Back to Full Site

Connections

The Harte Hanks Blog

Better Attribution Means Better Marketing Results—How to Get Started

optimize marketing spend with fractional attribution

As banks and credit unions face increasing pressure to compete with fintech innovations, peer-to-peer lenders and digital payment channels, it becomes more crucial than ever to optimize marketing spend and understand which channels provide the greatest ROI.

In our last post, we discussed several types of attribution models and determined that a fractional attribution model is a critical tool for optimizing the performance of marketing dollars. Here we will discuss the challenges of implementing a fractional attribution model, and the steps to get started.

Why Aren’t More Companies Using Fractional Attribution?

There is plenty of discussion happening within financial marketing organizations about the importance of marketing attribution. Unfortunately, several challenges are preventing these discussions from gaining any real traction. Common challenges preventing banks from implementing a successful, robust attribution strategy include:

  • The “where do I start?” roadblock. As we saw in the last post, there are many options when it comes to marketing attribution. When faced with an overwhelming number of options, marketers have difficulty selecting the best approach to invest in, let alone deciding where to begin. These folks end up stuck in the same rut.
  • A lack of executive-level sponsorship. The decision to make significant changes in overall organizational structure, talent and technology needs to
be driven from the top, but making this leap is often hindered by competing priorities.
  • Politicized corporate culture. The underlying issue here is often organizational structures that reward the performance of individual channels. When multiple departments compete to take full credit for revenue generation, those department leads are focused on their team’s profits, not the overall health of the company.
  • Inconsistent logic. Offline and online channel marketers still attribute consumer behaviors separately with inconsistent attribution logic. The flawed justification that comes from this practice makes a combined attribution approach seem impossible to achieve (and compounds some of the other challenges listed above).
  • Mobile-added complexity. The ability to track behaviors across various online-enabled devices is a data scientist’s dream, but the complexity of the data can be overwhelming for marketing organizations—and is sometimes perceived as more of a nightmare.
  • Lack of the right skill sets and corresponding technology. Because the demand for data scientists is greater than the supply, it’s time to invest in top data scientists with a broad set of math and statistics skills and a deep understanding of the data landscape.

Fractional Attribution: How to Get Started

Executive-level sponsorship is key to making the transition to a new attribution model. When it comes to gaining executive-level sponsorship, you should stress the point that you can get a clearer picture of what the entire marketing budget is doing by spending just a small fraction of that budget. And by investing a small part of the marketing budget into a fractional attribution model, you can find 15–25 percent of ineffective spend within a few months of implementation. You’re not just getting an accurate map of where your marketing dollars are going, you’re reallocating those dollars in a much more effective manner. When put that way, the transition to a fractional attribution model becomes much more palatable.

You also need to make the shift to a more customer-centric focus and show how this will result in more profitable customer relationships. Here it will be helpful to perform an audit to assess current skill sets and technology infrastructure. Put together a detailed plan that shows how to get to a more robust attribution model with a phased approach—with clear success measures along the way to justify the next step.

Next Step: The Scenario Planning Tool

Implementing a fractional attribution model is only half of the solution; a scenario planning tool is needed to optimize marketing channel performance. With this tool, analysts and marketers can quickly run “what-if ” tests to gauge the impact of reallocating marketing spend. For example, what will happen if you move dollars from digital marketing and instead invest them in direct mail?

The end result is a more informed decision and higher returns from the marketing budget. Furthermore, this process can be used to calibrate and refine the attribution engine going forward.

To create the scenario planning tool, analysts outline a roadmap that identifies key performance indicators (KPIs) and details the overall attribution approach. The most robust attribution solutions require user-level data across multiple online and offline channels that need to be integrated and blended.

Spend Wisely with Better Attribution

The best decisions are data-driven, and in a multichannel world where the customer journey can span across several channels, robust attribution solutions will play a central role in informing marketing-spend decisions. It’s time to leverage analytics to start deriving insight from those large pools of data. A fractional attribution model and a scenario planning tool can optimize media and channel performance, helping you break down the silos at your institution—and showing you exactly where to allocate your marketing dollars.

Do You Really Need that Survey? Better Ways to Improve CX

improve customer experience in financial services

In a recent interview with Quirk’s Media, Nancy Vogt, VP of Customer Experience with Zions Bank, discussed the implications of an important factor in market research: survey fatigue.

She explained, “In recent years, as we’ve become ever more cognizant of survey fatigue, we’ve had to think long and hard about our priorities when designing a survey, considering each question to decide whether it is just ‘nice to know’ or whether the response will be actionable.”

It is important to recognize that we do need actionable data to improve the customer experience, but survey fatigue is real and plagues our customers. It is therefore important to incorporate other less intrusive ways to collect data, optimize the customer experience and ensure customer satisfaction to maintain a customer-centric approach. Here are a few places to start.

Recognize the Data You Already Have

1. Interaction History

Personally, I greatly dislike talking on the phone, which should be obvious since I have only ever interacted with my bank digitally (I will do anything I can to avoid talking to a real person—any extent of Google searching, emailing, webchat, etc.). My parents, however, call their branch directly when they have concerns or questions. This type of interaction history should inform how our banks communicate with us.

For example, I really appreciate that my credit card company has analyzed my spending and communication habits and denies unusually large purchases—while immediately sending a notification text to confirm or deny the validity of such a purchase. I can easily respond via text without having to answer or make a phone call. My parents, however, should get a phone call to communicate with them in the channel of their preference and optimize their experience.

2. Social

Now more than ever, customers are interacting with banks digitally—via social, for example. Data from effective social support programs can be used to identify points of customer dissatisfaction, as well as trending support issues. Proactively mining this data can help banks to identify common problems and address rising concerns promptly, limiting negative impact and satisfying social customers.

@ChaseSupport does a great job at supporting customers on social. From difficulties with credit card applications to opinions about ATM locations, Chase customers are letting the bank know how they feel. And Chase responds! My colleague recently tweeted to @ChaseSupport about a problem with her mortgage held by Chase. @ChaseSupport looked up her account, reviewed the history and conversations with phone support, and added the social conversation to her customer profile. They weren’t immediately able to solve her problem, but they did assure her that it had been escalated appropriately.

By using social channels to engage with customers, banks are able to receive candid and real-time feedback—no survey necessary. They’re also able to improve the overall customer experience for those that prefer to interact on social media. Note: it is crucial that these interactions be associated with the individual’s customer profile to ensure a seamless experience across interaction channels (e.g. make sure the customer service agents answering the phones also have the social conversation handy for reference).

3. In-Branch Technology

Another option is to mine satisfaction data from non-intrusive technologies that also facilitate customer experience improvements. This article from The Financial Brand explains how credit unions have implemented technology like lobby trackers that allow them to track wait times, desired services, transaction times and more. This data provides insight into the customer experience and allows banks to optimize the experience they provide to their customers through efforts like increasing staffing during peak times. In addition, banks are deploying service kiosks that invite members to easily provide feedback by clicking a range of happy, neutral, or sad face icons, which members happily interact with (about 4,000 responses per month).

Take Meaningful Action on the Data You Collect

Your customers are trusting you with all of this data they’re giving to you. A good way to break that trust is by failing to use it effectively and continuing to bombard them with requests for feedback. For example, if a customer signs in with your lobby tracker upon each branch visit, yet consistently has to wait over 10 minutes for service, he’ll start to wonder why he has to bother with the lobby tracker—it’s not providing any improvement in his experience. When you approach this customer with a survey, he will probably ignore it, believing that it also will have no effect on his experience.

To avoid what can feel like a one-sided relationship, customers need to see value in providing data or participating in surveys when they are necessary. Recognize and make use of the data you are already getting from your customer interactions and customer journey, and these customers will be happier to respond to your occasional survey.

You may also want to check out: MetLife Marketing is Focused on Providing Value—You Should Be, Too

If Customer Experience Is the Battlefield, Mobile Is the Weapon of Choice

mobile customer experience

For most of us, our smartphone is practically an extension of our body. The vast majority of brands today, however, are struggling to orchestrate outstanding intuitive mobile customer experiences.

The smartphone is truly ingrained in our daily lives. As Google notes, 87% of us always have one by our side always, and 67% of us check it within 15 minutes of waking. Among other things, this means mobile technology is the primary channel in which we interact with brands, communicate with friends and family, read the news and restock our toothpaste (love you, Amazon app.).

In order to realize mobile’s vast potential, brands must create relevant, contextual customer experiences that simplify and enhance people’s lives. That’s where one-to-one, in-the-moment marketing comes in.

I’m not talking about mere personalization, which involves leveraging in-depth “descriptive” data about a customer (e.g. your name, favorite drink, buying frequency, or if you used a coupon) to deliver individualized messages and offers.

One-to-one, in-the-moment marketing goes a step further by also factoring in predictive data such as propensity to buy, time-sensitive variables (e.g. geo-positioning) and external variables (e.g. current weather and its impact on customer buying decisions). Or, as CMO Frank Grillo explains it, “The things that are driving me to buy and the way that I behave are very much impacted by who I am at that moment.”

Mobile is that connective element (or weapon) that enables marketers to deliver in-the-moment customer experiences tailored to “who you are at that moment.”

While 71% of marketers believe mobile is core to their business, many still struggle to bring it to life. So, what is the foundation upon which these one-to-one, in-the-moment experiences are built? Let’s take a look at the big three.

1. Connected, Accessible Data

Data is rarely the problem for brands. The challenge comes with connecting the data to extract intelligence and the accessibility of that data downstream at the point of customer interaction.

We’ve all researched a product on a retailer’s website and then walked into a store only to find it out of stock. Very frustrating.

Home Depot has tackled this challenge head on. Over the past eight years, they’ve built a foundation of data connectivity around inventory management and supply chain architecture to enable a single view of inventory. With over 2,000 stores and 35,000 SKUs per store, this is no small feat. And good for them, because a seamless customer experience both in-store and online, including universal visibility into inventory by store, is what customers expect today.

2. Insights and Intelligence

Okay, your data is connected and accessible. Now, what is your strategy to deliver intuitive, tailored customer experiences? This requires a combination of human and technology intelligence. Connected data fuels data scientists to build the right descriptive and predictive data cues to power the engagement models to drive business.

At the heart of these efforts is the explosive artificial intelligence (AI) market, which IDC projects will grow from $8 billion in 2016 to $47 billion by 2020. Furthermore, Forrester predicts enterprise investments in AI will increase 300% in 2017, compared to 2016. Brands must be able to connect their breadth of data and tie it to a single customer profile so they can then extract the insights and intelligence to transform the individual customer experience.

Need your coffee fix in the morning? Dunkin’ Donuts partnered with Waze to simplify this process. By elevating your coffee preference data tied to proximity to a Dunkin’ Donuts store, they can deliver in-app offers during that morning commute to help you scratch your caffeine itch. (Don’t worry; they only elevate offers when the Waze app identifies you have stopped.)

