Tag Archives: Cross Channel Marketing

3 Tips To Reach More Millennials With Your Social Media Marketing

The social media usage habits of millennials continue to change – and so your social media marketing needs to change also. This is necessary in order to keep up with new trends and the constant search for the “Next Big Thing.” Here are 3 tips to reach more millennials with your social media marketing.

Tip #1: Experiment with More Than Just Facebook and Twitter

Ok, we get it, Facebook is easy and safe. So is Twitter. But that’s not where the millennials are headed these days. If you examine just about any research report on social media habits, it’s hard to ignore a major trend: millennials are leaving Facebook and Twitter in droves for newer platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.

If you’re looking to court the young millennial consumer, the place to be these days is Instagram. According to the Pew Research Center, 60 percent of all Instagram users are between the ages of 18 and 29. Compare that to Twitter, where the figure is only 36 percent. So, yes, you can still reach millennials via Twitter, but if you want to go where the momentum is headed, your social media marketing needs to embrace Instagram and Snapchat.

Tip #2: Create New Types of Storytelling Experiences for Millennials

One reason for the popularity of platforms like Instagram and Snapchat is the ability for users to apply lenses and filters on top of otherwise mundane content. With Instagram, it’s possible to create Stories. A Sunday summer day at the beach suddenly becomes people want to watch over and over again.

Now brands are getting into the act as well, creating their own stories on social media platforms for users to interact with. The latest trend is the use of augmented reality, or the ability to enhance videos with additional visual elements.

If you want to see where millennial social media marketing is headed, just check out the social media accounts for Taco Bell. According to the company’s CEO, Greg Creed, the goal of Taco Bell is to become “America’s favorite millennial brand.” That means creating new types of raw, unscripted experiences that continually push the envelope. From this perspective, Taco Bell is the “millennial brand” for the cool young kids, while Chipotle is the brand for older adults.

Tip #3: Look for New Ways to Connect with the Right Influencers

Back in the day, the thought among marketing executives was that the best way to connect with consumers was by deploying a bunch of A-list celebrities. You can still see this with the way the big automakers market their cars – they’ll typically use big Hollywood celebrities (that is, if you count Matthew McConaughey as a big star) or famous sports athletes to sell cars.

But that’s not what millennial marketers do – they look for up-and-coming stars in the worlds of music and entertainment. From this perspective, a DJ – say, David Guetta or Calvin Harris – who might entertain crowds at an event like Coachella is way more influential than a traditional big-name music performer. To its credit, Toyota is one of the big brands that is actually recruiting talent from the world of YouTube celebrities for its marketing.

Those are three big macro-trends changing the world of millennial marketing. Every six months seems to bring a new fad – can anyone say #hashtag marketing campaigns? But there are some big themes that are emerging and a growing number of brands – including both Nike and Taco Bell – that are doing social media marketing right.

*This post originally appeared on socialmedia hq.

Guide to Social Media Marketing

Is Cold Calling Dead In The Digital Age?

The conventional wisdom in today’s digital marketing circles is that the cold call is outdated as a method of finding new customers. Consider for a moment that tens of millions of people have signed up for “Do Not Call” lists. People don’t even want to talk on their smartphones – they’d much rather send text messages back and forth. As a result, a phone call of any kind is usually a very unwelcome intrusion into everyday life.

So, If Cold Calling is Dead, What Comes Next?

According to a recent Harvard Business Review survey, cold calling is ineffective 90 percent of the time, and less than 2 percent of cold calls ever result in so much as a meeting. If each meeting results in a final sale only 25 percent of the time, you’d literally have to make more than 1,000 calls to make just 5 measly sales. Surely, there are better ways to spend your time, right?

As you might imagine, marketers have been scrambling to fill the void left by the demise of the cold call, and some of the possible solutions have proven to be more viable than the dreaded phone call involving the pushy salesman and the rehearsed 3-minute script.

Social Selling

One solution that has been offered as an alternative to cold calling is “social selling.” In the classic social selling scenario, you find potential prospects on social media platforms, establish some sort of (tenuous) relationship with them, and then use that relationship as an opening to discuss a sale.

