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How long is too long to see value in marketing tech?

By Grant Coleman, SVP of EMEA at Emarsys

Choosing the best marketing platform for your business is difficult for any marketer. There are countless different factors involved in the decision, but finding one that delivers results, quickly can be particularly challenging. The timeline for acquiring, implementing and integrating new marketing tech lasts more than twelve months in many cases. It’s likely there will then be a latency period before it delivers results too. You might even be looking at a couple of years before your new piece of tech starts generating value. It is no surprise therefore that this ‘time to value’ challenge often puts marketers off choosing new tech solutions.

There’s a compelling case for addressing this challenge head on, however. Taking too long to get innovative solutions up and running comes at a business cost: a recent McKinsey survey shows that 71% of major tech projects go over budget before time to value (TTV) is reached.

How then, can marketers reduce TTV to make their new tools as profitable as possible in a short timeframe? Those seeking to save time and deliver sustained success from their martech must first set aside plenty of time to adapt their marketing strategy to ensure it’s proactive, not simply reactive. Even if this process is challenging and requires the investment of time and money, it is a worthwhile exercise for improving long-term productivity and profit in more ways than one. 

With this in mind, here are my top tips for marketers seeking to get bang for their buck from their martech investments: 

1.       Make sure your marketing talent has the tools to succeed when they need them

Delayed and slow launches are bad for business. As everyone knows, the quicker you can get your platform working at an optimal level, the greater impact it will have on your business objectives. Skilled marketers need tools to match their ability to rapidly respond to and manipulate the market. If not, they will be frustrated.

2.       Think strategy, not just speed

There’s no need to become fixated on speed alone, however. Outsmarting your competitors is also key, so it’s crucial to invest in platforms that are both strategic and streamlined to ensure your product delivers value. By collectively agreeing your desired outcomes and a methodical, transparent timeline to get your new platform up and running with the wider business, you’ll be able to build a far more effective marketing strategy than if you aimlessly construct an IT architecture that renders your technology more of a hindrance than a practical tool.

3.       Establish goals at the outset and evaluate your progress

A critical part of any plan is its timeline, which needs to be collectively agreed and transparent from the outset. It is important to designate milestone markers: what does the whole process resemble after a month of implementation? What remains to be done? If your business is five months down the line and still unclear on the end objective, or how far away it may be, then something needs to change. There are many technological advancements at our fingertips that we can use to ease the process.

4.       Make your platform work for your team

When deploying a new platform, it’s critical to get your team clued up on your new tools and turn them into experts as soon as possible. That doesn’t just mean training them on its functionality though. It’s vital you impress on your team how beneficial the new tech will be, once the teething stage is over. Otherwise, staff may become disillusioned, clients may question contract renewals and you might fall further behind the competition. 

5.       Be open to addressing new challenges

Your objectives will naturally influence your choice of tech, but you should also be open to the potential of new technology to address hidden problems you didn’t know you had previously. For example, wouldn’t you want to address the fact that 86% of customers will “channel hop” and evade traditional marketing methods? This is an instance when new information can inform our choices.

6.       Choose an ally, not just a vendor

Above all, make sure you choose a provider you can trust. You need them to be on hand for assistance during the process. Proper implementation requires a provider closely aligned with your objectives. Find out what their training materials are, the courses they have available, what consultancy they provide, and the support services they have available, and whether these are calibrated to the needs of your marketing team. Adopting a new platform is not an overnight process and will require due diligence before installation.

Final Thoughts

Time to value has been an important concept for years for countless products and across hundreds of industries. In marketing TTV is less transparent, which is a confusing problem. Taking a more strategic view of acquiring tech that matches the objectives you want to achieve with the most suitable tech available will ensure you deliver the best possible time to value for your business.

Why digital maturity, not transformation, is the key to inspiring change

By Damian Proctor, Redweb

The journey to becoming a digital-first organisation requires a shift in business focus outwards, towards the customer. Due to low risk and greater flexibility, digital has become a key enabler and the best medium for evolving an engaging relationship with customers, investors and other interested parties.

The phrase ‘digital transformation’ has become popular because it indicates a fundamental change taking place. Much like a butterfly emerging from the chrysalis, the marker for a transformed business is digital evolution to a point of no return. 

While this definition has value as a desired future state, it does little to explain the process – from the steps you need to take today, to where the real work happens in the future. However, if you shift your thinking from a focus on transformation to a focus on maturity, as a digital champion you will find it easier to engage and empower your colleagues during the early stages, rather than appearing to evangelise an unattainable utopia.

Digital maturity is a gradual process that unfolds across an organisation over time. Just as a child takes time to grow up, a business needs time to mature. Just as there are different developmental stages throughout an individual’s life, your business can continue to grow and adapt no matter what stage it’s at in order to become more digitally mature. 

