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Customer Experience

Meet the New Markie Awards

The Markie Awards have celebrated achievements in digital marketing since 2007, and over the years, we’ve been surprised, intrigued, and inspired by the successes we’ve witnessed from marketing leaders in every industry. And as innovation so often does, this has broadened our perspective about the possibilities ahead.  The customer experience looks much different than it did in 2007. Today’s customers are the true innovators and are re-imagining how they discover, engage, consume, and seek service. We’re living and operating in the Experience Economy, where a customer’s experience with your brand–whether that’s across marketing, commerce, sales, or service–is inseparable from the value of the goods and services you provide. This new normal is an invitation for change.  That’s why this year, we’re putting a fresh spin on the Markies, expanding their scope to celebrate creators of legendary experiences across the entire customer journey.  The Markie Awards are now open to all CX, including award categories for marketing, sales, service, and commerce: • The Apex Award for Best Overall Customer Experience • The Nexus Award for Best CX Ecosystem • The Thinker Award for Best Innovation in CX (Marketing, Sales & Service) • The Insight Award for Best Use of Data • The Heartstrings People’s Choice Award • The Upshot Award for Best Demonstrated ROI (Marketing, Sales & Service • The Cultivator Award for Best Lead Management Program • The Omni Award for Best Omni-Channel Experience (Marketing, Sales & Service) • The Borderless Award for Best International Marketing Campaign • The Pinpoint Award for Best Account-Based Marketing Strategy • The Convert Award for Best Commerce Experience Make your Markie Awards submission here by January 18th, 2019.  We’re facing a future where connected experiences reign and the rate of innovation shows no signs of slowing. And the brands who remember this will have the advantage.  We’re looking forward to seeing who pulls ahead at the 2019 Markie Awards.  Share your customer experience story by January 18th, 2019 and Join us in Las Vegas, March 19-21, 2019 for Modern Customer Experience, where thousands of CX practitioners, partners, and experts will gather together under one roof.       

The Markie Awards have celebrated achievements in digital marketing since 2007, and over the years, we’ve been surprised, intrigued, and inspired by the successes we’ve witnessed from...

CMO Corner

6 Ways Marketing Automation Is Evolving for CMOs

As a CMO, your job is to be ready for every marketing development. You’re never allowed to stand still, because the moment you do, something in your industry will change, and you’ll fall behind the competition. Unfortunately, turnover for marketing jobs is increasing. One survey revealed that the average tenure of a marketing CMO is less than four years, and burnout is the number one cause. Automation is the solution to avoiding this burnout. It’s one of those constantly-evolving trends that’s a hot topic for marketers.  Many CMOs are hesitant to engage in automation because it can have negative effects, like being banned from accounts or poor engagement. However, the landscape for automation is changing, and CMOs don’t have to be as scared of automation as they once were. In fact, you should be using it to your advantage as it continues to improve.  You have enough on your plate without having to worry about spending enough time on social media to engage with users and create a strong brand. Here are some automation advancements that you’ll likely appreciate as a CMO.  1. Real Engagement Is Possible  In the past, automation bots were always a problem. Many CMOs refused to work with them because they caused awkward situations, lost your followers, and even got your account suspended or banned.  However, automation has come a long way. There are still bots and automation services that can pose problems, but many more offer high-quality services that allow you to connect with real followers and not fake accounts. For example, SocialCaptain gets Instagram followers with strategic automation. The platform gets you real engagement as a result of authentic strategies guided by AI expert algorithms.  There are great tools for every social media platform, not just Instagram. You can free up a lot of your time by using these tools while maintaining the desired engagement from your target audience.  2. More Accessible Data  In an interview with, Forbes, Matt Gay, CMO for Accenture, said that data is one of the marketers’ biggest challenges, particularly when it comes to the ability to use it. “It’s got to be in a form and format that is easily accessible and useable going forward, so you don’t have to have an IT person sorting through and making static reports,” he says.  Thankfully, there is automation to handle a lot of the legwork in data analysis. The right software tools can help CMOs not only gather data but turn it into insights that can be used for advertising and marketing purposes.  “CMOs would traditionally use data scientists and their analytics,” Gay says, pointing out that this is no longer a necessity with today’s machine algorithms that can do more than data scientists ever could.  “Even with analytics and algorithms, these processes are manual, slow, and not leveraging the full capability of data scientists,” he continues. “As well, since machines can process massive amounts of data quickly, they will uncover insights faster and more efficiently than humans…allowing the data scientists to use their brains more and continue to seed the algorithms.”  It’s an incredible tool that every chief marketer should be leveraging for the promotion of their business.  3. Provides More Context  Machine learning and artificial intelligence have come leaps and bounds in the last few years. They can now gather contextual clues much better than before, limiting inaccurate and sometimes embarrassing mistakes of the past.  “Brands can use automation for contextual marketing, offering more personalized interactions,” says Linda Turley, an attorney at Turley Law Firm, who has experienced this first hand. “For example, data shows you when your target audience is usually online. Then, you can set your content calendar to post content at these times,” she explained.  Additionally, data can show you trending topics, high-performing posts on social media, and highly effective advertisements in your industry. This information gathered with bots and other automated tools can give consumers the customized experience they most desire.  4. More Valuable SEO  SEO was once all about the use of keywords and link building to make your content searchable. However, it’s turning into a more personalized experience where quality content that’s highly valuable is king.  Automation offers us what’s known as semantic SEO, “which aims to decipher what kind of question the person typing words into a search bar is actually trying to answer,” says Matthew Walker-Jones of Marketing Tech News.  These semantics add value to SEO everywhere, offering a more tailored approach to understanding and catering to user behavior.  “This marketing technique goes a long way to improve the traffic of a website by employing meaningful metadata through the removal of ambiguity in search queries and further creates clusters of content, grouped semantically by topic rather than keywords, developing meaningfully-connected networks that better respond to user searches,” he says.  5. Augmented Reality Changes Social Media  Connecting with consumers on social media is getting much more complicated and involved now that augmented reality is a part of the automation chapter. More and more users are demanding augmented reality, especially on social media.  Many brands are responding, including major makeup producers like Estée Lauder and Loreal that allow you to try on colors with Facebook Messenger bots before they make a purchase through the app. Brick-and-mortar companies are also using AR to give consumers a tour of their businesses.  AR is not out of your reach, no matter the size of your business. Automation tools not only provide insights on the highest-performing AR platforms, but they also make them more readily available. Simple smartphone apps and software tools are affordable and provide many options for incorporating these themes into existing marketing campaigns.  6. Improved Integrations  In the past, very few automation tools worked together. You utilized separate tools that ignored the others, giving you an incomplete picture of the collected data. Non-integrating automation tools still exist, but they’re becoming the minority.  This is good news because seamless integration of every automation tool you use is vital to delivering a holistic experience for the customer.  “The strategic focus of marketing automation needs to shift from the campaign or component approach to the customer journey in totality to deliver on the seamless customer experience promise,” advises an article from Martech Advisor that focuses on where automation will be by 2020.  By the time we reach 2020, the current marketing landscape will be completely different, thanks to the prevalence of automation. These changes continue for the better, helping CMOs focus on what’s most important while staying on top of their engagement and marketing campaigns.  Having trouble convincing your CEO that Marketing Automation is the key to sales and marketing success? We've got you covered. Download our free guide.

As a CMO, your job is to be ready for every marketing development. You’re never allowed to stand still, because the moment you do, something in your industry will change, and you’ll fall behind the...

Customer Experience

More than 400 Marketers Critique Marketing’s Holiday Approach

Do you become a different marketer during the holiday season?  Until it begins, you spend countless hours researching your audiences, building buyer personas, and executing strategies that put the customer’s experience first. All of your work is rooted in best practice and is conducted with an innovative spirit. I mean, let’s be honest, you’re really good at this.  Then, out of nowhere, the holiday marketing season takes hold.  All of those best practices and innovative, creative ideas take a backseat to what needs to be done for the final push before year’s end. We don’t act like ourselves. We send multiple emails daily. We execute a variety of promotional ideas we would never consider in Q2. We try to tailor our messages in ways we aren’t quite ready to do. The result is a marketing tsunami that results in a lot of noise and a bunch of tired marketing professionals.  Here’s the thing: We know we aren’t ourselves during the holidays. And it makes sense why we act the way we do in the final quarter of the year. According to a National Retail Foundation survey, consumers will spend 4.1 percent more during the holiday season this year than they did a year ago for a total of $720 billion.  This year, we decided to ask a group of marketers what they think of the profession’s approach during the holiday season. We partnered with our great friends at Oracle Marketing Cloud and surveyed more than 400 seasoned marketers across the U.S. We asked them what they like and dislike most about the holiday marketing season. The answers we received were revealing, candid and funny. We took our survey responses and developed a set of hilarious, spot-on cartoons that illustrate how marketers feel about Q4 activities. We want you to download the entire ebook when you can.   In the meantime, here’s a summary of marketers’ top holiday frustrations.  We Don’t Like Holiday Campaigns that Begin Too Early Taking the top spot for biggest holiday annoyance is holiday campaigns that coincide with back-to-school shopping. Sixty-three percent of marketers say it drives them nuts when they see a holiday marketing campaign in full flux right before Labor Day or just before March Madness. We believe there’s a window when it’s appropriate to do holiday marketing even though we don’t necessarily abide by that window.   We Could Do Without the Stress During the five-day period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, 70% of Americans shop. Black Friday is the busiest shopping day during this period with almost 115 million shoppers. Perhaps, it’s because we know this fact that we get a little carried away. Marketers’ second top holiday annoyance is the practice of creating sales and promotions for Black Friday or Cyber Monday that are so hot they induce consumer stress.  We Email and Email and Email The third top frustration marketers have is using the holidays as a justification to send more emails. Nearly half of marketers said this practice got under their skin. Interestingly, while some survey respondents claim we abuse email during the holiday marketing season, others say it’s justified and that consumer behavior data backs the increase.  We Re-Connect with the Word T’was This is the most interesting result our survey revealed. According to survey respondents, more than half of marketers believe it’s time to retire the Christmas poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas. Sixty percent of us are bothered by campaigns that use phrases from this poem and believe t’was time we looked to other sources for creative holiday inspiration.  There is plenty more we do during the holiday season that we wouldn’t do any other time of year. All of those ideas have been illustrated for you to enjoy in our ebook.  Remember, like any phase, this holiday marketing season will come to an end. When 2019 starts, we’ll be ready to get back to best practices and talk about the importance of customer experience. Consumers are paying more attention to experience than ever, except—apparently—during the holiday marketing season. 

Do you become a different marketer during the holiday season?  Until it begins, you spend countless hours researching your audiences, building buyer personas, and executing strategies that put the...

