About Jo

I work for the University of Sussex Students’ Union where I’m responsible for our communications and digital channels. I also do freelance work for charities and students' unions, helping them communicate better

Am I really a valued customer?

Boo Scottish Power (my new electricity supplier) for charging me much more than I think you should

Yey Scottish Power for letting me book a callback at a specific time. I hate calling customer service lines, being held in a queue, being told you’re a valued customer (funny, it never feels like that at the time) and everything taking forever

Boo Scottish Power for starting my callback with a pre-recorded message – ‘This is a call for, a valued customer. If you are, a valued customer, please press 1. If you need to get, a valued customer, we can wait’. I was logged into my account when I requested the callback so presumably you know my name. If you can’t have a real person to start the call (and why not? That would be so much nicer) at least pretend more effectively that you care and run my name through a fancy text to speech system (like my bank who for some reason pronounce my name as Jonah). If you’re going to use a generic message you should record the whole thing, this one clearly had the words ‘a valued customer’ dropped in really badly throughout.

Double boo Scottish Power for asking me for my account details when I got through to a real person. Like I said, why can’t you link your callback system to my account so you know who I am, my account details and could even have a go at pre-empting my question? I’m happy to verify my details so you know I’m not some overly helpful mugger who stole my phone but then wanted to sort out my billing issues for me, but the guy who dealt with my call had no idea who I was.

Yey Scottish Power for actually being very helpful on the phone, your staff redeem your awful automated and fake niceness with genuine friendliness and concern.

The moral of the story is, if you’re going to think of people as valued customers (which you should), you should actually treat them like that and do your best to be useful and genuine rather than just telling them they’re valued.

End of rant

Driving business online

At last year’s TFM&A exhibition, Steve Lomax from Experian CheetaMail (who have a range of white papers on email marketing available for download) gave a presentation about email marketing which you can watch online.

In it, he gives an overview of how email marketing is changing using information from a range of their clients, the most interesting of which is that the overall volume of emails sent has increased by 42% and overall revenue has increased by 35% from 2008 to 2009.

Email marketers have implemented a range of campaigns with more relevance, targeting and variety to increase sales (which then increase volume rather than the other way around).

He uses Boden as a case study to illustrate his point. They’ve moved from a catalogue retailer (with a single, standard catalogue) to making 75% of their sales online. This has allowed them to target their marketing activities and provide relevant and personalised information. They combined their online and offline data to create clear pictures of their customers and segmented their customers. Their emails now include dynamic content such as offers and products. Boden’s new email strategy has seen increases in open rates, click-throughs and sales and a decrease in unsubscriptions.

They have also developed their website to incorporate user-generated reviews (and now have over 43,000 reviews!) Shoppers are now able to base their buying decisions on other customers rather than just the marketing messages provided by Boden. To generate reviews, Boden sent thank you emails to purchasers asking them to rate their purchases. Boden used Bazaarvoice to organise and generate reviews who have some other case studies and white papers on their website. Other companies have used user reviews in their email marketing campaigns to generate further sales.

Steve goes on to talk about other email marketing tips such as making the most of transactional emails to build relationships with the customer and provide opportunities for upselling and cross-selling. These emails have very high open rates so it makes sense to use them as a marketing opportunity. In his example from HMV, this has been extended throughout the customer lifecycle, e.g. order updates, service information.

He talks about remarketing, following up on abandoned transactions/processes, to increase sales and conversion rates. Experian’s research suggests that around 40% of customers would complete their transaction after a service-based email reminder as it is a very effective, targeted technique.

Social media provides opportunities to increase email subscriber lists and by allowing users to share content directly to social media networks, make sure your message is spread more widely. As mentioned in a session at this year’s TFM&A, SMS can be used to increase list size.

March 9th, 2011|Digital|1 Comment|

Thoughts from TFM&A – tying social and email together

Today I went to the Technology For Marketing & Advertising (TFM&A) show in London where my time was spent alternating between making apologetic faces at exhibitors (no I don’t have thousands of pounds to spend on your shiny software) and scribbling pages of notes in the seminars.

Ironically (for a day about digital stuff) I scribbled pages and pages of notes in my notebook (well, its a little book and I have big writing) and will be adding them here for you to read and ponder. If you want to buy me one of these I can make sure I get my thoughts to you faster in future 🙂

As I picked up so many interesting bits and things that might be useful for other people on my course I’m breaking this down into a series of posts.

The first session I went to was ‘Tying Social and Email Together – Designing a multi-channel campaign‘ by a speaker from ExactTarget which focused on how email and social media can complement each other.

We’ve moved from a one way organisation to consumer relationship in which the organisation tells the consumer what to think to a consumer to other consumers relationship where they tell the brand what they think. Data about customers is now a key business asset.