Maturation is a natural affair, so it does not happen automatically. Digital maturity is the process of learning how to respond to the emerging competitive digital environment through a better understanding of your audience – adapting your culture and operations to meet their needs, supported by just enough technology to deliver against your strategy. Yet, this is not something that your business, leaders, and employees will instinctually know how to do. Digital champions must develop a working knowledge of the steps required throughout the journey to be prepared for the challenges ahead. 

At Redweb we partner with ambitious brands to empower long-term success, by defining transformational digital strategy. We’ve utilised two decades of experience, working with heritage brands like UEFA, Guide Dogs and Organix, to curate a break-through digital series that will guide you through the key challenges at each stage of your journey to becoming a digital-first organisation. 

DMB readers have the chance to start the new year with a competitive digital advantage by signing up for early access to our maturity model today.

Image by Fauxels from pexels

Marketing trends to watch in 2020

By Sarah Evans, Senior Digital Strategist, Bottle

As we move into 2020, a new decade, the pace of change is only set to increase for the marketing world. This will be the year that some proposals will be out of date if they get stuck in a six-month queue waiting for the board to sign off the budget. It’s hard to benchmark and forecast results when it’s never been done before. Marketers must be brave, curious and nimble, balancing long term and short-term goals. Well strap in…. here’s what we think are the actionable trends coming next year. 

1.       The Social Marketplace: the role of social will change for brands and consumers 

Social sharing has declined over the past few years, digital detoxes are so common they’re boring, and people are becoming more conscious about how they use social media. They’re wising up to how the platforms use our data and the permanence of how and what they share online is off-putting. At the very least, this knowledge is now influencing the level of curation, editing and filtering that their social profiles undergo. Their presence is selective.  

The real conversations are hidden behind closed doors in closed groups or messaging apps – a consumer’s prerogative of course. For brands, that means social listening for consumer insight is far less informative, but also that if they want to get in front of that audience, they’re going to have to pay for that privilege.  

There is another version of social media – it’s increasingly the place you go to shop. Wired called Instagram a shoppable mall: introducing shoppable posts and features that make it easier for people to spend money directly from their feed. Brands may even forgo the money to engage their audiences when sales opportunities are now so readily available through this platform, and the audience is willing. 

Native integration has turned social posts into mini ecommerce experiences where the sales funnel can be much shorter. It’s a great traffic driver from social to a brand’s website too – not to mention making it easier to track sales from an influencer marketing program.  

2.       Influencer Marketing ‘Glows Up’: maturing and diversification 

This is not a new trend, but we’ll see the next phase of its evolution. Budget spent on influencers is estimated to grow from £4.5bn to £18.4bn in 2024, despite misgivings about transparency, efficacy and measurement to name a few: brands still insist on throwing money at this tactic. 

In 2020, we’ll see this kind of activity ‘grow up’, as governance increases and both brands and influencers themselves get more discerning and savvier when it comes to things like contracts, compliance and exclusivity. We expect to see the scale increase, both length of partnership and number of people in a brand’s ambassador program. 

Influencer marketing will go beyond Instagram and YouTube. Not least because algorithm changes, removal of likes and decline of organic reach all pose a threat to influencers’ livelihoods, but also due to the emergence of other niche channels. The explosion of TikTok for example, took most people over 30 by surprise. 

TikTok are trying to woo brands with their 800m global active monthly users and predominantly Gen Z audience. Brands could think laterally about where else to find authoritative people on existing channels as well as emerging ones: like Reddit (just tread carefully), LinkedIn, Medium and even Quora will mean that influencer marketing will be audience-first, not channel-first. This will be key for B2B brands looking to capitalise on this type of activity next year. 

3. The BERT Effect: humanising SEO means voice search will kick up a notch 

We all know of that stat that was absolutely everywhere (you know the one*). On October 25th 2019, Google launched its most significant update in five years, called BERT. It’s a deep-learning, natural language processing model, which is now powering search queries. This is huge and could give voice search the impetus it needs to hit critical mass, as the semantic and contextual understanding BERT will bring lends itself perfectly to that type of search. 

What do brands do about this new update? What they should have been doing all along – which is solve for the user. BERT is now able to read sites just like humans, so write for humans. Google also use humans to manually check websites and the effectiveness of the search results based on their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, so there is no hiding anymore.  

Be useful, trustworthy and authoritative with your content (the E-A-T update is here to stay), and create a lot of it to help people throughout the research process, even those who are at the speculative, low intent phase. Keyword optimisation is dead, it’s all about the topic. 

On a broader note around SEO – Google has been making moves to optimise for the best user experience possible. In years gone by, the methodology may have been clunky, but now it’s extremely sophisticated, so instead of trying to second-guess what Google is looking for now, focus on the user and you’ll always be heading in the right direction. 

