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The Evolving Relationship between Social Media & Loyalty Programs

Posted by Judy Melanson

Wed, May 23, 2012

I’m on record as saying that loyalty programs should focus on rewarding behaviors that have a direct financial benefit to the business (i.e., purchase, bookings, and sales).  Because of this belief, I was staunchly opposed to the concept of giving loyalty members “points for tweets.” But my thinking, like the role of social media in general, has evolved. 

One reason for my change of heart is that ‘social media’ no longer just means Facebook or Twitter…it now includes location-based tools (like FourSquare) and connecting to people ‘on the go’ through mobile apps. This new revolution (according to those who name new revolutions!) is called SoLoMo (social, location, mobile) media. 

Last month I led a panel discussion at the Loyalty Expo in Orlando on the role of social media in loyalty programs and it was clear from the start that we couldn’t talk about social media without talking about mobile and location-based services (SoLoMo!). The loyalty lifecycle shown below provides a basis for understanding how SoLoMo tactics can support member engagement:

 

Loyalty Lifecycle

Acquire:  To reach members that ‘look like’ your currently valuable members, Loyalty Marketers can use SoLoMo tools.  Two recent examples of programs developed to get members/customers to talk about a company/program are offered by Tasti D-Lite and Caesars.  TastiRewards incentivizes customers to associate their Twitter and Foursquare accounts with their Tasti D-Lite membership cards, posting a tweet or comment every time they order a delicious treat. Caesars recently relaunched Total Rewards, giving loyalty members points for tweets.  These SoLoMo initiatives can drive program awareness and member acquisition.

Tastee Rewards
On-boarding:  
Facebook, Twitter and other online communities (gated or not) are ideal platforms to introduce customers to the ‘loyalty club’ to let these newbies learn from like-minded members—and, importantly, encouraging them to use their rewards, rather than just letting them languish in their wallets.

Engage
:  SoLoMo tools can be employed in a variety of ways to engage and strengthen relationships with current members.  Here are some examples:   

  • Making rewards more obtainable:   Citi’s rewards app lets cardholders ‘pool’ rewards so they can plan a joint purchase, trip, or even make a charitable donation to an organization they support

  • Surprise and delight your customers: Best Buy surprised (and no doubt delighted!) a few of its reward members with tickets to the Twilight movie premiere. Members were selected and invited based on past purchase history and spending potential.  

  • Make rewards/currency more relevant:  Companies like ifeelgoods are offering loyalty programs as an option to provide a social currency to reward member’s behavior.  With 240 million active monthly users on Zynga, there’s a good chance at least some of your members would enjoy the opportunity to buy digital goods. 


Retain and win back
:  While we don’t suggest giving up traditional channels for monitoring and responding to customer service failures, social media can let you discover failures (and wins!) quickly and begin the customer recovery process.

The bottom line is, your customers are social, they use Facebook and other sites, and they expect businesses to not only have a presence but to engage.  Sites like Facebook and Twitter are ideal platforms to engage and reward customers – particularly through SoLoMo tools.  So I’d like to report that I’ve “come around,” to see the value of social media for loyalty programs because of the opportunities they present to engage, and “surprise and delight” your most valuable customers.

Want to learn more about our approach to building Customer Loyalty? See how CMB helped GE CareCredit redesign their online customer advocacy panel, creating a community with high engagement and even higher returns. Watch the webinar.

Posted by Judy Melanson. Judy leads the Travel & Entertainment practice and loves collaborating with clients on driving customer loyalty.  She's the mom of two teens and the wife of an oyster farmer. Follow Judy on Twitter at @Judy_LC

Topics: mobile, marketing strategy, social media, customer experience and loyalty

Using Social Media to Redefine the Customer Value Proposition

Posted by Cathy Harrison

Tue, May 01, 2012

It’s not the size of the venue; it’s the quality of the content. That was the case for a local customer value propositionconference I attended last week at Babson College. Using Social Media to Redefine the Customer Value Proposition, was held by the Retail Supply Chain Institute in partnership with the Babson Alumni and Friends Network, and had an impressive lineup of speakers including executives from Google, Hubspot, Staples, Radian6, GaggleAMP, and EMC. The event was an opportunity for companies to share how they are leveraging advances in social media, mobile, and other online technologies to engage customers and increase loyalty. Here are a few of the highlights:

Dhruv Grewal, Toyota Chair of Commerce & Electronic Business and Professor of Marketing at Babson College, moderated and kicked off the event with an overview of how social media helps companies redefine their customer value proposition, moving it from a static proposition to a dynamic value proposition that is able to respond quickly to market changes. According to Professor Grewal, companies need to utilize the 4 E’s of social media to:

  • Excite customers with interesting offerings to align their needs with your company’s offerings

  • Educate them with information about your product offerings to increase share-of-wallet

  • Engage in a dialogue with them and their network to help differentiate your products from competitors’offerings

  • Help them Experience how your company’s goods/services are better aligned with their needs

Mike Gottfried, Head of Industry, Retail at Google gave a great overview of the company’s vision for the future and debunked the idea that Google+ was developed to be in direct competition with Facebook. He talked about Google’s approach to mobile (predicting that soon more people will own smartphones than computers) and their commitment to launching new products and innovations, first on mobile and then on traditional platforms. He suggested that we not think of Google+ as a channel, but rather as a “common thread” for their product and services. Their mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.  According to Google, currently 1 in 5 desktop searches and 1 in 2 mobile searches are related to location. Information must be discoverable (meaning fast and relevant), local, mobile, social, and personal.

Mike Ewing, Senior Inbound Marketing Consultant, at Hubspot gave an overview of inbound commerce and how it is driven by three components: content, search, and social media. According to Mike, it starts with responding to how customers make decisions—when they show interest and a readiness to buy. He suggested that it is optimal for a company blog to be updated 2-3 times a week and create effective content by starting with the questions your customers are asking.

Kevin Biondi, Director of Digital and Technology Marketing, at Staples reviewed some of the elements of Staples’ successful approach to digital marketing. Specifically, Kevin discussed the tremendous growth and impact of daily deals. In an effort to optimize their deals, Staples continually uses experimentation. Kevin suggested that while most companies tend to be risk averse, when it comes to social media, experimentation is the key to success. 

Keith Paul, Chief Listener, at EMC, spoke about how they structure social media listening.   EMC has a “spoke wheel” structure—and he heads up a social media center of excellence and provides guidance to several internal groups that use social media data.  He spoke about ECN, a network that EMC created to connect 250k+ customers with product help. On the ECN site and YouTube, EMC has successfully utilized video to communicate their corporate social media policies in a highly engaging way. Another example Keith gave was EMC One, an internal network they use for collaboration. Keith shared that product launches are now announced online via social media and they “listen” to the market’s response and increasing interest.

Thanks to one of our methodologists, Scott Motyka, who served on the conference planning committee and kindly invited me to attend.

Click here to read about more of our upcoming conferences, webinars and events

Posted by Cathy Harrison, Cathy is CMB’s social media research maven. Follow her on Twitter at @VirtualMR


Topics: social media, conference recap, brand health and positioning, customer experience and loyalty

New Study Explores What Drives Consumers to "Like" and Subscribe

Posted by Keri Ibbitson

Tue, Mar 27, 2012

CMB infographicIn 6th grade, my teacher sent home a survey to parents about “What motivates your child.” My mother wrote down three things: candy, money, and anything free. I remember this so vividly because I was mortified. I wanted her to say something meaningful like, “positive praise” or “a creative academic environment.” But no, she laid it all out on the table; that I was a greedy, Twix-loving, free loader.

Here at CMB, we spend a considerable amount of time investigating what motivates consumer behaviors. We want to know what the consumer is doing and why, and we want realistic and actionable insights. Keeping this in mind, I have considered my mother’s response to that long-ago survey and realized she probably should ditch being a nurse and consider a career in marketing.

To take an in-depth look at what motivates consumers to “Like” a company on Facebook and subscribe” to e-mails we partnered with Constant Contact to survey 1,481 Americans over 18.  The top motivators to these two strategic means of engagement are: to receive special discounts, or take part in special promotions. This concept of free giveaways, deep discounts, and being privy to special information is a major driver of customer engagement.

