combining digital and in-store

As the retail industry is changing, many brick-and-mortar retailers are employing omnichannel marketing strategies to fend off digital giants like Amazon. When it comes to successful omnichannel, a complementary relationship between brick-and-mortar and digital assures companies greater success.

In this third and final retail installment, let’s take a look at how Kohl’s is using omnichannel strategies to create a customer-centric approach.

MOBILE APP

According to STORES Media Editor Susan Reda, “retail’s balance of power resides firmly in the hands of the consumer.” With e-commerce gaining more momentum, many consumers have shifted toward online shopping. The Kohl’s Mobile app is playing a key role in helping the retailer keep up with tech-savvy consumers. Kohl’s effectively leverages the mobile app as an in-store partner and offers a customized shopping experience.

App users who walk into a Kohl’s store have the option of using a feature of the app that tailors to that specific store. The ‘Store Mode’ function personalizes to each customer’s store location and allows shoppers to search for store inventory and see in-store promotions while shopping. Customers can also check the price of store items and see other related goods. The Store Mode function gives Kohl’s a synthesized digital and in-store landscape.

Kohl’s also offers enhanced payment capabilities through the mobile app. Customers can pay with Apple Pay, a one-tap checkout option, in the brick-and-mortar stores and mobile app. Shoppers also have the choice of adding a Kohl’s credit card as a form of payment within Apple Pay. Consumers further have the option of scanning and saving gift cards to the Kohl’s mobile wallet.

Thus, paying for items in the brick-and-mortar stores blends seamlessly with mobile payment features, and customers are provided with a convenient shopping experience. Kohl’s gives shoppers more online and offline purchasing choices, thereby increasing the traffic to stores. The Kohl’s mobile app is a powerful tool which encourages online browsing and in-store sales. The app infuses digital into the in-store experience, creating a smooth customer experience.

STORES AS WAREHOUSES

Kohl’s continues to leverage its physical stores with the implementation of click-and-collect. Shoppers can make purchases online or through the mobile app, and pick them up at a convenient Kohl’s location. The company utilizes the brick-and-click concept, to make the brick-and-mortar stores act like warehouses for online orders. In turn, Click and Collect makes customer shopping more convenient. Click and Collect provides flexibility and ‘real time’ fulfillment for consumers. With consumers coming in store to pick up items, foot traffic to brick-and-mortar facilities is increasing.

The retailer is also using inventory at its brick-and-mortar stores to fulfill online shopping demands. Using local inventory, Kohl’s moves goods that are not selling in stores. Consequently, this speeds up fulfillment since the stores are closer to customers’ homes.
Kohl’s is creatively using its brick-and-mortar stores to make online and offline more connected. As consumers shop online, the retailer uses brick-and-mortar stores as makeshift warehouses, and in turn, makes the shopper’s experience easier and more convenient.

Kohl’s adapted the mobile and brick-and-mortar stores to become highly leveraged and synchronized units. The retailer has used the mobile app and brick-and-mortar adaptations to boost sales and create an inclusive customer experience. Previously, we looked at the successful omnichannel strategies implemented by Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. We have finally rounded off our omnichannel trilogy by taking a look at Kohl’s and how this retailer has implemented omnichannel successfully. While these three retailers are ahead of the curve with omnichannel marketing, it will be exciting to see where other retailers take omnichannel.

 

Introduction

Nectar Online Media, LLC (“nectarOM” or “we” or “us” or “our”) respects the privacy of its Members (“you” or “Member”) and has developed this “Privacy Policy” to demonstrate its commitment to protecting your privacy. This Privacy Policy describes the information we collect, how that information may be used, with whom it may be shared, and your choices about such uses and disclosures.  We encourage you to read this Privacy Policy carefully when using the nectarOM website. By using nectarom.com, you are accepting the practices described in this Privacy Policy.

If you have any questions about our privacy practices, please refer to the end of this Privacy Policy for information on how to contact us.

What Data We Collect and Why

The information we learn from our Members helps us personalize and continually improve your shopping and social experience at nectarom.com.  We may collect Personal Information that can identify you (“Personal Information”) such as your name and email address as well as other information that does not identify you (“Anonymous Information”).  When you provide Personal Information through nectarom.com, the information may be sent to servers located across the United States.  Below are the types of information we gather.

  1. Information You Provide

We collect and store any Personal Information you submit to us voluntarily through nectarom.com or provide to us in some other manner (e.g., comments, contact form, webinar/white paper downloads). This includes identifying information, such as your name, address, email address, telephone number.

We also may request information about your interests, activities, gender, age, and other demographic information, which we may share with advertisers on an anonymous basis.  If you sign up for surveys or other activities that we make available to you on nectarom.com, we will collect the information designated along with such activity, which may include your contact information such as your address and phone number.  If you choose to sign up to receive information about products or services that may be of interest to you, we will collect your email address and other related information.

  1. Information From Other Sources

Cookies and Other Technologies

We use cookies and other technologies, such as, web beacons (also known as “clear gifs” and “pixel tags”) to recognize you, customize your experience, and serve advertisements.   Cookies are very small files placed on your computer, and they allow us to count the number of visitors to nectarom.com and distinguish repeat visitors from new visitors. They also allow us to save Member preferences and track Member trends. We rely on cookies for the proper operation of nectarom.com; therefore if your browser is set to reject all cookies, the website will not function properly and you may lose functionality. We do not link cookies or web beacons to any Personal Information.  We may also enable advertisers and ad servers to promote third-party products and/or services by placing advertisements on nectarom.com. These advertisers and ad servers may use cookies and/or web beacons to monitor information related to served advertisements. Clicking on such advertisements will direct you to the website of a third-party and the advertiser. This Privacy Policy does not cover the privacy practices of any advertisers or ad servers.

Information Collected Automatically

We automatically receive and collect from your internet use information like your IP address, the URLs of websites from which you arrive or leave nectarom.com, your type of browser and language, access times, the content of any undeleted cookies that your browser previously accepted from us, your operating system, your mobile provider, your mobile device, and your ISP. We may use such information to analyze trends, administer the website, prevent fraud, track visitor movement in the aggregate, and gather broad demographic information.

Website Activity Information

We keep track of some of the actions you take on nectarom.com, such as participating on discussion blog posts. Furthermore, any information that is disclosed on discussion boards/forums become public information and you should exercise caution when deciding to disclose any Personal Information.

Information Collected by Third Parties

We retain information you provide in connection with third party services, which includes Merchants, available through nectarom.com like surveys and polls or other third party research undertaken with your consent. We may also collect information about you and your friends who use nectarom.com, from any social network you may have connected from, in order to provide you with a more personalized experience.  We may establish programs with advertising partners and other websites in which they share information with us, such as, ask advertisers to tell us how our Members responded to the ads we showed them (and for comparison purposes, how other Members who didn’t see the ads acted on their website). This data sharing, commonly known as “conversion tracking,” helps us measure our advertising effectiveness and improve the quality of the advertisements you see. We may receive information about whether or not you’ve seen or interacted with certain ads on other websites in order to measure the effectiveness of those ads.  If in any of these cases we receive data that we do not already have, we will within 180 days, stop associating Personal Information received with any particular Member. If we institute these programs, we will only use the information in accordance with this Privacy Policy.

As you browse nectarom.com advertising cookies will be placed on your computer so that we can understand what you are interested in. Our display advertising partner, AdRoll, then enables us to present you with retargeting advertising on other sites based on your previous interaction with nectarom.com. The techniques our partners employ do not collect personal information such as your name, email address, postal address, or telephone number.  You can visit this page to opt out of AdRoll’s and their partners’ targeted advertising.

