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What is the key to building a successful organization in the digital age? It will be discussed at Think 2018, the week-long event organized in Milano by IBM, a real journey through the world of cloud and artificial intelligence.

Dario Melpignano, CEO of Neosperience, illustrates how companies need to use technological innovations to build personal and useful relationships with their customers. The event is scheduled for Wednesday, June 6 at 15:30 with the panel "Strengthening Customer Engagement with Artificial Intelligence".

The disruptive power of the digital transformation has involved - sometimes with overwhelming effects - every industry and internal function of the organizations. The smartphone, at the forefront of this innovative process, has stopped being a simple channel, to become a real proxy of the customer.

The path of change towards digital and emerging technologies has forced Brands to move towards an increasingly customer-centered model. Working on customer engagement means precisely this: delivering personalized customer experiences, overcoming the problems that derive from the fragmentation of tools and channels.

People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.” With this famous phrase, Theodore Roosevelt had already exemplified the value of the customer experience well before the actual start of the digital revolution. You will never be able to engage and retain your customers if you do not know them in the first place.

As a matter of facts, accelerating digital transformation means adopting a mobile-first approach, identifying insight in real time and using this information to build and strengthen the empathic relationship with the customer. This translates into the development of personalized experiences that retain and increase the value of the Brand.

The future of customer engagement, with a focus on the crucial role of Artificial Intelligence, will be the heart of Dario Melpignano's intervention at Think Milano, in a panel moderated by Dicran Babayantz, IBM Watson Customer Engagement Business Unit Leader Italy.

Here is the complete agenda of the round table:
Wednesday, June 6 from 3.30 PM to 5 PM - Hall III

Campus:
Cloud & Data / Artificial Intelligence for Business

Speakers:
- Dario Melpignano, CEO at Neosperience, "visionary" and Mobile Digital Business pioneer for USA-Europe
- Laura Iacovone, Mktg Professor in Competitive Analysis Consumer & Shopping Behavior and Advertising
- Alessandro De Biasio, Partner and Board Member, Head of Strategy and Innovation Practice The European House Ambrosetti
- Alessia Scarpocchi, Mktg Director Apoteca Natura Strategies & Web Aboca Group

For further information about the agenda and to register, please head to Think 2018 official page.

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A Culture for Psychographics in Marketing: Neosperience Vision

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How Mobile Has Rewritten The Rules – No More Idle Micro Moments

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A few days ago, while waiting for my turn at the post office, I have witnessed the definitive disappearance of the downtime. Do you remember how boring was to carry out some dull activities only ten years ago?

Well, we have now said goodbye to the idle moments. The smartphone is the key to unlock the potential of those moments when we have nothing to do but waiting and waiting. The queue has never been so exciting.

Mind you, we are not saying that we will not be stuck in the waiting rooms in the next future. The digital disruption has changed a lot but, at least till now, we still have to face the boredom from time to time.

What has changed is the quality of these experiences. The random unattractive magazines stacked on the table of the doctor’s waiting room have given way to the smartphone. Thus, we have the whole world in our hands.

We live in the era of the Micro Moments and no idle moments are allowed anymore. Google has tackled this important matter in a recent article published on Think With Google. The post, titled “How mobile became a power tool in idle moments”, starts from the awareness that:

“The smartphone has become indispensable in getting things done. In our latest research, we found that 75% of people say their smartphones help them to be more productive. But it’s more than that. Productivity has an emotional impact as well. Fifty-four percent of people say their phones reduce stress and/or anxiety in their lives.”

And we all know how stressful it can be to stand in line waiting for a turn that never comes.

Mobile quickly delivers results when they’re impatient, provides inspiration at their fingertips when they’re curious, and gives them a personalized experience when they’re demanding one.

Google researchers have identified five typical scenarios when people turn to their phones to fight boredom.

A SPARK

This happens, for example, when something either just pops into your head or you are triggered by something you see.

AN URGENT NEED

This happens, for example, when you suddenly realize that you need something and you don’t know where to get it.

IN-STORE ASSISTANCE

This happens, for example, when you are strolling through the store’s aisles and use the smartphone to look for info, discounts, reviews.

