1. You need to come up with a plan on how you can communicate with your consumers via email, mobile, and social media. To keep the user even more engaged you need to make sure that all three channels are truly driving a relevant two way dialogue. Here are five things you could do to make sure that you are communicating in coordinated fashion.

    1 - List Channels and their Purpose - You use email for offers, updates, and transactional messages. You may be using mobile for offers, alerts, and transaction receipts. You use Twitter for customer service, Facebook for engagement, contests, and your blog as a repository for information. Create a grid where you list each channel (or sub-channel) and what the purpose of each channel is - so you know where you’re making contact with your customers and prospects.

    2) Who is your Consumer? (customer, member, or prospect) – Ask different people in your organization who they think they serve and build a persona for each profile/ type. For instance, Jill is 30 and single; Brad is 45 and married with two kids; Ed is 65 and married. Put together information about each type including how you should communicate with them, map this information with your subscribe page, preference collections and surveys to insure you are capturing information effectively.

    3) Write your Script – Think about messages to help you fulfill the purpose of each channel. Think about the person and how you would communicate with that person over that specific channel. Think about ways you can drive people from one channel to another. People may not buy instantly, you may need to guide them through a series of messages before you can get a sale. List those use-cases and group them together.

    4) Test your Message – Will the message you’re sending appeal to your core groups? Will Jill respond, or is this message designed more for your Brads and Eds? Make sure you’re segmenting based on content/ offer epically for the top portion of your list.

    5) Don’t forget about Growth – Using the combinations created; determine how to attract more consumers like them from both your existing base as well as new prospective consumers. Think about what motivated each type to give you their contact information. Leverage this information to create compelling reasons as to why your consumers should provide you with their contact information. Do this across channel. Keep it engaging. Keep soliciting feedback. Alter as necessary.

    Remember to engage with your recipients as often as possible, and never forget to factor all possible places they could interact with your brand
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  2. Mobile: Connecting Consumers and Financial Institutions
    Five key things drive mobile – authentication, payments, banking, messaging, and preferences. Case studies from leaders show us what your FI needs to do to drive success.
    Mobile empowers the consumer who uses the device for a number of reasons. From email, to participating on social networks, to price look ups, to directions, to playing games – the consumer does so much more with their mobile device in addition to using it as a phone!
    Brands are making the consumer more comfortable with how they use their device and here are five key drivers of mobile that will shape consumer interaction.
    Reduce Mobile Complexity

    I – Authentication
    We use our mobile device for travel. The TSA (transportation security administration) accepts your electronic ticket on a mobile device as a way to let you into secure airports. From multi-step authentication to innovation in haptic technology the mobile device can be leveraged in a number of use cases.
    II – Payments
    PayPal, Starbucks, and a few progressive financial institutions are using the mobile device to exchange money. You can even transfer minutes on a phone into units of currency in some parts of the world. The technology is available, and being driven by the needs of the mobile (on the go) consumer. What financial institutions need to be wary off is that a retailer like Starbucks is actually training consumers on what to expect via mobile. Is there a reason they are “green” and their name is “Star Bucks?” Oh, and just a couple of days ago Amazon announced an alternative to Square!
    III – Personal Financial Management
    Instant access to all our accounts via aggregation services, what-if calculators, and the ability to “bank” using mobile devices are important considerations as financial service providers continue to re-tool their mobile consumer engagement strategy. The key to success is ease of use, managing complexity, and instantaneous access to information.
    IV – Messaging
    Wells Fargo, Best Buy, and even the local Redbox movie rental kiosk offer you a receipt in near real time – delivered to your mobile device. The consumer almost expects the receipt to come out as they are completing their transaction. We can make this receipt powerful by better visual design, reducing extraneous information, and personalized relevance.
    V – Preferences
    Innovative grocery stores do a very good job by offering their consumers coupons delivered via mobile. This helps reduce the amount of “clutter” and more importantly it can be used to track the consumers favorite transactions. Why should a consumer have to tell you what they like over and over? Transactions can be pre-staged on mobile devices before to shorten time to serve.
    Simplify, Make it Intuitive, Become a Concierge

    How do you define your mobile strategy?
    Here are seven important considerations as you build or perfect your mobile strategy:
    1. Who do you serve – consumers, businesses, both?
    2. What is your value proposition?
    3. What technology partners do you choose?
    4. How do you leverage the (small & on the go) mobile screen?
    5. What is the risk if you wait?
    6. How do you pick pilots?
    7. Do you have a three-year road map?
    Your mobile strategy has to be more than an app. Your mantra should be – Intuitive, Reliable, and Relevant! You have an obligation to manage complexity. Consumer experiences have to be simplified!
    Mobile can be a financial institutions best friend; a way to help you execute a superior mobile strategy.
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  3. An inner circle is a group of people that care about your brand. They tell you what is right, guide you when you are wrong, and stand up to support your brand. These people are brand ambassadors who provide great testimonials.

