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Satisfying Customer Data Protection Concerns Marketing’s Check List

Customer data protection issues are back in the news with the upcoming EU Data Protection Regulation (which goes into effect on May 25), California looking to introduce a new ballot initiative to extend their already stringent regulations, and Facebook recently announcing they would no longer fight this ballot initiative.

And, it is no wonder that some states are stepping up with stronger customer data protection initiatives, as it is the number one concern of online customers. 87% of users are taking active steps to improve their safety online (source: Digital Marketing Institute). And as more customer data protection regulations and guidelines are put in place it’s incumbent on marketers to understand their implications and follow them – or face penalties and/or fines. Or worse yet, lose customers…

Customers Sending Mixed Messages

However, these same customers are also sending mixed messages. About half say they don’t object to companies tracking their buying behaviors if it results in more relevant offers, and two thirds don’t mind text messages offering them coupons while in store. And, 6:10 believe getting relevant offers is more important than keeping their online activity private (source: Digital Marketing Institute).  No matter what the research shows, we all know that if it’s in the news, it’s on our customers’ minds. And, with a news cycle comes heightened vigilance.

A Marketer’s Check List

Given all of this and the ever-present requirement for brands to deliver personalization, here’s a checklist to help you stay on track when it comes to satisfying your customers’ data protection needs.

  1. Be transparent.
  2. Develop user-centric data protection controls to give customers control.
  3. Respect customer preferences, requests and interaction channel preferences.
  4. Prevent human intrusion by using automation wherever possible.
  5. Make sure your organization is compliant with the new EU Data Protection Regulation. This law will apply to any company that sells to European citizens or residents-or anyone who creates data in the EU.
  6. Consistently examine your current policies and make necessary changes.

Download, compliments of VeraCentra, the Harvard Business Review’s whitepaper, The 30 Things Your Customers Value. In it you will learn how to identify high impact elements that can increase the value of your offerings and gain insight on how to grow without having to invent the ‘next big thing’.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

What’s More Important, Customer Centric Metrics or Campaign Metrics?

The answer, of course, is that both are important. However, in our quest to transition our organizations from being product centric to being customer centric the metrics being used to measure success are often not in alignment, slowing down the transition and causing confusion as to what the cultural drivers are for the organization.

Using Customer Centric Metrics as a Key Driver is a Necessity   

As businesses battle to stay competitive and relevant, the need to measure customer centricity is becoming a necessity, beyond marketing. A Harvard Business Review article, Why Strong Customer Relationships Trump Powerful Brands, drives home the necessity of organizations not only being customer centric, but also using customer relationships as a key suite of metrics, when it demonstrated the move that investors have made from looking for companies with strong brands to looking for companies with strong customer relationships, “Over the last 10 years, brand valuations declined by nearly half (from 18% to 10%) while customer relationship values doubled (from 9% to 18%). These numbers reveal a dramatic shift in the strategic approach to marketing.”

Balancing Our Suite of Marketing Metrics

As marketers, it is still imperative that we measure the campaigns we create to drive customer acquisition and retention. But, as we transition our marketing thinking, strategies, and tactics to a more modern customer centric approach, it is paramount that the metrics we put in the foreground to measure ROI mirror the new imperatives of customer engagement, loyalty, and lifetime value. Indeed, in the modern marketing world, campaign metrics become a subset of the metrics we need to track our customer centricity, where the entire organization is focused on delivering exceptional customer experiences, across multiple channels and touchpoints.

Re-balancing our marketing metrics to prioritize those that measure our organization’s customer centric focus obviously can’t happen without the necessary strategies, technology, resources, and tools in place to deliver customer personalization, at scale.

To find out the steps needed to implement customer personalization, at scale download our latest eBook, How to Implement Personalization Across All Customer Touchpoints.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

The True Value of Data Driven Personalization

We are all very aware of the importance of optimizing the customer lifecycle. But, are we able to do everything we can to drive to the personalization customers demand, or are we being held back because our organization has yet to commit to the investment needed in data driven personalization technology and tools?

The Facts Are Conclusive – Data Driven Personalization Drives Revenue
The facts don’t lie. One of the biggest values of personalization is quite simply – revenue. To drive customer acquisition, wallet share, and lifetime value organizations need a coherent plan and strategy that assesses their current technology, tools, and resources and the investment needed to fill the gaps to deliver personalization at scale.

To help you convince your organization to make the necessary investment in data driven personalization, we have put together an infographic of 10 quick facts that demonstrate the true value of personalization. You can download it, here.

The True Value of Data Driven Personalization

Data driven personalization is within the grasp of every organization. Today’s advanced technologies and tools, once only available to the largest organizations, are accessible to all and with careful planning and implementation deliver ROI and revenue growth.

The risk of not convincing your organization to make the necessary investment in data driven personalization is loss of revenue due to lack of relevance for an ever-demanding customer, who will happily switch allegiance to a brand that delivers what they want and need.

Download our True Value of Personalization Fast Facts Infographic, here.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

How to Make Cloud Based Marketing Solutions Work for You

As customer engagement evolves toward more real-time one to one interactions, marketers are looking for technology solution partners to support their advanced strategies. However, updating and upgrading marketing technologies is no easy undertaking. And the choices are becoming almost endless with 4000+ technology solutions on the market.

