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3 CX Marketing Lessons from the Legends of the Chicago Bulls

When I introduce myself to new people, I make sure to include the phrase born and raised in Chicago as I’ve always felt pride in saying that. It acknowledges that I’ve grown up knowing what makes a pizza superior, and I never complain about 94-degree weather in August because I know what a negative 30 windchill feels like in winter. And I also know, without a doubt, that the 90’s Chicago Bulls remain the greatest sports dynasty with the greatest basketball player of all time. I recall being a youngster cramming on the couch next to my siblings with a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew, a bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos, and turning on our family TV to watch Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen score outlandish amount of points against the Utah Jazz. I relished Dennis Rodman dominating the paint, sporting hot pink hair. These childhood memories have infiltrated my wardrobe even as a 30-something woman as my inner voice says, “another day, another Bulls jersey.” Let’s just establish that if I ever do randomly run into Dennis Rodman, the odds that I’ll be wearing his jersey are very high. When I joined the Oracle CX team and found out the Chicago Bulls, were a customer through Chicago Bulls Kid Nation, my heart skipped a beat! This excitement led to finding out why and how the Bulls are using Oracle CX Marketing. Bulls Kid Nation leverage Oracle CX Marketing in a very similar fashion that the 90s Chicago Bulls played, and here’s how. Aside from collecting championships, the 90’s Chicago Bulls were known for 3 things: 1. Differentiation Before Michael Jordan joined the Chicago Bulls in 1984, they had faltered as a team and as a franchise. From 1975-1984, the Bulls had only made the playoffs twice. They had never won a championship title before Jordan. At the time that “Mike” Jordan was drafted after leaving UNC early, the NBA was dominated by players who played center. The big guys ran the show. Jordan was a guard, so there were many who questioned his abilities before they saw him play. There’s no question that drafting Michael Jordan was instrumental in differentiating the Chicago Bulls into franchise greatness. Just watch this compilation video from his rookie season. Before using Oracle CX Marketing (Eloqua), Bulls Kid Nation realized that many teams had “too playful” of a design that was geared more towards kids than parents. Now they use Oracle Eloqua to deliver differentiated content and experiences. Their design is clean, information is easy to enter, and for parents signing up their kids, it’s quick and efficient. Oracle Eloqua gives their marketing team full control on how items function and it’s been a win-win for both customers and internal users. 2. Personalization Every individual on the Chicago Bulls team had a specific gift that elevated the team’s play as a whole. Dennis Rodman didn’t care about the glory that the offense got. He was a true believer that defense won the game. He often sacrificed his body to win a rebound. Scottie Pippen is an all-time great along with Michael, but he was always seen as Jordan’s right-hand man. He put himself in Jordan’s shadow for the greater good of the team. Steve Kerr’s decisiveness at point-guard was pivotal in shooting and scoring the winning shot that earned the Bulls their 5th title in 1997. The marketing team knows that their fans all have distinct talents and likes. Therefore, building unique ways to communicate with them is critical. When gathering data from their fans to access in Oracle Eloqua to better understand their likes and interests, they go beyond asking the simple and mundane questions such as name, birthday, and gender. They also collect insights from answers by asking fun questions such as favorite player, do they play basketball, have they attended the United Center - all to communicate with them more effectively. This helps deliver a stronger message that adapts and grows with the child as they continue in the youth fan funnel. 3. Branding We’ve talked about the distinct players for the Bulls, their attributes, and what they brought to their team in terms of talents. But what we can also establish is the unique ability that each player contributed to the very brand of the team. The Bulls franchise went from being valued at $18.7 million to over $105 million in 1985. Forbes has estimated the Chicago Bulls value to be over 3 billion dollars. Much of this can be attributed to the 90’s Bulls, the championships they won, and the characters on those teams. Branding isn’t merely a logo but is the perception of the sum total of every interaction a brand has with its customers. Feelings, thoughts, and insights that are evoked when someone in a room speaks your name is the true worth of your brand. If you were a Chicago-suburban kid in 1996, you’d venture into the city via the Kennedy Expressway. As you entered the city limits, you’d be greeted by a 75-foot mural that often featured Dennis Rodman’s distinct hair color of choice. This mural caused so many motorists to brake, that traffic jams stretched for miles, sometimes causing accidents. As traffic increased on the expressway, the mural had to be taken down, only to be brought back up after the Bulls clinched their fourth title.  Rodman and the Bulls built the brand from the ground up. They were exceptional at what they did, which was more than just play basketball. They had a level of authenticity that was inspirational. Who else had leopard print hair in the NBA in 1997? Who else starred in a little-known movie featuring Bugs Bunny and the other looney toons? Speaking of Space Jam, check out their website that hasn’t changed since 1996, in anticipation of the sequel coming in 2021. In marketing, the customer doesn’t care about the tools being utilized when interacting with a brand. They care about the experience. And that experience with the customer is what builds the brand. Falter with the experience, you’d just as easily lose your customer. Continue to progress with your organization’s brand, the more you’ll see your pipeline expand, which is exactly what Chicago Bulls Kid Nation leverages Oracle Eloqua to do for them -  deliver a constant and seamless customer experience, from when the parents first sign up their kids and input their information to when they get their first Kid Nation package in the mail. This experience is heightened, individualized, and customized making their brand of singular importance to their fans and members. The next time a youngster tries to tell you about an up-and-coming new player being drafted in the NBA, make sure you remind them of the greatest NBA franchise of all time. Want to learn more about Oracle CX Marketing? Find out more here.

