Sageflo’s 3×3 Podcast: Episode 5

John Evans of Trilogy Group of Companies and OPUS Hotel Corporation

In the latest episode of our 3×3 Podcast, Julian sits down with John Evans, President and Founder of Trilogy Group of Companies and OPUS Hotel Corporation, to discuss how he developed his businesses and how digital marketing impacts the hotel industry. 

Podcast Excerpts

Julian Scott: We’re very lucky to welcome John Evans, CEO and Founder of the Trilogy Group of Companies and the OPUS Hotel Corporation. John, would you introduce yourself please?

John Evans: I’m a real estate developer, probably now getting close to 40 plus years. I’ve been in the real estate development business based in Vancouver. OPUS Hotel Vancouver is now in its 21st year of operation. We’ve just opened in Richmond another 100-room property right beside Vancouver International Airport, called Versante. And I’m now and have been for the last year, living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico working on OPUS Riviera Nayarit, my first hotel development in this country. 

Julian Scott: One of the things that I think would be interesting for people to know is the model of hotels and hotel management and hotel development. I think a lot of people think, “If it’s a Hilton, the Hilton bought it, the Hilton owns it, the Hilton manages it and runs it day to day”. And that’s not necessarily the case.

John Evans: There are basically three aspects to the business. There is development and ownership. Typically, the development will be undertaken by the ultimate owner of the business. The second and often not the same party is management. The hotel management business is a very significant global business. In many cases, the hotel management companies do not have ownership. And the third piece, which is often misunderstood, is the franchise or licensing of brand or flag. So, you have three district distinct areas in the hotel business: ownership, management, and what I’ll call licensing or franchise. 

In fact, we’re three of three because we build our own hotels with partners in the world, we’re in the hotel management business, and I also own the OPUS Hotel brand so the OPUS brand is franchised and is available for license. 

Julian Scott: It goes without saying that the past two years have been incredibly challenging for so many businesses, but particularly the hospitality industry which has been severely impacted by travel restrictions and customer sentiment of worry of traveling and so forth. For your businesses, what have you had to do to pivot to get through this time?

John Evans: We had never seen a situation where essentially your businesses were closed. We were fortunate that the Canadian Federal Government stepped up for businesses and we were able to have a significant portion of the salary component for our hotel management groups covered. That subsidy has essentially, for I think virtually every hotel owner in Canada, kept them afloat. We only reopened OPUS Hotel Vancouver in August. We were closed for 16 months. And if you had told me that that was possible, I would never have believed that there would be anything that could cause that to occur. Every hotel owner has worked very hard to stay afloat. And the good news is the majority have. Everybody creatively found a way to weather the storm and to try and live through it.

Julian Scott: From your perspective and looking back so far, have you felt that there were any learnings that will stick with us as you head down into the future?

John Evans: We sort of lived through it in the 2009, 10, 11 eras when there was a dramatic fall in demand. And you know we’re not in the commodity business. There are those in the hotel business who really are a commodity. We sell lifestyle. We’re a lifestyle brand and a lifestyle brand is basically more niched, it’s more expensive, and it is more sought after. The good news is that the millennial world is going to travel in many cases before the older segments of the market will travel. So, we’re always focused on lifestyle brands. Our big customers: Lululemon, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, you know those are our big customers. So, we understand that market and those companies. Many of them have done very well through the pandemic, but we will continue to cross-market with those international lifestyle brands. 

Julian Scott: One thing we wanted to ask is, from your perspective, the role of digital marketing. Obviously, it was important before the pandemic and probably even more so now. How has digital marketing impacted the hotel industry and what role do you see it playing as we navigate forward?

John Evans: Well, it’s been the topic of conversation for the last month in every way, shape, and form. My view is that digital advertising, the digital world relative to hotels, will become virtually the single and soul way in which hotels are marketed and sold. I cannot put enough importance on it. It is my daily focus.  

It is how we are going to restore the OPUS Vancouver business and it is how we are going to grow the Versante hotel business, and it is how I’m going to launch the OPUS Riviera brand. As I come into the high-end Mexican resort business, it’s everything.  

I think the limitation is, I’m just not sure how many people are well trained and brilliant at executing. So, it’s an area where we need more talent, we need more individuals. Not just big agencies, but individuals who can join the team, because they now are a critical part of the management group. 


View the full podcast episode here to hear more of John Evans’ hotel development and industry insights.  

Posted by Aaron Smith

How To Create Brand Experiences That Encourage An Emotional Connection And Word Of Mouth

Digital transformation is accelerating faster than ever before, resulting in a race to not only keep up but also come out ahead of the competition. From what I’ve seen, many brands are struggling to differentiate the shopping experience and meet their customers’ evolving needs and expectations — and they risk eroding loyalty for their brand.