For many, there may be an initial attraction towards cloud based marketing solutions, which have been sold as a “one stop solution,” to deliver marketing’s desire to have an integrated platform. However, as with all technology, unless you plan and resource effectively, the technology you choose may not deliver.

Cloud Based Marketing Solutions Falling Short of Expectations

Cloud based marketing solutions are commonly sold as an “all in one product.” But the reality is that they are not a single product. They are a bundle of individual offerings under one banner, that may, or may not, integrate well with your existing systems, or even be the best tool for your needs.

Thinking that because something is part of an overall cloud based marketing solution means it will integrate well and be easy to implement is where marketers are getting themselves into trouble. In fact, a recent Forrester commissioned study showed that 95% of marketing cloud users experience challenges with implementation.

Without a well scoped plan the complexity of implementation can leave IT departments struggling to find the bandwidth needed to manipulate data and perform the necessary integrations. The Forrester commissioned study highlights this integration challenge with 40% of respondents stating their number one challenge with their cloud based marketing solution is integration with legacy systems.

64% Rely on Outside Consultants or Systems Integrators

The number one solution to overcome these challenges is to bring in outside partners who can provide the expertise and bandwidth to manage and coordinate the necessary integrations.

In addition to considering bringing in an outside partner, these three steps are critical to make cloud based marketing solutions work for you.

  1. It all Starts with Data. Any technology is pretty much useless if the data foundation has not been addressed first. Data plus technology is needed to execute real-time one to one customer interactions. The first step is to make sure all data – first, second, and third party data is in a centralized repository.
  2. Identify Critical Gaps. What are the critical requirements that are not being met by current systems? Scoping out requirements, makes it easier (not easy) to narrow the search for the tools that will meet the need.
  3. Manage Expectations. Expectations for any technology that demands a high level of investment are going to be high. And, added to that having the right technology is critical to marketing being able to meet the relentless demands of the customer. But, it is paramount that marketers manage expectations as to what the technology can and cannot fulfill.

To find out more about the steps needed to implement real-time one to one customer interactions, download our latest eBook, How to Implement Personalization Across All Customer Touchpoints.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

 

How to Implement Customer Personalization Across All Touchpoints

Customer personalization is top of mind for most marketing leaders. As it should be, given the last competitive battle field is creating personalized customer experiences. And, it has become very clear that customer personalization is the winning strategy to increase loyalty and drive revenue growth. 86% of buyers say they will pay more for a better customer experience — Customer Experience Survey Index Study, 2017.

Most Customer Personalization Solutions Remain Single Channel Focused

Within marketing teams, individual channel specialists continue to leverage vertical technology
tools to execute marketing programs and track customer response. For example, E-mail services provide tools to make email execution more personalized and personalization software exists for e-commerce platforms. However, many of these tools work in isolation and therefore, can be obstacles to the cross-channel execution needed to deliver a unified customer experience across all touchpoints.

Holistic Customer Personalization Strategy Needed

What’s needed is a holistic personalization strategy executable across all customer touchpoints. As the Harvard Business Review article, “The Ultimate Marketing Machine”, describes, “What marketers need to do to engage customers today is not limited to a single-channel experience. Marketers need to demonstrate strong leadership to promote change, and cross-channel teams must collaborate to design and execute a unified personalized customer experience.”

It’s Not Easy

A holistic customer personalization strategy requires changes on multiple fronts including strategy, technology, and process. And shifting the organization from entrenched marketing models to a new model focused on customer-centric marketing takes time, effort and most importantly, a planned approach.

A planned approach allows marketers to develop a clear vision for a customer personalization strategy along with an incremental process to execute change, allowing for iterative learning and cost-efficient scalability of needed technology investments.

The relentless need to satisfy an empowered customer, the intensifying competition, and multiplying channels, demand marketers evolve their customer personalization strategy, now. Otherwise, they risk diminished customer loyalty, wallet share, and ultimately revenue.

To find out what it takes to implement a holistic customer personalization strategy, download our latest eBook, How to Implement Personalization Across All Customer Touchpoints.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

The Marketing Data and Analytics Challenge – 10 Key Facts

Big data just keeps getting bigger! And every Marketing Leader is under great competitive pressure to harness big data for smarter personalized customer experiences. Yet, most are having a hard time getting their arms around the data their departments need to create the personalized experiences customers now expect. In fact, less than 1% of data is being analyzed and used. And every two days we produce the same amount of data that was produced in all of history up to 2003.

Not only are organizations swimming in data, but few companies have the know-how to merge their data to achieve the single customer view needed for personalized customer experiences. Only 16% merge contextual data with customer data to create a single, shared, and real-time view of the customer.

Brands need to figure out their data and quickly. 61% of CMOs believe they are under-leveraging big data. Yet, it is well known that data is the foundation for a personalized customer experience strategy – and a personalized experience strategy is what brands need to compete.

To drive home what Marketing Leaders need to overcome to compete effectively, we have illustrated the top challenges of harnessing data, scaling analytics, and delivering insights to produce smarter personalized customer experiences.

Download the infographic, here.

