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Enhance Customer Engagement With Your Own Branded Social Network

If you’re struggling to understand how a social network can enhance customer engagement, you’re not alone. Since the rise of technology-fueled social networks just a few short years ago, marketers have had a struggle finding a model that works but doesn’t leave customer data locked up on someone else’s real estate—like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and the rest. The solution to this dilemma is to create your own social network where you can engage customers and improve marketing results while retaining your customer’s data—and your own—at the same time.

The “Why” and “How” of Creating Your Own Social Network.

Brand Social NetworkIn her recent Quark Big Idea presentation, Constellation Research Vice President and Analyst Natalie Petouhoff spells out why this solution is already proving to be an effective way to enhance customer engagement.

Petouhoff astutely points out that marketers are finding enormous value through collaboration. As marketing has grown in importance, alongside the need for strong customer engagement, marketers are becoming both senior leaders and technology decision-makers. These changes make it critically important that marketers have a way to connect with their own organization, customers, partners, and others so that decisions are well-informed and executed successfully. And social networks are ideal for satisfying this need. Beyond serving the marketer directly, social networks also provide a way for customers to connect with each other to solve problems and increase the sense of brand community.

Setting Up Your Own Social Network

While setting up your own social network may sound hard, it really isn’t. Still, there are some factors to seriously consider:

  • Provide a single, centralized platform – Don’t leave your social network users having to scurry between multiple apps or platforms.
  • Stay flexible in your architecture – New tools and techniques arrive constantly and marketers need a flexible architecture to accommodate them.
  • Think mobile first – Mobile isn’t just trendy—it’s foundational to a modern setup. Mobile is everywhere your customers are, and incorporates key location information.
  • Security is critical – In today’s interconnected world, enterprise and customer data must be kept secure.

Once you set up your own social network, you can expect to have far more data than ever before—information to better cross-sell and up-sell and know what’s working and what’s not. And you’ll be able to share and collaborate on that information with experts across the organization. You’ll know where your customers are pleased and engaged, and where you’re missing the mark. In short, your own social network gives you a way to optimize and enhance customer engagement.

To know more about branded social networks and how they enhance customer engagement, join our webinar with Natalie Petouhoff. Petouhoff will cover the six best practices for empowering marketers to drive enhanced collaboration among customers, fans, employees and partners. We look forward to seeing you there!

Analyst Advice for Driving Customer Loyalty in a Digital World – Part 2

The following is Part 2 of a two-part series on driving customer loyalty in a digital world. 

In Part 1 of this series, we covered the need to deliver personalized, relevant engagement to customers involving large amounts of data, across a diverse and increasing number of media channels. This second part of the series discusses an analyst’s advice on how to achieve that goal.

In Constellation Research’s recent report on loyalty and digital marketing, it recommends that marketers take five specific approaches to managing personalization and relevance.

According to Constellation Research, marketers should:

  • Connect all customer channels and touchpoints
  • Provide social collaboration capabilities
  • Drive right-time interactions and engagement
  • Use behavioral customer data for real-time decisions
  • Advance loyalty management capabilities

These are the five keys to increasing engagement and transforming traditional marketing organizations into modern marketing platforms. But what does it take to execute these approaches?

Retooling for Success

12964769_mFirst and foremost, these new methods have steeper system requirements than traditional marketing. They require a powerful data platform that can span multiple parts of the organization (and beyond marketing). Secondly, there’s a need for right-time behavior management engines that include both analytics and modeling. Lastly, they demand that loyalty management systems be already in place to track and reward customers for their ongoing engagement with the brand.

The combination of a powerful data platform, a right-time behavior management engine, and a loyalty management system underpin Marketing’s ability to drive customer loyalty in the digital age.