While the understanding that consumers enjoy receiving deals and free gifts may not seem like breaking news at first, it’s an important finding for companies looking to get the best return on where they decide to spend money on special deals, discounts, and giveaways. In a recent Consumer Pulse exploring the motivations of customer satisfaction survey takers, we found many consumers were motivated by the desire to improve the company and service rather than free gifts and incentives. Yet this doesn’t hold true for consumers “liking” brands on social media or subscribing to email lists.

Many consumers don’t particularly care about the bottom line of their favorite brands or businesses. They want to know “what can you do for me?”  Businesses who utilize e-mail and social networking to engage with their consumers need to heed this opportunity. More often than not, consumers want to know how they will benefit from a long-term business to consumer partnership.  Organizations that best understand the underlying intentions of their consumers have the key to turning special promotions and discount programs into lasting customer relationships. 

Long-term engagement is essential to solidifying a brand in any market. With the volume of communication and information sharing ever growing, businesses need to be prepared to meet their markets’ expectations. Consumers spend a lot of time on these outlets and businesses must be able to find a way to provide something meaningful so they’re not lost in the noise. Facebook pages and informational e-mails are only as good as what they can provide to their audience.

CMB Consumer Pulse

Download the full report: 10 Facts about Why and How Consumers "Like and Subscribe here.

 

 

 

Posted by Keri Ibbitson. Keri is an Associate Researcher with the Travel and Entertainment team. She has found her motivational drivers have grown since 6th grade, and they reach well beyond candy, money & free stuff. 

Topics: social media, Consumer Pulse, customer experience and loyalty

St. Patrick’s Day: A Feast of Social Media Chatter

Posted by Cathy Harrison

Fri, Mar 16, 2012

When you think about St. Patrick’s Day, I bet food isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.  We reviewed online chatter over the past month and although the holiday isn’t until tomorrow, we were surprised to see about twice as much discussion about St. Patrick’s Day recipes and favorite dishes (66%) than about beverages (33%).  Mentions of green beer, Guinness, and overindulgence are there, but far less than one might expect. How wholesome!  Or more likely, we have captured planning for the festivities.  Stay tuned for some interesting tweets on the 17th from holiday revelers! 

The most traditional dish, corned beef & cabbage, was most top of mind but there was a virtual feast of chatter about food comprised of almost every category imaginable.  Anything green (green pretzels, key lime pie, spinach quiche, hummus) is considered acceptable St. Patrick’s Day fare. General discussion about recipes was prevalent; some specifically mentioned having found ideas for interesting dishes on Pinterest boards.

St. Patrick's day food

 Aside from general mentions of drinking, the traditional Green Beer emerged as the most frequently mentioned St. Patrick’s Day beverage.  And just when you think you’ve seen it all, apparently some people color their wine green too…who knew?

St. Patrick's drinks

All of us at CMB want to wish you a festive and safe St. Patrick’s Day.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I’d like to share my father’s favorite Irish saying:

May those who love us, love us
And those that don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts,
And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles
So we’ll know them by their limping

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Click here for more on our strategic approach to Social Media Research.

Posted by Cathy Harrison, Cathy is CMB’s social media research maven and would never drink green wine. Follow her on Twitter at @VirtualMR

 

Topics: social media

Facebook Timeline: A Story Worth Telling

Posted by Keri Ibbitson

Wed, Mar 07, 2012

Facebook Timeline CMBAs an everyday user of the criminally addictive social networking site Facebook, I rolled my eyes when I saw the new “Timeline” design. Why fix something if it’s not broken? Didn’t I just get used to the most recent interface?  While I sat absorbing all the new features, Facebook was busy launching a revelatory tool for marketers.

Previously, the popularity of a business’ Facebook page was driven by the number of “likes” and “comments.” Businesses could hide behind the “like” button.  Now, marketers are forced to tell a story about their brand (and if you know anything about CMB, we LOVE to tell a story). Customer engagement is now driven by a personal connection developed through captivating storytelling as opposed to an unimpassioned click of a button. Users can follow their favorite brands from conception to the present through the Timeline layout.

With the new layout, fans and visitors now see the same landing page. Everyone is privy to the same content, and it must be appealing enough to convert the “lurkers” into “likers.” Marketers need to achieve this through good storytelling, and Facebook has developed several new tools on the Timeline that allow users to make their stories unique.

