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Making millions with pennies – BEHAVIORAL ECONOMICS

Growth and productivity

When I think about board member’s day to day life and board meeting’s average content, I know it’s full of big decisions. What is our growth strategy? Are we willing to invest millions of euros/dollars in technology in order to enable customer relationship strategy and automation? How can we reduce our churn? How can we lower over all costs and increase productivity? Thinking big is important, but I’ve come to conclusion that thinking big also makes board members blind to potential that is at their reach with minimal investments.

I’ve been working on direct marketing, sales development, customer journey analytics and customer experience-  and customer interface design since 2004 and learned that the potential is amazing. Realizing the potential often only cost pennies, but requires new point of view and strong experience. So what is this really? It’s BEHAVIOURAL ECONOMICS. Using BE in order to rapidly create major changes has to do with Choice Architecture and Nudges, leveraging behavioural patterns. It’s very much like Service Designing, but doesn’t necessarily require total make over, just adjustments. I decided that I collect and publish some of the actual outcomes that I’ve discovered with my clients so that there is tangible proof of what I am talking about. These cases are anonymous and from multiple market areas including both B2B and B2C cases:

Conversion: Sales increased by 240% by only re-designing the way the product was introduced and how customers actually were steered to made the purchase. Investment level 5000€ – sales value in millions
Sales: Changing messaging order and starting marketing by allowing own members to buy first, before others. Creation of momentums inside the campaign. Sales index was 200% in a first year and 260% in second year compared to the original target budget. Investment level – no change. Double profitability impact:  higher margins and stronger sales. The sales impact was + 20 millions.
Churn reduction: By changing the way how the company did invoicing, the company’s churn reduction was almost 1/3. Investment level in thousands – savings/improved loyalty > 1 million
Customer service cost reduction: Changing the way invoicing was done, we were able to cut contact center calls to half and allocate that free capacity to proactive contacting of customers who had given critical net promoter scores. Multiple impacts: NPS increase, higher loyalty, higher ARPU, lower cost to serve. Customer feedback also gave insights to overall service and product development. Investment level in thousands – impact in hundreds of thousands
SEO/SEM improvement: Cost of acquisition is often a critical profitability factor. In one case I analysed company’s current reach of SEO and SEM and came to conclusion that 1) Their all key words were targeting the last moments of decision making = most expensive 2) They completely missed the contexts that made their service interesting and valuable = high reach, low cost. Also, they renewed their website, which cut their lead generation to half. The solution: conversion fixes on website with minimal cost, new approach to SEO/SEM. Investment – re-allocated current marketing budget, projected impact more than 200% sales increase
Proactive service messaging: Sending customers service messaging with automation multiply their frequency to use service, increase spending and reduce churn. Investment apr. 100K, sales increase impact in millions.
What board members should consider:

We already have technologies and on-going spending – can we improve their impact
We already have thousands/hundreds of thousands/millions visiting our customer interfaces. Can we improve conversion to sales?
What is our level of contact center costs? How many contacts is there? What is causing those contacts? Can we do something about it?
What is our churn level (leaving customers)? What does that mean in euros/dollars? Can we do something about it?
We have tons of data. Have we really understood the value buried in it? How can we transform data into money (operational improvement with current offering – potential for new businesses and offerings)
One case I am currently working which is special for one major reason, its public, is Kela (Finnish pension insurance company). KELA is government managed and doesn’t have competitors, which means that I can talk about the case without breaking any NDA’s. Due to a legislation change, Kela is going to take over a new service area in the beginning of 2017 that currently employs 600 working years in employee resources. I have a privilege to analyze how customers are currently using Kela services, how and why they use office- and call center services. Based on this data I am looking for ways to increase self service level and decrease cost of servicing. The goal is, that by changing the customer interfaces and service processes we can decrease the service need so much, that Kela DON’T need to hire 600 more people to fulfill the new responsibilities. Since I started analyzing data, interviewing customers and customer service people, we have already found improvement points that allow Kela to cut hundreds of thousands and eventually millions of calls or manual applications. Very little user interface element changes alone can reduce costs by 1,5 million euros in one single service segment. These findings are now in process to be realized with lean UX workshopping.

There’s one specific finding that I just have to point out. In every application context Kela gives an average decision making time. The idea to give an average time is natural and intuitively right way to approach the customer need. However, there is a problem. Giving an average time for decision will create expectations. Giving an average time actually means that HALF of the applicants feel they get below average service, get worried and call. The number of such calls is +200K in total. What can we do? We can change expectations by changing ONE LINE across all services.

“The decision making typically takes AT LEAST xx time”

The change of this one line has very meaningful benefits:

half of the customers feel that their service EXCEEDED expectations
The other half is more patient
The projected saving for this very simple change is at the level of +1 million euros. The cost to make that change is 0€. When scaling all improvements together the savings will be calculated in multiple millions.