As consumers assert more control over their preferences and how brands interact with them, not only is it essential to keep them engaged, but brands also have an opportunity to turn their customers into advocates to drive ongoing organic growth. The ultimate sign of customer loyalty is when customers share their excitement for the brand with their families, friends and colleagues. According to Nielsen, recommendations from people we know and trust are the most credible form of advertising.

One tactic to sustain and grow your customer relationships is developing an emotional connection with your customers. It’s been said that brands that get this right receive three times as much word of mouth as less emotionally connected brands. The key is to be authentic, helpful and timely.

Here are three ways to create brand experiences that foster an emotional connection and encourage word of mouth:

1. Provide an experience beyond the conversion. Move away from the traditional “shop and stop” attitude and start creating post-purchase experiences that drive longer-term connections and enable peer-to-peer activity. For example, consider creating an automated email series that goes above and beyond the order confirmation or “complete the look” type cross-selling. Think videos or illustrations on personalized product care or how to use and get the most out of products. And be sure to make them shareable. Referral offers and competitions are another great way to get customers engaged and talking with their peers.

2. Get the customer involved. User-generated content is one of the most trusted forms of marketing content and can have scalable marketing benefits for any brand. UGC can be a fun way for brands to emotionally connect with their customers and at the same time humanize the brand or product, drive awareness to prospects and ultimately get the conversation going. Consider going a step further than ratings and reviews or customer satisfaction surveys, and allow customers to offer online advice and feedback on products or services in real time.

3. Make customers feel good about themselves. Publish editorial content across your digital platforms that informs consumers about what you’re doing to make positive changes in the world. This could include a range of content that aims to drive awareness of the positive environmental impact of purchasing from your business. Consider actively pushing content that describes ways in which people can make a difference in their everyday lives. This strategy can help you inspire people to support a cause and generate feel-good sharable moments. Sometimes it can be tough to motivate customers to get involved, so consider gamifying the experience. Create a fun, interactive environment for consumers to calculate their own eco-friendly scores when they purchase products that are environmentally friendly or if they recycle or trade in old products at the point of purchase. You can use this initiative to automate cross-channel messaging that provides updates, encouragement and rewards, while at the same time building emotional momentum that’s worth talking about.

Many brands may already have some of these strategies in their toolbox, but just don’t realize it. Some marketers tend to focus on selling when they should focus on sharing. When you create opportunities for customers to engage with you by providing content and experiences that are worth sharing, those same customers will often take it upon themselves to advocate on your behalf.

The brands that understand the value in building these connections will reap the benefits, and those that ignore this opportunity do so at their own peril. The pace of digital transformation will likely only increase in the years ahead, but it’s not too late to catch up if you can pivot to creating authentic emotional connections that foster both customer loyalty and word of mouth.


Previously published on Forbes.com as a Forbes Agency Council Post.

Posted by Julian Scott

Sageflo’s 3×3 Podcast: Episode 4

Lori Joyce of Betterwith Ice Cream

In the latest episode of our 3×3 Podcast, Julian sits down with Lori Joyce, Founder and CEO of Betterwith Ice Cream, to discuss the struggles she has overcome and the strategies she has implemented in order to grow her company to where it is today.  

Podcast Excerpts

Julian Scott: You have a really interesting history and fascinating backstory about how you got started working in the world of desserts. Do you mind sharing your story and where you started and where you are now?  

Lori Joyce: I started my first food business with my best friend. We always talked about starting a new business together and not working for the big guy. In 2002, we made that come true with opening Cupcakes. We opened 15 locations, we turned it into a franchise, we then had a TV show that went global. After we’d had Cupcakes for about 12 years, one of the things that really drove me crazy about Cupcakes is that it wasn’t a product that could easily scale. And when I became a mom and I had to make food choices for my two growing babies, the idea and the reflection of the upbringing that I had on my family farm became very important to me all of a sudden.  

One day when I was buying ice cream for my kids and I discovered that it wasn’t anywhere on the package called ice cream and it was called frozen dessert, I was very confused and I felt very betrayed as a consumer. Being an entrepreneur already, I saw this as a tremendous opportunity. Taking the lessons of everything that my parents taught me about food accountability, sustainability, and freshness, I just immediately in the aisle right there saw this as an opportunity to make an all-Canadian dairy, real wholesome, real clean label, full-fat dairy ice cream unlike any other. And as they say, the rest is history.  