Customer Experience

Transforming Cyber Week Transactions Into Loyal Customers by Defining the Problem and the Solution

Cyber Week, the now weeklong, global sales period seeded from Black Friday, is upon us. But looking at the headlines, it’s clear something’s awry with the shopper experience. Consumer group Which? has been warning consumers to do their research ahead of Cyber Week after it emerged that nearly nine in 10 deals available last year had been cheaper at other times. Even where the discounts are real, the issue with Cyber Week is that, for the most part, it is a very transactional affair. A shopper chooses to buy purely based on the brand that offers the lowest price - it’s a race to the bottom. Moreover, should the customer then go on to find the same product at a lower price elsewhere, or worse still, from the same brand, it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. So how do brands solve this clear CX issue taking place? This was the question a cohort of marketers gathered for at the most recent Maxymiser Customer User Forum in London to answer. Here we share their insights into defining both the problem and solution to realise a brand’s CX goals during Cyber Week and beyond as well as key CX learnings from a luxury car brand. Defining the problem When asked about his approach to problem-solving, Albert Einstein is famously purported to have said, “If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution.” What he’s really alluding to is that whether we are marketers solving a CX problem or not, it’s vital to take a step back. We must frame the challenge to understand why something is being changed. In the context of a marketing problem, it’s the only way to make sure you serve the customer what they need when they need it.  This requires getting into the shoes of the consumer, explained Jack Westwood, Principal Consultant, EMEA, “Customer journey mapping is an invaluable tool for visually illustrating the processes, needs and perceptions throughout a customer’s interactions and relationship with the brand. Most importantly, it can help you identify the ‘moment that matters’ – the moment a customer decides if they will or won’t buy – that is often the keystone for driving change.” While customer journey mapping is a lengthy process with five constituent parts. To understand the problem, marketing teams must put the first two into practice; Creating an initial plan- about building out personas. Understanding the pages they visit Evaluate- the attitudes and sense check them. Work out and prioritise the moments that matter for the consumer Putting journey mapping into practice A great use case for gathering marketing teams together in this way can be found in the automotive sector. Why? According to Luth Research, there are over 900 interactions that take place between the very first interaction a consumer has with an auto brand and the purchase. For Mercedes then, solving a customer experience issue arising with millennial shoppers was no mean feat. In particular, the team had begun to notice a trend in this younger audience whereby they were arriving onto the Mercedes site before bouncing off within a matter of seconds. Building out the persona of this shopper, they explored the journey that was leading many to the website. It was clear that an ongoing TV campaign was working very effectively to capture their interest in low monthly repayments on a Mercedes, but upon arriving to the site, the full costs they were presented with alarmed them. This was the moment that mattered.  Defining the solution In this instance, it was the product team that addressed the challenge. Mercedes decided to introduce its first ever compact car - the CLA - to be advertised at the sub-$30,000 sweet spot for entry-level luxury cars. Bringing this new proposition to millennial market in the right places at the right time relied on a cross-channel solution. But what do we mean by ‘cross-channel’? Putting the term through Google there are over 90 million results. Franco Loos, Managing Consultant, EMEA, explains the leap marketers have to make from multi-channel marketing to cross-channel is much like fielding a football team, “for many marketers carrying out multi-channel campaigns it’s like captaining a team but none of them talk to each other, you have 11 players who all want to score goals. They don’t want to pass the ball - they don’t want to share.” Getting your marketing channels talking to one another in a coordinated way hinges teams need to focus on the latter three stages identified by Jack Westwood;  Explore- what the customer needs at these moments, KPIs of changing Brainstorm- what’s the journey that we want to take them on? All the different teams that work with you are involved Design the new experience- build a CX hypothesis with a new, cross-channel approach  At Mercedes, a new journey was mapped entirely around the moment the customer lands on the website. The solution saw the marketing team build an entirely new microsite devoted to the shared experiences of millennial CLA owners. Alongside this, a Superbowl advert was developed to raise awareness among this target group, en masse, with a clear call-to-action to visit the microsite and find out more for themselves. The net effect was not only a hugely successful new car launch, but Mercedes had also managed to expand the overall lifetime value of their customer. A fantastic achievement that future proofs the brand for years to come. So how can we apply this to those brands tacking Cyber Week? There’s an infinite number of ways the consumer can interact with your brand before they purchase and even post-purchase. What is important to remember is that when brands work in silos, they cut these all-important connectors and end up with a poor customer experience.  So whether you max out on sales this Cyber Week or not, take the time to assess whether your business is joining the touchpoints together to create a seamless experience. It will determine not only next year’s sales, but the performance you see through 2019. As marketers, are we meeting our customers' expectations during the holiday season? Are we providing them the experience they expect? We asked more than 400 marketers to critique our profession's holiday season performance. The answers are revealing, candid and funny. Get your copy of the comic book here.  

Cyber Week, the now weeklong, global sales period seeded from Black Friday, is upon us. But looking at the headlines, it’s clear something’s awry with the shopper experience. Consumer group Which? has...

Oracle Marketing Cloud

Machine Learning Can Be A Game-Changer For Brands On Social Media

There are not many new technologies that are truly game-changers. Machine learning is one of those technologies. In a nutshell, machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence in which computers learn to recognize patterns over time and are then able to make complex decisions without human input. Sounds simple enough, right? But it actually has very profound implications for social media. Bringing the ultimate pattern recognition machine to social media The classic example of machine learning at work involves image recognition. How, exactly, are you supposed to teach a computer to recognize images of, say, a dog? To a human, a dog is a dog, even a young child can’t mess that up. But it’s much more complex for a machine – you need to show a computer millions of images of dogs, in various poses, positions, and situations before it starts to come up with a set of rules for recognizing dogs. With a strong enough algorithm, a machine can spot images of dogs everywhere. In fact, if the algorithm is powerful enough, a machine can spot images of just about anything you want it to. That’s the reason, for example, that Facebook can now spot images of your friends in photos – it has a very sophisticated machine learning algorithm at work scanning faces in images. It can recognize your friends wherever they are – in any pose, situation or position – even in crowds. So image recognition was really the “Trojan horse” that enabled machine learning to enter the social media realm. From there, the number of applications for machine learning has skyrocketed. Chat bots and machine learning One of the most popular applications for machine learning involves chat bots, which are essentiallyAI-powered bots that can converse with humans. In this case, machine learning is used to “teach” these chat bots how to recognize certain natural language queries, even with improper syntax and grammatical errors. But it’s difficult – and it’s why some chat bots can only answer a limited range of questions – they just haven’t “learned” how to answer more complex questions when they aren’t phrased a particular way. You can immediately see why chat bots that can converse with humans on a broad range of topics can be such a game-changer – they essentially enable brands to have one-on-one conversations with millions of fans. And, in many cases, humans really don’t care that they are conversing with a bot rather than a human. Would you rather wait on hold for 30 minutes to ask a human when your package is going to arrive, or would you rather chat with a bot, which can deliver a response within 30 seconds? Social media monitoring and machine learning Other uses for machine learning include social media monitoring. According to some estimates, there are 1.5 million pieces of user-generated content added to Facebook every single day. A human can’t possible read all that – but a machine can. If you’re a brand, that gives you a very unique way to monitor all the conversations taking place around you. And here’s where the “learning “ aspect comes into play – machines eventually become smart enough to recognize nuances of sarcasm or humor, as well as the tell-tale conversations that might be the very beginning of an online brand crisis. Wouldn’t it be nice if a machine could give you an early heads-up before disgruntled customers show up at your business the next day? Taking the big picture view, machine learning can be the key to streamlining your overall social media presence and finding the proverbial “needle in the haystack.” That will free up your social media team to focus their time and energy on what really matters, and not just scrolling through pages and pages of Facebook posts and Instagram images. Want more? Download The Guide to Social Media Marketing and learn how to raise your game on social media, become more aligned with your customers and followers, and create a better perception of your brand. *This post originally appeared on socialmedia hq.

There are not many new technologies that are truly game-changers. Machine learning is one of those technologies. In a nutshell, machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence in which computers...

Overcome Intelligent Tracking Prevention 2.0 Impacts with Streams

You may have heard that Apple recently released Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) 2.0 which blocks 3rd-party cookies in Safari and other web-kit enabled browsers on iOS and Mac OS in an attempt to address privacy concerns. Mozilla also announced that the next version of Firefox will block 3rd-party cookies by default. With these changes, plus the availability of cookie blocking plugins for all other browsers, it’s time for marketers to reconsider their use of 3rd party tracking cookies. Any capability relying on these cookies, like DMPs or some retargeting products (including Oracle Responsys’ Rapid Retargeter), will start to see a drop-off in the number of website visitors being tracked.  But don’t fret. At least for the retargeting use cases, the solution is to use 1st party cookies. While 3rd-party cookies traditionally were able to keep track of a wide pool of known visitors due to its cross-site tracking ability, the recently announced changes diminish their utility. This makes solutions relying on 1st-party cookies the preferred method for tracking visitors – like Infinity Streams in the Oracle Marketing Cloud.  Streams captures web activities supporting the same retargeting use cases as Rapid Retargeter, including browse abandonment and cart abandonment, plus a whole lot more.  While Rapid Retargeter was mostly designed to accommodate traditional retail websites, Streams was designed to be industry-agnostic.  Marketers can define their own retargeting use cases and pass whatever information is relevant for their business need. For example, a bank that relies on a web form to collect information about their customers requesting current mortgage rates can use Infinity Streams to identify those who started but did not submit the form and then send a follow-up email to encourage them to complete the process.  Infinity Streams is a powerful tool that can take your retargeting abilities to the next level. For more information on Infinity Streams and how it can help your business, please reach out to your Account Management team.

You may have heard that Apple recently released Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) 2.0 which blocks 3rd-party cookies in Safari and other web-kit enabled browsers on iOS and Mac OS in an attempt to...

Cross Channel Marketing

The Consumer in Context: Understanding Mindsets in Any Setting

In the age of smartphones and tablets, home is where your device is. The average consumer spends upwards of three hours a day on their smartphone,so browsing, shopping and satisfying retail needs from wherever they may be is the new norm. Consumers are scrolling and tapping while they’re out, from the comfort of their sofas and even in bath tubs. When it comes to differing shopping habits, if we were to compare the browsing experience of someone relaxing at home in front of the TV, to someone sneakily shopping during an office meeting, the two would be very different. These changes in consumer contexts make customer moods a lot harder to map and predict, ultimately making it harder to ensure customers are walking away with a positive experience. It’s vital that brands understand how different settings impact purchase decisions, and how the freedom to browse anywhere, at any time, can alter consumers’ behavior. Working alongside Oracle Marketing Cloud, Clicktale developed a report titled ‘The consumer in context’ which outlines how changes to the setting impact consumer behavior as they browse and shop. For instance, it explores how quickly they want to get to the checkout, how much they put in their basket or what they’re willing to spend depending on their shopping context and device.  The report found that boredom encourages 59% of people to shop and 27%  of consumers find shopping online just as stressful as going in store. Additionally, 47% of consumers were found to shop to distract them from the fact that they’re hungry. Brands must look beyond the numbers and start to think of customers as individuals with a wide variety of buying mindsets and moods. By measuring increasingly subtle behaviors such as clicks, hovers and scrolls, they can develop a more nuanced view of their customers. Oracle Marketing Cloud and Clicktale’s report examines how brands can address the changes in consumer shopping habits, and turn these into actionable insights. Find out:  Why an omnichannel approach is crucial to provide a seamless experience How shopping on smartphones fundamentally alters purchasing decisions What impact emotions and environment have on consumer decisions  Download ‘The consumer in context‘report and start providing a first-class experience to engage customers across all your digital platforms. The consumer in context: Understanding mindsets in any setting In the age of smartphones and tablets, home is where your device is. The average consumer spends upwards of three hours a day on their smartphone,so browsing, shopping and satisfying retail needs from wherever they may be is the new norm. Consumers are scrolling and tapping while they’re out, from the comfort of their sofas and even in bath tubs. When it comes to differing shopping habits, if we were to compare the browsing experience of someone relaxing at home in front of the TV, to someone sneakily shopping during an office meeting, the two would be very different. These changes in consumer contexts make customer moods a lot harder to map and predict, ultimately making it harder to ensure customers are walking away with a positive experience. It’s vital that brands understand how different settings impact purchase decisions, and how the freedom to browse anywhere, at any time, can alter consumers’ behavior. Working alongside Oracle Marketing Cloud, Clicktale developed a report titled ‘The consumer in context’ which outlines how changes to the setting impact consumer behavior as they browse and shop. For instance, it explores how quickly they want to get to the checkout, how much they put in their basket or what they’re willing to spend depending on their shopping context and device.  The report found that boredom encourages 59% of people to shop and 27%  of consumers find shopping online just as stressful as going in store. Additionally, 47% of consumers were found to shop to distract them from the fact that they’re hungry. Brands must look beyond the numbers and start to think of customers as individuals with a wide variety of buying mindsets and moods. By measuring increasingly subtle behaviors such as clicks, hovers and scrolls, they can develop a more nuanced view of their customers. Oracle Marketing Cloud and Clicktale’s report examines how brands can address the changes in consumer shopping habits, and turn these into actionable insights. Find out:  Why an omnichannel approach is crucial to provide a seamless experience How shopping on smartphones fundamentally alters purchasing decisions What impact emotions and environment have on consumer decisions  Download ‘The consumer in context‘report and start providing a first-class experience to engage customers across all your digital platforms.