What is that KELA case really about? It’s about recognizing why people get worried, feel anxiety, what they don’t understand and how can we improve their feeling of confidence that things are going well. In practice we improve customer experience. In a commercial context this means higher NPS, stronger customer relationships, higher demand, higher conversion rates, lower cost of acquisition… the list is endless and it’s full of direct profit impacting factors.

What I suggest for your next board meeting is, that you take the board consideration list above and put it on  your agenda.  Then honestly consider if there is room for improvement. My experience is, that there always is. Then contact a person who has real experience about recognizing improvement points, analyzing the data for potential and capacity to create insights and design changes that make millions in ROI.

This is what I do.

Here is a short introduction to my offering and how does it impact company’s customer centric transformation, management, culture, infrastructure and processes: Behavioural Economics offering


Let me know if you want your company to take a leap to a whole new level of productivity. Let’s have a chat and see if we both get excited 🙂

Toni Keskinen
+358 50 55 222 76
toni.keskinen@futurecmo.org
http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen/
@Toni_Keskinen

Business Design and Transformation process for growth

I have been privileged to be part of some major enterprise transformation processes over the past decade that have taught a lot about how do you actually enable and enforce change for customer centric, holistic, agile and innovative corporate culture. In the business world we are living in today, brands are created with customer experience and corporate culture. The capacity to serve customers in an omni-channel world the way they want to be served is becoming a competitive requirement instead of being an advantage.. This can not be done with silo organisation with responsibility barriers, split budgets, strict hierarchy, fixed roles and waterfall development processes. Those things are true status quo traps that will eventually kill any business sooner or later.

Just like Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden, the authors of Lean UX -book, I got fed up with cases that were perfectly planned but never implemented or the implementation was too far from the plan and naturally didn’t deliver as expected. I’ve also grown out of creating strategies and roadmaps and moved to actual change making. I really love Lean UX. Lean Start-up- and design thinking adjusted to established enterprise environment. Solving real problems, creating customer insights, direct applications and implementing them asap is much more rewarding for everyone involved than just designing the change. Getting results fast accelerate learning, inspire innovation and motivation beyond anything else. The gradual change is also much easier to manage than a complete turnover at once.

The key rules for success are:

  1. Outside-in > understand customers and markets first, then look at your offering, customer interfaces, brand, invoicing, agreement processes, up-sales, cc etc. Be honest and learn.
  2. Bottom-up > The need for a change should be recognized at the board level, however the change learning should start at the bottom – with people who are directly communicating with customers and know their frustrations and understand company’s challenges. Most often they can directly tell you what needs to be changed. Once you know these, you can take it to the board room and be honest again and learn more
  3. Do and learn fast, adjust and improve. Don’t try to get everything right before releasing something. There are no watertight facts before there are real life results. Most things can be tested small before scaling or making major investments before proof of concept. Stay curious and lean even in case of larger enterprise

Based on my experience, this approach works every time:

customer centric management transformationIt is crucial to work you way bottom up in order to obtain actionable insights

Bottom-up strategy creation and implementation

1. Create customer insight. Use customer data, analytics, scoring model, online data, research and any available data sources in order to understand who the customers are how do they behave. If you don’t have enough data, get it, make 1-2-1 interviews or research and mash-up other datasources. Create a customer journey map based on these findings and engage with people who work in direct customer interfaces like sales, retail, call center, research, support, invoicing, credit negotiation, specialists, etc. By connecting these two realities you can see a couple of things:

  1. Who are the customers, what are they doing, how and why?
  2. How does this customer behavior show in your customer interfaces, what are the most important pain points and frustrations customers have and what can you do about it. Once you have the facts, you can see how you can extract painpoints by re-designing the customer journey experience across customer interfaces and how that will reduce costs to serve while also improving NPS. That has a direct bottomline impact. Also, you can recognize opportunities that will help you sell more effectively, improve conversion rates and thus drive marketshare and sales up.

When you have understanding about the customers and you can define Customer relationship-, Customer experience vision, set goals and recognize their impact to revenue and bottomline. The Customer interface and customer analysis becomes the roadmap for better and enables a shared language thru organisation. Everybody can agree with the facts and understand their own role in the customers’ process. The discussion is around customer behavior and going forward, it’s not about blaiming anybody for their decisions in the past. The mandate for change comes frome the customers and dictates what needs to be done. This is why everyone can agree with it and don’t lose face or feel the need to defend prior decisions. In every single case this first part has been capable of igniting inspiration, trust in own capabilities to do meaningful changes and realize them. Insights and understanding create momentum that makes it possible for a company to change fast in a meaningful way. This change is done because people love it and their hearts and minds are burning to make an improvement. It’s not done because management has told employees to change or because the management team has come up with new organisation chart… This route to transformation can be rapidly implemented and the results are quickly at hand. These results justify futher improvement.

