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Posts Tagged ‘customer engagement’

The Radical Idea: Customer-first marketing prioritizes customer experience over upsells

June 2nd, 2017
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I stopped by Barnes & Noble on Sunday, early enough that our open-air mall — St. Johns Town Center — was nice and quiet.

It was a more pleasant experience than simply buying on Amazon.com. Got Starbucks for my daughter and hung out with her in the café. Purchased a Harry Potter book for her. Bought myself those chunky Sunday editions of The Florida Times-Union and The New York Times.

It was a more pleasant experience than Amazon.com…until I got to the cashier. Because that’s when I got hit by the dreaded upsell.

In this latest edition of The Radical Idea on the MarketingSherpa Blog, here’s my op-ed about ideas for revisiting your checkout process as well as adding humanity to customer touchpoints, using my recent experience at Barnes & Noble as an example.

First: The argument for the verbal upsell

Anytime I see something in the world that I think needs a radical change, I always try to put myself in the shoes of the other party involved. It’s all too easy for an outsider to look at something and point out faults, falsely assuming the other party is simply being foolish.

However, people and corporations tend to be rational actors, doing what they perceive to be in their best interests based on the incentives placed before them. Even the people behind Nigerian email scams are rational actors. I’m not defending the practice at all. I’m just saying, the best way to institute change is to understand where the other party is coming from — not merely assume they are foolish and wrong. And then identify a possible knowledge gap they may not realize.

So, before I disagree with the way Barnes & Noble handles upsells in store, let me acknowledge why they might have instituted this practice. When I tweeted to the brand that this wasn’t the best customer experience, the response they tweeted back stated, “We ask booksellers to mention the benefits of Membership, in a professional manner. We appreciate your feedback.”

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How Mr. Lube Canada Leveraged Data to Create a Personalized Customer Experience

May 15th, 2017
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Canadian chain of automotive maintenance service centers Mr. Lube was challenged with customer retention and relationship management across the various touch points.

Before her session at MarketingSherpa Summit 2017, Andrea Shaikin, (Former) Director of Customer Experience and Engagement, Mr. Lube, sat down with me in the Media Center to discuss how her team approached the challenge.

Andrea said that the first and biggest issue (as it is with many marketers) was data.

“We had so much data. It was unbelievable. Transactional information going back 40 years, but we couldn’t use it for customer information. We didn’t actually know what people were doing [because] our unique identifier was the license plate, not the person,” she said.

The team had no clue how to meaningfully interpret the data to give people the information they needed at the actual time when they needed it. The team had to find a way to do that, without changing too many of the systems for the financial reporting purposes.

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Email Marketing: How the Kentucky Derby engages customers with relevant email

June 30th, 2015
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The Kentucky Derby is a once a year event worth hundreds of millions of dollars. It has been held annually on the first Saturday of May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky since 1875.

It’s a race like no other, filled with traditions like the sweet taste of a mint julep dancing over the ice of a frozen silver cup, women in lavish hats ringed in a halo of soft glowing pearls and the victorious aroma of 554 red roses dripping across the backs of the winners.

Even with its long traditions, it takes a lot of effort and hard work to give the Kentucky Derby’s spectators exactly what they come to expect year after year as those expectations change through time.

To find out how the Kentucky Derby consistently makes this high level event continually more successful, Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, sat down with Kate Ellis, Marketing Analyst, and Jeff Koleba, Vice President of Marketing and Programming, both of the Kentucky Derby, at the MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015 Media Center to discuss how the Kentucky Derby keeps its customers engaged all year long for an annual event.

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Email Marketing: Stop building lists and start building assets

June 17th, 2014
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At MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014, Allison Banko, Reporter, MECLABS, captured an interview with speaker Jeff Rohrs, Vice President of Marketing Insights, ExactTarget, who shared a concept that should appeal to your inner entrepreneur.

If something doesn’t make money, then it doesn’t make sense.

I say this because, according to Jeff, email marketers are often underappreciated (and underpaid) because they don’t effectively connect the dots for executives on the true ROI of their marketing efforts.

“I think email marketers tend to be underappreciated in their organizations,” Jeff explained, “and I think part of that is the language we choose to communicate the value we bring to executives.”

 

Jeff’s proposed solution is to change the conversation by adjust the way marketers view what they contribute.

In sum, stop telling people you build email lists and start telling them you’re building proprietary assets that are exclusive to your company. One additional point Jeff shared was how social media is experiencing growing pains due to increasing pressure from executives to see clear ROI from social media.

