, etc. It can also include featured snippets.
  • Management also includes monitoring of the SERPs for highly-ranked content that cites problems others are having with the brand. If these problems can be addressed and resolved, the next step is outreach to the publisher to demonstrate that the problem has been addressed.

Email

Good customer service looks like:

  • Accessible email addresses for customers seeking support and fast responses to queries.
  • Opt-in email marketing in the form of newsletters and special offers.

Reviews

Good customer service looks like:

  • Accuracy of basic business information on major review platforms.
  • Professional and fast responses to both positive and negative reviews, with the core goal of helping and retaining customers by acknowledging their voices and solving their problems.
  • Sentiment analysis of reviews by location to identify emerging problems at specific branches for troubleshooting and resolution.
  • Monitoring of reviews for spam and reporting it where possible.
  • Avoidance of any form of review spam on the part of the brand.
  • Where allowed, guiding valued customers to leave reviews to let the greater community know about the existence and quality of your brand.

Links

Good customer service looks like:

  • Linking out to third-party resources of genuine use to customers.
  • Pursuit of inbound links from relevant sites that expand customers’ picture of what’s available in the place they live, enriching their experience.

Tech

Good customer service looks like:

  • Website usability and accessibility for users of all abilities and on all browsers and devices (ADA compliance, mobile-friendliness, load speed, architecture, etc.)
  • Apps, tools and widgets that improve customers’ experience.
  • Brand accessibility on social platforms most favored by customers.
  • Analytics that provide insight without trespassing on customers’ comfort or right to privacy.

Social

Good customer service looks like:

  • Brand accessibility on social platforms most favored by customers.
  • Social monitoring of the brand name to identify and resolve complaints, as well as to acknowledge praise.
  • Participation for the sake of community involvement as opposed to exploitation. Sharing instead of selling.
  • Advocacy for social platforms to improve their standards of transparency and their commitment to protections for consumers and brands.

Google My Business

Good customer service looks like:

  • Embrace of all elements of Google’s local features (Google My Business listings, Knowledge Panels, Maps, etc.) that create convenience and accessibility for consumers.
  • Ongoing monitoring for accuracy of basic information.
  • Brand avoidance of spam, and also, reporting of spam to protect consumers.
  • Advocacy for Google to improve its standards as a source of community information, including accountability for misinformation on their platform, and basic protections for both brands and consumers.

Customers’ Problems are Yours to Solve

“$41 billion is lost each year by US companies following a bad customer experience.”
New Voice Media

When customers don’t know where something is, how something works, when they can do something, who or what can help them, or why they should choose one option over another, your brand can recognize that they are having a problem. It could be as small a problem as where to buy a gift or as large a problem as seeking legal assistance after their home has been damaged in a disaster.

With the Internet never farther away than fingertips or voices, people have become habituated to turning to it with most of their problems, hour by hour, year by year. Recognition of quests for help may have been simpler just a few decades ago when customers were limited to writing letters, picking up phones, or walking into stores to say, “I have a need.” Now, competitive local enterprises have to expand their view to include customer problems that play out all over the web with new expectations of immediacy.

Unfortunately, brands are struggling with this, and we can sum up common barriers to modern customer service in 3 ways:

1) Brand Self-Absorption

“I’ve gotta have my Pops,” frets a boy in an extreme (and, frankly, off-putting) example in which people behave as though addicted to products. TV ads are rife with the wishfulness of marketers pretending that consumers sing and dance at the mere idea of possessing cars, soda, and soap. Meanwhile, real people stand at a distance watching the song and dance, perhaps amused sometimes, but aware that what’s on-screen isn’t them.

“We’re awesome,” reads too much content on the web, with a brand-centric, self-congratulatory focus. At the other end of the spectrum, web pages sit stuffed with meaningless keywords or almost no text as all, as though there aren’t human beings trying to communicate on either side of the screen.

“Who cares?” is the message untrained employees, neglected shopping environments, and disregarded requests for assistance send when real-world locations open doors but appear to put customer experience as their lowest priority. I’ve catalogued some of my most disheartening customer service interludes and I know you’ve had them, too.

