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Salesman didn’t die.. but got help

Every time something new comes up and people jump on it, they learn something new but it seems that they often start forgetting the best features of the previous while learning. Then came the content marketing era and inbound marketing surge. Now there is a swing back to ABM (Account based marketing and proactive sales). Danny Wong from Blank label just published an article about this with 9 B2B sales predictions for 2016 in Huffington Post (source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-future-of-sales-9-b2b-sales-predictions-for-2016_us_56beb9b0e4b06fb6526b67c9)

It was great article and I totally agree with Mr. Wong.: Outbound and account management are musts, buyer journey and customer centricity are imperative. Marketing automation is fantastic in existing customer management and content marketing. Still, in case of new prospect recognition most visitors don’t leave their contacts or signs of interest which leaves most potential customers unrecognised. This is something that has bothered me.

Then I learned about Leadforensics… (because they reached out to me and outbound works 🙂 ) They gave me a short introduction to their software (phone+video), we did a pilot with two weeks of data capturing after which they presented me the results and pitched me an offer. I got hooked and bought the license.. and I am even more hooked now. (By the way, their process is very much worth experiencing too, its brilliant. You can book your trial contact here)

This is something I just have to share, because I find Leadforensics to be so elegant, easy and effective. The foundation of the service is IP address recognition. The service lets you know from which companies people are visiting your website, how many of them, which content, time spent and so on. In B2B this intelligence is often enough. You know which companies are looking right now in your sector and they are already considering your company. In case you are considering marketing automation or need leads for sales to follow, Leadforensics is a great tool to take as a first step in operational and cultural change or as part of the lead generation development in marketing automation project. This is what you get (this data is from this site):

#1 Visiting organisations

1 visitor list

#2 Sorting visitors

2 Sorting visitors

Example of multivisitors

3 multivisitor

#3 Company details and visitors

4 company details

In this case 3 visits by one person

5 visitor number

#4 Potential people to contact

6 contacts

#5 Dashboard

7 dashboard

#6 Sorting and actions

Now that I have the tool in use, I can upload my customer register and create a current customer group with assigned contacts. I can also create prospect list with assigned persons who will be notified about new visits. You can also define goals, not every content is a sign of buying intent, but some are exactly that. Assigning goals and actions for them is quite easy and effective.

My company FutureCMO – Catalyst for Growth is a super temp one man show with a network of other entrepreneurs and I am mostly helping large companies with their digital and customer experience transformation. My challenge is, that projects are large and take my time while running them leaving me little time for selling next cases. When they end I can easily drop between projects. This kind of transformation work is quite time sensitive and frequency of doing it is rare. Also, The lead-time from interest to project could take a lot of time too. Another challenge has been, that I have a globally competitive knowledge, methods and approach, but my work has been local sofar. Now I am going to make my first attempt to get my first very own international clients onboard. While working for WPP and Omnicom this was natural, but as an entrepreneur now it would be a big leap. This is why I think Leadforensics will help me target right companies at the right time and make certain that I can get my projects in without long stand-by periods. I am also working on a start-up for which we are raising money to get started and knowing which companies are interested in our pitch is very important. I am only in the beginning of using Leadforensics, but I am quite impressed with it.

In case you find Leadforensics interesting, you can book your own demo and trial period here (Link URL )

In case you are using some other tools for lead recognition, I’d be very happy to hear about your experiences!

Sharing Economy – What Airbnb and Uber Have Inspired

In the Q1 2014 issue of WARC’s Market Leader, my article on the sharing economy praised the work of Airbnb and Uber for creating a world where everyone had the chance to experience entrepreneurship as a result of sharing pre owned assets. In the following issue, Paul Kemp-Robertson attributed the success of this trend towards a trust deficit brought about by the consistently broken promises of larger brands.

The idea of sharing has of course inspired a new generation of Airbnb’s such as

and a fleet of Uber replicators such as:

To learn more about the changing attitudes towards consumption globally, the rise of the sharing economy and the opportunities this presents for brands, click here for the the latest in Havas’s Prosumer series.

Further reading:

How to motivate your employees to use analytic insights

ARTICLE BY DR. KOEN POWELSHow to motivate your employees to use analytic insights

Marketing measurement, accountability, analytics and dashboards are priorities in the toolkit of the successful Chief Marketing Officer. The pressure from the top is strong: prove your marketing is working, give us higher profits with lower budgets, show us the opportunities for profitable growth. Many companies have developed marketing analytic dashboards to help attain these goals, and are getting on average 8% more Return on Assets as a result (21% in highly competitive industries). A marketing analytic dashboard is a concise set of interconnected performance drivers to be viewed in common throughout the organization; for examples and case studies please see www.notsizedata.com.

A key challenge is how to motivate employees to actually use these analytic insights to improve decision making. Resistance to measurement and data-driven insights is widespread – not just among creative content generators who fear it will hamper their freedom (see http://analyticdashboards.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/help-your-creative-cats-bring-home-the-bacon-whos-afraid-of-accountability/’). Having lived through analytics & dashboards projects across 3 continents, I’d like to share tips on how to get employees on board.

My top ten list:

  1. Communicate the purpose and usefulness of a dashboard for the organization;
  2. Explain the role of an employee in the project and his/her impact on overall performance;
  3. Emphasize benefits of the dashboard application for an employee, e.g. ability to track, adjust, manage and consequently improve personal performance;
  4. Encourage a dashboard trial;
  5. Invite employee feedback and demonstrate that it is valued by adjusting the dashboard if possible;
  6. Inject a culture of accountability and facilitate a conscious choice of an employee to use a dashboard and other performance measurement tools, e.g. develop performance related incentive scheme that will motivate an employee to keep track of his/her individual progress;
  7. Incorporate a dashboard into day-to-day operations, e.g. use it in employee meetings;
  8. Garnering management support and guidance: Communicate the benefits of accountability culture for a company, e.g. give specific examples (supported with numbers) on how the company can optimize its expenditures and escalate its profits;
  9. Demonstrate functionality and usefulness of a dashboard application (for this purpose you may need to build a simple dashboard or select a dashboard example available online : see e.g. www.dashboardinaction.com;
  10. Indicate industry/market trends towards the use of a dashboard (show the statistics on dashboard adoption rate in the market, use industry or cross-industry benchmarks).