Driving Better Business Results

Taking these five approaches one step further, Constellation recommends the following integrated plan:

  • Enable an integrated data source approach — Data exists both inside and outside the organization, but the only way to understand context is by connecting it all seamlessly. Integrating all of that data helps you understand your customers better and gives the customer a more consistent experience in every interaction.
  • Provide ubiquitous channel integration solutions — Customers are communicating on many channels and marketing must be able to have conversations wherever and whenever. And the best way to do that is through system- and platform-agnostic technologies.
  • Encourage behaviors using real-time customer data — “Seeing is affecting” in the marketer’s world. Having real-time data is the backbone of being able to proactively affect the outcome of customer interaction. Responding with relevance isn’t an over-the-shoulder data exercise—it’s the result of data arriving in the moment that interaction takes place.
  • Orchestrate right-time interactions that result in engagement — Being fast isn’t enough if engagement isn’t personalized, no matter how that personalization is achieved. Getting the right interaction in the right moment, based on the appropriate context, creates relevancy and loyalty. This orchestration is the right blend of engaging emotions without creating information overload.
  • Increase loyalty and customer lifetime value — Loyalty ultimately comes down to trust: The traditional marketing techniques and technologies of “batch-and-blast” mass messages does nothing for customer loyalty. Getting the customer experience right is the only path to create both loyalty and brand advocacy.

This coverage of Constellation’s research is just a brief summary of the rich information found in the report. To learn more about how to drive customer loyalty in a digital world, join us for a webinar with Natalie Petouhoff, the report’s author, and see how you, too, can deliver personalized, relevant engagement in a world of abundant data and diverse channels.

Analyst Advice for Driving Customer Loyalty in a Digital World – Part 1

The following is Part 1 of a two-part series on driving customer loyalty in a digital world. 

With so much consumer data and media channels in today’s marketing mix, it’s a real challenge to find an approach that’s narrow enough to keep the organization focused, while broad enough to allow for continual change and growth.

A recent Constellation Research “Quark Report beautifully captures the mindset and actions necessary for creating relevance and personalization in today’s competitive, technology-driven marketing environment.

Five Approaches

3950769_mThe report—“Five Approaches to Drive Customer Loyalty in a Digital World; Delivering Right-Time Engagement for Relevant, Long-Term Advocacy and Lifetime Value”—defines the way forward for today’s marketer quite well. Author Natalie L. Petouhoff, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, contends that there are five approaches marketers must adopt to drive customer loyalty without being invasive. They are as follows:

  1. Connect customer channels and touchpoints – This is all about connecting the dots and creating the best understanding of the customer and the customer’s context. From this insight comes the powerful combination of predicting behaviors and personalizing experiences.
  2. Provide social collaboration capabilities – Modern organizations are pulling data together from many sources, across many organizational boundaries. Collaboration tools are the key to strong processes that give the customer an excellent experience.
  3. Drive right-time interactions and engagement – We’re past the days of customer interaction being tied to transactions, though our legacy systems are often stuck there. Right-time interactions and engagement need newer systems that are engagement design tools instead.
  4. Use behavioral customer data for real-time decisions – Analytics, using a blend of historical and right-time data, is the only way to predict customer behavior and the best possible response. This isn’t after-the-fact engagement, it’s in-the-moment engagement.
  5. Advance loyalty management capabilities – Brand loyalty is its own animal that, when nurtured carefully, can lead to higher lifetime value and brand advocacy.

The new name of the marketing game is getting beyond “one and done,” aka one-time purchasing. Doing so means retooling technologies and change managing the organization to get there.

Analytics Beyond Dashboards

The report also highlights the importance of using analytics as something more than just a dashboard. Rather than just measuring what has already happened, Petouhoff describes using analytics as a precursor to interaction with the customer so that real interaction can happen in the moment when it matters, not after it’s too late. Using analytics the right way means aligning all of the pieces that allow the capture and response “to any event, in real time, on any channel or device.”

To know more about how to drive customer loyalty in a digital world, attend a webinar hosted by Natalie Petouhoff, the report’s author and see how you, too, can deliver personalized, relevant engagement in a world of abundant data and diverse channels.

