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Customer-First Marketing Strategy: The highest of the five levels of marketing maturity

September 7th, 2017
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If you’re not careful, “customer-first marketing” could just be mere words. You could deceive yourself and label anything as customer-first marketing just to make yourself feel good.

To get deep for a moment, I was thinking about this recently because it is the season of repentance in my tradition. A chance to re-evaluate not just our words, but our actions.

Rabbi Steve Fox, the chief executive of the Central Conference of American Rabbis has explained it as, “Certainly the High Holiday call and the time of the holy days is a chance to reflect upon what’s in our hearts and to see if our actions match our own self-perception of who we are and what we do.”

Wouldn’t it be great if we had a similar tradition in marketing? To help you get beyond mere buzzwords and make that evaluation of where your company is on its path toward strategic, customer-first marketing, we created this simple look at the five levels of marketing maturity based on our research with 2,400 consumers.

The five levels of marketing maturity (and the 54% increase in revenue realized at the highest level)

When we were creating this framework, we knew we needed a methodology to reference that would clearly communicate the different levels. After thinking about it and debating it, we realized we had a pretty good model to base it on from MarketingSherpa’s parent research organization, MECLABS Institute.

The patented MECLABS Institute Conversion Heuristic has been discovered from and validated by more than 15 years of real-world behavioral experimentation. It brings a cognitive framework to the factors that affect the probably of conversion. This heuristic was released in 2007 and is quite well known at this point, so you may have seen it before:

Until now, the heuristic has always been displayed linearly, as you see above. However, we realized if we stacked the elements of the heuristic, it would be a clear representation of the levels of marketing maturity. Each level is inclusive of the level that came before it and builds on it.

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B2C Marketing: How Skyjet developed an app to increase leads through cost transparency

August 10th, 2017
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With a lot of disruption due to the evolution of mobile marketing habits in the charter marketplace in Q4 of 2014, said Jonathan Levey, Senior Digital Marketing Manager, Flexjet, his company began experimenting as well.

Jonathan oversees the company’s digital marketing, analytics and advertising as well as covering those same areas for its sister brand, Skyjet. In his MarketingSherpa Summit session, he focused on the development of Skyjet’s mobile app, which he also spoke about with me in the Media Center.

Jonathan and his team had a mobile website and began doing Google advertising for it as well, specifically with mobile-only campaigns. In Q1 of 2015, the team saw a 50% increase in mobile traffic to the site quarter-over-quarter and a 177% increase in quote requests from mobile from this strategy.

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Customer-First Marketing: Use data to make sure the customer always wins

March 17th, 2017
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Every year when I’m in Las Vegas for MarketingSherpa Summit, I find myself on the casino floor at some point. All roads in Vegas lead through the casino.

There’s bright flashing lights and sounds. Lively chatter. General bacchanalia.

Gambling looks like a lot of fun, and many people enjoy it. But other than a few bucks here or there, I don’t partake. Because, as someone who has written about evidence-based marketing for these many years, I suspect the odds are not in my favor.

The house always wins. In the gambler-casino relationship, the casino has the slight edge that, over billions of transactions, generates positive cash flow. This is a business after all, and revenue for the fountains, the curved glass and steel towers, the futuristic trams — it has to come from somewhere.

So when I had a chance to interview Jeff Ma, I wanted his opinion on the customer-marketer relationship. Who has the edge?

The customer and the marketer shouldn’t be opposed

“I think ultimately it’s not a similar thing because the difference . . . this is like honestly one of the things I don’t think people realize — the customer and the marketer shouldn’t be opposed. There’s not a contentious relationship. This should actually be a very positive relationship,” Jeff told me.

“If I were a customer, as long as the marketer had my best intentions, I wouldn’t give a s%&@ if they knew everything about me and all the data about me. As long as they’re not going to harm or use that against me, I want them to have as much information as they can.”

Jeff Ma is currently the senior director of analytics for Twitter, was previously ESPN’s predictive analytics expert, and is perhaps best known for his role on the infamous MIT Blackjack Team. Using creativity, math and teamwork, Ma created a card-counting method that helped the group win millions in Las Vegas. He was the inspiration for the book Bringing Down the House and the Kevin Spacey movie 21.

I was interviewing Jeff because he is a featured speaker at MarketingSherpa Summit 2017 in Las Vegas, and his response was right in line with discoveries from MarketingSherpa’s recent research.

For example, “showing personalized ads based on data about me is invasive” was not a major factor in why consumers blocked online ads.

However, that part Jeff mentioned about “as long as the marketer had my best intentions” was huge. Customer-first marketing was the key difference between how satisfied and unsatisfied customers described a company’s marketing, showing that the intentions behind the marketing play a critical role in the relationship with a customer.

Here are a few more quick takeaways from my conversation with Jeff to help you look at your data through a new lens.

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Think Like a Troll, Act Like a Brand: How @Charmin organically grew their Twitter account to superstar status

October 23rd, 2016
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Twitter is a tough place to be for anyone; large brands are no exception. But in addition to the cynicism, they have to balance pleasing their customers and their shareholders – a fine line to walk when you’re trying to grow an account.

