The Death Of Browser Cookies & What That Means For Online Ads

For 25 years, third-party cookie technology was the main source of DATA that forms the basis of advertising. However, due to growing privacy concerns and regulations, technology companies and more specifically “Internet Browser” companies like Apple (Safari), Google (Chrome), Microsoft (Explorer), and Firefox and others have started to implement stricter privacy policies when it comes to tracking people who are using those browsers through what is known as the third-party cookies. Some browsers—Safari and Mozilla Firefox—already no longer support third-party cookies. The announcement by Google that it too will block these cookies in Chrome by end of 2021 has provided the impetus for a range of responses from martech, adtech, advertisers and publishers.

To be clear, there is no threat to first-party cookies, the cookies used by websites to collect information about users who have chosen to interact with them. On the other hand, Thirdparty cookies are created by domains that are not the website (or domain) that you are visiting. These are usually used for online-advertising purposes and placed on a website through adding scripts or tags. A thirdparty cookie is accessible on any website that loads the thirdparty server’s code.

Take for example the Facebook Pixel ID, which is simply a snippet of code that is embedded within the web site that automatically tracks users’ activities like browsing products, and shopping carts (even abandoned ones) that feeds into the Facebook advertising algorithm that enables businesses to target users on Facebook more efficiently. It is through the Pixel ID that Facebook is able to display an ad showing the product that you left in your cart a few minutes ago.

With browsers blocking that kind of code to be used on web sites, this leaves online platforms like Facebook (along with businesses and online advertising agencies) somehow in the dark and the overall efficiency of online advertising goes down drastically. This poses a big challenge for businesses as they need the data to optimize their online ads but they can no longer rely on third-party cookies to do that.

How To Overcome The Challenge Of No Third-Party Cookies

No longer able to rely on third-party code to collect user data that is essential for optimizing online ads, businesses are now faced with the challenge of collecting that data themselves directly on their sites and then send that data to online platforms like Facebook where that data is used to help them optimize their online ads targeting.

That does not mean that businesses now need to start hiring developers and build software development team as there are other companies that can do that for them. However, this is something that businesses now need to plan and and, more importantly, budget for.

One of the most efficient solutions to help businesses tackle that challenge is the Customer Data Platform, CDP; a solution that collects, unifies, and centralizes the customer data of a business across the different channels, offline and online. That data can then be used by the business to efficiently engage their customers and to also optimize their online ads by sharing that data with the likes of Facebook and Google.

One of the many advantages of a CDP is that it enables the business to easily control which data to share with the online ads platforms as opposed to having third-party cookies blindly sending all information out. This means that business can still be able to optimize their online ads while adhering to the privacy regulations.

The UrbanBuz CDP Platform With Online Ads Integration

With the UrbanBuz Customer Journey Management (CJM) platform, a business can quickly centralize all their customer touch points, online and offline, and with the very user-friendly and intuitive design along with seamless integration with online ads platforms like Facebook and Google, they can easily connect their data to their online ads accounts, control what data to use to optimize their online ads, and measure the ROI of those online ads offline and online.

Customer data is critical to the success of a business now more than ever as privacy regulations are locking down on random and blind data gathering without the knowledge and consent of customers. However, businesses now can take control of their relationships with their customers and gather data they desperately need for their growth in a safe and efficient manner.

To learn more how UrbanBuz can help you optimize your online marketing, click HERE.

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Notes On Digital Transformation: Customer Data Hub

In “Notes On Digital Transformation: The Customer”, I discussed why customer data is important for business growth and the importance of the data system to be agnostic of any technology that connects to it and to be flexible and scalable to meet the future needs of the business.

So what does it mean to have the proper structure to store and organize customer data?

It is important for the business to structure and collect data based on objectives they want to achieve. A good number of businesses make the mistake of deciding to capture everything about the customer whether that data is relevant to their business or not and whether they will act on it or not.

Also it is important that the structure, a business designs today, is flexible enough to add more data types in the future. For example, WhatsApp communication was not a standard piece of the business communication channels a year ago but now it is, which means that businesses now need to efficiently store those conversations as part of the customer’s record.

