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December 31, 2015
Key Issues for 2016
A new year means new budgets, new priorities, new alignments, and new worries. Here are four critical issues my clients are wrestling with for 2016.

Leveraging Loyalty. People with strong connections to favorite brands buy more, buy more often, and influence others to buy. Identifying, engaging, and motivating these people to serve as vocal advocates are high on every brand’s wish list.

The challenge is that loyalty is a fleeting psychological state, not just a points, rewards, or coupon scheme. The heartiest brand advocate can be eliminated with a single bad experience or an incredible competitive price offer. Today’s tout can be tomorrow’s critic with one click. Consumers are fickle and are constantly being offered new and different deals. Archetypical programs, like air miles, have been consistently devalued.

Getting loyalty right is a matter of understanding the customer mindset, in the moment and over time, and mapping an appropriate series of stimuli and responses to intersect customer behavior and attitudes. Ideally, brands can focus on the most profitable prospects by combining triggered surprise-and-delight experiences with escalating incentives that can be quantified.

The ultimate solution is a combination of customer intimacy, smart segmentation, and regular genuine two-way conversation supported by a data infrastructure for continuous measurement and improvement.

Making Measurement Matter. Everybody counts everything. Each silo reports numbers weekly, monthly, and quarterly. Each agency produces a colorful graphic dashboard. Marketers have mountains of data that they can’t make sense of. Brands are missing the big picture and lack actionable intelligence.

Generally there are two critical metrics questions:
Are we meeting our business/profitability goals?
Are we using our resources efficiently?

Getting the answers requires brands to break down silos and share sensitive business data with key partners. Centralizing analysis of disparate data with one team, preferably a team without media buying responsibilities, provides dispassionate insights. Developing a reporting cadence that is long enough to see developing trends and short enough to respond to marketplace or competitive developments is critical.

Sizing Social Media.  The role, value, and ROI of social networks have been the great unknown since they came on the scene. Social networks have become paid advertising vehicles, so marketers are eager to improve targeting and personalized delivery and understand how the social channels fit together and how they impact consumer buying cycles.

There are huge amounts of attention and time spent on these networks, where video rules. But there is much less evidence that consumer interest and attention translates into sales, ongoing consumer relationships, or brand advocacy. In too many cases, social media is not synchronized with other marketing tactics or channels. And while each network is actively trying to monetize its audience, trial-and-error is still the current state of the art.

Maximizing Mobility. Mobile users, the majority of our population, expect to access brands on many devices whenever and wherever the mood strikes. Consumers expect content and sites, no matter what device or form factor is used, to be easy to see or read and easy to interact with.

Unique patterns of behavior by segment, device, task, geography, and time-of-day are emerging. Brands must respond to these trends and produce content that meets consumer expectations. That means scanable and snackable content, rendered quickly and clearly with easy-to-use buttons and links that require the minimum number of clicks. Similarly, mobile advertising is much more dependent on mood, timing, and device than its traditional counterparts. Understanding mobile usage by brand and by audience is the springboard for successful engagement.

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Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.
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