5 ways to simplify the customer journey

Every consumer would like the brands that market to them to show a better understanding of their needs. The problem is many people remain reluctant to share the personal information that would make this an easier task for brands. Meanwhile, the volume of data that organisations can collect is growing so quickly that it’s often hard to know how to firstly identify ideal customers and, secondly, target them.

Insight is the key to unlocking better marketing practices. It can help you understand and simplify the complexity of customer journeys at all contact points and major life events. However, just like the term big data, insight is in danger of becoming an overused – and undervalued – term.

There are many ways to develop an insight strategy, many facets to insight and many possible outcomes. We think that if you set out with five essential goals in mind, your approach to insight will be smooth and seamless, likewise creating a similar brand experience for customers.

1: Work out which customers you want – and how to make them buy
Lots of brands have a ‘funnel problem’. They opt to send tons of direct mail to a vast pool of people, resulting in many potential customers dropping from the acquisition hopper thanks to poorly targeted campaigns. Clearly, mass mailing can work for some brands with almost universal target customer types, but others – high-end car companies, for example – need a more restricted, probably affluent group. The answer to this quandary is to take your own or external data and use insight to discover the right people to talk to and the best channels to use to do that.

2: Delve deep into data to fully understand your customers
It’s one thing to tempt prospects into becoming customers. Smart businesses don’t see a purchase as a one-off, though. It’s the first of (hopefully) many opportunities to ‘know’ that person better and ensure they keep coming back. Gaining deeper customer-level insight is vital. This granular understanding can be gleaned from in-depth analysis of the wider customer database but also databases for individual products. Profiling, mapping and segmentation are the pillars of this insight-driven quest for customer knowledge.

3: Don’t stop at one product sale: cross-sell and upsell
Throughout any customer journey there are various chances to highlight your wider product portfolio beyond what’s already been bought. Amazon is the classic exponent of this “you might also like” opportunism. Meanwhile, banks are another example of core cross-selling and upselling strategy: limited product portfolios make a good basis for a structured approach to contacting existing customers offering more financial help. But really the concept can apply to most businesses, think also of dealerships selling a car then immediately offering extras such as a service plan and insurance.

4: Spot behaviour shifts and respond to those triggers
As we all know, life isn’t simple and every so often something good or bad will come along to change the way we act – not just in our personal relationships, but in brand relationships, too. Clever organisations will be using insight to spot these shifts in behaviour and respond with relevant communications. For example, banks can see via current accounts when someone is having a bad month (have they lost their job?) or a good one (a bonus seems to have been deposited). Meanwhile, the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s with their masses of loyalty data can use insight to recognise when nappies and baby wipes suddenly become a regular fixture of the weekly shop, and offer personalised promotions on items for the new family member.

This step is not always easy if your organisation does not have very regular contact with customers. But it could be possible to achieve good results by using external data, using Bounty pack information in the instance above, for example.

5: Ensure product and customer retention is maximised
All the data you have, and lots of information you don’t own but could buy in, holds the key to a long-term relationship with your customers. It’s cheaper to retain than acquire customers, so using insight to spot when and why someone might be looking elsewhere for your product and service is vital, especially for cyclical brands like insurance or breakdown cover.

Look at all your data, make sure you understand when renewal is due and where you might have a problem with attrition. Target customers with renewal offers almost from the moment they first sign up, not two weeks before they’re due to say goodbye. Constantly improve the relationship and give them a reason to stay. Equally, this stage loops back to point 1: it’s a good opportunity to assess the real and lifetime value of customers to see which individuals or groups are truly worth having, and which you would be wasting marketing budget trying to retain.
The vast number of channels and recorded interactions now in play means so much more can be done with insight to really understand customers. Remember too that consumers’ knowledge of the importance of their own data is constantly improving so the more you can demonstrate you are thinking and acting wisely when using their information, the more sales you will make.