How many times have you accepted a LinkedIn invitation, only to find yourself being spammed by all kinds of requests and offers? Or how many times have you had people DM you on Twitter with requests? Those are both (unfortunate) examples of social selling strategies at work.

Inbound Marketing

Another solution is called “inbound marketing.” This is the concept that it’s a lot easier to have customers come to you rather than you come to them. That might sound like a bunch of obfuscating semantics, but it basically means that you create a lot of content explaining how to solve customer problems, and (thanks to the genius of Google), those customers will eventually find you online. You don’t even need to call them – they’ll communicate with you via social media.

It’s the reason why “how to” videos are so popular on social media. You might be looking for “how to fix my leaky roof” on YouTube, when you run across a whole treasure trove of videos from roofing contractors showing you exactly how to do it. The idea, of course, is that you’ll hire them to do the job for you.

Predictive Analytics

Another potential solution leverages the power of data and predictive analytics to find customers who are “primed” for a sale. Thanks to modern data analytics, companies know WAY more about your web browsing habits than you ever thought possible. As soon as they catch wind of the fact that you’re ready to buy (as the result of a link you’ve clicked or a webinar video you’ve watched), you can be assured that you’ll be getting an email, text message or other “friendly reminder.”

How many times have you priced hotels on a travel booking site, only to find emails soon waiting for you, reminding you to buy? Or how many times have you checked a few items on Amazon (perhaps for a friend or for a business project!), only to find an Amazon email soon arriving in your inbox? These companies know that you are ready to buy, and they are trying to make that final sale without ever lifting the phone to make a call!

So, even though the days of the cold call are over, there are plenty of alternatives waiting to take its place. Just as the cold call replaced the days of people going door-to-door to sell you stuff you don’t need (encyclopedias!), something will replace the cold call. The digital marketing era is making it easier than ever before to find the right prospects, and to reach them at exactly the right moment when they are most open to a sale.

*This post originally appeared on socialmedia hq.

Guide to Social Media Marketing

4 Things To Look For In A Marketing Automation Platform

I've spent a lot of time lately with CEOs, CMOs, and other marketing professionals. During those conversations, it became clear that a marketer’s role in the company has shifted in the last few years. For the first time, marketers are being held accountable for revenue targets as their top most priority. And that is different. Two years ago, if you asked CMOs, they would have said brand building was the number one target, and revenue was somewhere in the middle.

This is a pretty big shift. Today, you’re responsible for acquiring customers, engaging those customers, increasing lifetime value, and decreasing churn. This shift is due to a couple of changes. First, all of our customers are facing increased competition from companies where marketing is at the core of the company. These companies often have “growth hackers” whose job is to help with acquisition, activation, retention. To compete with these new age companies requires a different mindset, different tools, people, and investment. Secondly, the customers are changing, and they are expecting you to know them better and provide more relevant and contextual interactions.

To meet those expectations, we have to change, too. In 2008, there was a sea change for ad:tech. For the first time, ad spending was measured on performance – the increase in top and bottom line – not some vague estimated brand exposure. I think 2018 is going to be that year for martech. Those of us in marketing are going to be held more and more responsible for measurable goals.

To adapt to this change, there are four key components you should ensure your marketing automation platform provides:

A Laser Focus on Data

According to a recent CMO Council study, just 51 percent of marketers said a single customer view was both realistic and attainable for their organization – but not without new tools and talent. Are you in the 51 percent who are looking to up their game?

In 2018, we have to live and breathe data. Why? Because it is the fabric of modern marketing. By employing the right data sources (e.g. demographics, web behavior, purchase or billing data, interests, etc.), you can better understand your customers and build more precise targeting capabilities. You’ll be able to apply the insights for 1:1 marketing – creating and deploying highly personalized conversations with your customers in real time.

This sounds hard doesn’t it? It’s not. You don’t have to learn science. You don't need to do math. You don't have to learn statistical methodologies. Today’s intuitive tools allow you to merge your propriety customer data with second- and third-party data for orchestrated campaigns in real time – without a PhD in rocket science.

