Use Behavioral Marketing To Up The Ante In The Age Of The Customer

In March 2013, Silverpop commissioned Forrester Research to evaluate how marketers are leveraging automation in their customer engagement processes.  If you remember reading my blog post “Top 5 Marketing Trends for 2014” (Jan 2014), then you know that #3 and #4 were directly pointing to big payoffs from Marketing Automation and more specifically Personalization powered by Data Intelligence.  You may also recall #1 where I call on 2014 to be the year of Channel Agnosticism. Forrester clearly re-enforces  these insights, and specifically points to Multichannel and Cross-Channel Automation as being two keys to the kingdom.

Their research tested the hypothesis that marketing automation generates significant insight into the context and intentions of customers and prospective customers.  It is also made clear that marketers who manage and leverage this insight will see significant improvements across a number of key marketing performance indicators.

So…what drives success in the Age of the Customer?

Marketing-Automation-Age-of-Customer

Key Findings

Forrester’s study yielded four key findings:

Marketing automation enables marketing success. Marketing automation is broadly deployed to manage core marketing processes from campaign development to lead management. But top performers seem to be leveraging their tech investments differently, executing a higher number of more focused campaigns and setting higher targets.
Both B2B and B2C marketers have accepted multichannel marketing as common practice. Marketers are familiar with the concepts and practices of multichannel marketing. One-quarter of our survey respondents assessed themselves as mature practitioners of multichannel marketing. Another 39% were in transition. Only 7%
of respondents had no plans to implement multichannel marketing.
Behavioral marketing is a slightly less mature practice. Only 17% of our survey respondents assessed themselves as mature practitioners of behavioral marketing. But early adopters perceive significant benefits to becoming more buyer-centric. Significantly, a higher percentage of behavioral marketers grew revenue faster than plan (53% versus 41%) and contributed more than half of the sales pipeline (20% versus 11%).
Practitioners of behavioral marketing have significantly different practices. Those marketers who self-assessed as “mature” reported significant differences in their approach to marketing: They have more fully implemented marketing automation, run more campaigns, and run a greater variety of campaigns.

It’s NOT rocket-science…but it’s getting close to it 🙂  Blending science and creative content is a remarkable route to #INBOUND Success. Don’t let it scare you – let it drive you to new heights in 2014 and beyond!

Posted in Advanced Segmentation, eCommerce "Best Practices", Marketing Automation, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Win BIG with Marketing Automation: Cart Abandonment

Here are a couple of staggering statistics standing between YOU and BIG PROFITS

How to Win BIG with Marketing Automation - Cart Abandonment 10167.91% – this is the average online shopping cart abandonment rate*!

* based on the average of 27 different studies regarding e-commerce shopping cart abandonment, compiled by Baymard Institute.

3% – the average online conversion rate for online retailers. (Forrester Research)

90% – the percentage of leads that go COLD after one hour. $3Trillion – the amount projected to be left in carts in 2014.(SaleCycle)

There are three questions / answers that think will be of immediate value to you.

  1. Is it possible to double your conversion rate in 3 months or less?
  2. Are there tools available to turn the drifters into locked, loaded & loyal customers?
  3. What are some basic best practices for re-marketing and converting shoppers who initially abandoned their cart?

#1 is a simple math problem. Let’s assume you are among the average for purposes of illustration. You are converting 3% of your traffic, you have approx. 7.0% more to convert JUST from those who are abandoning their cart.  Effective cart abandonment programs I have enacted for clients have seen upwards of a 48% close rate. That would be another 3.36% of your traffic converting! WHAT?? Is there ANY good reason not to make this a priority?

