Posts Tagged: brand loyalty

Promotional Merchandise: Ugly duckling to branded swan?

Under pressure to justify its spending, the government’s Central Office of Information (COI) has declared its intention to improve the return on investment from its marketing spend, including the £3m on promotional merchandise.

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Preferential Treatment – By Dan Binns, Senior Account Director, Epsilon International EMEA

Consumers in the digital age want to feel part of an online family; but one that recognises each person’s individual preferences – which is precisely what social media platforms are helping to achieve. However, cultivating a brand-sponsored community of any kind means ensuring that corporate messages resonate with the target audience. More simply put, marketers keen to engage with consumers online need to ensure they’re giving them what they want, when they want it and in the right format.
Consider brand X – a big player in international FMCG markets complete with an all singing, all dancing marketing strategy; enough cash to lure the world’s top creative brains into concocting, implementing and integrating some of the most ingenious on and offline campaigns the global advertising community has ever seen; and the added benefit of possessing a widely recognised insignia. Yet no-one wants to play. Brand X is no playground bully: it’s simply a victim of market saturation. While such ‘maximalist’ marketing does wonders for brand building, it does little to inspire individual endorsements, or word of mouth marketing – precisely what online platforms are great at.
In many ways, email marketing remains one of the most effective ways of directing consumers online, but fierce competition for inbox space means that brands not only need to justify why they’re sending information, but must also empower audiences to specify how, when and what information is sent.
That’s why the importance of the initial email sign up process – using web pages known as preference centres – cannot be underestimated. Irrelevancy is the new spam, and there’s a definite need for those companies sending emails to ensure that customers are given the option to specify the frequency and content of messages. In this way, the consumer benefits from a more tailored communication stream, which is more likely to increase brand engagement, loyalty, purchase activity and most importantly, lead to improved ROI.
Although customer preferences and brand authenticity become important in this environment, enabling website visitors to specify what they’re interested in creates additional opportunities to collate and use new data. For instance, with increased usage of real-time messages for delivering service messaging, billing statements or registration, communications that focus on transactional details can also be used to offer up supplementary marketing information or new sales opportunities specific to the recipient’s interests.
Techniques like these are more likely to raise overall customer satisfaction, improve brand recognition and increase conversions. The key to success is keeping messages both targeted and informative without bombarding the customer.
In the digital age, engagement is a two-way street. As long as brand-sponsored community initiatives enable consumers to assert their influence, they’ll continue to be keen ambassadors with clear and present voices.

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Looking for loyalty? Just ask.

Companies have always looked to instil loyalty in their customers. It’s an invaluable way of increasing customer retention, generating incremental revenue and growing a business.

Loyalty can be encouraged through a variety of methods, including e-marketing, offering consumer rewards and demonstrating excellent customer service. But perhaps the most effective way of forging a lasting relationship with your customers is by asking for, and acting on, their feedback.

With this in mind, The Rocket Marketing Group present their 5 Top Tips for generating and utilising customer feedback.

1. Why do you want it?

Your first task should be to determine why you’re conducting the research, and whether you have the resources to make changes on the back of it. You may want to start with general questions to find out what customers think your strengths and weaknesses are, or you may already have an idea of what needs to be improved, and wish to tailor your questions accordingly. Is your poor customer service putting customers off shopping with you again? Is the ordering process easy for customers to understand? Are your prices prohibitively expensive? Once you have an idea of what may be alienating your customers, you can adapt your questions to find the specific things that annoy them, and get their suggestions for improvements.

2. How do you get it?

You also need to decide what form your customer feedback will take. There are several options to choose from including online surveys, emails, suggestion boxes, a ‘comments’ section on your website and utilising your call centre operatives, who have direct contact with customers every day. They all have their advantages, but it’s essential to match the method of generating feedback with your customer base. For example, online surveys or emailed questionnaires have the benefit of anonymity, which may allow customers to be more honest in their assessments. However, they are unlikely to elicit a useful response unless your customers are web-literate.

Generally, speaking to customers over the phone is a really good way of generating feedback, as it feels more personal, helps to develop a two way relationship between business and consumer, and allows you to investigate dissatisfaction by asking additional questions. Also, do not be afraid of receiving negative feedback from your customers. After all, if they only tell you what you’re doing well, you’ll never discover the improvements that can help your business reach its full potential.

