Conversing for Commerce: How the Rise of Chatbots Will Improve Your Customer Experience

Marketing Cloud

Imagine meeting a personal stylist online who will make specific recommendations for clothing you need to purchase — including matching items and accessories. No more filters or hundreds of search results to click through. Take that a step further, and your stylist will be able to parse recommendations based on your size and budget, as well as available inventory. Finally, you can easily get input from your trusted friends online, make a final decision, and then click once to purchase.

With recent improvements to messaging, chatbots, and artificial intelligence technology, that scenario is entirely possible, and the stylist doesn’t even need to be a real person. Artificial intelligence (AI) platforms can do much more than comb through product listings and return search results. They can learn and save customer preferences, customize results to match those preferences, and even recommend related products that others found useful or entire outfits to match a customer’s personal style.

Rue21, a specialty retailer of teen apparel and accessories, is one of the latest to embrace such innovations and launch a chatbot. Designed by (a company that builds platform-agnostic, AI-powered virtual style bots for retailers), rue21’s chatbot is a virtual stylist that works to learn a shopper’s interests and preferences, respond to their requests, and even make recommendations for complementary items. These features serve to simplify and personalize the shopping process for customers, improving their overall brand experience.

Facing pressures experienced by many brick-and-mortar stores, rue21 recently closed about one-third of its physical locations. To continue to connect one-on-one with customers as associates would in a physical store, the retail brand is integrating its virtual stylist chatbot on Facebook Messenger to help retain and engage customers in a new way.

“Chatbots offer an opportunity for retailers that shouldn’t be missed,” says Karen Ouk, senior vice president of business development for “For the first time, millennials have the most buying power — and yet they are the least engaged consumers. However, they’re very, very active on messaging platforms, indicating there is a need to engage with them and younger generations on a platform where they’re already active.”

Progressing from Customer Service to Customer Experience
While traditional chat interactions are hosted on brand sites to facilitate customer service conversations between a human agent and the customer, chatbots are hosted on a messaging platform, are powered by AI, and fill needs far beyond customer service inquiries. Chatbots can even respond to customer queries posed by voice, text, or images, and can manage a group conversation as customers invite their friends to the chat.

Michael Klein, Adobe director of industry strategy for retail, explains that while chatbots can lessen the load of a customer service team and sales associates, the bigger opportunity maps back to personalization and engagement. “Retailers can’t afford to make the mistake of selling chatbots short. They have the potential to not only deliver exceptional online experiences, but also inspire purchases and increase the number of items in people’s shopping carts.”

In the example of rue21, the chatbot is dubbed a “virtual stylist” to immediately communicate its purpose — helping customers select items for purchase that will match their style, needs, and budget. Narrowing the scope of a chatbot to a single purpose is an important step toward creating helpful, rather than frustrating, interactions. Quick reply buttons also can help customers navigate the chatbot and educate them on what the features and functionality of the bot are.

Beyond chat, which at this early stage may be limited by the bot’s ability to understand a natural-language description, includes a visual analysis function. Shoppers can upload a picture to the chatbot, select an article of clothing from that photo, and get recommendations for similar items from the retailer. But they don’t need to believe the chatbot stylist when it comes to fashion recommendations. Using new social sharing features in Facebook Messenger, shoppers can get input from their friends by simply clicking on a share button and selecting the friends they want to consult with.

Working Through the Learning Curve
The catch is that chatbot technology is relatively new. Many current generation chatbots are like children — eager to please but lacking in depth of experience — and sales and service can have a very steep, unforgiving learning curve. Fortunately, with AI, each new interaction teaches chatbots how to behave in order to be most helpful. But that process can be costly if those interactions turn away customers.

To facilitate learning, brands need to focus on simplicity and make the experience as intuitive as possible. They should also offer some guidance to customers, teaching them how to interact with chatbots for a positive experience. To put it in perspective, consider online shopping. Just 15-20 years ago, nobody bought much online. Connections were slow, options were limited, and the interface was confusing. Now, shoppers can expect that nearly every online store has roughly the same visual layout, creating a streamlined interface that feels comfortable for customers no matter the store.

Chatbots will undergo a similar evolution. At Facebook’s F8 developer conference in March, the company announced additional features in its Messenger app that will improve the chatbot experience, including a menu structure. The interface is starting to standardize, and improvements to the experience are ongoing with phased roll-outs from retailers.

According to Eitan Sharon, founder and CEO of, “Chatbots are developing faster than apps did when the App Store was introduced. Every month, messaging services roll out more functionality that improves chatbot capabilities — resulting in more and better chatbots.” Pioneers in the space, like, will set the bar for everyone else to follow.