The basic customer data structure should help the business answer the following questions (because remember the whole purpose of this is to empower your marketing team with the data they need to engage with those customers):

1- Who is my customer? This is basically the identity of the customer (name, birthday, gender, nationality, etc.)

2- What is the shopping behavior of my customer? This is related to transactions (online and offline).

3- What is the engagement behavior of my customer? (Open emails, clicks, and any other campaigns related data)

4- How does my customer feel about my brand? This is related to feedback (surveys, customer service, and Social Media) and referrals

Those are the fundamental questions that every business should be able to answer and they cannot do so without properly storing and organizing their customer data.

Now a lot of businesses would say that they already have a system to store the customer data and by that they mean a CRM system. That’s great but if we take a closer look, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), according to Salesforce, is a strategy for managing an organization’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. CRM system helps companies stay connected to customers, streamline processes, and improve profitability. It can be used by different verticals in the organizations and also helps them to focus on the relationship with individual customers.

In other words, CRM give businesses visibility of customer contact information and sales opportunities. Some new generations of CRM even have some capabilities to automate marketing campaigns to those customers either directly or through additional execution tools. They help with lead nurturing, customer retention, and up-selling to existing accounts.

The Primary users of the CRM system is Sales and Customer Service representatives and NOT marketing teams. Case in point, one of the leading CRM companies in the world is Salesforce, so they have literally the word Sales in their name to emphasize the role of their system regarding sales teams.

However, if you remember from “Notes On Digital Transformation: An Introduction”, I mentioned that the main purpose of creating a centralized customer data structure, that collects and organize customer data from different kinds of sources, is to enable “Marketing” teams to engage with customers, pure and simple.


Ok so if CRM is only a “piece” of the puzzle, then what can a business do to create that Customer Data Hub that would serve “Marketing” teams?

In recent years, we have seen the rise of what is known as the Customer Data Platform (CDP), and according to the CDP institute, a CDP must have the following capabilities:

●     Ingest data from any source

●     Capture full detail of ingested data

●     Store ingested data indefinitely (subject to privacy constraints)

●     Create unified profiles of identified individuals

●     Share data with any system that needs it

Gartner defines a CDP as a “marketing system that unifies a company’s customer data from marketing and other channels to enable customer modeling and optimize the timing and targeting of messages and offers.

A few years ago, Salesforce started a CDP initiative to make it part of their products suite and they are acquiring companies to expand their capabilities in that area.

Whether you call it CDP or something else is not the point, what matter is for the business to setup a system that captures all different kinds of customer data to create one universal customer profile and then plug that data back into any tool that can use it for marketing purposes.

In other words, the CDP enables “marketers” to bring in huge amounts of online and offline data from a multitude of sources, then match, merge and remove duplicates to produce a Single Customer View, without the requirement of help from a team of engineers or IT specialists. Each unified customer record can then be segmented, analyzed and used to make recommendations to help create a personalized customer journey.

So, the aims of the CDP are to empower the marketing team to use clean, trustworthy and compliant data across all their marketing channels, and to act as a single source of truth about their customers to enable analysis, intelligence gathering and the automation of targeted, personalized marketing campaigns.

Another key aspect of CDP is simplicity and ease of use. Since the CRM database is highly complex, they require an IT team for setup and management, while CDP was created to be simple and manageable by marketing professionals.

So the key thing to emphasize here is that rather than working with a database (or databases) owned and controlled by IT. This means marketers do not have to go back and forth to IT and make requests to access data and get that data back. Marketers can manipulate and control data themselves, a simple but a very new concept.

A CDP (or CDP like systems) lets marketing teams leverage their data by putting the power in their own hands. This can be used for analysis and research, to make segments, to build and execute campaigns and get reports.

That all sounds good on paper (or screen) but the reality is that most businesses already have legacy systems, or they just spent millions installing a mammoth of a CRM system that was supposed to solve all their problems, or they already have several proper systems in place that do their jobs separately but are not connected, and the list goes on about the barriers that stand in the way of a business to even start thinking about centralizing their customer data and kicking off their digital transformation.