3. The Reward (for your customers)

Many companies shy away from carrying out feedback surveys for fear of annoying their customers. But demonstrating a genuine interest in their thoughts and feelings lets them know that they are valued, and that you’re committed to providing the highest levels of service possible to them. Providing you’re polite, unobtrusive and respect the wishes of people who don’t want to participate, you should get some great results.

You can also offer consumer rewards and incentives either from your own company, or from a specialist provider of loyalty and reward programmes to sweeten the deal, and remind them that you took the time to ask for their opinions. Remember to thank your customers for taking the time out to answer your questions, and if their comments end up changing something about your business, tell them!

4. What do you do with it?

There is little use in spending the time and resources generating customer feedback if you’re not going to do anything with it. This is where the initial objective of carrying out the research and tailoring your questions to determine specifics about your business becomes so important. There’s no point conducting research into, say, the price of your product, if you don’t have the necessary margins to alter it when your customers tell you it’s too high.

If you’ve used a numerical system of questioning (asking customers to rate aspects of your business from 1-5 or unsatisfactory to excellent etc), you can analyse the data in a spreadsheet and look for trends, especially if you have also gathered information about the customers you’ve questioned, like their age, gender and the product they’ve purchased. If you’ve used a more anecdotal style of questioning, you’ll need to spend some time reading through the responses to understand what issues were uncovered. This may take longer, but it should give you a more detailed understanding of what your customers think of your business, and also has the advantage of providing ready made testimonials from those who’ve had a good experience.

5. The Reward (for you)

In time, you should start to see customer feedback as an intrinsic part of a cycle of excellent customer service that doesn’t simply stop once someone makes a purchase. Instead, by acting on the recommendations of your customers, you’re showing that you value their ongoing custom, and are willing to make alterations to your business to make them happy. Customers may also feel that they have an investment in your company if you make it clear you’re taking their ideas on board, and this connection between consumer and company is a key ingredient in building brand loyalty. When done correctly, it will help you increase customer retention and incremental revenue, as well as ensuring that your customers stick with you during the good times, and the bad.

Read more on Looking for loyalty? Just ask….

New marketing avenues generate big increase in online revenue

With
VAT set to rise to 20% in 2011, the retail sector will welcome the news
that online sales jumped by 22% in May, compared to 2009 levels.

The
online market has become a key sector for businesses, in part due to
the financial limitations imposed by the recession. Companies have found
marketing and selling their products online to be a very cost effective
way of generating revenue and attracting customers, with the latest
figures
showing that shoppers spent £4.5bn online during May alone.

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The Voice of Truth

A sign of real celebrity is that a voice is often worth more than
actual services. That marketing truth came to mind upon hearing how
Hyundai – due to advertise on this Sunday’s Academy Awards – was told
that their commercials weren’t quite acceptable.

No, no nudity
or inappropriate content. This is Hollywood we’re talking about after
all. No, it turns out that Jeff Bridges did Hyundai’s voice-overs, but
as a nominee for Best Actor, the sponsor has to make sure that ads
featuring celebrities (or celebrity voice-overs) don’t run near a
segment of the program that might feature that celebrity. Apparently,
trying to schedule where seven ads could run without violating Oscar
rules was too complicated so seven other celebrities got hired to read
the ad copy. This last-minute casting raises some questions.

Is
this just a tempest in a teapot? How would hearing the voice of a
nominee affect the outcome of the already-completed Oscar voting? Do
the voices of celebrities really increase brand engagement, or is that
just what the agency tells the client? Do celebrities tell a better
“story” than unknown yet skilled actors?

OK, it is pretty cool
to sit in the studio and get your picture taken with some star you’d
otherwise never meet. But the truth is that most celebrities view this
kind of work as an easily earned new income stream. Some celebrities,
like Sean Connery or Julia Roberts, will only do voice-overs, not
deigning to appear too commercial by actually showing up in an ad.

But
that said, it’s equally true that most “celebrity” voices really aren’t
as recognizable as, say, Garrison Keillor or Orson Wells or James Earl
Jones or Winston Churchill (or an unknown yet skilled actor imitating
Winston Churchill). And if you hire a celebrity to read copy, what do
you get besides bragging rights, an autograph, and the chance to shake
hands at the recording studio? Did you increase loyalty or engagement,
make more sales, or larger profits? Will you settle for recognition?

