Category: CRM

  • Buyer Behavior Helps B2B Marketers Guide The Buyer’s Journey

    Originally published by: Forrester | on 2012-10-04 13:28:20 by Lori Wizdo Today’s buyers control their journey through the buying cycle much more than today’s vendors control the selling cycle. Although it varies greatly with product complexity and market maturity, today’s buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before […]

  • The New CRM: Content Relationship Marketing

    Advances in technology, particularly mobile, provide companies with expanding platforms to reach their target customers. Smartphones, tablets and desktop computers can extend audience reach, but is the content shared through these vehicles resonating with your intended audience? Is it building and/or maintaining relationships? Does it provide a third-party view of your organization?  According to an survey, 84% of respondents felt that brands need to prove they are trustworthy before they would interact with them. The survey further states that elements like accuracy, expertise and transparency were critical to establishing this trust.  How do you create content that strengthens customer trust and loyalty? Here are a few tips to showcase your company so that customers better connect with your brand: Reviews – Client testimonials give insight into the company, from the quality of the product to the level of customer service. The more positive reviews that accumulate, the greater the regard for the brand. Even reviews through social media platforms, such as Facebook likes, are a way for customers to see that companies are revered and engaged with their audience.  Social – Social media networks are growing just as fast as the number of mobile devices. Businesses need to ensure that the content or customer service support they share through these channels will be interesting and/or helpful to their clients. The same goes for other marketing emails or correspondence with customers. Consider where your clients are in the product/service process (e.g., new client, long-standing customer) and tailor the message accordingly to reach all levels.  Video – A short, good-quality video can enhance a company’s level of transparency and showcase its expertise in customer service or product demonstrations. Video is the next best thing to face-to-face communication and can leave customers with a real personal connection and feel for the company’s character.  Recognition – Third-party acknowledgments like awards, memberships or special certificates show a company’s leadership and strength in the field. Who wouldn’t want to work with a business that has been recognized for their exemplary customer service or product development?  Panels and PR – Speaking engagements and media mentions exhibit your company’s experience and leadership. By providing media commentary, partaking in industry panels or lending expertise to a how-to/best practices webinar, customers become more familiar with your business and are more likely to use your product or service.  Consumers are not only savvier when it comes to technology, but they are also well-equipped to look for background information on companies. They may be wary of businesses without reviews, videos, media coverage or social media pages, so it’s more important than ever to engage customers using these tools.   It’s also essential to reward your ingenious clients throughout the customer-relationship building process. Coupon codes and special offers and discounts go a long way when customers are drawing comparisons between various vendors. Wouldn’t you be more likely to choose a quality product or service you could purchase at a reduced rate?  Content is definitely still king, but a coupon code certainly never hurts.

  • BIG DATA – More Than Just BIG!!!

    If all the hype & deluge of headlines, articles & advanced analytics and reporting material is anything to go by, BIG DATA is the next big thing. At times you may even wonder what have we been doing in the name of analytics & insight generation thus far. So how much of the hype is […]

  • Why is Big Data Revolutionary?

    Originally published by: ZDNet » Tech on 2012-04-10 21:29 PDT by Andrew Brust Summary: Big Data is revolutionary, and not merely the evolution of BI and data warehousing technology. Here’s why. Last week, Dan Kusnetzky and I participated in a ZDNet Great Debate titled “Big Data: Revolution or evolution?” As you might expect, I advocated […]