Top Data and Analytics Challenges Marketing Leaders Face Today

 

You can download the infographic, compliments of VeraCentra, here.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

Marketing Cloud Technology Falling Short of Marketers Expectations

Investment in marketing technology to help us deliver personalized customer experiences is exploding. However, it is also true that many of us are facing a disturbing trend –that the operational benefits of marketing cloud technologies, we have invested in, are not as we expected. Bottom line, many cloud technologies are sold as a complete solution claiming to solve multiple marketing challenges. The expectations are high. However, studies indicate that our marketing cloud technology expectations and the actual benefits it reaps, after implementation, are out of sync.

Only 30% Have Reaped the Benefits of Greater Operational Efficiency           

A recent Forrester commissioned study reported, 51% of advanced marketing technology users expected to achieve greater operational efficiency after implementation, but only 30% have realized this benefit.” Additionally, the study reported disappointment in other areas, such as gaining a holistic understanding of the customer, improving customer experience, providing relevant offers or recommendations, and personalizing interactions. A benchmark study performed by Retail Systems Resources, reported that 66% of surveyed marketers believed in the value of personalization and engagement technologies, yet only 35% reported they were fully implemented and satisfied. Let’s take a step back and understand what’s happening here.

 Can One Technology Be all Things to all Marketers?

Thanks to rapid customer adoption of advanced technologies, marketing needs are extensive. We need to effectively ingest the right data, leverage the right personalization technologies, deploy the right analytic models, and ensure we can orchestrate communications across multiple (and constantly evolving) channels and devices.  So, it makes sense that all-in-one solutions are highly complex, can be more challenging, and even more costly than anticipated when it comes to implementation and adoption.

Implementing Advanced Marketing Technology

There’s no doubt marketers need a comprehensive marketing ecosystem to efficiently scale more personalized experiences across the enterprise.  Here are a few tips to avoid costly surprises down the road.

  1. Strategy first, technology second. In general, marketing technologies do align with marketers’ vision to better engage customers using personalization. However, personalization strategies should align to customer expectations and each company will have a different approach. Understanding how technology will support the strategy, before investing in technology will ensure the purchase of only what is needed and what the organization is able to implement.
  2. Consider Marketing Cloud’s individual component products for a best of breed approach. Integration of multiple best of breed tools that provide the right functionality may be a better bet over investing in an all-in-one solution.
  3. Get help. As the Forrester commissioned report states, “Few organizations are equipped to handle marketing technology deployment and management in house”. Specialized third party consultants and integrators who understand the requirements can speed up adoption and can increase the ROI of technology investments.

To learn more about successfully implementing marketing technology, check out the Harvard Business Review Article, How Marketers Can Personalize at Scale.  You can download it, compliments of VeraCentra  here.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

Only 1:5 Companies Have the Skills to Analyze Marketing Data Effectively

Over the past few years, many brands have focused their marketing technology investments efforts on breaking down data silos to develop a centralized repository for all customer data – first, second and third party.

However, tracking customer behavior with centralized data-driven marketing is only the beginning of an ongoing process to understand how to deliver personalized customer experiences.

And as many companies are finding out, having the data does not mean it is being analyzed effectively. In fact, 61% of CEOs believe they are under-leveraging their data — source: CMO Council.

Graduating from Data-Driven Marketing to Insight Driven Marketing

The reason for many companies continuing to under-leverage their data is the lack of technology, tools, and resources to advance their efforts to becoming insight driven. Without insight, we cannot deliver the customer experiences our customers demand, drive loyalty, or topline revenue. But how do we get beyond insight based on “hunches” to insight based on “knowledge”.

Insights-driven companies are 2x likely to achieve 15%+ growth

“Data analytics marketing leaders are using advanced technology and machine learning to increase speed to insight—and to action, by embedding actionable, predictive insights directly into their processes and workflow.  And those organizations that have committed to turning data into action are transforming their businesses.

“In-depth customer data analysis can raise marketing’s profile inside a company, better use of data and reporting helps marketers make the transition from the role of brand center to the source of insight,” Laura Ramos, Forrester. And a Forrester Study, shows that this strategy pays off – “Insights-driven companies are 2x likely to achieve 15%+ growth.”

Deploying Insight Driven Analytic Techniques

Mastering the ability to deploy various analytic techniques and embed them into operational processes is at the heart of any customer personalization strategy. Analytics provides insight into future behaviors and enables marketers to grow existing customer relationships.

Different analytic techniques are used to produce different types of models and insights. For example, propensity is used to predict an event, or likelihood of an event, when two possibilities exist. A propensity technique, therefore, is used to create a churn prediction model.

For analytics to be meaningful, marketers should align their business objectives, and customer personalization objectives, to the analytic model that facilitates insight and execution. Marketers wanting to drive engagement by personalizing marketing efforts can turn to next best action models, and/or expand wallet share using market basket analysis to make effective product recommendations, and increase retention with churn prediction models.

Insight Driven Marketing – a Learning Ecosystem

As we head into Personalization 2.0, insight-driven marketing is becoming a key competitive differentiator. It is the insights that drive marketing to infuse campaigns, messages, and offers that deliver personalized experiences for our customers, not the data. To win the battle, we need to be asking ourselves this question, “How do we operationalize analytics?” The goal? Create a learning ecosystem, one that connects insights to outcomes as part of a continuous, self-improving cycle.