Examining Best Practices for your Chatbot
In addition to limiting the scope of a chatbot and guiding shoppers through the experience, a key to smoothing the transition from physical to digital interactions is to set the right expectation for customers. Some brands like to make digital interactions as human as possible. The problem arises when the gimmicks work too well. If people initially don’t realize that they’re talking to a computer, they have a different expectation. When the chatbot hits a snag and can’t help the customer, the curtain drops and the computer behind it is revealed. On the other hand, when proper expectations are set, customers typically are not put off by a chatbot’s limited understanding or ability, and their impression of the interaction remains positive.

To further reassure customers, companies need to have an effective fallback mechanism. For example, if your customer is overbilled for an order or receives the wrong size, the chatbot may not be able to help them. Errol Denger, director of the commerce program and strategic alliances at Adobe, says, “You need to have an effective protocol to say, ‘I’m sorry. I’m unable to help you this time. Let me transfer you to a live representative who can.’ And then you make sure the problem is resolved, so your customers don’t lose faith in the entire process.”

In that scenario, sending a shopper to the right channel for help provides a great experience. However, brands with chatbots should also recognize that they can design a complete experience for their customers in that single channel — from browsing all the way through purchase. Karen says, “We see the success of one-click purchases on Amazon, and other retailers who can offer this same seamless, mobile, frictionless experience will see higher engagement and conversions. That’s what we’re hoping to help retailers with.”

Evolving Channels Uncover New Opportunities
In the end, chatbots are still an emerging technology, but they are quickly taking root and it won’t take them long to mature.

Eitan shares that 1 billion people from other parts of the world are already actively participating in e-commerce via messaging. “This channel is a very successful trend and retailers should become believers. This is something that has already happened and we are late to the game.”

Karen explains another appeal to the messaging channel: “It took us less than one month to get the rue21 virtual stylist out the door in a live, brand new channel that has the potential to reach 1.2 billion Facebook Messenger users. There are not very many new channels that retailers can launch in, in this short amount of time and with that amount of reach.”

In the near future, getting a new look from a chatbot fashionista will feel totally natural — and then we’ll wonder how we ever got by without it.

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How Digital Workflows Eliminate Unnecessary Steps from the Customer Experience

Marketing Cloud

Fortune 500 computer storage company NetApp needed a way to reduce a product’s time to market and simplify communication with its customers. When sales representatives shared a new product with a potential client, they needed the legal department to draft a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), deliver a physical copy to the customer, then get that document returned and processed. It was a complicated, inefficient workflow that prevented NetApp from reaching its full potential.

The solution was to go digital. Using Adobe Sign, NetApp’s marketers worked with the legal team to draft several pre-approved NDAs that could be automatically delivered to customers in an instant. The marketing team was now able to achieve turnarounds that were impossible with individually crafted NDAs. The legal team saved time and effort too, no longer creating new documents for every new customer, and clients received information from NetApp faster than from the company’s competitors.

The results from NetApp’s new digital workflow were astonishing. NDAs were processed three times faster using Adobe Sign than physical documents. Sales contracts that used to take 19 days to finish were completed in five, and support staff productivity increased by 93 percent. NetApp’s paper-based process required 15 hours of work a week. Its digital workflow completed the same process in just one hour.

Digital platforms have the power to create more efficient workflows and better customer outreach. By following NetApp’s example, marketers can save time and money, increase productivity, and get products to customers faster.

Check out the infographic to see how incorporating a complete digital workflow can simplify and speed up your business processes, and learn how Adobe can help you transition to an all-digital workflow.

Download .pdf

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Email Marketing Comes of Age — Three Rules for Success

Marketing Cloud

In modern business, email dominates marketing channels. With the broadest reach, lowest cost, easiest measurability, and highest conversion rates, 91 percent of executives cite email as the single most-effective channel for driving revenue. Though, on the consumer end, the average person spends 6.3 hours per day checking email — while at dinner, in bed, in the bathroom, and even at the movies — only 14 percent of emails are even read. As a result, in 2017, the best email campaigns must come of age.

As consumers complain about overloaded inboxes and irrelevant messages, smart marketers are listening. They no longer push and promote products but, instead, react to their customers — and it’s presenting huge opportunities in terms of higher conversion rates and increased revenue.

Launch a Truly Successful Email Campaign — Three Rules for Success.
To launch your email campaign into a successful future, consider the following three rules for email-campaign adulthood that are sure to propel your email strategy into its prime.

1. Transform Email Strategy Across Channels.
Email strategy can no longer exist on an island. Obtaining buy-in from the C-suite is key to transforming it across channels. Leadership support removes barriers to maturation and fosters an organizational structure that promotes a collaborative approach. Communicate with all stakeholders from the beginning to secure executive support for a cross-channel strategy and organize teams around the customer. “Buy in is a whole lot easier when you have the right stakeholders in the early conversation versus trying to sell up later,” says Sachin Shroff, senior director of customer performance optimization at The Container Store.

