Insights

  • Is Cloud Computing Right for Your Business?

    by Mark Stitz | Jan 06, 2012
    is cloud computing right for your business

    Over the last few years many businesses have moved aspects of their business operations to cloud computing. It offers many advantages, including potential cost savings. However, there are also significant risks associated with cloud computing. So what are some of the factors that companies should be aware when evaluating cloud computing, and how do you mitigate the risks associated with it?

    Cloud computing is an environment of interconnected servers providing computing resources in an elastic and dynamic manner based on computing need. The hope with cloud computing is that the underlying hardware is not significant to the equation, which allows the actual processing needs to be addressed dynamically based on need. The costs of cloud computing are normally based on a usage model, with payments being charged on a time usage or occurrence basis. As your computing needs change you can dynamically allocate more or less resources.

    Another important factor is that the speed at which content is delivered to end users plays an important role in the success or failure. In regards to websites and services, delivering content as fast as possible to the end user is very important in making sales. Search engines now factor in load times in their search rankings, which users have factored in for many years. If your content is delivered using the old model of hosted servers located in data center(s) thousands of miles away from users, you may not be achieving your full potential conversion rate. This rapid content delivery has become so important that content delivery networks (CDN) have been established to aid in getting static content to the user even faster by utilizing thousands of servers located everywhere.

    The primary potential advantage of cloud computing is the significantly lower cost required for data processing services, since you only pay for what you consume instead of the old model where you purchase servers that often sit mostly idle. The old model of computing resources often required you to purchase more than enough processing power in order to accommodate peak demand, even though the peak rarely happens which then lead you to server(s) being mostly idle.

    The use of cloud computing removes the need for the potentially large capital and operating costs associated with purchasing or leasing such hardware and software, and shifts those costs to a usage-based model. Purchasing or leasing hardware often requires agreements that lock you into a specific set of computing resources regardless of how your needs change over time.

    Cloud computing has its risks and disadvantages, however. Cloud computing typically has a dislocated nature in which your software runs on the cloud computing providers’ servers, which then means you are tied to the provider maintaining a certain quality level of assurance. Often times this dislocated nature is considered an advantage as it augments your staffing needs but could be problematic as you rely on the provider and cannot do it yourself.
    Another disadvantage to cloud computing is the substantial risks in privacy and confidentiality. By using a cloud system, company sensitive data and information is stored on third-party servers of which you will have very limited knowledge or control over. A breach of these systems for another client could overflow and compromise your data which could have devastating effects.

    A key component to cloud computing is establishing effective contingency plans. These plans should cover all aspects that you can anticipate and propose ways to deal with these. For most small businesses, developing such plans are difficult since there are not a lot of desirable alternatives, but by establishing the best contingency plan you have a huge advantage when problems arise.

    Business owners should carefully evaluate the use of cloud based systems, weighing the advantages and disadvantages. You need to be aware of the potential risks and problems that accompany cloud computing, to reduce and mitigate them. The substantial potential cost savings with increased freedom to elastically alter your computing resources can be quite significant for a growing business or even a well established one.

    Interested in delving deeper? Contact us at enterprisetechnology@trellist.com.

  • Merchant Funded Rewards Programs Still Require Direct Response Fundamentals

    by Josh Kelso | Nov 15, 2011

    The purpose of a loyalty program is to…well, build customer loyalty. In today’s financial services marketplace, however, traditional bank-funded loyalty programs are rapidly losing their perceived benefit among participants.  As the value assigned to the points decreases, participants are looking elsewhere for better deals.  This defeats the purpose of the program.  As a result, more and more Financial Institutions (FIs) are moving away from self (bank) funded loyalty programs and toward merchant funded loyalty programs to offer more to participants. But the initial success of these programs will be difficult to repeat unless marketing managers return to the fundamentals of direct response marketing.

    Merchant funded loyalty programs are a growing loyalty strategy, enabling FIs to share the financial burden of loyalty program costs with merchants.  In essence, the merchant agrees to fund the points, cash back or discounts in exchange for marketing exposure to the loyalty program’s participants.  As a result, the FI is able to provide a highly attractive loyalty-building program, offering greater value to participants, while the merchant gains valuable marketing opportunities.

    These new programs are being adopted rapidly throughout the financial industry, and soon the impact of greater rewards will be lost as consumers are overwhelmed with competing offers from multiple vendors leveraging this new tactic. Merchant funded loyalty programs help cultivate mutually beneficial relationships between FIs and merchants.  However, to preserve their value with consumers, the programs need to be executed with emphasis on the fundamentals.

    Merchant funded rewards programs must be implemented with strong messaging tied to the brands and the consumer’s interests. Precise targeting and relentless A/B testing will ensure that the right message reaches the right audience at the right time. This creates the greatest value for FIs and merchants – as well as consumers who appreciate and are most likely to respond to offers with maximum relevance and personalization.

    Before consumer fatigue sets in, this powerful marketing tactic needs strong execution to see immediate results. At Trellist Marketing and Technology, we have been working with merchant funded rewards programs for years. Our experience has shown that the application of direct response fundamentals, strong creative execution, and relentless testing still have the greatest impact on program success.

  • Customer Experience: The Other Side of Loyalty

    by Edgar Uy | Apr 18, 2011
     

    In a 2010 study, Jupiter Research cited that 75 percent of American consumers belong to at least one loyalty program. These programs can promote brand consideration since consumers are always looking for ways to be rewarded for loyalty. Whether it’s through immediate savings, cash back or rewards incentive for future purchases, companies realize the benefit of incentivizing their customer base. However, there is an additional approach to consider that creates an added sense of loyalty in customers augmenting existing programs.

    Businesses today, specifically those that rely on a strong brand appeal, are encountering a new breed of customers who are savvy, engaged, and, most importantly, connected. Social Networks have transformed the way these customers shop and communicate, and provide a platform to easily share their opinions with family, friends, colleagues and others. Today’s consumers are even more demanding, and much more critical of brands with grand promises that fail to deliver.  As a result, they are empowered to be selective given that they have the power to choose easily and rely on a tribe of likeminded consumers to make their purchase decisions.

    Beyond using the two basic types of loyalty programs, such as the rewards-based approach and/or promoting specialized offers to a select group, focus on forging a stronger connection with your customers at every touch-point thereby turning them into evangelists and advocates for your brand. Reward their loyalty with better customer experiences, whether it’s through product or service inquiry, purchase ease, recommendations, timely promotions or convenience.  

    Listening to your customers and identifying needs that are not being met, or obstacles in their experiences that have a negative impact to your brand and reputation, provides the opportunity to act on them. Just be sure to address the underlying problem through a self-nurturing feedback loop. The insight you gain may lead to fundamental changes in your value proposition, enhanced product/service opportunities or even your entire business model.

    Just remember that loyalty is a by-product of the customer experience and not a result of specific programs. Trellist follows this guiding principle when developing loyalty strategies for our clients. 

Showing posts specific to: CRM