To learn more about advancing your insights driven marketing programs and modern customer engagement technologies contact VeraCentra, here.

 

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

Rethink How You Are Delivering Personalized Experiences

It’s a given. Customers today expect brands to know them and deliver personalized experiences. Studies reveal that 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience and by 2020; customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

But while many brands believe they deliver an exceptional personalized customer experience, their customers think otherwise… In fact, the gap between what brands think they deliver, and what customers report, is getting wider and wider. Forrester’s US Customer Experience Index shows that compared to 2016, CX quality in 2017 worsened across the board.  Why is this happening?

Why Companies Miss the Mark When It Comes to Personalization

First – Brands have not fully transitioned to a customer first strategy.  Forrester’s 2017 report, Pivot to Person-First Personalization, points out that many personalization efforts are falling short because they overemphasize pre-existing data, stress business need, lack context, and miss the most important component – the person.

Second – We are over reliant on outdated technology.  Automation technology and canned personalization software packages, by themselves, do little to advance customer relationships. Birth date, for example, is an easy data point to trigger off a birthday offer.  What was once a novel surprise and delight now seems rote and undifferentiated – since so many companies send them.  And thanks to Amazon’s early use of product recommendation engines, we’ve become accustomed to singular marketing automation efforts.

The stakes are getting higher, requiring marketers to apply more insight into customer needs and desires. As marketers, we need to strategize more and be capable of orchestrating multiple interactions with customers… allowing us to move beyond our competitors and win our customers’ sustained loyalty.

Advance Your Personalized Customer Experience Efforts Now

To deliver on customer expectations and to improve business outcomes, we need to rethink how we approach the development of personalized customer experiences.

  1. Opt for a person first strategy. To achieve better results from your personalization programs, ensure your messages are delivering value to your customers. Think about how your messages help your customer along their journey.  The goal is to assist them in taking the next step.  Ensure the path your customer travels is easy to maneuver and informs them every step of the way. Treat your customers as people, and covey you truly care about them.
  2. Expand your technology tools to include “insight infused” execution. Take your execution tactics to the next level by operationalizing your customer analytics.  Customer engagement technology has advanced so that machine learning capabilities can drive next best actions for your customers — well beyond product recommendations.
  3. Go beyond single channel. With more modern advanced technologies, you can move from one-off triggers in a single silo, such as web, and opt for full cross channel engagement across your enterprise.
  4. Move to real-time interactions. Elevate your personalization strategy by moving to real-time capability.  This technology brings with it advancements in real-time customer identity matching, which allows marketers to deliver messages to more known customers, in better context.  Real-time capability also allows you to expand your personalization programs to include inbound as well as outbound communications.

To learn more about advancing your personalized customer experience programs with person-first strategies and modern customer engagement technologies contact VeraCentra, here.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

Why Personalization Matters (And 5 Wrong and Right Ways to Deliver It)

As marketers, many of us leverage personalization software to deliver digital personalization in our customer communications.  So perhaps we’ve fooled ourselves into thinking that we are delivering the types of personalized experiences our customers expect.   The fact is our customers think otherwise. Gartner reports only 1:5 brands deliver a personalized experience that meets customers’ expectations.

Why Does Personalization Matter?

For the customer, there are many reasons why they will pledge allegiance to a brand that delivers personalization. When you break them all down it leads to a customer wanting a brand to know them and their needs and wants, helping them avoid the rabbit hole of choices, often irrelevant to them, that our digital lifestyles present.

Take the travel industry as an example. The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Knowledge Center has this to say: “Customers face an overwhelming number of choices every time they travel. A simple trip from New York to Los Angeles can present some 65,000,000,000 options for airlines and flight times, hotel rooms and rates, ground transportation or car rentals, and, of course, the myriad offers attached to each interaction at every step of the journey. Anyone who can help cut through the clutter and deliver customers a clear, targeted result stands to benefit greatly.”

For brands, the value of personalization is quite simple – revenue. If you want to drive customer acquisition, loyalty, and lifetime value to deliver topline revenue growth, then personalization matters. The Harvard Business Review whitepaper, How Marketers Can Personalize at Scale, which you can download here, for free, outlines the revenue upside, “Personalization can deliver five to eight times the ROI on marketing spend and lift sales by 10% or more.”

But often the realization that we need to deliver a hyper-personalized customer experience, at scale, leads to a scramble rather than a well thought out strategy that accounts for the current technology, tools, and resources we have available to us, the gaps we need to fill, and the advanced technologies we need to deliver personalization at scale.

5 Common Mistakes Brands Make When Implementing Personalization

Here are the most common mistakes brands make when trying to implement a personalized customer experience:

  1. All data – first, second, and third party – not in a centralized repository.
  2. Ad hoc implementation of off-the-shelf personalization software features without understanding what need marketing is solving for customers.
  3. Poor insights with little data analysis or customer journey mapping to drive personalization implementation.
  4. Lack of rigorous process to hypothesize, test and validate personalization ideas.
  5. Lack of campaign orchestration to automate the many additional marketing messages that support personalization, at scale.