By DMA guest blogger Dougy Watt, Professional Services Director, Occam

Not to be forgotten: assessing the continuing fallout from the ECJ’s Google Spain decision

The full impact of the ECJ’s right to be forgotten ruling against Google  has started to be felt in recent weeks as Google begins complying with some of the estimated 50,000 deletion requests (and counting) it has received. The decision’s continued waves have prompted both the ICO and the Article 29 Working Party to issue statements, with UK Coalition Government Justice Minister Simon Hughes making his government’s position very clear at a Parliamentary committee hearing on 9 July.

The ICO has endorsed the ECJ’s finding that search engines are data controllers and accepted the ICO’s enforcement role in the event that a search engine fails to adequately respond to a deletion request. However, the ICO is taking a pragmatic approach and allowing search engines time to put processes in place to consider requests. Thereafter it will focus on those cases which are “linked to clear evidence of damage and distress to individuals”.

The ICO has cautioned that the implications of the case should be kept in proportion, and that it does not equate to an absolute right for links to be removed. Companies operating and advertising online are also reminded that section 32 of the Data Protection Act 1998 provides an exemption for the publication of journalistic, literary or artistic material in certain circumstances.

Article 29 Working Party welcomes ECJ’s decision
The Article 29 Working Party (which brings together representatives from national data protection authorities, the European Data Protection Supervisor and the European Commission) has welcomed the ECJ’s decision as a crucial “milestone for EU data protection […] in the online world”.

At its June plenary the Working Party committed to identifying guidelines in order to establish a common approach for EU data protection authorities on implementing the ruling. In the meantime, it has encouraged all search engines to voluntarily put in place user-friendly tools to enable individuals to exercise their right to request deletion and has welcomed Google’s development of a form which enables individuals to do so.

Justice Minister Simon Hughes dismissive of ECJ’s decision
In contrast, in his evidence to a House of Lords Committee looking at up-and-coming EU data protection reforms, Coalition Government Justice Minister Simon Hughes was dismissive of the ECJ decision and of the right to be forgotten generally.

He felt it was technically unenforceable and would lead to thousands of misconceived complaints. He complimented Google on their “co-operative” approach in the aftermath of the ECJ decision but felt it was “difficult and uncomfortable” for them.

The UK Government did not want the law to develop in the way implied by the ECJ judgment, he said, and did not agree with the equivalent wording in the current draft General Data Protection Regulation.

Why this matters for business
Although the current “right to be forgotten” focus is on Google and the obligations of search engines, despite Minister Hughes’ trenchant criticisms, advertisers and companies operating in the online environment would be well-advised to take note of the ECJ’s decision, and the Working Party and the ICO’s comments in respect of it. Whilst it remains unclear how the ruling will impact on which results will be blocked, companies will need to bear in mind that relying on the continued availability of search links may not be possible.

At present, a request for the deletion of the link will not automatically impose an obligation for the disputed content itself to be deleted from the host website. Nevertheless the ruling is a timely reminder of the onward march of the European privacy agenda and the need for companies to keep abreast of developments so as not to fall foul of data protection and privacy laws.

However as the fallout from the ECJ decision continues, one senses that Simon Hughes’ strong concerns will be shared by others and as a result there has to be a serious question whether, longer term, the right to be forgotten will survive the EU data protection reform process now that its practical ramifications are becoming clear.

By DMA guest blogger Tom Harding, Senior Associate, Osborne Clarke, Bristol and MA Social Media Council member

This is an edited version of an article that first appeared on and is reproduced courtesy of www.marketinglaw.co.uk 

Read the ICO statement and the Working Party press release

B2B is dead; long live human to human – part 2

As I’ve already discussed,  the historical philosophy of B2B risks becoming something of a marketing dodo, and we drastically need something new to replace it, or at the very least, reinvent it.

And that’s where human to human comes in.
Whether he coined the phrase or not, it’s clear that Bryan Kramer  has done a fantastic job of getting us thinking, and his book and the myriad of conversations on the subject it has spawned are all very powerful source material.