To make your argument and secure key-stakeholder buy-in, test a small market segment and let the data demonstrate how your cross-channel strategy feeds into and propels your email campaigns — allowing customers to pick up where they left off on all channels for a seamless experience and encouraging them to engage via email where a vast majority of conversion-decisions are made.

2. Integrate Cross-Channel Data and Make It Actionable
In 2017, successful email strategy will require data from online and offline channels. Tie data together — from your digital channels to your point of sale, customer relationship management, and third-party sources — in an integrated, centralized database that everyone can use and enable your program to be part of a coherent conversation across your brand.

You can start by using an email program to connect channel data. Encourage users to sign up for your email program, allowing you to authenticate them. Then, tap into their browsing histories to send personalized follow-up emails.

But, don’t stop there. Use this authentication to look beyond online or email-only data and identify those channels that drive conversion. “We use that unique identifier to stitch together years of data sitting in all these databases — transaction, web, email, and direct mail — to get a better view of how our customer is shopping with us,” says Schroff. Create a complete customer profile that offers a single view of your customer, compiling data from every possible source — from Facebook and other social-media sites to direct mail and email inboxes. Then, use this complete customer profile to deliver a seamless, channel-agnostic, personalized campaign from first awareness to purchase and beyond.

3. Make It About Your Customers — Really.
Information is available to help you personalize, customize, and delight your customers. Send more relevant offers to more precisely targeted audiences, and you’ll drive sales. Most email users spend less than three seconds deciding whether they will read any further. Create personal and contextual emails by incorporating dynamic content. And remember — timing and location are everything. Just because email has proven its aptitude for high conversion rates, don’t be afraid to think holistically, reaching out to your customers on whatever channel is most relevant to them in the moment. In fact, with all the marketing noise you and your customer must contend with nowadays, it may take several channels to cut through that noise. And, that’s okay.

In Sum
Email campaigns in 2017 have two choices: grow up or be left behind. Start with a clear vision and a team with the skills and motivation to embrace customer-centric marketing — rather than product-centric marketing. Integrate your data across channels and make it actionable. Lastly, use your data and tools to make it personal. Today, it’s all about your customers.

To learn more about the specific statistics and case studies discussed in this article, or to read more about email marketing success in 2017 and beyond, download our in-depth white paper, Email Comes of Age.

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It’s Not 2008 Anymore — How to Meet Customers’ 2017 CX Standards

Marketing Cloud

In 2008, chairman and chief executive Howard Schultz ordered all Starbucks’ 7,100 US locations to be shut down for three hours during the peak of the business day. In his book, Onward, Schultz admits that his 2008 sales were in free fall up to that point. As a result, he sent a memo to employees in which he announced the closure, stating that the goal was to improve the “Starbucks Experience.” The shutdown gave Starbucks the chance to retrain all its 135,000 baristas in the art of espresso. In parallel, the company made drastic changes to return to its roots — a complete and unabashed dedication to optimizing every detail of Starbucks store experiences. If foods, when combined with the scent of fresh coffee brewing, didn’t produce the aroma of an Italian cafe, they were nixed from the menu.

Since 2008, Starbucks has led the evolution of the customer experience. Today, they’re skilled in adapting to the future before it happens. The Starbucks experience no longer revolves around the product — now, it is centered on the customer. With the same dedication to creating flawless customer experiences, Starbucks predicts customers’ needs and designs experiences to delight their impatient, fast-moving, caffeine-loving customer base. Customers can pick up their latest addiction from the brand’s secret menu (after requesting it via the Starbucks app), which recalls their most recent orders and uses GPS to suggest the closest location.

Source Fresh Ingredients — Focus on the Customer not the Product.
In 2008, Schultz’s obsession with the customer experience was revolutionary. Today, it’s a basic expectation. Winning experiences, like those delivered by Starbucks, start with data that informs and predicts customers’ needs and wants at every moment. Sadly, unlike Starbucks, many brands are still in the Starbucks-2008 mindset, centering the brand experience on the product rather than the customer.

For brands to retain — or perhaps regain — their competitive advantage, this must change. This generic, one-size-fits-all engagement isn’t working, says Robert Cantave, senior director of solution architecture at Epsilon. “Not too long ago — from around 2007 to 2011 — organizations made investments in A/B and multivariate testing and saw terrific results from optimization. They were able to improve the overall experience of their web sites and see double-digit growth. But growth can slow down once the one-size-fits-all version of the user experience works as well as it can.”

As the value of personalization grows, brands like Starbucks are reinventing themselves as customer-centric organizations to deliver exceptional experiences. For this to happen, brands must combine and analyze their data to provide a complete customer view. Here’s how you can use data to design holistic experiences that are sure to win, serve, and retain customers — now and in the future.

