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!

How Do You Buy Marketing Tech?

We talk all the time about marketing technology and how marketers are becoming more and more responsible for buying technology and building the marketing tech stack. But what’s the best way to do that? I have a way for you to find out.

We talk all the time about marketing technology and how marketers are becoming more and more the people who buy marketing tech and build the technology stack. But what’s the best way to do that? I have a way for you to find out.

"Shut up and take my money!" Is this how you buy marketing tech?
Is this how you buy marketing tech?

Tech buying is not a skill they teach in marketing school, but it’s become essential for almost all marketing executives today. This is the year, after all, that Gartner predicted marketers would control more IT budget than IT departments.. You need to be able to build the tech stack to do all these amazing things — personalization, retargeting, predictive analytics and more — that make marketing what it is today.

Building the Best Practices

I have looked for a good set of guidelines to point reader to, but haven’t found any that I feel give good, actionable answers. What we need are best practices, and what I’ve seen are more vague steps, like “Know what you need.” I don’t think they’re helpful.

So we’ve launched a new research project — the “Target Marketing 2017 Technology Buying Process Survey” — and I’m hoping you’ll help me make it a success.

Just click here to take the survey.

Our goal with the survey is to build a set of best practices based on the steps that marketers — our readers and beyond — use to make sure the technology they buy actually meets their needs, their budgets, their culture (how often do you buy a tool just to watch it go unused?) and delivers the ROI they need to justify the expense.

The survey isn’t long, but it approaches this by asking respondents to check off the processes they use, to rate how useful they are, and talk about the advice they’d give to other marketers making a similar purchase. It takes less than 10 minutes, but I believe it will help us get to the answers you need.

The Report

I’ll be writing up the report on it myself, and we’ll release that as a free pdf to download, just like our Media Usage Surveys. And of course, a summary will run in the magazine. I sincerely hope that publication will help you better understand how to make sure your next tech purchase is a success.

Also, you can be entered to win a $100 gift card just for taking part.

I hope you’re as interested in seeing this research as I am. Just click on the link to get started.

And if you have any other comments on how you buy tech, or the survey itself, I’d love to talk about them in the comments below.

Are User Reviews Hurting or Helping?

A 2016 research study conducted by Censuswide for the Chartered Institute of Marketing found that 25 percent of consumers claim they’ve seen a fake online review — and the problem seems to be getting worse. What can you do to ensure user-created content is seen as truth-worthy?

Search and Success: How to Make Your Website, Content and SEO Pay OffI have long been fascinated with neuroscience and the role it can play in marketing ever since that legendary case study of an upscale hotel in Amsterdam selling a hamburger for $20 (in the days when one was typically sold for under $3). In that case, the restaurant presented its menu in a very heavy block of transparent plastic, and discovered that “haptic sensations” (the sensation of touch) created a positive impact on the customer and thus the over-priced burger had a perceived higher, more positive value.

In 2016, as more and more decisions are made digitally — without the benefit of a tactile encounter — marketers have been seeking ways to tap into a consumers subconscious. When, in 2004, Yelp provided a platform for user-generated reviews, brands quickly discovered that the court of public opinion could make (or break) a small business.

One short year later, a user-generated content (UGC) strategy had gone mainstream, but with the brand itself firmly in the driver’s seat. These days, sites ranging from Amazon to the local car dealership encourage customers to provide feedback immediately after purchase. But to what end?

In 2014, a research firm called Impowered partnered with Nielson to study which type of content was most instrumental at various purchase stages in terms of driving a purchase decision. The result? Eighty-three percent considered “expert content” to be more valuable than user reviews.

If expert content is the hero influencing brand purchase decisions, why do companies continue to persist in their pursuit of user-generated content?

Eighty-four percent of Millennials report that UGC on a brand’s website has at least some influence on what they buy, compared to 70 percent of Boomers. In fact there are many purchase decisions, both big and small, that Millennials won’t make without UGC. In fact, one report claims that UGC is the best way to push Millennials further down the conversion funnel since they trust it 50 percent more than any other type of media.

But in a new twist, a 2016 research study conducted by Censuswide for the Chartered Institute of Marketing found that 25 percent of consumers claim they’ve seen a fake online review — and the problem seems to be getting worse.

In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), an independent government department, cracked down on a company that was caught posting more than 800 fake reviews on behalf of 86 small businesses across 26 different websites. And Samsung agreed to pay a large fine to Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission for posting fake positive reviews about its products, and fake negative reviews about its competitors’ products.

Assuming that most brands are not trying to game the system, what can you do to ensure user-created content is seen as truth-worthy?

  • Encourage your customers to provide honest, genuine feedback. Don’t try to unduly influence outcomes in the way you ask the questions. One client asked us to remove the 1-10 rating range of “likelihood to refer” (a Net Promotor Score strategy) and replace it with a yes/no option because in their mind, they knew everyone was “happy” so why not lay claim to 100 percent happiness?
  • Acknowledge all reviews — don’t ignore the negative ones. Instead, turn them into opportunities to educate that customer and prospective customers who will see the review, demonstrating your brand is respectful of all opinions, and is thoughtful about resolving them in a fair and positive way.
  • Timing is everything. Unless it’s a review of a restaurant, don’t send out a survey 24-hours after the product is delivered. How could you possibly get an honest response when the buyer has barely had time to open the box, let alone experience your product? When a mattress company sent me a survey after only one night’s sleep on it, my response, of course, will be positive considering I was replacing a 20-year old incumbent.