New features like pinning and starring posts allow developers to anchor their most important posts at the top of their page for seven days. This ensures that the best stories don’t get lost in daily posts. Videos and pictures are now amplified on the pages, helping drive deeper engagement by existing fans, and piquing interest in potential ones. Milestones can now be defined by the business and posted publicly when they are achieved; allowing companies to share their successes with the people who helped get them there.

The most controversial of the new additions, is the ability to privately message people. This tool is being viewed as a way to individually engage with fans, and allow for quicker and more personal responses. However, companies should proceed with caution in using this feature. Bombarding their fans with an abundance of messages is a surefire way to turn off their support base. This tool should be used to help foster, and not strain, the relationships between businesses and their consumers.

A common driver of the old Facebook interface was quantity of content. The new Facebook Timeline pushes the focus to quality. Developers are encouraged to optimize the content they have in order to engage fans by telling their story during their fans’ “peak” usage periods and pinning popular posts. 

As professional story-tellers, we are excited here at CMB to launch our Timeline here

Posted by Keri Ibbitson. Keri is an Associate Researcher with the Travel and Entertainment team. When not writing about the complexities of Facebook, you can find her watching the Bruins, wrapped up in an Intervention marathon, or dreaming of going back to London.  

Topics: storytelling, social media, brand health and positioning, customer experience and loyalty

Infographic: How Small Businesses Are Using Social Media

Posted by Megan McManaman

Mon, Mar 05, 2012

Last year we partnered with Constant Contact to learn how consumers use Facebook to connect with brands. Take a look at this cool infographic from Intuit and Column Five featuring some of our findings and how small businesses are using social media:

Intuit infographic

 

CMB Facebook Consumer Pulse

 

 

Download the full report here.

Topics: social media, Consumer Pulse

Sig Testing Social Media Data is a Slippery Slope

Posted by Cathy Harrison

Wed, Feb 29, 2012

Social media listeningDuring a recent social media webinar, the question was raised “How do we convince clients that social media is statistically significant?”  After an involuntary groan, this question brought two things to mind:

  • There are a lot of people working in social media research who do not understand the fundamentals of market research; and

  • Why would anyone want to apply significance testing to social media data?

Apparently, there’s much debate in online research forums about whether significance testing should be applied to social media data.  Proponents argue that online panels are convenience samples and significance testing is routinely applied to those research results – so why not social media?  Admittedly that is true, but the ability to define the sample population and a structured data set should provide some test/retest reliability of the results.  It’s not a fair comparison.

I’m all for creative analysis and see potential value in sig testing applied to any data set as a way to wade through a lot of numbers to find meaningful patterns.  The analyst should understand that more things appear to be significant with big data sets so it might not be a useful exercise for social media.  Even if it can be applied, I would use it as a behind-the-scenes tool and not something to report on.

Anyone who has worked with social media data understands the challenging, ongoing process of disambiguation (removing irrelevant chatter). There are numerous uncontrollable external factors including the ever-changing set of sites the chatter is being pulled from.  Some are new sites where chatter is occurring but others are new sites being added to the listening tool’s database.   Given the nature of social media data, how can statistical comparisons over time be valid?  Social media analysis is a messy business.  Think of it as a valuable source of qualitative information.

There is value in tracking social media chatter over time to monitor for potential red flags.  Keep in mind that there is lot of noise in social media data and more often than not, an increase in chatter may not require any action. 

Applying sig testing to social media data is a slippery slope.  It implies a precision that is not there and puts focus on “significant” changes instead of meaning.  Social media analysis is already challenging – why needlessly complicate things?

Cathy is CMB’s social media research maven dedicated to an “eyes wide open” approach to social media research and its practical application and integration with other data sources. Follow her on Twitter at @VirtualMR 

 

 

 

 

Topics: marketing strategy, social media

Social Media Research: Keeping it Real

Posted by Cathy Harrison

Wed, Jan 11, 2012

Social media listeningSocial media research is still behind social media marketing in terms of getting past the hype.  Clearly there’s some overselling going on and more education is needed about how and when to effectively use social media data.  Some sales folks even go as far as suggesting social media listening can replace market research as a way to save money – without having the background or unbiased perspective needed to make such a suggestion. 

