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The Next Generation Of Mobile Notification-Driven Interfaces Require A New Strategy

With the promises of driving engagement of mobile apps, notifications have been around for years. While there are certainly success stories and a reinvigorated excitement with new interaction features with iOS8 (I’ll get to this in a minute), mobile notifications are at risk of going the way of email, or being perceived as spam 90 percent of the time, if one critical element does not change.

To turn failing mobile programs around and see any sort of meaningful ROI, any mobile notification sent must take into account a user’s current context. Any that do not will be as ignored as the hundreds of emails I receive in my Gmail Promotions folder everyday. More so, mobile presents marketers with an even graver challenge than being ignored – annoying the hell out of people on their highly personal devices with small (albeit growing) screens.

Contrary to popular belief, context is not location. Where I am standing at a given moment is only one chunk of the multi-part formula that makes something contextual and relevant (i.e., something that I would want and would motivate me to act). Derived from sensor data, ambient data and historical data, context involves everything from the customer’s identity, location, current activity and physical situation (weather, traffic, etc.), purchase history, movement patterns, cultural preferences, implicit and explicit intent signals and social graph. The only exception would be a notification with the highest immediacy requirements, such as a password reset request submitted or credit card being used outside the home country. These are messages that a person would want immediately even if they are standing with an umbrella in their hand on a street corner.

To start, marketers need to set and test what I call ‘Rules of Engagement,’ or the circumstances or limitations in which a consumer should be targeted. These should combine immediacy requirements and end-user context. As technology advances and options multiply, brands should also start categorizing notifications in various groups, which will help to both inspire creativity in mobile campaign planning but also ensure you are taking advantage of every possibility.

Before any brand considers sending notifications to their customers, they must have a smart, algorithm-driven notification system that takes into account the below considerations:

  • Notification trigger (or what automates a message to send). Triggers include things like a user action, an ambient data change derived from smartphone or other external sensors or a system event that includes pre-set time triggers. Personalization from historical data also needs to help define the Rules of Engagement in order to tailor to an individual’s tastes and preferences.

  • Immediacy needs / delivery mode: There are multiple deliver channels available today including push alerts (Local or Remote), in-app notifications and SMS (which works even if 4G LTE / data connection fails).

  • Call-to-action: With the new interactive notifications available in the iOS8 that allow a person to take action immediately without opening the push notification, the call to action becomes extremely important in planning mobile marketing campaigns. Call-to-action types include: information only, no response required; a response is required via a notification box; or a user is prompted to tap thru to the app to complete an action.

  • With a Rules of Engagement system in place, marketers can segment iOS8 users with non-iOS8 users to drive the best user experience.

  • Decay rules: While not available today, decay rules are something that future versions of iOS and Android will likely implement. Today, all notifications decay at the same rate; all are treated the same when the variety is infinite. Some notifications may stay relevant for two days while others might contain information that is relevant only for the next few hours… or minutes. The notification view should treat the longer-shelf life messages differently than the ‘breaking’ ones – by color, placement etc. The nature of other notifications might require a person’s attention longer or to take more in-depth actions (i.e., scheduling a doctor’s appointment) and should allow a person to put it on ‘snooze’ for a few hours or days after the first view.

  • Multi-screens: As Smart Watches, Google Glass and other wearables start to permeate consumer life and become important notification channels, a multi-screen approach to notifications will be required. Consumers may view a notification on one device but did not act on it. This should be shown, then, on their other screens (in a format that is optimized for the platform).

There is a gigantic opportunity to create the next generation user experience via interactive notifications but to take full advantage and generate ROI, brands need to be able to understand and act on context, respect immediacy needs and implement decay rules.

Companies’ system of engagement need to ultimately scale beyond smartphones and tablets into cars, airplane seat backs, TVs and all other screens we interact with today.

Brands need to challenge themselves to get consumers to act immediately beyond simply clicking through to a splash page to instead motivate specific behavior like booking a table for dinner or finding directions to a nearby store to try on items that I have saved on my wish list. But unless these messages are sent to me when I am hungry or have time and interest in shopping, these efforts – like so many other marketing efforts on mobile today — will all be in vain.

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Three out of Four Beacon Programs Will Fail: Here’s Why

Businesses of all kinds — from worldwide department stores to neighborhood shopping districts, international airports to baseball fields — are adopting beacons at a pretty incredible pace. From all-door rollouts to smaller test pilots, companies are very bullish on beacons. As they should be. The devices offer a way to connect with consumers unlike ever before in-store, when it’s relevant to their immediate location. To personally welcome individuals as they arrive. To disseminate important or motivating content. To gather unique insights into on-premise customer behavior. And the beacons themselves are available at such a low cost that adding multiple devices to hundreds of stores is not out of the question.

But, as with most shiny objects, beacons will be abused. In fact, I predict that three out of every four beacon programs will fail in 2015. Companies will get caught up in the hype, glitz and possibilities. Beacons will be treated as a hammer looking for a nail; marketers will try to fit beacons everywhere they can. The principles that should guide any marketing effort of this sort will be forgotten.

Here are the six biggest ways that beacons will be misused:

1. Not accounting for who a person is, beyond where they are standing. Most brands will not personalize any message beyond where a person is standing. For instance, if Nathan has paused in front of women’s perfume, he would get the offer enabled by the display’s beacon — completely missing out on the fact that he has no interest in purchasing a new fragrance. Contextualization (what is going on around someone and their intent) and personalization will be ignored in many first-generation beacon programs. Nathan should only get alerts for products he would be interested in buying today and in the departments he is likely to be shopping. Unless, that is, it’s the week of Valentine’s Day and he is shopping for his wife.

2. Creating yet another silo of customer data. Marketers are inundated with customer data from many divergent sources — email, transactional, CRM, social, mobile, etc. By implementing point solutions for beacons, marketers will create yet another silo of customer data. As personalization across the entire customer journey becomes critical to the consumer experience, brands must set up a system that breaks silos of customer data.

3. Not setting limits on frequency. As an increasing number of companies implement beacons, and larger stores place several around a store, limiting the number of messages a person receives will be key. Imagine walking through the mall or down 5th Avenue and getting pinged every five steps (no thanks). There will be a (short) time when people will be over-targeted. It’ll be brief because people will turn Bluetooth off immediately. Brands will need to set proper rules of engagement — for instance, only triggering an interaction if someone has been in front of a display for over a certain amount of time — and not just passing through. Multiple brands that are using the same core app, say multiple stores within a single mall, should implement a bidding system to target high spenders, while setting strict messaging limits.

4. Getting stuck in the perpetual offer cycle. Offers are not the only things that motivate consumers. And if beacons go the way of other marketing channels (i.e. email), I’m afraid they will fall flat. We all have Groupon-fatigue, no longer motivated by simply getting a “steal.” Unlike doing a mass deletion of the Google Promotions folder, consumers will simply opt-out if they are getting hit with 5%-off deals at every turn. Depending on the nature of the product and the customer herself, she might be motivated by the following: a celebrity endorsement, a scientific study, a most popular or trending status, an “as seen on TV” offer, peer reviews and rankings, media articles, etc. Tap into whatever earned media and resources you have to help people in their buying decisions in the moment as these may just be more motivating than a small discount.

5. Privacy concerns and a lack of transparency. As we recently saw with the secret placement of beacons on Manhattan’s payphones, many brands will not clearly communicate to their customers how they are using data they are collecting (which should only be for providing a better user experience). Being transparent is core to any digital marketing program, and beacons are no different. As a society, we have a growing paranoia of being tracked, and with a beacon pinging me based on where I am, this fear will certainly heighten unless consumers are properly educated, which leads me to my final point.