MICRO-PRODUCTIVITY

This happens, for example, when you are stuck somewhere and scroll the list of things to do to move forward.

PLANNING AHEAD

This happens, for example, when you use the phone to plan the next moves in your life, from weekend trips to important purchases.

This is the story from customers’ perspective. What about your Brand? What about your marketing strategy? How can you exploit these micro moments to engage your customers and win their loyalty?

We leave you with a pretty interesting video, highlighting how mobile is impacting the opportunities and challenges for Brand and marketers.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

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What Customer Personality Can Teach You About Your Marketing Strategy

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Conversion optimization is a matter of persuasion. And persuasion is, first of all, a matter of psychology. As you may know, nobody is better than Robert Cialdini in teaching us about persuasion and psychology as a way to understand how customer's mind works.

Not surprisingly, marketers regularly base promotional techniques on Cialdini's principles of social influence to increase the desirability of their products among customers. The choice of what tactics to use, however, is primarily determined by their business goals, while ‘who’ their customers are - from a psychological point of view - is often pushed into the background.

Reciprocity, Commitment and Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Authority, and Scarcity. These six principles rely on different psychological motives:

  • The desire to give something back when we've received something (Reciprocity).
  • The need to behave consistently with our previous choices (Commitment and Consistency).
  • The tendency to perform actions that reflect other people's actions (Social Proof).
  • The tendency to like someone or something that seems similar to us (Liking).
  • The tendency to follow the lead of credible, knowledgeable figures (Authority).
  • The desire to have more of those things we can have less of (Scarcity).

Each of these principles is related to our inner needs, which make us different one another. As a result, their effectiveness can be stronger or weaker depending on who is the target audience - always from a psychological perspective.

Here are three good examples.

SOCIAL PROOF

People look at what others do to determine their own behavior, especially when they are uncertain or doubtful. Conforming to others, in fact, helps us to feel part of a social group and avoid social faux pas. This kind of "peer power", however, works only with certain types of people.

The ideal customer personality

Social proof is typically more persuasive to people who have a high need for approval and a desire to conform, but it can't work with those who seek uniqueness. Having a high need for uniqueness, in fact, undermines the influence of majority (Imhoff & Erb, 2009). As a result, recommendation techniques such as "people like you bought this" may bother uniqueness-seeking customers while attracting conformity-seekers at the same time.

SCARCITY

People perceive products as more attractive and valuable when their availability is rather limited. So, when they believe that something is in short supply, they want it more. Because valuable things are often scarce, people tend to conclude that scarce things are valuable and more desirable. That is why customers are so attracted by products promoted as being "scarce" (versus abundant), in time or quantity (Cialdini, 1993).

Promotions such as the 'limit one per customer' sales and the 'limited editions' are designed to harness the persuasive power of the scarcity effect. However, as they rely on specific psychological mechanisms, the effectiveness of scarcity changes according to "whom" they are addressed.

The ideal customer personality

Scarcity effect by its nature conveys a feeling of urgency and the belief that you will be missing out on something if you fail to act quickly. A personality trait called "need for closure" refers to one's desire for gaining a definitive answer to a question, thus avoiding uncertainty.

People who are high on this trait feel the urge to come to a quick decision, and scientific research demonstrates that scarcity affects them more compared to people who tend to avoid closure and are more comfortable with ambiguity (Jung & Kellaris 2004). As a result, customers with higher need for closure would be more prone to buy something if they know that it is the very last one or that a special deal will soon expire.

RECIPROCITY

People feel the need to give back to others the form of behaviors, favors or gifts that they have received in the first place. In other words, they want to treat others the same way they have treated them before and, more importantly, be the last to give.

Running a blog that offers highly actionable and useful insights for free; a waiter or waitress that gives you a gift - such as a fortune cookie, or a mint - when bringing your bill; offering a gift incentive upfront rather than at the end of a sale.

All these common-used tactics apply the principle of reciprocity to make your readers more willing to buy something from you or provide you with a conversion and to be more generous tippers. As we all know, however, the feeling of being indebted to others, the sense of gratitude and the desire to repay a kindness, are not equally present in each of us.