4. Brands Without Boundaries: marketing will (continue to) break the fourth wall 

Native advertising will be taken to new heights – beyond advertorials and product placement. We’ve already seen some venture into the gaming world, like the Wendy’s avatar “saving Fortnite from frozen beef” and Burberry’s new online game to race a deer to the moon.  Brands will continue to break the fourth wall to connect with audiences where they are spending time, continuing to infiltrate the consumer’s every day. Product placement on streaming platforms will increaseas they offset money lost through traditional TV advertising, and people seem to be more receptive to accepting products alongside a much-loved character than force-fed them in TV adverts. 

2020 will see the introduction of the much-anticipated advertising on Whatsapp. Any communications channel, where it once may have been saved for personal communication, seems to be for the taking. Creative, irreverent and innovative use of these existing channels may earn forgiveness for crossing the line; like using Airdrop for a recruitment campaign.  

With all these opportunities within reach, brands must go beyond the excitement of new territory and ensure their presence is welcome and valued by their audiences – so think about why and how you have the right to be there – not just about the PR story you can tell about it afterwards. Remember, people have yet to forgive U2 for the automatic iTunes album ‘gift’.  

5. The Purposeful Pound: consumer behaviour pivots towards sustainable brands and shopping habits 

The damage we’re doing to the planet is coming into ever-sharp focus and concern about the environment is at its highest level on record. This is no longer an aspirational or status-driven trend for the liberal elite – the ones who could afford the first iterations of electric cars. It now concerns all of us and is shaping our behaviour and our demands on brands.  

Take one movement: veganism. By 2020, the number of vegans will have grown by 327%. Smart brands clocked the demand and responded: Burger King, Nando’s, Zizzi, Wagamama, even Greggs to name a few have all launched vegan options to their menus. Greggs’ Chief Exec is even vegan now

When it comes to environmental responsibility, for brands and consumers alike: it’s not status-enhancing if you opt in, it’s shaming if you opt out. Just look at #flygskam (or ‘flight shame’). 

Consumers (of all ages) are becoming more conscientious than ever before, voting with their money. With tools like Rank-a-Brand, people can find out how sustainable their favourite brands are. 

Brands will have to work hard to prove their green credentials to this growing, discerning group, but if they can then this will be a powerful marketing tool. Brands need to not only respond to, but also nudge consumers into better habits. Mastercard partnered with Doconomy to launch a credit card that tracks the CO2 of purchases and blocks it when you’ve reached your carbon limit. 

Whatever 2020 brings, you can be sure that the only constant will be change.   

*Really, you don’t? It’s by 2020 half of searches will be voice, by ComScore. 

Evolving marketing in the automotive industry

By Jonathan Gilpin, Lookers

With an annual turnover rate of £82 billion and an employer of over 186,000 people in the manufacturing process, along with an additional 700,000 in other aspects, the automotive industry is huge. 

In addition, the stability the automotive industry creates for the UK economy is substantial, considering the industry alone accounts for 12% of UK good exports. 

But marketing investments for businesses in the automotive industry are usually rather costly. Although there are occasions when we are driving past a car showroom and a shiny new Ford Kuga Titanium catches our eye, it is a rarity in 2019.

For those among us that try and suggest they aren’t sucked in by an utterly fantastic marketing campaign — they are telling a fib. 

Product placement is one aspect certain brands choose to focus on. Fans of popular evening soap Coronation Street helped the hashtag #roysrolls trend after the show replaced Roy’s standard coffee with the alternative, big brand Costa Coffee. 

Alternatively, some businesses have become rather symbols of festive periods, such as John Lewis and their annual Christmas TV adverts. In 2018, the campaign paid tribute to British music cult hero, Elton John. 

The popstar is shown to be playing his rather ironically named song Your Song in a modernized, up to date rendition of it in front of a packed-out concert hall. Travelling through time, letting the audience act as witness to the variety of eras in which the song has been played, it finished with a young Elton playing his first piano. 

If you think about it, none of John Lewis’s adverts in recent years have had any relation to the brand itself, however this clever subtle trick does get you thinking of their brand. 

The overriding purpose of a marketing campaign is to make it stick in your mind and most importantly remember who delivered it. For the remainder of the festive period, the British public were driving to work and doing the dishes, humming the tune to Your Song, and when they were, they were thinking about John Lewis. 

The launch of a new product is crucial. Despite the fact an all-singing, all-dancing media campaign will not be enough to mask the incompetency of a below par product, an impressive one accompanying a genuinely capable product will succeed in boosting sales. 

Here with Lookers and their new Ford Kuga Titanium, we take a look at the way car manufacturers invest in the launch of new products, and whether they opt for a subtle or direct approach. 

The true meaning behind Va Va Voom

Despite a slow start back in 2002, Thierry Henry’s career with the Gunners gradually begun to take off. 