E-mail Communications

We use your e-mail for promotional (e.g., newsletters, new product offerings, special discounts, special third-party offers) purposes. E-mail messages we send you may contain code that enables our database to track your usage of the e-mails, including whether the e-mail was opened and what links (if any) were clicked.  If you send an e-mail to us, or fill out our “Feedback” form, we will collect your e-mail address and the full content of your e-mail, including attached files, and other information you provide. We may use and display your full name and email address when you send an email notification to a friend through nectarom.com or the social network from which you have connected to nectarom.com (such as in an invitation, or when sharing your content). Additionally, we use your email address to contact you on behalf of your friends (such as when someone sends you a personal message) or notifications from a social network or other website with whom you have registered to receive such notifications.

You may indicate your preference to stop receiving further promotional communications.  If you would rather not receive promotional e-mails from us, please see the section below labeled Opt-Out.  We reserve the right to send you certain communications relating to nectarom.com services, such as service announcements and administrative messages, without offering you the opportunity to opt out of receiving them. We may also contact you by telephone or text message (including to any wireless number you may provide to us) solely in connection with nectarom.com services. If you would rather not receive telephone calls or text messages from us, you may ask to be removed from our contact list if you receive a call or text message from us.

We fully comply with the requirements of the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act.  nectarom.com does not support spamming. If you would like to report an incident of spamming, please contact us at contact@nectarom.com. We will investigate and take suitable action.

How We Use the Information We Collect

We may use information that we collect about you to:

  1. Deliver the products and services that you have requested.
  2. Enable you to share your information and communicate with other Members.
  3. Manage your account and provide you with customer support.
  4. Enable third-party service providers who work on behalf of or with us to provide some of the services and features of nectarom.com.
  5. Share your content preferences and other information with the social network with which you have connected to nectarom.com, along with those companies and persons you have asked us to share your information with.
  6. Perform research and analysis about your use of, or interest in, our products, services, or content, or products, services or content offered by others.
  7. Communicate with you by email, postal mail, telephone and/or mobile devices about products or services that may be of interest to you either from us or other third parties.
  8. Develop and display content and advertising tailored to your interests on nectarom.com and other websites.
  9. Verify your eligibility to participate on nectarom.com.
  10. Manage our business.
  11. Provide nectarom.com advertisements to you when you visit other websites.
  12. Perform functions as otherwise described to you at the time of collection.

From time to time, we may use Member information for new, unanticipated uses not previously disclosed in the then-current Privacy Policy.  If our information practices change in the future we will post such changes to nectarom.com to notify you of these changes. If you are concerned about how your information is used, you should check back at nectarom.com periodically.

We do not sell, rent, or otherwise provide your Personal Information to any third parties for marketing purposes.

Who Sees Your Personal Information

  1. Our Employees

Only a very limited number of nectarom.com employees ever have access to your Personal Information. This information is used to send promotional emails.

  1. Use for Research

In addition to the uses outlined above, by using nectarom.com, you agree to allow us to anonymously use the information from you and your experiences to continue our consumer research objectives. The findings of our research may be sold to third parties or published in industry publications. However, such research will be conducted on an anonymous basis, and no Personal Information will be published or sold. This Privacy Policy does not limit our use or disclosure of any Anonymous Information in any way, and we reserve the right to use and disclose Anonymous Information to our partners, advertisers and other third parties in our discretion.

  1. Affiliated Companies

We may share some or all of your Personal Information with nectarom.com affiliated companies that are under a common control, in which case we will require them to honor this Privacy Policy.

  1. Business Transfers

In the event we go through a business transition such as a merger, acquisition by another company, or sale of all or a portion of our assets, your Personal Information may be among the assets transferred. You acknowledge that such transfers may occur and are permitted by this Privacy Policy, and that any acquirer of ours or that acquirer’s assets may continue to process your Personal Information as set forth in this Privacy Policy.

  1. Disclosure of Anonymous Information to Trusted Third Parties By Us

We may share your Anonymous Information with third parties, but not in a manner that would reveal your identity. We may share your Personal Information, sometimes in conjunction with your Anonymous Information, with service providers that may be associated with us to perform functions on our behalf. For example, outsourced customer care agents or technology assistants may need access to your information to perform services for you. Your information will be treated as private and confidential by such service providers and not used for any other purpose than we authorize. In addition, from time to time, we may share Anonymous Information about our Member base with carefully selected third parties, so they can offer products and services that we believe may be of interest to our Members.

  1. Disclosure to Trusted Third Parties at Your Request

While visiting nectarom.com, we may provide you with advertisements, promotions, sweepstakes and offers from third party providers. If you choose to accept any such offers, you may either (depending on the situation) directly provide your information in connection with the offer to such third party provider, or we will provide your information, including billing information, to the third party provider by pre-populating the offer registration forms. Your information will not be transferred until you actually accept the offer. You may opt-out of the offer at any time up until your acceptance. Please refer to the third party provider’s own privacy policy (provided on the offer pages) if you have any questions regarding how your information is used by such providers. Please be aware that these offers may be presented on pages framed by nectarom.com. Although these offer pages have the look and feel of nectarom.com, you will be submitting your information directly to the third-party advertiser. You agree that we will not be responsible or liable for any loss or damage of any sort incurred as the result of any such dealings, including the sharing of the information you supply to us with third party providers described here, or as the result of the presence of such providers on nectarom.com.

  1. Protection of nectarom.com and Others

We release account and other Personal Information when we believe release is appropriate to comply with the law; or protect the rights, property, or safety of nectarom.com, our Members, or others. This includes exchanging information with other companies and organizations for fraud protection and credit risk reduction. Obviously, however, this does not include selling, renting, sharing, or otherwise disclosing Personal Information from Members for commercial purposes in violation of the commitments set forth in this Privacy Policy.

How We Keep Your Information Secure

The security of your Personal Information is important to nectarom.com.  We take appropriate security measures (including physical, electronic and procedural measures) to help safeguard your Personal Information from unauthorized access and disclosure.  nectarom.com uses a secure, encrypted connection (called an SSL connection) on all pages where you access or transmit Personal Information.  We want you to feel confident using nectarom.com to transact business. However, no system can be completely secure. Therefore, although we take steps to secure your information, we do not promise, and you should not expect, that your Personal Information, searches, or other communications will always remain secure.   It is important for you to protect against unauthorized access to your password and to your computer. Be sure to sign off when finished using a shared computer.  Members should also take care with how they handle and disclose their Personal Information and should avoid sending Personal Information through insecure email.

Your Privacy With nectarom.com

nectarom.com will never ask for your username, password or any other Personal Information in an unsolicited phone call, email or letter. Further, any contact with nectarom.com customer service in which Personal Information is exchanged with a customer service representative will be used only for the purpose of satisfying your request. Any Personal Information you provide will not be recorded or used for any reason beyond that of the stated request.

Your Privacy with Our Affiliated Merchants and Advertisers

nectarom.com does not record Personal Information passed from our visitors to affiliated merchants. Order information, including order numbers and amounts, may be available to nectarom.com, the affiliated merchant, or third party affiliate program management companies for accurate tracking purposes, but this information will not be released by nectarom.com to other parties on a personally identifiable basis.  We may, however, aggregate this information on an anonymous basis to, among other things, perform market analysis and analyze trends.

