Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Business to Business Companies Plebiscite Direct Marketing For Lead Generation

Is direct marketing dead? Surely not. It remains a strong customer relationship management medium. Its role has evolved due to several factors:
  • The rise of social media and in overall Internet activities.
  • The rise of paper costs, impacted by ecological taxes, the high Chinese demand among other factors.
  • The lower costs to set up those campaigns due to technology, allowing fast and cheap routing, designing and so on… This aspect resulted in an increase of mailing sent, and then it diminished the return on investment rates of mailing as a medium.

I found this very interesting article. http://www.influencia.net/fr/archives/check-in/marketing-direct-web-combinaison-gagnante,77,1377.html

It discusses about the results of a recent study undertaken in the UK by Pitney & Bowes.

  • 50% of respondents had experienced issues to generates lead due to the complexity of multichannel campaigns.
  • 53% of European companies believe that cutting down their mailing budget to transfer it in emailing would have bad consequences on their business.
  • 39% of respondents combine the mailing media with the Internet in order to generate leads, and this combination seems to be very effective.

Some thoughts about the article:

  • Multi channel is difficult to manage: This is true. It is difficult to analyze the results of a campaign as you need to see to which media one customer has been exposed. It is hence difficult to check return on investment… Moreover, it can become costly, as you constantly need to add some new media. This is the reason why social media can become costly at some point.
  • Nevertheless, some strong synergies can spring up once you have an appropriate mix to deal with it. Customer relationship management is all about finding the right mix between all media to create the best responsiveness from customers.
  • The mailing media is very appropriate for btob: It is high quality, you can target your customers efficiently, and actually you can be pretty creative with it. I loved to work on mailing campaign while I was a direct marketing manager at Ubifrance.

What do you think about it?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Social Commerce (2): Amazon’s Case Study

I wanted to go a little bit deeper in the topic of social commerce, and discuss further the article I found on how Amazon uses Facebook as a social commerce tool.

Amazon has become the leading company in the Internet retailing business thanks to its ability to adapt its commercial offer to one customer profile. Customization is a key factor, and they have been able to master it thanks to customers’ data base: They are expert in data mining.

But thanks to social commerce and Facebook data analysis (via your network of relatives), it will be able to go even further, analyzing what products your network buy and that you don’t.

One of the concrete example shown in this article, is that Amazon may give you appropriate recommendations for your friends’ birthday, and hence, having a customized offer right on time for the event…

It will be interesting to see actually how Amazon is able to leverage this new tool, and to see how both customers data and Facebook data can be combined for more efficiency.
But maybe the future of CRM and data mining will actually be to master these two very different entries of information and provide accurate analysis.
What do you think about it?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Social Commerce

A lot of initiatives have been undertaken in social commerce lately. Now that brands are more familiar with social media, they may gain an expertise in web 2.0, and therefore go beyond the simple conversation with customers to turn it into a retail channel. I read this very interesting article about it.

What makes it so interesting is that it gives you examples on how to use efficiently social commerce in an original way, not by simply plugging your e-commerce site into Facebook…

Why Social Commerce Can Be So Attractive?

I have been working in the real estate business in the United States, and one of the thing I learned and I actually loved in the customer relationship management field is the “by referral business” idea. The idea is to leverage your customers’ network of friend, family and co workers, in order to find new prospects.

I don't know if you are familliar with the concept of tribal marketing, but as humans are social creatures, they like to do things like their "social environment", and hence, if your friends buy something, you tend to buy somehow the same...

And when I see the new features developed in order to give social commerce a lift, I see a lot of the same component: Recommendation, being social and spread the word of mouth.

And I believe this is one of the key factors of success for social commerce: Being able to sell more, thanks to friends recommendations.

What Is The Purpose Of Facebook
Now there are still some unanswered questions about what would be the used of Facebook for brand management and customer relationship management. Indeed, we already know the use of Facebook for customer relationship management. A lot of companies are already using Facebook to converse with customers. This is what we can call an “emotional aspect” of the customer relationship management strategy.

But now, the goal of social commerce is to turn Facebook into a market place, and hence to have more a retail strategy, or “transactional”. Can be both accomplished? Yes, it can without any questions. We have seen that Facebook can become a very important retailing channel, and I have no doubts it may be very profitable. But can you do both?

One of the response may be that retailers could own several different accounts, in order to segment their stakeholders, and then have specific accounts for:

  • Chatting with customers

  • “VRM”: Having customers asking about specific products with a specific prices, and then the brand responding.