As detailed step for step in www.notsizedata.com, building a marketing analytic dashboard requires vision, courage, transparency and effective internal communication – which are much more important than the specific software or ‘big data’ used. Just like any other innovation, a marketing analytic dashboard cannot be effective unless its users understand its functions, are convinced about its benefits, and want to use it. In sum, a marketing analytic dashboard should not be something imposed on a company; it should be ‘sold’ in the best tradition of marketing art.

How about you? Can you share tips on how to motivate employees and increase marketing accountability? Looking forward to hearing from you,

AUTHOR:

Prof Koen Pauwels
“It’s not the Size of the Data – It’s how You Use It: Smarker Marketing with Dashboards and Analytics”
www.notsizedata.comTwitter: @koenhpauwels
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Smarter-Marketing-with-Analytics-Dashboards/586717581359393?ref=hl

Marketing attribution modeling

I just found Mr. Kfir Pravda’s article “Revenue attribution 101”  Mr. Pravda’s key question was: How do you measure revenue attribution – money and profitability for marketing activities. He had split the revenue attribution measurement according to touchpoint sequence from last to first and combined as customer journey. I agree with his measurement frame and guidelines. It’s a great article. I would recommend reading it.

Mr. Pravda’s article got me thinking about how do I actually approach this subject in my planning and implementation process.

First: I always start attribution modeling from owned channels

  1. What is their capacity to bring traffic and visitors (eg. stores and online)?
  2. What is their capability to convert recognized customers?
  3. What do people actually look in to and buy?
  4. Who are the customers actually – what kind of attributes, motives, interest contexts etc. do they share?

Once you have your own channel conversion, increased owned media demand generation impact and marketing automation tuned effective for the first time purchase t’s time to get more people interested.

Second: With the knowledge about contexts, customers and motives that generate interest and traffic it’s rather easy to recognize interfaces and channels that enable you to present a relevant and appealing messages for customers. This first touch planning is very much data directed iterative testing and learning process. What ever works, you scale up and automate in any given channel from online to direct marketing, telesales, face-to-face sales or advertising. I do prefer channels that I can measure direct ROI from, but I’ve also seen how media marketing has created stronger customer relationships and willingness to pay premium. These secondary KPI’s are about brand attributes, preference and willingness to pay premium.

Third stage is about learning and planning how to increase customers’ basket size, purchase frequency and expand customer’s buying behavior to more than one category. This stage is about using marketing automation technology in order to create service automation customer care programs for great customer experience and sales.

This process is completely founded on customer journey analysis and understanding in an omni-channel environment.

I think you might find these articles interesting:

Admap best practice article: How to map customer journey
Marketing’s new and re-designed 7P’s
Managing Brand – The most profound KPI’s and measures /
From marketing automation to service automation
Marketing Do or Die – managing customer interfaces

What about others? How do you approach marketing attribution measurement and planning in omni-channel environment?

About Author

Toni Keskinen ,Chief Editor for Future CMO Movement (http://futurecmo.org)
Toni.keskinen(at)futurecmo.org
http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Admap Best Practice: Mapping the Customer Journey

This is the original non-edited version of the article I wrote for Admap January 2014 issue:

Best Practice in How to Map Customer Journey

by Toni Keskinen

Customer Purchase Journey by definition is the customer’s journey from existing life experiences to initiation, cross-channel consideration and purchase. Customer Journey then continues to using the product or experiencing the service, re-purchases and loyalty or attrition. This article concentrate on Customer decision-making journey to purchase.

Marketing research often looks into the future perspective and ask about awareness, top-of-mind, preference and shortlist of potential brands. The challenge about researching future is that people are quite bad at acting according to their own intentions. Habits, convenience and instincts drive behaviour to unexpected directions that are difficult to predict by research. These studies also often miss a major point. They ask customers which brand they prefer and make them choose one, and consequently fail to recognize the fact that people might have only brand options, not a specific preferred brand.

Example: In a Telco case we learned that 76% of the customers had a pool of options but they didn’t have a specific preferred brand. This result means that most of the market is floating. People only have options and consider brands as equally good. When the time comes the best/ first/nearest/most conveniently available deal will win regardless the brand as long as the brand is within the pool of options.

How to prepare for Customer Journey mapping:

Before you start designing the research or make any assumptions, establish the foundation. You can establish the foundation with two key factors:

a)    Is the category or brand in high intensity position: high involvement, -investment or –interest product or service? Heinz ketchup would be in the low-end, buying a car would be in the high-end. The purchase intensity stands for the depth of consideration and willingness to make an effort to make a considered choice. If the product or service has low intensity, there will be no actual journey but rather spontaneous and habit driven behaviour. High intensity decision-making on the other hand could last a long time and have a lot of touch points in variety of surroundings.

b)    What is the brand’s status in customer’s mind compared to competitors? In case the brand is well-known and preferred brand, the customer journey will have completely different dynamics compared to less known challenger. The key question is; “is the brand being sold or bought”? In case the brand is bought, you can approach the mapping in order to find ways of optimizing conversion rate. For such case tactical marketing will also generate much stronger impact than in case of a brand with less demand. In case the brand is sold, you should find ways how to break into customer’s consideration and prove your brand better than competitors. In case the brand is sold, the burden of proof is on the brand’s shoulders and you need to find ways how to guide customers away from the path leading to market leader purchase.