“The executives are beginning to demand more from those channels and email marketers understand that because they’ve fought those battles,” Jeff explained.

Ultimately, Jeff delivered the bigger idea that your organizational marketing goals should supersede the channels you use to deliver them. As a result, hopefully marketers will be able to tear down the silos that emerge from those channels in the process.

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Marketing Automation: Moving past a batch-and-blast email strategy

May 30th, 2014
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“The most important step was just starting,” Byron O’Dell, Senior Director, Demand Management, IHS, said.

At MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014, MarketingSherpa Reporter Allison Banko held a brief interview with Byron on how building customer personas is key to transforming your email marketing program.

Byron took the stage at Email Summit to present his case study, “Marketing Automation: Key challenges a global information company overcame to transform from batch-and-blast to persona-driven email marketing.”

 

In this interview in the Email Summit Media Center, Byron stressed the importance of not overly focusing on perfection at the expense of getting started on building customer profiles.

“If you wait to try to make things perfect before you begin, you’re going to miss out on all that opportunity where you could have been seeing a result,” Byron said.

 

Getting the right content to the right people

Building your customer profiles also helps you overcome the challenge of delivering relevant content to them, as Byron shared in this brief excerpt of his Email Summit session below.

 

One suggestion Byron shared was geared toward helping you deliver targeted content and rests in understanding how technology will impact the delivery to your personas across a larger multi-touch nurturing strategy.

“Don’t mistake having a marketing automation platform for having a process,” Byron explained.

You can view Byron’s full presentation along with 14 other valuable sessions from Email Summit 2014 to learn more transferable insights from marketers who are discovering what works.

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Web Optimization: Can you repeat your test results?

May 21st, 2014
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This week, I’m deep in the heart of the Big Apple (also known as enemy territory if you share my love for the Red Sox) for Web Optimization Summit 2014.

Day 1 has delivered some fantastic presentations and luckily, I was able to catch Michael Zane, Senior Director Online Marketing, Publishers Clearing House, in his session that covered “How to Personalize the Online Experience to Increase Engagement.” 

Publishers-Clearing-HouseMichael’s take on personalization starts with a key distinction between visitors to PCH he mentioned early on.

“You have to define your personas,” he said. “It only made sense for us to take a simplistic approach at first and then dig deeper.”

According to Michael, the challenge rests in driving engagement in unengaged visitors. To help the company’s engagement efforts, Michael and his team turned to testing and optimization.

identify-customer-personas

 

In this MarketingSherpa Blog post, we’ll take a look at some of his team’s testing efforts including one key aspect that often goes unspoken.

Before we get started, let’s look at the research notes for some background information on the test.

 

Objective: To convert unengaged visitors into engaged customers.

Primary Research Question: Will a simple, but attention-grabbing, header convince unengaged visitors to play a game?

Test Design: A/B split test

 

Experiment #1. Side by side

game-engagement-test

 

Michael and his team decided to test a header they hypothesized would encourage visitors to play a game.

“The text in the treatment was innocent at the top of the page and it wasn’t really competing with the other content,” Michael said. 

unengaged-message-variations

 

The team also used a variety of messages in the experiment to help them dial into their core value proposition.

 

Results

real-time-messaging-results

 

The treatment outperformed the control by a relative difference of 36%. There are plenty of marketers that would be thrilled by these results.

However, Michael made an interesting point here that should be mentioned a lot more than it usually is.

“The initial test showed strong results, but they are only valuable if it can be repeated,” Michael said.

 

Experiment #2. Testing for the two-peat

pop-up-test

 

Michael’s team set up a second test to continue to build on their engagement success. For this experiment, the team devised a lightbox pop-up that interrupted users after two seconds on the site.

 

Results

pop-up-test-results

 

After only four days, Michael and his team concluded that the new lightbox approach was decreasing conversion.

“Having this failure helped us validate the metrics,” Michael said. “We didn’t want to rely just on third-party metrics. Not every test is a winner.”

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Top MarketingSherpa Blog Posts of 2013: 10 lessons in social media, content and email marketing

December 26th, 2013
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After tallying up the number of times our audience shared posts, social media, content and email marketing are the areas to receive the most tweets from your peers. That means inbound marketing as a whole once again reigned supreme on the MarketingSherpa Blog, earning 10 of the top 15 spots of 2013. We’ll break down these three areas with key lessons we can learn and apply to our efforts in the new year.

And, since this list is all about the tweets, we’ll include some interesting ones about select posts. Carry on to learn the top 10 lessons of 2013.

