Your source of insights for a successful digital transformation.

AWS re:Invent 2017 - Tales From The Future Of Cloud

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In the weeks leading to the AWS re:Invent 2017, we have seen many speculations about the nature of the announcements that Amazon would do during its annual event. The first few days have maintained, if not exceeded, the expectations.

There is a constant element behind all the news emerging about Amazon's Cloud: a significant shift towards the 'applications' side of the technology. Follow us as we unveil the future of Amazon Web Services and the entire Cloud world.

The general trend sees Amazon more and more focused on providing companies with technologies that increase the engagement and improve the customer experience. From this point of view, we could even dare to say that AWS is becoming more ‘customer-centric’.

This broader trend translates into a specific attention to the technologies that affect the customer behaviors online and offline (and are affected by them in return). It is easy to see that video content and AR, VR, and mixed reality have taken the center stage in the last couple of years.

Many companies are trying to take advantage of the potential of these immersive technologies, which so far have proved to be too complex and expensive for general use. The great players - Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and now Amazon - are trying to close this gap, providing affordable tools (in terms of costs and complexity) available for a broader audience.

AWS Elemental MediaConvert is the way Amazon wants to capitalize on the obsession that both customers and Brands have for video contents. The new suite, formed largely on the back of the acquisition of Elemental Technologies in 2015, is a file-based video transcoding service with broadcast-grade features:

It allows you to easily create video-on-demand (VOD) content for broadcast and multiscreen delivery at scale. The service combines advanced video and audio capabilities with a simple web services interface and pay-as-you-go pricing. With AWS Elemental MediaConvert, you can focus on delivering compelling media experiences without having to worry about the complexity of building and operating your own video processing infrastructure.

While we do not have more than the announcement right now - even though Elemental has been around for a while - there is a major strength in the proposition: the ability to create high-quality, end-to-end video processing workflows in the cloud without upfront investment for video processing infrastructure (you pay based on the duration of video that is processed and the features you use).

If you read the description carefully, you will see how Amazon is now “into competition to some extent with the likes of Google’s YouTube and its efforts to work with media companies and other creators to build and host live streams and ad-based videos. Interesting timing, given all the negative press YouTube has had over the kind of content that it’s been hosting over the years.” (TechCrunch)

The second product launched at the AWS re:Invent 2017 - this one entirely new - is called Amazon Sumerian and is, in some extent, a straightforward response to the announcements made by Mark Zuckerberg during the last Facebook’s F8 event. The topic is, of course, virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality.

Amazon Sumerian lets you create highly immersive and interactive scenes on VR, AR, and 3D applications without requiring any specialized programming or 3D graphics expertise. The scenes can then run on different hardware - Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and iOS mobile devices, while the support for Android ARCore will come soon. All this starting from the libraries of pre-built objects that make the creation effortless and less expensive.

If you look at the bigger picture, it is easy to understand where Amazon is heading: In a world where the new wave of technology has a lot of time-consuming processes behind it, Amazon aims at becoming the one who can modernize and simplify that — thereby becoming the default platform for creating applications on that new tech. Elemental and Sumerian score two points. And now the ball goes to the opponents.

For a deeper coverage live from the AWS re:Invent, you can also follow Luca Bianchi, CTO of Neosperience, on Medium.

Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty

Topics: aws developers development customer engagement Innovation

Be Human - Matching Customer Personality is the New Key to Relevance

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There came a time when the digital era took over the analog world and completely changed the face of marketing, with no possible turning back.

If you ask how things changed, most marketers will likely point at three main areas of marketing that have been disrupted: Speed, Relevance, Reach. The rise of digital means you can (must) be incredibly fast and get an unprecedented coverage - something you could only dream two decades ago.  

If we focus on the mere numbers, there is no comparison between the analog and the digital worlds. It gets a bit more complicated when it comes to relevance, a purely subjective concept.

When we say or hear that digital technology has given us highly relevant marketing and branding campaigns, what are we referring to?

In our previous article about the Psychographics we have emphasized how a good seller always understands his customer, and has an easy game knowing how to communicate with him - not just what to propose but how to sell it. In his own way, he is surely relevant.

In the digital communication, this kind of ‘human’ relevance is lost: messages are targeted to specific groups of users, which are segmented and profiled based on some objective, explicit and observable data (typically demographic and behavioral).