Links to or Access from Other Websites

nectarom.com contains links to various other websites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices or the content of such other websites.  The ability to access information of third-parties from nectarom.com, or links to other websites or locations, is for your convenience and does not signify our endorsement of such third-parties, their products, their services, other websites, locations or their content.

We are not responsible for the privacy policies or practices or the content of any other websites that may provide access to, or be linked to or from, nectarom.com, including that of any social networking websites and third party advertisers whose offerings require you to navigate away from nectarom.com.  These third-party websites may independently solicit and collect information, including Personal Information, from you and, in some instances, provide us with information about your activities on those websites.  We encourage our Members to read the privacy statements of each and every website they visit.  Each of these websites has a privacy policy that may differ from that of nectarom.com. If you wish to receive special offers directly from a store, neither this Privacy Policy nor our opt-out policy applies to those communications. Instead, please refer to the relevant website’s privacy and opt-out policy.

You may be able to access our account or content of your account from third party websites, such as social networking websites, by way of various applications. The privacy policies and practices of such websites in connection with information you disclose on such websites may differ from the practices of nectarom.com as set forth in this privacy statement, and you should review their policies and practices to ensure that the privacy of the information you submit on their website does not conflict with and is consistent with how you wish your information to be treated.

Your Choices and Responsibilities

We offer you choices regarding the collection, use, and sharing of your Personal Information.  You can choose not to provide us with certain information, but that may result in you being unable to use certain features of nectarom.com because such information may be required in order for you to register.

Any violation of these guidelines may lead to the restriction, suspension or termination of your account at the sole discretion of nectarom.com.

You have a right at any time to stop us from contacting you for marketing purposes. When you receive promotional communications from us, you may indicate a preference to stop receiving further promotional communications from us and you will have the opportunity to “opt-out” by following the unsubscribe instructions provided in the promotional e-mail you receive or by contacting us directly at contact@nectarom.com.

Despite your indicated email marketing preferences, we may send you administrative emails regarding nectarom.com, including, for example, administrative and transactional confirmations, and notices of updates to our Privacy Policy if we choose to provide such notices to you in this manner.

You have the right to request a copy of the Personal Information that we hold about you. If you would like a copy of some or all of your Personal Information, please contact us at contact@nectarom.com. We may charge a reasonable fee for this service. We want to make sure that your information is accurate and up-to-date. You may ask us to correct or remove information which you think is inaccurate. You may change any of your profile information by editing it in the profile settings page.

We will post all changes to this Privacy Policy here at nectarom.com. You are responsible for checking periodically on policy updates.

How You Can Access Your Information

More information about how to contact us is provided below. If you have an online account with us, you also may close your account at any time by editing the profile settings for your account. After you close your account, you will not be able to sign in to nectarom.com or access any of your Personal Information. However, you can re-activate your previous account by following instructions we will give you at the time you close your account. If you close your account, we may still retain certain information associated with your account for analytical purposes and recordkeeping integrity, as well as to prevent fraud, collect any fees owed, enforce our terms and conditions, take actions we deem necessary to protect the integrity of nectarom.com or our Members, or take other actions otherwise permitted by law. In addition, if certain information has already been provided to third parties as described in this Privacy Policy, retention of that information will be subject to those third parties’ policies.

Opt-Out

You may use the following options for removing your information from our e-mail database if you wish to opt out of receiving promotional e-mails and newsletters.

  • Click on the “unsubscribe” link on the bottom of the e-mail;
  • Send mail to the following postal address letting us know which promotional e-mails you wish to opt-out of:

Nectar Online Media, LLC
P.O. Box 631155
Irving, TX 75063-1155

It may take up to 10 days for us to process an opt-out request.  We may send you other types of transactional and relationship email communications, such as service announcements, administrative notices, and surveys, without offering you the opportunity to opt out of receiving them. Please note that changing information in your account, or otherwise opting out of receipt of promotional email communications will only affect future activities or communications from us. If we have already provided your information to a third party (such as a service provider) before you have changed your preferences or updated your information, you may have to change you preferences directly with that third party.

Visiting Our Website From Outside the United States

This Privacy Policy is intended to cover collection of information on nectarom.com from residents of the United States. If you are visiting nectarom.com from outside the United States, please be aware that your information may be transferred to, stored, and processed in the United States where our servers are located and our central database is operated. By using our services, you understand that your information may be transferred to our facilities and those third parties with whom we share it as described in this Privacy Policy.

Children’s Privacy

Although nectarom.com is a general audience website, we restrict the use of our service to individuals age 18 and above. Children under the age of 18 are not permitted to use nectarom.com.  Furthermore, we do not intentionally collect or maintain Personal Information from those who are under 13 years old.  Protecting the privacy of children is very important to us. If we obtain actual knowledge that a visitor is under 13, we will take steps to remove that Member’s Personal Information permanently from our databases in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. By using nectarom.com, you are representing that you are at least 18 years old.

Feedback

If you provide feedback to us, we may use and disclose such feedback for any purpose, provided we do not associate such feedback with your Personal Information. We will collect any information contained in such feedback and will treat the Personal Information in it in accordance with this Privacy Policy. You agree that any such comments and any email we receive becomes our property. We may use feedback for marketing purposes or to add to or modify our services without paying any royalties or other compensation to you.

No Rights of Third Parties

This Privacy Policy does not create rights enforceable by third parties or require disclosure of any Personal Information relating to Members of the website.

Acceptance of Privacy Policy

Your use of nectarom.com, including any dispute concerning privacy, is subject to this Privacy Policy. BY USING NECTAROM.COM, YOU ARE ACCEPTING THE PRACTICES SET OUT IN THIS PRIVACY POLICY.

Changes to this Privacy Policy

We will occasionally update this Privacy Policy. When we post changes to this Privacy Policy, we will revise the “last updated” date at the top of this Privacy Policy. If we decide to change our privacy policy, we will post those changes to this Privacy Policy page and any other places we deem appropriate so that you are aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. We reserve the right to modify this Privacy Policy at any time, so please review it frequently. If we make material changes to this policy, we will notify you here, or by other means, such as e-mail, at our discretion.

If you object to any such changes, you must cease using nectarom.com.  Your continued use of any portion of nectarom.com following posting of the updated Privacy Policy will constitute your acceptance of the changes.

How to Contact Us

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy or our information-handling practices, or if you would like to request information about our disclosure of Personal Information to third parties for their direct marketing purposes, please contact us by email or postal mail as follows:

Nectar Online Media, LLC
PO Box 631155
Irving, TX 75063-1155
contact@nectarom.com

 

Omni Channel Communication – Why E-mail?

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In today’s digital age what is the purpose of omni channel communication?

Generally, it is to communicate and convert, to build relationships with the customer and to create more unified and relevant experiences for today’s value driven consumers.

Understanding this, we must ask: Is e-mail dead?

Ok, so the question may be a little dramatic, but it is necessary to answer in the digital age. With the advanced technology solutions now available, why do we still need e-mail?

Well … before we begin, let’s take a look at the numbers.

According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 64% of Americans now own a smartphone. This number has increased slightly from 58% in 2014. The Pew study found that while text messaging is the most widely-used smartphone feature, “e-mail continues to retain a place of prominence in the smartphone era.” According to the same study, around 88% of smartphone users accessed e-mail on their phone at least one time over the course of the study period … making e-mail a more widely-used smartphone feature than video, social media and navigation applications.

It seems that if the true calling of omni channel marketing is to provide a total customer experience, i.e., to meet the consumer where they want to be met and deliver the value that consumers demand, then the numbers prove that e-mail is still KING.

If e-mail isn’t dead, what is the omni channel challenge of the digital age?

