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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.

Marketing’s Big Data Mess

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

If you think that marketing’s big data mess is related to the volume, velocity, and variety of data (the traditional definition of big data), you’re only partially right. The single biggest data problem that marketers face today is pulling together the right information to deliver to the right consumer at the right moment in time where it can make a difference. In a word, relevance.

Untangling the Mess

If marketers want to achieve the most important goal—being relevant to consumers—there are a few things they’ll need to do first. Here are three specific needs that marketers have to resolve:

Need 1: Marketers have to do whatever it takes to assemble the right data to better understand the behavior of consumers. Doing this involves pulling together and evaluating all customer touch points with a brand. This needs calls for an integrated approach to campaign management that allows monitoring and response to customer actions no matter where and when they occur.

Done well, this allows for predicting customer interests and identification of risks. It also allows for delivery of actionable recommendations that influence customer behavior in the moment.

Need 2: Marketers need to engage customers in new ways by designing interactions that are grounded in specific use cases. Those use cases must exceed customer expectations by delivering more personalized, relevant experiences and they have to execute in real time.

Need 3: Marketers need to develop new processes and skills across all functions (not just marketing) to transform the delivery of brand experiences. Only by a collaborative, across-the-business approach can the business impact of marketing be measured and validated.

These needs are a challenge but not impossible to meet with the right approach. TIBCO has taken a long look at these three needs before putting together a marketing platform that untangles the big data mess.

See the TIBCO Engage platform in action in our webinar on September 24th. Sign up today, or email engage@tibco.com for a demo.

If You Struggle to Be Relevant Today, What About Tomorrow?

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

There’s an ongoing, symbiotic evolution of both consumer technology and consumer expectations that leaves marketers struggling to keep up. Adding to the challenge, the ways marketers have responded—by accumulating marketing point solutions—creates silos of customer data that solve portions of the problem while decreasing flexibility, greatly increasing the cost of doing business and, ultimately, making relevance an increasing challenge. What’s worse, many brands have a poor prognosis for keeping up with accelerating change. If this sounds familiar, don’t feel too lonely—you’re in great company.

So ask yourself, if you struggle to be relevant today, what will you do to be relevant to your customers tomorrow?

Digital Marketing Enters More Challenging Territory

Tomorrow will certainly be more challenging than today. Driven by consumers who are beginning to realize their own power, there are four specific trends that will stress marketing and even behind-the-scenes systems in new ways:

  1. Now. Consumers will want to interact anywhere and at any time. This has been said in the past but has been outlier behavior for the most part. The mainstream consumer is about to become the now consumer on mobile devices and also everywhere else they interact.
  2. Can I? Consumers will want truly new and valuable capabilities across a wide spectrum of information, to include diverse things like their financial services accounts and data being generated by physical activities. They’ll want to link information in ways that may be common to a group or unique to an individual. The more times the questions can be answered with “Yes, you can,” the better.
  3. For me. Consumers will expect the data that they’ve given up or created to be put to use wisely and in highly targeted ways. Giving up personal data will need to be a means to greater personalization, or it will be seen as increasingly invasive and unwanted.
  4. Simply. Interaction will be expected to be dead easy. As the mainstream takes the handoff from the early adopters, the number of consumers expecting simple, easy ways to interact will skyrocket.
There are signs of each of these in the market, but the combination of all four will push current systems and architectures to the breaking point.

Breaking the Vicious Cycle

While these challenges are daunting for many based on where they are today, it doesn’t have to be this way for you. There are four key ways to break the potentially vicious cycle of increasing consumer demand and increasing information complexity.