Attitudes, emotions, and personality are almost never considered, although they are a big part of what makes the human communication so appropriate, empathic, and relevant.

Here, we are talking about the importance of psychology and the influence it has on the development of marketing and technology. What can psychology do to increase the relevance of your Brand’s communication on digital channels, where technology - with its speed and reach - has replaced the human touch?

For decades now, psychological studies have played a prominent role by identifying strategies to improve the effectiveness of marketing campaigns through the principles of persuasion. One such strategy, known as message tailoring, involves the adaptation of communication to the characteristics of the customer.

As researchers have shown, messages that fit with an individual’s attitudes and dispositional motives are processed more fluently and evaluated more positively than incongruent messages. These effects have been observed across several domains, including prevention, behavioral change, and consumer purchases.

For marketing and advertising professionals, this means that tailoring the messages so that they match customer personality can be a promising tactic to increase the effectiveness of campaigns.

To better understand this interweaving of disciplines, we have to pass from theory to practice. For example, by framing the messages through the well known Big Five model of personality, it becomes possible to target a broad variety of motives, including:

  • Desire for excitement, social rewards, energy, and fun - powerful drivers for Extroverts.
  • Sympathy, interpersonal harmony, connection with family and community - values more significant for Agreeable people.
  • Efficiency, order and goal pursuit - primary motives for Conscientious people.
  • Quiet, carefree, safety and security - people with lower Emotional stability pay more attention to these benefits.
  • Creativity, curiosity, innovation, imagination and intellectual stimulation - perfect features when interacting with people Open to experience.

As a result, an advertisement emphasizing a specific motivational concern, congruent with the user’s personality traits, would be more effective in term of attention, evaluation, and impact.

To sum up, in an era where the customer centricity is more and more about personalization, understanding customers as human beings in their uniqueness is the only way to anticipate their needs and desires.

If you know what they are about to do before they actually do it, you will unlock the true power of digital and mobile technologies; Technology may make giant leaps forward in all areas, but communication is definitely where Natural Intelligence still wins.

We are empathetic human beings, and we can flexibly adapt our attitude, language, and relational approach. In this perspective, machines are still far away from us, and will probably always be.

That is why you should strive not to replace human with technology, but to fill the gap between the two by infusing more human capabilities into technology. Talk to your customers as humans, and you will ultimately build strong, intimate, long lasting relationships.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Discover MyPsychographics test, based on techniques that have been developed and refined over 100 years of cognitive, behavioral and social psychology.

MyPsychographics

Topics: psychographics customer loyalty customer engagement

Strategic Predictions For 2018 and Beyond From Gartner Symposium


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The future is filled with disruption. But pending disruptions are taking on new forms. This is the tipping point for Gartner's keynote about top strategic predictions for 2018 and beyond, live from Orlando.

Here is a selection for you of the most relevant insights from Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, where the world’s top digital professionals gain a strategic view of the emerging trends shaping technology and business. 

 

 

 

 

 

  

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Topics: Digital Customer Experience customer engagement Innovation

Psychographics - Turn Mass Personalization into Customer Uniqueness

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Mass Marketing is dead, that's nothing new. In a world dominated by the culture of "Me", one size doesn't fit all. Customers - no matter what their socioeconomic status is - want to take center stage. They want to be loved by the Brands they love, in return for their loyalty.

If you are not willing to take care of your customers’ emotions, desires and needs, they will devote their soul and heart to your competitors. In this ever-customer-centric scenario, personalization goes from being a nice-to-have to becoming a must-have.

For over 15 years, one-to-one marketing (also called personalized marketing, or individual marketing) has moved in this direction to help companies engage with customers the right way, based on their needs, preferences, and behaviors.

Global players such as Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify, to name a few, are well-known for being data-driven companies aiming at the customer excellence.

Netflix knows the ‘completion rate’ for a TV series; how many users started and finished it til the end of the last season; where the common cut-off point was; how long has passed between when they watched one episode and then the next.

And the data go even deeper: when you pause, rewind, or fast forward; when you watch a specific type of content; where you watch and what device you use; the ratings you give, what you do after any episode - if you leave the app or go back to browsing.

The same way, Amazon constantly analyzes what items you purchased; what is in your wishlist; what you search for the most; which products you reviewed and rated; and uses this information to recommend you additional products based on what the other customers purchased in the same situation.