6. Lack of education. People have proven that they are willing to open their personal data floodgates in exchange for more personalized experiences or offers. While Bluetooth is automatically turned on in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, users of earlier version holders will have to manually turn on Bluetooth for beacons to interact with their devices. Marketers need to clearly explain what benefits consumers will get for opt-ing in to push alerts and turning/keeping on Bluetooth.

Beacons are an amazing technology and have the potential to eliminate friction in the customer journey and change the on-premise experience more than anything since the smartphone. However, there is a bit of a Gold Rush going on — with brands of all sizes eager to try beacons out. I applaud the innovation, but warn brands to not get ahead of themselves and ensure a cross-channel strategy is in place to provide an experience customers will not only appreciate, but seek out and talk about.

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The Holiday Mobile-Marketing Strategy That Retailers Really Need

The amount of ads, offers and promotions that people experience throughout the holiday season is reminiscent of what a person would experience standing right in the middle of Times Square for more than 10 weeks. For consumers, it’s noisy and distracting and so people are tempted to tune it out. For retailers, it’s expensive and necessary.

This holiday season can be different. By leveraging mobile devices, personalization tools and contextual signals, retailers can better interact with consumers on an individual level, reaching out when relevant, providing a better experience and ultimately reaping a higher return on marketing efforts.

The six strategies below should be a part of every retailer’s holiday marketing program this year:

1. Provide omnichannel, consistent and cohesive experiences.

Creating a single view of customers across every touch point is a must. Consumers expect to receive a consistent experience whether they’re in a store, online, reading email, engaging with social media or using a mobile device.

Customers should not have to feel like they are Adam Sandler in 50 First Dates, having to remind the company about who they are, their prior relationship with a company (loyal) and their history. If a customer saves something to a wish list online, the retailer should remind the person of that if he walks into a store and perhaps provide a tailored offer.

Too often today, valuable data is lost because all sources of customer information are not integrated. All data streams (from transactions, customer relationship software and email) need to rely on a single profile, which will let retailers provide motivating experiences, content and offers.

2. Predict intent.

The holiday season represents a hurdle for marketers trying to personalize offers at a time when people are shopping for a wider, more diverse group of customers.

Retailers should look at historical data to anticipate what customers might be seeking based on last year’s purchases and what they’re likely to purchase again. For instance, if Cali bought a baby boy’s jacket last year, she should receive an offer for toddler boy clothing.

Anticipating consumers’ intent when they open a retailer’s app, come into a store or land on its website can significantly improve the rate of converting visitors into buying customers.

For example, when Taylor walks in the store, don’t send him a “10 percent off” offer for men’s clothes but instead offer greeting like this: “Welcome, Taylor. You may take 10 percent off a purchase of scarves, bags and jackets. These items are perfect for any woman on your list.” The store would be acting on a prediction that he’s likely looking for something for his wife, while providing some gift ideas.

3. Marry location with profile data to automate personalized mobile interactions.

Use of geo-fencing — and better yet beacons — is great for targeting customers while they’re in close proximity to a store or even inside it. But someone won’t be motivated to act merely as a result of being in a location that’s referenced in a message.

Pushing messages to consumers based solely on where they’re standing is almost guaranteed to annoy them. Instead, bridge a person’s offline and online worlds by personalizing an interaction based on the brands of goods they’ve purchased (say, mid-tier items), offers they’ve redeemed in the past (a preference for a percentage off over a dollar discount) and what they’re likely to be seeking today — as well as their location.

4. Optimize every tap to drive conversions.

Take advantage every time a person opens an email or app or clicks on an ad. Too often in mobile paid media, no attention is paid to the landing page a person sees after tapping on an ad. Optimize the page, test different scenarios and calls to action and target the marketing as much as possible.

5. Create rich segmentation schemes.

One size certainly doesn’t work in marketing unless the product is a scarf. Move past grouping consumers by just basic demographic traits (gender, location, age) and instead segment them based on behavior, purchases, product and brand preferences, social conduct, habits and real-time context.

6. Motivate shoppers with more than just offers and deals.

While consumers certainly look for a deal, retailers need to consider other supplemental images, reviews, videos and celebrity endorsements to perhaps inspire a purchase. Using beacons to push rich media when someone is standing next to a display can be very motivating (such as showing a photo of an A-lister wearing a jacket that a woman is considering for her husband).

During the holiday season, people are bombarded with deals on everything, from monstrous TVs to dog beds. While there are some shoppers who have meticulously picked out the perfect gift for all the people on their list, many shoppers look for inspiration and ideas until Dec. 24. Marketing should go further than a mass distribution of deals. It should help consumers by personalizing and contextualizing retailer interactions, while anticipating their needs in real-time.

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It’s (Apple) Pay Day for marketers

Ordering a Big Mac will never be the same. McDonalds, of course, is one of the early brands accepting Apple Pay, the technology that could very easily prove to be the most important product Apple has launched after the iPhone.

The way we pay for things in our everyday lives is finally catching up to our mobile-obsessed world. If you think about the four most recent innovations in the payments industry — the introduction of the credit card, the development of the debit card and ATMs, the launch of online banking, and the non-bank online payment systems such as PayPal – we’re about due.

With Apple Pay, secure, contactless payments will spread like wildfire. Because after all, if anyone can give mobile payments the boost it so desperately needs, it’s Apple.

Brands need to leverage the launch of Apple Pay to not only streamline payments, but to take a close look at the entire consumer purchasing process to simplify and modernize every step. Retail locations are becoming marketing centers, not just fulfillment centers, and require brands to adopt relationship marketing inside and outside stores.

While Apple Pay is designed to enhance the fulfillment process, it also opens many doors for brands to focus on marketing and improving the overall consumer experience. Payments are just the beginning. Here are some examples of ways to remove friction from the buying process:

Staying at a Hotel

As soon as you arrive at the hotel, you get an alert that you are checked in and should head to your room. An overlay pops up in which you select a credit card via Apple Pay as you head to the elevator. Knowing your history of attending the complimentary happy hours, the hotel sends a message about tonight’s event once you have settled in, with the opportunity to select your beverage of choice. As soon as you arrive, a staff member greets you with your drink, mentioning the special currently available at the spa (your weakness). The deal is too good to pass up, so you make an appointment on your phone, confirm the card for tomorrow’s massage and head out to your dinner plans.

Shopping

After being sent an offer for 10 percent off at a clothing store, you add a few items to an online wish list for when you stop by the store. The jacket you want is on backorder in your size. A few days later, as you find yourself near the store, you are surprised when you get a push alert that says the jacket is now in stock. Without even opening the app, you respond to the message, telling the store to get your entire wish list ready for you in a fitting room. You arrive, head straight to the fitting room (skipping in-door traffic jams and lines), make your selections, and check out seamlessly at the counter. And of course, that 10 percent off offer was deducted automatically, having been saved in your Passbook.

Picking up your groceries

What if you are reminded to pick up dog food while you were at the store, because the retailer anticipated you are about to run out, saving you a trip back out when your spouse so gracefully reminds you? Grocers will start optimizing the experience by predicting things you may forget, based on your past shopping behavior (i.e., dog food every 3 months). They can then make personalized recommendations for items based on your preferences. For example: “You might love this pesto recipe – here’s where to find the ingredients in the store!” Grocery stores will also reduce friction by mapping your route to pick up items on your list, based on real-time foot traffic flow.

Mobile is a window to everything in life — physical and digital. With Apple Pay launching, consumers will be taking out their phones right after important buying decisions. This presents an opportunity for marketers to participate before the decision point as well, using the phone to motivate the decision maker with offers, information, and recommendations.

