Machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides systems the ability to automatically learn and improve ( marketing automation) from experience without being explicitly programmed. Machine learning focuses on the development of computer programs that can access data and use it learn for themselves.
For example, facial recognition software learns by being fed datasets of labelled pictures, and trying to guess which contain faces and which don’t, until it can eventually identify faces with a high degree of accuracy. Eventually, with enough data, the software can even learn to recognise who is in the picture (this is how Facebook’s tagging prompts work).
The process of learning begins with observations or data, such as examples, direct experience, or instruction, in order to look for patterns in data and make better decisions in the future based on the examples that we provide. The primary aim is to allow the computers learn automatically without human intervention or assistance and adjust actions accordingly.
The purpose of marketing automation software solutions is to help you deliver quality content to the right people efficiently, so that you may increase your sales and fortify your company’s branding. It is equipped with a plethora of tools that let you create campaigns, identify quality leads, improve your content, and manage your emails and social media accounts.
Whether you own a large business that executes long sales cycles or a start-up company that doesn’t have enough staff to manage marketing campaigns full-time, marketing automation can ease your troubles. Here are some of its features:
- Campaign Automation
- Social Media Management
- Email Management
- Content Management
- Lead Nurturing
- Lead Scoring
- Lead Conversion Tracking
- Customer Segmentation
- A/B Testing
- Campaign Tracking and Reporting
- Customer Engagement Analytics
- ROI Analytics
- Website and CRM Integration
How to Integrate Messaging Apps In Your Marketing Strategy
More than ever, online marketers have more reasons to implement messaging technology to engage their customers. This is especially true for those in e-commerce and online retail sales.
Research data continue to show us that time spent on messaging apps is constantly on the rise, with no end in sight. Dark social platforms such as messaging, email, and private browsing account for almost 70 percent of online referrals when it comes to sharing.
Most popular global mobile messenger apps as of July 2018, based on number of monthly active users (in millions)
Here are some examples as demonstrated by the brands that have implemented Messaging Apps to improve customer service, increase website conversions, and generate a loyal following.
- Using Bots To Make Shopping Easier
- Make Checkouts Easy with Payments Via Messenger Apps
- Go full-throttle with in-app shopping?
- Engage Your Customers Through Public Chats To Keep Your Brand In Their Heads
- Use Messaging Apps to Conduct Contests, Promotions and Other Gimmicks
- Make Your Own Emoticons and Stickers Unique to Your Brand
Messaging apps have over 5B monthly active users worldwide. With this kind of growth in user base and penetration, it is no longer a question of whether it’s time to start engaging customers through messaging apps. The more pertinent challenge is how we can harness this technology in a way that would improve how we transact with them.
What is the origin of the term ‘lifecycle marketing’?
Lifecycle marketing is the process of providing your audience the kinds communications and experiences they need, want, or like as they move from prospects to customers then, ideally, to advocates.
Generally, a lifecycle marketing plan is a three-phase framework, Attract, Sell, and Wow. Each phase consists of three stages that include basic strategies and tactics that coalesce into a single, self-sustaining process. Rolling out a customer lifecycle marketing plan is a lot easier when done in these phases and can be done quickly and affordably with easy-to-use automation technology.
The attract phase
The goal of the Attract Phase is to get the attention of the consumers you want to buy your products or service. The stages include Target, Attract Interest, and Collect Leads.
- Target – Targeting is when you identify specific types of individuals then address them directly with your marketing. Most common ways to target an audience are by interests, behaviour, demographics, location, context, (targeting by topic on the page which is matched with the corresponding message of your ad to reach and connect to an audience with an interest in your product or service), device, etc.
- Attract Interest– Attract visitors to your website with great content like e-books, infographics, research reports, webinars, social media, and blog posts.
- Collect leads – Use a web form that includes offers, free consultations or premium content to encourage visitors to sign up for your email list.
The sell phase
Sell is the second phase of the Lifecycle Marketing model. This is your unique strategy that makes your product or service the obvious choice when those you’ve attracted are ready to buy. Sell Phase stages are Educate, Offer, and Close.
- Educate – Create a consistent campaign of useful information with automated, personalized follow-up messages.
- Offer – The best way to craft an offer is to observe past customer actions and create a buying process map, then provide an irresistible offer.
