In 2014 your customers are becoming more immune to your push communications. And deadened to your content plays.
Relevance, the holy grail for direct marketers, is no guarantee of impact any more. Precision targeting is not enough.
But your customers may remain switched on if you are prepared to look beyond better targeting and relevance and instead use their data to find ways to deliver genuine personal value to them.
My Air New Zealand MPASS is starting to do that for me. At home, Mercury’s little GEM tool is helping me predict my bill before it arrives. Both companies are making my data useful to me. In return they have stimulated a wave of live data about me back into their businesses.
Yet most NZ businesses remain firmly entrenched in an approach to data that is only about delivering more sales and messages more efficiently. Selling and telling; it will continue to yield short-term results, but at a time when customers are in control it is not a recipe for holding attention or for long-term value creation.
If you want to make more of your customer data in 2014 it could pay to ask these three questions about your data strategy:
Making data personally valuable to your customers may be one the smartest ways you have to regain customer attention and win loyalty.
If you want to provoke a heated debate between marketing and advertising types asking this question is one sure-fire way to get the feathers flying.
For some, creativity is critical if you want to differentiate yourself and grab people’s attention. Others think it’s little more than ad agency wank designed to perpetuate an annual pilgrimage to the south of France. A votre santé!
Given your own personal experience will likely inform how you feel about this, I’ve always found it a curious quirk that we can all work in the same industry and yet have such sharply divergent views on something that should work or not. Are we really all having vastly different experiences when we try to adopt a creative approach?
A timely piece of research conducted by the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA) in Australia would suggest the answer is probably yes. The short version – after a close analysis of their 2012 ADMA Awards they conclude that whether you see any benefits from creativity hinges largely on how, or perhaps more accurately when, you choose to evaluate its impacts. But first let me provide some context.
The ADMA Awards are an interesting show to examine because of the way they’re structured. Broadly speaking there are two types of award you can win; one judged predominantly for your use of creativity and the other for the work’s overall effectiveness. Each type of award does demand elements of the other (ie creative entries need to reference results, and effectiveness awards do incorporate some criteria on creativity). But in the main, when you’re judging the ADMA Awards (and I have for both categories), you’re very much zeroing in on either creativity or effectiveness as your primary criterion for success.
This gets interesting when work is simultaneously entered into both creative and effectiveness categories because the overlap allows you to compare and contrast the relationship between creativity and effectiveness. And that’s exactly what this report did. But they didn’t stop there. To add a richer layer of data, this year all 461 entrants were also required to complete a survey that outlined the intentions and strategies of the work they were entering. Was it about brand building, market share, direct response? Were you targetting new or existing customers? How long was the work going to run? You get the idea.
Not surprisingly the report unearthed a wealth of facts and insights (20 key findings in all) many of which have no direct bearing on the question I’ve posed here. If you want to read the full report, you’ll find the URL below. However, for us, there are several key learnings that merit further thought and discussion. They are:
I don’t know about you, but I find the direct correlation between creativity and time revealing. For instance, think about any piece of advertising you’ve been involved with and ask yourself, was the length of time it was going to run considered as the primary reason to use creativity or not? Personally I struggle to think of many. It’s true that major campaigns that need to be in market longer lean on creativity as they fight for continued salience over time. But production time, budget or perceived customer value are usually much more common factors in this sort of decisioning.
Or, think about a creative campaign you’ve worked on that didn’t work so well (we’ve all been there, let’s be honest). Was the time scale for success less than six months? Was the work pulled or altered because initial results were poor? I can recall a few. And this is the part that’s like to make most of us feel very uncomfortable; to make creativity work we need to hold our nerve in the short term and give it time to gain traction. But with today’s retail-esque, quick-fire, offer-led, get-it-out-there-now pace, pressure to change tack in the face of poor initial results can be immense. Yet this report would suggest that’s the worst thing you could do.
For some, I’m sure, this news will simply reinforce the view that creativity is not worth investing in; it takes too long to see any benefits. But here’s the rub. Any results you achieve in the short term are just that, short term. What this report clearly shows is that non-creative advertising peaks and fades quickly into obscurity, and then you’re back to square one. Now what?
