Prophet insights into Digital Marketing

Last May, Gerd Leonhard, “one of the leading media-futurists in the world”, according to The Wall Street Journal, made some predictions on how Digital Marketing will look like in 2020.

He believes that companies, in 7 years, will have a customized approach that will be immediately adapted to answer customers’ needs. Unauthorized marketing will be useless and all “decisions to buy” will come from normative influence- They love it! I love it! Therefore, companies will have to create authentic relationships and nourish their customers to produce, as Amazon already calls it, “Customer Delight”. However, creating a trustworthy relationship is more than accessing data patterns, it’s about how to build an emotional connection- and that isn’t easy.

Understanding your customers’ wishes, desires and values is the first step into this new marketing era. We believe that here, at Proto Partners, we have the tools to help your company create an authentic and lasting relationship with your customers and walk brightly into the future.

Read the full article here.

Being a Meaningful Brand

“Make consumers’ lives better.”

This is what businesses and brands must do. Makes sense, doesn’t it? More often than not, brands fail to meet this need. A Co.Exist article discusses the need for brands today to create meaningful lives. Umair Haque, blogger from Harvard Business Review claims, “The next global economy isn’t just about stuff, it’s about human lives.” Over time, what consumers look for in a brand has drastically changed over time from what the product does to how it makes you feel to who you are. Today it is about making a better you.

The marketplace is cluttered with businesses that sell “throwaway” products in the name of consumerism and brands that are stained with negative experiences, making it difficult for anyone with a conscience to associate with. There are however, amidst it all, brands that do it right. These are the customer centric businesses that genuinely want to improve the livelihood of its customers.

“Your customers, are beginning to take a quantum leap into an era where a life meaningfully well lived is what really counts.”

In order to keep up in this era, some brands may have to undergo internal rebuilding so that fulfilling the customer’s desire for a more meaningful life is achievable. This might mean realigning your core values with your customers and creating a cultural change within your work place that focuses on your customers’ ultimate need. Keep up with the new era of change and be the brand that is far more meaningful than ever before, be the brand that makes your customers’ lives better. At Proto Partners we can help you to do this. Our goal is to “help organisations enrich the lives of customers, one customer experience at a time.” hence making a more meaningful brand.

The Omnichannel Retail Experience

Retails stores worldwide struggle with the threat of online shopping. In our previous post, we looked at how retail stores can include mobiles in their customer experience. However, what are the other channels that retail can explore? What are other ways that retail can stay relevant? Is it possible to have an omnichannel retail experience?

John Lewis, a department store in Great Britain has proved that it is possible. The retailer has offered numerous innovative shopping experiences through digital channels explains Natalie Brandweiner in a MyCustomer article.

We already know the popularity of mobiles worldwide and throughout generations today. John Lewis has utilized this well by providing an app to complement the customer journey in stores. The app allows customers to scan barcodes and to place new orders for stock. Their “Click-and-Collect” service has also proven to be a success in creating their omnichannel presence. Andy Street from John Lewis justifies, “We know that about 60% of our customers buy both online and in shops so the approach is to make it absolutely seamless … So they can research in one place and shop in the other, they can buy in one place and pick up in the other – the art of sales is consistent across channels…They’re not even supposed to know or see or realize which channel they’re using because it’s one overall customer offer.” 

So how can retail compete for their existence? Install an omnichannel experience that’s relevant to your company where “all purchase channels are seamlessly connected, therefore allowing consumers more flexibility and convenience.”

Read more here.

“Showrooming” and Mobiles, Retail’s Enemy or Friend?

“Showrooming” is when people come into store to look at products and go away from the retail store to view it online to find cheaper options. With “showrooming” on the rise, how can retail stores keep customers in stores? A realbusiness article suggests says it’s as simple as using mobile in store.