Sometimes, brands get so lost in boardrooms, it’s all they can think of to put in their million-dollar ad campaigns, forgetting that most of their customers don’t live in that world.

One of the first lightbulb moments in the history of online content marketing was the we-you shift. Instead of writing, “We’re here, isn’t that great?”, we began writing, “You’re here and your problem can be solved.” This is the simple but elegant evolution that brands, on the whole, need to experience.

2) Ethical Deficits

Sometimes, customers aren’t lost because a brand is too inwardly focused, but rather, because its executives lack the vision to sustain an ethical business model. Every brand is tasked with succeeding, but it takes civic-minded, customer-centric leadership to avoid the abuses we are seeing at the highest echelons of the business world right now. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Uber, and similar majors have repeatedly failed to put people over profits, resulting in:

  • Scandals
  • Lawsuits
  • Fines
  • Boycotts
  • Loss of consumer trust
  • Employee loss of pride in company culture

At a local business level, and in a grand understatement, it isn’t good customer service when a company deceives or harms the public. Brands, large and small, want to earn the right of integration into the lives of their customers as chosen resources. Large enterprises seeking local customers need leadership that can envision itself in the setting of a single small community, where dishonest practices impact real lives and could lead to permanent closure. Loss of trust should never be an acceptable part of economies of scale.

The internet has put customers, staffers, and media all on the same channels. Ethical leadership is the key ingredient to building a sustainable business model in which all stakeholders take pride.

3) Lack of Strategy

Happily, many brands genuinely do want to face outward and possess the ethics to treat people well. They may simply lack a complete strategy for covering all the bases that make up a satisfying experience. Small local businesses may find lack of time or resources a bar to the necessary education, and structure at enterprises may make it difficult to get buy-in for the fine details of customer service initiatives. Priorities and budgets may get skewed away from customers instead of toward them.

The TL;DR of this entire post is that modern customer service means solving customers’ problems by being wherever they are when they seek solutions. Beyond that, a combination of sufficient, well-trained staff (both online and off) and the type of automation provided by tools that manage local business listings, reviews and social listening are success factors most brands can implement.

Reach Out…

We’ve talked about some negative patterns that can either distance brands from customers, or cause customers to distance themselves due to loss of trust. What’s the good news?

Every single employee of every local brand in the US already knows what good customer service feels like, because all of us are customers.

There’s no mystery or magic here. Your CEO, your devs, sales team, and everyone else in your organization already know by experience what it feels like to be treated well or poorly.

And they already know what it’s like when they see themselves reflected in a store location or on a screen.

Earlier, I cited an old TV spot in which actors were paid to act out the fantasy of a brand. Let’s reach back in time again and watch a similar-era commercial in which actors are paid to role play genuine consumer problems – in this case, a family that wants to keep in touch with a member who is away from home:

The TV family may not look identical to yours, but their featured problem – wanting to keep close to a distant loved one – is one most people can relate to. This 5-year ad campaign won every award in sight, and the key to it is that consumers could recognize themselves on the screen and this act of recognition engaged their emotions.

Yes, a service is being sold (long distance calling), but the selling is being done by putting customers in the starring roles and solving their problems. That’s what good customer service does, and in 2019, if your brand can parlay this mindset into all of the mediums via which people now seek help, your own “reach out and touch someone” goals are well on their way to success.

Loyal Service Sparks Consumer Loyalty

“Acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to twenty times more expensive than retaining an existing one.”
Harvard Business Review

“Loyal customers are worth up to ten times as much as their first purchase.”
White House Office of Consumer Affairs

I want to close here with a note on loyalty. With a single customer representing up to 10x the value of their first purchase, earning a devoted clientele is the very best inspiration for dedication to improving customer service.

Trader Joe’s is a large chain that earns consistent mentions for its high standards of customer service. Being a local SEO, I turned to its Google reviews, looking at 5 locations in Northern California. I counted 225 instances of people exuberantly praising staff at just these 5 locations, using words like “Awesome, incredible, helpful, friendly, and fun!”. Moreover, reviewers continuously mentioned the brand as the only place they want to shop for groceries because they love it so much. It’s as close as you can get to a “gotta have my Pops” scenario, but it’s real.

