Is Knowing the Marketing Source of Your Phone Calls Good Enough?

A simple answer to a complex question. 

A simple answer to a complex question. 

 

Knowing The Marketing Source Of Your Phone Calls Is Not Good Enough

Companies investing in lead generation Internet marketing frequently (and surprisingly) fail to track phone conversions, since Google Analytics and other backend website management platforms don’t support it.

But even companies that have set up phone tracking, to determine the marketing source of the phone conversion (SEO, PPC, etc.), are still missing a crucial piece of the puzzle: Lead validation.

Lead validation is the process of listening to recordings of phone conversations and reading website form submissions to separate sales leads from non-leads. As you’ll see in the presentation below, The Critical Importance of Lead Validation in Internet Marketing, validation makes all the difference in the world because about half of all conversions are NOT leads.

The culling of non-leads from campaign data and campaign testing has enormous implications on lead production and marketing ROI. Read the presentation now:

Aaron Wittersheim is an accomplished entrepreneur with more than 20 years of business and technology experience. He is a partner and COO at Straight North, a Chicago-based Internet marketing company.

Three Strategies for Call Center Optimization

Artist's rendering of Michael Cho dictating a blog post.

Artist's rendering of Michael Cho dictating a blog post.

Next Caller Philosopher-King Michael Cho was recently asked by Execs in the Know, a global network of customer experience professionals, to put together some thoughts for a guest blog post. You can read Michael's insight on optimizing the call center not only for excellent customer service, but also to increase revenue below:

Michael's Guest Post at Execs in the Know

How do you "Know Your Customer" in a B2B Environment?

 

By: David Schwartz

In our fast-paced world, the challenge of reaching customers in the most productive manner has become more and more interesting. Companies have looked to various customer relationship management (CRM) systems to increase their sales and retention. As a direct result of CRMs, many businesses have indeed managed to boost sales when it comes to direct-to-customer outreach.


Salesforce, the world’s largest CRM company, released the Lightning Partner Community cloud capability back in 2013. This cloud allows customers to access information on their account, as well as to make purchases directly.


For a long time, however, a major challenge has remained with regard to companies selling to companies (B2B). These customers, which are actually companies themselves, want to know more about the end-customer. In order to address this challenge, Salesforce recently introduced a new layer of Lightning Partner Community cloud.

In a recent article, Natalie Gagliordi discusses this new capabilities of the cloud. As Gagliordi explains, the layer will enable the B2B customers (i.e. the reseller) to access the same information as the original seller.

Perhaps this new development will allow the B2B sales process to become smoother, a much needed improvement in a constantly changing era.

6 Takeaways from the RoboCall StrikeForce

Yesterday, the FCC RoboCall StrikeForce presented their final report, actions, and recommendations. Next Caller Account Executive Tim Prugar sat in on the webcast, and here are his takeaways.

There are few greater pleasures in life than taking a seat in a cozy chair, slipping on some headphones, and watching an hour-long livestream of a government hearing. Yesterday, at 1:00 PM EST, that’s precisely what I got to do. Believe in yourself kids…dreams really do come true.

Before getting to the meat of the presentation, a solid recognition, admiration, and appreciation of the work that the StrikeForce members put in is in order. The StrikeForce was assembled in Late July, and over the course of 60 days the committee engaged in over 100 meetings, produced a 47 page report, and rolled out an aggressive timeline for continued action steps. From my estimation, this committee worked at blazing speed, and should be commended for that.

Now, onto my key takeaways:

 

1.     The FCC Has Fantastic Taste in Music

The waiting music the FCC plays on its website before the livestream kicks in? A soft jazz version of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”, inarguably one of the greatest songs ever recorded.

 

 

2.     Both the FCC and Carriers Will Focus on Increasing Consumer Information

 One of the largest tangible outputs of the StrikeForce was the launch of a brand new FCC website:

https://www.fcc.gov/stop-unwanted-calls

The site approaches RoboCalls from a perspective of lessening their impact. The site gives consumers information on what RoboCalls are, the legal regulations surrounding telemarketing, remedies that customers can take to protect themselves from RoboCalls, as well as a clearly identified place for lodging complaints.