In the age of smartphones and tablets, home is where your device is. The average consumer spends upwards of three hours a day on their smartphone,so browsing, shopping and satisfying retail needs from...

Email Marketing

Want to Connect with Millennials? Take a Page from Print Catalogs

In today’s tidal wave of new social media platforms, smartphones, and streaming services, it’s easy to write off forms of “traditional” advertising as obsolete and irrelevant. That bias is certainly understandable — after all, it’s the message that experts in Forbes and LinkedIn have been hammering into marketers’ heads since the early 2010s. But the latest research shows that print catalogs still offer a striking degree of insight into the minds of shoppers — and even more surprisingly, the millennial generation can’t seem to get enough of them. That’s right — according to a 2017 USPS survey on direct mail advertising (DMA), a full 87 percent of Millennials report that they genuinely enjoy receiving at least some direct mail advertising. In fact, millennials are 54 percent more likely to read paper catalogs than customers of any previous generation, and quite a few of those flip-throughs lead to actual purchases. What are some catalogs doing right that digital marketers may be getting wrong? The answers reveal some fundamental truths about the tactics that turn shoppers off — along with an array of time-tested approaches that generate sales on any channel, from print to email and beyond. When paper beats (shallow) personalization As convenient as it might seem to dismiss paper advertising as irrelevant in today’s digital world, direct mail sales techniques represent more than a century of intensive consumer research, not to mention decades of trial and error in a wide variety of print formats.  Even if many of those techniques strike us as outmoded today, millennials’ overall positive responses to paper catalogs hint that a certain amount of gold may lie buried among yesterday’s mountains of discarded snail mail. So what do paper catalogs have to teach us about marketing in the digital age — particularly in the email realm? Most noticeably, catalogs have never contained “you may also like” product recommendations. One reason for this, of course, is that even if a catalog retailer had data on every customer’s individual purchase history, the high costs of printing would’ve made it prohibitively expensive to print a unique page of recommendations for every recipient. But as it turns out, this lack of product recommendations has become a positive selling point for print catalogs — in contrast to emails, which can offer endless suggestions that often showcase products similar to those already purchased. Catalogs, on the other hand, present an ever-changing variety of hand-selected new and different products, exposing consumers to more merchandise while creating moments of magic and delight.   In other words, catalog purveyors carefully curate the content that will resonate most with their shoppers — which means they rarely have to rely on heavy discounting or other tactics to make a sale. By focusing on a combination of relevance and creativity, catalogs gain a reputation as art exhibitions in their own right, attracting readers who may have no intention of making a purchase, but end up making one anyway. Finding the balance between relevance and excitement As every email marketer knows, an effective email campaign focuses on relevant content above all else. But there’s a lesson to be learned from print catalogs here, too: product recommendations shouldn’t remind customers where they’ve already been — they should point the way forward to new discoveries, encouraging customers to comfortably branch outward from their core tastes. Of course, this can be a delicate balancing act: present a category or product that feels too far out, and customers will be unlikely to follow you into the new territory. Timing and relevance are crucial when you’re personalizing offers — it demonstrates that you recognize what the customer’s tastes and aspirations look like at this moment and understand where they’re comfortable going next. How do you find the balance, and present relevant recommendations that also feel creative and inspirational? By bringing together truths about each customer from a wide range of data sources, and synthesizing them into nuanced insights about that customer’s personal journey, evolving interests, aspirational tastes, and longer-term goals. When an email campaign is powered by these deep insights into each customer, it’s possible to deliver recommendations that delight and feel as if they were hand-picked by a personal shopper. That’s the key balance at the center of impactful email marketing — and for many digital marketers, hitting the right notes can be a challenge. Even so, this is a crucial balance to understand, because millennials aren’t just engaging with print catalogs — they’re checking email multiple times a day, which means their inboxes continue to represent prime advertising real estate.  By using email to deliver personalized, curated content that feels fresh and engaging, retailers can share areas of their product catalogs that traditional recommendation algorithms might never present to customers — and unlock new worlds of exploration and discovery. Also, don't miss our Email Deliverability Guide to ensure you are following all critical procedure to deliver those emails to the inbox. 

In today’s tidal wave of new social media platforms, smartphones, and streaming services, it’s easy to write off forms of “traditional” advertising as obsolete and irrelevant. That bias is certainly...

Customer Experience

Is Our Job to Make Our Job Obsolete?

Way back in the Mesozoic Period of IT (about 1989) I had a boss who, while clenching a lit cigar between his teeth (yes, there was that back then), uttered these immortal words, “Your job is to automate yourself out of a job.” That master of inspirational communications was on to something. He seemed to believe in motivating his people by obviating the eventual need for ever having to have us around. At first, it was confusing, I’ll admit that, but after a while it made sense. The future he painted was a blank slate but at least it was different than the discombobulated and patchwork state of how our systems and processes worked at that time, and about which we all complained loudly. He couldn’t tell us how that future would look when we arrived there, how the blank slate would get filled in, but he was good at describing why we needed to head there. He said it was “because the better we are at improving our efficiencies the faster the trains will run and the more cargo they’ll be able to carry.” (You probably guessed at this point that I worked at the headquarters of a railway) Looking back I think of him as the best first business leader a young person could ask for - talk about being able to draw a straight line from microscopic task to macroscopic impact.  I was in the first of my IT jobs that required me to do a bit of programming, of basic operational routines frankly, not the coding of any sort of complex algorithms that would go on later to topple nations and disrupt elections or anything. Although who knows what impact my stuff had on Y2K. Anyway, they were just simple sets of instructions to move data around, perform some mathematics, and trigger actions. In other words, to automate as much as possible some of the repetitive activities then performed by computer operations personnel. He must’ve noticed that we had an ounce of intelligence and could follow the path of logic towards some end state in the distant future because he described our job as “automate this, then automate that, then automate your own processes (which I did), then, you know, we’ll figure something else out for you to do.” The strategy worked so well that, six years later, the company ended up consolidating organizations and moving our department and whatever responsibilities we had left 2000 miles away to Calgary. I was invited to go but I quit and went to another company. Fast forward a few decades and I’m sitting in the audience last Tuesday at Oracle Openworld when our CEO, Mark Hurd, spoke to how Oracle wants to make blockchain disappear completely. I sat up a little straighter when he talked about that, as I flashed back to those prehistoric early years of my career. The circle was complete. Those of us in the tech industry tend to forget that customers frankly don’t want to think about us and don’t want to interact with us. They do want to interact with our products but they don’t want to have anything to do with us. Ultimately, they simply want our products to deliver value to them. We’re dazzled by what our products can do and so are they but the difference is that they’d rather not care about how things work. Think those train conductors cared what some young buck was coding back in Toronto even though the efficiencies that were improved as a result meant that the conductors didn’t have to wait as long at a switch, his manifests arrived in a timelier manner, and that the applications that monitored the machinery that checked for buckling and cracking of rails that his engine ran over were tested? No, and we didn’t expect him to care. We wanted what we did to be invisible to the end user. So when I hear leaders speak the truth about what shouldn’t really be controversial things, I’m heartened. Blockchain is all the rage, and I’m a big believer in its massive potential, but it makes sense that in the not too distant future we won’t be talking about it as much and that will be a good sign that it’s become an accepted and standardized aspect of our infrastructures. We shouldn’t actually care or expect our customers and end users to think consciously of blockchain or any other fancy technology we dream up that drives the information they see and interact with on their devices. Their experience needs to be with the application, not the plumbing.  Streamline your Customer Experience with Oracle Marketing Cloud. With the power of artificial intelligence, Oracle Marketing Cloud technology connects, thinks and adapts to optimize the CX journey with every engagement. Learn how.  

Way back in the Mesozoic Period of IT (about 1989) I had a boss who, while clenching a lit cigar between his teeth (yes, there was that back then), uttered these immortal words, “Your job is...

Customer Experience

The Battle For Customers

“We tend to fight the next war in the same way we fought the last one. We are prisoners of our own experience.” Sam Wilson, Lieutenant General US Army He spoke those words a few years before the Vietnam War plummeted to its nadir (from America’s perspective). The conflict was gradually slipping out of control of the US government and a thought was emerging amongst a circle of military leaders, troubling and difficult for many to accept, that the US involvement had been predicated on a miscalculation about how wars should be fought. From the start, the war was different in the predominant mode of operations (guerrilla warfare) of the US enemy and in that respect, it had not followed the familiar patterns of the previous two significant conflicts (WWII and the Korean War). Leaders like General Wilson began voicing concerns that the US was up to its neck with the wrong strategy and that they couldn’t win if they maintained their current course. We know what happened after that. That message was smothered and so too were US hopes of victory. While this article begins with a focus on war, the rest of it is not about that subject or geopolitics. It is about history, though—the history of business and how it tends to view customers. Taking a longer view is a noble endeavor  The second sentence in General Wilson’s quote came to mind when I recently read, Successful companies more likely to say marketing function “owns the customer” [stats] from Econsultancy, an agency I subscribe to and whose research I admire. This article calls for a reorientation of marketing’s mission so that it can begin focusing on working with a company’s existing customers in a similar way that it focuses today on buyers and prospects. In other words, cover the complete lifecycle of a customer, providing them with the guidance they need to make the best decisions at each step of their journey. That strategy is so virtuous that it’s hard to debate and as a person who spends a lot of time thinking about how the customer’s experience could be improved, it made me want to stand up and applaud.   Taking a step back A reorientation is indeed necessary for two reasons: 1) because we know marketing struggles to prove to sales (primarily its historical master) that the work it performs makes a difference in whether a customer decides to purchase and, 2) because effort spent working with loyal customers has a larger impact on profit over time than does the effort involved in securing new customers. Focusing on existing customers will be a departure for marketing, however, and will involve: an entirely new way of thinking about revenue, designing new processes that haven’t even yet been considered, cross-organizational conversations to drive decisions that produce mutually agreeable outcomes, and in convincing the entire company that marketing should take a lead role in influencing customer growth. Prisoners of our own experience And this is where General Wilson strides back on to the scene. Another perspective on the above-mentioned article would be to consider the idea from a wider lens, past just sales or marketing “owning the customer”. Setting aside the internal turf war that will eventually erupt because of that assertion, there is one perspective that isn’t considered in that scenario. When you think about it more expansively, the question of ownership has always been about money. Who has the relationship with the customer decision-makers? That’s why it has historically rested on sales to carry that responsibility. But what about in the new world of cloud where the customer experience is increasingly seen as the linchpin to renewals and growth? Is it marketing? A case can be made that they are better prepared for that than sales but how will marketing get the full picture of the existing customer without an intimate partnership with those organizations that work most closely with those customers? That would be customer success, customer support, and education. Much of what’s being written about marketing’s new need to focus on existing customers, unfortunately, repeats the refrain (owning the customer) from an old hymn book and it sounds discordant in the world of cloud businesses. While I don’t disagree with the underlying research in the article, I do believe obsessing about who owns the customer is a waste of corporate energy that should be diverted towards more substantial concerns like organizational alignment around the customer experience. Wanting to be seen as the organization that owns the customer perpetuates a questionable strategy that has historically failed at addressing customer need and sees a company’s organizations pitted more against each other than in being cooperative.  Who owns the customer? No one really “owns” the customer in subscription companies. It’s actually more accurate to say that the customer owns the customer because, although many companies seem to have difficulty coming to terms with this truism, the customer is in control. McKinsey implied as much in this piece, called Organizing for the Future, in which they framed the need to redesign our corporations in response to digitization, which is ultimately driven by consumer and customer preferences. Tien Tzuo, CEO of Zuora, attempted to speak to this too in his book, Subscribed. Where he depicted a modern corporation operating in the manner shown below, one in which the customer forms the nucleus and all processes flow around them. That new model contrasts sharply with the conventional (and increasingly risky in the digital age) hierarchical model that sees the product as the source of a company’s work and its reason for being. So instead of saying any particular organization owns the customer, it might be wiser and more digitally efficient and accurate to ask “since the customer owns their own experience with products and services, how can we all work together to make sure they get optimal value from those things?” I’ve been calling for a convergence of customer success and marketing going back at least five years and if I co-opt the main message of that research I called out earlier, it looks like we might be approaching an opportunity for it to come true. If marketing and customer success can collaborate and build integrated and automated processes, they can drive the kind of digital transformation that would see the customer benefit in the end (and naturally, therefore, the company would too). Customers will receive the targeted guidance they need in near real-time and it will be based on a full picture of their preferences and on their rate of adoption against the business goals they’ve articulated for the solutions in which they invested. It’s worth mentioning that our recently announced CX Unity holds great promise for moving the industry down that road.   Let’s break with the past It has been said that the most difficult aspect of digital transformation is the "cultural". I see language as a key element of the cultural component. It can hinder or accelerate depending on how it’s used. For companies to be truly customer-centric in today’s economy, lots of things need to happen. But, first and foremost is the need for organizations, and the people who work within, to reimagine how they focus their effort around the customer. They need to understand that collaborating cross-organizationally is the only pathway to success. With the power of AI, Oracle Marketing Cloud technology connects, thinks and adapts to optimize the CX journey with every engagement. Get our guides here.        