3. Ability to Deliver the Experience to the Customer

It all comes down to this: the last mile. Can you deliver an experience as unique as your customer in that moment?

This is the area where “mobile” takes on an ambiguous definition and gives marketers heartburn. Mobile can encompass mobile-optimized web, mobile-optimized email, SMS, beacon-driven notifications, mobile apps, mobile media and mobile-enabled commerce (including mobile payments). And with 80% of social media time occurring via mobile access, we might even consider social to be synonymous with mobile.

Very simply, I view your mobile strategy as your digital strategy: While it can include any of the above tactics, it is the culmination of connected data, in-the-moment consumer intelligence and the ability to deliver a tailored experience that makes customers say, “It’s like they know me!”

Let’s look at Starbucks — their commitment to their digital strategy, focus on innovation, ability to deliver and the resulting impact on their business. They understand the use of innovation to simplify and enhance the customer experience … and it’s paying off.

After launching mobile payments in 2011, Starbucks executed over 26 million transactions in the first year. And now, more than 21% of transactions at company-owned U.S. stores are executed via their mobile app.

Starbucks is now able to layer innovations such as voice-enabled ordering upon this foundational infrastructure to further simplify the customer-ordering process. Order simplification has been so successful that Starbucks last year reported challenges in physically processing preorders within their stores—a good problem to have.

Research has shown that simplified checkout, while convenient, can shrink transaction size by minimizing those spontaneous purchases. To combat this, Starbucks has committed to their AI/recommendation algorithms to elevate recommendations into the mobile app based on descriptive and predictive cues to deliver a true one-to-one, in-the-moment experience.

By continually gathering data on mobile interactions, you can refine customer profiles/preferences and in turn sharpen your understanding of their behavior and motivations. Data fuels relevancy, relevancy drives engagement, and engagement enriches data. This symbiotic relationship enhances our ability as marketers to better understand our customers in the moment and in turn orchestrate intuitive experiences.

Where Do We Go from Here?

Mobile is the key to creating one-to-one, in-the-moment customer experiences that are essential for success in today’s marketing environment. In future posts, I’ll examine what this means for:

  • In-app innovation
  • Mobile commerce
  • Mobile media

Please stay tuned!

Are You Ready for the Future of Personal Data Privacy?

personal data

Have you ever imagined that each of us, as individuals, would own our personal data and be able to sell it to marketers? We may be headed in that direction.

On January 1, the FCC rolled out new rules to protect broadband consumer privacy. According to the FCC, these rules “give broadband consumers increased choice, transparency, and security over their personal data so consumers are empowered to decide how data are used and shared by broadband providers.”

But what does this mean for marketers? And is this indicative of a larger trend regarding personal information? To find out, I interviewed Michael Becker, Managing Partner at mCordis and The Connected Marketer Institute.

These new FCC consumer privacy rules clearly affect internet providers like Comcast and Verizon, but how do they affect marketers at other companies?

First off, I fully believe we should stop using terms consumer and shopper when it comes to data. Those terms are misleading. In the era of the connected individual, we’re becoming more and more connected and associating more digital devices to our selves—devices that can be used to map behaviors and locations. It’s no longer just about being a shopper, a voter, etc. I’m an individual. Individuals need to give informed consent as to how their info will be used and in what context and what medium. So what does informed consent really mean? What does it really mean to opt in or give permission for use of our individual data?

What is a challenge at this point is that marketers are reacting to the technical challenges of gaining one’s consent. But at the end of the day, it really comes down to do we or do we not respect the digital sovereignty of the individual and the data that results from their devices? Do individuals have ownership or control of that data or not?

What do you believe?

I think it’s going to take us some time to evolve from permission-based models from the pre-mobile devices era. Informed consent and permission-based marketing presumes that an individual fully understands how their data will be used, that it will be properly secured, used with appropriate stewardship, will not be stored or shared with others, etc. With machine learning and AI driving how data is used and how machines start working with third party players to aggregate data from multiple sources, we’re no longer just talking about the specific data set the individual is giving permission for. We’re also giving consent for the integration and manipulation of that data to drive insight and understanding of me as individual that was never fully understood before.

In a world driven by big data and by machine learning, informed consent is somewhat of a myth. I can never be fully informed about how my data will be used if machines and algorithms are constantly creating derived data and evolving what they know about me. So this permission-based model will change. Instead, individuals’ data will be driven by informed access. I will be in control of my data through a personal information service, and I will dictate when and where and who has access to my data and for how long.

This is a massively new idea for most, but it was actually conceived in the 1940s.

With the evolution of technology and social change, it is finally coming to forefront.

What is the implication for marketers?

Modern practices of targeting and retargeting will be significantly affected. We currently have the ability to do things like map a profile of an individual across devices and track an individual as his device interacts with Wi-Fi or bluetooth or other proximity channels. But it’s possible that information like device IDs and IP addresses will become personally identifiable info, making these techniques something individuals have to give permission for.

How do you see marketers overcoming these new challenges?

I see marketers going over the top of the current intermediary channels through which they connect with individuals. Marketers will have direct access to individuals and develop relationships at scale—with the individual in control of the data. Individuals will enable and dictate their terms themselves through information intermediaries. Kenneth Laudon floated this idea back in 1996, and others have followed, predicting that companies will act as agents representing individuals programmatically to the market in exchange for their data. Businesses will be able to interact at scale—on the individual’s terms, and the individual will be compensated for the use of his data. This is called the Personal Information Economy.

The overriding principle is that marketers need to start thinking about the idea that we as an industry need to learn to create value for and with the individual, not from them. The majority of interactions today are about creating value from the customer, effectively turning them into the product. Instead, we’re going to need to be of service to them so that they will want to share their data with us.

What should marketers do now if they want to be ahead of this transition?

They should be actively participating in emerging bodies looking to consider and address the issue, such as The Connected Marketer Institute, Personal Data Ecosystem Consortium, World Economic Forum, Maghreb Economic Forum, etc.

They should also be implementing and developing martech stacks that enable the understanding and prediction of individual needs. They should be undertaking journey mapping exercises, not for sake of the exercise but with the conscious intent that the outcomes will lead to the transformation of how they go about delivering value to their customers.

Finally, they need to know that if they collect data, they should have a real reason for it, know exactly how they’re going to use it, and have a clear policy on how long they’re going to keep it and how they’re going to protect it. As you collect data, you’re also collecting liability for the stewardship of that data—which is going to continue to increase in value.

Do these FCC privacy rules go far enough, considering the future you predict with the Personal Information Economy?

I’m thrilled by the FCC’s recognition of the value of an individual’s personal information. The challenge with any regulation is that it lags behind the evolution of technology and the speed of innovation. There is, however, so much more to come. These FCC rules are just tip of the iceberg. In May 2018, European GDPR regulations come into play. These regulations are much stricter and more significant for our industry, stating that personal information is an asset and owned by the individual. We’ll continue to see regulation attempt to keep pace with the technological and social changes.

CMOs: This is the Year to Focus on Artificial Intelligence

execs focus on artificial intelligene

We all know by now that consumers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to marketing and the customer experience in 2017. To meet their ever-increasing expectations, we’ll need to get to know them at a deeper level than ever before and speak to them more contextually than we’ve dreamed possible.

I’ve put forth that in 2017, we will be challenged to completely rethink some of our long-held beliefs and restructure ingrained processes to cater to each individual, in the moment. We’ve established the need to think beyond one-to-one marketing, focus on the small data and provide return on attention (ROA).

The final key element that I believe needs our attention in 2017 is artificial intelligence.

Make the Move from Manual to Automatic with AI

Artificial intelligence is going to be hugely important in this process of getting to know our customers and speaking to them contextually. It will bring a whole new level of insight that we don’t have right now.

When we think about driving context with our customers, there is an infinite number of variables to consider. Currently, we have to test our own theories as to what is working and what is not. This is limited because we have to come up with and ask the questions in the first place. AI will help us to continually refine our data and our messaging by making our understanding of what’s working and why it’s working easier to uncover.

An AI engine can identify positive or negative trends or anomalies that we should pay attention to, give us the potential variables to test, and test them for us. Given behavioral patterns, an AI engine will start doing A-Z testing on its own. If you come up with some rule sets and let the engine apply and learn from them, you can get to a magical place. With an AI engine watching every set of conversations, watching everything that works and doesn’t work in those conversations, and applying the most appropriate content given the context, we can get as close as possible to personalized dialog with each individual in each moment.

This is crawl, walk, run. 2017 is the time to begin learning about artificial intelligence and planning for how your organization can integrate it beyond the simple efficiency efforts and process improvements it is currently used for.

What the Future Looks Like

Let’s bring this back to my shoe story.

If the retailer I had visited online had implemented the practices in this series of articles (think beyond one-to-one, look at the small data, provide ROA, use AI), my experience would have looked completely different.

When I visited the website and browsed for shoes, I may have received a single follow-up email reminding me about them (and possibly some similar shoes or complimentary items). If I didn’t interact with the email or visit again, the retailer would have read my digital cues that indicated I was only browsing and stopped contacting me. This would be the equivalent of picking up the shoes once in the store, declining to try them on, then leaving. Clearly, I’m not ready to buy.

On the other hand, if I visited the site multiple times and opened and clicked on the emails they sent me, I would expect a different response. This would be the equivalent of visiting the physical store and repeatedly picking up the same shoes over the course of half an hour. Or perhaps I return to the store on several occasions to look at the same shoes. In either instance, I would expect a salesperson to approach me again and ask if I am ready to try the shoes on. Similarly, I would expect to receive multiple, relevant communications from the retailer if I was actively engaged online.

Perhaps the salesperson in this story would also notice that I am dressed in business attire during my visit and tailor his recommendations to additional professional attire. Or he may notice that my young daughter is with me and that Easter is coming up and offer to show us some dress shoes for her Easter outfit. He may even notice the Runner’s World magazine peeking out of my bag and offer to show me the latest barefoot running shoes they just got in. All of these human cues are possible to distinguish and act on online, too—with the right in-the-moment data and the correct content and technology.

To be really good at this is not something and of us do overnight. It’s something we will build and then build on. And I’m more than excited to dive in head first in 2017.

IoT and Micro-Moments Marketing: Leveraging Big Data to Improve the Customer Journey

4-biggest-challenges_illustrations_2-1_v02-01Being connected via wearables without your mobile device is already a reality with untethered Tech, like Android Wear and the Samsung Gear S2, which both support e-SIMs tapping into your pre-existing cell network at no extra cost. It’s a good bet that every smartwatch brand will have an LTE version by the end of 2016, which means that while there’s a vast number of facts and untold nuggets of information that could surprise even big data’s most ardent followers. Big Data is about to become behemoth data.

Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data (that’s 2.5 followed by a staggering 18 zeros!)1 – so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. This data comes from everywhere: sensors used to gather climate information, posts to social media sites, the Curiosity Rover on Mars, your Facebook video from your latest vacation, purchase transaction records, and cell phone GPS signals to name a few. Google alone processes 3.5 billion requests per day and stores 10 exabytes of data (10 billion gigabytes!)2

Whether it’s tracking driving habits for the purpose of offering insurance discounts, using biometric data to confirm an ATM user’s identity, or using sensors to detect that it’s time for garbage pick-up, the era of the iOT in which “smart” things can seamlessly collect, share and analyze real-time data, is here.

Imagine a world where your watch recognizes that you withdraw cash every Saturday so that you’re ready for the neighborhood lemonade stand and your evening outing, and you haven’t made your usual transaction yet. A helpful alert pops up on your device, and another reminder displays when you’re within a ½ mile of your Bank ATM where a retina scan allows you to withdraw funds. Your Smart Refrigerator identifies that you’re running low on eggs and yogurt, while your wearable identifies an open parking space within 50-feet of your favorite Saturday farm market stop, but cautions you that there’s a marathon starting in 2 hours so you better get a move on. A “ping” in your email indicates that the killer little black dress you’ve wanted just became affordable with a special discount coupon you received as you drive past the store. While you’re away, the sun comes out, so your Smart Home lowers the window shades, turns the A/C up a few degrees and suggests adding popsicles to the grocery list. Like any fabulous assistant, technology not only aids you, but anticipates your needs and helps you make smarter, faster decisions based on “advice” you can trust. This is the best way to use Big Data.

Having the ability to be smarter, faster and always connected without having to carry around a device (or anything at all)…great.

Using Big Data to synthesize all of the fragmented individual data points into an orchestrated, holistic, powerfully intelligent view of the customer to help them during these everyday micro-marketing moments…priceless.

Big Data allows brands to go beyond customer motivation and engagement in driving value exchange to allowing them to foster their brand affinity and cultivate their customer’s evangelism in real-time, responding to their customer’s behaviors even as their activities and likes shift.

Although simple in concept, many brands are struggling to get it right (or get started at all). Leading brands have already gained a powerful competitive advantage by adopting consumer management technology that allows them to understand and engage based on individual consumer preferences and observation of behaviors and buying signals in their Buyer and Customer journey – thus taking a big step toward making Big Data a strategic reality.

Is Big Data, or really behemoth data, really the answer all by itself? There is lot of insight to be garnered from that data, but the key is being able to quickly sift through it all, tuning out the noise to focus on the key patterns and meaningful relationships in that data.

Traditional statistical analytics techniques which focus on finding relationships between variables to predict an outcome simply won’t do when the goal is to optimize decisions using massive pools of data that are growing and evolving on a near-continuous basis. This is where machine learning comes into play and brings the needed “giddy-up” to the analytic component. Machine learning evolved from the study of pattern recognition within the field of artificial intelligence. The easy way to think about it is, it provides computers the ability to learn and improve without a specific program being written to tell the computer to “learn and improve”. Machine learning software identifies patterns in the data in order to group similar data together and to make predictions. Whenever new data is introduced, the software “learns” and creates a better understanding of the optimal decision. Think of it as the automation of the predictive analytic process.

There is certainly a lot of overlap between statistical analytics and machine learning but there is one key difference. The former requires that someone formulate a hypothesis and structure a test to evaluate whether that that hypothesis is true or not. For example, a hypotheses that states a particular marketing lever (i.e. a certain offer or message) will generate or “cause” additional account openings or sales. Machine learning does not worry about hypothesis testing and simply starts with the outcome that you are trying to optimize – sales for example – and uncovers the factors that are the drivers. As more data is introduced, the algorithm learns and improves its predictions in almost real time.
Interestingly, machine learning has been around for decades. But now, due to the massive explosion in data, cheaper cloud based data stores, and huge increases in computing horsepower, the interest in machine learning is really starting to hit its stride.

Laura Watson is Strategy Director at Harte Hanks, and Korey Thurber is Chief Analytics & Insights Officer at Harte Hanks. Harte Hanks can help your brand leverage big data, contact us for a free assessment.

cloudtweaks.com
Forbes Tech

IoT and Micro-Moments Marketing: Opportunities and Pitfalls

With the advent of smart technology, we are getting ever closer to the Orsen Wells imagined world of Big Brother oversight in everyday interactions…and many of us are starting to like it because it makes our decision-making easier, our lives more efficient and allows us to do more of the “fun stuff” we’d all rather be doing.

Marketers used to think about the “top of the funnel” with sales and marketing engagement strategies, but most consumers these days are starting their buyer’s journey quietly online through research using video, ratings and reviews and more interactive decision-making short-cuts. And they’re mostly doing it via their mobile devices. Tomorrow is fast-approaching though, as smartwatches mature and the need for “tethering” to a smartphone goes away, devices supporting e-SIMs that are able to tap into your cell network at no extra cost will magnify the Internet of Things (IoT) explosion of use and related data.

The popularity of wearables, especially fitness-related devices, has sky-rocketed over the last couple of years, with 39.5MM US adults using wearables in 2015, including smartwatches and fitness trackers. There’s an expectation that the number will double to 81.7MM users by 2018, or 32% of US adults.1

Wearable devices go way beyond the smartwatch and fitness tracker, with things like FitBark, activity monitoring for Fido, to Athena, a personal security wearable that may help save lives. Verily has a glucose-detecting contact lens and Google is set to use tech to target cardiovascular disease, cancer and mental health problems too. More devices are moving from the nice-to-have category to an integral-to-our-lives status.

With all of this cool, new tech, it’s the nature of marketers to want to use it to sell stuff.

And that’s where we, as marketers, want to caution our compatriots to take the highest marketing road. You can’t get any more personal than something you wear on your body, even sleep with. With great personal engagement comes great responsibility to ensure the consumer experience with your Brand is a beneficial – even trusted – relationship. In digital terms, a break-up takes only seconds. Marketing messages that are annoying in other channels have the potential to take on a new and amplified level of aggravation in personal, wearable devices…running the risk of customers divorcing themselves from your Brand forever.

Yes, new tech means new, small-data points resulting in a big (very big) data explosion measured on the zettabyte scale. (A zettabyte is a 1 followed by 21 zeros.)Finding ways to use that data in a meaningful, mutually beneficial way in micro-moments marketing will ultimately best serve both Brands and their customers.

Laura Watson is Strategy Director at Harte Hanks, and Korey Thurber is Chief Analytics & Insights Officer at Harte Hanks. Harte Hanks can help your brand utilize micro-moments marketing, contact us for a free assessment.

 

1 eMarketer
2 highscalability.com and the International Data Corporation

Customer Experience and the new Omni-channel Paradigm

imageAs marketers, we are all aware of the multitude of choices our customers have when they need to find information. Traditional advertising channels are delivering direct mail, TV advertisements, print and infomercials, while blogs, product reviews and comparative shopping sites can quickly deliver information via computer, phone or tablet. One of the biggest challenges is not only knowing who our customers are, but recognizing them across devices with seamless, consistent experiences. Recently a few Harte Hanks Sales executives took part in a Think Tank discussion about this topic with other leading B2C marketers and Frost & Sullivan. This article shares the highlights of that discussion.

The increasing level of buyer engagement across numerous online and offline channels makes it challenging to have the right touch points in place to create a unified customer experience. In order to build a well-constructed approach to omni-channel marketing, building comprehensive customer profiles of actual buyers is critical.

Some of the challenges that marketers face when building these profiles are:

  • Data and functional silos, and lack of alignment between customer facing teams and marketing teams
  • Difficulty identifying the online and offline channels customers are using
  • Lack of understanding about how these customers are moving from one channel to the other

It is important that marketers figure out how to communicate to the right stakeholder at the right moment. It is also critical for marketers to understand what relevant information the customer needs, when the customer needs it, and how the customer wants to receive it. So, how do you get started in creating this omni-channel customer view?

  1. Implement a cohesive customer experience strategy: Organizations must ensure that they are presenting a cohesive, customer centric customer experience, and that customer experiences are front and center of overall strategy. Ensure customer reactions are captured and communicated across the organization – don’t let siloes and bureaucracy prevent your business from being customer driven. You must be agile in responding to changing customer patterns. Read more about engaging your organization in a consistent CX.
  2. Create a unified view of customer data: Access to data is no longer an issue, with multiple in-house and third party data options. Data collected needs to be acted upon in real time or close to real time for it to be of any use. Make sure that your data is easily accessible to all parts of your business so that it can be easily acted on.
  3. Understand customer lifetime value: A single purchase customer is the worst for any business. Retaining a customer is more challenging because brands are only as strong as they are convenient from a purchasing decision perspective. Brand loyalty is being undermined by the convenience of other options being only a click away. Leverage your data to become more predictive and personalized – brands must ensure that they are delivering a relevant experience to drive lifetime value.

Though most companies are still far from the ideal omni-channel experience, almost all marketers agree that gaining a single view of the customer and having an omni-channel strategy is critical for survival.

Harte Hanks brings innovative thinking to create effective omni-channel customer experiences for the world’s largest brands. Deliver the right message at the right time with Total Customer Discovery. Manage your data and create accurate views of each customer with Data Refinery. Or, get in touch to schedule a free strategic assessment of your marketing programs.

Seven Steps to Smarter Demand Generation

In our recent session at B2B Marketing’s InTech event in London, we considered how demand generation can be improved through a convergence of technology and people.

Think of it as ‘smarter’ demand generation. Human insight and expertise facilitates the creation of sophisticated personas and rich, individualised content tailored to buyers’ needs. Then marketing technologies ensure that content is served at the exact time of need.

Addressing these seven components can help ensure demand generation efforts deliver impressive results, in spite of an increasingly complex buyer ecosystem.

Social media
Building bridges between marketing and sales is a longstanding goal for many B2B brands. Social media can provide a shared territory where the two departments can collaborate in a meaningful manner. Empowering sales teams with robust social tools and frameworks can pave the way for a steady pipeline of inbound social leads.

Micro-targeting
Smarter demand generation facilitates better individualisation. This approach uses micro-targeting to enhance the buyer experience with relevant, precisely tailored interactions. It integrates data, tactics, people and technology to achieve a higher level of resonance than traditional personalisation.

Actionable
According to Kapost/Content Marketeer, 65 per cent of sales reps complain that they can’t find content to send to prospects. Marketers need to draw on data analytics to ensure content strategies are aligned to definite buyer pain points and areas of interest. Content should also be catalogued and shared internally to ensure all stakeholders can find what they need quickly and easily.

Relevance
Take time to build buyer personas and develop them on an ongoing basis. They should continually evolve and form a reference point throughout the content creation process. This ensures assets are finely tuned to address both enduring and emerging pain points. When content is relevant and of-the-moment, it helps to build advocacy and loyalty amongst buyers and prospects.