You can find data for creation of foundation from the company’s brand tracking research, market share report, online analytics and Google Adwords tool or Google Trends tool. When looking for foundation intelligence, consider how the category behaviour reflect the two foundation factors, how the brand in question and it’s competitors position against each others. Draw a map with all competing brands on it (X-axis: Activity share seller vs. buyer, Y-axis: Intensity level. Eg. Heinz = bottom right corner = no or very little advertising, strong sales & market share, low intensity) Do the preparation phase well and you will have a rather good idea about what is happening in the customer behaviour dynamics. Analytics can give very good answers to “what” –questions. However, you need to make in-depth-interviews in order to find answers to “why” –questions.

Discovery phase:

Once you have a high level view on the market place and a lot of “what” ideas to guide you, prepare to make in-depth-interviews with customers and get “why”-answers from them. Choose customers who have made their choice recently. In case of high intensity purchases, people can remember their experiences for a couple of months, in case of low intensity purchases – interview them instantly at the point of purchase or walk them thru the store with the customer again using the customer as a guid for a tour and let the customer tell you what he experienced, noticed or thought along the way (the same approach can be used in online buying by recording customer’s actual journey thru website). This is different from mystery shopping, because the emphasis is on the customer, not on the store personnel.

The point of in-depth-interview is to analyse the customer’s lived experiences with out others’ interference. This information is only available from customers, because you need the full view across all brands, information and shopping touch points in the category – not just the brand you are doing the mapping for. Ask your customer to tell the whole story from what ever got him interested in buying to purchase. Here’s the process:

  • Who is the customer? Get to know his lifestyle and connection to category/brands
  • What made the customer interested (initiation)?
  • What and where did something happened that gave the impulse to initiate consideration: commercial act by the brand or it’s competitors or an event that made customer interest (eg. Moved to new apartment, new need etc.)?
  • Did the customer have a preferred brand in the beginning or not? Were there other options the customer considered?
  • How long was customer’s consideration and learning time before purchase?
  • Go thru all phases: initiation, browsing, configuration, decision, purchase
  • In which channels the customer interacted with your and competing brands in each phase?
  • Did the customer do all phases and what was the main driver and meaning of each of them? Did the customer skip stages? (In case you want to quantify results later, always define stage and ask if the customer did it before asking about it’s content and channels. Skipping stages is quite common)
  • What was the customer’s experience in each engagement like? Which brands performed well? Why?
  • Something led to decision, what was it and in which touch point did it occur?
  • What did the customer eventually buy?
  • What was the reason for choosing the specific brand over others?
  • What was the second best option or was there one? Why did it lose?
  • In case the customer chose competing brand, why did he not buy the one in focus?
  • Would customers buy again if they had a choice? What is different brands’ Net Promoter Score Index? What were they satisfied for? Was there dissatisfaction?

I would recommend making at least ten in-depth-interviews/category in order to learn about customers’ behaviour and motives. You should interview both won and lost customers and totally concentrate on their experience and point of view. In case you can study customers who left the brand you are making the customer journey mapping for, you will also find out where the brand failed and how the competitors caught the brand’s customers’ attention. In some markets for example outbound sales is an important influencer which has major impact on behavioral dynamics. While interviewing, keep your mind open. Don’t narrow your consideration, but consider all experiences and thoughts the customers have had. From customer’s point of view marketing, pricing, product design, convenience etc. are all relevant issues. As an outcome you will come across things you can influence and those you can’t. However, you need to understand customer’s behaviour and consideration holistically.

Analysis

This approach to interviews, discovery and analysis goes by the name “interpretative phenomenological analysis” (IPA) in psychology. Once you have the interviews, you can create an analysis about their journey and visualize it. The best way to do this is by visualizing each journey separately. Concentrate especially on chain of events, customer’s journey from one touch point to next, motives and contents steering the customer. Conscious cross-channel purchase journey is most likely in case of high intensity purchase. The behaviour dynamics differ between products, service ranges and between same brands in same category. In your analysis you can divide customer behavior in three major types:

Journey Driven people: These people take pleasure in getting to know their options, their qualities and comparing. They are also more likely to share their experiences in social media as they consider themselves as experts. People who are prepared to make detours and a longer journey require a different approach than destination driven ones and they don’t react on offers as easily, unless they have already got to know their options well in advance.

Journey Driven People are often early adopters. They are especially important in case you are launching new product. They are interested in the products and their qualities. You need to support their needs and change or influence their attitude in order to break in to their awareness. As they search and compare, you need to be able to justify to them why your solution would suit them and guide them to decide and purchase your product/service. These people really consider their user experience and share recommendations in case your performance is beyond expectations. Supporting their needs helps you perform better with other people representing different behaviour type.

Destination driven people: These people don’t really care to learn about products by themselves. They make rapid decisions based on their priorities (e.g. always the best, always the cheapest) or rely on 3rd party recommendations such as test results. An offer for test winner product is an effective proposition for them and generate rapid sales.

Destination driven people also need to be influenced at “need and attitude” -level in order to create better awareness of your offering and it’s qualities. However, this is more about leveraging past reviews and feedback from journey driven people. Destination driven people are more likely to be influenced by e.g. Magazine or social media reviews on your product or other independent sources of information. With such support you can just concentrate on tactical advertising in order to encourage decision and purchase making. Destination driven people are interested in the user experience and reviewing their own experience to others.

Slow movers, public opinion driven people: (also habitual or insignificant purchases). These people don’t take risks. Only after most of the others have already accepted and favoured a certain product or service will they follow. Same behaviour also describes the purchase process of less significant products, like toilet paper or other habitually purchased products. People don’t really pay attention to what they buy; they just buy it like they’ve done before.

Public opinion driven people accept your offering when it’s widely used and they are completely certain that choosing your offering has no risk what so ever. It’s all about tactical advertising, retail promotions and encouraging purchase. They are not likely to share their opinion to others or recommend your products or services actively.

In different product and service categories differences are dramatic. It’s easy to think in terms of travelling. A motorcyclist takes longer and slower routes because the journey is the major part of the travelling experience in itself. On a family holiday the same person takes a direct flight to an all-inclusive hotel. Although this is the same person, different context and different motives lead into completely different behaviour. The point of this analysis is to really understand how people behave in your category towards different brands and find out what is required from you in order to perform better.

