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No surprise and not a new fact that we all get hundreds of advertising emails and “special offers” every month. I, as a consumer and customer of various companies, really welcome the fact that programs like Google Mail offer different tabs in the inbox. So all the promotions get sorted reliably in a single tab, separated from the “normal” inbox. Every now and then I quickly scan those emails and in about 1% of the cases I “whitelabel” a company so I get these emails sorted in my normal inbox.

So this might not be new to anyone, and many people may have similar experiences. But what makes an advertising email “special”? In my case, if it matches my interest or even better it fits to my planned purchase; e.g. buy new clothes and get a 15% Zalando  coupon (Zalando is a major retailer with ~3bn€ net sales in 2015).

For companies, hitting the exact moment with a relevant offer for a particular individual is difficult. They instead send a lot of emails in the hope that some of them will “stick” eventually. Some think that it is a good idea to send more than one email a day! Really? No, I do not think so, because then I would classify such a company as spam and would never want to hear from them again.

So what can you do? Big retailers are already collecting browsing data to determine what items we look at. They even store information about items we put in our shopping cart and may abandon there. So advanced techniques focus on that and send you information and offers that are relevant for you. Ok, does not sound too difficult, right? But the reality may be a bit more difficult. Imagine that scenario: You are looking at a Pedelec (a  bicycle with electric engine and a battery) at your utilities commerce store. You think that this model looks ugly and, on top of that, may be too expensive. So you discard that and start browsing somewhere else.

Now every ad would show you that bike. Based on your browsing behavior the system cannot determine if you like that bike or not. And then it follows you and you are not building a “good feeling” with your utilities.

So how to overcome that? To look at that let us go one step back and I will to share some of my own personal experiences with my Utilities. I admit, I am a “Switcher”! Changed my Utility nearly a year ago, to get a better tariff and a “switch bonus”. Before that I stayed for around four years at my previous supplier. Please guess the number of interactions (besides request for meter reading or a sent bill) with my utilities? Zero. Not a single interaction in four years.

It is not always about selling additional products or services, at its core it’s about establishing a connection and a, hopefully good, relationship with the customers. Sometimes it is as simple as sending useful information, giving advice or answering (and sharing) commonly asked questions among customers. But to do so you need to have insights. Into your customers, into behaviors. In the end, a company needs to predict what my interests will be at the next interaction opportunity. Is it about the preferred interaction channel, be it direct communication, email, social media etc. We all know about an “aha” moment with a company, that predicted we were interested in one of their products – before we realized ourselves we were! This should happen much more often now that so much more data is available. Consumers are not asking this from companies. Consumers are demanding it from companies they choose to do business with.

If you remember that Pedelec example it is about collection information from various internal and external streams and data sources and combine them. No big retailer in other industries is doing that manually and so the utilities companies do not have to do that either. It is about utilizing the experience from adjacent industries. And here we are: SAP S/4 HANA Marketing Cloud is offering that. It creates Marketing Profiles from various sources, be it SAP-Software or from other vendors.

How this looks and works in reality you may ask? Come and see! Visit us at the International SAP Conference for Utilities, March 28th – 30th, 2017, Lisbon, Portugal.

We have a dedicated Microforum covering that topic: “SAP S4/HANA Marketing Cloud – Know your customer so well so you answer their needs before they know they have them” as well as a “Innovation Booth” showcasing our SAP Hybris solutions.

 

Please come and join us!

 

Visit: hybris.com/utilities

 

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