#2 Top Tools Available:mail-chimp

a. Self-Service Automation Tools are available from several Email Service Providers (ESPs). One of the best I have seen out-of-the-box has recently been launched by Mail Chimp.  I say “best” – and let me qualify that to say “best of the basic-class” and ideal for those with tight budgetary constraints.

b. Data-Intelligence / Retention Automation Partners

A whole new breed of strategic partners has emerged for the online retailer – and one of the most compelling brings transactional data and demographic data together with events and business logic to produce remarkably PERSONALIZED experiences to shoppers. Call it Marketing Automation, Personalization, Retention Automation whatever you like…but THIS is powerful stuff.  The cost of these SaaS solutions can be steep – though I consider some to be reasonable – but all VERY VALUABLE.  (I am already planning a separate blog to highlight my own top-ten list – but will highlight a few here for example.)  I have worked with the likes of Simple RelevanceMarketo, LisTrak, dotMailer, SpringBot, Bronto and Windsor Circle to name a few. windsor-circle-integrationMy most recent client project included launching a re-branded site on Magento Enterprise, integration with NetSuite ERP, and linking Magento extensions with MailChimp/Mandrill and Windsor Circle’s Retention Automation platform. This is not terribly complex to execute, but I can tell you that the results are like MAGIC! We managed a drop in cart abandonment rate from 69% down to 29% in the first two months – and that my friends is VALUE 🙂

#3 Basic Best-Practices of Cart Abandonment Email Marketing Automation

Create a Series of 3 Emails to be sent to customers who add items to their cart and do not complete checkout.  Per our statistic earlier that 90% of the leads go cold after an hour…

Send the first “Reminder” email 1-2 hours (max) after a stagnant cart is created.  The FIRST email should contain the following 10 key components:

  1. Clear Subject Line Calling Attention to the Contents of the Cart
  2. Focus the message on Problem Solving vs Sales – ie. “Did you experience trouble checking out? We want to help…”
  3. Include a Clear Line Item Summary of the Cart Contents
  4. Include a Thumbnail Image of each Item
  5. Include a Clear Call to Action button to complete Checkout Now
  6. Optionally – and this will tend to promote a higher conversion – offer an incentive to complete checkout TODAY.
  7. Add recommendations for additional products – “You may also be interested in…”
  8. Include Testimonial and/or Product Ratings
  9. Include Mention of Your No-Hassle Return Policy (you have one, right?)
  10. Include an Opt-out for future emails

The second and third emails should go out 24-48 hours and 72-96 hours later, respectively.  The 2nd email should always contain an images7SBXY1KJincentive offer: “Get 5% Off Your Order when you complete checkout within the next 24 hours”. The incentive will increase your 2nd round conversions by 33-39%.  The 3rd email can be a little more playful – and targeting a long-term win-back.  Offer an incentive to complete checkout, but also offer some sort of incentive to connect via social media. For example, 5% off your next order if you Follow Us on Twitter.  This way, you make a connection that has longer term benefits, and can still incent the return visit as well.

Questions about how to execute an Automation Strategy or about any of the Automation Partners out there?  I live for this stuff 🙂  Feel free to drop a note to mark@ecommadvisor.com, or connect with me on twitter.

Posted in Beyond e-Commerce, Customer Success, eCommerce "Best Practices", Marketing Automation, Site Conversion, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Customer Success and The Business Growth Theorem

Customer Success (Loyalty) Helps Crush Sales Quotas

Axiom #1: If Your Business is Not Growing, Your Business is Dying.

Axiom #2: Maximizing Retention & Minimizing Churn is as Equally Important as Acquisition.

Axiom #3: Customer Retention = Repeat Business = Lower Cost of Acquisition = > Profit

Axiom #4: Customer Retention is a Measure of Durability.

Axiom #5: Churn is a Significant Limiting Factor to Growth.

    _______________________________________________________

Business Growth Theorem:

 G = (A + R) – C

 Growth = (Acquisition + Retention) – Churn

    _______________________________________________________

Typical Acquisition Vehicles

Direct marketing, Referrals, Networking, Tradeshows, Cold Calling, Print Advertising, Affiliate Programs, Distribution Partnerships, Pay-Per (Impression, Click, Conversion) Campaigns, PR Campaigns, Social Promotions, Banner Ads, Directory Services, Email Marketing, Direct Website, SEO, Unique/Optimized User Experience (UX), Targeted Landing Pages, Blogging, Mobile Messaging, Mobile Advertising, LinkedIn/Facebook Groups, Webinars, 3rd Party Reviews, Video Content / YouTube Channel, Comparison Shopping Engines (CSE), 3rd Party Marketplaces.

