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Posts Tagged ‘customer-first marketing’

Ask MarketingSherpa: How do I write emails that sell?

November 3rd, 2017
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We frequently receive questions about marketing advice from our email subscribers. Instead of hiding those answers in a one-to-one email communication, we publish some of them here on the MarketingSherpa blog since they may be able to help many other readers. And if you have any questions, let us know.

Ask MarketingSherpa: Hi Daniel!

Maybe you can help me.

My position is Advertising Sales at a Print Media Magazine.

What tips can you guide me with in terms of constructing emails to get my existing clients or new clients to advertise with us?

Dear Reader: Great looking magazine!

Here’s the best advice I can give you — think about the question you just asked me. I don’t mean to sound harsh, 99% of people selling advertising would have worded it the same way.

However, think about it as a customer. Do you want someone to “get” you to advertise? No! You want value.

So take a customer-first marketing approach. What value can you provide to existing and new clients? And that goes for both those that buy from you and those that don’t. Focus your email around that. Nobody is waiting to get an email that sells them something. However, an email with value for them, now that might get a response.

That’s my top tip. In addition, this PDF transcript — Email Messaging: How overcoming 3 common errors increased clickthrough 104%  — has some good advice based on our research.

And we go even deeper in this online course — MECLABS Institute Email Messaging Online Certification.

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Customer-First Marketing: The customer is always right … but not always right for your company

October 19th, 2017
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You’ve heard the saying a million times, I’m sure. “The customer is always right.” It is so ingrained in Stew Leonard’s that the supermarket chain has engraved it in stone and put it right in front of its stores.

And yet, while customers can offer valuable insights, if you’ve spent any time at all monitoring customer feedback, you know that customers can have some interesting opinions. Controversial perhaps. Wacky even. Impossible to bring to market in a profitable way. And occasionally downright bizarre.

So how do you square this circle? Customer feedback is extremely valuable, but customers don’t always know what they’re talking about.

Exhibit A: One Homer J. Simpson. In an episode of “The Simpsons,” Homer find his long-lost half brother, who happens to be rich and owns a car company. His brother offers to give him a free car but soon realizes that none of his company’s cars are what Homer really wants.

Sensing an opportunity, he sees Homer as the proxy for the “average man” and unleashes him with totally authority to design a car. The result — a monstrosity. (“You know that little ball on the antenna that helps you find your car in the parking lot? That should be on every car!”) And a monstrosity that costs $82,000, to boot.


The customer isn’t always right, your customer is always right

Here’s the problem. Homer is not the ideal customer to purchase a new car. If you’ve watched the show, you know he drives an old, beat-up, used car. So while he had lots of ideas, he never would have actually been able to buy the car he was designing.

How do you use customer feedback as valuable business intelligence without ending up having to market an $82,000 automobile with three car horns that play “La Cucaracha”? Here are a few tips to help set you down the right path:

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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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Customer-First Marketing: A conversation with Wharton, MarketingSherpa, and MECLABS Institute

August 18th, 2017
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One of my favorite music videos is “No Rain” by ‘90s band Blind Melon. In it, a young girl dressed in a bee costume roams around her town, clearly misunderstood by everybody she encounters.

Until …

One day …

… bee girl encounters an entire field full of people in bee costumes. She had clearly found her tribe.

I’ve seen that same delight when those engaged in customer-first marketing and customer-first science meet. And I certainly felt it myself getting to work with Catharine Hays for a few months on the Beyond Advertising: Creating Value Through all Email and Mobile Touchpoints webinar.

Hays is Executive Director of The Wharton Future of Advertising Program and recently interviewed myself along with Flint McGlaughlin, CEO and Managing Director of MECLABS Institute (the parent research organization of MarketingSherpa) on Marketing Matters, a show she co-hosts on the Business Radio channel on Sirius XM powered by the Wharton School.

If you’re a fellow traveler on the path of customer-first marketing and customer-first science, listen to the recording of the radio show below. Or read the below transcript (I called out key concepts with bolded headlines to allow for easy skimming). I hope you feel that same delight of finding your tribe.

And if you do, feel free to let Flint or myself know through Twitter — @FlintsNotes and @DanielBurstein   — since we won’t be able to hear you shouting in agreement through your headphone or speakers.


(originally aired on Sirius XM Channel 111, Business Radio powered by The Wharton School)
 

Or, if you’d like to listen in your car or on an airplane, go to the audio file on SoundCloud, click “More,” then select “Download.”

We begin with a little background on MECLABS Institute and MarketingSherpa

Catharine Hays: You’re listening to Marketing Matters on Business Radio, powered by the Wharton School.

Welcome back. This is Marketing Matters on Sirius XM’s Business Radio 111. I’m Catharine Hays. I’m the Executive Director of the Wharton Future of Advertising program here. And we’re going to shift gears a little bit to welcome our next guests.

Really, the theme of the show today has been on customer-first marketing, really putting the customer at the front of your marketing and putting the individual, rather than thinking of them as a consumer. So, we spent the last hour really kind of honing in on the Hispanic market and with our last guest, talking about really seeing them from a cultural lens and how open or closed they are to cultural influences, new and old. So, that was pretty interesting.

