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Guest Blog

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. 

6 ways direct mail delivers, post-GDPR

By Nigel Copp, CEO at KPM Group

With GDPR in full effect, marketers are reconsidering the most effective channels to reach prospects and customers. Direct mail marketing is subject to fewer restrictions than email, and therefore offers a way to contact customers who are otherwise unreachable.

Combining direct mail with digital activity leverages the strengths of both; for a truly successful multichannel approach. Here are 6 benefits of using mail as part of your strategy post-GDPR.

  1. DIRECT MAIL DOESN’T REQUIRE OPT IN CONSENT

You don’t always need consent for postal marketing. Quoting from the ICO website, “You won’t need consent for postal marketing but you will need consent for some calls and for texts and emails under PECR.”

  1. YOU CAN USE LEGITIMATE INTEREST FOR MAIL

Legitimate interest can be used for direct mail if you show that; how you use people’s data is proportionate, has a minimal privacy impact, and people would not be surprised or likely to object.

  1. USE MAIL AS A WAY TO GAIN CONSENT

The DMA recommend postal marketing as an effective and compliant way to gain online consent. If you can no longer contact customer segments by email use mail to encourage re-permission. Advertising mail discounts can also apply.

  1. MAIL IS MORE EFFECTIVE THAN EMAIL

Mail stands out. Mail gains higher rates of engagement and conversion than emails, with 87% of direct mail recipients influenced to buy something online. It builds trust and demonstrates that the recipient is a valued customer.

  1. UNADDRESSED MAIL DELIVERS

Create targeted mailings without using personal data. Door drops are delivered with addressed mail, enabling you to re-engage audiences that you can’t otherwise reach. Increasing in innovation and popularity, door drops stay in the home for an average of 38 days!

  1. MAIL ENCOURAGES BRAND RECOGNITION

A MarketReach study proved that mail primes other channels. This means that emails and social media promotions may be better received – and remembered – if the recipient has received mail beforehand.

And there’s more

Read KPM Group’s blog 10 Ways Direct Mail Delivers Post GDPR for even more benefits of using mail.

GUEST BLOG: The Evolution of Business Intelligence Trends

By Naveen Miglani, CEO and Co-Founder at SplashBI

In recent years, the world of Business Intelligence (BI) has been turned upside down. Data became big, organisations adopted cloud computing, and spreadsheets took a backseat to actionable data visualisations and interactive dashboards. Self-service analytics grabbed the reins and democratised the world of data reporting products. Suddenly, advanced analytics wasn’t just for the analysts.

In 1958, a computer scientist, Hans Peter Luhn, published an article titled “A Business Intelligence System” in the IBM Journal of Research and Development that would later become the foundation for how BI is understood today. Luhn’s article suggested using technology to simplify the process of gathering data rather than sifting through mountains of information by hand. Today, we understand BI as such; using technology to compile and analyse data, translate it into useful information, and then making strategic decisions based on the results.

The recurring trend in next-generation BI tools is that of simplicity. Complex data analysis has become a breeze with the introduction of self-service analytics platforms. Advances in BI technology alleviate the stress and labour hours of gathering, sorting, and using data to make informed business decisions. But how have these changes affected businesses in the last few years – and what’s to come.

Self-service analytics

Self-service analytics has consistently topped the list of BI trend predictions each year, showing the increasing accessibility of BI tools and the positive impact of putting data back in the hands of individual teams, departments and leaders within organisations. The rising adoption of self-service analytics enables users to gain deeper insights to drive data-focused initiatives across the entire organisation—without having to rely on IT.

The rise of self-service analytics has also brought more attention to the growing necessity for modern organisations to adopt a data-driven culture. Businesses all over the world are using elegant visualisations and dashboards to tell their data story, and they’re doing it without using up a massive amount of IT resources. As advances are made in BI technology, the process of implementing a BI tool has become much less of a daunting task. Implementation and adoption time have been almost cut in half, data integration tools stepped into the ring, and talk of data governance/security solutions became common watercooler conversation.

Integrating technology

2017 was a major year for the BI industry. Significant advances were made in the way new technology integrated with existing BI processes, along with the development of tools that allowed data from separate applications or data stores to unite and display the big picture. The cloud was widely adopted due to advanced security and accessibility. Machine learning increased revenue for businesses by tracking buyer behaviour and analysing databases faster than ever before. AI became more prominent, and trials began to determine if AI could eventually replace human data scientists altogether.