Technological
If you are in any doubt about the rise of technology in marketing, consider this: there has been a 1,767% increase in marketing technologies in the past four years. Such proliferation of sophisticated tools can be overwhelming, so it’s vital to keep the end-goal in your sights. Any technologies deployed in support of demand generation should be firmly geared towards enhancing the buyer experience.

Experience
Product differentiation has been usurped by customer experience as the battleground for organisations wanting to achieve standout. According to Gartner for Marketing Leaders, marketers are under pressure to ‘create exceptional branded moments at every customer touchpoint’. Linear buyer journeys have been replaced by a more episodic, multi-interaction buyer ecosystem. Every customer interaction is crucial and must be carefully planned, crafted and delivered.

ROI
Maximising return on investment remains the top priority – and a major challenge – for all marketers. At Harte Hanks, we typically see ROI ratios between 35:1 and 75:1 for best-in-class brands who integrate data, technology, people and tactics intelligently in their demand generation efforts.

Alana Griffiths and Alex Gill are Senior Directors at Harte Hanks, and have a combined 25 years of marketing expertise. To have one of our experts provide a free audit of your demand generation activity, get in touch by emailing us at lets.talk@hartehanks.com.

The Critical Role of Analytics Driven Insight in the Financial Services Sector

There is a critical need for Analytics Driven Insight in the Financial Services (FiServ) sector. The customer journey is no longer solely about the in-branch experience or siloed traditional marketing deployed by marketers. Today, a FiServ institution can influence the customer experience across a multitude of interaction points.

Examining specific sectors within Financial Services, there is a tremendous amount of disruption at the various interaction points across the customer journey:

Retail Banking: The branch network is still highly relevant today but expect routine transactions to continue to migrate from “brick-and-mortar” outlets at the rate of 4% – 5% annually. Financial Services institutions are continuing to turn their attention to the digitization of transactions as well as the digitization of the in-branch experience by integrating digital tools for the branch staff to use to improve service.

Consumer Lending/Credit: Financial Technology – also known “FinTech” companies – are the big drivers of disruption in consumer finance. Companies like borro and LendingClub to name a couple have stormed in and grabbed market share from traditional banks. These same traditional banks are now scrambling to make up lost ground by partnering with or acquiring FinTech firms to create more impactful and relevant interaction points for their customers. In addition, companies like PayPal and bitpay have and will continue to change the way people pay for goods and services, which in turn will continue to influence how we use the old-school “plastic” in our wallets.

Wealth Management: Traditional Wealth Management entities are starting to augment their core, face-to-face wealth management advisor capabilities with online capabilities. Millennials are arguably the most critical segment in the marketplace and as they build wealth, Wealth Management organizations need to be ready to interact and engage with them using the appropriate channels, technology, etc.

State of Analytics Driven Insight in Financial Services
So how do Financial Services institutions best inform marketing and business strategies across the sectors mentioned previously? Analytics driven insight is the key! Marketing analytics have been a mainstream, high-value add in the Financial Services industry for quite some time. In fact, many would agree that marketing analytics essentially “grew-up” in the FiServ sector, driven in large part by the vast amount and quality of data stored by financial service institutions. The FiServ sector is a veritable playground for traditional marketing analysts and statisticians to hone their data mining and insights generating craft.

But the world has changed…..and here is what is behind it:

Exponential Data Growth: More data has been created in the past two years than in the entire history of the human race. By 2020, 1.7 megabytes of new information will be collected every second for each individual on the planet (Forbes). And it’s not only the volume of data….it’s the speed at which it is growing and the variety of sources. Financial Services consumers are generating new data by visiting provider’s websites, transacting online and interacting with various forms of online media. This new pool of data combined with more traditional direct mail, email, telemarketing and first party customer data, is a powerful enabler to better inform spend across a multitude of channel/media choices.

It’s “BIG Insight” that matters: More data is just that….”more data” unless the FiServ entity can wrangle, manipulate and mine that data for better targeting and insight. Financial services organizations have to more closely align themselves around customer’s needs as opposed to traditional product or business lines. Data analytics is driving this trend to enable FiServ institutions to become more customer oriented – not only to know who they are, but where they are (online or branch), and what types of deposit, lending, and wealth management products and services they are interested in.

Increased use of Marketing and Data Management Platforms (DMPs): What used to be available to only the largest financial service institutions is now becoming much more prevalent in mid-tier institutions, enabling them to coordinate and optimize customer interaction points across online and offline channels. By utilizing a DMP the Analysts can more clearly understand WHAT action is being taken and in what channel, WHEN it is being taken, and WHO is taking it. By also incorporating first-party data and having the appropriate tags placed on each page of the digital journey, financial services analysts will have a plethora of data to influence and optimize experiences across the entire customer journey.

Customer-Centric Analytics…NOT Digital Analytics: It wasn’t that long ago that digital marketing was primarily about broad reaching ad buys based less on robust targeting and more on what “felt like the best thing to do”. The “old school” individual/household level data that Financial Services Analysts cut their teeth on has now become a reality in the digital space! Digital marketing is very simply becoming more addressable and more targeted, with a greater portion of ad spend happening at a very targeted individual level. All the analytic disciplines (campaign test design, campaign analytics, predictive models, segmentation, frequency and cadence of touch, etc.) that grew-up in the FiServ sector using individual and household level data, is now being used heavily across addressable digital media – as well as in conjunction with traditional offline data. Everything that was “old” has become “new” again. Please also see my related and recent blog post on fractional attribution.

Harte Hanks has a team of Analysts, Data Scientists and Strategists to help you navigate the new landscape. Is your company fully utilizing Analytics Driven Insights to better inform business and marketing strategy? Tweet us at @HarteHanks and share your experience with us.

Three Marketing Automation Myths That Need to Die

Marketing_AutomationAutomation is a fairly young, up-and-coming concept in the marketing industry, so it is understandable that there would be misconceptions in the beginning about what it is and what it does. As we start 2016 and “marketing automation” becomes less of a buzzword and more of a mainstream strategy, Harte Hanks wants to set the record straight on the facts about marketing automation. Here are three myths that we want to clear up:

1. Marketing Automation is for Scheduling Email Batch-and-Blasts

This is by far the most common myth, and misuse, of marketing automation. Email is just ONE tactic within automation. Most enterprise marketing automation technology platforms can incorporate landing pages, social media, personalized emails, gated content, videos, pay-per-click ads, and third party apps into your campaigns.

“59 percent of companies do not fully use the technology they have available.”Ascend2 “Marketing Technology Strategy” (August 2015)

The beauty of a marketing automation platform is its ability to respond differently depending on the contact. It can be integrated with your CRM and allow you to personalize all emails and touchpoints in a campaign based on this data. For example, a highly personalized email can be sent to a contact who has visited a certain page of your website, while simultaneously a more generic discovery email can be sent to another contact who you know little about or who has never visited your website.

Marketing automation is also much more “aware” than traditional email marketing. Automation tools are sophisticated enough to not only tell whether a customer clicked on a link in your email, but also which product-specific pages they visited after they clicked, whether they filled out a contact form, and even gather geographical and language information from them based on their IP address. Marketing automation tools can then take that user’s activity data and segment him or her into another flow of automated touchpoints (including additional emails, retargeting ads, high value content, etc.) that are specific to their interests.

2. Marketing Automation Means ‘Set It and Forget It’

While it’s true that marketing automation is great for scheduling emails and other campaign activities in advance, simply “setting and forgetting” is a sure-fire way to make sure your investment goes down the drain.

Many marketing automation tools offer robust functionality out of the box, but most are also cloud-based platforms that have new features added on a regular basis. Keeping a pulse on these updates, and participating in product improvement discussions, is important in making the most of your automation software. In fact, Eloqua will be rolling out a new UX experience this spring.

Another reason you should never “set it and forget it” is that with a healthy marketing automation program, your contact database will be continuously growing. Your customer insight will evolve as the system collects more data from your customers and their activities. And as you learn new things about your customers and their preferences, you can use that information to create more meaningful content in your campaigns.

3. Marketing Automation Stops After the Lead Converts to a Customer

Using marketing automation only for lead generation underestimates the power of the tool. As marketers, we know that the best lead source is always your previous customer. Repeat business and customer referrals will always give you the best ROI for your marketing budget. So why not make the most of that source?

“53 percent of marketers say continued communication and nurturing of their existing customers results in moderate to significant revenue impact.” (DemandMetric, Customer Marketing: Improving Customer Satisfaction & Revenue Impact, October 2014)

Luckily, marketing automation is not only a powerful lead generation tool, but it also gives you a platform to keep the conversation going with your new customer(s). When you properly sync your CRM to your automation tool, you can harness the power of segmenting by moving converted customers away from prospects into their own nurturing campaigns. These customer-specific nurturing campaigns open a two-way communication channel allowing your customer to become more engaged with your brand and to fully utilize your product or service.

For example, a customer-specific nurturing campaign can share content on best practices using your product (or service) via weekly newsletters, retargeted ads, and videos. Likewise, you can use those touchpoints to upsell products or services that complement what they’ve already bought. Automated campaigns can also be used to promote customer-only events via email invitations and trigger follow up phone calls from telemarketing or sales representatives.

You will never see the value in your marketing automation strategy if you don’t have a clear understanding of what it can accomplish. Marketing automation is more than the latest corporate buzzword. It’s a powerful marketing strategy and tool that allows companies to nurture prospects with highly personalized, useful content. It helps convert prospects into customers, and customers into brand ambassadors.

Harte Hanks is a full-service marketing agency that can support all aspects of your marketing automation program with minimal ramp up and faster go to market. Contact us for a free audit of your marketing automation programs at 1-844-233-9281.

How to Optimize Spend with Fractional Attribution

Database

 

When traditional “database marketing” first took off in the early 1990’s, marketing performance measurement and attribution was quite simple. We generated sales and direct mail campaign performance reports using a handful of dimensions. Attribution was easily derived through business reply cards (attached to direct mail pieces), phone numbers or tracking codes. We also used indirect attribution rules by making control group comparisons. We were fairly accurate and the process was easy to execute.

The Current State of Attribution

We all know that the marketing landscape has changed … and it continues to evolve with massive channel proliferation. With so much data and so many options regarding how to best apply a limited marketing budget, how can a CMO receive richer insight to influence tactical decisions that will improve media/channel performance?