I won’t repeat everything he’s said here. Instead, I’ll give you my view.

Social is not a nice-to-have, it’s essential
Firstly, to understand what human to human means, it helps to think back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Of upmost importance is the simple fact that we’re not just animals requiring physiological sustenance like water, food and shelter. We’re social animals, and we require much more.

‘Social’ is an interesting word. Its modern form has multiple meanings; ‘social media’ being the go-to thought. But actually social is about behaviour – human behaviour and psychology, how we share information, learn from one another, tell stories, and how we form relationships.
In fact, you can only forge a relationship through the sharing of stories. What do you do on a first date? What do you do with your friends? What do you do at a business meeting? During every one of these situations, without fail, you engage in storytelling.

B2B needs to create an emotional experience
And what’s more, every social action is underpinned by one thing – emotion. Unless you’re a robot, it’s there in everything you do and in every decision you make. Without consciously trying, we seek emotional experience and engagement from one another

That’s what human to human means.

And that’s why B2B doesn’t work anymore. Businesses do not have emotion. And nor do their products or services, but their people do.

That’s what we should be thinking about; building emotional, social relationships.
And don’t just take my word for it. Our friends at the CEB have evidence  that backs up this approach from a commercial perspective.

We need to shift to a narrative that combines the brand, product and service stories we want to tell, with something more emotionally charged, so we can appeal to our audiences in a human to human way.

Sold. Or not? You’re right; theory is one thing, but what about in practice?

Step one is easy: change what you mean by the word ‘professional’.
The thing is, we’ve let that word dominate the theory of B2B marketing. It’s shorthand for being inauthentic, boring, humourless, in fact devoid of all emotion.

But look up its meaning – it doesn’t mean any of those things.
Instead, we should let it mean being knowledgeable, skilled, and willing to share this expertise with others.

Alternatively, watch this video – it’s a fantastic example of everything that’s wrong with ‘corporate’ videos.
But it’s also a fantastic example of emotional storytelling by the stock video company that produced it.

It’s professional – because it shows the depth of the company’s inventory, and its understanding of the power of video, of editing and of the right creative concept. But it’s not boring.

And most importantly, it’s an example of a B2B organisation acting in a human-to-human way.
What do you think? Does it work? And is human to human as simple as changing professional to a more authentic version of itself?

By DMA guest blogger Phil Borge, B2B Director, Threepipe 

Read B2B is dead; long live human to human – part 1

A TV dinner: the future of TV advertising

We were excited to be invited to an event hosted by the DMA and Sky in Manchester on Tuesday 15 July to discuss the big news about the future of TV advertising. The session aimed to reveal insights from Sky’s first year of testing its new service, Sky AdSmart, allowing marketers to target TV relevant to individual customers. A welcome addition to the digital marketing space, this is exactly the direct TV revolution we’ve been waiting for.

Sky AdSmart Controller, Daniel Stephenson, emphasised that these days, marketers shouldn’t be thinking about TV as just ‘TV’ as we have always known it. Rather, it is becoming increasingly more important to spot opportunities where digital and direct marketing can work together to enhance your brand’s overall strategy. As Daniel discussed, TV complements many other media channels like direct marketing, online activity, plus regional press and radio works well with integrated campaigns.

A-TV-Dinner

Data-driven advertising opportunities
This is where something like Sky SmartAds comes in. An “addressable TV platform” B2B product which provides growth in the TV space for brands and lowers the barriers to entry, it is a more more accessible option for niche brands, SMEs and location-specific advertisers who are seeking to harness the power of TV. Offering modular and scaleable targeting, Sky AdSmart works on impressions based pricing and delivery and shows cause and effect evaluations for those using the service.