Given this continuous evolution towards a more and more detailed knowledge of a customer’s ‘moves’ and features, the question is: What is the missing piece that will enable Brands to create a more intimate, long-lasting relationship with customers?

Tracking behaviors is a critical task, no doubt about it. However, it is not enough to explain, discover or predict the 'Why' of our behaviors, feelings, and choices, that is deeply linked to our inner world and is a consequence of 'Who' we truly are.

Who we are - our unique personality - affects our behaviors more than people think or realize. And even more than marketers do. Understanding this simple fact is the basic requirement to persona-lize your strategy.

A crowded place full of new people can excite an extroverted and annoy an introvert. An extreme sport or a transgressive experience will attract those who love taking risks, and scare those who avoid them. An open-minded person will be excited to try an entirely new product, while a conservative person will prefer to wait for that product to be tested by others.   

It is evident that we - as marketers - are missing something important, the human side of customers.

The interesting thing is that our personality determines not only what we like, but also our communication preferences and, consequently, what is most likely to persuade us. As empathetic human beings, we can flexibly adapt our language and relational approach from time to time, depending on who we are dealing with.

A good seller who understands his customer has an easy game because he knows how to communicate with him - not just what to propose but how to paint it.

As an example, let's take a personality trait known as Need for Uniqueness, the pursuing of differentness relative to others, that can be obtained through the purchase and use of goods and services.

This personality trait can be a key buying reason in various contexts, such as shopping for clothes. Some people usually look for items that visibly distinguish them from others, and when they realize that another person also wears something they just bought, they lose interest or even get annoyed.

Other people, on the other hand, prefer to blend with others - especially their reference group - and use their dressing style to emphasize this membership and belonging.

Now think about this. What if fashion brands had this information readily available for each customer, exactly as they already know the age, sex, and last purchase?

Would they communicate their offer in the same way? We hope not. Such information would radically change the way they see customers, interact with them and deliver unique customer experiences.

One-to-one marketing, as we know it, is surely getting smarter thanks to the huge amount of detailed data on what customers do across all stages and channels of their journey. But if this is useful, it is not necessarily exponential.

The innovation here does not come with the increasing of the data managed, but by introducing new ideas and criteria to evaluate those data (i.e. the Psychographics, based on techniques that have been developed and refined over 100 years of cognitive, behavioral and social psychology).

Mass communication is dead, and mass personalization is evolving to embrace the human side of customers progressively. Starting from now, an empathetic marketing strategy will take marketing and customer experience to the next level.

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Take MyPsychographics test, based on a set of scientifically-validated questionnaires plus social media, to understand your true self and discover your personality traits.

MyPsychographics

Topics: customer engagement Customer Journey psychographics

"Persona-lize" Your Strategy To Change the Face of Customer Centricity

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Recently, we have talked about Gamification as an unconventional way to engage customers and increase loyalty, in a world where the two go hand-in-hand and are intimately related.

Now we take a step back to move forward, shifting the focus from the engagement to the understanding. Even before thinking about ‘how’ to drive customer loyalty, in fact, you need to figure out ‘who’ your loyal customers are.

Behavioral science has done a lot of work to provide marketers with valuable insights. The aim is to put customers in a buying mood, by pushing the right buttons, finding the right needs to tap and shaping them with the right words.

As an effect, you will be able to drive customers’ preferences and other virtuous behaviors, including positive word-of-mouth, loyalty, and so on. These goals are of primary concern to all marketers, regardless of the industry or the competitive arena.

If word choices reveal - consciously or unconsciously - our state of mind, so the shared language reveals shared meanings, and shows a certain view of the world which continues to strengthen over time.

In the same way, marketing language says a lot about the relevant culture, mindset, and attitude amongst professionals, and the more we think about it, the more we get skeptical about the long-term effectiveness of this approach.

We can sum it up in two questions. The first one is of a purely linguistic nature.

Who Takes Center Stage?

Reach the target audience, shape customers’ needs, drive preferences and choices, stimulate customers to buy. All these expressions have something in common, beyond being overused: the brand takes action, not the customer.

We talk a lot about customer-centricity and the shift from passive to empowered customers, but the reality is that more is said (and “story-told”) than done.

Our language reveals what implicit stereotypes and beliefs are still embedded in our brains, including such of companies and brands actively shaping customers’ attitudes and thus driving desired behavior - but does this not represent a step back from the very concept of customer empowerment?