 

Social Media Lessons

Lesson #1. Adapt your social content so that it is appropriate for each social media platform 

In his post, “Social Media Marketing: Which type of content is appropriate for different platforms?” Jonathan Greene, Business Intelligence Manager, MECLABS, used an unusual set of analogies to help marketers understand what tone and content to use on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Read this post to learn about the personality each platform has, and how you can effectively put them to work.

 

Lesson #2. Be able to answer why customers should like or follow you

When it comes to social media buttons, you should ask yourself why your customers should follow you. This can be a tougher question for companies that aren’t natural content producers.

You must provide some value for customers in exchange for the privilege to show up in their newsfeed. Value can be ongoing, like exclusive discounts just for Twitter followers, or a one-time opportunity, such as a chance to win a prize.

Read more about this question, and three others, in the post, “Social Media Marketing: 4 questions to ask yourself about social media buttons.” You can also use value proposition to better answer this question, as described by Jonathan Greene in this post, “Social Media Marketing: Why should I like or follow you?

 

Lesson #3. Add visual elements to your social media content

While a quote is just words, it doesn’t mean you can’t bring a visual component to the content. The New York Public Library created graphics for an already popular content type –  celebrity quotes – to create a social media campaign with impressive results. Learn more about its efforts from Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content, MECLABS: “Social Media Marketing: How New York Public Library increased card sign-ups by 35%.”

Interestingly, it seems this post was the most shared on Twitter for certain individuals:

 

Lesson #4. Go beyond the “like” to track your social media success

David Kirkpatrick, Manager of Editorial Content, MECLABS, broke down a chart covering social media marketing metrics tracking in the post, “Social Media Marketing: Social metrics from “likes” to ROI.” While social reach (e.g., “likes”) tops the list, some marketers are also measuring ROI, leads and conversion. See what other metrics your peers are using to benchmark success in their organizations.

 

Content Marketing Lessons

Lesson #5. Analyze your blog to identify areas for improvement

There are a lot of elements that make up your blog. When was the last time you stood back to evaluate if all of those pieces were working as well as they could?

In his post, “Content Marketing: An 8-point analysis for your blog,” Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS, explained the eight points on which to focus your evaluation. From the frequency of your posts and their titles, to author bios and social media integration, you could have untapped potential waiting to be found.

 

Lesson #6. Use WordPress, or any tool, to its fullest potential

No matter what channel or platform you’re using, you want to get all you can out of it. For the post, “Content Marketing: 5 tips for WordPress blogging,” Erin Hogg, Copy Editor, MECLABS, broke down some ways she’s learned to improve a WordPress blog. Learn how to cross promote media with embedding, use basic HTML to improve the look and feel of a post, and more.

 

Lesson #7. Implement (and stick with) a style for your content

AP? Chicago? MLA? APA? There are many established styles, and one might work as-is for your organization. You could decide to create your own.  At MECLABS, we use the Associated Press Style Book as our foundation and supplement it with a set of our own guidelines.

No matter which direction you choose, it’s important to stick with the guide for all of your content. Having well-proofed and consistent content adds to the credibility of your content and builds the authority of your brand.

Erin Hogg explained this and other tips in her post, “Content Marketing: 7 copy editing tips to improve any content piece.”

 

Email Marketing Lessons

Lesson #8. Don’t forget about current customers when designing triggered email campaigns

In the post, “Email Marketing: 3 overlooked aspects of automated messages,” Daniel Burstein said nurturing current customers is one of the most overlooked automated email opportunities. He shared a list of triggered email types you can implement to strengthen relationships with you customers, including product education and upselling.

This post also features two other overlooked aspects of automated emails: customer lifetime value and the gap between what marketers should do and what they actually do.

 

Lesson #9. Test your emails to discover what really works for your audience

You could be using every best practice you’ve come across, but unless you know it’s best for your specific audience, then it might not be the practice you should be using. Testing lets you know what your audience best engages with.

Justin Bridegan, former Senior Marketing Manager, MECLABS, explained how testing revealed two segments of the MarketingSherpa email list prefer different email lengths. Read on to learn his other tips in the post, “Email Marketing: What I’ve learned from writing almost 1,000 emails for MarketingSherpa.”

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What the Country Music Awards Can Teach Us About Social Engagement

November 22nd, 2013
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A few weeks ago, I was watching this year’s Country Music Awards (CMAs) with friend of mine and her mother. I was surprised by a few parallels I noticed between the awards show and some of our recommended best practices at MECLABS.