As technical solutions are much more difficult and costly to build, look for both carriers and government actors to create better-educated consumers, particularly those consumers that fit demographics that are at-risk for phone fraud.

 

3.     VOIP Throws a Wrench in the System

 One of the trends that came up multiple times during the report is that any technical solution to be launched by Carriers to stop RoboCalls and Call Spoofing needs to be able to detect both calls that originate from traditional landlines as well as internet-based VOIP calls. AT&T stated explicitly that the majority of call spoofing originates through VOIP, so being able to analyze and detect these type of calls is of primary importance. Look for Carriers to heavily invest in R&D or vendor solutions that can analyze landline, mobile, and VOIP to detect spoofing…preferably real-time.

 

4.     Info-Sharing and Cooperation Among Carriers is a Must

One of the most celebrated outputs of the StrikeForce was the “Do Not Originate” (DNO) List. The DNO list, as documented here, allows organizations who do not make outbound calls displaying their inbound number (IRS, 911) to petition to have their number blocked by carriers when it displays as the outbound number. The IRS made written DNO Requests for a series of numbers, and reported a 90% reduction in reports of IRS scam calls following the deployment of a DNO.

To be fair, it’s unclear how much of that reduction was due to these raids in India, but it is still an impressive result.

A successful adoption of a national DNO Registry requires cooperation across Carriers. In addition, the StrikeForce made recommendations to increase sharing of information on “bad actors” across networks, effectively creating a “telecommunications profile” of a phone scammer. The committee also suggested creating “Call Categories” as an industry that will limit false positives when blocking spoofed or potentially fraudulent calls.

 

5.     The Government Has a Tolerance For False Positives

One of the largest concerns for Carriers when cracking down on RoboCalls and Call Spoofing is pretty straightforward: what are the legal and business ramifications for blocking flagged calls that are actually legitimate?

The FCC made it clear that, if Carriers are doing their due diligence and making a good faith effort when blocking calls, the FCC will push for “safe harbor” to protect Carriers from litigation, either criminal or civil.

As Commissioner Rosenworcel stated, “If you need to break things to get this done, just ask.” This was my second favorite quote of hers on the day, finishing slightly behind “I DON’T BELIEVE IN PARTICIPATION TROPHIES.” The FCC should hire Mike Gundy.

 

6.     The Carriers are Expected to Foot the Bill

check-splitting-etiquette_600x390-600x390.jpeg

So it’s easy to agree in theory that RoboCalls and Call Spoofing are bad. It’s even somewhat easy to agree on the technology that’s most effective for stopping said calls. Where things get tricky is identifying how, and who, exactly, will be paying for the R&D, technology, training, and deployment. Luckily, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler laid out the government’s position pretty clearly:

The Carriers will be expected to foot the bill, as stopping RoboCalls is “the cost of doing business” and falls under the umbrella of supplying a high-quality service.

It will be interesting to see what impact that stance will have on timelines, innovation, and deployment. 

The FCC vs. The Proliferation of Robocalling

 

By: ShirWan Little

 

Lets face it, few things are as annoying as answering the phone and being immediately greeted by a recording trying to lure you into handing over your credit card information. This increasingly common situation is a result of robocalling.  Currently, robocalling scams account for over $350 million in financial losses every year in the United States.  Moreover, the robocalling scourge has become the most common complaint that the FCC receives from the public. The “Do Not Call List” was created over ten years ago to resolve this very problem.  Unfortunately, the Do Not Call list has failed miserably at this goal. Let’s dive into why the DNC List fails to stop these fraudsters, why robocalling has become so popular and what the FCC is doing to try to stop it.