Until now, viewers watching a Sky channel would see the same adverts at the same time; with Sky AdSmart, different adverts can be shown to different households watching the same platform. How is this possible? Data driven at the household level, this is good news for marketers as these can be based on factors like age, location and life-stage derived from Sky’s own customer data plus information from external consumer profile experts.

The evolution of TV and advertising
For the consumer (Daniel made a point of saying “customer” not just “viewer” when talking about Sky SmartAds), this means more relevant content and a more discrete way of selling a product, which for us is where advertising is going across all media platforms. It was interesting to hear about Sky’s “ecosystem” made up of its own content and channels, plus the in-house technology, the Sky Media arm of the brand and Sky IQ, which are the underlying elements of this service.

Looking ahead to its future, Daniel mentioned that a reporting portal will soon be launched, while more targeting opportunities will be on offer, with even more refined and custom data sets. Additional platforms like being used on mobile and tablet are also in the pipeline, while the number of channels available continues to grow. Listening to Daniel share stats from case studies, it seems Sky AdSmart is a flexible and effective means of advertising for both big and small brands.

DMA-SkyAdSmart-event

Rounding off the night, Daniel left us with some food for thought about how Sky AdSmart could benefit marketers: it amplifies and compliments other channels, can be drilled down to local and regional activity and provides multiple creatives and offers. For us, it was interesting to see where the world of TV advertising is going, particularly as we combine traditional methods with digital marketing. We’d like to thank the DMA and Sky AdSmart for the insights and look forward to seeing how this evolves!

By DMA guest blogger Pamela Bustard, Social Media Manager, The Media Octopus

Big Nev – why most telemarketing professionals would prefer him to be a bit smaller

For almost 20 years very few people have known what a call/contact centre is. Now when you’re in a pub and you say you work in a contact centre most people happily connect and say “oh like the one on that BBC 3 programme?” I want to scream “NO! NO! NO!” but instead I just shrug and say “a bit”.

There are so many things that make The Call Centre watchable and I admire the energy evident on the calling floor and the wacky initiatives that are put in place to keep the staff engaged. It’s just a shame that the general public think this is what happens in a typical contact centre – which it clearly doesn’t.

I know it’s light entertainment, this is BBC 3 not BBC 2, but all it does is fuel misconceptions that contact centres bend the rules to get results – let’s not forget that ‘Big Nev’ was fined £225,000 over nuisance calls in 2013. The stereotypes and bad practices portrayed in the programme undermine the perceived professionalism of telemarketing.

Telemarketing done professionally definitely has a place and will deliver ROI. Almost all outsourced and in-house contact centres know that you don’t need to use such questionable practices to get results. It’s about working with the brand team and the data teams to ensure calls are being made to the right people, with the right message at the right time.

Any contact centre that is accredited by the DMA will hold up their badge as clear evidence that the data and marketing practices that are in place adhere to the clear guidelines. We care about the customer experience; we manage our diallers in a super compliant way; we bonus our staff against quality more than anything else and we love poring over our Voice of the Customer scores.

Unless he pulls his socks up Nev doesn’t, and probably never will have DMA membership so despite recognising that he is undoubtedly one of the industry’s personalities I have to give him a big red, Britain’s got better talent, cross – what do you think?

By DMA guest blogger Nerys Corfield, UK Sales Manager, Data Base Factory and DMA Contact Centres & Telemarketing Council member

Google Glass signals start of my always-on, real-time adventures

And so they arrived. About 10 days ago. Those who were there in Creative when Tess the office manager delivered the package will probably recount the story to their children and their children’s children (who will no doubt tell their children’s children).

Yes, Google Glass is in the building. And it’s remarkable how differently individuals react when their lives collide with the world’s hottest tech product.

Some gaze at it, bereft of language, as the device rests sedately in the plush white Google box. It’s as if they were staring for the first time at the Turin Shroud, Mona Lisa or that Roswell alien.

Others adopt a more dynamic approach: they grab the Glass, thrust it on their face and start barking orders at the top of their voice.

