Need Better Customer Insights To Fuel Your Digital Strategy? Start By Working On Your Communication Skills

Michael Barnes

 

Retaining and delighting empowered customers requires continuous, technology-enabled innovation and improved customer insight (CI). The logic is simple in theory, but that doesn’t make it any easier to implement in practice.

In my recent report, entitled “Applying Customer Insight To Your Digital Strategy”, I highlight the top lessons learned from organizations in Asia Pacific (AP) that are successfully leveraging CI to fuel digital initiatives. It all starts by ensuring that data-driven decision-making is central to the digital strategy. With that in mind, I want to use this blog post to focus on two key lessons from the report:

 

Lesson One: Establish A Clear Mandate To Invest In Customer Analytics

Successful companies serve empowered customers in the way they want to be served, not the way the company wants to serve them. When building a mandate you should:

■  Expect natural tensions between various business stakeholders to arise. To secure buy-in from senior business decision-makers, start by illustrating the clear link between digital capabilities and data as a source of improved customer understanding. Identify measurable objectives and then link them to three to four scenarios that highlight where the biggest opportunities and risks exist. Continue to justify data-related investments by restating these scenarios at regular intervals.

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Q&A With Walter Levitt, CMO, Comedy Central

Carlton Doty

HBO Now. Sling TV. CBS All Access. It seems almost every day we learn about a new deal or a new service that will continue to fragment the way consumers watch the content they love.

It’s also just one of the reasons I’m excited to hear from Comedy Central at this year’s Forum for Marketing Leaders - a brand that is actively traversing the fast-paced changes in the TV industry.

Walter Levitt is CMO at Comedy Central, and will join us on stage on Tuesday to discuss the evolution of the ‘multi-channel, multi-platform brand.’ In advance of his session, he sat down with me to talk about the effect of these changes on the Comedy Central brand.

Q. Comedy Central is rooted in a traditional linear cable channel, but (like many of your peers) is actively pursuing a multi-screen, multi-platform strategy. Do you think of Comedy Central as a TV brand, an entertainment brand, a content brand, or something else?

A. Comedy Central is a comedy brand. For our fans, we are their favorite “go to” whenever they are looking for a laugh. We have a strong 24-year history as a TV network, but over the last few years we've evolved our brand to ensure we are meeting the needs of our fans everywhere – and that obviously extends far beyond the linear TV screen.

Q. In building engagement, loyalty and audience, how do you balance the place of the Comedy Central brand vs. the brands of your individual programs, like the Daily Show or Broad City? How do you allocate investment, for example?

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Q&A with Lori Tieszen, SVP & CMO, Stoli Group USA

Carlton Doty

It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly a year since we introduced contextual marketing at our 2014 Forum for Marketing Leaders. At that event, we focused on new approaches to marketing that harness the power of customer context to deliver real-time value in customers’ moments of need. This year’s forum for marketing leaders is right around the corner, and we think it’s going to be our best yet.

The 2015 Forum will dive deep into the next-generation marketing organization, addressing the critical challenges today’s marketers face on the road to customer-obsession. And as this year’s conference host, I couldn’t be more excited about the roster of industry CMOs, marketing leaders, and Forrester analysts we’ll hear from next week.

One such speaker: Lori Tieszen, SVP & CMO at Stoli Group USA. I had a chance to catch up with Lori to hear about Stoli’s brand reboot. Here’s a sneak peak at this journey, which we’ll hear Lori talk about in detail next week.

Q. What was behind the decision to create a standalone company to focus on the Stoli brand in the US?

A. With the last importer, William Grant & Sons, Stoli lost share in the vodka category. When the contract was up, our owner, Mr. Yury Shefler, thought it was more important to market and sell his vodka directly versus through a third party. Third party brands, not owned by the importer, are never as important as their own brands.

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Q&A with Jim Berra, SVP & CMO, Carnival Cruise Lines

Carlton Doty

In the wake of a series of negative and well-publicized events in early 2013, Carnival Cruise Lines has since engineered a strong recovery and ranks as the No. 1 improved US brand in terms of consumer perception over the past year.

At Forrester’s Forum for Marketing Leaders next week, we’ll hear from Jim Berra, SVP & CMO at Carnival Cruise Lines, on how the well-known hospitality brand made this journey. In advance of his session, I sat down with Jim to talk about the evolution of his role at the company, and how he’s traversed the tricky path toward customer-obsession. Here’s a look at our conversation.

Q. How will your role change in the coming 3 to 5 year time period and what is driving this change?

A. It’s always fun to try to crystal ball where marketing will go and I’m 100 percent confident that I won’t get this right, but I’ll give it a shot. I think what will separate marketers has less to do with the role we’ve traditionally played and more to do with the role we are now being asked to play. This centers around how the product and customer experience should evolve, and how the organization will use data and consumer insight to unlock opportunities to innovate.

To do this well, it will require CMOs to collaborate effectively across a wider range of stakeholders, and in some cases, take a few steps outside of our comfort zones. It also requires taking a larger view of the business, and effectively balancing different internal and external perspectives.  

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Participate In Our Forrester/DMA Customer Loyalty Benchmark Research

Srividya Sridharan

This is a guest post by Samantha Ngo, Researcher on the Customer Insights team.

 

Wonder how your loyalty strategies compare to others in the industry? As a refresh to our 2012 benchmarks, we invite you to take part in our 2015 Customer Loyalty Benchmark survey

If you manage or make decisions about your company's customer loyalty initiatives, we want to hear from you. We're teaming up with the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) to investigate the evolution of loyalty programs and strategies: what are the current challenges, how do you measure success, and how does the loyalty ecosystem play a part in strategy execution.