The ideal customer personality

Studies have found that such "prosocial" tendencies are strongly rooted in personality and, especially, in individual differences in agreeableness.

Agreeable people are typically more grateful, thankful, and trustful. They are also more likely to attribute their positive outcomes to the intentional behavior of others, while distrustful people tend to be suspicious, skeptical, and address others' kindness to personal or selfish gain. So, agreeable customers are perfect for reciprocity-based engagement techniques.

If you think that customers decisions are just based on past behaviors, you are wrong. They mainly depend on who they are. That is why it is imperative to put effort into knowing the human side of your customers and choose how to communicate with them on a personal level.

In a world where hyper-personalization is an essential factor for success in every business, blending empathy in your marketing strategy becomes the key to meet the challenge. Add technology to the equation, and that is the key to make it scalable.

References:

Cialdini, R. (1993). The psychology of influence. New York: William Morrow & Co.

Imhoff, Roland, Hans-Peter Erb. 2009. What motivates nonconformity? Uniqueness seeking blocks majority influence. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 35(3) 309–320.

Jung, J. M., & Kellaris, J. J. (2004). Cross‐national differences in proneness to scarcity effects: The moderating roles of familiarity, uncertainty avoidance, and need for cognitive closure. Psychology & Marketing, 21(9), 739-753.

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Be Human - Matching Customer Personality is the New Key to Relevance

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Travel Customer Journey – The Evolution Of Planning and Purchasing

 

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Brace Yourself; Vacation days coming!

Whether it is the summer or winter season, the desire to travel never misses the opportunity. For those who want to plan their trip, but also those who produce and sell vacation-related products and services.

The desire to explore the world has not changed over the last century, and will not change in the next future. What has evolved dramatically - in the last decade - is the way we research, plan and purchase our trips. What Google has called The Travel Customer Journey. A disruption made possible - again - by the smartphone.

Long gone are the days when planning a vacation (a honeymoon or a business trip) meant you had to trust a specialized agency, with little control over the final result. In the nineties, the Internet has opened a whole world of information for the customers, and then mobile technology did the rest, switching the balance of power definitely.

Today, the smartphone is the first point of reference whenever we need to find the solution to a problem or the product that perfectly fits our needs. Travel planning makes no exception, as perfectly summed up by a series of reports released by Google on Think With Google.

As more research happens in the traveler's customer journey, there are more micro moments - when people turn to a device with intent to answer an immediate need. In these moments, the stakes are high for travel brands as preferences are shaped, and decisions are made. What happens in these micro-moments ultimately affects the travel decision-making process.

In our times of economic constraints, organizing a vacation can be tricky business:

  • People see the travel as an investment, and so take all the time needed to research the possibilities (mostly using their mobile devices).
  • Travelers usually worry they are not finding the best solution or making the best decision, even while they are paying and booking.
  • Even when they find a last minute opportunity, most customers bounce back and forth between destinations, websites, agencies, and price comparison engines.

Customers are much more conscious and demanding than in the past. They spend more time researching and comparing the alternatives (in terms of destinations and providers). They go through a multitude of touchpoints and, even though they take quick decisions, ultimately ponder every single detail.

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If your brand plays in this industry, the task is clear and simple:

  • You must show up during the critical micro moments of travel research process;
  • You must be there, reachable whenever customers need your attention or help;
  • You must be useful, engaging them with relevant, useful, personalized contents and offers;
  • You must be quick. If you do not convert your customers, someone else will (namely a competitor).

The main reference for this article is the ‘Travel Micro-Moments Guide’ published by Google. The underlying assumption is that “travelers increasingly turn to mobile in real time and on-the-go, making informed decisions faster than ever before. For marketers, this means there are new opportunities to connect throughout the entire travel customer journey, across devices and channels.

Researchers have defined four main travel micro moments that matter:

I Want To Get Away - We explore options and ideas, looking for inspiration.

Time To Make a Plan - We have a destination, and look for dates, flights, accommodation.

Let’s Book It - We are ready to book and look for extra activities to reserve.

Can’t Wait To Explore - We prepare to live the experience, and share it with the others.