- Close – Closing the sale is more than the transaction. The close involves clear communication, good presence, and written documentation.
The wow phase
Getting to Wow involves three key stages: Deliver and Wow, Offer More, and Referral. Deliver and wow – Fulfil your commitments on time, follow through when and where it is required. Offer to provide additional value that surprises and delights customers.
We put together 7 steps to help you influence your customer’s lifecycle marketing
Step 1 Welcome campaigns
- Your content marketing has worked its magic. You’ve attracted someone to part with their email address in exchange for some juicy content.
- Now, ease your new subscriber along to their first purchase with this.
- A welcome campaign is an automated series of emails that’s triggered when someone joins your email list. It gives you the opportunity to introduce your brand and position your products in bite-sized chunks.
- Design a series of messages that build a relationship between your brand and your potential customer. Help to nurture their initial interest, so it develops into an intention to purchase.
Step 2 Reviews and ratings
- Reviews and ratings aid customers in the consideration stage of their lifecycle.
- They act as a form of social proof. This helps customers to feel confident that a product will meet their needs.
Step 3 Browse and cart abandonment
- Browse abandonment emails are triggered when your customer has been looking at a product but abandons their browser. This form of personalisation aims to entice the customer back to buy.
- Cart abandonment emails are triggered when your customer puts an item in their basket but abandons your site without buying. Often, they include a discount to sweeten the deal.
- These automations help to drive up conversion rates and are key to the conversion stage of your strategy.
Step 4 Personalised call-to-action
- Personalised call-to-action in your emails and across your website are another way to increase conversions.
- Despite being easy to implement, they are not widely used. This allows your brand to stand out and adds to the persuasive nature of this tactic.
Step 5 Product recommendations
- Product recommendations are a form of personalisation that consistently deliver, throughout the customer lifecycle.
- They are a way to show customers products that meet their needs (consideration). They entice customer to purchase (conversion). And they remind the customer why your brand it still relevant (retention).
Step 6 Countdown timers
- Countdown timers are an eye-catching feature that you can add to your emails or your website.
- A good way to use this feature is to countdown to the beginning of an exclusive offer, or to the end of a sale. The sense of urgency they create helps drive conversions.
Step 7 Re-engagement campaigns
- An inevitable part of E-Commerce marketing is that some customers will lapse. Re-engagement campaigns are an effective way to win-back those sleeping subscribers. Whether you use “we miss you” messaging, list out benefits, or try something more tongue-in-cheek will depend on your brand’s voice.
Personalization in customer service is about keeping customers happy and satisfied in its association with the company. Without customers there is no business – they can either make or ruin a business and hence to take good customer relationships to great, personalization in customer service must remain a consistent effort. Personalization in customer service is the route to establishing trust and confidence with customers, which in turn leads to repeat business, loyalty, and brand advocacy from them.
“The more you engage with customers the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing.” ~ John Russell
Personalization in customer service leads customers to feel more connected and engaged with a company. Traditionally, personalization had been associated with email marketing and CRM (customer relationship management), where marketers messaged to customers what they thought they wanted. However, now strategies are changing as consumers tell us what they want — and how, where and when they want it. This applies to every form of marketing (search, social, content, email, display, digital).
These feelings ensure reduced opportunities for strife and customer churn – customers would feel proud to be associated with a company and would do their bit to let others know of their happy experiences. Positive word of mouth would attract other potential customers to explore business relations with a company – this is a more potent form of advertising than any other method. Through personalization in customer service, companies gain a better and more in-depth understanding of their current and potential customer base.
Below are some statistics to highlight this point and the importance of personalization:
- By 2018 (here and now) over 50 % of companies will redirect investments towards customer experience innovations. Source: Gartner
- 81 % of consumers want brands to understand them better and know when and when not to approach them. Source: Accenture
- 60% of marketers struggle to personalize content in real time, yet 77 % believe real-time personalization is crucial. Source: Adobe
- Over 55% of marketers use a combination of data insights and customer feedback to make decisions on how to personalize content. Source: BrightEdge (Disclosure: BrightEdge is my employer)
- 94% of marketers are focusing on their data and analytics capabilities, personalization technologies and customer profile data management capabilities to deliver personalized customer experiences. Source: Forrester (commissioned by Janrain)
So how do you personalize your marketing efforts?
