September 9th, 2016 by Leonard Klie

Meliá Hotels International, the Spanish luxury hotel brand, has invited its most important customers to play an important role in designing its customer experience playbook.

Starting this month, in partnership with Bond Brand Loyalty, guests at each of the company’s hotels will participate in sessions in London and Miami to help brand leaders better understand how customers feel when engaging with the Meliá brand. Gathering feedback directly from the customer will play a key role in shaping Melia’s global expansion and customer service approach.

Meliá has nearly 40,000 employees and sees each one as an extension of the brand and integral to delivering its unique promises. Meliá is inviting guests to help create what their service culture needs to look and feel like at every interaction.

“Rather than assume we know what guests want, we are inviting our guests to tell us. This will allow us to move beyond meeting the needs of our guests to anticipating them,” said Alex Hugot, Meliá’s vice president of glabal brand management, in a statement.

“The experiences we talk about are the ones that create emotions. This is deeply human, and it is why our customer experience work focuses on the interactions between a brand’s representatives and their customers,” said Bob Macdonald, president and CEO of Bond Brand Loyalty, in a statement “We applaud Meliá Hotels International for the work they have done on the entire spectrum of brand and customer experience, and we are exceptionally proud to be supporting them.”

And there will undoubtedly be a lot of support required, as this is no small undertaking. Melia, the world’s 17th largest hotel chain, operates 370 hotels under six brands—Gran Meliá Hotels & Resorts, Meliá Hotels & Resorts, ME by Meliá, Paradisus Resorts, Innside by Meliá, Sol Hotels, and TRYP by Wyndham— in 40 countries. That means more than a fair share of guests, and getting insight from them is not going to be an easy task.

September 8th, 2016 by Sam Del Rowe

Video content is particularly effective in driving engagement on mobile devices, according to a study conducted by video advertising platform Videology. The report presents the results of three case studies that indicate the importance of mobile advertising that includes a video component.

The first example concerns a consumer packaged goods company that was looking to drive sales of a mass-market food product. Using a combination of behavioral, demographic, and contextual targeting to develop a mobile-focused approach, the video campaign achieved a message awareness lift of over 125 percent compared to a control group.

Looking to promote a new show, a streaming video content provider found its digital video branding campaign to be twice as effective on mobile as it was on desktop in terms of brand building. Additionally, the mobile campaign drove a 122 percent lift in awareness compared to an unexposed group.

A food brand chose to adopt mobile video advertising to appeal to a younger demographic. The mobile campaign yielded a lift of over 46 percent, and ran in conjunction with desktop ads, which drove a lift awareness of 28 percent.

“For the foreseeable future, mobile video, both on phones and tablets, will continue to be one of the largest growth areas for video consumption,” Kevin Haley, chief scientist and product officer at Videology, said in a statement. “The personal nature of these devices allows for highly engaging advertising opportunities. Additionally, the large amount of available mobile data presents the opportunity for precision targeting of a strategic audience. All that said, it’s still important that mobile be part of a holistic plan. Brand planners and media owners should not separate mobile from their overall video strategy.”

September 2nd, 2016 by Leonard Klie

Despite a year of intense focus on customer experience, federal agencies continue to perform far below their private sector peers, according to Forrester Research’s US Customer Experience Index (CX Index), 2016. According to the data, 73 percent of federal agencies fell into the lowest two categories (poor and very poor), and agencies averaged a paltry score of 58 out of 100 compared with the private sector’s average score of 70.

According to the research, government agencies do not do offer good customer experiences because it is not a main focus for them. Instead, they ignore emotion, obsess over technologies instead of empowering employees to perfect customer interactions, and concentrate on what customers claim to want rather than what data shows actually drives better CX.