7 Customer Survey Tips, or How to Know Your Customer For Increased Leads & Profits

Ask any business owner and they’ll tell you, one of the most important rules of thumb is “know thy customer” (KTC). For many years, I’ve found the best way to KTC is implementing periodic customer surveys, then creating a “customer profile” sheet. 

Ask any business owner and they’ll tell you, one of the most important rules of thumb is “know thy customer” (KTC).

Knowing who your customers are—not just on a superficial level, but also on a deeper level—is fundamental for business longevity. It can help your business with most any targeted marketing efforts such as social media marketing (communities with like-minded interests), direct mail and email list selection, copywriting, media buying, affiliate marketing and more. It can also help with bottom-line goals such as bonding, lead generation and sales.

For many years, I’ve found the best way to KTC is implementing periodic customer surveys, then creating a “customer profile” sheet. Ideally, you want to survey at least two times per year, especially after large attrition or list growth.

The profile sheet is important, as it’s a quick reference of your “Joe and Jane” customers, as well as your ideal ‘target’ lead. After all, your prospecting efforts should be a reflection of your current customer base.

But surprisingly enough, not every business knows how to effectively implement and data-mine its online surveys and the respective results.

Here are some quick tips to get the best performance from your customer surveys for business growth and retention:

1. Keep surveys easy and short. The ideal length should be no longer than 10 to 20 questions and questions should be easy to answer. That means thinking of typical questions and having pre-populated multiple choice answers that only need a mouse click.

2. Go 360. Questions should cover demographics, geographics and psychographics. Also, for potential joint venture or advertising opportunities, it’s smart to also ask some competitor and purchase-behavioral type questions.

3. Segmentation is key. Send at least two separate emails to your list. One survey to paying customers and one survey to non-paying customers (leads). It will help later to have these two segments separated when you review response results. If one segment is less responsive than another, you can isolate future “bonding” strategies.

4. Offer incentives. I like to offer free, immediate and easily accessible gifts for survey participation after completion of a survey. Once users submit their last response they are redirected to a download page to free reports or similar. People are taking time out of their schedule and should be “rewarded” accordingly.

5. Be creative with the email subject line. I’ve found that response is greater if the focus of the subject line is more on the reward, rather than the goal. Readers respond better to the mention of freebies and gifts (the “what’s in it for me”), than asking for survey completion. Survey subject lines are viewed as clinical and boring, thus glared over in the inbox.

6. Embrace online tools. Use an easy, cost-effective online survey, such as SurveyMonkey.com. There’s different options and price points, varying on need and robustness. But ideally, you’d want to be able to collect emails and tie responses down to the user (email) level.

7. Allow feedback. Always have an “other” field for open comments. People like to either vent or add praise, so don’t limit them with only having all multiple choice. I tend to make this option the last question.

If you’ve set up your survey correctly where you can drill down responses to the user (email) level, you can then created “buckets” (categories) of common themes. For example, buckets could be based on RFM (recency, frequency or monetary) or on other categories such as interests.

You can then use this information for database marketing efforts and send more personalized messages to your list by group (or “bucket”). This targeted marketing approach has been proven to increase open, click, response and conversion rates by more than double!

Not surveying your list is really doing a disservice. You are not really getting to know your customers; thereby, aren’t offering your best editorial or promotional messages, or creating the best products.

If you’re truly looking for better retention, more customer engagement, and increased sales or leads, then make the time to survey your list.

If you’ve never done this before, then you’re truly leaving money on the table, my friend.

Abandonment Issues

Throughout my 10-plus years covering online marketing and commerce, one nagging issue that’s remained top-of-mind for all in the space has been shopping cart abandonment and how to stop it from happening.

In fact, a survey released by PayPal on June 23 showed that 45 percent of online shoppers abandoned their carts multiple times in the three weeks prior to the survey, which was conducted May 12 to May 15 by comScore. It polled 553 active shoppers who recently had abandoned shopping carts.

Throughout my 10-plus years covering online marketing and commerce, one nagging issue that’s remained top-of-mind for all in the space has been shopping cart abandonment and how to stop it from happening.

In fact, a survey released by PayPal on June 23 showed that 45 percent of online shoppers abandoned their carts multiple times in the three weeks prior to the survey, which was conducted May 12 to May 15 by comScore. It polled 553 active shoppers who recently had abandoned shopping carts.

Another finding: The average value of goods in abandoned shopping carts in the U.S. is $109.

High shipping costs, security concerns and lack of convenience were cited as the main reasons survey respondents abandoned their carts.

Although high shipping costs was cited as the No. 1 reason for cart abandonment, 40 percent of respondents said if they’d known shipping costs up front they might have completed their purchases.

Thirty-seven percent of survey respondents abandoned their carts because they wanted to comparison shop. Another 36 percent didn’t have enough money after shipping and handling charges were added to totals. Twenty-seven percent of respondents who abandoned their carts did so to search for coupons, although a third of those shoppers later returned to the same site to buy. An additional 20 percent purchased the items at brick-and-mortar stores or competitors’ Web sites.

Other reasons shoppers abandon their carts include the following:

  • 26 percent wanted to shop offline;
  • 24 percent couldn’t find preferred pay options;
  • 23 percent said the item was unavailable at checkout;
  • 22 percent couldn’t find customer support; and
  • 21 percent were concerned about the security of credit card data.

While this information may not solve your abandoned shopping cart problems, maybe it will give you some ideas as to how to improve them. If you make customer service easy to find on your site, for example, your abandonment rates may go down.

This is an excellent topic for an open dialogue. Have any of you seen improved shopping cart abandonment rates based on a strategy or technique you’ve implemented? If so, let us know by leaving a comment here. We’d love to hear from you!