1. Mix the Perfect Brew — Make Your Organization as Connected as Your Customer Journey.
To be successful, designing meaningful personalization for topnotch experiences must be an organization-wide imperative that goes beyond inserting your customer’s name in a “Dear [Customer]” salutation. Even in 2008, Starbucks was leading by example to show that winning customer experiences are holistic in nature. Today, though the brand now revolves around the customer instead of the offering, this approach hasn’t changed.

Sadly, many companies fail to deliver customer experiences that meet expected standards because they optimize only bits and pieces of a customer’s experience: a home page here, an email offer there. Even within the same organization, marketers use different marketing platforms, resulting in multiple profiles for the same customer and the delivery of experiences that compete to win a share of her.

This is because many companies organize their marketing by function —web, mobile, and social, for instance — and a different set of key performance indicators (KPIs) motivates each team. As a result, they may talk customer-centric, but disconnected departments, touchpoints, and customer data mean they can’t walk it — and their customers can tell. Those that do align business goals across functions can also align them with customers’ needs, resulting in unforgettable customer experiences.

For example, like Starbucks, British retailer Topshop is marrying in-store shopping experiences with “on the go” apps, technologies, and channels. During London Fashion Week (LFW), they encouraged brand lovers to post their looks — using the #TopshopWindow hashtag — and then featured the images in a digital fashion show at flagship stores. Via their social-media submissions, fans entered a contest in which five winners would be invited to view the LFW show in store by using fashionable virtual reality (VR) headsets. As a result, the Topshop fashion show ranked in the top five most talked about LFW shows on social media channels that year.

2. Customize the Order — Create a Holistic View of Customers’ Tastes.
Personalization on the Starbucks and Topshop level is fast becoming the new normal, especially for younger generations who have always relied on technology to solve their problems. Consider that as many as 78 percent of people will not engage with brand offers if they’re irrelevant to them based on their previous brand engagements. Business alignment is essential. But, for the benefits to reach your customers, it must also be paired with a complete customer view. An integrated data platform across all functions gives marketing teams insight into customer interactions with brands, their preferred products, and the sequence of purchases.

Marriott knows who their customers and prospects are across every touchpoint both online and offline and no matter how unique their journeys. With this holistic view, they can track the preferences of each traveler to predict their needs even before they ask for them to be met. Simple gestures — like offering coffee made the way a customer would order it from their favorite airport cafe, or offering early check-in based on a passenger’s habitual need for it — tell customers Marriott knows them and cares about them. It’s a luxury experience that deepens weary travelers’ appreciation of Marriott’s hotel offerings now and in the future.

3. Don’t Forget the Cherry on Top — Deliver Customer Service That Predicts and Acts on Needs.
Once brands have their business KPIs aligned with the customer and a data platform that spans the organization, combining a customer relationship management (CRM) solution with automation can help brands both predict and deliver on customers’ needs. Automation allows brands to test and personalize content at scale, and a good CRM solution predicts which content will resonate whenever and wherever customers engage. Robert Cantave of Epsilon explains how it works:

CRM data helps us understand what current customers are interested in seeing. Combining that with our third-party data lets us better understand what clusters of customers have in common. We present that information to the automated models and have them test and ultimately identify the product, categories, or content most likely to be of interest to both returning customers and brand new unknown users who’ve been seen elsewhere in our network.

In 2013, T-Mobile rebranded itself as the “un-carrier” by separating the cost of monthly service plans from devices. With a new competitive advantage in hand, they began to target competitors’ clients who wanted to break free from costly contracts. Based on device data that was collected when customers visited T-Mobile’s website looking for alternative options, the company sent a timely and seemingly telepathic text message to potential customers: “Stop waiting. Switch to T-Mobile and we’ll pay your termination fees when you trade in your device.” By automating the connection of data to relevant content based on a single customer view, T-Mobile received two million new customers in each of the last three quarters of 2015.

4. Own the Flavor — Create Agile, Connected Experiences to Maintain Strong Loyalty.
Connected, data-driven insights help brands deliver real-time customer experiences that delight — regardless of the situation. This is because they allow companies to pivot as the customer leads the experience demand. To reveal pain points, brands can gain insights through techniques and tools such as customer journey analytics and automation. Then, they can look at how brand and performance marketing can complement each other for added customer benefit.

For example, Southwest Airlines knows that customers who are caught in the melee of stranded passengers and amiss schedules often turn to social media to vent their frustrations, even sharing photos of long lines caused by cancelled flights. They address this reality directly by taking responsibility and apologizing on social media when necessary. Unhappy customers are allowed to rebook flights at no cost within two weeks of their original travel dates, and they receive refunds even for non-refundable flights. By answering every complaint on every channel as quickly as possible, Southwest is owning the experience to delight customers even in a crisis. As a result, Southwest Airline’s exceptional customer experience has allowed them to both attract new customers and maintain existing ones despite obstacles.