Here’s an example of what you can do: Imagine that I'm a marketer at an insurance company. I’m looking for the best target audience for a new insurance product we're about to offer. In the past, I might have written some crazy sequel queries. But I don't have to do that anymore. Today’s tools provide a beautiful graphical interface that anyone can use to create those segments on the fly.

Access to Rich Customer Insights

Having the data isn’t enough. To succeed in this new continuum, you need a marketing automation platform that helps you distill information about your customers to understand their buying journey.

Most marketers still can’t see and act on incremental steps in the customer journey (i.e. from interaction with display ads to clicking through an email offer to web page engagement) in real time. In fact, according to CMO Council research, only 7 percent of marketers can deliver real-time, data-driven customer experiences all of the time.

data-driven marketing

Source: Empowering the Data-Driven Customer Strategy Report. CMO Council 2017

But you can.

Look for a solution that tracks 100 percent of your customers and prospects across 100 percent of events in real time. This will help you understand your customer and prospect’s intent based on their activities across channels.

Here’s an example of what this should look like: Imagine that the same insurance company I talked about before is creating a highly targeted, personalized email to speak to the needs of new restaurant owners. Jill, one of the new restaurant owners in our targeted list, receives that offer. She clicks on the call-to-action link, and it directs her to a personalized landing page. The link is tagged with Jill's profile ID, so that we can track her activity.

As is sometimes the case, Jill isn’t interested right away in making a purchase or speaking to an agent. She needs more research to understand the best insurance for her business. Up until now, marketing automation solutions only had visibility into what happens between the initial email click and that final form submission.

This is where the new capabilities come into play. With integrated next-generation solutions, you can capture and act on behavior as its happening. You can do more than look at aggregate behavior (i.e. as in how many visitors came to the page). Now, you can analyze the behaviors of each and every customer or prospect, including all activities pre-sale (i.e. correct size, wrong color) to send browse recovery messaging when the item is back in stock or promote complementary items. You can see and act on all post-sale activity, all cart activities (i.e. add, remove, view and purchase), and all rich media activity (i.e. play, pause, fast-forward). In. Real. Time.

Artificial Intelligence to Fuel Real Omnichannel Experiences

For a long time, we’ve had channels in a silo. SMS, push notifications, email, social media, display ads – they were all managed by point solutions. It’s a pain point we can all agree on. But that can’t continue in the omnichannel world your customers and prospects operate in. You have to be able to orchestrate an omnichannel experience that motivates the consumer in the channel that is most comfortable for them.

Advanced marketing automation solutions, powered by artificial intelligence, will even identify the most relevant channel for you.

Here’s an example of what this should look like: A marketing campaign is set up for cold-brew coffee line by one of our famous customers running a national coffee chain. They want to be able to reach customers via any channel that optimizes the chance for the customer to see, open, and interact with the content. That campaign is set up to allow Responsys to determine whether the user should be reached via email or push notification to customers that have installed the App on their mobile phones. Responsys determines that it should sent out emails to 102 Million customers on their contact list, and use interactive push notification through the App for 44 Million users. Also the customer let Responsys’ Send Time Optimizer algorithm determine what time to send the emails and push notifications for each customer. The results are stunning, driving 37% higher ROI.

Integration, Extensions & Partnerships = Extensibility

The fourth element you should look for in a marketing automation platform is integration. Are all products in the portfolio tightly integrated? Or is it a hodgepodge of acquisitions and add-on features?

Why? The reason is simple: There is no one-size-fits-all platform. No matter how many resources the vendor has, they can’t build a quality solution that fits every need, is fully supported, and grows quickly to meet future needs.

Look for a solution provider that boasts a deep partner bench and has an open and flexible API to allow for integrations with their products. This will allow you to extend the capabilities of the platform without having to wait on us to add new capabilities.