It has been interesting to learn, how much silent knowledge, un-tapped knowledge and supressed passion can be found in any given organisation. This capacity can only be realized by deploying the change within the organisation. This is why outsourcing the planning is not a good idea in my opinion. Carrying light inside with a bag doesn’t help, you need to light up the people. Once you release that passion and knowledge in constructive way, it will change the organisation permanently. The way of working will change, it will improve job satisfaction and willingness to push the limits further. At best, it will create a positive cycle for competitive advantage and growth.

2. The next stage is about turning insights and understanding in to systematic Way of Working. This is actually very practical consideration about recognizing responsibilities, ownerships over larger entities, creation of KPI’s and information flows or designing the approach to commercial management in general. Often there are factors like scorecards and conflicting interest in the organisation that need to be fixed, rewarding mechanisms or silo cultures that just need new perspective and solving. Very often dysfunctional organisation has everything in order on the surface, but multiple little things that paralyze the operational engine, innovation, productivity and motivation. Sometimes management isn’t even aware of such issues that could be historical relics that should have been solved ages ago.

What ever there is in the way of working, the new perspective gained in the first stage will help in finding solutions to them. The work is done gradually case by case and the excitement and positivity for change gradually take over the entire personnel. At this point, the company should reach a positive cycle that feeds winning mentality, job satisfaction and capacity to innovate.

3. The first two stages have already revealed the challenges that can be found from systems architechtures and platforms. While the first stage already enables major improvements with UX design and coding, the platforms enable strategic development and automation. This naturally takes more time and is different kind of project, but by this time the needs, benefits and requirements should be selfevident. As the learning has already started at frontend level, the understanding about available business benefits should also be clear for decision making and investment planning.

This kind of change can improve efficiency and productivity very fast without showing anything outside yet. However, when the company is really changing it should also show outside. In my experience advertising is actually very effective mean for internal change communication. The promises that the company gives outloud enforces the internal resolve to follow thru and deliver as planned. Advertising is about communicating the core values and that goes to own personnel, customers and the market. There’s just the question of timing that must be carefully considered. If the advertising starts too early and the personnel hasn’t really got on board, it might have double negative impact:

  1. internal feeling of disconnect between promises and capability to deliver and
  2. customers feeling that there isn’t enough substance behind those promises which could damage the brand and destroy the momentum that would have been available.

Like anything that has to do with people and emotions, these are delicate matters and require consideration. In order to do things successfully you need to have a clear plan but it has to be flexible enough so that it can be deployed in right order.

These transformation stories are truly interesting and educating processes. I’d love to hear your stories and experiences about them. Please comment and share 🙂

SEE ALSO:

About Author

Marketing technology and Branding – free book

Originally published at http://chiefmartec.com/2014/03/new-brand-marketing-technology/

A NEW BRAND OF MARKETING – free book by Scott Brinker

A NEW BRAND OF MARKETING: The 7 Meta-Trends of Modern Marketing as a Technology-Powered Discipline

Click to Download PDF: A New Brand of Marketing: The 7 Meta-Trends of Modern Marketing as a Technology-Powered Discipline

“The modern CMO and marketer can no longer be just a brand ambassador, they must also have a deep understanding of marketing technology. Scott Brinker helps the reader to understand how technology can be used for both successful marketing strategy and execution.”
Jonathan Becher, CMO, SAP

I’ve written a very short book, A NEW BRAND OF MARKETING, that’s free to download and share.

It frames the epic collaboration underway between marketers and technologists, set against the backdrop of two seismic shifts in marketing today:

First, how marketing is taking over the business. We can debate functions and org charts. But in a hyper-connected digital world, everything that a business does — the entire customer experience that it delivers, from the very first touchpoint onward — is now the scope of marketing.

Second, how technology is taking over marketing. Marketing has more software entwined in its mission today than any other profession in the history of computing. Leveraging these capabilities requires new approaches to marketing strategy and management — as well as new kinds of talents within the marketing team, such as marketing technologists.

These two massive shifts are the result of 7 “meta-trends” — each of which has dramatically changed the nature of marketing. And collectively, they have created a whole new brand of marketing:

  1. From traditional to digital
  2. From media silos to converged media
  3. From outbound to inbound
  4. From communications to experiences
  5. From art and copy to code and data
  6. From rigid plans to agile iterations
  7. From agencies to in-house marketing

At only 40-pages, this is probably the shortest marketing book you will ever read. But if you want to understand the context in which marketing has become a technology-powered discipline, I hope it may be one of the most helpful.

Download your free copy now.

