Archive for the ‘Digital Marketing’ Category

twitter-business-roiWe’ve had the privilege of working in social media since the early days when we partnered with a leading clothing retailer back in 2010 to introduce a product-level Facebook Like button. This may seem like table steaks given eMarketer estimates that 88% of marketers cite they will use social media in their marketing mix today, but at the time it wasn’t clear just how well it would work. Now 4 years later, brands tie goals to their social media programs, commonly citing brand awareness, customer acquisition and retention as top of mind.

With that, a much greater challenge has risen now that most of us have social media programs in place – ensuring social media delivers ROI. In Chief Marketer’s August 2013 study, 58% said it was “hard to determine ROI.” This lack of measurability is making it hard to justify increased investment as the cost to support these goals grows. This is frustrating because intuitively, most marketers believe social media has a role in business. At its best it enables consumers and brands to connect naturally with honest and authentic conversation. At eBay Enterprise we focus on making all marketing investment measurable and social media is no exception.


The following tips are centered on helping marketers discover sources of ROI for their social media efforts:


Tip #1 | empower your loyalists to support each other

Social media had its reach into customer support long before the invention of Facebook with the use of Wikis and forums, but often, only the most technically savvy customers accessed it. What’s changed is the large degree to which social media has become a mainstream support channel for just about anyone. What makes this great is that a brand’s biggest advocates are helping the average customer with everyday problems – lowering support costs and boosting retention. You don’t have to look further than Apple for a best in class example for building a support community. Apple’s success can be partially attributed to how well the community is embedded in the overall support experience. Topics of interest are organized around products ensuring the most relevant content is made available. As a result, Apple’s support community is populated with brand enthusiasts that are eager to share their knowledge in order to help other customers.


Tip #2 | uncover buyer intent

Listening to your customer in social channels offers you the ability to uncover how people naturally speak about your brand and products. One way we do this at eBay Enterprise is to create a linguistic profile of our client’s target customer to help understand what consumers are looking for and how they make purchase decisions. These insights are then fed directly into a customer contact strategy that speaks in a voice and tone similar to the way customers talk about the brand and product category. As a result, marketers find new, like-minded customers.


Tip #3 | accelerate product innovation

Input from the customers that love you most can provide the greatest source of inspiration to create your next product. You can use both public forums such as Facebook or private communities to solicit new ideas, while simultaneously testing out your own before going to market. For instance, the Lay’s “Do Us A Flavor” contest kicked off this January with resounding enthusiasm, asking fans to submit their idea for the next great potato chip. To drive it all home, fun and engaging stats are actively shared with the anticipating fan base as they await the winning flavor.

No matter where you are with your social media program today, it is critical to understand that social media is constantly evolving. Yet, in this changing social landscape lies ample opportunities for you to both increase the value of your brand and drive ROI. With clarity around your goals and a process in place, you can measure the performance of these efforts and remain proactive in the changing landscape.


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Churchill ClubSAP’s CMO stated, “you are dead if you aren’t a customer led organization,” while Intuit’s CMO stated “Intuit’s marketing team serves as growth officers.” An interesting discussion ensued around marketing’s role in shaping the customer experience and the related organizational implications at the CMO Agenda 2013 Summit in Santa Clara on July 31, 2012. Distinguished speakers included Jonathan Becher (CMO, SAP), Nora Denzel (Senior VP, Big Data, Social Design and Marketing, Intuit), Anne Globe (CMO, DreamWorks Animation), and Lorraine Twohill (VP Global Marketing, Google).

One of the pressing issues CMOs face this coming year is whether or not their organization is truly customer centric. Two years ago, I covered the topic of the [Global] Total Customer Experience at the Smart Seminar on Globalization, which led to a feeling of deja-vu as I listened to the continuing customer experience challenges these CMOs discussed. In short, the total customer experience represents the consumer’s brand perception through the total accumulation of experiences that an individual has with the brand across every interaction point. As the number of touchpoints have increased, such as with the introduction of social and mobile, brands have less control over their message. Furthering this problem, poorly aligned and fragmented organizations can easily introduce policies and processes that result in needless friction in the user experience. This has upended marketing and created an organizational gap – who should own the total customer experience? Once that is determined, it is much easier to create brand experiences that go beyond simple utility and truly delight the customers with deep, emotional benefits that transform them into avid fans and loyalists.

Evidence that marketing is attempting to become more customer-centric abounded at the talk with questions raised such as:

  • Should marketing own P&L responsibility?
  • Will marketing disintermediate sales?
  • Does marketing have a role in defining product experiences?

There was considerable support behind making marketing accountable for P&L, while there was an appreciation that marketing would not make a hostile move such as taking over an organization role such as sales. What is clear is that organizations within the firm must work much more closely together to deliver a total customer experience across product experience and marketing channels, which means the separation of such roles will become murkier over time. Traditionally, marketing often assumes the role of being the outside voice of the customer even if there is no clear mandate in place. Now with a near consensus that organizations must pay attention to the total customer experience, the issue of organizational ownership has been raised. If marketing takes ownership over the total customer experience, how do we as marketers define the role and measure its success? Although there are few “C” level positions focused on customer experience today, the numbers are expanding and I expect the role to evolve. Perhaps more importantly, we may want to ask the question: what do we do while we wait for this new corporate position to be introduced into our organization, given we know its importance.