Keeping information up-to-date.

With the intertwining and complex communication channels that exist today, this task can be tough. However, e-mail provides an ideal mechanism to meet and overcome this challenge.

What are some of the great benefits using e-mail in the omni channel? Let’s briefly review:

#1 Value Driven Updates

Why is e-mail marketing an ideal digital age omni channel strategy? Because with minimal effort and high-cost efficiency, marketers can see steadily increase revenue and build loyalty by implementing highly informative e-mail newsletters.

Newsletters are powerful marketing and communication tools that not only remind your users you exist, but they inform them of your products, services, social presence and promotions (i.e., your value). Newsletters are added value in the sense that customers and potential customers sign up because they want to build a relationship with your brand, not because they are forced to.

Recent survey figures reveal 95% of people who sign up for a newsletter from a known brand find it somewhat or very useful … i.e., 95% find value. Also, it is important to note that newsletters are a relatively lowcost method as compared to mainstream marketing channels.

#2 Vast Mobile Reach

In the digital age, customers are constantly checking their e-mail, social networks and shopping online. Ifact, a recent Forrester Research study estimates that 42% of retailer e-mails for the year 2014 were opened on smartphones, and 17% were opened on tablets.

This high frequency of mobile use translates into countless opportunities to target unique market segments and create a user experience engineered specifically for mobile use. Some marketers have argued SMS (texting) marketing is more appropriate in the digital age because it streamlines value via the most widely used communication channel today; however, it’s important to remember e-mail has its advantages. For example, e-mail works on all mobile devices (not only phones), it is free (carrier charges apply to text messages) and e-mail allow for longer messages with the addition of digital media (pictures, videos, etc.).

#3 Fulfilled Expectations

While receiving an e-mail in 2016 doesn’t quite equal the joy of hearing, “You’ve got mail!” in 1999, it is what customers and potential customers are expecting from retailers in the digital age. According to an August 2015,e-mail marketing study by Adobe, 63% of customers continue to prefer to receive marketing promotions and offers through e-mails. This means that 63% of customers not only desire e-mail interactions, they expect them! By meeting consumer expectations, e-mail assists digital age marketers with the never ending quest to align consumer and marketer values.

Yet, for all the great benefits listed above, the truth remains that the consumer inbox in the digital age is a crowded place….

How crowded?

Well, according to Microsoft, the average e-mail user has an inbox count consisting of around 50% newsletters and 20% social media updates… and each of these consists of countless businesses and multiple social media platforms. Want even more evidence? In 2015, over 205 billion e-mails were sent and received daily.

This large number of 205 billion e-mails tells us retailers and marketers must separate from the pack or risk losing conversion and leads. Two of the best value creation strategies for standing out in the digital age include:

Personalization and automation.

Without further adieu, let’s take a look at how you can float like a butterfly while you sting like a bee and one-two punch your way to higher conversion rates.

E-mail Personalization – The Loyalty Builder

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It should be well recognized that personalization and marketing are inseparable in the digital age. Consumers have a personalization preference from the brands they use and love, because not only does personalization relieve the information overload of today, but personalized information makes the shopping experience more relevant to consumers.

By applying personalization techniques to e-mail marketing campaigns, marketers are more likely to build longterm relationships with customersand increase conversion rates. In terms of tangible numbers, this could translate into 6x higher transaction rates for personalized e-mails when compared to non-personalized e-mails.

As stunning as this figure sounds, perhaps the most amazing number is that only 35% of marketers are using personalized e-mail subject lines! Since 60% of marketers say they struggle with personalization, here are several simple personalization methods to try to boost conversion rates:

#1 Ask Questions and Build Profiles

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Customer segmentation depends on data. Yet, marketers often fail to ask the necessary questions before opting-in and segmenting potential consumers. What are the “right” questions? Remember the who, the what and the why:

Who are your customers? Why are they visiting/using your product/joining your list? What do they value?

Exclusive Bonus: Download 5 Tips for Email Personalization to know how to personalize email marketing.

These three simple questions can go a long way in gaining detailed consumer insight and creating highly targeted e-mails. For reference, the multi-question opt-in form above (from Thrive Leads) is a perfect example of how marketers can immediately begin to build value by understanding the interests and wants of clients.

Based on the answer to the question above, consumers and potential consumers can be assigned to separate segments and then sent different e-mails focusing on their specific interests. How effective is this technique? Well, Paper Style, an invitation and paper supply company, saw their open rate increased by 244% and their click-through rate increase by 161%.

Effective indeed!

#2 Develop Opt-In Consistency

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A great and subtle technique to help align with consumer values is ensuring your opt-in copy matches your e-mail copy. Remember, someone opted in for a reason! Your landing page and CTA have already conveyed a certain degree of value. Use this to your advantage by syncing the look and copy of your opt-ins with your e-mails.

The picture above highlights the recent success story of Nuffield Health. Wanting to increase opt-ins and leads, they segmented their target market and then assigned personalized landing pages and an e-mail series to each segment. By pairing personalized e-mails and landing pages, they were able to increase their conversion rates from 1% to 8%.

#3 Encourage Consumer Responses

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Our last tip is perhaps the most important. Remember, the entire point of sending an e-mail or a series of e-mails is to engage clients and potential clients. “Engage” means provoking a response via value. Accepting this as true, what is wrong with the e-mail address below?

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By using a “no reply” e-mail address, you are telling your target market not to respond! Having a reply address creates a dialog channel that plays to consumer value. Using a real person and a real name will go a long way in making an e-mail credible and in provoking a response or action on the part of the consumer.

Want further motivation? Most ISPs do not allow “no reply” e-mail addresses to be added to address books; therefore, they are more likely to be tagged as spam.

Remember, no reply means no customer.

E-mail Automation – The Value Optimizer

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The implementation of e-mail automation strategies has become one of the most effective ways to engage in e-mail marketing. Automation and CRM software streamlines the consumer engagement processes, saves time and money and helps marketers develop relationships via personalized and efficient communication.

When should e-mail automation be employed?It should be used when:

  • Sending an e-mail series for courses or segmented information
  • Welcoming a newly opted-in subscriber to your e-mail list
  • Personalizing special messages (i.e., birthday, Christmas, etc.)
  • Purchasing followup (i.e., thank you, feedback, etc.)
  • Completing questionnaires and surveys to gain valuable insight

Not one of the 82% of B2B and B2C companies using e-mail automation? Here are some basic steps to get you started:

  • Select Trigger: What is a trigger? It is a specific action that activates an e-mail solution of your choice. For example, let’s say you decide that the trigger should be the moment someone subscribes to an e-mail list. A “scribing trigger” means that whenever an individual opts-in to receive your weekly e-mail, they will receive a welcome and thank you e-mail. Other triggers could be those mentioned from above: purchases, birthdays, lack of customer activity, etc. While the activation reasons may vary from individual to individual, it is important to remember that specific activation triggers should be part of a larger personalization strategy.
  • Design E-mail(s): Depending on the trigger, goal and target audience, e-mails and e-mail series will vary. They could include welcome e-mails, “getting started with your product” e-mails and discount e-mails. The point is to keep the communication channels open between the retailer and customer while consistently encourage a response. Again, individual goals will vary from series to series, but the overall goal of these e-mails is to remind your consumer or potential consumer of the value you can deliver. Also, remember to personalize! For a great resource on current and successful e-mail design examples, check out this recent list by Hubspot.
  • Select and Optimize Timing: The scheduling and timing of e-mails is a neglected and overlooked part of the automation process. Marketers should never take for granted the impact of time and location. From LA to Shanghai to London, it is important to remember today’s consumers are global. Certain market segments will prefer times that others won’t. Whether it is 8 a.m. or 7:30 p.m., the only way marketers will discover the value of optimal delivery times is through testing. A model example is the case study of BustedTees. This ecommerce retailer was able to segment its e-mail list by time zone and they developed personalized delivery times by reviewing past data on individual open times. The results included an 8% lift in e-mail revenue, an 11% higher clickthrough rate and a 17% increase in total e-mail response rate.

