Direct Marketing Magazine July August 2018

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4 How technology can help customer service ❱

10 Why CRM matters more than ever ❱

18 Marketing child’s play ❱

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vol. 31 • No. 7 • July/August 2018

The Authority on Data-Driven Engagement & Operations

How the GDPR impacts marketers ❱6

What Canadian marketers need to know about Europe’s new privacy law From Marketing Potential To Marketing Performance

// 3 Cover story Vol. 31 | No. 7 | July/August 2018


EDITOR Brendan Read -

How the GDPR impacts marketers

PRESIDENT Steve Lloyd -

Challenging common misconceptions to understand Europe’s new privacy law

DESIGN / PRODUCTION Jennifer O’Neill - Advertising Sales Mark Henry - CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Neale Orinick Christian Barckhahn Terry Rybolt Peter Boggs Martin Schneider Tim Critchley Stephen Shaw Michael Morin Mike Thorne Cristina Onosé LLOYDMEDIA INC. HEAD OFFICE / SUBSCRIPTIONS / PRODUCTION:

302-137 Main Street North

Customer Centricity

Markham ON L3P 1Y2 Phone: 905.201.6600 Fax: 905.201.6601 Toll-free: 800.668.1838 EDITORIAL CONTACT: Direct Marketing is published monthly by Lloydmedia Inc. plus the annual DM Industry Guide. Direct Marketing may be obtained through paid subscription. Rates: Canada 1 year (12 issues $48) 2 years (24 issues $70) U.S. 1 year (12 issues $60) 2 years (24 issues $100) Direct Marketing is an independently-produced publication not affiliated in any way with any association or organized group nor with any publication produced either in Canada or the United States. Unsolicited manuscripts are welcome. However unused manuscripts will not be returned unless accompanied by sufficient postage. Occasionally Direct Marketing provides its subscriber mailing list to other companies whose product or service may be of value to readers. If you do not want to receive information this way simply send your subscriber mailing label with this notice to: Lloydmedia Inc. 302-137 Main Street North Markham ON L3P 1Y2 Canada. POSTMASTER: Please send all address changes and return all undeliverable copies to: Lloydmedia Inc. 302-137 Main Street North Markham ON L3P 1Y2 Canada Canada Post Canadian Publications Mail Sales Product Agreement No. 40050803

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How technology can help customer service


Customer service has evolved - is your business experiencing the benefits? Holiday Marketing



Marketing child’s play

Contact centres face an “alphabet soup” of necessary rules and standards

How custom segmentation helped achieve a 125% holiday email campaign conversion rate increase

Complying with critical regulations

CRM ❯❯10

Why CRM matters more than ever The growing importance of CRM in the age of AI and IoT


The true value of customer journey mapping


4 ways AI helps improve the customer experience July/August 2018



Serving Chinese visitors Excellent customer experiences critical

Excellent Execution


Successful product placement in online mobile games ❰

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Customer Centricity

How technology can help customer service S

Mike Thorne is founder and CEO, JUSTJUNK.

Mike writes about his experiences developing the national brand from the ground up. Learn more at


triving to provide great customer service is the most important part of any business. It affects your bottom line, your reputation, referrals and repeat business. At JUSTJUNK we have developed key technological advancements to aid in constantly improving the customer service experience. Our online and front line booking systems are well into their second iteration. Each facet of our internal content management system (CMS) is geared to improve minute but critical details of our business to make sure the customer gets the benefit. Tracking what seems like minutiae—arrival times, how the customer found us, service details, customer feedback—in one space gives us valuable information to later analyze without jumping around between multiple platforms. JUSTJUNK franchises have recently seen increasing benefits by giving customers the ability to chat with us directly from their computers and mobile devices via instant messaging and texting services. The results have exceeded our expectations. Since this system was implemented in 2017 nearly 30% of our customer interactions occur over live chat and messaging platforms. Previously, customers who may have felt uncomfortable or didn’t have the opportunity to speak to us over the phone, or weren’t familiar with online booking systems, wouldn’t have contacted us.

we ensure that our truck teams call customers if delays are expected, and two, regardless, follow up with calls 20 minutes prior to arrival. If a customer is curious and calls in prior to those 20 minutes, our contact centre agents have an estimated time of arrival (ETA) on hand for them, to avoid having to make another call.

Enabling GPS Forget the map books. Bringing accurate GPS (global positioning system) into our internal booking system allowed us not only to improve our arrival times but also improve how our customers were able to book our service. GPS provides a multitude of details to customers and our front line staff. Creating a system that intuitively aids our customers and service providers in getting the best out of our service means that we can ensure that we create the best opportunities to not be late on arrival by not scheduling jobs too far apart. Also by ensuring we stay within our promised arrival times. As a result, integrating a GPS system has increased our customer service satisfaction to the highest levels. It’s critical, however, that all members of your team, from the first point of customer contact and those providing the service all have access to the same information. That’s why we ensure transparency; everyone who speaks to our service has access to important GPS information from scheduling to arrival. As a customer it’s frustrating to hear, “I’ll have to call you back with that.” So, we have done two things: one,

Tying it all together Would you believe that this could all be done in one system? There are countless CMS platforms that will pitch small businesses on just one of these services. Like one CMS for customer database, one that manages GPS tracking and one that gathers and collects reviews. But not every business is the same and these services aren’t “one size fits all”, either. What about investing in the time to work with local developers to create your own systems, bringing everything in one that makes sure that the customer benefits most rather than the company providing the individual pieces of software? Our mantra at JUSTJUNK is “Removal Made Easy”. We built technology that is easy for everyone to use and we’re lucky to be able to constantly make improvements immediately based on feedback from our customers, front line staff, truck teams, members in the field and our franchise owners. It can be a lot for smaller businesses to develop their own tech. But as part of scaling up it could, over time, save you an incredible amount of time, improve your bottom line and, most importantly, help customers experience your best service.

Review building If you’re in business, you understand just how important word-of-mouth and online reviews are. Yet online review platforms are not all created equally. Google, Yelp and other local platforms all have their own rules and methods of weeding out spam and their definitions of spam are their closest guarded secret. As a business, we want customer feedback to ensure we continue to provide the best service possible and address crucial areas of improvement. We also want customers to tell us how great we are: what business wouldn’t? Through our own system of e-mail receipts, we ensure that every customer, whether satisfied or not is able to deliver feedback in a timely manner directly to these platforms. No solicitation and no devious incentivizing. You can also use e-mail and also app receipts to encourage customers to give you the valid feedback your business needs to progress and become even more successful.

