Tag Archives: Oracle Marketing Cloud

CX Unity In Action – Integrating Data Silos to Unleash Greater Customer Experiences

By Abbas Makhdum, Director of Product Marketing, Oracle Marketing Cloud

Today’s empowered customer interacts with a brand on their own terms. As a result, the traditional (i.e. linear) customer journey is dead. The brand is no longer in control and in today’s competitive environment, creating a better customer experience is what distinguishes winning companies from the rest. If 81% of consumers are willing to pay for a better experience, what is your organization doing to please them?

Solutions providers that claim to solve this problem through consolidated data have been overpromising and under-delivering for 30 years. Does this sound familiar?  “Don’t worry.  We’ll bring all your data together in an enterprise warehouse and that will fix your customer experience problem.”

In the old days, getting a customer view meant merging your CRM list with your direct mail list. And now? The volume and variety of customer data has proliferated and made consolidation almost impossible. Today’s solutions do a decent job in optimizing customer touch points within a domain - marketing, sales, commerce, service, loyalty, etc. But, when every touch point creates even more siloed data, it has become increasingly challenging to get a single view of your customer and provide that precious, connected brand experience, no matter how or where your customer engages. The optimization of marketing or sales or service is no longer good enough in providing a connected customer experience.

The Value of a Connected Experience

CX professionals that want to increase customer satisfaction and grow customer lifetime value can’t do it with siloed customer data. Optimal customer experiences require a comprehensive view of your customer that connects data across every customer interaction. What if you could?

·       Open new revenue streams by enabling service reps at each service interaction?

·       Suppress marketing and sales communications to customers having service issues and avoid repeating yourself at every interaction?

·       Show new and high-potential customers the benefits of loyalty programs instead of random offers?

·       Move from issue resolution toward issue avoidance by using integrated, behavioral data to predict churn and proactively intervene?

·       Seamlessly leverage historical loyalty information to optimize marketing offers to win customers back?

These are just a few of the opportunities that Oracle CX Unity will make possible.

Embedded in Oracle Customer Experience Cloud

Oracle CX Unity is a customer intelligence platform that enables a connected customer experience across marketing, sales and service. And you don’t need data scientists to help you with that. With built-in AI-powered predictive intelligence, Oracle CX Unity will enable contextually rich personalized engagement by connecting customer intelligence across the entire customer journey, applying data-driven intelligence to determine the next best experience and activating those actions directly into Oracle CX Cloud and partner applications.

What would a connected experience look like with CX Unity?

Oracle has been actively investing for a while in solving the problems where today’s solutions fall short, i.e. helping CX Professionals deliver a customer experience that is timely, relevant and consistent across each and every brand interaction. CX Unity will do this in 3 core areas:

1.   Connected Customer Profile: It all starts with your data at the core. Integrating online, offline and 3rd party data sources into a single view of your customer

2.   Comprehensive Customer Intelligence: An AI and machine learning intelligence layer acts on the massive amounts of data to model, predict and prescribe the optimal audience for your business objectives. 

3.   Compelling Customer Experiences: The ability to activate the intelligence by connecting with marketing, sales and service applications to orchestrate the next best experience at the moment that is needed

More than anyone else, Oracle has a history in helping companies to get more value from their data assets. Oracle CX Unity will take that to the next level, enabling CX Professionals to leverage data and intelligence to retain and grow their most profitable customers.

CX Unity In Action

This video demonstrates the value of a connected experience across marketing, sales and service at a fictitious company, TG Insurance. TG Insurance has a new liability insurance product that they would like to promote to their customers who have business insurance policies with them already. Because CX Unity will enable TG Insurance to create a comprehensive customer profile based upon all relevant interactions of their customers, they are able to leverage the built-in intelligence to ensure their customers receive an experience that is consistent, connected and timely.

Oracle CX Unity is a Customer Intelligence Platform embedded within Oracle CX Cloud. Built for CX Professionals, CX Unity will redefine Customer Intelligence resulting in greater sales, improved customer satisfaction and greater customer lifetime value.

*This post originally appeared on Oracle CX Blog

How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Next Event

If you’re planning on hosting an event for your brand or business, it’s time to think about all the ways that social media could be used to enhance the overall experience. Most importantly, social media can be a highly effective tool for driving sign-ups, registrations and ticket purchases. Here are just a few of the ways that social media can be used to promote your next event.

Hashtags

By far, the most popular tool for promoting a new event is a simple #hashtag. There’s a real art form here, though, in creating a hashtag that people are really going to use. You want a hashtag that’s short and easy enough to remember, unique enough not to get confused with other hashtags, and creative enough to stand out in a crowded sea of social media. Moreover, you want to make sure that you are using the exact same hashtag across all social media platforms. Now is no time to get cute.

Video highlights

Another effective tactic is putting together a video highlight reel of past events. In the marketing world, this is known as the “sizzle reel,” and you should treat it much like a Hollywood studio would treat a film trailer for an upcoming film debut. It should grab the attention of potential participants, and highlight the most outstanding aspects of your upcoming event.