  • Save The Cleverness And Keep The CRM

    When online marketers think about developing email campaigns, they typically focus on two areas: open rates and conversions. And the open rates, as we all know, have everything to do with subject lines. There’s no question that very clever subject lines give emarketers terrific open rates. We’ve seen them all, and at one time or another we’ve probably used many of them: “Don’t Read This Email!” “Psssst ….” “What Don’t You Know?” “It’s Almost Too Late!” Sound familiar? These and many other “clever” subject lines are tremendously effective for getting people to notice and click on an email. Customers open the emails. Your open rates go up. Who’s going to argue with that?  As contrarian as it seems, I will.  Depending on clever subject lines only gets you so far. Let’s say that you have a list of these clever email subject lines, a whole campaign of them, in fact. Do you really think that you can simply attach a clever subject line to your regular email content, and call it a day? There’s a certain amount of inherent pressure to bring the email itself to the “cleverness” level of the subject line—and, believe me, it’s a lot easier to think up a clever phrase than it is to maintain that tone and language throughout an entire email. And maybe you don’t want to, anyway—it may not fit in well with whatever it is that you’re selling. And it can get worse. A clever subject line that leads to a hard-sell email raises complaints. I don’t know about you, but I’d much prefer to have people ignore some of my email campaigns than complain about them! But let’s go a little deeper into the analytics. Clever email subject lines may increase your opens, but do they perform well otherwise? The reality is that clever subject lines and email campaigns work best for borderline spammers who are trying to entice people with whom they have either a questionable relationship—or no relationship—to open their email. For CRM marketers, those of us who are deploying campaigns to opt-in lists, the results driven by clever campaigns are typically disappointing and can increase both unsubscribes and complaints.  They fail because email campaigns need to have one very clear, very solid call-to-action, one that logically follows your business model. And the cleverness can become a call-to-action on its own, one that competes with—and detracts from—the call-to-action in the email.  And one that will drive down conversions.  What makes a great subject line? Clarity and sense of purpose are what make a great subject line and great email. The call-to-action in a successful email campaign should be clear after one second of viewing, and it is an expected next step after reading the subject line.  Remember the marketers’ mantra: tell people what you are going to tell them, next tell them, and then tell them what you just told them. This is what makes for a successful email campaign. Let’s look at an example: Subject line: Early-bird special on new summer arrivals. Email: Summer arrivals are now in stock. As an early-bird subscriber you get the best selection and free shipping when you order this week. Link: Takes you directly to the summer arrival page (when possible with a personalized welcome to the early-bird subscriber). What we’re seeing here is a clear subject line, one that’s followed through into the email. Clicking it open, we see an email that carries a single message, a message that’s not cluttered up with secondary offers or distracting images. It respects your subscribers’ time by immediately letting them know the promise you’re making to them, and then, step by step, it follows up on the promise. Less is more in this case, and it’s truly the most effective way to deploy your email strategy.  Don’t think that your subscribers will get bored with your email messages: it is excellent CRM to show your subscriber that you know exactly what you are doing, and that you take your subscribers seriously. A simple subject lines shows that you don’t have to be clever to win their business! Your customers will appreciate your clarity and take actions when appropriate, exactly as you want them to.  Gimmicks can only get you so far. Building solid relationships through transparency, make-a-promise/keep-a-promise behavior, and outstanding customer support are the best ways to create, deploy, and return ROI on your next email campaign. 