Reviews of A NEW BRAND OF MARKETING

As modern marketers, we have to embrace technology in order to stay relevant. But how? In A New Brand of Marketing, Brinker dives into the shifting digital landscape and illustrates how businesses can transform their marketing to be more inbound, and ultimately more effective, with tech-driven strategies.”
Mike Volpe, CMO, HubSpot

“Scott Brinker nails it with his articulation of the 7 meta-trends that have fundamentally altered — as well as empowered — marketing. Technology now fuels the marketing discipline, where science and art come together to build a brand based upon customer experiences, where the interactions are more inbound than outbound and truly global in nature.
Amy D. Love, CMO, Appirio

“Scott has penned a veritable treatise on the subject of marketing in the digital age of digital. In this pithy work, Scott captures the key meta-trends that will define how all marketing is done in a world of technology enablement and customer empowerment. The punch line: read it.
Terence Kawaja, CEO, LUMA Partners

“The leading meta-trends transforming and growing business at the convergence of marketing and technology by Scott Brinker. This short story is a simplified illustration of modern marketing, disrupted and transformed by the growing evolution and impact of technology, the modern the face of marketing.”
Mayur Gupta, Global Head, Marketing Technology, Kimberly-Clark

A New Brand of Marketing articulates the why of marketing’s fundamental changes over the past 20 years better than any book or blog post I’ve ever read. Scott, in his succinct and thoughtful voice, showcases the how necessary to navigate to a healthy and successful marketing organization as only a thought leader and expert marketing leader such as himself can. A must read for every marketer.”
Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, CMO, Mindjet

With A New Brand of Marketing, Scott has put traditional agencies on notice. Clients are evolving faster than agencies and their organizational models. A New Breed of Agency is needed, with an operating system that has Scott’s meta trends at its kernel. Every marketer and marketing technologist should memorize this short read. Gold!
Sheldon Monteiro, CTO, SapientNitro

“Scott has provided a great overview of the trends that are driving the long-term changes in how marketers do their job and the role that technology plays. This book provides much-needed context to help marketers and marketing technologists build long-term strategies that will let them thrive regardless of what comes next. Better still, he does it in a clear, enjoyable writing style.”
David Raab, Principal, Raab Associates

“Scott has brilliantly framed the dimensions along which marketing has transformed — and where it is headed in the future. This should be required reading for everyone in the industry.”
Dharmesh Shah, CTO, HubSpot; Author, Inbound Marketing

“Anything is possible when marketing and technology collide. Brinker’s A New Brand of Marketing concisely captures the fundamental shifts driving the most transformative time in marketing history. Read it, share it, and use it to accelerate change within your organization.”
Paul Roetzer, CEO, PR 20/20; Author, The Marketing Agency Blueprint

One of the most important marketing books I’ve read in some time — short and concise, but intensely relevant for today’s marketers. This is a manifesto for math marketers out there, and perhaps a final warning and blueprint to those who haven’t yet are the transition (but will soon be extinct unless they do).”
Matt Heinz, President, Heinz Marketing

“When asked, ‘What’s your biggest challenge?’ — most marketing executives reply that it is staying on top of the constant and rapid change that shapes the current environment of marketing. While I don’t know of any book that can solve that problem, Scott Brinker’s new book superbly sets the conversation in which that challenge can be met head-on and managed.”
Ric Dragon, CEO, DragonSearch; Author, Social Marketology

“Scott has put together 7 extraordinarily insightful trends that every CMO and CIO need to understand. He calls marketing a ‘technology-powered discipline.’ And while I might rather call today’s technology a ‘marketing-powered discipline’ — Scott would forgive me for fighting for top billing. It’s just a wonderful, insightful, and just plain entertaining read. This is one that every marketer and the technology teams they work with should read together.”
Robert Rose, Chief Strategist, CMI; Author, Managing Content Marketing

“Scott Brinker does a great job articulating a compelling and exciting opportunity for today’s marketers. The 7 meta-trends that Scott breaks out are accurate, digestible, and actionable. I suggest all marketers move this onto their must read list!”
Sam Melnick, Research Analyst, CMO Advisory Practice, IDC

“I love this book. It brilliantly and simply explains some of the most important drivers underlying marketing today. Scott lays out the facts, using data to explain what’s happening in the world of business as it touches marketing and technology.”
Michael Krigsman, Strategy Advisor & Analyst, Host of CxOTalk

How to map Customer Journey – The key questions

When a customer initiates conscious consideration and buying, he’s often  the one who’s active. He’s making searches online, reading ads, discussing about his interest with friends and family, reading product reviews, asking questions from professionals and stores, visiting several websites and outlets, asking opinions and advice. Majority of this behaviour can be analyzed online or with research.