5 Right Ways to Deliver Personalization

Delivering personalization starts with a shift in our thinking and brand perspective – a customer centric view needs to be pervasive across the organization, no matter what channel, or service the individual functions are delivering – marketing, customer service, sales… Only then can you move onto implementing a strategy and integrating the right technology, to deliver personalization at scale.

Here are the steps:

  1. Centralize all data.
  2. Analyze to gain the necessary insights to develop a customer journey map.
  3. Develop a pilot experience/journey. Analyze and revise your journey using in-line analytics to improve real-time decisions and apply advanced analytics, such as machine learning, to segment, target, and deliver personalized messages.
  4. Roll out and perform ongoing optimization.
  5. Orchestrate and automate interactions. Add orchestration capability for the agility you need to design seamless workflows across channels and devices. Armed with the ability to present real time next best action recommendations, you can guide your customers through the various phases of their own individualized journey.

If you want to find out more about why personalization matters and how to deliver it, download, for free, Harvard Business Review whitepaper, How Marketers Can Personalize at Scale, here.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

Why Negative Customer Experiences Are Bad for Business (and What to Do About It)

Delivering hyper-personalized customer experiences that leave your customer saying – Wow, is the mantra for all brands in today’s customer-centric environment. Customer expectations for personalized experiences are increasing every day and the competitive environment is getting fiercer. The stakes are high, yet many organizations fail to invest in personalization strategies and the technologies and resources necessary to execute them. And, in doing so, continue to bury their heads in the sand as to what these decisions are really costing the business.

Negative Customer Experiences Spread Quickly

In today’s digital world, the impact of a negative customer experience is staggering!  Following a bad experience with a brand, 22% of customers decrease their spending and a further 19% stop buying from the brand completely. Furthermore, 30% tell the brand, 50% tell their friends, and 15% provide negative feedback on a ratings site or tweet about it – source American Express Customer Experience Survey.

Conversely, when customers have a great experience, they are 3.5 times more likely to make additional purchases and 5 times more likely to recommend the brand.

Why Negative Customer Experience is Bad for Business

One bad customer experience spreads like wild fire and has an exponential effect on three key business pillars:

  1. Decline in topline revenue growth.
  2. Reduced customer lifetime value.
  3. Loss in brand equity.

What You Can Do About It

While many negative experiences point to customer service issues, marketing should take lead and move their organizations from a product centric model to one that is centered first on the customer.  Here are three key strategies to facilitate your transformation to customer first:

 

  1. View Business objectives through the lens of the customer. Personalize your communications by creating content that delivers customer value while engendering feelings of appreciation, relationship value and confidence.  Think personalization first and business objectives will follow.  For example, your business objective may be to upsell and cross sell.  In your communication- convey I think you might need this.  Sounds simple, yet most of us rely more heavily of features and benefits of the product-versus a personal approach to customer needs, desires and emotions.  Only when you put the person/customer first and personalize the experience will you be able to deliver what each customer expects.

 

  1. Map the Customer Journey. Gain insight into your customer’s current experience by creating a customer journey map. Learn how your customers are interacting with your brand across different touchpoints. Identify obstacles in your customer path and work to remove them.  (Also look for positive opportunities you can optimize).

Advance your map with real data using journey analytics.  Leverage your insight and  develop experience designs.   Make continuous improvements to your designs by identifying (and correcting) low conversion rates, comments, reviews, abandoned carts statistics, repeat visits.

 

  1. Invest in the right technologies. Executing your personalized customer experience strategy will require centralizing all your customer data for a single customer view. Your Customer Data Platform should capture digital and physical interactions.  Advanced platforms can perform matching and cleansing routines- keeping your data real time and ready to use.   Customer platforms can support the entire enterprise including customer service, call centers, in-store associates, sales and support teams.

 

Since your customers interact across several channels and devices, invest in a customer engagement platform.  Modern engagement platforms enable easy cross channel automated workflows to support your journey designs.  Agility is important as you test and optimize your experience designs. Be sure to include the capability for inline analytics and machine learning.

These strategies may represent significant shifts for your marketing teams and your organization.  And indeed the change may be what keeps organizations from moving toward modern customer centric strategies.  However, the cost of poor customer experience is too great and the benefits of creating personalized customer experiences far outweigh the investment in change.

To find out more about how to personalize customer experiences at scale, download Harvard Business Review How Marketers Can Personalize at Scale (for free), here.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

Customers Are Channel Agnostic. Do You Have a Channel Agnostic Marketing Strategy?

Customers don’t think about channels when they are shopping your brand. In fact, you could say customers are channel agnostic. And that is a problem, because many brands’ interactions with customers are still driven by some form of channel approach – multi-channel, cross-channel, even omni-channel. But to truly meet customer expectations, we need to ditch the word channel to create a new shared vocabulary focused on journeys – customer-centric journeys.

The Challenges of Adopting a Channel Agnostic View

Gleanster Research reports that, “For brands to adopt a channel agnostic view and to develop the proper approach whereby data from different sources and formats are integrated in a journey-centric perspective is a huge challenge and exercise.”

Why? Because, despite the obvious shifts in customer behavior, many of our systems, processes, business units, and revenue goals continue to be organized around channels.