Julian Scott: What have been your most successful strategies to attract and retain long-term customers? What are some of the marketing initiatives that you’ve implemented that align with your company philosophy?   

Lori Joyce: Today, the biggest difference that I can say, is really utilizing what I didn’t have in the days of Cupcakes: digital social media platforms. When I first launched, I was doing demos. That was my opportunity to create the experience and that generated tremendous engagement with the consumer that I could connect with. But there’s only one of me and there are 2,000 stores that I should be in, in just this local market, so that wasn’t scalable. I had to go and say, “How can more people experience my message and the brand values and what it stands for faster and at a much bigger level?”  

Here I am stranded on a five-acre organic farm during a pandemic and that actually turned into a magical opportunity. I took that as an opportunity to narrate, go into further detail about the values of Betterwith and really communicate the message that when you eat whole and you eat real and we live sustainably, we can produce better foods and we can create those products in CPG for the consumer. I think social media and digital advertising for that reason is an exceptional tool for startups and entrepreneurs that are creating new products that are better for you, that actually have a strong purpose. 

Julian Scott: As you now look ahead, how will the learnings of the past shape what you do moving forward?  

Lori Joyce: The pandemic really made me appreciate the real purpose and act that out in a way so that we can grow a company that truly has real authentic purpose. For me, it’s just honing into why food sustainability is important and continuing on harder and louder with that message. And the consumer is responding to it. I think more people want to learn and want to know where their food comes from and that’s the whole big goal of Betterwith, with traceability. Being on the forefront of that and making sure the marketplace knows your values and what you’re bringing to the market and why consumers should care, are all really important points and messages that will as I said continue to resonate over time.  

Julian ScottAs you look back, anything you would change? Any mistakes you would sweep under the carpet and try again?  

Lori Joyce: Even during a pandemic, the whole point of being an entrepreneur is resiliency and if you don’t have resiliency, you can’t survive in this. I wish I really understood how hard the CPG industry is. It is not what it is from a consumer’s perspective. I didn’t know that you had to pay to play. That took me years to understand. As I said, I invested a lot of money in a beautiful brand package. I shouldn’t have done this. It’s not the prettiest brands that are the biggest, it’s not even necessarily the best food products that are the biggest, right? I think we can all admit that. The strategy, the planning behind it, having people sooner, all of those things could have really helped me. And either way, I’m here today and I’m listening to the things that I need to do and I’m adapting to them. We’re growing together as a team and I’m really excited about that.  


View the full podcast episode here to hear how Betterwith Ice Cream strives to stand out in the CPG industry and communicate its message to customers.  

Posted by Aaron Smith

Activating Your Company Superpowers by Getting Data into the Hands of the Right People

It’s no secret that you should be using data to make decisions and enhance your customer experience; however, not everyone is sure of the best way to enable your organization to be data-driven. The first step is to take a more holistic approach to data accessibility. In many cases, it starts by centeralizing data and removing data siloes. It’s essential to have data scientists and technical roles utilizing your company’s data, but getting data into the hands of non-technical roles such as marketers, CSM, and in-store reps is just as important. 

The problem with data is that it only tells part of the story. Data is very good at capturing quantifiable metrics but can’t grasp the intangible qualitative bits that are often needed to understand the whole picture. It is vital to give people in non technical roles access to the right data, enabling them to use their domain expertise to not just make informed decisions but also to drive operations. For marketing this means data-driven segmentation and personalization. informed decisions but also to drive operations. For marketing this means data-driven segmentation and personalization. That’s the real superpower of unlocking your customer data.

Marketing Superpower- Super Speed

One of the things a CDP like Simon Data does beautifully is get data into the hands of non-technical roles so they can use their domain expertise to make data-driven decisions. We see this problem often in marketers wanting to get campaigns up and running quickly but need to rely on other teams for segmentation based on customer data. 

There are a few problems with this scenario. First, relying on teams outside of marketing to create segments means you are counting on someone who does not understand the customer and segment base as well as the marketer. It is difficult to make last-minute adjustments or changes based on the data. The marketing team creates a request, and the data team answers it in asked capacity. 
Another problem in relying on other teams is the speed it takes to answer these requests. No matter how quickly a data team can answer a segment request, it will never be as fast as having customer data in the right people’s hands to make decisions. Giving data access to the marketing team allows them to be more agile and get campaigns to market faster.

Customer Service Superpower- Intuitive Aptitude

Another perfect example of putting the right data into the right people’s hands is empowering customer success/support. Data models alone help to a certain point. They can tell you who is likely to churn, but contextualizing this data gives a true understanding of what makes a customer churn. 

