tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/crm Latest CRM content from Econsultancy 2016-01-12T10:43:00+00:00 tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67397 2016-01-12T10:43:00+00:00 2016-01-12T10:43:00+00:00 Ashley Friedlein’s 10 digital marketing & ecommerce trends for 2016 Ashley Friedlein <p>There are a whole load of trends that will no doubt happen but seem to me so self-evident as not to be worth detailing.</p> <p>Among those: continued war for talent, increased focus on privacy and security, more <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/63722-what-is-native-advertising-and-do-you-need-it/">native ads</a>, more <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65677-a-super-accessible-beginner-s-guide-to-programmatic-buying-and-rtb/">programmatic media buying</a>, ongoing culture challenges, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67076-the-rise-and-rise-of-ad-blockers-stats/">ad blocking increases</a>, more social channels to master, more payment options, ongoing efforts to be agile, emphasis on the importance of personalisation and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/creating-superior-customer-experiences/">customer experience</a>, omnichannel this and that, and, of course, fifty shades of data.</p> <p>There are also lots of exciting technology developments which no doubt will have a wider impact on marketing in the future but which do not make it into my list for the coming year.</p> <p>Among those: 3D printing, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/a-marketers-guide-to-virtual-reality/">virtual/augmented reality</a>, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/a-marketer-s-guide-to-wearable-technology/">wearables</a>, nearables, internet of things, the blockchain.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/0641/five_reasons.jpg" alt="" width="470" height="314"></p> <p>I am more immediately excited about what <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64743-predictive-analytics-machine-learning-and-the-future-of-personalization/">machine learning</a> and artificial intelligence can bring to marketing.   </p> <p>This is quite a long read, so to make it more digestible you can jump to the sections you’re most interested in using these links:</p> <ol> <li><a href="#Marchitecture">Marchitecture</a></li> <li><a href="#CRM">Funnel Wars: CRM strikes back</a></li> <li><a href="#Push">The return of push</a></li> <li><a href="#Digital/Physical">Digital/Physical: will it blend?</a></li> <li><a href="#Design">The ascendance of design</a></li> <li><a href="#DigitalTransformation">Digital Transformation: the teenage years</a></li> <li><a href="#Robobranding">Robobranding</a></li> <li><a href="#Mobile">It’s mobile, stupid</a></li> <li><a href="#Video">Video</a></li> <li><a href="#Content">Peak content</a></li> </ol> <p>Now, on with the show...</p> <h3>1. <a name="Marchitecture"></a>Marchitecture</h3> <p>Could this bastard lovechild of marketing and architecture become a buzzword for 2016?</p> <p>Even if not I would at least expect to hear much more talk about ‘martech’ and challenges around architecting your martech stack. Move over ad tech, martech has arrived. </p> <p>Why is this? </p> <p>In the preceding years we have been busy collecting data, buying technology, trying to integrate systems, launching new channels (particularly social and mobile) and trying to deliver increasingly personalised customer experiences against a background of increasing complexity and fragmentation.</p> <p>It is hard. It is a bit of a mess. We are worried the whole thing might fall over at some point.</p> <p>No-one is quite sure of all the triggers, rules, tags and automation in place. </p> <p>Some questions for you:</p> <ul> <li>Are you confident you have made the right decisions in your marketing technology ecosystem between buy, build, integrate or inter-operate? Are you sure whether a single marketing platform (‘cloud’) is better for your business than integrating best of breed point solutions? Do you consider the <a href="http://chiefmartec.com/2015/01/marketing-technology-landscape-supergraphic-2015/">martech landscape</a> with a sense of calm?</li> <li>Are you happy with your data governance, data integrity, and confident in your marketing resource management with security, privacy and process issues nicely buttoned down?</li> <li>Do you have faith in the data taxonomies, metadata, models and schemas powering your digital content and marketing?</li> <li>Is it clear what marketing logic (rules, processes, triggers, events, automation etc.) drives all your various marketing touchpoints with your customers and what this means in terms of the customers’ actual experiences across devices and channels?</li> <li>Is your marketing stack clearly articulated? Here are <a href="http://chiefmartec.com/2015/06/21-marketing-technology-stacks-shared-stackies-awards/">21 marketing stacks</a> for illustration. </li> </ul> <p>These are hard questions. But they are not going away and they will become more frequently asked in 2016. </p> <p>There is a <a href="https://www.bcgperspectives.com/content/interviews/future_strategy_business_unit_strategy_philip_evans_rethinking_strategy_age_digital_disruption/">great interview with BCG’s Philip Evans</a> on ‘stacks’ and ‘architecture’ as business concepts. There are clear parallels with marketing. </p> <p><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shearing_layers">Shearing layers</a> was a concept coined by architect Frank Duffy, then elaborated by Stewart Brand in his book “How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built”, and refers to buildings as composed of several layers of change.</p> <p>This concept has already been adapted to tech system architecture by the likes of Gartner, but also makes a lot of sense as a framework for architecting marketing ecosystems that can deal with the level of change we are experiencing. </p> <p>There are even greater parallels between marketing and engineering as the worlds of digital, data, technology and marketing collide.</p> <p>We have no shortage of data but we now need to create rules and logic, a form of marketing middleware, to drive all forms of marketing automation. And this is essentially programming.</p> <p>Not just programmatic media but programmatic marketing more generally. </p> <p>Start-up marketers (aka ‘growth marketers’) are already used to the likes of <a href="https://ifttt.com/">IFTTT</a> and <a href="https://zapier.com/zapbook/#sort=popular&amp;filter=marketing">Zapier</a> to wire up their marketing tech. <a href="https://blog.newrelic.com/2015/03/23/devops-marketingops/">Marketing ops have a lot to learn from dev ops</a>.</p> <p>The rise in the strategic importance, and difficulty, of all this is why even strategy consultancies like <a href="http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/marketing_sales/how_digital_marketing_operations_can_transform_business">McKinsey are growing their marketing ops practice</a> and <a href="http://www.consultancy.uk/news/754/mckinsey-buys-digital-marketing-operations-firm-agiliti">why it bought Agiliti</a> just over a year ago.</p> <p>Expect more M&amp;A in the agency and consulting worlds around ‘marchitecture’.   </p> <h3>2. <a name="CRM"></a>Funnel Wars: CRM strikes back</h3> <p>Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more complex...</p> <p>In the graphic below on the left is a classic marketing funnel. In the middle, at the top, you can see the <a href="http://www.lumapartners.com/lumascapes/display-ad-tech-lumascape/">famous LUMAscape graphic</a> showing the complexity of the vendors in the display ad tech space. </p> <p>These typically cover the top half of the marketing funnel.</p> <p>In the middle, covering the bottom half of the funnel, is <a href="http://chiefmartec.com/2015/01/marketing-technology-landscape-supergraphic-2015/">Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology landscape graphic</a> which is equally busy.</p> <p>To the right are the service businesses (agencies and consultancies) with a crude split showing the (mostly media) agencies servicing the top of the funnel and the SIs and consultancies servicing the bottom half.</p> <p>Agencies tend to talk about DMPs (Data Management Platforms) whilst the back end centres more around <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64545-what-is-crm-and-why-do-you-need-it/">CRM</a> (Customer Relationship Management) platforms. </p> <p><a href="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/0642/Screen_Shot_2016-01-11_at_16.06.41.png"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/0642/Screen_Shot_2016-01-11_at_16.06.41.png" alt="" width="700"></a></p> <p>My observation, and trend, is not only how complex this all is and how it needs some brains to properly architect it all (see previous trend) but that these two “halves” of the funnel, historically quite distinct, are fast merging into a single view of the customer journey where there is data visibility, tracking and tech inter-operation throughout the funnel. </p> <p>The big resulting question is who should be in charge and which system, or what data, should drive the other?</p> <p>Do you dump your media agency and give it all to a management consultancy who is good with business/CRM data and can use programmatic platforms to drive the top of the funnel?</p> <p>Or do you open up your back office data to your media agency and target them on metrics like sales and margin rather than more traditional media metrics?</p> <p>This is the war that is raging in agency-consultancy land.</p> <p>WPP bought <a href="http://www.wpp.com/wpp/investor/financialnews/2012/jul/23/wpp-digital-acquires-majority-stake-in-acceleration/">Acceleration</a> and <a href="http://www.wpp.com/wpp/investor/financialnews/2015/nov/04/wpp-agrees-to-acquire-a-majority-stake-in-essence-the-leading-global-digital-agency/">Essence</a>, among others, to bolster its data-throughout-the-funnel capabilities (note <a href="http://adexchanger.com/agencies/groupms-gotlieb-media-needs-to-morph-from-the-top-of-the-funnel-to-the-transaction/">GroupM’s Gotlieb: ‘Media Needs To Morph From The Top Of The Funnel To The Transaction’</a>) whilst all the big consultancies (Accenture Digital, IBM Interactive Experience, Deloitte Digital, PWC Digital, McKinsey, BCG, Cap Gemini, Tata etc.) are rapidly encroaching on traditionally agency space. </p> <p>And in techland DMPs and CRMs are the front lines of the/martech tussle.</p> <p><a href="http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/press/2150812">Oracle’s acquisition of BlueKai</a>, a leading DMP, connecting it natively into its marketing cloud, is one example of the bottom of the funnel swallowing the top half.