  • Customer service

  • Retailing

I believe this is probably what may happen, especially as a lot of the major actors in Facebook already have different Fan pages on it.

What do you think about it?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

TV Ads Empowered With Tags : Going Beyond Mass Media

The television advertising market is going to experience huge modifications within the next few years. Some of the main change will include:
The rise of video on demand: People need the
The rise of new hardwares: TV consumption will become more and more important on mobile and computers
The rise of conversion with Internet videos: As we see, Google TV will change the way we use television, by providing a better experience in program searching, but also with the possibility to seek through several different sources (TV, Youtube, Video on Demand websites and so on).

The TV advertising market has been suffering from the spring of Internet advertising. I found an interesting article about TF1, one of the leading media agency in France and n°1 TV channel, which is launching an innovation: In certain commercials, you will have 3 different tags available in order to go further with the brand:

  • Information about the products
  • Bonuses, which includes making off, or games
  • Coupons

TF1 conducted a survey where 77% of the respondents declared they would be to log on a specific website to get further information about a commercial they have just seen.

Those three features are available on TF1's website. Here are some thoughts about the concept:

  • It provides added value to the brand which wants to use the media. It can now become more interactive with the audience, which remains the weakness of the medium.
  • It will generate traffic on the website of TF1, where TF1 will be able to sell more ads... This looks like a virtuous circle right?
  • It will provide valuable metrics to brands. So far, television was the perfect mass market medium. But audiences are plumetting, due mainly to the use of the Internet. Now, television is empowered with new metrics, and it may help marketing managers to determine the return on investment they may get with TV ads. Moreover, coupons is becoming one of the hottest trend in marketing.
  • Now I kind of regret the lack of technology inspiration... Couldn't we just access those information through the TV, or through a mobile phone. Indeed, logging on the website remains a hurdle. I would not leave my seat while watching TV just to get bonuses of a great app. However, if it is available at my hand, either on my TV or on my phone (via a mobile tag to flash), I believe I would do.

    Television has never been a customer relationship management medium, because of the lack of interraction you may get. Of course, the brand equity you may built with the large exposition of TV will impact your customer relationship management value... But thanks to these new tools, TV would actually provide new ways to envision how to conceive TV commercials. I believe these new features will become very popular, and it may be adopted by some other channels.

What do you think about it?

Monday, March 07, 2011

My Impressions About The Ipad

It has been a couple of months now that I own a wonderful Ipad, and I wanted to share with you my opinion with the device. While I got the Ipad, I did not expect much about the handheld. As a matter of fact, I was quite skeptical about the device, wondering what kind of benefits I could get from this new device. Nevertheless, I could clearly envision that the usage would be much different from a laptop or a smartphone.

Internet Surfing
On this part, I must say that the device is quite convenient. It is easy to surf and find information. Watching Youtube videos is just awesome, even thought the search engine of the Youtube application is not as good as the one of the Internet version.

Something which bugs me though is that you can't see flash applications. No Slidehare presentations can be seen. One of the thing I watch in the morning is the videos of the NBA.com website, to watch the highlights of the last night's game. But it is not possible on the Ipad! The website's player is in flash + the "Ipad lite version of the NBA application" only provides a 30 seconds sum up of highlights... This is a shame, because it is free on the Internet, but you need to pay to watch it on the Ipad...

Also, I must say it is quite difficult to write things on the Ipad. It is impossible to actually work on the Ipad. It must be used as a display hardware. For example, I used it to buy something on the fnac website, it was not quite a good experience, as it has been a hurdle to write a note on the package of the present I wanted to buy...

I love Flipboard. Flipboard allows me to read my Twitter feed in an awesome way. I can't replace it now, I can't see myslef not doing it every day. There are a lot of great applications of newspapers which gives a premium reading experience. You can see that we have not reached yet the full potential of the device in terms of reading experience though.

As a conclusion, I must say I love my Ipad, it is a great device, you can spend hours surfing on the Internet, but in no ways can replace a computer. And I do believe it will create a new way to enjoy news consumption, thanks to its great reading experience.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

The Power Of Gifts In Customer Relationship Management

CRM programs are most of the time based on offering promotions in order to boost sales. It could be either promotions to upgrade a product, or promotions to buy complementary products. Sometimes, those promotions are even automated, as it is in loyalty reward programs, and customers clearly know they access certain discounts for a certain amount of purchases.