Yet, the importance of connecting CRM and digital interactions, touchpoints and campaigns, has never been clearer. A customer centric business must interact with customers across touchpoints to gain insights, drive new actions, and most of all put the customer (not the channel or product) at the center of the business. The traditional linear funnel model of AIDA (awareness, interest, desire, and action) is breaking down rapidly. Customer journeys are no longer linear as touchpoints and conversions happen anywhere and everywhere.

Deploying a Channel Agnostic Marketing Strategy

What does this mean for brands? A new holistic strategy must be put in place. Oftentimes we think that technology is the answer. And while having the right technologies in place that centralize all data sources and allow for inline analytics and journey orchestration, is certainly important, they do not replace strategy. To deliver the experiences our customers are demanding we need the clear intention of knowing each of our customer’s needs and wants. And, how to align our brand’s values to those needs and wants to provide consistent, focused, and impactful customer experiences.

A final note. It is consistent, focused, and impactful customer experiences that drive revenue and ROI, not the channels. That’s what a customer centric view is all about.

To find out more about how to break down your channel silos in favor of a channel agnostic marketing strategy, download our Rethinking Marketing! Whitepaper.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

Personalized Customer Experience 2.0: How Would Customers Score Your Brand?

Marketers know that to be more relevant and deliver a great customer experience they need to drive towards the idea of “the segment of one”. And, that being adept at “the segment of one” demands using data and advanced technology to tailor marketing messages and offers.

Gap Between What Brands Deliver and Customer Expectations is Widening

But, while many of us think we are doing a good job at “personalization” the customer continues to think otherwise. A recent article in Forbes Magazine cited Forrester’s US Customer Experience Index. It showed that compared to 2016, CX quality in 2017 worsened across the board — the number of brands in the excellent category fell to zero, and the percentage of brands with a poor score was a shocking 1:4.

How Can the Gap be Widening?

The simple answer, which holds a lot of truth, is that customers’ expectations are moving faster than our organizational capabilities. But it is never that simple. There are two key, but very separate issues.

Delivering Personalization vs. Delivering an Exceptional Customer Experience are Two Different Things

Customer experience is predicated on the total brand experience and not all components of a customer’s experience fall into marketing’s purview. The complete brand experience needs to equate to a great customer experience not just the marketing campaigns.

What’s the solution? All silos need to be broken down – marketing channels, customer service, sales. Our whole organization needs to be able to coordinate efforts using the latest technology and tools. And, we need to recognize that personalization 2.0 means the customer is the channel, not the distribution platforms we use to deliver our communications.

Personalization vs. Individualization are Different

Personalization is pretty easy these days – we have been executing mass personalization campaigns for a number of years now – customer names in email newsletters, birthday discounts etc. Mass personalization is the norm in most organizations. However, individualized insights are harder to execute as they are predicated on having the technology and intelligence to uncover the insights that give each of your customers what they want, when they want it. Individualized insights allow us, for example, to have the insight to know that Anne prefers free shipping over a discount, or that Joe wants get a SMS when he is close to a store location, or can predict next best action if a product is out of stock.

What’s the solution? Individualization demands an insightful understanding of the individual customer’s journey from start to finish and beyond and being able to act on that insight across all customer touch points.

The brands that close the gap, between the high bar of customer expectations and the customer experience, will enjoy competitive differentiation, customer loyalty, increased ROI and topline revenue. Will that brand be yours?  To find out where your brand sits, download our Customer Engagement Readiness Framework. It describes increasing maturity capabilities across 9 categories, including personalization strategy, skills, and technology.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

Why Integrating Marketing Technologies in 2018 is a Must

In a recent Forbes article, the importance of shifting our full focus to the integration of our marketing technologies and leaving yesterday’s silos behind, was summed up very succinctly. “2017 was the year of digital discovery. 2018 will be the year of technology and more integration of it into mainstream retail. It will be the year where we see retailers create new operating models that are less focused on their store vs. the web and more focused on creating experiences that gives customers more control and convenient ways to shop. It will be an exciting year where customers will find newness and creativity.”

How Does Your Organization Stack Up?

It’s surprising that skepticism still exists among the leadership of many organizations.  These organizations expect marketing departments to operate without a centralized view of their customers. Thus, they continue to spend valuable time trying to piece together the customer journey, their behavior and preferences, rather than having the time to understand each customer and provide them with an individualized channel customer experience that has customers saying “Wow!”

Integrating Marketing Technologies Starts with Centralized Data

A strong data foundation is needed if we are to give our marketers the tools they need to optimize customer data in a way that delivers the greatest value.

Start by centralizing the fragmented data created by silos and channel specific technologies like; email tools, e-commerce engines, social media, and POS systems. Data integration can be achieved with a Data Hub that layers onto your current systems. This alone will greatly help your marketers’ ability to craft a clear picture of the customer’s journey and where marketing can influence their behavior.

To find out more about how to integrate your marketing technologies download our eBook, The Value of Context, Cross-Channel and Real-Time Capabilities: Advancing Marketing’s Productivity.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

5 Predictive Analytics Models that Fuel Customer Engagement

As marketers, we are constantly put in the positon of trying to anticipate a customer’s next move. It is an important part of modern day marketing strategy and when it comes to ways that help us stay ahead, or at least in step, with customers, predictive analytics are our friend.