When the customer initiate this journey he’s in charge. At least that’s how he feels. That needs to be taken for granted. He makes decisions. While he’s in charge, he’s being influenced by media, marketing, brands, professionals, sales people,… There is an exception though, in case it is possible for you to earn a position as a trustworthy and respected specialist, then you can sell with specialist recommendations. This approach to sales works much better than hard selling. In the end the customer is quite likely to buy something he could not have imagined before actually entering the journey. He does the decision eventually and your role is to influence the choices he makes if you know how to do it.

Check out a collection of Customer Journey Map visualisations in Pinterest “Customer Journeys and touchpoints”

The things that are often neglected, which I find very important are:

  1. Chain of events > you need to know and understand the people flow across channels and touchpoints
  2. Competing & neutral touchpoints > You need recognize and understand also the impact of your competitors touchpoints. Your channel capasity to convert customers is the key and you must understand that the customer is not visiting your touchpoints only, but your competitors too. Increasing your conversion and business dynamics score is the ultimate goal of the entire Customer Journey work

The mapping of the customer journey is composed of he following parts:

0. Customers: Who are they? How do they live? What kind of life style and life stage are they in their own lives? What is their socioeconomic status like? How can you reach them? What kind of behavioural conventions their everyday life has in the context of your offering? What do they value? What kind of solution would they appreciate? Who are your most valuable customers? How do customer profiles differ from one product category to another? What kind of potential can be found from your existing customers from cross-selling point of view? What kind of people keeps your company in business now and where can you find growth potential?

1. Touch points: mediums, services, personnel, re-sellers, physical spaces, online. 

Do you have control of the touch point or does a partner manage it? At what point of a customer journey is the customer getting involved with a certain touch point? What can you do in that moment and what are your goals and KPI’s? Can that specific touch point result in to an acquisition or do you need to direct the customer further? What kind of roles a single touch point has and how can you make certain all roles are played out right along the customer journey?

2. Service moments and context

What are the most likely contexts in which the customer engages with the touch point? What is he trying to do? How can you help him achieve that? How is that done? How could it make your product or service look more appealing or at best, a most likely option?

3. Motivation and drivers

Are the customers reaching out for you or is it the other way around? In what kind of mindset does a customer engage with your brand? What could drive him further instead of abandoning your brand? What are the conventions and customs in your business and how could you exceed customer’s expectations by breaking them? Are there other companies that have a similar logic to yours and could you implement their approaches, which already have a proven logic?

4. Decision making process

What is the customer’s decision-making process like? Is he doing it himself or using a consultant or services for comparison? Are there predictable qualities in customer’s selection process that would enhance your capability to adapt your organisation to the customer’s behaviour with right content, value proposition or services? How does the customer move from one stage to the next?

5. Triggers and Moments of truth (initiate/choose/drop/buy/attrition)

Where and at what point are the most important moments of truth defining the majority of your business success? What triggers them to decide or act according to your will? Can you trigger customer behaviour? How can you do that most effectively and which kind of approach result in best outcomes? Why do you win and what do your competitors do better if you lose business to them? How can you outperform your competitors’ actions?

6. Post-purchase satisfaction and recommendations

Would customers buy again if they had a choice? What is your Net Promoter Score Index? What were they satisfied about? Was there dissatisfaction? How can you improve your customer experience in order to earn higher opinion? Do your customers discuss about your product online or face to face? What are they saying? Are they endorsing your brand? Could you use their endorsement for others who are still considering it?

7. Business systems, research and analytics

What kind of information your systems currently store from your customers’ behaviour? How could this data help you serve your customers better and create systematic methods for continuous development of your company? Consider ERP, CRM, Online analytics, Contact Center systems, email communications, customer satisfaction and voice of customer studies, reclamations, customer feedback and ideas for improvement etc. How does the infrastructure  combine different data sources and make it available for people working in customer interfaces? Do you have marketing automation software in use that could adapt your operation and communications to individual customer’s behavior and store customer’s online engagements and interests that enable realtime action and individual customer care models?

Here are a couple of visualisations I find particularly informative and inspiring:

One by Desonance

Another by Hear of the Customer: Customer Journey Experience Map – Top 10 requirements

Here is a great presentation about how the job gets done and what is the impact on business performance:

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

The CMO Survey 2013 & insights – What CMO’s should do now?

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The Duke University’s CMO Survey 2013 results highlighted again the need for marketing and CMO’s to carry more responsponsibility and integrate better with the corporate management and operations. It seems to me that marketing is facing the same evolution that car engines have gone thru since 1960’s. In the 60’s car engines were large, heavy, powerfull and impressive but their gas consumption was just terrible and their efficiency unacceptable in current evaluation. Currently engines are much smaller but deliver a lot of power with very low gas consumption. The big and impressive modern engines have amazing power with acceptable gas consumption. The engine game is all about efficiency, as it should be.