Up nextTaking these five areas one step further, Constellation Research shares its recommendations on driving better business results through an integrated approach to driving loyalty. Check back for Part 2 later this week!

Customer Engagement Creates Christmas Spirit All Year Long

Christmas is a shockingly short number of days away. Retailers are fully decked out, counting on a holiday giving mindset to drive sales higher, if only for a few weeks. The spirit of the holidays is an excellent example of putting customers in a frame of mind to make purchases. The decorations, the music, and the marketing spend combine to lay a foundation for holiday customer engagement. The buyers and sellers are both clear on why they’re coming together, and each retailer fights to have the best connections with shoppers. It works for that brief period but why wouldn’t you work to have the same benefits throughout the sales year?

Giving the Gift of Customer Engagement

21377315_sWhile the idea of a Christmas-like connection sounds like a great idea, creating that connection without the benefit of a holiday is the challenge. For retailers, the answer is to create the same kind of excitement around their brand and its interaction with customers. This requires delivering experiences that rival the holidays in emotion. Far from impossible, some of the best marketers are doing this through highly focused customer engagement management. Great marketing today creates “brand spirit.”

Creating Brand Spirit

Brand spirit is the payoff, but there are considerable obstacles that many retailers face. For starters, the data that would allow marketers to have a full view of their customers is often found in silos throughout the organization. Historical views are difficult to blend in real time with the context of the moment, whether that context is current inventory, current offers, or where the customer is standing in that exact moment. Also, marketers often struggle to have the personnel necessary, both technical and business, to execute on a strategy for strong customer engagement. Lastly, but certainly not the last of the challenges, is a lack of visibility into the effectiveness of their spend. After all, how do you know what to do more often or less of unless you can see what’s working and what isn’t?

The way around these problems is to work to have integrated data, systems, and channels that engage customers with a high degree of context. The approach also needs to be simple enough to be economical with scarce and costly organizational resources. A great system also needs to dynamically optimize inventory, offers, and communications based on performance in the moment, not long after the customer has left the store or website. Only a holistic view of the customer, and trends and patterns in customer data, can lead to the right business decisions that drive brand spirit.

Great engagement results in increased loyalty, customer advocacy, and revenue lift. Check out TIBCO Engage, the marketing application that allows you to give the gift of great customer engagement—a gift that keeps on giving.

Customer Experience for Black Friday and Beyond

Once again, “Black Friday” is almost upon us. Some retailers can expect this year’s event to foreshadow customer confidence and brand interest going into 2015. Yet for most retailers, Black Friday’s singular appeal to customers is its ridiculously low prices. Far too many retailers use drastic fire-sales as their primary method of attracting customers and driving sales. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way.

In today’s retail world, there are a variety of ways to convince customers to buy. Low prices are clearly one very effective tactic, and plenty of retailers will join in the Black Friday “race to the bottom” by offering huge, profit-destroying discounts. But high above the fray of rock-bottom retail lies the opportunity to create a more enduring, higher margin business based on delivering great experiences that keep customers coming back even after the blow-out blitzes pass.

Black Friday 2015Black Friday will foreshadow 2015 for some smart retailers because they’ve been focusing and increasing their efforts to create new experiences that will attract and retain loyal customers. If that’s the direction you want your brand moving, you’ll need to identify key customer trends so that you can capitalize on them and put more budget spend there in the coming year.

Brick and Mortar Is Alive and Well

Smart retailers also understand that Black Friday’s brick-and-mortar experience is  increasing in importance, not decreasing. Inside the store, retailers have unique opportunities for in-person engagement. Still, retailers need to be able to scale those experiences with technology and techniques that are easy to set up and run. Online retail was more attractive back when people thought online was the only way to automate and accelerate selling. But technology for automating the in-person experience is increasing the value of bringing customers into stores. Watch smart retailers use this channel to rapidly expand beyond today’s norm of shelves, racks, and cash registers.