One of the most important - and most sensitive - issues for brands is customer loyalty. When it comes to loyalty, we use to say that loyal customers are typically those more satisfied, engaged, and delighted.

That is absolutely true, but we are again taking in account solely the perspective of the Brand, and so considering an oversimplified and incomplete version of the reality, the one that better explains marketers’ goals rather than those of the customers.

And here comes the second question:

What about individual differences?

This approach takes into account customers as if they were a single monolithic entity, to be treated in the same way. Of course, as human beings, we are not totally separable: we share common basic human needs, motives and cognitive patterns that determine our spontaneous behavior in response to certain stimuli.

Individual differences, however, play a crucial role in determining people’s preferences and choices, whether it comes to personal life, professional decisions, or purchase behaviors.

Sometimes consciously, sometimes not, our dispositional motives continually shape and drive the experiences that we have, including our buying experiences. So, why should these factors not be considered in your marketing and communication strategy?

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There is clear evidence that tailored messages are considerably more effective than one-size-fits-all campaigns, and that the effectiveness of tailoring increases with greater customization and adaptation to the unique features of the recipient.

For example, as suggested by Higgins in 2000, you should frame your message to match the recipient’s personal goals by focusing either on promoting gains (e.g., “Product X makes teeth stronger”) or on preventing losses (e.g., “Product X prevents cavities”).

Moreover, many other researchers have shown that messages that are consistent with an individual’s motivational orientation are processed more fluently and evaluated more positively than inconsistent ones.

The effects of what we can call the “message/person congruence” have been examined in correlation to differnt psychological characteristics, including the Big Five Factors, by changing the framing of a message to target specific motives, such as desires for excitement and social rewards, connection with family and community, efficiency and goal pursuit, safety and security, creativity and intellectual stimulation (i.e. see Personalized Persuasion).

For years, retailers have been using a variety of personal information, such as purchase and the website journey history, to tailor their online offers to individual customers. But an emerging literature in the field of Marketing Psychology says that personality traits are no less important.

If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person's point of view and see things from that person's angle as well as from your own, Henry Ford said.

One of the first rules of persuasion is: Know your audience. In a world of companies and Brands striving for relevance, understanding your audience’s point of view is a strong element of differentiation. Understanding every single customer’s point of view? That would be the turning point!

First of all, customers are individuals, and every individual is unique - the way we think, behave, and act, we all do it differently. As the way we communicate to others reflects our mindset, even the way we respond to (and are attracted by) different communication styles changes significantly, depending on our personality. We are more likely to interact, listen, share, believe and be persuaded by communication styles tailored on our peculiarities.

To cut it short, understating customers’ ability to shape the world around them proactively gets into conflict with the very idea of customer-centricity. More, overlooking customers’ individual characteristics undermines the concept of personalization, turning it into a ‘buzzword’ without any substance.

Taken together, these two ‘gaps’ offer huge opportunities for those who are willing to overcome the ‘Business As Usual’ (to quote Brian Solis)  and define a real turning point in the world of customer experience. What would you do if you were able to “persona-lize” your marketing strategy?

Cover Photo by Bryan Minear on Unsplash

Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty

Topics: customer engagement customer loyalty Digital Customer Experience

Mythological Marketing - The Future of Your Brand is in The Past

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What is the meaning of your marketing? What are the roots of your storytelling? More and more companies embark on a long journey to discover the hidden traits of their identity. And what they find is a long red thread that goes straight to the roots of culture and society. 

There is a persistent wave that moves underneath the structures of modern business, molding everything we do. Sometimes we recognize it, sometimes not. This wave is made of myths and heroes, and it is shaping a new marketing. Mythological Marketing.

The union between myths and marketing is not a new thing. The art of selling has always been closely related to the ability to leverage on the hidden meanings we all bring in. That is, in example, the reason why a Brand rarely offers the same type of message in different markets, even for the same product.  

To be compelling and engaging, the storytelling must resonate with the feelings and perceptions (and prejudices) of a particular audience. The content and the context are inescapably entwined, more so in a time of technological revolutions where the concepts of space and time lose relevance.