But what if you were a large brand that sold toilet paper? What if all you had to tweet about was little pieces of paper that people use to wipe their asses with?

For Marie Bonaccorse Hackman and her small editorial team at Charmin, it was a playground of nutrient-rich material for tweeting.

“I was there from March of 2011 until probably, my last tweet was February or March of 2015 … I was there four years, I started the Twitter feed. I was there from its infancy…” Marie told me in an interview.

“We knew we were toilet paper, we had no qualms about it. We knew we were not inherently cool, but we knew that we could have a lot of fun with it.”

And have fun with it they did.

In that four years, the team organically grew their Twitter account from zero to 66k followers. While it was slow at first, the team grew the audience as much as 1192% year over year.

Charmin Twitter Growth

 

But not only did they experience explosive growth, they got picked up by almost every major media publication for their hilarious, snarky tweets.

How did they do it?

Here’s three key takeaways from Marie Bonaccorse Hackman – the woman at the helm during Charmin’s explosive (and award winning) growth on Twitter.

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How to move beyond industry-speak, and start a conversation with your customers

September 2nd, 2016
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“We knew that the content was there, but [customers] weren’t sure how to interpret that. We used very industry-specific terminology,” said Abby See, Director of Online Marketing, Sunrise Senior Living.

Visitors to the Sunrise Senior Living website are often looking for immediate senior care options or are researching senior care providers for upcoming care needs. The issue was, that research wasn’t coming as easy to them as it should have.

In the Media Center at MarketingSherpa Summit 2016, Abby told me that through user experience testing, she and her team found what was a surprising insight at the time – customers were actually requesting a questionnaire.

“They said, ‘it would be great if you could offer some sort of tool that would help me determine what I need for my mom or dad,’” she said.

The result of that insight was the development of a Care Questionnaire, which leads those customers through an emotional point in their lives, where they are trying to determine what the best next move is for a family member.

The questionnaire is a non-invasive overlay, she said, so customers don’t lose whatever page they were on, and they’re able to access it from every channel.

“They have choices from there.  They can reach out to a resource counselor, or just do nothing with the results and continue on with their research,” she said.

This puts the customer in control, she said, which is especially important because, “it’s such an emotional time, so we want them to feel comfortable and confident before they reach out to us.”

The advice Abby gave for other marketers who might want this kind of customer insight, was to, “create a survey [through email marketing,] you could have some detailed information and surveys on your site, and really tailor the sales experience to that information you learned from the customer before you reach out.”

Since the launch in September 2014, the impact of launching a Care Questionnaire to foster meaningful off-site engagement has been measured by more than 19,400 users completing the survey, resulting in a 12% lift in on-site leads and a 4% lift in total site conversion rate.

The best results, thought, might be anecdotal in what See and her colleagues have seen in personal interactions with customers.

“There was a woman, she took the Care Questionnaire, it told her that her mom needed assisted living. So she did her research that night, and called several other competitors, but was able to book a tour with us at seven o’clock at night. Other competitors wouldn’t take her at that time, “Abby said.

That customer was able to quickly go from online to offline, knowing what she wanted to do and comfortable in her decision. Having the Care Questionnaire allowed Sunrise Senior Living to help her in a way that competitors couldn’t.

Abby and Sunrise Senior Living were selected last year by blog readers as the MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 Reader’s Choice Award. This year’s Award is going up on Monday, September 12 – please be sure to visit and vote for one marketer who will present their campaign on stage at Summit, held April 10-13, 2017 in Las Vegas.

You might also like…

Mobile Marketing: How a private jet charter provider’s app averages 500 downloads a week using customer-centric booking experience – A Reader’s Choice Award 2017 nominee

Inbound Marketing: How SAP drove 9 million impressions with targeted content campaign – A Reader’s Choice Award 2017 nominee

Email Marketing: Extra Space Storage uses a customer-first approach for a 50% boost in email conversion rate – A Reader’s Choice Award 2017 nominee

Maximizing Multiple Marketing Platforms for Success

May 20th, 2016
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After 35 years in the industry, Chinese Laundry, a privately held women’s footwear company, continues to expand its influence season after season.

During Internet Retailer Conference Exhibition (IRCE) 2015, MarketingSherpa’s Courtney Eckerle spoke at the MarketingSherpa Media Center with Scott Cohn, Vice President of Ecommerce, Chinese Laundry.

Scott spoke about how marketers tend to establish processes or utilize platforms that work for specific projects or campaigns, but don’t always think about how it affects our customers.

“The biggest challenge we had is that they [platforms] were perpetually out of sync. So our inventory, pricing and a whole variety of other things that a customer expects to be consistent across channels, just weren’t consistent,” he said.

Whether you are looking to condense your blog platforms to update your content strategy or want to build product awareness, Cohn shared two key takeaways on maximizing multiple marketing platforms:

 

Be on the lookout

When undertaking a technology innovation, how do you begin to think about where you pain points lie?

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