    You can create an insiders club that helps promote your community by answering questions.

    Why should you? A retailer redesigned their web site. They hired an agency that recruited potential consumers. The new site was phenomenal, it was built by feedback, focus groups, A/B testing, and eyeball tracking. They paid the agency $1.5 Million!

    A similar sized retailer reached out to their inner circle and solicited their feedback. People were grouped into three categories – those who provided feedback for free, those who provided feedback for a whopping discount, and those who were given a gift card to spend in a certain amount of time. This retailer spent less than $20,000. The first retailer took six months to redesign their site, the second retailer took less than half that time.

    Having an inner circle is vital. They are your go to group of people. It takes a little time, some effort, and honest diligence to create this group.

    Here is how you do it:

    1. List a ‘tell us what you think’ on every message that you send out. Not just email but across all channels. Ask people to rank your product, rank your service, and leave them a text box for comments. Use this information to update consumer preferences, and be sure that you follow up with the consumer as soon as they respond. Thank them for their answer, be genuine, and try to engage them with an email from you or a real person.

    2. Offer more than what they have ordered. Rather than just sending them a thank you email for a transaction, ask them if they would like a sample from you. Now reach out to them after a reasonable amount of time and solicit their feedback on the sample sent. Add those that respond to your insiders club.

    3. Use intrigue to connect. ‘How much does a family of four spend on drinks if they eat out a restaurant once a week throughout a year?’ This can lead to a calculator that is then used to help the individual come up with saving possibilities. ‘How much do you spend on gas in one year? What if you saved just 5 cents a gallon? What if we can find you a location that gives you cheaper gas?’ A question like this could lead to a site where you can find the best deals on gas.

    You could run a caption contest on your social media sites as well. An intrigued consumer is an engaged consumer. The important thing in all these scenarios is to connect with the respondent with a follow up message from a real person. Next, segment them into a special list, and stay in touch with them over time. Reward them with previews, sneak peeks, and exclusive discounts (if you can). Set a goal of ‘x’ number of responses per campaign and do this across channel.

    A Credit Union with a member base of 200K has about 13,000 insiders. A travel company has a list of over 2 Million, and an insiders club of 60,000 names. A retailer has over 50,000 go to insiders who give them counsel. The key is that they did it one insider at a time. Many set up real time insider clubs on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. These people are a valuable group of followers.

    Just keep in mind that when you communicate with them on social media sites you are in their space and that they are not in yours. Intrigue, engage, and thank each person who responds and watch your insider list grow! It is your ticket to success in 2014.
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  4. Here are a few simple things that you should be doing to make sure that your emails have a better chance of getting through to the consumer.

    1) Monitoring – Focus on your email collection process, making sure there are checks in place to eliminate miss keying (double opt-in), and include an automatic confirmation so that bounces do not pollute your core list. 

    2) Hygiene – Clean your list regularly and honor unsubscribe and SPAM feedback promptly. Be sure to check your blacklists, monitor bounce rules, and use a dedicated IP address to send your emails as blocking is usually based on the sending IP address.
    


    3) Test – Make sure your content passes SPAM filter assessment! There are tools that verify your content and provide a score based on the message, allowing you to adjust your message as necessary.

    4) Be Open - On your site, list what the recipient can do if they feel that they received an unsolicited email from you - give them contact information and a simpler opt out other than clicking on 'this is spam'.

    5) Training - Next, educate your front line on how they go about capturing the email id. Developing a proper script will go a long way in getting people to pay attention to your campaigns.

    The one thing you can do to improve deliverability is to keep your list clean – remove your bounces expeditiously.

    Your battle for credibility against spam is going to continue - keep checking up on what you can do to outsmart the bad guys and make sure you continue to build relationships with your recipients.
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  5. As consumers we can appreciate the extra attention, shorter lines, or the loyalty points that add up. Many businesses would really like to keep the consumer from going elsewhere and would like to leverage previous transactions to provide better service.
    Maybe your business is ready for a loyalty-marketing program. Here is a checklist to start things off, even if you don't have a big budget:

    1) Survey – Ask them what is important, what they like and dislike. Ask them what you can do to improve things and what will make them come back. Ask them how they would like to be rewarded. Use this online survey to express the importance of the channel and set the precedent of how you’ll be communicating with them.