Shareable assets

In the social media world, “assets” simply refer to things like properly sized images for social media posts and high-resolution images for blog posts. The idea here is that you want people sharing information about your upcoming event, and one way of doing that is by unlocking a lot of great content that people will be excited to post on Facebook or Twitter. Best of all, try to give a small group of social media influencers or other Internet VIPs “exclusive” content that nobody else has. This helps to reinforce their role as influential voices on the Internet, so you are helping them out at the same time as they are helping you out.

Photos with speaker quotes

If you’re like most people, you probably get a lot of motivational or inspirational memes in your social media news feeds – stuff like photos of a gorgeous mountain sunrise, accompanied by a motivational quote about getting up early and accomplishing things. Well, you can use that same approach for your event. In this case, you will be using photos of your speakers (either past or upcoming), together with snippets of inspirational or thought-provoking things they have said in the past. This helps to generate enthusiasm and passion around the event.

Visual testimonials

Finally, you will want to include visual testimonials of past attendees. Or, if this is a first-time event, you can use “advance praise” from future participants. It’s best if you can use a photo of the participant, and then splice in the text quote on top of the photo. But even a photo of a packed auditorium or busy exhibition hall, combined with an upbeat quote, will suffice.

By keeping these tips in mind, you will be able to generate excitement and engagement around your upcoming event. Just remember that, if you are going to be using video clips or images from past events, that you secure any necessary approvals. Social media can play an important role in promoting your upcoming event as long as you use it wisely.

Want more? Download The Guide to Social Media Marketing and learn how to raise your game on social media, become more aligned with your customers and followers, and create a better perception of your brand.

*This post originally appeared on socialmedia hq.

All AI Is Personal

If you work in high tech, or even if you don’t, you would probably nod your head if asked whether the following is on the top five list of most asked questions. Is artificial intelligence (AI) a good thing or a bad thing? 

AI is a hot topic and it’s probably because, as with any subject where potential impact is mostly unknown but highly anticipated, a broad spectrum of scenarios has been imagined resulting in an equally broad set of predicted outcomes. Whether it will be seen as benevolent or malevolent will probably boil down to how each of us perceives its immediate impact on our careers. Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Tip O'Neill in the 1980s coined the phrase, “All politics is local”, which to him meant that no matter how high up a piece of legislation is crafted and then made into law, its impact is at a local and personal level. Maybe a good way then to think about society’s collective anxiety regarding artificial intelligence today is to say that “All AI is personal”.  

So if your management team announced that AI was being factored into the strategic plan for the coming year and that its focus would be how it might help increase the ability for the organization to advance the needs of end users, what would you think? Would you be immediately worried about your job? Would your answer depend on the field in which you work? Should that matter? Maybe not.

AI can be a friend or a foe

I had a conversation with a friend the other day that reminded me that it shouldn’t really matter. She updated me about her husband’s startup business and how it’s been growing rapidly through hard work and also because he’s incorporated AI into the product. He’s secured business from a couple of major hospitals and because his product is focused on allowing physicians to do more with less, it offers a compelling value proposition to cash-strapped funding agencies that struggle to keep up with public demand for high-quality care while operating in an environment of low to no tax increases. His product is successfully demonstrating it can make a difference one hospital at a time. As he scales his business, and as AI matures, it’s not hard to imagine that his business and the sector that it plays in will explode. And that will happen despite the concern from doctors that they might be replaced in the hospital setting or even that much of their own clinical work might be handled by AI

Cost, technology, and public expectations have been inexorable forces through history, especially in combination, and we should expect their continued influence on this critical sector of our society and economy. We should be optimistic that physicians who find they have more time available because AI-driven programs will pursue related research or clinical work during that freed up time. 

When we look at why AI is being adopted in the healthcare industry it’s relatively easy to identify the main goals as being cost savings, increased efficiencies, and (especially) improved health outcomes for patients. Studies have identified many of the tasks physicians perform that either lead towards or away from those goals. The argument then becomes the same as the one posed in high tech… if a task is deemed critical but repetitive (say, correlating a patient’s multiple and variable symptoms and making a diagnostic determination), and yet the speed of executing the task is detracting from those goals and constraining the organization’s ability to reach and treat more patients, why not accelerate things by offloading execution of those tasks to AI? After all, AI performs tasks much better, faster, more adroitly than humans. There’s no argument there. Where it falls far short, compared to humans, is in the application of common sense and human empathy that can only be communicated during human interaction and that’s where physicians offer the most impact from a patient’s perspective.