</p> <p>Expect more marketing cloud companies to assimilate DMP and CRM offerings this year.</p> <p><strong>So who will win these battles?</strong></p> <p>Obviously there is no simple answer. But certainly the once-so-sexy world of media and advertising at the top of the funnel is looking seriously threatened by its historically less glamorous below-the-line cousin. </p> <p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RE6fsyzgkFE">Argos’ case study in joining up real-time advertising through the customer funnel</a> is one of an increasing number of brands using CRM data to drive top-of-the-funnel advertising and media in real-time.</p> <p>The idea of ‘streaming CRM’ will become more commonplace: <a href="https://www.sociomantic.com/streaming-crm-travel/">read about streaming CRM in the context of travel here</a> and note Sociomantic is owned by dunnhumby, in turn owned by Tesco, both companies known much more for transactional data than media. </p> <p>Recent Marketing Week articles include “<a href="http://www.marketingweek.com/2015/11/09/how-crm-is-becoming-the-new-advertising/">How CRM is becoming the ‘new advertising</a>” and “<a href="https://www.marketingweek.com/2015/08/28/why-cmos-are-shifting-their-focus-from-customer-acquisition-to-retention/">Why CMOs are shifting their focus from customer acquisition to retention</a>” backed with data and trends to support a view that the bottom of the funnel might usurp the top rather than the other way round. </p> <h3> <a name="Push"></a>3. The return of push</h3> <p>The early days of digital marketing were all about push marketing.</p> <p>Display advertising, of course, but email lists were a big thing. Lists you built yourself or lists you bought. And then hammered away at. </p> <p>Then we shifted to more of a pull paradigm. ‘Inbound marketing’ is very much pull not push.</p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/seo-training/">SEO</a> in its more mature form is pull, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/digital-content-strategy/">content marketing</a> is more pull than push, social likewise.</p> <p>But I think we are seeing a shift back towards more of a push architecture. In a small way this is just desperation around those who have spent money on content and mobile apps, find they are not getting much traction, so resort to more push advertising.</p> <p>But more fundamentally this about messaging, notifications and more context-aware services.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/pPqliPzHYyc?wmode=transparent" width="615" height="346"></iframe></p> <p>Already the notification screen is the primary interface for mobile. All the big players (Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon etc.) are rapidly developing services that are ‘smart’ and assistive.</p> <p>Whether the slew of personal assistant type applications (Siri, Google Now, Cortana, Facebook M etc.) or sensor-driven smart services (Amazon Dash, Google Nest etc.) or simply the sky-rocketing usage of messaging apps like WhatsApp and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65279-how-and-why-western-brands-are-experimenting-with-wechat/">WeChat</a> and the resulting ‘tings’ on our phone craving our attention. </p> <p>The evolution I believe we are in goes something like this:</p> <ul> <li>First we focus on joining up data and systems, then...</li> <li>We deliver experiences that are consistent, synced and responsive across devices/channels, then...</li> <li>We make them personalised, proactive and contextual.</li> </ul> <p>‘Context’ has a lot of possible dimensions: behaviour, location, the weather, what is happening in the world, the time of day, device, pretty much anything.</p> <p>Because of mobile, and the growth in location intelligence (iBeacons being just one example but the likes of <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtBERi7Lf3c">Estimote</a> are doing interesting things), it is likely that user behaviour and location will be the most common forms of ‘context’ to be used in our marketing and customer experience thinking this year. </p> <p>The best articulation of this shift I have read is Fjord’s concept of ‘<a href="https://livingservices.fjordnet.com/">Living Services</a>’ where they not only talk about new interaction paradigms like gesture, voice and touch but how we need to consider how environments and context are changing more than how industry sectors are changing.</p> <p>We need to build aware platforms where the customer is the operating system we plug into.</p> <p>For example, <a href="http://pielot.org/pubs/Pielot2015-UbiComp-Boredom-Detection.pdf">this case study from Telefonica Research</a> shows how it is possible to tell how bored someone is from their mobile activity with an 83% accuracy rate.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/0643/buzzfeed.png" alt="" width="700"></p> <p>In this test the bored participants were sent notifications recommending content on Buzzfeed and were much more likely to respond than the non-bored segment.</p> <p>So we are witnessing behaviour whereby a prod (i.e. push), mostly in the form of a notification, is required to get attention.</p> <p>But that interface (now mostly via the lock screen on your phone) is controlled by the mobile operating systems and who knows how they will choose to prioritise what the user gets and how those notifications will be prioritised in the future.</p> <p>And with predictive and assistive services it may be we will not expect to “go” to anything on our phones - it will come to us. </p> <p>The big question for us as marketers then is how on earth do we fit in? And how will we make sure our notifications are seen and heard amidst the torrent of others?</p> <p>As we re-enter an era of push, albeit ‘smart push’, we will need to re-learn the lessons from email marketing about permission, relevance, context and personalisation. </p> <h3> <a name="Digital/Physical"></a>4. Digital/Physical: will it blend?</h3> <p>The blending of digital and physical is not a new trend but it is one that will continue to be front of mind throughout 2016 and beyond. </p> <p>Last year we saw a lot of interesting developments from the big ‘digital’ players in the physical world: <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67151-why-has-amazon-opened-a-physical-bookshop">Amazon opened a bookshop</a> and turned domestic appliances into a retail channel via its <a href="http://www.amazon.com/b/?node=10667898011&amp;sort=date-desc-rank&amp;lo=digital-text">Dash Buttons</a>; Google <a href="https://www.marketingweek.com/2015/03/11/google-opens-first-bricks-and-mortar-shop-in-the-uk/">opened its first store in London</a>. </p> <p>There was some impressive innovation around digital/physical from major brands too. Highlights for me included:</p> <ul> <li>Burberry lets passers-by <a href="http://www.marketingweek.com/2015/12/14/burberry-lets-passers-by-take-over-piccadilly-circus-screens-to-create-personalised-scarves/">take over Piccadilly Circus screen</a> to create personalised scarves.</li> <li> <a href="https://anyware.dominos.com/">Domino’s Anyware</a> service and rival <a href="http://www.theverge.com/2015/6/7/8743741/this-pizza-hut-box-turns-into-a-movie-projector">Pizza Hut’s box that turns into a movie projector</a>.</li> <li>The Starbucks Roastery App Experience (see video below)</li> <li>Carlsberg’s <a href="http://www.happybeerti.me/">#happybeertime</a> and its point of sale <a href="https://vimeo.com/111116389">Barbox platform</a>.</li> <li>Hive’s <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67383-five-digital-to-physical-social-campaigns-that-will-inspire-us-in-2016/">#tweettoheat Twitter-operated bus shelter</a>.</li> <li>The <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67393-how-women-s-aid-used-digital-ooh-ads-to-make-327m-people-stop-look/">Women’s Aid digital out-of-home campaign</a>.</li> </ul> <p>This year we will see further innovation, for example <a href="http://www.marketingweek.com/2015/11/13/outdoor-advertising-set-to-evolve-as-industry-rolls-out-automated-buying/">more programmatically driven digital out-of-home media</a>.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/PY_lBXCxldk?wmode=transparent" width="615" height="346"></iframe></p> <p>Where it gets really interesting is when digital is used to create the physical. The opportunities around 3D printing are very exciting here of course.</p> <p>Eyewear business Warby Parker already provide a mobile app called Bookmark that allows customers to see a photo of themselves and buy the glasses, but <a href="https://redef.com/original/eyewear-with-empathy-warby-parkers-neil-blumenthal">CEO Neil Blumenthal envisages</a> "...that in the very near future you’ll be able to get your glasses prescription through your mobile device" and, who knows, perhaps you will be able to print them out at home too? </p> <p>From a brand point of view it is interesting to see how digital is seeking out further depth and substance through a physical connection and manifestation.</p> <p><a href="https://evernote.com/partner/moleskine/">Evernote has partnered with Moleskine</a> to create Evernote books for example.</p> <p>3M’s Post-it notes, quintessentially physical, were given a quasi-physical manifestation as <a href="http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/3m-makes-retargeted-banner-ads-less-annoying-turning-them-post-it-notes-165033">reborn retargeted banner ads</a>. </p> <h3>5. <a name="Design"></a>The ascendance of design</h3> <p>One of my three <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65990-three-digital-marketing-mega-trends-for-2015/">digital marketing mega trends for 2015</a> was the return of creativity and design. Then I focused on creativity.</p> <p>This year I want to highlight design. More specifically, digital product/service design. </p> <p>It is always helpful with trends to look at the jobs market and see which roles and expertise are most in demand.</p> <p>Great developers are still gold dust but in the last six months or so the question I keep hearing is ‘does anyone know a great (digital) designer’?</p> <p>That special person who not only gets the big idea, the brand, the look and feel, but can also do information architecture, gets UX and UI, appreciates the customer journey, obviously knows responsive inside out, is current with this morning’s latest trends in iOS vs Android transition effects, and is working on conversational interfaces in his/her spare time.</p> <p>And, like good childcare or a great plumber, if you do know this person you sure as hell are not giving their details to anyone else. </p> <p>Speaking to a few agency Creative Directors recently they admitted they were starting to feel out of touch with aspects of their craft.