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Tagged: engagement

Email Analytics: Dig Deeper to Uncover Customer Insights

December 7, 2016

email analytics reporting tells you more than just opens and clicks.The line between customer experience management (CEM or CXM) and traditional marketing responsibilities has been blurred, and email is a great example. Email campaigns need not be just about generating business or converting sales. They’re also a useful platform for building and continuing customer relationships. Email analytics tell you a lot about how customers are receiving and reacting to your messages.

Email analytics 101: The basic measures of the success of an email marketing campaign include Opens, Clicks, Bounces, and Unsubscribes. Email marketing software records these types of reader behavior within a customer relationship management (CRM) database. The level of detail of the data collected will vary from provider to provider – for example, what device or operating system your readers are using. From within that CRM tool, you can generate reports and track trends in each rate over time. That said…

Email analytics tell you more about your customers than their email reading habits.

You just have to know where to look.

What links are customers clicking on?

What topics, subjects, or messages are getting the most attention? Where are they positioned within your template design? How were they presented – as text, as images or icons (e.g. a button)? These small but significant factors can all have an impact on engagement.

With this information, you can: tailor the content and/or design of future campaigns to best match your customers’ interests and visual preferences.

Who are your most frequent openers and clickers?

Are they current customers, or prospects? How did they get on your list? Did they sign up voluntarily, or were they added automatically through another process? Pay attention to infrequent engagement, too – whose name is new since last time you sent a campaign? And who never opens or clicks – do they belong on this list, or is their information out of date?

With this information, you can: follow up with more personalized messages targeted at your most engaged subscribers, and make adjustments to your list-building strategy, including cleaning outdated or inactive subscribers.

When are your customers reading and engaging?

Typically, open and click engagement rates spike in the first few hours after a campaign is delivered. Some internet users still jump at every incoming notification or try to keep their inboxes clear of unread messages. But if you are varying your delivery times (as you should be), you may see that timing makes a difference. Review the timestamps on opens and clicks to see when your readers are most likely to open, and whether they click through immediately, or come back to the message later.

With this information, you can: optimize the timing of your regular campaigns for when users are most likely to engage. You may even be surprised by what you find; it may seem counterintuitive to send emails on a Sunday night, but if the analytics support it, go for it!

Was there a sudden spike in a given metric?

Outliers – campaigns that defy your typical averages or medians – are worth your attention. A spike in Opens could indicate that you hit the sweet spot with your subject line. Spikes in Clicks can reveal a hot topic or an effective graphic. A bump in Bounces is a red flag that your list needs some cleaning up, while high Unsubscribes warn that something you did got under your customers’ skin.

With this information, you can: optimize future subject lines and inside content in favor of the tactics that produced the spike – unless you’re talking Unsubscribes – and clean your list so that the next delivery only goes to valid subscribers.

PRO TIP: Some email marketing providers ask Unsubscribers to indicate the reason they’re opting out before their contact information is deactivated. Use this information!

Have you tried an A/B split test?

A split test is a great way to gauge the effectiveness of different email techniques. This involves splitting your list into two (or more) groups, each of which gets a different version of the same message.

With this information, you can: learn which variables – subject lines, template design, inside content, special offers – get your subscribers’ attention, and apply that learning to future campaigns.

PRO TIP: This works best with very large lists; if you have fewer than 500 contacts, it’s harder to get statistically significant results.

Where did customers go after clicking through?

Click-throughs might be the most valuable action a customer can take from an email, but that’s just the start. Ideally, the content they landed on will keep them engaged for a while. After a campaign is delivered, check your website analytics and follow the trail of breadcrumbs. (Again, your mileage will vary depending on the sophistication of your website analytic tools.)  

With this information, you can: make improvements to the landing spots linked to from your emails to pull customers further down the funnel or encourage them to take a desired action.

Bottom line: Email marketing is not a “set it and forget it” endeavor.

There’s a time and a place for automation in your customer communications. But if you are running email campaigns, why not use the email analytics they produce to learn more about your customers?

Data is at the core of CSP’s services, practices, and philosophy. We can’t emphasize this enough: analytics are only as powerful as what you do with them. In this age of Big Data, knowing how to use the infinite information at your fingertips makes all the difference.


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The 4 Pillars of a Customer-Engaging Email Marketing Strategy

November 30, 2016

4 pillars of customer engaging email marketing strategyOf the many communications channels that weave together to form an omnichannel customer experience strategy, email continues to be relevant and valuable. Email marketing isn’t just about marketing; it’s a way of maintaining your customer relationships in between more direct touchpoints, like transactions and customer service calls. Like social media, email reaches people where they already spend time – in their inboxes.

But just like any other tool, it all comes down to how you use it. Email marketing is a blank canvas, and there are many ways to go about creating campaigns that help you meet your goals. These four fundamental practices will create the foundation for engaging customers with email content.