Caution - you’re about to enter the other half of a metaphor

Companies should examine Customer Success through a similar lens. One of the things that Customer Success Managers do is use tools that query databases in order to connect the signals that customers emit when they are using the product or otherwise engaging with the company’s services. CSMs, for example, look for patterns within the activities of a wide array of customers who might be experiencing certain challenges when they try to utilize specific features of a specific product. Some CSMs are able to do this well but the process is very slow, the scope of query often too narrow (and therefore the results are questionable), and they aren’t able to accomplish the analysis in anything approaching the milliseconds achieved by a machine learning and AI-driven program. So, we’ll repeat the same question… why not accelerate things by offloading execution of those tasks to AI? Would that mean then that CSMs won’t be required as much when AI takes on a larger role in Customer Success? The answer is that they won’t be required in the same way they were required before. Let’s look at another example.

When it comes to figuring out whether a customer is going to renew the subscription, an organization devoted to managing renewals look at all kinds of variables to determine a risk factor. Then they direct energy and attention to the kinds of accounts that provide the best opportunities for renewal and growth. And why not? Well, I’ll tell you why that’s not the best approach.

In order to have a much broader impact on the propensity of individual customers within their territory to renew, and a much larger impact on the growth prospects of their own company, the work CSMs should be focused on, if AI is able to support them and drive the efficiencies many of us envision, would be value-add responsibilities such as: gaining a better understanding of their client’s business and the forces that the client is facing that might mean changes are required in the way they better leverage the products and solutions that the CSM supports. It would mean that the CSM could better examine the experience the client is having with the solution beyond just the implications of, say, the KPIs that are listed as means for measuring progress towards the goals detailed in a success plan. Are the client’s teams properly enabled for success? What are the product adoption rates of the various teams? Do they differ from each other? If so, why? Would it improve the client’s business if all the teams adopted the product to the same degree? What are the observations the CSM has of the client’s use of the features of the product? What kind of direct feedback has the client provided that might benefit the product management team? How can the CSM encourage the client to join a community to share and to learn from industry peers? Should the CSM take a more active role in those communities? Knowing how the client has adopted one product, what can the CSM proactively do to educate the client about the advantages of an adjacent solution? If CSMs were to be able to operate in that manner, what would happen to the renewal rate? Through the moon, that’s what. And AI would enable that model to be executed at scale. 

AI cannot perform in the same manner as the CSM described above, at least not yet. Much as a physician possesses the unique human quality of empathy and the ability to do a much better job of factoring into diagnoses and treatment plans the intangible quality of trust, so too do CSMs have the edge in those regards over AI. For the foreseeable future, only a human will be able to ponder how to deal effectively at a scale that humans relate to but they will need the assistance of AI if they want to make a broader impact across many humans, many territories, and many societies.

Take a listen to this Bloomberg Daybreak Asia's podcast: AI Can be Harnessed to Change World of Marketing featuring our Senior VP or Products, Shashi Seth.  

Meet the New Markie Awards

The Markie Awards have celebrated achievements in digital marketing since 2007, and over the years, we’ve been surprised, intrigued, and inspired by the successes we’ve witnessed from marketing leaders in every industry. And as innovation so often does, this has broadened our perspective about the possibilities ahead. 

The customer experience looks much different than it did in 2007. Today’s customers are the true innovators and are re-imagining how they discover, engage, consume, and seek service. We’re living and operating in the Experience Economy, where a customer’s experience with your brand–whether that’s across marketing, commerce, sales, or service–is inseparable from the value of the goods and services you provide. This new normal is an invitation for radical change. 

That’s why this year, we’re putting a fresh spin on the Markies, expanding their scope to celebrate creators of legendary experiences across the entire customer journey. 

The Markie Awards are now open to all CX, including award categories for marketing, sales, service, and commerce:

• The Apex Award for Best Overall Customer Experience
• The Nexus Award for Best CX Ecosystem
• The Thinker Award for Best Innovation in CX (Marketing, Sales & Service)
• The Insight Award for Best Use of Data
• The Heartstrings People’s Choice Award
• The Upshot Award for Best Demonstrated ROI (Marketing, Sales & Service
• The Cultivator Award for Best Lead Management Program
• The Omni Award for Best Omni-Channel Experience (Marketing, Sales & Service)
• The Borderless Award for Best International Marketing Campaign
• The Pinpoint Award for Best Account-Based Marketing Strategy
• The Convert Award for Best Commerce Experience

Make your Markie Awards submission here by January 18th, 2019. 

We’re facing a future where connected experiences reign and the rate of innovation shows no signs of slowing. And the brands who remember this will have the advantage. 

We’re looking forward to seeing who pulls ahead at the 2019 Markie Awards. 

Share your customer experience story by January 18th, 2019 and Join us in Las Vegas, March 19-21, 2019 for Modern Customer Experience, where thousands of CX practitioners, partners, and experts will gather together under one roof.

  

 

 

6 Ways Marketing Automation Is Evolving for CMOs

As a CMO, your job is to be ready for every marketing development. You’re never allowed to stand still, because the moment you do, something in your industry will change, and you’ll fall behind the competition.