Every customer interaction needs to be personalized. The person behind the counter does not need to know the financial details of the customer who is using Apple Pay, but in order to up-sell and cross-sell appropriately and provide excellent service, she should know what the person has bought recently, how loyal they are, what they have recently added to their wish list, and more.

The checkout may soon be frictionless with Apple Pay, but as 2015 quickly approaches, marketers need to think about how they can expand the seamless experience throughout the entire customer journey.

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When Marketing Personalization Fails

Imagine a company that addressed single women about their pending nuptials or congratulated women on their first child even though they never have been pregnant. These are just a few of the marketing snafus in over recent months by big companies (Pinterest and Shutterfly, respectively).

All the hype in marketing these days is about personalization. The idea is making every interaction highly relevant and tailored to a specific individual, based on his or her online, social or app behavior, shopping history, preferences, tastes, family and lifestyle details.

The proliferation of mobile devices has accelerated the desire by companies to personalize marketing efforts, but with embarrassing gaffs happening — and consumers all too eager to share their experiences on social networks — marketers need to protect themselves. Here’s four ways to do so:

1. Cross-reference all data.
Integrate and cross-reference data from all available first-party data sources (email, customer-relationship management tools, apps and transactions) and second-party sources (social media). When dealing with subjects about which emotions run high (such as pregnancy or other life-changing events), companies should have a double-confirmation system.

Was there a status change on Facebook? Did the customer purchase related items? Did this customer change her status within a profile on the company’s site? Only when there is second nod of validation, should companies use certain criteria to target a customer for the purchase of a product.

In the Pinterest case, the social site sent out emails to users who had pinned any wedding-related content but these people weren’t necessarily engaged. Some women start dreaming about a wedding day as little girls. Teens might use sites like Pinterest to save inspiration ideas for a future wedding even without a suitor yet on the horizon. Just because a person shows interest in the topic of weddings does not mean she is tying the knot.

2. Always act in context.
To increase the chances of delivering a relevant message or experience, companies need to not only leverage the data that makes a message personal but also be sure to trigger it when it’s contextual or appropriate to a person’s immediate circumstance and intent.

The context surrounding a consumer is what’s trending around her and what’s viral among her peers. Using a variety of big-data tools, such as semantic and virality analysis, a company can better understand what a given person might want at a certain moment. Virality simply refers to how viral something is online, on social or other channels. This can be anything from parachute pants to Miley Cyrus.

Acting in context, a hotel would send to a 25-year-old guest in town with friends a message about an Oktoberfest beer event that’s trending on Instagram and issue an alert for a symphony concert in a park to a couple in town to celebrate an anniversary.

3. Learn from the past.
Create user segments based on customer behavior, interests, needs, demographics and psychographics. By segmenting and then analyzing the behavior of long-standing customers, a company can predict the actions led to certain profile attributes, such as recent marriage or being a new mother.

An over-the-counter allergy-medicine company could anticipate what additional allergies a person may experience based on long-standing customers’ shopping and in-app behavior and user-generated profiles. Thus, the company could predict that a person with a strong allergy to ragweed might be wrestling with a specific allergy rampant in a town she’s visiting and provide an offer or tip.

4. Monitor sentiment in real time.
By tracking real-time feedback and chatter about a company online and applying a sentiment analysis, employees will be able to see almost immediately if a mistake has been made, enabling them to stop further damage from being done and to apologize to those affected.

If a company makes a mistake, the worst thing it can do is ignore it. During Hurricane Sandy, for instance, companies like Gap and Urban Outfitters promoted free-shipping offers to those in affected areas. These tactics quickly blew up on Twitter with harsh criticism about insensitivity. Apologies followed.

These recent high-profile personalization flops should not deter marketers from personalizing their efforts. Tailoring experiences is not a nice-to-have item. It’s a must-have in today’s customer-centric society.

Luckily, technology systems are becoming more advanced to put safeguards in place so marketers can personalize with confidence.

Beacons

Beacons: The Opportunity For Rich CRM

Beacons are all the rage, and for good reason. The small Bluetooth wireless transmitters that hide inconspicuously on doorways, shelves, checkout counters and more have the opportunity to completely revolutionize the consumer experience. Beacons bridge consumers’ digital and physical worlds like never before — and can facilitate rich, real-time, highly personalized interactions.

The biggest adopters to date have been retailers, which makes sense. They are the ones with physical locations — they own the shelves — so of course they should be the facilitators of beacon-enabled experiences, right? Not necessarily.

CPG companies can and should create their own beacon initiatives as an integral part of their larger omni-channel marketing programs. Imagine this: A health-conscious customer is standing in the vitamin aisle, looking for a daily supplement for her child. Instead of having to pull out her phone to search for reviews and information on your brand, a beacon pushes her the latest Consumer Reports recommendation. She will look for information herself — so a brand should streamline this process, providing the content that will make it easier for her to make her decision. Maybe throw in a coupon to sweeten the deal.

Contrary to popular belief, beacons don’t just work when a person has a company’s app on their phone. If a person has added an offer or saved a loyalty card to Passbook, a beacon will can also trigger an interaction.

As CPG companies start considering beacon programs in 2014 and beyond, they need to keep in mind the pillars below to ensure success.

Personalization and contextualization drive success. What will be the downfall for many companies in their beacon programs will be the lack of relevance to an individual. Every time a consumer is pinged by a beacon, a brand is encroaching in their personal space. If they are bombarded with irrelevant information, they will grow increasingly frustrated and disenchanted with your brand’s spam.

Reminding someone to buy detergent every time they’re shopping is not the way to engage with consumers. However, by integrating all customer data into a single viewpoint, such as buying history, loyalty program info, offer preferences and redemptions, etc. a brand could know that a specific consumer purchases Tide once every six weeks. A reminder message or offer would therefore only trigger when they are likely to be running low, subtly encouraging the sale when it’s relevant.

CPG companies also must tap into context signals beyond the precise location that beacons provide such as weather, traffic and environmental conditions to make every interaction more relevant. For example, an OTC allergy brand can alert a consumer to the unusually high pollen counts in the forecast for the weekend, prompting them to buy today.

Beyond offers, consumers want information. Beacons should not just be used to disseminate offers when someone if standing on the shelf. Rich media with videos, pictures, recipes, tips and other motivating content should be unlocked as consumers pass by. A pasta brand, for instance, could send the working mother a quick and easy menu for tonight’s dinner with a roadmap to where she can find the other ingredients in the store. Voila, dinner is decided.

Work in tandem with retailers. Partnering with retailers is the only way that CPG companies will run successful beacon programs in-store, as a retailer’s permission would be to be granted for a CPG brand to include the small devices on shelf and end-of-row displays or other marketing materials used.

As a consumer walks around a store, if she gets alerts from the retailer as well as various brands, it would be a pretty unpleasant experience, getting pinged every time she turns around. If a retailer has its own beacon program, CPG companies will need to ensure programs compliment each other, and multiple beacon messages are not on the same aisle, or section of the store. This may turn into a situation where brands purchase the rights to own beacons in a specific area for a time period – where the air space goes to the highest bidder.

On the other hand, many of the larger retailers are still hesitant about implementing their own programs and would likely welcome the opportunity to explore how beacons perform without taking on all of the risk. In this case, retailers would likely ask for some high-level reports on program success.

There is a great opportunity for CPG companies to engage with their consumers in highly motivating, personalized ways using beacons. CPG companies are in a sweet spot for beacon success with sweeping cohorts of loyal customers that would welcome the opportunity for rich, more engaging, contextual real-time experiences, content and offers. More than just building customer relationships, CPG brands can also leverage mobile and beacons to sign up customers for regular subscriptions delivered via a retailer of choice.