So what are the challenges to setting up a proper customer data hub?

Here businesses are presented with two options:

1- Replace existing system(s) with a modern one that is designed to propel the business into the future.

2- Gradually revamp their technology ecosystem by creating something that sits on top of the legacy systems and that has the ability to connect with modern day tools and systems, which gives the business the flexibility to get started fairly quickly without disrupting the existing infrastructure and some of the existing processes (which also means less cost).

It is important to highlight that until a few years ago, the first option was pretty much the only option available because that was how technology was structured and built. One mammoth system to rule them all. Then a few years ago technology evolved, like it always does, into open platforms and cloud technology, in other words technology now allows us to build different “specialized” systems (or products) that can easily connect to each other to do a lot of different things. What is interesting about those systems is that a lot of them follow the plug-and-play model, where no installation is required, no expensive hardware to buy, no costly support, and more importantly no expensive upgrades, so in theory those systems never get outdated.

Now you might be thinking, that is great and businesses are naturally gradually revamping their systems to move quickly without disrupting the business a lot and without spending tons of money. Unfortunately, that is not case for many reasons, one of them is old habits die hard.

Remember in “Notes On Digital Transformation: An Introduction”, I mentioned that part of the digital transformation journey is people and changing the mindset of those people. Some of those people are in IT where the mindset is still one system to rule them all and one big initiative to change the world. So we still see businesses (especially big ones) that go the route of changing everything and moving from one big system to another big system with very unrealistic expectations about time, benefits, and cost. This mindset gets even more challenging by the simple fact that this new concept, of centralizing customer data that easily plugs into different marketing systems, shifts the control and decision making power from IT to Marketing. A lot of organizations are still struggling with that shift.

This is why it is important that businesses start adopting the approach of building a solid data foundation on top of which multiple, connected, solutions can be plugged into to serve the different needs of the different divisions. As long as the data foundation is solid then implementing and changing systems on top of that foundation should be cost efficient and quick.

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The Retail Business, COVID-19, and The Dark Stores

What is a dark store?

We all know what is the brick & mortar Store but what is a dark store? In simple terms, dark stores are traditional retail stores that have been converted to local fulfillment centers. Traditionally, grocery stores were the leaders in that area, but the concept can be extended to all product retailers, including fashion, beauty products, fragrances, home furnishings or electronics.

What happened in the early days of COVID-19?

With the COVID-19 pandemic, retailers had to completely shut down their retail stores and ended up with a lot of physical space housing a lot of products that they were unable to sell.

Businesses that did not have e-commerce presence, rushed to establish their e-commerce sites only to realize that it is not a simple, cheap, and quick endeavor. Those who already had e-commerce capability, soon ran into the delivery logistics nightmare which resulted in frustrating delays and much-longer-than-usual order times, similar to what Amazon has experienced worldwide.

On the other hand, some agile brands just switched their physical stores in city centers and malls to dark stores serving their neighborhoods, in order to shorten delivery times and provide a faster and more convenient shopping experience.

The rise of the hybrid store

Though Dark Stores were a necessary move during the lockdown period of the pandemic, they will not be the right solution going forward after lockdown restrictions get lifted.

On one hand we acknowledge that consumers who have experienced, for months now, home delivery, curbside pickup, and online shopping; would very likely continue doing that to a certain extent after the COVID-19 dust settles. On the other hand, we also acknowledge that consumers still value the tangible experience that comes with being able to interact with and purchase items in store.

Brick & Mortar stores have to quickly evolve to becoming hybrid stores or what we call true omni-channel stores, in order to make more efficient use of their expensive physical space and their staff. They will continue to serve partly as dark stores for their neighborhood while serving a certain number of walk-in customers at a time, respecting the social distancing rules.

Efficient technology solutions needed 

With the right out-of-the box technology solutions and proper customer data,  omni-channel stores can become a reality without adding a lot of stress on the brand team. By leveraging the proper communication channels like WhatsApp along with automation and easy access to customers microsites, a business can continue to provide great customer experience (including ‘click and collect’ or ‘buy online and pickup in store’) and generate needed traffic and revenues during these tough times.

