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Archive for the ‘Consumer Marketing’ Category

The Hidden Side of Email Marketing: The once-and-done option, A/B testing and a supersmart kind of dumb

May 19th, 2015 No comments

What assumptions do you make about your customers? Your competitors? Your industry in general? More importantly, what do those assumptions cost you?

At MarketingSherpa, we write case studies to help you execute your marketing strategy.

We also talk to writers, researchers and, well, renegades to help you challenge those assumptions and create an effective strategy to begin with.

I’m talking about people like Stephen J. Dubner. Not only has Dubner learned about economic theory and customer behavior as co-author of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything and, more recently, Think Like a Freak, but he’s also a very successful digital content creator in his own right as host of the Freakonomics Radio podcast, which nets more than 5 million downloads per month.

Customer behavior. Digital content. Sounds like a guy who could offer a few words of wisdom to email marketers to help them challenge their potentially costly assumptions. I sat down with Dubner at the Media Center at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015 before his featured speaker session later that morning:

 

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Harley-Davidson Overcomes the Baby Boomer Cliff by Creating a New Customer Base

May 15th, 2015 No comments

Brands are not solely defined by corporate executives and marketing campaigns but by communities that are loyal to the brand and the perception of those communities by society.

These communities are never static. As the major purchasing power shifts from one generation to the next, brands need to evolve in order to ensure the survival of their market share.

Toy brands, for example, are excellent at targeting the next generation. They rely on detailed research and outreach programs to make sure their brand loyalty continues. These companies also rely on the nostalgia of parents who played with the toys when they were younger.

But what about brands with a loyal brand population that don’t have a natural turnover rate from parent to child? How can these brands prepare themselves for a major generational shift?

That major generational shift is already on its way. Baby boomers — Americans born post-World War II to around 1964 — are retiring in vast numbers. Right now, there are 40 million Americans aged 65 and older. These citizens make up 13% of the population, according to Census.gov. By 2030, the 65+ age group will climb to 20% of the population and become the single biggest age demographic, following “the greying trend” of other fully industrialized countries around the world.

This represents a major shift in purchasing power. Brands that rely on baby boomers as their core demographic have been aware of the coming shift for years.

But few have begun to prepare for it as successfully as Harley-Davidson Motor Company.

Harley-Davidson is an iconic American brand that truly grew into its legendary status right after World War II — growing up alongside baby boomers.

1-as

Harley-Davidson, INC (HOG): Geared Up For a Strong Ride, Scutify (2014)

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Customer-Centric Marketing: Listen to your customers if you want to live

May 12th, 2015 1 comment

Listen to your customers. That must seem like an obvious statement to most marketers.

However, taking into account the variables under which your performance is judged, how much can you really listen? Time and time again, I have seen many marketers find that KPIs conflict with what their customers really want.

In this MarketingSherpa Blog post, we will explore a few key instances from companies in various stages of maturity where focus on customers predominantly contributed toward subsequent success.

terminator

 

The underlying truth of the above statement is profound whether implied in the business sense, the entrepreneurial sense or even the “Terminator” sense from which this phrase emanates. In this day and age, if you want your business to live, you must listen to your customers.

 

The Customer Voice at Launch: The case of Yelp

As is the story for many startups, (including Twitter, which was originally a podcasting platform called Odeo), the Yelp we know and value today was not what its founders initially intended for it to be.

yelp

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Customer-Centric Marketing: 5 tips on mining customers for content

May 1st, 2015 1 comment

A blinking cursor on a blank page is a terrifying sight for a writer. It’s like having arachnophobia and someone putting a spider in your hair. The struggle is, in fact, real.

The good news is that, as marketers, we have it easy. Customers are telling you what they want to hear, and it’s only a matter of listening to what they’re saying. Sounds simple, right? I can practically hear everyone mentally (or maybe actually) murmuring, “Duh.”

However, when it comes to talking about tactics for making customers the genesis of content, every marketer I have interviewed for a case study or blog post — and there have been many — has made me dig deeper. That’s because this is an issue so many content creators struggle with in execution.

Whether it’s email, blogs, social media or any of the other seemingly endless channels, the main point is to have a conversation. Be engaging.

I recently wrote a case study for our Email Marketing newsletter with JustAnswer. Seeing as how it’s a service where customers come to the site to ask questions, you would think creating content would be simple. One of the best tips for coming up with content is to simply answer customer questions.