July/August 2018

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How the GDPR impacts marketers Challenging common misconceptions to understand Europe’s new privacy law

By Cristina Onosé


n May 25, 2018, the European Union (EU) implemented the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR is the most significant new data privacy regulation to be introduced anywhere in the world in many years. Its new requirements around personal data collection, processing and sharing have an unavoidable impact on data-driven programmes that are used by so many of today’s brand marketers. The regulation protects the personal data of residents (or “data subjects”) of the 28 EU Member States, along with three other countries in the European Economic Area (EEA)—Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway—that have decided to participate. ❱

Several jurisdictions outside of Europe are looking at how they can emulate the GDPR approach. In Canada, a Parliamentary committee recently called for significant amendments to the nation’s long-standing federal private-sector privacy law, the Personal Information and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). In addition, the Canadian government announced plans to develop a “national data strategy” to address current consumer privacy concerns. Two requirements of the GDPR are particularly challenging for organizations in Canada and around the world. First, the expanded extraterritorial application of the law enables European data protection authorities (DPAs) to pursue alleged offenses well beyond the

borders of the EU itself. Second, there are significant penalties for non-compliance with the regulation of up to 4% of an organization’s annual global revenue or €20 million (approximately $30 million CAD), whichever is greater. This is done at the discretion of the DPAs. It is not surprising that many misconceptions have emerged among Canadian businesses about their obligations under the GDPR given its significant scope and application. In addition, Canadian companies’ concern is rising about the possibility that similarly strict requirements may be adopted by our own data protection authority, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC). What can Canadian marketers reasonably expect from EU enforcement of the GDPR? And

what are Canada’s own approaches to data protection likely to be in the months to come? Here are four top misconceptions that will help you understand the answers. 1. The GDPR applies to all Canadian organizations: FALSE Most Canadian companies that operate solely in Canada will not be subject to the GDPR. However, some Canadian companies could be impacted by the regulation if they meet any of the following criteria: (a) Have an establishment/ physical presence in the EU/EEA; (b) Market to or offer goods or services—even at no charge—to EU/EEA residents; (c) Monitor or profile behaviours of individuals in the EU/EEA; or (d) Are a third-party processor of EU/EEA personal data. July/August 2018

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Compliance What constitutes “marketing to” or “monitoring the behaviour of” EU/EEA residents? Mere accessibility to purchase products on a website is not sufficient. However, feature functionalities that enable EU/EEA residents to use a website (for example, offering a service in a local language or providing pricing in a local currency) may trigger application of the regulation. Information collected for purposes of behaviour monitoring also must relate to activities of persons within the EU and EEA. Monitoring may include, for example, Internet tracking or data collection for the purpose of profiling.

does not always require consent and that “the processing or personal data for direct marketing purposes may be regarded as being carried out for legitimate interest”. Marketers can rely on legitimate interests for marketing activities if they can show that the use of personal data is: proportionate; that it has a minimal privacy impact; and, that individuals would not be surprised or likely to object. 3. The GDPR mandates rules for electronic communications: FALSE While many marketers are still trying to assess the impacts of the GDPR, yet another European

Yet it [the GDPR] is a law that is catching up to Canada in many respects. To be clear, companies that have no European operations and do not target EU and EEA citizens/ residents for products/services, will not be caught under this legislation. 2. The GDPR requires end-user consent to process personal data: FALSE In Canada, organizations need to obtain the consent of consumers to process personal data. Many organizations needing to comply with the GDPR assume that they must also obtain an individual’s consent for direct marketing purposes. There are six lawful bases processing of personal data under GDPR: (1) consent, (2) legitimate interests, (3) contractual necessity, (4) compliance with legal obligations, (5) vital interests and (6) public interest. Before the GDPR went into force, many organizations flooded their customers with requests for renewed consent. Was this necessary? In some cases, not. For direct marketing activities, two processing options are appropriate and lawful under the GDPR: (1) “consent” and, (2) “legitimate interests”. The regulation explicitly recognizes that direct marketing July/August 2018

privacy regulation looms on the horizon. The ePrivacy Regulation could have significant impacts on the ways in which advertisers, publishers and marketers interact with EU data subjects electronically. The new ePrivacy law has received far less attention than the GDPR, in part because the regulation remains in draft form and is currently being debated by European policymakers. Designed to complement the GDPR, the ePrivacy regulation would set rules on electronic communications. This includes marketing e-mails, apps, telephone, instant messaging and personalized online display advertising (e.g. behavioural or interest-based advertising). It would also explicitly regulate the processing of personal data through connected devices, i.e. the Internet of Things (IoT) where data is shared machine-to-machine. The fines will mirror those for the GDPR. The most disruptive part of the proposed ePrivacy regulation is the requirement that companies obtain explicit consent for any data they retain from users of their services, including marketing and advertising messages. This is a threat to any business reliant on online advertising, particularly when advertising is enabled through

web cookie files. Legacy data will not be exempted or “grandfathered in” under the new law. 4. Canada undoubtedly will adopt a GDPR-like regime: FALSE The Canadian Parliament recently called for GDPR-like provisions to be considered as part of the ongoing review of the federal privacy law, PIPEDA. However, the government has refrained from this approach, opting instead for a more thoughtful analysis before proceeding with any formal revisions. Further, the government has invited a number of constituencies to comment on the process: including Canadian businesses. These “national data consultations” seek to find the right balance between supporting innovation and protecting privacy interests, while promoting trust in the data economy. The GDPR has been enthusiastically championed by privacy advocates as the new gold standard for consumer privacy regulation. Yet it is a law that is catching up to Canada in many respects, incorporating principles that have been part of PIPEDA and businesses’ best practices for more than 15 years. These long-established privacy principles include accountability, access rights and right to erasure. In addition, data breach reporting requirements were incorporated into PIPEDA in 2015 and come into force later this year. We need to be mindful about not simply importing a system which might not be suitable in the Canadian context. Profound differences exist between Europe’s history and contemporary attitudes about data collection and the social culture and business environment that exists in Canada today. The most admirable and unique quality of PIPEDA is that it supports a regulatory environment that protects consumers and fuels an innovative economy. Its stated objective is to support innovation and the growth of the digital economy while providing robust protections for personal privacy. As such, the law is much more than a simple consumer protection tool. Its intent is to promote a responsible and innovative business environment.

