1. You are going to continue to churn – you will add new consumers and keep losing a few. To have positive growth you need to take good care of your existing consumers and constantly have programs that will continue to find new consumers.

    Here are three proven case studies that continue to drive success.

    I – Vacation Homework
    A credit union I work with came up with a unique way to engage local youth during the summer, they told their members (in credit union lingo customers = members) to give their kids a special summer writing project. To participate, they had to submit an essay describing what they would do with $250K as the mayor of the city, charged with creating summer youth programs.

    Parents submitted the essays and included the child’s age, education goals, etc. as part of the entry form. Those that were too young to write turned in artwork. Lots of submissions from many members – it was a good summer project with the ability to even earn school supplies.

    All this information was maintained in a database that allowed the CU to market education, insurance and car loan products to the member’s for their kids. All members were asked to judge – so everyone was involved. A creative way to use social media to engage!

    II – Dream Big
    Another financial institution I work with launched a digital marketing campaign across email, social media, and even print with the following theme – What if you won a Million Bucks? The campaign was used to launch a dream giveaway – recipients were asked to tell what they would do with the winnings.

    Obviously the messages got attention; people wanted to know more as they visited personalized landing pages designed to capture the responder’s lifestyle choices/ products – things they could buy or do if they had a million dollars. The landing page also included a calculator, to help the customer learn how much they would have to save to reach their financial goal(s.)

    They tried to make the interactivity as real as possible – asking for more and more detail from the consumer and showing them the steps to attain their financial goals. All information fed the financial institution’s marketing database and used today to create personalized marketing programs for each consumer.

    III - The Registry
    Many big department stores have bridal registries, it is a very simple concept – couples come in, register and select items they would like to receive as gifts. This one department store even allowed couples to announce their wedding via personalized email, including offering simple digital links to congratulate the couple.

    After the wedding, the newly married couple received an email offering an exclusive three-day sale. Simply bring in your list – items you didn't receive from your registry may qualify for their discount (couples often receive cash.) All purchase information was recorded for future marketing – maybe their fine china is being discontinued, a lamp they liked is now on sale, etc.

    Their marketing possibilities were endless and all offers were completed targeted. You can use this to build a lifetime of preferences.

    Listen, Personalize, Serve
    Brands need to continuously strive to stay in touch with the consumers you serve and keep seeking new consumers. Create conversations, observe preferences, and personalize your offers to drive success. The world of digital offers us an infinite opportunity to engage and fuel your marketing efforts for years to come.


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  2. In our right now world you have to put together a program that is real time. And real time doesn’t just mean doing things faster. Here are seven things you should do to create a real 'real time' plan.
    1 - Make sure your channels are connected. Make sure that you are collecting information across multiple channels, storing the information into a common data repository, and most importantly – giving all your channels easy access to this information.
    2 - Put together “steps of relevance.” Put together use cases on how you may interact with the consumer now that you have all this information about them. So if a consumer has just completed a transaction, your next step might be to inquire about their experience, and follow that up with an offer. (Some of us call these step-by-step campaigns, some call it waterfall series).
    3 - Plan your responses on each channel. If people interact with you on each channel, make sure you have a set of desired responses that you can execute on.
    4 - Respond in as real time as possible. The sooner you respond to your consumer the better it is for your business. Why don’t you open up the web to your customer service team so they can respond effectively?
    5 - Don't limit yourself to one channel. Use the profile and contact information to mix up your messages across channel. It shows your consumers that your channels are connected and helps improve engagement.
    6 - Invite the consumer into your home. Encourage them to browse your site, look at your magazine or catalog, subscribe to your email, and lure them into your “living room.” Your living room is your social media channel.
    7 – Do not forget to follow up. Many times the consumer is seeking information directly or indirectly from you. If they ask for information, it is easy to recognize their need and follow up.
    You should try a two-step follow up - send them information electronically (or by direct mail) and then follow up with a phone call. If they don't ask for information, track their clicks or behavior and use that to build up your response so you can follow up effectively.
    Following up effectively is all about being relevant. Being relevant right now is all about achieving real 'real time.' If I respond in real time (less than three minutes) my open rate is above 98% and if I wait a whole day, my open rate drops to 44%! 

