February 11th, 2016 by Sam Del Rowe

Popular local discovery app Foursquare—which assists users in finding places to go with friends—has teamed up with online ordering platform delivery.com. The partnership allows users to order food, alcohol, and groceries for delivery without leaving the Foursquare mobile app.

The two apps are connected by the mobile commerce platform Button, which enables easy linking between applications. Foursquare users benefit from in-app access to delivery options—and given the increasing popularity of ordering food delivery online via companies like Seamless, this will likely be a popular addition. Furthermore, with Foursquare reporting more than 60 million registered users in August 2015, this agreement should provide a huge boost in exposure and users for delivery.com.

The integration between Foursquare and delivery.com is all about making it easier for customers to place orders. After discovering a new restaurant in Foursquare, users can access delivery.com’s data on the restaurant from within the Foursquare app. With a single touch, users can then switch to delivery.com’s menu to place an order. This ease of usage is essential, especially when it comes to ordering food, because no one wants to go through unnecessary steps while hungry.

This announcement comes after delivery.com’s November 2015 release of a redesigned iOS app. The partnership with Foursquare exemplifies the continued importance of providing consumers with an easy-to-use interface on mobile, as well as the immediacy of gathering information and placing an order. Going forward, businesses in other industries may want to examine the interfaces of their own apps, and seek out strategic partnerships to increase exposure.

February 8th, 2016 by Oren Smilansky

Budweiser spent approximately $15 million dollars on Super Bowl commercials this year, but what was likely their most memorable mention came from Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning after the game had officially ended.

Having defeated the Carolina Panthers 24-10 in what was possibly his last game ever, Manning was asked the question that was on many peoples’ minds: Would he retire?

“I’ll take some time to reflect,” Manning told CBS’ sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson. “I’ve got a couple of priorities first. I want to go kiss my wife and my kids…hug my family.” And, he added, “I’m going to drink a lot of Budweiser…I promise you that.”

And, just minutes later, Manning mentioned Budweiser again [1:32]:

Now, if Manning had simply called it “beer,”  it’s very likely no one would have raised an eyebrow. But to mention a brand name like that during one of the most watched TV moments of the year made it seem like he was plugging the brand.

Rising in response was Lisa Weser, head of marketing communications at Anheuser-Busch InBev, who tweeted that: “For the record, Budweiser did not pay Peyton Manning to mention Budweiser tonight.”

That very well may be the case, considering that Manning is not entirely impartial. (Beer Business Daily reported in 2014 that Manning owns part of two Anheuser-Busch distributorships in his home state of Louisiana.) And, because the NFL restricts active players from endorsing alcoholic beverages, some have speculated that this was Manning’s subtle way of suggesting that he would be hanging his cleats.

But regardless of Manning’s intentions, the name drop made its impact. Apex Marketing Group calculated that these two mentions alone would amount to $3.2 million in revenue for the company. Along with the media coverage the endorsements inspired, the analytics firm estimates a total of $14 million in exposure. That’s almost enough to make back the $15 million Budweiser spent on Super Bowl ads this year.


February 5th, 2016 by Leonard Klie

Nearly 70 percent of retailers are still struggling to evolve from an omnichannel model to one that truly puts the customer at the center of everything, according to consulting firm The O Alliance.

In the report, titled “Retail Transformation Underway: Achieving Customer-Centric Commerce,” the company uncovered five key strategies that it says are necessary to drive the transition toward customer centricity. It also identified three key groups based on where they stand with regard to this transition:

  • Leaders, which have taken steps to better understand consumer data and invest in customer insights, technology and organizational redesign;
  • Followers, which have big plans to move towards customer-centric business and have made some progress; and
  • Bystanders, which showed a lack of meaningful progress or plans.

Not surprisingly, very few companies fit into the leaders category. After all, retailers have always been slow to adopt new technology, right? But when does it become inevitable? I was under the impression that it already has, but I’ve been wrong before.


“Customer-facing tools such as smartphones, tablets, and in-store kiosks have become mission-critical to the shopping experience, yet most retailers still have not integrated these tools into a cohesive system that creates circular commerce,” said Andrea Weiss, founder of The O Alliance, in a statement. “While omnichannel was about giving shoppers a single view of a brand across all touch-points, the customer-centric model is about giving the brand a single view of the shopper, understanding who she is, what she wants, and how she behaves at all times.”

The report unveiled the following key strategies leveraged by retail Leaders to successfully achieve customer centricity:

Track Customer Behavior Across Channels. As technology enables customers to engage across multiple channels, the task of tracking a single customer across a company’s entire universe becomes more challenging. In fact, fewer than 43 percent of Bystanders are using data to effectively segment customers and only 14 percent are leveraging data to understand and map the customer journey. To achieve true customer centricity, retailers must connect shoppers’ activities online, in store, on social media, and via mobile apps to create a universal customer profile.

Measure Success of Cross-Channel Marketing. While the majority of the industry (70 percent) has evolved to using cross-channel promotions (i.e. email campaigns to drive in-store purchases), nearly half (48 percent) of all retailers still can’t measure the success of campaigns. Customer-centric leaders are implementing tools that provide a strategic view into each campaign, allowing them to gauge effectiveness, attribute credit to the proper promotion or channel, and leverage that insight to drive future marketing decisions.