It’s time for researchers to have an open dialogue about social media data – warts and all.  What biases exist?  What steps are necessary to put the data in a truly usable form?  What are the best applications for social media analysis?  How can we best integrate it with other data sources?  I’m not going to try and tackle all these questions in this blog, but hopefully I can help stimulate discussion over time.

To put things in perspective, one must consider that typically only a fraction of social media chatter is worthwhile and relevant to your specific objectives. Keep in mind that the topic of interest for your social media analysis has a huge impact on how many “sound bites” you have to work with.  As you are pulling data, it can be a challenge to “disambiguate” (i.e., remove irrelevant chatter) and, in some instances, almost impossible.  Another challenge is that social media data is largely unstructured. Automatic coding isn’t optimal – especially if you plan to integrate the results with other data sources. 

Despite these challenges, there is no denying that it’s a valuable data source.  Having the ability to learn from chatter that is occurring naturally online and applying state-of-the-art technology to aggregating and analyzing this data is powerful stuff.   Social media analytic tools and text analytics are always evolving.   But even with the best social media listening tools and analysts available, social media listening cannot and should not be applied across all situations.  NO analytic tool or technique is a one-size-fits-all solution.   

Let’s put social media analysis in perspective across all of the tools, techniques, and data sources we have to work with.   Exciting things are on the horizon, but for now, let’s not expect (or promise) more than social media data can deliver.

Cathy is CMB’s social media research maven dedicated to an “eyes wide open” approach to social media research and its practical application and integration with other data sources. Follow her on Twitter at @VirtualMR

social media webinar

 

Check out our webinar Understanding B2B Social Media: An AMD Case Study and learn more about how Social Media Research is making a difference for our clients. Click here.

Topics: marketing strategy, social media

Gamification of Loyalty: Building loyalty one tweet at a time?

Posted by Judy Melanson

Thu, Nov 03, 2011

Gamification of LoyaltyOn a recent 5-hour drive with my son Pete, his iPhone’s GPS-app suddenly started “cha-chinging” up points.  He didn’t know why the points were rolling in, nor did he have any idea how – or for what – or if he would ever redeem these points, but we both agreed:  “Points are good.”   

Nearly everyone, not just Pete and me, is hardwired to enjoy games.  "Gamification," the use of game mechanics in nongame settings, takes advantage of our psychological predisposition to enjoy games, and encourages people to engage in tasks that, but for the game, they might not feel compelled to do.  Traditional customer loyalty programs leverage game mechanics:  we earn points, achieve status/levels, display badges of honors and chase bonus points.  And, clearly, these mechanics help to increase consumers’ motivations and positively shape their behavior, leading to positive revenue impact for the associated brands.

Lately it seems that game concepts are cropping up in more – and some unexpected - places.  Part of the reason for the recent popularity is the growth in social media, a channel that was born to be gamified.  Twitter has been game-like from the beginning, with the main score being the number of followers.  Foursquare, with its hundreds of badges to win, is basically a game….it isn’t used, it’s played. 

Gamification of loyaltyBut after reading about social loyalty programs, where members earn reward points for promoting brands on social networks, I’m wondering if marketers are taking things a bit too far.  Does rewarding customers for forwarding a brand-related tweet water down the strength of true loyalty?

If this term is new to you, let me tell you what I’ve been seeing:  Social loyalty programs are promoted as taking the concept of traditional loyalty programs to the next level by enabling companies to track and reward their fans, followers and customers for a wide variety of online and social activities -- from tweeting a message to checking in to a location or liking a post on Facebook.  Companies like CrowdTwist, a New York start-up (that recently received $6 million in venture funding) tracks and rewards customer behavior across social, mobile and online platforms. 

Maybe social loyalty programs are the future – but before building a social loyalty and/or changing your current loyalty program, I’d suggest you consider these questions: 

  • Where’s the beef?  Traditional loyalty programs are built on the principle of rewarding customers for behavior of value.  The programs we work with can articulate the value of their members and of their program—the incremental sales, flights, stays, or bookings that they may not have generated otherwise.  What economic value will a social loyalty program provide to a brand?  What behaviors will you look to encourage?  Will a program encouraging social behaviors deliver desired outcomes?  The value of the activities must be calculated – in terms that the CFO will understand and believe. 