The remainder of this year and throughout the first few months of 2015, we will see CPG companies and retailers work through the growing pains and start implementing some really amazing experiences.

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Agencies: It’s Time to Drive a Mobile-First Strategy for Brands

We’re at a watershed moment for brands. The smartphone is now the first screen in our lives, yet mobile has been a real challenge for marketers.

Rightly so, as consumers to date have been underwhelmed with brands’ attempts to engage on mobile. The mass marketing that has dominated the industry since its inception is not working, but attempts to replicate traditional marketing strategies on mobile are rampant. The new customer journey and consumer mindset require brands to take an entirely new approach to marketing: Engage in context, act on immediacy requirements and eliminate friction in the customer experience. So where is the industry falling short? There is a disconnect between brands and agencies when it comes to mobile.

Historically the drivers of forward-thinking strategies, agencies are uncharacteristically cautious when it comes to mobile-first programs. It’s in the agency DNA to continuously innovate and push boundaries. Today’s efforts, however, are not working, which is why the issues that we hear most often, such as, “It’s impossible to measure ROI on mobile” or “No one downloads our apps,” don’t come as a surprise. These are certainly hurdles that agencies can overcome and should not be reasons to shy away. On the other hand, the brands that traditionally lean on agencies to think outside the box are more keen — maybe desperate now — to innovate on mobile.

The divide may blossom from the same struggle happening internally at companies over who owns mobile and where the responsibility lies in an organization. Or perhaps it is because mobile is much more than a channel for consuming media, clicking on ads or performing transactions. It is the glue that ties together every digital and physical touchpoint — the entire customer journey. This game of hot potato of who “owns” mobile strategy and innovation needs to stop.

The first step is to change the dialogue

Mobile is not just a channel. It is not a silo. The best mobile strategies leverage mobile in concert with other digital and physical touchpoints to provide a cohesive experience across the entire customer journey. Mobile should be treated as an extension of ourselves that senses the world around us and responds to what’s happening.

Abiding by the new rules of engagement, a retail brand would not send out a geo-fenced offer just based on someone being close to a store; the chance of it being appropriate to their context is very small. Instead, a retailer would alert a shopper that her size of the dress she favorited online has just come in when she is around the corner on a Saturday afternoon. A CPG company would prompt a person to stop in her local pharmacy as she passes by, reminding her she is likely about to run out of her allergy medicine based on the time she last purchased, combined with unseasonably high pollen counts this summer. A hotel in Turks and Caicos would retarget a person who read and shared an article about the Caribbean Food and Wine Festival with a special rate. It’s about connecting the dots across earned, owned and paid media, anticipating wants and needs and generating loyalty and revenue by providing value and eliminating friction.

Agencies are in the sweet spot

Agencies are nestled in the perfect position to conceive and create the mobile programs that will drive business results for their clients. Look back to go forward. It was an agency that that gave us the iconic Volkswagen “Think Small” campaign, which was a breakpoint as it gave brands “permission to surprise, to defy and to engage the consumer without bludgeoning him.” And the “Pepsi-Cola hits the spot” radio campaign in the 1940s that, according to Ad Age, “embedded itself not so much in the nation’s psyche as in its very nerve endings.” Historically, it’s the agencies that have helped bring the consumer viewpoint to brands and have led the charge of defining the magical connection that a brand could have with its customers. Today, this magical connection relies on the same principles, but it has to be established beyond a one-way, mass-media push. Agencies need to help create strategies that follow today’s rules of engagement (personal, immediate, contextual, frictionless).

Mobile is a true game-changer, and will be the ubiquitous characteristic among the next generation of billion dollar companies. Starting today, agencies must think of how their clients can connect in context with customers at every touchpoint to capture people’s hearts — not rely on mass media to capture eyeballs. They need to challenge themselves and their clients to not take any interaction for granted, and instead marry the digital and physical worlds to treat every customer as an individual every time.

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Keeping the creepiness out of mobile marketing

A mobile marketing expert offers five tips to retailers on how to approach new marketing styles.

A sweater you looked at while shopping online shows up sandwiched between your friends’ status updates, alongside your searches and in your e-mail inbox. While there was hesitation from consumers surrounding online ads for years because of the Big Brother essence of personalization and retargeting, consumers now are more comfortable with the concept, or at least used to it.

But mobile makes things different. Our smartphones are with us as we travel about our daily lives, literally with us every second, everywhere we go, nestled protectively in our pockets or sitting on our desks or nightstands. They have become an extension of ourselves and, not surprisingly, this can conjure an entirely new level of creepiness (in other words, I don’t want anyone tracking my every move) when brands attempt to engage in our lives. Mobile provides contextual data that can help marketers understand in which circumstances consumers are acting; where they are, the weather around brand name cialis canada them, their emotional state, how fast they are traveling and more. Even their heart rate.

It’s a bit of the chicken and the egg. To market successfully on mobile, experiences, offers and

messages must be highly personalized, but consumers are suspicious of a company knowing where they are or what they are is cialis generic safe doing. The creepiness, however, can be overcome. Here are five ways marketers can personalize the mobile consumer experience without scaring shoppers:

  • Understand and act in context. Contextual marketing personalizes every message and experience by fusing the soft signal data from sensors that reveal a person’s physical situation (location, weather and traffic, etc.) and how fast or slow they are moving (in a car at 60 m.p.h., walking down a street leisurely, lounging at home, etc.), and hard customer profile data like past purchases and demographic information. Retailers can’t simply send a message every time a consumer shows up close to a store. Do they pass by on their way to work? Then they should not get a message inviting them to try on their items in a wish list when they pass during rush hour. On the other hand, when they are on a leisurely stroll on a Saturday afternoon, they are going to be much more receptive and likely to act.
  • Anticipate intent.Customer intent is the biggest factor in successful marketing and focuses simply on what your customer is trying to do. When you understand your users’ intent at a given moment, you can help them accomplish whatever they are trying to do. For instance, normally a married father should not get discounts on nearby products when he passes through the women’s department unless, that is, it is close to a holiday. In pay for viagra with paypal that case, he might well appreciate gift ideas for his wife, as that is what he is currently trying to accomplish. To start, predict needs based on personal and societal events and identify behavioral patterns (i.e., Courtney only purchases sale items when next season’s line is in).
  • Celebrate everyone’s differences.
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    Retailers need to integrate all data streams they have—CRM, social, transactional, etc.—to have a deeper understanding of individual consumers. Not only will this ensure a consistent experience for customers across channels, but it will http://canadianpharmacy-norxdrugs.com/ also extract more value from your customer data. Creating a single customer view allows retailers to treat everyone as individuals, not a single mass. Your customer Sarah who follows celebrity fashion blogs would like to know if an A-lister was just spotted wearing this dress. On the other hand, Hannah, who has inquired into your fair trade policies, would rather know about a dress’ origins. Sarah and Hannah are motivated by different things and should be engaged differently.

  • Offer something of value. You have to give something to get something. While this is true, retailers don’t have to—and shouldn’t—rely simply on offers and discounts. Brands can “pay” consumers by removing friction from the process, like streamlining contactless payments, allowing shoppers to pre-select items to appear in their dressing rooms, or giving them the power to complete price or inventory checks through an app. As a result, consumers will see value in engaging with your app, and you will glean valuable insights to cialis online pharmacy inform future interactions.
  • Be transparent. While all is fair in love and war, the same doesn’t hold true for mobile commerce. Retailers must create relationships with their customers based on trust. Be
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    forthright with how you’ll use their data, which should first and foremost be online canadian pharmacy to enhance their shopping experience. From the initial contact and throughout your relationship, let them know you’ll only give them relevant marketing messages and inform them of upgrades, changes in policy, privacy settings, etc.