These principles have shown they work. No questions about it. But I always like to discuss customer relationship management on two levels:
  • The transactional customer relationship management
  • The emotional customer relationship management
Both of them are important. But in CRM programs, the focus has been set on the transactional aspect, as it is easy to measure, whereas emotional relationship is based on brand equity and a certain marketing work, which is difficult to link with the final act of purchasing. There is one way to link both the transaction and the emotion: The gift.

Indeed, most of the time the value of a gift is far bigger than the value of money you may give for discount. Indeed, there is an emotional value which is linked to the gift, which is very important.

There are two ways to conceive a gift to a customer:
  • A clear gift, which is shown as a call-to-buy: You advertize you will give a specific gift based on a certain amount of money spent in a store. This kind of gift triggers immediate sale, and don't have much power on the next potential transactions you may get. But it may provide a high return on investment, based on the high value the customer will have of it.
  • A non-expected gift which concludes a transaction, in order to strengthen the relationship and secure loyalty to the brand.
Of course, the present must be meaningful, and in connection with your positioning and offer.

Those two strategies don't really have the same outcome, but they are for sure to be considered.

What do you think about it?

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Je blogue donc je suis

J'ai lu avec très grand intérêt l'article du 23 décembre 2010 du Nouvel économiste: "Je blogue donc je suis".
L'objectif de cet article est d'une part de démontrer l'intérêt du blog pour un usage professionel, et d'autre part, de démontrer que ce mode d'expression était loin d'être obsolète. Il est vrai qu'en cette période de "hype" autour des médias sociaux, notamment Facebook et Twitter, on ne parle plus guère de blogs. D'ailleurs, beaucoup de personnes ont arrêté de publier sur leurs blogs, et beaucoup se sont intérrogés sur l'intérêt de continuer l'activité de blogging.

J'ai commencé à blogger il y a près de 6 ans, au tout départ, pour avoir de la visibilité sur Internet. J'avais entendu que cela pourrait m'aider à trouver des stages lors de mes études, en démontrant mon expertise sur les sujets du marketing et de la relation client. A l'époque, je ne connaissais rien sur le blogging: C'était vraiment le début des blogs, et je n'avais jamais lu un blog avant. Puis, au fil du temps, j'ai pris goût à cette activité, et au fil des rencontres, j'ai commencé à comprendre le fonctionnement et l'intérêt du blog.

A l'heure actuelle, je vais être honnête, je ne publie plus sur ce blog pour avoir de la visibilité. J'ai déjà réussi à développer un certains réseaux autour de mes sujets, mais surtout j'ai pu démontrer mon expertise.

Mon blog reste pour moi le meilleur moyen de continuer à m'informer sur mon sujet de prédilection, et de continuer à mener des réflexions et à construire au jour le jour mon savoir faire.

Je pense que l'activité de blog reste une activité plus que saine, et je la recommande à tout ceux qui auraient une passion, et qui souhaite la développer.

J'ai par ailleurs décourt le blog de Françoise Gri, PDG de Manpower France, grâce à cet article. Il est toujours intéressant de voir des dirigeants utiliser ce média, car ces blogs restent des sources d'informations de fortes qualités.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Noël 2010 marque l'ère du multiformat pour le Ecommerce

La FEVAD a publié fin janvier les résultats du E-commerce en France durant la période de Noël. Une nouvelle fois, comme aux Etats-Unis, l'Ecommerce a connu un fort succès, puisque les français ont dépensés plus de 6 milliards € sur Internet. Mais l'un des points vraiment intéressant de ces résultats, c'est l'émergence attendue et inévitable des nouveaux formats de l'Internet. Ainsi:
  • 16% des achats de Noël sur Internet se sont faits via mobiles.
  • 6% des achats de Noël sur Internet se sont faits via des tablettes.
Ces chiffres montrent bien l'importances de ces nouveaux médias. Il va devenir donc important de développer des outils E-commerce qui correspondent à la consommation de ces nouveaux canaux. Il faudra ainsi prendre en compte:
  • Les attributs de ces canaux: Pour le mobile, l'obligation de faire simple, et de proposer un système de check out rapide. Pour les tablettes, permettre une visualisation améliorée des produits.
  • Les usages des consommateurs: certainement que ces terminaux seront utilisés à des moments spécifiques du processus d'achat, et ainsi, cela impactera la manière dont les consommateurs vont les utiliser.
Il est important de prendre ces questions sérieusement, car nul doute que la part du chiffre d'affaires réalisé sur ces formats va s'accroître très rapidement ces prochaines années, voire mois.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Facebook Launches Facebook Deals: Foursquare In Trouble?

