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Digital brand interaction on the rise due to pandemic

Over half (55%) of UK adults will interact with brands more through digital and virtual channels than face-to-face post-pandemic, according to a global study from Nuance.

The study, which polled 10,000 adults across the US, UK, Australia, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, Spain and Mexico, also found that over half (51%) of UK respondents would rather use apps or a company’s website than go into a physical branch or store to complete tasks such as shopping and banking.

When it comes to communicating with brands, over one in four (26%) UK adults said they still preferred in-person visits or phone (13%), 42% choose digital channels including email, live-chat and chat-bots. Convenience (51%) and speed (36%) were the most common drivers for choosing a preferred method of communication, with speaking to a ‘real’ human (26%) trailing.

Nuance says the findings illustrate that consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable using technology to make purchases and access services, while still expecting brands to deliver a human touch when required.

In addition to being more comfortable using tech like chatbots, virtual assistants, and mobile applications to interact with brands, adults in the UK have also increased their trust in tech that helps them access their personal information and accounts online.

According to the study, almost half (45%) are now more comfortable using biometrics to authenticate themselves when accessing their accounts than they were before the pandemic, with 38% feeling more comfortable using their smartphone to access their accounts as well. These figures are reflected in the global findings with a similar number (49%) more comfortable using biometrics and 47% more comfortable using their smartphone to access accounts.

A third (34%) of UK respondents now place the most trust in a form of biometrics (either voice, facial, fingerprint, behavioural, or combinations of each) as a means of authentication. This is an important step in the right direction, says Nuance, as fraudsters have been increasingly targeting individuals during the pandemic, exploiting archaic authentication methods like PINs and passwords that can be made accessible via the dark web to gain access to consumer accounts and funds. While this is progress, the UK still lags behind the US in terms of trust in biometrics, with nearly half (45%) of adults backing the technology.

This growing trust in technology across age groups is likely a reflection of the positive experiences customers have received online. When asked about how they would rate the customer services they’ve accessed online over the past 12 months – services that might have previously been accessed in-person, like banking or shopping – 58% of UK shoppers said good or excellent. This is less than the global responses, in which two thirds (66%) rated their customer services at the same level.

“With convenience, speed, and ultimately getting the job done prevailing as clear priorities for buyers, organisations such as retailers, banks, and utilities companies must develop strategies for delivering consistently efficient and effective digital experiences,” said Seb Reeve, Intelligent Engagement Market Development at Nuance. “From slick and secure authentication processes to intuitive AI powered intelligent assistants, technology must be able to manage the personalised needs of customers while seamlessly bridging to human intervention when required at the right moment.”

“Customers expect immediate and effective conversations with the brands they engage with – whether those conversations are happening on the phone or via a chatbot on a company’s website. Empowering these engagements requires an integrated approach where an organisation not only can understand the customer’s intent but also authenticate that customer and start personalising their experience across every single channel – from in-person, to phone, to web, to mobile. With the pandemic creating an increasing comfort, trust, and preference among consumers to use technology when engaging with brands, it will be critical that organisations prioritise delivering superior digital experiences if they want to retain customer loyalty and continue to scale.”

WHITEPAPER: Businesses can deliver incremental revenue using variable digital print

Using variable digital print delivered one retailer 128% incremental revenue vs control – that’s according to an industry report from the Go Inspire Group, which also reveals that simply increasing design vibrancy, delivered a 20% uplift vs control.

The research determined that reflecting a customers’ individual preferences, by utilising enhanced personalisation and variability to tailor product imagery, offer and a range of other factors, can deliver a monumental difference in incremental revenue, from direct mail campaigns. 

The study also shares further recommendations for variability including:

• Personalised catalogues and brochure content

• Personalised barcodes 

• Personalised links to digital content

• Personalised offer periods 

• Segmented event invitations 

Visit here for the full paper and all its recommendations.

Irish Government planning to monitor social media

Ireland’s Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has issued a controversial tender for firms that can supply it with social media monitoring services.

As reported by the Journal.ie, whoever wins the contract will monitor keywords on social media platforms and provide analysis in email updates or digests.