In Conclusion….

As you can see from the numbers and case studies mentioned above, e-mail personalization works. It engages customers, opens communication channels and builds value. Automation strategies in the digital age help facilitate the process of personalization through data analysis and lead nurturing.

Put together, today’s marketers have a one-two punch for e-mail optimization and omni channel ROI.

Exclusive Bonus: Download 5 Tips for Email Personalization to know how to personalize email marketing.

Omni Channel and Personalization – Putting the Customer First

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Omni channel marketing and personalization are the peanut butter and jelly of the digital age – they were made for each other. They are also fundamentally changing business.

More than a collection of “buzzwords,” omni channel marketing and personalization reflect a significant shift in technology and consumer values. Marketers now understand that single channel marketing is no longer viable, while digital age consumers require a unique and relevant experience.

It’s also changing the corporate enterprise forever. As social norms evolve, so have the general expectations for today’s purchasing relationship. Consumers can now engage companies via a diverse set of owned communication channels, such as brick and mortar locations, websites, internet enabled products and mobile apps. Consumers can also communicate with other users through social networking and make their opinions about a brand known instantaneously. Most importantly, consumers can make a single purchase while journeying across multiple platforms.

The result? There’s a very clear value exchange between consumers and brands long before a purchase takes place. Customers know their data is valuable so if they agree to make it available then companies are expected to walk the fine line of leveraging that data, but only in a way that improves the customer’s’ life. The fact that we get these behavioral clues from customers in real-time and are expected to react with immediate relevancy is what’s causing companies to re-learn what “big data” really means.

In other words, for every aspect of an enterprise – marketers, technicians, operations, executives – it’s a whole new world. We haven’t seen a seismic shift in technology to business impact since the arrival of the internet. Just like during the Internet era, the service firms that can help an enterprise understand how to navigate through these changes and adapt will stand to benefit greatly.

So how does this new marketing paradigm for the digital age alter client decision making structures? What do these changes mean for consultancies and agencies?

As you can imagine, with great change, comes great opportunity….

Let’s take a look at what the omni channel revolution likely will mean to the future marketing service providers.

Exclusive Bonus: Download 10-Point Omni Channel “Focus” Checklist to know consistent consumer value transfer.
The Digital Age – A Historical Perspective

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History has proven, time and again, that technology is the best catalyst for change. The digital age and its new consumer generation are both living proof that the tech catalyst is alive and well.

It is said that the best way to predict the future is to review the past….

As we are living in the most current phase of advanced technology, it only makes sense to briefly retrace the history of its precursor in upheaval, the introduction of the internet. A brief review of how this last seismic shift in technology affected marketing service firms will help us better predict the changes to occur in the near future.

The 1990s – what exactly happened?

A war, a few political scandals, Seinfeld … and this really hard to explain thing called the World Wide Web.

Advertising firms had to adjust to new social and economic changes as baby boomers (the 1990s generation with the most purchasing power) began to age, populations began to shift and something called the internet began to allow for more freedom of choice and access to information.

When traditionally large and bureaucratic marketing agencies were slow to adjust to the new marketing paradigm of the times, there was a mass talent exodus from these firms. Small boutique firms started to pop up in regional tech hubs such as San Jose, Boulder and Seattle. Highly specialized service providers began to perform consulting activities that were traditionally reserved for the large and incumbent firms. These service providers became renowned for their responsiveness and had a solid understanding of how the technology worked and could manage execution quickly.

By the time the mid-90s arrived, the internet provided consumers with the ability to purchase goods and services from the comfort of their homes. E-commerce revolutionized the traditional view of retail, and as such, the internet advertising boom naturally followed. Click-through rates soared for the early adopters such as Hotwired and Pathfinder, and the large online goods and services providers of the time began looking for knowledgeable marketers.

Marketing services soon focused heavily on technology with service providers using new forms of communication to decentralize their teams and enhance capabilities. In the mid-2000s, marketing service providers started to develop the ability to send and receive services globally. It is at this point, with technology driven decentralization, that marketing consultants really began to provide enhanced responsiveness and value to clients.

On our timeline of events, we are now back in the digital age. The changes of the 1990s and early 2000s are returning full circle as the digital age becomes synonymous with customer value.

What should we expect?

We can expect service specialization to continue to increase, personalization to remain necessary to meet consumer needs and for marketing communication channels to continue to seamlessly integrate.

Exclusive Bonus: Download 10-Point Omni Channel “Focus” Checklist to know consistent consumer value transfer.
Omni Channel Role Playing – The New, The Old, The Hybrid

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Who are the individuals responsible for implementing and leading today’s omni channel revolution? Where does the obligation for value creation, personalization and seamless omni channel integration fall?

The truth is, in the face of numerous digital age challenges, traditional marketing roles are likely to continue to be difficult to define. Similar to how the rise of the internet and e-commerce in the 1990s blurred the lines between service provider and marketing agency, omni channel needs in the digital age have merged traditional roles and positions.

Let’s take a look at some the individuals likely to be tasked with omni channel implementation:

#1 Chief Information Officer (CIO)

The digital transformation has demanded that retailers reconsider how they put their product and services on the market, including the IT decisions involved. The responsibility of new technology implementation typically falls on CIOs.

However, in the digital age, there are other IT stakeholders helping drive along technology-related decision making. In this sense, the traditional tension between the chief marketing officer (CMO) and the CIO will need to be reconciled as the CMO will hold a degree of influence over IT strategies. CIOs are routinely tasked with not only having a high level of IT know-how, but with developing the transformation of technology solutions.

One of the driving forces behind the omni channel is data.

It is here that the CIO will take a more traditional technology management role. The CIO will be tasked with implementing data processes that are current and can ignite the move from transaction-centric marketing to consumer-centric marketing. Consumer personalization through data analytics and predictive analysis is the future of marketing, and the CIO will help facilitate increased value. As big data continues to play a bigger role in omni channel ROI, so will the CIO.

This position typically falls under the leadership of systems integrators and product development companies.

#2 Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)

Traditionally hailing from the realm of the marketing agency, no position has been subject to as much change in the digital age as the CMO.

With the rise of marketing proliferation (circa 2004), CMOs have had to learn how to manage rapidly changing technology, discover new sales and service touch points and perfect digital age customer segmentation. New consumer needs have also contributed to a broadening of the traditional role of the CMO. The expansion of the CMO mission in the digital age has led to high turnover rates (higher than most C-suite executives) and a short supply of viable CMO candidates.

As a result of these digital age challenges and changes, CMOs find themselves having to collaborate more with CIOs in order to design and implement effective omni channel strategies.

New media and new technology require collaboration between these two positions that traditionally co-existed with tension. Absent collaboration between the two, potentially profitable technologies could succumb to rising costs without any positive consumer impact. Collaboration in the digital age is limited not only to CIOs and CMOs. Understanding consumer needs and values in the digital age also requires teamwork between sales, marketing, manufacturing and information technology.

With these new needs have evolved new solutions, one of which is the chief omni channel officer hybrid (see below).