This is the case that CMO’s are facing now too. The way to get there is very much about understanding the big picture (customers, their needs and drivers, choice criteria, their cross-channel behaviour and corporate capacity to serve and deliver great customer experience across touchpoints), managing analytics and customer interface operations. The multitude of digital and analogical touch points has exploded and require very much consideration in order to come up with the essentials and focus on what matters. Marketing budget, according to CMO survey, is currently 10,6% of corporate overall budget and if we add to that retail, sales, customer service, customer managament related technology and online service investments, the customer interface investment in total is eventually what runs the company. This combination is what matters most and should be considered as an entity that must be analyzed and managed in an integrated way. See article Marketing do-or-die -managing customer interfaces

According to the CMO survey 2013:

  • 6% of marketing budget is allocated to marketing analytics and it is expected to grow to 10% over the next three years. However, only 30% of company’s projects use marketing analytics and leverage insights from it
  • Social media share of budget is currently 8,5% and it is expected to be 11,5% by the end of the year and 21,6% in the next five years. However, for the past several year the level of social media integration to marketing strategy has remained at the level of 3,8 in a scale 1=not integrated to 7=very integrated. The spending is expected to more than double but even in current situation the value social media could deliver is not being effectively harnessed.
  • The CMO’s role is weakening in the areas of CRM, new product development, sales, pricing, innovation
  • The company’s next 12 months expectations though highlight success in customer retention and profit increase and the companies are concentrating on diversification strategy (new products – new customers) and organic growth.

To me these results mean, that CMO’s are actually shying away from the corporate center. The best companies are already using Customer Journey design tools and managing customer interfaces in an integrated way, which really enable CMO’s to fine tune their engines and deliver much higher return on investment. These companies are rare though. The results show that in majority of cases CMO’s and marketing department’s role is weakening. Over time this can only mean declining budgets or declining role of CMO.

We are currently living in very rapidly changing environment from which the marketing has best understanding and the board has least understanding. The boards are now more interested in customers than ever, and they need answers. Sheryl Pattek’s (CMO for Forrester research) article highlights how National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), a group of board-of-director members from the US’s most prestigious companies is discussing the topic: How to keep corporate boards relevant in the 21st century. This is Sheryl’s view on the discussion:

The discussion that morning focused on the need to respond to and keep pace with the rapid change in customer behavior to stay competitive. It also addressed how current board members could keep up with the evolution of customer touchpoints to understand the new digitally-based strategies that are increasingly being shared with them. What I found striking about the discussion after some reflection was that the realization of the critical importance of customer behavior on the future success of top companies has made it all the way to the boardroom. The age of the customer that Forrester first identified in 2011 has really arrived and goes well beyond marketing. Why now? Corporate boards are starting to realize that to provide the strategic guidance and governance that their role requires, they need to better understand customers and how the relationship between them and the companies they direct are changing. And they need to understand it fast. The market is moving and changing too rapidly to be left behind.” (see the full article here: CMOs, Is Joining A Board of Directors Part of Your Career Plan? If Not . . . It Should Be.)

This is the time when marketing can really, finally become corporate center – driver for management change and change management.  Mr. Steven Cook, the founder of Fortune CMO network has made a great presentation about this subject with some cases. Enjoy.

 

SEE ALSO:

FutureCMO definitions

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
 
 
 
 

Christine Moorman is the Director of The CMO Survey®
http://youtu.be/gqOGVZE-tMo

The CMO Survey 2013 results in full:

Forecast for marketing planning and ecosystem evolution

The high frequency trading (HFT) stands for machine based stock exchange trading. HFT model leverages price differences in variety of stock exchanges, buy and sell in a fraction of a second. If there is 0,01% price difference in two stock exchanges,  you can make 100 profit with a 1M investment in a millisecond. HFT is based on algorithms and data and it’s increasing it’s share of trading steadily against traditional trading. HFT is very much like trained limbic system in human decision making: rapid, based on heuristics and rules from learned experiences and blind to events that have not been pre-coded in to the system. Traditional trading is based on rational thinking, analysis, luck, intuition.. well human intelligence and conscious decision making, even creativity. Traditional trading is much slower and more vulnerable to human emotional flaws but also allow long-term consideration. There is a lot of money involved in stock trading with instantly measureable success. It is also the most developed trading environment in the world.

Well, let’s look at marketing then. If you consider the fact that the CMO has liquid cash worth several percentages of corporate annual turnover, in case of P&G 9-11%, it is quite a considerable liquid asset too. Actually, in many cases it is the largest liquid asset the companies have and spend. The others are for long-term strategic Merger & Acquisition purposes, infrastructure investments and salaries.  Marketing is also the only investment that has difficulties in defining ROI, instant and long-term. Well, this will change quite soon and create tectonic changes in the foundations of marketing industry. The data explosion due to multi device Internet and inter-connectivity of mediums and customers combined with regulatory changes in privacy will result complete make over of the marketing industry.

