Saturday, 29 August 2009

Customer Centricity, It's The Intent Not the Channel That Matters

Much has been said about Zappo's as a company and the culture that drives it. Even more has been said recently because of the Amazon deal of course. One of the things that most strikes me about them is their focus on really talking to their customers - going out of their way to encourage customers and potential customers to call rather than to simply fulfill on-line (a much cheaper proposition). Zappo's CEO, Tony Hsieh says of his (un- outsourced and highly trained) call center:
"We want to talk to our customers, we encourage them to call. As unsexy and low-tech as it sounds, the telephone is really powerful. Most companies look at the telephone as an expense. We look at it as one of the best branding devices out there. You have your customer's undivided attention. If you get the interaction right, if you focus not on 'closing the sale' but on doing exactly what's best for the customer, it's something they'll remember and tell their friends and family about."
The call centers operate unlike many that you or I will encounter - the CCRs have no scripts and no targets in terms of either cross-selling or time spent on calls. Of course this is but one example of the focus that Zappo's places on customer service and the deeply ingrained conviction that delighting the customer is an investment with a clearly identifiable return and not an expense to be contained.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

The Internet Explodes

Great visualization from The New Scientist of the reach of the Internet. As you can see, China has now overtaken the US with the largest number of internet users, and this is still less than 25% of the poulation...

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Personalisation & 5 Reasons Marketers Get It Wrong

There is little debate that personalised, more relevant communications cut through the marketing clutter and provide an opportunity to create or extend a meaningful relationship with your customer or future customer. In fact, the debate has shifted slightly beyond the nice to have, in this age of social communications - it is no longer neutral that your marketing messages are not relevant or engaging, it is potentially very dangerous to your brand equity. That being the case, why are at least 70% of the marketing communications that we receive basically blast communications, no more than one addressable step from "or current resident". Truth is, personalisation is not simple (otherwise it would be ubiquitous right?) to pull off , and there are five key elements that simply have to be in place to drive effective initiatives:
  1. Rich data on your customers and prospects that you can put to use to glean insights and therefore drive implicit or explicit personalisation
  2. A marketing/listening platform that allows you to gain deeper insights into your consumers at every point of interaction
  3. Multi-channel, multi-touch and multi-level creative approaches (entirely informed by point 1) to cut through the clutter and drive engagement
  4. The ability to accurately measure and optimise every campaign and every program
  5. An efficient, template-driven engine to create and deliver personalised communications in real-time
Without all of these pieces of the puzzle in place, personalised marketing will be either too costly, too complicated or too time consuming (and therefore too slow to react to changes in market or even individual customer) evolutions. It is doable, and some companies are driving significant value and can attest to the fact that creating great personalised communications offers great rewards, getting there requires a balance of strategic and tactical marketing prowess.

Get the 5 keys right and the needle will not only tell you exactly where it is in the haystack but will introduce you to the other needles that you didn't know were there...

Friday, 21 August 2009

Hyped Up

Gartner recently released its hype cycle for emerging technologies 2009. Few surprises overall, with cloud computing and e-book readers at the top of the peak of inflated expectations. More surprising to see micro-blogging entering the trough of disillusionment so soon... that might be a definition issue though.

Also great to see that speech recognition is on the cusp of entering the plateau of productivity, bring it on...

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Retention Email Spending Soars

The staple of online addressable marketing is far from washed-up. According to a recent Forester report, US Email Marketing Forecast 2009 - 2014 by David Daniels, spending on email marketing will more than double over the next 5 years. The growth will not be universal however and the report warns of the persistent waste inherent in the channel, estimating that delivery issues (emails that never actually arrive at their intended destination) will cost marketers in the region of $150MM by 2014.

Several nuggets emerge form the report:

  • The growth of social media will bolster e-mail because people need e-mail accounts to register for these sites
  • The number of active e-mail individuals—defined as people who log into one or more e-mail accounts at least monthly—will grow from 145 million in 2009 to 153 million in 2014
  • (Unsurprisingly) The biggest growth area for e-mail spending will be in transactional messaging. The firm projects transactional messaging to grow at a compound annual rate of 9.2%. Principally driven by marketers' desire to inject marketing offers in these messages
  • Retention email will represent three quarters of the increased spend and acquisition will remain secondary.

A low cost channel + a high value outcome (retention) = smart marketing...

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Location Based Marketing

Clever little execution for McDonalds in Denmark. Produced by DDB Denmark. Nice way to create a sense of anticipation around your product with an astucious media buy...

Monday, 17 August 2009

We Are All CIOs Now

I took this quote from an article in AdAge by Phil Johnson called Advertising Agencies Must remain Relevant.
"Virtually every agency activity -- from internal operations to client management to campaign delivery -- is built on a technology platform. These are no longer tools supporting the business. They are the business. Likewise, the communications channels you create for yourself, or your agency, may also become the same channels you use for a client campaign. Everyone in the agency needs to understand and apply the strategic value of technology to client engagements."
No arguments here, for years technology has defined marketing. This is one of several arguments he makes for agencies broadening (and deepening) their point of focus from what they make to what they know. This has long been a rallying call at the holding companies - how do we get paid for ideas and not execution?

The truth is, the more we know, the better (more creatively engaging, relevant and impactful) our ideas and our campaigns will be. This coupled with the pay for performance movement which is well underway, will ensure that we do, in fact, get paid for the quality of our ideas.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Measurement Matters (cont'd...)

Arguably, when you are spending in excess of 70 billion dollars a year in advertising, you would want a pretty good handle on the reach and impact of the investment. A consortium of media companies (CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, Viacom and Discovery), Media companies (WPP and Publicis) and serious adverting spenders (P&G, Unilever and AT&T) are arguing just that. The leitmotiv is the ongoing lack of confidence in Nielsen's rating system and the need for a measurement mechanism that is capable of garnering data from the increasing number of screens from which TV programming and ads are available - the internet and the mobile device.

This is not the first time the networks and advertisers have tried to challenge Nielsen's hegemonic postition. In the 90s they spent 60 million dollars to set up a group called Statistical Research Inc. to take on Nielsen but refused to keep investing in the necessary technology to fully bring the offering to market and eventually let SRI fade away.