While it’s not clear exactly what will be monitored or how it will be reported, the initiative has raised concerns among privacy campaigners.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties said it could have a “chilling effect” on freedom of expression, while Digital Rights Ireland questioned whether it was legal.

News of the social media monitoring plans actually emerged from a wider tender that the Irish Government put out that also required print and broadcast media monitoring.

It’s thought the contract will encompass up to 6,500 articles per month, split between 4,500 from print media and 2,000 from digital media.

Journal.ie says print media analysis will be provided in a digest each morning and digital media updates will be provided at regular intervals throughout the day.

The broadcast media service involves providing email updates showing the relevant coverage on all national, regional, and local radio and television stations across Ireland.

Guest Blog: Bea Patman: Addressing the challenges in the marketing industry

Bea Patman, Head of SEO at Greenlight Digital

The marketing industry is often associated with innovation and creativity. In fact the Department for Culture, Media and Sport found that creative businesses contributed £84.1bn to the British economy, with creative industries growing at double the rate of the UK economy and marketing as one of its strongest sectors.

Clearly it is an exciting growing industry to work in, but what is it really like to work in marketing?

Greenlight’s 41 Hour Report, which assessed the current state of the industry, found digital marketers feel overwhelmingly positive about their role. The large majority of marketers (84%) enjoy their everyday job, with 40% going as far to say they feel “really positive” about their jobs. It seems that their enthusiasm is paying off, with 38% of marketers feeling that their colleagues understand their contribution to their broader business. It is evident that enthusiasm and recognition go hand in hand within the marketing industry.

However, there is always room for improvement and for the 16% who don’t enjoy their jobs, there are key points marketing leaders must address.

The gender pay gap is still commonplace in the marketing industry

Marketing has a reputation for being a female-dominated sector, however the 41 Hour Report discovered that even with that reputation, the gender pay gap is impacting women in this industry. On average male marketers out-earn women by almost a tenth, taking home an average of £48,025 per annum compared to £43,864 for women. This doesn’t differ when it comes to bonuses, with 54% of men receiving a bonus last year compared to just 35% of women. For all marketers to feel like they can progress their careers within the industry, the C-suite will have to look to fill this gap to make sure some marketers don’t jump ship.

All work and no play

When it comes to the biggest pet peeves among marketers, long hours come up top. In line with the marketing industry’s ‘always on’ culture, almost half (46%) of marketers feel like they work too much. The struggle to find the perfect balance is made worse by the rise of mobile, with employees being contactable from anywhere at any time. A healthy work-life balance is crucial for a marketing team’s success, with employees being able to provide fresh and innovative ideas if they are engaged both in and out of the workplace.

Lack of budget impacts success

The struggle to secure budget is a frustration for everyone. Marketers are no different, with 56% saying they struggle to secure budgets on an ongoing basis, whilst almost a third struggle to prove ROI to their bosses. With limited budget available it is no surprise that marketers feel that because of this they can’t perform to the best of their ability. It may not be possible to always get big budgets, but measurement is essential for proving why the budget is needed. To do this, digital marketers must work closely with the C-Suite to provide them with clear and measureable KPIs for the campaigns they are executing. The famous This Girl Can campaign by Sport England and FCB England had a significant budget of £10 million, and with clear, measureable goals it resulted in its video being viewed 36 million times on Facebook and YouTube. Marketers who worked on this campaign can hold their head up high as 1.6 million women were influenced by the campaign to start exercising.

Of course, not all companies will have a budget like this to play with, but if the C-suite takes the time to calculate the budget required and digital marketers map out what they can achieve for that budget, marketers will be in a better position to execute a campaign that will successfully contribute to the wider business.

Marketers enjoy their roles and it is evident that the rapidly changing environment is something they are really thriving from. However, when it comes to securing more budget and proving the worth of the department, digital marketers need to concentrate on measurement to grab the attention of the C-suite. If the C-level executives can see a justification for investment in tools and talent, many of the frustrations that the 41 Hour report has highlighted could be solved.