Having two premier league trophies and being top goal scorer in two seasons for his club wasn’t bad titles to add to his name. However, breaking the hearts of Manchester United fans wasn’t the only job Henry had on his hands, or shall we say, feet. Thierry had been tasked by French manufacturer Renault to find the true meaning of ‘va va voom’. 

In the past, the Clio has commonly been associated with being a feminine car, however after the striker was seen driving the car in the advert this helped draw attention away from this stereotype and the physical attributes or capabilities of the car itself. Instead, it took a young, rather dashing sporting icon, and delivered a stylish message to the masses — the Clio is for everyone. 

It’s suggested by marketers that after doing something once, the concept loses its initial appeal. In the case of Henry, Renault were clearly so impressed with his performance at the helm, they drafted him back in to chip in with the 2019 Premier League season adverts on Sky Sports. 

A car you could eat: Fabia Sponge 

Rumor has it that after the release of the greatest automotive TV advert of all time, every day Skoda offices have a slice of cake in tribute to it. 

It’s not often you would look at a car and think “that looks tasty”, regardless of how pleasing to the eye it is. 

Eight master bakers teamed together to create a life-size cake in the shape of their Fabia vehicle for their 2007 advert. Madeira cake, Battenberg, Rice Krispies, chocolate fingers, and oil, in the form of golden syrup, were all moulded together to create undeniably one of the most expensive cakes of all time. 

It took the equivalent cost of 62 Skoda Fabia’s to create the cake for the Czech car manufacturer. Tragically, by the time the icing and filming had been complete, most of the edible aspects of the cake had perished. 

Despite the marzipan alternative, this approach did largely center around the actual car itself, in comparison to the Renault. Accompanied by Julie Andrews’ My Favourite Things, the advert watches the chefs at work, creating an utter masterpiece. 

It’s great when things just work 

For their brand-new advert, Honda used the rhetorical statement of ‘Isn’t it nice when things just work?’.

The advert that situates a Wallace and Gromit-style mechanism in a rather lengthy, desolate gallery is deemed one of the most visually intriguing piece of media contents of all time. 

This domino-effect style idea sees a variety of car parts collapse into one another causing them to fall and trigger the next element of the chain, leaving the audience sat in anticipation to see what the final falling aspect is going to be. 

Before the launch of their campaign, Honda’s sales in Europe had been rather unimpressive. The video however was incredibly well received, collecting a host of awards, including one at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. Honda sales, in turn, jumped by 28 per cent, and the monthly number of Honda branch visits rose from 3,500 to 3,700. 

After 4 days of filming, £1m and 606 takes later the Japanese manufacturers had finished their advert. Again, there was little of the video that focused on the vehicle itself however, the advert got engraved in the minds of its viewers. 

From a business perspective, you need to consider how much your marketing campaign is going to cost, how much you’re willing to invest and how beneficial it has the potential to be. 

Sources:

https://www.autotrader.co.uk/content/features/classic-ads-cake-skoda-fabia

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

How is global working affecting video management?

By Parham Azimi, CEO, Cantemo

The latest iteration of Cisco’s “Visual Networking Index” found that video will account for 82 percent of all online traffic by 2022. That means most of the content your site visitors, leads and potential customers consume will include moving pictures, and all of this needs to be managed well.

In addition to a huge increase in video content production, distributed global teams are now an everyday norm for many companies.

According to an article published in Forbes at the end of 2018, remote working is a standard operating mode for at least 50% of the US population. Employees are beginning to expect a flexible work life and Forbes is predicting that Generation Z workers will expect more choices as to when and where they work.

However, it’s not only employees who are seeing the benefits of working remotely; many employers are reaping the benefits of increased productivity from their remote staff, as highlighted by recruitment organisation Tecla in its 2019 article.

With clear advantages, it’s not surprising that there has been a giant increase in employers embracing distributed teams. However, it doesn’t just promote productivity, it opens up a whole new workforce. This allows businesses to employ well qualified and talented staff based on their qualifications as opposed to where they live. Of course, adapting workflows to enable this presents employers with some challenges. With offices based around the world some staff are starting their day when others are switching the lights off.

How can you ensure smooth and seamless collaboration for creative teams working on the same projects, but in different time zones? The benefits of remote teams mean that organisations are ready to implement technology to make this easier and more efficient. However, industries that work heavily with reams of data are faced with a decision; what solutions are suitable for the job? Is there a solution that not only enables video management, but also enhances it?

When file sharing isn’t enough

When we are thinking about file sharing, we’re considering options such as Dropbox, Google Drive and One Drive. These are popular and low-cost tools that can be a suitable way to handle media when your content library or archive is small. With capabilities to share links and set permissions, sometimes web-based sharing is enough as it does all of this very well. However, its file sharing falls short when being used for more complex workflows, such as collaborative projects that have multiple stakeholders,  teams, timezones. Have you ever tried to find a file that your colleague has mis-named, duplicated or saved in the wrong location? This is where it’s time to consider file management tools. 

