“Effective Executive” Series with Eric Newman, VP Products & Marketing, Digby

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We are pleased to share another insightful “Effective Executive” interview with Eric Newman, Vice President of Products & Marketing for Digby.  In this role, Eric Newman helps brands leverage the power of Localpoint, a cross channel marketing platform. During his 18-year career, Eric has ridden the cutting edge of a number of online revolutions at a successful startups, including Demand Media’s Pluck, Powered, IBM’s DataBeam, Ask Jeeve’s Direct Hit and Motive Corporation’s Question Technologies. He holds a M.B.A. from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University and a B.A. in Information Systems and Marketing from the University of Cincinnati.

Eric shared his thoughts on location-based marketing behavior and which loyalty programs top his list.  He also shared his insights with us on why Austin has become such a growing city for tech companies, especially start ups.

What’s the challenge in attaining a location-based marketing strategy?

Using time and place as a real-time trigger for marketing, engagement and customer service in brick and mortar locations adds a whole new dimension to an organization’s marketing and operational thinking – and therein lies the challenge.  It starts with figuring out how you want to react to a consumer’s entry into a store, or presence in a target neighborhood – notifying associates of the consumer’s entry or sending a visit-encouraging message to the consumer as examples.  From there, the retailers we work with are using that real-world event as a key juncture for mapping the consumer’s cross-channel history – understanding that they shopped on the ecommerce site last night and are likely entering the store to put their hands on the product before making the purchase.  That kind of omni-channel use is where location really shines as the link between the on and offline worlds, but it is also the most challenging for an organization to adopt when typically those worlds were organizationally separated in the past.

What have you seen over the last year in terms of measured success of a good location-based marketing strategy?

We have witnessed some amazing results.  While we cannot speak to specific customers’ performance metrics, we can talk about campaigns where 60+% of consumers in neighborhoods near a store opened a location-based announcement with push notification set up by the marketer and then in turn, visited the nearby store to redeem the offer.  We’ve seen social check-in campaigns through the retailer’s app generate astounding redemption rates as consumers walked into the store, received an offer and then shared the offer with their friends.

What are some of the best loyalty programs you’ve seen for customers?

As a marketer I really appreciate the Kohl’s cash program.  Giving consumers discounts they can apply against any product in a virtual cash format makes it easy to earn and easy to spend those points, but all within Kohl’s stores.

As a consumer, I like loyalty programs that offer something a little different as a loyalty reward.  Using earned loyalty points at a grocery like Randall’s to get a steep discount on gas at their fueling station is significant enough to actually spur conversation about it at the family dinner table.  Any time you can get someone teaching their children about a loyalty program, that’s longevity.

What’s your dream customer – i.e., who could use some improvement with Digby?

Location context as a trigger to more relevantly market and engage the consumer is not limited to one vertical or most appropriate for just one customer.  We see interest in Digby from brands in many sectors – from hospitality to dining and even sports franchises – anyone who has a physical place of business and would like to better engage their customers.  Interestingly, we learn new use cases for our technology with every potential customer we meet.  One of my favorite unexpected use cases was a convenience store chain that builds 50-100 stores a year.  That’s millions of dollars of real-estate investment where building on the wrong spot can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars of missed revenue.  In this case, the retailer wanted to identify locations where they were considering store development, and use the knowledge of how many of their app-holding, loyal customers drive by these various locations as a set of decision input into their real estate evaluation.

What’s the connection with mobile apps to successful in-store service?

There are so many use cases around customer service where awareness that the customer is at the store is so important.  For example, a fast food restaurant wants to allow consumers to order their burgers online for pickup in the restaurant.  Doesn’t sound all that complicated until you realize that a fast food sandwich has about a two minute shelf life under the heat lamps.  Get caught at a red light on the way to the store for pickup, and they have to start the order all over again.  Instead, the restaurant wants to use our Localpoint platform to know when the remote ordering customer has entered the parking lot and place the order into the queue at that moment – ensuring a burger ready to go with minimal waste.

Any predictions for 2014 in terms of marketing behavior, from a B to B or B to C standpoint?

Location is becoming white hot right now as organizations see the relevancy and depth it can add to their customer relationships, and the ROI it can drive in terms of incremental store visits, conversion and cart size growth.  Generally speaking, this technology applies best to the B to C experience, given the nature of shopping behavior where consumers visit malls, stores and other retail locations.

Weigh in on Austin and its growth in the tech world – how would you say Austin has changed over the year climate-wise for tech companies?

Austin is an incredible place for technology and has been for many years.  A startup community increases in velocity as it builds momentum with entrepreneurs at all organizational levels building startups and then facilitating the sale and integration of the startup into larger technology companies.  This creates a powerful secondary effect of drawing larger companies into Austin and then setting up the entrepreneur to make a run at their next big idea.  Austin has been doing this successfully for 20 years and has mature, fertile field of technology companies and startups spanning from the B to C space, like MapMyFitness who recently announced acquisition by UnderArmour, to B to B and even hardware solutions.  The whole city has adopted tech as a mainstay of the economy and culture and the tech companies fit right into the “Keep Austin Weird” message we are known for.

Have you gone to SXSW? What’s your experience or viewpoint on it as a value for organizations or evangelists?