#3 Chief Omni Channel Officer (COCO)

What is the COCO?

The chief omni channel officer is the modern day version of the Renaissance man. The term Renaissance man is used to describe the great minds from the 14th to the 17th century. These individuals excelled in several areas of expertise in both the sciences and the arts.

Whereas in the 15th century, Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned by great rulers and kingdoms to apply his intellectual, artistic, social and physical gifts, the COCO is a position filled (both in-house and out) by companies looking for a multi-faceted marketing and management skill set.

With the traditionally distinct roles of the CIO and CMO now blurred, the COCO emerges as the perfect complement for the digital age. This is a role that is broader than the agency connected CMO, as it combines CMO/CIO influences and know-how together with client-facing activities. The COCO is positioned to have a role in not only traditional marketing decision-making, but in brick and mortar operations and digital solutions as well. This new hybrid position will provide an enhanced degree of flexibility to traditional employment structures that have a tendency to form rigid silos and prevent growth.

Firms are looking for their ideal COCO to have not only extensive digital marketing experience, but a profit and loss management skill set as well. Profit and loss management is new territory for most marketers, and this shift reflects executive desires to increase accountability for the bottom line returns associated with marketing activities. As the C-suite influences here are heavy, this position has a high probability being filled in-house via existing executives.

At the top of the list of justifications for this new hybrid position is the desire for top-level management to tie profit responsibility to creativity. This is a tall order for even the most experienced of digital marketers and is a task filled with many unknowns … yet, with unanswered questions, comes ample opportunity.

The COCO is the new client battleground for both agencies and consultancies in the digital age….

Let’s take a look at each.

Exclusive Bonus: Download 10-Point Omni Channel “Focus” Checklist to know consistent consumer value transfer.
The Agency vs. Consultancy Perspective

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As we are now familiar with the new client of the digital age, the COCO, let’s briefly review the traditional perspectives that service providers bring to the table and see who wins the newest marketing battleground of today.

The Agency

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A full-service/integrated agency is unique in that it has the capability of successfully driving all aspects of the marketing process. The arrival of the digital age brought with it digital technology disruption, and this disruption has manifested as a significant shift in consumer behavior.

This shift means that today’s agencies have to deliver a full-service experience: i.e., mastering strategic planning, creative production and interactive marketing implementation. While traditionally tasked with message development, agencies must now develop a fluency in big data, social media and technology optimization.

Let’s take a look at what agencies bring to the omni channel table:

  • Broad View: Agencies market with a long-term mindset. They cross the t’s and dot the i’s, understanding they are doing so to reach and impact a wider target audience. This long-term point of view also allows agencies to more easily monitor goal progress and to adjust goals should they need adjusting.
  • Full Service Solutions: As referenced above, agencies engage in all aspects of marketing, from research and development, to design, to concept, to copy writing. The digital age agencies typically have someone to cover every marketing need that can arise. This helps create assimilated solutions and branding in the digital age, which is essential for omni channel integration.
  • Data Driven Insights: Due to experience and a diverse client base, agencies command of industry insights makes them extremely well versed on consumer needs. Agencies tend to manage large databases via their CRM or consumer engagement dealings, and this gives them a clear advantage in personalization and automation.

How about what agencies do not bring to the omni channel table:

  • A Targeted Approach: While agencies may be the jack-of-all trades that businesses need to cover a wide range of topics, they often lack the specific niche approaches necessary to successfully target segmented markets in the digital age. This is especially important given the demands of today’s consumer requiring that brands know them on a more intimate level.
  • Small Business Know-How: All businesses need to implement marketing strategies in the digital age, regardless if they are a local boutique or on the Fortune 500 list. It’s clear that the needs of a small boutique product/service firm will differ greatly from a large corporation. Yet, this is not always understood by large agencies, and they run the risk of not being able to provide actionable data to the small business sectors of the digital age.
The Consultancy

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Marketing consulting is really the art of professional consumer analysis. Consultancies understand what motivates consumers and how to implement specific strategies for marketing ROI. While different from agencies, they perform complementary functions that often blur the lines of division between the two (sound familiar?).

Generally, if there is a specific message that a business wants to convey, they hire an agency for access to its expansive reach, diverse know-how and data insights. If, however, a company needs expert know-how on how to expand a client base and re-invigorate the passion of current clients, they look to a consultant. These individuals will work directly with company marketers and C-suite executives to review existing business models and any potential risks associated with future scenarios.

Let’s take a look at what consultancies bring to the omni channel table:

  • Specialized Expertise: When companies are in need of a niche focus that is not readily available in their company, they call on a consultant. Most consultants have a wealth of experience and are continuously educating themselves on the trends and strategies that impact their work. This high level of expertise is one of the reasons they often work with senior level executives planning and implementing strategy.
  • Cost Savings: As the focus of consultancies is niche and specialized in nature, this expertise can save companies time and money. Consultants only work the hours that are necessary to accomplish the task at hand. If a business doesn’t need a full-time marketing manager for a specific engagement, consultants will allow for flexibility and precision via short-term contract hiring. Also, there is no additional cost of training.
  • Creativity: Consultancies are finding success in the digital age by helping companies understand how to evolve culturally with consumers. This is the future of marketing – a rich blend of tech, niche knowledge and strategy. The ability to infuse business know-how with creativity (much like the COCO) will continue to bring value as the digital age evolves.

And now, let’s see what consultancies do not bring to the omni channel table:

  • Long-Term Relationships: In a typical engagement, a consultant analyzes on a per project basis. The investment that goes into strategies and analysis will leave when the consultant leaves. While reports and reference materials are useful, the real know-how stays with the consultant. The trick is to manage consulting relationships so they continue on an ongoing basis.
  • Internal Perspective: Culture is important in building all relationships, but especially in a work context. When consultants are hired, they’re expected to have all the answers, but lack an understanding of company culture and perspective. If consultants are slow to adapt, this can lead to “fast failures” and too many fast failures can tarnish a consultant’s reputation.

The Winner Is….

Who wins the good graces of the chief omni channel officer?

The reality is, it’s too soon to call.

As the digital age is still in its infancy, the lines separating agencies and consultants will only continue to blur. Consultancies are moving further into the territory of agencies, and in return agencies are responding by offering traditional consulting services. Both understand (especially agencies) that data will continue to be the key value driver for the foreseeable future.

Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a collective effort to maximize marketing ROI. The trend of dissolving divisions from individual positions to hired firms is a positive trend for both agency and consulting marketers. Enhanced collaboration and sharing will continue to grant clients access to high-level tactical and strategic insight, while simultaneously aligning consumer and marketer values.

This is a winning combination for all!

Big box stores, supercenters, megastores. It doesn’t matter what you call them, the massive size of these retail giants is enough to send people into awe.

Their space isn’t limited to storefronts and warehouses either, which is good since foot traffic is constantly getting lower. To their benefit, the ever expanding digital marketplace has allowed these businesses to grow on another level, leading to new opportunities for marketing and personalization.

McKinsey found that 17% of consumers value the customer experience compared to 24% who care most about the prices. With competition increasing steadily as companies find new ways to increase brand loyalty and strengthen the customer experience, personalization has become more important than ever.

 

Personalization Incorporated

The techniques for personalization in retail chains don’t differ significantly from other markets. Companies will find ways to increase subscriptions, social media activity, and web page interaction in order to raise brand awareness, collect information, and personalize the experience.

There are two trains of thought when it comes to personalization for these retailers. Both are acceptable focuses, but when prices are as low as they can get, the company that offers the better customer experience is the one that can integrate the two.