“We tend to fight the next war in the same way we fought the last one. We are prisoners of our own experience.” Sam Wilson, Lieutenant General US Army He spoke those words a few years before the Vietnam...

Customer Experience

5 Skills Marketers Will Need to Succeed

  The marketing landscape is shifting rapidly and marketers will need new skills in order to compete. Customer trust in marketing - whether B2B or B2C - is eroding. A new generation of highly effective AI-driven ad blockers and spam detection engines are making it much harder to reach customers. Customer expectations around their experience are growing. In the age where highly personalized, massively convenient buying experiences have become the norm in our personal lives, the typical email marketing experience is jarring. Marketing skills that emerged over the last decade became more technocratic and execution-oriented based on general, abstract assumptions about customers and their preferences. Investing in learning particularly broadcast platforms--marketing automation, CRM marketing, LeadGen/DemandGen--was built on the assumption that if you built a big enough top of funnel, you could (eventually, somehow) rely on trickle-down effects to a bottom line.   And yet: when you look around to the implosion of marketing and ad agencies, the fragmenting mass media market, and deep disruption in adtech, you get an immediate sense that things are changing faster than anyone expected. Customer expectations are colliding with average customer experience. Customers expect tailored, personalized relationships; helpful, just-in-time suggestions; and assistive recommendations.  Marketers must learn to adapt their practice to customer expectations or risk losing to competitors who are. Here are five skills you’ll need to survive the coming changes in marketing. And the good news is that each of these implies a return to a kind of marketing that is more human at its core. Empathy This may sound pretty out there coming from a deep technologist, but it’s the key skill of the future for marketers. Why? Because your ability and willingness to understand your customers is directly proportional to your ability to create a lasting, meaningful (read: high-value) relationship with them. It means learning to listen to and anticipate your customers’ needs and wants. Ultimately empathy for your customers is caring and understanding enough to take action on their behalf. And it unlocks superpowers for your whole team.  Develop a culture of learning If empathy opens a door, learning is the way through it. Cultivating a habit of experimentation means you’re becoming more effective every time you think about a marketing campaign.  This skill is about testing a question, a hypothesis, an assumption based on your best understanding of the world at present and taking the results forward. So instead of starting with a general ICP segment and just letting loose a massive campaign, set up an experiment that will help you incrementally test your assumptions. A/B and multivariate testing can quickly reveal that you don’t have one Uber-persona - maybe you have three or four and they respond to different messaging strategies.  Establishing a culture of learning at both the personal and team levels takes empathy and listening and turns it into a always-on improvement learning loop: going from initial assumption to experiment to learning to adaptation, with your marketing impact steadily rising. Measure all the things  Which brings us to measurement. Get used to measuring and being asked to measure. You don’t need to get a degree in statistics in order to take a measurement-first mindset. New reporting and analytics tools are constantly coming on scene to help take the heavy lifting off your shoulders. Use them. You can bet your CMO is getting asked by her board to show concrete results and ROI. So be in a position to be helpful to your entire team by baking measurement into everything you do.  Learn how to work with machines Machines will increasingly be key members of your team from this point on out. If you think about it, they already are - it’s just that are very limited in their capabilities compared to what’s coming.  Machine intelligence won’t kill all jobs, but over time you will see it massively change human work. Machines can operate at great scale but are relatively bad at anything with nuance - like human communications and signaling. Machines are great at some things; we’re still great at other things. It’s about knowing where that line is and harnessing machine intelligence as part of your team.  Machine intelligence is what makes it possible to empathize, listen, and adapt at scale. Look for ways to deploy machine learning products into your human workflows to save time, increase the velocity of team learning, and achieve impact.  Be bold Marketers’ past and current workflows have tended to produce an odd side effect: conservatism. After all, it’s kind of a big deal to release a single email or other communication to a million people at once, especially if there’s any sensitivity around it.  New tools combined with these skills however actually support customer experience innovation and adaptation. To take an example, a machine learning engine combined with a well-designed set of message variations that are very different from one another produce  a) better campaign performance and b) lower risk than just guessing what works. You can try new approaches at scale by leveraging machines to make the right choices for you. Only the bold survive! These five skills will enable marketers to create the experiences that customers have come to expect. Consider them the next time you think about your personal and team development. Your future self (and customers) will thank you.  Want more lessons to help you navigate the evolving marketing and technology landscape? Don't miss 5 Mar Tech Takeaways from Oracle Modern Customer Experience 2018 from Shashi Seth, Senior Vice President of Oracle Marketing Cloud.   

  The marketing landscape is shifting rapidly and marketers will need new skills in order to compete. Customer trust in marketing - whether B2B or B2C - is eroding. A new generation of highly effective...

CMO Corner

5 Steps CMOs Can Take for Successful Reputation Management

Did you know that it only takes seven seconds for someone to generate a first impression about a person or organization? They’ll quickly analyze your appearance, tone, style, and other factors to form a skewed idea of your reputation. Sometimes they’re spot on, and other times they’re missing much of the story.  As a chief marketing officer (CMO), know the reputation your company will develop through that seven-second first impression. It often dictates the potential success or failure of your organization, and your job is to protect it at all costs. There are a few key things you can do to manage your reputation and avoid making a bad impression on customers and clients.  1. Protect Consumer Privacy  Nothing damages your reputation more thoroughly than a privacy breach. Customers trust you to keep their information safe, and when online accounts are hacked and information is stolen, they’ll blame you for your lack of security, whether it’s a justified claim or not.  According to a survey from Ponemon Institute, the majority of respondents believe that a data breach is worse than a chief executive scandal. Nearly 50 percent said a breach in privacy would negatively impact their impression of a brand.  If you want to escape the negative light cast by a security breach, take steps now to protect your organization online. Start with your own virtual private network (VPN). The best VPN for your company will protect all of your data on the web by severely limiting access from unauthorized users. A VPN greatly reduces your likelihood of being hacked, and it’s a must-have at the corporate level.  Other security steps include changing passwords often, using complicated passwords, updating software regularly, using encrypted email, setting up basic security measures, backing up to secure networks, securing devices, and other security items as advised by experts.  Training employees on privacy practices is also an essential step to securing consumer information. One of the leading causes of security breaches is employees making mistakes or intentionally releasing information, so keep your employees informed to protect your business.  2. Be a Thought Leader  Thought leadership has the power to transform your brand if done properly. This isn’t a process that happens overnight. Rather, it’s a slow and steady building of articles, videos, comments, and conversations that establish your company as a trusted leader in a specific industry.  Building thought leadership begins with identifying an audience that can benefit from your expertise and catering your content to that group. Speak in a voice that your audience will understand, using jargon and tone that establishes your expertise, but that recognizes you’re teaching people who want to learn more.  “Consistency is key here,” says Mike Clum, founder of Clum Creative, a video production agency. “You want consumers to remember you, which will be difficult if you’re constantly switching tones or leaving your iconic brand out of the mix. This consistency can be used across a variety of mediums, including blogs, social media, videos, and graphics.” As you share insights, focus more on providing value to your customers rather than on promoting your company. Not only are you more likely to reach your audience, but you’ll also publish content on more high-profile sites. Nearly 80 percent of editors say that one of the biggest problems they see with submitted content is over-promotion. You’ll get much further with valuable content than you will with shameless plugs for your services.    3. Respect Your Followers  It can take a lifetime to build up a great reputation and only seconds to destroy it. This is particularly true today, thanks to the pervasive nature of social media and online reviews. It doesn’t take long for word of your bad reputation to spread online. Disgruntled consumers don’t have to be the end of your good reputation, however. You can mitigate these problems by creating a culture of respect for your followers. When you’ve established yourself as a courteous, influential thought leader, consumers often won’t believe the negative things that disgruntled consumers share.  Respecting your followers is more of an attitude than a single action. It involves a culture of timely responses, respectful and professional comments, a strong tone, joined conversations, no overselling, and acknowledgement of positive comments. Nurture your brand and your followers, and they’ll repay you with loyalty and respect in kind.   4. Google Your Company  It’s hard to know the changes you need to make to your reputation if you don’t know what your reputation is. To assess how consumers perceive you, do a thorough Google search of your company.  Start with popular review sites like Google or Yelp, and read the reviews. Although positive evaluations can reinforce what you’re doing well, the negative reviews will offer the best insights regarding potential improvements. Keep in mind that negative reviews often stem from experiences that aren’t written. For example, someone complaining about the prices or quality of products might be particularly upset because they had a bad customer service experience at the time, even though that’s not something they mentioned in their review. Use context clues to read between the lines and get a wholistic picture of a consumer’s experience.   Check social media as well. Monitor every mention of your brand on social media to learn what people are saying about your company and the improvements you must make.   5. Own Up to and Learn From Mistakes You will make mistakes; it’s part of the job. Nobody really expects you to be perfect, even your pickiest customers. Good reputation management involves preventing mistakes as much as possible, but it’s more about managing the mistakes when they happen.  Own up to mistakes when they occur. Don’t try to cover it up or deny that it happened—consumers are smart, and they don’t like to be treated otherwise. Admit it, apologize, and then give a detailed plan for how you’re going to fix the problem and avoid this same mistake in the future.  After that, don’t repeat the error. Learn as many lessons as possible from that experience, and use it to make your company better. CMOs who listen to and apply feedback set their company up for success nine times out of ten.  Reputation management is a mindset. It’s an unwritten part of your job description, and when done well, it’s the gateway to success in any avenue you choose.  You may also be interested in reading: What is a Reputation Management System & Do You Need One?

Did you know that it only takes seven seconds for someone to generate a first impression about a person or organization? They’ll quickly analyze your appearance, tone, style, and other factors to form...