Balancing economic objectives with responsible privacy protection In a volatile global marketplace that is increasingly interconnected and data-driven, the Canadian economy needs flexibility to thrive. Privacy and data protection are extremely important components to ensure continued consumer trust in a digital world; just as innovation and competition are critical to maintaining a healthy business environment. None of these should be addressed to the detriment of the others. Consumers understand the importance of this balancing act. A recent study conducted by Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) revealed that a significant majority of Canadians (76%) have no fundamental objection to engaging in the data economy. The report also highlighted that consumer concerns around privacy can be mitigated by companies providing trust. Regulation is not the only tool in the toolbox. To build and maintain consumer trust, companies need to provide transparency and make reasonable efforts to help consumers understand how their data is being used. Canada is well-positioned to showcase innovation and be competitive globally while ensuring that responsible business models are the standard in a marketplace that respects consumer trust. PIPEDA continues to offer the perfect regulatory framework to preserve this balance between consumer protection and business success. While incremental improvements can and should be considered, an entirely new approach that has not been authentically created for the Canadian landscape should not replace a framework that has served us well. Cristina Onosé is director, government relations at the Canadian Marketing Association She has an MA in international affairs and is a certified privacy professional (CIPP/C). Her areas of expertise include Canadian and EU privacy law, cybersecurity, emerging technologies (Internet of Things, self-driving cars), Canada’s anti-spam law and interest-based advertising. Information in this article does not constitute legal advice. ❰

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Complying with critical regulations

Contact centres face an “alphabet soup” of necessary rules and standards By Tim Critchley


omplying with today’s data security and privacy regulations may not be at the very top of the “to-do” list for sales, marketing and customer service professionals. But for those who manage contact centres the times are unfortunately changing. First and foremost, the sheer number of data breaches is rising as is the severity of their impacts. A new reported survey from Kaspersky Labs1 shows that a single breach costs an average of $1.23 million for an enterprise and $120,000 for small and mediumsized businesses. Because contact centres handle, process and store sensitive data—payment card and social insurance numbers, addresses, birth dates and other types of personally identifiable information (PII)—they are major targets for cybercriminals and fraudsters. New security, privacy rules To address the onslaught of cyberattacks, governments and regulatory bodies around the world are upping the ante by ushering in new and amended compliance legislation. In May 2018 the European Union (EU) launched the much-anticipated General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which aims to standardize how EU citizens’ personal data is protected: no matter where it resides. The GDPR also covers three of the European Economic Area countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway that have signed on. That means even North American companies must comply with the GDPR if they conduct business with or handle data pertaining to EU and affected EEA country citizens. In Canada, beginning November 1, 2018, the Personal Information ❱

Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) will require organizations to notify affected individuals of data breaches and report them to the Privacy Commissioner. Although the United States does not have all-encompassing data security and privacy regulations, there is no shortage of individual state laws and government mandates for specific industries and the types of data they handle. For example, New York became the first state to enact its own cybersecurity law last year, the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) Cybersecurity Regulation. While we will likely see more states follow in New York’s footsteps, all states, along with the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, have some form of legislation that requires private or government entities to notify individuals of security breaches of information involving PII. In addition, contact centres that process payment card data must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Although it is a not a law, the PCI DSS provides a very robust set of requirements for securing cardholder data and protecting consumers against the misuse of their personal information. Penalties for noncompliance can range from $5,000 to $500,000 per month to the acquiring bank, which is often passed onto the merchant. Call recording challenges Complicating compliance with this alphabet soup of regulations is the fact that many contact centres record phone calls. The PCI DSS prohibits the recording and storing of Sensitive Authentication Data (SAD) for credit and debit cards. This leads contact centres to adopt “pause and resume” or “stop/start”

solutions that allow contact centre agents to pause recordings while PII, like credit card numbers, are read aloud and the agents resume the recordings after the information is captured. But this is an unreliable system that is prone to failure due to human error. What if an agent forgets to resume the recording, leaving out much of the information required to resolve transaction disputes or help with quality assurance? Or, more importantly, what if an agent forgets to pause the recording, inadvertently capturing PII on a recording that could be breached? Indeed, storing PII on call recordings is a massive risk. Just last year a data breach of a telemarketing firm exposed 400,000 recorded telephone conversations, more than 17,000 in which customers provided sensitive information, including their credit card numbers2. Keeping up with compliance This is only a snapshot of the regulatory landscape, but it is easy to see why it is nearly impossible for every contact centre executive or employee to understand every law or standard. However, it is important for everyone within an organization to recognize that compliance is ever-evolving: it is not a “one-and-done” checklist exercise. Instead compliance must be a living, breathing part of your daily business that is perpetuated by every employee. Therefore, contact centres should treat all PII as “toxic.” Your agents may not think twice about collecting customers’ verbalized credit card numbers, for example, or the consequences of logging those numbers on call recordings that may be breached. Emphasize to all employees the detrimental effects of improperly handling or storing PII: it could cost your company its

reputation and livelihood. Of course, awareness and education can only go so far. That’s why you should take the initiative to remove as much sensitive data from your business’ IT infrastructure as possible. Instead of struggling to determine which regulations apply and when, which controls you must have in place and how a violation might impact your company and your customers, invest in new technologies that keep data out of your vulnerable contact centre. For example, dual-tone multifrequency (DTMF) masking technologies are a popular option for contact centres that collect numerical PII, like credit card and bank account details, over the phone. Callers directly enter their details into the keypads—shielded from agents and call recording systems—which are then routed directly to the appropriate third parties. However, agents can remain on the lines with the callers to answer questions, handle wrap-up tasks and ensure smooth customer journeys. This technology helps keep contact centres out of scope for PCI DSS and many other regulations, making compliance far easier and much less costly. Perhaps one day we will see a truly global mandate that will make compliance far simpler. But until then contact centres must do their part to protect their customers’ most sensitive data. Tim Critchley is CEO, Semafone ( Semafone has published a compliance guide Navigating the Challenging Regulatory Landscape in Your Contact Centre. 1 Brandon Vigliarolo, “An average data breach will cost an enterprise $1.23M and an SMB $120K, here’s why”, TechRepublic, May 24, 2018. 2 Dell Cameron, “Major leak exposes 400K recorded telemarketing calls, thousands of credit card numbers”, Daily Dot, January 26, 2017.