By 2018, data analytics became a routine part of daily duties for most organisations. The value of using a BI tool had become a given, but the question then moved to choosing the right tool to fit an organisation’s unique and specific needs. Leaders began to take a look at common pain points in the business and started to learn more about how they could get the most value from a BI tool by asking questions such as, what do we want to achieve from analysing our data? How can BI help us reach our business goals? How can we use data to improve employee retention? Or measure turnover? Can we see which product drove the highest volume of sales in Q1? Could these insights really help us locate and obtain net new clients?

BI has never been a one-size-fits-all answer. That’s the reason it initially gained popularity, as different departments have different data. Sales won’t need the same Monthly Advertising Report that Marketing will use to create next month’s budget. BI was the hottest new tool that could help any person, in any position, in any company use their data to make fact-based decisions. These custom data reports guided businesses in the direction of the most important metrics; whether it’s HR, Marketing, Sales or Finance.

BI now and in the future

BI and data analytics technology is constantly evolving and the market shows no signs of slowing down. Business Intelligence makes data of any kind easy to digest with stunning visualisations, detailed historical analysis, and customisable reports. In fact, by the end of 2019, the Global BI and Analytics Market is expected to grow to $20 billion.

In 2020, experts say we will continue to see increased adoption of BI tools among businesses of all sizes that hope to speed up their organisation’s journey to success. Retail, construction, healthcare, banking and transportation are expected to make up the majority of new adopters. Additionally, the way data is created and handled will experience significant change in the coming years.

But what does the far future look like for BI? What was once just a tool for pinpointing patterns in an organisation’s data, has evolved into a robust, real-time solution focused on using  hard and fast data to not only see a snapshot in time, but to view the entire picture. BI enables companies to make the best possible decisions using their own data, and the organisations that capitalise on this technology that will reach their business goals.

Image by Pexels 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.

How does the wedding industry differ online from offline?

In the last twelve months, approximately 87% of UK consumers have bought at least one product online – with online sales increasing 21.3% in the year 2016, and forecast to increase by 30% by the end of 2017.

Here, Angelic Diamonds, retailer of unique diamond engagement rings and bespoke wedding rings discuss whether it’s time for its industry to plunge into the digital world in order to survive…

This has stemmed from the fact that our lives are gradually becoming more reliant on the digital world – but organising a wedding has traditionally always been quite a physical process, with brides needing to try on their wedding gowns before they buy, grooms having several suit fittings, and of course, who would want to miss out on the opportunity to have a tasting session at your venue for your wedding breakfast?

With new technologies and social media apps, is it time for the wedding industry to make a transition into the digital world? With many companies realising the potential of going digital with their business, does the wedding industry have to grab a slice of the action to stay successful?

Can we expect a digital future?

According to The Huffington Post, around 6 out of 10 brides are actively planning their weddings through their mobile device: they research gowns (61% of brides, up from 27% in 2011) and search for wedding vendors (57% of brides, up from 22% in 2011).

This highlights that digital has already had a huge influence on the wedding industry. With social media apps such as Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook, brides and grooms can find so much inspiration for their big day with just a few clicks. Modern couples are now using new technology when wedding planning. In fact, 42% of people use social media to plan their wedding – with 41% of brides following photographers on social media, 37% of brides following venues and 14% following florists.

Social media is widely used for wedding inspiration – the social media apps provide a platform for wedding planners, venues, florists and other wedding suppliers to showcase what they have to offer. Instagram and Pinterest, which is used by 64% of brides, have now become a couple’s go to platform for all their inspiration, a digital alternative to a wedding fair. Suppliers who have not yet invested time into creating a social media profile for their business could be missing out on free exposure. And it’s not just the planning of the wedding that social media is a part of – when asked, over a quarter of today’s modern couples (27%) said they would create a hashtag for their special day.

Is it possible to survive offline in todays’ world?

There could be light at the end of the tunnel for the wedding industry that suggests the industry can survive offline in the future. Whilst it is likely that companies will need to go digital at some stage to stay up to date with the latest technologies, and keep their head in the game, there might always be a place for them offline within the industry.

When couples organise their wedding, you’ll be aware of how much they need to see, and experience, in person – from venues and food tasting, to wedding dress and suit fittings, the industry might struggle to operate solely online, because of the need for physical processes. Wedding fairs have been around for centuries, and there is a reason for that; whilst modern couples use social media for visual inspiration, wedding fairs are still a great way for suppliers to engage face-to-face with potential customers. For most people, their wedding day is the biggest day of their lives so it’s important that they can speak face-to-face with suppliers, and physically see what they have to offer. Wedding fairs often take place at wedding venues – they are the perfect occasion for brides to start to see their wedding come together.