Just Answer blog categories

 

However, with so many questions being asked and topics including law, mechanics, medical (both humans and animals), plumbing and technology, just to name a few, the options are dauntingly endless, forcing marketers to be creative with their tactics.

Below is bonus material from the case study about how the JustAnswer team approaches content creation — both email and otherwise.

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Ecommerce Development in Brazil: An interview at IRCE [Video]

April 17th, 2015 No comments

Even though the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) 2014, the world’s largest ecommerce event, was held during the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, more than 60 Brazilians made it to the conference.

The contingent was led by Priscila Inserra, Executive Director, and Renato Gonzaga, President, Concierge Brazil. The goal of their organization is to advance Brazil’s digital marketing by exposing executives to knowledge gathered at ecommerce events across the globe.

“Brazil is really growing in (the digital marketplace), and we are proud of it,” Priscila said. “We are starting to exchange experience. We don’t consider ourselves as mature as American companies, but we can learn a lot. We are taking as much content as we can back to the businesses in Brazil.”

Priscila was surprised by the event’s focus on technology.

“In Brazil, we focus a lot on marketing,” she explained. “America has tools that are much more sophisticated. But when we can join the expertise of the Brazilians and Americans, they will work well together.”

Watch the whole interview below: “Global Ecommerce: Developments in Brazil

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Digital Marketing: What is a 21st century brand?

April 7th, 2015 2 comments

What is a brand?

Specifically, what is a brand in the 21st century, when we have the ability to converse directly with our customers?

Is it a product, a culture, a destination, service or ingredient? Or is it something more metaphysical? Steven Jones said in his book, Brand Like a Rockstar, that,

Brands are so much bigger than business, logos, names and locations. Brands go deeper, beneath the visible surface and exist in the mind. Brands are essentially perceptions and emotions. They are feelings and associations that come from interacting with a product or service.

A brand in the 21st century exists in the feelings customers get when they interact with a company’s product. It is a direct reflection of that company’s culture, value proposition and the individual personalities of its executives and employees that help shape the brand’s core values.

With the advent of social media, the cultural norms that dictate how a brand interacts with its customers have irrevocably changed the way we view it.

Brands have become more human, and today’s technology allows us to have a real-time conversation with our customers as well as allowing them to start a real-time conversation with us. This means brands are quicker to respond to the praise and critiques of marketing campaigns.

Recently, Starbucks had a social marketing campaign that focused on a desire to force its customers to talk about race. In the campaign, Starbucks had their employees write, “Race Together” on cups of joe.

race togetherThe idea was that every time someone got a cup of coffee, it could be an opportunity to talk about the recent racial and social tensions that have recently gained traction in the national media.

The campaign failed spectacularly.

After only a week of near constant criticism, it came to an end. However, it didn’t harm the Starbucks brand. In fact, it reinforced the brand’s values in the minds of the public. Because Starbucks has crafted a socially-conscious brand image, it has often been criticized by taking a stance on socially divisive subjects.

However, for better or for worse, the company has taken a stance on social issues, which is the main fact perceived not only by customers but also the media at large. Failures have (so far) been forgiven.

The hardest part of managing a brand in the 21st century is with all the avenues we have available to interact with customers, ensuring that messaging reflects brand values.

Brands today can make jokes in social media, wish customers happy birthday and interact frequently with the online communities that support them. It is these communities in the end that help define the perception of the brand in the minds of other consumers. By developing relationships with them, brands can grow a brand image that will absorb the blows of bad campaigns and help gather steam to launch its next marketing idea.

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Ecommerce Investment Advice: How marketers can make their companies more valuable

March 3rd, 2015 No comments

We don’t often think of business investors as marketing experts.

However, great marketing is grounded in a great value proposition. If anyone is good at finding a value proposition, it’s a (smart) potential buyer of a business. Great investors have a way of cutting through all the hype and finding the true value (or lack thereof) in a company.

It stands to reason, then, that a great investor would be a stellar resource to tap for your marketing efforts.

Enter Abe Garver, Managing Director, BG Strategic Advisors. Abe attended IRCE last year and was able to talk to former MarketingSherpa reporter Allison Banko about how ecommerce marketers can develop an acquisition mindset and help grow their business, whether they plan to sell or not.