The case for Media Management 

Finding lost files wastes valuable time. Add to this the complexity of collaborating with creative teams and clients across multiple locations and you can feel the metaphorical sweat beads starting to form. Metadata may be part of the solution.

Combining AI—which allows computing brain power do the heavy lifting—with rich metadata will provide the tools to make media searchable and easier to find. Automated and bulk metadata tasks can allow for efficient media management. Tagging media enables a huge set of parameters to search for content.

Instead of manually choosing where to file media featuring a family, on a day trip, travelling by train, with their dog, you could choose a better option and make the file discoverable using any one of those search terms. Better still, AI capabilities have now been developed to a point in which it can identify the images within the footage, translate this into metadata and provide the user with the content when searched for.

However, global working creates a challenge when managing how you store your data; metadata needs space and remote teams need scalable storage solutions that are easy to access. How should global businesses be storing their content? Can the right storage increase efficiency? 

Storing files and workflows

With many global organisations recognising their complex storage requirements, time must be spent considering how to use storage and workflows to improve efficiencies on an operational level. Sharing files with global teams and clients for review is often quickly and effectively handled by applying cloud-based workflows.

A cloud-based workflow can route all of the steps in the process for approval, regardless of where staff are located. Cloud-based workflows also drive productivity by taking workflows online and reducing manual steps; this rapidly increases efficiency, often at a lower cost than alternatives. As legacy systems start to creak under the strain of modern working challenges, many organisations are considering whether the cloud holds the solution to streamlined workflows.

Cloud working has become a widely adopted computing term.  Most marketers understand that taking storage power from hardware on premise and placing it in the cloud is beneficial for many reasons. However, when swapping to the cloud an organisation’s first decision is whether to adopt cloud storage or a hybrid. Hybrid cloud is a combination of both cloud storage and on-premise storage. It offers users with flexibility when it comes to file sharing and keeps egress costs at a minimum. Add in proxies, which I’ll address later on, and you’ve got a powerful, modern solution.

An editor may already have several hundred gigabytes of data for just one project, which makes sharing and global collaboration difficult. Projects with a fast turnaround can easily encounter bottlenecks that slow down processes and defeat the objective of a media management solution. Enter: proxies.

Proxies

To avoid a content bottleneck, cloud-based media management solutions should provide the ability to offer proxy workflows, particularly non-linear editors (NLEs). With proxies, editors can edit content and the project timeline without having to use significant amounts of bandwidth that are required when moving the high-resolution files around. Working with and moving much smaller files has cost implications for egress (getting your files back out of the cloud) and should be considered when selecting a vendor for services. 

The right tech is the solution

Whether collaborators are across the hall or across the country, organisations need their staff to have the ability to access, edit and share media easily and quickly. Businesses are now turning to sophisticated media management tools to make it simpler to share media at various stages of production, review, edit, and seek approval – no matter where teams are based. All of the advantages of hybrid cloud-based file management produce fewer obstacles in developing and collaborating on creative content. 

Hassle-free, secure and reliable, hybrid workflows support global organisations while they solve their media management challenges. A customised and robust hybrid cloud platform offers a smart solution that enhances ordinary asset management whilst enabling collaborative working. The benefits of remote working outweigh the challenges; equip your business with the right tools and there’s no reason not to hire the best person for the job, regardless of where they are in the world. 

Hyper everything: How tech integration is changing customer communication

By Michael Wright, CEO, Striata 

A raft of new technologies, many of which are easily integrated into existing channels, are changing the way organisations communicate with their customers. 

Chatbots, voice integration, and dynamic (hyper-personalised) content, amongst others are at the forefront of this evolution. But organisations cannot simply implement these technologies and expect dramatic improvements in their customer communication efforts. 

Instead, they have to ensure that any new technologies are utilised in line with the broader goals of customer communication; that is, making communication as valuable to the customer as possible.   

AI and meeting customer needs

With any form of customer communication, the aim should always be to move with the customer through their stages of life and offer the customer appropriate services at each stage. 

So, for example, in the insurance world, a customer may start with renter’s insurance as a single person and move to homeowner’s insurance, car insurance and life insurance as their personal circumstances change. 

Here, artificial intelligence (AI) has an important role to play. In the customer communication space especially, AI-based systems are useful for predicting user behaviour and providing content based on that prediction to prompt the user’s next action.

Organisations are already seeing the value AI provides in this regard, integrating it into email, billing, and mobile payments, all of which contain forms of customer communication. 

AI is also driving the use of chatbots, which appear on websites and instant messaging services, as automated virtual assistants.  