1 – Great engagement comes from great content.

Content is hands-down the most important factor in getting customers to engage. In the email marketing world, “engagement” translates to Opens and Click-throughs. Great content is what compels each behavior, followed by the design and presentation of the content. So if you’re going to have an email marketing campaign in play, build it on a foundation of excellent content.

Content is an umbrella term that describes a variety of media that can populate emails. Blog posts, articles, whitepapers, e-books, infographics, video, audio, Tweets, copy/text, and photos are all different kinds of content at your disposal. And it’s a good idea to use as many as you can, especially those that are visual: content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images [source]. 

2 – Prioritize content that is mobile-friendly.

More and more of the digital world is revolving around mobile devices, and email is no exception. At the time of this writing, two thirds of emails are being opened on mobile devices (emphasis on smartphones), compared to desktop email usage. But on the back end, most email campaigns are being designed and run from desktop computers. Template design, list management, and campaign delivery are all easier to achieve on a full-screen device.

Don’t become mobile-blind. When you’re ready to test an email template, make sure you’re viewing it on a mobile phone as well as your computer. You can recruit others in the office who have different devices (for example, Apple vs. Android operating systems) to make sure your content and template design translates well across platforms. And make sure the content you are linking to from your emails is also mobile-friendly. A sales landing page, a blog post, or a document download have no value to a customer who can’t view them easily and clearly.

3 – Try to balance predictability and surprise with your content.

It’s a good idea to be consistent with your email delivery: consistent timing, consistent quality, and consistent design. Customers should have some idea of what they can expect when a new email from you lands in their inbox. If you create an expectation of content that provides value, not purchase pressure, customers will continue to open your messages and engage with that content. Regular quality content also means they’ll be more accepting of the occasional hard sell or special offer, and not feel they’re being spammed or pressured.

But within this context of consistency, there’s also room to try new things or mix up your approach.

  • Vary your header images. Put unique imagery at the top of each message, along with a compelling headline, to grab customers’ attention.
  • Vary your format. Are you delivering a monthly newsletter featuring several recent blog posts? Next time, try just featuring one meaty, valuable post and letting it be the star of the show. Or try different things with your subject lines, like questions, humor, provocative statements.
  • Vary your timing. If you regularly deliver your campaigns at the same time every week or month, try throwing in a one-time message that lands on a Sunday evening, for example. Ideally this message should look a little different than your usual content (see above). The break in routine can catch the attention of readers who have gotten used to a certain pattern.
4 – Make sure you are complying with spam regulations.

What does this have to do with customer engagement? Well, if you run an email program that isn’t compliant with regulations, you soon won’t have an email program to run. Customers can and do report unwanted, bothersome, or low-value emails as spam. These complaints have weight: email service providers use the reports to hone their spam filtering software. Bad behavior can get you “blacklisted,” and there’s little you can do about that once it happens.

The regulations you need to be familiar with are covered by the federal CAN-SPAM Act, which oversees commercial email communications. Technology makes it very easy, and thus very tempting, to do the exact things that CAN-SPAM prohibits – intentionally or accidentally. However, if you are found to be in violation of these rules, the penalties are hefty: you can be fined per email that you send, so the bigger your list, the more you risk.

 

These tips cover the “Before” and “During” stages of running an email marketing program. The “After” stage – how to make sense of, and make use of, your email marketing analytics – is covered in detail here. Don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter for regular updates, or visit the CSP.com homepage (and scroll down just a little) to sign up for our monthly email newsletter!


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5 Compelling Reasons to Measure Employee Engagement

March 2, 2016

The ongoing cycle of customer experience success is comprised of four main influencers: Employees, Customers, Management, and Data. In this series, CSP examines the Employee segment of that cycle and the benefits of focusing on internal culture to drive success.

Understanding Employee Engagement

As defined by the Corporate Leadership Council, “Engagement is the extent to which employees commit to something or someone in their organization and how hard they work and how long they stay as a result of that commitment.”

Engagement is all about intentionally creating a motivating workplace environment, while simultaneously aligning individual employee talents with business strategy. Employees engaged in their work are likely to be motivated, to work with passion, to remain committed to their employer, and to stay focused on achieving business goals and driving the organization’s future.

Why It’s Important to Measure Employee Engagement

1 – Employee engagement directly correlates with performance and business results

No business can expect to grow and achieve sustainable success without an engaged workforce. This is especially true as it applies to customer service and satisfaction. Customer experience is nurtured from the inside out, and relies on competent, well-trained, and highly motivated employees. Sure, you may deliver annual performance reviews and objectives, but that’s only scratching the surface of the overall success of your team.