</p> <p>In particular, prototyping and app design/concepts. Talk to startups and product managers/designers and you will hear about <a href="https://www.sketchapp.com/">Sketch</a>, <a href="http://www.invisionapp.com/">Invision</a>, <a href="https://marvelapp.com/">Marvel</a> and the like.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/0644/Screen_Shot_2016-01-11_at_16.38.45.png" alt="" width="700"></p> <p>The corporate world is catching up. Indeed <a href="http://landing.adobe.com/en/na/products/creative-cloud/comet/229818-notifyme.html">Adobe’s imminent launch of Comet</a> must be its response to this need.</p> <p>Expect a lot of activity in this area, both tech, talent and techniques, over 2016. </p> <p>Also indicative of underlying trends is what is happening in mergers and acquisitions. Here are some headlines that tell a story around the ascendance of design:</p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/cmo/2015/07/28/accenture-bulks-up-design-capabilities-with-fjord-expansion/">Accenture bulks up design capabilities with Fjord Expansion</a>.</li> <li> <a href="http://www.wired.com/2015/05/consulting-giant-mckinsey-bought-top-design-firm/">Consulting giant McKinsey buys itself a top design firm</a>.</li> <li> <a href="http://ventureburn.com/2014/11/deloitte-digital-scoops-ux-specialist-flow-interactive/">Agency acquisition frenzy: Now Deloitte snaps up UX agency</a>.</li> <li> <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e448e6da-44f9-11e5-b3b2-1672f710807b.html#axzz3wZQCq2pT">EY UK looks beyond audit with digital design purchase</a>.</li> <li> <a href="http://www.pwc.com/us/en/press-releases/2013/pwc-completes-asset-acquisition.html">PwC completes asset acquisition of digital creative consultancy BGT</a>.</li> <li> <a href="http://investors.cognizant.com/2014-10-07-Cognizant-Acquires-Cadient-Group-to-help-Clients-Drive-Business-Transformation-Through-Digital-Technologies">Cognizant acquires Cadient Group</a>.</li> <li> <a href="http://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/wipro-to-acquire-designit-for-93-mn-115070900739_1.html">Wipro to acquire Danish firm Designit</a>.</li> <li> <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSnMKW7nG2la+1c8+MKW20140709">BCG Digital Ventures acquires S&amp;C, an award-winning strategic-design firm</a>.</li> <li>You get the idea...</li> </ul> <p>All the major consultancies, both management and strategy, as well as the systems integrators are investing considerably in design services.</p> <p>Indian outsourcing companies <a href="http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2015-09-09/news/66363558_1_design-capabilities-creative-skills-global-head">recognise they need to beef up their design credentials</a> and I expect we will see Chinese businesses buying their way into this space too.  </p> <p>Let us not forget that <a href="https://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/43523.wss">IBM Interactive Experience last year announced a $100m investment</a> to expand its interactive design business, acquiring talent and opening interactive experience labs and studios around the world.</p> <p>Indeed even in 2014 <a href="http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/43813.wss">IBM Interactive Experience was named the largest global digital agency</a> by AdAge and in 2015 IBM IX came second only to Sapient in <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/top-100-digital-agencies-2015/">Econsultancy’s Top 100 Digital Agencies</a>. </p> <p>Perhaps the most interesting acquisition in this area was at the end of 2014 because it was a major financial services brand buying a leading product design consultancy: <a href="http://adaptivepath.org/ideas/adaptive-path-where-were-going-next/">Capital One acquired Adaptive Path</a>.</p> <p>In 2016 it would not be surprising to see more brands make design acquisitions or acqui-hires.</p> <p>At the very least expect to see design and product people become part of senior leadership teams e.g. <a href="http://diginomica.com/2015/10/22/the-co-op-digital-service-mike-bracken-hires-his-former-government-colleagues/">Mike Bracken’s hiring of his former Government Digital Services’ colleagues to The Co-Op Digital Service</a> includes a Digital Services Director and Group Design Director to help lead the Co-Op’s digital transformation.  </p> <p>Finally, whilst the big tech companies may have been focusing on data and digital marketing platforms and services to date, expect to see much more focus on design this year e.g. with Adobe’s launch of Comet and Google (behind <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65966-what-is-material-design-10-pioneering-examples/">Material Design</a> of course) set to further empower designers with <a href="https://www.google.com/webdesigner/">Google Web Designer</a>. </p> <h3>6. <a name="DigitalTransformation"></a>Digital Transformation: the teenage years</h3> <p>While Econsultancy cannot quite claim to have coined the term ‘<a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/digital-transformation/">digital transformation</a>’ (I would probably give that accolade to <a href="https://www.capgemini-consulting.com/digital-transformation">Cap Gemini</a>), we certainly helped popularise the term.</p> <p>My presentation on <a href="http://www.slideshare.net/econsultancy/digital-transformation-ashley-friedlein-ceo-econsultancy">Slideshare on Digital Transformation from 2013</a> attempted to define the term at the time.</p> <p>Certainly we have been researching, writing about, consulting on, and helping deliver digital transformation for longer than most. </p> <p>I describe digital transformation simply as the journey towards being a digital organisation where “digital” means two things: firstly, focusing on the customer experience irrespective of channel, and secondly, having a digital culture.</p> <p>I believe the seven defining characteristics of a digital culture are: </p> <ol> <li>Customer-centric</li> <li>Data-driven</li> <li>Makers &amp; Doers</li> <li>Transparent</li> <li>Collaborative</li> <li>Learning</li> <li>Agile</li> </ol> <p>As part of this transformation journey most organisations follow a similar evolution of organisational structure.</p> <p>Full details of this are given in Econsultancy’s recently updated <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/digital-marketing-organisational-structures-and-resourcing-best-practice-guide/">Digital Marketing: Organisational Structures and Resourcing Best Practice Guide</a>. </p> <p>The graphic below outlines a typical five stage evolution towards true multi-channel customer-centricity. Each stage has a typical corresponding job title and organisational structure for digital. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/0646/Screen_Shot_2016-01-11_at_17.54.28.png" alt="" width="988" height="405"></p> <p>My observation for 2016 is that most businesses are somewhere between stages two and four. We are entering the teenage years for digital transformation.</p> <p>These are years of change, of experimentation, of pain, of growth, of tumult, of crises of self-identity, of commotion and instability. </p> <p>We have already seen in my trends two and five above how the agency and consultancy worlds are colliding and blurring.</p> <p>Apparently pretty much everyone these days offers ‘digital transformation’ services of some sort.</p> <p>On the client side we will continue to see re-organisations, new job titles like <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66906-was-i-wrong-about-chief-digital-officers/">Chief Digital Officer</a> or <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67031-chief-customer-officers-ccos-a-fad-or-the-future/">Chief Customer Officer</a>, new joint ventures, labs, innovation centres, start-up partnerships, accelerators and acquisitions in an attempt to kick start or accelerate their transformations. </p> <p>2015 saw a number of examples of <a href="https://www.marketingweek.com/2015/10/23/why-are-brands-taking-agencies-in-house/">brands buying, or investing in, digital agencies and talent: Jaguar created a joint venture with agency Spark 44</a> to manage its global communications; <a href="https://www.marketingweek.com/2015/10/21/why-coty-bought-social-content-agency-beamly/">Coty bought content agency Beamly</a>; Unilever has its Foundry; Visa set up Europe Collab; Barclays has its Accelerator; the list goes on. </p> <p>In the early years of digital transformation most businesses had digital in a silo.</p> <p>This created obvious problems so the broad consensus was that actually digital needed to be embedded throughout the core business.</p> <p>So the last years have seen efforts to ‘digitize’ the mothership and make digital part of the operating model and DNA of the whole business. It turns out this is not very easy either and has all sorts of challenges too: the biggest of which is a lack of speed. </p> <p>One possible approach to address this problem, promoted by McKinsey, is a <a href="http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/high_tech_telecoms_internet/organizing_for_digital_acceleration_making_a_two_speed_it_operating_model_work">two-speed operating model for accelerating digital transformation</a>.</p> <p>Either this is somewhat of a bodge to avoid driving through difficult but necessary change, or it is a smart and realistic way to get where you want faster without dangerous levels of disruption.</p> <p>Whichever it is, expect to see more struggles, at varying speeds, with digital transformation this year. </p> <h3>7. <a name="Robobranding"></a>Robobranding</h3> <p>Trying to humanise technology is not new. You may remember Microsoft’s paperclip character.</p> <p>Around five to ten years ago there was also a fashion for putting characters on virtual agents which were typically for customer service and sat on top of an ‘intelligent FAQs’ database.</p> <p><a href="http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/1924.aspx">National Rail has Ask Lisa</a> and has done since 2007.</p> <p>With the progress in machine learning and AI (artificial intelligence), conversational interfaces, and a flurry of branded bots appearing this trend is back.</p> <p>The popularity of emojis, and digital stickers, also show the desire to embed more feeling and emotion into digital communications. </p> <p>In trend four above we saw how the world of pure digital is trying to connect more deeply through physical manifestations.</p> <p>Similarly, brands, particularly digital services, are now seeking to create more emotive connections by bringing personality to their technology. </p> <p>We are moving beyond robots that only deal in commands, interactions and transactions.