For instance, consumers’ delight with Southwest Airline’s experience has been featured in recent news. Juan (@xadoringpaige), a fan of Southwest Airlines, recently played a social-media trolling joke on the airline. The airline’s response was a delightful surprise — showing that the brand can pivot based on customers’ wants and needs — and it went viral. When asked why he chose to engage Southwest, Juan said that his great experience with the airlines made them the perfect choice to help lighten the mood in an industry that’s experienced some bruises over the past few years. Following the exchange, other customers jumped on board to express their deepened loyalty to the brand.

Design Customer Experiences That Deliver Real-Time Delight.
Since 2008, Starbucks has come to understand that customers are the center of successful brand experiences. As such, digital insights are the new currency of business. So, they have transformed their brand to become an experience business that revolves around the customer and not the product. Further, those brands that have followed suit — Topshop, Southwest Airlines, and T-Mobile, for instance — are able to win the hearts of today’s consumers. But, they must continue to evolve with customer needs.

In 2014, the average company used only four data sources for analysis and measurement; today, companies use six. According to Adobe research, 47 percent of companies in North America plan to increase their analytics budgets in the next 12 months. But, digital moves quickly, and customer standards are ever-increasing. So, your ability to use data to design exceptional customer experiences — like those of Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, Topshop, and T-Mobile — is likely to determine your success in the next era of marketing. By aligning organizational KPIs based on a single, real-time view of the customer, smart brands are getting to know their customers at scale and on a personal level — both in the physical and in the digital worlds — and it’s paving the way for topnotch experiences.

To learn more about designing exceptional experiences to meet today’s consumer needs, download Experience Counts: Exceptional Experiences Happen at the Intersection of Data and Design.

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Engaging Cord-Cutting Voters With Adobe Advertising Cloud

Marketing Cloud

Political candidates, political action committees (PACs), and issue advocacy groups are having a tougher time reaching voters because of cord cutting — the practice of bypassing cable and satellite providers and their advertisers by streaming content from the Internet. To address this challenge, BASK Digital Media uses Adobe Advertising Cloud (part of Adobe Experience Cloud) to deliver targeted video content to all channels, including smart TVs, desktop and laptop computers, and mobile devices.

Reaching Previously Inaccessible Voters With Adobe
Adobe Advertising Cloud unifies and streamlines the entire ad-planning and -buying process, enabling BASK to engage voters who were previously unreachable via traditional television advertising methods. For example, polling for a 2016 ballot initiative showed that 15 percent of persuadable voters only watched TV on the Internet — and another 8 percent didn’t watch TV at all. Adobe Advertising Cloud helped BASK reach these voters across devices and platforms with remarkable results.

Awareness of the ballot issue among cord cutters rose from 27 percent before the ad campaign to 79 percent on election day. Issue support among the same audience shifted by 33 points, effectively switching voter sentiment to favor the initiative.

To learn more about how Adobe Advertising Cloud is helping BASK reach cord cutters, download our white paper.

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Seizing Your Mobile App Strategy — What Trendsetters Can Teach Us

Marketing Cloud

“We are in the business of selling experiences. The actual items that are advertised, marketed, and purchased are just along for the ride.” ~ Brad Rencher, executive vice president and general manager for Digital Marketing, Adobe

In an era when mobile apps can predict what music you’ll love, offer a coupon to invite you into a shop you’re passing, or provide directions to your seat in a stadium, mobile app customers don’t just want frictionless, relevant, and engaging experiences every time they log in — they expect them. Consider this:

  • Seventy-seven percent of mobile app users uninstall brand apps within just three days of downloading them.
  • The ‘decision period’ — during which mobile app users decide whether to consider an app for long-term usage — spans 3–7 days after the initial app install. And, while users who have stuck with an app for 7 days are more likely to continue using it, at this point, you’re still not in the clear yet.
  • Within 90 days after installing an app, 95 percent of users have stopped engaging.

This means that your mobile app must not only deliver a five-star experience from the moment it is first downloaded, but also remain consistently great even as you’re getting to know your new customers’ wants and needs.

Shift Your Mobile Mindset and Create a Mobile-App Marketing Strategy.
No longer an afterthought, we know mobile must be your first thought. But, with mobile usage having surpassed desktop, the question is no longer mobile vs. desktop but mobile web vs. mobile app. At this point, an overwhelming 90 percent of mobile usage occurs in apps as opposed to mobile web. Still, 51 percent of companies have no mobile app strategy in place. This means that companies are being left behind. If you’re not convinced that your mobile strategy is working for you, it may be time to shift your mindset by creating a long-term mobile app strategy. Here are six ways to optimize your mobile app strategy to provide truly exceptional experiences that can drive your business forward.