So, what we’re going to do next is shift gears a little bit, but still have this theme but talk about it more broadly with two wonderful guests. First, we have Flint McGlaughlin. He’s the CEO and Managing Director of MECLABS Institute. Welcome, Flint.

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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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Customer-First Marketing Research: 4 key data points from research with 2,400 consumers

March 31st, 2017
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All marketers should have three key questions in their head at all times. What do consumers really think about your business practices? What marketing approaches can I use to tell them about our business? And where do they want to hear these messages (i.e. channel preferences)?

To help you get an answer to these questions, we conducted research with 2,400 U.S. consumers, sampled to reflect a close match to the U.S. population’s demographics. But we also split them into satisfied and unsatisfied customers to understand how these marketing and business behaviors affect customer satisfaction, especially taking a customer-first marketing approach to all of these business decisions.

We published what we discovered in a 54-page free report filled with oodles of data for the customer-first, data-driven marketer.

But that’s much too much to dive into on a Friday.

So here are some snack-size, social media-friendly (wink, wink) videos to provide you some quick consumer insights from the study.

But first, here’s a little more background about the research.

And now a look at a few of our discoveries…

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Advice on How to Make the Case for a Customer-Centric Transformation

March 27th, 2017
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Customer-centric isn’t just a buzzword to us — those marketing efforts are the stories that we love to tell at MarketingSherpa. From our case studies to our data, we want to give you everything you need to keep your customer foremost in your marketing efforts.

In October 2016, we surveyed two groups of 1,200 about customer-first marketing. We asked one group 50 questions about the business, marketing and channel practices that make them highly satisfied with a company. We asked the other group similar questions about what makes them highly unsatisfied with a company.

We provided Sarah Esterman, Lifecycle Marketing Manager, Simple.com, and Jamey Bainer, Strategy and Planning Director, Pacific, with two of the charts created using that data, which asked 1,200 highly satisfied customers: “Thinking about the marketing of [the company they were highly satisfied with] which of the following is true about your experience? Select all that apply.”

Chart 1-Customer-First-Research-Study

(click image to enlarge)

The same question was asked of 1,200 highly unsatisfied customers — with a very different result:

Chart 2-Customer-First-Research-Study

(click image to enlarge)

Armed with that information, we asked Sarah and Jamey five questions about the trials, tribulations and tips for implementing customer-first marketing.

Editor’s Note: Sarah Esterman is speaking at MarketingSherpa Summit 2017, and Jamey Bainer participated in the sponsored Summit content “Inside the Industry.”

Q: What are some arguments marketers can use to push for customer-centricity in their organizations?

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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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Customer-First Marketing: The argument for sending your customers non-transactional emails in two case studies

March 3rd, 2017
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In a 2016 MarketingSherpa study, we split 2,400 consumers into two groups. We asked half of the respondents to name a company they were satisfied with, and we asked the other 1,200 to name a company they were unsatisfied with.

The most popular response from satisfied customers — 42% of respondents — said that their chosen company’s marketing puts their needs before its business goals.

For unsatisfied customers, the most popular responses — 30% of respondents in each case — were that the company they were unsatisfied with “sometimes” or “seldom” puts their needs before its business goals.

How does this translate into email marketing? Examining the ratio of company-first emails (heavily transactional) to customer-first emails.

We’ll do this by reviewing two case studies featuring marketers who decided to dedicate significant time and effort into producing an email send where the goal wasn’t to drive revenue.

Case study #1: Marriott International

“It felt like we had the opportunity to really do something that was much more member-centric, and really use all the data that we’ve got on our members and present it to them in an interesting, fun way that they might not expect from us,” Clark Cummings, Senior Manager of Member Marketing, Marriott International.

Clark said that in the interview for his published case study for MarketingSherpa, where he was describing Marriott’s Year in Review campaign.

That send — which was non-transactional in nature — helped triple the December average of revenue per message delivered and contributed to making Marriott’s Q4 of 2014 the most successful fourth quarter in three years.

The Year in Review campaign led with a video that summarized several of the Marriott-specific highlights of 2014. This video was customized to each Rewards member.

1 (1)

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The Future of Advertising: What Wharton learned from 200 marketing leaders

February 10th, 2017
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The world is moving away from a standard view of advertising. Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, advertising was fairly easy to identify. But what is it today? And what will it be tomorrow? These are the challenges that have been facing the advertising and marketing industry for at least the past decade.

What should advertising be in the future? How do we get there? And, most importantly, who can answer these questions?

The Wharton Future of Advertising Innovation Network

So in 2008, Catharine Hays teamed up with Wharton’s SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management, founded the Future of Advertising Program at the Wharton School, and began assembling what would be a team of 200 advertising, marketing and academic leaders at organizations ranging from Facebook and Google to Tsinghua University and NPR.

hays 3Research from this who’s who of the advertising and marketing industry ultimately informed the publication of Hays’ book (with co-author Jerry Wind, Director, SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management), Beyond Advertising: Creating value through all customer touchpoints.

In the book, she provides a perfect summation of the challenges facing our industry: “This book is for those who recognize that tremendous and far-reaching changes continue unabated in the field of advertising and marketing.”

Catharine’s research intrigued us, and I’ll be interviewing her on stage at MarketingSherpa Summit 2017 in Las Vegas.

As we prepared for that session, we chatted about these challenges, and I wanted to share a few of the lessons I learned from that conversation about her research.

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