Location Based Marketing. It’s not just for Retailers.

By on February 9, 2011

This past Holiday season we witnessed location based marketing starting to fulfill its promise

The huge growth of Smartphones feeding the empowerment of proud, app wielding bargain shoppers. For those retailers who focused on how to make location based marketing work for them, the Holiday season was a wondrous experiment of what is possible in the present and the future of how the physical world meshes with the connected customer experience. Shoppers using location based apps like Foursquare, Facebook Places, GeoQpon, Coupon Sherpa and Yowza browsed location based deals and discounts, and in some cases instantly shared their smart deals by broadcasting it across their social networks. (true story: a competitive shopper I know saved several hundred dollars this Holiday Season just because she downloaded GeoQpon, and it happened to work in nearly every store she walked into).alt text

For those that relied on beefing up holiday staff and churning out marketing campaigns as usual, the Holidays were more like getting called out and ganged up on during recess. Shoppers armed with Google Shopper, TheFind, RedLaser and Price Check by Amazon demand price transparency.  They instantly compare prices and complete purchases by scanning a barcode and clicking purchase, rendering an unsuspecting retail clerk speechless with the flash of a screen.  You could practically hear “Gotcha!!” every other aisle.

Finding the best deals, enabled by geolocation can be a competitive sport and it made me think about the other ways location based marketing can and will change the customer experience in other industries. 

Ever seen a QR code? I’m sure you’ve seen a few lately in magazine ads. These little boxes can hold any digital media you desire. They are a real-world link to a virtual destination. By tagging an object with a QR code in the real world, a marketer can reveal the history, details, and of course, the marketing message for any given product or service.  The possibilities are endless.

Other industries could make use of location based technology to truly make a difference in a customer experience Here’s a short list of some possibilities:

Imagine a drug maker uses a location based strategy that includes a QR code.  When the pharmacy fills a prescription, that drug maker produces a custom QR code to stick on the label.  That code instantly takes the patient (via a quick scan using redlaser or any other free reader) to a library of documents and videos that educate me about how to manage or manage a health challenge. Take it further – since the phone knows where I am, how about suggesting some smart choices at the grocery store and including a few coupons to help incent me to make healthy choices…. If I stay on this train of thought, I eventually share that code with my physician, and create a space where the patient and physician can dialogue care.
Healthcare: From an excellent report from “Looking ahead, advanced solutions such as implanted wireless sensors and robotics inside patients, combined with an always-on mobile data connection, can open a wealth of opportunity in terms of real-time care, emergency response and remote monitoring. Imagine having a health condition that’s monitored and managed remotely to where your physician can easily know of problems before you do. Care can be administered in real-time, without the need to schedule appointments or wait until it’s potentially too late, and much more expensive, to treat effectively.”

Service repair:
Let’s say something in my house breaks. Perhaps it’s the water heater.  If the manufacturer or reseller used a QR code tied to their inventory and service center, and I scanned it with my phone, they could direct me to a page where I can instantly purchase a replacement on the spot. One step further, they could direct me to a service portal that knows what the part is and asks me to schedule the service call at my preferred time.  (Side note, if the service company in the above example had used our Swyft for Mobile App, they could simultaneously push that service call to the closest service agent in the field – but we can save that for a different post.)

It’s already happening with mobile boarding passes.  You see it more and more at the airport. But what about using my location in the airport to help make the experience even better? The best example enhancing the travel experience with real time information today is the Denver Airport . They provide security wait times and parking lot updates right on the home page, and they even have a scavenger hunt you can play if you’re stuck there for a while.  But I’m talking about using my physical location in real time.  I think the airlines could get in on this game by delivering location-aware information to enhance my travel experience. For example: if I have a long flight – remind me to get some reading material, and maybe provide a 10% discount at the news store in their terminal. No meal on this flight? Make sure I know that, and suggest a restaurant in the terminal… you see where this is going.

How do you think your location could affect the way you interact with brands. How much will be too much?

10 Mobile Marketing Predictions for 2011

Policyholder Interactions 101

By Steve Phillips on November 29, 2010

Insurance enterprises, by their very nature, are extremely complex organizations.

Layered on their complexity is the diversity of products (e.g. P&C, life, health) and distributions systems (e.g. independent agents, direct, brokers).  Line of business leaders in insurance organizations juggle very different goals:

  • Marketing focuses on increasing market share with the right product messages and the most competitive programs.

  • New Business focuses on closing new business and increasing the wallet share of the existing book of business

  • Policyholder Service focuses on improving policyholder satisfaction with better efficiency and lower cost

  • Claims focuses on quick response and fairness to both the company and policyholder

  • Underwriting focuses on capturing profitable business and shedding undesirable business.

  • Producer Development focuses on training existing agents and recruiting new talent.

    As seemingly different (and sometimes conflicting) as these individual goals can appear, they all share an elusive goal: Improving the outcome of every interaction to improve or increase ‘something.’