Research shows that most people who showroom actually use their mobiles during their shopping experience. Mobile is a threat to the retail environment, however there is also an opportunity to make friends with the enemy. Companies can now interact with their customers while they shop through their mobiles, perhaps there could be a mobile retail assistant? Or perhaps specials made available through mobiles or even product suggestions as you browse the store. “It’s the perfect tool for businesses to find new ways to make buying in-store the convenient option.” By truly understanding how mobile are used by customers and their retail journey experience with you, opportunities for a successful new form of interaction with your brand is made possible.

Read the full article here.

5 Rules of Customer Experience Across Channels.

With advancements to technology ever increasing, how do businesses adapt (or not) for their customer experience in digital channels? Does digital customer experience have to break the rules of conventional customer experience? Does it have a new set of rules? In an article by bizcommunity, Chantel Botha discusses the rules of customer experience she believes applies across all channels.

  1. Be Personal. The more human an interaction is, the better. Customers react positively to humanly responses. For example when responding to your customer emails, use their name rather than the word “customer”. It is the little things that make people feel special and most brand miss out on this simple way to make another personal connection to their customer.
  2. Make it Effortless. Customers lives are busy and complex enough. Make their interactions with you as effortless and simplistic as possible to allow for a seamless experience. Customers often expect to fill in their personal details once, for example and not have to deal with filling in the same details time and time again.
  3. Give your Customers Control. Customer don’t want to be told how to interact with a company but to have the freedom to access a company through various channels at a time that suits them. The freedom to choose how they interact with you, gives customers comfort in their decisions.
  4. Make it a Conversation. Broadcast less, and converse with your customers instead! Customers are more willing to express their opinions online due to its accessibility and anonymity. Use that opportunity to listen to what they are saying and engage with your customers. Botha mentions, “I truly believe the scale of digital communication that allows one to communicate with many or even millions will force brands to go back to basics and re-evaluate their purpose, values and personality.”
  5. Keep your Promises. At Proto Partners we believe Branding is the promise you make; Customer Experience is the promise you keep. A great customer experience is one where a customer can rely on a company to keep their promises and to keep true to their brand values. It is far better to be upfront and honest about wait times and delays than to keep your customer in the dark or feeling like you’ve ignored or forgotten them.

Most importantly: Listen. “…brands that don’t listen to their customers have really large gaps between what their customers expect and what the actual customer experience is”

Read more here.

Retail Sales: Online vs Offline

There is a shift in the way customers interact with retail experiences and that’s of retail sales offline (physical stores and kiosks) to an online offering. In many cases this shift is an inevitable evolution of the retail experience but what about those customers that require that extra effort, care and human interaction when making purchases? How can you determine what your customers prefer? Don’t guess, ask them! The key is to better understand your customers through leveraging existing data, talking to your customers, listening to your customers and understanding their experience with you through a customer journey map. A Forbes article suggests using “data-driven marketing insights to empower employees, so then these employees can elevate the customer experience and treat shoppers the way they want to be treated: as individuals with unique buying behaviors and preferences.”


Read more of that article here.

Customers = Brand Experience

In an article from MediaPost, Ingrid Froelich emphasizes that “brand experience is defined by your customers’ perceptions of their interaction with you.” The way that your customers experience your brand across channels whether they are active or passive in this, all affect the way they see your brand. This can make your break your brand experience.

“To stand out, organisations now need to meet and exceed customer expectations.”

So how is this done? First, you need to know your customers and what exactly are their expectations.

  1. Know your customers. The easiest way of doing this is not by assuming what they know but by simply listening to your customers. Take an ‘Outside In’ perspective to help you to understand and emphasize with your customers because the customer voice can strongly affect the way your brand is perceived. “By hearing the customer voice, the organisation can prioritize change and support the most valuable touchpoints.” Every channel has value, however, by placing your focus on the areas your customers most value, it will become a win-win situation.
  2. Don’t be a stalker. It’s great knowing your customers but not in the same way a stalker knows their victim. To create a genuine brand experience, it is important to give your customers privacy. Combine your real-time data with information your customers have volunteered to give to you. “Responsible use of customer data enhances loyalty by responding to preferences.”
  3. Weave customer-centricity throughout your organisation. Customers do not necessarily think about the operations and different departments behind their experience with your brand, whether they are good or bad. “All of the good intentions in the world and all of the speeches from CEOs and customer advocates in your organization cannot replace the need for a fundamental customer-centric culture and process.” Therefore every aspect of your organisation must maintain customer-centric goals so that the customer experience is seamless and consistent.

