Thursday, 26 April 2012

More of this, less of that

I haven't been speaking to HMV recently - that's Amazon's fault to be honest .

Well HMV noticed and sent me a very nice email asking me to tell them what I wanted to hear about.

The Customer Preference page they sent me too was a nice example of how you can make these pages a little more engaging.

It let me switch my emails on or off and provided sliders to let me decide which of the categories I wanted to hear more or less about..

A couple of nice touches were the inclusion of :

My nearest store details - nice multi-channel touch although shame they didn't ask me to confirm that was my Preferred Store

An indication of how many emails I might expect to get from them - although again an option to change that would have been a great move

The acid test is...will I notice any difference in next weeks emails?

Shopkick - Digital Rewards for Physical Shopping

Shopkick is a mobile app ( on both iPhone and Android so they get my vote!) that aims to reward customers for shopping and browsing. 

It hands out virtual points to consumers even for entering a store like Macys, Toys R Us and Best Buy in the US.

It even links to the customers Visa Card to ensure that points are awarded for using that card and promises to reward customers with free coffees etc as you are recognised when you enter the store. It also has the ability to share other customers product reviews.

I think this is a great example of using digital technology to reward and enhance the customer experience with the clever use of data, content and context as I highlighted in yesterday's post on being customer centric

The video below gives you a flavour of the offering

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Customer-Centricity: The Logical Decision

With the on going move towards marketing automation there is a risk that we always take the next best action or offer based purely on what we know about the customer from data collected historically. 

Of course to a certain extent that's all we have to play with. So the next best action when the customer calls into the call centre is to try and up grade the phone they have. The next best action for the another customer is to send them an email with an offer for the umbrella that goes with their recently acquired garden table.

But what if the first customer has called in to cancel their contract? Or the second customer has actually already sent an email complaining that they have 3 screws missing from the table and so aren't in a position to assemble it just yet. In these instances what are the chances that your offer will be accepted? Although not zero, I would say pretty minimal.

Being customer centric not only means offering the customer what they might want ( it's ok to do that honestly- I'd rather be sold the HDMI lead before I get home and realise I need to buy one!) but it actually needs to understand the context in which the offer is being made.

Context not only relates to a customer mind set but also takes into account physically where the customer is and how they are receiving the offer. You are a Nespresso drinker and you are wandering past a boutique . A logical message to your mobile Nespresso app would be to send you an invite to try the new blend? Not if it's 7-45am when yes, I am in need of a coffee but  the boutique doesn't open until 9am!

Data and context are important if you think that CRM is everywhere, as I do. And of course being customer centric means putting the customer first based on their needs and not your short term profits.

So, do I offer

 a product with a margin of £10 with an 80% chance of purchase
 a product with a margin of £20 with a 50% chance of purchase?

Today's report to the CEO might dictate the second option? But surely the long term play with the customer in mind is the first option, if only because the customer is more likely to be happy with the product they chose and so will positively review the product. But also they are becoming accustomed to you offering them the right product. Saying 'yes' to your brand becomes an easier thing for them to do going forward.

Remember the wise words of Mr Spock  - Live LONG and PROSPER, and then THINK LONG and PROSPER

( This post kindly inspired by this morning's Idio Content Marketing Breakfast  - definitely an event to put your name down for)

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Bricks and Mortar and Customer Centricity

The rumours persist -  'Amazon to open physical stores'

This story has been running since the end of last year and the debate rages as to whether the stores might be a Costco approach, pile it high and sell it cheap, or whether it might be a boutique offering that promotes primarily its Kindle range of e-readers
Kindle e-reader: device cover view
Whatever the outcome, or indeed even if the rumours are true, it does suggest that the role of bricks and mortar will not vanish for a quite a while yet.

Who would have thought 10 years ago that Apple would have a part to play on the high street? Have you been in an Apple store recently. Even when they are not introducing a new version of the iPad etc, the stores are always full of customers.


It's because they understand their customer.

Not all customers are truly IT savvy and feel immediately comfortable in switching from a PC to a Mac so they want to touch and feel the product and get some face to face advice.

Not all customers once they've bought the kit are happy to wade through on line tutorials on how to get the most out of the iCloud, so are ok with sitting in one of the free workshops which as Apple say

are taught by people passionate and knowledgeable about Apple products and eager to share their knowledge with you. You’ll have a great time, learn new skills and pick up loads of tips '

Not all customers can solve their technical problems, so why not step up to the Genius Bar? 

Woman customer being helped by Apple Store Genius

Even the way that sales can be processed via hand held devices so there is no real till point is all about making the customer experience second to none. and you haven't opened the box yet!!

They didn't set about by setting a a target for store turnover. They started out by setting a vision of an environment that would make their customers lives better and easier. That's what being customer centric means, and in Apple's case making the store cool enough to hang out at.

We often think that customer centricity is all about data. And to a large extent data helps us understand our customers but being customer centric is thinking about customer needs and wants. 