Given the premise, we see a huge opportunity for those who provide products and services related to the various the steps of the travel experience. The digital customer journey of the travelers has become more complex than ever, and so you have multiple chances to engage customers.

Whether you are an online or offline business, you may tap into one of the main micro moments or everywhere in between those, proposing suitable and innovative solutions. In example: a micro-insurance delivered on the smartphone at the right time; a local transportation mobile app filled with shopping and entertainment suggestions; a conversational interface or Facebook Messenger chatbot that helps customers find the best prices or deal.

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Of course, mobile is the keyword to understand the new scenario, because the micro moments mostly unravel online:

Recent data show that there are already more searches on mobile than desktop for select travel categories, such as family vacations and luxury travel. And when it comes to planning holiday activities, mobile devices are giving travelers increased flexibility. Many travelers are willing to plan activities on the fly, while they are at their destination.

The optimization for mobile is mandatory now that customers take faster decisions and expect faster experiences:

Over 90% of travelers using mobile devices will switch to another site or app if their needs are not being met. 79% of mobile travelers say that when researching on their smartphones, they are looking for the most relevant information available, regardless of where it comes from.

The continuous transition from the real world to the digital dimension generate a whole new set of data that you can use to get a better understanding of customers. When it comes to travels, in fact, not all customers are equal.

Also, this type of experiences is heavily influenced by the emotional and psychological traits. Data-backed psychographics research becomes essential if you want to sketch a proper customer journey map, build a successful digital strategy, and ultimately deliver truly personalized contents linked to the emotional profiles of the different customers.

Once you determine customers’ behaviors and deepest needs, you can anticipate their needs and desires. You will also be able to prioritize the right audience and target the most valuable customers with tailor-cut contents, notifications, and promotions.

Travel marketers need to account for the new multi-device, multi-channel landscape. And those who are moments-ready—and consistently manage their share of intent to meet consumer demand—will take the lion's share of the reward.

Photo by Deanna Ritchie on Unsplash

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The Digital Change Agent’s Manifesto – Revolution From Within

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How can you set the spark of the digital transformation on fire? We always stress the importance of change in the era of constant technological evolution, but more than often it is not clear who should lead this change. Who is the agent of drift towards the future?

What it means to be a successful change agent in the digital economy is the main focus of the latest report published by Brian Solis, analyst at Altimeter. The prophet from the age of Digital Darwinism has shared, once again, the opportunities and hardships of moving a Brand from the old patterns and habits.

The report has a self-evident title: “The Digital Change Agent's Manifesto - How the People Behind Digital Transformation Lead Change From Within”. It starts with the awareness that technology and society still evolve at a faster pace than organizations. Even though they are investing in their digital transformation, most Brands are often too slow.

They react rather than act and anticipate the changes. The efforts of those who become the flag bearer of transformation “are often hindered by an organizational culture that is risk-averse and slow to change. Not everyone believes in change, however, nor that they need to learn or even unlearn skills and perspectives to compete for the future. Any effort to change comes down to people, and in the absence of supportive leadership, people typically form roadblocks.” (Brian Solis)

Behind this lack of agility, there is, of course, a cultural limit that should not be underestimated, but the main obstacle can be traced in the absence of a ‘digital change agent’:

In most organizations, however, these digital transformation efforts often take place in isolated pockets, sometimes with little coordination and collaboration across the enterprise. Even still, these movements are important and often driven by individuals who share a deep expertise and passion for digital and are ardent advocates of its potential to help their companies compete more effectively. These individuals are the digital change agents and they represent the future of the organization.

The idea of a digital change agent coming from within is powerful, nonetheless difficult to identify in today’s structured organizations. Who is this agent? Where does it come from? What should be his core capabilities? There is not a simple, one-fits-all answer to these questions. The change agent, in fact, is hardly someone trained to play this role:

While change agents are well-versed in all things digital, they aren’t necessarily seasoned
or trained at navigating the cultural dynamics that drive change in an organization. They
typically pick up leadership and change-management skills on the fly as they learn to face
and manage the behavioral challenges that often prevent colleagues from accepting their
perspectives, ideas, and digital innovations.