Treat Every Lead Like Gold…Even the Ones You Don’t Like!

Typical Methods to Increase Retention & Decrease Churn

You’ve done the HARD work…Now DON’T BLOW IT!

Retention is more about follow-through and the overall customer experience than anything else.  So a commitment to Optimized User Experience – from Website to Fulfillment to Customer Support is a good place to start.  Here are a few things that enhance a customers’ perception of you and elevate their desire to continue a relationship with your business: Visual Appeal of your Brand and Website, Ease of Site Use, Responsive Mobile-Friendly Site, Intuitive Search Tools, Relevant Industry Resources, Clear Content, Concise Communication, Consistent/Predictable Follow-Up, Prompt Fulfillment & Delivery, Ongoing (Non-Obtrusive) Engagement, Prompt & Courteous Attention to Problems and Issues, Proactive Promotions, Authentic Customer Care, – and 2 Critical Principles…

Be Grateful – THANK Your Customer for Choosing You

 Under-Promise and Over-Deliver Every Time

Need more information and practical advice? Send inquiries to mark@ecommadvisor.com
Posted in Beyond e-Commerce, Business Development, Customer Success, eCommerce "Best Practices", Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Content Marketing Theorem

I recently participated in a webinar that focused on best practices in Content Marketing. The whirlwind of suggestions and formulas postulated, debated and tweeted was enough to bring on a marketing migraine. Ugh…got to…simplify.

content marketing theorem

I am a HUGE FAN of mathematics – finding beauty in its simplicity. In mathematics, a theorem is a statement that has been proven on the basis of previously established statements, such as other theorems—and generally accepted statements. Based upon years of business intelligence, rigorous evaluation and thoughtful input from several highly credible content marketing gurus, I think I have boiled the 90-minute webinar into a single embraceable and practical formula:

eCommAdvisor’s Content Marketing Theorem

(Useful x Authentic) + (Enjoyable x Inspired) = INNOVATIVE CONTENT

Now, PLEASE don’t misinterpret my use of math to equate to RIGIDITY!  Quite the contrary… Creativity cannot be put into a box.  However, as you set your inner-artist free, and develop content for your audience, simply check your creativity back into the theorem. Is is Useful? Is it Authentic? Does it add a factor of Enjoy-ability? Is it Inspired or Does it effectively Inspire?  If you can answer YES to these factors, then you can feel confident that you are doing a service to your readers and followers.

Congratulations – You are producing INNOVATIVE CONTENT!

content marketing wheel

Want more thought provoking info on Content Marketing? Check out my prior blog post called The B.E.S.T. Approach to Content Marketing. Cheers!

Posted in Beyond e-Commerce, Content Marketing, Demand Generation | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Advanced Marketing Segmentation: Behavioral & Predictive Modeling

The last 3 years have seen a dramatic shift in marketing that have made it highly technical.  So much so that many companies shifted significant marketing related functions over to their IT team.  This was, and continues to be, a big mistake.

YES – Marketing has become extremely complex.ted-goff-woman-stands-before-two-charts-on-wall-the-complicated-one-says-finding-cartoon

What needs to happen in order for today’s CMO to be successful is simple.  The CMO needs to embrace technology, and skillfully blend it with creativity.  She/he needs to help their teams grow more technical skill-sets, and understand the power of data to the success of their marketing efforts. Why is this necessary? Because popular models of segmentation have become so commonplace. Chasing leads by standard demographics and KPI’s is the quickest way to achieve mediocrity, find the spam box, lose valuable customers – and ultimately have to answer for sliding revenues.

Let’s start by examining the most popular segmentation models:

  • Standard Demographics: Segmentation by Gender, Age, Location
  • Acquisition Based: Segmentation by Products Purchased
  • (RFM) Recency, Frequency and Monetary Value: Segmentation based on How Recent, How Often and How Much is purchased.