1. Begin With the Big Picture.
Make it a companywide responsibility beyond marketing and get executive buy-in to break down organizational silos. Develop mobile-specific key performance indicators (KPIs) — such as app downloads, installs and opens; app usage; repeat visitors; and revenue from the app — for each campaign and tap expertise from procurement, sales, customer support, IT, and others to ensure that everyone — from production to design — adds something for the customer to the app experience. When these things are in place, it’s much easier to cut back development time, optimize budgets, and ensure a sustained effort that resonates with audiences and produces a solid ROI over time.

DuPont created a long-term mobile app strategy that focused on expanding the geographic reach of their apps and incorporating new features. Developing a country-to-country model enabled them to create external-facing content for one country in a central repository and feed content from that repository to country-specific sales-enablement apps in their global markets. Then, they applied this same model to their customer-facing apps. As they continue branching out to other countries, they achieve success by addressing the needs of their customers and their salesforce through customer-facing and employee-facing apps that deliver up-to-date and relevant information at users’ fingertips and in real-time.

2. Approach App Development With the Right Tools — and Keep an Eye on the Future.
Mobile app mastery requires the continuous delivery of new and relevant content that both delights customers and consistently enables employees to be ultra-efficient. But, without the right tools, even simple tasks — like refreshing content or delivering minor updates — can be complex, cumbersome, and costly. Being fast and flexible is key — allowing you to focus on building that all-important culture of experimentation. While you may not always get it right the first time, being agile will enable you to continually evolve. Investing in technology — such as delivering content to your mobile apps from a content management system — can help you quickly iterate and achieve higher mobile adoption.

3. Use Mobile Analytics to Drive Insight — and Act on It.
Only 46 percent of businesses say they use mobile analytics to learn what resonates with their users. A solid mobile-analytics foundation is essential for driving insights into both customer and employee behaviors and guiding adjustments that will draw your customers and employees closer to your brand — and to a purchase. Learn who is using your app and why, where they are spending their time, what content they love, what content isn’t working, and what makes them decide to take action or abandon the app altogether.

Major League Baseball (MLB) used mobile analytics to identify the type of content their fans wanted. They discovered that most fans (75 percent) enjoyed watching video highlights, but even more fans (84 percent) were checking scores of other games. They used this information to give fans the content they wanted faster, improving the experience overall.

4. Focus on Content That Knows the Customer and Deliver in the Moment.
Brands that offer coupons, personalized reminders, or special offers on mobile at the right time are more relevant to their customers. Whether they’re wandering around a museum or shopping for a new pair of sunglasses, delivering what they need in the moment they need it is key. For employees, having access to a mobile app that can provide quick answers to customers’ inquiries helps them do their jobs better and faster.

Customers expect to receive visible value in their mobile moments wherever they are, and they’re frustrated when brands don’t deliver. Tapping into location, sensor data, or other user activities helps identify the immediate needs and locations of consumers and employees to deploy interactive push notifications and in-app messaging, driving sales and conversion rates.

5. Blur the Lines Between the Digital and Physical Worlds.
Consumers often rely on their mobile experiences to guide their digital ones. Further, there is heightened focus on brands using geolocation technology to bridge the gaps between their digital experiences and their physical ones in brick-and-mortar stores. Brands are using beacon technology in mobile apps to learn where their customers are, target them more effectively, increase open rates on messages, and drive deeper engagement.

But, geolocation technology isn’t limited to retailers. The National History Museum in London uses Wi-Fi signal information to pinpoint where visitors are standing in the museum and identify what they are looking at so they can deliver contextual information about displays. Through these technologies, the museum is providing richer, more rewarding experiences for its customers.

6. Manage Mobile App Content Like a Master.
Lastly, with the right set of tools, it’s possible to manage mobile app content like a pro. Leverage existing content from a content management system (CMS) or product database and use built-in marketing services and analytics to help you measure and optimize effortlessly.

DuPont benefits from a CMS that allows them to store all their content in a centralized location and then easily push out mobile-customized information to their apps in real time. Using the same content, Adobe Experience Manager helps brands adjust content automatically to all their devices, including their apps, without having to create new assets or update each device or screen manually.

For example, DuPont wanted to use a CMS to ensure that their sales representatives could leverage their sales presentations on the field in their Brazil app. Using Adobe Experience Manager, they stored their presentations in one centralized location, then easily adapted the presentations to create app-friendly slides their representatives could use on any device. Now, when updates are made to the presentations, they’re also updated on all app slides, allowing sales representatives to have fresh, up-to-date content at their fingertips so they can perform their jobs well.