Myths are the stories people tell to explain nature, history, and customs. Myth is a feature of every culture. Mythologizing continues, as shown in contemporary mythopoeia such as urban legends and the expansive fictional mythoi created by fantasy novels and comics. A culture's collective mythology helps convey belonging, shared and religious experiences, behavioral models, and moral and practical lessons.” (Wikipedia)

As human beings, we come from different narratives, layered over the centuries, but these stories are all rooted in myths: Greek, Roman, Mesopotamian, Norse, Celtic, Egyptian, African (with all its nuances), Biblical, and so on. They all provide a reference to the many stories that have been formed by peoples throughout all of time.

Long gone are the days when marketing was considered a ‘left brain matter’. Today, we know that the emotional elements guide our decisions, not only as people but also as customers. The marriage between the left brain and the right brain is essential to unlocking the unreleased and untapped power of mythological marketing.

If we consider the last couple of centuries, however, it is easy to see how the Western economies have dismissed the emotions in the name of a more rational approach to productivity and economy.

We find it hard to communicate with our emotions. Sometimes, they are even considered a sign of weakness (“You are too emotional!” is a negative catch phrase we hear too often). But now we know that understanding the emotions plays a pivotal role in the creation of meaningful experiences. 

To drive positive behavior, goodwill, and business results, you must engage with customers by deeply appealing to their emotions with delightful, person-centric experiences. If you agree upon the fact that customer experience is the primary differentiator in today’s markets, then you recognize how critical is to study the myths that lay the foundations of our right brain.    

Even though the entire human species shares a few basic, hard-wired emotions, in fact, most of them are a product of the cultural and anthropological substrate. Today more than ever you have to understand and drive the major clusters of emotions that either destroy or drive added value and create loyal customers. 

So, we can define mythological marketing as the marketing that can speak both to the left and right brain. A marketing that can bring the emotional dimensions back to the role they deserve, and blend them with the functional elements, forging a storytelling that is unique and relevant to the customer.

Customer experience, customer journey mapping, content marketing, social media management, psychographic profiling, product development and launch: every single activity you plan and execute is influenced by what you are and what your customers are. Even your company’s archetype comes from there. 

At a basic level, it is pretty easy to recognize the Brands that have been heavily influenced by the ancient myths - especially Greek mythology, embedded into our everyday culture. Nike comes from the Greek goddess of victory; Pandora originates from the ancient Greek “all gifted” woman; Amazon derives from a Greek woman warrior (and so does DC Comics’ Wonder Woman).

Way more difficult is to find companies that have used mythology as the building ground for their storytelling and content marketing efforts. The lack of examples highlights how ‘young’ this marketing trend is, and how many opportunities lie ahead for those who can catch them.  

Recently, the Italian fashion house Prada has launched a jewelry line named Talisman. According to Luxury Daily, this is an “homage to what the Brand refers to as the original designs, as individuals in ancient times would construct and revere objects for their magical properties. 

The main object of the communication campaign was to build belonging, leveraging on a shared narrative every customer could connect with. The launch of the collection, in fact, has been accompanied by a short film that:

Celebrates the potential for the supernatural that exists in these pieces (...) The Talisman film speaks to modern tribalism and the simultaneous coexistence of individual and affinity-centered communities. The talisman itself, a finely made and unique piece, is portrayed as a source of mystic strength, protection, and desire while making a strong statement in support of handcraft." 

Another brilliant example, reported by Harvard Business Review, is about Future Group, India’s fastest-growing retailer, and shows the differences in the approach to myths between Western and Eastern cultures.

Kishore Biyani, CEO of Future Group, shows respect for how the West is innovating the customer experience, but he is also well-aware that such a vision must come to terms with the peculiarities of the Indian tradition.

Thus, he has tried to design innovative customer experiences - aimed at improving employee engagement - that blend the best of West and East, collaborating with consultant and mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik, one of the world’s leading experts on Indian mythology.

Devdutt explained that all employee training programs at Future Group always start with storytelling, inspired by Indian mythology. The goal is to galvanize and inspire workers - from store clerks to senior execs - to adhere to the vision by unveiling it as a story drawn from, say, the Mahabharata with well-known characters like Krishna that they can all relate to.

Mythological marketing is about discovering your true self, understanding the traits that form people and embracing the emotional side of our world. A ‘whole brain’ approach that helps customers believe they are not just purchasing something, but they are taking part in a story. The oldest and most engaging story ever told.

Cover Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty

Topics: Archetypes Digital Customer Experience customer engagement

The Seven Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty

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Is Brand Loyalty still relevant for customers? In a market where the limitations of space and time are canceled by technology - and we can buy everything we want directly with a tap on a mobile screen - does it make sense to talk about loyalty?