Mobile Is the New Social (With a Twist)

Social media isn’t dead, but it has changed in nature—where social media was once seen as a channel in itself, it’s now seen as a means to achieve specifically defined goals like brand awareness, idea sourcing, and customer service. During social media’s transformation, mobile technology has taken its place as the “cutting edge” tool for marketers, but with one very significant difference: Mobile integration needs to be done with help from the IT department.

This necessary collaboration will make mobile more pervasive, more cost-effective, and more critical for providing greater customer experiences. Social grew up on the backs of SaaS apps that ran despite the IT department, whereas mobile will run in close collaboration with IT. And taking full advantage of mobile channels will let smart retailers offer better (and surprising) customer experiences come Black Friday.

Attribution Modeling

For years, marketing measurement has been a hot topic, but technology is finally catching up to the promise. It’s helping reveal what really made a customer buy and Black Friday is the perfect opportunity to validate both data and predictions.

With more channels to monitor than ever, knowing how a decision was reached within each and every segment is key to optimizing your marketing spend. Fragmented systems simply raise the barrier to knowing and following prospects through the process of becoming paying customers. Only powerful, cohesive platforms with an ability to “follow the data” can fully support real attribution modeling.

This Black Friday, like last year’s, customers will be motivated by deals and Christmas, but smart retailers will be figuring out which channels and efforts are most effective. To get ahead of the data game, check out TIBCO Engage for Black Friday (and the future).

From brick-and-mortar campaigns to mobile to understanding why a customer buys, marketing success on Black Friday now requires data, not just discounts.

The Day Marketers Could Hear Through the Noise

In the world of the marketer, disruption has become the norm. Technology has changed the way marketers do business more than any other role in the organization, and marketers can never seem to know enough to stay ahead of the competition. That’s why an event within an event—such as the Marketer’s Pass session at TIBCO NOW—was such a valuable experience for the crowd that attended this exclusive get together.

Breaking Through the Noise

27290921_mNot only was the technology of disruption on display, but so were marketing experts from TIBCO, Gartner, and Forrester. They were on-hand to present their own experiences and learnings as well as take questions on the industry, the TIBCO Engage™ platform, and other issues close to the marketer’s heart.

In a great talk by Gartner’s Adam Sarner, he raised the point that digital marketing is simply an expectation, but that there needs to be strong emphasis on making digital marketing continually better, faster, and more cost effective. All of which is putting significant pressure on marketers and CIOs to find ways to work well together, especially with the opportunities offered by mobile marketing.

The Marketing/IT Relationship

Whereas social media marketing needs caused frustrated marketers to go around their own IT department, mobile marketing won’t find success without strong participation by IT. Sarner pointed out that mobile marketing has a level of complexity around time, context, location, and community that makes it more nuanced than social media marketing. Mobile requires a great deal more integration with back-end systems.

“Mobile is the new Social,” Sarner said, adding that Marketing and IT will require a significant amount of new cooperation to handle what’s going to happen in the next couple of years. Interestingly, Sarner went on to say that some marketing software vendors have created some skepticism by claiming that their products do more than they really do—especially around their definition of “real time.”

That’s just one of the reasons why we’re so excited by TIBCO Engage. It’s the modern marketer’s way to take full advantage of TIBCO’s long history of integration technology using intuitive and simple front-end tools to make executing even complex customer engagements both easy and straight-forward.

Check out TIBCO Engage and let us know if we can help you break through the hype of today’s customer engagement technology.

How to push relevant, timely, and tailored content using mobile.

There are only so many engagements you can offer customers via the usual marketing channels. And all too often, you’re just taking a random, shotgun approach — hoping to hit someone with an offer they want at the moment they want it. That’s a less than ideal approach, frankly, and one that neither party is all too happy with. Customers hate getting spammed, and marketers hate spamming their valuable customers. The obvious solution, then, is getting more knowledge about your customer.

Know when your customers are most receptive

TIBCOEngage

The more you know about your customer, the more likely you are to offer them something relevant (and the less likely you are to tick them off and lose them as a customer). And that’s especially true when your customer is in shopping-mode  rather than work- or family-mode.