July/August 2018

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Why CRM matters more than ever The growing importance of CRM in the age of AI and IoT By Martin Schneider


e are seeing the Internet of Things (IoT) change the way we interact with the items we use every day and with the companies that deliver to and through these devices. This disruption and transformation of how we interact with machines is happening in both business-tobusiness (B2B) and business-toconsumer (B2C) scenarios. Data-driven frictionless commerce Many of us already use Amazon Alexa or Google Home to add items to our shopping list, purchase tickets or perform other forms of what has been dubbed “conversational commerce”. This “frictionless commerce” offers convenience. But it also potentially provides a lower cost of sales upstream from B2C to B2B for numerous consumer products and for other manufacturers. Perhaps more important to manufacturers is the data generated by these interactions. By cutting out the middle man of retail, manufacturers can learn a lot about how, when and why consumers buy their products.

machines has a similar effect. For example, let’s say your business sells valves and other accessories for high-pressure systems. Sensor data from connected systems can feed into CRM applications to drive right-time processes, thus insuring customers get new supplies and items before they are out of compliance, or service appointments before parts near end-of-life. The real-time and real-life data generated by connected devices allows companies to supercharge their CRM systems and transform sales reps—who would previously try to sell products—into trusted supply partners. It reduces sales costs, since companies can push products when value is assumed. It lowers repair costs by knowing when to replace defective parts reduces critical errors or mishaps. Leveraging sensor data for righttime service is therefore yet another way to increase customer loyalty. Machine as customer In a way machines and systems have become “customers”. CRM in the age of IoT is about taking massive loads of data from machines (and in many instances

even wearables. Imagine you are having an issue with the office copier. Normally you might have to go back to your desk, log a support ticket with your IT department, wait for IT to learn how to fix the issue and wait for a technician. But in a world where IoT and CRM interconnect you could potentially make a call on your smartphone (or smart watch) and patch into the copy manufacturer’s call centre. You would be identified immediately and you could even possibly receive a remote patch and fix the issue without anyone coming on site. This issue and resolution data could populate the manufacturer’s knowledge base automatically, helping other agents and self-service customers solve similar issues. Transformation barriers There are barriers to this type of transformative fluid user and customer experience. Many organizations have either not invested in CRM or IoT systems at the platform level. Consequently, their CRM applications are either out of date or lacks the true elastic scalability, interconnectivity and availability. And companies may only be dabbling with IoT projects right now. Another concern is that many software tools are not processoriented nor are they truly omnichannel. Older systems are barely able to manage mobile use cases, let alone social media, chatbots and multiple artificial intelligence (AI)-driven tools such as Alexa, Cortana and Siri. Modern cloud-native platforms will become standard by allowing businesses to adapt to the new world of customer-to-productto-manufacturer-to-service provider i.e. complex interactions. Platforms, not products are needed

Businesses can use CRM and IoT together to not only transform how they sell but also how they service customers. When this data is coupled with a customer relationship management (CRM) system—one that profiles and tracks each consumer’s behaviour (in a noncreepy way!)—manufacturers can build more efficient supply chains, drive stronger profit margins and increase customer loyalty. In the B2B world the data generated from connected ❱

peoples’ interactions with them) and leveraging it to make better business decisions that are truly win-win for buyers and sellers. Businesses can use CRM and IoT together to not only transform how they sell but also how they service customers. Companies are getting smarter at creating direct support lines through interfaces like Alexa and Google Home or

because they offer more standards and faster and more cost-effective ways of joining up these multiple and data-rich systems. Also, as issues like data privacy come into play as seen with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). With all this data whizzing around it gets tricky in terms of who “owns” what data. The lines between companies, customers and devices then get blurred. CRM can help with these issues to an extent by tracking data privacy requests and controlling what personally identifiable information (PII) is stored and used by companies as well as provide easily legible audit trails of data deletion requests to insure compliance. We are, however, only at the beginning of deciphering some of the issues around data privacy in the IoT age. Change drivers Even with these obstacles, one thing is clear: competition and the connected customer are driving a change. Consumers in both the B2C and B2B worlds will make purchase and relationship decisions based on how well the companies they work with can offer these multichannel experiences. Companies will then need to reinvent their CRM strategies. This may involve some “patchwork” investment in IT tools like CRM channels, IoT platforms and data warehouses. Or it may involve some wholesale rebuilding of their IT infrastructure. So, the question remains, are you building an experience for your customers aligned with new and coming expectations? Or, are you in danger of falling by the wayside as new competitors and technologies threaten your customer relationships? Martin Schneider is head of corporate strategy, SugarCRM

July/August 2018

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The true value of customer journey mapping By Stephen Shaw

The growing number of channels and devices has made it hard for companies to deliver a unified customer experience across touchpoints. Journey mapping gives companies a fighting chance to tame the complexity and catch up to the rising expectations of customers.


he practice of customer journey mapping has been around for a decade or so. Over that time, it has gradually become the preferred method for paving over cracks in the customer experience. A journey map is a visual depiction of the stages a customer goes through as they interact with a company to achieve a specific goal, like paying a bill or making a service inquiry, along with a description of how they feel based on the degree of difficulty. The goal is to identify the make-or-break moments that drive brand loyalty by seeing the experience through the eyes of a customer. It is easy to understand why journey mapping has become so popular. The proliferation of channels and devices has made it hard for companies to keep up with the rising expectations of customers who know that anything is now possible. The complexity of managing crosschannel interactions puts a huge strain on legacy processes and systems that were never designed to support an on-demand world. But market pressure is forcing companies to make a do-or-die choice—either they invest in the future to save customers from falling between the cracks—or they risk the possibility of losing customers forever to companies that make it easy to do business with them. The act of retail shopping at a big box store illustrates the dilemma. A shopper may choose to use the retailer’s mobile app to search for what they want, check out the July/August 2018

different brand options, read the product reviews, compare features and prices and then find the nearest location where the item they want is in stock, along with directions to get there. So far so good! But on arrival at the store the experience often takes a wrong turn. The vast store layout defies navigation—a shortage of knowledgeable staff prolongs the shopping trip—and the cryptic shelf displays offer little help. Even more exasperating is if a purchased product is defective or unwanted the shopper is forced to wait anxiously in a customer service line to negotiate its return. No wonder Amazon has retailers quivering in fear: by comparison, its purchase journey is practically worry free. Wireless issues and an exceptional provider While store retailers must adapt to the omnichannel shopper or surrender to Amazon, they are not alone in their desperation to unify the customer journey across multiple touchpoints. Wireless providers face a disgruntled population of subscribers who feel trapped by a lack of choice and moan about a long list of abuses: hyper-aggressive selling, lack of transparency, byzantine rate plans, restrictive contracts, inadequate service, misleading offers, “cancellation bargaining” and billing overages. Which is why the wireless providers in Canada usually rank dead last in customer satisfaction studies and account for the greatest number of complaints filed with the Commission of Complaints for Telecom-Television Services. However, there is one exception amongst Canadian wireless providers—one brand which consistently tops all the others in satisfaction ratings—and which in 2017 ranked first in the J.D. Power 2017 Canadian Wireless Purchase Experience Study: Koodo Mobile. Its recipe for success: a heartfelt commitment to pleasing

its customers: and a heavy reliance on customer journey mapping to systematically eliminate the pain points in the customer experience. How Koodo earned its kudos Koodo Mobile is a “flanker” brand introduced by Telus in 2008 during the “talk and text” phone era. Catering primarily to the young adult market, it differs from most providers by not requiring a fixed term contract. Unable to lock in subscribers contractually, Koodo must keep them loyal by appealing to them in other ways, mainly by minimizing the hassle factor. Its governing principles are simplicity, fairness and dependability. But that promise, as grand as it sounds,

associated with each 1% increase in L2R. The key variable in that equation is the level of effort required by customers to resolve a problem or issue. “For the last two years or so, we’ve elevated customer effort reduction to the highest priority. It’s at the top of our scorecard—because it’s the main loyalty driver,” Szederkenyi says. Consistently earning the “kudos” of customers demands a pre-emptive and systematic approach to experience design. “To win the battle, it’s not enough just to understand the pain points,” Szederkenyi cautions. “Operationalizing and implementing the changes is critical”.