  • What other (non-economic) value can a socially loyal member provide? What benefit to your brand is more fans or higher klout?  Can your increased social-WOM, be connected to increased sales?  Or insulate your brand from negative reviews?  The CFO might have a harder time articulating the value of these activities – but they’re important to consider.

  • Finally, to whom would a social loyalty program appeal?  Segmentation research we ran a few years ago found that in a traditional loyalty program, the portion of members whose primary motivation was to “play the game” (e.g., seek out bonus points, enter contests) represented a fairly small portion of members.  But these Game Players – or Social Loyalty members - may be a desired demographic with untapped potential for your brand.

So, before spinning the dial, understand your different customer groups and their associated motivations. Explore, for which segments, a social loyalty program would be beneficial in shaping customer behavior to yield positive business results. As with all things “social,” gamification and social loyalty are tools in the toolbox to build customer engagement. Understanding if, when, where and how they fit into your current loyalty programs and strategies is the most exciting part.

Posted by Judy Melanson. Judy leads the Travel & Entertainment practice and loves collaborating with clients on driving customer loyalty.  She's the mom of two teens and the wife of an oyster farmer. Follow Judy on Twitter at @Judy_LC

CMB at TMRE: We would love to see you at The Market Research Event. Be sure to stop by booth 406 to say hi and enter to win a New England Calmbake for two!

 

Topics: social media, customer experience and loyalty

Building Engagement in 140 Characters or Less

Posted by Kristen Garvey

Tue, Oct 18, 2011

Twitter SlideLast month, we released our 10 Quick Facts You Should Know About Consumer Behavior on Facebook, and there was a lot of great discussion about how different companies are using the mega-site. The sheer number of Facebook users, all over the world, means brands and companies know they need to engage and they want to know what fans like about their brand (and what they don’t like) and how it impacts their behavior.

But, what about that other social media giant—the place where everyone from hip techies to budding revolutionaries go to speak their minds in 140 characters or less? This week we released a new Consumer Pulse report highlighting 10 Quick Facts You Should Know About Consumer Behavior on Twitter. In collaboration with our friends at Constant Contact, we asked nearly 1,500 Americans over 18 about their Twitter habits, and the results are in. Here are a few of the facts that stood out:

Consumers follow brands on Twitter for exclusivity, promotions and to be “in the know” (tweet this)

While Facebook users are interested in showing off their brand loyalty, brand followers on Twitter like getting the latest news and promotions before anyone else. What is the lesson for brands? Don’t treat your Facebook content like your Twitter content, while the vast majority of Twitter users are also on Facebook, they don’t need warmed over content they’ve already seen, they want to hear about innovations and deals before everyone else.

One-third of brand followers are interacting with brands more this year than last (tweet this)

As Twitter grows, brands have a great, and growing, opportunity to listen to their promoters and detractors, and respond directly. While the majority of brand followers on Twitter do not engage in two-way conversation with brands—brand followers are engaged, the vast majority follow fewer than 10 brands.

75% of consumers have never “un-followed” a brand on Twitter (tweet this)

While “un-following” a brand is as simple as clicking a button, most brand followers are loyal to the brands they follow. This loyalty is no reason not to invest time in your tweets, 67% of brand followers expect unique content from the brands they follow.

Nearly half of consumers on Twitter have been tweeting less than one year (tweet this)

Twitter just celebrated its 5th birthday but many users are just diving in now. Once, home primarily to early adopters and those in the tech industry, a significant percentage of Twitter users are very new to the platform. And it’s not just the very young. Twitter’s gaining new ground with older folks as well, a quarter of users over 50 reported tweeting less than once month.

In short, consumers expect brand presence on Twitter, and they expect more than just recycled Facebook posts. Twitter is a unique medium with its own rules, language, and etiquette, but the opportunity to listen and interact with consumers in your backyard and around the world is priceless.

describe the image

 

 

Download the full report here.



Posted by Kristen Garvey. Kristen is CMB’s VP of marketing, a mom of two and is getting ready to hit Orlando for The Market Research Event. You can follow Kristen on Twitter @KristenGarvey

Topics: social media, Consumer Pulse, brand health and positioning, customer experience and loyalty