Category: personalization
Shamir Duverseau

3 Steps to Knowing Your Customers Better

According to NationalDayCalendar.com, Get to Know Your Customers Day is observed annually on the third Thursday of each quarter (January, April, July, October). It’s a day intended to encourage businesses to reach out to their patrons and get to know them better.

Oh, you had no idea that today was Get to Know Your Customers Day? Me neither. Evidently, I missed National Salami Day and National Ampersand Day last month as well, but luckily, I am catching this one just in time. All joking aside, taking a day a quarter to reflect on consumer insights and personalization is more than a great idea—it’s essential to your marketing strategy.

So, in honor of this occasion, here are three basic steps we can all follow to learn more about our customers and act accordingly.

#1 Learn their preferences

The best way to collect customer preferences? Ask them! If they are a part of your email database, send an email and ask them what they would like to learn more about, what products or services they are interested in, how and when they want to hear from you.

You can also capture this information while visitors are on your site. Software tools such as Qualtrics, HotJar, and SurveyMonkey enable you to serve visitors with a simple survey while they are already engaging with your brand.

Today’s consumers expect personalization, so they will appreciate that you’re taking an interest in their preferences.

#2 Store their preferences

Now that you asked for the information, you have to put it somewhere—ideally a client relationship management (CRM) system. Because this information may be coming from various sources, a customer data platform like Tealium can help you unify and accurately connect those data points to the same person across multiple touchpoints and send that information to your CRM. This way you can build a comprehensive customer view in real time and take the next steps within the technologies you already use.

3) Use their preferences

You’ve asked the right questions and collected the right information. To make all that data valuable, you have to act on it. Your customers’ preferences should be reflected in the experiences you provide for them. You’ll be showing them that what they say matters, while simultaneously encouraging further engagement with and loyalty to your brand.

There are countless ways to leverage customer insights to further engagement and personalization. As one example, we recently built a personalization campaign for a travel client that promoted travel destinations based on data; if most New York residents who visited the site ended up booking a stay in Florida, the site would promote Florida offers for all visitors from New York. However, once that same New York person visited a specific destination page on the site, such as California, the promotional offers would shift from Florida to California. This use of customer preference data increased revenue per visit by 45%.

As marketers, we tend to make decisions based on our personal experiences and opinions. But the truth is, it’s not about us.

You may not be able to achieve 1:1 personalization or engagement—at least not across all touchpoints. Most businesses can’t. However, most brands can get a lot closer than they are today. And the closer you get—the better you get to know your customer—the better the results.

Key Takeaways

  • Today’s consumers expect personalization, so they will appreciate that you’re taking an interest in their preferences The best way to collect customer preferences? Ask them!
  • Software tools such as Qualtrics, HotJar, and SurveyMonkey enable you to serve visitors with a simple survey while they are already engaging with your brand.
  • Data about consumers needs to be stored somewhere; a customer data platform like Tealium can help you unify and accurately connect those data points to the same person across multiple touchpoints and send that information to your CRM.
  • Your customers’ preferences should be reflected in the experiences you provide for them. You’ll be showing them that what they say matters, while simultaneously encouraging further engagement with and loyalty to your brand.

 

Category: personalization
Jessica Porges

What Digital Marketers Can Learn from Amazon’s Purchase of Whole Foods Market

My kids are back in school, and Amazon just closed their deal to buy Whole Foods Market. What do these events have to do with one another, you ask? A lot.

As with all things Amazon, their focus is on me—the customer—and my experience. The more they know about me, the more relevant my experience with them becomes. To that end, enter Whole Foods Market.

The tech giant’s $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods has sent shock waves through the grocery industry and suspicions among Whole Foods loyalists who have concern about how their shopping experience—or the quality of the products they love—might change. But so far, the takeover has been all upside for consumers.

According to Bloomberg.com, Amazon spent its first day as the owner of a brick-and-mortar grocery chain cutting prices as much as 43 percent. In the coming weeks, the Whole Foods rewards program will be rolled into Amazon Prime for added savings and in-store benefits. This affords Prime a valuable new perk to attract subscribers and will encourage Whole Foods shoppers to buy more—according to a survey by Morgan Stanley, 62% already have a Prime account. And 1010data found that Prime members have deeper pockets at Whole Foods than non-members, spending an average of $306 more over a 12-month period.