However, you have to address the data access issue before a  CS rep can give context to who will churn. CS reps have the specialized knowledge to answer these questions; never the less, there tends to be an issue of data pooling from multiple sources and integrating into a single view that isn’t always quickly addressed. So, the first step is getting the right data into their hands so they can have a full view of their customer and their behaviors. Once they have the data, they can start contextualizing problems. No matter how good your data is, it will understand the customer as well as their CSM. Data is there to help CS get the extra boost to understanding their customer on a deeper level. 

In-store Rep Superpower- Omniscience

Customers’ expectations of in-store interactions have greatly increased. Not only do customers expect the same experience they receive at their home store at any other location they travel to, but now there is a layer of complexity. The expectation has become any store rep must know a customer’s digital and in-store history. Sageflo Archiver + Simon allows visibility into content viewed, online purchases, and all in-store activity in one place.  This access to data helps with three key things:

  • Relationship building: Get a clear picture of your customer instantaneously and maintain that customer relationship even if that’s not their home store.
  • Customer-centric approach: Allow any brand to create a high-end white glove customer experience  regardless of level
  • Brand loyalty: Both the factors above feed into what makes a customer loyal to a brand- going that extra step to make the customer feel special

Here’s an example of the types of experiences data access can enable. Have you ever received a coupon via email, but when you go to the store, you can’t locate the offer? These offers drive customers into storefronts and often only exist in the digital form. By getting data into the hands of in-store reps via Archiver, an associate can look up all messages sent to the customer and find the offer. 

Enabling unique omnichannel experiences from digital to in-store and having the customer feel truly known is a powerful experience getting data into the hands of the right people creates.

Conclusion

Putting customer data into the hands of the right people can be a powerful action that enables your organization to be more data-driven. Companies looking to be more data-centric are breaking down data silos and heightening accessibility. Therefore, it’s not just about having the right data, but how to use that data more effectively by getting it into the hands of the right people. What superpowers can you unlock by giving data access to your whole organization?


Learn more about Simon Data here.

Learn more about Sageflo Archiver here.

Posted by Mary Louke of Simon Data
Empower Local Teams and Improve Customer Experience with Sageflo

Empower Local Teams and Improve Customer Experience with Sageflo

Though our ability to collect data and thoughtfully target customers has jumped leaps and bounds over the years; the reality is most brands don’t break down their approach at a truly local level as they simply don’t have the time or resources. This represents a missed opportunity to both nurture authentic relationships and create a more seamless customer experience.

Enabling your local teams, such as store managers, district managers, franchise owners or field staff to deploy select marketing messages can help scale marketing reach and support your over-arching corporate strategies, all while injecting regional nuance and touchpoints into your messages, providing a more personal connection to subscribers.

Common examples of local marketing messages, whether email, text or direct mail, include the following:

  1. Invitations to visit the nearest store
  2. Introducing the local team/new team members
  3. Invitations to upcoming local events
  4. Sharing local-only products, services or offers
  5. Sharing community support initiatives and updates

Nobody knows local markets better than the team members based in those markets, and giving them the ability to contribute and be a part of the greater marketing team pays huge dividends in customer engagement and retention. Campaigns sent by local teams are typically twice as engaging as promotional campaigns sent at the nation level, and are particularly effective at driving in-store visits.

Though implementing a distributed marketing approach may sound complicated — Sageflo not only makes it possible, but practical. It’s an easy-to-use, web-based tool that empowers local teams to quickly and easily create professional, on-brand marketing campaigns without needing corporate support. It works in tandem with almost every marketing platform on the market and has the necessary built-in functions and guardrails to minimize errors, all while ensuring a consistent experience aligned with global brand guidelines.

Utilizing a distributed marketing solution with your local teams provides marketers with the ability to scale influence and audience reach, without needing to increase the size of their team. It’s like having dozens (or even hundreds) of new members on the marketing team with no corresponding increase in headcount cost.

Equally important, it’s a great way to enhance the customer experience by better connecting the many ways your customers may be interacting with your brand across channels. Your customers are craving authenticity, consistency and connection; and local, personalized marketing is one of the best ways to make this happen.

Click here to learn more or schedule a demo.

Posted by Julian Scott

Case Study: Distributed Marketing Drives Higher Engagement

National Restaurant Chain Drives Higher Engagement by Empowering Local Owners and Operators to Send Highly Personalized Messages

By combining Sageflo with the power of their Marketing Automation Provider, a national restaurant chain was able to create a hybrid marketing program that boosted confidence in their local campaigns.

