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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.

Understanding Patterns of Customer Engagement

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

In a recent post, I talked about the customer marketing lifecycle and the marketer’s most important job—getting customers to the Maintain Phase as quickly as possible and keeping them there as long as possible. Achieving that goal requires marketers to know the marketing maintenance patterns for their business and for their particular breed of customers. Getting customers to that place and then keeping them there is all about the nudges, which include both interactions and enticements.

Nudge too much and profitability goes down. Nudge too little and buying frequency and revenue go down.

Patterns of Customer Engagement

Profitability, frequency, and revenue aren’t limited to finding high-spending customers. You can have a very profitable relationship with a customer who doesn’t spend a great deal but stays with you a long time. The takeaway is that customers differ and each industry is unique, from grocery to specialty retailers. Subscription businesses, while less transactional, fall into a pattern as well, though the characteristics of that pattern can be very different.

The key is to know the pattern that works for your business and spend accordingly. 

Finding the Customer Engagement Pattern

Patterns take many forms, but one of the easiest to understand is frequency. Frequency can take on these visual forms:

  • steady state: a very consistent, even pattern
  • sawtooth: they come and go with regularity that creates peaks and valleys, but with predictability
  • episodic: varies more in size and frequency

Each of these patterns is healthy as long as the marketer can see and decide how and when to engage optimally.

These patterns form but they also change over time and require continual analysis. What’s more, first impressions being critical, these patterns are often set early in the relationship as customers pass through the Acquire, Develop, and Grow phases. The past is the best predictor of future patterns, meaning that attention needs to be paid to how patterns form and take shape over time, not just where a customer is during a static moment. Only marketers who understand patterns of customer engagement can dig deeper into the drivers and identify smarter, cost-effective, and pattern-sensitive ways to improve engagement.

To learn more about patterns of customer engagement and other factors for marketing success, check out our webinar, Nudges, Influences and Rewards Part 2: Must-know Factors for Success in Retail Customer Loyalty.

Are You Focused on Your Desired Customer Behaviors?

When customer loyalty marketing is firing on all cylinders, the effects are indisputable. It is a given that loyalty programs work well, and they work especially well when there is a strong focus on driving specific customer behaviors. Keeping those behaviors front and center can be a challenge, but is a key factor for success in customer loyalty.

Desired Customer Behaviors

Saying that customer behavior is changing rapidly is an understatement. The forces that drive and shape consumer behavior are evolving as rapidly as the technology that allows consumers to shop, compare, and buy anywhere and everywhere. It could be chaotic (and it is for some); but, in the midst of the storm, customer loyalty marketing offers a uniquely valuable way to determine and map desired customer behaviors, and then develop the incentives and frequencies that reinforce them. With so much at stake and so much change, there’s really no alternative.

Spectrum of Desired Customer Behaviors

While revenue (a purchase) is clearly an important desired customer behavior, there are a host of others that can be important, depending on the circumstances of both the brand and the buyer. Desired behaviors can include downloading the mobile app, opting in to mobile notifications, or opening the mobile app when near a retail location. These are just a few examples that set the stage for driving customer behavior in a direction that benefits the brand. Each marketer needs to have a concise list of what makes a difference for their business, and to make sure this is where time and effort is focused. Only by concentrating on the customer behaviors that matter can a marketer move the needle in ways that drive customer loyalty success. Know your desired customer behaviors and put your energy into making them happen.

Learn more in our webinar series: Nudges, Influence and Rewards: Must-Know Factors for Success in Retail Customer Loyalty.

You Still Haven’t Defined Customer Loyalty Success?

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Defining customer loyalty success is a critical activity that too often gets overlooked. For those who’ve had the chance to read the post, Why Haven’t You Defined Customer Loyalty Success?, you know that loyalty’s dirty little secret is that even sophisticated programs lack a way to look back and say, “We reached our goals.” This leads to an ongoing problem of both spending money where it shouldn’t be spent and underfunding programs that are actually valuable. With organizational creditability on the line, no marketer can afford to ignore this problem.