2 – Being a ‘Great Place to Work’ attracts top talent

A company’s reputation as an employer is one factor determining the quality of applicants for open positions, be they external or internal applicants. Being a great place to work is not just about bragging rights and publicity, it demonstrates to potential candidates (not to mention customers and the general public) that you are doing the all the right things to keep your employees feeling fulfilled. Any worthy candidate will see this as extra incentive to join your team. It may even attract them away from competitors with similar openings available.

3 – Engaged employees are emotionally invested

Your contract with your employees goes beyond tangible benefits like compensation and benefits. How employees feel about their jobs – their managers, their workload and hours, the company’s mission and the quality of the product or service – makes the difference between a job that looks good on paper and one that is satisfying in practice. Employees who are emotionally invested in the company’s success are among your greatest assets.   

CostofReplacing4 – High engagement reduces employee churn

The highest-engaged employees are the least likely to look for or take other employment opportunities that come their way. Naturally, it follows that those who are the least engaged are also the least committed to staying on the team. Not only is it costly to regularly lose employees and have to replace them, voluntary departures affect the morale of the rest of the team.

5 – Engagement can’t be ‘felt,’ it must be measured

While a manager may have a sense of who the most and least engaged members of the team are, many employees will fall somewhere in the invisible middle. These employees are susceptible to being swayed in either direction. Improving individual and overall engagement is only achievable if you know the baseline from which you’re working. Employee engagement metrics take many of the intangible motivators of performance success and make them tangible, visible, and trackable. That’s an essential step for setting goals and implementing internal initiatives to improve engagement.

More posts on internal culture and employee engagement:

The Three Essential Steps to Engaging Customers

November 13, 2015

Customer engagement is a highly coveted measurement of a business’s customer experience. Knowing whether your customers feel engaged by your brand and employees, and which specific measures affect that sense of engagement, can reveal opportunities to build better relationships with your customers.

The goal of generating engagement has driven creative thinking in recent years as businesses look for the secret to getting and holding their customers’ attention. Much of the current conversation centers around social media and mobile devices in the endless race for more followers, likes, clicks, and shares.

While social & mobile strategies are certainly important, don’t lose sight of the basics amid all the chatter. Customer engagement on any platform starts with three key steps: watching, listening, and sharing.

WATCHING

In any interaction, a customer can reveal something about himself or herself that becomes an opportunity to engage in a conversation. Customer-facing employees should be encouraged to look out for such opportunities. Clothing or accessories might reveal if the customer is a fan of a particular sports team or musician, or a graduate of a local university. A parent or grandparent with a small child along with them may appreciate it if you engage the child – “Who’s the handsome little guy you have with you today?”

LISTENING

Just like watching, listening may give you a clue about a customer’s wants or needs that haven’t been covered yet. This applies to in-person interactions as well as over the phone or via text (like email or web chat interfaces). The most important part: being attentive. A customer can tell if the employee’s attention is divided or his/her interest is inauthentic and scripted – in other words, if they’re not being listened to.

SHARING

Conversation is, of course, a two-way street. In addition to engaging the customer with questions about him or herself, you can also use the opportunity to present information about your business, products, or services.

For example, if you know a particular customer to be a dog lover, you might mention that your business is participating in a fundraiser for a local animal shelter or cause. This is why it’s so important to be attentive in the other parts of this cycle: the more information you remember about each customer, the more the relationship can grow over time.

THE CASE FOR DISCRETIONsign-1238534-640x360

There are a few shadowy side-effects to the pursuit of engagement. It’s certainly possible to draw the wrong conclusion from a verbal or nonverbal context clue. A rep might say something potentially awkward, confusing, or in the worst case, offensive. Additionally, not every customer is going to be in the mood to participate in small talk at every interaction.

Similarly, not every customer is going to welcome the idea that your business is somehow following their personal lives, whether from their digital data or from in-person interactions. If they feel like you know things you shouldn’t know, or are disseminating information about them across the company “behind their back,” they might feel you’ve crossed the line from engagement to intrusion.

But playing it safe by avoiding Watching, Listening, and Sharing opportunities is not a way to build customer engagement. Skill, training, and practice can equip you with a service & sales staff who engage customers with grace and ease, even if a slip-up happens.

 

CSP has many resources available for training your employees to engage customers effectively and graciously, including our customized employee training services and our STARS library of exercises, articles, and activities. Contact us or call (800) 841-7954 ext:101 to talk about your customer engagement goals and questions.

How a Good Customer Experience Trickles Up to Your Employees

May 14, 2015

Employee engagement is a critical component to a satisfying customer experience. Employees who believe in what they’re doing and in the company they’re serving are likely to provide better service, and lead to better relationships with customers and higher satisfaction.