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  3. As digital marketers we look for ways to segment our customers into "micro-segments." It is a very effective strategy to help personalize messages to those we serve. Here are five proven tips that work in retail and can also be applied to your industry.
    1) Recency
    Check the time associated with the last order and when the recipient became a customer. Flag the most recent transactions and use those to personalize your messaging. 
    2) Frequency
    Recipients who buy once should be encouraged to quickly buy (or interact) again; two-time buyers should be pushed to three, etc. Once the customer is over the five-time buyer mark you should consider putting them into a special category where the goal becomes creating a dialogue with this customer.
    3) Average Order Value
    Look at the total revenue and margin from the customer, the higher the values the higher you rate your customer. Higher margin customers get five stars, and your goal should be to move your customers further up. 
    4) Geography
    Some of your products may not sell in certain climates or zones so timing and geography become key factors. An offer by a restaurant at 11.00 am or 5.00 pm (their time) is much more impactful to someone thinking about their lunch. Similarly, if you are selling apparel, or gardening merchandise, timing is key based on geography.
    5) Payment Method – One of my catalog customers treats their customers differently - depending on how these customers pay. Customers purchasing by check or PayPal are put in a different category than those who pay by credit card (and not all credit cards are created equally.)
    Just a few items to think about while developing the right mix for you to create interactive conversations with your customers. Remember, segmentation works well - look for ways to keep improving your segmentation.

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  4. We often talk about various channels available to the consumer, your physical location, self service device (ATM or Kiosk), email, call center, printed catalogs or statements, mobile devices and all things internet.
    Each of these channels offer multiple opportunities for the consumer to touch you, but as a company it’s not as easy to connect with them – you need their information, their habits and preferences to quickly leverage into a targeted message.
    This empowerment shift means that a simple email offer isn’t going to cut it any more, to compete, Marketers need to concentrate on three areas:
    1) Consumer Engagement
    Social networks, mobile technology, and the emerging confluence of these channels is putting the consumer in charge. Customers now have the ability to quickly find offers, eliminate vendors and learn more than some of your reps before even venturing out of their homes. Make your social media outlets prominent and encourage the consumer to interact with your brand as this will help you build up useful user generated content. 
    2) Cross-Channel Offer Optimization
    The consumer is expecting to be recognized, not only for who they are but as an interested party who wants you to guide them through their interactions. Engage them in a dialogue so they can continue to collect their preferences; optimize the time and offer by creating a conversation – don’t throw everything over to them, send three to five distinct offer components to test responses and facilitate conversation.
    3) Educate the Frontline
    Customer Service Representatives, Sales Reps etc. are often THE impression for your company; keeping your team informed is the best chance you have to be prepared for the inquiries from customers or prospects. Send your team the offers, emails and associated details to make sure your employee is the expert in the conversation.
    The marketing game is changing; by staying current on the evolutions you’ll garner customer respect and hopefully their market share.

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  5. We ran into an interesting predicament as we ordered a TV stand online from a “significant” retailer. We purchased it because of the “big brand,” the “perceived convenience of multi-channel,” and a very timely email. Our TV stand arrived on time but was missing a couple of minor parts. Unperturbed, we drove over to their local store to see if we could get the parts or perhaps even exchange it at the store.
    No such luck! We were told to call their toll free number and schedule a pick up with a package company. After a lot of needless banter, we chose to return it to the online division of the “significant” retailer and decided to pick up a similar stand from a competitor. Of course, the “significant” retailer continued with their barrage of emails – first thanking us for the purchase, then asking us about our experience, then apologizing for the inconvenience, followed by numerous other offers. We were even engaged on Facebook for our opinion.
    Not to be outdone, a major online supplier of college textbooks got my son to purchase his books for college. They got him to notice them by advertising their ‘convenience’ on Facebook. The books arrived on time, but three out of seven were significantly damaged during shipping! We called (and called), we emailed (at least five times), we even poked them on Facebook - we finally called the credit card company to get their attention. Only then did this book merchant respond. They apologized and offered to exchange the books but with a small condition. They had to receive the books before they could ship us a new set! With college starting within days, the exchange seemed difficult, so we decided to return the books and pay a premium at the college bookstore.
    I visited my ‘favorite’ financial institution thrice in a week – they were busy because of the “holiday” crowd. They were short staffed (for the foot traffic) and I waited for a long time like everyone else. It was humorous to watch their reps pitch online banking – they seemed to read a script to a consumer that was already irritated by the long wait.
    Today consumers have many choices to purchase what they want. They can order online, order from a catalog, or simply go to the store. Whether you are using social media, the web, or simply going to the store, companies have made it easier for the consumer to find the items they are looking for. They need to strive to make it just as easy to return things as well. If a consumer purchases something online, and they don’t like it when they receive it, they will most likely go to the local store to try and return it. As easy as that sounds a lot of companies do not operate like that.
    All companies have the challenge of connecting with consumers; turning someone away does more to hurt the relationship you’re attempting to build. The consumer, whether they are window shopping or purchasing doesn't care about the channel that they bought from – if the labels are the same, why does the channel matter?
    Allow your channels work in harmony, focus on the consumer and close your loopholes. As far as the consumer is concerned your different channels should work as one unit. A satisfied consumer will feel respected, and will come back. Try and make them become a future customer.

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