Provide Relevant Content
To start, you need to define personalization properly. Don’t stop with merely addressing the reader by their first name in the email you send. Effective personalization occurs when you can make a content piece more helpful to a specific customer or prospect. You can do this by creating prospect- and customer-specific content collections, topic pages, and news feeds. Consumers won’t get fooled when you address them by their first name in your email as they know you haven’t typed the message personally. Therefore, personalization is not about using fancy automation software, it means offering relevant content.
Make the Customer Feel Special
In today’s high-tech world, high-touch is missing in most customer engagements. Consumers are greeted by an impersonal phone agent when they call for support. They are just an account number, or username and password to most businesses. Therefore, personalize your marketing as well as customer support efforts to make your customers feel special. Don’t treat them as just one among the crowd, but recognize their unique needs and wants. Consumers get turned off by mass marketing as they are constantly bombarded by ads everywhere. To stand out, personalize your messages to look more credible and get their attention.
To achieve this, businesses can hire social media experts who can connect with their audience on social networks. This type of personal engagement can make your brand look more authentic. Cater to the individual requirements of each of your customers to make them understand their voice is being heard and attended to.
Use Responsive Design
Make use of the best technology and software solutions to personalize your marketing. With their assistance, you can create amazing and relevant content for each consumer. Now, you don’t have to spend time on individual campaigns. Instead, you can create a single landing page, email, and campaign that show up differently based on the prospect or customer who receives them.
In short, personalization means convenience. Customize your email and page for the consumer to make them feel your company is making the effort to know them personally.
Personalization Fetches Better Results
Personalize your emails to boost your open rates and click-through rates significantly. The internet is influencing consumer behaviour and buying trends, and personalized marketing is the key to boosting your online store’s sales. Personalization stats show that 75% of customers prefer buying from a seller that knows their name and purchase history, and recommends products based on their previous purchases. All these findings indicate that undoubtedly personalization is the key to gaining loyal customers and boosting revenue.
Business intelligence and personalization technology are revolutionizing marketing. Now, you can use offline touches to make personalization more relevant and effective. Savvy marketers are utilizing predictive analysis as well as buying signals at the account level to inform their sales agents that a prospect needs a product even before the person himself realizes it. To gain greater market share, your company needs to successfully leverage these technologies and software solutions as well as pertinent buying signals.
The future of marketing is going to become more personal. Soon, consumers would not even need to look for their favourite products as marketers will make these items accessible to them beforehand.
Personalization is a major factor in modern-day business to having the customer come back for repeat purchases. With a little bit of customer data and knowledge of your customer persona, you can have a real-time customization of their buying journey.
National Women’s Day in August gives us the opportunity to celebrate strong and worthy women. In this article I look at outstanding women from diverse backgrounds that share characteristics which make them inspiring leaders. These common denominators include: living their truth, empowering other women, survival, breaking the rules and activism.
“You will survive anything if you live your life from the point of view of truth.”Oprah Winfrey
Oprah built her mega-media empire on being curious, driven, communicative and honest. She’s well known in South Africa for being the founder of The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. She started the school to “Create that experience that I felt for myself, that sense of wonder that somebody cared about me that didn’t even know my name.” She’s spent over $140 million on the leadership academy in the last decade.
From earning 50c an hour babysitting to becoming the first black woman billionaire in history, Oprah garners global respect. She’s not always had it easy and many women can relate to her as she says, “My highest achievement: never shutting down my heart.” I particularly like her “One thing I Know for Sure” column, the content of which became a bestselling book.
“I have always wanted to start a digital channel that empowers people to create, act, become entrepreneurs or the best version of themselves.” Nokwazi Mzobe, Founder of Matoyana Media
Inspired by Shonda Rhimes’s book Year of Yes, South African author and Founder of Matoyana Business Solutions, Nokwazi Mzobe (in discussion with a close group of friends) decided to focus on a word to live by in 2018. The word she chose was fearless. This has led to the start of Matoyana Media; an offshoot of Nokwazi’s consulting business.
Matoyana Media launched in August 2018 with a digital campaign called Fearless Woman, featuring one video interview a day with an awesome, courageous South African woman. The interviews show women who are doing amazing things and finding ways to overcome their daily fears. Nokwazi’s motivation is that by sharing women’s stories others will be inspired to act and not let fear hold them back from their potential and living their best lives.
