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Real Strategies that Engage Customers in Real-time

Customer engagement can be defined as the depth of a relationship between your customer and your brand.  In our customer-centric marketplace, achieving loyalty is largely the result of frequent positive engagement.  And more positive engagement can be achieved with real-time customer interactions.  In fact, real-time customer engagement is a game changer, and mastering the ability to engage customers in real-time can determine competitive advantage now and into the future.

Since loyalty is achieved when customers are engaged, marketers must have a laser focus on every opportunity to engage customers as they interact across multiple touchpoints. To achieve higher levels of engagement, marketers must now develop new strategies and acquire new capabilities to create the competitive advantage real-time customer engagement provides.

Here are four strategy ideas to get you started, followed by the technical capabilities you need to operationalize your strategy.

Develop Strategies to Engage Customers in Real-time

Think about your customers current interactions with your brand.  Although I am a firm believer in creating an omni-channel experience, for this exercise you can begin with a narrow channel focus.  Analyze your app, website, social, email communications, etc. and identify “choke points” (interactions that keep your customer from taking the next step in his or her journey).   These “choke points” represent an ideal opportunity to develop a real-time personalized interaction that facilitates their engagement. Here are a few examples:

Simplify the steps your customers must take when they are making a purchase.  You can do this by narrowing options, so your customers can more easily buy.  

During a web visit, Keurig asks a series of questions about the visitor’s coffee habits, narrowing the flavor selections and options in real-time.      

 

Customer Experience

 

Demonstrate your brand cares and addresses emotional needs by finding ways to support your customer.

Sephora offers tips on how to properly apply foundation and recommends which products are right for a variety of skin tones.  Customers feel less frustrated and more confident about their choice.

 

 

Provide advice on what your customer should do next.  Make relevant suggestions based on customer’s history. 

In real-time, Eileen Fischer offers suggestions to complete an outfit.

 

Customer Experience

 

Offer information that may not be readily available to help your customers make decisions.

More than just an email reminder to customers that service is needed, Mr. Lube Canada, provides specifics about the customer auto, and maintenance history.

Customer Experience

 

Operationalize Real-time Customer Engagement with These Capabilities

Once you decide on your strategy, turn your attention to real-time predictive analytic capability. Predictive analytics will identify the right message to be served up at exactly the right time.  Embed your analytics directly into your workflow and leverage machine learning to optimize results.  Common analytics that enable real-time engagement include: product affinity, product recommendation, churn prediction and next best action as potential analytics to support your strategy. Most customer engagement platforms include machine learning capabilities, and some come equipped with built-in predictive models.

Most marketers know that customer data is critical to real-time engagement success. If you are operating from a traditional data base, it’s time to advance to a more robust Customer Data Platform (CDP).  CDP’s provide the capability to ingest all types of data, from any source, in any format. CDPs also accommodate streaming data as well as batch, can solve for customer identity conflicts, and provide advanced automated hygiene routines.  Since real-time customer interactions are dependent on data, tools with high quality data management capability are a requirement.

To find quick win strategies for real-time customer engagement, look at current programs and identify interaction choke points.  Create strategies to resolve customer choke points in real-time.  Then, acquire the right technical capabilities to operationalize your strategy. Real-time customer engagement is the new path to greater customer loyalty.

To learn more about ways you can better engage customers, download our e-book,  How to Kick Engagement Strategies into High Gear.

About VeraCentra:  We’re a team of experts here to help you implement and execute the capabilities your company needs to make real personalized connections with your customers.

 

MarTech Trends: What’s Hot? What’s Not?

Advanced personalization marketing demands investment in key martech categories if you want to stay ahead of, or at least on pace with, your competitors and most importantly your customers.

But, with over 5000 marketing technologies and hundreds of categories to choose from, it is difficult to cull through which martech trends are important to take note of and which should be dismissed.

The fundamental question we need to ask ourselves before investing is; “Which technologies offer the most business value in an ever-changing customer experience landscape?”