The answer is ‘Yes’ to both questions. Customer Loyalty is still relevant, but it is hard to get and even harder to retain as the competition is so tight. This is the starting point of The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty, our new checklist that will help you improve your strategy and evolve to stay relevant. 

As said, loyalty is still important and will continue to be in the next future. Indeed, in times when we have become accustomed to brand switching and polygamous loyalty, the ability to attract and retain the attention and engagement of customers is even more critical.

The reason lies not only in the economic value of this long-lasting relationship - loyal customers buy more and more often - but also in exponential effects regarding competitive advantage (i.e. the sharing of 'positive vibrations' in their communities and social networks).

If the intrinsic value of the customer loyalty remains unchanged, however, the same can not be said of the relationship between companies and people. This connection has been deeply altered by the advent of the digital technology, that has shaped the market scenario in which we have been immersed for more than ten years now.

Not to mention that the pace of this change has further accelerated with the advent of the mobile devices. In a few years, in fact, the smartphone has become the primary point of reference we all turn to when we need information and make weighted decisions.

Whether it is a car purchase, a comparison between two TV models, a holiday booking, the choice of the perfect outfit for the evening, or the sharing of our opinions, the answer is always there, in the palm of our hand.

If we turn the focus on the Brand, the story remains the same: the smartphone is the primary means of spreading contents and messages. When it comes to digital customers (Millennials and Generation Z above all), there is no engagement and loyalty strategy without mobile technology.

We want to emphasize the fact that technology is, as always, a means and not the ultimate goal of your strategy: the solution is not to recreate, in the digital context, the old dynamics of engagement and fidelization typical of the offline world (a virtual loyalty card, to name one).

The reason is that today people do not just want to buy products or services. They want to live experiences. At the heart of any loyalty strategy, there should be the awareness of the value of customer experience as the primary factor of differentiation on the market.

According to Gartner, 89% of companies expect that the decisive battle for relevance on the digital markets will be fought in the field of customer experience. It is not a coincidence: people already consider the experience more important than price and the product itself.

In order to grow your business, you must build personal relationships with customers. Focusing on the experience is the only way to move from a utilitarian loyalty (I spend, and you give me a tangible prize in return) to an emotional loyalty (I choose you because I feel I am an integral part of the Brand).

The evolution from a traditional fidelization to the 'new customer loyalty' is not easy or immediate, but it is necessary if you want to survive in an ecosystem increasingly saturated and competitive. To move towards the future, you must first take a step back, admitting that you do not know your customers, despite the Big Data and your CRM.

The amount of information about customers that the technology makes available to companies is of no use if you do not know what to look for, how to move from macro to micro, and ultimately how to get an intimate understanding of the person.

Before even thinking about customer engagement and loyalty, you have to understand people. Choices are mainly driven by emotional elements, so you need another key to read the traits of personality, behaviors, attitudes, thought patterns, and prejudices.

We are talking about the final step from the study of the Demographics - which tell you who the customers are - to the Psychographics - which tell you what they think and what they want.

Only by studying these essential hidden traits you will be able to gather and select the data you need to personalize experiences and messages. Understanding is the basic requirement to convert customers into Brand Ambassadors.

The purpose of The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty is to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, to create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

You can download it for free at the following link:

The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty

Topics: customer loyalty customer engagement Digital Customer Experience Mobile

How Augmented Reality Can Strengthen Your CX

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When Tim Cook took center stage to kick off Apple's WWDC 2017 conference, we knew that something was coming. A lot was discussed yesterday: watchOS 4, macOS High Sierra, iOS 11, the arrival of Siri on a hardware called HomePod. 

Of all the announcements, though, the one that really resonates with the digital and marketing leaders is the launch of the ARKit: a set of tools for developers to create augmented reality apps, that has been boasted as the “largest AR platform in the world”.

The analysts have immediately considered this new platform as the definitive consecration of the AR technology for business. Apple did not show a dedicated app, but the ARKit - with its support for Unity, Unreal Engine and Scenekit - puts the AR at the heart of Apple's (and your) future.

In the 1990s, virtual reality (VR) was expensive. Smartphones made high-quality small screens, motion sensors and processors affordable, enabling the Oculus Rift to launch in 2012. In virtual reality, a virtual world replaces the physical reality.

