All posts in “Omnichannel”

The-Holiday_by-Paul-Keleher

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.

marketing-fails

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.

blow-your-mind

My So Called Connected Life

The idea of the “always connected” consumer has really only emerged only in the past two to three years. With the proliferation of smartphones, brands now have the opportunity to connect with their customers on the go and in real time, through the powerful mini-computers that people carry around nearly 24/7. The idea of being “always connected,” though, is morphing into something so much more than smartphones. Electronics companies, automobile manufacturers, hospitality companies, airlines and more are providing the opportunity for people to connect through powerful screens in all aspects of our lives. Whether it is through

the connected TV, screens on household appliances or in-dash in autos, people are increasingly afforded the opportunity to be “on” – and more addressable to brands than ever before. Until now, the winners in mobile have been defined as those with a specific, unique strategy for the channel. This strategy differed from their Internet marketing initiatives, taking advantage of the uniqueness of the opportunity to connect with people based on their location and current situation, thus boosting relevance and, consequently, brand loyalty. As more hardware companies and automakers introduce new screens for our everyday lives – be it refrigerators or touchscreen kiosks in hotel rooms – consumers are going to want to be able to interact with apps, content and media across all connected devices. Today, each device and screen works independently and most apps are limited to traditional web and smartphones. A huge brand engagement and loyalty-building opportunity is being missed with one-time, limited or everyday-use devices by having apps available only on one or two endpoints. It will be critical for brands to develop omni-channel strategies so

that the transition between screens is seamless and fluid. There are three things that must be considered when developing an omni-channel app strategy, though:

  • Personalization across all screens is crucial: The idea of living in a world in which every device really knows and understands a user is becoming more of a reality. If consumers have to reintroduce themselves to every screen, they will grow frustrated and disenchanted with the experience and the brand.
  • Capitalize on the uniqueness of each screen: A consumer’s intent is different across all screens. On an

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    want helpful information and offers for their destination city. For example, a retailer could provide a coupon to encourage the customer to visit the flagship store in the city they are visiting. The same retailer could send a push message to the consumer’s smartphone when he or she is in their hometown to drive in-app purchases.

  • Use the sensors on each device: Each device can help a brand drive true relevance by being situationally-aware of the user’s surroundings. Cars have their unique sensors and cameras that can deliver this, while smartphones and household appliances have their own signals. Brands must determine how to capitalize on all of the multi-dimensional data from signals to provide a true hyper-local and 360-degree user experience.

In the future, the “winners” across digital will have omni-channel apps, content and media that allow for real-time personalization across all form factors — smartphone, Web, TV, automobile, airplane seatbacks, kiosks and wearable computing. Apps need to deliver the right mobile context and content for the screen, which will allow for increased brand engagement opportunities and long-term loyalty.