Not only are chatbots useful for customer service,  but also for invoicing and payment collections.  

The rise of voice 

But good customer communication isn’t just about baking new technologies into existing channels. It also means embracing the technologies your customers are actually using. 

One example of this is voice recognition.  

By 2020, Gartner predicts that 30% of web browsing will occur without a screen. And 55% of American teenagers will use speech recognition, daily. 

It’s only natural, therefore, that customers will want to interact with organisations via voice. Any organisation that invests in integrating voice technology into its customer communications now stands to give itself that extra edge over its competitors.    

Micro-segmentation and hyper-personalisation 

If an organisation is going to integrate these technologies successfully, it needs to ensure that it couples them with real-time data to deliver more relevant content, product and service information to each user. 

The more information an organisation has on each customer, the more meaningful and valuable its communication will be. 

Broadly referred to as hyper-personalisation and micro-segmentation, this use of data means being able to provide content that is relevant on the day / month / life stage of that customer. It allows the company to provide information that improves the customer experience due to the very personal nature of the content. 

Moreover, hyper-personalisation is proven to build loyalty and trust, that ultimately makes customers more profitable. 

A dual approach

Putting the customer back in the centre of customer communication requires more than technology alone. Like the human-centred design approach (putting the customer at the core of the product design process), communication design should be too.

Asking customers directly what content they want to receive, when and how, is invaluable to the design process. This dual approach enables the organisation to combine preference and engagement data (technology), with input obtained directly from the people best suited to design the process: customers and employees (humans). 

By taking this integrated approach, organisations can ensure that they provide customers with the kind of communication they need and want. 

About the author – Michael Wright launched Striata in 1999.  A Chartered Accountant by profession, he started his career at PwC where he was responsible for Internet Strategy & Services and Business Information Services. The technology bug having firmly bit, he moved to VWV Interactive as Managing Director before founding Striata. He was the founder of the South African chapter of First Tuesday, the “Global Thought Leadership Network”. As Striata’s CEO, Wright is responsible for the company’s vision, mission and the business’ global expansion

Hyper everything: how tech integration is changing customer communication 

By Michael Wright, CEO, Striata 

Guinness, Kit-Kat and Jaguar Land Rover – Quirky brand facts you never knew

It’s easy to get carried away with our stereotypes and assume we know which countries love specific products.

We would rightfully expect sales of Yorkshire Tea to be high in the UK and Volkswagen to be the leading car manufacturer in Germany.

However, there are many global shopping trends that come as quite the surprise. Because many companies have grown to the status of global brands, their popularity has surged around every corner of the world.

What’s more, your favourite brands such as Kit-Kat sometimes completely alter their products to appeal to a whole new country of potential consumers. 

Read on to learn some little-known facts about the strange successes and unexpected alterations of some famous companies…  

Nearly 40% of Guinness is consumed somewhere in Africa

Despite the association we have between Guinness and Ireland, the drink’s homeland is surprisingly not its biggest consumer. In fact, Guinness is more popular in Nigeria which is the beverage’s second largest market. Most people associate this popular drink with cozy Irish pubs or rowdy St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. This all seems completely at odds with its hype in so many African countries.

A potential cause for this anomaly is that Africa is actually home to three of the world’s five Guinness breweries, with Guinness-loving-Nigeria taking pride in one of them. This explains the love of the drink over the African continent but, despite this, the UK still retains the top spot for Guinness consumption (with Ireland coming in a disappointing third place) 

Japan has over 80 different flavors of Kit-Kat

One brand that has gained a massive following overseas is Nestle’s Kit-Kat. Over in Japan, this tasty chocolate bar is adored and hugely popular. In fact, Japan is so obsessed with this snack that they currently sell it in over 80 different flavours! You’re familiar with the Kit-Kat chunky, dark chocolate and white chocolate, right? But have you ever tried flavours such as soybean, Earl Gray tea, Camembert cheese, baked potato and cucumber? I thought not! 

Some of these flavour options definitely sound more appealing than others, how many would you dare to try?

China is the new biggest market for Jaguar Land Rover

British brands like Land Rover are constantly growing their customer reach. Despite these cars perhaps being most associated with rural England, China has recently become one of their new biggest markets and their demand in Asia is every growing. 

One possible reason for this is that many Land Rover models such as the Land Rover Discovery Sport and the Range Rover Evoque have been manufactured in China since the early 2000s. This increasing rate of manufacture has been reflected in the growing Chinese market.  

India is the country that drinks the most whiskey 

What do you associate most with whiskey? Perhaps you think of remote Scottish distilleries or the famous Edinburgh whiskey tours. Scotland is definitely the country that you’d assume loved this drink the most, but they have been pipped at the post by a surprising rival: India. 