Mobile offers a truly unprecedented opportunity to treat every customer in a special, individualized way. But retailers need to thoroughly think through their strategy and approach because consumers’ hesitation to feeling that their behavior is tracked will not go away; they will instead invite only a few brands they trust into their lives. To find true success, anticipate their needs, leverage context to provide the right experience at the right time, help them accomplish something easily and remove friction from the process.

funnel_by-M-Glasgow

The Marketing Funnel: An Obituary

Introduced over a century ago, the marketing funnel — the model of how a person comes to ultimately make a purchase (awareness, opinion, research/consideration, decision, purchase) – has guided marketing strategies for brands of all sizes across every industry. Following years of losing the battle of relevance in a time of very complex customer behavior where no one followseldonvasa a linear path to purchase or loyalty and where a huge sphere of influence exists outside of a brand’s control — the marketing funnel has died. Our society is now one of perpetual connectivity, which opens the door for brands to have continual engagement with their customers. The paradigms that have shepherded strategies foreldonvasa.se generations have to make way for ongoing relationship nurturing and customer advocacy development. As smartphones become more ingrained in our lives (people now check their phones 150 times per day), mobile allows marketers to engage in a two-way dialogue that takes a more human (read: effective) approach to nurturing relationships. When the marketing funnel was in its prime, the outlets and interaction models customers had with brands were limited. Today, a person receives customer service on Twitter, refers friends on Instagram and reads “expert” reviews on their favorite niche blogs. This evolved customer journey requires brands to take a more individualized approach to their customer relationships and build loyalty through amazing experiences no matter what journey each customer is on. The new strategies to guide brand/customer interaction are:

  • Omni-Channel Personalized Experiences: Regardless of what channel a consumer interacts with a brand, the experience must be consistent. One of the biggest struggles in the customer journey today is the irregularity in how a person is treated online versus in-store versus in-app. Brands need to have a single view of their customers, integrating all data and systems (CRM, email, social, etc.) to automatically serve personalized experiences every time at every digital and physical touchpoint. If I have spent a lot of money with a retailer online, but am not acknowledged as a loyal customer in-store by the sales associate, I will be less inclined to continue a relationship. Brands with a brick-and-mortar presence need to leverage emerging technologies like beacons to drive in-store engagement by delivering personalized deals based on micro-location as well as allowing for customer identification which empowers flight attendants, servers or other sales associates to provide experiences rooted in previous behavior and demonstrated preferences.
  • Be Immediately Available, Any Time: It sounds simple, but brands need to be there when their customers need them. No one follows the same path but will be expecting you at every turn. It’s not just about being there, though. To build up a bank of good will, marketers must provide people with the information, content or functionality they need the moment they need it, no matter the screen, channel or touchpoint. Brand interactions need to be highly personalized to the individual and automatically trigger based on factors related to their current situation, such as weather, location, time or intent.
  • Preemptively Intervene: Netflix and Amazon predict with high accuracy what movies or products we would like and we have started to take these
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    personalized recommendations for granted. At the very least, brands need to recommend products based on someone’s previous affinity to other products. The truly great experiences, though, will come from delighting customers with what they want in a situation before they even know they want it. If there is heavy traffic, does your brand know from past behavior and social media activity that your customer is likely to be in a bad mood? A brand can then share a special offer for a treat to brighten their day. The magic lies in the ability to subtly intervene with something that a customer would like when it’s incredibly personal and relevant, without recommending something for far-fetched situations.

  • Nurture a Community: Our society is one where people like to be involved – whether it is through sharing a picture of their meal or outfit they have curated from vintage shops to rating their drivers. We live in a time of a hyperactive exchange of opinions across people’s extensive social circles and on communities like Trip Advisor. Studies have demonstrated these peer reviews are among the most trusted in the customer decision journey. To provide for this fundamental part of today’s customer experience, marketers need to create their own communities where people can be active participants (like

    Sephora’s new platform) or cultivate sub-communities on existing sites like Facebook and encourage reviews on established sites.

To motivate consumers to act, marketers must focus on building relationships. Pre-purchase, what experiences, rich information and real-time interaction can you provide to surprise and delight customers? If an unexpected rain shower pops up, a retailer could push an offer for a new umbrella as someone passes a store. When a person is browsing (virtually or in-store) new spring styles, a brand can share a photo of a celebrity who was just snapped wearing something from the collection. It’s about understanding who your customer is, what they would respond to and serving up the experience when it’s relevant to them.The journey doesn’t end after a purchase, but requires a brand to ensure that the customer is satisfied with their decision and provide ongoing experiences. Nurturing your customers post-purchase is critical in building an army of advocates who are the ones that will shape the future purchase decisions of their peers. As brands move on from the marketing funnel era, they need to keep the individual customer as the focus of every effort. Marketers can’t promote a new product to the world and expect people to run out the door to pick it up. They must tell me how this would benefit me, why I might like it and only when it aligns with an immediate need of mine. We used to live in a world where the brand had complete control of the conversation – the message, the experience and time of interaction. Today, there are more touchpoints than ever before and purchasing behavior is driven not by brand promises, but by social conversations and ongoing brand experiences. RIP, marketing funnel. Welcome, real-time situationally-aware, consumer-driven experiences.

future-of-travel

Here’s how the future of travel looks, powered by mobile & beacons

Beacons have the potential to completely automate our lives. These tiny transmitters will seamlessly give companies information about us that help them provide better service; puppeteer real-time opportunities for us to save or enjoy; and simplify the exchange of funds. They will remove many of the arduous steps we go through to get something done today. Steps which are so engrained into our psyches that we don’t yet even realize how much they are interrupting our lives. Traveling in particular is full of millions of annoyances that beacons, sensors, and other advances in mobile tech will soon help to squash. Just imagine a 36-hour business trip: Extremely frustrated by how slow people drive when it starts to sprinkle (it’s not even raining very hard) you pull into the airport parking lot an hour after you planned to, just as the gate is about to close. You get an alert on your phone from jumpdealers the airline acknowledging that you’ve arrived (at least they know you’re there), which is followed up with details on the next available flight. You confirm the suggested rebooking and instantly get your mobile-ticket. As you start walking toward the terminal, a message from clubink.se the parking lot has mapped out your exact parking space so you can avoid the almost guaranteed aimless search when you return. You approach security and an Transportation Security Administration official glances down at her iPad and acknowledges your hard-earned status to skip the “normal” line, no questions asked. You have time to kill before your rescheduled flight and a welcome message from a sports bar inviting you in for half-priced beer. A reminder from the airline tells you that priority boarding is starting soon, waking you from a state of serious game watching you’ve fallen into. You make the universal “ready for my check” gesture at the waitress and a few seconds later, you get the bill on your phone. After confirming the discount has already been applied, you add a tip, confirm your credit card and payment, and walk out. While en route to the gate you get a message from the newsstand reminding you that you should pick-up a pair of headphones in response to your distressed tweet about leaving them at home this morning. You enter the store; get directed to the exact location on the shelf where the headphones live (between the peanuts and weekly magazines), scan the barcode via an app, select your payment method, and once again leave at your own pace. No lines. You can’t help but notice the crowd of impatient travelers that have gathered around your gate – waiting like irritated sheep for their boarding zone to be called. The headphone-buying detour made you miss your announcement, but a push alert tells you that you are welcome to board. Once in your seat, the flight attendant, having access to travelers’ profile information and preferences, brings you your preferred beverage – unprompted. You touch down at 10 p.m. As you pass through the main terminal, your favorite car service welcomes you to the city and asks if you want a driver to take you to the hotel saved in your trip management app (note: you did not have to think about reserving a car in advance). You approve, accept the charge, and head directly to the exact door where the driver is waiting for you. You finally arrive at your hotel exhausted and hungry. Upon walking through the door you receive a message that you are automatically checked in and can head straight to your room (your smartphone is your key). Recognizing that you were in flight during dinner, the hotel automatically pushes the in-room dining menu to your phone as you wait for the elevator. You make your selection on the ride up and have ordered before you even reach your door. After you finish your meetings the following afternoon and head back to the hotel, you get a special discount to hit the on-premises golf-course before dinner. Too good to pass up, you confirm your spontaneous tee-time with one tap. Following your solo game, you head to your room to shower before your business dinner and remember that you don’t have any post-meal plans. You check the recommendations the hotel has sent you based on your interests. A jazz trio playing at a wine bar down the street? Sold. You reserve your ticket with one swipe and pick it up at the concierge on your way out. The next morning you wake up, verify the details of your ride, and head to the airport. And it all begins again. The travel industry should (and is starting to) take step towards providing messages or experiences