Of course, as I eluded to, the strategic implications of Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods go much deeper—the acquisition offers its buyer a lot more value than the margins on organic avocados and rotisserie chicken. I’m talking about data.

Take an (Amazon) journey with me

Amazon already knows that I’m likely a mom of young children based on the diapers I order, the shows and movies we stream, and the parenting books I buy through my Prime membership. They also know I’m busy and seek ways to make my life more efficient, e.g. the Instant Pot pressure cooker I purchased. And now, if I shop at Whole Foods and use my Prime membership to get in-store perks and discounts, they will also be able to track my offline grocery store behavior and tie it all together. With massive amounts of data from Whole Foods shoppers, Amazon will ultimately be able to tailor the grocery shopping experience—and much more—to the individual.

Let’s pretend for a moment I didn’t own that Instant Pot just yet. Maybe I had just stalked it a few times online (since everyone is talking about them). Amazon might send me one of their high-converting emails promoting the Instant Pot, maybe with same day delivery (in some areas). They might kick in some trending one-pot recipes for beginners, with a list of ingredients I could also order and have delivered to my doorstep by upgrading to AmazonFresh.

The Amazon email I received after checking out the Instant Pot.  You can easily see how it would make sense to include recipes. 

Amazon’s goal is to make it so easy for me to get my groceries from them that I continue to do so (as opposed to shopping at the other grocer to which I’ve been loyal my entire life). They can send me weekly emails with Instant Pot recipes and links to order the ingredients. Maybe they’ll even upsell me on some Instant Pot accessories, like silicone fingertip mitts and that popular glass lid.

But they’ll also be able to learn what perishables I buy each week (because we never seem to have enough yogurt drinks or string cheese for my kids), automate it for me so I don’t have to even think about writing out a long grocery list, and deliver the food to my door (or have it ready and waiting for me in a locker at Whole Foods).

Amazon is a master of the upsell, using a highly sophisticated algorithm to recommend the right products to the right customers, at just the right times. Their treasure trove of data enables them to analyze behavior from customers and use this information to recommend products to those shoppers as well as other shoppers with similar profiles. The company has integrated recommendations into nearly every part of the purchasing process from product discovery to checkout.

They also dole out recommendations through email. Did you know that Amazon’s email marketing program analyzes the success of various campaigns and drives only the highest performing emails to a customer’s inbox? Smart. And now, whether shopping on Amazon.com or in Whole Foods retail locations, shoppers’ unique Prime identifiers are keeping track of all their activity, adding them to specific customer segments that can trigger personalized emails, messages on the website, retargeting ads and a multitude perks and offers.

How to think like Amazon

What can marketers learn from this tech behemoth with the potential to know everything there is to know about my movie preferences, lifestyle choices, kids’ snacking habits and my grocery aisle behavior? Regardless of the industry you’re in, your customers are engaged in a journey, and it’s your job to optimize the key decision points along their route with Amazon’s ninja-like precision. Here’s how to do it.

Map it out. List the key decision points along your customer’s journey and the steps necessary to take your desired actions. In my Amazon/Instant Pot example, that could include:

  1. Getting me to add the Instant Pot to my cart—ideally with add-ons
  2. Purchasing the Instant Pot
  3. Opening an email with groceries to buy from Whole Foods to make my first Instant Pot meal
  4. Adding those groceries to my cart
  5. Purchasing those groceries (either for delivery with the upsell to AmazonFresh or pick-up at Whole Foods)
  6. Subscribing to an auto-ship or weekly auto-order to pick up at Whole Foods
  7. Referring friends/family to Amazon Prime, AmazonFresh, etc.

Think about the metrics. Use analytics tools to determine a baseline for your online and offline metrics at the conversion points currently implemented.

Implement technology. You have data and you have a lot you want to do with it. Now you need the right technology to make it happen. Most of us don’t work for a company with the resources of Amazon, with several dozen people to build and optimize internal systems to power their customer experience. But, you can do the same with the right tool at the heart of your customer experiences.