Let’s first examine the various states of attribution from the viewpoint of the modern day marketer:

  • Direct Attribution: Still used widely today and still relevant. A specific customer behavior (e.g. a purchase) can be “directly” attributed to a given marketing stimuli via a unique code, landing page/URL, response device, etc. However, other marketing stimuli may have created momentum and been a significant contributor to the consumer’s ultimate decision to purchase.
  • Last Touch Attribution: Attributing the desired customer behavior to the last “known” marketing touch. Similar to “Direct” Attribution, but not always the same, here the marketer attributes the desired customer behavior to the last known touch. This method is very common when there are no specific tracking codes/tags that tie a desired customer behavior directly to a specific marketing stimuli.
  • Multi-Full Attribution: Channel proliferation has led to individual channel/media silos, each with their own unique attribution rules. The separation of traditional offline data and online data is very common. For example, direct mail data is stored in a traditional customer database, email data is stored with the email service provider, and online data is stored by various DMPs, by vendors/partners that are contracted to capture it, each often with their own siloed attribution logic taking FULL credit for the same desired behaviors.
  • Rules Based Attribution: Building on the “Multi-Full Attribution” described above, here marketers use what is often called a “common sense approach” to proportionally assign attribution to very siloed marketing stimuli. For example, a business had recently identified the large overlap between their direct mail and digital channels. For the overlapping purchases identified in both groups, 100% of a given purchase was attributed to direct mail, while simultaneously 100% was also attributed to a combination of digital channels. A rule was then quickly implemented to assign 20% of the attribution to the direct mail channel and proportionally reduce the attribution by 20% across the various forms of digital media. So, it is “fractional” by the simplest definition, but no real math or analytics was being used to assign the “fraction” to each media/channel.

Each of these options contains significant attribution bias towards channels/forms of media, that when taken for face value will result is less than optimal decision-making.

Database-1

What’s Next and What is Fractional Attribution?

Marketers must now leverage math, science and statistics to analyze and derive insight from large pools of data, much of which can now be integrated across channels to inform decisions across touch points during the customer journey. Fractional Attribution is a necessary tool for understanding campaign performance across a multitude of touch points.

Through advanced (and proven) analytic techniques, a weighting calculation is developed and applied to the various marketing touches during the customer’s buying journey. In short, you are attributing a portion of that customer’s purchase to each of the marketing touches that impacted the customer’s decision to buy.

Harte Hanks has a team of analysts that work with marketing organizations to create a fractional attribution model through a collaborative development process:

  1. Define the overall objectives and identify the behavior metrics you want to positively impact (e.g. response, sales, conversion, product registration, etc.).
  2. Define and implement the roadmap including identification of key performance indicators (KPIs) and setting the overall attribution approach. Companies have used both “quick start” fractional attribution solutions and more robust solutions that require dedicated data stores and data integration tools.
  3. Collect and compile the data.
  4. Execute the fractional attribution solution and create the scenario planning tool.

The “scenario planning tool” is what enables the user to optimize media/channel performance. Using the tool, the analyst or marketer can quickly run “what-if” analyses to estimate the impact of reallocating marketing spend across channel/media or removing a channel/media from the mix altogether. The end result is a much more informed decision that can result in significantly higher returns from your marketing budget. Performance data and insights from the optimization exercise are then used to calibrate and refine the attribution engine going forward.

Fractional Attribution rooted in proven math and statistical techniques is a critical tool to accurately improve and optimize the performance of an incredibly fragmented and complex system of channels and media, both online and offline.

database-2

It’s not perfect – no marketing science or advanced marketing analytic solution is. But a robust modeled attribution solution is proven marketing science, and those that leverage it appropriately will generate higher return from their marketing spend and outperform their competitors.

Has your company used fractional attribution to better analyze your marketing spend? Tweet us at @HarteHanks and share your experience with us.

How Pharmaceutical CRMs Can Lead to Healthier Relationships

Boosting physician and patient engagement

pharma CRM postCustomer Relationship Management (CRM) software offers a great deal of potential for the pharmaceutical industry. However, this is a complex sector, riddled with regulations surrounding sensitive data. It is not easy to find a solution that fits business needs while complying with relevant laws. This is especially true at an international level when different rules need to be observed for different countries.

Purchasing a standard CRM solution and trying to adapt it to various business and regulatory requirements is time consuming and difficult. Inevitably it involves compromise and hidden expense.

Instead, many pharmaceutical companies could benefit from international CRM programs that are purpose-built from the ground up by a marketing services provider.

Bespoke CRM for pharmaceuticals

A truly customized approach uses business goals as a starting point and builds a CRM framework around them. This ensures variations across different countries can be accounted for and embraced at an early stage, rather than being bolted on later. The result is a highly specified solution intrinsically optimized to meet business needs. It can have built-in scalability and the flexibility to handle international differences in data laws or standard practice, such as call centre versus nurse-led activity.

Ultimately, custom-built CRM offers better value and efficiency. Adapting existing systems is expensive, license fees can be high and product release cycles can delay the implementation of certain functionalities.

Using an MSP to build, manage and implement the solution brings multiple advantages. Since all aspects – from database management to phone calls, emails and SMS to direct mail – are handled by one organization, the program is more cohesive and affordable. What’s more, sensitive data is all held securely in one place.

Physician and patient communications

The best pharmaceutical CRM programs empower physicians and patients to make better, more informed choices – whether they’re prescribing treatment or following it.

Meeting physicians in person is becoming increasingly difficult for pharmaceutical companies. Physicians are often under pressure to see a certain number of patients per day, leaving limited time for meeting with third parties. Some countries also have complex regulations surrounding personal interaction between pharmaceutical companies and medical professionals. In many cases, direct marketing can play an effective role alongside or in place of face-to-face meetings. It enables physicians to keep abreast of the latest developments in treatments and processes such as pharmaceutical-led patient support.

Patient-focused activity varies depending on the nature of the patient’s condition, where they are in the treatment cycle, the level of data available and nuances of their country of residence. Naturally, when more is known about a patient, activity can be better tailored to their current needs and communications become more meaningful.

A central aim of pharmaceutical CRM should be fostering good relationships between patients and physicians. This means acknowledging the authority of the physician in prescribing drugs, while enabling patients to get more out of their appointments and the overall treatment. Ideally communications should operate progressively, supporting patients as they move from the initial awareness that they may have a certain condition, to actively acknowledging it, then learning to live with it. The latter stage is vital to boost adherence to treatment regimen and enhance overall patient outcomes.

Overcoming challenges

There are many challenges facing the marketing of pharmaceuticals today. However, deeper engagement rooted in custom-built CRM can help navigate many of them.

Direct alignment of patient and physician communications is complex from a data perspective, but with care and attention it can usually be achieved. Bespoke CRM programs can incorporate specific opt-in language to overcome many of the barriers surrounding sensitive data. This ensures that patients who are happy to share their data can access the wider support that is on offer should they need it.

Achieving buy-in from physicians and patients is not easy – nor should it be. Pharmaceutical organizations need to earn trust and loyalty over time. Striving for better, deeper engagement is a critical factor. An effective way to realize this in the short- to medium-term is through the empowerment of patients and physicians, arming them with knowledge and information so they can make informed choices. In the longer term, improved patient outcomes will speak for themselves.

 

Harte Hanks handles CRM programs for leading global pharmaceutical companies. Patient data is handled sensitively and an integrated approach ensures improved patient support and outcomes. Natalia Gallur has more than ten years’ experience in the sector.

 

Smarter Demand Gen Awakens

Convergence of Tech and People Will Amplify Demand Generation in 2016

UnknownThe B2B demand-marketing ecosystem continues to evolve at a rapid pace. It’s driven by emerging technologies, tactics and buyer behaviors, alongside other well-established factors that continue to shape the discipline.

Industry influencers and analysts such as SiriusDecisions and Forrester identified a raft of demand generation trends and requirements in 2015. These range from better use of analytics as a foundation for demand planning to buyer journey alignment and operationalizing personas.

The notion of operationalizing personas involves integrating persona intelligence into demand generation efforts. At a fundamental level, it involves dynamic delivery of persona-based content, messaging and offers across email, landing pages and websites. It was first mooted by SiriusDecisions in 2014, but began to take hold last year. During 2016 it will occupy a more central role as we enter the next stage of the journey: smarter demand generation.

Why do we need Smarter Demand Generation?

Many B2B organizations find their demand generation efforts are characterized by small pipelines, missed targets and failure to respond to the needs of today’s buyers. It’s not surprising when you consider the seismic shift in buyer behavior over the past few years.

B2B sales and marketing is becoming increasingly complex and far less linear in its nature. There are multiple influencers, decision makers and stakeholders. There are multiple online and offline marketing channels. And there are multiple interactions and conversations taking place.

In this fractured, multifaceted landscape we need to find a path to more effective, joined-up demand generation. We need an approach that embraces the complex realities of the B2B sector today and handles them with ease. Smarter demand generation is the answer.

What does it mean?

A central feature of smarter demand generation is the convergence of people and technology. This is true throughout the process. Human insight and expertise facilitates the creation and operationalization of personas. It also shapes the development and substance of programs that are augmented and delivered via sophisticated technologies. Finally, individuals at the receiving end of smarter demand generation are served with optimized, highly personalized communications. Content is relevant to their current and future professional needs and it is delivered at an opportune time via the most appropriate platform. The upshot is finely tuned buyer engagement and a more robust pipeline.

This might sound a world away from traditional demand generation. And it’s true that it requires a deeply analytical and intelligent approach expertly integrated with technical capabilities. But every journey begins with a single step. Marketers who set their sights on smarter demand generation can quickly realize benefits at a micro level that can later be replicated at a larger scale.

Exploring smarter demand generation with one segment of your target audience can be a good place to start. Integrating data, technology, people and tactics for the first time isn’t easy – but it is more manageable and achievable at a smaller scale. Ring-fence a project that leverages insight to improve targeting, messaging and optimization. Then closely monitor the results to track the impact on the sales pipeline. Spotlighting the effectiveness of smarter demand generation in this way, and sharing it at a Board level, can create an appetite for more. It might help secure investment in the technologies and skills required for a wider rollout.

The B2B sector has strived for precision marketing for decades. With the awakening of smarter demand generation, it is finally within reach.

 

Alex Gill explores this theme in a B2B Marketing webinar on 27 January: How to align your marketing for smarter demand generation and stronger ROI. Book your seat here.

Technology Is Not a Substitute for Creativity

Tech-Creativity

Marketing has always been a blend of art and science. But the rise of marketing technology has tilted the scales heavily towards the science end of the equation. This is not necessarily a bad thing – the digital revolution has armed marketers with information and techniques that drive more accurate, cost-effective campaigns. Essentially, technology has eliminated a good portion of the “guesswork” traditionally associated with marketing. Again, this is a wonderful development for marketers. Technology allows us to personalize our approach to better connect with audiences and do a better job of meeting their needs and desires. But too much technology can have negative effects – namely, the erosion of creativity.

Marketing automation programs are rapidly becoming “cookie cutter” strategies that rely too heavily on the medium of delivery. The “three emails and a landing page” approach can (and often does) work, but as marketing automation becomes more and more prominent, the impact of a “basic” campaign will quickly dissipate. The deluge of analytics available to the modern marketer is a veritable treasure trove of information. But too often, marketers are held hostage by data points, finding themselves afraid to venture outside of the established thinking.