The Sum of All the Parts

You have marketing goals. To meet those goals, you need a modern marketing automation platform from a provider that is solution focused not product focused. You need an integrated, extensible solution that helps break down your own silos and provide a seamless, personalized experience for your customers and prospects. You can do more with less – and get more bang for your buck!

Want to move your organization toward modern marketing? Need help with setting and delivering on those goals? Reach out to us - we can help.

How Marketers Can Be Successful with Blockchain Technology

We’ve so often heard about how new tech disrupts industries that it has become cliché. Whether it’s IoT, smart glasses, or even AI, there’s always this constant conversation about how new and innovative tech is going to change things. With blockchain, though, it’s more than just hot air. It’s the truth.

From healthcare to insurance, blockchain has the potential to impact an array of industries. Aiming to solve problems including remittance, intermediaries, and even proof of ownership, there’s a lot of applications blockchain can bring about. However, it’s the recent innovations in marketing and advertising that have been at the forefront. This has been fascinating both in how marketing practices have changed and how new technology has played a role.

Here’s why:

The ICO Hype

One of the biggest stories to come out of blockchain last year was the explosion of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). If you’re not familiar, ICOs, are public sales of a coin or token as a means of raising funds for a project. Similar to crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, ICOs became massively popular, with companies receiving millions. However, this wasn’t without its hiccups, which marketing companies had to learn to combat.

According to Bitcoin.com, 46 percent of ICOs failed last year. While some companies were well-intentioned with their token sale, the lack of regulation led to an immense amount of fraud. As a result, companies like Facebook and Instagram banned them from advertising And MailChimp straight up banned any blockchain or cryptocurrency projects from using their service. As these traditional channels were unavailable, blockchain marketers had to get creative.

For marketers to have a successful token sale meant building trust with their audience. For example, companies like Deedcoin were able to build an audience by compiling solid press, which lent them authority from trusted sources. Furthermore, using the chat messaging app Telegram enabled people to communicate with the founders and team members in real time, which gave these leaders an opportunity to showcase that they know their stuff. A big lesson for marketers here is how to be scrappy and resourceful — how to rely on grassroots and organic efforts.

Hedging Bets (On Making Humanity Better)

Many in the tech world believe that blockchain could potentially change the world for good. This altruistic approach was seen early on with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin being able to serve the unbanked – huge for developing nations. This idea has led to a whole new sector of social entrepreneurship. Even with such a philanthropic goal, it can be hard to explain this new tech and how it helps to the masses.

When it comes to marketing social entrepreneurship in the blockchain, there are a lot of layers and steps necessary to educate potential users and customers. An excellent example is with Dispatch Labs, who are creating a protocol to build scalable DApps (decentralized applications), with some of their early projects giving back by donating money via smart contracts.

One thing they do right communication-wise is simplifying their message, cutting out all the unnecessary noise surrounding how blockchain, protocols, or dApps work, and instead talking directly about how the user can become engaged. Setting a precedent like this could make a big difference later. With the blockchain industry estimated to be worth $3.6 billion by 2023, even a fraction of that going back to charity could make a world of difference.

The most significant takeaway from social entrepreneurship and blockchain is how companies are able to communicate complex ideas in a simple form. Especially for the CMO that works in tech, taking a page out of this playbook can be a smart move. Remember, the more you can help people understand and believe in your product, the easier it will be to spread word-of-mouth.

Implementing the Chain

Beyond just marketing for blockchain companies, the actual blockchain technology has also started to make a significant difference in the advertising and marketing industries. Although still in its infancy, a lot of blockchain uses have been the perfect fit for early use cases, especially projects that deal with proof-of-stake or proof-of-ownership. Forbes noted that blockchain is already combatting the $7 billion in fraudulent advertising sales, which goes to show the value this industry holds for one application alone.

One use of blockchain technology is to verify the source where a file comes from allowing secure copyright and file transfer for creators wishing to sell their work on an enterprise level to agencies (e.g. typefaces, b-roll, etc.). Furthermore, being able to apply a quid-pro-quo smart contract system on the blockchain enables more transparency in advertising purchases too, reducing fraud. Who knows what other amazing innovations will be coming in the next few months.