The primary reason Amazon has been so successful is that it committed early on to Drilling Down into the shopper BEHAVIORS in order to PREDICT shopper NEED.  The concept of “Customers Who Purchased This, Also Liked…” is a lot more complex than it looks on the surface. Product searches, purchases, navigation, clicks, trends in buying and situational interaction is collected and analyzed to build behavior trend models that lead to PREDICTIVE models.  This is what keeps Amazon ahead of most everyone else.  Don’t believe for a minute that you cannot achieve the same objectives – even on a tight budget!  I promise you, it can be done and I have first hand experience seeing it and implementing it.reveal-listen

Let me give you a few simple examples of how to more effectively break down data that you already have – and lay the groundwork for more productive interactions with your prospects and customers alike.

Behavioral (Needs Based) Segmentation:

  • Motivational Behaviors: Filter your list by – purchasers that only buy product “on sale“, purchasers that buy on the “last day” of a promotion, purchasers who only buy with coupons, customers that return items…keep thinking about this…what motivates interaction??
  • Categorical: Go BEYOND product-based upselling and start grouping or clustering your segments by categories.  For example, a customer who has purchased Jimy Choo dress shoes is not only interested in Jimmy Choo dress shoes. In fact, they are more likely to be interested in similar products or complimentary products – so broadening the appeal by category, but tailoring to the customer (by item specifics ie size) will encourage MORE purchasing.
  • Brand: Taking ‘categorical’ a step in a slightly different direction… If the customer has purchased more than one pair of Kate Spade heels – then don’t just send an email pushing more Kate Spade heels…that would be VERY short-sighted.  This customer has given you fantastic information about themselves a) they know you for the heels you sell and b) they love kate spade product.  Your job just got exciting – because you have a great opportunity to present them with a full array of {Kate Spade} products – from Handbags, to Wallets, to Scarves, Jewelry and More!

Predictive modeling takes groups of data even further – to develop a cadence that walks in step with the needs of customers – and increases the likelihood of invoking a purchase.

The FIRST RULE that I communicate to clients is this:

START with an end in mind.

Segmentation should not be about creating marketing buckets.  Successful Segmentation is All About SOLVING A PROBLEM. So – create segments based on what question or issue you are trying to solve on behalf of your customer!

Here are your simple steps to effective (behavioral and predictive) segmentation:

  1. Define the Problem or Issue that Your Customer Needs Solved
  2. Develop a Hypothesis About the Solution You Will Suggest
  3. Determine the Segment Variables needed to Identify the Customer Need Accordingly
  4. Collect, Filter, Normalize and Pre-Process Your Data
  5. Create Appropriate Segments that Will Benefit from Your Solution
  6. Execute Actionable Steps to Communicate the Solution to those Customers in Need

problem-solvedSubject for another day: Marketing Automation Solutions – there are many SaaS tools available that can help to automate the tasks of behavior monitoring (ie activity scoring) that can be setup to automatically send dynamic content to customers.  Timely and meaningfully tailored content has been proven over and over to be highly effective.

Behavioral & Predictive Modeling will help you meet customers where they are & help to cultivate loyalty, breadth of interactions, frequencies of purchases, and, oh….let’s not forget…a healthier bottom line for your business 🙂

Posted in Advanced Segmentation, Beyond e-Commerce, eCommerce "Best Practices", Marketing Automation, Site Conversion, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

eCommerce Equations: Site Visitor to Conversion Ratio

People ask me all the time, “How much traffic do I need to get “x” conversions per day?“.

Unfortunately, the answer is never what people want to hear.  Most people love to latch onto a stat that suits their expectation (ie industry average conversion rate) and apply it to their site traffic.  The problem with that is that nobody wants to substantiate how the numbers were calculated and what factors lead to the results.  If you want to know the truth, you have a lot of work to do to…

  1. Optimize Your Site to Drive Traffic (SEO Waterfall)stats-image
  2. Be Creative In Your Reach (Grassroots PR)
  3. Get Inside Your Buyers Heads (Buyer Search Logic)
  4. Create Demand (Demand Generation Tactics)
  5. Optimize Content to Keep the Buyer Interested (Compelling Content)
  6. Keep Them Coming Back Again and AGAIN (User Experience)