Yes it is about an amazing in store experience but it is of course also about understanding that customer journeys are not straight forward and don't always start at 'A' and finish at 'B'.

It's about understanding that at different points in that journey their needs will vary. As I write this I came across a nice post from Hubspot on How to Design a Persona Centric Website Experience . And although web specific this section seems very relevant

  • Segment by Demographics: Start developing personas by researching your existing customer base to identify the most common buyers for your products and services. You may have several different types of buyers, so give each one a detailed description, including name, job title or role, industry or company info, and demographic info.
  • Identify Their Needs: What are the biggest problems they are trying to solve? What do they need most? What information are they typically searching for? What trends are influencing their business or personal success?
  • Develop Behavior-Based Profiles: What do they do online? Are they active on Twitter, Facebook, or other social networks? What kind of search terms do they use? What kind of information do they tend to consume online? Which of your products do they spend the most time researching? How do they use those products?

  • In the words of Kristin Zhivago one of the presenters at the Fusion Marketing Experience

    Marketers spend the bulk of their time on internal politics and learning new tools – out of necessity. But all this knowledge is worthless without a personal, in-depth understanding of what customers are really looking for and how they want to go about buying it,

    This is certainly something Best Buy considered when they set up their interactive screens in stores for customers who wanted to touch and feel the equipment but also wanted information and reviews on the product.

    If a product needs 'test driving, whether that's a new computer, a car..or a new fragrance, stores still have the upper hand. The trick is to make the experience so amazing,  that the customers buys there and then..and not from an online retailer later on in the day.

    But if they do, it's from the brands own e-commerce offering.

    Monday, 23 April 2012

    Barclaycard and its Social Media Credit Card

    Barclaycard Ring MasterCard is the real first venture into a Social Media based Credit Card.

    Driven by its community of card members, it promises ro be shaped by its card holders. The community is a forum where exchange of ideas takes place as well as knowledge share to make Barclaycard Ring whatever its members want it to be.

    Judging by the (to put it politely) inconsistent approach to Social Media use by Barclays in the UK, this is not likely to happen here in the near future.

    Sunday, 22 April 2012

    Putting the Brand at the Heart of the Customer

    I know, we all thought that the Customer was the focus. Indeed they are. But to mis-quote from John F Kennedy’s inauguration speech

     ‘And so, my fellow Marketers: ask not what your customer can do for you - ask what you can do for your customer.’

    We know that traditionally the model has been for the Brand to have the upper hand in the relationship with it’s customer. But we believe that has changed. Don’t we ? Well yes and no.

    Today’s customer no doubt does have more control.
    The way they buy has changed
    The way they research has changed
    And they undoubtedly talk, comment, review our products in a completely different way to say even 5 years ago

    Does this put the brand on the back foot? I suggest that actually it’s an opportunity for brands to become as important as ever in customers’ lives.

    How? By listening to customers’ needs at every touch point in their journey to whatever they are trying to do. That might be the journey to purchase your product or it might be an opportunity for the brand to help customers in their everyday lives by just making things easier and better.
    Yes of course we can sell more by understanding how customers buy, but we can actually sell more just by sometimes being there when customers need help or have a problem.

    In reality what does that mean? Here are a few examples that I've liked recently

    As we continue to tighten our belts we still need to eat
    – even when we are on the motorway where food is notoriously expensive.
    So the Moto app provides us with a Deal of the Day to make prices more palatable.

    When tyring to sell a car, very kindly
    sent me an email confirming my appointment, but also gave me the option to change the appointment time with a link in the email.
    In the end I didn't sell my car to them but the service was amazing

    I sometimes treat myself to a lovely sandwich from my local deli Mairs. And I can tell you they are amazing!

    But on one Saturday lunchtime...

    And what did I get back?

    So of course I go back!

    At the checkout in Sainsbury's,
    they automatically compare your baskets branded goods with their main competitors and are honest enough to tell you if your shop would have been cheaper elsewhere.
    ( Brand Match)

    And as a result offer to give you money off on your next visit.

    In one way or another, these are examples of great use of different touch-points to enhance the customer experience. Making life easier.

    Great examples of eCRM

    Great examples of everywhere CRM

    Thursday, 19 April 2012

    It's Official - I Love Space NK apothecary

    I didn't dislike Space NK to start with, but over the last 48 hours they have gone above and beyond my expectations after my gripe on Tuesday.

    After that post was spotted by their CRM team I received an email apologising for me not getting my Birthday Gift as part of the their N.dulge Rewards Scheme. They then rang me to check my contact details and to explain what had possibly gone wrong and promised that my gift would be with me today, Thursday.

    At that point I was happy. Not only was the issue going to be rectified, but someone had read my blog!

    So imagine how much more happier I was when this morning rather than a Gift Voucher arriving for me to redeem in store, the ensemble pictured below arrived Special Delivery.

    You sent it Special Delivery..Nice..The Handwritten Note...Great... The Goodies.. Fantastic!

