Building a Center of Excellence for Customer Engagement — Part 2

This is Part 2 of a two-part posting on how to create and organize a center of excellence (CoE) for demand generation and customer engagement. In this post, we will discuss the inputs and outputs to the CoE and what driving for excellence means, in practice.

This is Part 2 of a two-part posting on how to create and organize a center of excellence (CoE) for demand generation and customer engagement. In Part 1, we highlighted that one must define the capabilities that will exist within the CoE and talked generally about the people involved. In this post, we will discuss the inputs and outputs to the CoE and what driving for excellence means, in practice.

CoE Inputs and Outputs

So let’s say you’ve decided to create a Customer Engagement CoE, within marketing, and they will drive all your inbound and outbound campaigns, engaging with prospects and customers. You already concluded which capabilities you will need in the team in order to execute.

Next, you need to consider the inputs and outputs to this organization very carefully. Why? Imagine a baker is determined to be excellent, the best in the county. They are going to master the best cates around. They will test different ingredients, ovens, temperatures, cooking times, blending methods etc., all to arrive at the perfect cake. If the ingredients were to change in composition every week, would that stymie the baker’s attempts to achieve excellence? Of course. So for our customer engagement team, if there is no defined process for submitting campaign requests, or offers, or personas, or buying journey maps, or campaign and event calendars, or communications cadence and governance rules, they will not be able to hone their results. They will do their best to manage the chaos, but don’t expect them to achieve continuous improvement.

The outputs will, of course, depend on the capabilities you put in the CoE. Let’s assume for a moment you put the email platform power users, the inbound power users, the SEM/SEO, social media, and event managers all in here. The obvious output is, of course, great customer engagement and MQLs/SQLs. The other outputs include:

  • Content requirements to the content group
  • Content engagement results to the content group
  • A campaign calendar
  • MQL/SQL results, broken down by product and region
  • Technology, process, data, and reporting requirements to the marketing operations team

Driving for Excellence

So what does it mean to drive for excellence? We could just put a demand generation team together instead of creating a CoE, so what’s the difference?

Putting a team of people together, all driving for a common business outcome, does not make them a CoE. Creating a managed services team does not make it a CoE. The CoE label is earned if you direct them as follows:

  1. There is an expectation of excellence from this team. They will have precisely defined outcomes and goals. These will be measured and reviewed regularly.
  2. They will have a maniacal pursuit of excellence in the delivery of their outcomes. A strong QA ethic. And if the inputs do not conform to the defined process and expectation, the task is not accepted. For example, a campaign brief or blueprint is submitted with missing details, perhaps missing copy or assets, it is rejected. Nothing is allowed to interfere with the precise operation of a customer engagement machine that is being fine-tuned for perfection.
  3. There is a burning need for continuous improvement. There is experimentation and multivariate testing. The best practices are carefully documented and rigidly followed. There is continuous education for all team members. They are to become the elites in the industry.
  4. The team is empowered to task some measured risks, to embrace innovation, and to operate in an agile fashion.

Conclusion

It is likely that a new team will not become a CoE overnight. It may take months to define the inputs and outputs and the processes behind them, so that the quality becomes consistent. It may take time to find people who are passionate about continuous improvement and open to experimentation. New ways of rewarding performance may be required. But the extra investment in creating a CoE, instead of just forming a group, will be returned in much higher-than-average results.

11 Best Practices for Email Acquisition and Engagement

The income generated by your email marketing is directly related to the quality of your email address list. A list filled with highly targeted prospects and customers delivers solid response rates, clickthrough and revenue. Acquiring addresses for the people most likely to respond to your email marketing and sending relevant content should be top priorities for every company.

The income generated by your email marketing is directly related to the quality of your email address list. A list filled with highly targeted prospects and customers delivers solid response rates, clickthrough and revenue. Acquiring addresses for the people most likely to respond to your email marketing and sending relevant content should be top priorities for every company.

The best strategies capture email addresses at a variety of locations and use customized messaging to motivate participation in the marketing program. Moving people past the resistance to share their email address is only the first step in a multi-faceted strategy. Every email from the initial “Welcome to our program” to routine promotional messages must speak directly to the recipients or risk triggering opt-out activity.

Overcoming the inertia created by using a tool that consistently generates responses is one of the biggest challenges faced by email marketers. The “if it isn’t broken, why fix it?” thought process prevents email programs from generating even more revenue and building better relationships. The only way to move past this is to implement a continuous improvement policy and test everything.

Continuous improvement begins with best practices. Using the results from tests by others is a good way to insure that you will not reinvent their mistakes. Once the best practices are in place, testing different ways to engage customers and prospects is easier and more effective. Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Measure Everything: Capturing every piece of data is important because it creates benchmarks for improvement. If the data isn’t immediately convertible to usable information, save it. Hard drives are cheap and trying to regenerate lost data is hard.
  2. Customize Welcome Emails: Subscribers from different sources have different expectations. Create customized emails that recognize the difference and speak directly to the recipients. If your email marketing service provider doesn’t have this capability and changing isn’t an option right now, speak to the persona most likely to become a long-term profitable customer.
  3. Capture Email Addresses at Point of Sale: Offering to email receipts reduces customer resistance to sharing information and provides a second opportunity to encourage program participation when people don’t automatically opt in.
  4. Give People a Tangible Reason for Signing Up to Receive Your Emails: Offering a discount on the next purchase encourages the sign-up and future purchases. If people don’t respond to the discount, test sending a reminder just before the coupon expires. (Note: if you don’t have the ability to identify the people who responded, don’t send the reminder. Doing so tells them that they weren’t recognized when they returned and undermines the relationship.)
  5. Offer People a Sign-up Choice Between Email and Text Messages: When given a choice, people are more likely to choose one than none. It simultaneously grows your email and mobile marketing programs.
  6. Use Pop-ups to Encourage Sign-ups: Pop-ups are the acquisition method that people love to hate. Forget the hate talk and go with the test results because it is also the method that delivers high response rates.
  7. Personalize Everything: Relationships are personal. Sending generic emails will not create loyal customers. Create an email marketing program that is personal and customized for individuals and you’ll get lifelong, highly profitable customers.
  8. Keep Your Data Clean: Email hygiene services verify your addresses and reduce spam risk. A good send reputation keeps the spaminators at bay, improves deliverability, and connects you to people interested in your products and services.
  9. Create Second Chance Offers for People Who Don’t Opt In: Automatically opting people in when they provide their email address for other reasons can reduce deliverability and your send reputation. Use a second chance offer to encourage people who didn’t opt in to change their mind.
  10. Segment Well: Sending the same email to everyone generates results. Creating specialized emails based on people’s behavior and preferences generates much better results. In addition to the immediate response, customized emails make people more likely to open and respond to future messages.
  11. Test Everything: General best practices are simply rules of thumb that provide a starting point for successful email marketing programs. The best way to optimize your program is to test different tactics and use the information to fine-tune future mailings.