Along with behaviour type, analyse:

  • What kind of commonalities and shared phenomena, motives, contexts, choice criteria and channels can be found from customer’s behaviour and what was there that you need to quantify or find more information about. Pay attention to the chain of events.
  • Which of the touch points the brand can control, which you just need to influence
  • What was the customer experience like in competitors different touch points along own ones. Can you learn something from them?
  • Pull all your findings together and have a workshop to discuss about these findings and find out how the internal organization experience these findings and what knowledge do they have about them. Get people who work in direct customer interfaces involved.
  • Also discuss, which ERP, CRM, online analytics or other systems are currently capturing data about the customers? This information can help you further and let you make a decision whether you continue by doing data analysis and workshop or do you need to quantify the results with larger research. I would recommend research every one or every two years in order to map out how the market place works from customer’s point of view and what you can learn from competitors’ practices or whether you can find opportunities for growing market share

Why this approach to mapping and analysing customer journey is imperative

In many cases your own campaign could actually sell competitors’ products. Also, in many cases the customer journey is full of conflicting interests. In case you only analyse the one brand’s journey you will completely lose sight on category dynamics. Here’s an example about my Garmin buying:

There was a home electronics store advertisement promoting TomTom navigator for 75€ with European maps.  I went to buy it, but the store salesman told me there was an error in the ad and that price only included Western European maps. He showed me the product with Full European maps with 105€ price. Next to it was Garmin Nüvi, which had exactly same price. I asked if there was any differences between the two and the salesman told Garmin had better battery life. I bought Garmin. Let’s look at the interests of different players:

Me, the customer:

I was very happy, although I paid 40% more than intended but 105€ wasn’t a problem eventually. I was highly price-oriented customer who was looking for ”good enough” solution and was not interested in more advanced solution or bigger screen. Because of the basic functionality needs I had I was also not interested enough to look in to product specifications online, product reviews or discussion forums. This product will get the job done anyway. I was a perfect example of destination driven buyer. At home, the product exceeded expectations. It had much more functionalities than I was expecting. They had minor meaning compared to the basic functionality, none of them was more important than the battery life, but it was a positive surprise.

Gigantti store:

Closed 40% more sales than I had intended to spend. The experience about the store was positive and the sales person’s advice was good, which means that the store will get more money from me later on. Was their error in the ad intentional? Probably not but they should still analyse how the error influenced their GPS navigator sales in general. What did customers come to buy and what did they actually walk out with?

TomTom:

Complete failure. The brand might have made a special deal for the campaign resulting change in price image. After reading that leaflet customers think, that you can get TomTom with European maps at the price of 75€. It easily becomes the market standard because of nationwide advertising campaign. You are making a bad deal if you pay more for it. Price/value ratio sounds perfect but actually it wasn’t real because of the error in the ad. That’s ok if you go to Gigantti and they tell you about the error. If you don’t you just expect that TomTom’s are now cheap. It’s most likely that TomTom does some kind of post campaign analysis and comes to completely wrong conclusions unless they understand how the purchase dynamics in the low price category GPS really works and how their campaign influenced customer behaviour in general.

Garmin:

Great success. Garmin did nothing but made a deal anyway.  Well, I had positive image about Garmin in advance and the sales person just gave me the last defining fact that led to decision to buy Garmin. Now that Garmin closed a deal with me and got me registered, I am quite likely to buy other stuff on top later on.  Was Garmin’s success intentional? In reality the sales person’s advice could have been founded on her own perception or Garmin had analysed the differences between brands and intentionally launched training for retail sellers which states that their battery life is better than TomTom’s. How much longer? No idea.  It never came up.

Conflicting interests are very important to understand. In another case a laptop brand sold 50% more than their preference rate would suggest. That also was because the sales people preferred that specific brand.

Here’s how Audi did in case of B2B car leasing deals:

  • Preference 14%
  • Alternative to 26 %. Altogether Audi was considered by 40% of all buyers
  • Audi sold 11,2% that is 2,8% below preference which means 80% conversion

Audi was the most sold brand but was also most often the 2nd best and had lowest conversion rate  in the market. Wolkswagen sold 119%, Volvo 117% and Ford 196% compared to preference. Even if you would be number one in sales, you could still be the one losing most.

There is one more thing to consider: Specialist & aggregator influence. In B2B especially customers are using professional consults and agents to compare and make recommendations. The customer journey behaviour and needs of an agent are very different from individual buyer’s needs. In B2C businesses comparison services and aggregators like Hotels.com and eBookers have similar significant influence. In case there are such actors in your category, analyse their journey separately.

Business Dynamics Score (BDS)

In case you quantify your results with larger sample you can calculate Business Dynamics Score.

Those who preferred you originally > How many did you keep?
Those who preferred your competitor > How many did you win?
Those who had no preference > How many did you win?

When you compare won-kept-lost results between brands you can really see how different brands are performing. I would recommend calculating BDS from all market players in order to learn about differences in channel efficiency. This figure will give you very good understanding on how behaviour from one brand to another differs and what you need to do in order to perform better. Such insight has great impact on media- and communications strategy.

Constructing Market Flow

In case you have the larger sample, you can construct entire market flow across stages, channels, motives and behaviour types from spontaneous purchases to considered ones on one page view. This single page view will help tremendously in understanding what kind of factors influence market success most and how for example strong retail strategy performs against strong online emphasis. In one case we found that spontaneous buying was quite strong and outbound calls represented 15% of total market sales. However, we were surprised to learn that more than half of customers buying in the category initiated because of outbound call, didn’t do one stop shopping, but instead started cross-channel consideration journey ending up in a purchase from some other channel.

Check out these articles too:
Marketing’s new and re-designed 7P’s
Managing Brand – The most profound KPI’s and measures /
From marketing automation to service automation

About Author

Toni Keskinen ,Chief Editor for Future CMO Movement (http://futurecmo.org)

Toni.keskinen(at)futurecmo.org

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Google decided to kill SEO business

There has been a lot of fuzz about Google’s decision to not give Search Engine Search word conversion to your website. I recently wrote an article about what does Google look for on your website and there was already discussion about not getting the data anymore.