  1. Stop making the problem worse. Adding more point solutions to a silo’d environment is no solution at all. Step back and take stock of where you are and how you can simplify instead of digging the hole even deeper.
  2. Increase collaboration across business functions. Each touchpoint with the consumer offers a chance for increasing or decreasing relevance. By increasing collaboration, customer service, support, and other former silos can become a symbiotic, customer-serving machine.
  3. Start with the end in mind. Design thinking is a popular way to describe the process of taking a designer’s approach to understanding problems rather than tackling the challenge within the traditional engineering fashion. By starting with the end-goal of a simple, integrated, and collaborative platform, early decisions can be more simple than complex and more likely to anticipate and match consumer needs. Think of the end-user’s emotional perspective rather than simply what’s feasible through technology. Empathy, creativity, and rationality are the design thinker’s mantra.
  4. Make it highly personalized for every customer. Marketing is moving quickly toward individual-level personalization with all of the technology baggage that it requires.
  5. Predict what the customer wants. Nothing delights more than interaction that clearly shows that a brand is putting effort into anticipating your needs. More than personalization, this is the part where the consumer’s needs are known even before he expresses them.
  6. Reward loyalty. Once a brand can know its consumers, it can also differentiate those who come back time after time. Rewarding loyalty is table stakes in the struggle to be relevant.
  7. Do everything to create a seamless experience. This is the hardest, but most important, part. Regardless of what happens within the organization, the customer’s view needs to look unified and seamless. This requires a high level of integration and tools that monitor and respond, whenever and wherever needed.
If you’re in the middle of a struggle to be relevant, that means your marketing is facing the right problem. Getting there and staying there is going to require major focus on the factors described here. To learn more about how to be relevant today and into the future, check out the whitepaper, Marketing Transformed: Big Data Analytics and the Revolution of Customer Engagement and Experience Management.

Now, We Enable You to Interpret and Motivate Customer Behavior in Real Time

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

You’ve heard so many conversations by now about rapidly changing customer expectations, and as a marketer you know that mobile, social, and real-time technology are growing by leaps and bounds. Each can be a major challenge on its own, and the combination of factors is complex and becoming increasingly so each year. It’s exciting and sobering at the same time.

TIBCO Launches Its New Marketing Platform

But there’s relief in sight that responds to both problems at the same time and doesn’t ask marketers to cobble together partial solutions (with the risk and pain that brings). At the intersection of customer expectation and technology challenges, we’ve created TIBCO Engage™ to be the premier Software-as-a-Service marketing platform that enables businesses to interpret and motivate consumer behavior in real time, through personalized experiences and across any channel.

Yes, you can have it all.

TIBCO today launched TIBCO Engage to meet the increasingly complex challenges of understanding, personally interacting with, and retaining customers in today’s world. Those are commonly uttered phrases, but they haven’t been epitomized in one single platform before now. The two tasks of making complexity simple to manage internally and keeping it hidden from the consumer require a great deal of understanding of the consumer, technology, and smart engineering. That’s precisely what went into creating this new platform and we couldn’t be happier about the result.

Our customers are also expressing their thoughts on TIBCO Engage in very positive terms: “We look to actively captivate our best customers with the most relevant content and storytelling. TIBCO helps us to more effectively understand our customers by activity so we can talk about running to runners, skiing to skiers and climbing to climbers,” said Aaron Carpenter, vice president, marketing, The North Face. “Using TIBCO technology has helped us gain significant understanding of our customers to take those relationships to the next level. We are excited to use the advanced analytics options in the new TIBCO Engage platform.”

Savvy marketers know that transactional relationships with customers are no longer enough. Wen Miao, senior vice president at TIBCO, explains the TIBCO Engage value this way: “TIBCO Engage will empower marketers to move away from generic batch-and-blast marketing to personalized brand experiences across any channel. We believe TIBCO Engage will become the essential real-time marketing platform for every company to turn their customers into raving fans.”

We’re excited to launch TIBCO Engage and invite you to take a look at what we’ve built. From connectors, to a behavioral engine, interaction optimizer, loyalty management, social collaboration and communities, we think you’ll see a platform that cuts the risk and timeline of interpreting and motivating customer behavior in real time.

Download our whitepaper on right-time marketing to learn how you can deliver more timely, contextualized customer experiences.

To learn more, visit engage.tibco.com or email engage@tibco.com.

INFOGRAPHIC: Top 10 Marketing Trends for 2014

 

 

To learn more about TIBCO’s Top 10 Marketing Trends for 2014, download the whitepaper and watch the webinar.

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Top 10 Marketing Trends for 2014

LoyaltyLab.com

A Tale of Two Shopping Experiences

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Just one day of shopping proved the high value of strong customer loyalty programs.

Spring has come and so has the time to spend my weekends replanting flowers, coaxing the grass back to its summer green, and making the garden a wonderful place of tranquility once again. Simply because I started with my repair work, I ended up at Orchard Supply Hardware, a TIBCO customer that manages customer loyalty through our Loyalty Lab Reward platform. I was asked to sign up and so I did—a painless process that gave me the opportunity to be rewarded for repeat business. In fact, a few minutes after my purchase, a five-dollar coupon arrived in my email, along with a note thanking me for my business, which enticed me to go back again.