Let’s consider Facebook for a moment. Facebook is a vehicle designed to enable personal communications and community. It is a yielding platform in which the user is the product for sale. The basic idea is that the advertisers will fund the business model and the consumers will allow data capturing in return for using the Facebook as their communications platform and vehicle representing their identity and social relationships.  Effectively Facebook knows more about us than we even realize. The question is, how does Facebook capitalize this knowledge? Facebook could become the world’s most effective advertising targeting and RTB business operator outside Facebook’s own touchpoints in case they decide to pursue this goal. We should expect black swans like that to appear and change the way the marketing ecosystem operates and challenging the balance of power. Big players will enter new areas and small players will emerge and grow big faster than ever (like Pinterest) and we will surely see new symbiotic business models created from combinations of existing players creating new value propositions and services.

If we consider the development of media buying and spending then, it is starting to look more and more like HFT due to the increasing level of Real Time Bidding (RTB) inventory and media business model. RTB is about getting the best price available for advertising inventory. The ecosystem is feeding advertisers willingness to pay for contacts and is trying to increase the willingness to bid higher. RTB is the new “share of voice”. The drivers of this business model have been Google Ads and Facebook but the model has been adopted by other media companies widely and will be adopted by majority of mediums over the next couple of years. The advertisers willingness to pay for each contact is based on data and the decision to bid is made based on the rules defined in the Demand Side Platforms (DSP’s) within milliseconds, exactly like in the case of HFT. As the business model is based on engagement or acquisition, also the rewards can be easily tracked which drives transparency and corporate management acceptable investment model in marketing.

The key here is the corporate management acceptable investment model. Marketing has been a rogue spending area in corporations without direct accountability for financial results. This will change. Every single business investment area has been made liable for profitability and accountability apart from advertising. It is not going to be acceptable anymore. Because it is becoming possible, it will be demanded. Period. Just like in case of the HFT also the liquid resources will become almost infinite and marketing budget will become flexible when the accountability is made possible. There is no limit in spending if every single cent invested result 10 cents in return. Well, in future markets such disproportional returns will be balanced but the main rule will still be valid. Groupon is a thriving example of corporate willingness to pay disproportional costs for easiness and accountability. The change is inevitable but will happen gradually. The wheel of change is already turning and it will spin wilder and wilder before we reach the new normal.

Investment sector has been in great turbulence and HFT has changed trading volume based market shares rapidly. In Helsinki Stock Exchange March 2010 the top three traders were SEB, Nordea, Handelsbanken and FIM. They were all local or Fennoscandic players. In January 2012 the top three were Morgan Stanley, Nordea and Credit Suisse. Along with those three there were newcomers like Citadel, Getco and Spire. The newcomers are all specialized in robot managed HFT. Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley represent the same phenomena by selling others the rights to use their HFT technology. Local players are losing ground.

The change is happening at increasingly rapid speed and will eventually escalate. At that point within apr. 5 years media agencies don’t call to mediums and ask quotes for their mediums, media buyers and sellers in current meaning will vanish. Media planning is no longer about choosing media and negotiating price for it. Media agency will be impossible to distinguish from stock exchange trading company by sight. The tools, technology, algorithms and productivity goals will be very similar. The competition will be about measureable ROI of marketing portfolio management. Like in the stock trading it will be driven by analysts who are specializing in short term instant ROI and long-term profit expectations. 

What about creative agencies then?

IBM did a major study in 2010 and interviewed over 1500 CEO’s around the world. Mr. Samuel J. Palmisano, Chairman, President and CEO of IBM Corporation captured the findings in three major issues in his pre-words of the study report:

  1. The World’s private and public sector leaders believe that a rapid escalation of “complexity” is the biggest challenge confronting them. They expect it to continue – indeed, to accelerate – in the coming years
  2. They are equally clear that their enterprises today are not equipped to cope effectively with this complexity in the global environment
  3. Finally, they identify “creativity” as the single most important leadership competency for enterprises seeking a path through this complexity.

Well, creativity is a human trait and a profession. Creative agencies will have major role in the change and they are trusted partners for CMO. Creative agencies will remain true to their creativity but the demand for creativity will be far more diverse than just advertising message creativity now. Customer experience design, advertising, product- and service design all serve the same common goals; creation of competitive advantage, brand and relationship value. CMO’s responsibility is going to be about exactly that, creation of competitive advantage. CMO should be already responsible for insights on customer behavior change and delivering them to other members of the board influencing strategy and operations. CMO’s key role is to practice strategic sensitivity of the market and customers. The best CMO’s will earn a new role closer to COO’s current role as they start carrying more accountable and strategic responsibility. The CMO position will also become number one route to CEO position. Sir Terry Leahy, former CMO and later CEO of Tesco Plc has already shown the way. Tesco is also one of the premier examples world wide in customer data driven strategic and operational management, behavioral economics research and service design. Tesco’s growth and profitability also prove the point rather well. Creativity in the Tesco way will become mainstream now that we are reaching tippin’ point.