At first the data stream was cut from Google Analytics and other analytics tools, but Google Webmaster Tools still gave the listings. Today I found out that also Google Webmaster Tool access to SEO data has been cut off. I can still see, how many times my website has been listed for people searching and how many times my site has been clicked. However I can no longer see what context and content these clicks were related to. Although the data has been cut off, the customer help text still promotes content about Keywords and explain what they mean. There is no info about cutting off the keyword information.

What does this mean?

As a CMO you can’t know anymore, what content does actually drive traffic to your website. You can monitor content to which people are landing and make your insights. You can see search volumes from Google Adwords planner and recognize most used keywords to be used in your content creation. You can analyse your Google Adwords conversion success and use best working phrases in your own content production. However, the game just changed much more difficult than it used to be.

Here’s an approach to solve this challenge by KISSMetrics http://blog.kissmetrics.com/unlock-keyword-not-provided/ I think their advice has already become old – due to complete data shut down, but I’d love to hear about your solutions to SEO analysis in this situation. I’d also love to hear how this change has influenced your own media development!

More:

No Data For You: SEO Experts Offer Opinions On Google’s Move To Withhold Even More Search Term Data

Goodbye, Keyword Data: Google moves Entirely to Secure Search

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

 

Managing Social reputation – Brand is a verb

BRAND IS A VERB AND SOCIAL BY NATURE

Brands cannot be “created” one way – it’s the people’s perception of a company or product. Brand is no longer a noun; it has turned in to a verb. You could actually think brand as an agreement between a customer, customer’s peers (society) and company. Customers can agree or disagree with the agreement. As an outcome reputation and brand perception emerge, which could be good or bad. However, a brand cannot exist without the other parties. Brand is social by nature. However, a brand has never been as social as it has now become because of social media and online influence channels that customers are now very effectively and actively using. Customers have real power now that is global, not just local peers. No doubt that customer behavior has changed. It has completely changed in many areas and will continue doing so. Digital influence is the most important disruptive force along the customer journey.

Customers are actively using their power and they are getting more and more effective tools at their disposal to leverage this power to the most. For example WOT, Web Of Trust, crowd sourced rating of websites and brands has currently apr. 90 million people rating brands and websites. Any people who have WOT application in their browser has reputation score visually presented after every single link available online. WOT is a wonderful example of customers’ currencies becoming more and more influential. WOT is an ultimate rating tool. If some company acts unethically, spam, or in any way prove not to be trustworthy, apr. 90 million people in WOT start giving red to the brand. As an outcome, company’s online reputation score will become lower and eventually red. Red means, that if you try to enter the company’s website, you get a full-page size warning stating that other people have rated this site to be dangerous and not trust worthy. Would you do business with such a company?

WOT_trustworthy web page

Not only does WOT influence it’s users, but also everyone else online. WOT is also delivering reputation data to Google, which can then use it for any given purpose like Google AdWords or (safe) search. It’s not difficult to imagine, that Google might prefer to take people to brands and services that are trustworthy. Also, WOT made a deal with Facebook, which is using reputation data to make Facebook safer for it’s users. This picture will appear, if you are trying to enter un-trustworthy website from Facebook: Facebook It is quite remarkable how much people currently have ways and tools to influence brands business. WOT is just one of many tools available.

COMPANY’S REPUTATION MANAGEMENT

The mechanism of social reputation management has a strong emphasis on own touch points and encounters with customers. In case customer is dissatisfied, in every 1/10 cases the customer contacts call center and seek justice, making things right. The large majority apr. 9/10 doesn’t call, they are just silently dissatisfied. The more likely channel for making their point is customer satisfaction questionnaire, except companies only research small sample in order to get feedback suitable for their purposes – not all customers. However, the customer contacting actively is the fever meter and represent major urgency. The customer satisfaction questionnaire and especially customer’s open text answers represent confirmation to that urgency. These people are the most active social players because they have a personal story to tell and strong emotional commitment to the matter. In case they feel neglected they will become your brand destroyers and the 9/10 will join the choir. Here’s how the interfaces work:

Customer interfaces, touch points

What ever emerge from your own customer interface sources will spread all over social networks in case these matters are not taken seriously.

I’d love to hear about your social media analysis experiences. Which tools are you using? What kind of insights and phenomena have you observed?

I find Etuma to be an excellent tool for such analysis. Whitevector, Meltwater and other tools only help you analyze the outcome, what is already being discussed in public forums. Etuma enable you to analyze internal interfaces separately: call center logs, customer satisfaction questionnaires, customer forums & your own Facebook community. Looking at the fever meter results in own touch points and comparing that to the impact on discussions in public social mediums allow you to monitor the impact and velocity of change in the brand perception.

Toni Keskinen

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen/

Twitter: @toni_keskinen

Blog: http://futurecmo.org

What best performers do differently by Aberdeen

I found a great article from Slideshare about the role of analytics and data-driven decision making in all aspects of marketing to focus on the voice of the customer and drive revenue. The best performers simply work harder and more methodologically. The process and tools need to be in place and they are being actively used. This is all quite obvious, still too rarely executed in real life.

This is in short, what is supposed to be in place and in operational execution:

Best-in-class PACE framework What are the difference then?

Best-performers are different in operationsWhat about technology use?

Best performer technology useLet’s make a mental note, that this study and results are from 2011. Marketing analytics for social media and marketing automation have become much more influential since then. However, this study is a great reminder of the fact, that performance comes from hard work and dedication.

