Best Practices of Digital Marketing

So, if you’re just trying to migrate your direct mail marketing to email or if you’re attempting to simply migrate email marketing to text then good luck!

You’re doing it WRONG.

I realize that it may have taken you a while and likely a significant amount of your marketing budget to become a critic. Or, for some of you, your view may just be irreversible at this point. Well, one thing I’ve learned in my twenty years of managing people in the gaming & hospitality industry is that changing people’s minds is a slow process. It is about showing results not about talking about results. At Profit Builder, that’s what we do.

Now… if you’re attempting to connect your email service provider and text message service provider to your CRM system in real time, there’s hope for you.

Others’ data suggests and Profit Builder HD’s internal data verifies that behaviorally based automated digital messages work. They drive visitation frequency, they can drive time on the device, and they do drive loyalty, which allows your organization to retain more of your known base. Thus, your brand is enhanced.

SMS works while guests are on property or as an immediate bounce back.

SMS and EMAIL work for ad-hoc campaigns in real time.

All guest service based industries are very dynamic and are evolving much more quickly than say even five years ago.  

Something that didn’t work six months ago may be working very well now.

We all already know about the consumer’s shift from desktop to mobile.  

According to comScore, over the past four years, smartphone usage grew four times and tablet usage is up 17 times. Combined, these platforms now account for 60% of all digital time.  

If you or those that have financial performance responsibilities for your gaming asset still believe that email doesn’t work, they’re wrong; your processes are archaic or your messaging is antiquated. Your digital strategy is simply not complete.

In recent years, leaders in our industry said that the older generations could not deal with new technology. This is just not true. We’re all aware of the largest growing demographic segment on Facebook.

The bottom line is if you deliver a good digital experience, anyone of any age, gender or ethnicity WILL use it.

If you aren’t focusing on the digital experience or if you are simply trying to reach as many guests as possible through an email, you have a poor digital strategy.

Let’s start with the “silo thinking” of the statement I hear so often, “Email just doesn’t work.”  When I hear this from marketing directors, I realize that their philosophy and strategy development is taking place in a vacuum.

Recently, Raving published the results of a study from a casino that asked its guests what was the ONE best way to communicate with them. The results are illustrated here.

50% of those asked preferred direct mail and about 38% email.

For men, the split was nearly equal 47% to 45%.

Women preferred direct mail to email 52% to 34%.

Yet, at age 45, 42% of both women and men prefer direct mail…

And 42% prefer email – an EQUAL split of men and women. As age increases, the preference for email decreases, correct? Yes. But, we already know this.  

But… this is just ONE medium: email.

Again, if your sole objective is to simply migrate guests from direct mail to email in order to reduce touch costs as direct mail marketing can cost twenty-five times more than email marketing, your philosophy is wrong and your strategy is outdated.

Multi-channel messaging develops a relationship between your brand and your guests. Do you only send your mom a mother’s day card via mail? Or, do you also send her an occasional email. Do you text her pictures relevant to her to make her day? How disappointed would mom be if you only sent her an email once a year?

Certain guests will prefer direct mail, certain guests will prefer email and certain guests will prefer SMS. Your FOCUS as a marketing executive should be to discover which guests will want a personalized email based on a behavior they exhibited during their last visit to your hotel, resort and/or casino. And, your focus should be on which guests want a personalized behavior driven SMS message while on the property. But, many of you already know this, too. Why isn’t our gaming and hospitality industries doing this then?

The art of “going digital” is not a one-and-done process where the casino resort gathers thousands of email addresses and phone numbers and sends the same offer to thousands of phones. Think about that. I said thousands of phones. If you’re not personalizing your messaging then that’s essentially what you’re doing. Our casinos operations management team can help change that.

We’ve realized from the egocentric perspective that our handheld device is, in fact, an extension of our identity. It is an intimate relationship when someone is communicating with you on your phone.  So, why do we continue to send generic messages to phones? Where is the personalized messaging? Every single mobile interaction is a chance for your brand to send a very targeted offer at a precise time to encourage a very specific behavior.