 

Do Not Call

At the creation of the “Do Not Call List,” the majority of robocalls were legitimate telemarketers selling real products.  Against those calls, the “Do Not Call List” has remained largely effective.  However, a lot has changed since the “Do Not Call List” went into effect in the early 2000s. In particular, the widespread availability of commercial Voice over Internet Protocol(VoIP) services.  The advancement of VoiP technology made international calling, and phone spoofing (falsifying caller ID information) very cheap.  Consequently, the majority of modern day robocalls blatantly ignore the “Do Not Call List” in attempts to commit fraud.

 

Tricking the Caller ID

Today, anyone with a laptop and an Internet connection can flood millions of phones with robocalls from any location in the world. Spoofing is perhaps the most nefarious aspect of this type of fraud; people are more likely to answer phone calls when seemingly legitimate organizations appear on caller ID. Furthermore, caller ID is often used to verify one's identity when gaining access to banks.  For that reason, robocalling scams rely heavily on phone spoofing. For instance, one of the more notable scams entails fraudsters masquerading as IRS officials and demanding immediate payment for overdue taxes.  Over the past two years this scam alone has cost taxpayers $31 million.

 

"Do Not Originate" vs. Do Not Call

In spite of these findings, many in the telecom industry have been hesitant to adopt solutions to stop robocalling, citing concerns that existing alternatives will inadvertently block a portion of legitimate calls. Nonetheless, the FCC has continued to urge these companies to take action.  FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler even wrote letters to the chief executives of the largest companies in the telecom industry asking them to produce solutions to reduce robocalls. Currently, all of the notable alternative solutions fall into 3 distinct methods; "Do Not Originate" list, Authentication/ Identity validation and filtering.

 

The “Do Not Originate” list, basically the opposite of the Do Not Call list, would stop robocalls at the VoIP gateways that connect VoIP calls to the traditional phone system.  While VoIP robocalls can be placed from anywhere in the world, all such calls pass through these gateways to enter the traditional circuit-switched phone lines.3 This list would allow commonly spoofed entities such as the IRS, FBI and banks to register their outbound numbers in a database. Calls from those numbers that originate from certain gateways would then raise red flags and most likely be blocked. Additionally, this approach can be implemented without any changes in telephony protocols and does not require cooperation of other phone carriers. Yet it still is no substitute for authentication.

 

Authentication and Filtering

Authentication is the most effective way to prevent spoofing. There are a few different ways to implement this methods, one of the more promising is through the use of third party APIs to analyze the meta data of callers.  Authentication is crucial to stopping robocallers from impersonating others and to facilitate effective filtration. The main drawback of this method is that it would most likely require the difficult task of gaining the cooperation of the major telecom companies to be successful.

 

Filtering works by checking each incoming call against a white list of trustworthy phone numbers or a black list of numbers you should reject. Although filtering can be very helpful in reducing robocalling it still has several drawbacks. Most notably, if there is nothing in place to stop spoofing, filtering can be easily circumvented by spoofing a new number.

 

A Cocktail Approach

In total, the three methods complement each other very well. Each of the methods does its part to reduce robocalling in a different way; if used in combination with one another, these methods could eliminate the current robocalling epidemic. The “Do Not Originate List” eliminates the ability to spoof high-profile numbers like the IRS.  Authentication makes fraudulent calls less likely to pay off by stopping robocallers from impersonating others. Filtering can help block all confirmed fraudsters.

3 Ways to Execute a Data-Driven Marketing Plan

by: David Schwartz

For every marketer in the world, the question that is often most prevalent is: “What next?” We have all this customer data, we sell certain types of products. What can be done to make the two connect? How can our offerings meet the needs of our customers, knowing what we know about our specific market?

In “How Marketers can use Data to Target and Connect, Intelligently,” Renzo DiPasquale sets out to solve the puzzle. He lays out three ways for a company to successfully create a marketing strategy that relies on the data readily available:

 

1. Get Personal.

First, DiPasquale suggests getting personal with customers. Creating content that fits a customer’s profile will make the customer happy to shop at your company. It will also ensure that the customer comes back to shop with your company in the future.