It is easy to understand why journey mapping has become so popular. is not easy to convert into a “paint by numbers” playbook. What is simple for some subscribers is not always simple for others. And fairness is a highly subjective judgement, affected mostly by how well treated a person felt the last time they were serviced. “Where the industry has fallen on its face is setting expectations that were not delivered upon,” explains Bernard Szederkenyi, Koodo’s head of customer experience. “That’s why the true competitive differentiator is the management of the customer experience”. Koodo relies on “likelihood to recommend (L2R)” as its beacon metric which it has found to be a reliable predictor of purchase behaviour and accounts for the remarkable health of the brand. In fact, Koodo believes so strongly in word of mouth that it has calculated the incremental revenue

To identify and prioritize new opportunities to improve the experience, Koodo has established a service design team which specializes in customer journey mapping. “To truly understand the journey end-to-end is like peeling the layers of an onion,” Szederkenyi observes. “Journey mapping has helped us move from a ‘find and fix’ model to ‘predict and prevent’.” Since first embracing the tool four years ago, Szederkenyi figures Koodo has tackled 150 or so mapping projects, sponsored by the various business units responsible for different facets of the experience. Walking in customers’ shoes When Koodo first started down the path of journey mapping the initial goal was to fix the processes known Continued on page 14 ❰

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CRM Continued from page 11

to cause disillusionment with the brand (“I thought you said it was going to be easy and simple!”). It sought to improve the onboarding process at both retail outlets and mall kiosks and create a smoother experience during the first 90 days following purchase of a plan. To dissect the current experience, extensive interviews were conducted with customerfacing staff who could identify the process gaps based on frontline feedback. Together with primary customer research, an initial picture began to emerge of the most vexing problems customers were experiencing. To determine the relative severity of these issues, call centre data was rolled into the analysis to see what impact each pain point had on contract cancellations. That gave Koodo the factual evidence to prove the reputational damage.

For Journey Mapping to be successful, it must be an integral part of a broader customer experience strategy.

research while another was based on an anxious buyer by the name of “Mary” who is about to activate her new phone. The participants were asked to walk in their shoes by speculating on what they see, feel and think. The findings from the Empathy Mapping exercise served as the basis for the initial set

Customer journey mapping is the best way to keep the needs of customers in plain sight. Select stakeholders were then invited to participate in an Empathy Mapping workshop, where they were invited to imagine what a typical customer experience was like based on different kinds of service encounters. One scenario, for example, revolved around a persona named “Jack” who has set out to buy a new phone at a Koodo kiosk after doing extensive online Customer Journey Mapping Process

of Journey Maps: large diagrams graphically transformed into postersized art. These were then used in workshops to validate the pain points and solicit immediate ideas to improve the customer experience. A total of 35 pain points was identified across four different journeys. Issues such as “I don’t understand why my bill is different than expected”, “I can’t find the

answers I’m looking for on the web site” and “I don’t know what the right rate plan is for me”, were all flagged as leading concerns. Koodo was then able to come up with solutions for those decisive moments when the “likelihood to recommend” was at greatest risk. Customers’ needs in plain sight Keeping up with the expectations of customers, as Koodo has discovered, is a moving target: this year’s stretch goal becomes next year’s baseline mainly due to the relentless pace of digital change. Each time customer satisfaction hits a plateau the pressure is on to reach a higher level: just to keep a safe distance from the competition. The most loved brands—like Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Costco, Virgin Airlines, Ritz Carlton— always find a way of towering over their competitors by creating signature experiences which are tangible expressions of their business purpose and vision. Those experiences, unique to each brand, are designed around the moments that make the greatest difference

in the lives of their customers. As Amazon’s Jeff Bezos says, “We start with what the customer needs and work backwards”. Customer journey mapping is the best way to keep the needs of customers in plain sight. But the time and effort required to make it worthwhile demands a sustained commitment. Otherwise the energy and enthusiasm initially gained through quick fixes and early wins quickly drains away. An ongoing investment is required, in people, resources and cultural change to maintain momentum. Everybody must have faith in the process, from one end of the company to another, plus the endorsement of the C-suite. Once the basic needs of customers are met—whether that’s ordering a product or arranging a delivery time or resolving a billing discrepancy—the company can move on to tackling the defining moments that lead a customer to feel: “You make my life better” or “I can’t think of doing business with anyone else”. Get those moments right and a brand can reach the heights of customer advocacy. For a company first starting down the path of journey mapping, the effort required can seem overwhelming. But over time, as the multichannel experience becomes easier, simpler and more streamlined, the positive emotions it evokes amongst customers will more than justify the effort: a growing likelihood to recommend the brand. Stephen Shaw is the chief strategy officer of Kenna, a marketing solutions provider specializing in customer experience management. He can be reached via e-mail at


July/August 2018

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4 ways AI helps improve the customer experience By Christian Barckhahn


ustomer experience continues to be a key initiative for businesses to keep their competitive edge. But to deliver the best experience they need to thoroughly know their customers. While there’s no shortage of customer data the problem lies in analyzing it in an augmented fashion to gain actionable insights. This is where the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies with analytics in a customer-centric setting comes in. Leading companies are continuously experimenting to determine the best way to employ AI to improve the audience experience. They see the value in connected end-to-end customer journeys spanning multiple channels such as online, retail and direct mail and are using machine learning to predict future customer behaviour and deliver intelligent experiences. Retail and banking multichannel examples Retailers are looking to AI tools to help them identify new trends and anticipate customer behaviours. Using AI alongside analytics (AI-enhanced analytics) they can deliver better customer experiences, have a better understanding what customers want, draw a more complete picture of their customers’ needs and make better use of their inventories. Another benefit of using AI and analytics is that marketers can look at the characteristics of larger customer segments to identity smaller groups of customers with extremely similar buying preferences and patterns. It is important to know that the customer insights gained through using AI can be used in traditional marketing techniques as well as digital-first initiatives. For example, retailers that focus on direct mail can apply their findings to more targeted customer groups, segmenting their mailing lists and mailers that focus on the interests July/August 2018