Top Brands Secure Their Leads With Forward-Thinking Mobile App Strategies.
Companies that thrive in today’s demanding landscape are continually optimizing their mobile app strategies to deliver winning customer experiences. They are getting their entire companies involved in investing in the right tools; using analytics to learn what works and what doesn’t; delivering unquestionable customer value based on those insights; and providing seamless, frictionless experiences that are consistent with all digital and physical brand touchpoints. Then, via a centralized CMS, they are delivering great customer experiences — directly into the palms of their customers’ hands at the right time every time.

With mobile devices within customers’ reaches 24/7, a well-managed mobile app strategy will help ensure your brand remains relevant. Big disruptions — such as the mobile app movement — offer more than opportunities. They offer moments that simply must be seized — so, seize away! Because the brands that don’t will soon discover that the cost of catching up is no longer affordable.

To learn more about optimizing your mobile app strategy to provide exceptional experiences, download the full white paper.

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The Rules Of Modern Attribution

Marketing Cloud

There are a number of well-documented challenges with attribution in paid media. But as the digital marketing industry collectively works toward closing the loop, we must be careful not to succumb to tunnel vision: although paid media is critical in achieving reach and performance objectives, it is only one piece of the puzzle that is modern attribution.

In a customer-centric world, marketing value lies in accurately mapping the customer’s journey through the funnel and within the context of the various interactions with paid and owned media — and ultimately, understanding which of those interactions maximize returns.

Breaking down siloes is a daunting task — and measuring the combined results, even more so. But with the right strategy in place, marketers can glean valuable insights that provide a more complete view of their overall performance, augmenting paid efforts with learnings from owned-and-operated properties.

Here’s how it can be done:

1. Don’t Forget Your Own Data
One of the most common and complete data sources is owned media. Owned-media properties — social media channels or your brand’s Web site, for instance — give your brand a much greater level of control over the consumer’s experience than paid media offers. Since your brand isn’t paying for owned media, each owned property is a readily available source of data to collect, analyze, and optimize. However, many brands overlook incorporating these sources of rich data within the context of attribution.

Today’s technology offers you the tools necessary to analyze and establish attribution from every point along the path from leads to sales and even beyond. Remember, your data — be it user engagement metrics or conversion — should no longer be used solely to judge past performance. It should also be used to spur greater successes in the future. But if you can’t attribute your successes and defeats to their true sources, you won’t be able to build on those insights for greater success and ROI in this and future campaigns.

2. Measure a Customer’s Long-Term Value
Brands can become so focused on a sale, conversion, or specific channel that they miss out on maximizing the total profitability and value of a customer. The value of looking at customers’ decisions and interactions is that you gain a more holistic understanding of the long-term value of consumers’ brand experiences — well beyond just the last few clicks leading up to conversion.

Instead of thinking “this $0.50 ad produced a $20 sale,” you should be thinking “this $0.50 ad not only produced a $20 sale, but also resulted in the customer spending an additional $20 every other month.” Then dig deeper to ensure you have a complete understanding of the why behind these numbers. Are higher-value customers arriving at that ad via certain channels? Is the segment being targeted via this ad a higher-value segment?

Looking at the customer’s value as more than just a single sale allows you to account for the true ROI of your ad campaigns and place ad dollars behind the campaigns that will produce greatest long-term value for your brand. And the only way to accomplish this is with a sophisticated analytics strategy that includes measuring customer lifetime value.

3. Reassess Your Keyword Strategy
While you are in the process of determining the lifetime value of customers who respond to your ad campaigns, don’t forget to surface the true value of your keywords as well. First, test to see if the keywords you’re targeting are likely to perform well before throwing ad dollars behind them. You can do this most cost-effectively by first testing keywords in your owned media — for instance, in your email campaigns or internal Web site search — before throwing money behind them in your paid campaigns. Testing different combinations of keywords in the context of owned media helps brands to broaden their thinking and make better decisions before putting funding behind keywords in their paid campaigns.

Then be sure to understand the long-term value of keywords as they contribute to your paid media. Often, the thinking is “okay, this ad is for this search word. It’s performing the best, so let’s pump a bunch of money into that.” Instead, brands should be thinking “this search word is performing the best, but they’re just buying one item that’s on sale; whereas, with this search word, customers are buying a whole bunch of items and are more likely to return to buy more.” Just as when assessing your customer’s lifetime value, assessing the long-term impact of your keywords allows you to know where to allocate your ad dollars for greatest overall returns.

4. Overcoming the Mobile Attribution Hurdle
According to the 2016 U.S. Cross-Platform Future in Focus report, 65% of all digital media time spent by consumers is on mobile, with desktop becoming secondary as a touchpoint. At the same time, mobile conversion rates are 70% lower than on desktop. This means that lifetime customer values among mobile users and performance across all mobile channels often leave brands disappointed.

