Ed Hadley[Posted by , Senior Marketing Manager, Neolane, Inc.]

Hundreds of marketers gathered in beautiful Paris this week for Neolane Evolution 2013, our worldwide user conference.  From amazing speakers and content to a truly memorable evening at the Louvre with private museum tours and a gala dinner under the pyramid, the event lived up to its theme of “inspiring extraordinary experiences.”

We’ll be doing a series of blog posts about Neolane Evolution over the next couple of weeks.  To start, I thought I would recap the six overarching themes that jumped out at me.  How can you create extraordinary experiences for their own customers?  Read on to find out.

  • Neolane Evolution 2013Inspiring Extraordinary Experiences – Nearly every session touched upon customer experience in some way.  Forrester Principal Analyst Shar VanBoskirk noted that digital disruption creates 10 times the innovators with 100 times the power at 1/10th the cost.  The only way to differentiate, she said, is to deliver extraordinary customer experiences.  Vittal echoed this message, particularly when outlining his cross-channel marketing manifesto: know your consumer, be accountable, and respect the customer experience.  He went on to preview results from a joint survey with The CMO Club that was featured in the Wall Street Journal.  According to the survey, while 90% of CMOs are personally responsible for their brand’s customer experience, only 11% actually own the customer P&L.  In addition, CMOs lack competence with the most essential tools for delivering great customer experiences, including interaction management, loyalty management, and predictive analytics.  While these stats are troubling, there’s an opportunity for brands to gain on edge by making the right investments now.
  • Multi-Dimensional, Cross-Channel - In his opening keynote, Neolane CEO Stephane Dehoche discussed how the analog and digital worlds are converging, creating a new multi-dimensional reality.  This convergence is creating both challenges and opportunities for marketers, as the need to bridge the gap has never been greater.  Fortunately, many Neolane customers are ahead of the curve in terms of embracing cross-channel marketing.  According to Dehoche, 66% of Neolane customers use two or more marketing channels; 38% use three or more; and 20% use four or more channels.  VanBoskirk reiterated this point, saying that brands must create unified, not uniform, customer experiences.  Moreover, she pointed out that customer–centric marketing—orchestrating message flows around customer needs and behavior—requires one platform that executes across digital channels.
  • Mobile: Disruptor and Opportunity – It’s not surprising that mobile received a lot of attention—both as a disruptor and an opportunity (and of course, as a channel).  VanBoskirk outlined Forrester’s concept of the always-addressable customer: someone who goes online multiple times a day from multiple locations from multiple platforms/devices.  This “mobile mind shift” is radically altering consumer behavior, particularly in terms of how they research and purchase products.  Vittal shared some eye-opening stats, including that 61% of mobile users use a smartphone during an in-store purchase, and mobile influence on store purchase is more than e-commerce and m-commerce combined.  To capitalize on these trends, VanBoskirk emphasized that brands should think mobile first in the planning and design process.
  • The Right Time for Real-Time – Given consumer’s increased connectivity and expectations, real-time marketing was another key theme of Neolane Evolution.  Vittal’s three key recommendations included progressively profile customers, act in real time, and experiment relentlessly.  Neolane Senior Product Marketing Manager Patrick Tripp explored the real-time marketing theme in greater depth.  He shared survey results which revealed that 77% of marketers believe that real-time personalization is of high importance.  Moreover, while 22% of European marketers personalize their website in real-time today, 59% will do within the next 12 months.  This increased adoption of real-time capabilities was reflected in several customer presentations, including PMU, which has increased cross-sell revenue 200% increase with real-time web personalization; Yves Rocher, which has unified customer interactions across inbound and outbound channels; and Baxter Credit Union, which will be implementing Neolane Interaction to deliver next best offers via its call center & web channels.
  • Social Moves Toward Monetization – Social media was the other big channel discussed.  EMI Music gave a great presentation on using Neolane Social Marketing to transform anonymous social contacts into loyal and qualified fans.  To illustrate the enormous potential of social CRM, there are 1 billion anonymous fans through EMI artist Facebook pages & Twitter profiles, versus 15 million qualified contacts in its marketing database.  The label’s social CRM strategy, therefore, is to acquire these contacts, enrich the marketing database with social profile information, and then engage them with 1-to-1 campaigns across email, mobile, and social.  As an example of the effectiveness of EMI’s Facebook marketing efforts, a listening party app for Tristan Prettyman grew the artist’s list by 30%; moreover, those contacts are 21% more engaged than others.  In another session, Generator shared how a Johnny Cash Facebook app increased the artist’s email list 20% while enriching subscriber profiles and driving deeper engagement.  Generator’s Thai Randolph made the point that social and email are better together.  Social helps amass large audiences while email monetizes them at low cost.  To help marketers quantify their social media marketing efforts, Neolane Product Marketing Manager Mickael Bentz outlined a pragmatic framework for calculating ROI on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Loyalty & Trust Must Be Earned – Another key theme of Dehoche’s opening remarks was that loyalty today is elusive, so brands have to deliver truly memorable experiences.  While more informed customers are harder to persuade, there are opportunities for brands to learn more about customers and deliver consistent, relevant experiences.  Keynote Don Peppers from Peppers & Rogers Group added some interesting perspective about the role of trust in building customer loyalty.  Citing “Zuckerberg’s Law”— every 20 years, we interact a 1,000 times as much with others—Peppers discussed how the more we interact, the more we require trust because we need a way to filter out the noise.  He then outlined the concept of Trustability, which hinges upon brands exhibiting competence (doing things right) and good intentions (doing the right things)—and doing so proactively.  An example is Amazon alerting customers that the price of an item in their shopping cart has been dropped.  By doing so, brands reduce short-term profit to gain long-term value.  Ultimately, it comes down to having empathy, or understanding what it’s like to be the customer; this, according to Peppers, is the ultimate form of customer insight.

What were your key takeaways from Neolane Evolution?  Leave a comment below.

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