The rewards, however, for anyone who does choose to adopt a creative approach are substantial and much longer lasting, this report suggests. Once it starts to take effect, creativity delivers more than four times the effectiveness (imagine that on your bottom line reports). And unlike non-creative advertising, results delivered by creativity increase rather than diminish over time; it’s a platform you build on, rather than continually reinvent.
It’s also worth remembering that the other major advantage creativity confers is a significant reduction to price sensitivity: people are happy to pay more when you create a strong creative appeal. Think for a moment what sort of market advantage you’d enjoy if you could start charging more, not less, for the thing you provide. How would your competitors feel about that? Not well pleased, I would think.
So where does all this leave us? As with much of life there are no shortcuts to brilliance. We all know the best creative advertising takes time to plan, conceive and execute. To that we can now add also takes time to return any results. But the results it does return for those who choose to make it are more than worth their time.
Purpose of Case Study
This case shows how data analytics and internal communication have helped deliver revenue growth and improved customer engagement over a sustained period for Virgin Airways.
Key take outs
If you’re like me, you started your day with a shower. And chances are you didn’t think much about it. Why would you? It’s a rote experience that exists as part of your morning routine, which is similarly a rote experience (at least on a work day).
But thinking about experiences – what they are and how we shape them for our benefit – is what customer experience marketing is all about. So I’d like to share with you a lesson I learned about how to shape experiences (in this case, showering) from the back of an unassuming box of soap.
I couldn’t tell you where I found the soap; I’ve had it that long. No doubt I picked it up from a hotel somewhere. But I’ve kept it in my top drawer all these years because in such a simple way it illustrates what customer experience marketing sets out to achieve. To demonstrate what I mean, first we have to put ourselves in the place of the person who is likely to find it.
Imagine you’re in a hotel on holiday, and in the bathroom you find the obligatory set of toiletries. You’re about to have a shower, a task that’s now slightly less rote given you’re not going to work. But really, a shower is still a shower even if it’s a longer one. Not that any of us needs to, but have you ever read the instructions on the back of a box of soap? They’re usually quite functional. But what if they weren’t? What if they read more like this?
Wet entire naked body. Breathing deeply, begin to lather soap, wash thoroughly, rinse with fresh, cool water. Best enjoyed beneath a tropical waterfall.
It might not seem like much at all (that’s the artistry of good customer experience) but those instructions afford anyone reading them one important opportunity – the chance to feel differently about the shower they’re about to have.
Even if after reading those words you promptly forgot them, the concept of a tropical waterfall is now sitting squarely in your immediate subconscious; a behavioural psychologist would call this effect ‘priming’. So whether you’re fantasising about waterfalls or not, chances are you’re now enjoying your shower more than you would have. And by association the soap you’re using. You see what they did there?
Of course, this is just soap; there’s no call to action and nothing to sell but a better than average wash. And those instructions were written long before things like data and customer experience became such hot topics in advertising circles. Yet we arrive in much the same place – shaping people’s experiences.
The difference today is that analysing and leveraging data gives us much deeper insights into our customers: who they are, what they do, and what they like (to buy). Knowing this, we can map creative and engaging experiences over those insights in a way our customers will both appreciate and act upon. So rather than stifling creativity, data sharpens it.
Given the right insight, we can reconsider and reshape those mundane words on the back of a box of soap into something far more engaging. In the same way, data gives us permission (and perhaps even demands) that we rethink virtually every interaction a brand might choose to have with its customers.
Unlike traditional on/off campaign-based advertising, customer experience marketing allows us to be in market when, where and for as long as needed to move a customer along their path to purchase. It demands of us a higher level of effort as we aim to shape the message to meet the needs of each person. But get it right and it delivers a richer, and more authentic and appreciated experience that better reflects the values of your brand. And consequently, one that’s more likely to result in action or purchase.
That’s the power of data and customer experience marketing – take the time to get to know your customer and you can turn their simple shower into a glorious tropical waterfall.
Recognising the nation’s best direct marketing, the NZDM Awards last night gave RAPP the nod for one silver and two bronzes for their Tech In A Sec campaign for Telecom.
This was a fantastic result for RAPP not only because it recognised their great work, but also because they were the only agency partner that that managed to win awards for the telco.
RAPP has announced the appointment of two additions to its creative team - Nicole Yeoman (right) joins as art director and Lucy Morgan (left) as copywriter.