of different groups. They can also use AI to help them test the success of different mailer versions across different segments and regions. The banking industry is also looking at using AI to market its products to customers. A customer visits a bank’s web site to learn more about its wealth management products. The customer can then reach out to a contact centre agent or wealth advisor to talk about wealth management and even go into a branch to discuss the products further in person. A branch employee may direct the customer back to the bank’s web site where they can set up an account for wealth management. AI-generated insights based on the customer’s information on the site are then used to optimize the content to help them make future decisions (and keep the customer happy). With the ability to track money online, the wealth manager can be alerted that their client has excess funds that could be used to set up a college fund for their grandchildren. The data that the branch employee initially provided for wealth management online uncovered a hidden relationship to a new product: a college fund. Using direct mail, wealth managers could send personalized letters and brochures discussing the products to customers that meet specific criteria. In this example AI is helping the wealth managers provide a personal touch with customers while saving them time in discovering all the products that could be of interest. In other cases, AI can be used to anticipate customer behaviours. While still in the early stages, contact centres are experimenting with voice recognition technologies that can detect sentiment in a customer’s voice. For example, if a customer calls into the bank and is angry the technology can recognize that emotion and immediately direct them to an agent that is adept in dealing with angry customers. These are just a couple of examples of how AI can improve

the customer experience. Here are four ways that AI can help.


Free the customer service team from the mundane. As seen with the examples above, AI can automate timeconsuming tasks such as data entry and directing callers to the right people. It allows staff to focus on the customers’ problems rather than gathering mundane information such as their names, addresses and dates of birth or answering simple FAQ questions. This is where chatbots and virtual assistants can be deployed for basic automatic data entry. Chatbots are designed to simulate human interactions and provide immediate and personalized responses 24/7. This is particularly useful managing customer questions or complaints. Virtual assistants on the other hand can engage customers in simple conversations to check on orders or find recommendations based on querying large databases of information, past responses or predictive next best actions. By automating the mundane parts of customer service, the opportunity is to give the customer service team more complex tasks to deal with.


Predict next-best actions. Brands have made a seismic shift in the last decade away from telling customers what they want (okay, they’re still guilty of that somewhat) to creating brand experiences that feels like they were tailored for them. AI tools are enabling brands to accomplish this by sifting through customer data and personalizing the information to offer relevant products. These technologies help identify the consumer’s needs before they even know it (which in the past, visionaries like Steve Jobs have done this with products such as the iPod and iPhone). In the world of marketing, retailers could use smart shopping carts to understand where you are in your purchase decisions to recommend a product, such as if

you’re buying ingredients to make a cake, it would recommend eggs, flour and milk.


Discover hidden highimpact decisions. Delving deeper into the customer journey, data mining looks at the bigger opportunities in terms of what future brand engagements or actions could be, such as the banking example above with a customer inquiring about a wealth management product and subsequently ending up with a college fund. Whatever the challenge is, the key is that AI is being used to handle co-relations over more traditional, manual methods used in the past.


Content that creates itself. AI can be used to better the customer experience by training it on business-specific metadata to dynamically generate web pages, mobile alerts or other contentcentric communications. For example, a professional sports association wanting to drive more attention to its games and get fans more engaged can use AI to deliver live statistics on each game and provide fans a unique display of their favourite player stats on their mobile devices. Overall, investing in customer experience and AI is in all businesses’ best interests, no matter what industry they are in. And it’s not just about adhering to compliance and governance that should be the reason for doing so—the customer base is changing and if businesses aren’t appealing to them and making changes—they’re going to go somewhere else.

Christian Barckhahn is OpenText´s global product marketing senior director for the Customer Experience business unit. He holds a B.A. degree in economics from Saint Louis University and an executive degree on innovation from Stanford University Graduate School of Business. ❰

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Customer service has evolved - is your business experiencing the benefits? By Terry Rybolt


our customer service department is essential. So even though it’s a major cost you need a path that allows customers to get in touch after they purchased your products. But have you ever considered just how much the interaction between brands and customers have changed in recent years and how this evolution might create entirely new opportunities? The brand engagement shift Think of the classic customer journey. Your brand pushes advertising or a marketing campaign that generates market awareness. Customers hear about the products and chances are they will have researched online before purchasing. And if they have any doubts or questions after they bought the products they call the contact centre. That’s easy to understand and it flows from one stage to another. But it’s not how customers interact with brands today. Customers have fundamentally changed it from passive to active engagement. Think about some typical interactions that you can find online, that customers are asking: ❯❯ An airline about the choice of movies on a flight they are catching the next day; ❯❯ A hotel if they know of a nearby Japanese restaurant; and ❯❯ A grocery store for a good mushroom soup recipe. Any of these customer queries can occur at any time and on any channel. Sometimes a customer will call the contact centre, other times they post a comment on Twitter or Instagram or they might email or use online chat. But none of these interactions follows the traditional customer journey. A customer doesn’t ask a supermarket a question about ❱

mushroom soup because they saw an advertisement. Redefining contact centre metrics Typical contact centre metrics used to be focused on how long it took to resolve customers’ questions and whether they were satisfied with their first contacts. But when customers are actively seeking brand engagement these metrics need to be redefined. A customer engaging in a series of tweets with a hotel chain offering dining ideas is likely to be much more satisfied that the brand engaged in a conversation, rather than hoping the conversation was all tied up in the initial response.

can actively improve the way your business interacts with and sells to customers. 3. Revenue generation. The contact centre isn’t just there for post-sale comments or complaints. Any interaction between the brand and the customer is an opportunity to close a sale. In many cases where the customer initiates the engagement the sales process is only guidance and advisory: no hard sell is required when you know the customer is already interested. 4. Branding and marketing. How many times have you seen a friend post a screenshot on

The customer service team is building customer relationships, forming the way that customers think of your brand. Consequently, the customer service function is now far more sophisticated than ever and can offer businesses far more than just a way of recording complaints. Consider these five ideas: 1. Business driver analysis. Your contact centre team is engaged on a daily basis with prospective and existing customers. They know the problems and complaints and issues your brand faces. They should be directly offering help to the sales and marketing team so that negative drivers are ironed out and positive business drivers are enhanced. 2. Business process improvement. The contact centre should be encouraged to participate in a process of constant improvement so they