Now-a-days, and in the future, there is no escaping the fact that the industry will embrace digital platforms – and couples will use these platforms as a source of inspiration and to help ease the planning process. However, the industry is not yet ready to wipe out all traditional methods of wedding planning.

There’s no question that there is still a demand for the physical processes. Maybe, it’s just time for suppliers and other industry professionals to use digital as a means to extend their business and gain more exposure.

Sources

https://www.confetti.co.uk/news/wedding-report-2015

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-douglas/part-1-the-past-present-f_b_9294420.html

6 killer marketing metrics that really matter

By Adam Oldfield, MD of Force24

The life of a digital marketer is rarely straightforward. Whilst other communicators may perhaps argue it’s easier for their digital peers to evidence ROI, those within the world of email marketing, for instance, may be quick to defend their position.

Because yes, they have a wealth of metrics at their fingertips, but it can be difficult to know where to start.

Rather than focusing on what is arguable a vanity metric – like a click rate or, even worse, an email open – it’s important that marketers look deeper at the data to offer a true bottom line impact.

Insight relating to a brand’s data subjects, list segmentation, and the evolution of those segments, will help a marketer to understand what excites people and drives them to engage. Instead of asset-based reporting, professionals should therefore be concentrating on audience reporting, to assess campaign performance through a user’s eyes.

But how do marketing departments get these bottom up metrics that matter?

  1. Segments are key

Not exactly a metric in itself, but the data that matters can’t be uncovered until segments have been built to see how they are performing, how they’re growing (or shrinking) over time, and what the average lead score is. The more segments created – the better. Automation should make this possible in only a few easy clicks.

  1. Lead score matters the most

‘Lead scoring matters only for B2B marketers’ is a huge myth! Savvy lead scoring takes ALL engagement from any type of user. A points-system should be set so it can be tallied and a pre-defined ‘tipping point’ – tailored to the brand – should trigger when to act. Lead scores help to decide exactly who to focus on at any given time.

  1. Analyse average lead scores per segment

The average lead score of a segment may peak and trough over time. This data can be used to draw engagement curves that indicate seasonality, optimum purchase times, crucial cross-sell periods and when an existing customer is most likely to re-book/buy. This type of analysis also helps to quickly identify strong or weak segments within a data set. It also helps draw correlations between lead scores and campaigns, web activity and, most importantly, the number of leads actually secured. 

  1. Segment evolution

It is important to understand how a list is growing or shrinking – is the data in a segment diminishing, for example? And what might this mean? 

  1. User web engagement

We know browsing behaviour gives us a deeper insight into a user’s interests and needs, but only one in six organisations use it effectively. Web collateral should therefore be designed to support this information gathering, and engagement across this online real-estate should be analysed.

  1. User marketing preferences

It’s just as important to understand what your segment does NOT want to see – you’ll be surprised by the level of variation between data sets.

GUEST BLOG: Fixing the broken sales funnel

Business agility and the ability to respond fast to new sales opportunities has never been more important and a strong, intelligence-led sales model is essential to maximise opportunities. Yet in this post GDPR era, sales models have never been weaker or less efficient. A lack of data confidence is undermining outbound activity, leaving companies reliant on increasingly expensive inbound campaigns that are not delivering.

To fix the broken sales funnel, organisations clearly need to use to fresh, accurate and GDPR compliant data. But that is just the start: successful sales activity is underpinned by a scientific, structured and metrics driven approach that leverages multi-dimensional real-time data, as James Isilay, CEO, Cognism, explains.

Science not Art

Fewer good prospects. Delayed decision making. Ever lengthening sales cycles. A lack of predictability in the sales process. For many companies, the sales funnel is looking less than impressive. Yet while the temptation is to blame new restrictions of data privacy created by GDPR on the other, there is little value in playing the blame game. What companies require is a solution.

Where is the sales funnel broken and how can it be fixed? Understanding the ‘where’ is key – and something that far too many companies fail to address. How many good sales-people have been fired, when the problem was poor data? How much time has been wasted on prioritising the wrong prospects or failing to correctly identify the total addressable market?

