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Friday, December 19, 2014

Personalized Recommendations Can Grow Relationships

Because I travel so often for work, I like to unplug on longer flights and work my way through a good book. Over the years, my wife has recommended many that have become my favorites. She knows the important details: what I find appealing in a characters and settings, that hardback books travel better in my case, how often I’ll likely need a new book. Her choices for me are often exceptional reads because over time she’s learned my personal quirks and interests.

If my wife recommends it, I read it. Simple as that. So how can companies reach that same level of trust with their customers?

Major retailers like Amazon and Netflix have harnessed the awesome power of personalized recommendations to benefit their customers and their bottom lines. New research confirms that more than 30 percent of Amazon’s revenue can be attributed to suggested purchases based on customers’ past purchases and their virtual shopping cart. Meanwhile, 75 percent of Netflix rentals are driven by personalized suggestions calculated by hundreds of sub-genres within the movies viewed by customers.

Granted, not every company’s offerings can be so specifically based on consumers’ profiles and tastes, but research proves what we intuitively know: that we crave intelligent and personalized communications, and that when it works, we only want more.

Back to my wife the bookworm for a moment. The power of her recommendations are compounded by her impeccable sense of timing. She never recommends 25 books all at once. Nor does she leave me in the lurch for six months without a recommendation. By knowing when I need a book and rewarding that need in a timely fashion, her recommendations find their way into my bag over and over again. That, in a nutshell, is how preference management powers customer personalization.

Without the ability to anticipate a consumer’s wants and needs, or the way to best communicate with them, companies lose out on relationship-building efforts that have the potential to garner significant returns down the road. As we move towards an increasingly curated, personalized and recommended society, every company must ask itself – have we earned the right to influence our customer’s decisions?

About the Author: 
Rob Tate is the Director of Enterprise Sales at PossibleNOW.

Monday, December 15, 2014

New Data on Loyalty-Driven Shopping this Holiday Season

Like millions of American consumers, I prepare for the holiday season with two important lists - my wish list and the list of loved ones I plan to shop for. And every year, my wish list gets shorter and my shop list seems to get longer. But for marketers, there is a third list to consider. Where will we go to buy all this stuff?

New data suggests that the all-important third list is pretty well decided by the time holiday shopping season arrives. A whopping 60 percent of American shoppers polled by Colloquy for its Holiday Loyalty Shopper Study plan to save money on holiday gift purchases by using loyalty program rewards they've earned.

In other words, we'll shop where our patronage has already been rewarded with personalization and attention to our privacy concerns. And for any company who has failed to innovate or advance on these essential fronts, the news only gets worse: the biggest growth in loyalty redemption toward gift shopping is among millennials.

According to the survey, the number of 18- to 24-year-olds planning to use points or loyalty rewards on gifts in 2014 will rise by more than 40 percent. And their parents and grandparents aren’t far behind. More than 60 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds plan to cash in rewards points for gifts, a 19 percent rise over 2013 and more than half of consumers 45 years old and older say they'll trade in points to use as gifts in 2014, which represents a 20 percent increase over 2013.

Loyalty programs fueled by preference management - the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference and frequency of communication - will clearly deliver significant returns this holiday season.  

For the companies who continue to struggle on loyalty, the holidays represent an important opportunity to build towards a better 2015. Increased web traffic powered by sales and rebates can boost an opt-in list and significantly expand the prospect and customer pool. Honoring the preferences of those new customers and, over time, delivering a personalized experience will ensure inclusion on that all-important third list next Christmas.

About the Author: 
Robert Galop is the Senior Director of Product Architecture for PossibleNOW.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Lessons Learned from Oracle’s Modern Marketing Mashup

I've often been disappointed by large conferences. Big stages and bright lights are great, but it can be difficult to really connect with a speaker or benefit from an interactive session spurred on by questions from the audience.

That's why I was so excited to participate in the Atlanta edition of Oracle's Modern Marketing Mashup series. Sponsored by our local AMA chapter, the event put some smart marketers (and yours truly) on a panel in a relaxed, informal setting. We took questions from about 60 local marketers and together we created a really valuable experience for everyone.