“Nobody talks about entrepreneurship as a survival, but that’s exactly what it is and what nurtures creative thinking.” Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop
Anita Roddick will always have a special place in my realm of inspirational women. She founded The Body Shop back in 1976 and can be seen as the pioneer of ethical consumerism; with a cosmetics brand committed to providing people with natural and ethically produced products. She was also a human rights activist, environmental campaigner and had a knack for telling it like it is. In this candid interview she talks about the difference between men and women and how they are perceived in business:
“Until we stop measuring men or women as an entity of production, and start to measure people for the production of the human spirit, of which the family is important, we’re always going to have this sacrifice.”
She said in 2003 and things have changed, but perhaps not as much as they should have. Her book Body and Soul is still worth reading for any woman wanting to create a “livelihood” rather than a “business”.
“The rise of a female has a really loud bang.” Nomzamo Mbatha
As well as being an award winning actress, a representative for Puma SA and the face of Neutrogena, South Africa’s Nomzamo Mbatha is also the ambassador for the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC).
In keeping with her humanitarian work she’s been a spokesperson for The Lighthouse Foundation, which helps treat people dealing with suicide or battling with mental illness. Nomzamo’s Ground Six Productions also gives back to charities.
Voted as one of Forbes Africa Under 30 Creatives, her star is on the rise, see her on Cosmopolitan #TheActivismIssue’s August cover. In a TED Talk, Nomzamo explains that she supports refugees because she can be seen as one too. It’s refreshing to see a local celebrity using her talent for so much more than the limelight; I look forward to watching her rise.
5: Break the Rules
“The more we can break the rules, the better off we’re going to be.” Indra Nooyi
Indian-American business executive, Indra Nooyi , was the Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo, the second largest food and beverage business in the world. After being the company’s top chief for 12 years and having been with the company for 24 years, Indra will step down on 3 October 2018. “As CEO, Nooyi grew revenue more than 80%, outperforming our peers and adding a new billion-dollar brand almost every other year,” said PepsiCo board member Ian Cook the news of her stepping down was released.
How did Indra break the rules? She grew up in a socially conservative Indian city but climbed trees and played in a rock band. She continued to challenge the cultural, societal and gender norms of the day and went on to become the second on Forbes’ list of Most Powerful Women in Business in 2017. She has many wise words to live by, but this quote particularly resonates with me, being in the marketing business:
“Every morning you’ve got to wake up with a healthy fear that the world is changing, and a conviction that, to win, you have to change faster and be more agile than anyone else.”
6: Just Plain Human
“Human beings are not like machines. Downtime is a feature. Taking time for a digital detox is essential.” Arianna Huffington
Did you know Arianna Huffington, as well as being the co-founder of Huffington Post, is a composer, songwriter and biographer of Maria Callas and Pablo Picasso? There’s a lot to respect right there, but her most groundbreaking message to women was encompassed in her book Thrive and now her start-up Thrive Global, dedicated to reducing stress and improving wellness.
Arianna and Thrive Global are working to revolutionise thinking and behaviour in terms of the culture of business (and burn out), lack of sleep, addiction to technology and more. She encourages us to turn off our laptops, switch off our smartphones and take a much needed digital detox. I’m proud to say at Prana we do the same.
Jainita Khatri, Managing Director, Prana Business Consulting
About Prana Business Consulting
Prana Business Consulting is a marketing partner to your business. Using omni-channel principles, Prana builds a connection between your brand and your client. Prana drives high performance and tangible results in Marketing, Branding, CRM and Social Media. Prana leverages industry specialists to deliver customized solutions for baby, beauty, health and wellness brands, locally and internationally. Prana is a level 1 BBBEE certified company.
Phone: +27 (0) 11 794 1409 / + 27 (0) 83 414 9796
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Customer engagement today is very different than that of the past. Today, people have a lot of choices when it comes to the number of interaction mediums due to the large number of technological advancements, and customers expect brands to anticipate and meet their needs in real time.
Let’s ask the most difficult question – how does a brand go about engaging a modern consumer?
The customer experience is about so much more than just the sales journey — it’s about feeling heard, getting answers to questions, having problems fixed, and feeling a connection to the brand. In addition to marketing and customer service, brands need to be thinking in terms of customer engagement.
