Early Results of Our Omnichannel Marketing Survey

While our “2018 Omnichannel Marketing Survey” is still ongoing, the early results are surprising. Far from being a retail-only issue, over 75 percent of respondents say the omnichannel customer experience is important in their industries.

While our “2018 Omnichannel Marketing Survey” is still ongoing — we’ve only sent out the first of at least three emails for it, with another coming out today — the early results are surprising. Far from being a retail-only issue, over 75 percent of respondents say the omnichannel customer experience is important in their industries.

The early returns on our Omnichannel Marketing survey find that 75 percent of marketers, across all industries, think omnichannel is important.
The early returns on our Omnichannel Marketing survey find that 75 percent of marketers, across all industries, think omnichannel is important.

What’s more, only 6 percent of respondents so far are in the retail/e-tail sector; more responses are coming from a host of other industries, from non-profits to CPG to financial services in both B2B and B2C.

So far, omnichannel is proving to be an essential concern in 2018 for marketers of all stripes, enough that budgets are shifting to handle it. The early results show that 53 percent plan to spend more on omnichannel marketing in 2018 than they did in 2017, and 7 percent are more than doubling that investment.

What are they investing in? According to the early results, a lot of that investment is going toward customer data, customer service and customer identification.

In the early results, new omnichannel investment is overwhelmingly going to data, customer service and customer identification.
In the early results, new omnichannel investment is overwhelmingly going to data, customer service and customer identification.

Based on tha, it appears that customers are continuing to face challenges in the core capabilities of omnichannel marketing: Knowing who’s engaging where, and putting that together with what they did on the other channels to create a worthwhile experience.

Now, these are only the early results. The survey is far from done, and I’d love to hear from you. There’s still time to be entered to win the $100 AmEx gift card!

So, if you haven’t yet, click here to participate in the Omnichannel Marketing Survey yourself. And keep an eye out in March for the final report and a lot more coverage!

The Digital Mystique: All Smoke and Mirrors?

While it may be true that US adults spend 47 percent of their time interacting with digital (online, mobile or otherwise), that doesn’t mean that marketers will be seeing their investment in digital pay off in the long run.

While it may be true that US adults spend 47 percent of their time interacting with digital (online, mobile or otherwise), that doesn’t mean that marketers will be seeing their investment in digital pay off in the long run.

A recent New York Times article quoted Jon Swallen, the chief research officer at Kantar Media North America who stated “the cost efficiencies of digital advertising enable many marketers to buy more for less.” And while that’s probably true, it doesn’t come close to telling the real story.

As many new startups are learning, digital spend may yield lots of clicks, but very few new customers. The web is besieged by advertisers, so much so that I have started to close out of sites that interrupt my reading with pop-ups, sidebars that occupy a more prominent size than the content I’m trying to read, or other distractions including social media sharing tools.

Of course digital ads can reach millions of eyeballs quickly, but God forbid you click on one as you already know what will happen next:

  • Retargeting efforts mean you’ll be repeatedly seeing that product over and over again on every site you visit (I actually tried to email the marketing director of Signature Hardware to tell him to stop stalking me as I already made the purchase!)
  • Every time I conduct a search, the same results keep popping up for the company/product I explored via an ad click through, but rejected (perhaps they think frequency messaging will help me change my mind?)

This week I was researching a client’s industry to find information that would support a whitepaper we were writing and I discovered half a dozen sites I’ve now noted to avoid at all costs. These sites were chock full of ads in all shapes, forms and colors. In between paragraphs of copy, there would be some random headline that was a link to a product landing page. I literally couldn’t absorb the content it was all so distracting.

In the last 2 months, I’ve received calls from several fairly new startups who wanted to discuss their direct mail options. Yep—that old “tried and true” medium is coming back in vogue. Why?

As one CEO put it, “Our board no longer has the patience for our slow pace of growth because we’ve tied our marketing investment to the digital advertising landscape. We get lots of clicks, but very few buyers.”

And that, in a nutshell, is the problem.

Like many who have been involved in direct marketing since the dark ages, we no longer need to test to know the following statement is true: Mass media vehicles (like digital) tend to drive a high volume of leads, but they’re of low quality (they don’t convert); Targeted media (like direct mail) drives a low volume of leads but they’re of high quality (and therefore more likely to purchase).