In this interview he covers:

  • How you value an ecommerce company
  • The four keys to making your ecommerce company more investor friendly (and as a result, customer friendly)
  • Why ecommerce companies aren’t really getting it right, and who really is

 

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Marketing Research Chart: Clear communications and unconscious customer bias

Inbound Marketing: How Infochimps grew its database 94% in one year

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Three Takeaways on Customer-centric Marketing from Email Summit 2015 Media Center

February 24th, 2015 1 comment

There are a lot of decisions that go into putting on Email Summit. Millions, probably, if you go deep enough.

But they all come around with one objective: you. The attendees and people who are reading about, and following, the event.

In every discussion and decision, we were asking ourselves how it would affect the experience. Your experience. So it made sense that when it came time to pick speakers and give out the Email Summit Awards, sponsored by BlueHornet, that customer-centric campaigns were the ones that rose above the rest.

Fellow Email Awards judge Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, and myself sat down on the steps of the (still under-construction) 2015 Email Summit Media Center to discuss some of our award winners and the customer-centric elements of campaigns featured at the Summit.

Media Center 2015

 

“The companies that focused on customers, that put their customers first, are the ones that ultimately have the sustainable competitive advantage,” Daniel said.

Our marketing compass points toward true customer-centricity, so it was important that marketers we featured held that same standard.

Daniel spoke about the B2B Award winner he has been working with over the past few months, Ferguson, and one of their main takeaways from their own event effort: Always look to enrich the customer experience.

Ferguson Enterprises generated more than $10 million and growing in online sales by enriching the customer experience within their 90 trade show events, which allowed Ferguson’s vendors to get in front of customers and promote their brands and products.

To accomplish that, Ferguson went from one email per event to a segmented series as well as optimized its onsite event registration for better retargeting.

Read the full case study here.

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Ecommerce: Blurring the lines between online and offline experiences

January 27th, 2015 No comments

What does the No. 2 song of 2013 and ecommerce have in common?

Blurred lines.

“The retail customer has an experience, and they expect that experience to be consistent, no matter where they engage with that company,” said Ryan West, CEO, West Music. “Our responsibility as omnichannel retailers is to blur the lines and make sure it’s going to be impactful, no matter where they engage with us.”

Ryan met with MarketingSherpa Reporter Allison Banko in the Media Center at IRCE to discuss the importance of providing relevant customer experiences, no matter where that customer is. This includes both online and offline channels.

 

Geolocation in-store and online

Ryan dove into his experiences in geolocation in West Music’s marketing strategy, sharing how marketers can leverage emerging technologies and platforms to take geolocation to the next level.

This is key to marketers with regional brick-and-mortar stores, such  as West Music. Ryan explained retailers can now leverage Bluetooth low energy protocols and in-store mapping platforms, which allow customers to see on a foot-basis where they are in a store to find products with ease.

This blurs the lines of ecommerce and in-store by using proximity sensing.

Ryan also explains in the video how his company utilizes simple site merchandising and IP address locators to provide a more relevant experience for customers online.

This includes providing relevant promotions for regional customers, such as a grand piano liquidation sale or an offer that would apply for national customers, such as a simple discount or rebate.

This is key for marketers serving local and national markets, as some sales and offers may only be applicable to a regional store location.

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Data Security: Why transparency matters in an era of breaches

December 12th, 2014 1 comment

Want to build customer trust?

Be transparent about how you’re using and protecting the information you gather from them.

That’s the word from James Koons, Chief Privacy Officer for Listrak, which provides omnichannel digital marketing solutions to retailers.

James’ statement is underscored by the MarketingSherpa Ecommerce Benchmark Study. It reveals that frequent security evaluation correlates with greater ecommerce success. Specifically, of the 2,161 marketers responding, those that evaluated security on a daily or weekly basis had more than a 10% higher rate of revenue and responsiveness than those that didn’t.

“Consumers are savvier when it comes to privacy and security,” James explained, “and we continue to get those ‘your-data-may-have-been-compromised-please-change-your-password’ messages, so we can’t help as consumers to be learned in that area.”

 

“Nowadays, it’s not a question of if something happens, it’s when something happens. How prepared are you and what are you going to do?” James asked.

Here are some highlights from their conversation in the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE:

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