Since 2015, studies have told us that India consumes nearly a half of the world’s supply of whiskey. To put it another way, that’s almost 1,600,000,000 liters of whiskey each year! 

Of course, India’s vast population gives it a certain edge in this competition. When it comes instead to whiskey consumption per capita, France takes home the trophy. On average, the French are known to drink more than two liters per person per year.

Mexico is the biggest consumer of Coke 

Although Coca-Cola is a brand that embodies everything American, the USA is astonishingly not actually its biggest market. To find the biggest consumers of Coca-Cola you have to look a bit further south, down to Mexico. 

The Mexican market for Coke products is immense, with the impressive consumption of 728 per capita! This massively outweighs even America who are the runners up at 402. No other country even comes close to these Coca-Cola fanatics. Of course, this is including all coke products rather than just their iconic eponymous beverage. When a company makes over 3,500 beverages, then it’s bound to up its number of consumers.

From drinks, to chocolate, to car brands, global businesses are making colossal waves in unexpected places. It is also clear that some brands are going the extra mile to mix-up their products to suit these new audiences, in weird and wonderful ways!

Image by engin akyurt from Pixabay

A how-to guide to Legitimate Interest Assessments

As a business, you need to market your services beyond your own walls. However you’re also aware that you need to comply with GDPR… and PECR!

So how can you balance getting the word out, while also meeting personal data obligations?

There are six lawful basis set out in the GDPR to justify the processing of personal data – Legitimate Interest being one of them. But many businesses are unsure how to apply it for business to business (b2b) marketing communications.

So what exactly is Legitimate Interest, when can you use it, and how can you actually do it?

Download the guide to read:

  • When you can use Legitimate Interest
  • Examples of Legitimate Interest
  • The 3 stages of Legitimate Interest Assessments (LIAs)
  • Tips to remember
  • Bonus: Free Legitimate Interest Assessment Template

Legitimate Interest can be a great option for some businesses, but you need to follow the proper steps to protect yourself, your business, and the rights of your data subjects. You will need to demonstratethat your interests are not overridden by the interests of the individuals in question. And you do that by carrying out a Legitimate Interest Assessment.

If you would like to discuss LIAs – or the GDPR at large – in more detail, and how the Regulations relate to your campaigns, please contact Nigel Copp at KPM Group. 

How to market to the over-50s

Force24’s Managing Director, Adam Oldfield, offers his insight into what digital marketers need to know when effectively communicating with ‘silver surfers’…

There’s a strong market emerging that digital marketers cannot afford to ignore, especially as they are proving to be an affluent demographic when it comes to loyalty and brand commitment – and that’s the over-50s.

According to NatWest ContentLive, the so-called ‘silver surfers’ market not only accounts for over a third of Britain’s population, but they hold around 70% of the country’s household wealth.

Further statistics in this article also underline how these customers are fans of online shopping too – with 75% of adults aged 55-64 logging on to buy products and services in 2017, as reported via the Office for National Statistics.

So, what do marketers really need to understand about this group, in order to effectively get their messages across? 

Firstly, it’s a demographic which holds traditional values close to them. They prefer to buy from people they trust, and have a level of engagement that certainly shouldn’t be underestimated – or overlooked – by brands.

However, it’s important that marketing departments approach this kind of audience in a different way – and that’s by embracing their ethos of wanting to get to know people.

Why? Because the over-50s place long-term value on the organisations who show they truly care about their individual needs. Therefore, businesses need to demonstrate a commitment to connect, and take them through their purchasing journey in a personable, humanised way.

When it comes to understanding when to engage too, if marketers try to communicate with this target market at the wrong times, the audience is more likely to unsubscribe because they guard their inbox like it’s their front door – they certainly don’t care for blanket brand spam.

What they do hold true value to is security, and, that’s where marketing automation can be a real benefit to companies. Having such a platform ensures communications are relevant, land when most timely, and are sent in-line with the end user’s preferred frequency.

Automation allows for companies to super-personalise their marketing can help to build the trust this audience requires, as well as collect crucial data, in order to understand what the customer is looking at – helping departments to escalate the purchasing journey, at their desired pace.

Finally, another element for firms to really consider is the artwork included when sending their comms. This demographic is less design-critical – they prefer a polished, well-constructed piece of marketing over something that’s contemporary or graphic-heavy. They want value over vibrancy.

In order to really connect with the over-50s on a level that will create a long-standing relationship, organisations have to be patient and put real effort into personalising their messaging, in order to show how dependable and trustworthy they really are.

Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

Is your brand’s content is working as hard as it can?

By Carrie Webb, Head of Content, The Bigger Boat

It’s no secret that a brand’s content is hugely important. It can mean the difference between and organisation being discovered online or not.

But so much more than that, quality content elevates brand perception, nurtures lasting relationships with an audience and enables companies to build authority and credibility.