</p> <p>Technology can detect our emotions (e.g. <a href="http://www.emotient.com/">Emotient</a>, or <a href="http://googlecloudplatform.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/Google-Cloud-Vision-API-changes-the-way-applications-understand-images.html">Google’s Cloud Vision API</a>), robots can detect how we feel (like <a href="https://www.aldebaran.com/en/a-robots/pepper/how-does-pepper-work">Pepper</a>) and any self-respecting cool piece of tech has a bot (e.g. <a href="https://get.slack.help/hc/en-us/articles/202026038-Slackbot-your-assistant-notepad-programmable-bot">Slackbot</a>) and, increasingly, extensible platforms to create your own bots, e.g. <a href="https://telegram.org/blog/bot-revolution">Telegram’s Bot Platform</a> or Slack’s Slash Commands.  </p> <p>Ray Kurzweil, director of engineering at Google, recently forecast that in 15 years’ time it will be possible to have an emotional relationship with computers.</p> <p>This was made real in the 2013 film “<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Her_(film)">Her</a>” portraying a man, Theodore Twombly, who falls in love with ‘Samantha,’ an artificially intelligent operating system.</p> <p>If this seems far-fetched I should point out that I have recently been interacting very naturally and successfully with “<a href="https://x.ai/">Amy Ingram</a>” an AI-powered personal assistant for scheduling meetings.</p> <p>Amy seems happy to work long hours and even replies at the weekend.   </p> <p>The mixing of human and machine is also evident in the many concierge services springing up. Among them <a href="https://pana.com/">Pana</a> (for travel), <a href="https://www.operator.com/">Operator</a> and <a href="http://www.gobutler.com/">GoButler</a>.</p> <p>Typically, these services work using part human, part machine learning. The interesting one to watch here of course is <a href="http://www.wired.com/2015/08/facebook-launches-m-new-kind-virtual-assistant/">Facebook M</a>.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/0647/Screen_Shot_2016-01-11_at_18.15.26.png" alt="" width="598" height="441"> </p> <p>Pure human assistance is very useful but not very scalable. Pure machine is very scalable but not always very useful. M’s challenge, and services like it, is to be both. </p> <p>What does this all mean for marketers? It creates all sorts of exciting opportunities to create more intelligent services and ones which, though digital, really resonate with the brand and have personality. </p> <p>In a few years I expect we will find it odd not to be able to message a brand and have a conversation which we will expect to be bot-powered to start with.</p> <p>Some of us may even prefer to interact with branded bots rather than humans. </p> <p>The challenge for us, as marketers, will be how to imbue these robobrands with the right brand sentience.</p> <p>It will mean <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/online-copywriting/">great copywriting</a> is once more highly prised and interfaces will become more verbal. Getting the right tone and the right attitude will be hard but those that do will win. </p> <h3>8. <a name="Mobile"></a>It’s mobile, stupid</h3> <p>We all know that the fabled ‘year of mobile’ was about a decade ago.</p> <p>In the last two years most of us have finally got round to mobile-optimising our websites and emails typically using responsive design. </p> <p>However, what slightly surprises me is that for many marketers I get the sense they think that means they have ticked the mobile box, mobile is covered, mobile is mostly ‘done’.</p> <p>Mobile (and the same is true of video and even social) tends not to appear on the hot topics or buzzwords list. </p> <p>Which is odd given we surely recognise that <a href="http://ben-evans.com/benedictevans/2014/10/28/presentation-mobile-is-eating-the-world">mobile is eating the world</a>?</p> <p>So I have put mobile in as a trend largely as a collective slap in the face to remind ourselves just how big a thing this still is.</p> <p>Remember:</p> <ul> <li>By most metrics mobile now IS the internet. And for most developing nations mobile is the internet. </li> <li>Last year we passed the point where there are <a href="http://searchengineland.com/its-official-google-says-more-searches-now-on-mobile-than-on-desktop-220369">more searches on mobile than deskto</a>p. </li> <li>For many businesses and customers things are not just mobile first, they are mobile only. Last year <a href="http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/consumer_and_retail/learning_from_south_koreas_mobile-retailing_boom">McKinsey published some fascinating research on mobile shoppers in South Korea</a>: among those who shopped on a mobile device, 13% did not shop in stores, and 53% did not shop online. </li> <li> <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2015/01/28/facebook-mobile-only-2/">More than half a billion people access Facebook solely from mobile</a> and sometime soon <a href="http://venturebeat.com/2015/11/04/47-of-facebooks-users-never-touch-the-service-on-desktop/">Facebook will become mostly a mobile experience</a> with the majority of video views and sharing already mobile-dominated. </li> <li> <a href="https://www.atombank.co.uk/">Atom Bank</a> will launch in the UK this year as a mobile-only bank. </li> <li> <a href="https://medium.com/@Mosaic_VC/messaging-and-notifications-the-new-platforms-ba85db74dd9#.aobryziua">Mobile messaging is HUGE</a> and growing massively. Not just in B2C but B2B – you may have noticed <a href="http://blog.linkedin.com/2015/09/01/new-messaging-experience-comes-to-linkedin-finally/">LinkedIn’s recent developments in messaging</a>? </li> <li>Messaging apps <a href="http://uk.businessinsider.com/messaging-apps-have-completely-overtaken-social-networks-to-become-the-dominant-platforms-on-phones-2015-4?r=US&amp;IR=T">have caught up to social networks in user numbers</a> and now dominate mobile</li> <li>Mobile commerce is <a href="http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/233979/file-61930032-pdf/Content/The-state-of-mobile-commerce-in-retail.pdf">predicted to grow to $31bn next year</a>, up from $3bn in 2010. </li> <li>Walmart reported that over 70% of the traffic to Walmart.com is now mobile and that mobile accounted for over half of its orders since Thanksgiving – double last year.</li> <li>Alibaba’s <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67212-10-eye-watering-stats-from-alibaba-s-singles-day-in-china/">Singles Day in China</a> saw 27m mobile transactions in the first hour. </li> <li>Get your mind blown by <a href="https://medium.com/@katie/product-insights-from-wechat-97c51695e159#.o4qch7iry">what WeChat can do</a> and read about <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/31c9ab26-77c5-11e5-a95a-27d368e1ddf7.html#axzz3wZQCq2pT">Facebook’s big bet on Facebook M</a>.</li> </ul> <p>Really we shouldn’t be asking ourselves what our mobile strategy is anymore. We should be wondering what our desktop strategy is given most of what our customers do is mobile? </p> <p>So if you think you are mostly done with mobile then think again.</p> <p>Some mobile questions that should be on your mind for 2016:</p> <ul> <li>How might our brand be present in the notifications stream? What is <a href="https://medium.com/@orarbel/notifications-the-good-the-bad-and-the-irrelevant-8bd373e8c86#.6bh0h5ycd">a good notifications experience</a> and how might we deliver <a href="https://blog.intercom.io/its-time-for-notifications-to-get-smart/">smarter notifications</a>?</li> <li>What could the trend towards conversational interfaces and bots mean for our brand?</li> <li>How do we capitalise on message and mobile-social commerce? </li> <li>What will the changes in mobile payment options (including Apple Pay roll out) mean for us? </li> <li>Following <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66387-google-s-mobile-friendly-algorithm-four-early-test-results/">Google’s “Mobilegeddon” algorithm update</a> last year what do we need to be doing in SEO for mobile this year? </li> <li>Now that <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67006-google-pushing-hard-to-extend-influence-to-apps/">native apps are being indexed for search</a> what opportunities does that give us?</li> <li> <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/age-old-question-app-v-mobile-web-jonathan-wall?trk=hp-feed-article-title-like">Shop Direct is reporting higher usage and higher conversion rates on its apps</a> than from mobile web customers. Have we got our app strategy right?</li> <li>And, of course, mobile display (including native ads and mobile programmatic), mobile video optimisation etc. etc.…. </li> </ul> <p>In short: for the foreseeable future every year should be the year of mobile.</p> <h3>9. <a name="Video"></a>Video</h3> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Hfj8f9y6sPI?wmode=transparent" width="615" height="346"></iframe></p> <h3>10. <a name="Content"></a>Peak content</h3> <p>Doug Kessler called this one three years ago with his seminal <a href="https://velocitypartners.com/resources/crap-the-single-biggest-threat-to-b2b-content-marketing/">Crap: the single biggest threat to B2B content marketing</a>. </p> <p>If we were to plot content marketing on <a href="http://www.gartner.com/technology/research/methodologies/hype-cycle.jsp">Gartner’s hype cycle</a> then I fear 2016 sees us plunging from the peaks of inflated expectations towards the trough of content marketing disillusionment.</p> <p>Can marketing take any more contentification? Have we jumped the content shark? Can the world take any more wellness tips from insurance companies? </p> <p>Like <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJZPzQESq_0">Mr Creosote</a> we are dangerously near tipping over the edge and just one more (wafer thin) piece of content could do it.</p> <p>Even Twitter can no longer contain the tsunami and its 140 word levee is about to be breached with <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67378-five-reasons-twitter-s-character-limit-increase-is-a-terrible-idea/">up to 10,000 characters of content</a>. </p> <p>And all this with our phones set to ping and ting even more with a wave of notifications.</p> <p>Just as happened with social media a few years ago, 2016 will see lots of hand-wringing about the ‘ROI of content marketing’.</p> <p>We will learn to focus on value, quality and relevancy as very few can make volume, quantity and reach work.</p> <p>2016 will see us thinking more about what we stop doing in content rather than what we start doing. </p> <p>How to end a post on my 10 digital trends for 2016? By predicting the demise of the listicle perhaps? </p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67343 2015-12-17T10:06:00+00:00 2015-12-17T10:06:00+00:00 Do new features make Facebook a viable customer service platform? Patricio Robles <p>One of the use cases Facebook is most focused on is customer service.