If your strategic plan is to create a sales funnel that drives both high volume and requires high conversion to sale, you need a combination of media to accomplish that task cost efficiently. It’s already been proven that no single medium can deliver on that promise.

Because if it were that easy—and digital was the Holy Grail—then wouldn’t everyone be doing it? Oh wait… they already are. They just forgot the annoyance factor.

Making LinkedIn Sales Navigator Work for You

LinkedIn Sales Navigator can be great investment. But recovering the money you invest means having an effective, repeatable way to get buyers asking about your product/service.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator can be great investment. But recovering the money you invest means having an effective, repeatable way to get buyers asking about your product/service.

Having a reliable way to provoke response from buyers is the piece most sales reps and recruiting professionals are overlooking. Today, I’ll give you that piece and three templates to take action on—start improving your ROI with Sales Navigator.

“What Does Navigator (Alone) Give Me?”
Sales Navigator provides more access to the LinkedIn database.

Navigator also:

  • makes automated lead suggestions for you (however, my clients rarely get quality leads this way);
  • allows 700 search results (vs. 100) when querying the database;
  • lets you access prospects you don’t know—via InMail messages.

InMail Rules Totally Changed in 2015
Since Jan. 1, 2015 LinkedIn gives “credits” (you buy) back—but only for InMails that earn a response in 90 days.

This is NEW!

Remember the old system? If you did not receive a response within a week, it was credited back to you. You were rewarded for your success AND for failures. Whoops! This encouraged way too much spam.

Today you receive a credit (get your money back) for each InMail receiving a response within 90 days.

What the New InMail Rules Mean to You
Your money is wasted when your potential buyer:

  • hits the “Not interested” button this COUNTS as a response!
  • replies negatively or
  • ignores your message.

Hence, InMail is not guaranteed to be effective. Plus, if it’s not you’re punished by LinkedIn.

InMail also is monitored and rated by LinkedIn—and you must maintain an InMail reputation score in order to send messages. If enough prospects mark you as spam, you’re out of the game.

That’s another reason why you need a reliable communications process that sparks customers’ curiosity in InMails you’re sending.

Do This Right Now
When writing InMails, be sure to state a clear reason the other side will benefit from hitting reply. Make inviting you to speak an attractive idea. Sound crazy? It’s not. Give it a try. It works.

Here are simple guidelines to follow:

  • Be brief, blunt and basic: Write four to five sentences MAX.
  • After drafting, reduce the number of “I’s” and “my’s” in your message.
  • State a clear reason you want a reply in your InMail.
  • Conclude with the customer’s name again. (hyper-personalize)

This will help you put an insane amount of focus on the prospect.

A Few (Proven) Templates for You
For example:

Subject line: Let’s decide?

Hi, [prospect first name].

Are you looking for a better way to ________ [insert goal]? If so may propose a short email exchange—to decide if a deeper conversation is warranted? I __________________[insert description of you] who helps businesses like _______ [insert target business name]. If not, thanks for your time in considering. Please let me know your decision, [prospect first name]?

Sincerely,
[your name]

Why does this template work? For a handful of reasons. If you’re curious ask me in comments and I’ll explain.

When you write, make taking the next step:

  • rewarding to the prospect;
  • predictable and
  • crystal clear to them.

Want to learn this system now? Here are two more free templates to get you started.

Will You Waste Time and Money on LinkedIn?
LinkedIn Sales Navigator can be a good investment, but you are only buying access. Knowing what you do now … having invested time in reading this … what will you do?

Will you rely on a systematic approach this year? Or will you struggle and risk failing?

Will you make quick work of prospecting—or will this feel like slave labor? It’s in your hands. Let me know if I can help.

3 IMM Trends to Watch in 2015

Happy New Year! As we look ahead this year with confidence in our ability to reach those aggressive goals and objectives, it seems that all the great marketing will be done by organizations who are customer-centric, nimble across channels, purposeful in messaging and timing, well-organized and collaborative and, perhaps as an underlying imperative to all of those … in control of their technology. CRM and Integrated Marketing Management (IMM) are core areas of marketing technology investment and opportunity for all of us. I summarize the (near) future of IMM with three words: Data, content and automation.