Data-Driven Marketing

Integrating Internet of Things (IoT) with Marketing Automation Platforms: Use Cases

It’s estimated that by 2020 nearly 75 billion devices worldwide will be connected through the Internet. They would range from consumer devices like home appliances and cars to industrial machines such as cargo containers and wind turbines. The volume of data generated and used by all of these devices will be astronomical but analyzing the right data quickly and efficiently to make smart decisions will be the main challenge. Internet of Things, or IoT, is the key technology that makes the interoperability among these devices possible. Oracle already offers a robust IoT Cloud Platform that is used by hundreds of companies like Gemü worldwide. Although, currently the majority of IoT applications are for industries like transportation and manufacturing, great opportunities are fast emerging for integrating IoT with marketing automation platforms, like Oracle Marketing Cloud. This article briefly explores a number of use cases for integrating IoT with a marketing automation platform to create better user experiences.  You may also like to read a related article by Oracle’s Austin Miller titled How IoT Can Help Marketers Increase ROI.  Behavioral data collection Just like mobile devices that transmit data about user interactions with mobile apps, IoT-enabled consumer devices, e.g., home appliances and automobiles, can be used to collect behavioral data. Behavioral data collected from IoT-enabled devices can in turn be combined with other customer data in a marketing platform for segmentation, personalization and reporting. For example, information about how often a consumer uses a washing machine, how long and on what settings, could help an automated marketing system to send personalized coupons for specific types of detergents or scheduled maintenance service. Also, real-time events coming from IoT-enabled devices could control the flow of a consumer through a multi-stage orchestration program. For example, discovering when a consumer starts driving a new car could initiate a series of personalized messages based on the consumer’s profile and her driving patterns in subsequent weeks. Data privacy is certainly very important and consumers must explicitly allow collection and usage of their behavioral data.  Alerts or promotions based on usage Consumers or businesses may specifically request to receive alerts or promotional messages based on how their IoT-enabled device is performing or used. For example, a consumer may like to be notified if the air filter in their home furnace needs to be replaced or if her car is due for an oil change. Similarly, a large enterprise may need to keep track of their office printers worldwide for ink cartridge replacement. Interestingly, Johnnie Walker in 2015 developed a prototype for their Blue Label bottle to use extremely thin, electronic sensors that can tell if the bottle has been opened or not and where it is in the supply chain. These sensors can also be used to send promotional messages to consumers who scan the bottle with their smartphones.  Messages pushed directly to IoT-enabled devices An IoT-enabled device could potentially be another channel to which a marketing platform can send personalized messages. Smart TVs already are able to display personalized messages to consumers based on what shows they have been watching. So, it’s quite possible that appliances, automobiles, office equipment, or even “smart” active wear can receive relevant, personalized messages to create a greater customer experience. Such messages can be displayed either directly on the device (e.g., a printer) or sent to the consumer’s mobile phone tethered to the IoT device (e.g., “smart” shoes send messages to the runner’s iPhone). An ecosystem of IoT applications Oracle Marketing Cloud already has a compelling framework for enabling third-party applications to be integrated within its platforms, like Responsys and Eloqua. The same framework can be extended to include applications integrated with IoT-enabled devices. For example, in a Responsys Program, there could be a specific stage within an orchestration to execute a task on an IoT-enabled device, like display a promotion for leasing a new car on the car’s dashboard if the driver has been looking for a new car and is in a “new car lease” orchestration program. Marketers, if you are looking to benefit from the unlimited potentials of IoT to delight  your customers with highly personalized and relevant customer experiences, make sure your marketing automation platform allows for integrations with IoT technologies. 

It’s estimated that by 2020 nearly 75 billion devices worldwide will be connected through the Internet. They would range from consumer devices like home appliances and cars to industrial machines such...

Cross Channel Marketing

A Journey From the Centre of the Inbox; Marketers Must Begin Crossing the Channels

Email is facing some challenges. Not only have subscriber bases taken a knock with the arrival of GDPR, cutting up to 50% of the contact list for some brands, but the annual volume of email is expected to rise from 269 billion to 333 billion by 2022. Put simply, those that remain on the subscriber list will be inundated with brand content. Currently 49% of the emails that reach the inbox of the consumer are already being deleted before being opened. And now that will only increase. Fortunately, email isn’t always the answer. Take the in-store scenario. A shopper using a click-and-collect service more than likely hasn’t printed – or remembered to bring with them – the printed copy of the order receipt. In this situation they might look for it in their inbox, but the reception in a shopping centre leaves much to be desired. In this situation, they remember an SMS they were sent alongside the order confirmation.  In its simplest form, this is cross-channel marketing. The customer has been engaged post-purchase through both email and SMS. Of course, in today’s digital age, this represents just a drop in the ocean of ways to engage and guide consumers on their journey.  Successfully orchestrating the cross-channel customer journey formed the centre of conversation at the latest Oracle Responsys User Forum, held in the illustrious Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge. Here, we cover some of the most important takeaways from a morning of insight and shared experiences. Creating a full marketing journey The main challenge when approaching cross-channel marketing is there are an infinite number of ways the consumer can interact with your brand before they purchase - and then again even post-purchase. As marketers we’re trying to join the points together to create a seamless experience.  When brands work in silos, they cut the connectors which results in a poor customer experience. As Simon Johnston, Strategic Consultant, EMEA, surmised, “It’s like you’re fielding a football team but none of them talk to each other. Rather than one cohesive group working together, you end up with 11 players who all want to score goals. They don’t want to pass the ball; they don’t want to share.” This carries significant consequences for the end user experience. Say the consumer sees an ad for a local gym, they visit the physical location and signup while there. On their return home, they open up Facebook and see an ad offering a discount off the joining fee. The online cookie is still working but the customer converted offline. The channels aren’t talking to one another. Getting your marketing channels talking to one another in a coordinated way hinges on vital ingredients; A customer journey canvas that’s going to explain how each of the channels will function Permissions to enable effective data collection and storage A plan for connecting customer IDs in anonymous channels such as cookies to known channels like SMS The budget to invest adequately into the new channels A structure free of silos to ensure everyone on board is working as one effective team  Finally, reporting and attribution, it’s no good doing all this is we can’t prove the impact Customer journey mapping For most, elements of the above ingredient list will resonate with how they are set up currently or how they are looking to build. However, the very first ingredient requires time and thought marketers rarely enjoy.  Knowing where to start your customer journey canvas was the focus for KimBarlow, Director of Strategic & Analytical Services EMEA, who started by breaking this down into five distinct areas; Creating an initial plan - building out customer personas and understanding what they visit Evaluate - the attitudes and sense check them. Do you want to change any attitudes? Explore - examining the capabilities of the organisation to interact Brainstorm - what’s the journey that we want to take them on? All the different teams that work with you are involved Designing the new experience – build a CX hypothesis with these new, different channels Putting this into practice, Kim drew on an example from GE. Doug Dietz, an industrial designer working for GE healthcare had one particular problem – children who have to have an MRI scan found the process scary. From the doctor’s appointment, to arrival at the hospital and waiting rooms, by the time they reached the MRI room, they were so anxious they often burst into tears and in struggling to stay still, made the process of taking the scans much longer than necessary.  Not only are the costs of hiring extra staff to support the process a huge driver of change, but also the side effects of often resorting to using drugs to calm the children and allow the machine to take accurate images. Kim explained, “It’s about finding the moment that matters. For Sophia, this is the moment that she sees the MRI ‘monster’. Solving any kind of problem when customer journey mapping relies on asking “What gets the target audience excited?’ If you’re asking questions like this, you’re focusing on the needs which are always the key to changing their behaviours.” In Doug’s case, the team realised kids care about exploration, adventure and being outdoors – this sparked an entire rejuvenation of the customer journey centred around the concept of going camping. The new roadmap was centred on maintaining this concept at every point in the child’s journey from doctor’s appointment, through to the MRI room itself, fully decked out as a campsite. Kim concluded, “Data can give you lots of indicators, but it’s about understanding the attitudes that you want to influence. Consumers are humans at the end of the day. Once you’ve thought about the emotional journey, then you can start testing. Start small and build around the experiences that work.” Make sure to also check out our Cross-Channel Fundamentals Guide and Streamline CX Guide here.

Email is facing some challenges. Not only have subscriber bases taken a knock with the arrival of GDPR, cutting up to 50% of the contact list for some brands, but the annual volume of email...

Customer Experience

Collision Course; Marketing Can’t Achieve Customer Centricity On Its Own

For marketers and customer service professionals, customer experience has always sat at the very core of their role in driving greater value for organisations. However, according to the Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey, the recent surge in adoption of AI and chatbot technologies means some 60% of UK CIOs report leadership teams are now also looking at IT for support.  Of course, to keep customers happy and loyal, all organisations need to figure out how they can keep up with the customer experience standards set by industry disrupters – and make the necessary internal changes to ensure it happens sooner rather than later. Where marketers and customer success teams might once have assumed ownership of the customer experience, they are now expected to share it, and play well with other departments being brought into the mix. So what does this mean? Ultimately customer experience (CX) has always been at the centre of the organisation. What’s changing is its practitioners. In today’s market, CX practitioners come from all different parts of the business and must work cohesively to ensure the outcome is a seamless journey through on and offline channels. Delivering this invites challenges not only in how teams are restructured and realigned with each other, but also how the wider organisation understands its purpose as a business and reports on its performance as such. Here we consider some of the chief barriers facing organisations looking to drive greater value through enhancing the customer experience. Competing priorities According to the recent report published by the CX Network on the Global State of Customer Experience, competing business priorities are now the number one challenge for customer experience practitioners when it comes to increasing the customer-centricity of their organisations. Sales, for example, is a traditional area where sparks might fly with one team focused solely on short term financial results and the other looking at longer term trends and customer satisfaction. Crucially, this is no longer the age of the seller – with the birth of assistance technologies, the required mindset is one of guidance.  Equally, where IT might have seen its role as simply to ‘keep the lights on’, it is now an integral part of creating one, single record of all interactions between a brand and a customer that now range from online to social media, from customer support to chatbot.  Senior buy-in Another second key challenge identified by CX Network in keeping customer experience on top of the agenda is a lack of buy-in from the top to the bottom. With that is a lack of understanding from senior internal stakeholders in regards to their responsibility and impact on the customer experience.  Customer experience is the responsibility of everyone within the company. Getting CEO level support to involve everyone from the initial start of a CX programme is key to cultivate companywide customer centricity, bringing everyone on board to share a common understanding.  Rip and replace With senior leadership buy-in, the route map for customer centricity can be drawn in any conceivable way. Importantly, rather than embarking on a rip-and-replace mission, it is important decision makers understand how CX can complement the current culture to enhance the business’s competitive edge.  After all, the unique identity of a company is often crucial to its success. But, the culture does indeed need to accommodate to customer expectations, aligning to actually fulfil feedback where possible. This change must be driven from the top and rooted in the awareness of the value of CX – how it benefits client loyalty and the bottom line. The CX and ROI relationship Another perceived barrier is the absence of connecting the CX programme to tangible and measurable business results. Having clearly defined objectives and tying them to business results are key to keep CX a high priority initiative.  However, treating people only as rational actors where information, clicks and purchases are the only currencies of a brand interaction will likely not end well.  Instead, viewing every step of the customer journey as an opportunity to strengthen a mutually beneficial partnership, and designing the experience to trigger positive emotions, will endear customers and the people they happily recommend to the brand.  As an added benefit, a more fully human approach can boost the job satisfaction of everyone on the brand side as well, making stars of brand managers who understand the need to engage people more fully as human beings It is up to customer experience practitioners to disband outdated roles to ensure marketing, sales and IT align to, with, for, and around the customer. Balancing the flexibility of practitioners to deliver positive emotions, rather than hard results, with the need for sustainable, profitable change around the customer is a fine line. Go too far and the initiative falls down, but executed well, the business levels the playing field with market disruptors. Check out our free guide to streamlining your customer experience. Discover how top-notch customer experience can help you move away from a short-lived, campaign-centric approach. http://  

For marketers and customer service professionals, customer experience has always sat at the very core of their role in driving greater value for organisations. However, according to the Harvey Nash/KPM...