“OK Google, make me toast, er, walk the dog, er, teach me how to play the clarinet.”

This rarely works. They take them off drenched in disappointment.

Of course, there is a vital matter to be settled right here: is Google Glass an ‘it’ or a ‘them’? Hmm.

What I’ve noticed is how many people call them Google Glasses, as if they’re oversized, super-powered spectacles to be perched precariously on your proboscis.

Such innocent individuals stand wide-mouthed in amazement when they discover the bold, unbridled future nestles in a singular glass cuboid, rather than a pair of Su Pollard’s finest.

This, to me, confirms that Google Glass is an ‘it’.

But what to do with it?

Well, that’s why we’ve got them. To explore. To delve. To dissect. To investigate. To extrapolate. To pursue. To hack.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll bring you regular reports of life in a Glass-powered world. The ups, the downs, the highs, the lows. And most importantly, the opportunities. For this is the future. On one’s face.

So away we go, brimming with the pioneering spirit. Sergey Brin  would like that. In search of always-on adventures. Ready to ensnare the real-time world. Tweeting purely through the power of thought. (Just testing. You can’t do that. Yet.)

Google Glass gets people talking (other than those rendered speechless by its physical wonderousness).

My son’s told all his mates, who’ve told all they’re mates, who’ve told their mums and dads, who’ve contacted all their distant cousins. You might want to tell them someone too!

By DMA guest blogger Richard Norton, Associate Creative Director, Indicia

Can technology desensitise marketers?

Today’s marketers look at visits, impressions, opens, clicks, mail-outs, conversions, abandon rates, bounce rates, average order value, total lifetime value – but are we blinded by the numbers and what they represent?

Think of your average subscriber, and you’ll not see the uniqueness and complexity you see in the people you meet day-to-day. You and I are the average consumer to most of the brands we engage with. As a result, they treat us identically. And I am pretty sure that what influences you, dear reader, isn’t identical to what influences me. No hard feelings. Let’s look at a great example of ‘connected marketing’ from a technology point of view, then from a customer’s point of view.

My customer experience of connected marketing
I went into a shopping centre a few weeks ago and visited a well-known shoe retailer. I looked around for a while then one of the sales assistants asked if I needed any help. I said I was looking at three different styles but I’m an annoying shoe size (UK 12, European 47) so didn’t expect them to have much in stock in my size.

The sales assistant took me to an iPad mounted next to the shoes and checked what they had in-store, but was also was able to search their warehouse and surrounding stores. The warehouse had my size, and if they sent them to my home or office I could easily return them either to the store (no return cost) or post them back with a courier using the pre-printed returns slip (no cost again!). Awesome.

To me, this was a great customer experience – I ordered the shoes I wanted, they had joined up their online and the offline activity and as a customer I was getting what I wanted. So I ordered at the check-out in store, gave them my email address and was told to expect an email.

Follow-up emails undermine positive customer experience in-store
The confirmation email I received came several days later at the same time as three other emails into my personal Gmail account, the first two can be seen below:

The first email, (from ‘comments’!?) told me I had signed up to their VIP programme (I’ve made one purchase and have yet to receive the goods, why am I a VIP?). This email gave me 10% off my first online purchase (the call to action is to cancel my existing order and reorder online for a 10% discount?). Good to know they’re concerned with saving me money, at least.

The second email, sent at an identical time again from ‘comments’, was an order confirmation email which was so poorly rendered in Gmail that I couldn’t actually see what I had bought, what it cost and when it would arrive (I had been charged shipping that wasn’t explained to me in-store) and the order tracking link to a Royal Mail delivery service was broken.

There was no way to contact their customer service team in the email, no contact email, no contact number and it’s incredibly difficult on the website – they direct me back to the local store, which in the email was different to the store where I made my purchase!