You’ve done your best – now what?  Well, I guess I can give you a snapshot of what the conversion ratio might look like – but again, YOUR CASE must use YOUR DATA to form an accurate picture.  Nonetheless, here is a demonstration of the conversion cycle:

The Buying Funnel - Conversion RatiosIn this example, you see the ratio is 54 conversions per 10,000 site visitors.  This is 0.54% – a little over 1/2 of 1%.  SEO, PR and Marketing will get the eyeballs.  Content and Calls to Action will drive decision steps. Clarity, Merchandising, Removing Distractions and Instilling Confidence will lead to Intent/Purchase Actions.  Upon Completed Purchases – Focus on Service and Building Loyalty.  Create your Formula For Predictability (Consistently Great User Experiences) – and you will all but guarantee a 10%++ increase in # of conversions month-on-month by virtue of driving repeat customer purchases.

The numbers you need (per period, ie per month): 

  1. Total unique site visitors
  2. Total number of visitors who expressed interest (simple equation is total number of visits minus total number of bounces – but this can be much more dynamic and meaningful with more detailed data points – like time on site, number of pages viewed, etc)
  3. Total number of carts created
  4. Total number of transactions

Put each of these stats into your own diagram and see how you are doing.

Here is the IMPORTANT PART: Use this as a benchmark to measure and drive your improvement over time.

Measure, adjust, test, measure, adjust, test…you get the picture, right??

Posted in Demand Generation, eCommerce "Best Practices", Public Relations (PR), SEO, Site Conversion | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Secret Sauce (Part 4): UX, UX, UX – Predictability Breeds Confidence and Loyalty

OK – Let’s Start with the SECRET…

PROCESS is the Foundation of True Perception.

These days, with the emergence and growth of open source development platforms, and templates galore available for “plug-n-play” design, practically ANYONE can have an impressive looking website up and running in a matter of days or weeks.  If you’ve hired an SEO Consultant, you can even get your site ranked well and start to drive some great traffic. Add a few bells and whistles, and BOOM – you are going to ROCK the WORLD …right???

Happy-Customer-Online

Unfortunately there are far too many business start-ups that fall into this famous trap – “Let’s make our front end cool and engaging and focus on driving sales…and (whether conscious or sub-conscious) worry about the back-end details later”.  ouch – that’s gonna leave a mark.

245205-a-delivery-man-bringing-a-smashed-package-to-a-customer-who-looks-confused-and-unhappy

I’m not a huge Marshall Mathers (aka Eminem) fan – but I’ve got to hand it to him on his “One Shot” lyrics:

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime

In business, when you are competing with known-entities and big-box players, you have to bite and scratch your way just to get noticed. What you do with your 15 minutes of fame at this point means EVERYTHING in terms of whether you are capable of turning ONE sale   into MANY (repeat) sales – and if you can leverage loyalists and influencers to catapult sales exponentially. This is where we come squarely back to User Experience (UX).

At the risk of over-simplifying – Let’s define some of the key components of UX:

  1. Search: is your SEO where it needs to be – and is it meshed with a little merchandising magic that gives the shopper the sense that you not only have what they are looking for, but is able to ‘speak’ to them as a real solution to their ‘problem’?
  2. Landing Pages: did you lead the shopper to the promised land or a rabbit hole? being vigilant about SEO – creating content, testing and re-testing results – help to assure that site users feel like you are intelligently focused on meeting THEIR needs.
  3. Brand / Design: a critical moment in the ‘first impression’ department is undoubtedly the immediate response to your brand image.  Is your site fresh, distinct, engaging, clean, clear, compelling? Does it effectively build confidence? Does it effectively and clearly lead the user to the purchase? Is it free of distractions and roadblocks that lead to site bounce and cart abandonment?
  4. User Tools: are the site features and search tools geared toward the user needs and goals – or toward your own goals? If you hire someone to coordinate some focus group testing, I promise you will be surprised by what you see and hear. Put the POWER into the hands of your core audiences by crafting and delivering tools that make their ‘jobs’ easier. In B2C, an example might be offering rich faceted search. In B2B an example might be a creating a customized product finder (think: Year-Make-Model in the auto-dealer world).
  5. Checkout: have you finally made the effort to simplify this? most new customers will get checkout fatigue by the third page… Make your checkout simple, clean and quick (one-page preferred) and find subtle ways to display your accreditation’s from BBB, Security Org, etc.  Did I say SUBTLE? PLEASE – do not have 5 different logos with 5 different colors that clash with your brand plastered all over the place.  This will only serve to distract and turn-off buyers.
  6. The Fulfillment Bundle: ah yes…one of my favorites…because it is often under-appreciated, under-analyzed and under-delivered. The heart of this article rests in recognizing and attacking the opportunity you have to close the case with your buyers – transforming them into raving fans and apostles of your brand.  Analyze your product storage and handling, quality controls, commitment to handling and time-to-fulfillment windows, packaging, invoices, marketing materials, labels, scanning, tracking, delivery and all communications that are part of this key component.
  7. Customer Service: while this seems obvious, it is worth noting the importance of viewing customer service as your primary brand ambassadors. (We will address the importance and etiquette of your social media team in a later post). From pre-sales to post-sales and returns – making sure your service team is fully indoctrinated in the BRAND and has a clear, repeatable, customer-centric process for EVERYTHING is absolutely critical.UX-cloud

So here it is: Fulfillment & Customer Service and the PROCESSES that drive these are the components that reveal the REAL YOU – ultimately how your customer will remember you.  This is why I say:

PROCESS is the Foundation of True Perception

In every business, whether service or product related, there must be a detailed process for delivery and support. Without a process, services are delivered in an inconsistent and mostly unreliable fashion – and product delivery without a detailed process may be good one day and shoddy the next (based on who is doing what, and on the whim of an employee who might not have your best interest at heart). Process is the foundation of perception – it is what distinguishes and defines who you are in large part to those who take that first leap of faith to purchase from YOU instead of your competitors.

I have seen the dramatic (positive) effects of focusing on UX from beginning to END – in my own businesses and that of many MANY clients. I know I am a nerd, but this is what excites me about what I do…I live and breathe it every day. I hope a little encouragement and direction can help you do the same 🙂

Posted in Beyond e-Commerce, Business Development, Customer Success, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Business Travelers Rejoice! Electronic Devices ON

According to MarketWatch and PRNewsWire, On Oct 31, JetBlue Airways JBLU  announced that it has “begun the process with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in order to become the first airline to allow customers to use personal electronic devices during all phases of flight.” Say What?? OMG!

JETBLUE AIRWAYS NEW LOGO

The FAA endorsed the findings of a cross-industry panel of experts that recommended a certification path for airlines that maintains safety.  Several other airlines are quickly following suit – but since I fly JetBlue so often, I could help but share my JOY!

For those of you that travel a ton for business (or pleasure), you know what a hassle it has been to always have to power down before take-off.  Say goodbye to those embarrassing moments…

You’re totally locked into a task while waiting for everyone to finish boarding, when suddenly you get the tap on the shoulder…  Startled, you look up and get “the look” from your lovely flight attendant. And as if announcing it so the whole world is focused on you, she says, “sir…we can’t pull away from the gate until you power down your electronics”, (followed by a look of exasperation, as if you just killed her cat).

Angry-Flight-Attendant-420x0

Every one of my clients hears me talk about OPTIMIZING PRODUCTIVITY as part of the road-map to success.  Productivity can be particularly challenging when hitting the road – cars, buses, airplanes, taxis… but it is imperative that you plan to execute your goals and plans for each day even when traveling.

Now, I am not saying that “Un-Plugging” is bad. In fact, it is healthy to plan your dis-connect time – and travel can sometimes be that ‘excuse’ you need to get that mental-health space.  I guess what I’m saying is that (especially during business travel) you need to be more vigilant about planning your productivity. Momentum plays a big part in reaching goals.

jetblue-electronic-devices-in-flight

My closing point here is simple – I want to publicly say:

“THANK YOU JET BLUE!”

And you can bet I am going to be checking in on #JetBlueSoFly to contribute to the social chatter about this great news!

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