Take our 2015 Customer Loyalty Benchmark survey, and we'll send you complimentary a copy of the resulting research!

You can use the results to:

  • Determine trends and see best practices to incorporate into your loyalty strategy.
  • Benchmark your program performance, spend levels, and loyalty technology adoption to those of other loyalty marketing professionals. 
  • Build a business case for further investment in customer loyalty.
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Contextual Interactions Changes Marketing In China: A Brief Survey

Gene Cao

At Forrester’s recent annual Marketing Leadership Summit in Shanghai on March 25, I gave a presentation focusing on ways to build a contextual marketing engine and propel customers to the next best interaction. Key takeaways included:

  • Heavy mobile users in China are generating many new customer contexts. Heavy usage of mobile devices in China has changed the ways that people interact with enterprises. Today’s customers don’t just interface with brands via customer response, customer purchase, and customer services; more commonly, it happens outside of those campaigns. The context of all of those interactions determines whether a customer will engage — and, more importantly, transact — with the brand again.
  • Contextual interactions are changing marketing in China. Early adopters like Didi Taxi use contextual marketing from Day One and provide persistent incentives to engage with both providers and customers. Wanda Group, China’s leading business real estate company, acknowledges customer contextual interactions in its shopping malls across the nation and provides merchants with mobile moments to improve the effectiveness of their targeting.
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Privacy: Lessons Learned and Prognostications

Fatemeh Khatibloo

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel of leading privacy professionals for the Churchill Club.

During the session, we recapped the highlights—and lowlights—of privacy in 2014, discussed some of the major trends and issues in the space, and made some predictions for 2015 and beyond.

What stood out for me, as a customer insights (CI) professional, is how critical our teams are to the work of privacy and how much we must guide the process of contextual privacy. There is a lot of work to be done to build stronger organization-wide consensus around better privacy. Like they were the nexus point between business technology and marketing teams, CI pros are now the nexus between security, legal, and marketing teams.

I’ve linked the full session below. Please enjoy, and please consider getting involved in Data Privacy Day 2016 - the effort could use more marketers and business leaders.

B2B Marketers: Borrow From B2C Loyalty Tactics To Deepen Business Relationships

Emily Collins

After almost every loyalty-related speech I give, I get some variation of the following question: "How does this apply to B2B?" Sure, customer loyalty programs are most frequently associated with consumer-facing rewards schemes, but earning customer loyalty is very important for B2B companies too. After all, loyal and satisfied B2B customers provide testimonials, case studies, and referrals that result in a fuller and more qualified pipeline of new business. It can be easy for B2B marketers to dismiss consumer loyalty models as inapplicable to their complex business relationships, but there's a lot more to consumer loyalty than points and discounts.

In my latest report, "B2B Loyalty, The B2C Way," I explore how B2B companies can use consumer loyalty principles to deepen their business relationships. Looking past rewards, they specifically stand to benefit from three core tenets of loyalty embraced by successful B2C loyalty marketers:

  1. A deep understanding of customer needs and motivations. B2B companies are not immune to the age of the customer, and in order to increase their customer obsession, they must continue to grow their knowledge about the customer. Building this knowledge-base from sources like satisfaction surveys, digital interactions, and customer success management systems is especially important given the complexity of B2B purchase decisions. 
  2. Consistent customer interactions across organizational silos. Business customers interact with many parts of the organization including marketing, sales, service, and support. Reaching across the aisle to teams that interface most frequently with customers, resellers, and end users leads to more productive customer outcomes.
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The Customer Insights Research Team Is Hiring!

Srividya Sridharan

Gone are the days when we have to “sell” the idea of using customer and marketing data to drive better business decisions. The sheer scale and diversity of customer data will provide rich new sources of insight and allow firms to effectively engage with customers using enterprise marketing technologies. In fact, customer analytics solutions, one of the emerging business solutions in our latest Top Emerging Technologies To Watch research, will have a significant impact in the age of the customer. And in order to activate insights from these customer analytics solutions, you need a robust set of marketing technologies to serve as systems of customer engagement.

If you are excited about challenging thinking and leading change for our clients in customer analytics and enterprise marketing technologies, we’d love to hear from you. We have two open Customer Insights analyst positions to focus on these critical coverage areas – customer analytics and enterprise marketing technologies. You will write research for, present to, and advise Customer Insights Professionals to help guide their customer data, analytics, and marketing technology decisions.

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The Time For A US Coalition Loyalty Attempt Is Now

Emily Collins

Coalition loyalty programs that let consumers earn and redeem a single currency across multiple partners have historically failed to gain traction in the US. Why? The fragmented footprint of potential partners, proliferation of single-brand loyalty programs, and reluctance of brands to share customer data hampered hopeful coalition operators' efforts.

We analyzed the market opportunity for these types of programs in 2013, predicting that: "Given the time it takes to amass partners and consumer scale, we expect it to be at least another two years before a large-scale coalition is established in the US market." Well, it looks like we were spot on. Today, American Express announced that they will be launching a US coalition program later this Spring. The program, called Plenti, will debut with seven partners including Macy's, AT&T, Exxon Mobil, and Rite Aid.

American Express is well positioned for success as it has experience managing both proprietary and coalition loyalty through its own Membership Rewards program and the Payback coalition program (in Germany, Poland, and India). And while it's not clear yet how member data will be managed, the program launch creates an opportunity for participating partners to embrace adaptive intelligence and deepen their customer understanding and business growth. But, announcing and actually executing coalition loyalty at scale are two separate things. The true test for Plenti begins in May when consumers begin to enroll and use the program.