The first is the use of variables. Businesses will study marketing trends to see which ways they can capitalize. These can include purchase history, shopper behavior, and interests. Businesses can guess at what customers will buy next and tailor advertisements and deals towards that.

The second are the constants. Rather than focusing on the marketing trends, this style focuses on the guaranteed information collected from customers. This is personalization based off name, age, location, and other unchanging facts. They’re simple, but give a different insight into a customer’s potential purchases. This information lets companies highlight deals and events at specific locations that would meet their needs. A sixteen year old girl could get an email about a back to school sale at her local store.

Companies that correctly use the omni-channel personalization strategies are able to pull all of this information from different places and organize them into one cohesive plan.

 

Omni-channel Issues

Big box retailers have a lot of struggles when it comes to personalization. It’s difficult to track the purchases and preferences of individuals who enter the store. There’s no data that can be held. Compared to a mom and pop shop where the staff knows your name, it’s more harder to direct Jerry to the products he always buys.

Because in-store personalization is all but impossible, retailers focus on the digital side of marketing. Unfortunately, attempts at predicting recommended products falls short due to troublesome programming. The Harvard Business Review reports that predictions for products are becoming so absurd that companies are creating more generalized algorithms in order to reach customers.

When a customer purchases a sleeping bag through Amazon, they’re more likely to be recommended another sleeping bag rather than camping accessories. The algorithms can’t take into account that a person generally only purchases one at time.

Also, the data held isn’t used to it’s fullest. If a customer buys large t-shirts every month, he’s still getting recommendations for tank tops and sweatshirts, rather than capitalizing on the purchase he’s going to make. The customer doesn’t get a better experience through the purchase, he gets the same as everyone else.

Lastly, the Harvard Business Review also found that shoppers would appreciate the ability to customize rather than have the business personalize the experience for them. This is largely due to the failed attempts at personalization by big box retailers.

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Their poll showed that 42% of online shoppers claimed to have seen no benefits from site personalization. Nearly all claimed they would prefer to customize the experience themselves than let the business do it for them.

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Against these facts, personalization is still a vital piece to creating a better user experience. The issue is that it needs to be done correctly, especially by businesses that are focused outside of the digital realm. For most of these companies, it means going mobile.

All of these companies have had their own issues but continue to provide better experiences due to personalization. By using omni-channel strategies, they can pull information seamlessly to engage customers. They all use social media and they all have websites that offer accounts. The piece that separates them is how else they get information and how well they can put it into play.

 

Walmart

In 2013, Walmart identified the need for a more personalized shopping experience. It took two years of development, but in 2015, they launched a new app, specifically designed for tablets and phones to surf through Walmart.com.

Bao, Nguyen, a spokesman for Walmart claimed, “During Black Friday we sold about 1,000 tablets a minute.”

Trusting that customers purchasing through them would do so again, Walmart focused on those users to create a personalized shopping experience.

On the application, customers are given recommendations based off their purchase history. They’re given discounts and notifications for deals, as well as advertisements that meet their interests.

Walmart also took the opportunity to integrate their actual stores by sharing local rollback deals and discounts. This benefited Walmart as a whole, but also helped the individuals stores maintain customers.

Walmart is also changing their focus to smaller stores. With Walmart Express, and Neighborhood Market Units, the shopping experience will be tailored more towards the customer’s requirements, personalizing the experience on a more general level.

 

Target

Target was also fast to jump on the mobile track in order to better their customers’ experience. In 2014, they acquired Powered Analytics, a start-up, in order to provide a more personalized manner of shopping.

With the app, customers can search for an items and get instant information on where to find it inside the store. It creates a faster way to shop and reduces the amount of time employees need to assist shoppers.

The app also offers personalized discounts and deals based off the items they’re searching for. This not only gives the customer more options before buying, but it lets Target push stock that isn’t moving as fast.

Target also has the option of customers using a loyalty card. The RedCard offers a 5% discount on all Target purchases and is directly tied to a debit card of the customer’s choosing.

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Customers who use the card are required to sign up on their website, providing their information for access and management of the card. Having them on the site, with the information, allows Target to personalize online shopping. Because purchases are made with the RedCard, they’re tracked through the transactions, giving insights to types of products and rate of activity.

Different from others, however, is the 5% discount that attracts more users of the card. Loyalty programs are offered by nearly every major business today, but very few offer such strong discounts.

Target is using the same tactic as Walmart, aiming at smaller niched stores.

 

Nordstrom

In 2011, Nordstrom purchased HauteLook, a website that centers on flash sales. With it, they were able to develop new techniques of getting people into the store. Customers could buy what they wanted off HauteLook and, should the product not be to their liking, they could return it to Nordstrom stores.

At the stores, the employees, who are all selected based off their ability to nurture relationships, take note of the item. They help the customer with the return and then recommend what items they think might interest them. If the customer shows interest, the employee will walk them directly to the item, giving them a personalized experience they’ll remember.

On the application side of the house, Nordstrom uses Beacon’s location based technology, to promote their products. Customers’ location is tracked, and when they near a store, the application sends recommendations and deals to the user.

Furthermore, the app lets customers shop on their phone and see exactly which products are in local stores, down to the size and color. This grants customers the ability to go into the store, try on the clothes, and potentially buy other items they weren’t planning on. It’s all possible because collection of their location.

The app also sends custom advertisements that are personalized to their interests. More impressive, though, is what they intend to do.

If the stars align, Nordstrom hopes that, through RFID, employees can be transmitted the interests and digital shopping cart of their customers. This would allow them to assist the customer on a truly personal level.

Nordstrom dives further into the application marketing trend with TextStyle. Customers can get recommendations from live representatives or personal shoppers that are sent to their phone. If they like the item, they return the word ‘buy’ and enter a code specific to them. The transaction is processed through their online account with Nordstrom and the product is delivered. This one-on-one personalization is another reason why Nordstrom is one of the market leaders in big box retail.

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J.C. Penney

While J.C. Penney may not be able to live up to Nordstrom’s application personalization, they do add their own fixes.

The apps allow for wedding and baby registrations to link with their online account. Users will receive emails with other recommendations based off the products in the registry and, since they’re not paying for them, are more likely to add them to the list.

Through their location based services, J.C. Penney offers discounts for in-store check ins.  Along with their store finder for over 1,100 locations, they’re offering a way to tailor discounts and recommendation to the customer.

These companies have found some different ways to capitalize on personalization and continue their growth. The usual marketing trends aren’t enough for these corporate giants and they’re forced to continue to develop new methods to gain and keep customers.

These are the companies leading the marketing world and their personalization of your shopping experience is going to continue to become better as they branch deeper into the field.

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As omni-channel personalization moves to center stage in the retail markets, insurance companies are forced to join them. The switch is less about staying afloat with the market trends, it’s become essential for remaining as a business.

Some insurance companies do this right, growing their consumer base through targeted advertisements, appeal of their support, and personalized interfaces. Others are still trying to play catch up in the fast paced digital market.

 

The Consumer Journey

The battle starts here. So many fronts have opened, thanks to an online world, that reach consumers at various levels. Social media, advertisements, and search engines all attract potential clients and start them on their journey.

Where many companies fail is guiding them through that trip. While customers view every interaction with a business as a collective path, leading them to their desired end-state, insurance companies continue to see each event as singular. The agent is in a different department than the IT team, so how would that affect the customer?