Going forward, brand marketers must rely more on intuition and creativity to avoid becoming just another source of noise in the market. And brands must embrace creativity and avoid the “safe” approach of standardized campaigns. Great ideas have always been the bedrock of great marketing campaigns. Technology will never change that fact. Technology – if developed and implemented correctly – can help marketers amplify creative approaches. Real-time response measurement can quickly let marketers know what’s working and what’s not, allowing them to adjust and mold ideas into messages that get results – and prove beyond a doubt what consumers want to see, hear and, ultimately, buy from brands.

Marketing technology allows brands to paint a clearer picture of their audiences and develop a deeper understanding of their desires, needs and behaviors. Rather than playing it safe, marketers should harness this information to help them develop great ideas that make a lasting impact on audiences.

As we approach the New Year, my advice to marketers for 2016 is: be bold, lean on your intuition, and create smarter, more personal customer interactions.

The Hottest Three Letter Acronym for 2016: D-M-P

dmp_blog_harte-hanks

Marketers are overwhelmed with tools and channels, and most of these – OMG! – have a three-letter acronym (TLA) that we use to theoretically make it easier for us to discuss them (and of course, to make us feel like we are in the know!). DSP, SEM, PMD, PLA, SEO, FPD, LOL, CRM, FAN, GDN . . . the list goes on and on. BTW, “LOL” on the previous list refers to “laugh out loud,” ICYM!

IMO, the hot TLA for 2016 will be DMP – data management platform. FYI, a DMP is a data warehouse that “can be used to house and manage any form of information, but for marketers, they’re most often used to manage cookie IDs and to generate audience segments, which are subsequently used to target specific users with online ads.”

For example, let’s say that you have a CRM full of FPD (first-party data) about your customers. You can upload this data to a DMP, enhance the data with third-party behavioral targeting, and then generate audience profiles that you can use to create more targeted and effective ads across your social, search, and display channels. Compared to your competitors without a DMP, your marketing campaigns should resonate better with consumers. Information asymmetry leads to better ROI, so marketers who don’t have a DMP have more to fear than just the FOMO – they may actually be at a significant disadvantage.

All of this assumes, of course, that marketers who invest in a DMP will install it correctly and use it correctly. As anyone who has seen an amazing pitch of marketing technology knows, the product never seems to work quite as well as it does in the canned demo! Setting up a DMP properly is fraught with potential pitfalls, from not properly importing data to incorrect data interpretation. So simply having a DMP is not enough – having the right pilots of data collection and analysis is vital. Given that this is a corporate blog, now would be a good time for me to promote Harte Hanks’ DMP/service solution, which we call Total Customer Discovery.

The future of marketing is always murky, so the centrality of the DMP is still TBD. That said, theoretically DMPs make a lot of sense, and it seems likely that it will be an important component of all online marketing strategies going forward. TTYL!

Harte Hanks Announces Data Refinery to Harness Customer Data and Drive Marketing Results

Data Refinery ProcessMarketers are increasingly looking for innovative ways to get to know their customers better, and to get the most out of the campaigns they create every day. The best way to learn more about your customers is by leveraging data. This isn’t as simple as it sounds. With a plethora of channels at your customers’ disposal, both online and offline, and the growing number of devices that people use, it is difficult to harness all of that data – especially when you’re mining it from multiple sources. Utilizing big data also requires the complexities of hiring a staff to manage data, ensuring best-in-class quality and governance procedures and working with constrained budgets across siloed departments. This is no easy feat.

How do we overcome these challenges together? The answer lies in gathering and storing the most current data on your customers through a data refinery. Data refinery is a scalable platform that allows for on-demand access to compiled customer views that can be accessed by all departments within your organization. The compiled views should be nimble, customizable and rich with proprietary and third-party data sources so they effectively serve the ever-changing marketing demands placed on the various teams that need access, and as a result, empower marketers to know more and communicate better to their customers.

So how does it work?
At the heart of a good data refinery platform is the aggregation of large amounts of various data types from multiple sources and channels, both traditional and digital. A data refinery platform starts with an ideal customer profile that defines data attributes needed to deliver results. This ideal customer profile serves as your “map,” guiding data profiling and sourcing to bring together and enhance owned data with third-party data. The data refinery then cleanses, validates and standardizes the customer profile for output to any downstream marketing or sales application.

Today we are excited to announce that Harte Hanks is launching its very own Data RefinerySM solution. With our solution, access to pre-vetted data sources by vertical and marketing objective are utilized – think of this as an app store for data – reducing the time to value. Selecting data based on reliability and performance metrics optimizes data usage and spending, ensuring campaigns don’t become stagnant. To learn more about Harte Hanks’ Data Refinery click here.

A brand’s success will continue to be dependent on technology, innovation and the ability to connect with the customer in a highly relevant way. A data refinery platform is needed to bring data together and make it foundational to all your marketing and sales efforts.

Next week we’ll review what data sources are available and how best to manage them using the latest open source technologies. In the meantime, start thinking about what you could do if all your data could be harnessed, treated as a single source of the truth and accessed by anyone on demand. The possibilities are almost endless, aren’t they?

Delivering data from all different sources and augmenting it to form purpose-built customer profiles allow you to understand your customers. This insight is powerful and allows you to acquire new customers, reduce churn within your existing customer base, increase repeat purchases and increase customer satisfaction.

A Data Refinery Platform Helps You:

  1. Better understand existing customer base
  2. Create models and segmentation to find better prospects at scale
  3. Understand existing customer behavior, avoid attrition and encourage growth

Black Friday vs. Every Friday

iStock_000053625904_Full_MonotoneBlack Friday. The retail holiday that drives consumers by the masses into the retail marketplace for door-busting deals. It’s also the day that traditionally marked the first day of moving from “red” losses to “black” year-to-date profits for many retailers. It’s no surprise retailers put extra time, resources and effort preparing for this big day, but as retailers look to connect with their customers more frequently, is it surprising the day after Thanksgiving remains such a powerful customer engagement point?

“Black Fridays have become a cultural phenomenon, a bit of a marathon for many people”, says Kelli Hollinger, Director of the Center of Retailing Studies at Mays Business School, Texas A&M. “But things are changing. For example, prices are now guaranteed online so that the in-store price matches what is offered online. This gives consumers more choice and control over how and when to buy.”

“Consumer shopping behavior is shifting toward finding deals year-round, so the traditional ‘big sale’ days are somewhat less important,” says Steven Kirn, Ph.D. of the David F. Miller Retailing and Education and Research Center at the University of Florida. “Perhaps it started with ‘Cyber Monday,’ and then ‘Small Business Saturday,’ but it appears to be a larger trend to spread holiday sales over a longer period, which makes a lot more business sense.”

Despite the extension of holiday sales and desire to get the best deals everyday, Black Friday still generates a lot of buzz and excitement. It’s also one of the biggest days for retail operations such as inventory flow, staffing, security and logistics.

“At Harte Hanks we help our retail customers connect with their customers every day,” says Kevin Berthiaume, Logistics Lead for Harte Hanks. “But in preparation for Black Friday, success is about scale and execution. To date, our logistics team helped Kohl’s deliver 100s of millions of inserts. More than 10 million of those inserts needed to arrive timely in preparation for Black Friday. We understand the importance of delivering on that kind of volume any time of year, and the significant impact it has on our customer’s business.”

“Consumers are increasingly geared to shop for deals year-round,” Says Kirn. “They wait for sales and then buy. They generally think opening prices are set high so that the retailer does not lose money when they finally put items on sale. There is a difference between consumer attitudes and behaviors. Consumers will say they want everyday low prices, but their actual behavior is to prefer to wait for sales. JC Penney ran into this problem. They marked their prices down 40 percent, but sales dropped. Consumers interpreted the low prices as a sign of low quality. They wanted to buy when items were on sale and did not trust everyday low prices from JC Penney.”

In a recent conversation with Steven Kirn Ph.D., he shared some interesting shifts in consumer perception reflected in a survey released this week:

“Just a few years ago, shoppers said that 25 percent off was a ‘good deal’ and enough to influence them to buy. A new survey released this week suggests it is necessary to discount up to 60 percent to be considered a good deal.”

This increase is deal seeking further emphasizes the need to establish valued relationships with your customers in order to take them beyond price points to valuing the experience with the brand.

Ken Bernhardt, is the chairman of the Harte Hanks Marketing Advisory Board and Regents Professor Emeritus at Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business. As Ken sees it, the rise of digital shopping together with increasing consumer procrastination have resulted in the Saturday before Christmas replacing Black Friday as the busiest shopping day of the year. Black Friday, however, remains important as the traditional start of the holiday shopping season and still represents more than $50 billion in retail sales.

“At Harte Hanks, we know every day is an opportunity to help our clients connect with their customers,” says Frank Grillo, CMO, Harte Hanks. “Black Friday will always be an important day for retailers, but so is every other day of the year. Customer expectations are increasing with proliferation of mobile, social and access to channels of communication. Sending out deals isn’t enough anymore. Now more than ever it’s important to engage customers in a memorable, meaningful experience at every opportunity.”

Savvy consumers are aware retailers gather information and preferences so it’s a real miss when a retailer fails to engage in relevant customer interactions. According to a recent study by Magnetic, 50 percent of consumers say they regularly see email with irrelevant information and only half of all retailers report they know what messages resonate with their customers.

From an operational perspective, the 2015 holiday season is a done deal. But data and research can be a North Star for your brand moving forward. It’s the perfect time to get your 2016 game plan together to take customer engagement to a new level, each and every day, including Black Friday.

Marketing Technology: Where’s My ROI?

HarteHanks_MarektingTechnology_ROI

The modern customer journey is consumer driven and often fractured. Unlike the linear, vendor-led customer journeys of the past, the buyer is now in full control. With endless options – and a bevvy of information about each product or service readily available for consumers – marketers must devise new ways to attract customers and secure brand awareness and loyalty. A slew of new marketing technology, including CRM, marketing automation and inbound marketing platforms, have risen up to solve the new customer journey riddle. But despite the effectiveness of these platforms, too many B2B companies are reporting negative ROI for marketing technology investments. There are a number of reasons why.

Failure to Launch

The B2B sales cycle is a complex process. Unlike B2C products, there is no such thing as an “impulse purchase.” Buyers typically spend weeks, months and sometimes even years researching and deliberating before deciding on a purchase – particularly where big-ticket items are concerned. Marketing technology can help significantly simplify this process, but it isn’t a magic bullet. Marketing platforms aren’t plug and play; they are a set of interconnected tools for marketers to utilize as part of an overall strategy. Too often, B2B companies purchase marketing technology, but fail to allocate the resources necessary to realize their benefits. Marketing systems are a great delivery system, but engaging and strategic content that guides prospects along the customer journey must be created first. You can buy a car, but if you don’t fill it with gas and get behind the wheel, it isn’t going to move.