 

What’s Hot? 5 MarTech Categories to Consider Seriously

Customer expectations continue to soar and unfortunately the technologies they use are often far ahead of the technologies accessed by our marketers. So, it should not be surprising that the technologies on the “what’s hot” list are those that help marketers deliver a seamless brand experience to customers irrespective of channel or device.

  1. To serve the right content to the right customer at the right time you need a content marketing platform.
  2. Cross-channel marketing demands that all execution channels work together to provide a unified experience for the customer. To achieve this, you will need a cross channel campaign management system.
  3. Identity resolution is one of the issues at the forefront for many marketers. To understand who your customer is and what they want, you need to be able to identify them irrespective of the channel or device they use. Cross-channel identity resolution technologies allow you to create a single record for each individual customer.
  4. As we move towards personalization on an individual customer basis the volume of data marketers need at their finger-tips increases exponentially. Customer data platforms are designed to manage all types of data in a systematic manner.
  5. An analytic engine, driven by artificial intelligence, creates a system that delivers the next best offer or action at the right time and coordinated across channels. These analytic engines take into account current conditions and a wide view of that customer’s behavior, history, and preferences – AKA highly sensitive contextual marketing.

 

What’s not? Categories to Walk Away From

  1. A world of hyper-personalization has no place for campaign management tools related to batch and blast.
  2. Customers see channels and devices as interchangeable – without borders. Data management systems that continue to silo data by channel or device should be a thing of the past.
  3. Cross-channel attribution is predominantly used for digital channels. Relying solely on cross-channel attribution does not give marketers the whole picture. Moving forward unified marketing measurement is the way to go.

To find out more about how to implement the latest martech tools, download our latest eBook, How to Implement Personalization Across all Customer Touchpoints.

 

About VeraCentra:  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 Risky are Customer Engagement Platform Implementations?

New marketing technologies are appearing on the market constantly and CMOs are under pressure to stay competitive and make sure their organization is making the right decision when choosing and transitioning to new customer engagement platform technology. With any new technology, there is risk and anxiety as implementation looms large, especially when the technology requires not only a different mindset, but also a different organizational structure.

Customer Engagement Platforms Demand Thinking and Acting Differently

To succeed in meeting consumers’ needs, marketers are rushing to unify touchpoints, reduce complexity, and increase agility and have high expectations of any new marketing technology they decide to invest in and deploy. The new Customer Engagement Platforms require us to think and act differently in our marketing. Campaigns, targeting, customer segmentation, transactions, and other traditional principles are being replaced with, engagements, customer personalization, and real-time interactions.

Don’t Underestimate the Challenges of Implementation

There are risks marketers face when investing and deploying new and sophisticated Customer Engagement Platforms – many underestimate the data integration process which can be more challenging and time consuming than anticipated.

Additionally, few organizations are equipped to handle customer engagement platform deployment and management in-house. Even firms with a strong IT capability may struggle to incorporate the new technologies.

Failure to acquire sufficient knowledge about marketing technology will lead
to delayed implementation at best, and at worst could result in a deployment that fails to meet internal and customer expectations. If the right expertise is not used the complexities often require sacrifices of capabilities and oftentimes it’s a major capability marketers have depended on to deliver an ROI.

Solutions to Decrease Implementation Risks

Marketing must understand the requirements of their technologies and, assess their internal bandwidth for implementation. A couple of solutions to decrease the risk and implementation challenges are:

  1. Create a new marketing playbook that aligns to your new capabilities as the new capabilities are implemented. Execute your playbook to get fast traction.
  2. Get outside expertise to support implementation and platform migrations. Outside expertise can help you have a higher chance of keeping on budget and on schedule, and have a higher probability of success.

Not managing the risk is not an option. The investment, your customers, and your ability to retain the brand’s competitive advantage all depend on your marketing department’s delivery of consistent, contextually relevant experiences, in real-time, across the customer journey, regardless of device or channel.

To find out more ways to decrease the risks and challenges of implementing customer engagement platforms and other new marketing technologies, 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.