 

2. Go Mobile.

Next, DiPasquale urges companies to go mobile. It is absolutely crucial for companies to market to customers on their smartphone, particularly as shopping continues to move from brick and mortar to phone.

 

3. Get Educated. 

The final suggestion is possibly the most important: educate thyself. Learn what technology is out there that can help you improve your data. Possessing and utilizing the best marketing tools can often make or break a company.


In 2016, there is so much data available. The only question that remains is: how will companies use the data to ensure optimal customer experience and retention?

Next Caller Takes On LeadsCon NYC

This coming week, Next Caller will be attending the biggest conference in performance marketing and lead generation, LeadsCon...and it's right in our backyard!  If you are in New York and interested in learning more about our advanced customer intelligence and enriching leads, stop by our booth #332 in the Exhibition Hall.  Next Caller offers the most profound insights into your customers - over 50+ data points of contact, demographic, and home information - from an email address, phone number, or name and physical address.

We’re also delighted to extend an invitation to our Taste of New York Networking Reception in the Exhibition Hall on Tuesday, August 23rd, from 5-6 PM.  Come join us for a bottle of red and a bottle of white as you take in a true New York experience.  We’re looking forward to meeting you.

We're excited to partner with the LeadsCon Community, and to give visitors to our city an exhaustive list of things to do, places to eat, and subway directions!

Comprehensive LeadsCon information can be found here.

Get To Know Your Caller: The Power of the First 30 Seconds

Jenny is the Visitor Support Manager for DMV.ORG. With over a decade of customer service experience, Jenny has been recognized through social media channels as a thought leader. She is co-founder and a regular contributor on the Customer Service Life Blog (http://www.communciatebetterblog.com). She can often be found on the beach in San Diego, California.  Follow here on Twitter: jennysuedempsey

Jenny is the Visitor Support Manager for DMV.ORG. With over a decade of customer service experience, Jenny has been recognized through social media channels as a thought leader. She is co-founder and a regular contributor on the Customer Service Life Blog (http://www.communciatebetterblog.com). She can often be found on the beach in San Diego, California. 

Follow here on Twitter: jennysuedempsey

 

Ready...set...GO!

You have 30 quick seconds to make a million fast decisions.

First impressions about a company via customer service channels make lasting impressions to the customer and whoever the customer decides to share them with (friends, family, social media). When Sir Patrick Stewart waited 36 hours for his Time Warner Cable appointment he took his thoughts to Twitter on their initial customer support. It resulted in a media backlash that had the TW social media team on their toes.

In most cases, the single point of contact with a company is when they reach out to customer service.

How will you, mighty customer service representative, measure up to the clock?

 

1. Be Prepared

If you’re a customer service agent that is provided with a technology to pull customer data, such as a name, phone or account number, address, etc. on your computer screen before every call, consider your job made 10% easier. If you don’t, you still have the ability to do one simple thing: ASK. By referring to the customer by name throughout the entire call, as well as opening their account to read through any previous service notes, you are a step ahead of the game to kindling the fire on a great call.

 

2. Be Kind

You’re on the customer’s side. Your job is to have their back. When you answer the phone, are you answering in a tone that you’d use with your best friend? Setting and keeping a genuine and friendly tone during the conversation welcomes your customer to your company, starts to build trust and showcases your brand voice in a positive manner. Not only that, it will benefit the bottom line. According to JitBit, businesses lose upwards of $84 billion per year due to poor, untrustworthy customer service.

 

3. Be Purposeful

The customer called for a reason. They may voice their frustrations immediately, not caring about your kind voice or that you know their name. What actions do you take then? By listening to the customer speak and release their dissatisfaction, you can zoom in on what the larger issue is at stake. You can then hold the reigns to define the purpose of the call to keep things on track and help your customer get to their desired resolution.  