Scratching the Surface

Most of the marketing technology platforms available today come equipped with an array of features that justify their cost – intelligent analytics, A/B testing, easy integration, etc. Companies who fail to realize ROI on these products are often utilizing only a fraction of the features available to them. These features can significantly enhance the power of the platform and should be utilized whenever possible.

Stove Piping

With so many different types of technology available, B2B companies often have more than one system for sales and marketing. Failure to integrate these systems – particularly marketing automation platforms and CRM software – creates a confusing environment where systems are not communicating with each other and often duplicating efforts. In order to get the most out of marketing software and a favorable ROI, marketing platforms and CRM software should always be integrated.

Putting the Cart Before the Horse

Too many B2B companies dive head first into marketing technology – purchasing platforms without a full understanding of the system or a plan to implement it. B2B marketers often find themselves tasked with becoming technology experts trying to implement and integrate systems they know little, if anything, about. Additionally, systems are often purchased before a strategy has been developed to utilize them.

Boost Your ROI

To fully realize the benefits of marketing technology platforms, B2B marketers must view these platforms as an important tool, but as only part of the process. Creative campaigns, strategic plans and actual customer conversations are all an integral part of the modern customer journey as well. Before purchasing a new marketing technology platform, B2B companies should perform due diligence on the products they wish to purchase and have a plan in place on how they will be utilized.

And if you need help boosting the ROI of your marketing investment, Harte Hanks has extensive experience integrating marketing technology with marketing strategy. We’re here to help!

The Revolution Will Be Televised

B2B-Video_HarteHanks

Smart B2B brands have been learning from their B2C cousins about wrapping messages up in a more appealing way for years. Some B2B players have a clear vision of the role video needs to play and how to make the viewer experience both enjoyable and meaningful. Plaudits where they’re due!

However, some B2B companies have been slow to adopt video to attract customers or communicate effectively – due largely to inexperience and a failure to understand the financial and creative commitments necessary to produce video content that gets results. Whether it’s a B2C or B2B audience, humans typically respond better to – and retain more information from – video content. We’ve been hard-wired to respond to moving pictures and alluring sounds since we were all tiny humans. All B2B marketers must learn to adapt and create visual content in order to survive.

Learn From The Pros

There’s a good reason B2C companies are adept at visual content – they’ve been doing it since the 1940s. (The first paid television advertisement, for Bulova watches, was broadcast during a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies in 1941). Since those halcyon days, the medium has expanded, changed, moved and expanded again. While few companies have the marketing budget to run a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl (estimated cost: $4.5 million), the barrier to entry for visual advertising is nearly non-existent. Anyone with a YouTube account and a smartphone can shoot and upload a video. But with expanded access comes immense competition. Simply uploading a video won’t move the needle on customer engagement. B2C marketers know this and dedicate the necessary resources for strategy, creative services and production to create engaging and entertaining video content. The rest of the B2B marketers must follow suit or run the risk of creating dull content that drives away viewers.

Plan For Success 

Before jumping into the video content world, B2B marketers must first devise a strategy. What is the goal of the video? How will it be implemented? For the most part, video content is not a “one-off” product, but a tactic to be implemented along the customer journey as the part of an overall strategy. The content and the style of the video should be determined by its place in the customer journey – top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, etc. Before creating content marketers must determine where and how the video will be best utilized.

Entertain and Engage

Perhaps the biggest mistake some B2B marketers make when creating video is the tendency to focus intently on product details. Minute product details are great for a buyer at the very end of the customer journey, but for most audiences these types of videos end up feeling like an excruciating PowerPoint presentation. Effective video entertains, engages and ultimately, wins loyalty. Dollar Shave Club – a three-year-old company now worth $615 million – launched its success with an irreverent and incredibly entertaining video that quickly went viral, garnering 19 million views. The 90-second video didn’t mention any details about the product itself (aside from calling its razors “f***ing great”), but it achieved its goal – it introduced a new brand to a vast audience, won their affection by entertaining them, and asked them to consider the company’s product without bogging the audience down with details. B2B marketers must find ways to deliver messages implicitly rather than directly, and wrap these messages inside attractive packaging.

If at First You Don’t Succeed…

One of the many benefits of marketing automation and content delivery platforms is the ability to evaluate and adjust content based on metrics. These systems give marketers at 360-degree view into content performance – which videos were opened, how long they were viewed and whether or not users clicked to learn more. By paying close attention to metrics, marketers can continually alter content to deliver more engaging and effective communications.

The Recipe

Creating engaging video content requires a thoughtful strategy, an investment in production quality and a hefty dose of creativity. Without all three, your videos may end up DOA!

Notes

YouTube – the world’s second largest search engine – has over one billion users. The site reaches more 18-49 year olds than any cable network. The number of companies running ads on YouTube increases 40 percent from year to year. The site has become the most important advertising platform in America and beyond.

Back to the Future: Predictive Analytics

Predictive-Analytics_HarteHanks

What if you knew what your customers wanted, when they wanted it? With predictive marketing analytics, gazing into the future is entirely possible. While predictive analytics is not a new concept – marketers have often tried to use past performance to predict future behavior – the dawn of the information age has amplified its effectiveness and usability. Predictive analytics allow marketers to focus efforts and maximize their budgets by identifying targets who are ready to buy and by eliminating those who aren’t.

Big Data

 To accurately predict consumer behavior, you need more than focus groups and surveys. The era of Big Data has armed marketers with a deluge of information on consumers – including engagement with marketing automation platforms and “intent” data from across the web. The technology to crunch this data and make sense of it is rapidly evolving, providing marketers with a roadmap to reach the right audience at the right time.

Data in Action

The Big Data era has produced an incredible amount of information about habits, desires and tendencies of consumers. Marketers who follow these digital footprints can optimize their marketing efforts to target individual audience segments and personalize messages to speak directly to potential customers. Predictive analytics can help create incredibly specific buyer personas – marketers no longer need to rely on broad demographic data and guestimates of what a particular buyer prefers. Enhanced buyer personas lay the groundwork for highly personalized messaging for nurture campaigns, which multiple studies show leads to significant increases in conversion and revenue. Predictive analytics also provide the benefit of targeted spending. Knowing what audiences to target and which platforms to target them through significantly increases the impact of marketing budgets.

B2B Adoption

B2B marketers have lagged behind their B2C counterparts in the adoption of marketing technology ­­– predictive analytics included. And while it’s true that personalized data from individual consumers offer a more clear view into purchasing habits and tendencies, plenty of data exists for B2B customers that can be utilized to implement more intelligent marketing tactics. Purchase history, for instance, is a great predictor of current and future behavior. If a customer has recently purchased a software system that won’t need an upgrade for three years, targeting that customer with marketing messages is not only inefficient, but could negatively affect that customers’ perception of your brand. Existing software licenses, log-in frequency, help desk calls and firmographics can also help B2B companies predict the need and desire for their products. Normally this kind of data will predict the type of customers that buy your products. Add social data sources to the mix, and you can predict customers that are ready to buy.

Implementation

Depending on the level of sophistication and budget resources, B2B marketers can deploy analyst-led solutions or automated “black box” solutions to perform predictive analytics. For larger, more comprehensive data operations, an analyst-led approach is preferred. Computers are wonderful, but a human touch – specifically when there are oddities in the data – can more accurately utilize the information output to design programs and messaging that take into account both the customer and the nuances of the company. However, there are various automated solutions that are more than sufficient for less sophisticated marketing automation programs. Both approaches have their own merit, but one thing is clear: predictive analytics allow businesses to focus on what’s important and discard what’s not, leading to amplified revenue growth – and happy customers.

 

The 4 Biggest Challenges Facing B2B Tech Marketers Today (Part 4)

Unifying Communication Strategies Across Channels Throughout the Customer Journey

4-biggest-challenges_illustrations_2-1_v02-04

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been exploring the four biggest marketing challenges faced by B2B tech companies.

Whether you’ve been following along or just tuning in now, you can find the first three installments about utilizing all available tools and technologies, leveraging high-quality, real-time data and generating ROI with less budget and fewer resources on our blog.

For the fourth and final challenge, I will discuss the best strategies to unify communications across channels in order to drive the customer journey.

CHALLENGE #4: How do I unify communication strategies across channels to drive customers through the buyer journey?

Your brand is a powerful thing. Not only does it represent the essence and promise of your company, it also embodies the expectations and opinions of your customer as they move through their buying journey. Each touch point with your brand is a chance to enhance – or diminish – a customer’s perception.

That means that each piece of advertising, each call to your contact center and each visit to your landing page should work in tandem to convey a consistent message that represents your brand. Just one negative interaction can damage your customer’s perception. And it’s much more difficult to reverse a negative perception than it is to proactively ensure positive customer interactions from the start of a campaign.

So how can we ensure a single view of customer across their entire journey, with consistent brand touch points and a clear, unified message? Read on:

  1. Start with a clear definition of your brand. First and foremost, you need to clearly define what your brand represents. Your brand platform needs to be articulated and shared with everyone in the company, particularly the external-facing representatives. A marketing program is the creative output built on top of the brand, designed to build awareness and the desire to purchase.
  2. Decide what you are trying to achieve with your marketing efforts. What is your vision of success? What are you trying to do and why are you trying to do it? At this stage, it’s helpful to look at what Harte Hanks Creative Director Alan Kittle calls The Beautiful Intersection. Draw two intersecting circles. In one, write out what you or your client wants to say. In the other, detail what your audience wants to hear. The intersection of this Venn Diagram is your sweet spot – the message that will tell your story while resonating with your audience.
  3. Identify the necessary building blocks and work streams. After you define your end goal and key objective, work backwards to figure out what will get your there. Start with a solid strategist or planner. This individual or team should gather and interpret all available data, and determine how that insight into the customer will enable a connection with the brand. Data intelligence should help form creative briefs and build a campaign message that is highly measurable.
  4. Cut through with a single unifying thought. In a complex, multi-channel, multi-territory campaign, it is essential to have one unifying idea that all marketing efforts tie back to. In fact, the more complex the marketing campaign – the more channels, audiences, periods of time – the simpler the message should be. By looking at the whole picture, you can determine how all the pieces fit together throughout the journey: how an audience reacts to an email, then a phone call a few weeks later and a piece of advertising leading them to a customer landing page a few days after that.
  5. Create an ecosystem of collaboration and information sharing. It is essential that all agencies plug into the brand and work together in a creative, synergistic manner to tell the same story. Branding agencies need to work in tandem with creative teams – the strongest teams collaborate to make a greater sum of their parts.

By following these steps for a new marketing idea, or to increase the effectiveness of an in-progress marketing program, it is possible to unify communications across channels and create that single, unifying thought that weaves through the entire customer journey. Data helps inform and define this thought and to create a cycle of excellence: use data to create something with the best chance of success, then look at what to improve and start the process again.