When I introduce myself to new people, I make sure to include the phrase born and raised in Chicago as I’ve always felt pride in saying that. It acknowledges that I’ve grown up knowing what makes a...

Customer Experience

Path to CX Excellence for B2C Marketers

My colleagues and I have recently been writing about “The Path to CX Excellence,” and the importance of brands thinking differently about their customers’ experiences (CX). One point of view we share is that brands today need to think about customer experience as the key point of differentiation to successfully attract, retain, and grow long term customer relationships. How every brand can have best-in-class experiences and set itself apart is unique for each organization. Leading the product marketing team for Oracle’s B2C CX Marketing solutions, I spend a lot of time speaking with marketers about how to improve their customer experiences and their ability to outcompete. Brand Evolution in the Experience Economy As business trends change and evolve, so do the expectations and reactions of the modern consumer. In today’s Experience Economy, customers expect brands to know them better than they know themselves! Customers expect seamless and personalized digital experiences across any channels at any time of day. Brands have always understood the value of deep customer relationships but more recently, they’ve been understanding how important a consistent, relevant, and timely experience is to retaining and growing their best customers. From the consumer point of view, the experience itself likely matters more today than the product or service being sold when deciding which brand to do business with. Customer data is the foundation of delivering a differentiated customer experience and boosting the brand’s revenues. The question for a brand is, “Where to start?” Marketing is highly complex and made up of dozens, if not hundreds of systems and touchpoints. If every engagement must be improved, how do you break down the problem so a successful plan can be built and executed? We understand how overwhelming this can be, and Oracle and our partners are dedicated to helping our customers navigate these complex paths and plans. One of our recent innovations is a maturity model that helps marketers assess the current state of their marketing, and create a defined vision for how to improve.  This “Path to Marketing Excellence” is the unique journey we see all marketers take when trying to achieve their goals by improving their customer engagements. Stage 1-  B2C Broadcast Marketing Every marketing practitioner wants to drive the best results for their business in the most efficient ways. Some of the highest returns for marketers beginning this journey is to increase their marketing efficiency through automation. Most marketers start out trying to increase their audience reach in well-established channels such as email. This leads to “batch and blast” one-size-fits-all emails with volume as the primary goal.  Many brands that exist in this state still find success in their campaigns because email outreach remains a primary and productive means of engaging consumers, and they can use marketing automation to increase their production efficiency and ROI. Marketers at this stage commonly experience difficulty scaling broadcast marketing initiatives over time.  Focusing only on increasing production efficiencies and growing your lists, leads to issues with sender reputation, opt-outs, and SPAM reports. As volume increases but relevancy doesn’t improve, more consumers are turned off by your messages and engage less over time. For this reason, marketers who have been operating at this level look to improve their results by moving to the next stage. Stage 2-  B2C Responsive Marketing Today’s consumers drive innovation and for them, every moment matters. Marketers must strive to build customer relationships in the narrow windows of time that consumers engage with your brand. Customers live on email, social, web, and offline channels, providing marketers multiple opportunities to increase engagement, improve conversions, and shorten the buying cycle. An email-only outreach method falls short with customers when you limit your engagement to only this single facet of their lives. Your customers expect you to engage with them across any channel of their choosing. Once you improve your baseline efficiencies in your primary marketing channels, you must branch out to engage in all possible channels a consumer might choose. In Responsive Marketing, a team evolves beyond simple marketing automation and begins to focus on improving conversion rates and optimizing customer journeys. The winning marketing teams I speak to find multiple paths to making marketing more responsive and in tune with consumer needs. One of the first ways is to add segmentation to transform batch and blast marketing. Segmenting target audiences allows marketing to tailor experiences that fit more closely with the specific interests of the consumer, rather than a one-size-fits-all engagement approach. CX can improve by making those segmented campaigns adaptive, and allowing different paths for different consumers based on their activities and interests. Expanding the outreach across all of the channels that matter helps consumers feel closer to getting exactly what they need at the right time and channel. Triggered marketing and behavioral re-targeting can be deployed