Friday, September 13, 2013

Social CRM - The Implications of "Micro-Loyalty"

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about where we've landed as an industry in the social CRM space.  With the increasing demand from clients to develop social media strategies, it's easy to get swept up in campaign-land where we forget to think about the long term perspective of brand presence.  It's our own fault for racing towards building fan bases and creating one-off social content campaigns that are often wired with predictable contest models or leveraging sponsorship events.

Brands are competing with a constant fire hose of unbranded baby pictures, hilarious memes and links that deliver on the highly coveted WTF factor.  To make matters more complicated, the normalization of social media usage has diminished the value of likes in that it has fragmented to small moments in the consumer's mind.  What's happening, is that we're starting to delineate between liking content and liking a brand.  In my humble opinion, the best way to describe the current state of social CRM is "Micro Loyalty". It is the product of consumers learned generosity towards "liking" and of brands spraying hopefully likeable content throughout the channels. Over time, it has left a long trail of hits and misses.

Here are some implications that fall under this shift:
  • Inconsistencies in brand content littered throughout social channels that are visible through social search affecting the brands reputation and identity
  • Channel fragmentation that is re-consolidating through social search and content aggregator platforms
  • The need for a more consolidated "like" or engagement score as opposed to outright "fandom"
  • Time sensitive content strategies that are more loosely associated with core brand messaging
What's the opportunity:
  • Content strategies that lead the channels - not occupying channels to tick the box
  • Best in Channel content development - not re-purposed video or print ads
  • Re-visting metrics to create score cards that more accurately reflect brand perceptions
Brands, like individuals, need to remember that their activity doesn't just "disappear" when a campaign is through.  They must assume that it is tattooed on their faces.  Investing in longer term social strategies will ensure that brands are winning the "Micro Loyalty" game over time - as well as the shorter term.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

We’re all Snowflakes…Fingerprinting as a Cookie Replacement

The Globe and Mail recently ran a great article about new(ish) technology that is designed to combat the "cookie problem".  For years, advertisers have relied on cookies to help target and re-target ads to consumers.  Cookies allow marketers to “book mark” consumer activity so that they could better address their levels of interest.  Every time a consumer would visit the advertiser’s site, a cookie would track their behavior beyond the actual visit.  With the growing trend of sense and response web design, cookies have played a critical role in delivering enhanced experiences online – sites remembering your preferences, making suggestions on what to browse etc.  The problem with cookies is that people felt they were creepy and over the years, more and more of the population has opted out of cookies leaving advertisers in a jam for targeting.  Studies have shown that at lat least 30% of the population deletes their cookies each month.

There’s a new technology emerging as the super hero for online advertising called fingerprinting.  Fingerprinting creates unique identities for each desktop and mobile device based on the user settings.  According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, 94 percent of browsers that use flash or java have unique identities.  In other words, you, the consumer visit a site, are assigned a unique identity and are then tracked based on this identity.  Start-ups like TapAd and AdStack are early users/brokers of the technology.

What’s interesting about this method is that counter to common logic, the more security or anti-spyware you upload, the more unique your identity becomes.  Our desktops and devices are becoming as individual as we are, like snowflakes.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

How Can I Help You? A Sense and Response Approach to Customer Service

Best-in-class approaches to online marketing are found within categories that depend heavily on certain elements to drive revenue.  When exploring customer service issues, we naturally gravitate towards the eCommerce sector to derive valuable insights that may be applied to all categories. 

Driven by the eCommerce sector’s ongoing need to reduce abandoned shopping carts, increase purchases and raise overall transaction sizes, there's no doubt this category maintains a strong leadership in perfecting customer experiences online.

The category has taught us that the key to delivering excellent customer service online is in striking the fine balance between “always on” presence and offensive or “pushy” communication.  Luckily, technology has advanced to such a degree that we can study user behaviors and take appropriate courses of action based on calculated models.  Top eCommerce properties have implemented these technologies and have effectively shifted from reactionary courses of action to proactive service offerings.  We call this new approach to intelligent customer service “Sense and Response”.

Behavior models to help sense customer needs can be calculated by observing factors like:
  • how many page views tend to indicate imminent exit from the site?
  • how many seconds a user remains idle during a transaction process indicating a loss of engagement or hesitation to complete the process?
  • mouse movement patterns while filling out form fields suggesting some confusion on instructions.  
Powerful responses to these immediate needs we are able to sense can come to life in a variety of ways.  Some examples include:
  •  offering auto-save functions within an RFP process
  • providing deeper instructions upon roll-overs in a form fields
  • launching two-way communication to offer assistance in real time

One of the greatest examples of Sense and Response technology available today is Live Chat. When a website senses hesitation or confusion from the customer it signals the launch of a chat window to gently offer assistance or collect feedback from the user.  This provides customers with a communication channel that does not disrupt the user session and also creates a new dimension to the relationship with the brand.

The benefits of this sense and response approach are clear.  According to a Forrester report entitled “Capitalizing on Live Video Chat” in one case study eCommerce site reported multiple business benefits from its live video chat deployment, including:
  • average time on site that was 491% higher for video 
  • chat user conversion increase of 662%
  • average order value increase of 32% 

In our continued drive towards better online experiences for our customers, these types of exciting advancements towards proactively anticipating customer service needs must be infused into overall strategy.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mobile for ME Time... How Smartphone Usage in North America is all about ME

BBDO in collaboration with AOL recently released a study called Seven Shades of Mobile about usage patterns of mobile in North America.  Not surprisingly, as the penetration levels continue to move towards 100%, usage is starting to reflect normal media consumption behaviors.

What was once considered a platform for people on the move (insert media programs involving SMS and QR codes here) has undeniably become a platform for people with time on their hands (often, at home).   Almost 50% of Smartphone usage can be attributed to ME time.  This time is defined as “relaxation and entertainment in order to indulge oneself or pass the time”.

A staggering 864 Minutes per month per user of “ME” time is being spent on smartphones by people who are looking to relax and be entertained as opposed to accomplishing tasks.

When adding mobile to the marketing mix - a growing priority across all categories, it’s important to consider that ME time is not to be disrupted.  ME time needs to be enhanced, sponsored, celebrated and gifted. 

For advertisers, this means exploring sponsored experiences, testing new apps and aligning with the ME time experiences that make sense for you brand.  Mobile ads work, but try to find a balance to avoid disrupting your target while they are engaged in ME time experiences.
Cast a wide net, create some structure to your testing and consider your brand's purpose - are you a developer of apps or are you the best at something else?  You might find that leaning towards partnering with committed developers allows you to better focus on what your brand is needs to communicate.