SXSW is an amazing mix of digital technology, media, movies and music.  However, its meteoric growth has moved well beyond its roots as an interactive conference to an expansive showcase.  The biggest challenge is navigating the breadth of things you can do during the show, ranging from actually learning something in session, to hobnobbing with the digital elite, to immersing yourself in the non-stop party swirling around the event.  You need a SXSW plan of action before stepping foot into the show and sign up for the sessions you need as early as possible to ensure attendance.

Top marketing outlets you read?

Being all mobile, all the time, I spend most of my reading budget on sites like Mobile Commerce Daily and the Location Based Marketing Association.  I augment that with industry specific sites like Stores Magazine and Advertising Age.  As a technology product guy, I cannot live without Business Insider or our Forrester relationship, as industry analysts give a deep, cross-vendor view of the world that is hard to find from more traditional industry media publications.

Our Ode To KNOWvember

This month, we thought a lot about what we as a team are thankful for when it comes to our careers in digital marketing and PR. We are, of course, always thankful for our clients, industry colleagues and teammates. But we thought we’d also share what we’re grateful to have learned during our years in the industry – thus, what we know and what we know to say no to as marketers. Click on the infographic to read the details.

Happy KNOWvember!

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Tips For Working Through The Holiday Blahs

Thanksgiving week not only commemorates the pilgrims’ grateful celebration with their Native American neighbors, it also marks the unofficial start of the winter holiday season in the U.S. (including Hanukkah this year).

In most cases, this is the week when U.S. businesses begin rewarding employees with early release days and extra time off to enjoy the festivities.

Not surprisingly, it’s expected that productivity will suffer a bit over the next 35 or so days. But, we do still have jobs to do and work that must get done. The challenge is finding the energy and drive to work when all you want to do is hit the holiday eggnog and cozy up by a crackling fire.

ToDoAs virtual workers and PR pros to boot, we know a thing or two about working smart, so we’ve compiled a few tips to help you stay productive through the holidays:

  • Just say no to big projects – contrary to popular belief, this is not the best time to start in on a big project, especially one that requires collaboration with your colleagues who may be less present than usual. If you really feel the need to get started, though, focus on getting organized. Identify the people, tools and time you’ll need to deliver the best result. Communicate your needs and deadlines to collaborators as soon as possible and build in extra time to account for the holiday schedule.
  •  Plan for time off – whether it’s your own holiday vacation or your colleagues’, it’s important to communicate and plan for coverage and contingencies (weather delays, sickness, etc.). If you need help with an assignment, give your coworkers plenty of notice and information to accomplish the task in your absence.
  • Focus on work – with retailers’ propensity to pre-announce Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals well in advance of the actual sale dates, it’s easy to get sidetracked at work. But limit holiday shopping to personal time and focus your work hours on work. The days will fly by, and you’ll be showrooming before you know it.
  • Stack small tasks – rather than tackling that big project, now’s a great time to attend to smaller, less time-consuming (yet still important) tasks, such as updating your databases or writing a blog post. Get after that stack of small tasks, and you’ll soon be feeling much more merry and productive.
  • Get organized – As the end of the year approaches, spend some time organizing your workspace for success. Clean out your inbox, organize your files, archive old emails, toss old magazines and unsubscribe from unread or irrelevant newsletters.

Don’t let the glow of the holiday lights lure you to the dark side. Stay focused, and make the most of the season to catch up (and perhaps even get ahead) amidst all the holiday cheer. Then in January, when your colleagues are complaining about how far behind they are, you can relax a bit, knowing you rang in 2014 with a fresh start, a clean slate and a great attitude!

Happy Dictionary Day!

Ok, so there may not be presents, fireworks or candy to mark the occasion, but we can assure you that lexicographers across the country are certainly celebrating today. (Don’t know what a “lexicographer” is? There’s no better way to partake in this unofficial holiday than to break out your dictionary!)

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Why? Noah Webster, otherwise known as the “father of the American dictionary,” was born today in 1758. Fun fact: It took him 27 years to complete his first dictionary in the English language!

But rather than break out our dusty books in honor of the event, we thought we’d pay homage by talking about what’s inside them, as that’s the true impetus behind this annual observance.

See, as PR professionals, we rely on the word (both written and spoken) daily. Just as Edward Bulwer-Lytton said in 1839, “The pen is mightier than the sword,” we, too, know the power of words and their ability to inform, inspire and even incite action.

Whether we’re writing a pitch, press release or bylined article, we’re constantly aware of the words we choose – and how their tone and meaning will be interpreted. In fact, as we’re creating and circulating information on behalf of our clients, we strive to stay adept at striking a balance between keeping the messaging consistent and the language fresh.

So take a few moments today to open or click onto a dictionary, and peruse a few new words to add to your vocabulary. If you’re in need of some inspiration, go to www.worldwidewords.org, or check out our infographic above, which highlights a few of our personal favorites. We’d also be remiss if we didn’t include a few words from Mark Twain, a man who had a definite way with them:

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

The lesson here for us PR folks? Words are the building blocks for success, as they can help you communicate more clearly, yield better results and separate yourself and your clients from the competition. Use them wisely!