Unfortunately, turnover for marketing jobs is increasing. One survey revealed that the average tenure of a marketing CMO is less than four years, and burnout is the number one cause. Automation is the solution to avoiding this burnout. It’s one of those constantly-evolving trends that’s a hot topic for marketers. 

Many CMOs are hesitant to engage in automation because it can have negative effects, like being banned from accounts or poor engagement. However, the landscape for automation is changing, and CMOs don’t have to be as scared of automation as they once were. In fact, you should be using it to your advantage as it continues to improve. 

You have enough on your plate without having to worry about spending enough time on social media to engage with users and create a strong brand. Here are some automation advancements that you’ll likely appreciate as a CMO. 

1. Real Engagement Is Possible 

In the past, automation bots were always a problem. Many CMOs refused to work with them because they caused awkward situations, lost your followers, and even got your account suspended or banned. 

However, automation has come a long way. There are still bots and automation services that can pose problems, but many more offer high-quality services that allow you to connect with real followers and not fake accounts. For example, SocialCaptain gets Instagram followers with strategic automation. The platform gets you real engagement as a result of authentic strategies guided by AI expert algorithms. 

There are great tools for every social media platform, not just Instagram. You can free up a lot of your time by using these tools while maintaining the desired engagement from your target audience. 

2. More Accessible Data 

In an interview with, Forbes, Matt Gay, CMO for Accenture, said that data is one of the marketers’ biggest challenges, particularly when it comes to the ability to use it. “It’s got to be in a form and format that is easily accessible and useable going forward, so you don’t have to have an IT person sorting through and making static reports,” he says. 

Thankfully, there is automation to handle a lot of the legwork in data analysis. The right software tools can help CMOs not only gather data but turn it into insights that can be used for advertising and marketing purposes. 

“CMOs would traditionally use data scientists and their analytics,” Gay says, pointing out that this is no longer a necessity with today’s machine algorithms that can do more than data scientists ever could. 

“Even with analytics and algorithms, these processes are manual, slow, and not leveraging the full capability of data scientists,” he continues. “As well, since machines can process massive amounts of data quickly, they will uncover insights faster and more efficiently than humans…allowing the data scientists to use their brains more and continue to seed the algorithms.” 

It’s an incredible tool that every chief marketer should be leveraging for the promotion of their business. 

3. Provides More Context 

Machine learning and artificial intelligence have come leaps and bounds in the last few years. They can now gather contextual clues much better than before, limiting inaccurate and sometimes embarrassing mistakes of the past. 

“Brands can use automation for contextual marketing, offering more personalized interactions,” says Linda Turley, an attorney at Turley Law Firm, who has experienced this first hand. “For example, data shows you when your target audience is usually online. Then, you can set your content calendar to post content at these times,” she explained. 

Additionally, data can show you trending topics, high-performing posts on social media, and highly effective advertisements in your industry. This information gathered with bots and other automated tools can give consumers the customized experience they most desire. 

4. More Valuable SEO 

SEO was once all about the use of keywords and link building to make your content searchable. However, it’s turning into a more personalized experience where quality content that’s highly valuable is king. 

Automation offers us what’s known as semantic SEO, “which aims to decipher what kind of question the person typing words into a search bar is actually trying to answer,” says Matthew Walker-Jones of Marketing Tech News. 

These semantics add value to SEO everywhere, offering a more tailored approach to understanding and catering to user behavior. 

“This marketing technique goes a long way to improve the traffic of a website by employing meaningful metadata through the removal of ambiguity in search queries and further creates clusters of content, grouped semantically by topic rather than keywords, developing meaningfully-connected networks that better respond to user searches,” he says. 

5. Augmented Reality Changes Social Media 

Connecting with consumers on social media is getting much more complicated and involved now that augmented reality is a part of the automation chapter. More and more users are demanding augmented reality, especially on social media. 

Many brands are responding, including major makeup producers like Estée Lauder and Loreal that allow you to try on colors with Facebook Messenger bots before they make a purchase through the app. Brick-and-mortar companies are also using AR to give consumers a tour of their businesses. 

AR is not out of your reach, no matter the size of your business. Automation tools not only provide insights on the highest-performing AR platforms, but they also make them more readily available. Simple smartphone apps and software tools are affordable and provide many options for incorporating these themes into existing marketing campaigns. 

6. Improved Integrations 

In the past, very few automation tools worked together. You utilized separate tools that ignored the others, giving you an incomplete picture of the collected data. Non-integrating automation tools still exist, but they’re becoming the minority. 

This is good news because seamless integration of every automation tool you use is vital to delivering a holistic experience for the customer. 

“The strategic focus of marketing automation needs to shift from the campaign or component approach to the customer journey in totality to deliver on the seamless customer experience promise,” advises an article from Martech Advisor that focuses on where automation will be by 2020. 

By the time we reach 2020, the current marketing landscape will be completely different, thanks to the prevalence of automation. These changes continue for the better, helping CMOs focus on what’s most important while staying on top of their engagement and marketing campaigns. 