Using historical and current data, and statistical algorithms we can create predictive models which identify the likelihood of different customer engagement outcomes. And with artificial intelligence, these models can be perfected-learning overtime.

A Variety of Predictive Models Inform Different Customer Engagement Strategies

Models can help us qualify and prioritize customers based on future lifetime value or determine what product or offer is the most appropriate for each customer, at a given point in time. There are a variety of predictive models. We’ve listed some of the most common and why they’re effective.

  1. Churn Prevention. Churn prevention models encourage better customer engagement and loyalty because they identify churn warning signs as they arise. These models are created from abandonment traits — a predetermined set of variables that (historically) indicate that a customer is about to disengage or from our brand. By creating a churn model, we can easily anticipate which customers are at risk of leaving and stage an appropriate intervention to keep them both satisfied and engaged.
  2. Customer Lifetime Value. Customer lifetime value (CLV) models are fashioned from a variety of behavioral, demographic, and psychographic variables to help us predict someone’s propensity to be a high-value customer. Essentially, this model infers a customer’s future value from their current level of engagement and defining characteristics. It then evaluates how much revenue they are likely to contribute long-term. CLV models can become more complex than just measuring purchase over time. Variables can also be drawn from certain behaviors like social shares and referrals, where the value of the customer extends to their ability to convert others.
  3. Next-Best Action. Next-best action models help us understand what a given customer is likely to do next. They help encourage certain actions and can be programmed to be ready with a relevant offer. Next-best action is determined by evaluating a customer’s expectations, needs, and interests and our objective for that customer.
  4. Product Propensity. Product propensity models look at a customer’s purchase activity to determine new audiences for a particular product or service. By discovering correlations in a customer’s purchasing activity and leveraging predictive analytics, we can target new audiences with a high propensity to purchase the product or service thereby driving revenues for that product or category.
  5. Cross-sell and Upsell. Cross-sell and upsell models focus on what’s in a customer’s shopping cart. Amazon’s “you might also be interested in…” and “often bought together…” prompts are good examples of using insight gained from cross-sell and upsell analytics to inform a bundled pricing strategy (selling multiple goods as a single unit so that the sale of one item buoys the sale of another).

Keeping the Big Picture in Mind

With all predictive analytics models, it’s important to understand how each model interacts to form a bigger picture. The critical factor, as always, is being able to adapt our strategy to meet changing customer needs and expectations. Predictive analytics models provide an accurate, reliable and adaptable strategic guide and tool — but it’s still up to us to follow through on the insights found within the data with creative communications. At the end of the day, any model we use should be done so with the overall goal of increasing revenue and lifetime value of the customer.

To find out more about how predictive analytics can fuel customer engagement download our eBook, The Value of Context, Cross-Channel and Real-Time Capabilities: Advancing Marketing’s Productivity.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

Making Customer Experience Management Priority One

A Walker study states that by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. So, it’s no surprise that customer experience management is a much talked about topic in most marketing circles. Yet, many companies continue to struggle with how to approach the transition from product centric to customer centric marketing. If you haven’t already begun to transition to a customer centric strategy, you had better make it your number one priority.

Emotional Experience as Important as Rational Experience

We’ve talked about this before in previous blogs –- Increasing Marketing’s Productivity — but it is worth repeating, customers expect the brand they interact with to know them, know what they need, and when they need it. The emotional experience, how your customers feel about your brand, is becoming as important as the rational experience of the product you are selling. A Recent Deloitte CulturePath report states the issue quite succinctly, “As technology lowers barriers to entry, it is easier for unorthodox competitors to enter and disrupt markets. With greater access to reviews and online ratings, customers are better equipped to switch to new products and services. To maintain customer loyalty and retain their business, companies need to track the quality of their customers’ experiences far more closely.” To track “quality of experience” we need to reassess our focus and move from rational product marketing to more emotionally driven customer centric marketing.

And we are not alone. For most companies transitioning to a customer centric focus is far from complete.

3 Things to Help Transition to Customer Centric Focus

If you are one of them, here are 3 things to focus on to help move your organization down the transitional path:

  1. Change the Way Data is Collected and Analyzed: A Gartner survey shows that companies who implement customer experience projects begin by focusing on ways they collect and analyze customer feedback. By moving customer feedback analysis further up the priority list, we can focus efforts to isolate product versus personal experience data and insights.
  2. Providing an Omni-Channel Experience: Price Waterhouse Coopers states that by 2020 the demand for an omni-channel customer experience will be amplified by the need for near perfect execution. This not only applies to consistent messaging across channels, but extends to a consistent customer record across channels. Providing a consistent omni-channel experience for the customer demands a central repository for all inbound and outbound customer interactions/data. Only then can we achieve a single record for each customer and meet their hyper-personalized demands.
  3. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile: WOW Local Marketing says that by the end of this year mobile search will generate 27.8 billion more queries than desktop search. The question is no longer whether the mobile experience is important or not. It is! And, unfortunately, it is mobile where most brands fail. A mobile experience that does not meet the expectations of the mobile savvy customer is a failure in their eyes. As they say, “the devil is in the details.” And, most customers continue to be disappointed. If you haven’t optimized your brand experience for mobile, make it a priority.