  • A Conversation On The Role Of Big Data In Marketing And Customer Service

    Big data is here! And, marketers are one of the professional groups that stand to gain the most from these new-found capabilities to analyze data that, until recently, would have been too complex to capture, store and make sense of. Behind the hype lies a golden opportunity for marketers and customer service to help their organizations get ahead of the competition. Cutting through all the noise can be a challenge, so it’s important to understand what big data can achieve, what data is most useful, and how to go about using it. In the following conversation, Verint’s Daniel Ziv and Ovum analyst Keith Dawson share perspective on the sudden lure to the term “big data” and what it means for companies in the coming year.  1. Big data is a buzzword that seems to be making its way into conversations more frequently. How would you define big data, and how is this new business concept different from traditional business intelligence? Keith: Big data is a buzzword partly because the definition of “big” changes all the time, as processing power improves and data storage capabilities grow vaster. However, it does have a real meaning, and is usually shorthanded by the four V’s, which are as follows:  Volume: the amount of data being worked with Variety: the number of different sources and data types Velocity: the speed at which it changes, which is very fast Value: the ability of an organization to process and leverage machine-derived insights Daniel: The first three V’s seem to have become the de facto definition for big data, but Keith’s addition of the fourth Vrepresenting “value” may be the most important yet. Many organizations have a lot of data, but not all are generating significant value from it. This may partially be due to the fact that big data initiatives do not always involve the business earlier on in the process.  2. Is big data something IT departments need to manage and address? How does it have an impact on the marketing organization as well? Keith: Big data starts with IT, most definitely, because they are responsible for acquiring and deploying the infrastructure. From a business point of view, marketing is poised to reap significant value out of big data. Look at the wealth of actionable knowledge inherent in CRM data, social media mining, or even basic customer call recording — there is enormous potential not being realized with traditional analytics structures. This theory applies beyond the contact center and also to business intelligence and ERP systems, which are still trying to figure out how to put data from some of those external sources to work.   Daniel: I agree completely! We, as an industry, have witnessed some phenomenal examples regarding how much value this data can represent — especially when driven effectively by the business including marketing departments. For example, I’ve seen a large telecom provider do this very thing. The company is BI savvy and has traditionally analyzed structured data. It added a speech analytics solution to help analyze contact center calls, and as a resultin the first year of deploymentthey identified $180 million worth of savings, while increasing customer satisfaction by 30%. What’s even more interesting with this particular initiative is that it was driven mostly by marketing, not by the IT department where many big data deployments reside. 3. Do you believe that a company’s corporate big data assets and its use of analytics could become something as powerful as the company’s brand? Keith: There are already companies for which the ability to analyze big data is functionally equivalent to their brand. Facebook is the obvious example, and Google too. Then you get beyond that to customer-facing companies like Netflix or Amazon, where their ability to determine patterns of customer preference and behavior stems from analysis of huge data sets. They are making business decisions on automated data analysis — the kinds of things that used to be done with focus groups. The difference is that they are coming to much richer, statistically valid and more insightful conclusions.   Daniel: Facebook definitely has the potential to be a key data analytics force. The acquisition of Instagram brings yet another dimension of unstructured data to social media. It will be interesting to track how Facebook uses and monetizes the tremendous amounts of data now available. Google is an example of a company where almost all of its services and revenue is driven by collecting, indexing and analyzing data. The recent updated privacy policy also now provides Google with the ability to link various customer insights from its many different services. It holds tremendous potential value for Google, as well as for the consumers, given customer privacy concerns are properly addressed. Recommendation engines from Netflix, Pandora and Amazon have also proven to be tremendously effective in driving sales and building loyalty.  