Facebook saying “Wow, look at this amazing service!” Almost all your customer engagements are now transparent and visible to other customers. They prove that you can offer great service and that becomes a strong part of your marketing story. Customers can even become fans, telling their friends and family about their experiences with your brand: and that’s the kind of advertising that money just can’t buy. 5. Relationship building and engagement. Customers are engaging more often with brands today. They are expecting connections that are like ongoing relationships rather than transactions. Think about the way that people relate to brands such as Nike, Apple or

Harley Davidson. These aren’t just product manufacturers: they have entered into the lifestyles of their customers. These engagements will become increasingly common, even for sectors such as retail and banking. The customer relationship centre It has been a few years since many customer service managers tried shifting attitudes so that executives see the contact centre as a potential profit centre, rather than as a cost centre. Most of those early efforts focused on crossselling and upselling products to customers who were contacting the brand. But times have changed. The contact centre can certainly be a profitable part of your sales operation, but it can now be so much more. The customer service team is building customer relationships, forming the way that customers think of your brand. They can improve your internal business processes and help to identify and eliminate problems. The modern customer service function solves customer problems and generates revenue for the business. But it has to evolve to become a “customer relationship centre”. The way that customers communicate with each other has entirely changed in the past few years is it any surprise that the customer to brand relationship has changed? Think about your own customer journey and reconsider exactly what your customer service team can do to improve your business. Terry Rybolt is CEO of Teleperformance Canada. He has direct responsibility for leading the company’s operations and strategic efforts throughout Canada and the offshore markets it operates in. Terry has over 20 years’ experience, selling, managing and operating technology companies.

July/August 2018

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// 18

Holiday Marketing

Marketing child’s play How custom segmentation helped achieve a 125% holiday email campaign conversion rate increase By Peter Boggs


TEM toys are designed to get kids interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). But one national retailer discovered the skills taught by those toys can also play a role in sharpening a holiday email marketing campaign.

For a little over a year the retailer had been working closely with the data scientists and analysts at Environics Analytics to develop a custom segmentation model to get a clearer picture of its core consumers and determine which segments were being underserved. While this work yielded interesting insights, the retailer was looking for an opportunity to put this work

to test. That opportunity came late last year heading into the holiday rush as it searched for ways to raise consumer awareness about its new STEM toy product category, which was geared towards young children. The challenge, however, was that toys were just one of many product categories sold through its stores and its core customer segments were less likely to have young kids at home. As a result, the retailer knew it had to hone in on the consumers who would be most interested in these new products. Tapping the right audience In order to tap the right audience, the retailer needed to target segments who were more likely to have kids within the desired age groups. Without the custom segments this would have been an impossible task, particularly given the retailer’s robust email list includes hundreds of thousands of subscribers. With the segmentation work complete, the retailer’s own in-house analysts now had the ability to select driver characteristics to target their emails. This enabled them to zero in on a subset of its subscribers they believed would be most receptive to their campaign. Narrowing down the subscriber list was critical from the retailer’s point of view, given what it has learned from previous campaigns. The campaigns taught them that generic messages didn’t just result in a lower engage rate, they also led to a spike in subscriptions. Targeting a group outside of the retailer’s core customer was also a strategic decision, as it enabled the retailer to extend its reach in the market. Strong results and follow-up plans The results were immediate. The targeted campaign not only resulted in a sharp increase in the number of email opens, it saw a


125% jump in the conversion rate over what the retailer typically sees from one of its mass email campaigns. Equally important: the retailer saw an 86% reduction in its unsubscribe rate, indicating that the campaign was on target and resonated with consumers. Given the success of this initiative the retailer is now looking to apply its custom segmentations to more of its direct email campaigns. It is also taking steps to make sure everyone on its marketing team has access to the data. The retailer sees opportunities beyond marketing. It is exploring how to use its custom segmentation system to tailor its product mix and train staff to better align to the key segments who live close to its stores across Canada. To get to this point the retailer had to overcome several challenges. While it had a lot of transactional data, it didn’t have the depth of data to connect those sales to its customers. Outside of warrantee purchases, postal codes and addresses were rarely collected for many of its in-store sales. This lack of information make it more challenging to build a segmentation model, but by working with its partners the retailer was able to fill in some of the missing pieces to determine who their principal customers are. The retailer’s own email database and data from online purchases also proved to be to be a richer source of information than the retailer originally believed. They were then able to add third-party data from Environics Analytics into the mix to build a complete view of their customers. The retailer now has its own in-house experts who can help leverage the analytics work that has already been done to help the company make smarter, data driven decisions. Peter Boggs is a senior vice president at

Environics Analytics July/August 2018

// 19

Holiday Marketing

Serving Chinese visitors Excellent customer experiences critical By Michael Morin

Becoming “China Ready” China Ready is an accreditation and training programme to enable Western businesses meet the needs of Chinese customers. Canadian hotels, such as the Intercontinental Montreal were deemed “China Ready” when they were trained earlier this year. The Intercontinental Montreal learned that Chinese guests expected to have tea kettles and Chinese TV channels in their rooms and some flip-flops or “interior” shoes to wear. The guests would appreciate Chinese breakfast, which varies widely from American or even European breakfast. July/August 2018

Courtesy HÔtel InterContinental


t pays to carefully market to and meet the needs of your customers. Especially if they are visitors from other countries with unique customer experience expectations. Your success at offering and meeting them will determine how much repeat and referral business you will receive. Case in point is China. The Canadian and Chinese governments have declared that 2018 is the year of Canada-China Tourism. There is a lot of excitement being built around the fact that the Chinese are taking more interest in Canada as a travel and vacation destination. According to Destination Canada, China was Canada’s largest source of tourist arrivals from the Asia-Pacific region and the second largest overseas tourist market, with 682,000 arrivals in 2017, up 12% over 2016. Chinese tourists spend on average almost $2,400 per trip and travel mostly during July and August. Moreover, the tourism landscape is changing. Instead of groups of Chinese arriving in pre-set packages, more and more individual travellers looking for a unique experience and booking on-the-spot are making their way onto the circuits.

The Intercontinental Hotel in Montreal, Quebec is welcoming Chinese visitors with a personalized customer experience.

Businesses like the Intercontinental Montreal, The Ritz-Carlton Montreal and the CN Tower in Toronto are now offering Chinese visitors the ability to pay by using at least one of the two most popular e-wallets in China: WeChat Pay and Alipay. Currently, OTT PAY is providing those to the InterContinental Hotel in Montreal as well as to their restaurant Osco!, their bar The Sarah B and the Java U coffee shop in the hotel. The purpose is for their guests to know they are welcome. The advantages of using these payments platforms go beyond just showing hospitality towards your guests of Chinese origin. They also makes good business sense. WeChat Pay started as a social media application which grew into encompassing everything from doctors’ appointments to hailing taxis. WeChat took the concept of stickiness described by Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point to a new level by allowing users to share in-app experiences on their “moments”, public messages with pictures or videos, much like Twitter. The merchant benefits Enabling Chinese visitors to pay with WeChat Pay and Alipay confer other critical benefits. From a strictly business/merchant perspective the transaction rates are lower, the exchange rate is transparent and the end users pay less.