To learn more how UrbanBuz can help you turn you retail store into a hybrid dark store through our AI powered customer journey platform, click HERE.

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Marketing Tips During Covid-19

Denial followed by fear and panic are the three feelings that were experienced by mostly everyone and every business during the first week. Now that it is a month plus into it, the only thing constant is change. We’re all learning to quickly adapt, both personally and professionally. But if we learned anything from previous crises (no matter how different they were), businesses that acted fast and stayed engaged with their customers ended up big-time winners.

With that in mind, we thought that it might be useful to share some general marketing, CRM and loyalty guidelines during these unusual times.

  1. Exercise Generosity with your Loyalty Program
    If you are running one, try to be more generous and extend the expiry dates. If you don’t have one, now is the time to start thinking about one.
  2. Sense-Check your Automated Marketing
    If you have any automated communication switched-on, now it is time to sense-check it and make sure that it is relevant to this period. Don’t ignore to tackle the new customer journeys that were created during this period.
  3. Review your Scheduled Marketing Campaigns
    Acknowledging that your customers (like all of us) are dealing with major disruptions, you need to review the creative and copy of your scheduled marketing campaigns and consider instead sending more empathetic and less opportunistic messages. Determine which ones to pause now, and which ones to pivot or prioritize.
  4. Switch Part of your Promotional Budget to Creating Useful Content
    Try to educate, entertain, or inspire your customers with useful content that will help them in their everyday #staying-in life. We have seen and are currently evaluating many catchy and engaging ideas with our partners, across all industries.
  5. Re-Imagine with your Customers the World Post-Covid-19
    I am sure you are spending a lot of time and energy imagining that world. Who isn’t? It might be worth it to survey your customers and include them in this thought process.  The answers might surprise you and will definitely provide you with invaluable insights for the upcoming period.
  6. Plan…plan…plan
    Remember the quarantine and lockdown won’t last forever. So start preparing for the following period thoughtfully and proactively. Make use of your partners resources to bounce ideas, brainstorm and plan; in order to be fully ready when things go back to normality.

We wish everyone health and safety during this unusual time. Don’t forget to get in touch with us here if you would like to brainstorm ideas related to your specific business.

 

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Have you had your replenishment strategy sorted?

If your brand sells consumable products in any way, then automated replenishment one-to-one campaigns should be your best friend.

Replenishment campaigns is a proven tactic to encourage customers in a highly personalized and relevant manner to re-purchase or re-order before they run out.
They drive higher engagement and therefore increased revenues from loyal customers.

 

What are the types of purchases that benefit from replenishment campaigns? 

  • Sanitizing products (especially these days 😉)
  • Cosmetics, makeup and beauty products
  • Pet food
  • Toiletries
  • Certain types of apparels that need replacements like running shoes, sports apparel, underwear
  • Office supplies
  • Household products
  • Edible products
  • Many more

Why set up automated replenishment communication?

They provide a significant lift in revenues from returning customers and offer an EXCEPTIONAL customer experience at the same time. Who hasn’t felt frustrated
upon running out of something they now need?

Replenishment campaigns keep customers loyal. They remind them to buy from your brand vs your competitor. Such automated one-to-one campaigns are part of
the post-purchase product specific journey.

 

Here are a few tips to deliver an effective replenishment automated one-to-one campaign:

  1. Send them a few days before the product needs to be replaced.
    How can you determine that period? You can start by sending them using the average purchase cycle of loyal customers, and then enhance along the way. Whatever you do, don’t leave it until the customer actually runs out. It’s best to send your replenishment campaign before your customers have a chance to buy competitors’ products.
  2. Make sure the content of your replenishment campaign is relevant and with a call-to-action (re-purchase or re-order)
    The campaign has to personalized, clear that it is for product replenishment with full details and eye-catching pictures about the product, clear links to customer support, and clearer Call-To-Action (CTA) to re-purchase or re-order.
  3. Include other related products
    Use this opportunity to cross-sell other related products or alternatives. You can personalize your campaign with dynamic content based on previous purchases.
  4. Use multi-channel campaign manager
    Multi-channel in this case has proved to be 30% more effective. You can coordinate such campaigns through SMS (with links), Emails, Web and Social to have maximum impact.

