The Customer Experience Imperative with DealNews: A Q&A with Bruce Hammonds

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DealNews is a discount aggregator that is redefining your view on deals sites. Founded in 1997, DealNews was one of the first companies of its kind in digital commerce. And, after all these years DealNews continues to be one of the top players is the discount world.

So, what’s their secret? We recently sat down with the brand’s Vice President of Marketing and User Acquisition, Bruce Hammonds, to find out.

Bruce, whose impressive background includes senior marketing and product manager roles at the likes of Business Insider, Disney and Publisher’s Clearing House, knows a thing or two about growth, brand trust and the importance of customer experience — all of which are keys to DealNews’ sustained success.

Check out our full Q&A with Bruce to learn more about how the brand is approaching customer experience, what the future of daily deal sites look like, balancing data-driven strategies with gut instincts, and more.

SAILTHRU: Tell us about DealNews. How are you different than other deal-based brands out there?

BRUCE HAMMONDS: Since 1997, DealNews has had one goal: to connect value-driven consumers with discounts from their favorite retailers. Besides the fact that we’ve been around for 20 years, DealNews has been able to differentiate itself from other deal-based brands through our proprietary curation process that allows us to generate extremely high quality content. Backed by years of data, expertise and our editorial guarantee, our content staff is able to provide consumers with the best offer that’s currently available, which has positioned us as a trustworthy authority in the deal space.

 

What do you envision for the future of daily deal-type brands?

BRUCE HAMMONDS: Value-conscious consumers will always be on the hunt for savings, so I think the future is bright for brands that offer an appealing value exchange with a solid, trustworthy customer experience. However, one of the more imminent challenges that sites like ours will need to address is “last-touch attribution”.

As a deal aggregator, our job is to expose shoppers to a wide array of offers that will drive conversions for our retail partners. For deal sites and retail brands alike, it’s important that conversions are being attributed correctly to the proper sources. Many marketers analyze the effectiveness of their spend based on “last-touch”, frankly because it’s easy. But without proper attribution tracking (from top to bottom of the funnel), retail brands don’t have an accurate account of the sources that are contributing to conversions. This can leave them with a very skewed and incomplete picture of what’s driving results, which isn’t ideal for data-driven marketers.        

 

What is your approach to customer loyalty? How important is loyalty to your brand?

BRUCE HAMMONDS: Loyalty is extremely important to us. While many in our space are currently offering or venturing into the world of traditional loyalty programs (i.e. cash-back, rebates, etc.) we’re focused on building loyalty through an awesome customer experience. Making sure that we’re able to connect users with valuable, relevant content as effectively and efficiently as possible is how we build and maintain a loyal customer base.

 

What are a few of your biggest marketing challenges today, and what are you prioritizing this year to solve for them?

BRUCE HAMMONDS: I think the biggest challenge that we’ve faced in the past was assuming that we knew what our users wanted. Being so close to the product and the content, it’s easy to assume that you know what’s best for the user. While we’ve been guilty of this, we are making a conscious effort to reverse that culture of presumptive thinking.  

We’ve started investing resources into gathering intelligence from current and prospective customers which, in the past few months, has proven to be extremely insightful and valuable. I’m very proud of the company for taking a step back and identifying the need to actually connect with consumers as we look to build and improve our products.

 

Marketing leaders are always talking about evolving the customer experience. What does that look like for you and for DealNews in the coming years?

BRUCE HAMMONDS: We’ve made optimizing the customer experience across our marketing channels the main focus of 2017 and beyond. Simply put, we want our customers to LOVE DealNews. We want them to love the feeling they get when they discover a deal. Whether it’s a deal on a 60″ 4K HDTV they’ve been searching for or an incredibly-discounted pair of shoes they didn’t even know they wanted, or they consume our content through a browser, our app or newsletters, we want to always connect our customers with valuable and relevant content.

 

How do you balance the need to be data-driven with the “art” of marketing?

BRUCE HAMMONDS: For me, the key to balancing the “science” and “art” of marketing is to not overthink it. It’s so easy to get paralyzed by the data, especially when there’s an abundance of it.

A lot of marketers are frightened by the prospect of making the wrong decision. I think there’s still room for decisions from the gut. In trying to find that balance, agility is a marketer’s best friend.

If you’re going to fail, fail fast and move on. Learn from your failure and iterate. I think it’s extremely important to strive for constant progress over perfection. Data, aligned with well-defined goals, will tell you whether you’re moving in the right direction or not.

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