Friday, February 22, 2013

How to Promote Rich Customer Engagement Experiences?

In today’s challenging economic climate, marketing teams are under increasing pressure to maximize return on investment (ROI) while improving customer satisfaction, reducing churn, and ultimately driving revenues. As a result, many companies are trying to adjust marketing approaches and processes. Changes often start with a shift from direct mail and telephone to email as the primary communication channel.

However, an increase in email volume alone will not yield the desired results. Too much email can in fact generate a higher incidence of customer opt-outs. Success requires that marketing teams go beyond the email blast to online marketing. This encompasses two critical components: a real-time, online, bi-directional communication channel for exchanging information, and an online data footprint. The first creates a dialog, and the second provides the foundation for enhanced tracking and analysis of online customer activity. These components put marketing teams in a digital-enabled state, making it possible to promote deeper and richer customer engagement experiences that benefit the business in both the short and long term.

There is no magic formula for successfully transitioning from email blasting to real-time interactions between the marketer and buyers. There are, however, some common elements that characterize today’s most successful marketing teams.

This blog post presents five best practices culled from various businesses which met its business goals by applying the following online marketing best practices:

Introduce Online Dialogs to Drive Engagements
Online, automated two-way communications allow marketers to build trust and collect customer information that can drive data and customer communication strategies. The marketer can control and individualize the pace of data capture to preserve the delicate balance of need to know and nice to know.

Marketers should aim to respond to prospects and customers with the right information at the right time. The resulting dialog also helps marketers more accurately determine the best time to engage in a buying discussion.

Use Tiered Offers To Create a Sense of Urgency
Offers should not be considered “one size fits all.” Creatively tailoring an offer can raise its real or perceived value. Online marketing helps marketers move away from a single offer per customer segment to tiers of offers that can be extended on a first-come, first-served basis.

This creates a sense of urgency and also helps control the expense and liability associated with the offer. With online marketing applications, customer interactions are tracked and the offer automatically adjusted to the next tier when a marketing-defined threshold has been hit.

Drive Real-Time Messaging with Combined Offline and Online Data
Combine offline segmentation data with real-time online and site visitation behavior to drive messaging and offer relevance and value. Online marketing capabilities enable marketers to collect meaningful, actionable online behavior information (e.g., abandoned shopping cart, product line browsing).

This real-time data can be linked with customer value or other segmentations to drive immediate relevant messaging. Offers can therefore be delivered when needed to stimulate a purchase, but not in the case of a customer that needs no incentive.

Flag and Respond to Real-Time Customer Behaviors
Online marketing applications can be used to monitor purchase or transaction cadence, and trigger reminder dialogs when atypical behaviors are detected. Marketers can actively manage and sustain revenues, and reduce the up-and-down and pull-ahead sales situations that are typically associated with
product-centric sales promotions. For those marketers who rely exclusively on a sales force (i.e., do not have a direct sales channel), the dialog interaction can be integrated with the lead management process.

The right field person can be notified immediately when a customer follow-up is required. In an email blast scenario, the company would lack the ability to influence the desired behavior in real-time. In contrast, online marketing helps the company optimally engage the customer and take advantage of every conversion opportunity.

Actively Manage Customer Satisfaction to Drive Repeat Purchases
Clearly, it’s easier to generate repeat purchases among satisfied customers. Successful firms are using a mix of triggered and scheduled satisfaction communication interactions (e.g., post-purchase and quarterly trending, respectively) that enable them to monitor the delicate pulse of customer satisfaction.

At the individual level, the level of satisfaction can determine participation in a current campaign or trigger a customer care team to intervene. By actively linking customer satisfaction management (CSM) to marketing activities, companies can raise the overall level of customer satisfaction, improve retention, and optimize campaign performance.