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The insurance companies that are dominating the market and continue to grow understand how to integrate their different branches into a unified front. They see the IT guy as part of the journey rather than a separate road the consumer can travel.

More so, in a market where empathy can breed success, customers are starting that journey with well defined interests. Life insurance to help their family after a death. Vehicle insurance to get them back on the road after an accident. Whatever type of insurance they’re requesting is important to them. Identifying this and being able to track it through each of these departments can better assist the customer.

McKinsey reports that “more than 80 percent of shoppers now touch a digital channel at least once throughout their shopping journey”. Try to say the IT guy isn’t an important part of that path now.

More than 80 percent means it’s not only important to be segmenting the audience for personalization, it’s become vital. In the same report, McKinsey stated that, “satisfied customers are 80 percent more likely to renew their policies than unsatisfied customers.”

Through the collection of data points, insurance companies can personalize their approach to the individual, building a crucial sense of trust by tending specifically to the customer’s needs.

 

Personalization for Insurance

A study by Accenture found that “78 percent of customers say they would share personal information with their insurers to obtain personalized services.” Over a third also claimed they’d willingly pay more for those services.

Personalization isn’t the way in, it’s the way up.

Accenture accurately breaks down the method for personalized interaction with their “4 R’s of Personalization” .

Recognize, Remember, Reach, Relevance.

All personalization starts with the collection of data and insurance companies are no different. The hard part is turning the data into actionable content.

Insurance companies have the opportunity to easily acquire implicit and explicit data. Offering a free quote can be a window to more information than you can use at once, but it’s openly granted by the customer. Through social media engagement and web behavior, insurance companies can study interactions to further develop a marketing strategy and grow their reach.

What’s unique about the insurance market is the agent’s “face to face” interaction with the customer. Emails can be sent from the business’ distribution list to engage a customer, but an agent is able to follow through. They can collect information from the emails and store it under the individual account so any other agent can quickly treat the customer as though they’ve worked together all along.

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Other techniques involve custom 800 numbers that are specific to a page. When the customer uses that number, insurance companies can identify where the customer found it and tailor the interaction to fit their needs.

 

Personalization for Customer Service

The opportunity to create a more wholesome interaction with the customer is becoming the spear that many companies use to impale themselves. McKinsey saw that the leading insurance companies were the ones delivering better customer experiences and gaining clients who’d grown unhappy with their current provider.

Rapport with the customer grows more important every year as society moves towards a larger digital presence. It’s easier than ever for individuals to find better rates and promotions with other companies, forcing insurance agencies to monitor competition and focus a more direct approach to keeping the customer.

Through personalization, companies can increase brand loyalty and make it harder for other companies to sweep up their client base. Creating that awesome experience can pay for itself, sometimes more so than advertisements and events.

Emails should offer help to the customer’s specific problem, not generic sales. If a customer repeatedly calls rather than using messaging systems, an actual conversation should be held.

These are just a few examples, but when you link them together, they become even stronger.

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Omni-channel Personalization

Every personalization technique is wasted if they’re not integrated into a single system. Knowing a customer’s name does nothing unless you track his issues and engage them. With tools like linked Facebook sign-ins, it’s easier to track customer likes and status updates.

Through requests for information or quotes, social media, or browsing history, insurance companies are able to develop a plan for each customer. As customers travel along their journey towards a purchase, companies are using all of these to collect information to engage with them.

With the data collected, they’re able to increase conversions, brand loyalty, and customer satisfaction, while lowering wasted quotes and negative feedback.

All of the companies listed below have an omni-channel personalization strategy. But additionally, they study market trends to see where advertisements and introductions to their business can be made. You’ll be surprised with how some of the companies collect data and put it to work.

Check out these other ways the top dogs in the insurance market have added channels to their business’s personalization.

 

1. State Farm Group

On their mission page, State Farm acknowledges their customers want a personalized experience. It’s not surprising they achieve it. Their collection of information is best seen through some well developed applications.

State Farm constantly pulls data through their personalized mobile app. The app offers driving routes, weather reports, and reminders for things like A/C filter changes. When it is time for a filter to be swapped, they’ll provide you with a list of the closest stores to purchase one.

When a customer opens the app, they’re seeing a page unique to them, but still connected with the State Farm name.

They also maintain a website called ChaosInYourTown.com where users can enter their actual home address and watch a robot destroy it. This was done as a different way to demonstrate that they’ll always be there for you.

Both of these gather data and put it to immediate use, improving the customer’s experience. Although the latter is more entertaining, it’s a unique technique that has paid off, driving them traffic to other sources and increasing brand awareness. It’s helped to assist them in leading the insurance market by billions of dollars.

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2. Allstate Insurance Group

Allstate uses applications in their own way. Using their mobile app can use the geo-location feature to request assistance after having car trouble. They can also log all of their maintenance requirements and details which can help diagnose the problem.

Along with the geo-location features, if you’re waiting for a flight at an airport, you may get an offer for travel insurance.

While the location data is essential to a lot of their market, they still use other points to recommend different products. Their ‘Personalized Insurance Proposal’ uses and collects data on customers in order to give them a plan that meets the needs unique to them.

These tactics have helped with customer satisfaction overall, allowing Allstate to maintain their enormous client base.

 

3. Progressive Insurance Group

In 2007, Progressive was proud to offer a personalized experience for their customers. They identified early that treating each customer individually would take them far.

In the same manner, they’re well known for their ’Name Your Price’ program. It pioneered the idea, giving customers a personalized plan based solely off what they wanted to pay.

If leading the way on those fronts wasn’t enough, Progressive, was one of the first to use telematics. This long distance digital information allowed them to see actual driver behavior and reward customers based off their proven records. Discounts were granted for safe driving and, according the a case study by J.D. Power it increased customer satisfaction as a whole.

These, along with their ’Snapshot’, have kept the company growing at a significant rate and it continues to look for ways to improve.

 

4. Farmers Insurance Group

Farmers Insurance took a very different approach to omni-channel personalization. They partnered with the developers of the FarmVille Facebook game. Through this method, they were able to increase brand awareness and prove they could reach out to customers in various ways.

The strategy allowed them to collect data that users offered by having open social media accounts and connect on a different level. Because they were trying to engage those specific people, it was easy for them to interact. Through a sweepstakes, they were able to show people from the game to their website, offering more chances for conversions.

By coupling the game with a sweepstakes, Farmers more than doubled the amount of likes on their page and was able to gather beneficial information about their fans.

Farmers also became the first company to put a hashtag on a vehicle in a NASCAR race, branching out in a very different way.

 

5. GEICO

If anyone isn’t familiar with the company that in “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance” hasn’t turned on a television or radio for years. GEICO, through more than a descriptive slogan, has become a frontrunner in the auto insurance market.

GEICO quickly understood that personalization was the key to their marketing strategy. Through systems within their app, they are able to maintain user information and cut the undesirable wait times from customer interactions.

With their Quick Messaging addition, customers can leave messages for representatives and leave the app. When an agent has a reply, they receive an app push notification. This allows customers to take care of the things they want to, rather than acknowledging hour waits.

More prominently, GEICO’s spokes-character was spawned from their data collection and became one of the best known characters in advertising. After running an initial series of ads, they were able to correlate a growth in customers.

All of these businesses use omni-channel personalization in similar and different ways. The goal for insurance companies is to create a better experience for their customers. Because rates can only drop so low, the best way do this is with exceptional service. Using data, they can tailor interactions to specific individuals and do just that.

Exclusive Bonus: Download the FREE overview of the Top 5 Insurance Companies that are Crushing It with Omni-Channel Personalization