Given the premise, it is evident that there is no one type of change agent. Each one brings to the table different skillsets, goals, and aspirations, “but they all wear similar hats at different points in their journey, serving as data gatherers and storytellers, influencers and case makers, relationship builders, and champions of digital transformation.

What are the highlights of these digital agents?

  • Although digital transformation is one of the biggest trends in business today and companies are investing heavily in new technologies and innovations, many still do so as a grassroots effort driven by resourceful individuals — digital change agents — across the organization.
  • Digital change agents are passionate about digital innovations and ardent believers in their potential to help the organization succeed — but they are sometimes reluctant to step into a leadership or change-management role.
  • Change agents can rise from anywhere in the organization and often begin as digital advocates — employees who introduce or promote new digital ideas or products — and eventually progress to experienced transformers.

digital change agent

The research shows how these agents should operate from a strategic manifesto to guide them in their digital transformation efforts, expedite change, and minimize complications and detractions. The agents move across different steps of a journey that unravels inside and outside their company:

  • Embrace being a catalyst;
  • Organize with other change agents;
  • Learn to speak the language of the C-Suite;
  • Make allies;
  • Spread digital literacy;
  • Create a digital transformation roadmap;
  • Link digital transformation efforts to business and individuals’ goals;
  • Set metrics and milestones;
  • Democratize ideation;
  • Capitalize on their own inherent “superpowers”.

As a CEO, you should always ask yourself what can you do to make the digital change agent feel less lonely. Of course, transforming and leading the organization towards the future is never easy but, when all the pieces align, there you will find the evolved digital organization you have been longing to achieve.

We strongly advise you to download The Digital Change Agent's Manifesto, a thoughtful, brilliant piece of research by Brian Solis.

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Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

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AWS re:Invent 2017 – Tales From The Future Of Cloud

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In the weeks leading to the AWS re:Invent 2017, we have seen many speculations about the nature of the announcements that Amazon would do during its annual event. The first few days have maintained, if not exceeded, the expectations.

There is a constant element behind all the news emerging about Amazon's Cloud: a significant shift towards the 'applications' side of the technology. Follow us as we unveil the future of Amazon Web Services and the entire Cloud world.

The general trend sees Amazon more and more focused on providing companies with technologies that increase the engagement and improve the customer experience. From this point of view, we could even dare to say that AWS is becoming more ‘customer-centric’.

This broader trend translates into a specific attention to the technologies that affect the customer behaviors online and offline (and are affected by them in return). It is easy to see that video content and AR, VR, and mixed reality have taken the center stage in the last couple of years.

Many companies are trying to take advantage of the potential of these immersive technologies, which so far have proved to be too complex and expensive for general use. The great players - Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and now Amazon - are trying to close this gap, providing affordable tools (in terms of costs and complexity) available for a broader audience.

AWS Elemental MediaConvert is the way Amazon wants to capitalize on the obsession that both customers and Brands have for video contents. The new suite, formed largely on the back of the acquisition of Elemental Technologies in 2015, is a file-based video transcoding service with broadcast-grade features:

It allows you to easily create video-on-demand (VOD) content for broadcast and multiscreen delivery at scale. The service combines advanced video and audio capabilities with a simple web services interface and pay-as-you-go pricing. With AWS Elemental MediaConvert, you can focus on delivering compelling media experiences without having to worry about the complexity of building and operating your own video processing infrastructure.

While we do not have more than the announcement right now - even though Elemental has been around for a while - there is a major strength in the proposition: the ability to create high-quality, end-to-end video processing workflows in the cloud without upfront investment for video processing infrastructure (you pay based on the duration of video that is processed and the features you use).

If you read the description carefully, you will see how Amazon is now “into competition to some extent with the likes of Google’s YouTube and its efforts to work with media companies and other creators to build and host live streams and ad-based videos. Interesting timing, given all the negative press YouTube has had over the kind of content that it’s been hosting over the years.” (TechCrunch)

The second product launched at the AWS re:Invent 2017 - this one entirely new - is called Amazon Sumerian and is, in some extent, a straightforward response to the announcements made by Mark Zuckerberg during the last Facebook’s F8 event. The topic is, of course, virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality.