VR immerses the user in a believable situation. Users can experience traveling the world, exploring space or seeing inside the human body. Touch elements like the floor sinking slightly as the user steps on virtual stairs add to the illusion.

Mixed reality” (MR) inserts virtual items into the physical world. Users can add virtual elements to a room or make parts of the room disappear.

Augmented reality” (AR) – what Google Glass offered before being terminated as a pioneer market experiment – is transparent and is layered on top of the natural world.

At its best, VR, AR and MR are highly social. People can play with objects together, enjoying a compelling shared environment. Some systems also map and save their surroundings, allowing users in different locations to meet in a virtual version of a real place. On the downside, users can find them overwhelming and need a rest after some time of virtual activity.

In the next 15 years, VR, MR, and AR are likely to become part of everyone’s working and recreational lives (Apple officially praised the success of Pokémon Go), and of our relationship with brands. In 10 years mixed-reality technology will be used as much as, if not more than, smartphones.

Wearable screens will replace physical monitors, and, as it happened with the smartphone, the more popular this technology become, the faster it will grow. No matter which company gets there first, virtual reality technologies are set to have a real impact on people’s lives.

Among the initial steps of this path, Apple announced yesterday its tool ARKit, which will provide advanced augmented reality capabilities on iOS. It is supposed to allow for “fast and stable motion tracking” that makes objects look like they are being placed in real space, instead of simply hovering over it.

On stage, Apple showed off a very basic implementation of ARKit: you can map the flat surface of a table and place a teacup on it with realistic perspective, drawing information from an iPhone or iPad’s sensors and cameras.

However, as a marketer, you can make much more complex experiences: imagine allowing your customers to see your products in their home before buying them. Or, if you are a luxury goods maker, show how they would be wearing your accessory. Or, if you are a car maker, dream your dream car in their box. And share their experience on all social networks. 

Note: to this purpose, Neosperience Cloud already incorporates ARKit capabilities in the upcoming Summer '17 release, to the benefit of all our customers.

As also shown by Facebook during the last F8 Conference, the Customer Experience will soon become the new currency in VR/AR/MR. This shift from the creation, transmission, and consumption of content to the creation, transmission, and consumption of customer experience will define a whole new approach to branding and product marketing. 

Now it is your turn to make the world a better place for customers and brands. How do you think it is most effective to use this innovation in your marketing and sales activities?

 

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Topics: Augmented reality customer engagement Digital Customer Experience

Retail Apocalypse - How Technology Will Help You Survive

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It’s the end of the world as we know it.” Well, at least for retailers. Today, they have to face their toughest challenge ever: Reinvent their identity, innovate their business and try to survive the Retail Apocalypse.

Easier said than done, at least judging from the rash of closings and business failures. Apparently, thousands of brick-and-mortars are shutting down, and foot traffic to retail stores is sagging. The only way to escape the fate is to tackle head on the underlying causes of the ‘Zombie Mall’ situation.

The term ‘Retail Apocalypse’ comes from the United Stated, where it began gaining widespread usage in 2016, following the closing of a vast number of American retail stores. Where are all these customers going?

Overall, over 4,000 physical stores are affected as American consumers shift their purchasing habits due to various factors.” (Wikipedia) This shift has brought to multiple announcements of plans to either discontinue or significantly scale back a retail presence.

Of course, the seeds of what we are living today were planted many years ago. At the same time, some countries have more obvious symptoms (the US, for example, where stores per capita far outnumber that of any other country).

A quick look at this chart published on Business Insider makes the idea of what is going on in this beginning of 2017:

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To tell the truth, not all analysts agree to believe this situation is so dramatic. In a recent article published by Forbes, the retail and tech analyst Paula Rosenblum states that there are at least five reasons why the ‘retail apocalypse’ is a click bait, a false scare story.

But is it? Honestly, there is one fact that none can deny (but many retailers still understate): the behaviors of customers have deeply changed in the last decade, and this evolution was driven by the technological innovation (mobile and connected devices, social networks, artificial intelligence).

With ‘behaviors’ we mean: How they search for information about services and products; how they connect with the physical and digital presence of a brand; how they compare the different solutions; how and where they finally purchase the product they have chosen.

Different behaviors demand different approaches. While the customers evolve, however, the retail brands often can not keep up with the change. To quote a post by Brian Solis, “The concept of future retail is constantly evolving. But what is not evolving as quickly is the understanding and widespread experimentation to bring the future to life today.