Geolocation market is one of the hottest topic in marketing right now. The benefits you may get from it are very promising. This is the reason why Facebook has been keen to launch its service named “Facebook Place”, in order to counterattack Foursquare.

Facebook has recently released its Facebook Deals feature in Europe, which will allow companies to propose coupons and discounts when a user check in a venue. The strength of Facebook is of course its community: Facebook is far bigger than Foursquare, which remains a young start up. Also, one of the advantage of Facebook upon Foursquare is that they already generate high revenues from strong partners. Hence it will be easy for them to promote this new feature.

Now is Foursquare in trouble? I like Foursquare, and I really believe in them. Now, about geolocation, it is exactly the same than Twitter to me: I am not really bonding with the service, and I may use it from another provider if a great occasion shows up.

Foursquare now needs to innovate and fast, to keep its competitive advantage.

What do you think about it?

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Promising Start Up To Take Advantage To The M-Payment hype

A lot of hope is based on m-payment in Western countries. Even though in Asia (both Japan and South Korea) mobile payment has been a reality for years, in Europe and the US, it is struggling to settle. Why? Because a lot of actors are eager to benefit from this new business:
  • Mobile network companies, which provides the network needed to permit mobile transactions.
  • Banks, which are experts in finance transaction and dealing with large amount of transactions.
  • Mobile devices manufacturer. The next Iphone is expected to have a technology which will enable mobile payment. Also, we all know that Google is working also on M payment with Android.
  • Retailers, which have strong interests in the level of commissions they may have to pay.
    Credit card company like Visa, which business model would go in limbo in case they don’t enter the market.
  • Start ups, which are more flexible and that own the technology.

This is the case of a start up called Jumio. Jumio might be a young company, but its staff has very impressive resumes. Former executives of Google and Amazon are running the operations.

I believe Jumio needs to set partnerships with financial institutions to make m payment real.

It remains unknown which of these actors will win the market, but there is one main question which needs to be asked if we want to see m payment blossoming: What is the advantage for customers? A lot needs to be done to educate customers.

Jumio from Jumio Inc. on Vimeo.

What do you think about it?

Global Companies Thrive On Social Media

Social media is becoming mainstream, and global companies thrive on it. At the beginning, when the whole web 2.0 started, a lot of experts, including myself were wondering how global companies, which are control freak most of the times, could adapt to start conversing with customers thanks to these media. But it seems that actually they quite understood how to leverage those tools.

This is what is explained in a very interesting report I found, about how Fortune 100 companies use the four main social media platforms which are Facebook Twitter, Youtube and blogs, as a marketing tool.

And the results are quite impressive:
  • An increase of 25% of the number of companies who are using all four social media tools versus last year.
  • 25% of Fortune 100 companies combines the 4 social media in their strategies.
  • 67% of companies using Twitter use the “@replies” feature to converse with users.
  • An impressive 84% of those companies use at least one of the platform
  • 80% of Fortune 100 companies are talked about on Twitter.This is the main reason why it is important to look after what is going on Twitter…

Nevertheless, there is still room for improvement:

  • In Twitter, the average followers per account figure is 5 076: This is very few compare to the millions of customers those company have over the world, and compared to the millions of people using Twitter. Nevertheless, the number of followers grown in average of +241% last year.
  • 84% of Facebook pages are posts in last week. It may seem a lot, but I believe that a good fan page should at least be posted 5 times a week…

Also, I liked in this report a very interesting point: Having multiple accounts allow one company to reach different stakeholder groups. I believe this is a very interesting point, because as a global company, you may have very different customer groups, but also very different products.

This is one of the basics of customer relationship management: Being able to adapt to your audience. And if you are really planning on discussing with your customers, it is way much easier to have accounts related to a specific topic.

For example, if I take as an example Microsoft:

  • They have business to business activities, with their CRM products, Microsoft offices licenses, maybe we may even add in this category the Surface products.
  • They are in the video game market with the Xbox
  • They are in the cell phone market
  • Of course they have softwares and operating systems for PC
  • They are all over the world, and you may not interact the same way with US customers and Asian ones.

Therefore this is a great advice you should consider: Think glocal: You need to have a strong global brand, to use in the social media, but also several accounts allowing to adapt upon the typology of stakeholders you have.