“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.

Today’s Best PR and Marketing Executives Employ “Creatalitics”

“How do fevers in the human brain produce the dreams and visions that become transformed into blazes of insight?” The Creative Brain

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When I was in college, I was proud to be studying at a University that had its PR program in the School of Business, resulting in a Bachelor of Science in Business degree. This was – and stills seems to be – a rarity in the field. Most PR and Marketing degrees are housed in the School of Communications and/or result in a Bachelor of Arts. In the past, this seemed to make sense for PR – it reflected the creative arts side of the field – writing, event planning, branding, messaging, etc. But today, with the explosion of analytics and data in the field, PR and Marketing executives have to think differently. They need to use both sides of their brain – the right, creative side and the left, analytical side. (Luckily, my degree prepared me for both before the market turned that direction.)

The creative side of the brain is still crucial to coming up with marketing strategies, branding and messages that appeal to people. We have to understand how to entice strong emotions that lead to action. Once that action is taken, we now have to use the right side of our brain to determine if that action resulted in value to our organization (or our clients’ organizations). Our creativity is crucial when it comes to content – we are in fact content creators and publishers in the day and age of social media. It takes fun, whimsy and innovative risk taking to create content that’s really going to stand out. But in order to truly create the best content, we need to use the right side of our brain to analyze how that content – if that content is working.

It’s not enough anymore to say “That was a really catchy headline” or “The logo is awesome” – or even to just write a creative pitch that gets a reporter’s attention. We now need to drill down and, after the reporter writes his or her article, analyze if the messages within drove the right interest. Was the article placed in the right outlet? Did the messages appeal to the right audience? What did they do as a result? Did they click through to our site? Did they buy? Why or why not?

This movement is also reflected in the banter about CIOs and CMOs battling for budget and suddenly sharing some tech responsibilities. CMOs are responsible for more data-driven decisions than in the past, and that includes managing the website’s content (which CIOs also need to make sure doesn’t then result in slower performance or other issues), and purchasing analytical software. As Dell chief information officer Andi Karaboutis recently told ZDNet, “Things for which I work together with Karen [the CMO]? Analytics, big data.”

And thus, today’s best PR and Marketing executives are what I’ve dubbed “Creatalitics” thinkers. They combine really creative and innovative ideas – those “dreams and visions” with data and analysis – the “blazes of insight” that tells them if their creations go beyond initial appeal and into the world of actionable value to the company’s bottom line. How are you using “creatalitics” in your PR or marketing position? If we can help you better undersatnd and merge this new way of thinking into your organization, let me know.

Exploring the Convergence of PR, Journalism and Marketing

Photo courtesy of Tech Cocktail

Photo courtesy of Tech Cocktail

PR practitioners used to have it easy! Remember the good ‘ol days when it was all about our media relationships and campaigns were linear, like this?

  • Step 1: Work with client on strategy; get content.
  • Step 2: Pitch content to media; get placement.

Ok, that’s simplifying things quite a bit, but you know what we mean.

Now, though, the entire landscape has changed with the explosion of the Internet, which has removed virtually all barriers to publication. Suddenly we’re responsible not only for the message, but also the mode and the medium, which follows more of a vicious cycle:

  • Step 1: Coordinate with client on strategy.
  • Step 2: Create actual content, which could be anything from case studies and white papers to blogs, eBooks, guides and all kinds of other collateral.
  • Step 3: Publish content, which runs the gamut from media placements, company blog posts, contributed articles, events and more.
  • Step 4: Promote content via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.
  • Step 5: Interact with community on various platforms, reacting, responding and re-adjusting your course, as needed.
  • Step 6: Start from the beginning and do it all over again!

Software Advice‘s article on The B2B Marketing Mentor does a great job of explaining the creation and importance of this new kind of role that merges marketing, PR and journalism functions.

In an nutshell, since we now play a larger part in the production of content (journalism), we’re no longer simply pitching and promoting it (PR), but are challenged to leverage it as a strategic tool for lead generation and brand awareness (marketing).

The only problem is that, well, everyone else is doing the same thing, which means it’s pretty noisy out there as we all compete for the time and attention of our audiences.

That’s where the shift to “inbound” comes in; it’s an offshoot of content marketing that focuses on aligning content with customer interest so that they are “pulled” toward your company, rather than the old-school spray-and-pray methods.

We’ve embraced this, both in theory and in action, with our clients. In fact, we recently attending the Inbound Marketing Summit in San Francisco and the Inbound Marketing Conference in Boston where we talked about how it’s not about being the loudest; it’s about having the right content for the right audience at the right time.

Put simply, the only way we can guarantee our clients are in the media nowadays it to help them become  the media. Content has become their new currency when attracting, engaging, converting and retaining customers.

Savvy PR professionals are embracing their status as content custodians. But the most successful ones will recognize the beauty in marketing’s ability to measure return and directly tie to their clients’ bottom line.

Persuasive Picks For Week Of 9/23/13

Social-Media-DoodlesNewsmakers in social marketing tend to be large companies, with big ad spends. Small and midsize companies can sometimes feel as though they’re at a relative disadvantage. MarketingProfs‘ Kerry O’Shea Gorgone speaks with IBM’s Ed Abrams on SMB Social Strategy and Content Marketing who explains the changing landscape, and offers tips for SMBs on social strategy, content marketing, and running a social business.

You have a great product, idea or service. You’ve invested in putting together a solid website. Social media marketing is important, so you have Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts – maybe even a Tumblr account too. You know social sharing is a key element of success online, but you want the results of your efforts to improve. Luke Chitwood of TheNextWeb says just follow The 10 commandments of social sharing and driving traffic to your website and you’ll engage with customers and draw traffic like never before.

alltwitter-klout-logoEveryone has influence, and Klout has made it their mission to tell each of us what that is. They accomplish this by using data from your social networks to gauge your Klout Score. And as your score increases, it becomes exponentially harder to increase your Klout. But there are things you can do to proactively boost your score and, more importantly, keep it as high as possible. AllTwitter Co-editor Shea Bennett posts a visual guide to help boost your score – 4 Tips To Increase Your Klout Score [INFOGRAPHIC].

As a small business, you may think it’s impossible to get the word out about what you do. Marketing doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most effective. Eric V. Holtzclaw, author and founder and CEO of Laddering Works, pens 10 Simple Marketing Tips for Small Businesses on Inc. to help get the word out about your business and watch it grow.