The disruption of retail brings with it a critical corollary: What really matters is not what you do but how you do it. It is not the new fancy technology that you think can save your business with a snap, but how you implement that technology in the complex of activities that define your retail customer experience.

In the era of Digital Darwinism, when you stand in front of a new business challenge, you have three choices:

  • Ignore the evolution and condemn yourself to the irrelevance (Business as usual).
  • Wait to understand what others are doing and what are the real benefits (Business for the moment).
  • Take advantage of the wave of disruption to face not only what is happening on the outside, but also what is not happening on the inside (Business for the future).

The majority of retail companies usually fall into the first two categories. They do not feel the urge to change a strategy that has so long proved effective; they are scared of the investments needed to move to the new approaches; they do not recognize an ROI hidden behind the digital transformation.

Unfortunately, the hard truth is that inaction always leads to irrelevance. For each brand that fails there is another brand that gets the spotlight. The competition is tougher than ever, and the race to success is mostly a competition for relevance.

Competing solely on products, price or features is not sufficient to gain a competitive edge. The new rules of engagement demand that you invest and work to reinvent your identity - starting from the physical store - and deliver a memorable and unique customer experience, online and offline.

How can you do it? Brian Solis (again) gave a significant speech a couple of months ago, talking about the ways for retailers to survive the apocalypse. The first step is to adopt a (new) human perspective and compete for customer experience, the main differentiator in the digital era.

We want to leave you with the video of that speech, not before pointing out the element that we consider the most critical: Invest in the trust economy, be transparent, and earn reciprocity through the facilitation of open engagement and commerce. 

 

 

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Topics: customer engagement Customer Journey Retail Mobile

F8 2017 - Facebook And The Augmented Reality Platform [VIDEO]

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Today at our F8 developer conference, we're making the camera the first augmented reality platform.” With these promising words, Mark Zuckerberg opened the annual F8 conference in San Jose, California.

Year after year, the meeting has gradually lost its ‘developers only’ nature, to become a mainstream event where Facebook presents the new products that will - eventually - change the life of millions around the world.

CEO Zuckerberg spent almost 20 minutes outlining Facebook’s augmented reality platform, a new way for developers to build features into Facebook’s built-in camera, and a new way for users to create communities and share their experiences with friends and family.

On the developer’s side, the Camera Effects platform has two main tools:

  • Frames Studio, a sort of online creative editor to build frames that will be used with the Facebook Camera;
  • AR Studio (still in beta), an editor to develop layers, scripts, animations to be used with augmented reality through the camera.

The augmented reality has gained momentum during 2016 thank to the enormous, and somewhat unexpected, success of Pokémon Go. Blending augmented features with the power of the virtual reality technology, Facebook has developed a new world called Spaces, where users can create an avatar, then meet up with others in a digital world.

We're all about extending the physical world online - says Mark Zuckerberg in a post on his Facebook profile - When you become friends with someone or become part of a community on Facebook, your real relationships and physical communities become stronger. AR is going to help us mix the digital and the physical in new ways, and make our physical lives better. That's why it's so important, and this is just the beginning.

What they have in mind is a new frontier in the engagement through VR technology; an effort to turn something that has been perceived as a ‘solitary’ activity into a community activity. Pokémon Go tried the same thing, transforming a ‘static’ mobile app game into ‘moving game’ dynamics.

The potential of this new approach is endless, but the result resembles - at least now - a Second Life upgraded with virtual reality headsets. We will have to wait and see what kind of AR and VR tools the developers will build using the open platform. What we already know is that the camera of our smartphone has become the cornerstone of the customer experience.

The first day of the F8 2017 was not only about augmented reality. The AR platform was the highlight, but there were two other major announcements: the chatbot discovery tools, and the open platform to improve collaborative company work.

The first one aims at offering the easiest way to find bots. Facebook Messenger has tens of thousands of bots on its platform, so Messenger is launching a dedicated discovery tab and new QR codes that bring users directly into conversation with a bot.

The second one is Facebook Workplace: Facebook launched the enterprise version the social network last fall. The big news is that now Workplace has different enterprise partners, like Microsoft and Salesforce, to create a complete suite for coworkers to share and organize files.

If you want to discover everything that was announced at the F8 2017, here is the entire streaming video of the first day of the conference.

 

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Topics: customer engagement Facebook Mobile