Read more of MediaPost’s points here. 

Digital CRM, the New Way Forward?

A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) manages customers’ interactions with a company. This helps companies to analyse their customers’ behaviours, predict their wants and to deliver a customer experience that is more fulfilling.

An article from TechTarget claims that a digital CRM is the new way forward for every industry (from Disneyland to dishwashers). With this knowledge, organisations can personalise their products to suit their customers’ needs. The article explains how a smart refrigerator by Samsung can track its contents allowing users to share shopping lists and notify them when someone has bought the mustard. Using a digital CRM to improve  customers’ experiences with your service/product will of course, create happy customers who are more likely to attract more business and remain loyal to your organisation.

The data collected from digital CRMs however, can also be used for targeted marketing. Details such as the time and date that customers use a certain service/product is one of the many pieces of information that is noted. In our previous post, we explained that companies should stay away from being stalker-like. Of course there are certain limits of using sensitive data to sell to marketers. If companies begun to do so, customers’ trust would be greatly affected, giving your brand a bad name. This will have serious affects on your customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Read the full TechTarget article here. 

Online Customer Experience

“Customer experience is a well-known differentiator, but still few companies are on the path to doing something about it.” Customers are able to access various information about products, offerings, company reviews and so much more over the internet yet many companies still struggle to take advantage of that.

“There is tremendous opportunity for companies that can create a stand-out experience for their prospects and customers.”

According to a Business 2 Community article (link below), there are four characteristics to consider that will make an exceptional online experience.

  1. Sustainability. “Will you be able to always provide the same valuable experience to customers over time?” Examine the capabilities of your team and the resources you have available over a period of time. An experience that cannot be up to the standard customers were once introduced to is far more damaging than an average experience. Therefore it is important to maintain the level of service.
  1. Consistency sometimes. “when you are consistent about things like customer service, product quality, speedy delivery time, offering rewards, this keeps the customers satisfied.” However it is also important to not become predictable but perhaps reward customers with spontaneous events or discounts. This will get customers more engaged with your brand and related news.
  1. Accessibility. Customers have “their own preferences for interacting with companies that they rely on, so it is important to make sure all avenues are open to them.” Allow customers to interact with your company through various devices, social media or email. When customers are given an option that suits their needs and lifestyle they are more likely to respond to your brand.
  1. Humanistic. “Customers want to know that there is an actual person on the other side of each interaction that understands their situation and is committed to helping them get through it.” Devote time and effort into getting customers what they want by giving support and immediate action on their issues with your product/service. Do what you can to show your customer that you care about them by leading them to people who can help if necessary.

“Your customer experience strategy takes planning, understanding of your customers, and the implementation of the right tools.” Check if your online experience show signs of these four characteristics and build upon them.

Read the full article here. 

The Debate on how to be Customer Centric

A blog post by Wim Rampen discusses an article titled: “Customer Centricity, still in its infancy”. Wim Rampen believes that a CEM (Customer Experience Management)/CRM (Customer Relationship Management) strategies aren’t a necessity or a simple solution for companies to become customer centric. His argument claims that small businesses can be customer centric and therefore it can work on a large scale as well meaning that a CEM/CRM strategy does not need to be in place.

Customer Centricity, we believe, is a result of a cultural change made in a business. This  change is one that has been mutually agreed upon and delivered through every aspect of the business. People are the heart of any organisation and when those people put people first (their customers), the organisation becomes truly customer centric. This is a result of clear, comphrehensive and sustainable customer orientated goals and training.

Businesses without a clear direction or understanding of their customers often have difficulty in becoming customer centric. Proto Partners help companies to uncover their customers’ wants and needs, areas where improvement is most needed (and will yield profits) and ways it can be implemented.

Read Wim’s post here.