In an upcoming blog, I will address three things you can do to make your firm more customer-centric before your “C” suite is in order:

01. Include your customer in design.
02. Build a healthy relationship with your customer before setting sales targets.
03. Establish an agile marketing organization.

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CIO Agenda 2013

Churchill ClubThe central topic of the night was IT Consumerization at Churchill Club’s CIO Agenda 2013. Attendees of the talk included Karen Austin (CIO PG&E), Ben Fried (CIO Google), Bask Iyer (CIO Juniper), and Karenann Terrell (CIO Wal-mart). It seemed these CIOs had well embraced the notion that consumer technologies will drive IT strategy moving forward – something that has been well known since employees practiced BYOD when the iPhone penetrated businesses 5 years ago. The mantra now seems to be that CIOs want standards around routine, mundane tasks, as they concede that consumer choice will bring an ever increasing rate of rogue apps into the work environment. Cyber security was cited as the number one issue on the CIO’s mind. Interestingly Google’s CIO seemed to advocate for the strictest policies against rogue employees using whatever Apps and devices they want; this is the one company I expected to offer a near free for all due to its young and reputably innovative employee base.  I appreciated his perspective that IT must make its “employees great” in order to avoid the proliferation of foreign apps in the workplace, but I remain a skeptic that an IT department can keep pace with marketplace innovation. It was a commonly shared view at the talk that IT must delight its customers.

Here are a few of my thoughts on the subject:
1. Private clouds will protect some data if content silos are broken down, but the consumer demand for best of breed will continue to remain a force difficult for slower moving CIOs to contend with.

2. New apps will continue to proliferate when they enable superior productivity.  IT must focus on developing great solutions, where routine and mundane tasks can be modeled. Through the delivery of great services, trust can be established at a level that gets employees on board for the fight against cyber security threats.

3. Innovation requires insight. IT’s strongest play in enabling innovation in the firm is to capture and unlock big data – both explicit and implicit.

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I had the opportunity to attend BayCHI on March 20th, where Brennan Browne from AnswerLab presented three trendiPads and five lessons that user experience designers need to consider with tablet experiences. Although the focus of the research was on the iPad, I believe the research is largely extensible to other tablet platforms unless otherwise noted.

Here is a synopsis of the insightful talk.

Trend 1: Trading Computer Time for Tablet Time
Prior to introduction, there was a question as to whether the iPad was just going to turn out to be a big iPhone. That question has been answered with a big no. It has become more of a replacement for the laptop; not a rival to the smartphone.

Trend 2: The Tablet and Shared Experiences
The majority of people share their tablet, which means a big security question looms for iOS users since there is no multi-user account service built in. As a result, people are more reluctant to save personal information or authenticate.

Trend 3: Apps versus Web
People can access the web comfortably these days. The tablet-based web browsing experience is considered more pleasurable than boring old desktop browsers.

People need an incentive to download an App with the expectation that it provides more than the Web experience. That being said, Apps are here to stay. App enthusiasts exist and will remain.

Lesson 1: Small Laptop, not Big Phone
7-inch tablets are treated more like big smartphones, but not the 10-inch counterparts. The tablet is becoming more of a multi-use device and a replacement for a laptop/PC in many situations. Its portability makes it particularly useful around the house and in trusted locations with free WiFi such as Starbucks.

Lesson 2: Full Web
It is expected that the full Web is provided on a tablet, not a reduced set of content and functions. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t improve the Web experience on tablets with relevant tactile features.

Lesson 3: Content over Context
People use their tablets as extra portable laptops, but don’t necessarily bring them everywhere. This means that the tablet state and location dictating specific experiences are secondary to core functionality, rich content and a superb interface.

Lesson 4: Shared Device
The fact that the tablet serves as a shared device presents unique challenges, so be sure to consider how features and use cases (e.g. one click purchases) may be affected by multiple users sharing a single device.

Lesson 5: Security Fears
Security is a major concern for tablet users as many are still unfamiliar with the platform. Plan accordingly.

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John Schneider at the Shopper Marketing ConferenceI attended the shopper marketing conference at Old Navy Pier in Chicago from October 16 – 18. Shopper Marketing focuses on the shopper’s path to purchase, or said another way, the moment when people are in shopping mode. There is an important distinction between consumer marketing and shopper marketing with respect to focus, since the shopper is not always the same as the consumer of the product.

On face value, one might think shopper marketing theory largely focuses on the in-store shopping experience with marketing tactics such as point of sale displays. It was refreshing to see how much shopper marketing is evolving by embracing the entire shopper ecosystem. With 91% of smartphone owners less than 3 feet away from their phone year round, rich ecommerce experiences can be had instantly. To support the point that offline and online commerce are blurred, I was a bit surprised at the statistic that 54% of Wal-Mart shoppers visit walmart.com before going into the store.