If you’re looking to increase customer retention rate, more efficiently, make sure you’ve got replenishment automated campaigns sorted. They’re the most cost-efficient way to prompt a purchase and promote loyalty.

Want to find out more on how you can initiate replenishment automated campaigns? Contact us here, and don’t forget to keep safe and healthy!

 

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Customer Lifecycle Marketing Automation
Matters More Now Than Ever Before

You may be doing your best to attain the highest ROI on your marketing efforts. As a result of this, you are successful in getting your brand name out there and increase awareness on social media channels. But may be you are still struggling – like most brands – to effectively acquire, retain customers and turn them into loyalists and brand ambassadors.

Well the good news is that’s what Customer Lifecycle Marketing Automation is there for. Even though it was proven that it is the most effective tool to increase customer engagement, customer lifetime value, long-term retention and loyalty; a recent research by DemandMetric shows that only 20% of marketers are using this strategy today.

So, what is Customer Lifecycle Marketing Automation after all?

The Customer Lifecycle Marketing Automation starts by identifying the different stages of your customer lifecycle, then follow through by recognizing the stages customers are in their journey, and finally nurture them by providing the highest value at each stage they are at, in order to achieve your ultimate objective for each stage.

Each business or brand will have its own different customer lifecycle stages. However, this is a list of the most common ones, with marketing objective and some actionable tips for each:

 

Stage 1: Lead

  • Definition: Showed interest by either visiting the store, or registered on the website, or attended an event, or clicked on your ad; but never purchased.
  • Objective & actionable tips: The main objective is to encourage the leads to make their first purchase. This can be achieved through a series of welcoming or nurturing personalized messages, maybe with some incentives to encourage them to become customers.

Stage 2: New customer

  • Definition: Made their first purchase through one of the brand channels whether offline or online.
  • Objective & actionable tips: The main objective here is to make those customers buy again and become loyal.
    This can be achieved through a series of personalized “thank you” messages with certain incentives and relevant product/service recommendations based on their first purchase.

Stage 3: Frequent Customer

  • Definition: Most important and valuable customers. They buy often.
  • Objective & actionable tips: The main objective is to strengthen the relationship with these customers, make them feel special and appreciated. This can be achieved through inspirational be-spoke incentives, benefits or loyalty programs. Keep them engaged through personalized feedback.

Stage 4: At Risk Customer

  • Definition: Used to be frequent customers but have not purchased for some time.
  • Objective & actionable tips: The main objective is not to lose them. This can be achieved through a series of re-activation campaigns to win them back. Surveys can be very useful at this stage as well.

Stage 5: Lapsed Customer

  • Definition: Lost customer who has not purchased for a very specific period of time.
  • Objective & actionable tips: The main objective is to bring them back. This can be achieved through aggressive re-activation personalized campaigns to win them back.

Stage 6: Reactivated Customer

  • Definition: Lost customer who responded to one of the reactivation campaigns and purchased for the first time after a long time.
  • Objective & actionable tips: The main objective is similar to that of the new customer. The same tactic of the new customer stage can be used.

It is not accepted anymore to keep inundating our customers with irrelevant texts and offers. Customer Lifecycle Marketing Automation will immediately enable you to engage with your customers in a more personalized, relevant, timely, consistent and rewarding manner; which will warrant increased engagement and ultimately higher customer lifetime value.

Get started NOW and start seeing the BENEFITS immediately!

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Clienteling App for Retail? Is It Another Fad?

Do you remember shopping at your local neighborhood boutique? When the owner knew you by name, asked about your family and remembered what you bought the last time you visited? Helped you pick out something for your special occasion?

It is not enough to provide such GREAT feel online, the reality is that in-store remains a core focus for retail and will be for a long time as 85% of customers still prefer to shop in-store.

According to Boston Retail Partners, 63% of retailers are currently unable to identify their customers prior to checkout, while 20% can’t identify them until after checkout or not at all. Without being able to identify their customers, how can a retailer give the personalized service that customers still crave but has been lost?