Companies spend millions per year on surveys, programs, and initiatives to support employee engagement. In evaluating this expense, the focus is often on the end results and bottom-line benefits of highly engaged employees:

  • person-621045_640Companies with high engagement see significantly lower absenteeism and turnover than those with low engagement. Those same top performers also showed 22% higher profitability and 10% higher customer ratings. (Gallup, 2012)
  • 91% of highly engaged employees always or almost always try their hardest at work, compared with 67% of disengaged employees (Temkin Group)
  • Engaged companies grow profits up to three times faster than their competitors. (Corporate Leadership Council)

When employees are engaged in the mission of the business and feel they are being treated well, they will put forth more discretionary effort – that is, go above and beyond, stay to finish tasks beyond the end of the workday, and invest more of their talents and energies into helping the company succeed. That investment of discretionary effort is what most employee engagement tools are measuring.

The themes of employee engagement have been the same for years: productivity and the costs of wasted labor, attracting and retaining the top talent in the industry, improving workplace morale and teamwork, and the quality of service to customers. To affect engagement, companies often focus on the benefits and perks they can provide to employees, and a workplace culture that encourages and rewards high-performing workers. It’s an inside-out look at the issue based on the assumption that employee engagement is the source point of positive business outcomes.

But the inverse is also true. Strong business outcomes lead to strong employee engagement.

Businesses charge their employees with carrying forward their vision for customer service and satisfaction, and when they succeed, that positive customer experience trickles back up to the employees, their managers, and even to senior leadership.

Customer service isn’t always easy, fun, or pleasant, but it serves a purpose. And purpose is one of the four key factors to employee engagement, according to a New York Times/Harvard Business Review survey of 12,000 employees in various industries:

Employees who derive meaning and significance from their work were more than three times as likely to stay with their organizations — the highest single impact of any variable in our survey. These employees also reported 1.7 times higher job satisfaction and they were 1.4 times more engaged at work.

A single positive interaction can make a customer’s day, and an overall satisfying experience will increase their likelihood to tell others about your company. The same applies to employees, who are more likely to describe your business as a great place to work and encourage others to apply for a position there, if they’re regularly involved in positive interactions with satisfied customers.

The Takeaway

Serving the customer and striving to improve their experience gives employees a sense of purpose – something we can relate to at CSP, naturally. By investing in the customer experience and integrating the voice of the customer, a company can take advantage of the feedback loop between customers and employees and provide a happier, more productive workplace.

Treat Every Impression As a First Impression to Build Loyalty

March 18, 2015

Common wisdom holds that you only get one chance at a first impression, the best opportunity to influence on a person’s overall opinion than anything that follows.

Yes, it’s true that a first impression can only happen once. But first impressions are also happening all the time. Every interaction between a business and a customer begins with an opportunity to set the customer’s expectation of their experience.

shaking hands on a first impression can impact loyaltyWhether for a brand new audience or with longtime returning customers, the first few moments of any encounter with your business impacts their sense of satisfaction and likelihood to remain loyal.

Simple friendly gestures and a professional attitude may seem like small things, but they can make a big difference on the front lines of customer service. Customer-facing personnel get dozens of opportunities a day to put these principles into practice, but it doesn’t fall only on their shoulders. It’s the top-to-bottom culture of a business, down to the individual workplace, that supports a superior customer experience at every touch point.

Not every first impression happens face-to-face, of course. These days, a business’s digital presence creates even more touch points. Every visit to your website, social network profiles, and mobile site or app, and every email or SMS message you deliver to your audience, is another opportunity for a first impression.

Customers care as much about useful and attractive website or app design, and polite, engaging behavior on social media, as they do about the behavior of a customer service rep. This is where customer experience and user experience overlap.

Whether considering a personal interaction or a digital one, the same fundamental rules of first impressions apply:

  • Be polite and courteous. Etiquette may have evolved over the years, but basic good manners still matter. Don’t underestimate the importance of Please and Thank You.
  • Be friendly, from the heart. Trust your customers to be able to spot the difference between parroted or forced friendliness and genuine interest. Even a scripted response delivered in a pleasant tone of voice can create a smoother experience.
  • Be timely. Make it clear you are ready, willing, and able to help. In the age of instant on-demand gratification, customers don’t like to be kept waiting for a resolution or be given the run-around between different resources and personnel.
  • Be thoughtful and considerate. Empathize with customers and strive to anticipate their needs and accommodate their challenges. This goes double for customers who are bringing a complaint to your attention.
  • Use the customer’s name – for in-person and phone greetings, when interacting with them on social media, and with custom fields on your website and email templates. “Dear Customer” could be anyone.

The customer experience is a journey, and every step along that journey contributes to long-term loyalty and satisfaction. So treat every step like it’s the first.

For more information about CSP’s customer experience strategies and the programs we build to support them, contact us today by phone at (402) 399-8790 ext:101, via our website, or on Twitter @csprofiles