Customer Experience

Unintentional Traps We Set for Customer Success

There exists probably no more despised phrase in the Customer Success lexicon than “one throat to choke”. Ironically, it’s often used in a positive, inspirational way, as in, “This is critical. You’re our best and we need to prevent that customer from defecting. We’re going to give them one throat to choke. You.” As if what customers really desire is to commit an act of murder. They don’t. What they really want is for the products to work and that they live up to even half the sales and marketing hype that they bought into. So if customers are reacting with annoyance and rage, and threatening to leave, offering them up a sacrificial lamb wrapped in a superman cape is not going to deliver any long-term benefits to anyone. In fact, it likely makes things worse because it deflects energy away from working on the real solution. At this point in the evolution of the tech business, hearing the phrase “one throat to choke” should be a signal to pull the ripcord on the commercial relationship because it’s likely already lost.  Seriously, whoever thought it was a good idea to immediately disable the value of a customer-facing person by positioning them as a customer’s object of scorn and as a locus of rage, instead of positioning them as one half of a relationship of business equals, should be, well, throttled. That imbalance, one so emblematic of a reactive strategy, is what I refer to when talking about traps for Customer Success. A proactive strategy that involves understanding the customer’s business goals and building a plan to systematically drive customer effort towards achieving those goals is a far better approach. It requires significant initial upfront work when setting up the Customer Success practice (really difficult to retrofit afterwards so a big caution there) and while it’s obviously better for the customer it’s also better for those poor individuals who are tired of having their worn out throats choked. Who wouldn’t be happier, more content, and enjoy a high degree of gratification and career confidence if they were able to focus on delivering a customer’s desired outcomes?  What’s the only thing stopping this from happening across our industry? This is going to sound harsh but it boils down to poor leadership. See this post I wrote after I attended the CS100 Summit 2018 for my thoughts on leadership’s role in changing the paradigm. I’ll close with a story. Remember that last episode of Breaking Bad, called Felina, in which the Jessie character is working in a woodshop? The viewer immediately sees he’s focused on the delicate, final assembly of a beautifully crafted wooden box he built himself. We know he’s built it because his hands are shown conducting that final assembly process and because of the tools arrayed on the bench and on the wall behind him. As he bends to admire its exquisite grain and smoothness of surface, we assume he created it for a child or a lover.  It must be the warm light of the scene that triggers the viewer’s confusion. Confusion that’s actually a welcome respite from binge watching the violent series because the mood of the entire scene is so incongruent with the mood of all the episodes of the previous five seasons. And because we are confused we’re surprised when forced to face the reality that the scene is a dream and Jessie wakes from his delusion to find he is still shackled, still held hostage, in the meth lab belonging to the latest vile gang (this one American as opposed to the previous Mexican one) that has intersected with his young, unfortunate life. The scene concludes with our depressed reaction as we realize Jessie, the volatile acolyte of the series’ lead character, Walter White, will spend his remaining days and years (depending on the good graces of his “hosts”) being forced to cook that exceedingly rare blue 98%-pure meth, the coveted substance, a proxy for all that’s wrong with our world, and that’s driven the Breaking Bad story for five seasons. Think of Jessie’s daydream the next time you have the urge to take short cuts around the design of customer engagement. Your CSMs want to be Jessie in the daydream, creating something good and enduring.

There exists probably no more despised phrase in the Customer Success lexicon than “one throat to choke”. Ironically, it’s often used in a positive, inspirational way, as in, “This is critical. You’re...

Customer Experience

Consumer Loyalty - 5 Ways to Make Your Customers Fall in Love With You

Tasnia Khan, Product Strategist, Oracle CX Today’s empowered consumers have never had easier access to information, but also have never been harder to reach. That’s not stopping companies from trying to cultivate loyal customers, who can advocate for and differentiate your brand, giving you a competitive advantage.  When a negative Yelp review prevents customers from checking you out, it’s time to do things differently. A loyal fan will “buy more, visit more, be less price sensitive, follow your advice, and recommend you.” They can help you acquire more customers, increase revenue, customer lifetime value, and be a differentiator in your industry So why is loyalty so hard to build and maintain? Well for one thing, loyalty programs have oversaturated the market.  The average American belongs to over 10 of them. That’s 3.8 billion individual loyalty program memberships! Let’s face it - consumers are no longer brand loyal – they’re loyal to their needs in the moment. They may join programs of brands they like, but they’ll only be loyal to brands that offer them relevant rewards and keep them engaged with the right interactions, in the right place, at the right time. To build a loyal customer base, brands must remain relevant and retain their customer’s interest, otherwise they are a click away from being forgotten. I’m here to give you some good news about opportunities to build loyalty that spans the entire customer experience journey, from marketing and commerce and service and social engagements. Here are 5 ways to differentiate your brand and keep your customers coming back for more Personalize, Personalize, Personalize Personalized experiences are now table stakes among retail brands. Consumers want to feel like you know them. They want to feel special and remembered, and may be willing to buy more when they receive hyper-personalized experiences. Build personalized loyalty programs to please them, and then you’ll build trust. Trust will lead to more opportunities to upsell and cross-sell. Consumers have high standards and want the same personalized experiences they would get if they walked into a store and were greeted by a personal shopper. To achieve this, companies need to leverage data to gain a full view of their customer so that they can identify preferences and anticipate their needs for all in-person, online, and mobile interactions. This hyper-personalization is what customers are looking for, and drives impulse purchases, increases revenue, yields fewer returns and increases loyalty. Personalization doesn’t have to end with a sale. Consider changing your customer service conversations from textbook answers to a contextual and tailored conversation with a customer through email, live chat, or even a chatbot. Use AI to connect the dots (and bots) Consumers engage with your brand from infinite combinations of channels. This results in an overwhelming amount of data to interpret. Personalization is easier said than done! This is where AI helps you understand the consumer journey, connects all of the data, and finds the missing links so that you can provide your customers with the hyper-personalized experiences they desire. AI analyzes information and finds patterns that feed your systems so that they constantly and intelligently recalibrate in real time to anticipate customer needs and serve the right content to optimize the next step of the customer journey, empowering innovation and growth. Encourage omnichannel interactions The vast majority of today’s digital consumers use multiple devices to make their purchases. Mobile is emerging as the preferred path. Customers move in and out of the customer lifecycle fluidly. They still expect brands to maintain the context of their previous interactions, regardless of channel. But, too often, businesses focus on separate experiences: in store, online, and mobile. These distinctions create disconnected information which lead to a disjointed customer experience. Instead, brands should integrate all of their customer data to give consumers more control and more convenient ways to shop, while seamlessly moving among their preferred channels. Just look at Nordstrom, Starbucks, and Southwest Airlines – brands that realized early on that providing a seamless omnichannel experience was the best way to stand out from the competition. Think of creative ways for your loyalty members to earn and redeem points across channels.For example, they could like or post pictures on social media with a specific brand hashtag, visit stores, or try sample products to earn points. Allow promotions and points to be redeemed across channels so that customers can choose the method that works best for them. Build emotional connections Most loyalty programs offer member discounts and coupons. However, a customer that’s just there for the discount isn’t truly engaged. Building loyalty requires fostering emotional connections, not just transactional ones. Companies need to foster experiences that promote loyalty of value, where consumers feel like they are truly part of a community. Per the Harvard Business Review; “The most effective way to maximize customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level – tapping into their fundamental motivations and fulfilling their deep, often unspoken emotional needs. That means appealing to any of dozens of “emotional motivators” such as a desire to feel a sense of belonging, to succeed in life, or to feel secure.” How can your loyalty program eliminate friction from the customer experience and build value? The opportunities to build value can vary tremendously from industry to industry.  For example, a grocery store could offer a cooking class for loyal members, while an airline might promote a trip redemption. There are different ways to incentivize behavior, whether that features gifts with purchase, gamifying a redemption experience, or helping consumers decide what to purchase. Focus on the full experience, not just the process of earning points. Look to solve a customer’s problems before they happen. Be there for them as more than just a coupon code and you’ll build lasting loyalty. Don’t forget the logistics While not the most exciting part of customer loyalty, logistics are a defining element in the customer journey. Logistics ensure that customers are supported every step along their journey. Don’t overlook inventory, shipping, forecasting, and delivering the right product to the right place at the right time. The second that a package gets lost, an item is cancelled because it’s actually out of stock, or a hotel room isn’t ready for a traveler – your business risks losing loyalty and trust. As we saw above, the traditional channels of engagement are changing. Your brand should be easily reachable to discuss logistics. A good way to do that is through social media. Customer service interactions over Twitter have increased 250% in the last two years. Social media is essential for fostering loyalty and emotional connections. Ensure your representatives are available and armed with the knowledge to handle questions about the logistics on all channels. Emerging technologies can help streamline your logistics. For example, use AI to improve forecasting. IoT can improve inventory visibility and get products delivered to customer more efficiently. Make sure that these technologies tap into your organization’s broader network, integrating with consumer data to provide seamless experiences. In this day and age, you need to figure out what the customer wants in the quickest way possible, without any hassle on their side. Providing superior, connected customer experiences is how to build loyalty and outdo the competition. Price is no longer a differentiating factor for businesses. Customers expect you to know what they want, before they even show up. The customer evolution makes it imperative for businesses to ensure they are reducing customer effort and deploying emotional connection strategies to improve loyalty. The path is clear – customer loyalty means brand advocates, higher revenue, and customer lifetime value. Rise to the top of the pack during the customer evolution by creating loyal customers who can’t wait to interact with you again! Related - Read 3 Ways to Build Customer Loyalty Check out this infographic for a snapshot of how to drive loyalty in an era of empowered consumers.        

Tasnia Khan, Product Strategist, Oracle CX Today’s empowered consumers have never had easier access to information, but also have never been harder to reach. That’s not stopping companies from trying...

Cross Channel Marketing

How Ads Keep Generating Revenue After Campaign Ends

By Michael Anderson, data scientist, Oracle Data Cloud Let’s say that after three months of running an ad campaign, it finally comes to a close. The numbers are in, the ads stopped running, and your targeted audience is no longer seeing your brand as part of that campaign. Logic would say that an unfortunate side effect of a campaign ending is that revenue for the campaign ends, too. Our data science team is here to show you how the revenue generated by an advertising campaign does not end with that campaign. In fact, 53% of a typical campaign’s value is derived from additional consumer spending up to 12 months after a digital campaign ends. How can this be? We’ll walk through our research, which includes some stats that might surprise even the most experienced marketer. In the January 1978 issue of the Harvard Business Review, Nariman K. Dhalla paints advertising as an inherently long-term investment—marketers have known this forever. Dhalla writes, “Sales revenue is not generated immediately in a lump sum”—rather, it “flows like a stream over time.” With that in mind, let’s explore why data is the key to unlocking the potential of that statement. What’s Lift Got to Do with It? In marketing terms, we define “lift” as the increase in sales in response to an ad campaign.   An ad campaign generates lift in two ways—a lift in sales or a lift in penetration. Penetration lift during a campaign is derived from new buyers or existing buyers purchasing “out of cycle,” that is, after the campaign has ended.   Often, sales lift is used as a primary key performance indicator (KPI), but this view alone can underestimate the full effect of penetration lift on sales. Additional value is accrued when the change in behavior driven by the ad continues into the future, long after the campaign has run its course. Any additional increase in sales during months 2-12 after that campaign ends is referred to as “long-term value.” Long-term value (LTV) contributes significantly to the value of a campaign. Because LTV is defined by continuous consumer spending over time and is independent of additional ad spend, it can have a substantial impact on Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). How Data Can Help Marketers Understand Long-Term Value It’s true that brand loyalty decays exponentially over time—that’s a straightforward concept. Here’s what I mean:   For an advertising example, let’s say the rate of decay is 0.7. This means that 70% of the buyers from an ad campaign will buy the advertised product again in the future, then 70% of those two-time buyers will buy for the third time, and so on. This process continues until the effect of repeat buyers is negligible (in this example, after 12 months, only 1.3% of buyers will purchase again). To model this behavior, Oracle Data Cloud uses a Markov model on past-purchase data to estimate two decay curves: 1.    The first curve estimates how ad-inspired/incremental buyers will buy in the year following the campaign. 2.    The second curve estimates how those households will buy if they did not see the ad. Long-term value is calculated as the difference between those two estimated curves. (Get more in-depth with Markov chains in the below video). In our study, we selected 107 campaigns since the implementation of long-term value measurement in early 2017 and compared short-term vs. long-term value estimates. We discovered these three key results: The full impact of long-term value is dependent on many factors, such as the purchase frequency of a product and brand loyalty. A shorter purchase cycle means more opportunities for repeat sales, and brand loyalty increases the chances that the consumer will choose your brand again. Advertising is positioned to influence both of these factors by reminding the customer to use your product often and by building brand loyalty. To learn more about how your ads can drive long-term revenue, contact us on the Data Hotline. Michael Anderson is a data scientist at Oracle Data Cloud, focusing on using data to create actionable insights and best practices for the ad-tech industry.

By Michael Anderson, data scientist, Oracle Data Cloud Let’s say that after three months of running an ad campaign, it finally comes to a close. The numbers are in, the ads stopped running, and your...