How does Trader Joe’s pull this off? A study conducted by Temkin Group found that, “A customer’s emotional experience is the most significant driver of loyalty, especially when it comes to consumers recommending firms to their friends.” The cited article lists emotional connection and content, motivated employees who are empowered to go the extra mile as keys to why this chain was ranked second-highest in emotion ratings (a concept similar to Net Promoter Score). In a word, the Trader Joe’s customer service experience creates the right feelings, as this quick sentiment cloud of Google review analysis illustrates:

This brand has absolutely perfected the thrilling and lucrative art of creating loyal customers, making their review corpus read like a volume of love letters. The next move for this company – and for the local brands you market – is to “spread the love” across all points where a customer might seek to connect, both online and off.

It’s a kind of love when you ensure a customer isn’t misdirected by a wrong address on a local business listing or when you answer a negative review with the will to make things right. It’s a kind of love when a company blog is so helpful that its comments say, “You must be psychic! This is the exact problem I was trying to solve.” It’s a kind of love when a staff member is empowered to create such a good experience that a customer tells their mother, their son, their best friend to trust you brand.

Love, emotions, feelings — are we still talking about business here? Yes, because when you subtract the medium, the device, the screen, it’s two very human people on either side of every transaction.

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Reblogged 7 months ago from tracking.feedpress.it

4 ways to achieve customer engagement on a mobile device

Marketers who want true customer engagement, take heed!

The opportunity to engage on mobile is now! Brands (like yours) need to adopt a mobile-centric strategy if they wish to extend their reach, acquire and retain customers, and increase their marketing ROI.

Why’s that? Ultimately, it’s because consumers’ shopping habits rely heavily on the smartphone and its capabilities. Today we’re inseparable from our mobiles.

The device equips customers with:

  • quick access to information
  • social proof
  • convenience of purchase
  • easy selection process and checkout
  • extensive product and service choice

Brands are under pressure to deliver a seamless ‘at-home’ experience now that the shopfront sits on the consumer’s coffee table. Since mobile is inherently personal to the individual, marketers need to be prioritizing personalization at every stage of the customer journey.

 

Here are 4 ways to deliver the best experience on mobile:

1. Implement a welcome program that’s fit for mobile

First impressions are what build the initial foundations of a long-lasting customer relationship. Brands aiming to nurture a loyal customer base should take an active interest in new subscribers. Winning them over on mobile can make all the difference.

  • Confirm subscription via SMS
  • Send a mobile optimized welcome email (promote your app if you have one)
  • Invite subscribers to fill in a fully responsive preference center
  • Segment contacts based on the information you capture

2. Deliver an on-the-go aftersales experience

The post-purchase journey is a honeymoon period (your customers are really into you, so it’s important to be really into them, too). This is where you can drive valuable mobile moments that build that all-important brand love.

Customers expect:

  • timely transactional notifications
  • informative delivery updates in real time
  • value-add aftersales content (‘how-tos’, reviews, promotions related to past behavior)

Whether these messages are delivered via email, SMS or push, they need to be contextual and relevant. Every mobile moment should mean something to the customer.

3. Engage customers at meaningful moments

Loyalty doesn’t come from one single purchase. Brands have got to invest in their customers – that means providing rich content and tailored product recommendations. It costs five times more to acquire a customer than to retain one, so nurturing tactics should be the cornerstone of your mobile marketing strategy.

Top tips:

  • Trigger a product review via email/SMS and offer an incentive to boost responses
  • Combine preference data with behavioral insight to power relevant communications
  • Send broadcast promotions/event-based notifications via SMS and push (flash sales, content drops, new arrivals, appointment/renewal/replenishment reminders)
  • Anniversaries are a great conversation starter – think birthdays, throwbacks, one-year-since-first-purchase etc.

4. Keep customers hooked wherever they are

Customers inevitably fall off the radar, and it’s a challenge for every business. Since acquisition is pricier than retention, marketers need to refine their re-engagement tactics and prevent customers from lapsing. But fear not: if you’re going to win them back, it’s going to be on mobile.