Says Robert Limb, RAPP managing director: “Nicole and Lucy are a perfect complement to RAPP’s growing team bringing a fresh approach with no small measure of talent and enthusiasm.”
Joining RAPP from Whybin\TBWA, Morgan brings a huge amount of experience in her young career, having worked on clients such as ANZ, Tourism New Zealand, 2degrees, Mercury Energy, Starship Children's Hospital and Nissan.
Morgan has received awards for her projects, taking out a Bronze Lion at the 2013 Cannes awards for her Tourism New Zealand '100% Pure New Zealand, 100% Pure Middle-Earth' campaign and additional awards for 'Middle-earth Passport' at the 2013 Spikes Asia awards.
Before RAPP Yeoman spent over three years as an art director at Y&R working on Trade Me, Metservice and Fairfax. In 2011 Yeoman was a Young Guns Finalist and in 2012, an Axis finalist. Yeoman and Morgan will work across RAPP's full client roster including Telecom, Westpac, SKY TV, Loyalty New Zealand and Milford Asset Management.
The telco market in NZ was relatively stable until the arrival of a raft of new mobile and broadband providers. This disrupted the status quo, creating greater choice and competition in a commoditised market. Consequently, Telecom felt itself being squeezed on many sides while simultaneously carrying the public perception that they were the former state-owned operator and not as agile. And to make this situation even trickier, customers tend not to engage with providers unless there is a direct and immediate need, which makes fostering lines of engagement very difficult.
In short, Kiwis thought they already knew Telecom, and this needed to change at a time when there were newer and more competitive options in the market. To turn this around, Telecom embraced a wholly different strategy – ‘service not sell’.
When you’re being attacked on price and product, typically you respond in kind; the pressure to maintain sales can be enormous. But Telecom chose not to and instead returned to one of its core competencies (support) and created Tech in a Sec (TIAS); a content programme designed to help Kiwis get the most of their technology. But what’s the point of content if no-one sees it? The TIAS CRM approach was created to amplify and extend the rich TIAS content via a push strategy.
Opted-in people received monthly eDMs, which contained the TIAS content along with tailored relevant and contextual product cross sell messaging that in no way diminished the ‘service not sell’ approach. Furthermore, we linked and integrated specific content to timely product or service launches (e.g. featuring the ‘Connecting your laptop to your TV’ video to support the Premier League Pass roll out). Importantly, TIAS was made freely available to everyone – both Telecom customers and non-customers alike.
Many people find technology daunting. So while the rest of the market was engaged in a highly competitive retail battle, Telecom repositioned itself as the people’s technology champion with TIAS and provided genuine utility and useful information for free; Telecom was there to help you whether you were a customer or not. And, not surprisingly, people loved it.
Even though TIAS was a ‘service not sell’ strategy, it still had business objectives to achieve. And the results that can be directly attributed to the TIAS activity are very impressive. For instance (comparing mobile and broadband customers who open TIAS emails to those that don’t):
Telecom’s high value customers we’re feeling taken for granted. For some, it had literally been years since they last heard from Telecom. And recent bad press had done nothing to help improve Telecom’s brand image. The truth was that Telecom really did value these customers, and wanted to find a way to say so in a personal and authentic (and cost effective) way. So how does a large corporation like Telecom make a thank you feel personal and authentic?
Companies and corporations don’t say thank you, people do. So instead of sending a generic thanks, Telecom rolled out a giant canvas and invited its staff to write their own messages of thanks to customers. That canvas was then turned into thousands of unique envelopes and letters, which Telecom sent to their customers (using both mail and eDM). Each letter directed its recipient to a microsite where they could watch a video of staff creating the canvas. And customers could also choose a treat from a selection of Telecom products as a thank you being with Telecom.
Receiving a generic thank you on behalf of a company is one thing. Being thanked personally by the people of that company is quite another. The Telecom Big Thank You connected customers directly with the staff at Telecom and, in doing so, delivered an experience for customers that was both unexpected and greatly appreciated.
Within days of the mailing, 60% of recipients who were sent an eDM had opened it (compared to the industry average of 25%). What’s more, the microsite was visited by 2,500 customers who chose a treat. And, as an added bonus, the Telecom Big Thank You also changed the way many Telecom staff felt about their own company, starting an entirely new conversation internally about the value of customer loyalty.