THE CHALLENGE

Local Marketing at Scale

As a large national brand, the restaurant chain wanted to maintain the consistency of their brand standards, but also empower their local branches to have highly personalized campaigns.

Finding a solution that allowed them to send messages at a local level was proving to be a difficult task.

The brand previously worked with other solutions that tried to offer distributed marketing capabilities. However, these solutions were so difficult to use that adoption rates were extremely low and local teams failed to continue utilizing the tools. In addition, these solutions required far too much time from the corporate marketing team to support, taking vital resources away from other strategic marketing efforts.

What the national brand needed was a solution that was simple and easy-to-use for non-technical users on distributed teams, and required little support from the national marketing team, allowing the brand to effectively scale their local marketing program.

THE SOLUTION

Sageflo Bridges the Gap with a Simple, Streamlined Tool

Sageflo enables the brand’s corporate marketing team to build multiple templates to ensure that local operators select approved assets to send brand-consistent messages.

The easy to access shared calendar ensures that national and local marketing teams are on the same page and always aligned on their promotions and messaging.

The simple process of building and scheduling a campaign, selecting a targeted audience group, and submitting for approval in minutes, allowed franchisees to quickly adopt the tool. This resulted in significantly higher customer engagement and revenue.

THE RESULTS

Increased Quantity and Quality of Local Email Marketing

100% of operators who logged in sent a campaign within the first 3 months using the no code, user-friendly interface. Plus, A/B testing at the local level allowed the national restaurant chain to quickly see which types of messaging worked, leading to better customer engagement.

With Sageflo, the national team spent less time on local marketing support, freeing up availability to focus on other strategic objectives. At the same time, franchisees were empowered to send thousands of additional personalized email campaigns to local markets and customers that would not have been sent otherwise, building lasting, community-focused connections.

90%+

Adoption by owners and operators in first 3 months

8

Weeks to migrate all campaigns

134%

Higher Open Rates for franchise marketing campaigns

Since launch, we’ve seen an increase in adoption from our franchise community over similar launches with past platforms. We attribute this to the ease of use within the platform itself – the step-by-step build process makes creating and sending emails easy and less daunting for many of our users. The ability for our operators to send customized email content to their communities has been incredibly valuable for connecting with their local guests.

Social & Digital @ Major Restaurant Franchise with 800+ locations across the US

LEARN MORE

Read about how Sageflo works or contact us at info@sageflo.com and we’d be happy to tell you more about Sageflo!

Posted by Aaron Smith

Sageflo’s 3×3 Podcast: Episode 3

Amarilys Rivera of Princess Cruises

In the latest episode of our 3×3 Podcast, Julian sits down with Amarilys Rivera, Email Marketing Manager at Princess Cruises, to discuss how her team addressed the sudden shift in work culture over the past year and resolved marketing challenges in the midst of global travel restrictions, all while ensuring consistent and positive customer experiences.  

Podcast Excerpts

Julian ScottOff of an incredibly challenging 2020, can you share some backstory on what it was like at Princess Cruises when COVID-19 hit and how have things evolved since?  

Amarilys Rivera: 2020 was definitely challenging for so many and impacted the cruise industry in particular. When the borders were closing for travel, the tough decision was made by our president to pause our operations. We didn’t really know the severity of the issue, so at the time a 60-day pause was a really huge deal… We got together and I put together a simple letter template and then the next day we sent out really early in the morning our decision to pause our operations for 60 days and have to cancel the cruises. So that was really tough for so many people at our brands. But at the same time, for some reason, it also brought us so close together having to go through something like that.  

Julian ScottAs we look at that, as things are opening up, what are some of the biggest concerns of your passengers and how is Princess addressing those concerns from a marketing perspective? 

Amarilys Rivera: Our guests are so excited to get back on the ship and start their vacations. There are obviously concerns of what happens if I need to cancel my vacation for whatever reason. In all of our emails that are promotional or informational, we do have a section about our overarching program, which is Cruise with Confidence. And in there, there’s different pillar scenarios to address different concerns. We have Book with Confidence, allowing flexibility to our guests to make any changes to their travel plan. And then we also have Cruise Health to just ensure the guests that our top priority is the health and safety of our guests and our crew. And then also just highlighting the exciting things and getting them excited about their cruise. We have our pre-cruise series as well. That is really extensive and gets people really excited.  

Julian ScottA lot of organizations with the onset of covid and the pandemic have had to make changes, and some of them we hope will go away and some will probably stick around for quite a while. When we look at the cruise experience, what has carried over or what is new and unique that future guests can expect? 