SEE ALSO:

“The CMO 2013 Study insights and what CMO’s should do now”

Lost insights and Corporate Blind Spots

Business Design with customer centricity

How to enable smart company and avoid corporate autism

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

Source: Aberdeen CMO Study

Choosing and Buying – Cross-channel influence

We first started the development of cross-channel customer behavior analytics methodology – One Experience in 2004. The original insight about channel development was about clear conflict between companies channel development practice and customers actual behaviour. Companies used to develop each channel individually. Very often each channel has still own channel responsible management that is developing that individual channel to the max. Also the benchmarking was done against competitors channel and the goal was to be better than the competitor. There’s nothing wrong with anything described above unless it generate blind spots and steer companies to invest in development that doesn’t actually support customers and create value for them. The rule of thump is that you should constantly consider effort vs. gain from customer perspective whenever you are developing or changing something.  When doing Cross-channel customer behaviour studies we learned that in some cases companies channel strategy and customer’s needs and expectations were not aligned and the channel strategy actually hindered sales.

Many brands have a long and successful history of servicing their customers thoroughly in a single channel.  Kirsti Lehmusto (former CMO of Finnish retail company Stockmann and colleague from Taivas, now CMO for Helsinki University) recognize the retail store management, contact centre services and distant sales services with catalogues as methodologies that have created great financial success by concentrating in excelling in the customer experience in a single channel from beginning to the end.

Channel management 1_single channel optimizationIn the current 24/7 economy and world of digital influence it is even more important to understand that in current world customer’s move accross channels and create service strings that fluently move customers from one channel to another according to their preferences, drivers and motives. It is important to look at these service moments in each channel and optimize them to help the customer further to his preferred next step.

Channel management 2_cross-channel behaviour

Service and product ranges don’t have the same meaning for customers and people are not quite as interested in everything. In the article ”Customer Decision Making FLOW” there’s more about how the decision-making about a certain FMCG goods and brands like Coca Cola differ from buying a magazine subscription, taking a mortgage or buying a motorcycle. The following gives an outlook on general learning’s about stages in various businesses.

Let’s dig deeper in to stages: Browsing, Configuring, Deciding, Buying and Post-Purchase.

The two stages before these are: Brand-as-a-platform that you can read from here and Initiation, you can read here.  (I would recommend reading them, before going further to choosing and buying journey below). Also check out how to run customer driven business design development here.

Browsing

Browsing is most often about learning, simultaneous process of exploring your own intentions and interests, and actively considering what kind of solution would be perfect for the customer. Customer has mental goals while doing this. He’s interested in certain facts, has drivers guiding him further while exploring. Not all factors are created equal. These things define customer’s mindset & motivation. (We must not forget, that people are emotional by nature and we need to understand what people are feeling while they are browsing and learning and help them feel good about the brand we are promoting). While doing this, customers use information sources that are both interactive & instructional. On-line services, product reviews, friends, catalogues, retail stores, contact centres, agents & brokers. Some of these touch points can be led by the brand, some can’t. Some of the touch points have more meaning than others. The important thing is to understand what the customer is trying to do, which touch points the customers use and how did the touch point fulfil customer’s expectations.

Customers who have no prior experience about buying products and services in certain service or product category are more likely to browse more thoroughly and consciously. Also, people who are more price sensitive tend to do more work in browsing and all other stages in general. There are two underlying reasons for the Journey driven emphasis and strong browsing

  1. Customers are curious and actually want to know what options are most interesting and
  2. Customers are worried about making bad decision and try to learn more in order to avoid mistakes.

In many cases both reasons are meaningful.

Some businesses are naturally interesting for customers, like travelling and cars. In these businesses learning about products, services and prices can be considered as entertainment. Coffee table discussions and other people’s experiences are also an important part of the decision making process. In this kind of categories visits to the stores and actually seeing the products are also considered entertaining and fun. If people are busy and don’t just go out and see products for fun they are more likely to actually go and see what they are considering in configuring or even in purchase stage after making the mental decision to buy. The trend though is that companies have less and less face time with customers enabling persuasion. Cross channel marketing is more about steering customer forward and selling by supporting their choices than actual selling. Pulling instead of pushing.

In business-to-business customer journeys browsing is about looking for potential service providers for further negotiations. Managers and entrepreneurs looking for service providers ask other people’s opinions, look online for potential companies and potentially even use a professional consultant to find best possible potential service providers.

When defining sub channels for Browsing stage our experience is that it’s better to use broad descriptions of the touch points and ask about customers experience and what kind of information had most meaning for them. In browsing it is impossible not to talk about search engines in the current digital environment. Customers often have pre-decided brands and options they are mostly looking at. However, they also look for other people’s experiences and use search engines while looking for information. Even if the brand or product would not be known and on customer’s shortlist, search engine advertising enable capturing some of the customers. The more entertaining and positive context the buying is about, the more likely people are to click and learn about options they didn’t know existed. Travel is a great example of such business. In travel people are happy to give their email and contacts to travel agencies, cruising companies and airliners just to get more entertaining ideas and travelling inspiration from them. In less entertaining businesses too, it’s possible to capture customer’s contacts and call back later. When I built a house and was looking for materials, contractors etc, it was obvious that the browsing was often done in the middle of the night and an opportunity to leave contacts and get a call next day was considered as good service.

In less interesting businesses people often skip browsing or do it in-store at a shelf. FMCG businesses represent such business in which people don’t search information or find out about options outside store. Browsing is likely to be done at the shelf comparing contents and prices. If customer does this once, he’s not likely to stop and think next time. Once decided, customers easily create habit and non-considered re-purchases. This doesn’t mean that you couldn’t do anything though. Some companies have created wildly popular recipe clubs and services that offer inspiration in a format of recipes instead of individual products. One of the best examples is Valio’s Cream Club which cost 18€ as annual subscription price. This program is nothing but marketing and branded content. Still, people consider these recipes so inspiring that they are prepared to pay for a membership which makes this marketing program practically free for Valio even without product sales. If your product is not interesting as such, people could still be interested in the context your products are used in enabling branded engagement.