Having trouble convincing your CEO that Marketing Automation is the key to sales and marketing success? We've got you covered. Download our free guide.

More than 400 Marketers Critique Marketing’s Holiday Approach

By Jay Baer, founder of Convince & Convert

Do you become a different marketer during the holiday season? 

Until it begins, you spend countless hours researching your audiences, building buyer personas, and executing strategies that put the customer’s experience first. All of your work is rooted in best practice and is conducted with an innovative spirit. I mean, let’s be honest, you’re really good at this. 

Then, out of nowhere, the holiday marketing season takes hold. 

All of those best practices and innovative, creative ideas take a backseat to what needs to be done for the final push before year’s end. We don’t act like ourselves. We send multiple emails daily. We execute a variety of promotional ideas we would never consider in Q2. We try to tailor our messages in ways we aren’t quite ready to do. The result is a marketing tsunami that results in a lot of noise and a bunch of tired marketing professionals. 

Here’s the thing: We know we aren’t ourselves during the holidays. And it makes sense why we act the way we do in the final quarter of the year. According to a National Retail Foundation survey, consumers will spend 4.1 percent more during the holiday season this year than they did a year ago for a total of $720 billion. 

This year, we decided to ask a group of marketers what they think of the profession’s approach during the holiday season. We partnered with our great friends at Oracle Marketing Cloud and surveyed more than 400 seasoned marketers across the U.S. We asked them what they like and dislike most about the holiday marketing season. The answers we received were revealing, candid and funny.

We took our survey responses and developed a set of hilarious, spot-on cartoons that illustrate how marketers feel about Q4 activities. We want you to download the entire ebook when you can.  

In the meantime, here’s a summary of marketers’ top holiday frustrations. 

We Don’t Like Holiday Campaigns that Begin Too Early

Taking the top spot for biggest holiday annoyance is holiday campaigns that coincide with back-to-school shopping. Sixty-three percent of marketers say it drives them nuts when they see a holiday marketing campaign in full flux right before Labor Day or just before March Madness. We believe there’s a window when it’s appropriate to do holiday marketing even though we don’t necessarily abide by that window.  

We Could Do Without the Stress

During the five-day period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, 70% of Americans shop. Black Friday is the busiest shopping day during this period with almost 115 million shoppers. Perhaps, it’s because we know this fact that we get a little carried away. Marketers’ second top holiday annoyance is the practice of creating sales and promotions for Black Friday or Cyber Monday that are so hot they induce consumer stress. 

We Email and Email and Email

The third top frustration marketers have is using the holidays as a justification to send more emails. Nearly half of marketers said this practice got under their skin. Interestingly, while some survey respondents claim we abuse email during the holiday marketing season, others say it’s justified and that consumer behavior data backs the increase. 

We Re-Connect with the Word T’was

This is the most interesting result our survey revealed. According to survey respondents, more than half of marketers believe it’s time to retire the Christmas poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas. Sixty percent of us are bothered by campaigns that use phrases from this poem and believe t’was time we looked to other sources for creative holiday inspiration. 

There is plenty more we do during the holiday season that we wouldn’t do any other time of year. All of those ideas have been illustrated for you to enjoy in our ebook. 

Remember, like any phase, this holiday marketing season will come to an end. When 2019 starts, we’ll be ready to get back to best practices and talk about the importance of customer experience. Consumers are paying more attention to experience than ever, except—apparently—during the holiday marketing season. 

Bio:

Convince & Convert founder Jay Baer is an award-winning Internet pioneer, who puts his 25 years of experience to work helping the world’s most iconic brands improve their digital marketing and customer experience. A New York Times best-selling author of six books, Jay is an inductee in the Professional Speaking and Word-of-Mouth Marketing Halls of Fame.

Transforming Cyber Week Transactions Into Loyal Customers by Defining the Problem and the Solution

Cyber Week, the now weeklong, global sales period seeded from Black Friday, is upon us. But looking at the headlines, it’s clear something’s awry with the shopper experience. Consumer group Which? has been warning consumers to do their research ahead of Cyber Week after it emerged that nearly nine in 10 deals available last year had been cheaper at other times.

Even where the discounts are real, the issue with Cyber Week is that, for the most part, it is a very transactional affair. A shopper chooses to buy purely based on the brand that offers the lowest price - it’s a race to the bottom. Moreover, should the customer then go on to find the same product at a lower price elsewhere, or worse still, from the same brand, it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

So how do brands solve this clear CX issue taking place? This was the question a cohort of marketers gathered for at the most recent Maxymiser Customer User Forum in London to answer. Here we share their insights into defining both the problem and solution to realise a brand’s CX goals during Cyber Week and beyond as well as key CX learnings from a luxury car brand.

Defining the problem

When asked about his approach to problem-solving, Albert Einstein is famously purported to have said, “If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution.”