Defining Customer Loyalty Success

The good news for those who recognize their need to define success is that there are many levers to pull. Customer loyalty success goes beyond simply spend and likes and is boosted by a host of factors that have creativity as a focus as well as math-driven analytics.

On the outcomes side of the equation, the answers can be as diverse as the methods to get there. Prioritizing goals—whether they’re retention, basket size increase, or some other outcome—is a key part of how success is defined. Goals determine success factors and those factors help us know what to do and how many resources to commit.

Join Our Webinar

In our busy world, without a good definition of customer loyalty success, decisions don’t get made, the right answers are elusive, and the business doesn’t move decisively or fast enough. Effective customer loyalty execution relies on tracking progress toward clear strategic objectives. To learn more about best practices on this very topic, don’t miss Part 2 of the webinar Nudges, Influence and Rewards: Must-know Factors for Success in Retail Customer Loyalty.

You’re Not Helpless to Prevent Churn and Attrition

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Churn is not as inevitable as you might think. In fact, churn and attrition are preventable problems that require great focus and a carefully-thought-out strategy. After all, the cost of acquiring new customers in the digital age remains relatively high while the cost of retaining the ones you have, especially the good ones, has become cheaper; it’s a far easier process as well. It’s all about where you put your resources.

Know Your Customer

Preventing churn and attrition starts with knowing which customers have the highest lifetime value. Only when you know where each customer falls can you decide how much retention effort is appropriate. This is where customer loyalty marketing enters the picture as a highly cost-effective, interactive way to decide what resources to commit and where. Customer loyalty marketing takes the guesswork out of who to retain and how to go about it.

And the market matters less than you’d think. Regardless of industry, churn management through customer loyalty marketing is remarkably consistent. It comes down to knowing the risk factors for churn, modeling churn’s dynamics, knowing the cost and benefit, being proactive and timely with intervention, and constantly seeking ways to measure and improve the overall system. If this came down to a series of manual processes, we’d be in trouble. Fortunately, it doesn’t.

Know the Tools and Techniques

Customer loyalty marketing in the digital age is a combination of powerful tools and smart techniques. Analytics is the basis for an attrition propensity index that drives action in the right moments, based on key factors proven to affect churn. That index shifts depending on real-time input from industry-specific factors like time remaining on contract (telecom) to distance from the store (retail). The takeaway is that each factor has a role to play in how an attrition propensity index morphs over time and customer life events.

Lastly, automation of customer loyalty marketing means more than points and plastic cards. Tracking the factors for churn and attrition is the job of a technology platform.

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

Good Enough Marketing Isn’t Good Enough Anymore

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Marketing in the modern digital age has done great damage to the term “good enough.” It wasn’t that long ago when good enough was a quality standard that meant, “This will work well enough and nothing better is needed.” But in times of great change, the term good enough needs to be seriously rethought.

Good Enough Isn’t Good Enough

So what changed? For starters, we’re a decade or so into the challenges of Big Data—also known as the digitization of nearly everything a marketer cares about. Customer information, including their past history, preferences, and even where they are in this moment, are flowing across many different devices and channels. What was good enough to work with the data we used just five years ago is very unlikely to be good enough today.

Secondly, our ability to analyze past behaviors to predict future ones has grown as quickly as the data that feeds those analytics. Once we can know what’s likely, we have a need to do something with that information, meaning we need new ways of interacting, nudging, and influencing our customers digitally, and otherwise. The old execution tools and techniques simply aren’t good enough.

Lastly, the customer has transformed into an always-connected, mobile—and much, much pickier—shopper. The customer has the ability to know and choose like never before. Good enough for the new customer is also a moving target that will certainly be not good enough at a point in the not-too-distant future.

What Can You Do About It?

When good enough is such a moving target, maybe the term itself needs to be tossed out in favor of something that better defines the marketer’s needs. But what, exactly, does the marketer need? Today’s marketer needs to tool up with technology that goes beyond the needs of right now. Choices need to reflect that we don’t know what’s coming, but we can be sure that things will evolve to become more digital, faster, more predictive—and that customers will expect a better experience than we can even imagine right now.