In such a content-rich environment, it can be difficult to know how to grab consumers’ attention, drive real engagement, create conversations and ultimately increase conversions. Whether it’s via a well-designed infographic, a collection of helpful blog posts or a fully-fledged PR campaign, here’s how to give great content the best chance of surviving and reverberating in such a crowded place.

Build out a strategic approach

Don’t create content simply for the sake of posting something. There should be a sound detailed strategy behind it that takes into account many factors, but most importantly aims to create a connection between brands and consumers.

The first step is to identify the brand’s strengths and consider this alongside a competitor’s offering. Take a holistic view of how those in the same space behave, and look at the types of content they’re producing – what’s working and what isn’t and, crucially, how audiences are responding.

A structured, analytical approach is required to then apply learnings to the content strategy. This will provide internal guidelines and is the brand’s ‘why’ and ‘how’.

Begin by defining audience personas (include their needs, where they consume content and any challenges and pain points), the organisation’s story and messaging and nail down content purpose.

There should also be considerations for business-wide and content KPIs. Detail success metrics for every piece of content – traffic, views, shares, conversion rate, brand awareness, for example – and jot down outreach plans for them. Collating and assessing all this information leaves an overarching strategy that plans ahead for every aspect of the organisation’s marketing activity in an effort to produce the best results.

Consider shareability from the outset

Creating a fantastic piece of content that ticks all the boxes – for example, it’s user friendly, relevant, and has SEO coursing through its veins – is great, but it’s not enough to simply upload and sit back in the hope results will flood in.

If a business isn’t promoting its own content, it’s missing out on many outreach possibilities. There’s no harm in giving customers a helping hand in finding content. If there’s budget, look towards PR, consider paid promotion or use influencers to shout about the work.

Email marketing provides a good way to round-up and tease content on the brand’s site and, of course, sharing contentacross the relevant social platforms is always a winning tactic when looking to start conversation.

Finally, don’t underestimate the value of employee advocacy. If a workforce shares its content, this shows customers that staff members have bought into the brand – and its content is credible. It also ensures a much higher reach without having to put extra budget behind it.

Write for the desired audience

A business should know its audience better than they know themselves, and create content that perfectly tailors to their needs and behaviour. This is key to content success.

Provide answers to questions asked, offer a viewpoint on topics customers are interested in, and ensure the brand is operating in a space where the target market is digitally active.

Genuinely useful, purposeful content gains more traction and is more likely to resonate in a meaningful way. Knowing – and serving – an audience is vital in content marketing. After all, the goal isn’t always to simply clinch a sale – there needs to be an effort to work hard and gain their trust, and convert them into advocates. Consistent, quality content that provides for their needs should do just that.

Ensure CTAs are simple and structured

Find subtle ways to encourage an audience to share thoughts, move through to another piece of relevant content or perform a customer action. Whether it’s to download a PDF, buy a product or simply head on to another blog within the site, the call to action (CTA) should be well-designed and strategically placed, with clear and compelling text.

Use the right words to give the CTA an obvious thrust – the user must be left in no doubt as to what’s being asked of them, and what they’ll receive if they click.

Make it timeless

The best content is evergreen – it doesn’t have an expiry date. Its information is as useful and relevant now as it will be five years down the line.

‘How to’ guides are a great example of content that doesn’t date. While there will always be a place for seasonal, topical content, it won’t have much appeal once conversation around it has subsided and an organisation is left with an initial increase in traffic that will quickly fade.

During its 20th anniversary celebrations in September 2018, Google announced a selection of new search features. Among them was the ‘Topic’ layer in the search, which aims to recommend new content to the user after analysing the web for a topic and developing a huge range of subtopics. It favours the most relevant content, namely that which has shown itself to be ‘evergreen and continually useful, as well as [being] fresh content on the topic’.

Harness the power of analytics

Insights software provides invaluable data as to how content is performing and can help to make strategic decisions.

For each piece of content created, its objectives and goals should have been set out in the content strategy at the very beginning of the process – using analytics gives specifics of whether it’s meeting them. Find out what’s working and what’s not by measuring traffic, bounce rate, dwell time and engagement, for example.

If content isn’t doing too well, an organisation will gain insight into why that is, and should make changes accordingly to avoid making the same mistake with future content.

Using an analytics tool should be routine for content marketers – do it correctly and learn what makes users tick, where they’re coming from, what type of content they favour and easily pinpoint successes, and where improvements are needed.

Apply detailed consideration to the strategy behind content as well as its aftercare and ensure it works as hard as it can for the brand.

With time, effort and consistency in the approach, content will find its place with the right audience, help raise brand perception and generate the desired results.

Carrie Webb is head of content for The Bigger Boat – a creative digital marketing specialist business based in Yorkshire.

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