Cross Channel Marketing

How Organizations Can Get Ready for the New Virtual Reality

Recently, leaders at an Australian telecommunications company lamented about the high cost of bringing together some 6,000 employees for an annual training event. Suchin Venkataram, director, Oracle Insight, proposed an immersive alternative: “I suggested they include virtual reality in their training,” he says. “Employees could get the same, or better, training and at less expense than flying everyone to one place.” Only a few years ago, that suggestion might have seemed like the stuff of science fiction. Now, several trends—including declining costs of headsets, improving bandwidth, and cloud computing—are converging to make it feasible for organizations to create and deliver immersive digital experiences that solve real-world problems. Though it’s still in its early days, virtual reality (VR) technology is gaining traction in nearly every industry, including ecommerce, healthcare, travel, real estate, and manufacturing. Global VR revenue is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of nearly 55%, according to a recent report by Orbis Research. Meanwhile, organizations are exploring, prototyping, and implementing VR technology aimed at improving customer engagement, patient outcomes, employee training, product development, risk management, and more. “I think this is the moment in history of virtual reality where it is changing gears from being a consumer product to an important technology for enterprise,” says Venkataram, adding that organizations should be open to exploring the possibilities of VR without losing sight of the practicalities. “There has to be a clear benefit, such as driving revenue, or a specific problem that it solves, whether it’s a customer problem or a business problem.” Immersing Customers, Driving Sales Certainly, one area where VR holds great promise is in commerce. Merchants have begun using VR and augmented reality to improve the online shopping experience, create deeper emotional connections, and give customers a better feel for what they’re buying in a virtual environment. The upshot: better sales and customer loyalty, and fewer returns. Among many early adopters, Wayfair uses augmented reality to help customers explore how furniture will look in a room. Alibaba’s “Buy +” lets shoppers wander virtual aisles in computer-generated department stores. Payscout’s first-to-market VR transaction processing is turning virtual experiences into real revenue. Online car dealers are beginning to offer virtual test drives, and luxury tour operators are giving customers the opportunity to preview high-end travel destinations. Real estate firm Sotheby’s even offers the option of 3D tours and virtual reality tours. Improving Prototypes and Training While virtual commerce has the potential to bring a new technology dimension to buying experiences, companies are also looking at how it can drive efficiencies, reduce costs, and improve employee safety and outcomes. In fact, the Orbis Research study indicates that education and training are on track to see the greatest share of VR revenue, reaching $2.2 billion by 2023. Consider the challenge of training an employee on a complicated piece of equipment, says Ruchir Kalra, senior director, Oracle Insight. With VR, “companies can create a digital twin of this physical machine that mimics the exact physical specifications,” he says. The benefits are lower costs, more comprehensive first-person training and, ultimately, better safety. Product development is another area rich with opportunity for VR. “If I am developing a new aircraft model, for example, VR prototyping makes it possible to change the design without having to do a physical prototype every time,” says Kalra. “That saves on direct costs and, more importantly, reduces the development timeline.” Giving Virtual Medicine a Whole New Meaning Meanwhile, VR has huge implications for healthcare—think surgeon training in VR—and mental health. VR systems are helping people with post-traumatic stress disorder “relearn” how they think about traumatic events, and researchers are looking to VR as a solution for diagnosing and treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In yet another example, VR is being used to help amputees develop the muscles and motor skills they’ll need to use prosthetic limbs, and VR is giving them the opportunity to practice using the limbs in myriad scenarios. The user benefit: patients are ready to use their prosthetics sooner and with more confidence. The Building Blocks for VR The possibilities for VR seem endless, to be sure. That said, it’s important for organizations to think about how VR applications will integrate with the rest of their operations. Merchants looking to VR to create better ecommerce experiences, for example, will need to think about how to make built-in transactions in virtual shopping malls and other virtual apps seamless for users. Similarly, companies exploring VR for other areas, such as product development, need to think about how it fits into the bigger picture of the organization. “The big question is how to link it back to the core operations,” says Kalra. Meanwhile, VR raises still other issues tied to data: how to manage it, how to analyze it and, in some cases, how to think about customer privacy in the virtual world, to name a few. “As applications become more and more complex, the magnitude of data required to do all of these things only increases,” he says. While the cost of headsets for VR experiences has come down considerably—to the point that they may soon be as ubiquitous as mobile phones—the personalized nature of VR still presents the problem of how to make certain applications, headsets or otherwise, mainstream. That doesn’t mean organizations shouldn’t be thinking about and experimenting with what’s possible. “Maybe it is something that is non-mission critical today,” Kalra notes “but it could have far-reaching implications tomorrow.”  

Recently, leaders at an Australian telecommunications company lamented about the high cost of bringing together some 6,000 employees for an annual training event. Suchin Venkataram, director, Oracle...

Email Marketing

The Real Bottom Line: Open Rate and Customer Engagement

As a marketing channel, email shows no signs of slowing down. Nearly 233 million of the world’s 3.7 billion email users are located in the US, and that number is expected to grow to nearly 255 million by the year 2020. It should come as no surprise then that over half of marketers plan to expand their budget for email in the same period to leverage this growing audience. But as email adoption increases and brands invest more in the space, traditional KPIs like opens and clicks are falling behind money generated per email as the key decision and strategy driver for larger marketers. This begs the question, what happens to deliverability when attention is solely on the bottom line? Performance Impact There is a perpetual concern in the email community that open rates are falling. Customers are receiving more and more mail—ignoring even messaging they’ve opted into—and subscriber fatigue is a real issue. Recently, email performance expert eDataSource analyzed “Back to School” email campaign performance YOY for 2017 and 2018, and noticed the same downward trend. Almost universally, email read (or open) rates underperformed from the year previously. This made me curious – was it increased fatigue generated by a specific type of campaign that individuals could easily ignore, or was there something larger at work here? Leveraging eDataSource I decided to pull performance across a few additional industries for the entire month of July in both 2017 and 2018 to compare.   Category MM/YY Inbox Rate Read/Open Rate Apparel & Accessories J-17 77.096 18.887 Apparel & Accessories J-18 84.987 17.654 Restaurants, Bars, & Food Service J-17 83.753 18.797 Restaurants, Bars, & Food Service J-18 89.963 18.021 Sporting Goods J-17 77.896 18.174 Sporting Goods J-18 84.440 17.652 It’s Time to Refocus The results were certainly interesting and confirm what others in the space are seeing. While Inbox rates did go up, open rates dipped across the board. Combined with numerous industry studies, a larger picture is starting to emerge here. Customers are receiving more mail, marketers are focusing more on monetary returns per campaign, and a deliverability impact is coming. The importance of open rates cannot be understated. This is a key indicator to ISPs that an individual actually *wants*to receive and engage with a brand’s messaging. It sends a direct signal to the ISP to deliver this mail to the inbox. Essentially, the higher the open rate, the lower the spam rate, the better deliverability is likely to be overall. Not to mention the fact that a customer can’t spend money on an offer they never receive or look at in the first place. It is critical that marketers don’t lose sight of traditional engagement metrics in their efforts to capitalize on returns. Standard best practices should always apply. Leverage a double opt-in, always apply engagement-based segmentation and cease mailing to customers who opt out or do not re-engage. These are the building blocks to ensure campaigns continue to deliver functionally to the inbox. Want to maximize the potential number of emails that reach target inboxes? Here is a free guide to help you Do More with Email Deliverability and Privacy.  

As a marketing channel, email shows no signs of slowing down. Nearly 233 million of the world’s 3.7 billion email users are located in the US, and that number is expected to grow to nearly 255...

Oracle Marketing Cloud

Oracle Named a Leader in Gartner Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management 2018

In a recent report, Gartner evaluated 14 different vendors on their ability to manage the processes associated with CRM Lead Management and Oracle is honored to be named a ‘Leader’ in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management 2018. If you aren’t already aware, our focus is to provide solutions for marketing and sales teams that give them the competitive edge needed to engage buyers with the most relevant customer experiences, at the most opportune times – to close sales faster and increase customer lifetime value. With today’s fast-evolving technologies, organizations of all sizes are transforming how they do business to engage prospects and customers. Oracle Eloqua is aggressively advancing our current offerings through recent releases including our new email editor, new landing page editor, dashboard analytics reporting, sales enablement tools, and enhanced user-friendly native integrations with CRM platforms. And we aren’t stopping there. Oracle is committed to continually innovating our products and services to meet the increasingly complex, sophisticated 1:1 adaptive customer experiences that drive interest, engagement, and increased revenue as buyer preferences and requirements shift. From an execution standpoint, one of the things I’m really excited about is our approach to data and the way our approach helps create a truly connected and adaptive customer experience. Without the right data pulled from the most relevant real-time customer interactions, delivering a timely connected experience across the customer lifecycle is just not possible. As a result, we have worked tirelessly with some of the most innovative companies in MarTech to deliver easy to deploy, marketer-friendly integrations for our customers that help them connect their data across multiple internal and external sources and channels for more insight into the interests and preferences of their customers.    Gartner noted in their report, “Based on its high value provided to sales organizations, the lead management market is anticipated to grow further in the upcoming years…Growing collaboration between marketing and sales teams is the significant factor boosting this demand.” And in recent years, we’ve seen sales and marketing leaders take a “better together” approach to ensure the best acquisition, nurturing and communication strategies for their prospects and customers. Siloed approaches from these teams have traditionally produced broken experiences and irrelevant conversations that decreased interest, but that doesn’t have to happen anymore. The most progressive marketing teams provide their sales counterparts with the most pertinent intelligence and insights into each buyer’s behavior and interests within the environments where they are most comfortable working, so they are knowledgeable and prepared for their 1:1 conversations.  We are very excited about Gartner’s recognition of Oracle as a ‘Leader’ for CRM Lead Management. We feel that our continued performance in this report shows our strong commitment to innovation in the marketing industry, and a continual drive to execute on our vision in the fast-paced, ever-changing world of marketing and customer experience (CX) technologies.  Want to learn more? Download Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management report. You can also contact us to learn more about how Oracle Marketing Cloud can help you reach your sales and revenue goals with engaging, connected customer experiences. Note: This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request from Oracle. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

In a recent report, Gartner evaluated 14 different vendors on their ability to manage the processes associated with CRM Lead Management and Oracle is honored to be named a ‘Leader’ in Gartner’s Magic...

Customer Experience

Marketing in the Age of the Connected Customer Experience - 3 Questions Marketers Must Answer