Amazon Sumerian lets you create highly immersive and interactive scenes on VR, AR, and 3D applications without requiring any specialized programming or 3D graphics expertise. The scenes can then run on different hardware - Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and iOS mobile devices, while the support for Android ARCore will come soon. All this starting from the libraries of pre-built objects that make the creation effortless and less expensive.

If you look at the bigger picture, it is easy to understand where Amazon is heading: In a world where the new wave of technology has a lot of time-consuming processes behind it, Amazon aims at becoming the one who can modernize and simplify that — thereby becoming the default platform for creating applications on that new tech. Elemental and Sumerian score two points. And now the ball goes to the opponents.

For a deeper coverage live from the AWS re:Invent, you can also follow Luca Bianchi, CTO of Neosperience, on Medium.

Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

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Be Human – Matching Customer Personality is the New Key to Relevance

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There came a time when the digital era took over the analog world and completely changed the face of marketing, with no possible turning back.

If you ask how things changed, most marketers will likely point at three main areas of marketing that have been disrupted: Speed, Relevance, Reach. The rise of digital means you can (must) be incredibly fast and get an unprecedented coverage - something you could only dream two decades ago.

If we focus on the mere numbers, there is no comparison between the analog and the digital worlds. It gets a bit more complicated when it comes to relevance, a purely subjective concept.

When we say or hear that digital technology has given us highly relevant marketing and branding campaigns, what are we referring to?

In our previous article about the Psychographics we have emphasized how a good seller always understands his customer, and has an easy game knowing how to communicate with him - not just what to propose but how to sell it. In his own way, he is surely relevant.

In the digital communication, this kind of ‘human’ relevance is lost: messages are targeted to specific groups of users, which are segmented and profiled based on some objective, explicit and observable data (typically demographic and behavioral).

Attitudes, emotions, and personality are almost never considered, although they are a big part of what makes the human communication so appropriate, empathic, and relevant.

Here, we are talking about the importance of psychology and the influence it has on the development of marketing and technology. What can psychology do to increase the relevance of your Brand’s communication on digital channels, where technology - with its speed and reach - has replaced the human touch?

For decades now, psychological studies have played a prominent role by identifying strategies to improve the effectiveness of marketing campaigns through the principles of persuasion. One such strategy, known as message tailoring, involves the adaptation of communication to the characteristics of the customer.

As researchers have shown, messages that fit with an individual’s attitudes and dispositional motives are processed more fluently and evaluated more positively than incongruent messages. These effects have been observed across several domains, including prevention, behavioral change, and consumer purchases.

For marketing and advertising professionals, this means that tailoring the messages so that they match customer personality can be a promising tactic to increase the effectiveness of campaigns.

To better understand this interweaving of disciplines, we have to pass from theory to practice. For example, by framing the messages through the well known Big Five model of personality, it becomes possible to target a broad variety of motives, including:

  • Desire for excitement, social rewards, energy, and fun - powerful drivers for Extroverts.
  • Sympathy, interpersonal harmony, connection with family and community - values more significant for Agreeable people.
  • Efficiency, order and goal pursuit - primary motives for Conscientious people.
  • Quiet, carefree, safety and security - people with lower Emotional stability pay more attention to these benefits.
  • Creativity, curiosity, innovation, imagination and intellectual stimulation - perfect features when interacting with people Open to experience.

As a result, an advertisement emphasizing a specific motivational concern, congruent with the user’s personality traits, would be more effective in term of attention, evaluation, and impact.

To sum up, in an era where the customer centricity is more and more about personalization, understanding customers as human beings in their uniqueness is the only way to anticipate their needs and desires.

If you know what they are about to do before they actually do it, you will unlock the true power of digital and mobile technologies; Technology may make giant leaps forward in all areas, but communication is definitely where Natural Intelligence still wins.

We are empathetic human beings, and we can flexibly adapt our attitude, language, and relational approach. In this perspective, machines are still far away from us, and will probably always be.

That is why you should strive not to replace human with technology, but to fill the gap between the two by infusing more human capabilities into technology. Talk to your customers as humans, and you will ultimately build strong, intimate, long lasting relationships.