Happy New Year! As we look ahead this year with confidence in our ability to reach those aggressive goals and objectives, it seems that all the great marketing will be done by organizations who are customer-centric, nimble across channels, purposeful in messaging and timing, well-organized and collaborative and, perhaps as an underlying imperative to all of those … in control of their technology. CRM and Integrated Marketing Management (IMM) are core areas of marketing technology investment and opportunity for all of us. I summarize the (near) future of IMM with three words: Data, content and automation.

1. Data. A recent Oracle study projects that big data will be a $50 billion business by 2017. This continued understanding and utility of big data means bigger budgets for analytics, which grew significantly in 2014 and many analysts expect will continue to grow across industries in 2015. Getting big data and marketing analytics right is the No. 1 imperative for companies who wish to lead their markets. Bad or “dirty” data across businesses and the government will cost the U.S. economy $600 billion dollars a year, and many companies are realizing the opportunity cost of not collecting, owning and analyzing their data.

For IMM strategies, using big data is all about connections. Good IMM solutions will help marketers connect business lines, cross-channel customers, loyal brand advocates and dispersed employee bases.

2. Content. We’ve seen social and content come together in 2014 to begin to build an integrated marketing strategy for many marketers. Brands ramped up their content marketing efforts in a big way, and so 2015 investment will add analytics to the mix and focus on ROI to quantify and benchmark these efforts. Good IMM technology and practices helps to operationalize all that content, matching it with lifecycle stage, real-time advertising and insights from analytics and the budget. The result should be higher quality content that is unique to customer and channel. Repurposed content across social networks is not going to cut it any more.

“Know thy customer” will be the mantra of CRM and IMM for 2015. Companies that succeed will be nimble—not only with content that integrates and personalizes campaigns, but also in the resource management and planning process. We are big fans of strategic planning here at TopRight, but budgeting needs to be flexible and responsive to market, customer and competitive change. Managing dynamic programs in ever-changing ecosystems is at the heart of a great IMM approach. Hot areas of investment will include mobility, social media and technologies, Web analytics and e-commerce.

3. Automation. People don’t want “Brand experiences.” They want “My experiences.” IMM and CRM are critical to understanding each customer as a unique person, with interests and demands that are very personal to each. Automation is what lets marketers act on a lot of those opportunities, provided the data is protected and governed and the risk-mitigated for engines to make social gaffes or predictive blunders. Buzzwords like predictive analytics, pre-targeting and iBeacons have made marketers’ roles more complex, but also more powerful, proactive and measurable. Automation will appear this coming year as part of ad placement and retargeting, programmatic buying and campaign management and optimization.

Are you ready for the challenges that 2015 will bring? Your customer connections won’t occur and repeat without wise investments in your IMM and marketing automation technology. It’s a good time of year to assess your prowess in not just owning, but actually using your marketing technology.

Mergers and Acquisitions: A Challenge to Brand Loyalty

In the late 1990’s, I discovered ShareBuilder—an easy way to buy stocks (and even fractions of a single stock) through regular, automatic purchases online. Far from being a savvy investor, I found ShareBuilder to be the easiest and least stressful way to get involved in the stock market because, after all, how risky could a $5 or $10 weekly investment be to a neophyte like me?

In the late 1990’s, I discovered ShareBuilder—an easy way to buy stocks (and even fractions of a single stock) through regular, automatic purchases online. Far from being a savvy investor, I found ShareBuilder to be the easiest and least stressful way to get involved in the stock market because, after all, how risky could a $5 or $10 weekly investment be to a neophyte like me?

I set up an automatic transfer from my checking account to my ShareBuilder account, and picked out a few popular brand names to invest in. It took a few years, but eventually, I had built up a pretty nice little portfolio of stocks and started learning more about P/E ratios and dividends. I loved how easy it was to invest, and felt like the brand really understood my needs with easy-to-understand online content. I became a ShareBuilder evangelist—encouraged my friends and family to open accounts, started a small investment club for other neophytes, and even joined Motley Fool (another “keep it simple” brand) to gain insights into stock ideas.