 

What he’s really alluding to is that whether we are marketers solving a CX problem or not, it’s vital to take a step back. We must frame the challenge to understand why something is being changed. In the context of a marketing problem, it’s the only way to make sure you serve the customer what they need when they need it. 

This requires getting into the shoes of the consumer, explained Jack Westwood, Principal Consultant, EMEA, “Customer journey mapping is an invaluable tool for visually illustrating the processes, needs and perceptions throughout a customer’s interactions and relationship with the brand. Most importantly, it can help you identify the ‘moment that matters’ – the moment a customer decides if they will or won’t buy – that is often the keystone for driving change.”

While customer journey mapping is a lengthy process with five constituent parts. To understand the problem, marketing teams must put the first two into practice;

  1. Creating an initial plan- about building out personas. Understanding the pages they visit
  2. Evaluate- the attitudes and sense check them. Work out and prioritise the moments that matter for the consumer

Putting journey mapping into practice

A great use case for gathering marketing teams together in this way can be found in the automotive sector. Why? According to Luth Research, there are over 900 interactions that take place between the very first interaction a consumer has with an auto brand and the purchase.

For Mercedes then, solving a customer experience issue arising with millennial shoppers was no mean feat. In particular, the team had begun to notice a trend in this younger audience whereby they were arriving onto the Mercedes site before bouncing off within a matter of seconds.

Building out the persona of this shopper, they explored the journey that was leading many to the website. It was clear that an ongoing TV campaign was working very effectively to capture their interest in low monthly repayments on a Mercedes, but upon arriving to the site, the full costs they were presented with alarmed them.

This was the moment that mattered. 

Defining the solution

In this instance, it was the product team that addressed the challenge. Mercedes decided to introduce its first ever compact car - the CLA - to be advertised at the sub-$30,000 sweet spot for entry-level luxury cars.

Bringing this new proposition to millennial market in the right places at the right time relied on a cross-channel solution. But what do we mean by ‘cross-channel’? Putting the term through Google there are over 90 million results.

Franco Loos, Managing Consultant, EMEA, explains the leap marketers have to make from multi-channel marketing to cross-channel is much like fielding a football team, “for many marketers carrying out multi-channel campaigns it’s like captaining a team but none of them talk to each other, you have 11 players who all want to score goals. They don’t want to pass the ball - they don’t want to share.”

Getting your marketing channels talking to one another in a coordinated way hinges teams need to focus on the latter three stages identified by Jack Westwood; 

  1. Explore- what the customer needs at these moments, KPIs of changing
  2. Brainstorm- what’s the journey that we want to take them on? All the different teams that work with you are involved
  3. Design the new experience- build a CX hypothesis with a new, cross-channel approach 

At Mercedes, a new journey was mapped entirely around the moment the customer lands on the website. The solution saw the marketing team build an entirely new microsite devoted to the shared experiences of millennial CLA owners. Alongside this, a Superbowl advert was developed to raise awareness among this target group, en masse, with a clear call-to-action to visit the microsite and find out more for themselves.

The net effect was not only a hugely successful new car launch, but Mercedes had also managed to expand the overall lifetime value of their customer. A fantastic achievement that future proofs the brand for years to come.

So how can we apply this to those brands tacking Cyber Week? There’s an infinite number of ways the consumer can interact with your brand before they purchase and even post-purchase. What is important to remember is that when brands work in silos, they cut these all-important connectors and end up with a poor customer experience. 

So whether you max out on sales this Cyber Week or not, take the time to assess whether your business is joining the touchpoints together to create a seamless experience. It will determine not only next year’s sales, but the performance you see through 2019.

As marketers, are we meeting our customers' expectations during the holiday season? Are we providing them the experience they expect? We asked more than 400 marketers to critique our profession's holiday season performance. The answers are revealing, candid and funny. Get your copy of the comic book here.

 

Transforming Cyber Week Transactions Into Loyal Customers by Defining the Problem and the Solution

Cyber Week, the now weeklong, global sales period seeded from Black Friday, is upon us. But looking at the headlines, it’s clear something’s awry with the shopper experience. Consumer group Which? has been warning consumers to do their research ahead of Cyber Week after it emerged that nearly nine in 10 deals available last year had been cheaper at other times.

Even where the discounts are real, the issue with Cyber Week is that, for the most part, it is a very transactional affair. A shopper chooses to buy purely based on the brand that offers the lowest price - it’s a race to the bottom. Moreover, should the customer then go on to find the same product at a lower price elsewhere, or worse still, from the same brand, it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

So how do brands solve this clear CX issue taking place? This was the question a cohort of marketers gathered for at the most recent Maxymiser Customer User Forum in London to answer. Here we share their insights into defining both the problem and solution to realise a brand’s CX goals during Cyber Week and beyond as well as key CX learnings from a luxury car brand.

Defining the problem

When asked about his approach to problem-solving, Albert Einstein is famously purported to have said, “If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution.”