What are some innovative strategies you’re interested in implementing within blockchain and marketing? Comment with your answers below!

Customer Journey Mapping: The Cornerstone of Cross-Channel Marketing

Marketers understand the key to successful business is cross-channel marketing as it makes it easy for customers to complete any desired activity on whatever medium they are most comfortable with.

However, the actual implementation of cross-channel marketing is a different story. In fact, for many, communications are still siloed and these brands are missing out on a 43x uplift in marketing performance and lead generation from cross-marketing efforts. 

Artwork Simon Heath drew at the event to visually summarize the presentations.

The latest Eloqua Customer User Forum tackled this very subject, hearing from Oracle Marketing Cloud experts on how to successfully expand cross-channel marketing to drive real results.

Kim Barlow, director of strategic & analytical services EMEA, opened the day by discussing why cross-channel marketing is just as important for B2B brands as B2C ones. She stressed that “the success of a cross-channel strategy relies on a strong customer journey map.”

So, what is customer journey mapping and why is it so important? Put simply, it is a powerful tool that teaches brands about their customers. It visually illustrates customers’ processes, needs and perceptions throughout their interactions and relationship with a brand. It tells a story about the potential frustrations and experiences of customers.

You may find the idea of starting a customer journey map intimidating. It is certainly an eye-opening process, and there is some time investment required. However, if you  follow this process you can be truly effective:

  1. Create an initial map that includes personas, behaviors, touchpoints, attitudes, emotions, and enablers.
  2. Evaluate these attitudes, prioritize the focus and biggest pain point. Then determine the impact.
  3. Explore and clarify needs and drivers and examine your capabilities (roles and processes).
  4. Brainstorm the desired transformation and innovation.
  5. Design a new experience. Before going full steam ahead, do a reality check before designing the experience.

Ultimately, customer journey mapping puts the customer in the bull’s eye of a marketer’s thinking and demonstrates the need for the entire brand to adapt. However, to truly impact the customer experience, learnings from customer journey mapping must be taken and implemented. This will ensure cross-channel marketing efforts reach consumers effectively with the message in the right place at the right time.

With that in mind, there are three key takeaways to ensure true success:

  1. Cross-channel strategies are only effective when the customer journey for different personas are mapped out (data analytics is key).
  2. Customer journey mapping should be optimized continuously so marketers are giving the best experience to prospects and prospective customers.
  3. Each touchpoint needs to have a KPI that matches to the overall objective and is measurable where possible.

Two Questions that Lay the Foundation for Effective Cross-Channel Marketing

Cross-channel marketing has moved beyond the hype to become a reality for marketers. In fact, it’s the new normal. Why? Our online behaviors have evolved – consumers are constantly checking emails, social media apps, and even interacting online via voice technology. To reach them effectively, a marketer must have the message in the right place at the right time.

However, setting up cross-channel marketing isn’t easy – especially when defining what the marketing strategy will be. If marketers aren’t prepared, or poorly set up as a team, budget and time will simply be wasted with no positive impact on the revenue or customer satisfaction.

To ensure this doesn’t happen, there are two fundamental questions marketers need to ask themselves. If they cannot answer these successfully, all the other processes or changes they put in place simply won’t be effective and cross-channel marketing won’t happen.

1. Has Your Marketing Team Shifted its Mindset?

Historically, when marketers need to launch a campaign or communicate with their customers, they look at each channel separately and consider how, when, and what content to use. This mindset needs to shift entirely. Marketers need to consider the entire buyer journey and how channels ought to work together to create a consistent experience. Only then will they be able to design campaigns that will capture attention.

2. Are You Clear on Your Entire Multichannel Marketing Approach?

Marketers need to be 100 percent clear on every stage of the cross-channel approach to ensure it will work effectively. So, take a step back and interrogate the plan. Does your team all agree on how to define cross-channel marketing? Does your team all agree on where it starts? How many channels are included and how will your cross-channel marketing efforts be measured?  

Once marketers can answer these questions and have entire team singing from the same hymn sheet, they will be ready to tackle the barriers to cross-channel marketing.