I was joined on stage by Cristian Tarazona, Director of Demand Generation and Marketing Operations at Equifax, and Chris Moody, Director of Corporate Communications for Oracle Marketing Cloud. Toby Bloomberg, Founder and President of Bloomberg Marketing, served as our moderator.

We tackled some big questions. How do you create a personalized experience? How do you deliver results?

Chris and Christian offered valuable insights on big data, smart content and more. I weighed in with a very simple directive: "just ask."

As marketers, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the noise. We have more tools at our disposal than ever before, more research than we know what to do with and more internal stakeholders and dependencies than we ever dreamed of just a few short years ago. In the midst of all that, we can forget the simple truths of relationship-building that create loyalty and deliver a superior customer experience.

It begins with asking a customer or prospect what they want, how they want to learn about it and how often they want to hear from us. And it builds from there. Preference management - the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference and frequency of communication - is the necessary foundation for modern marketing.

I was delighted to be able to share that simple truth in such a great setting. Be on the lookout for a Mashup event in your city - it was time well spent.

Eric Tejeda is the Director of Product Marketing for PossibleNOW and CompliancePoint. Eric supports the organization’s growth objectives by productizing and launching innovative new products and services that fill critical needs in the marketplace. 

With 25 years of experience, Eric firmly believes that permission-based marketing and preference management is a mega trend and the path to success for marketers today. 

Follow me on Twitter: @EricTejeda | Connect on LinkedIn: Eric Tejeda

Thursday, December 4, 2014

ICYMI: Preferences, Privacy and Personalization in the News

How QVC's Omnichannel Focus Leads to Better Customer Engagement

Today's omnichannel consumer has reached new peaks - not only are they engaging with brands across various platforms, they're bouncing between platforms simultaneously. To take advantage of this, home shopping network QVC, has launched a new tablet feature that supports their consumers' omnichannel preferences. By looking at the number of ways a consumer engages and tailoring their marketing approach, QVC will be a big winner this holiday season. Click here for full story.

104 Fascinating Social Media Statistics for 2014 (and 2015)

As the year comes to a close, we're all making our best-of and worst-of lists. Looking at marketing surveys and studies from the past year, a few trends stand out as being old standards. What's one of our favorites? Consumers like to have control of the conversation and their purchase cycle. With all the recent reports about preference management, customer engagement, and shopping satisfaction, this should come as no surprise. As marketers, we must respect our consumers and listen to them when they speak up about what they want, how they want it, and when they want it. Click here for more statistics.

Buffalo Wild Wings Finds Unique Path to Customer Engagement

Marketers take meaningful, authentic, and immersive customer experiences very seriously, which is why brands like Buffalo Wild Wings (BWW) are expanding branded services to their customer base. To give their customers another way to engage, BWW recently launched iHeartRadio's first branded radio station, 'B-Dubs Radio Powered by Wings, Beer and Sports.' By catering to their customers and creating another way for them to engage, BWW is cultivating loyal customers. Click here for full story.

Kevin Spacey's Top 3 Tips for Better Storytelling

On the stage at the recent Content Marketing World conference, Kevin Spacey shared with marketers his top 3 tips for storytelling. Focusing on authenticity, engagement, and the purchase funnel, Spacey delighted the crowd with his tips for successful content marketing. He told the group of 2500 marketers that "good content marketing is not a crap shoot - it has always been about the story." Spacey challenged marketers to tell the best stories possible, which in turn will lead to brand loyalty and customer engagement. Click here for full story.

Why Content Marketing Is Killing Impulse Purchases

The Wall Street Journal has recently released data that suggests impulse purchases are becoming a thing of the past. Why? Today's consumers are more empowered than ever to research long before they ever reach the decision to make a purchase. This new buying behavior is a reminder that marketers must create authentic and engaging content that will encourage consumers to want to learn more about their brand and products. Click here for full story.