Global Patient Support Needs to ‘Think Local’

PharmaPatient support programs play a vital role in facilitating better disease management and treatment optimization. Traditionally pharmaceutical companies launched such initiatives on a local level. However, from a regional perspective, this sometimes resulted in patchy and fragmented support. Today, many pharmaceutical companies are driving centralized programs that benefit from a more sophisticated and strategic approach.

This approach brings many advantages around compliance, visibility of success and cost-effectiveness of implementation and maintenance. Yet centralized programs can be inherently complex and unwieldy. This is compounded by the fact that they often need to be coordinated at a global or area level to maximize infrastructure and management efficiencies.

Walking the line between global/regional efficiency and local effectiveness is no mean feat. Patient support is not a ‘one size fits all’ discipline; activity needs to be expertly tailored and carefully orchestrated.

At Harte Hanks, we believe five critical factors underpin patient support that is successful both at a global and a local level.

  1. Gather and leverage local knowledge

Understanding the nuances and intricacies of healthcare provision in different regions is essential. Ideally, you should have people on the ground who have in-depth knowledge of their local system and keep a finger on the pulse of any changes or developments.

Typical patient paths can vary significantly between countries for the same disease. Take the patient touchpoints and interactions for the U.S. healthcare system versus the UK’s NHS or Spain’s Seguridad Social. Prescription behaviours, drug dispensing and the length of time between specialist visits can be entirely different. There can even be differences in the role of healthcare practitioners during treatment, in terms of nurse interaction levels, nurse-led advice, pharmacist involvement and primary or speciality care.

  1. Create space for consultation and collaboration

Regional offices need to have clear channels of communication with the head office, and regular opportunities to report back on the local healthcare environment. They need to know that their observations are taken into account and actively used to shape the delivery of patient support in their territory.

At a strategic level, this collaborative approach enables program goals and objectives to be adapted to the realities of each country and healthcare system. It also needs to work at a tactical level, with regional teams of medical and regulatory professionals reviewing and approving materials before they are issued to healthcare professionals and patients.

Pharmaceutical companies often lack the time and resources required to give adequate attention to each country of a global patient support program. This is especially true when implementation needs to happen in parallel with a product launch or other internal deadlines. Working with a trusted third party can be a mutually beneficial solution for individual countries and the global program as whole. They can offer expert guidance as well as coordinate materials distribution and facilitate knowledge sharing.

  1. Ensure processes and training are water-tight

It’s vital that staff delivering the program, especially those with direct patient contact, understand indicators of pharmacovigilance events. Processes need to be in place to ensure that any spontaneous or solicited reports of adverse effects are handled appropriately and escalated in the right timeframes.

A centralized model can ensure that training compliance efforts are optimized and that all pharmacovigilance processes are managed in a cohesive way. A balance needs to be struck to ensure that training and reporting procedures meet certain standards, while respecting any elements or formats that vary between countries.

  1. Coordinated multi-channel communications

Using a CRM suite to facilitate patient and healthcare provider communications boosts efficiency and enables better control of patient support programs. For example, Harte Hanks can act as a multichannel one-stop-shop which is managed centrally but enables local offices to customize activity, such as:

  • Secure data management and hosting, in-line with local privacy rules
  • SMS, email and direct mail assets (drawing on print-on-demand and personalization capabilities)
  • Creation, development and hosting of personalized online portals for patients and healthcare providers, with self-tracking tools to support all digital communications
  • Advanced reporting and analytics to measure success and monitor progress

CRM and digital services should be flexible enough to accommodate multilingual communications and adaptations for the individual needs of each country. For instance, a global program will encounter various regulatory frameworks and the requirements of medical, legal and regulatory teams differ between countries.

  1. Continual improvement philosophy

If program goals and objectives are tailored to local regions, it follows that KPIs need to be tailored too. For measurement to be meaningful, successes or failures need to be considered in context. And they need to feed into the development of ongoing goals and objectives geared towards a cycle of continual improvement. To facilitate effective management at a macro level, it’s important to ensure global real-time visibility across the entire programme, from high-level KPIs to more detailed local perspectives.

The cornerstone of any successful patient support program is recognition that patients are people. They have their own lives, families, work and hobbies, as well as living with a disease or illness. They deserve to be listened to and helped to live their life to the fullest.

Treating patients as people within a program that operates on a global scale is complicated., but with an intelligent, carefully coordinated approach that draws on local knowledge, it is possible to achieve this. Communicating with patients at the right time with the right message via the most appropriate channel is half of the story. Ensuring information and interventions are precisely tailored to their real needs completes the circle, both supporting the treatment and enhancing the overall patient experience.

Harte Hanks handles patient support programmes for leading global pharmaceutical companies. Patient data is handled sensitively and an integrated approach ensures improved patient support and outcomes. Natalia Gallur has more than ten years’ experience in the sector. To learn more about the services we offer, take a look at our case studies.

Key Takeaways from 3Q Digital Summit (Part 2)

Mobile and Digital Trends

3Q-2Last week, we shared some key insights from our 3Q Digital Growth Summit at Levi’s Stadium, where we hosted 150 colleagues, partners, and clients to discuss the newest and most critical trends in digital.

Today, I’m breaking down the conversations and takeaways from our more intimate fireside chats and client panels and spotlights. Read on for insights from SurvkeyMonkey, PicsArt and more.

Fireside Segment 5: Stay Ahead of the Mobile Curve

Participants: Moderator: Craig Weinberg, VP of Mobile Strategy, 3Q Digital; Wilson Kriegel, CBO, PicsArt

Panel/Topic summary: PicsArt is a full-featured mobile photo editor, collage maker, drawing tool, and social network for artists that draw 99.9% of its audience and engagement from mobile. The company is an example of how to build success and a vast, active audience (it is second to Instagram as highest- rated app) using mobile and emerging mobile audiences as its core.

Key Takeaways

–  Lifecycle management and data is crucial in building mobile strategies.

–  Get analytics in place to measure time of use, frequency of use, and value by users segmented by geo and age

–  Don’t assume the iTunes store works better and gets more valuable users; PicsArt has had equal success on Android – especially given that developing countries tend to skew towards Android.

-
“Don’t try to compete on desktop if competitors have already nailed the desktop experience. Find new mobile audiences – go young and global.”

Client Panel 6 – Today’s Digital Issues

Participants: Moderator: Neal Ungerleider, Fast Company; Slaton Carter, Director of Digital Marketing, The Real Real; Erica Yoon, Sr. Digital Marketing Manager, Sungevity; Matt O’Day, Digital Marketing Lead, Square

Panel/Topic summary: Our client panel featured experts from Square, Sungevity, and The Real Real – three fast-growing companies experiencing different challenges over their respective arcs.

Key Takeaways

–  Solar provider Sungevity recently added a product for businesses to go with its residential offering; the challenge has been creating messaging that stands out with competitors saying the same thing (save money).

–  For The Real Real, a consignment luxury ecommerce company, personalization is the next hurdle to building on its already rapid growth.

–  Square started as a financial payment solution, but it’s grown and expanded so quickly over the past two years that the next challenge is becoming widely known for everything it provides, not just the flagship product.

– “Gathering the data and bringing it together in an actionable form will be the next big step.”

Client Spotlight 7: SurveyMonkey

Participants: Ada Chen Rekhi, VP of Marketing, SurveyMonkey

Panel/Topic summary: SurveyMonkey, a true Silicon Valley unicorn, has raised over $1B in funding since its founding in 1999. VP of Marketing Ada Chen Rekhi discussed the company’s success factors in international expansion.

Key Takeaways

The market is changing; there are more huge international companies and a greater percentage of international users than ever. To succeed in the international market, a company must:

–  Speak their language.

–  Transact in their currency.

–  Focus on expanding international and content creation processes – including landing 
pages.

–  Structure a pre-plan – determine currency and time zones.

–  Keep testing – is this scalable?

–  Partner to go international – leverage partners to scale.

–  Understand translation vs. localization. Translation is straight text for text. Localization is understanding psychographic intent of people and what they prefer in their geos.

“Six years ago, SurveyMonkey had 4 employees. Now we have 650. Much of that is due to international expansion.”

Taking Your Customers from Anonymous to Known: Introducing Total Customer Discovery

A Deeper Dive into the Solution

TCD-1

Today, we are excited to announce our newest solution to enable smarter customer interactions: Total Customer Discovery. You can learn more about the details through our press release, video and digital guide. In this blog post, I’m going to break down some of the technology components that went into creating it.

In a nutshell, Total Customer Discovery provides a holistic, 360-degree profile of customers, merging data from online and offline channels and across devices. This single customer view encompasses data across demographics (contact data, social profiles); psychographics (interests), historical (purchase and promotion history) and influencing power (networks, connections). With this richer customer view, marketers can deliver enhanced and personalized customer experiences, leading to increased acquisition, retention and, ultimately, ROI.

So without further ado, here are the different components of the Total Customer Discovery Solution and what they help address:

Solution Component: Cross Screen Identification

With cross-screen identification, each customer has a persistent, unique ID that carries with them, helping marketers track associated devices with that customer even when customers delete their browsing history (and their cookies). With Total Customer Discovery, we can identify and track customers across various devices (mobile phones, tablets, computers, laptops and so on), learning their behaviors, adding to their customer profiles and offering a seamless brand experiences across touch points that takes into consideration their past purchase history and preferences.

Solution Component: Cross Journey Mapping

To solve the problem of internal silos and overwhelming amounts of data, the cross journey mapping function captures customer’s digital behavior and stores meaningful attributes, such as click, searches, interests, preference, etc. to produce richer, more multi-dimensional customer profiles. These attributes can then be linked with other data sources within an organization such as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database. Total Customer Discovery identifies customer interactions across multiple devices and channels, so that we can track a customer throughout their entire journey, from smartphone, to tablet, to computer, to in-store.

Solution Component: Data Onboarding

A single view of customers provides a comprehensive view of the purchase journey. Integrating both online and offline data helps round out the single view of customer for a comprehensive picture of customer behavior for better retargeting and personalization. With data onboarding, online and offline data are merged and customer files are created using email or physical address lists that are matched with a database of advertiser tracking parameters. Particularly for brick-and-mortar stores, integrating online and offline data sources is crucial for delivering relevant content across channels based on the customer identification, from digital interactions on their smartphone to offline purchases at a retail store.

Solution Component: Social Linkage

Personalized, relevant content is the key to driving ROI in today’s world of real-time “micro-moments.” With social linkage, customers’ social interactions and behaviors are tracked across sites to enable deeper customer segmentation. Social linkage takes data from over 150 social sites, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and Google+, and gives marketers insightful social profile data to inform their social investment decisions and make their digital marketing efforts more effective.

We’d love to tell you more about how Total Customer Discovery takes customers from anonymous to known. For more information, you can visit hartehanks.com/TCD or email TCD@hartehanks.com.

Connect with US