 

 

Set goals that encourage awareness

For the CMAs, its goal, according to the mission statement on the website, is to “heighten the awareness of country music and support its ongoing growth by recognizing excellence in the genre.”

Consequently, the CMAs serve as an outlet for recognizing excellence, while providing an entertaining awards show to heighten viewer awareness.

The goals of the CMAs are not explicitly stated at the beginning of the show. This falls in line with a best practice of not stating your goals on your website, but rather, your intended goals should be the conclusion customers reach on your landing page.

To help you accomplish this, you should answer the question: “What do I want the visitor to do on this page?”

 

Active engagement matters

Another aspect I found interesting about the CMAs was its drive to involve the audience. For example, during each artist’s performance, their Twitter handle was placed at the bottom of the screen.

This encouraged audience participation with their favorite artists.

 

Yes, it even had a phone app.

Throughout the night, the hosts encouraged viewers to download the Shazam app. Viewers who used the app would receive exclusive access to content and free music downloads.

So, how did this engagement strategy pay off?

Well, according to Country Music Rocks, an online music news source, the strategy was a huge success.

People went directly from Shazam’s CMA experience to iTunes and Amazon approximately 50,000 times during the broadcast to buy the tracks and albums of the nominees, winners and performers – this does not include the two free tracks available for download.

– Country Music Rocks

 

Here are a few ways you can encourage active engagement on your website.

Leverage social media: Actively post and manage related content on your social media feeds. In addition, encourage your visitors to share, retweet or email this information to their friends.

Try to offer exclusive content: What you can offer will depend on your industry, but providing exclusive content will encourage visitors to come back and interact with your site in the future.

Offer lots of related resources: This can be anything from previous blogs or articles to encourage the visitor to stay on your website for a longer duration.

 

Ease of use is always appealing

The CMAs did a variety of things to appeal to every element of its audience demographics and made it easy for viewers to participate.

For starters, there were performances from artists both young and old, comedy skits and emotional speeches from award winners.

My point here is that appeal never gets old for your customers, even when delivered in large doses. There’s nothing more appealing I can think of than a landing page that is easy to use.

I recommend taking some time for usability testing, as this can go a long way to make sure the focus of your site remains customer-centric.

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Social Media Marketing: A quick look at Facebook EdgeRank

June 7th, 2013
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When I first graduated from high school, I took a job at a day care.

I was hired initially because I made it my personal goal to sign up as many kids as possible for our services. Of course, the responsibilities of more children under your supervision solves one set of problems while creating new ones.

One thing I quickly learned is that it’s pretty tough to convince a large group of kids to take a nap without using bribes of their preferred currency … chocolate.

So needless to say, my employment at the day care was brief because my true value as an employee was not just based on increasing volume, but also on how effective I was at engaging the volume that already existed.

 

Social media goal setting

A lot of marketers who have been conditioned by years of hard time spent in the midst of the media industrial complex hold the belief they should run their social media campaigns like I was running the day care – by taking a “more is always better” approach.

The idea behind this belief is simple.

Consumers who use Facebook have eyeballs. Therefore, the more eyeballs I can put onto our brand’s social media page the more “awareness” we can create which should eventually result in more business.

Because more is always better, right?

 

Fun with algorithms

The biggest problem with taking a “more is always better” approach to your social media marketing is a rooted assumption that all of your Facebook followers will see all of your content every time you post something.

Unfortunately, that’s simply not true.

Take our MarketingSherpa Facebook page, for example. On average, our posts reach somewhere around 15.26% of our followers on a given day, depending on the type of content.

So how can that be?

In three words … Facebook curates content.

According to Hubspot, the average Facebook fan spends about 40% of their time on the newsfeed as opposed to just 12% spent on profiles or brand pages. That margin makes the newsfeed the center of the Facebook universe.

So, to ensure that people have the most enriched newsfeed experience possible, Facebook curates content based upon on their homegrown algorithm known as “EdgeRank.”

 

There are three components to EdgeRank, wherein:

  • U = Affinity: which takes into account the past relationship between a Facebook user and your brand

If a user has interacted heavily with your social media content on Facebook previously, then it’s very likely they will see your next content offering in their newsfeed.

  • W = Weight: which relates to the types of content you have created. Some users prefer images while others may prefer text or video

The more a user interacts with a particular type of content through likes, comments and tags, then the more likely their preferred content types will appear in their newsfeed. If a user likes all of your pictures, then they will likely see the next picture your brand posts.

  • D= Decay: which is typically never a good thing

The older a post is, the less likely it is to appear on the newsfeed of a Facebook follower.

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