1. Every vendor claims to provide a data-driven marketing solution. What’s changed in the marketing landscape, and how can you stay competitive?  Within the last decade, marketing has evolved to become one of the most data-driven professions anywhere. Savvy marketers are championing rich data as the foundation to executing personalization at scale. Personalizing the customer experience is the key to delivering higher ROI from your marketing investments, and building lasting relationships with your customers. So, with the need for scalable personalization, and with a dynamic marketplace, what would be the best strategy for building the most useful and competitive marketing automation solution?   The key starting point to building great, data-driven marketing campaigns is having access to the right data to understand and target your customers. A Data Management Platform (DMP) is one of the first pieces to consider adding to your toolkit. DMPs provide the means to conduct audience targeting and data unification, while simultaneously delivering audience insights and analytics. 91% of marketers have or plan to adopt a DMP to enable a unified view of the customer.  However, marketers shouldn’t stop there. They also need data strategies that transcend data silos and connect online, offline, 1st, 2ndand 3rdparty data to accurately select their audiences. Bringing all this data together is a big challenge. Oracle is leading the way to solving these issues through its acquisitions and integrations of DataLogix, BlueKai, and Moat. The Oracle Data Cloud makes it possible for marketers to leverage Oracle’s comprehensive data strategy in order to deliver personalization at scale to their customers. While many other companies offer DMP capabilities, it’s important to know how complete their views of the customer really are. A limited view of customer data only enables limited personalization. Several DMP solutions in the market focus on only online data and lack data ownership capabilities, providing a partial and often inconsistent view of the customer.  Marketing leaders will benefit greatly by investing in a comprehensive data strategy.  Building marketing campaigns that include segmentation, targeting and customer analytics effectively enable a rich, singular view of the customer through data, helping to deliver the highly personalized customer experiences demanded by today’s consumers. 2. Customer journeys have changed. They are now infinitely unpredictable. Since marketing solutions need to manage the entire customer journey, what is mission critical, and how can I get this right?  Customers switch channels effortlessly as they skip around sites and devices, double back and pause – each person taking their own unique path to purchase. Accenture revealed that 78% of customers receive a fragmented experience as they move from channel-to-channel. Among the biggest culprits are marketing technologies that specialize on providing a great experience on one channel, but fail to deliver that same high-quality experience across other channels of engagement. To address this challenge head-on, marketers need to leverage cross-channel orchestration tools that manage customer interactions across multiple channels such as email, SMS, MMS, push notification, in-app messages, display ads, web and mobile web campaigns. Only with the right tools can a marketer deliver the richest, most personalized experience across the widest variety of engagement channels.  Picking the right vendor to enable high-quality and consistent cross-channel engagement requires examining several factors: Is cross-channel orchestration a key strength of the vendor?  Can the vendor continue to support your growth as you scale your campaigns?  Does their product roadmap continue to invest in cross-channel orchestration as a key capability?  Does the vendor have a reputation for supporting customers and working with them closely to strategize and solve problems?   Oracle Responsys has long been recognized as a leader in the market for cross-channel orchestration tools. It has a history of innovation and a roadmap looking towards the future to stay ahead of the need to reach customers with highly personalized interactions at scale across the important channels of engagement. Aside from a history of producing great technologies, Responsys also has the service and support to ensure you are successful in building winning customer engagements that serve your customer with the right answer on any device, any time and every time.  3. Is your organization prepared for the expanding role of the CMO?  Traditionally, CMOs have primarily been tasked with brand-building as their key metric of success. But today, that picture has changed as more than 70% of CEOs now hold CMOs accountable for top line revenue growth. For CMOs to keep their job, they must think more broadly about customer acquisition, cross-sell and upsell opportunities, and increase the lifetime value of each and every customer. Putting the customer at the center of the marketing focus and building superior end-to-end customer experiences is now a table stakes requirement for being a successful CMO. The good news, according to Gartner, is that the CMO is well positioned and uniquely qualified to own and drive strategy around the customer experience. The marketer has the holistic purview of the brand-to-consumer, and brand-to-prospect relationship, more so than anyone else in the organization. Building high-quality customer experiences is the new marketing currency to win and retain customers. In this never-ending challenge to own and improve the customer experience, marketing, and other business units must adapt their processes, practices, and technology to connect marketing, sales, services and loyalty programs.  Oracle’s Customer Experience platform is a trusted partner in helping organizations deliver a seamless, high-quality, experience for every customer as they move on their journey from a prospect to a customer to a vocal supporter. In business transformation, customer experience is the new battlefront. Does your company have the right weapons? Deliver a seamless customer experience across a multichannel landscape with our helpful guides.  

1. Every vendor claims to provide a data-driven marketing solution. What’s changed in the marketing landscape, and how can you stay competitive?  Within the last decade, marketing has evolved to become...

Marketing Automation

Why do Marketers Switch Marketing Automation Solutions?

(It’s Because Their Needs Outgrow System Capabilities) When speaking with leading enterprise marketers who chose to re-platform, many expressed the need to change their marketing automation system due to issues with vendor support, price, performance, scalability and sometimes their own ability (or inability) to work with IT. Looking at the underlying issues we found, you can see several factors with the following anonymized quotes which led to the decision to switch: “The business grew ten-fold in the last few years and the volume of customer interactions grew even more. A new marketing system was needed that could scale with the business.” “Once the volume of customer interactions increased, the prior system started to have slow performance. For example, when analyzing huge data sets, queries could take a long time. Marketers don’t want to sacrifice system performance for scale.” “The system reached its limits to deliver more complex or higher scale campaigns. Many vendors have solutions which are perfectly suited for small to medium-sized organizations. But when marketing demands grow to be enterprise-class, their systems failed to keep up with our needs.” Switching to a new marketing automation solution can be a sizable commitment of money and effort. Many marketers feel reluctant to invest in an enterprise-class solution for fear of paying for features they don’t believe they currently need. However, with today’s cloud solutions and consumption-based pricing, marketers need only pay for the features they use, making it easier for marketers to justify an upgrade in technology and purchase solutions which can scale with their needs. Bait-and-switch Features Marketers who moved to Oracle Marketing Cloud solutions from other systems, often complain that their previous vendor did not deliver the features and functionality that was initially shown in the sales demo or disclosed in the RFP. Some marketing vendors offer alternate versions (on-premise and cloud) of their marketing automation software with varying capabilities.   Frequently a sales team will present the best features and capabilities that exist across both versions. After the purchase, the marketers are left with partial solutions which they felt could do one thing but lack many of the features of what they really need to be successful. Be careful of these bait and switch tactics and only buy from a trusted vendor who can deliver on their promises set in the sales cycle.  Hidden Fees Hidden fees are usually the talk of the town in the cell-phone industry.  So, we were really surprised to hear of customers encountering hidden fees after purchasing a marketing automation solution.  Some marketers found that after purchasing a new solution, key features they require to be successful actually cost extra. These fees can add up and in many cases can justify the expenditure of switching to a new vendor just to avoid the long-term costs.  At Oracle Marketing Cloud, with our one price model, we have made the purchasing decision for marketing clients even easier, by providing simpler, flexible and transparent prices. To learn more, click here. 

(It’s Because Their Needs Outgrow System Capabilities) When speaking with leading enterprise marketers who chose to re-platform, many expressed the need to change their marketing automation system due...

Data-Driven Marketing

The World of Data Management According to Paul Sonderreger

Get the lowdown on the new European data privacy regulations—which by the way reverberate far beyond the European Union—on this edition of the OracleNext podcast. Data expert Paul Sonderegger riffs on how the data handling framework, rolling out this year, could impact consumers—whose information is being collected—and the companies wanting to parse that information. Sonderegger, Oracle’s chief data strategist, who is interviewed by veteran journalists  Michael Hickins and Barbara Darrow, also talks about: How the move to cloud computing is complicating how data is collected, stored, and managed. How the F. Scott Fitzgerald test might be a better gauge of true artificial intelligence (AI) than the more commonly applied Turing test.  And how the aforementioned GDPR regulations, now rolling out in Europe, could shift the balance of power between the people whose behavior is being observed and the companies that are observing that behavior. It’s a great chat, so sit back and enjoy. And please tune back in to hear more from Hickins, Darrow, and their guests on the OracleNext Iconoclasts series. For more from Sonderreger, check out his Quartz story on the F. Scott Fitzgerald test as well as his blog post about common misconceptions about data disruption.

Get the lowdown on the new European data privacy regulations—which by the way reverberate far beyond the European Union—on this edition of the OracleNext podcast. Data expert Paul Sonderegger riffs on...

Cross Channel Marketing

To Successfully Personalize Marketing Communications Across Mobile Devices, Brands Need To Do This

Today, more than 2 billion smartphones are in use globally and continue to become an integral part of people’s daily life. The proliferation of mobile devices that consumers use on a daily basis creates an enormous challenge for marketers trying to orchestrate a seamless cross-channel customer experience. When consumers reach out, marketers need to be adaptive and create the best possible experience. Winning and retaining the customer is a challenging puzzle that brands are trying to solve. In a perfect world, marketers could have a 360-degree profile that accounts for a full spectrum of customer behaviors and data. Conversations with customers would be influenced by the context of all previous conversations, allowing for the best possible customer experience.   However, to accomplish this type of high-value customer relationship from a technology perspective, brands need to marry anonymous with known customer profiles and make sure they are consistent across each touch point.  Connect Identities Across Disparate Marketing Channels Mobile can fit seamlessly within the broader overall marketing strategy through a connected approach.  In order to successfully personalize marketing communications across mobile devices, brands need to target the customer and device through device identifiers and a large data network.  Marketers have valuable data inside of their CRM, email marketing and marketing automation tools from their proprietary marketing platform that they can pull together to connect identities across disparate marketing channels and devices to one customer. This is done by seamlessly pulling together the many IDs across marketing channels and devices that comprise of a given person, enabling marketers to tie their interactions to an actionable customer profile.   Get Better Cross-Channel Orchestration Mobile can no longer be considered as a separate platform, but rather as the glue that ties other parts of the customer experience together. Mobile marketing needs to have a foundation in unified data and behavior. By having a consolidated view of their customers, marketers can access all of their marketing data to build and refine key target audiences for numerous campaign scenarios. Through integrations with media providers, marketers can deliver paid media, search, social and display advertising to those customers that’s more aligned with the emails sent to those customers. Marketers need an adaptive marketing platform that recognizes customer behavior, preferences and interests that evolves instantly based on those factors. This is done through marketing orchestration.  When done correctly, experiences are not only determined based on binary forks in the road, such as whether someone purchased a product or opened a push notification. The experience adapts based on the totality of behaviors the customer might perform, such as engagement with specific content or activities that happen offline.  Join us at Mobile World Congress to hear about how the Oracle Marketing Cloud powers the customer experience for global brands. Swing by our booth to speak with one of our marketing experts and see how marketers can easily create engagement, connect relevant data, and orchestrate individual experiences with the Oracle Marketing Cloud. 

Today, more than 2 billion smartphones are in use globally and continue to become an integral part of people’s daily life. The proliferation of mobile devices that consumers use on a daily basis...

Email Marketing

A Tale of Two Sweaters: Why Segmentation Alone Isn’t Enough

Every retailer knows that customer segmentation makes campaigns more effective. When you classify customers according to their interests and desires, it’s much easier to deliver content that speaks to them personally, creating a connection that builds long-term loyalty. On paper, segmentation looks like a straightforward way to turn subscribers into delighted customers. But segmentation does have its limits. When you’re dealing with one-time purchasers, market segments don’t tell you what customers will purchase next. They don’t make accurate predictions and can’t tell you why customers purchase certain items together. To understand those aspects of your customers’ preferences, you’ve got to look beyond segmentation, and implement advanced techniques. The Sweater Experiment Imagine you’re a clothing retailer and want to promote two new red sweaters this season – a men’s and a women’s. You’ve got an email list of 25,000 men and 25,000 women. Do you segment your next email campaign? If so, how? At first glance, the answer might seem obvious: If you don’t segment your list, and instead send a promo for the women’s sweater to all 50,000 subscribers, hypothetically you might only get about 50 percent opens, 50 percent clicks, and 50 percent purchases. If you send a promo for the women’s sweater only to female subscribers, on the other hand, you’ll get a significant boost: a potential 100 percent opens, clicks, and purchases. While this might look like a major improvement, it comes with risks. Some of your male subscribers might’ve been interested in buying the women’s sweater for their girlfriends and sisters, but you’ve missed your chance to sell to them. And what about your female subscribers who already bought that sweater? You sent an unengaging email to them, when you could’ve shown a new item they might actually have been interested in. For all these reasons, segmentation alone isn’t enough for effective email personalization. Stepping Beyond Segmentation As our sweater scenario demonstrates, the core limitation of segmentation is that its improvements are often just smoke and mirrors. A metric like a “50 percent lift in clicks” sounds concrete and comforting – but it doesn’t tell you anything about missed opportunities for even more lucrative cross-sells and upsells, or about which products your customers might want to buy next. Segmentation has its advantages, of course. It’s helpful for personalizing emails, which protects your emails from getting sent to spam. Email content aligned with each subscriber’s interests also helps safeguard against unsubscribes, reducing subscriber churn. But to really connect with your customers, you’ve got to look beyond segments. Even within a given customer segment, each customer is on their own personal journey, interacting with your brand across a unique sequence of touchpoints — email included. That means to really connect with your customers where they are, you’ve got to start mapping those journeys and addressing each stage with tailored content. When you understand where each customer is on their individual journey, and which products will meet them where they are, you’ll be able to predict what a customer wants even before they know it themselves. And by guiding customers through a personalized series of product discoveries, you can lead them to new areas of interest that can significantly raise your margins, while driving stronger customer loyalty.

Every retailer knows that customer segmentation makes campaigns more effective. When you classify customers according to their interests and desires, it’s much easier to deliver content that speaks to...

Oracle

Integrated Cloud Applications & Platform Services