Configuring

Configuring can be exactly that, e.g. using a car configuration online in order to learn which kind of combination would be most suitable for me. The name of the stage comes from mass-customisation vocabulary (Jarmo Suominen, professor for Masscustomization (MIT/UIAH) had strong impact on the original theory development). In configuring stage customer has most often chosen the brands he wants to learn more about. Often it is about negotiating with potential suppliers about the price or contents and terms of the offer. The difference compared to browsing is that in browsing customer often is learning and more open to possibilities. In browsing, he’s also often anonymous visitor online or in store. At configuring customer is engaging actively and has more defined decision making criteria. He’s looking for the best deal. Configuring is also about letting some options go in order to concentrate on the best potential choices. It’s equally important to know how people define which brands they want to continue with and understand what kind of tools and information sources people use in order to rule out some brands. The car configuration tools are a great example of that.

Case: We studied 500 professionals who had chosen a leasing car as their car benefit provided by their employer spring 2010. The study proved that 18% of all buyers used car configuration tools to decline brands before going to test-drive or asking an offer for the car. It’s actually rather logical. When customers start building their dream car they easily come up with a solution that is too expensive for them. Also, the car configuration tools give a price before any discounts. As a result customers start dropping out options they had chosen in the first place and suddenly the whole experience is about giving up on things the customer would have liked. Eventually the brand loses the appeal it had originally. It is absolutely certain that every car brand’s research prove that customers require openness in pricing and giving as much information as possible online. However, optimisation of sales and driving people further in their journey is sometimes different from what customers demand. Direct marketing has proved this decades ago. Customer should not get a figure online that he could consider as an offer unless you are selling cars online and actually give a real offer for the customer. In majority of car selling the customer should only get an offer from car seller and enable the car seller to show the qualities of the car in person. Emotional and rational influences are often a mixture creating desire to own the car. This desire requires certain level of engagement, which improves the probability of closing a deal. Car configuration tools’s role is to enable dreaming and bring the customers to the store.

In business-to-business and major consumer purchase decisions the configuring stage is often about a meeting with the salesman or other representative in order to define request for an offer. Online e-commerce and opportunity to buy abroad is just another way of servicing the same need. The buyer wants to know and learn about the service providers or products capabilities, background, cases and discuss about the qualities of potential solution. Very often the first engagement with the service provider also allow buyer to evaluate what kind of feeling the service provider left in the first engagement. Word of advice from previous cases is, that it’s more important to ask than present at this stage. In people businesses customers want the company to concentrate on their needs and solve them. It is important to show interest in customers needs and show how much you care about their problem. Human behaviour is about trust. The seller’s first priority as a contact person and representative of his company is to understand the brief and create trusting and caring connection to the buyer.

Decision

Was there a specific event or incentive that led to decision? If yes, what was that? Whether or not there is an offer, the people still evaluate offer or stimulus against their perception of the brand, the company and the product. Customer has certain motivation, drivers and resources that guide him. From which retailers did the customer ask for an offer. What prompted the decision?

In some cases customer know that they should buy a new product in order to replace the old one but they just don’t recall doing so or lack motivation or ability to do it. In these cases we talk about ”pending purchase decisions”.  Offer in store or discount advertisement could act as a trigger. In smaller purchases just seeing the product is the trigger. In other cases there could have been long-lasting interest and consideration but no action. In cases like this the customers have been interested and wanted to buy for a long time but were not able to do so or lacked justification. Discount advertising is very effective trigger in these cases. People could wait for a long time for the products price to come to the acceptable level. The discount has two-fold triggering effect

  1. The price can be considerably lower than normal
  2. The offer is there for a limited time or there is only limited number of products at that specific store resulting feeling of hurry and justification. It’s now or never!  Limited number of products is a message that increases sales never mind how many products the store would actually have in storage.

In TV-shop commercials sales increased when customers were told: ”If you call, Prepare for holding online or use SMS for ordering”. Just saying some other people would also buy the product was justification enough for more people to act.

In technology businesses like wrist-top-computers measuring pulse and other training factors, mobile phones and entertainment gadgets the prices come down after some time due to rapid product circulation. If the products become ”most wanted” like iPod and iPhone did, declining pricing eventually reach tippin’ point driving products to move from most wanted to market dominating products. Following the own brand’s and competing brand’s customer journeys and preference, enable recognising and preparing for such events.

Another very important thing is to track competing brand’s actions in this space. Competing brands could send offers by mail; use out-bound telemarketing to help (read: push) customers make decisions right away. Proactive decision supporting and triggering could result a lot of lost business unless it’s detected and acted on.

In business-to-business cases and major consumer purchase decisions the decision stage has to do with comparing offers. It is smart to take the time and present the offer face to face. Face time often increase trust and represent dedication. At best the presenting of the offer means evaluating and considering it aloud. Customer has a change to ask questions and make certain that they understand what exactly the offer means. The first meeting with a salesman was about first impression and the next about how well does the contact person meet expectations and is he trust worthy? How well has the contact person taken customers wishes in account and what kind of pro-active propositions there are in order to better meet customer’s goals. It all comes down to trust eventually. Price is a subjective issue in most cases, not an absolute measure. Higher price just require more trust and better justification than lower price.

Purchase

Where did the customer purchase? Purchase channel and location give new information for analysis when looking back at the customer journey. Customers could have purchased from certain store brand, specialist store, online retailer, catalogue sales company, by phone, by calling to contact centre. It’s important to track which player was the active contacting party a) customer b) competitor.

Purchase channel send a message about customers decision-making dynamics too. In several cases the customers behaviour has been very online centric in every other stage but purchasing. Online channels are very effective in offering information about the products and services but often customer rather purchase from store, individual contact person or contact centre rather than online. Why is that?

Our learning has been that it’s most likely an expression of insecurity and pure need for human contact confirming the decision. People want to call, possibly bargain a little, but most importantly they want to feel secure that they are doing a good deal and they will not feel sorry for it after. In retail products customers could go to buy in retail store in order to confirm their decision by touching the product and experiencing it live or they want to get it with them right away. Visit in the store could be inevitable in many cases but there are risks.