People are seamlessly swimming through channels from consumer to shopper to advocate and back again, giving them all the power. Mobility enables product, pricing, and promotion transparency at an unprecedented level even though 70% of purchase decisions are still made at the shelf. Although in-store POS displays will continue to play a pivotal role in the sales process, they will reinforce the digital message as opposed to following it. This strategy is particularly resonant for the 50% of shoppers who already use the Internet, while physically shopping in-store.

This new connected consumer forces firms to shift from a brand centric strategy to a solution centric approach that is focused on a much broader and deeply connected system of in-store and online brand touch points.

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I’ve had the opportunity to redesign multiple sign-up and checkout experiences over the years. You might think it couldn’t be that hard, but it is never simple from my experience. The sales team may want loads of registration data at sign-up even if it means there is a huge associated bounce rate. Worst case, sales might think, “if they don’t finish the form, then who wants the prospective customer anyway?” On the opposing side, savvy business models such as fermium models may dictate that you capture as many users as possible, even if you don’t know much about them.What is exciting to me is that it looks like we may have a new solution to our registration and checkout woes. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the X.commerce Innovate conference where they announced PayPal Access. Unlike Facebook Connect’s focus on sharing the social graph with merchants, PayPal Access brings a user’s authentic e-commerce profile to the registration and checkout process. I use the word authentic, because a person using PayPal is a real world individual with a bank account and purchase history. This product allows users to checkout without sharing their private financial information with the company or physically going through registration. On top of that, the retailer doesn’t have to give up valuable social graph data Facebook provides to merchants since they also announced a partnership with X.commerce at the conference. In a nutshell, a person brings both their wallet and their friends to the shopping experience.

I’m not saying that registration will cease to exist. What I am saying is that PayPal Access may reduce friction in the registration and purchase process for the 100m+ and growing PayPal users. For SMBs, this just might level the playing field a bit with larger companies that have much bigger technology budgets. A few lines of code is all you need to create frictionless checkout for many prospective customers.

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As consumers of digital content, we are all overwhelmed with a myriad of subscription and a la carte procurement options for accessing the movies and TV we want. Unfortunately, no one has the complete solution just yet. Hulu gives us a lot (not all) of the content from Fox, NBC, and ABC but generally lacks support of the cable operators and CBS due to unresolved conflicts with their respective business models. TiVo and other connected TV devices are reaching many agreements with content consolidators such as Hulu and Netflix, but no one has a fully integrated experience where content comes before the content provider’s brand, creating friction in the user experience.

What’s it going to take to get to the Utopia vision of watching whatever you want, wherever you want, without navigating multiple content silos or maintaining an excessive number of subscription services? Here are a few of the primary industry issues outstanding:

Effective revenue model for all parties involved

Content owners need to be fairly paid, which hasn’t happened yet. Netflix’s growth is amazing, as they have captured 60% of the movie streaming market; however, they have windowing rules that keeps desired content out of the hands of consumers too long. Without a dual subscription and ad model, they will likely struggle to establish a model that attracts desirable content and keeps everyone fairly paid.

Hulu’s ad effectiveness with respect to brand and message recall is 55% more effective than traditional advertising. This is translating to higher revenue returns for Hulu per half hour of prime time episode as compared with cable, cable DVR, and broadcast DVR; only broadcast is earning revenue higher per half hour of prime time episode today and the gap is closing quickly. For Hulu, breaking from its JV relationship with its founders is the critical next step to expansion.

It will be interesting to see what packaging and merchandising options develop with the union of Blockbuster and Dish, given the opportunity to marry strong content provider relationships with multi-channel distribution capabilities.

Maintain brand identity, but let go of brand dominance

Making users go to dozens of websites and apps will not work. Content silos must be broken down. TiVo is currently one of the best devices to make this happen as it owns the coveted “input 1” position on our TVs, meaning even our grandparents can easily get to the stuff they want to watch. TiVo’s latest product makes huge strides towards putting the content in front of users before the distributor’s brand and makes great strides at breaking down the windowing issue faced by Netflix by giving users multiple content access points. While TiVo has had many great successes, it is still a heavily considered purchase in comparison to its cable operator owned generic DVR counterparts. Recent partnerships between TiVo and operators indicates that this issue may resolve over time, as its patents and its phenomenally superior user experience are showing signs of winning out.

Emergence of open standards?

From payment systems to ad platforms, the industry may have to adopt open standards to allow everyone to play. The benefit? Ease of use for users and access to content will result in more use. Proprietary business models are great if you can make it work, however, network effects are somewhat questionable, which means being the keeper of all technology components may not be the right strategic move because movie and TV viewing has not proven to be particularly social, at least yet. We don’t care much about how many people are accessing content through the same distribution channel. We simply want the content. The fewer bills, logins, and time spent finding things, the more likely usage will increase for each player.

Blog Sources
Facts stated in this blog were gathered during executive discussions in John Schneider’s Management 162 Business Capstone course at Santa Clara University during the Winter and Spring 2011 school terms. Guests include Margret Schmidt, Vice President of User Experience at TiVo, Tom Fuelling, CFO of Hulu Networks, and Peter Moore, President of Electronic Arts. The point of view expressed in this blog is solely by John Schneider.

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