 

What he’s really alluding to is that whether we are marketers solving a CX problem or not, it’s vital to take a step back. We must frame the challenge to understand why something is being changed. In the context of a marketing problem, it’s the only way to make sure you serve the customer what they need when they need it. 

This requires getting into the shoes of the consumer, explained Jack Westwood, Principal Consultant, EMEA, “Customer journey mapping is an invaluable tool for visually illustrating the processes, needs and perceptions throughout a customer’s interactions and relationship with the brand. Most importantly, it can help you identify the ‘moment that matters’ – the moment a customer decides if they will or won’t buy – that is often the keystone for driving change.”

While customer journey mapping is a lengthy process with five constituent parts. To understand the problem, marketing teams must put the first two into practice;

  1. Creating an initial plan- about building out personas. Understanding the pages they visit
  2. Evaluate- the attitudes and sense check them. Work out and prioritise the moments that matter for the consumer

Putting journey mapping into practice

A great use case for gathering marketing teams together in this way can be found in the automotive sector. Why? According to Luth Research, there are over 900 interactions that take place between the very first interaction a consumer has with an auto brand and the purchase.

For Mercedes then, solving a customer experience issue arising with millennial shoppers was no mean feat. In particular, the team had begun to notice a trend in this younger audience whereby they were arriving onto the Mercedes site before bouncing off within a matter of seconds.

Building out the persona of this shopper, they explored the journey that was leading many to the website. It was clear that an ongoing TV campaign was working very effectively to capture their interest in low monthly repayments on a Mercedes, but upon arriving to the site, the full costs they were presented with alarmed them.

This was the moment that mattered. 

Defining the solution

In this instance, it was the product team that addressed the challenge. Mercedes decided to introduce its first ever compact car - the CLA - to be advertised at the sub-$30,000 sweet spot for entry-level luxury cars.

Bringing this new proposition to millennial market in the right places at the right time relied on a cross-channel solution. But what do we mean by ‘cross-channel’? Putting the term through Google there are over 90 million results.

Franco Loos, Managing Consultant, EMEA, explains the leap marketers have to make from multi-channel marketing to cross-channel is much like fielding a football team, “for many marketers carrying out multi-channel campaigns it’s like captaining a team but none of them talk to each other, you have 11 players who all want to score goals. They don’t want to pass the ball - they don’t want to share.”

Getting your marketing channels talking to one another in a coordinated way hinges teams need to focus on the latter three stages identified by Jack Westwood; 

  1. Explore- what the customer needs at these moments, KPIs of changing
  2. Brainstorm- what’s the journey that we want to take them on? All the different teams that work with you are involved
  3. Design the new experience- build a CX hypothesis with a new, cross-channel approach 

At Mercedes, a new journey was mapped entirely around the moment the customer lands on the website. The solution saw the marketing team build an entirely new microsite devoted to the shared experiences of millennial CLA owners. Alongside this, a Superbowl advert was developed to raise awareness among this target group, en masse, with a clear call-to-action to visit the microsite and find out more for themselves.

The net effect was not only a hugely successful new car launch, but Mercedes had also managed to expand the overall lifetime value of their customer. A fantastic achievement that future proofs the brand for years to come.

So how can we apply this to those brands tacking Cyber Week? There’s an infinite number of ways the consumer can interact with your brand before they purchase and even post-purchase. What is important to remember is that when brands work in silos, they cut these all-important connectors and end up with a poor customer experience. 

So whether you max out on sales this Cyber Week or not, take the time to assess whether your business is joining the touchpoints together to create a seamless experience. It will determine not only next year’s sales, but the performance you see through 2019.

As marketers, are we meeting our customers' expectations during the holiday season? Are we providing them the experience they expect? We asked more than 400 marketers to critique our profession's holiday season performance. The answers are revealing, candid and funny. Get your copy of the comic book here.

 

Machine Learning Can Be A Game-Changer For Brands On Social Media

There are not many new technologies that are truly game-changers. Machine learning is one of those technologies. In a nutshell, machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence in which computers learn to recognize patterns over time and are then able to make complex decisions without human input. Sounds simple enough, right? But it actually has very profound implications for social media.

Bringing the ultimate pattern recognition machine to social media

The classic example of machine learning at work involves image recognition. How, exactly, are you supposed to teach a computer to recognize images of, say, a dog? To a human, a dog is a dog, even a young child can’t mess that up. But it’s much more complex for a machine – you need to show a computer millions of images of dogs, in various poses, positions, and situations before it starts to come up with a set of rules for recognizing dogs. With a strong enough algorithm, a machine can spot images of dogs everywhere. In fact, if the algorithm is powerful enough, a machine can spot images of just about anything you want it to.

That’s the reason, for example, that Facebook can now spot images of your friends in photos – it has a very sophisticated machine learning algorithm at work scanning faces in images. It can recognize your friends wherever they are – in any pose, situation or position – even in crowds. So image recognition was really the “Trojan horse” that enabled machine learning to enter the social media realm. From there, the number of applications for machine learning has skyrocketed.