</p> <p>While there's still skepticism about social media as a customer service channel, and some businesses have been reluctant to embrace it as such, the reality is that customers are using services like Facebook and Twitter to seek support from the companies they do business with.</p> <p>In an effort to better support customer service interactions, Facebook <a href="https://www.facebook.com/business/news/new-tools-for-managing-communication-on-your-page">has added</a> a number of features to Pages, including...</p> <h3>Response time display</h3> <p>Earlier this year, Facebook began highlighting businesses that, on average, respond within five minutes of receiving a message through their Facebook Pages.</p> <p>Now, Pages will display average response times even if they don't meet that standard. To help businesses set expectations, they can also change what's displayed. </p> <p>"Average response times for Pages are calculated for each Page automatically and the response time shown on the Page defaults to their average response time, but admins can now control what response time shows publicly on their Page.</p> <p>So even if a Page typically responds to messages within an hour, they can can set their visible response time to within a day and set customer expectations accordingly," Facebook explained.</p> <p>In addition, businesses can configure an Away mode to let customers know that they are not currently available to respond to messages as quickly as usual, and can create Away Messages and Instant Replies, which function like email autoresponders.</p> <h3>A redesigned inbox</h3> <p>One of the biggest challenges companies face in using <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67060-what-a-mexican-and-an-italian-taught-me-about-online-customer-service">social media for customer service</a> is that many of the tools they're given by social platforms were not designed with customer service in mind. Facebook is aiming to change that with a redesigned inbox that provides more context.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/0070/12350970_1632165700376662_715458677_n.jpg" alt="" width="676" height="451"></p> <p>The redesigned inbox makes it easy for Page admins to view past messages from a particular user, and to quickly view basic profile information, like location, alongside the user's message. Additionally, Page admins can tag coversations add notes about users.</p> <p>According to Facebook, "These changes help Page admins keep up with messages faster and manage conversations more easily."</p> <h3>New comment tools</h3> <p>Because comments are also commonly used for customer service purposes, Facebook has created a new tool that businesses can use to monitor and respond to comments left on their Pages.</p> <p>Using the tool, Page admins can identify comments that need to be responded to, quickly view information about the user who posted the comment, and manage workflow, like marking comments as responded to.</p> <h3>So is Facebook now a viable customer service platform?</h3> <p>Clearly, Facebook is attempting to address the customer service interactions that are taking place on its platform.</p> <p>Its functionality may not do enough for some companies, particularly those that have invested heavily in their own customer service platforms, but with 50m business Pages, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64761-small-businesses-is-it-really-worth-being-social">many of them operated by small businesses</a>, Facebook's newest features arguably represent steps in the right direction.</p> <p>Of course, businesses will need to embrace these features, but the days of arguing that social platforms aren't suitable for customer service because they don't support customer service use cases very well are numbered.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:Report/3905 2015-10-06T10:30:00+01:00 2015-10-06T10:30:00+01:00 A Marketer's Guide to the Internet of Things <h2 style="border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #004e70;"><strong style="border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Overview</strong></h2> <p>The <strong>Marketer's Guide to the Internet of Things</strong> demystifies the Internet of Things (IoT), provides an overview of the current state of the industry and explains how your company can make use of the IoT in your marketing.</p> <p>The report explains the role of the IoT as part of the trend towards ubiquitous computing, including how it relates to mobile, wearable technology, cloud computing and big data. Above all, it provides a framework for success in an increasingly connected world.</p> <p>This is an opportunity every brand should consider right now.</p> <h2 style="border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #004e70;"><strong style="border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">What you'll learn</strong></h2> <ul> <li>The Internet of Things has largely been talked about as a way to improve operational efficiency, but this report will reveal opportunities to harness it for marketing.</li> <li>Facts to help you formulate an IoT point of view and view on how it might fit into your marketing plans.</li> <li>Understanding the Internet of Things and how it fits with the trends of mobile, ubiquitous computing, wearable technology, mobile, cloud computing and big data.</li> <li>Predictions on market size and what might speed up or slow adoption.</li> <li>Why the Internet of Things is a maturing market and coming of age.</li> <li>Examples of current uses.</li> <li>Examples from different industries including: fitness, wellness, healthcare, infotainment, industry and military, fashion, smartwatches, financial, gaming, childcare and pets.</li> <li>The breadth of opportunity afforded to brands, including revenues, brand extension, customer service and advertising.</li> <li>Case studies of how brands are currently using the IoT.</li> <li>Important considerations for designing a strategy.</li> <li>The framework for success.</li> </ul> <h2 style="border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #004e70;">Who should read this report?</h2> <p>This guide has been written primarily for C-suite and marketers but is equally applicable to advertising or marketing teams.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/66952 2015-09-25T14:30:00+01:00 2015-09-25T14:30:00+01:00 How brands can build brilliant customer relationships Jen Todd Gray <p>Consumers have endless choices and only open their wallets for the brands they really love, ones they feel they can relate to, and ones they feel care about them. </p> <p>With this in mind, it’s important for marketers to start thinking less as big companies and more as friends of their customers.</p> <p>Formal language is long gone, ads are featuring 'normal people' and in-store employees are working with shoppers by name.</p> <p>This is a transition that consumers are welcoming, and we’re only continuing to see more brands jumping on board.</p> <p>The brand-consumer relationship is growing closer; in order to stand out, you better buddy up.</p> <h3><strong>Speak their language</strong></h3> <p>To relate to customers, it’s a wise idea to familiarize yourself with 'what the kids are sayin' and how they’re saying it.</p> <p>Recently, brands have been doing this in spades. IHOP’s “Pancakes on fleek” was the tweet heard round the world, cementing the brand’s reputation as charming, funny and relatable.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">Pancakes on fleek.</p> — IHOP (@IHOP) <a href="https://twitter.com/IHOP/status/524606157110120448">October 21, 2014</a> </blockquote> <p>Taco Bell’s Twitter operates similarly, engaging with consumers on any and all topics. What sets Taco Bell apart from how brands have operated on social historically is a willingness to interact on topics beyond just customer service (the norm for many other brands on the platform). Taco Bell tweets at you like your best friend would. </p> <p>Also, Chevy shook up how we view press releases earlier this year, when they issued a news release published entirely in emoji.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/7314/_ChevyGoesEmoji.png" alt="" width="658" height="806"></p> <p>As a marketer, it’s understood that press releases won’t get your news in front of your customers, but with Chevy’s foray into emojis, not only did customers take notice of their new vehicle, but it put Chevy on the map as a fun, approachable brand.</p> <h3><strong>Showcase your customers</strong></h3> <p>Marketers realize that in order to appeal to customers, those customers have to be able to imagine themselves using your brand. It sounds simple, but the execution can be difficult.</p> <p>Instead, take a page from brands like Gap, Dove and Apple and put your customers front and center, spotlighting them in your marketing.</p> <p>Gap Casting Call allowed parents to submit photos of their children for a chance to have them included in Gap’s campaigns.</p> <p>Dove has been highly celebrated for eschewing typical models in its Real Beauty campaign and instead featuring everyday women with a variety of body types, a move that has solidified it as a beloved brand, celebrating its customers of all shapes and sizes.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XpaOjMXyJGk?wmode=transparent" width="615" height="346"></iframe></p> <p>Another way to show your customer appreciation is to spotlight how customers engage with your brand. Apple replaced its usual ads with photos taken by everyday users on the iPhone. By highlighting users by name, consumers feel closer to the brand and appreciated for their talents.</p> <h3><strong>Have a hospitality mentality</strong></h3> <p>Many of the most elite hotels, resorts and restaurants are well known for the personal touches they impart on the customer experience.</p> <p>Greeting a guest by name without an introduction, remembering personal preferences and catering to special requests are all par for the course in the hospitality industry, and offer lessons for marketers of all brands.</p> <p>In order to win extra points and ultimately brand loyalty with your customers, it’s all about improvingthe experience you’re delivering.</p> <p>For instance, when shopping at retail stores, many brands have in-store associates introduce themselves and then refer to customers by name throughout the shopping process.</p> <p>Personal styling service StitchFix sends a personalized letter with each shipment, explaining why each piece in the package was selected specifically for you.  </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/7315/Stitch-Fix.png" alt="" width="930" height="538"></p> <p>Online, algorithms like the ones Amazon has become famous for, offer suggestions for customers based on his or her prior purchases. These sorts of personal touches make consumers feel cared for individually, rather than just being one in a sea of other shoppers.</p> <p>We know that consumers expect more from the brands they know. They expect personality, attention, respect, and appreciation. With this in mind, brands will need to rise to the occasion to emerge on top.</p> <p>In fact, advancements in technology may be the key to truly drilling down on how to properly care for consumers.</p> <p>Imagine a world where we can offer unique greetings and product recommendations to each customer, both online and in-store automatically.</p> <p>While we wait for this to be the ultimate in delivering an uber-personalized experience, much is possible now through learning about your consumers through gathering their preferences and communicating to them through your app, iBeacons on location and personalized communications via wearables.</p> <p>It’s wise to look into your own marketing strategy and ensure you’re delivering on these customer experience expectations at every junction.</p> <p><em>You can learn even more about engaging customers on social at our two day <a href="http://ecly.co/1EmHi7L">Festival of Marketing</a> event in November. Book your ticket today and head to the Social stage to learn how to manage brand perception and reach new audiences.</em></p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/66946 2015-09-21T10:43:00+01:00 2015-09-21T10:43:00+01:00 Starbucks, Costa & Caffè Nero: how do they build customer loyalty? Ritchie Mehta <p>It’s a booming business for the thousands of coffee stores out there. However there are only three that dominate our high streets and all of them acutely aware of the low barriers to entry and switching costs of consumers, so they do all they can to keep their customers coming back for more.</p> <p>Starbucks, Costa and Caffè Nero all operate some kind of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66904-do-retailers-really-need-a-customer-loyalty-program">loyalty program</a> to entice you to stay with them but how do consumers really know they are getting the best deal? And furthermore, is there really a relationship between these programs and customer loyalty? Let's take a closer look…</p> <h3>Which coffee chain offers the best 'value for money' loyalty program?</h3> <p>Here is a quick sum up of the top 3 coffee chain programs out there:</p> <table border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0"> <tbody> <tr> <td nowrap width="65"> <p>Starbucks</p> </td> <td width="340"> <p>Starbucks operates a two tier loyalty program:<br> Green tier: Get one free beverage when you use your Starbucks card to pay 15 times (earning 15 stars)<br> Gold tier: If you earn over 50 stars a year you get Green benefits plus extras e.g. free caffiene shots</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td nowrap width="65"> <p>Costa</p> </td> <td nowrap width="340"> <p>For every £1 spent in store you get 5 points, each point worth a penny to spend in store anyway you like</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td nowrap width="65"> <p>Caffè Nero</p> </td> <td nowrap width="340"> <p>Get your tenth coffee free when you buy 9 coffees and collect the stamps on their paper-based loyalty card</p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>But which one represents the best value for money? For ease of comparison lets say your regular drink is a medium-sized cappuccino in each of the stores, here is how it breaks down: </p> <table border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0"> <tbody> <tr> <td width="65"> </td> <td width="71"> <p>Price per coffee</p> </td> <td width="92"> <p>Promotion</p> </td> <td width="92"> <p>Overall cost to get a free equivalent coffee</p> </td> <td width="85"> <p>Average % discount per coffee</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="65"> <p>Starbucks</p> </td> <td width="71"> <p>£2.60</p> </td> <td width="92"> <p>15 Stars to earn a free coffee</p> </td> <td width="92"> <p>£39*</p> </td> <td width="85"> <p>7%</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="65"> <p>Costa</p> </td> <td width="71"> <p>£2.45</p> </td> <td width="92"> <p>£1 = 5 points<br> 1 point = £0.01p</p> </td> <td width="92"> <p>£50</p> </td> <td width="85"> <p>5%</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="65"> <p>Caffè Nero</p> </td> <td width="71"> <p>£2.35</p> </td> <td width="92"> <p>Buy 9 get 1 free</p> </td> <td width="92"> <p>£21.15</p> </td> <td width="85"> <p>11%</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="5" width="405"> <p>* Assuming you only purchase one coffee at a time</p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>So there you have it, Caffè Nero’s simple stamp based system delivers their customers the best value for money by far. Furthermore, it would appear that its program (if you can call it that) is by far the most straightforward which makes it even more appealing.</p> <p>From your own perspective, would this make you walk those extra few steps into a Caffè Nero (as lets face it there are fewer of them on our high streets) then the others? Well, lets take a look at the numbers…</p> <h3>Is there a relationship between the ‘value for money’ element of a loyalty program and customer loyalty in coffee? </h3> <p>What you may find interesting is that despite Costa’s lowest performing loyalty program on value for money, according to Allegra Strategies it is number one on the high street with 47% market share. </p> <p>This is despite offering less than half the value of the Caffè Nero loyalty program and it does not look to be slowing down either, with Whitbread looking to take on 20% more stores by 2018.</p> <p>Conversely, the same report suggests that Caffè Nero has 13% market share of the coffee business in the UK, while Starbucks has around 27%.</p> <p> So if we take market share as a proxy for repeat purchase, as lets face it the coffee market in the UK is rather saturated, than the ‘value for money’ element of a loyalty program is less important then perhaps other aspects of an offering. (Also see <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66919-four-steps-to-help-build-customer-loyalty-in-retail/">Four Steps to Build Customer Loyalty in Retail</a>).</p> <p>Are there any other factors at play? Well, one can draw one of two conclusions. </p> <p>The first is that a loyalty program does not in isolation lead to greater customer loyalty and that there are a host of factors that drive this. </p> <p>The second, is slightly less damning of loyalty programs, in that the ‘value for money’ aspect of a loyalty program may well be less important in driving repeat purchase then other aspects of the program.</p> <p>For instance, both the Costa and Starbucks programs are able to capture customer data and deploy much greater levels of personalisation in both the offers and communications to their customers. This itself may act as a stronger influencing factor in creating a relationship then simply offering discounts off coffee.</p> <p>We'll let you decide which floats your boat in the morning.   </p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/66924 2015-09-16T11:19:06+01:00 2015-09-16T11:19:06+01:00 How purchase intent data can help you understand the customer journey Duncan Shaw <p>You know all about the actual purchase event and a bit about what a customer was looking at just before the transaction. But you have very little data to tell you what they were looking at and thinking before they hit your landing page and who they were talking to in the early part of the shopping journey. </p> <p>Think of it as a massive spotlight on the actual act of pressing the ‘buy’ button.</p> <p>You have lots of web analytics and other <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66615-the-importance-of-multiple-touchpoints-for-consumers-during-purchase-stats/" target="_blank">touch point data</a> to help you <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66273-data-sources-that-can-help-optimize-the-customer-experience%20" target="_blank">personalise </a>the journey and understand their <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66788-should-situational-data-be-the-bedrock-of-your-personalisation-strategy%20" target="_blank">situation</a>. But it starts to get a bit murky the further back you go. </p> <p>A <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/single-customer-view-myth-or-reality/" target="_blank">single customer view</a>, such as it is, becomes much less singular if you include the whole customer journey, especially earlier on. Because shoppers look for ideas on sites that you don’t own, they use <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66607-google-reveals-cross-device-conversion-stats" target="_blank">multiple devices</a> and they get feedback on social media where you cannot see it.</p> <p>A recent study, <a href="http://www.maybe.xyz/whitepaper%20" target="_blank">Understanding how millennial shoppers decide what to buy</a> (registration needed) by Professor Neil Towers and supported by Maybe Solutions, has helped with our understanding of how complex, subjective and difficult to get data on customer journeys really are. </p> <p>But there is a way forward and here’s what the research found...</p> <p>Lighting up the full customer journey needs ‘purchase intent data’. This is the special data that describes the behaviours of individual shoppers across all their devices and all the channels they use.</p> <p>It includes their interactions with different retailers on their journey and with their friends and shopping advisors.</p> <h3>Every single customer’s ‘purchase flightpath’ is different</h3> <p>Customers embark on very different journeys with different lengths. Each is influenced by different touch points and uses different media and devices. </p> <p>Each has their own individual experiences and expectations. They can move through extremely diverse, long and complicated shopping journeys before they purchase a product.</p> <h3>Customers reach out and are influenced by other people beyond the control of any retailer</h3> <p>They use social media platforms that are nothing to do with any retailer. Customers do a lot of things before they make their final purchase decision. They seek content from different retailers. And they ask for social validation of their decisions from their social networks both online and offline.</p> <h3>Customers use a mixture of different ideas source, which makes it tough to remember.