to re-engage the consumer at the moment they show interest, and respond in a relevant and beneficial way. Many successful marketing teams at this level are engaging consumers across the channels that matter, and run sophisticated tests to optimize experiences. So, what motivates a marketing leader to continue pushing forward? The consumer and their expectations remain the motivating force. Consistency is a big factor for customer satisfaction with their brands. Consumers expect their experiences to be ever more tailored and relevant over time. Finding different offers, advice and information as they traverse email, mobile and web, leads to disconnected experiences and dissatisfied, less trusting consumers. The potential for disjointed messages across time or channels is the primary reason for marketing to keep pushing forward. “Customers don’t care if you claim you have omni-channel or multi-channel capabilities. They only care that they can connect with you, the way they want to connect with you, and when they want to connect with you. They go through the channel that’s easiest and most convenient for them.”  (Shep Hyken, Forbes) Stage 3 – B2C Relationship Marketing Relationship Marketing is the level where the success of consumer engagements are judged by how well they promote or detract from building long-term customer relationships. A chief part of the challenge at this stage is how to scale up the personalization already underway. This is where humans may struggle to keep up with the scope and speed of the information needed to understand and adapt to consumer behavior and context. Marketing begins to view success not just with KPIs such as ‘open’ or ‘conversion rates’, but in more holistic, consumer-specific metrics such as ‘repeat purchase rate’ and ‘customer lifetime value.’ Consumers expect brands to know them across every interaction and channel. Therefore, marketers need real-time data streams and solutions such as AI and machine learning to process and activate data fast enough to keep up with consumer expectations and actions. Brands that execute at this level understand the best consumer marketing experiences will determine which brands retain and grow their valuable customers. So, what would motivate a marketer to keep progressing? The answer, once again, lies in consumer expectations. Consumers don’t understand or care how the structure of your organization impacts their experiences. They just expect that whatever the context of their interaction with your brand, they’ll receive a consistent, relevant, and beneficial experience. If they engage with your support teams, they expect your marketing messages will reflect the context of their engagements. If they buy from your web site, they expect your loyalty program to be in tune and aware of their actions. Marketing must continuously evolve and improve, connecting across marketing, sales, loyalty, and service to fully understand the individual consumer experience and optimize it in real-time to changing customer conditions. The brands that  do this best will maximize revenue and customer lifetime value and build long-term customer loyalty. “To the customer, it’s all one big team: Customers don’t care which department they talk to when they need help. They just want to get their questions answered and their problems resolved.”  (Shep Hyken, Forbes) Stage 4- B2C Lifecycle Engagement Delivering a unified brand experience across all consumer touchpoints is the ultimate goal for almost every organization. This reduces customer churn and maximizes customer lifetime value by delivering a relevant, consistent, and timely experience at every interaction. Central to this stage of the journey is a data-first approach to understanding each individual consumer across every part of your organization. You must bring together information from their front office digital footprints, with other relevant information within your back-office systems. This data-centric, lifecycle focus, enables brands to continuously optimize experiences by gaining a deeper understanding of each person through all of the data signals they leave behind. To achieve this lifecycle awareness requires a complete and comprehensive customer profile, seamlessly connected in real-time across all touchpoints. An advanced orchestration layer must activate this information in real-time to deliver the most personalized, relevant, consistent, and timely experiences at any time or place a consumer wishes to engage. Brand loyalty is built not from short-term offers or discounts, but from a collection of beneficial experiences that add value to a consumer’s life. The most advanced marketers and business leaders understand this shift and the need to be at the leading edge of how brand differentiation and distinction is changing. The winners will be the brands who build trusted and loyal customer relationships where the customer experience itself sets the brand apart from the competition. “Delivering a meaningful and effortless CX can create and sustain customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy. It also increases customer lifetime value and improves profitability because it can cut customer acquisition costs and boost revenue.” -Gartner    

My colleagues and I have recently been writing about “The Path to CX Excellence,” and the importance of brands thinking differently about their customers’ experiences (CX). One point of view we share...