    If Marketing can improve the relevance of their messages and the accuracy of their programs – they win.  If New Business can reduce the sales cycle for new business and pinpoint subtle opportunities within the existing book – they win.  If Policyholder Service can reduce the steps taken to find the right answer, they win.  If Claims can identify gaps in coverage and new business opportunities, they win.  If Underwriting can see the whole picture and focus on the profitable targets, they win. If Producer Development can leverage the knowledge base to get new agents up and running faster – they win.

    While their journey towards reaching that common goal (improved interactions) may commence down very different paths, a common desire to:

  • Create a consistent message

  • Increase agent knowledge

  • Understand and leverage multichannel customer interactions

  • Increase efficiency

  • Reduce costs

    make insurance organizations ideal candidates for a technology platform that creates a single view of multichannel customer interactions and informs every business unit with relevant content delivered at the time of need.

    In the coming weeks we will explore how the different insurance lines of business and operational areas can benefit from a true multi-channel policyholder interaction strategy.

    Personalized Interaction Management Comes to Politics

    By Steve Phillips on November 1, 2010

    Peeling back the actual politics for just a minute, the California Governor’s race has become a riveting case study in modern day marketing warfare.

    Remember when we were all enamored by the mere use of social media by President Obama’s campaign team?  Though cutting edge at its time, it appears amateur when we take a look at the media juggernaut that is Meg2010. 

    Meg Whitman, the Republican challenger to Jerry Brown is projected to spend more on her campaign than any other non-presidential campaign in history.  Recent estimates have Whitman spending over $165 million, including $125 million of her own money.  No doubt, she had a notable business career at eBay, but she was relatively unknown on the political scene—certainly when compared to Jerry Brown’s lifetime career in California politics.  That said, what’s caught my attention is the expert commentary unrelated to what she is spending, but focused on what she is saying, to whom she’s saying it and how she is getting her message out.

    Ms. Whitman’s campaign is utilizing the tactics and techniques that business marketers have used for decades – customer segmentation.  More specifically and more compelling is that her strategy includes the use of technology to layer “personalization” on top of “channel optimization”.  Recently, Time Magazine covered her strategy citing a clear link between her marketing tactics and her quick jump in popularity.  Time called out the use of “micro targeting software that helps tailor mailings and phone calls to voters on the basis of not just traditional factors like party registration but also polling and purchasable consumer data like magazine subscriptions and car ownership.”  The article went on to mention, “If you’re a voter in California, it’s possible you have received 16 or 17 mailings but this time, all of them highly specific to you, with your name on them, talking about issues they know you care about – not just a generic ‘Vote for Meg Whitman’.”
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    Taking a look at her site, you see very clear segmentation with focused campaigns designed to capture the vote of young California students and professionals through her ‘Gen-M for Meg 2010’ message.  She also targets Latinos, women, agriculture, educators and more - all through her targeted “insert interest group name here” for Meg 2010 campaigns.  Browsing her site, I counted no less than 25 specific strategies – all with unique and personalized messages.  On top of web and mobile channel segmentation, her direct mailing campaigns are tailored to the specific demographics and psychographics of each household – unprecedented in political advertising.  She understands that one message doesn’t fit all and she’s relying on technology to make sure everyone hears and experiences what she thinks is the right message via the right format.

    Her strategy doesn’t stop at segmentation and personalization.  She exploits channel preference with what seems like every aspect of social media – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, Ning, Flickr and yes, you guessed it – there’s an App for that too.  She uses text messaging to run contests and along the way keep her supporters and followers up to speed on all aspects of her campaigning.

    We won’t know until late this evening if Whitman will get the return on investment she’s looking for.  As of this writing Jerry Brown is ahead in the polls by a margin of 5 percent.  But the real point is this: six months ago Brown was clearly leading the way and Ms. Whitman was relatively unknown.  Love it or hate it, what we can’t argue is that this strategy has set a new standard for politicians and business alike.
    It seems to me that if more of the consumer business community took note of Whitman’s execution, on all levels of segmentation, personalization and optimization, that we might have happier customers and, who knows—more profit.

    A Lesson in Preventing the Fall Out: Technology’s Potential Role in Abbott’s Recall Nightmare.

    By on October 5, 2010

    Abbott Labs has voluntarily recalled a huge lot of its best selling Similac Infant Baby Formulas.

    Abbott expects to lose $100 million in connection with the recall and it makes me wonder if that includes the potential customer abandonment they will surely have to overcome.  Since I feed my son a Similac product, I’ve been paying attention to the recall for obvious reasons.  But I’m also in the business of paying attention to multi-channel customer interactions,and this whole mess has me thinking about technology’s role in handling a crisis like this one.

    The recall came after one manufacturing plant discovered common beetles within the plant.  Abbot immediately assumed there was a remote possibility that some of the formula could contain beetle parts or larvae – so they did the right thing – they investigated, called the FDA and voluntarily recalled all the lots that could have been made within that plant.  You can read more about Abbotts approach to the recall here.

    I personally use the brand that was affected, and luckily my experience so far has been very positive. I have been able to purchase liquid forms for the same price, and I’ve received a return package for my recalled cans.  That said, I’ve seen some brutal backlash on internet like this facebook page pulled together for the sole purpose of starting a class action lawsuit.
    For me, this is where this experience becomes a lesson.  Abbott made the recall announcement about 20 hours after the discovery.  While that’s understandable due to fact checking and the desire to communicate clearly and effectively—what’s not as understandable is why Abbott couldn’t prepare for what had to be obvious during that time– a huge surge in call volume and website traffic.