</h3> <p>The survey respondents used a variety of online and offline sources to get ideas for what products to buy.</p> <p>Customers were asked where they looked for ideas and inspiration:</p> <ul> <li>41% said "from a variety of high street shops"</li> <li>39% said "from a variety of shopping websites"</li> <li>32% said they got "ideas from partners, friends and family"</li> <li>25% said from social media</li> <li>21% used printed sources</li> <li>18% used TV</li> <li>15% said search engines</li> </ul> <p>This suggests that ideas are predominantly drawn from product placement in the retailer’s digital and store domains and from social media sources.</p> <p>But how do these ideas mix for any particular customer?</p> <p>What was most striking was not the variety of channels and sources that shoppers used – it was how this mixture of sources made shopping difficult.</p> <p>Taking ideas from different online and offline sources and using different shopping websites seemed to force them into using lots of different ways to remember their shopping ideas. </p> <h3>Customers take opinions from very different sources</h3> <p>When customers were making their final choice of which item to buy, they asked the following for their opinion:</p> <ul> <li>48% asked their partner or spouse</li> <li>37% asked a friend</li> <li>35% asked a family member</li> <li>10% asked a shop assistant</li> <li>6% asked a work colleague</li> <li>3% asked people in online communities or forums.</li> </ul> <p>This indicates that a reliable and trusted opinion was required in the final "ah-ha" moment.</p> <p>The impact of opinions was important as well: between 65% and 80% of respondents stated that feedback validated their opinion.</p> <h3>Customers behave differently with different journey lengths and prices.</h3> <p>Face-to-face communications was the most frequently mentioned. But as their shopping journeys got longer, shoppers used more technological tools to ask opinions from their contacts.</p> <p>It was also found that the use of some digital channels increased as estimated price increased. But as estimated price increased, face-to-face opinion seeking hugely decreased from 71% to 31% of respondents. The higher the price then the more digital the pre-purchase conversation was.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/66919 2015-09-14T09:25:00+01:00 2015-09-14T09:25:00+01:00 Four steps to help build customer loyalty in retail Ritchie Mehta <p>I’m a regular visitor to the various mainstream coffee chains that sprawl our high streets. While holding a client meeting at one of these establishments, we got talking about the all singing, all dancing Starbucks Rewards program...</p> <p>“I can redeem my points anywhere in the world… they even give me a free coffee on my birthday!” I heard rather enthusiastically.</p> <p>So, I asked, “you must be the biggest Starbucks coffee drinker ever?”. “Nah, I don’t actually like their coffee!”</p> <p>The conversation struck a cord with me as so many organisations constantly churn out offers and rewards as a way to entice customers back through their doors, when surely a more holistic approach should be taken. </p> <p>There is certainly a place for the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66904-do-retailers-really-need-a-customer-loyalty-program">loyalty program</a> lever but for me it needs to be the icing on the cake rather than the cake itself.</p> <p>It’s simple, if you can get customers to love your brand for what it stands for and what it delivers (earned loyalty), they will only appreciate you more when you give them great offers to spend more time with you (bought loyalty).</p> <p>So to do this, organisations should consider winning ‘earned’ before ‘bought’ loyalty to be sure to create stickier relationships. Here’s a four step guide to doing just that:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/6995/earned_bought_loyalty-blog-flyer.png" alt="" width="470" height="350"></p> <h3>1) Align your brand and customer’s values</h3> <p>As a foundation, your brand purpose must align and resonate with that of your audience and be demonstrated in everything you do. </p> <p>This will ensure you stay relevant and favoured in the eyes of your customers, leading to an increased emotional connection.</p> <p>Starbucks didn't do itself any favours by being embroiled in the tax avoidance issue that goes against one of their core values to ‘connect with transparency, dignity and respect’. After a massive boycott the brand is still recovering and many customers have not returned to its doors.</p> <p>So to create ‘earned’ loyalty, its important for organisations to reflect on their brand position and determine if it is both clear and truly aligned to their target market. </p> <p>At the end of it, all other activities flow from delivering the brand promise so it’s important to get right.</p> <h3>2) Propositions must meet and exceed customer requirements</h3> <p>The second stage of ‘earned’ loyalty is to ensure your value proposition spot on. It must align to your customer’s wants and needs, otherwise no matter what else you do, they will not come back for more.</p> <p>As an example: on a recent visit to Soho, I walked into a very reasonably priced all-you-can-eat buffet. The quality of the food was terribly disappointing to the point I even got resentful paying the reasonably priced price tag. </p> <p>The real kicker came at the end when I was handed a half-priced voucher for my next visit. Would I ever go back to redeem it? I’ll let you decide.</p> <h3>3) Deliver an exceptional and novel experience</h3> <p>The final stage in the ‘earned’ loyalty category is to deliver an exceptional experience. </p> <p>If you can meet a consumer's wants and needs AND deliver it in a place (digital or physical) that is convenient to them AND in a way that is aligned to their tastes, they will make you a regular thing.</p> <p>I recently had my first experience of immersive theatre at Alice Underground Wonderland (sadly its now finished for the year), where the experience was second to none and exceeded all expectations. </p> <p>It encapsulated the audience, made you anticipate what was around the next corner and took you into its own world for that space in time. </p> <p>I ended up taking another set of friends two weeks later and even paid for the premium tickets the next time around. If only brands could replicate these emotions, clearly in their own way. </p> <h3>4) Giving customers that little bit extra</h3> <p>The final step in building loyalty is to generate ‘bought’ loyalty. </p> <p>This is where you offer incentives, rewards and surprises to encourage repeat purchase and re-visits. </p> <p>There are some great programs out there, my personal favourite being the Nandos loyalty app. It’s simple and hence effective, as you always know how far away you are from your next free chicken. </p> <p>But if I didn't associate with the brand (Cheeky Nandos!), love the food and enjoy the experience, the app would simply not exist on my phone.</p> <p>So all in all, it's a simple equation to building stronger customer loyalty: '3 to 1' - Three steps to building ‘earned’ loyalty and one step to building ‘bought’ loyalty. To me, it should be in that order.   </p> <p><em>You can learn even more about customer experience at our two day <a href="http://bit.ly/1M8uMOA">Festival of Marketing</a> event in November. Book your ticket today and see how you can create a customer-focused culture.</em></p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/66904 2015-09-08T09:25:00+01:00 2015-09-08T09:25:00+01:00 Do retailers really need a customer loyalty program? Ritchie Mehta <p>I would say we Brits are a discerning bunch, always after a deal or two. I’m as guilty as the next person and decided to make the most of the weekend by finding some killer bargains on <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66504-how-18-retailers-in-central-london-are-integrating-digital-in-store">Oxford Street</a>.</p> <p>Making my way on the tube was the first ordeal as I held up a queue of increasingly angry people as I waded through my wallet, which contained five loyalty cards, till I found my debit card.</p> <p>I couldn’t help but wonder, how often do I use these loyalty cards? Have I actually ever received any rewards? And honestly, do I really care? </p> <p>My journey that day opened my eyes to a number of ways retailers build customer loyalty without the need for cards or points. Here are my five observations: </p> <h3>1) The best deals are ‘Always-on’ </h3> <p>So as I get off at Bond Street I walk to my first port of call, Primark. It seems like everyone on Oxford Street had the same idea as every second person had a Primark bag. “I must join their loyalty program”, I thought to myself. Unfortunately there isn’t one.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/3476/IMG_4563.JPG" alt="" width="464" height="348"></p> <p>What’s Primark's key to generating customer loyalty? Ask anyone why they keep going back to Primark and they say it’s because they know they will always be offered great value stuff that's in season and of reasonable quality. It’s that simple.</p> <p>So rather then collecting a gazillion points to be eligible for a free gift (that most customers don't redeem anyway), the new mantra in loyalty is to offer customers ‘always-on deals’ by giving them the best value each and every time they interact with you. No doubt they will appreciate it.</p> <h3>2) Make me feel special</h3> <p>I was in need of a coffee so walked into the Pret a Manger at Marble Arch. I always find the staff really inviting and service efficient, so for me Pret is just easy. I order a latte and about to tap my contactless when a smiling face said, “don't worry it’s on the house.” I must admit I got a warm feeling.</p> <p>Pret do not have a loyalty program but empower their staff to give out free coffee to a few lucky customers each day. No clever CRM systems or points, just a human touch. </p> <p>I think sometimes this is exactly what is missing in customer service today. One thing’s for sure if Pret did have a loyalty program I’d be a platinum member.</p> <h3>3) Don't lock me in, convince me to stay</h3> <p>Revived by my caffeine high, I decide to call a friend using my O2 sim-only deal. I love the convenience of getting a bill each month, whilst not feeling like I’m stuck with them for a lifetime (I exaggerate, but it sure feels like that when you really want a new phone).