For example, let’s talk about Tealium. Tealium has a suite of tools that allows you to gather data from various online and offline sources (Tealium IQ Tag Manager), slice and dice your consumers into segmented groups, and then share that with other systems both for action and analysis (Tealium Universal Data Hub). (You can learn more about tag management in our earlier post, 3 Tag Management Systems To Make Your Life Easier.)

Tealium allows you to ingest multiple data sources, stitch them together, and then push meaningful data into other systems to trigger actions or to analyze for insights.

If I’m looking at the Instant Pot but haven’t yet pulled the trigger, I’m placed in a group that will be encouraged to make the purchase via remarketing and retargeting tactics.

If I decide to walk into Whole Foods and pick out my groceries the old-fashioned way, I’m incentivized by perks to reveal my Amazon Prime membership and, when I do, my website activity and in-store purchases become tied to the same member number and united in Tealium.

From there, I can be put into another segment of customers, which may trigger certain personalization on the website that prompts me to share my experiences, sign up for perks and more.

It’s likely I fall under a few different marketing categories: “high disposable income”, “young children”, “healthy lifestyle”, “tech gadget lover”. Because Amazon doesn’t want to flood my inbox, they will choose the most successful of the emails that are relevant to me that week, e.g. “top toys for children” or “best newly released workout videos” to increase the odds of me opening it, clicking through and potentially converting.

Applying Tealium to your customers’ journey

No matter your industry, multi-channel analytics, personalization and re-marketing are your best digital marketing tools for driving conversions. Using a tool like Tealium enables you to tie customer data together and activate next steps. Let’s look at a few examples.

Hospitality

If available, I tend to stay at Ritz-Carlton hotels when I travel. When I book my room online, I log into my existing account and enter my member number to earn rewards. That gives Ritz-Carlton at least two unique identifiers to analyze my behavior and market to me in a more personalized way. Using a tool like Tealium, they can tie me to the types of rooms I’ve booked or upgraded to in the past from their CRM and tailor an “upgrade now and save” message to me.

Tealium then tells their email service provider (ESP), such as Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC), to send me that message as part of my confirmation email, or it tells a personalization tool like Optimizely to give me this message on the confirmation page. Or, both—it can serve up the upgrade message on the confirmation page and, if I don’t react, include it in the confirmation email. Perhaps the message comes to me before I even book the room. If Tealium sees that I didn’t choose the upgrade in the booking funnel, it could tell a tool like Yieldify to inject a targeted message in the booking process. It could also learn from the CRM that I’ve dined at their hotel restaurants and tell SFMC to send me a pre-arrival email with available dinner times during my stay.

By targeting messages at key points in the conversion process, such as after a room type is selected, you can improve the customer experience and better meet your business goals.

Real Estate

Opendoor.com is a relatively new company that buys and sells homes in a streamlined fashion– they supply a seller with a firm offer within 24 hours that the seller either accepts or rejects. After Opendoor owns the home, they make any necessary updates or renovations and then list the home in their inventory online. Anyone interested in viewing the property can gain access instructions through their mobile app.

Let’s say I’m in the market for a new home, so I download the Opendoor app and set my search criteria. I go visit a few of the homes on my list, but none of them are the perfect combination of the features I want. As I leave each home, the app detects I’m leaving the area and sends a push notification to complete a short survey providing feedback on the home, perhaps using a tool like ForeSee. ForeSee then sends that information to Tealium. Did I love it, was it missing something? Tealium sends this data to Opendoor’s recommendations engine, to help make better recommendations to me (and others like me) to view other properties. At the same time, the data could even be combined with other data and sent to Domo, to help Opendoor analyze and select the appropriate features to look for in (or add to) the subsequent homes they invest in, getting close to a “just-in-time” model within the pre-existing real estate market.

Healthcare

As a mom of two kids, I’m a frequenter of Urgent Care. Perhaps at my most recent visit, I opted in to receive newsletter communications from the health system. These emails may contain general tips on staying healthy, but Tealium can help connect the ESP to the CRM so that the email could also be personalized based on what the medical center knows about my previous visits (being careful to mention that I’m simply an anonymous patient ID, not a name, by simply grouping me into a segment). If I click through one of these emails to the site, perhaps to read about yoga exercises I can do at home, Tealium can connect my urgent care visit to my website visit and to the content I viewed, all in the CRM. Perhaps after reading about yoga, I read about primary care physicians before leaving the site. Tealium can now tell the ESP to personalize a section of my next email with information about choosing a PCP, maybe even including a short list of physicians near my home.