ShareBuilder and ING Get Married
In 2007, ShareBuilder was purchased by ING Direct and I got even more excited. I already loved the ING brand (I had opened an account with them a few years earlier) because in my mind, they were the poster child for “financial services made easy.” It seemed to be the brand match made in heaven—the blending of two brands that truly “get it.” I could log in once, and easily click back and forth between my ING and ShareBuilder accounts.

One day, a banner ad on ING caught my eye. It basically pointed out that if I loved ING, I’d love having an “Easy Mortgage” with them… So I called, and within 30 days I had refinanced with ING. That process alone made me an ING customer for life as it was so simple and so stress-free, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t switched to them sooner! I continued to brag about the simplicity of doing business with ING in addition to my stock portfolio-building behavior with ShareBuilder.

But in 2012, everything started to change.

Capital One Joins the Party
Capital One purchased ING and its subsidiary, ShareBuilder. What happened next left me shaking my head …

First, CapOne changed the location of the ING Direct website. I know it sounds simple to those of us in marketing, but when I memorize a URL/have a link in the nav bar, it’s difficult to get me to change my behavior.

Then, I couldn’t access my account through the Capital One site, there’s no way to log into your ING mortgage, as it had been rebranded as Capital One 360 (oh yeah, I can easily remember that new brand … Not).

Next, with interest rates at an all-time low, I decided I should refinance. I reached out to ING since they had been so good to me, but the CapOne experience was less than ING-like. The online site didn’t let me upload documents easily; I was passed from one mortgage specialist to another; I went days without knowing the status of my loan; the loan doc requirements were far greater than the first time around. Net-net, the brand change was also a corporate culture change.

Funnily enough, I had assumed all along that the ING brand had ceased to exist, however, I continued to see TV spots promoting ING. And more recently, an announcement that ING had become Voya Financial. Huh?

Yet Even More Change
The final straw came just this week. An email announced that Capital One ShareBuilder is becoming Capital One Investing. I must admit, I wanted to weep. Was nothing sacred?

Thank God the announcement reassured me that they will still refer to their online business as ShareBuilder (somebody must have recognized the value of the brand name), so I can only pray that it will be business as usual.

But take this as a marketing lesson… When one company gobbles up another, customers feel a sense of loss, and the new management doesn’t always successfully replicate the brand essence.

This was overwhelmingly apparent when I was part of the acquisition team at 1st Nationwide Bank (FNB), back in the 1980’s. We purchased many failing thrifts and changed their names to FNB literally overnight.

At the time, I didn’t appreciate the stressfulness that action would have on its’ customers. Now that I’ve experienced the pain for myself, I’m hopeful it will make me a more sensitive marketer. Brands do build personas and customers feel a connection to them. Personally, I’m still pining for my old ShareBuilder and ING relationships, but it looks like that ship has long sailed.

Mythbusters: Digital, Mail and Green Marketing Payback

The “Mythbusters” of Discovery Channel’s hit show get to blow things up while putting myths to the tests of science. At the Direct Marketing Association’s annual marketing conference, I paid tribute to personal heroes Jamie and Adam (the real TV Mythbusters) by blowing up some green marketing myths that have infiltrated both consumer and agency attitudes toward sustainable marketing practice. If left unchecked, today’s common green myths can sacrifice campaign integrity, leave profitable sustainability solutions untapped, alienate consumers and contribute to environmental harm

In this week’s “Marketing Sustainability,” I’ve invited the newly named chair of the Direct Marketing Association Committee on the Environment and Social Responsibility—Adam Freedgood of New York-based Quadriga Art—to share with readers a “myths v. facts” discussion on sustainability and marketing, presented recently at the DMA2012 conference in Las Vegas, NV. —Chet Dalzell

The “Mythbusters” of Discovery Channel’s hit show get to blow things up while putting myths to the tests of science. At the Direct Marketing Association’s annual marketing conference, I paid tribute to personal heroes Jamie and Adam (the real TV Mythbusters) by blowing up some green marketing myths that have infiltrated both consumer and agency attitudes toward sustainable marketing practice. If left unchecked, today’s common green myths can sacrifice campaign integrity, leave profitable sustainability solutions untapped, alienate consumers and contribute to environmental harm. A 30-minute town square session called “Mythbusters: Green Marketing Edition” debunked and discussed a dozen print, digital and multichannel myths, resulting in new opportunities to drive profitability from sustainability of campaign execution.