But with the high value that customers place on mobile and the ability it creates for advertisers to meet them where they are 24/7, it is all the more critical for marketers and advertisers to step up their game. Because consumers are encountering your brand through multiple screens, devices, and channels, it’s once again important to consider the entire customer journey.

Mobile attribution is a subset of the overall attribution-measurement strategy. It assesses the impact and value of both paid and owned mobile interactions to determine which help lead to conversions and which do not. With this information, brands can better understand what channels are performing on mobile, why they are performing well, and ultimately, what steps can be taken to boost underperforming mobile-channel results. Understanding mobile attribution gives brands important insights into where their marketing dollars should be spent for greatest returns. Brands formulating their mobile attribution strategy often begin with paid media, but that’s only one part of the overall digital marketing equation.

With many mobile users installing ad blockers on their devices, brands are forced to find new ways to engage with customers. As a result, both investing in the development of the brand’s mobile app experience and delivering contextually relevant and interesting content through it, become increasingly important to the overall marketing strategy. How effective is the owned mobile app experience in engaging customers and increasing overall ad influence?

An international hotel knew that travelers often begin their customer journeys on desktops as they plan their trips and search for best hotel deals, but once customers are on the road, the hotel app is its most important touchpoint with their customers. So they pulled from all customer data to make it personal and relevant with content that enhanced their customers’ trips, enabling customers to chat with hotel personnel, reserve parking, ask for room service and even request certain items before they arrive. Customers who have experienced this level of service and are searching for a hotel deal will in the future be more likely to click and convert when they see an ad for this hotel.

5. Tie It All Together
Going beyond paid is about looking at everything combined and making fully informed decisions to optimize every interaction — not just paid media — across the holistic consumer brand experience. Employ all this information to help you understand how the different channels are performing so you can make better decisions when it comes to your paid campaigns.

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What An Experience Business Will Look Like: Think Tank Luminaries Share The Vision

Marketing Cloud

During the Adobe Marketing Summit in Las Vegas, I participated in a Adobe Think Tank discussion on the Future of Experience Business. You’ve probably heard how experiences are the new brand and that we no longer sell products but sell compelling and personalized experiences. Is this a fad? Or the future? I believe it’s the future, and it’s starting now.

Here are my top six takeaways from the Think Tank discussion with eight other industry leaders on how data, design, and delivery will impact the future of an experience business.

Data has to inform design content.

  • Data is the driver for all content and experience, especially in terms of how content gets automated and delivered to the audience.
  • Every company on the planet is now a data company, even if they didn’t plan to be.
  • Our intent should be to use data to create better and more personalized experiences for the consumer.
  • An example of the power of data: By 2030, data may drive an increase in life expectancy by at least five years because we will be able to use it to improve the delivery of healthcare.

The future of analytics is “Data Artists.”

  • Today, marketers are paying data scientists big bucks to interpret massive amounts of data because it helps them make data-driven marketing decisions.
  • In an experience economy, marketing and data scientists are evolving into “data artists.”
  • These data artists won’t collect data to run measurements. They will collect data to inform the creation of new experiences — and do so across organizations and business units.

Big data won’t start WW3 — though some disagree.

  • While we’re already seeing data used in negative ways such as cyber attacks and ransomware, it’s probably not the new “oil” that will result in wars (see 1:00:00 on the video for this interesting discussion).
  • Brands, however, should think clearly about the impact of the data they are collecting.
  • This is especially important as data becomes more centralized, and as a result, is at greater risk for compromise.

“Marketing” as a term is outdated.

  • Marketing is an old term that forces us to think in terms of creating experiences around products, instead of making the product itself the experience.
  • Marketing can’t be executed as a communication layer on top of the product anymore, instead marketing and product should collaborate on how the combined experience creates value for the consumer.
  • Experience businesses need to think about how to develop products that will create and deliver the right experience, alongside what the right content is to express that.

In the future, “experience chains” will provide end-to-end experiences from a customer perspective.

  • A travel experience includes luggage, airlines, hotels, rental cars, tourist attractions, clothing, dining and more. Businesses are going to have to connect with each other to deliver great experiences end-to-end.
  • The question remains: How can brands give partners scoped access to their data without sharing all of it?
  • Sharing scoped data in a secure way will help companies work together to deliver seamless experiences to their common customers.
  • Those who figure it out first will win in the experience economy.

Every company needs to be an experience business and your C-suite needs to buy in.

  • Most companies are not yet delivering on the promise of an experience business.
  • If you want to be an experience company, trust is more critical than ever.
  • Companies that value trust with their customers will succeed.

Don’t take my word for it, however. Watch the recorded livestream to find your own perspective on becoming an experience business, and stay tuned for more POVs from my fellow #AdobeTT participants.

The post What An Experience Business Will Look Like: Think Tank Luminaries Share The Vision appeared first on Digital Marketing Blog by Adobe.