 

Here’s a Customer Service MadLib Style Script for you to act as a baseline on how to keep the empathy in your word choices when you may be challenged by a difficult customer:


[After listening quietly to customer on phone]

______________  thank you for sharing your experience with me. I completely understand why you feel   

(Customer Name)             

_______________.

(Customer Emotion)

I am disappointed that _____________ has happened. Our company takes ownership of this and apologize.        (Sum up customer story)    

My goal is to resolve this. I will _____________________ and I look forward to working with you!

             (Realistic Customer Expectations)

 

In a nutshell:

  • Be Prepared.

  • Be Kind.

  • Be Purposeful.

Write that down on a Post-It and stick it to your computer monitor, friends!


All of this happens within the first 30 seconds of the call. And the power is all in your hands.

The Perils of Omni-Channel and Social Media Marketing - A Philosopher's Look

A member of the Next Caller team, Zach Shaw holds a Philosophy degree from Princeton University with a certificate in Computer Science. Every so often, Zach shares his musings about the intersection of big data and technology with some age-old philosophical questions. 

 

In her recent book Reclaiming Conversation, Sherry Turkle explores the effects of our constant use of social media on our mobile devices.  Originally, the constant connection brought about by new technologies was seen as an extension of our personal identities.  However, as Turkle notes, there are many adverse effects from these information communication technologies (ICTs) - foremost the replacement of face-to-face communication by digital interaction.  People do not learn empathy through the use of social networks.  They learn how to get the most likes on their profiles.  Our self esteem is intimately linked with our popularity on such websites, and we'll do everything in our power to boost that popularity, including sacrificing an intimate conversation with a friend or family member.  Even when we are conversing face-to-face, our mobile devices make it possible for us to be 'alone together.'  We can be physically together with another person, but completely inattentive to them as a human being.  As a society this is a major development, and, in the eyes of Turkle, a major problem.  

 

Not lagging behind, the customer service space has adapted to such technologies.  We can tweet about our bad experience on an airline.  We can email the customer service department about our phone malfunctioning.  We can online chat with a representative about our order on Amazon.com.  Communication to address our concerns with a product or service has been extended by these ICTs; consequently, as customers, it is easier than ever to solve our problems.  Yet, when we really are frustrated we still resort to the phone.  

 

A customer service phone call is uniquely outside the grasp of distracting mobile technologies because both individuals on the call are focused on achieving the same goal: solving the customer's problem as quickly as possible.  You, the customer, want your concern addressed, and, until it is, you will give your undivided attention to the phone call.  Conversely, the representative will lose his or her job if not engaged.  So in this one case, the ability to have limitless distractions and data at your fingertips does not hinder the quality of your conversation.

 

Let's compare this to a typical conversation with a friend.  You both have several different goals.  You each want to improve your status on Facebook.  Maybe one of you wants some encouragement to work harder at your job from the conversation.  The other friend wants to talk about the latest gossip.  There is somewhat of a prisoner's dilemma here.  Because you both took the time to hang out, let's assume that you both enjoy hanging out more than going on Facebook.  Given that assumption, let's give the value of 1 happiness point to each of you for the action of going on Facebook, and the value of 5 for the other two activities of face-to-face conversation.  However, if you choose to go on Facebook, you are guaranteed 1 point whereas, if you choose to engage in the face-to-face conversation where you both are pursuing different goals, it is likely that one of you will not achieve your goal.

 

This analysis assumes that you cannot have a conversation where both your and your friend’s goal - in the example provided, encouragement and gossip - can be accomplished simultaneously.  Although they are not mutually exclusive, with the developments of technology and our need for immediate gratification, a conversation achieving both goals and yielding a ‘5/5’ level of happiness is becoming increasingly rare.  Moreover, there is the possibility that neither person’s goal is accomplished by staying engaged in the conversation, yielding a ‘0/0’ level of happiness.  This possibility gives further impetus to go on Facebook.