To find out more about how to transition your customer experience management download our eBook, Paving the Path to Better Customer Engagement: 5 Ways to Kick Customer Engagement into High Gear.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

 

 

 

The Interrelationship of Data, Analytics, and Insights

The Interrelationship of Data, Analytics, and Insights

Like goals, strategy, and tactics, where people confuse the terms and use them interchangeably, many do not understand fully the exact definitions and interdependency of data, analytics, and insights. This not only causes confusion, but also a lot of redundancy. What we need is an easy way to explain each term that others can relate to and remember.

Helping Others Understand the Terms and Their Connection

Data and analytics build off each other to deliver deep understanding and insights, into customers’ attitudes, behaviors and preferences. Insights uncover actions we can take engage customers and drive revenue.

What Is Data?

Data is the information we collect from customer interactions with our brand — demographic, behavior, attitudes, and activity. And, today, we have more data available to us than ever before — in the last two years more data has been generated than in our entire history!

Despite this overwhelming multitude of data, it’s extremely difficult to make any sense of pure data points as data points in and of themselves do not paint a picture any of us can understand.

What are Analytics?

Analytics help us discover the patterns and trends within our data.

There is treasure buried in those data points that we cannot unlock without analytics. The analytic tools dig through data to reveal the connections across data points, thus making sense of the data. Analytics provides the bird’s eye view and begins to paint a picture of our customers behavior in relation to our business.

What are Insights?

Insight is the value obtained from the understanding gained from the analytics.  Insights are the power. The “ah-ha” moments. They provide us with the deep understanding required to identify the opportunities, create strategies, and campaigns to engage our customers, increase loyalty, and drive revenue.

The Power of Insights-Driven Marketing

The real value of collecting all customer data (preferably in a centralized repository) and having analytics technology and tools lies in their ability to help us uncover the rich insights. We can have all the data points we can imagine, but without the ability to ingest, digest, and organize it data to be able to pull out actionable insights, it’s all worthless.

The relationship becomes very clear for people if expressed simply —the customer provides the data, the technology provides the analytics, and people glean the insights.

To find out more about how to harness data and use analytics to uncover actionable insights, download our eBook, The Value of Context, Cross-Channel and Real-Time Capabilities: Advancing Marketing’s Productivity.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

4 Segmentation Strategies to Help Target Customers

One of the most frequently applied marketing strategies today is that of customer segmentation, targeting and positioning (STP). Segmentation strategies help marketers define and understand specific buyer populations and leverage that insight to deliver more relevant offers.

This is not a new phenomenon. Traditional marketing techniques also involved separating and targeting consumers by general characteristics like age and sex. What has changed with the advent of the digital age is that both the stakes and the possibilities have been raised and the gold standard is now a segment of one.

Segmentation Strategies Inspire Greater ROI and Loyalty

For many companies the investment in technology, tools, and human capital may not be available to get to the segment of one. But that doesn’t mean more sophisticated segmentation strategies are entirely out of reach.  There are a variety of segmentation strategies we can employ to engage customers in the more appropriate and effective way — inspiring greater ROI and better brand loyalty. What are the available options?

Segmenting Our Database to Increase Relevance

What all of us can do, to increase the relevance of our messaging and offers, is segment our database using these four strategic principles:

1. Demographic Segmentation. Demographic segmentation models group customers by certain key population markers such as age, sex, socio-economic class, income, family size, occupation, and ethnicity. Marketers were employing simple grouping principles, long before big data came into the picture, by intuitively noting which populations (male/female, urban/suburban, high/low income) were most likely to buy their product and targeting their message accordingly. Today’s demographic segmentation models can offer a more accurate and specific picture of a buyer population, informed by customer data rather than observation and speculation.

2. Geographic Segmentation. This is also one of the simplest and widely-used segmentation strategies. Geographic segmentation models provide insight into where a given brand’s customers are located and specific location driven behaviors or preferences.

3.Psychographic Segmentation. While psychographic segmentation strategies aren’t new, they’re exponentially more informed and accurate in the digital age. Psychographic segmentation divides our customers into different segments by their specific personality traits, values, attitudes, and interests — and understanding how those characteristics affect a customer’s lifestyle and buying choices.

An example of psychographic segmentation would be a car company that markets the same model to different segments based on their value of luxury versus practicality and their level of eco-consciousness. For example, the company would market to the luxury-valuing segment by emphasizing luxury features and market to the practical, environmentally-conscious segment by highlighting corresponding features like gas mileage, storage space, and eco-conscious design — essentially ensuring that the product offer resonates with both audiences.

4. Behavioral Segmentation. This segmentation strategy groups people by the specific behavioral patterns they display when making purchasing decisions. Because customer behavior is such a nuanced topic, there are many possible approaches. Product-specific behavioral segmentation strategies often focus on customers’ expectations for, attitude towards, and response to, a given product. More general behavioral segmentation strategies group customers based on their buying and product-using patterns, identifying how different customer segments prefer to spend their money and time. This strategy not only helps target specific groups that are a good fit for an existing product. It also helps identify product gaps making it a favorite of consumer goods corporations that produce a variety of products spanning a variety of product categories.

To find out more about how segmentation strategies can help target customers more effectively download our eBook, The Value of Context, Cross-Channel and Real-Time Capabilities: Advancing Marketing’s Productivity.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.