Good Morning! Welcome toiStrategy Atlanta! Thrilled to be here – attended the San Francisco event as well. Katrina Klier – lead the worldwide digital engagement team for OEM at Microsoft. We call it digital engagement as my organization includes:CommunicationsDemand generation through digital meansEcommerceVirtual Account ManagementCareer background:Been at Microsoft 7 years in a variety of roles, all in sales and marketingWorked for HP, MCI and GE priorLong time in the digital space, early adopter of much of the technology and have really grown up in my career with the Internet and all the digital capabilities that has provided.Presentation today…Talk through a case study of sorts. This is the story of Microsoft’s OEM journey into the digital space for the virtual account management component of digital engagement. This journey has been a few years in the making, with many pilots, learnings and a few bumps along the way. We have really moved from a community engagement model to a place of kinship with our partners now. My hope is that you find the story interesting, inspiring and hopefully hear a few ideas that may save you or your clients a bump or two in your own digital journey. Please feel free to ask questions along the way…
Think back to the days of the Mad Men TV show. Companies could tell customers what their products and company stood for. Companies had full control of what messages were landed in the market, where they were landed and when. Even with a geographically dispersed customer base, companies could offer products in certain countries or even cities, isolate messages and stand tall on the new world of the pillars of brand strategists.In this world, the communication was all one way. All outbound. All One Way…Customers had little say in shaping products or validating a brand’s value. If a customer had a bad experience, they may have told a few friends, but there was no wildfire PR. Companies didn’t really engage a customer, didn’t have an ongoing conversation and bet follow up purchase probability on fully controlled and owned marketing levers. Print ads, billboards, radio and eventually TV ruled the marketing world. Impressions were available at a price and the world ate it up. Marketers became the new story tellers, humorists, cartoonists and more. Then along came the Internet and the emergence of the digital world and customers wanted more…
With the Internet and emerging digital properties like company websites, ecommerce platforms like Amazon and Ebay, reference and recommendation sites like EnGadget and CNET and an emerging bandwidth of news created more opportunities for customers to talk about what they liked in a brand and what they wanted in the future. So as companies, we created communities. We called out the market research teams, did a bunch of surveys, crunched the data, did focus groups and more. We determined the characteristic or two of people that made them likely to do what we wanted them to do… find our products, make a purchase and have a fantastic experience with our products so they bought more. Every company wanted a huge community of raving fans.Companies grouped customers on these few criteria into a community and continued the outbound focused marketing approach to these communities. Suddenly inboxes started to fill up with targeted emails (spam); the marketing science of SEO and SEM started to mature; key words became as critical as brand slogans if not more so. And customers were generally happy. They really liked that their favorite brands were talking to them in a more specific way. The information was more targeted and more useful. But there was an increasing amount of noise as companies pushed their messages out to these communities in a uniform way. Everyone in the community received the same information in the same way. If they wanted something different, it was up to them to find a new community. Little focus was given to the nuances and next tier of characteristics of these communities. Many companies operate with a community focus today. Generally it works well, but what if we could make it work better? What would that look like? What comes AFTER community… ?
To go beyond a community approach you can no longer stand behind your brand pillars and talk at your customers. You have to step out, and be an authentic brand with all the glory and inevitable few flaws that are included. That means:Accepting that your customers have choices.They can choose whether to believe your brandingThey can choose when and where to purchase your productsThey can choose to engage with you or not, and if you want them to engage you need to provide a compelling reason for them to do so. Your company must be interactiveOutbound marketing evolves to interactive marketing or conversational marketingYou must balance driving potential customers to your preferred digital or other media locations with following their lead and going where they goInteraction must be ongoing otherwise it is simply a statementAuthenticity is required.Your brand value must be authentic, real and human.Digital marketing is the ultimate democratization of brands as an unauthentic brand is outed rapidly and often with long lasting negative effects. Embracing choice, interacting and being authentic allows you to create multi-dimensional interactive community. With those many dimensions of engagement you start down the road to kinship. So often the best way to really understand all these concepts and trends is with an example.
So a little more background on my day job. The organization I lead has roughly 180K partners we engage. They span every country where Microsoft does business. This set of partners, the OEM partners, is the cornerstone of the Microsoft ecosystem. They are a highly engaged, techie group who move quickly. They create a huge range of devices – from PCs, to servers, to GPS devices, ATMs, Kiosks, specialized equipment and more. And a few years ago we had a problem. We did some surveys and it was not a pretty picture. Our partners were unhappy. They had a hard time finding the information they needed and wanted from us as a company. Our communications strategy was varied and the implementation was not always good nor consistent. To make things worse, we discovered that we had a variety of content out there and not all of it was up to date. No wonder our partners were unhappy. To add to the urgency, we had several new product launches coming up. This presented an opportunity to really change our engagement and reconnect with our partners or risk possible complete opt-ing out so to speak of our partners. [add questions to the audience… Who has had communications consistency issues? What level of satisfaction is enough? ]
Asked ourselves the question: how can we change attitude – from unsatisfied to positive. We had lots of partner feedback and ideas for how to provide information, timing, closing the loop, etc. A consistent theme was “we want an account manager” from our partners. Clearly we had a huge community and the community wanted more than just some outbound communications, they wanted kinship. Saw the digital space as the way to do thatOnly way to be globally consistent and ensure global reach and always be there for our partners. Perhaps we could really go down this path of virtual account management and create a kinship with our partners.So we decided to put the Internet fully at the center of our partner engagement strategy and go all digital.Stage 1 – create a “home base” where partners could come for the latest information, resources and place to ask questions. This was the core of content.Launched OPC to serve OEM breadth Resellers/system builders WWA first step – some teething problemsNo Content Mgt Strategy Grew to 15,000 pages WW Decreased audience relevancyNo EfficienciesWW team deployed content, and subsidiaries responsible for updating their site – very expensive!Inconsistent Messaging 27 unique sites Unable to consistently land content and see the impactSearch Was not optimized, still hard to find exactly what you wanted quickly.Cleaned it upFocused the content to 200 pages or lessReworked the meta data structures so we could optimize search within the site and so external searches would land partners in the right place. Stage 2: Bring the content to life and serve up the specific content partners want, how they wantBringing the conversation to life through social media – using SM to:Drive traffic to “homebase” through Twitter, Facebook, email newsletters, blogs, videosMake the online experience richerEnsure we’re talking to Partners where they hang outLet’s get personal… OPC2.0Partners can choose language and geography – only vendor doing this.Relieve Subsidiaries of the burden of managing 200 core content pagesRegional and local marketing managers can focus on providing information about local training, events, and promotionsSubs can upload locale-specific content to a supported platform; using a less technical interfaceDynamically delivered content based on user selected location and languageMore relevant information tailored for the user Better ConsumptionBetter reporting of specific content utilizationRepeat Users top 130,000Leverage Microsoft Technologies
Microsoft - Atlanta iStrategy
From Community to Kinship:Online Communities that Drive Business<br />Katrina Klier @KatrinaKlier<br />Worldwide Digital Engagement, OEM<br />Microsoft <br />
How marketing used to be…<br />But customers wanted more…<br />