Hear more in the webinar, Nudges, Influence and Rewards: Must-know Factors for Success in Retail Customer Loyalty.

Why Haven’t You Defined Customer Loyalty Success?

We’re way beyond the point where the world debates whether customer loyalty works.  When we think about customer loyalty’s broad goals, whether the focus is on retention or brand affinity, investments in customer loyalty have shown repeatedly to provide a very strong return. So everyone is measuring that success, right? No.

What Are Your Goals?

The idea that customer loyalty works may seem obvious to some, but many sophisticated programs in place today lack clarity and fail to answer the simple question, “When we look back a year from now, what will have happened to say we achieved success?”

Without a clear definition of customer loyalty success, there is real risk that great, successful programs will be undervalued and underfunded, and—even worse—that programs with poor success rates will continue, wasting valuable and often scarce resources. Success needs to be defined through clear planning and objective measures, meaning the only guarantee of success is through clarity of both purpose and intended outcome.

Have You Defined Success?

Having a good definition of success—whether the goal is retention, shopping frequency, preventing high-value customer erosion, basket size increase, or another target—is foundational to every other factor. Know your problem clearly and choose a definition of success that directly addresses the issues or goals you’ve chosen.

Hear more on defining success for customer loyalty from Michael Greenberg in the webinar, Nudges, Influence and Rewards: Must-know Factors for Success in Retail Customer Loyalty.   

The World Cup Reminds Us That Marketers Are Architects of Passion

Watching the World Cup 2014 in Brazil is an excellent reminder of the power of passion and the role of marketing. World Cup passion is found on the football pitch, in amazing quantity in the stands and streets of Rio, and in pubs and offices around the world. It would be safe to say that the tournament has become synonymous with passion, excitement, and shared experience.

The Roots of Passion

In the World Cup, passion comes from players and fans putting all of their energy into something bigger than themselves. For a short period, footballer players aren’t free agents taking in millions—instead, they are playing for their countries. None of the passion of the World Cup is accidental, and there’s an enormous amount of work that goes into whipping it up and serving it. This is no different than what happens between a strong brand and its most passionate customers. Today’s marketer needs to be an architect of passion.

Passion Defines

For consumers, passion drives nearly everything they do—what to eat, what to wear, and how and where to spend their time. Connecting with that passion involves making the brand a part of how consumers define themselves and live their lives. Tapping into it requires a different flavor for different products and services, but here are common ways to foster and benefit from consumer passion:

  • Create a strong, omni-channel loyalty program that ‘returns the favor’ for your customers’ business.
  • Give your customers an outlet for expressing their passion that includes social media.
  • Capture the context of your customer’s buying moments, and serve the most relevant interaction possible.
  • Find ways to surprise and delight your best customers and draw them even closer to your brand.
Fire up your customers by stoking their passion, and turn them into fans! For more ideas on how, download our whitepaper, Marketing Transformed: Big Data Sciences and the Revolution of Customer Engagement and Loyalty.

Using Nudges, Influence, and Rewards For Marketing Success

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Success in customer loyalty marketing doesn’t arrive from just a single contact with a customer or even from a single approach to interaction. Customers are growing more savvy every day; their expectations are shifting. Marketers need to know and take advantage of the many different factors that will draw in and delight, and—most importantly—the factors that will increase customer loyalty and lifetime value.

Nudges, Influences, and Rewards

Customer loyalty marketing is all about working to make a brand top of mind, the first place customers thinks of for spending their money. Success comes from using a series of well-timed and relevant nudges, finding places and channels of influence and creating rewards that drive customer spending behaviors.

There are key things to know before you can expect to find success,  including:

  • Critical pieces of program setup
  • Investing in the right places
  • Generating customer insights
  • Building your context platform
  • Increasing meaningful frequency
  • Effecting racking and monitoring

Join me for a webinar with TIBCO Loyalty Lab’s Michael Greenberg as he takes us through the critical factors best correlated with success in customer loyalty marketing. Greenberg is an expert at laying out the latest successful approaches to customer loyalty marketing and has extensive experience with top international retail brands. I hope to see you there. Register here.