    Thank you Space NK

    The result? A very happy customer, who

    - has already been back to the site to look at some treats for the family birthdays coming up
    - will show off to his wife about how her favourite store in Harrogate is looking after me
    - is blogging about it
    - has followed them on both Twitter  ( @iamgfc) and Facebook

    The original post talked about how 40% of consumers give their loyalty because their issue is resolved in a way that exceeds expectations.

    Count me in that segment ( as well as the segment that smells nice today)

    Tuesday, 17 April 2012

    First Impressions Gain Loyalty and Trust

    I've argued in previous posts that Trust is a key factor when trying to convince an audience to read your content or buy your products and services - See the A-Z of eCRM A is for Ancient Greeks . No real surprise there.
    I've also suggested that first impressions do count. Whether that be the content of your subject line or the landing page you direct people to - See the A-Z of eCRM G is for Gladwell.

    And now a new report from ClickFox has suggested that indeed lasting first impressions are key to gaining loyalty and trust. 48% of customers indicated that the most critical time for a company to gain their loyalty is when they make their first purchase or begin service.

    As you can see from the chart, 40% become loyal when problems are resolved in a way that exceeds expectations.

    Only 1% of the customers indicated that a good time would be at the point where they are considering switching to a competitor. I would argue that also applies to win-back campaigns that target customers when they have not shopped with you a while. I regularly make use of those 'missing you' communications that include a tasty 20% off. Its not making me loyal. It's just buying my attention for a while.

    But lets not assume that once you've made a good impression a Brand can take a foot off the pedal. I mentioned a while back about a great first impression that Space NK made with me when I signed up for their NDulge Rewards Program. Sign up was easy and I received my welcome email as I walked out of the store. I have to say however that since then I've been very disappointed. I didn't get my promised Birthday treat, and the email content has been geared towards my initial purchase - a gift for my fiancee - and not based on me - a man!

    So although I do agree that first impressions do count, I would argue that every touch-point impression is an opportunity to to exceed expectations. But also an opportunity to slowly erode the trust and good will you originally gained.

    ClickFox 2012 Brand Loyalty Survey available here (registration required)

    Monday, 16 April 2012

    Marketing Gnu or Marketing Guru? - I Sat the Test.

    eCRM Muppets

    Assuming that the target market was milk purchasers with children in the family that love the Muppets then the latest packaging promotion / eCRM program by Arla for Cravendale milk certainly hit the mark with us.

    The promotion that ties in with the recent Disney release of the Muppets Movie, encourages you to collect 20 unique codes and get an 'awesome' ( a little too American?) Kermit backpack as well as enjoying Muppet games and content at Cravendale's milkmatters website .

    Of course the website they direct you to via the packaging is But as the promotion has ended as I write this, there is a holding page with some contact details.

     One negative comment to make is that when I actually entered all my codes in ..yes 20..and we now have 12 litres of milk in the fridge!..the copy suggested that I could still collect and claim as long as I saw the special labels in store. Well this morning they were still visible in my local supermarket but the holding page suggests the promotion is over.

    But I digress.

    I am actually writing in praise of this program despite a few niggles ( although so far as I am yet to receive any follow up communications or indeed my Kermit backpack - do I really need to wait up to 28 days??) .

    To start its a a simple mechanic, and I'll assume that the number of codes I need to collect is not just a random number but some how ties in with the business/marketing objectives for the programme - is Cravendale trying  to increase usage?..gain new customers?..increase web traffic?..boost Facebook likes?..

    Even if you don't go straight to the muppets page, offers an option as to whether you want to go to the main website or the promotion ( compare with comparethemarket vs comparethemeerkat) .

    Voucher entry is relatively simple ( as long as you can read the code printed on the inside of the label)and in fact you are given a bonus code if you share the promotion on your Facebook page..nice little exchange going on there

    As your code is validated,  a new character enters the gallery and after every 5 codes, you unlock a surprise and delight element to keep you excited about the next 5

    This is shown both on screen 

    and via an email, ensuring I get the reminder next time I go to my inbox

    Once I've created my Gonzo toy out of the pdf and a bottle, I'll be sure to share with you.

    One more niggle. There is a help section ( great!), but when I emailed saying that 2 of my codes were un readable and hence could not be entered, I didn't get a reply. I know it was Friday afternoon and the promotion ended the next day..but if you're going to offer to help then do!

    I was congratulated on collecting my 20 codes

    ..and the data collections wasn't too much, just enough to get me my backpack and an opportunity to receive Disney emails..not Arla which was surprising. Makes you wonder who had the real clout in pulling together the promotion?

    And of course this was confirmed via email.

    So I guess I can now sit back and wait for my Disney emails and my lovely Kermit backpack.

    Of course while enjoying the odd game at milkmatters, and enjoying the Muppet Movie.


    1. why are emails not optimised for image blocking?
    2. the confirmation email actually has no links what so ever to get me back to your website? Do you not want me back now that I've bought all that milk?
    3. why no Twitter ?. 

    ....someone else has even hijacked the promo to sell voucher codes using Twitter and eBay!