Yester year’s tech talk was all about U-ex or the user’s experience.  

User experience was a concept where someone would create a mobile app that an end user will click on and complete in three easy steps.

Over the last ten years, it was an important step in the evolution of where we are today as tech companies, designed software, websites and apps with one major focus in mind. What will make this easy? Easy, so that consumers use it, like it and want to return to it?

Today’s marketing executive must focus on the individual human’s experience.

National casino marketing builds the brand, and operations must deliver on the brand. But, what does that mean to casino operators and hotel resort marketers specifically?

Well, know this: It is now a consumer experience-world based on each individual human’s experience. Everything is being personalized now.  Your guests, as consumers, EXPECT it! Let’s look at advertising for instance. Advertising is now trigger based.  

Re-targeting advertising or re-targeting marketing…

Let’s assume for a moment that you visit a casino resort’s website. That website then drops a cookie. From there, anywhere from that point forward, because the cookie and the website now know where you’re searching or visiting online, it will auto-populate ad space with a video or banner ad for their resort.

We as consumers say to ourselves, “Well, I was ‘just’ on their website, look at this great offer right here.” They wanted it, the resort knew it and then the end user purchases it. It’s individualized personal relevant messaging “in” the moment the individual wanted it.

I’ve been working with a local digital media firm named Raster. They specialize in web and app development right here in Las Vegas. Raster’s approach is of the unique mindset that end users are human. They, therefore, have coined a new phrase, which we believe in at Profit Builder HD because we’ve had success with our clients using their philosophy.

The new era is to develop towards the individual human experience… or Hum-ex.

The difference? With user experience, you are designing the technology around the user so that it is easier and safer for them to use. You’re making it more intuitive for them. HUM-EX takes a giant leap forward and personalizes and caters to the human holding the phone. So, you’re no longer sending generic messages to thousands of phones. You are now focused on sending personalized messages to thousands of your guests.  

How is this accomplished? Data.

Data isn’t numbers; it’s people

While answering questions and measuring things is certainly part of the job, we at Profit Builder HD look at data in a more human light. It’s the voice of your customers. A datum can be an action or event or a decision made by a human. Recreate the sequence of events leading up to that decision.

Listen…

Your guests are telling you what they want.

This sort of feedback can be a goldmine for determining price points, promotions, game mixes, hotel yield and structural developments.

We at PB HD translate your voice into a language more suitable for decision-making. Then, we assist you in development and deployment of personalized offers, at the right time, that are meaningful to the guests and based on their personal preferences and their personal data.

If your digital messaging is not Hum-ex centered, you’re doing it wrong. This is the main reason why I hear so many marketing executives and directors claim that digital marketing doesn’t work.  

We have found that personalized, trigger-based text messaging works while the guest is on-site. It makes perfect sense. The message is relative to them, meaningful to them in the moment, and therefore, forges a stronger bond between the human and the brand.

According to Oracle’s The CMO’s Guide to Mobile Marketing:

“Nearly 90% of SMS messages are opened and read within the first 90 seconds of receipt.” If you add pictures or relevant videos, you have developed a more meaningful message.

As to what’s holding CMOs back, one concern identified is that “managing the SMS channel is technically and legally complex.”

98% of people will open an SMS sent to their phone versus 27% of people who will open an email sent to a mobile device. That makes SMS five-times more effective than email, making SMS a huge opportunity for marketers.

The solution is simply to get permission from customers to opt-in for SMS messages.

In our experience, emails don’t work as well while guests are on property. Guests don’t typically monitor their email while on the property and you don’t want them to.

When you send a text, it vibrates and it is quickly digestible. You are seamlessly integrating into their behavior flow. You’re also reducing the cognitive load on your guests. You’re now beginning to practice the very basics of Hum-ex. And, your message arrives in approximately seven seconds.

Plus, you can initiate two-way messaging whereby you can have guests respond to quick questions, sweepstakes drawings or even take a poll.  