This analysis assumes that you cannot have a conversation where both your and your friend’s goal - in the example provided, encouragement and gossip - can be accomplished simultaneously.  Although they are not mutually exclusive, with the developments of technology and our need for immediate gratification, a conversation achieving both goals and yielding a ‘5/5’ level of happiness is becoming increasingly rare.  Moreover, there is the possibility that neither person’s goal is accomplished by staying engaged in the conversation, yielding a ‘0/0’ level of happiness.  This possibility gives further impetus to go on Facebook.

Even if you are very risk-averse, you would probably choose the conversation at first - that's why you both are hanging out.  But if the conversation starts to veer off course of your individual goal to another topic (I assume in my model your friend's goal instead), it is more beneficial for you to stop paying attention to the conversation and to go on Facebook.  If there is a more comfortable, egotistical alternative to genuine empathy, we will take it.  Therein lies the dilemma of being 'alone together.'

 

Conversely, returning to customer service calls, the conversation is actually improved by recently developed ICTs.  Certain technologies allow representatives to access demographic information about their customers which these representatives can use to better meet their customers' needs.  With new innovations like omni-channel integration, representatives can specialize their knowledge to specific products or services, and thus better achieve the joint goal of any customer service conversation: addressing the customer's concern.  Instead of destroying the quality of these conversations, new technologies are enabling better communication in the customer service space.  

 

In spite of the stigma arguments like Turkle’s have started to propagate against ICTs, customer service providers and call center professionals need to take advantage of these new technologies in order to maintain customer loyalty.  The average person’s patience is dwindling because of the immediate gratification these technologies have brought to us.  As a result, customer service needs to be better than ever before, and these new technologies are the only way to meet consumers’ rising expectations.  Without adapting to this changing landscape, customers will go on Facebook if they aren’t satisfied within a couple minutes - and choose a competitor.

 

Interested in more of Zach's philosophical musings? Contact the author - zach@nextcaller.com.

TCPA Compliance: What Spokeo Means for Robocalls and SMS Marketing

By: Ryan Cash (ryan@nextcaller.com)

 

Background

 In an earlier blog, we discussed the Spokeo v. Robins case, which sent Mr. Robins, tail between his legs, back to the Ninth Circuit to make a stronger case for how Spokeo violated his rights under FCRA. With his standing not established, there has been considerable debate on what this means for alleged TCPA violations moving forward. Would Spokeo make it incredibly difficult for new plaintiffs to establish harm from a TCPA violations? Got Warranty, Inc. is saying, “if only…”

 

Diana Mey v. Got Warranty, Inc.

Plaintiff Diana Mey is enacting a TCPA lawsuit against Got Warranty, Inc. for receiving unwanted “robocalls” to her personal cell phone from Got Warranty, when her number was on the Do Not Call registry. For those unfamiliar, a robocall is that annoying call you receive from a robot that I’m sure you hang up on the second you realize it’s not a real person. These are legal for specific purposes, like emergency notifications, but under TCPA, businesses cannot make these phone calls for non-emergency purposes to your cell phone without your expressed consent prior.

Got Warranty, Inc. filed a motion to dismiss the case under the same premise as Spokeo (see our earlier blog for further information), that the unwanted phone calls did not cause “concrete and particularized” harm. The court denied Got Warranty’s motion on the basis that the phone calls did in fact cause concrete harm. They assert tangible harm in two ways:

1)            For those who have prepaid cell phones and minutes, these calls waste those minutes and are thus a tangible monetary harm

2)            Robocalls deplete an individual’s phone battery, which costs money to charge, and can be cumulatively substantial.

They also assert intangible harms that can still qualify as “concrete,” which include an invasion of privacy, occupation of your personal cell phone, and wasting your time answering the phone.

 

Impact of Spokeo

 This ruling sheds some light on what Spokeo’s impact will be moving forward. As a reminder, the Spokeo “ruling” was merely a remand. In other words, it did not decide anything concrete (sorry for the bad pun), but merely required further justification to allege that a harm constitutes concrete injury and, therefore, a plaintiff has standing.

