In a recent post on the SAS Blog, John Balla, principal marketing specialist, customer intelligence, SAS (IMW Platinum Sponsor), writes:

Integrated marketing is no longer optional – no single channel can win out any more. Marketers must deliver great customer experience through truly integrated marketing, across any and every channel: web, social, mobile, broadcast, email, in-store, outdoor and beyond. Those experiences can be tailored effectively by listening to the voice of the customer.

That concept was the core idea of a session at this past week’s Integrated Marketing Week conference in New York City featuring noted Voice of the Customer thought leader Ernan Roman, Ben J. Lerer, CEO and Co-Founder of Thrilllist Media and Elias Roman, CEO and Co-Founder of Songza.

The highlights of the session were captured by Stephanie Miller, VP of Member Relations at the DMA and posted to the DMA Advance blog. I am happy to have her permission to repost an excerpt here:

A cataclysmic shift has taken over modern marketing:  We are moving from ”forcing customers to sort through piles of spray and pray stuff to find relevance to a world where personalized, relevant communications find consumers based on their opt-in preferences.”

Asking your customers what they want from you is the first step toward making that shift for your own brands, said Ernan Roman at Integrated Marketing Week.

Roman’s company conducted over 10,000 hours of Voice of the Customer research for customers such as MassMutual, IBM and QVC for six requirements to emerge for how customers define “customer experience:”

  1. Improve the customer experience across every point of contact with your organization.
  2. Apply this approach to all elements of the media mix and all departments of your organization.
  3. High quality experiences must be maintain throughout the relationship, not just when you are “selling.”
  4. Customer experiences must be driven by the customer’s individual preferences regarding message, timing, frequency and media mix.
  5. Preferences must drive high quality personalization of communications and experiences
  6. Absolute commitment to safeguarding privacy of preferences information is essential.

Listening to the voice of your customer will give you the “opportunity to fundamentally re-conceive how you engage with customers,” Ernan said.  “This creates a new kind of reciprocity of value equation and transforms the customer experience.

One notable example of this is Thrillist Media, which reduced email sends by 20%, increased traffic to the site, reduced unsubscribes by 50% and increased engagement by 15%”, all while delivering a more personalized product,” per CEO Ben J. Lerer.

Putting that together is the challenge, but Thrilllist results demonstrate the power of this approach for multi-channel engagement.  Ben’s tips for other smart marketers are:

  1. Customize for each platform
  2. Be your brand every step of the way
  3. Be cool, not creepy
  4. Pay attention to what they are buying
  5. Make the user feel like a VIP.

Another digital lifestyle player, Songza, uses voice of the customer research to “differentiate through deep personalization  across channels,” said panelist Elias Roman, CEO and Co-Founder.

Songza is designed to be a “music concierge” that delivers the perfect streaming playlist to match every activity of the day. Roman shared his big learnings in delivering such a customer-centric experience:

  1. Also use non-personal data to personalize
  2. Make users want to give you personal information
  3. Use technology to feel more human
  4. Design like every screen is a small screen.

The future of content is not “search and browse,” he said.   “And it’s not just personalized to your preferences. It’s personalized to your needs right now.

“The context will dictate the content you need,”  he said. In this way, Songza personalizes the product not just to the person, but to what the person is doing or desiring at that moment.

Elias showed how Songza learns what you like – using both inputs of preferences at the moment of the request (e.g.: It’s game day and I want a country music soundtrack) and data-driven assessments to predict and recommend future selections.


Each of these marketing leaders have offered a few tips on how to listen to the voice of the customer. How about you  – are you listening?


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