Pressure cook your personalization

It’s been estimated that more than 80 million people are Amazon Prime members. With this data, it is capable of building analytic models which can predict what these consumers will want, how much they will want, and when they will want it. Now that Amazon can collect and connect data from offline purchases as well, the power of their customer insights is unrivaled.

Ok, so we can’t all be Amazon. But every digital marketer can optimize their business’s key performance indicators by understanding the customer journey and getting ahead of questions or roadblocks at each micro-conversion point. From there, you can use a toolbox of technologies and strategies to optimize the journey from consideration to purchase, and then help them to keep coming back for more.

Remember, it’s personal. Customers care more about themselves than they care about you. Use data to make your communications as customer-centric as possible. That’s what Amazon does best and a key reason for purchasing Whole Foods. Follow their lead and make the best possible use of the data at your fingertips.

Key Takeaways:

  1. The strategic implications of Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods is less about brick-and-mortar retail or the margins on groceries. It’s about the data.
  2. No matter what industry you’re in, every digital marketer can and should optimize their business’s key performance indicators by understanding the customer journey and getting ahead of questions or roadblocks at each micro-conversion point.
  3. Tools like Tealium can help digital marketers gather data from various online and offline sources, slice and dice consumers into segmented groups, and share that data with other systems both for action and analysis.
  4. Remember, it’s personal. Use data to make your digital experiences as customer-centric as possible.
Category: personalization
Alex Corzo

Email, We’re Gonna Party Like it’s Our Birthday

I’ll come right out and say it—today is my birthday. Send the cake and presents this way! If you need more reason to celebrate, I recently discovered that I share my birth month with another mover and shaker. Last week email turned 46—older than the Internet itself—and it’s still looking great.

In fact, of all the digital marketing channels, including search engine marketing and social media, email marketing remains the no. 1 driver of revenue and conversions. According to a report by McKinsey & Company, email is nearly 40 times more effective at acquiring and converting customers than Facebook and Twitter combined.

If I were throwing email a birthday party, instead of my own, I might craft a toast to honor the invention that unquestionably revolutionized the way we communicate. That toast would quite possibly recap email’s exciting and wondrous journey to 2017, and it would most certainly include some of these notable milestones.

email’s first steps

The first email was sent in 1971, by Ray Tomlinson a pioneering American computer programmer at the Boston firm of Bolt, Beranek and Newman (known today as BBN Technologies.) He’d been asked to figure out something interesting to do with ARPANET, the newborn computer network that was the predecessor of the modern Internet.

Tomlinson had been tinkering with two programs called SNDMSG and READMAIL, which allowed users to leave messages for one another on the same machine. He applied the idea behind these programs to a third program called CYPNET, which enabled users to transmit files between computers. He famously chose the @ symbol to separate the names of senders and recipients from the names of their machines. Email as we know it was born. Now, more than a billion people around the world type that @ sign every day.

The first email standard was proposed in 1973 at Darpa and finalized within Arpanet in 1977, including common things such as the to and from fields, and the ability to forward emails to others who were not initially a recipient.

But when did we start calling email email? It’s up for debate, but Indian-born American scientist and entrepreneur Shiva Ayyadurai takes the credit. At the age of 14, Ayyadurai wrote a program called EMAIL for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, which sent electronic messages within the university, later copyrighting the term in 1982. (What else happened in 1982? Me!)

email takes hold

There is a first for everything, including the original marketing email. And as it turns out, the first documented commercial email for marketing purposes was a total winner. Sent in 1978 by a Gary Thuerk, Marketing Manager at Digital Equipment Corp., this inaugural email marketing campaign promoted his company’s machines to 400 users via Arpanet. The ROI on that mass email? $13M in sales (with inflation, the equivalent of $78M today).