When we were developing One Experience methodology we did some multi-client researches in order to develop the methodology. We found out that while Fujitsu-Siemens had 22% preference rate, they sold 35%. Their sale was roughly 50% higher than their brand preference would let expect. In the further analysis we found out that majority of sales people working in stores preferred Fujitsu-Siemens laptops and often owned one too. Of course the same apply in case of trade promotion offering sales people extra for selling more Fujitsu-Siemens. However, in this case there was no promotion but it was natural for sales people to recommend Fujitsu-Siemens.

The reality is that when people have been looking for a solution, product or service they would like to buy, they are actually still rather open for influence at the very last stage. When people get to know offering they often come to conclusion that certain product is both possible for them and they feel comfortable about choosing it. Once the customer comes to a store and the premium product is in discount, the customer is likely to change his mind in that instant and buy the premium product even if it was still slightly more expensive than the one the customer came to pick-up. The same phenomena apply when customer engage with store personnel. The professionals in store can raise insecurity in customer’s mind or recommend something other than the customer was going to buy. Often the customer’s goal for the discussion in store is meant to confirm customer’s own thinking. Still, often it results alternative outcome depending on the advisors training, experience, opinions and incentives. Brands have very different variation in the level of determination in their buying. Strong brands, which have a “love” relationship with buyers, are much harder to persuade to some other way.

In the same Laptop study we found another interesting phenomenon. There were dramatic differences between store brands in which customers went to see the products and where they actually purchased them. The conversion rate from visitor to buyer was at best 66% and at worst less than 30%. The two biggest retail brand conversions were a) 29% visiting and 9% of sales and b) 23% visiting and 6% of sales. These two brands dominated people’s visits but they didn’t dominate sales. Retail conversion rate optimisation would have dramatically increased these retailers market share and it shouldn’t be too hard when they already have people coming to them.  41% of customers told that the sales person influenced their decision and in 23% of cases they reported sales persons opinion had important role. 39% of customers only went to visit in one store. Still, many of those people purchased online.  Currently many customers consider stores as showrooms and look for the best deal online.

RECENT DEVELOPMENT AND TRENDS

The rise of online channels and social media’s role in customer journey has increased information available for customers. Social media has enabled and encouraged communities and discussion forums in which people share experiences of different products and services. This change has diminished the role for sales people in many businesses and created disruption in former Customer Journeys. In the world of 3i, that is high interest, high involvement and high investment product and services, people’s know-how about the products and services often exceed the level that sales people have in store. The customers are increasingly becoming specialist in what they are buying. They are also actively using this knowledge as social capital. People enjoy their position in their own community and sharing increase their role as a valuable member. Peer-group’s respect is often very effective motivator that activates discussion and participation.

The customers are also increasingly interested in companies’ practices and values. Several brands have suffered major image setbacks due to child labour in their production, environmentally indifferent attitude and any ethically questionable actions. People become more and more conscious about their consuming,  effects of their choices and the products and services are no longer enough. People also need to feel good about their choices.

The trend that is shaking the corporate mindset is transparency. Brand, products and services, pricing, quality and experiences are all available online. Customers trust each other more than the brands specialists even if they don’t know each other. Transparency means that companies need to be just as good as they say they are or better than they have promised. Search engines are the best enablers of transparency democracy.

Post-Purchase

Once a customers have made a purchase and started using the product or service they are often likely to talk about their experiences. Word-of-mouth is a major influencer in many businesses and sharing experiences spontaneously online has multiplied the word-of-mouth influence. Another important thing to consider is that web does not forget easily. When customers start looking for information about the product or service online, they use search engines. The highest scoring links are the ones that have been clicked most often, have external links directed to that specific content and so on. This means that the highest scoring content could be several years old. It is very important for brands to stay in touch with customer’s satisfaction and recommendations.

Analysing the outcome

As customer journey designer I was very interested in learning about the customers decision-making dynamics from beginning to the end. In order to optimize that you first need to understand what is happening. We came to conclusion that the best way to effectively show what happened was to break the conversion analysis in three: Won, Kept and Lost business. To make it more meaningful we broke further to three dimensions: before buying, what happened in the original groups and what was the outcome. Here is an illustration of one case. This measure is called Business Dynamics Score (BDS)

 Business Dynamics Score

Of those 42% who originally preferred the brand 95% were kept and only 5% lost. Of those 28% who originally preferred competitor 70% were converted and only 30% were lost to competitor. Of those who had no preference 88% were converted and won. Only 14% were lost. The outcome is that from this company’s target group they won 46% of sales from competitors, 40% of their sales came from those who originally preferred them and they lost 14% of their reference group’s sales to competitors. In this case the sample the data was collected from customer buying this service at certain frequency and in this case some of the customers had purchased competing brand after the most recent purchase from the brand that was studied. This finding helped further in recognizing how much business is leaking from the brand to the competitors and why.

This way of looking at the customer data also reveal where the brand is making it’s sales. Of people who originally prefer the brand, how many actually buy it in the end. Of customers who prefer competitors, how many the brand is capable of winning. From customers who have no preference but only rather equal options, how many of them actually buy the brand in question. While capturing data, this same comparison also work very efficiently in analysing how competitors win from the brand in question and what can be done about it.

In order to finalize the big picture, it’s also very educating to see which brand the customers consider was second best after the purchased brand if any. Being second best means that the brands success was good but something still turned the customers head and led to lost business. If your brand is very often the second best, it means that it is not too hard to make major improvement in sales.

Of the full Customer Journey – this article was about the third slot – Choose and buy, Check out the first two stages:

Customer Journey stage 1: Brand as a platform

Customer Journey stage 2: Initiation

Also see Business design with customer centricity

Managing customer interfaces – marketing do-or-die

and How to Map and Study Customer Journey

Customer Journey

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

McKinsey’s Five digital trends shaking up Europe (infograph)

McKinsey – 5 trends in European digital consumption

More @ http://cmsoforum.mckinsey.com/multichannel-delivery/infographic-five-digital-trends-shaking-up-europe

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