That’s why TIBCO Engage now lets you take advantage of geo-location and beacon technology thanks to our partnership with Gimbal, the leader in location and proximity mobile interaction. What does this mean for you? Lots.

Not only do you get the ability to capture, interpret, and act on customer behavior in real-time, you can also engage with customers in the real-world, based on both digital data and physical triggers.

Engage customers on-the-go with EngagementFlows™

Marketers can use these location and mobile-based triggers within the TIBCO Engage’s user interface to easily create powerful EngagementFlows™ — rule-based offers or promotions that are executed automatically based on your criteria.

This automation is the only way to ensure that you’re capturing and acting on all relevant customer activities both online and in the real world. Since there’s no single path for all engagement, EngagementFlows gives marketers endless opportunities to connect, whether based on a variety of qualifying criteria like event-based, geo-fencing, or other triggers. The result is personalized, at-the-moment engagement that builds better customer relationships, stronger brand advocacy, and increased revenue.

For more information about how the TIBCO Engage technology triggers mobile interactions based on a customer’s location, activity, historical behaviors and current status, contact us for a demo or visit engage.tibco.com.

If You Think 2014 Brought Marketing Change…

If you think 2014 brought great change to the world of marketing, just wait for 2015. Whereas this year’s conversations focused on listening to and knowing your customer, 2015 will pressure marketers to undergo the profound shift toward knowing what your customer will do next. It’s a progression driven by the various sources of data that allow fine-grained segmentation and help scored propensity models improve upon that segmentation. For marketers, 2015 is going to be a year of big change—are you ready for it?

2015 Is Around the Corner

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The key to truly surprising and delighting your customers is knowing their next move. And always being ready to respond to every potential engagement scenario is very difficult…nearly impossible, in fact. What can be done, however, is anticipating what behaviors your customers will exhibit next and be ready to respond when and where it makes the most sense. These behavior-based scenarios are your best engagement opportunities. They’re also the moments that your customer is “in market” and most likely to respond favorably to engagement. They’re the moments you need to be more relevant than ever before. Every time you succeed, you’ll know your customer and your up-sell opportunities a bit more.

Making Your Channels Hum

Next year will also be the time when many marketers move beyond omni-channel challenges to channel optimization. As customers connect in more ways, the opportunities for brands to find the best channel to serve their needs, or combination of channels, become even more important. So don’t force your customer down the paths you want them to go down and start giving them the power to decide for themselves—they’ll love you for it.

Big Data Needs to Be Fast Data

Beyond optimizing your channels, you’ll need to work with large data sets that fight your every attempt to tame them into neat columns and rows.

Unfortunately, 2015 won’t make this task any easier, so it’s time to invest in the tools to work with any and all your data, and to do it at the speed of the marketplace (that’s very fast). You may have the resources to do it in-house, or you may need to go outside to find the right skills, but one thing’s for sure: It’s no longer acceptable to work only with the data that makes life easy for the marketing analyst.

Data is a tricky thing: Waiting for too much of it often delays decisions, while not waiting long enough leads to poor choices. In 2014, simply having data was good enough, but in 2015 there will be an expectation of having the right data. That is, the right data to make the right decision with the right amount of risk. And knowing what’s enough data requires the experience you can only get by testing and learning.

If it seems early to talk about 2015, it isn’t. What’s left of 2014 will play out with the investments you’ve already made. With Black Friday and the holiday shopping season coming up quickly, there’s very little time to plan ahead for how your strategy needs to change in the coming year.

If you’re struggling to play catch-up, we invite you to check out TIBCO Engage and begin closing the gap between where you are and where you already should be. We hope to hear from you soon!

The Cost of Doing Nothing With Your Marketing

If you’re a retail marketer, you’re constantly being bombarded by messages about how to drive traffic and increase sales. You’re probably being told that each customer contact should be viewed as a marketing opportunity and that you need to see, process, and target customer behaviors with analytics. Or that the future is in mobile and that omni-channel marketing is a basic expectation. Face it, modern marketing is complex and can be confusing.