Introducing the Clienteling app that puts personalization and GREAT feel back into in-store shopping — What if you could walk into a store now and staff greets you by name despite which mall or even country you are in? If they knew when and which channel you last visited and what you bought, your preferences and taste and can easily recommend products you may like.

“A Customizable Clienteling App gives your store staff real-time access to relevant customer information to create memorable experiences at the store”

In the current super competitive environment, such clienteling apps are no longer nice to have, they are a must have especially in the luxury and premium retailing industry. The level of information provided through the clienteling apps creates better informed in-store staff that can then upsell, offer alternatives if an item is out of stock or just use the data to make more relevant and personal recommendations. Immediate benefits include:

  • Increased customer engagement
  • Increased customer lifetime value
  • Enhanced customer in-store experience
  • Insightful customer data that will help marketers to improve their ROI and product development

But the biggest benefit of all is recreating the GREAT feel of local stores, which in turn boosts loyalty and therefore revenue. In 2017 a BCG survey found that by strengthening customer relationships through data-driven personalization can increase revenue by 6-8%.

So, what are you waiting for? To see how clienteling apps can benefit you and your customers, please request a demo here.

 

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Are you truly Omni-channel or is your Customer
Journey still breaking down?

While customers want and expect a seamless experience across all business channels and touch points including instore, call center, customer service, mobile app and online, what they are receiving instead is a fragmented inconsistent experience that creates friction and frustration.

According to research by Accenture, 65% of consumers are frustrated when they’re presented with inconsistent offers or experiences across channels. This is a concerning statistic given that cross channel shopping is now the norm with two-thirds of customers researching products online before shopping for them instore according to Retail Dive’s 2017 consumer survey. The same study showed that over half of consumers will browse instore before purchasing later instore.

How is Omni-channel different to Multi-channel?

Omni-channel has been a buzz word in every customer facing industry for some time now, and for a good reason, yet still more than 80% of retailers haven’t fully embraced it. Reasons quoted are mainly related to the common misunderstanding between Omni and Multi-channel.

‘The terms Omni and Multi-channel are commonly used interchangeably, and while both solutions bring multiple touchpoints such as online and instore to the customer, only Omni-channel connects these touchpoints to provide a consistent fulfilling experience to the customer. In other words, Multi-channel is channel based, while Omni-channel is customer based’ Urbanbuz.

Multi-channel sees each channel separately, with different goals, objectives, KPIs and with very little interaction with other channels; and usually managed by a different team. Sounds familiar?

Omni-channel brings the channels together creating a seamless and unified experience for its customers, and one unified customer lifecycle marketing automation. This has shown a major lift in the customer lifetime value, as it engages customers in a timely, relevant and personalized manner; as well as a major optimization of the marketing budget (targeting the same customer once not multiple times by channel).

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The customer journey is easy to track when a retailer is truly Omni-channel

If a truly Omni-channel strategy is implemented, a retailer should be able to know a customer is looking at a specific pair of jeans instore or at the e-com site and have the ability to push an email out with content relating to the jeans, or seeing an advert pop up for the product whilst browsing on social media – without stalking the customer. They should also be able to see if a pair of shoes was left in the cart of a retailer’s e-com site, and offer to try it instore.

According to CX Network ‘By 2020 it is expected that customer experience will be more important to customers than price or product’ highlighting just how important a successful Omni-channel strategy is. So how can it be done?

The right technology can transform a retailer from Multi-channel and Omni-channel

The key to moving from multi-channel to Omni-channel is tracking the customer across every channel. As well as online and instore purchases, this also includes any social media activity that is trackable, any interaction with the retailer’s customer service line or with a sales consultant instore. Technology can provide a way to track across all channels, and when this done, retailers can use the information they have on the customer journey to understand and interact with its customers, driving purchases and building loyalty with its customers.

Should you like to know more about how you can transfer yourself into an Omni-channel solution in a quick and a cost-efficient manner, request a demo here.

Happy Omni-channeling!!

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