    [Panicked Parents + Internet + Mobile Phones = Guaranteed record surge of incoming interactions]

    So how could technology have helped Abbott in this scenario?  Here are a few things that come to mind that could have helped create a better experience and reduce the fall out:

    Decrease Frustration with Faster Responses: If Abbott Labs had a multi-channel customer interaction platform that could automatically serve up the right flow of questions, real-time answers and process flow (ie, if customer states this lot number, then ship overnight recall package, coupons for liquid formula and a personalized email with questions and answers regarding that specific formula) they could have sped up the process of the recall for the customers who were truly affected.

    Decrease Call Waiting Frustration by Ramping Resources Faster:  Abbott certainly couldn’t hire the extra full time employees needed to handle the volume in less than 20 hours – but that’s what outsource companies like TRG are for.  With a SaaS platform they could have had outsourced reps access the platform and operate just as effectively as their permanent call center employees—in less than 20 hours.

    Prevent Website Crashes by Personalizing Emails and Web Visits: If Abbot had a multi-channel customer interaction platform, they could have personalized emails and redirected some of the web traffic, reducing the hits to the general recall site (it crashed for an extended period of time.)  Many parents that have purchased Similac are part of the Strong Moms program.  When you join, you get a login and a steady stream of email communication and coupons.  By self identifying during login Abbott may have been able to use historical purchasing information to provide immediate recall guidance or more specific product and geographic information via dynamic personalized messages both on the web and email.  To their credit, they did use email and Strong Moms to communicate, but the added power of personalization could have clarified the communication and given them a chance to make a really personal connection with the parent (translation: “We know what you usually buy, and you can trust that we are providing you with the most accurate information possible.”)

    As a mom, I understand the frustration and panic around wondering if you’ve fed your child contaminated formula. Even though there was “no immediate health risk,” the countless sleepless nights I’ve had recently with a fussy 7 month old, and the pain I feel when I think he may have suffered under my watch has me paranoid, frustrated and pretty angry.

    On the other hand, as a business person, I understand that mistakes are made and I realize that the way mistakes are handled is usually more impactful than the actual mistake. Overall, I think Abbott handled this crisis the best way they were prepared to.  With the right use of technology, they could have been prepared to handle it more effectively and more efficiently.

    Smells Like Déjà Vu: Customer Interaction Software for Mobile Sales

    By Tony Cherry on May 28, 2010

    Do you ever get the feeling you’ve been here before?

    Every once in a while, most of us experience a profound sense of déjà vu;  good or bad, that feeling can make you stop and think, and that might even help you remember a lesson you might have already learned (or did you – since this could be entirely all in your head.) Either way, I’m there, and for some reason the background music is early 90’s.

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    Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time researching the app ecosystem because we are expanding our platform’s reach into the Mobile Channel and changing the way sales and service teams access information and interact with customers and prospects in the field.  Like any good technologist, I’ve burned some serious hours looking for ways we can save time, save money, and, most importantly, make our lives just a little easier.  This journey has planted me deep within in the complex landscape of mobile development and the trends emerging within it.
    While on my journey, I’ve been continually struck with a sense of déjà vu.  Didn’t I already go through a period of time where I was forced to deal with fragmented operating environments,  with extremely limited, lowest-common-denominator, quirky cross-platform options?  Didn’t I already tolerate native vendors trying to one-up each other while locking in users and developers?

    Yep.  This feels like déjà vu, but it’s not. I have been here before and it was the early 90’s.  This was before Windows had become nearly ubiquitous.  It was back when Windows, Mac, OS/2, and UNIX were at least considered viable platforms for enterprise end-user desktops.  This was before web delivery of applications made the browser the platform.

    While I had hoped to find a totally capable, cross-platform juggernaut, I didn’t.  This post over at AppsFire served as some pretty good navigation to help me through some of the assessment, as it seemed the only place anyone has tried to do a full ecosystem map for mobile development.  It’s a little iPhone-centric, but, hey, so is the rest of the world right now.  At the end of this journey, I’ve come to the realization that the only way we can deliver the kind of rich experience our users are accustomed to is to build native applications.

    There are a few things make this situation much more tenable: 1) The accessibility and flexibility of SaaS platforms like Swyft and others that are available for mash-up on these mobile devices.  Since these SaaS platforms are inherently client-app agnostic, it just becomes a matter of figuring out how best to display the content available on a particular device. 2) Since all of the mobile devices can handle HTML content—Swyft’s core content delivery mechanism—the challenge becomes simply building good native applications that make it possible to leverage the core features of each mobile device.

    So my journey didn’t land me in a convenient, time saving nirvana, but at least we aren’t writing giant client-server applications with totally limited integration capabilities.  As for the dejavu,  I’m looking forward to a day when I get the vague sense that I remember the moment when one mobile platform started to dominate (not likely) or cross-platform tools like HTML 5 came into full-bloom and released me from this time warp for good.