Yet when you look around, you notice that not everyone is heeding the cry of the vendors and consultants. Maybe you’re tempted to ignore the noise and stay where you are. After all, someone will make it all easier at some point, right? Right?!

The Cost of Doing Nothing

The reality of modern marketing is that it’s more of a challenge than most marketers would like. But without an easy way to understand and interact with customers, there’s a very real chance that you’ll lose customer trust (and eventually market share) to brands that are engaging customers more often and more effectively.

Without the analytics tools to see how well various messages and channels are working, you don’t have good visibility into the near- and long-term effectiveness of their efforts. This lack of insight increases the likelihood of getting lower conversion rates and worse campaign performance than you could be getting, especially when compared to marketers who are investing in omni-channel capabilities; in short, if you’re throwing good money at bad ideas across ineffective channels, you won’t know it.

The “status quo” marketing approach has another downside as well—customer data is probably scattered randomly across your organization, requiring Herculean effort to pull together. And who’s going to do the work? There probably aren’t extra people hanging around to do it so your data will likely arrive too late to be of any use before a customer leaves the store or website. To know your customers so you can anticipate their desires and behaviors, you need all your data at once, in real time. Otherwise, you risk spamming customers with irrelevant messages in the wrong medium that arrive too late to be useful to the customer.

Making the Pain Stop

These problems should be compelling reasons to make the move to integrated data, systems, and channels. For those who take the plunge now, the benefits are clear: increased relevance, market share, revenue, influence, and customer loyalty—even advocacy.

For those who do nothing, the downsides are just the opposite: Decreased relevance, market share, revenue, influence, and customer loyalty—even attrition. The landscape for retail marketing is only going to become more complex in the near future. But with the right modern tools, you can engage your customers better, sooner, and with a higher degree of context.

To know more about how to avoid the cost of doing nothing, check out the TIBCO Engage platform. The move to modern marketing doesn’t have to be hard, but it does need to get started soon.

The End of Zombie Marketing

Zombie marketing is more common that you may think. A zombie marketer is one that thoughtlessly shuffles along with poor visibility into a company’s near- and long-term effectiveness of spend. This “brainless” approach makes them stumble forward aimlessly, not knowing that they have engagement needs but aren’t able to satisfy them for their organizations or customers. These unfortunate marketers are stuck in limbo between customer expectations and their own organization’s inability to satisfy those expectations.

Bringing Your Marketing Back to Life

Zombie Marketing

In today’s world of accelerating technology change and increasingly demanding consumers, staying in that place won’t help anyone. In fact, operating in this type of zombie state has very real consequences:

  • Loss of customer trust, attrition, and market share
  • Lower conversion rates and poor campaign performance (if you can even measure it)
  • Negative customer reviews on social media and poor brand sentiment
  • Spam complaints from inappropriate channels, frequency of contact, and low relevance
  • Loss of marketing headcount and budget

To bring your marketing back to life, you need to be able to integrate all your data, systems, and channels so that you can engage customers with a high degree of context. Context is the key to knowing what’s happening, what’s likely to happen next, and what you can do about it—timely, relevant data gives you a better understanding of the costs involved in doing something versus doing nothing. That way, near-term and long-term spending can be planned with confidence.

Also, returning your marketing to a more vital state means being able to dynamically optimize your inventory, offers, and communications based on performance in the moment. Frankly, you just can’t reliably or effectively plan your spend without knowing what’s working and what’s not.

Luckily, zombie marketing is easily cured. All it takes is a holistic view of trends and patterns in customer data. That view then leads to insight-driven business decisions and the flexibility to change and adapt to an evolving landscape.

Learn more about bringing your marketing back to life—or simply accelerating it—by checking out TIBCO Engage, the most advanced way to optimize consumer engagement in real-time across all of your channels.