Gianfranco Cuzziol: A Little Conversation Helps

Gianfranco_Cuzziol_130_143 Recently I had the pleasure to connect to Gianfranco Cuzziol, Head of eCRM at EHS 4D. I asked him about cross-media experiences and his presentation:  “The art and science of being social” at the Fusion Marketing Experience event in Brussels, organized by J-P De Clerck.

Time for an interview.

Jordie Some people might not know you so well, Gianfranco. With over 15 years of experience working on agency and client side, can you tell us about how you got to where you are now?

Gianfranco Cuzziol: Well, with a first degree in Astrophysics it was obvious I would end up in Digital Marketing!

I’ve recently joined the EHS 4D Group as Head of eCRM where I look after  the development of eCRM vision, strategy and delivery across the agency’s portfolio of clients . I’m interested in the customer journey across channels, and developing insights to help clients leverage the points of maximum impact within that journey.

My aim is to demonstrate that the ‘e’ in eCRM is “engagement”, not just email – eCRM should take in social, mobile, digital and direct communications – whatever it takes to connect with the customer on their journey with a brand.

Prior to EHS 4D I was at  eCircle, one of the European based ESPs , where I was eCRM Planning Consultant.  Prior to that I was CRM Planning Director at Publicis Dialog working on brands such as Hewlett Packard across EMEA and Zurich Global Corporate.  Previously, Head of Planning at Golley Slater Direct across clients for PC World Business, Business Link London,, TK Maxx and Centre Parcs.

Jordie: That’s quite an impressive list of clients. Seeing as your presentation is about the art and science of social. How much is of the social experience is art and how much is science?

Gianfranco Cuzziol: Well as I am a techie at heart I’m going to lean towards Science.  There is definitely an Art to conversation and being social but ultimately I think that it’s the numbers behind the scene that actually are the most important. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the big creative idea that can be communicated across a series of integrated channels but the clever bit from my perspective is the insight we can gain by looking at how that translates in action!

But to me the ‘Art’ is not purely about the creative elements but the ‘philosophy’ behind what we brands are trying to do with their communication channels
In a presentation I delivered a few times last year, I talked about it all being about the conversation. I admitted at the end of that that it was a big fat lie. It was actually all about the conversion… It’s just that a little conversation helps.

Jordie: Ha, ha, ha, that is a great way to end a presentation. I guess honesty also helps in building trust and in turn influencing buying behavior.  Going from one personal experience to another: Which companies do you think are good artists / scientists? (AKA doing a good job)?

Gianfranco Cuzziol: Tough one. I think there are companies who are doing some of it well, but very few doing all of it well!!

I recently came across how Virgin America has taken on technology fast and with enthusiasm to have that conversation with its customer. Their use of  high-tech entertainment units, WiFi and onboard servers has made them very popular with their digitally savvy customers. They respond to in-flight tweets, re-books customers who post about missing flights and provides updates on flight schedules via text, email, Facebook and Twitter. They of course they also use it promote the frequent flyer programme etc.

Another example of where a brand is really mixing the conversation on and off line is Mattel with their ‘should Barbie take Ken back?’ campaign getting fans to vote either way on Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare. You can even “in the real world” get Ken wants Barbie Back cupcakes!

Here in the UK I’m a big fan of Argos. They were a client when I worked at eCircle.  They nicely combine the usual Social platforms (Twitter and Facebook), Apps with a great Email Programme that uses Dynamic Content to really personalise your content based on previous email, browsing and transactional behavior.

Plus the customer service updates they give you on delivery schedules via automated telephone calls confirming delivery slots to the driver on the days of delivery calling you to tell you here will be there in less than hour!

Integration means having a consistent message through each channel

Jordie: Those are some great examples and they all use more than one communication channel. What would you advise to a starting marketeer looking to go cross-channel?

Gianfranco Cuzziol: : Know where your audience is! You can’t decide in advance which channels you are going to use.  There is no set solution. There is no such thing as Best Practice. You define your own Best Practice, for your Brand your Customer and your Business Model

Jordie: As you just said there are no best practices for choosing channels, what are some of the best ways to integrate channels. For instance e-mail marketing with social media?

Gianfranco Cuzziol: : At its simplest level of course just mentioning each channel in the other is the place to start. But of course if your platform allows it, then there is an opportunity to include your last few tweets, and being able to use Facebook’s Like button from within the email.

Conversely you can now give Facebook fans the opportunity to sign up for say your newsletter from. After all you were in Facebook for a reason, why should a brand move you out of there just for collection of an email address.

Integration of course also means having a consistent message through each channel by actually deciding what email and social media are there to do for you. Do they fall into the PR, Marketing or Customer Services camps?

And heaven forbid should a subscriber want to unsubscribe…why not give them the opportunity to follow you elsewhere. I know you recently very kindly retweeted my mention of this on Twitter.

Jordie: So what you are saying is that cross promotion must come with a consistent message and you should organize that in your organization. Quite the surprise that you thanked me for tweeting.  🙂  What do you think will surprise marketers in the coming 3-5 years?

Gianfranco Cuzziol: : Although we talk about it now, I think Marketers will still remain surprised about how difficult it will still be to attribute return to different channels. Unless we start thinking about it now  and how we can take the data from various channels to create a unified view of customer interactions marketers will still remain surprised when they are asked by the CFO:  “show me the money”

Jordie: How has your work in email marketing affected your personal use of digital channels?

Gianfranco Cuzziol: : Well for one thing I am much more critical of the emails I get in my personal inbox. I am amazed at how unsophisticated some brands are even with the basics of segmentation. I wont mention the brand but not only have I registered myself as male, stipulated that I am interested in male products, bought male products, and they still send me female biased emails!!.

Jordie: I could think of a dozen jokes about that right now, but probably the joke is on the brand, actually losing customers that way. How about social?

Gianfranco: And to be honest until I really got under the skin of email (having spent close to a year working within an ESP environment) I didn’t really see the appeal of Twitter for example. But now, you can’t get me (@iamgfc) off it. It has put me in touch with some great go to people in the world of email including your good self Jordie (@jvanrijn), and of course J-P (@conversionation) who is organizing the Fusion Marketing Experience events where I’m be speaking.