    2) Reward them with Points – If they complete a transaction, verify information, send feedback, or even make a purchase; make sure you give them some recognition. These points add up and result in a snowball effect, making your customers pay more attention.

    3) Send Updates – Include their points balance and remind them of the point hierarchy…you're only X points away from the next level. Keep thanking them for the business through your website, via email, and through your call center or in-store representatives.

    4) Help them with Redemption – Whether it’s a percentage off, merchandise or upgrades, make the process easy and make the customer feel their points are worth something.

    5) Give the Intangibles – Have a special line for loyal/elite customers, send thank you cards from the owner... mix it up across channels, this shows the customer that they are part of the family.

    Loyalty marketing is true one-to-one interaction – you know everything about the customer, which are arguably easier than attracting new prospects through mass media advertising.
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  6. Many companies have the challenge of marketing to customers who only make one big transaction a year; they’re unsure of what to sell and how to promote but want to make sure that they are in consideration whenever the recipient is in the market again.

    My suggestion is to keep the recipient engaged with information, good customer service and useful tips. Two things to consider here - first send them information through email, mobile, & other traditional channels. Second make sure you keep your social media channels updated with relevant information. Make it a place where your customer is inspired to come check out.

    There are three ways to do this - if you simply tell them about the channel, if you invite them to be a contributor, & if you keep the social media channels engaging.

    Here are a few examples from different industries:

    Your customer has just purchased a vacation trip, start by asking for feedback about their trip, offer lifestyle and food tips from other destinations. Make email communiqués reminiscent of the travel channel – offering a get away with every newsletter. Include information and numbers that they can call about destinations but don't force them to buy, simply remind them that you are there.

    A prominent travel company allows people to set up family pages where all pictures and videos can be put into a library. They extend this by connecting on Facebook as well. Put up pictures of destinations and ask people to guess where the picture was taken. It works!

    Your customer has just redone their home; follow up the purchase with a sincere thank you. Then ask them to send you pictures or feedback of how they like the new style and layout. Keep communicating with them offering design tips and ways to spruce up their home. Share stories of how other people have transformed their homes with similar/ complimentary products. Keep them in their same segment but offer smaller gifts that may be perfect for their friends and family. Again, encourage your customer to share their story on your blog or submit their pictures for a contest - it will bring them back and perhaps others too.

    A customer makes a large financial investment – a bond or CD. Thank them and then keep them abreast of what is happening in the market. Engage them in a dialogue by getting them to share information about their family, their financial aspirations and how you can help them get there. If you keep them engaged they will pay attention to your communiqués including your offers.

    Financial Institutions can leverage social media channels to help educate customers on products and also use these social media channels to answer questions.

    Regardless of the industry or purchase, the key is to keep people engaged with content that they perceive valuable and applicable to their daily lives… regular interaction could be your answer. Write good content for your social media channels & use email to direct people in.
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  7. With the buzz around social media marketing and the need to go into the life of the consumer, marketers are trying their hardest to get included. Getting included means getting the consumer to share your brand - to go viral. There is so much talk about inclusion and about following that marketers are forgetting to look at some fundamental issues.

    If you want to get included on the Facebook page of the consumer, it is very much like asking the consumer to invite you & their friends into their living room. The consumer needs to feel comfortable about including you before they open you up to themselves and more so their friends.

    The same thing applies to Twitter; about getting the consumer to add you to their safe list via email; or even getting them to visit your blog. You need to engage the consumer with something that the consumer has an interest in and not just expect that the consumer will blindly follow you.

    It goes back to a quote by the Chinese philosopher Confucius – ‘Marketer who wants to share something should first be sure he have something to share.’ Okay so Confucius didn’t say that, but to really keep a consumer engaged you need to learn what it takes to keep them interested.

    It is all about engagement, about making connections.

    Here are five simple ideas to help facilitate engagement –
    1.     You have to improve your segmentation
    2.     You have to use active copy
    3.     You have to achieve real personalization, name calling will not cut it
    4.     You have to look hard at your numbers, if something doesn’t work don’t do it
    5.     You have to carry on a conversation

    Good copy, a good product or good service, and great customer service goes a long way in helping too.
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