First and foremost, this involves breaking down silos. This is one of the biggest challenges for any brand. Different teams are responsible for social media, ecommerce, contact centers, etc. and usually, each team has a different focus, a different way of collecting and analyzing data, and different processes to reach desired outcomes.

The other biggest barrier to being able to achieve a single view of the customer is technology limitations. Stories abound of external providers who don’t understand their client’s business model and data, or take on a technology implementation project that’s either too big or not big enough.

Regardless of the hurdles to overcome, cross-channel marketing is happening and the choice marketers have is how effective their brand can be in achieving it. Only with buy-in from the entire team do marketers have the strong foundation they need to ensure customers are engaged, building loyalty and generating revenue.

Have Consumers Bought Into Bots? A Look At The Current State Of Chatbots

Remember when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella famously proclaimed back in early 2016 that “bots are the new apps”? Well, it looks like that prediction is finally starting to come true. In mid-2016, there were approximately 11,000 Facebook Messenger bots. A year later, there were approximately 100,000 bots. If that’s not exponential growth, then what is?

The Problem of Too Many Bots

There’s just one problem, however, and it has to do with discoverability. How, exactly, are you supposed to find and use those 100,000 bots? For example, did you know that Starbucks has a Facebook Messenger bot to make the coffee-buying experience even more enjoyable? Oh, you did? Well, then, did you know that upscale fashion brand Burberry has a bot? Or that Sephora has a bot for makeup tutorials? Or that there’s even something called the “Insomnobot”? (Forget counting sheep to get to sleep at night, use the Insomnobot instead!)

Cross-Platform Integration for Bots is Still a Mess

Another problem involves cross-platform integration. This is a common problem in the tech world, and it’s no different in the bot world. For example, a bot created for the Facebook Messenger platform won’t work on the Kik platform. And now all the major tech companies – such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Samsung are trying to create their own industry standard for bots. That means even more integration nightmares, and probably a lot of long nights for mobile developers. Imagine being told that a bot has to work for 3, 4, or 5 different platforms? This comes at a time when simply launching an app that works for both iOS and Android can seem like a chore at times!

But it’s clear that all the big tech giants are coming up with innovative new ideas for bots. Amazon has even gone so far as to launch Lex (a variant of Alexa, as you might have guessed by the name), an AI-powered bot. Samsung has Viv, a Siri clone. And Google is working on something called Chatbase (when it comes to social, we never really know what Google is doing, but you can guess that Chatbase will be built on top of its search platform).

Are Chatbots a Trend … or a Fad?

Not surprisingly, VC investors have been dipping into the space, looking for the first great chatbot company. Things might get a little frothy, though. Investing in a chatbot company sounds a lot like some other hot VC trends in past years, like investing in social gaming companies that make cute little games for your phone.

Ultimately, the question that brands have to ask themselves is, “If we build it, will they come?” In other words, if you sink time and money into creating and marketing a chatbot solution, are customers really going to notice or care?

For many people, these bots are the equivalent of the cool app that everyone downloads, uses once, and promptly ignores forever after. It may be cool that Starbucks can program a pumpkin spice latte chat bot, but are you really going to put up with that Starbucks bot if it keeps trying to pop up on your screen when you don’t want it to?

So it might be too early to proclaim the rise of the global chatbot economy, as some tech media publications have done. For now, that seems like a bit of hype and wishful thinking. However, big things could be coming over the next 24 months. That’s because, back in December 2016, 80 percent of marketers said they had plans to launch a chatbot by 2020. That sounds about right – it may be too early now, but with more cross-platform integration, bots could really catch on as something that you’d use every day in just two more years.

*This post originally appeared on socialmedia hq.

Why Inconsistent Messaging is Undermining Customer Experience

This article is part of our series on customer experience where we focus on topics relating to connecting data, intelligence and experiences. Further reading: Silo Busting is Essential to Delivering Personalized Experiences.

Delivering exceptional customer experiences has quickly become table stakes for marketers. Too often, though, these experiences are undermined by inconsistent messaging and opportunities go begging.