Centralize Data Solutions. Many retailers still lack the proper integration solutions to effectively manage cross-channel shopping experiences. In fact, 37 percent of companies are not combining e-commerce and in-store transaction data in central databases, and only 9 percent currently link social media activity to their customer data files. Leaders however, are adopting flexible, cloud-based solutions that allow them to access all product and customer information in one centralized place.

Structure a Customer-Centric Organization. While most companies recognize the importance of integrating business functions across channels, leaders are actually implementing this change; 97 percent have integrated at least one team so far. Leaders are also taking steps to address the talent and leadership issues; 43 percent have or plan to have a C-level executive in a customer-centric role.

Crush Obstacles to Customer Centricity, including inadequate talent, organizational silos, cash restraints, a lack of clarity on the promise of technology, and a lack of leadership vision.

The O Alliance, therefore, recommends directional shifts across all areas of the company, from c-level executives to human resources and finance. Shouldn’t that have happened already as well?

February 4th, 2016 by Sam Del Rowe

Experian Data Quality recently released a research study that examines how businesses leverage and manage data, as well as the evolution of data management practices. The study surveyed over 1,400 people from eight countries, including individuals in areas such as information technology, data management, marketing, customer service, sales, and operations. The study also examined organizations from a diversity of industries including telecommunication, retail, and financial services.

When it comes to managing data, 75 percent of organizations reported that they can detect and resolve issues relatively quickly. However, 65 percent of organizations said that they typically wait until specific issues with their data arise to address and fix them—an approach that begets both internal and external problems. Furthermore, the report indicates that 23 percent of customer data is believed to be inaccurate. While half of organizations attributed these inaccuracies to human error, the study says that internal manual processes, inadequate data strategies, and inadequacies in relevant technologies are also contributing factors to inaccurate data. Moreover, a lack of technological prowess can also hinder businesses’ abilities to leverage their data.

The study also predicts five key areas of change in data channel usage over the next five years, indicating broadly how businesses can harness data to power specific business objectives. The report predicts that 94 percent of businesses will be using information gathered from data to improve the customer experience, 92 percent to protect customer security, 90 percent will be using real-time analytics to inform decision-making, 89 percent will be using data science to inform decision-making, and 87 percent will use data management to uphold governance and regulation. However, the study suggests that in order for these changes to occur, businesses need to improve big data management to identify the most useful and accurate information.

According to the report, companies are undertaking more data management projects. Over the next 12 months, 37 percent of companies intend to implement a data cleansing initiative, 37 percent a data integration initiative, 31 percent a data migration initiative, and, rounding out the top four, 31 percent a data enrichment initiative. Given these findings, it seems clear that organizations are realizing the advantage of having usable data, and intend to respond with several endeavors. Nevertheless, the findings of this study indicate just how far organizations have to go when it comes to leveraging and managing data to generate valuable returns.

February 1st, 2016 by Oren Smilansky

A majority of companies are not making the most of their inbound leads, suggest findings from a sales effectiveness report released last week by Conversica, titled Lead Follow-Up.

The purpose of the survey, says Conversica’s CEO, Alex Terry, was to determine how well B2C and B2B companies—and  from a range of industries and reputations—handled interested prospects. “Most companies know what the right thing to do is” when it comes to nurturing leads, Terry acknowledges. “But do they do it? We figured it was worth spending a few months to gather some objective, statistical data and answer that question.”

3040508093_50104084b2Over two months, Conversica assigned secret shoppers to contact companies about their products and services during regular business hours (8am-5pm). The shoppers sent their inquiries through designated email addresses or forms found on the companies’ Web sites, trying to be as consistent as possible with the interactions. “We wanted to come across as someone who’s interested in buying whatever the service happened to be,” Terry says, and “we didn’t want the companies to know they were being evaluated.”

Companies were judged for their effectiveness across four best practices. These “four Ps” include: promptness, persistence, personalization, and performance.

Each organization was given a letter grade based on its abilities in these criteria, with equal weight being placed to each of the four Ps.

“It was surprising was just how badly many of these companies did,” Terry says.

Of the 327 companies surveyed, only seven posted an overall grade of “A,”* while the majority (65%) scored a “C” or lower. The research further revealed that 111 of the companies surveyed (34%) never bothered to respond to the initial inquiry. The companies who did respond showed an average response time of 52 hours, with only 8% of the companies able to answer within five minutes.

This is a missed opportunity, Terry suggests, as promptness can make or break a deal. “If you can get back to someone within five minutes, it [will result in] a measureable improvement in your ability to engage and ultimately close that lead,” Terry says.

Additionally, more than 50% of the companies only contacted a lead twice before giving up on the opportunity, even though Terry holds that the recommended number is eight.

Blindly sending follow-up messages, however, isn’t good enough–30% of the companies who responded to the interested parties didn’t add a personal touch, which increased the likelihood that their messages ended up in the recipient’s spam folder.

A takeaway, Terry states, is while “it’s not hard to be good… it’s hard to be consistently good. A lot of companies need help with engaging, qualifying, and working with inbound leads to help increase their sales,”

In a statement, Gerry Murray, research manager at IDC’s CMO advisory service, pointed out that labor and time requirement limit the human ability to pursue a great volume of leads. Therefore, “unless [responses are] automated, an enormous amount of potential business simply falls through the cracks,” Murray says. Fortunately, automated  agents who meet the “Turing Test” and don’t give off a robotic impressions in their messages are increasingly “passing with flying colors.”

*Companies who earned “A”s are: Marketo, Zend Technologies, Salesforce, Anderson Subaru of Pensacola, Florida, and Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa.




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