Amarilys Rivera: The Medallion Class Experience, that is basically our app on board. It’s something that we had pre-pandemic. It’s something that I think is going to work so great for the future, the new future that we have. With the app, we have OceanNow. You can request food and beverages to wherever you are on the ship. I actually had the privilege to go on one of our cruises and experience that. And then, we have touchless. When you approach your stateroom door, the door unlocks so you actually don’t even have to touch the handle. Giving that peace of mind to the guests that when the stateroom stewardess is going in they’re not necessarily having to touch the handle and all of that. There’s a lot of interesting and cool things that are happening with the Medallion Class Experience and the apps in particular that I think are going to continue on to the future, just to create less friction for our guests. I think we were really fortunate to have invested in such an experience prior.  

Julian ScottWell as we look back now and if there was anything you could change or do differently because obviously there’s been lots of learnings that we’ve all had painful mistakes made as we try to navigate the past almost two years. What were those lessons and what would you do differently at this point? 

Amarilys Rivera: When I had to come up with a solution and create a process for how we get these communications out to our audience, it was just kind of quick on the fly that I just thought of and worked through. And in the beginning, it still involved my VP so heavily and I felt I had to relieve her in some way of this, but I didn’t really know the best way to go about it. Once I spoke up a little bit and said, “Hey, I think we need to really fine-tune this a little bit”, the process has been a lot smoother. I mean of course it was all a learning curve for everyone, but just making sure to speak up quicker and not have to hold on to certain things, I think would be the one thing that I would have changed. But definitely a lesson that I now know.  

Julian Scott: That’s really good advice for life in general: speak up sooner. Well, I think you should give yourself a little slack just because when all this was happening not only were we worried about our careers and what was happening at work, we had all the impact of what was happening around us in our lives. So, I know it was a lot. It’s easy to be reflective and critical of ourselves, but at the same time we all did the best we could and we’re here and our decisions got us to the point, where we’re still hanging in there and ready to embark on new adventures. 


View the podcast episode here to listen to the entire discussion about resolving marketing challenges in the midst of global travel restrictions, all while ensuring consistent and positive customer experiences. 

Posted by Aaron Smith

Sageflo’s 3×3 Podcast: Episode 2

Mary Judkins of Lands’ End

In episode 2 of our 3×3 Podcast, Julian sits down with Mary Judkins from Lands’ End to talk about the challenges and successes of ensuring legendary customer service during a global pandemic. 

Podcast Excerpts

Julian Scott: What were some of the challenges of moving a customer care team to a work from home model once the pandemic hit and how did you resolve those? 

Mary Judkins: We were fortunate in that we already had the majority of our staff working from home, and our challenge became how do we acclimate those that were still in the office to a home environment as agents. And then in 2020 as we geared up for peak, how do we recruit remotely and then how do we train remotely?  

We really had an awesome learning and development team that pivoted on a dime and redesigned curriculum, redesigned syllabuses and learning, and brought on new tools and did all of the learning and development at home. We had some great collaboration and partnership with different departments, like our IT and Employee Services departments. 

The advantage we found is it really opened up our talent pool, so we were able to recruit across regions of the country and really continue to have some exciting new folks join us who are very excited about the brand but didn’t live close enough to be able to be a part of the brand. There were challenges and those challenges brought with them opportunity, as well. 

Julian Scott: Lands’ End is known for its amazing quality products and its legendary customer care, if you don’t mind sharing, what are the top three things that allow you to provide that best in-class customer experience? 

Mary Judkins: I’ll always say we continue to be rooted in our heritage, which comes from our founder, Gary Comer. And what he would say and is really a cornerstone of our service practices is: take care of the customer and everything else takes care of itself. Whenever we look at the top three things that are important to us, we always ground ourselves as a customer care division in his philosophy.  

What we’re really looking at is access to information. Today we are a digitally driven company in a digitally driven world, and we need to make sure that our customers can get serviced the way they want to be serviced, and that frequently means that the information is available to them upon a lookup. We need to make sure we have platforms and information available to our agents to give them deeper knowledge.  

I would say second is agent autonomy. We absolutely do not script our agents, rather we give them guided questions, so that they can understand what the customer’s really asking for. And what that does is it helps us get to the root of what they want and allows for a natural conversation, instead of a stilted conversation, whether it’s on a chat or when it’s in old-fashioned voice technology.  

And then strategy. We are always looking at our strategy as an eye to what is possible on the horizon, because we all know we need that infrastructure to support the new things that will allow our customers to have effortless and easy experiences. We don’t want to get the favorite candy of the day, but let’s get the flavor that’s going to really help us be able to sustain that legendary customer service. 