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that surprise and delight consumers while being proactive in meeting anticipated needs. While more advanced actions like preemptive rebooking are more than a year away, travel players are starting to experiment with the technology. Low-cost airline easyJet

is currently testing beacon functionality at its three busiest European airports. It has placed devices around the airport to push messages at “critical points in the airport journey.” Similarly, The James Hotels earlier this summer began using beacons to provide a “concierge-like experience” to guests, providing perks and offerskirstenogsoren tailored to specific locations. The beacons and other sensors that will be hidden on hotel doorways,

elevators, airport gates, security lines, parking lots, restaurants, and shops will trigger messages and offers, solve problems, disseminate critical information, and streamline the entire process. Every aspect of the traveler’s journey will benefitclubink/a> from automating procedures, personalizing every experience and predicting issues – and beacons and mobile are set to fuel this change.

Brands_mobile-Heroes

4 Ways Brands Can Be Mobile Heroes

Time spent on mobile is made up of millions of moments; Checking the weather. Reading the latest headlines. Locating a restaurant or store and discovering the best way to get there. Socializing and sharing.

The opportunity for true mobile engagement lies in brands’ ability to become the heroes in these order generic viagra online daily interactions by surprising or delighting customers with the right message or offering specific functionality at the precisekokosgallery moment they need it.

Marketers have rich customer data, behavioralelelepflege insights and an ability to have a real-time pulse on a person’s immediate surroundings unlike ever before. But for the most part, mobile marketing efforts tend to interrupt our lives instead of bringing any cheapest chemist for viagra sort of desired support.

The

golden rule of mobile engagement is simple: It’s not about a brand or a product. Mobile – where screens are smaller, attention spans are shorter and demands for relevancy are stricter – is about the individual and what a brand can do for them at the moment of need. It’s about providing the experience that’s personal enough to trigger a dinner table conversation.

Effective mobile marketing is born out of organic, value-add, contextual interactions. To start, brand marketers need to think about the moments their customers are having, how they can genuinely participate, and buyrealviagraonline-cheap.com what new moments they can create. Below are the four pillars for brands to be the heroes of consumers’ mobile moments:

  • Aid and Abet…Organically: The simplest way to win over your customers is to help them accomplish something easily and creatively. Charmin, for example, has one of the most successful CPG mobile programs because its app doesn’t focus on its product or distribution. Instead, it has created a community centered on searching, rating and adding public bathrooms. It adds value to consumers in their moments of need in a way that is true to the brand without blatantly shoving marketing messages in people’s faces, resulting in ongoing engagement with its customers.
  • Become an Active Part of http://genericcialisonline-rxnow.com/ Customers’ Lives: Think about all of the customer needs you could help fulfill in an authentic way. The New York Daily News, for example, combined its editorial content with 30+ categories of city guide information, including restaurants, traffic and events. It become the single source of information that its readers need, giving them reasons to come back to the app beyond news.
  • Look into the Crystal Ball: Marketers now have the power to anticipate what their customers’ needs are before they even know them themselves. The magic lies in three things: the robustness of customer profiles, automating marketing efforts and integrating with a complete network of systems and data sources to provide richer experiences.

A coffee chain, for example, could recognize that the location of a meeting scheduled in a customer’s calendar means they will be across town when they normally come in for their afternoon caffeine fix. In anticipation of the moment that cialis side effects leg pain customer searches for a location near their meeting, the coffee chain could provide convenient store locations.

  • Mind Your Conversation Etiquette: How do you talk to your friends? Do you interrupt them as they are doing something, shout a few words about something cialis urine smell you want and walk away? Most of us realize that shouting is no way to get what we want, so why are so many marketers acting foolish on mobile? Consumers have trained themselves to ignore overt self-promotion and banner ads – even if they are blinking in an attempt to draw the eye’s attention.

The relationships in your “real” life blossom viagra normal dose out of mutual respect; you help each other and listen more than you speak. These fundamental drivers of real life relationships need to be the drivers of mobile relationships. Don’t interrupt. Help out.

Over the last few years, as mobile has become more entrenched in our every day, marketers have applied the same tactics from “traditional” digital channels. The results have been less than ideal click-through and conversion rates, and fairly dismal app download and engagement numbers.

The relationships between brands and their customers that can be nurtured on mobile are unlike any other because they can be highly organic, real-time and contextual. The brands that break through the noise will be the ones that understand their customers’ mobile lives and insert themselves authentically by providing value.

But remember, just because your customers

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are always on doesn’t mean you should always be trying to engage. Ensure the contextual relevance of push messages and interruptions. Personalize every interaction. Anticipate needs. And know when to tap the breaks, because the moments you choose to make

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the-6th-sense

The Sixth Sense That Will Change Customer Experiences Forever

Today’s “personalized” customer experiences are based on surface [shallow] level data — what someone has bought in the past; their gender or family situation; their hometown. While this certainly helps to tailor experiences to some level, the biggest driver of what makes something personal and relevant has been neglected — a person’s immediate context.Context involves everything from a person’s physical situation (location, weather and traffic, etc.) and how fast or slow they are moving (in

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a car at 60 mph, walking down a street in a leisurely manner, etc.) to their intent and emotional state. HP0-J73 Before the proliferation of smartphones, understanding a person’s real-time context was not possible. The growing number of sensors in our phones and other connected devices has since opened the door for brands to get a true glimpse into a person’s life. As a result, brands now have the power to engage with their customers in contextually relevant ways, tailoring interaction to their immediate situation.Pre-mobile, contextual marketing would not have even been necessary. What companies need to

realize quickly, however, is that it no longer is a “nice to have.” Real-time, contextual experiences are fast becoming a must-have to build lasting customer relationships.