Repeated or irrelevant messages breed consumer intolerance and annoyance, which they are not afraid to shout about to the hilltops.

Inconsistent messaging can also be a lost opportunity. For instance, when a customer expects to be informed, but there is silence. Such as when a customer signs up to a new program and reasonably expects to receive a welcome email. When they receive nothing, that can create confusion and concern — which can be just as damaging as a sending a poor message.

In markets like China, where social and ecommerce platforms are dominated by a few large players, the risk and reward of consistent messaging increases, particularly for B2C companies.

For example, WeChat and Alibaba both have an incredible reach. And, given their prominence, consumers often use both platforms. So, any inconsistent message on WeChat can quickly undermine strong messaging on Alibaba, and vice-versa.

Compounding this problem, marketers sometimes focus too intently on WeChat and Alibaba and neglect their owned channels of email, SMS, and website. The messaging in all channels must be relevant and consistent.

Why It’s Happening

This isn’t rocket science, but it still trips up many marketers. The reason? The ubiquitous problems that arise from disconnected data systems and data access – marketers and systems in silos. Marketers simply do not have a single view of the customer, much less an accurate idea of what messaging has already been delivered.

That problem snowballs when channels are managed by different teams — such as a media agency for acquisition and remarketing, another agency for social marketing, while a company’s own marketing team manages email and mobile channels.

When this happens, even a central marketing plan can’t connect the data and creative for individual customer experiences.

Many organizations still lack the skills and tools necessary to unearth customer insights from first-party data. Those insights are needed to improve customer experience and deliver consistent, relevant messages through all channels automatically.

How to Fix It

A great place to start is to build consistency on the areas over which you have control and where you are comfortable.

For example, implementing automation and template programs for email and mobile channels will improve consistency in message cadence and content. At Oracle, we recommend leveraging existing data and using dynamic content to personalize your messages while maintaining a consistent message.

Next, build a data strategy to inform segmentation and start to weave that in other channels. It’s likely that your first major roadblock will be addressing how customer data is managed and accessed. Therefore, when getting data architecture in order, the focus should be on creating a core customer view in a secure, transparent and privacy-compliant way. All other data — such as sales, product, and policies — can then be attached to the core customer data, creating the fabled 360 degree view of the customer.

It is no small feat to upgrade data architecture and automate marketing. However, the benefits that accrue will quickly justify the undertaking.

Want to learn more? Get the Cross-Channel Orchestration Fundamentals Guide to learn how you can give consumers the personalized, relevant, and consistent experiences they want.  

4 Ways Chatbots Can Increase Engagement and Improve the Customer Experience

Most likely you have already interacted with an online chatbot or automated phone system for getting product information or resolving a support issue. The majority of these systems use artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to understand your questions and predict what you are looking for to provide you with accurate and useful information in a user-friendly way.

Busy consumers are now becoming more comfortable using these automated systems as the systems are becoming smarter, friendlier, and faster. So how could a marketing platform use chatbots to get consumers more engaged with relevant and personalized marketing messages? We believe these four opportunities are quite attractive to consider.

Start Chatbot Conversations at the Right Time

Consumers are very familiar with initiating online chats from a web page. But what if a consumer wanted to initiate a chat conversation directly from an email, SMS, or a push message? It’s possible.

In the message, include a personalized link that passes information about the message context and the consumer to a chatbot running in a messaging application, like Facebook Messenger. Once the consumer clicks the link, the chatbot can start a relevant conversation.

For example, a consumer may ask the chatbot about the shipping cost for a sale item that she saw in an email message. Based on her preferences, the chatbot would send an email, SMS, or push message with shipping cost options. This provides a fast and efficient way for getting information that leads to greater customer experience.

Initiate or Influence an Orchestrated Marketing Program

Multi-stage marketing programs are a great way of delivering relevant, timely messages throughout a consumer’s journey (e.g., purchasing a car or refinancing a loan). Interactions with a chatbot can initiate or influence these programs.