There is another reason why Tesco is such a great example of future marketing planning. Tesco is one of the first companies using customer behavior data to personalization and individual customization of offering and messaging in massive scale. Today we recognize this as marketing automatization and customer experience management. Each individual customer has offering scoring attached to their data and this scoring model define what and how should be offered in order to turn push marketing and sales in to inspirational service experience. People are looking for advice, inspiration and great deals. Giving all three in one package with great customer experience in any given customer interface create trust and relationship.

Customers are becoming another portfolio for CMO to manage; who, what, when and how are the questions that need an answer. The answer is another case of trading mechanism. The company has an inventory of products and services. This inventory is the other subject to yield management and the customer base is another portfolio. The perfect combination of both enhances loyalty and lifetime value with optimal profitability.

Well, let’s go back to Facebook and consider that the product they have, are their customers, the users. The product and service portfolio they are managing is not actually their own but their clients, the advertisers. The two way yield management means optimizing the profits from the customer base they have. Facebook must consider overall profitability of their users against the price different product & service vendors are prepared to pay for them. Yield management will differentiate products and services in to categories:

  1. Easy to activate mass categories which deliver small but high volume transactions
  2. More difficult to activate categories which deliver less but bigger transactions

Well, that’s not the end of it. There are known brands with stronger demand creating also high volume and less known brands that are more difficult to yield but deliver higher revenue/transaction. In this game brands, creativity and quality of creative work are subject to instant and continuous pricing. If the creative work is highly appealing and works very well, it will result transactions at lower costs and higher margins for advertisers. If the creative work is not working the price you need to pay for each transaction will cost much more. When we reach this point, you don’t need to question what is the value of your brand. You will know the difference… Painfully well. The same apply to advertising in any other mediums, which will still be impossible to directly measure. The measures will be based on direct increase in sales compared to the base line without marketing and it’s effect in real time bidding costs. Currently the same ideology works well in businesses requiring outbound selling. In case advertising works outbound sales conversion will increase and cost per transaction will be less expensive. Same mechanism will work much faster in the real time bidding environment.

The media companies’ capability to invoice consumers’ subscription fees will erode steadily and the requirement for advertising profitability will grow. The media trading could well learn from retail category management and yielding optimization of shelf space. The media inventory is made of certain media placements, which will develop but still exist in the near future. Every single placement will be subject to yielding methodology. Facebook, Google and most media companies will not really care where the money is coming from as long as their yield management drives strong profits. Statistical analytics, scoring models, algorithms, richer and richer data combinations and continuous optimization will be the name of the game. They have the data and they can re-create their business models. There are only so many people on this planet and in any given country. The media which have the best data and the best tools to create multi client lead nurturing methodologies delivering strongest rate of acquisition will win. Just like in case of HFT, the balance will shift and the global players will take larger share of the business. The smaller but local and trusted media companies are now in a do or die situation and by the end of this decade we will know how if and how they survived.

The role of mediums as the data owners will also change. The services they deliver could vary from x amount for introduction, y amount for acquisition to z amount or percentage for the profitability e.g. during the first three years. The data holders will become capable of working as headhunters for advertisers. They will just hunt customers, not employees. The stakeholders in this game can be anything from media companies to large loyalty programs, telecoms, Apple like manufacturers (e.g. Siri) and global social mediums and data capturing platforms like Facebook and Google. The most rapidly growing market sector is currently services that come between the producers of products and services and the customers. Travelzoo.com and Groupon are good examples of such. All players mentioned above have direct customer relationship to consumers and consumers are using their services to make their choices and living easier and better. In a very complex world these players offer advice, the solution to customer’s needs. They can inspire and serve and they can gain a trusted partner status with consumers. The key word is trust. Trust is also the key word in yield management.  The increasing transparency will become another management imperative. Bad companies stand for, bad customer experiences and effectively bad advice for consumers. It means lost trust and less effective yielding for mediums. If the company cannot deliver what they promised, they will face increasing costs again.

The world has become extremely interconnected and transparent. The market price for a customer engagement or customer acquisition will be determined by trading environment. The market value of data will deliver steady revenue and the big players will become bigger than ever but we will also witness unexpected newcomers. The competition will be about the game of trust and relationships in the consumer markets and extremely efficient trading tools and data based intelligence delivering accountability in the B2B markets and planning. The value of existing customers will become imperative and corporations will implement marketing automatization technologies in order to enable individual care models and increase in customer lifetime value. The tools will become smarter but creativity will flourish as human trait, profession and specialty.

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer

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

Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

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