It was unclear what impact this decision by the Supreme Court would have on other similarly situated cases (especially in the realm of TCPA), but as this court notes, the Supreme Court “issued a narrow ruling” so the Ninth Circuit could “conduct a proper analysis.” In this court’s view, the unwanted phone calls did cause concrete harm for the aforementioned reasons. In other words, the Supreme Court’s analysis in Spokeo had no bearing on the analysis of this particular situation. In layman’s terms, other courts are free to interpret concrete harm how they see fit for new cases that arise.

 

FCRA v. TCPA

Spokeo v. Robins dealt with an alleged infraction of FCRA. The claim that was that misinformation about Robins’ personal information materially impacted his job prospects. In my view, Robins came from a more difficult position to establish concrete harm and thus standing. How many different things can impact one’s job prospects? A bad interview, a bad hair day, misinformation on my Spokeo profile… The list goes on. In other words, the direct link between the misinformation and harmed job prospects is a bit more difficult.

In contrast, with the TCPA violation, Diana Mey receives robocalls from Got Warranty, Inc. If there is a voicemail and a call log of this infraction, it takes no logical leap to assert the direct link. A call originating from Got Warranty, Inc. wasted my phone minutes, and cost me money, and therefore causes me concrete harm.

 

Final Thoughts

 I would like to be clear and say that the preceding analysis does not mean to ignore FCRA. I simply aimed to show that the hope that Spokeo would make it difficult for plaintiff’s to establish harm in TCPA cases has already been proven to not hold water. If the effect on my electrical bill from making me charge my phone can be a criterion for concrete harm (a bit of a stretch, in my opinion, but “Ryan Cash said so” probably won’t hold in a court of law), who knows how courts down the line will rule in this respect. Will they all be as liberal in their interpretation? Probably not. But the point is, as a business, do not take chances.

 

For further thoughts from a TCPA lawyer, read this post from Tatango, here. You can find a link to the entire court document here, for those who like to break a mental sweat.

Segmentation Marketing: Do You REALLY Know Your Customers?

 

by: Tim Prugar (tim@nextcaller.com)

In Childless Women to Marketers: We Buy Things Too, the New York Times points out that the overwhelming majority of marketing and advertising aimed at women is through the lens of motherhood: either being a mother, or aspiring to be. As Karen Malone Wright, founder of TheNotMom.com, indicates in the article, this advertising is towards two specific female demographics: "hot and single" or "a mom with more than one kid." This strategy stemmed from the traditional view of the mother as the individual who does the bulk of the purchasing for the household. The mother as decider, if you will. 

However, as society shifts, so too does this "conventional marketing wisdom" about how to get the largest ROI on advertising and marketing efforts. As the Times notes, 15.3 percent of women in the United States are childless, and the percentage of women ages 15-44 without children increased from 2012 to 2014 (46.5 percent to 47.6 percent, respectively). This demographic shift was accompanied by a shift in spending patterns - according to a report by DeVries Global, cited in the article, childless women spend 35 percent more on groceries than women with children. Marketing and advertising executives who are unaware of this trend, and are relying instead on outdated schema, are likely leaving piles and piles of money on the table. 

So which marketer are you? The one who relies on conventional wisdom that may not apply to your specific customers? Or the one who has taken the time to drill down and truly KNOW your customers? And if you're the former, how do you become the latter?

Keys to Marketing Segmentation

The process for knowing your customer and meeting needs you may not even know existed are simple. 

1. Get the Demographic Data

If you're like most marketers or business owners, your customer list is just that - a list. Maybe it's just anonymous phone numbers. Or an email list. Or maybe, if you're lucky, you can add name and address to that combination. But have you captured household income? Gender? Presence of children? How about whether or not your customers have net worth of over a million dollar? 