  • Agree on your lapse criteria (i.e. customer hasn’t opened an email in three months or purchased in six)
  • Build a winback program that incorporates SMS, push and email (using whichever channel subscribers are likelier to engage on)
  • Consider retargeting ads on Facebook and Google

 

Audience segmentation is the most important tactic for marketers to practice. The experience on mobile must be as personalized as possible; consumers won’t engage with messages that lack context or relevancy.

So, when planning out your mobile strategy, think about the reasoning behind every communication in the customer lifecycle. The devil is always in the data.

For deeper insights on how to engage customers on a mobile device, download our best practice guide here.

The post 4 ways to achieve customer engagement on a mobile device appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 9 months ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Combatting customer shakedowns: how to make sure offers don’t dent your bottom line

They’ve cottoned on to your tactics, and now, they’ve got the tools and talent to work them in their favor. It may feel like a constant struggle, but we’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Not too long ago, dotmailer teamed up with YouGov to undertake some hefty research on your behalf. We wanted to uncover the tricks customers use to get the best deals around. With the findings we’ve put together a handy cheatsheet to show how you can game the system and beat these super-smart shoppers at their own game.

What did we find?

#1: consumers love offer-led marketing

How do we know this? Well, 66% of UK consumers and 71% of US consumers said they’re more likely to buy online from a brand that’s sent them a money off voucher.

In fact, 39% of UK consumers and 41% of US consumers said they’d happily part with their email address to get money off or discount codes.

#2: getting the best deal matters

Consumer insight: shopping around

 

So much so that 80% of UK customers and 73% of US customers said they’d be willing to do extensive research to secure the best possible deal online.

 

#3: shoppers will abandon carts as they shop for the best deal

Consumer insights: abandoned cart strategy

Consumers from the US (15%) and the UK (13%) will abandon shopping carts in the hope that brands deliver a last-ditch discount to close the sale.

Plus, around a fifth (19% US; 17% UK) abandon their carts on different websites to compare deals.

 

#4:  Sales days are only getting bigger

Consumer insights: sales day tactics

 

40% of US consumers are more likely to hold off from purchasing until dedicated sales days.

Slightly smaller but still growing, 30% UK shoppers will use the same tactic.

 

Gaming the system download

Where  do we go from here?

Now, find out how to use these findings to level-up your marketing by downloading our latest cheatsheet – Gaming the system: beating the consumer at their own game.

The post Combatting customer shakedowns: how to make sure offers don’t dent your bottom line appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 9 months ago from blog.dotmailer.com

How to use rewards data to improve your customer experience

As eCommerce retailers find it more time-consuming and expensive to generate new customers, they are increasingly looking to their loyalty programs. And customers are certainly eager to sign up. In 2017, there were 3.8 billion memberships of loyalty programs in the US alone.

But overall growth has also slowed. Many retailers are struggling to retain members. They’re also finding it difficult to prompt them to take meaningful actions like make purchases and send referrals.

So what’s the solution?

One option is to use data derived from your rewards program to improve the experience of those who have signed up.

By leveraging a number of data-points, you can build a program that boosts engagement while also driving a number of key metrics, like purchase frequency, average order value, referrals, lifetime value and more.

In this post, we’re going to identify the most important types of data and how to use that data to create meaningful changes.

What data can you generate from a rewards program?

 

  • Segmentation dataThis is data about the demographic makeup of your loyalty program membership, and encompasses age, location, marital status, gender etc.
  • Reward-specific dataWhich rewards, promotions and giveaways are most popular? Determining which products and voucher codes are redeemed most often is usually a relatively simple process.
  • Membership activityActivity refers to the degree to which your members are interacting with your program. How many points have they redeemed? How many have been left sitting? How many vouchers have been used? This data is immensely useful for deciding which members to prioritize.
  • Personal detailsThis is individual data that you have extracted on the basis of membership of your loyalty program. It can include birth dates, reward preferences, specific location and so on.

 

So how do you get started? Here are four data-based ways to improve the customer experience of members of your loyalty program.

1. Segment rewards by activity and demographics

 

Segmentation works for both VIP members, who have high purchase frequency and regularly redeem their points, and for members that do not exhibit a high level of engagement.