Julian Scott: With so many agents across the globe, how does Lands’ End ensure a customer experience? You just mentioned that you don’t give scripts and you give a lot of leeway to the agent to solve the problems, but what is that uniform magic that Lands’ End sparkles on everything to make sure? 

Mary Judkins: In order for the customers to have a great experience, the employees have to have a great experience. Across the organization there’s collaboration, there’s partnership. And all of that collaboration then doesn’t just stop at a level; we make sure that all of our people are very familiar and immersed in that. That does take time and onboarding to assure immersion in the culture of customer service and staying true to the cornerstone of our brand.  

We have ongoing learning. We have tools for everyone to access knowledge and that’s shared globally both on the consumer side of the business and the business-to-business side of the business. It is the partnerships and collaboration to make sure that happens. And I will put a little plug in for Sageflo. One of the things we have been excited about this past year is Archiver and our ability to be able to know exactly what a customer is referring to when they say, “I want that red shirt that was in my email three days ago and I can’t find it.” Having access  in Archiver to promotional and transactional emails has also helped us across the organization be able to service that customer. 

I think the other thing is we are a culture, we are a company of inclusion. When you are and you live that culture of inclusion, you know that partnerships make a difference. And that diversity, whether it comes from the diversity of the person themselves or the diversity of the area that they are supporting, the willingness to understand each other really does make the difference and helps us serve up great service. 


View the podcast episode here to listen to the entire discussion about the challenges and successes of ensuring best-in-class customer service during a global pandemic. 

Posted by Aaron Smith
The Changing Landscape of Digital Marketing Production

The Changing Landscape of Digital Marketing Production

We’re now in the 3rd decade of the 21st century. For those of you who have been in the industry for a decade or two, let that sink in for a moment as you reflect on how far we’ve come. And for those of you entering the digital marketing space more recently, there’s a lot you can be thankful for missing out on.

So much has changed since the early 2000s. Back then, the job title “digital marketer” was rarely used. Sophisticated programs gave you the ability to include a person’s first name in an email, and dynamic content meant manually running two separate campaigns for women and men. Emails were all manually coded, and the largest brands were sending out just 2-3 campaigns a week, at most – nowadays many brands are sending out 2-3 campaigns a day. At the time, being able to send an abandoned cart email reminder within 24 hours was considered cutting edge!

Today, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to technology. We have multi-channel marketing automation platforms that give us the power to send the right message, to the right person (with advanced dynamic content and personalization, thank you very much), at the right time, using the right channel. We can create sophisticated audiences, sliced and diced however we want, in our Customer Data Platforms (CDPs). And we have wonderful tools for production that allow us to create campaigns without needing to know how to code.

While we now have much better tools at our disposal, many marketing teams still have major challenges with access to technical resources to get all of this amazing technology hooked up and working together. Let alone what to do when you want to make incremental changes to data feeds or timing of triggered programs.

Marketers still experience long waits getting resources assigned to their integration projects, and oftentimes small incremental program changes can be delayed for months. When a feed mysteriously goes down, it can mean losing thousands of dollars a day (sometimes tens of thousands!) in missed revenue, despite which, it may take several additional days before a technical resource can address and resolve the issue.

Due to this, we are seeing a gradual shift in the marketing technology landscape where digital marketers are finding new and better ways of reducing the effort to bring dynamic and personalized content into their campaigns, both on the data integration and campaign production side.

Modern real-time content platforms such as Zembula don’t rely on outdated batch data feeds. Instead, they use simple, modern APIs and webhooks to leverage your existing customer data and product catalogs in place. So not only do you dramatically reduce the amount of data you have to move around between systems, you can ensure that your subscribers are seeing the most up-to-date data in real-time.

By removing the reliance on outdated batch data feeds, real-time content platforms give marketers the ability to truly put the right message in front of a customer at the right time. This moves beyond personalization to true individualization marketing.

An added benefit of leveraging advanced real-time content platforms is lower cost and faster turnaround times on the production side. Leveraging Zembula’s Smart Banner ™ and Smart Blocks ™ allows your production team to place one or two HTML blocks in an email campaign that can handle all the of the individualization messaging without having to code multiple segmented campaign versions, work with complex dynamic content rules or move lots of data around between systems.

We all know that highly personalized campaigns using behavior-based products and offers significantly outperform generic audience-based messages. Until very recently, the implementation, maintenance and production costs made it prohibitive to execute consistently at scale. Advanced real-time content platforms give you the ability to deliver individualization marketing, without requiring major ongoing investments in time and resources.