Gathering all of this information is the first step towards finding out who your customers really ARE. Need help with that? Contact the author!

2. Define Your Target (and Missed Target!) Audiences

Now that you have a picture of who your customers are - what correlations can you draw? What household incomes are spending the most? Which gender is frequenting your business the least? Is there an age group whose use of your product surprises you? Is your product flying off the shelves in Flagstaff but laying fallow in Cleveland? 

Before you can even get into the why, you need to have a solid picture of what is happening. Building a portrait of your "ideal" or "consistent" customer allows you to target your outreach. Building a portrait of the customer who avoids you at all costs is helpful as well...so you can figure out why!

3. Retarget!

Now that you've segmented your list - find how to target your outreach towards people you know will value your offering. Selling Men's Navy Peacoats? Perhaps coordinate an email blast to existing male customers ages 20-40 in the Northeast. 

4. Attribution

If you've run a phone, email, or SMS marketing campaign, you can probably judge its efficacy by the ROI. But you're a savvy, segmenting marketer...you can do better than that! 

What demographic profiles contributed to that ROI? Where did you miss the mark? Were you surprised by any of the results? Or, better yet, how did individual people interact with the campaign? After all, knowing "what" someone did in response to your campaign and "why" is much more powerful than simply knowing "who" did it. 

This data driven reflection will really move the needle for your campaigns. 

Remember: marketing is good. Knowing your customer is better. Using your knowledge of the customer to fuel your marketing efforts, engaging in data-driven reflection after the fact is BEST. 

 

So Sayeth The Times: 3 Reasons Why Biometric Authentication Should Give You Pause

 

In Tuesday's New York Times, the Room for Debate blog took on concerns surrounding the growing use of biometric authentication in the banking sector. Typically these arguments are more polarizing, with a traditional "A IS GOOD vs. A IS TERRIBLE!" style of debate. But when it came to Biometrics, something interesting happened: both sides agreed that Biometric Authentication is an imperfect, and sometimes deeply flawed, science. They merely disagreed on the implications of that for banking security. 

Look, Biometric Authentication is LIGHT YEARS ahead of static passwords and easily-researchable security questions. It's here to stay. The debate isn't whether or not banks should utilize biometric authentication - the debate is whether these financial behemoths should be relying on biometrics as their sole, or even their main, first-stage fraud solution. To make a football analogy, the Carolina Panthers would never say to their quarterback "Hey, Cam, you're revolutionizing the quarterback position and doing things we never thought possible - we can just rely on you and don't need to have an offensive line, or receivers, or running backs - I'm sure you can do it all and won't fail." No coach would ever say that. Of course not. After all, that's the Chicago Bears' patented offensive strategy. 

                                Not Funny, Tim.

                                Not Funny, Tim.

So let's take a deeper dive into the challenges presented by Biometric Authentication:

1. Just Because It's Biometric Doesn't Mean It's Not Data

Target. Snapchat. Ashley Madison. Data breaches that have exposed the personal information, home addresses, credit card information, or even Social Security Numbers of customers and employees have made front page news on dozens of occasions. As Claire Gartland of the Electronic Privacy Information Center points out, citizens have action steps they can take when this type of information is released. They can cancel cards or apply for new SSNs. But what recourse do people have when biometric information is leaked? The Office of Personnel Management has already admitted that 5.6 million fingerprints were stolen in a recent data breach, and hackers have already shown their ability to replicate fingerprints and iris scans to game security systems. Voice biometrics has similar flaws. If your customer data can be breached, so too can your biometric data (regardless of the encryption or tokenization).  

 

2.  Do Your Customers Trust You?

Just because I'd let my friend hold $100 for me doesn't mean I'd trust him to hold onto my fingerprints and DNA. I've seen enough Law & Order to know better. Biometric authentication brings about very real Orwellian concerns on behalf of consumers. What are you going to do with this information? What assurance do I have that this will only be used for authentication? While James Lewis of the Center for Strategic