There were, of course, doubters along the way. In 1989, experts predicted that other technologies like the fax machine would soon replace email. But who could blame them—at the time, it was hard to conceive of the innovations in hardware and particularly software that would make email the undeniable leader in communication worldwide.

The first version of Microsoft Mail was released in 1988 for Mac OS, allowing users of Apple’s AppleTalk Networks to send messages to each other. In 1991, a second version was released for other platforms including DOS and Windows, which laid the groundwork for Microsoft’s later Outlook and Exchange email systems.

But it wasn’t until 1991 that the Internet become widely available to the public, begetting new systems of communication. Enter Hotmail. It was one of the first email services not tied to a particular ISP and adopted new HTML-based email formatting (hence the initial stylizing of the brand name as “HoTMaiL”. Oh so clever.) And who doesn’t remember the sound (and recoil at the thought) of AOL dial up? The sound of email arriving was the cornerstone of the 1998 Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan romantic comedy, You’ve Got Mail, by which time the Internet and email had become part of everyday life.

email overload

Marketers, of course, were catching on. Inboxes inundated with clutter and junk emails resulted in the introduction of the Data Protection Act in 1998, which required all email marketers to include an opt-out option. And the years that followed were a battleground among email marketers (particularly pharmaceutical companies), virus laden spam and consumers. I’ll spare you the details you’ve happily since forgotten, but mark 2004 as the real beginning of recipient focused anti-spam strategy that continues today.

In 2003, for better or worse, BlackBerry brought work email to the palm of employees’ hands. Four years later, Apple’s first iPhone was released, and suddenly mobile email became a part of daily life for the consuming masses. Fast forward to today, and we’re sitting squarely in a mobile era. Email marketing trends have closely followed the web, with the percentage of B2C brands using mobile-friendly email designs growing 88% over the past two years, according to Litmus. In fact, mobile-unfriendliness is a major cause of both spam complaints and opt-outs. According to Litmus, 51% of consumers have unsubscribed from a brand’s emails because their emails or website didn’t display or work well on their smartphone.

the brave new world of email

Despite email’s decades-long existence, we’re still striving to design emails that people want to open, craft content that people want to read and offer consumers something of value.

It seems like every day we’re finding new ways to leverage the data we now have access to, thanks to the hundreds of email service providers available. At Smart Panda Labs, we use this data to measure and optimize our client’s digital strategy and database marketing efforts. We also leverage tools like Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics to aggregate those insights and better understand campaigns and customers.

The past couple of years in email’s evolution have been nothing short of awesome. Companies can use automation, segmentation and triggered emails to deliver highly personalized emails that nurture, engage and reengage their consumers. As Charlene writes in her post, personalization helps customers feel like they are relevant and being “heard.” Now you can send a personalized email based on specific user behavior on your website or social media pages automatically. Automating the more mundane aspects of email creation allow you to deliver a high performing email experience—and a consistently great brand experience—for every subscriber.

So cheers to you, email, my fellow Aries—the pioneer and trailblazer of the horoscope wheel. You’ve had an amazing journey, defied all odds and continue to shape communication around the world. I’m proud to share my cake with you.

key takeaways

  1. The first email was sent in 1971, by Ray Tomlinson a pioneering American computer programmer at the Boston firm of Bolt, Beranek and Newman (known today as BBN Technologies.) He famously chose the @ symbol to separate the names of senders and recipients from the names of their machines. Email as we know it was born.
  2. The first documented commercial email for marketing purposes was sent in 1978 by a Gary Thuerk, Marketing Manager at Digital Equipment Corp., and promoted his company’s machines to 400 users via Arpanet. That first mass email resulted in $13M in sales.
  3. In 1991 the Internet became widely available to the public and beget new systems of communication, from Hotmail to AOL dial-up and Yahoo.
  4. Inboxes inundated with clutter and junk emails resulted in the introduction of the Data Protection Act in 1998, which required all email marketers to include an opt-out option. But 2004 marks the real beginning of recipient focused anti-spam strategy that continues today.
  5. The hundreds of email service providers available provide nothing short of awesome metrics and data that can be leveraged to optimize digital marketing campaigns.
  6. These tools and others can be leveraged to create personalized, automated communications that are relevant to a customer’s specific behavior and even delightful to read.