</p> <p>I’ve now had the deal going for four years, I can get out at anytime and perhaps this is exactly the reason I stay. Coupled with the O2 Priority Rewards where I keep receiving offers and freebies, perhaps it’s all about the small things in life that make us feel valued. </p> <h3>4) Give me extra</h3> <p>After a natter, we decide to meet at Five Guys in Covent Garden. Walking into the joint one gets a real sense of energy and enthusiasm from the staff. Also, their simple optional menu makes sure you always get more than you bargained for (literally), as you can have all the frills on your burger for the same price.</p> <p>But the real icing on the cake (or bun) is when they hand over your burger bag filled to the brim with fries. Did I ask for them? No. Am I happy (and a little surprised)? Absolutely. </p> <p>They just gave me something for nothing, and that's something I really valued. A little surprise and delight does not go unnoticed.</p> <h3>5) Look after everyone</h3> <p>I ended my trek to Oxford Street and called it a night by relaxing on my sofa and switching on the box. All I wanted to do was turn on Netflix and watch the new series of Marcos. However, my other half had other ideas. </p> <p>Thank you Netflix for enabling us to watch two different programs using the same subscription. It’s a nice way to add value for the whole family while not trying to grab every penny. It shows you understand how we like to do things and care.</p> <p>I must admit I was not overjoyed that I had to watch Marcos on my iPad (you can see who gets their way in my house). Hey ho! Guess Netflix can’t solve all my problems but I still won’t be leaving its service anytime soon.</p> <p><em>You can learn even more about customer experience at our two day <a href="http://ecly.co/1EmHi7L">Festival of Marketing</a> event in November. Book your ticket today and see how you can create a customer-focused culture.</em></p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/66668 2015-07-16T16:05:00+01:00 2015-07-16T16:05:00+01:00 Four ecommerce tech trends to watch in 2015 Jen Todd Gray <p>Although it's one of the most important times for driving revenue, the holiday season is difficult for brands to set themselves apart from competitors and connect with customers in meaningful ways. </p> <p>Therefore it’s important for marketers to harness emerging technology to drive customer engagement.</p> <p>From receipt validation to building sharable content, brands have more tools at their disposal than ever before as they prep their strategies for the biggest spending season of the year.</p> <p>Let’s take a look at how brands can use current technology trends to help them rise above the noise during December.</p> <h3><strong>Integrated wishlists</strong></h3> <p>Brands are making it easier than ever for customers to share their favorite finds with loved ones with wishlist functionality integrated into their websites, apps and social channels.</p> <p>Capitalizing on the success of social networks like Pinterest, brands need to allow customers to seamlessly share desired wishlist items across Twitter, Facebook and email, taking the guess work out of holiday shopping and drawing more eyes on (and directly to) company offerings.</p> <p>Amazon recently made headlines with its <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64793-amazonbasket-is-it-anything-more-than-a-gimmick">Twitter integration</a>, which allows consumers to tweet their favorite items with a designated hashtag to have the product added to their Amazon Wish List. </p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iAm6pa9hPKA?wmode=transparent" width="640" height="300"></iframe></p> <h3><strong>Receipt validation</strong></h3> <p>Just because a brand made the sale doesn’t mean they should stop there.</p> <p>Brands must create ways throughout the holiday season to reward customers for their continued loyalty. Receipt validation in particular has grown easier than ever thanks to mobile integration.</p> <p>Customers can simply scan or upload photos of receipts of recent purchases for the chance to win prizes, earn rewards and more. This not only delights shoppers, but allows marketers to track consumer trends. </p> <p>Last January, Clorox invited customers to enter a $1,000 monthly sweepstakes by submitting a receipt showing purchases of two Clorox products. Customers could also win additional entries for daily site visits to keep the excitement going past the sale.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/5240/clorox_reciept.png" alt="" width="389" height="630"></p> <p>Validation campaigns like this heighten sales, provide opportunities to build CRM data, while using a 'chance-to-win' call-to-action to keeps brands top of mind.</p> <p>By inviting customers to submit receipts, brands are also presented with a plethora of customer data, allowing them to fine tune campaigns and product offerings.</p> <h3><strong>Apple Watch</strong></h3> <p>After much anticipation, the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66342-the-apple-watch-bringing-marketers-closer-to-customers-than-ever-before">Apple Watch made its debut in April</a>, allowing marketers unprecedented connections to their customers.</p> <p>Since then scores of brands have jumped onboard, creating apps that engage with customers on a hyper-personal level.</p> <p>Recently, Degree deodorant launched its Sweat This, Not That app, <a href="http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/advertising/20297.html">a 30-day fitness challenge for Watch OS</a> that invites consumers to complete personalized workouts each day.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/5241/fitness_app.jpg" alt="" width="420" height="525"></p> <p>Sporting goods brands can follow in Degree’s footsteps by prompting users to complete daily fitness routines in exchange for timely coupons and the chance to win a holiday shopping spree.</p> <h3><strong>Mobile countdowns and geolocation</strong></h3> <p>Mobile devices have given retailers accessibility to driving in-the-moment in store visits. Target’s Watch OS app allows users to build shopping lists on their Apple Watch and then guides them to items when in-store based on their current locations. A great idea to create themed holiday shopping lists and delight frazzled customers.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/5242/target.png" alt="" width="400" height="680"></p> <p>Brands can also utilize geolocation features by creating mobile countdowns to major holidays.</p> <p>Invite customers to visit stores to receive exclusive timely deals. Each day, share a new mobile coupon while customers are in-store. They have to be there to receive it!</p> <p>Select random days to supplement the campaign with text-to-win initiatives with prizes presented in certain day parts. By using geolocation to reward in-store shoppers with coupons, brands can direct shoppers to sections that may not be hot while driving excitement about the holiday shopping season.</p> <p>By thinking strategically about how emerging trends can play a role in seasonal outreach, marketers can continue to bridge the gap between brand and consumer and ensure that the holiday season is as merry as can be.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/66664 2015-07-08T02:00:00+01:00 2015-07-08T02:00:00+01:00 Master the basics for CRM success in Asia-Pacific Cameron De Giorgio <p>However, this highlights the need to master the basics of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/ecrm/">CRM</a> as brands can often become blinded by the powerful features these tools provide, and end up letting the technology dictate their CRM strategy rather than viewing the technology as enabler.</p> <p>This is incredibly important in the Asia-Pacific market, as many brands still have a relatively young digital maturity in the region and need to get the basics in place before jumping into advanced CRM technology functionalities.</p> <p>Here are some helpful tips when implementing effective CRM in Asia-Pacific:</p> <h3><strong>1. Localise your Communications</strong></h3> <p>It's vital that brands have communications that are localised for each market within Asia - trying to recycle what has worked in other markets won’t cut it. </p> <p>Some of the key considerations include the need to ensure that language, copy style and designs within communications are aligned with each market. </p> <p>Furthermore the type of offers/incentives that form part of a brand’s loyalty program need to be localised, along with the frequency/cadence of communications.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/4865/chinglish.jpg" alt="" width="1024" height="708"></p> <h3><strong>2. The data needs to be correct</strong></h3> <p>Any CRM system is only as good as the data that feeds into it. </p> <p>Before you can even begin to try and put together smart segmentation or trigger-based communications - the data needs to be correct. </p> <p>After all, what good is a well structured marketing automation sequence if the customer is being given irrelevant promotions or offers due to inaccurate profiling.</p> <p>To help prevent such issues occurring, brands need to adopt quality data hygiene processes and ensure staff are well trained in the specific back-end systems that need to ‘talk to each other’ to ensure that a customer’s records are accurate and refreshed against their most recent purchase history.</p> <h3><strong>3. Understand device preferences</strong></h3> <p>Asia-Pacific is home to the world's largest mobile phone market worldwide with 2.6bn users, and people will continue to come online via mobile. </p> <p>Brands often look at these sorts of statistics and then try and align their communications with things such as responsive email templates to improve usability. </p> <p>While this makes logical sense and is highly recommended, it’s also worth digging deeper and understanding your audiences preferences.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/4866/wechat.jpg" alt="" width="639" height="436">=</p> <p>To help illustrate this point, a good example is the growth of the adoption of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65279-how-and-why-western-brands-are-experimenting-with-wechat/">WeChat</a>, the mobile messaging application that has over 468m monthly active users. </p> <p>This highlights an emerging <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65391-what-is-social-crm-and-why-do-you-need-it/">social CRM channel</a> that brands can use as a key communication channel for their audience in parts of Asia. This can also be tested against more traditional forms of communications such as email, direct mail or calls.</p> <p>In summary, brands that can localise their communications, keep data accurate and understand the channel preferences of their customers are in a perfect position to master the basics of their CRM program, and in turn get better return from their CRM technology.</p>