Nothing That Fancy

For my second stop to buy plants, I went to a well-known garden center chain where I was also asked to sign up for something, but this time for a mailing list. I had to ask what that would give me in return for my personal information, and I was told, “You’ll get email notifications of our latest specials.” Being in the business, I asked if that would include personalized offers or advice on gardening based on my purchases, to which the polite young lady replied, “No. I’m sorry. Nothing that fancy.”

I felt let down. I’m no professional gardener and I would welcome opportunities to buy complementary products that would make my roses bloom brighter and my grass survive the summer heat. What the young clerk called “fancy” is exactly what I want from any company that I provide with my personal details and purchase history.

Two Very Different Shopping Experiences

My expectations are no different than any other consumer. Why should I give up personal information if the benefit is solely for the retailer and not shared? Why would a merchant hold my personal information and transactional history for use in a way that I see no benefit?

These two shopping experiences are at the center of what’s happening in the customer loyalty space. Mailing lists are from a bygone era. Loyalty has become a more complex affair as simple points based on transactions breed transactional customers. Today’s competitive customer loyalty platforms meet customer expectations in the middle, where personal information is provided willingly because the benefits are shared and everyone wins.

For brands that seize the moment, these are the best of times. For those who fail to modernize and meet today’s customer expectations, failure is only a matter of time.

To learn more, visit www.loyaltylab.com/expertise

The Stats on Customer Retention Are Shocking

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

The cost of acquiring a new customer is often estimated at five times the cost of retaining the customer you already have. And it isn’t just cost—customer loyalty has a big impact on a brand’s success. A study by Bain and Co. makes the claim that just a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%. The reason is simple: Due to the high cost of acquisition, a new customer is often unprofitable during the early years, and losing them during that stage is a net loss for the brand.

While the numbers are shockingly large, the real shock comes when you consider how much budget many marketers are willing to spend on acquisition and how out of date many customer loyalty programs are.

Gartner’s 80/20 Rule

What’s more, Gartner states that 80% of your future business will come from just 20% of your current customers. Capturing a customer’s loyalty very early in the relationship has a profound effect on revenue, profitability, and (for a marketer) job security.

While that’s a powerful message, that isn’t the end of the story. Repeat customers are far more likely to spend more (studies indicate 33% more) and have a much higher lifetime value for a brand. Keep in mind, too, that a retained customer is also likely to be an advocate and to help with acquiring other customers.

Ultimately, customer retention hits the three significant measurements of a business—cost, revenue, and profitability.

So Why the Disconnect?

It would appear that customer retention is essential, so why is it so often underserved? For one, programs that reward customer loyalty have been harder to measure than lead generation campaigns, and can be more complex to design, test, and execute. In the typical businesses driven by the urgent needs of the moment, a program that has payoff in months, while more important, can fall off the priority list.

With retention more profitable than acquisition, customer loyalty programs have more urgency than may be apparent at first glance. In fact, customer loyalty programs are critical to the future of the business.

Learn more from our webinar and whitepaper on Customer Loyalty Management.

We Need a New Approach to Customer Loyalty Programs

Let’s face it: There needs to be an entirely new approach to customer loyalty programs if brands are to survive the digital and mobile revolution. While many brands realize the urgency of change, the challenges they face are daunting. For starters, a modern customer loyalty program is far more than the “points and plastic” of the past. Those programs were entirely transactional and bred transactional behavior in customers. A modern customer loyalty program consumes far more contextual data about a customer and allows a far richer conversation between the customer and the brand.

But if it was as easy as understanding that, most brands would be more than ready. The fact is, there are obstacles to overcome on the road to real-time customer engagement that may be bigger than marketers realize.

The Challenges in Implementing a Customer Loyalty Platform

The first real problem comes with the way retail brands have been organized. Loyalty programs cut across many organizational boundaries and affect not just marketing, but IT, finance, and sales. Each part of the organization has legitimate concerns about how a broad-reaching program will affect their costs, goals, and internal perception.

The second problem arises from the need to convince executives. They sit at the top of the organization and have the power to mandate change, but are reluctant to do so without solid evidence that investment will have the anticipated returns.