Chat bots and machine learning

One of the most popular applications for machine learning involves chat bots, which are essentiallyAI-powered bots that can converse with humans. In this case, machine learning is used to “teach” these chat bots how to recognize certain natural language queries, even with improper syntax and grammatical errors. But it’s difficult – and it’s why some chat bots can only answer a limited range of questions – they just haven’t “learned” how to answer more complex questions when they aren’t phrased a particular way.

You can immediately see why chat bots that can converse with humans on a broad range of topics can be such a game-changer – they essentially enable brands to have one-on-one conversations with millions of fans. And, in many cases, humans really don’t care that they are conversing with a bot rather than a human. Would you rather wait on hold for 30 minutes to ask a human when your package is going to arrive, or would you rather chat with a bot, which can deliver a response within 30 seconds?

Social media monitoring and machine learning

Other uses for machine learning include social media monitoring. According to some estimates, there are 1.5 million pieces of user-generated content added to Facebook every single day. A human can’t possible read all that – but a machine can. If you’re a brand, that gives you a very unique way to monitor all the conversations taking place around you.

And here’s where the “learning “ aspect comes into play – machines eventually become smart enough to recognize nuances of sarcasm or humor, as well as the tell-tale conversations that might be the very beginning of an online brand crisis. Wouldn’t it be nice if a machine could give you an early heads-up before disgruntled customers show up at your business the next day?

Taking the big picture view, machine learning can be the key to streamlining your overall social media presence and finding the proverbial “needle in the haystack.” That will free up your social media team to focus their time and energy on what really matters, and not just scrolling through pages and pages of Facebook posts and Instagram images.

Want more? Download The Guide to Social Media Marketing and learn how to raise your game on social media, become more aligned with your customers and followers, and create a better perception of your brand.

*This post originally appeared on socialmedia hq.

Ceremonial Adoption – I Am Sure You Have Come Across It Before!

What is a common and fairly regular feature of Digital Transformation and Customer Success initiatives? I am sure you have seen it before. It starts with a CEO presentation on stage at the annual Company All-Hands, where they present the company's focus or the new vision. This announcement could be linked to the Big Tthe company is engaged on like becoming a digital-first business or putting the customer at the heart of everything the company does.

But then when you speak to the people on the inside, they will tell you a completely different story. Digital First or Customer Success is a big announcement that is not translated on the ground in the day to day life of the company. The announcement is just that, a PowerPoint slide.

I have always been interested in these cases as they massively impact the success and adoption of solutions brought in to support the business in this transformation.

I discussed the topic with Professor Stan Maklan at Cranfield University and he introduced me to the academic concept of “Ceremonial Adoption”. It is surprisingly not a very popular topic and I could not find a lot of content on the subject, except a few academic papers like this study published in 2011 by Bas Hillebrand from University of Nijmegen (Holland).

Here is the definition of Ceremonial Adoption and it sums up a lot of what I have personally experienced: “Ceremonial adoption involves gaining legitimacy benefits of being an ostensible adopter of a new and innovative practice while performing little or none of the activities typically associated with that practice. Typically Ceremonial adopters lack “internalisation” of the practice” for two key reasons:

  • They are not convinced of the value/importance of the change and are only adopting to respond to mimetic/social pressures
  • They fail to understand the demands and requirements of the changes they are promoting

As a result, they will not fully embrace fully the transformation and stick towards a basic implementation of the solutions with little customisation. Ceremonial adoption therefore means the business is compromising the economic effectiveness and the ROI of the technology.

I also found a classification to describe this concept in a bit more details looking at the interaction between implementation and internalisation to define the adoption typologies (Source: "The Adoption of Human Resource Management Practices & Perceived Performance of Foreign Subsidiaries" by Dr Maura Sheehan):

 

  • Where there is minimal implementation and internalisation the adoption is ‘minimal’
  • Where implementation is high but internalisation is low then there is likely to only be ‘ceremonial’ adoption
  • Where there is low implementation but high internalisation, the adoption of the practice is likely to be in ‘assent’
  • And where there is both a high level of implementation and internalisation there will be ‘active’ adoption.

Any major transformation cannot stay high level, it does require some internal changes in the organisational model, a rethinking of processes and the up-skilling or hiring of the necessary people. The lack of internalisation is something we have witnessed first hands with several clients in their Digital Transformation journey. Unless the business realises the imperative to have subject matter experts from within, the project is likely to be incomplete or even fail.

For any software vendor, the risk of Ceremonial Adoption is of importance as it would lead to minimal adoption and a lack of ROI since the solution would only like be partially implemented and our customers will not achieve the value they expected.

I am really keen to get your feedback on the concept of Ceremonial Adoption. What’s your experience of it, either within your company, with partners, providers or customers? How do we ensure our customers actively adopt the changes required by our technology? What does it take for the business to go beyond the ceremonial announcement?