“Federal agencies have their CX priorities all wrong, and it shows,” Rick Parrish, principal analyst and government CX expert at Forrester, said in a statement. “Though technology plays an important role in CX, creating a mobile app or another digital offering does not necessarily give customers the emotional solution or support that they are looking for. Customers want the advances that digital brings, but only when it’s done right — and right now, agencies are failing at that mission.”

The 15 government and federal agencies ranked in the 2016 US CX Index, listed in order of lowest to highest scores, are:,, Department of Education, Transportation Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service, Medicaid, Department of Veterans Affairs, Small Business Administration, Social Security Administration, Medicare, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, Tricare, the U.S. Postal Service, Bureau of Consular Affairs, and National Park Service. The scores ranged from 42 to 76.

I delve into this a little more in my feature article for the September issue of CRM magazine, titled “Citizen Relationship Management Requires a Different CRM.”

September 1st, 2016 by Sam Del Rowe

38 percent of companies engaged in the practice of web scraping do so to obtain content, according to a study from bot detection and mitigation service provider Distil Networks. As defined by the report, web scraping is “a computer software technique for extracting information from websites” that “often includes transforming unstructured web site data into a database for analysis or repurposing content into the web scraper’s own website and business operations.” The study notes that the practice can also be used for research, contact scraping, price comparison, weather data monitoring, and website change detection.

Bots—which make up 46 percent of web traffic, according to the report—are utilized in web scraping because they can perform the task at a much faster rate than humans. These bots are often difficult to detect—and even more difficult to block—because they mimic human user behavior patterns. Various organizations, such as competitors, hackers, and spammers might employ bots to engage in web scraping, with roughly two percent of online revenue lost due to the practice. The study indicates that real estate sites are the number one target of web scraping, with other victims including companies in digital publishing, travel, and e-commerce.

“If your content can be viewed on the web, it can be scraped,” Rami Essaid, CEO and co-founder of Distil Networks, said in a statement. “Not only does web scraping pose a critical challenge to a website’s brand, it can threaten sales and conversions, lower SEO rankings, or undermine the integrity of content that took considerable time and resources to produce. Understanding the pervasive nature of today’s web scraping economy not only raises awareness about this growing challenge, it also allows website owners to take action in the protection of their proprietary information.”

August 29th, 2016 by Oren Smilansky

Google last week introduced a seemingly small rule that could have a potentially heavy impact on marketing organizations. Beginning in early January of 2017, the Internet company will penalize sites that include invasive pop-ups (or what it calls “interstitials”) on their mobile Web pages, by lowering their search engine rankings.

According to a blog post from Google, the mobile browsing experience has improved significantly in the two years since the company began factoring mobile-responsiveness into its search algorithm. So much so that 85% of documented sites have earned the “mobile-friendly” stamp of approval, and, for the sake of presentation and simplicity, the company will no longer bother to label sites this way.

However, once users get through to the sites to view the content they were looking for, they’re often hindered by advertisements they have no choice but to click out of.  These marketing pop-ups, as we all know, are frequently designed in a deliberate fashion that prevents us from dodging them. How many times have you been misled to a page totally unrelated to what you were looking for, despite trying to click an impossibly small “x” button?

Marketers are right to feel threatened by this change, as some writers have pointed out that the pop-ups serve as one source of revenue. But in the long run, the adjustment could be a blessing, as HubSpot points out. Such frustrating experiences with a site can lower a user’s opinion of those companies responsible, and possibly lead them to ditch the brands altogether. At a time when customer experience is being commonly regarded as a crucial element in the enterprise, such minor annoyances can add up and do some serious damage.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, and Google acknowledges them. The banners may be annoying, but they aren’t always without purpose. Pop-ups that aim to fulfill a legal obligation–such as permission for cookie usage, or age verification– will not be touched by the new signals. Similarly, sites that are protected by paywalls, or require a user log-in, will go unpunished.

It’s important to recognize also that Google will still allow “banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissable.” This means that advertisers who wish to use this method to get their messages across will simply have to be a bit more careful, and smarter, in how they do so.


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