Loyalty Lab JumpStart Program

This is the reason the TIBCO Loyalty Lab JumpStart Program is such a compelling way to find success with customer loyalty marketing. We’ve created a fast, affordable customer engagement platform that allows marketers to quickly gain insights through measurable program results. We’ve added enough functionality to make the Loyalty Lab JumpStart Program very quick and easy to set up, with a low month-to-month cost and minimal need for IT support, so that marketers can quickly make their case.

When the barriers to entry are low, the chance for quick success is much higher. A marketer can have just enough functionality to create tangible proof points that satisfy organizational stakeholders and align the broader business behind the customer loyalty initiative. Where else can you change the future so easily?

Learn how to jumpstart your customer engagement program now at http://www.loyaltylab.com/jumpstart.html.

Simply Spending More Won’t Improve Your Marketing

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

For most organizations, the digital marketing budget is growing at a rate far greater than traditional technology spend, or even revenue. This represents an acknowledgement that consumer buying activities are migrating to digital channels at a faster rate than anyone expected even a short time ago. Organizations recognize the need to do something differently.

But just spending more isn’t necessarily the way to achieve success in the new marketplace. Simply putting more dollars into digital channels won’t create greater customer engagement and will in fact just add to the noise of an already noisy marketplace.

Characteristic, Context and Channel

Marketing today is less about broad-based spending and more about understanding the characteristics of the customer, the context of the moment of engagement, and the preferred channel for communicating. These are the three elements that matter more than budgetary spend and have a better shot at increasing engagement and spend.

Make Investments in Marketing Technology

The wise way to spend on marketing activities involves investment in technology and techniques that allow an organization to hit all three requirements:

Characteristics of the customer are directly tied to knowing the customer’s history and personal information. This is something a loyalty platform is exceptionally good at managing.

The context of the moment of engagement involves knowing as much about the circumstances of the customer’s interaction as possible. Is the customer online or in the store? What is their recency with the brand? Again, a loyalty platform is the technology that makes this happen.

The channel for communicating not only depends on personal preference, but the moment as well. A text may be welcome at the point-of-sale, but an email may be the preferred channel when a customer isn’t on the website or in the store. Keeping track of communication channels is best done through—you guessed it—a loyalty platform.

The changes happening rapidly in marketing are more than just a chance for a brand to spend more…they are a perfect opportunity to rethink the way a brand interacts with the customer. They are a chance to invest in a loyalty platform that can make the most of the marketing budget.

Learn more about how characteristics, context, and channel are used to engage customers at the right time in this whitepaper.

To Supply and Demand, Add Context and Timing

By Jeanne Roué Taylor

We’ve spent most of our lives hearing about the law of supply and demand. Brands create supply through manufacturing and the building out of service capabilities. Through marketing, quality, and some amount of skill and good fortune, our customers demand our products. Can this well-tested, age-old law survive our times? Yes, but only if it adds two more components: context and timing.

A real-time marketing system does exactly that. The new supply chain is about more than goods and transactions—it is also about relevant marketing that takes into account the subtleties of what’s happening in the customer’s world.

Thanks to fundamental shifts in technology, the new laws look something like this:

Supply – What is my current inventory level? What inventory is stressed because of low sell-through or seasonality? Where are my services overstaffed? From where can I fulfill an order that makes the most sense cost- and timing-wise? Where should I stage my inventory for most efficient sell-through?

Demand – What are my hottest items that shouldn’t be discounted? What is the market talking about, and where can I join the conversation? What can I do to better capture the interest of my customer as both an individual and a refined segment of all of my customers?

Context – What are my customer’s buying patterns: When do they shop, how do they shop, and where do they make their buying decisions? What do their patterns reveal about what they’re most likely to buy next? Where is my customer at this moment? What are the ambient circumstances, like weather, seasonality, location (in store, near store, on web or mobile) that help answer the question, “Customer, what’s going on in your world, right now?”

Timing – When is my customer most likely to be receptive to communication? Do I understand their preferences, including means of communication and timing? Can I reach my customer at the right moment with the most relevant information? Real-time must be right-time marketing.

For marketers who were previously disconnected from the supply chain world, the new laws represent an opportunity to play a much bigger role in moving the brand’s needle. The new world of retail is far more mobile, far more contextual, and far more personal, making it a much more dynamic environment for doing business.