For generations, consumer expectations in how they interact with brands have essentially remained the same — delayed, one-way, messaging for the masses — and that worked with the available touchpoints. Mobile has completely changed this… and at a very accelerated rate. Consumers now expect to be able to have a personalized, situationally appropriate interaction with a brand whenever and wherever they need it — and the brand is providing a utility or service — not serving an ad — that helps them with something they need right now or in the immediate future.Below are a few examples of how context will be used to make experiences truly magical.
  • The Airline That Knows You Are Going To Be Late: Let’s face it — traveling is not always a breeze, but if an airline could understand the pains you are suffering, they could get out in front of issues to enhance your experience. For example, if I am stuck in traffic my on way to the airport in a jam that will make me miss my flight, I will be automatically rebooked on the next available flight and receive a ticket directly to my phone. The airline’s systems have understood that I am not in the airport, so has checked current location, recognized my movement (or lack thereof), identified that there is a traffic backed up for 20 miles and predicted that I will therefore miss my flight to preemptively respond to a need of mine.
  • The Retailer That Ends the Aimless Search for A Gift: If I am meandering about in the women’s department of a store for more than a few minutes, a retailer would understand that I am likely looking for a gift for my wife, as tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. The brand could then make the experience better for me by pushing a few gift suggestions with an in-store locator to my phone. When I am passing the women’s section the following week, I would not get this same message, but instead an offer for those sunglasses that I have been eyeing.
  • CPG that Keeps Symptoms At Bay: A OTC brand that contextualizes customer interactions would recognize that as someone who has an aversion when the pollen count is above 7 and has not purchased medicine this season, I need to be alerted of the conditions when I visit an outdoor-friendly town.
  • A Fitness Brand Makes Sure You Don’t Overdo it: Say I am a runner training for a 10K race and I track my training via a fitness app. Based on the understanding of my distance goal for today’s workout (5 miles), the current humidity (high) and temperature (80 degrees), a fitness brand would suggest a route (less hilly) and alert me about when I may need to slow down based on how I have performed in such conditions in the past (poor).
  • Your Grocery Store Ensures You Get Everything You Need: I am not the primary food shopper in my family, but my wife has added items to a list that is saved within a grocery store’s app. As soon as I walk through the doors on a busy Saturday afternoon, the store would understand I probably don’t know my way around and want to get out of there as soon as possible. On my phone, I would receive the most efficient route to take to get everything I need based on real-time flow (I would be rerouted, for instance, when there’s a foot traffic jam in produce). Given what is

    on my list, the store would also infer the meal I am shopping for (BBQ) and suggest items I may be forgetting (Do you need buns?) or may want to add to my list (Corn on the cob pairs great with burgers!”).

Mobile does not lend itself to traditional brand interactions. The smaller screens and societal shift to one that is always-connected has ushered in the need for organic brand experiences that understand and anticipate a consumer’s context –reflecting both hard customer data and soft sensor data from the physical world. But a consumer’s context can change instantly, making the window of opportunity for brands to engage fleeting. In a world with contextual expectations, being able to automate these interactions will be a marketer’s best friend. 070-412

future-of-content_Jeremy-Stockwell

Why the Future of Retail Will Blow Your Mind

For the past few years, brick-and-mortar retailers didn’t have a fighting chance to compete with the personalization and convenience provided by online shopping. By cultivating mountains of rich customer data, online retailers had the upper hand. Every action and inaction — from what customers clicked on and how much time they spent looking at certain products to their social activity and response to email programs – helped online retailers tailor each email, pop-up or recommended product to drive sales and provide a superior experience. For consumers, it was a welcome reprieve from the antiquated task of visiting a store, being treated as a stranger and receiving often-questionable customer service. This new customer journey had new engagement touch points across marketing, sales and service, and traditional retailers struggled to keep up. The tides are turning, however. After years of showrooming and online retail commanding more attention along with emerging technology like iBeacons and immersive personalized mobile experiences, the data-driven shopping experience is set to land inside brick-and-mortar stores. The lines between the physical and digital worlds are blurring, and the ease, convenience and excitement

previously reserved for online shopping will soon be pillars of tomorrow’s shops. Below are nine mainstays of the future of retail: 1. Personal shoppers for all: Retailers will focus on transforming mobile apps into a personal concierge of sorts when shoppers enter a store. In-store beacons will automatically wake up consumers’ apps to deliver highly relevant and personal content. Shoppers will be welcomed upon entering a store

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or department. The “personal shopper” app features will point out where they can find favorite products, alert them of products they might like and tell them about items being considered, like which celebrity

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wore the sunglasses in question. 2. Fewer (foot) traffic jams: In-store mapping and smart navigation will become highly accurate, thanks to real-time data generated from beacons. By tracking the whereabouts of shoppers, managers can better design layouts to streamline the flow. If a person has a shopping list, at a grocery store, say, the best route to pick up everything will be provided through a mobile device the second that person walks through the door. It will account for real-time situational factors like current movement throughout the store or congested aisles. If the shopper veers off course or adds anything to the list, the recommended route will automatically be refreshed. 3. Juicy bait hooks passersby. Retailers will target people who walk by their store through highly personalized offers or messages about things like new styles or reminders about items saved on a wish list. A woman passing a beauty store may be prompted to enter after receiving an alert that she is likely running low on moisturizer, given the date of her last purchase and previous buying behavior. 4. Self-checkout 2.0. One of the most frustrating parts of in-store shopping, is waiting in a line to check out. More retailers will follow retail pioneer Apple’s lead with its EasyPay self-mobile checkout. The customer find what he or she needs, scan it, selects a payment method and finalize the transaction, without waiting in a line or talking to an associate if not needed. As consumers become increasingly comfortable with contactless payments, the ability to control when and where the checkout happens will become more prevalent. 5. On-demand customer service. Previously a customer might have searched to no avail in a store for a sales associate for help in finding a size or answering a question. Leveraging mobile applications, retailers will maximize staff resources and enhance the customer experience by allowing shoppers to virtually request assistance. Through point-of-service applications or mobile or tablet devices, sales associates will instantly and automatically access a shopper’s profile, customer preferences and buying history to provide a better and efficient experience. Predictive analytics will be leveraged to know what a customer wants before he or she asks for it. From the floor, associates will be able to order out-of-stock items seamlessly and select a shopper’s preferred delivery method while also making personalized recommendations on other products. 6. Virtual fitting rooms and aisles. The rich virtual world will continue to supplement the physical world via consumers’ phones and connected wearable devices. Shoppers will access information and special offers through augmented reality while moving through a store or seeing how they would look wearing something without trying it on. Plus consumers will be able to opt in to access recommendations, such as for bathing suits based on their body shape and size, virtually try them on and then walk to the counter where a sales associate will be waiting with them. 7. Out-of-store, out-of-home shopping and flexible fulfillment. To compete with Amazon, eBay and other vendors with short-wait and free deliveries, more retailers will offer a menu of flexible fulfillment options, whether it’s a preorder and pickup in a store or shopping in a store offering free home delivery. Companies will introduce shopping capabilities in other arenas, similar to the Tesco Homeplus virtual shopping experience in the Seoul subway system. As consumers continue to hunt for speed and convenience, retailers will seek opportunities that grant customers the ability to shop, pay and schedule delivery in unique environments, from parks and airports to bus stations and stadiums. 8. Power to the consumer. In the palm of their hands, consumers are carrying around their own big data tools. They can scan bar codes and compare prices, check reviews or snap a picture and ask their friends for advice. Consumers have more power than ever before in the shopping experience and as a result, companies will provide rich information and social capabilities optimized for every screen, while integrating scanning and other tools to unlock content in their apps. Customers will shop around and more retailers will take broader steps toward transparency. 9.The power of tribes. Powerful communities are being formed around brands and experiences — from runners and cross-fitters to foodies and gamers. More communities will be tied to brands and experiences as never before and will influence major buying decisions. The in-store shopping experience is on the verge of great transformation. Forward-thinking marketers have undertaken inspiring experiments in the effort to enhance store offerings. Retailers of all sizes, though, will soon adopt data-driven strategies to compete with their online cousins on convenience and personalization. As overhead costs stay high, retailers will adopt mobile-first approaches — that leverage beacons, augmented reality and cross-channel customer profiling — to bridge shoppers’ online and offline worlds. In the age of mobile-dominant consumers — who have expectations of real-time, highly relevant and personalized experiences — omni-channel innovation is no longer a merely something nice

to have at a physical store. It’s a must-have. Shoppers, then, are poised to be the big winners.