Email: Familiarity, manageability, trust & privacy, relevancy, exclusivity
Facebook: Connection, self-expression, entertainment, discovery, control
Twitter: Influence, brevity, accessibility, interaction, versatility -> Twitter has the most potential to drive affinity (or damage your brand) as users talk about your brand

Email marketing is becoming more targeted and more relevant, e.g. Amazon emails based on purchase/browsing history, which means a higher conversion rate and higher ROI. Advanced segmentation can be based on demographics, engagement, purchase behaviour and/or brand advocacy

‘Forward to a friend’ in emails can be developed using social share, e.g. encouraging people to share things on Facebook/Twitter. This also helps identify brand advocates.

SMS can be used to convert customers to online (with all the data analysis benefits that brings), e.g. high street shops (an environment where most people have their mobile phone with them) using an in-store discount as an incentive to text your email address to their shortcode.

March 3rd, 2011|Digital|8 Comments|

Reviews reviewed

I’ll say one thing about looking at reviews for the Kindle – I now really really want one. There are lots of different sorts of reviews online for the Kindle, I’ve put together a few as a starting point.

The sheer number of largely positive reviews (3795/4900 reviewers have given 5 stars on Amazon) of makes me lust after a product which I’m already predisposed to loving (I’m a geek!). I often use Amazon reviews to assess which product I should buy, particularly for tech things. The qualitative comments mean you can see what people like and don’t like about a product and whether that would apply to you. In the past I’ve bought things which have a negative review if the reviewers’ reason doesn’t apply to me (e.g. ‘it didn’t come with software’ doesn’t apply if I already have the software).

Amazon are masters of using recommendations to tailor their advertising to you and have obviously realised with the Kindle that the reviews are particularly effective as they’ve used quotes from journalists at the top of the product page. These certainly make the Kindle look good and lend some credibility in my eyes as they are from publications I’m largely aware of and trust. For me the user reviews are just as effective as they are from ‘real people’ who have used the product over a period of time rather than just techy people given one to play with for an afternoon (I want that job!). Definitely an interesting example to consider when thinking about credibility of reviews and reviewers.

I think Amazon are missing a trick by filling the page with screens and screens of product information and features which push the user reviews right down to the bottom of the page. I think they should use more of the user reviews higher up the page or at least highlight the excellent user ratings. This would make the product more widely appealing as there is credibility in the volume of reviews.

On a slightly smaller scale, users of The Student Room forum have been discussing their experiences with the Kindle. Where Amazon has volume, this has more focus as users have more in common with each other (presumably they’re all students or about to start University) and may have similar plans for their potential purchase, e.g. academic study, use while travelling, and maybe similar questions or concerns. These ties potentially make the reviews more relevant and useful.

The format of the discussion forum allows people to interact with the comments of others, asking for clarification or adding new questions. These reviews will therefore be more tailored to the audience and specific posters.

As these posts are not written deliberately as reviews however they are often quite cursory or only focus on one or two aspects, e.g. how cheap e-books are. This means the forum is not the best place to go for a comprehensive review but could be used to refine your opinion or act as a starting point.

P.S. This is one of my favourite set of reviews online, see if you can guess the product… – Worked fine with my right hand, but when I came to use my left hand my writing came out looking like the work of a complete imbecile. I can only assume Bic have created a right-handed only pen, and would caution left-handers to “try before you buy”

March 3rd, 2011|Digital|0 Comments|

Towards a map of marketing information systems

Is Daniel et al’s model actually a broadly applicable map or out-dated ?

We’ve been discussing Daniel et al’s article on a map of marketing information systems. The article proposes a ‘map’ of the marketing process and overlays information systems onto it. The basic map shows four stages in the marketing domain. One of its strengths appears to be its broad applicability to the marketing activities of a range of organisations (largely due to the simple, generic format).

The article however doesn’t discuss the likely speed of the overall process though it suggests a slow, contemplative and reflective process. As many of the organisations involved in developing this model were manufacturers or providers of goods, their R & D, decision-making processes and product development cycles may have been quite long and spend a while in each area of the map before moving to the next stage. The overlay of IS support highlights the potentially complex nature of information flows within an organisation. It may be that the emergence of internet marketing allows the process to move very rapidly and for information to flow in new ways.

Smaller, web-based organisations in particular may find that this model doesn’t reflect the way they work if they are constantly making changes to their product/service.  Alternatively it may be that a rapid iterative process that allows customers to work with and feedback on prototypes is actually just a series of very fast cycles around the marketing map proposed by Daniel et al.

Daniel et al (2003) ‘Towards a map of marketing information systems: an inductive study’, European Journal of Marketing, Vol 37, No 5/6, pp821-847

February 17th, 2011|Digital|1 Comment|