Customer Experience Considerations

With this level of individualization comes the problem of what to do when a subscriber reaches out to the contact center with questions about an offer or product in an email. When each email sent to your 5 million subscribers is truly unique and highly personalized at both the product and offer level, how can your care team know which version a given customer received?

In prior times, contact center teams might try to ignore or minimize the problem as not being serious enough to warrant a proper solution. Today, brands realize that great customer service goes hand-in-hand with great customer experience. When you allow issues to repeatedly occur without a satisfactory resolution, you erode long-term customer lifetime value, and ultimately, revenue growth.

Solutions such as Sageflo’s Archiver give marketing and contact center teams the ability to quickly and easily lookup and resend personalized emails sent to any given subscriber. It allows teams across the entire organization—marketing, customer service, compliance, and leadership—to holistically view any and all messages that were sent to an individual subscriber and understand that customer’s journey instantly.

This level of insight allows contact center team members to dramatically reduce resolution time on marketing message inquiries, from days to just minutes, significantly improving both CSAT scores and long-term customer lifetime value. In addition, it frees up marketers to focus on execution instead of chasing down contact center inquiries on behalf of customers. Now that’s a true win-win for everybody.


To learn more about Zembula’s Smart Banners™ and Smart Blocks ™ visit https://www.zembula.com 

To learn more about Sageflo Archiver visit https://sageflo.com/archiver 

Posted by Aaron Smith

Sageflo’s 3×3 Podcast: Episode 1

Josh Rashkin of Frontier Airlines

We’re excited to launch our 3×3 Podcast! In this series, our host, Julian Scott, will be sitting down with industry professionals to get their thoughts on a range of topics spanning marketing, customer experience, and beyond. 

Our inaugural episode features Josh Rashkin, Email Marketing Manager at Frontier Airlines, discussing the challenges and successes of marketing during the global pandemic.

Podcast Excerpts

Julian Scott: It goes without saying that 2020 had a huge impact on the travel industry. What would you say were the biggest changes Frontier made once travel essentially halted and how things shifted now that travel is ramping back up

Josh Rashkin: Certainly, the biggest change was that pivot in messaging and focus across all our channels, to really providing as much information in real time as we possibly could. The challenge being, in those early days at least, that we also didn’t necessarily have all of that information. Our tone changed, the content of our messaging changed, and it really took over all of our touchpoints for at least a while there.  

Now that travel’s coming back, there’s a lot of that that remains. There’s a lot of new normal that is true for travelers, where there is a need to know the policy at your origin, the policy at your destination. There’s a lot of discussions and an examination of information hierarchy at every customer touchpoint we have.  

Julian Scott: As you look back now on the 2020, is there anything you would do differently?  

Josh Rashkin: Frontier, as a company, as an airline, was luckily well positioned going into this. We were also already a very leisure and family-visit focused airline. We didn’t have such a dependency on business travel as maybe some of the legacy carriers did.  

I think Frontier timed a lot of things very correctly. We aggressively and early responded to the COVID crisis. We really focused on making sure that if you needed to travel, we had safe and reliable options for you to choose from, but that if you didn’t have to travel, we could give you options for looking down the road and rescheduling things. While it certainly is stressful in communicating directly with consumers who maybe think that you’re overreacting or you’re not reacting strongly enough, I think overall the position taken by Frontier was well balanced between those two extremes.  

The only thing I could say was there were plenty of times where we were not necessarily pivoting back to opening travel up, that we could have kept a more consistent tone, but you know hindsight is 20/20. And knowing what we know now we would maybe have modulated tone less frequently, but the modulation of the tone was still the right thing to do. So, all in all, not a lot we would have done differently, I think.  

Julian Scott: What are some insights you can share regarding what the pandemic really looked like for the travel industry?  

Josh Rashkin: What a lot of people wouldn’t necessarily know or wouldn’t even have the opportunity to see, is just the amount of human work going on. It’s easy to see travel brands and services as maybe cold and as impediments to the enjoyment that’s at the end of that travel journey. But I know, from firsthand experience during all this, that there are a lot of real people who care about what’s happening and are passionate about doing right by people.  

Because it is an unprecedented event and it is something that you can’t really build automation to deal with, it is something that is a very one by one basis that has a lot of nuance to it. We had an all-hands-on deck moment of people from marketing, through all walks of the company, just doing customer service: going into reservations, making changes for people manually, doing everything we could. And if sometimes it seems like it’s an uncaring business that you’re dealing with, it’s worth remembering that there is a human who is trying to do what they see as right or what they see as the best of some options available.  


View the podcast episode here to listen to the entire discussion about the challenges and successes of marketing in the airline industry during a global pandemic.  

Posted by Aaron Smith