connected-life

Connect With Customers by Leveraging Smartphone Sensors

We not only live in a world of billions of smartphones, but we now also live in a world of sensors, soon to number in the trillions. As smartphones start to really live up their name, new models are being outfitted with an increasing number of sophisticated sensors that can pick up cues from a user’s immediate environment. Samsung’s Galaxy S4, for instance, has nine sensors that provide a glimpse into someone’s physical world. Apart from embedded smartphone sensors, there are external sensors — from iBeacons to connected devices within the internet of things category. People are moving through their daily lives with a great variety of sensors on and around them — in their homes and cars and the stores they walk into. Marketers need to tap into the treasure trove of sensor data to inform their dialogue with customers and create highly relevant, personal and intimate interactions. At no other time in history have companies been able to learn so much about their consumers, the actions they take and circumstances they open, tweet, click, “like,” redeem, book or buy. Here are five ways companies can leverage smart sensors to create great customer experiences: 1. The traffic-jam experience. Many companies have started using location sensors for geotargeting, but as this tactic is used more frequently, marketers will need to push the creativity envelope further than simply accessing consumers’ whereabouts. A smartphone’s GPS sensor provides a window into what is happening around a person. Marketers can tap into third-party data streams like nearby traffic conditions, transit disruptions and other real-time situational factors to personalize and contextualize interactions. What’s more powerful? “Enjoy $1 off coffee today” or

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heavy delays due to an accident. Enjoy $1 off a coffee. It’s going to be a long ride.” 2. The highness experience. In office buildings, malls, airports and other multistory structures, altimeter sensors measuring elevation can let companies know not only that a person is on a block or near a building but also the floor they took the elevator to. As more companies try to drive foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores through mobile devices, leveraging altitude as a trigger for campaigns will provide more accurate and intriguing messaging. (Look up. We’re right above you. Visit us and earn double loyalty points.”) 3. The emotionally distressed experience. If someone is having a bad day, his or her spouse may steer clear or try to bring cheer via a gift or a compliment. From Intel to Samsung, the biggest technology companies are developing tools that can infer emotions by assessing how hastily a person types and mistakes made as well as by using cameras to read the mood on a face. Marketers could develop interactions with customers to play on certain attitudes and try to turn moods around. If people received a free gift from a company when they were having a rough week, their brand loyalty might be boosted. Companies will also be able to anticipate consumers’ emotional state (like dreading the dentist or stressing over a board meeting) based on their attitude historically to certain weather or to types of calendar appointments. Analyzing the results of emotion-based campaigns will be critical on an individual level, though, since everyone responds differently to stress or angst. Some people might be annoyed by a company’s intervention effort, though, while others would welcome it. 4. The speed experience. Movement, speed and orientation data available through accelerometer and gyroscope sensors can provide interesting insights for triggering campaigns. A company wouldn’t want to distract consumers with a push alert as they drove a highway at 60 mph. This would promote bad driving and people are likely to ignore the message. Mobile interactions should occur when people can give proper attention, like when they window-shop or stop for lunch. Use of orientation data can also help keep marketing budgets in check. instead of targeting all individuals nearby, marketers can use sensors to send offers to people walking away from a store who’ve not come in and thereby increase the return on investment. 5. The hot and wet experience. Heat, humidity and pressure sensors provide precise

readings of environmental conditions related to a person’s exact location. Active-lifestyle marketers can tap into temperature and hygrometer sensors to suggest real-time modifications to someone’s workout based on past performance in specific situations. (“You may want to slow down. We are at 83 percent humidity.”) Retailers, consumer-packaged goods companies, travel and food and beverage firms can self-police how often they reach out to customers by using historical performance data; thus the companies can push messages only when they are hyperrelevant and likely to drive action. If a coffeehouse obtains better results from iced-coffee promotions when it’s hotter than 85 degrees, it should not target people in conditions below this threshold. Data from sensors is not enough, of course. The interactions that will have the biggest impact and drive the best results will be those that are highly personal, not just highly contextual. This evolving “system of engagement layer” of smart interaction lives on top of all existing tech systems from companies and is the future of customer relationships.

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Flash-Forward: The 5 Biggest Mobility Trends of 2014

The Year of the Horse is upon us and according to ancient Chinese belief, people will take on “unremitting efforts

to improve themselves” in 2014.

As mobile-first consumers become more steadfast in their demands and expectations (read: personal, all about me, relevant at this precise moment), marketers should take a page from this Chinese tradition and spend 2014 significantly rethinking and improving their mobile initiatives. Marketers need to get a handle on the numerous, competing customer data streams to better bridge the online and offline worlds in more immediate, personalized and tangible ways. Once this happens, the customer journey will undergo dramatic changes that better align with the mobile-first world.

The biggest trends for the evolving customer experience in 2014 will be:

  • Consumers are “Compensated” for Data: Consumers are starting to understand the value in letting go of the tight grip they keep on their personal data – but they want something in return. While we will not see consumers get paid money for their data next year (although this is not too far off), consumers will be rewarded with more personalized experiences. Brands will also begin to explore partnerships to share opt-in customer data to provide multi-dimensional, highly relevant experiences. A weight loss program provider could partner with a retailer to provide a special offer when a set goal is reached (e.g. You’ve reached your goal weight! Enjoy 10% off those skinny jeans!).
  • iBeacon Technology Grows Up…Really Fast: More and more stores will adopt iBeacon technology for proximity marketing as a way to enhance the brick-and-mortar experience and to capture the imagination of online shoppers. Marketers will spend 2014 testing and refining indoor location programs in a small number of stores, experimenting with contextual triggers to deliver personalization, drive in-store traffic and enhance customer service. Bringing marketing automation to the physical world, businesses across a variety of industries will look to iBeacon technology as the next stage of real-time marketing.
  • Contextual-Awareness Actually Gets…Well Relevant: The primary ingredient for mobile marketing success is being relevant to a person’s immediate context. Location alone doesn’t make something relevant – In fact only 1% of the time would it drive a person to take an action. To drive true relevance and avoid interrupting consumers’ lives, marketers will start leveraging all sensors and secondary location data that exists, such as weather and traffic, as well as start anticipating a person’s intent to provide the right content at the right time to the right person.
  • The Smartphone Domino Effect: As devices increasingly become “smart” and the Internet of Things expands into new horizons, smartphones will stake their claim as the remote control to power this connected universe made up of everything from glasses and thermostats to autos and household appliances. Brands will develop omni-channel app strategies, allowing the individual to carry context forward with the smartphone automatically triggering actions appropriate to the screen and their current situation. (e.g. A dinner reservation is made on the smartphone, directions autopopulate in dashboard screen when the car is turned on and a person is prompted to review the restaurant when they power up their tablet that evening).
  • Predictions Make Way for Prescriptions: We will see the first round of mainstream apps and platforms leverage prescriptive analytics as the next round of ‘usable’ predictive analytics. As more companies start anticipating customer behavior
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    more accurately, prescriptive analytics will become adopted on a wider scale among the brands looking for actionable insights to drive revenue and deepen engagement.

This year will be a make-it-or-break-it one for brands on mobile. The marketers who stick with the status quo of boring initiatives that interrupt customers’ lives will lose their audience in droves. The marketers who integrate all data streams and systems into mobile-first experiences will be the ones

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who will not only capture — but keep — the attention of always-addressable consumers. Cheers to a year of true mobility.