Traditional credit cards1, we were told by some of our customers, first exchange RMB to USD and then to CAD, not to mention some cards charging 3%2 on international transactions. There are none of these expensive and time-consuming complexities in either the WeChat Pay or the Alipay business model. And from a customer experience point of view this is the way to go. More Canadian businesses now accept WeChat Pay and Alipay along with every other major issuer out there. After all, meeting Chinese visitors’ payment method preferences is no different than other countries offering Interac for Canadians travelling abroad; there are Interac ATMs in China for that reason. Enabling word of mouth marketing There are other aspects to attracting your target market. Making it convenient for prospects to come to your place of business is the first step. There also needs to be a plan in place to make it memorable. To make the experience share-worthy. How do you get your guests to share the positive experience they had with their friends? How do you crank up the word-of-mouth? Some companies in China have challenges for their customers. Share x number of times, show us a picture of the post with x number of likes and you will get a 40% discount. The idea is to create a

buzz. Canadian companies should offer the same type of referral programmes. The investment in making these steps will pay off. Chinese visitors have the money and they have the will to experience the best their trips have to offer. Bardish Chagger, formerly the federal small business and tourism minister perhaps over-optimistically stated at the opening ceremony for the Canada-China Year of Tourism which I attended in Toronto that Canada can expect a 300% increase in tourists in the next two years. That would bring us to 1.8 million visitors from China. Conservatively, 50% increase would bring us to 900,000 visitors. As a business attracting these people it is your responsibility to live up to the expectation they have of what you have to offer. When you do the word-of-mouth marketing benefits alone can be invaluable. Michael Morin in public relations manager for

OTT Pay, Inc. OTT Pay is a member of the OTT Group of companies that strive to make life less complicated by offering payment services, recommendations to their customers and inclusive participation in the new economy. OTT Pay Inc. is a proud partner of Toronto Tourism, Tourisme Montréal and Kingston Tourism, helping them to win Chinese tourism and long-term Chinese consumers. 1 Claer Barrett, “Don’t get burnt by foreign credit card charges,” Financial Times, October 19, 2017. 2 Sienna Kossman,“What is a foreign transaction fee?”,, January 10, 2017. ❰

// 20




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Successful product placement in online mobile games I

Neale Orinick is a freelance writer.

ntegrating real life products into free-to-play online mobile games can be mutually beneficial for brands and developers. Case in point is Nordcurrent: a Lithuania-based international publisher and developer of free-to-play and casual games for smartphones and tablets. In late 2017 Nordcurrent formed a partnership with Coca-Cola, placing one of the world’s most iconic brands prominently into the wildly popular free-toplay game Cooking Fever. This game allows players to create and serve dishes in their own virtual restaurant. Canadians have gotten Cooking Fever; Canada has been one of its largest markets in the number of players and revenue share since the game initially launched. Since the release of Cooking Fever, there have been more than five million downloads by Canadian players. Product placement in television and movies is nothing new. But the Internet steadily continues to pull consumers away from their TVs with countless free gaming experiences to choose from. However, it may be opening up previously unexplored avenues for both game developers and marketers. As consumers tend to be resistant towards advertising in games they have paid for, the world of free games offers a unique advantage. Studies dating back to 2013 affirm that gamers have a more positive attitude towards branded products that are integrated into their games1. Nordcurrent’s case serves as an excellent example of how product placement can be effectively integrated. For the game player, it is a seamless experience. Players appreciate the fact that there is no commercial interruption in their entertainment or a distracting advertisement banner blocking part of the screens. A mutually beneficial partnership According to Nordcurrent CEO Victoria Trofimova, when Coca-Cola expressed an interest in advertising, their team was immediately receptive to the idea. Nordcurrent saw the addition of Coca-Cola branded products in the game as a way to add authenticity to the Cooking Fever gaming experience with soft drink dispensing machines, glasses and décor that resemble what one sees in real diners and cafes. Unlike most branded content being placed in a game in one location, Coca-Cola products are part of the game. As players progress through the game, they can upgrade to different versions of Coca-Cola branded products. The Coca-Cola brand is always front and center of the gamer. “The Coca-Cola brand integrates seamlessly into Cooking Fever as serving soft drinks is one of the main mechanics of the game,” says Trofimova.


That Coca-Cola is a globally-recognized brand benefits Nordcurrent. Coca-Cola’s built-in association to the game has served to raise its profile. Loyal brand users are potential new advocates for the Nordcurrent’s game and a means of positive exposure amongst the millions of online gamers sharing information and opinions via social media platforms. In turn, for Coca-Cola, the partnership means exposure in a game that has been downloaded almost 200 million times by consumers around the world. Cooking Fever is averaging between two and three million new players every month. Coca-Cola’s brand is in front of millions of gamers over and over again in countless ways as they progress through each level of the game. “The feedback has been mostly positive with people saying thanks for bringing their favourite drink to the game. Of course, there have been some negative comments from the millions of fans that play the game, but the majority of actively communicating players are quite happy with our decision to add CocaCola branded products to their gaming experience,” says Trofimova. Potential for future placements Another benefit of the partnership between Nordcurrent and Coca-Cola are new offers being presented to consumers through the game. Nordcurrent is planning to include more special Coca-Cola content and run competitions based on the brand’s integration. Cooking Fever enthusiasts will begin to see enhancements to the game with even more authentic and recognizable content. Coca-Cola will benefit from a continued positive association of their brand with those enhancements. Finally, Nordcurrent sees the benefits of their partnership with Coca-Cola as a means to attracting even more advertisers who want to be part of their game in the future. “We have had requests for more real food and drink brands to appear in the game, which adds to our ongoing efforts to attract more potential in-game advertisers. Food is a universal topic with many brands operating internationally, which would benefit from exposure to a global, highly engaged game audience. We have an open-ended agreement with the Coca-Cola company and will develop the partnership further based on ongoing results. The initial months have been very promising, so we hope to continue this collaboration and expand it with more content and other ideas,” adds Trofimova. 1 Zachary Glass, “The Effectiveness of Product Placement in Video Games”, Journal of Interactive Advertising, article, Volume 8, 2007 - Issue 1, published online July 1, 2013.

July/August 2018

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