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Strategic Predictions For 2018 and Beyond From Gartner Symposium

 

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The future is filled with disruption. But pending disruptions are taking on new forms. This is the tipping point for Gartner's keynote about top strategic predictions for 2018 and beyond, live from Orlando.

Here is a selection for you of the most relevant insights from Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, where the world’s top digital professionals gain a strategic view of the emerging trends shaping technology and business.

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Psychographics – Turn Mass Personalization into Customer Uniqueness

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Mass Marketing is dead, that's nothing new. In a world dominated by the culture of "Me", one size doesn't fit all. Customers - no matter what their socioeconomic status is - want to take center stage. They want to be loved by the Brands they love, in return for their loyalty.

If you are not willing to take care of your customers’ emotions, desires and needs, they will devote their soul and heart to your competitors. In this ever-customer-centric scenario, personalization goes from being a nice-to-have to becoming a must-have.

For over 15 years, one-to-one marketing (also called personalized marketing, or individual marketing) has moved in this direction to help companies engage with customers the right way, based on their needs, preferences, and behaviors.

Global players such as Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify, to name a few, are well-known for being data-driven companies aiming at the customer excellence.

Netflix knows the ‘completion rate’ for a TV series; how many users started and finished it til the end of the last season; where the common cut-off point was; how long has passed between when they watched one episode and then the next.

And the data go even deeper: when you pause, rewind, or fast forward; when you watch a specific type of content; where you watch and what device you use; the ratings you give, what you do after any episode - if you leave the app or go back to browsing.

The same way, Amazon constantly analyzes what items you purchased; what is in your wishlist; what you search for the most; which products you reviewed and rated; and uses this information to recommend you additional products based on what the other customers purchased in the same situation.

Given this continuous evolution towards a more and more detailed knowledge of a customer’s ‘moves’ and features, the question is: What is the missing piece that will enable Brands to create a more intimate, long-lasting relationship with customers?

Tracking behaviors is a critical task, no doubt about it. However, it is not enough to explain, discover or predict the 'Why' of our behaviors, feelings, and choices, that is deeply linked to our inner world and is a consequence of 'Who' we truly are.

Who we are - our unique personality - affects our behaviors more than people think or realize. And even more than marketers do. Understanding this simple fact is the basic requirement to persona-lize your strategy.

A crowded place full of new people can excite an extroverted and annoy an introvert. An extreme sport or a transgressive experience will attract those who love taking risks, and scare those who avoid them. An open-minded person will be excited to try an entirely new product, while a conservative person will prefer to wait for that product to be tested by others.

It is evident that we - as marketers - are missing something important, the human side of customers.

The interesting thing is that our personality determines not only what we like, but also our communication preferences and, consequently, what is most likely to persuade us. As empathetic human beings, we can flexibly adapt our language and relational approach from time to time, depending on who we are dealing with.

A good seller who understands his customer has an easy game because he knows how to communicate with him - not just what to propose but how to paint it.

As an example, let's take a personality trait known as Need for Uniqueness, the pursuing of differentness relative to others, that can be obtained through the purchase and use of goods and services.

This personality trait can be a key buying reason in various contexts, such as shopping for clothes. Some people usually look for items that visibly distinguish them from others, and when they realize that another person also wears something they just bought, they lose interest or even get annoyed.

Other people, on the other hand, prefer to blend with others - especially their reference group - and use their dressing style to emphasize this membership and belonging.

Now think about this. What if fashion brands had this information readily available for each customer, exactly as they already know the age, sex, and last purchase?

Would they communicate their offer in the same way? We hope not. Such information would radically change the way they see customers, interact with them and deliver unique customer experiences.

One-to-one marketing, as we know it, is surely getting smarter thanks to the huge amount of detailed data on what customers do across all stages and channels of their journey. But if this is useful, it is not necessarily exponential.

The innovation here does not come with the increasing of the data managed, but by introducing new ideas and criteria to evaluate those data (i.e. the Psychographics, based on techniques that have been developed and refined over 100 years of cognitive, behavioral and social psychology).

Mass communication is dead, and mass personalization is evolving to embrace the human side of customers progressively. Starting from now, an empathetic marketing strategy will take marketing and customer experience to the next level.

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

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