For example, when a consumer expresses interest in a fixed rate mortgage in a conversation with a chatbot, she can be entered into an orchestration program that first sends an email with an online mortgage application form followed by a series of other personalized messages based on her subsequent actions. Similarly, if the consumer is already in a journey and has reached a specific stage (e.g., waiting for income verification), she can start another conversation with a chatbot that can influence her subsequent paths in the orchestrated program.

Deliver Relevant Promotional Messages

While a consumer is conversing with a chatbot, there is an opportunity to directly or indirectly present promotional information that is relevant to the conversation. For example, the chatbot could recommend an add-on product or service (e.g., extended warranty), or a relevant advertisement could be displayed on the messaging application.

Learn From Your Chatbot Conversations

A chatbot platform can analyze various consumer conversations to determine specific behavior, intent, and sentiment for that consumer. For example, the chatbot may learn that the consumer is interested in a fixed 30-year mortgage from various lenders but is concerned about high closing costs. This information, along with other interactions that the consumer may have had with various messages or conversations about different real estate properties, could determine certain profile (e.g., income level, interest in type of house) and intent (e.g., how soon ready to borrow), and sentiment (e.g., favored lenders). This additional information could improve targeting and personalization of the subsequent marketing messages and chatbot conversations.

Marketing technologies are constantly changing – improving the way you communicate with consumers. AI-powered bots will transform every facet of every industry – including marketing – and dramatically improve the customer experience. Want to learn more? Listen to this recent podcast, AI Can Be Harnessed To Change World of Marketing, and visit Oracle Intelligent Bot Solution.

Experience, Not Conversion, is the Key to the Switching Economy

In a world increasingly defined by instant-gratification, the demand for positive and direct shopping experiences has risen exponentially. Today’s always-on customers are drawn to the most convenient products and services available. As a result, we are witnessing higher customer switching rates, with consumers focusing more on convenience than on branding, reputation, or even on price.  

In this switching economy – where information and services are always just a click away –  we tend to reach for what suits our needs in the shortest amount of time. This shift in decision making has made it harder than ever for businesses to build loyalty among their customers and to guarantee repeat purchases. According to recent research, only 1 in 5 consumers now consider it a hassle to switch between brands, while a third would rather shop for better deals than stay loyal to a single organization. 

What's Changed? 

The consumer mindset for one. And the switching tools available to customers have also changed. Customers now have the ability to research extensively before they purchase, with access to reviews and price comparison sites often meaning that consumers don’t even make it to a your website before being captured by a competitor. 

This poses a serious concern for those brands that have devoted their time – and marketing budgets – to building great customer experiences across their websites. 

Clearly this is not to say that on-site experiences aren’t important, but rather that they are only one part of the wider customer journey. In an environment as complex and fast moving as the switching economy, you must look to take a more omnichannel approach to experience, examining how your websites, mobile apps, customer service teams, external reviews and in-store experiences are all shaping the customers’ perceptions of your brand. 

What Still Needs to Change?

Only by getting to know your customers across all of these different channels can you future-proof your brand in the switching economy. To achieve this, you must establish a new set of metrics that go beyond website conversion. The days of conversion optimization being viewed as the secret sauce for competitive differentiation are over; now brands must recognize that high conversion rates are not necessarily synonymous with a great customer experience – or lifetime loyalty. 

Today, the real measure of success does not come from conversion, but from building a true understanding of your customers – across every touchpoint in the omnichannel journey. Through the rise of experience analytics, you finally have the tools and technologies needed to understand customers in this way, and to tailor all aspects of your brand to maximize convenience, encourage positive mindsets and pre-empt when your customers are planning to switch to a different brand. 

It is only through this additional layer of insight that businesses and brands will rebuild the notion of customer loyalty, and ultimately, overcome the challenges of the switching economy. 

Want to learn more about simplifying and improving the customer experience? Read Customer Experience Simplified: Deliver The Experience Your Customers Want to discover how to provide customer experiences that are managed as carefully as the product, the price, and the promotion of the marketing mix.

Customer Experience Simplified