For your top members, offering high-value rewards will encourage engagement with your program over the long term. By picking and contacting certain groups, and even individuals, for exclusive rewards, you can provide the best possible incentives in a cost-effective way.

Showcasing unique rewards and giveaways via email to members that are inactive, under-engaged or sitting on a large number of unredeemed points will also further increase retention among those most likely to drop off. It’s usually viable to allocate extra resources to this segment because they represent a high-potential group – they’re existing customers who have already signed up – with the greatest contribution to your overall churn rate.

Segmentation can also work effectively when unique promotions and rewards are designed on the basis of demographic information like age, location, marital status etc. By tailoring reward initiatives to meet the unique preferences and needs of specific sections of your customer base, you are much more likely to drive action (and thus engagement). Amazon used this strategy to immense success by targeting students for its Prime program.

2. Create highly personalized initiatives

Personalized reward initiatives

 

Personalization is a hugely under-leveraged strategy. It’s one thing to include a personal name at the beginning of an email. It’s another to encourage members to enter the birth dates of family members at sign-up and use that information to send tailored discounts and offers in the run-up to the big event.

Most managers responsible for running loyalty programs don’t take advantage of the huge array of personal details at their disposal. Customer experience can be dramatically improved when you tailor email promotions and rewards to include personalizaton; think relevant buying holidays (such as Mother’s or Valentine’s Day), personal celebrations, specific genders, locations and so on.

We’re not talking about general demographic or segmentation data here, but rather individual-specific details that you can use to automate highly targeted promotions or reward offers.

An added benefit of sending these highly personalized rewards is that they will increase trust over the long term. If you send your customers free points via email on their birthday or favorite shopping holiday, particularly when your competitors don’t, you’re much more likely to stand out.

3. Tailor your program to preferred platforms

Tailor your programs

 

Which platforms are your members using to check and redeem their points? Data about the kinds of devices and channels your customers prefer can be useful for deciding which platforms to prioritize.

If, for example, the majority of your eCommerce visitors shop on mobile, it makes sense to make your loyalty program directly available through mobile devices. Research by Exodus shows that 31% of consumers use an app to manage their loyalty rewards, so there is clearly a preference for certain access-points.

Most loyalty program managers take an omni-channel approach. And while this is certainly a laudable strategy, it usually falls short. The key is to hone in and optimize those channels that are most effective at engaging your membership.

4. Build feedback into your program

Build program feedback

 

Do you have any feedback mechanisms in place to determine unserved needs and pain points among your members?

Indirect feedback exists in the form of data about your most popular rewards and promotions. You can use this information when creating new rewards or putting together future promotions. If, for example, most members swap their points for cash-back rewards, then you can offer variants and similar offers going forward.

But it’s also important to utilize other ways of collecting feedback. How often do you send email surveys to your loyalty members or include survey questions on your rewards pages? Are you listening to customer service recordings? Do you undertake user testing?

This is one of the big reasons that retailers often experience high rates of churn. They apply a rigorous set of methods to pinpoint customer needs and pains related to the buying process but none to the customer experience of their loyalty program members, where a unique set of issues are often present. If you want to boost retention, it’s vital that you listen closely to your existing members.

Conclusion: Loyalty programs are a powerful but underutilized tool

Loyalty programs are so popular among eCommerce retailers because they work. But it’s also vital to keep in mind that the market is incredibly saturated. The average American is a member of over 14 programs.

As ad costs soar and search engine traffic becomes scarcer, holding onto your existing customers is ever more important. This is why a data-driven approach to improving the customer experience of your loyalty program will almost certainly be relevant.

On the one hand, it will enable you to generate concrete insights for reducing churn. On the other, you have an opportunity to create a key competitive advantage by building a rewards program that is genuinely based on customer needs and preferences.

Now, time to start mining that data.


This is a guest post written by Skubana. Skubana provides an omni-channel eCommerce platform for unifying all aspects of your store’s operation. Skubana’s tools make it easy to manage inventory and shipping, automate laborious tasks and generate meaningful insights from on and off-site data.

 

The post How to use rewards data to improve your customer experience appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.dotmailer.com