4. Can you share other examples of how companies use this new asset to effectively compete? Keith: You have to look at the social networking space to really see the most advanced use of big data analysis to make lightning fast business decisions. Ad traffic is monetized on Facebook almost exclusively through big data analytics. Without big data, Facebook isn’t perceived as a giant company. The financial services industry also has been applying this kind of analysis to credit card and loan customer transactions for quite a while. You see it in airlines: dynamic pricing of tickets, for example, and for segmentation of customers. Daniel: The social networking space has created a tremendous amount of new customer data, and may be partly responsible for the emergence of the big data conceptgiven the explosive growth in the amount and velocity of this information. According to Twitter’s own research in early 2012, it sees roughly 175 million tweets every day, and has more than 465 million accounts. What many organizations neglect to realize is that their internal corporate data assets may significantly exceed this in terms of content and value. While a typical tweet is only a handful of words or abbreviations with limited context, an average five minute contact center call is typically over 1,000 wordsproviding much richer context that drives more actionable insights, when mined with the proper tools. I’ve heard industry estimates that for every word tweeted, there are over 200 words spoken in the contact center directly by your customers and CSRs. The challenge is connecting the dots between the different sources.  5. One of the key challenges of big data is transforming the common silo approach where each department has its own data assets, which prevents organizations from getting a unified view of the customer. What strategy and technology solutions are available to handle these challenges? Keith: My view is that the main barriers are more cultural than technical. You need business structures in place to share data, and to encourage the deployment and use of data warehouses that cross departments and functions. The idea of big data isn’t really a product, rather it’s more of a process or a label that describes those very strategies implied by the question. I don’t really see siloization as a challenge of big datainstead, it’s a challenge of organizational problem solving and priority setting. Once those silos have been broken down, companies can forge ahead with a more intelligent data analytics strategy. Big data isn’t an end in itself, because organizations can just as likely find themselves in a situation where mountains of data are being analyzed, and they still don’t know how to act on or monetize it. From that point of view, big data is an IT issue. My personal sense is that as teams outside IT begin to understand the potential value embedded in their data, they’ll start to look internally for collaborators who can help them unlock it. That’s going to be a unique process in every organization. Daniel: I think technology can help make this process easier but agree that the key issue is the organizational structures and processes. The emergence of the chief customer officer role and customer experience departments that own the end-to-end customer journey can help drive the right attention and actions. By making sure the organization has a unified 360 degree view of the voice of the customer, these teams will know better how to take action on valuable insights. 6. What industries do you think have the strongest potential to leverage big data as a competitive marketing advantage? Keith: I’d have to say the financial services industry has the strongest potential to leverage big data, because it has been doing big data analysis long before the trend even had a name. Retail also has a lot of potential. Look at the data that’s gathered from supermarket loyalty cards, as just one example. Travel and hospitality, telecomreally any market where there are a high volume of transactions or  interactions that have been historically too “low value” to examine individually, but that add up to a collective picture that’s attractive to mine.  Daniel: Financial institutions use things like credit scores to segment customers and offer differentiated products and pricing. However, it seems in the past that most of the data that was used was structured by nature and not necessarily leveraged as a competitive differentiator. When these organizations start mining the tremendous amount of unstructured content they have, for example, in their contact center calls, emails or even social media they can go much further in their ability to customize offers and leverage that as a competitive force.  Thank you, Keith, for the insight and perspective. Big data is a trend worth monitoring, as its evolution will greatly impact the way organizations — including marketing departments — take advantage of the huge potential value. It would be interesting to hear what readers think. Please share your comments and input on what big data means to you!