According to Harvard Business Review in an article titled “Psychology The Science of Sensory Marketing,” Dr. Aradhna Krishna, who is considered the foremost expert in the field and also directs the Sensory Marketing Laboratory at the University of Michigan, states:

“In the recent past, communications with customers were essentially monologues – companies just talked at consumers. Then they evolved to dialogues, with consumers providing feedback. Now they’re becoming multidimensional conversations with products and services finding their own voices and consumers responding viscerally and subconsciously to them.”   

She goes on to say:

“Every consumer company should be thinking about design in a holistic way, using the senses to help create and intensify a brand that consumers will cherish and remember.”

The only way to deliver a true Hum-ex focused strategy is to have an email service provider and a text message service provider attached to your database in real-time. Then and only then are messages relevant to your guests and based on them individually and meaningful to them at that moment.

By now, your organization should, through your CRM system, know something about your guests. Start with personalized emails with offers relative to the human receiving them. It should be relevant to something they’ve done inside your property recently and, therefore, meaningful to them as your human guest. You’ll convert more interactions this way.

Yes, email marketing is NOT working. Because you’re not doing it right.  This is the way it is being done effectively TODAY.

People are human. The technology exists and leaders are using it to speak to their guests in a personalized, meaningful, relevant manner.  The days of batch and blast are gone and so are all those subscribers because of that tactic.  

What’s holding most marketing executives back lies in the fact that they’re faced with the challenge of using all this data effectively.

The solution comes in the form of using a sophisticated Database Management Platform to analyze geolocation, purchase and intent data from their mobile consumers. When you combine findings with data from online and offline actions, you’re able to dramatically improve the impact of cross-channel campaigns.

I saw a funny post on LinkedIn last week. Someone wrote, “I wonder how many times I’ll hear the word millennial next week at the Casino Marketing & Technology Conference.”

Get out of this mindset. They’re not millennials or generation X’ers. Viewing them like that is putting people in buckets. They’re not buckets of people. Don’t make the mistake… If you do, you’re not doing it right. Our Nevada casino marketing team believes strongly in avoiding pre-categorization.

THE FOCUS TODAY SHOULD BE ON EACH INDIVIDUAL’S DATA.

Using their individual data makes the digital communication memorable.

In Experience Economy, written by B. Joseph Pine II and James Gilmore, creating a lasting memorable experience is equal to guest loyalty and retention.

They write:

“Customizing a service is a sure route to staging a positive experience, customizing a good or product automatically turns it into a service.”

In an industry of product equality, the only thing that separates us apart from our competition is our service and the guest experiences. To enter into the Experience Economy, an organization must first customize its goods and services. Well, that’s a tall order for our structural amenities. It’s nearly impossible to adapt our hotel rooms to each individual human, nor our eateries or parking garages. But, what we can do is customize our digital messages by using each guest’s individual data.

Every marketing action contributes to the total guest experience being staged.

The sum of all the guest experiences is your brand.

50.4% – of companies were unable to identify their most loyal customers.

62% – of consumers don’t believe that the brands they’re most loyal to are giving them what they want.

Think about that for a second.

The sum of experiences is critical to your brand’s survival and will determine whether you flourish or struggle to compete in your competitive set.

What we practice and preach at Profit Builder HD and also what Dr. Hilgeman recommends is that if you do not have a process in place to update your guest engagement strategies you’re out of sync with your guests.

Focus groups should be a normal occurrence. You can learn each time you conduct one. They’re not difficult, and they’re enlightening.

So again, if your digital strategy is not working… You’re not doing it right.

Look internally, look at your processes, evaluate the manner in which you capture guest preferences, update them regularly and design a meaningful, timely, personalized digital strategy.

Let me leave you with this…

Your personalized, behavior driven, meaningful cross-channel digital strategy is NOT an initiative that simply needs more money thrown at it. It is an initiative, however, based on your culture and one that does require your brand’s focus. The casino gaming and hospitality industries rely heavily on our guests. They are humans, too. Have a conversation with them and create a memorable experience for them.

Next time I see you, I hope you’re getting the results you need! Call us today for a free consultation.

RAVING STATS:

Permission to cite Deb Hilgeman’s Market Research granted via telephonic conversation with Amy Hergenrother on 7-8-15.


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