Let’s
see how resonant that recognition is. Below is a list of actors who
earned $1million + paychecks for lending their voices to commercial
ventures. Can you match up the voice to the product or service? Answers
appear at the very end of this blog.

1. Jeff Bridges
2. George Clooney
3. Sean Connery
4. Richard Dreyfuss
5. Gene Hackman
6. James Earl Jones
7. Queen Latifah
8. Julia Roberts
9. Christian Slater

A. Oppenheimer Funds
B. Honda
C. Panasonic
D. Pizza Hut
E. AOL
F. Budweiser
G. Duracell
H. Level 3 Communications
J. Verizon

Thinking
about those products and services, did the big name (or the big name’s
voice) mean anything to you? Did the celebrity voice engage you better?
Did you even remember the voice at all? Or did you check this all out
using loyalty and engagement assessments to insure that your brand’s
values were reinforced and you actually got a real return on your
marketing investment?

There’s a Native American proverb that
says it takes a thousand voices to tell a single story. But today it
can take only one to bust the budget.

Answers: 1I, 2G, 3H, 4B, 5A/F, 6J, 7D, 8E, 9C

Read more on The Voice of Truth…

The VAT rate will revert back to 17.5 percent on 1st Jan 2010, will this change the way consumers shop or is sales promotion a bigger factor?

As we approach Christmas and the new year comes ever closer, retailers’ attentions whilst fixed on the issues of Christmas revenue, are also looking at the changes that are due in the new year. The lower VAT rate of 15% will rise again to 17.5% little over a year after it was lowered. Will this encourage consumers to spend more money before the prices go up again, or will they even notice a difference? Sales figures have been up on the same period last year but surely has more to do with the rise in consumer confidence. The Nationwide’s Consumer Confidence Index shows that there was no improvement last month in consumer confidence but the previous months’ increases have meant that year on year the increase has been significant. There does seem to be hope on the horizon as other major economies have recently exited the recession and companies such as Sainsbury’s and many more are reporting higher profits once again.

Read more on The VAT rate will revert back to 17.5 percent on 1st Jan 2010, will this change the way consumers shop or is sales promotion a bigger factor?…

Is this the end of the sale season?

As Morrisons announce an underlying profit before tax up 22% to £359m (2008/9: £295m) and the Halifax reporting that house prises rose another 0.8% last month there are now definite signs that the recession is slowing and maybe even that the end of our current economic problems are on the horizon. What does this mean for businesses and the average consumer? Will consumers maintain their spending ransom on businesses, forcing them into drastic recession solutions or will we eventually see the end of the sale season?

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Top ten UK & Ireland city breaks – the rewards for consumers and businesses

With Brits spending more and more time holidaying at home on ‘staycations’, I wanted to explore the UK and Ireland to find my favourite city break destinations, seeing what there is to entice tourists there and which businesses are potentially profiting from this increased trade. There are so many different areas in the UK and Ireland, each individual in what they have to offer tourists. And as companies such as The Rocket Marketing Group launch discount clubs like the 241 Hotel Club, which gives members 2 nights for the price of 1 at over 300 hotels, the UK and Irish tourism trade really can now compete with the rest of the world for offering affordable yet interesting and unique holidays.

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Can the British holiday boom last?

There have been many surveys and reports this year indicating an increase in the number of British people taking their holidays in Britain. Travelsupermarket.com conducted research back in July, showing that 50 % of British holiday makers said that they were most likely to book a holiday in Britain in the next 12 months. The ‘staycation’ as it has been dubbed is a new fashion that is fantastic for the British economy. But as we begin the ascent out of recession, can the British hotel trade continue to compete with the allure of foreign holidays that offer the probability of good weather and escapism from our everyday life?

Read more on Can the British holiday boom last?…

Waitrose… Pizza Express … does aggressive discounting destroy the brand value?

It seems like all people want at the moment is the cheapest deal, and that lowering prices and putting huge sale posters up is the only way to entice consumers into a shop/business. But with sale savvy shoppers and the help of internet comparison sites how far can this go? Have prices finally reached rock-bottom and how has this aggressive discounting damaged the perceived value of these items/services? Have we allowed the financial panic to reduce brands’ value? The possible recession solutions have raised so many questions for marketing professionals and as we start to see light through the economic gloom the answers are starting to become clearer.

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