  • A Digital Experience Platform – Beyond just a WCM

    Today’s digital marketing landscape is a complex ecosystem created by emerging touch points and new inter-dependent media channels. Consumers now have direct access to information and a higher expectation for relevant and personalized content at their finger tips anytime & anywhere. Conventional approach by marketers to this complexity has been rather ad-hoc and disparate in […]

  • SCRAM! -Harnessing Social Customer Relationship Application Management

    If you’ve been following the trends recently in Social Media you are no doubt watching a new revolution taking hold; brands and retailers creating customer tools using SCRAM and reaping the benefits of the data it provides. What is SCRAM? Social Customer Relationship Application Management; the SocMe version of a web form where users “connect” with your app on Facebook, mobile phone or other platform, transition data and other preferences and then use the application your company has created. The applications range from games to collection of points, POS commerce and even coupons. These applications contain a wealth of information on your customers and give a whole new light to the more traditional means of managing and data mining your audience. In the old days, users had to fill out a web form, give up a lot of personal info and then watch it get sent to a black hole in the online space where it was up to you to decipher and filter what data went where. With SocMe applications, users simply click “I Accept” on the permissions applet and they have agreed to let you access their profile (certain conditions always apply, naturally) and they are off and running. With these applications you have users in active participation of your brand. Victoria’s Secret has a great application for brand VSX where Facebook users use the app to upload photos, motivational statements and share with other users their fitness journey while wearing VSX work-out clothing. The brand, in turn uses those stories and posts as part of their marketing efforts. Likewise, Victoria’s Secret can glean a great deal of information about their users based upon their participation in the app such as age, location, fitness level and even “devotion” of their fandom based upon their active participation. Likewise for WalMart and American Express, users can hook in via permissions and use cool tools and applications in how they interact with you and receive all that you have to offer. Instead of waiting for users to visit your site, pick up the phone or walk into a store, the “idle scroller” who is on mobile and killing time between meetings or the school carpool line can interact, comment, purchase and be “present” for your brand and your message. Not convinced? Considering that Facebook allows you to self-select OGV (open graph verbs) to track unique behavior and “actions” using certain adjectives and action verbs (think: Orville Redenbacher fans can be “popping” each time they used the app and that’s what shows up to as activity in the right hand scroll to other users) you have multiple ways to see what fans are doing. You will know in real-time what is going on, no data-base firing needed. In addition, the viral quality of Facebook and Twitter itself (not to mention Pinterest) means your application and subsequent reaction by others could possibly create an even more broad reach than any web form acquisition strategy could do. And…you still get email. Part of the permissions for Facebook could involve acceptance to obtain the user’s email address. (You can also add in an opt-in box in the application as well) And that satisfies more than a few checkboxes of good CRM best practice not to mention a nifty way to create acquisition, retention and data mining with one click of “I Accept.” You want in on the next big CRM wave in the industry? Are you ready to have your customers SCRAM into your database and marketing efforts this year? There’s an app for that.

  • Facebook Is Your New CRM

    Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, punish me with telemarketer calls! Forget everything you have read about CRM needing to be a tool you install, a program that you launch, or a team of “experts” you need to hire. After watching the Facebook “fMC” webcast and the new FB tools launching, Facebook is likely your best investment for CRM. Before the guys in white coats haul me away, hear me out! Your customers are on Facebook telling you so much about what they think, what they like, love, hate, what they listen to and even what they want to share. Managing that customer has actually never been easier. Most Facebook users edit and prune their own data such as location, life milestones, changes and even Pinterest favorites. Your Customer Relationship Management DNA is gift-wrapped for you and ready for use. Are you un-wrapping that gift? Getting customers to just “Like” you or your brand is easy; those are the “admire from afar” customers who like you, sort of care about you and say “let’s keep in touch” in some sort of a distant-uncle kind of way. But there are those customers who not only like you, but comment on stories you post, like the comments by others and even occasionally will share out what you post in case someone else might want to know. These are your “Friend” customers who are along for the ride and will likely hang around. Then there are the “Fanatics.” These customers post every day, will ask questions, make their status about you, share, comment, like, disagree and even debate with other customers. No matter what you post, they will “Love it” and will shower you with so much attention it gets frightening in sort of an Amy Fisher-stalker kind of way. Now, thanks to the new timeline and OGV (open graph verbs) and new “stories” integration into FB, your “Distant Uncles,” “Friends” and “Fanatics” can now co-exist on your brand without you having to do much except keep it fresh and interesting. Here is an example; if a customer likes your brand and then writes something about your brand in their status, their friends and friends of those friends will see it as advertising, as a “story” on your brand page and will even have it incorporated into other areas of FB. Unlike the old days of figuring out how to pace your contact to your customers and the “how” and the “why” – now all you need to do is spend time on Facebook and let the perpetuity of Facebook “virility” spread far and wide. Chances are if you “feed” your fanatics a little harder with compelling content, offers, and info, like pollinating bees that virility will boomerang around the social media sphere like screaming preteens near Taylor Swift. Investing a little extra time to study up on your fans can also shed some light, too, such as gender, median age, location, likes, interests, education, networks and other handy info. No magic wand, needed just a little time and elbow grease. True, some users keep a lot of that info tightly locked away from non-friends; however, the new timeline function out now actually reveals a little more than previous “locked” walls that were more like Fort Knox. Again, a treasure trove of CRM DNA awaits you behind every fan and fanatic alike. Matching that DNA back to your database patterns and personas could be some of the most significant yet “free” investment to date! Will you give it the thumbs up?