What is Customer Engagement?
Customer engagement is about encouraging your customers to interact and share in the experiences you create for them as a business and a brand. When executed well, a strong customer engagement strategy will foster brand growth and loyalty.
Businesses that focus on customer engagement are focused on value creation, not revenue extraction. They give people something meaningful beyond a sales pitch: a brilliant end-to-end customer experience, great content, or interactive, real-time customer support.
Customer Engagement Statistics
Here are some customer engagement statistics that might explain why so much focus is being put on engaging customers:
- “Companies with the strongest omni-channel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, as compared to 33% for companies with weak omni-channel strategies.” – Aberdeen
- “Customers who are fully engaged represent 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth compared with the average customer.” – Gallup
- “58% of executives reported not having a formal customer engagement program in place, and 60% didn’t know how many customers they’d lost over the past year.” – Convero
- “70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.” – McKinsey
- “Only 25% of Millennials are fully engaged customers, and their engagement is highly dependent on technology. In order to attain their attention brands much achieve excellence in every channel.” – Gallup
Here are seven customer engagement strategies that can build a loyal customer following:
- Listen to Your Customers
Mobile apps give companies amazing opportunities to learn more about their customers. Using surveys consistently will allow you to get feedback from your customers, which you can then use to improve your offerings. And though you might not like to hear it, negative feedback is the most valuable because it shows you where you can make changes to better engage your customers. The key is not to just gather the data. You have to act on it.
- Embrace the Omni-Channel Concept
Customers connect with companies via different channels. They have a wide range of channels to choose from and few use just one channel. For example, a customer might start with the brand’s print catalogue, graduate to the brick-and-mortar shop and make the final purchase online. This is the way the consumer operates today and you need to align with their needs, which means offering them multiple channels and an excellent experience across all of them.
- Get Involved
Regardless of the platform you use, you need to get involved. Don’t just talk at people, bombarding them with promotional messages all the time. Actually engage in conversations with them. Listen to their problems and learn from those issues. And respond. By responding, you show your customers you care, which can go a long way towards building that ever-important loyalty. Looming over your customers like a faceless corporation will not win you any brownie points, so get involved in the conversation.
- Engage them on social media and other online platforms
What’s the best way to get up close and personal with a customer? It’s on social media. Tag them, call them out, thank them, or offer them something to catch their attention. Not just on social media, use other online platforms and communities like Yelp.
But wait, don’t stop there! Share customer reviews and testimonials on your own social media pages to give attention to them.
- Use a Rewards or Loyalty Program to Charm Your Audience
There’s one thing everyone wants to get in on – rewards! Just the mention of the word lightens up the mood. And, people love it if they get something in return for their actions. Why not supplement your efforts by having a rewards or loyalty program in place? It’s a sure-fire way to increase engagement!
Host an Event and Invite Your Audience for Exciting Activities
Most companies perform some level of market research about their audience, mostly for marketing campaigns. Why not use that to host your own little event with only your audience as the attendees? It will make them feel special, and show them that you really care about them. Give your VIP customers personalized passes they can use to enter the venue, and then have someone greet them to offer them a taste of royalty.
- Invest in Employees
Your staff is your most important asset. The more qualified and experienced they are, the better they will be at engaging with your customers. And you need to promote a culture of engagement that focuses on creating an outstanding customer experience so that everyone in your organisation is on the same page.
- Use Customer Data Effectively
Relevant customer information is vital because you can use it to develop other strategies to engage your customers – ones that are tailored to your target market, which will make them even more effective. You should analyse customer behaviour and demographics. Don’t assume you know your customer because the reality might be starkly different to your perception. If you don’t conduct an analysis, you will end up making mistakes that will cost you in the long run.
Use all the tools at your disposal, from customer engagement measuring software to customer satisfaction survey tools, to get an accurate picture of your customers and what they want or need. The more information you have, including customer engagement metrics, the better able you will be to craft and implement effective customer engagement strategies.
Engaging customers is not as easy as it sounds. You have to connect with your audience on a much deeper level emotionally and build trust. Most importantly, it’s about going out of the way for them. We at Prana hope the above customer engagement ideas and strategies help your brand engage audiences of all sizes.
Top 10 Customer Engagement Strategies