The third email, again from “comments”, came nine days later confirming that the items had been dispatched – and I was told in-store that they were in stock at the time. At this stage, I still have not been told how much my items in the basket were or the cost of shipping, the delivery link to Royal Mail still does not work and I still don’t have any contact details for customer services. I don’t know when they are being delivered and how much they have already cost me, I needed to check my online banking to see how much I’d been charged. Outrageous!

I eventually got the products I ordered in-store two weeks after I had purchased them. The magic was gone. I’ve got the product I wanted but what could have been a great experience had left me frustrated and unlikely to repeat it.

How can this happen?
It’s happened here, and in many other cases, I suspect because no-one has attempted to look at the communications process from the customer’s point of view.

Test the customer experience not just the technology
I don’t doubt that the integration of the inventory management system, supply chain management, marketing automation tool and parcel delivery system was complex and time-consuming. But how often during the testing of data transfer processes, API calls, templates and content creation did anyone look at the whole end-to-end process for the customer?

We are told by industry experts in the US and Europe that 70% or more of a customer database has only made a single purchase in the last 12-24 months in online retail. If we look at the process above, functionally everything is in the right place and the data and communications are running.

But by not looking at what they’re actually sending to the customer, providing me the right information, asking me for feedback about the process or even attempting to promote other products and services I might be interested in in future they’ve lost an opportunity and they’ve lost a future customer.

Their first email told me I was enrolled as a VIP. I don’t feel like one, and that’s why I’m in the 70% of customers who – while happy with the product – won’t buy from them again.

By DMA guest blogger Alex Timlin, Director of International Sales and Solutions, Emarsys

Join Alex for a free webinar: From marketing to a personalised customer experience on Wednesday 30 July at 3pm and hear how data insight can deliver a customer experience that inspires people to come back to you again and again. Book your free place.

What gives with the DMA’s new website?

As some of you may know, we’ve been toiling away for the past few months forging a new DMA website out of cutting-edge web technologies and the tears of developers. Testing emails have gone out, feedback has been gratefully received, and we are slowly honing in on a finished product.

But why are we doing this? For what purpose are we keeping a bunch of nerds locked in a basement with only Monster Energy drinks and Sainsbury’s Basics noodles for sustenance?

In case it wasn’t patently obvious, it’s partly for our own sadistic pleasure, but mostly for the benefit of you, the DMA members. We’ve been working – and hard – on creating a website that puts you firmly in the driver’s seat.

Here’s what you can expect:

Super-powered search
You’ll always find exactly what you’re looking for (and a whole lot of stuff you didn’t know you wanted), with the new super-smart search

Turbo tools
Customise your own personal content feed, clip articles to read later and connect directly to the people that matter. Submit the content you want to see and add to other people’s work.

Rough and ready responsive layout
Want to browse on an iPhone 5c? No problem. Samsung Galaxy? We’ve got you covered. Obscure space-age technology not yet discovered? Yep, the site will still look brilliant on that too.

And much, much more besides.

The whole thing has been built using masonry.js, with a suite of proprietary, custom-built technologies just for us and, by extension, you, because we’re all special. Once it’s up and running on our dedicated servers (and you better believe we’ve got a load balancer in there), the whole thing will be lightning fast. I’m talking roadrunner fast. Somewhere between Superman and the Flash kind of fast. That’s the good news.

But these things, much like a new series of Game of Thrones or my mum’s famous shredded-chicken lasagne, take time. “But we’ve already been waiting ages!” I hear you say, much to my surprise as this is a blog and we’re not actually having a two-way conversation while I type this.
We know. We understand.

And you’re not getting the site until it’s perfect. No, more than that; until it’s ruddy-bloody amazing.

So bear with us; watch your inbox for test emails (you lucky few), and feel free to ask questions. We’re nothing if not good listeners – tell us what you’d like to see on the site, what you’d find useful, and how amazing the season finale of GoT was. Am I right?! I can’t believe they brought that guy back from the dead! Twist!

By Mark Thomas, Digital Content Executive, The DMA