The troubling truth about green marketing myths is that they appeal to our aspirations and can quickly become ingrained in business practice. For example, “going green costs more,” “digital is greener than print,” “you can save a tree by not printing this article,” and “storing your data in the cloud means fluffy white beams of clean energy will power your campaign data storage, forever.”

Marketing missteps can grant mythological status to simple misconceptions virtually overnight. Consider the classic “go green, go paperless.” This little beauty appeared out of nowhere and now graces billing statements everywhere. There is no quantifiable environmental benefit attached to the claim, which creates risk to brand integrity. Unsupported green claims violate the Federal Trade Commission’s “Green Guides” enacted earlier this year. The “go paperless” phrase subjugates marketing best practice, opting instead for a greedy grab at the small subset of consumers who attach singificant value to a brand’s environmental attributes. A direct response mechanism that acknowledges basic consumer preferences would do just fine.

The evolution of product stewardship regulation, rising resource costs and consumer preferences support the business case for infusing sustainability in all aspects of marketing best practice. The full myth busting presentation is a Jeopardy-style game board rendered interactively in PowerPoint, available to download here.

Here are a few green marketing myths we debunked that offer urgent, profitable insights for print, digital and multichannel marketers:

Myth 1: “Delivering products and services online, or in the cloud, represents a shift toward environmentally friendly communications, compared with print-based media.”

Reality: This myth is busted. Digital communications shift the tangible environmental impact of marketing campaigns away from the apparent resource requirements associated with paper, transport and end-of-life impacts of print campaigns. By way of fossil fuel-powered data centers that are largely out of sight and out of mind, digital carries a surprising set of environmental hazards. A September 2012 New York Times article highlights the growing connection between data centers and air pollution due to massive energy requirements and dirty fossil-based power inputs. The digital devices used to create and deliver online content to consumers contain toxic heavy metals and petroleum-based plastics. Electronic devices are too toxic for our landfills but are recycled at an abysmal rate. According to the Electronics Takeback Coalition, the U.S. generates more than 3 million tons of “e-waste” annually but recycles only 15 percent.

Myth 2: The United States Postal Service (USPS) has struggled to implement comprehensive sustainability strategies due to declining mail volume and the related shortage of revenue available to invest in green activities.

Reality: Myth busted. The USPS is a prime example of an organization that has embraced the business case for sustainability by making extensive investments in greening most aspects of the organization’s operations. USPS has applied a “triple bottom line” approach to sustainability—the perspective that investments in green business must perform on dimensions of profitability, environmental sustainability and stakeholder impacts. Through postal facility energy efficiency retrofits and attention to sustainability at all levels of operations, USPS has saved $400 million since 2007, according to its sustainability report. Through some 400 employee green teams, USPS employs a bottom-up approach to sustainability that produces substantial cost and energy savings.

Myth 3: Green initiatives have a long, three to five year payback period, placing them at odds with other organizational priorities, such as investments in fast-paced digital marketing infrastructure.

Reality: Myth busted. While some sustainability measures, such as building energy efficiency retrofits, carry a payback period of several years depending on finance and incentives, there are innovative approaches to sustainability for direct marketers that yield much faster financial gains. For example, performing a packaging design audit that identifies downsized product packages and renewable materials can produce immediate savings while dramatically reducing environmental impact. Consolidating IT infrastructure and applying best practices in data center efficiency and server virtualization produces fast financial returns for firms operating in-house data centers. Lastly, Innovative programs that engage customers and suppliers in sustainability also produce quick gains with minimal investment. Starbucks’s “beta cup” competition mobilized a global audience of packaging designers, students and inventors in search of more sustainable coffee cups. The design submissions confronted a key sustainability issue head-on, allowing the chain to engage stakeholders in the solution.

Adam Freedgood is a sustainable business strategy specialist and director of business development at global nonprofit direct marketing firm Quadriga Art in New York City. Reach him on Twitter @thegreenophobe or email adam@freedgood.com.