A broken sales funnel cannot be repaired just by adding technology, replacing salespeople, or addressing data quality – although these are without doubt essential components of sales success. Without a robust, clearly defined and, critically, measured sales funnel, organisations will struggle to maximise sales opportunities.

Sales is a science, not an art; and companies need to take a far more metrics-led approach to sales models and management. Breaking the sales funnel down into its constituent parts, measuring performance and comparing results at every stage of the funnel to an equivalent industry standard benchmark is an essential step in understanding the current position.

This means not just tracking the number of phone calls made but the number of dials, number of connections and the number of conversations. How many conversations then convert to meetings or product demonstrations; and meetings to opportunities and then closed deals?  And, of course, never overlook quality – it is essential to measure the quality as well as the volume of leads to optimise sales performance.

Breaking down the prospecting activity into this detail is essential to reveal the specific point – or points – of failure; and to create a clear view of what needs to change to turn sales around and transform bottom line performance.

Intelligence Led

There are three core components of a successful sales funnel: people, process and technology.  Getting the right people to undertake specific components of the sales activity is key.  Break the process down into distinct areas and have specific KPIs for each to measure activity levels and outcomes. Allocate well trained and focused individuals to cold outreach, and more experienced individuals to deal closing. This is a far more effective model that will definitely improve performance.

Provide clear benchmarks to set performance expectations – and use them. If an individual’s performance is not hitting the minimum standard, jump in. Determine the problem and address it – whether that is through training or new messaging. Being proactive is essential to ensuring the funnel continues to perform effectively.

High Quality Data

Supporting these people with great data is, of course, fundamental, especially given the GDPR data privacy compliance requirements. Bad data is one of the most frustrating problems for any sales team. From the time wasted calling contacts who have moved on, to targeting companies that recently spoke to a colleague or, even worse, invested in a competitive product, bad and outdated data is a major barrier to sales success.

Combining good, accurate and continually refreshed data with a CRM system is an essential part of the model, ensuring data is up to date and shared across the sales function. With access to a deep, accurate and GDPR compliant customer data resource, the sales team can gain confidence and avoid time wasted in irrelevant outreach. But that is just the start. By adding events to the typical two dimensional company and people data – and ensuring this information is continually refreshed in real-time – companies can completely reconsider the sales funnel. From transforming the understanding of the total addressable market to using purchase triggers and decision making personas to prioritise activity, the use of revenue driven AI can deliver significant bottom line improvements.

From new job titles to funding rounds, even office expansion, there are a number of triggers that can be used to more effectively drive the timing and messaging of outreach campaigns. And, by feeding persona specific responses to different marketing messages back into the CRM system, the process can be continually improved. Essentially, Revenue AI provides a positive feedback loop.

Conclusion

Extending the metrics led marketing model from inbound, where performance and return on investment is continually assessed, to outbound is perhaps a cultural change for experienced sales people. But a sales funnel reliant upon an old school contacts list and perceived market opportunities is all about the ‘art of sales’ – it will never stand up to a competition embracing a science led, metric driven approach.

There is an enormous universe of prospective customers – and salespeople do not know every single company in the market, whatever their perception. New companies appear, others disappear; new funding rounds fuel growth; big wins result in business expansion. Without intelligence and a robust, process driven sales model, a company will never have an accurate handle on the total addressable market or a way to identify and prioritise outreach.

With current global economic uncertainty, opportunities are thinner on the ground and those companies with a broken sales funnel will struggle. In tough times companies need to be able to effectively and efficiently target the best opportunities, at the best time, with the right message. It is the companies with the smartest sales model that will succeed.

GUEST BLOG: The changing face of customer loyalty

New research shows that 76% of consumers admit they would switch to a competitor if they have just one bad experience with a brand they like.

On the flipside, over half of consumers say that once they’re loyal to a brand, they’re loyal for life. This offers the question – how loyal are consumers actually being towards their favourite brands, and what will it take for a consumer to have a bad experience? 

Dino Forte, CEO at Ventrica, investigates…

Gaining loyal consumers and advocates is something most brands aim for; but given the research, how far can this really be stretched? Unfortunately, many brands take loyalty for granted. The brands that hold a monopoly over a market, with unique products or services that can’t be found elsewhere, are often the strongest culprits of this, knowing their customers will continue to return regardless of the customer service they provide.

However, even in this situation, delivering a customer experience (CX) that meets the customer’s expectations and needs, is critical. Even for organisations in industries such as utilities where many consumers stay with their provider to avoid the hassle of switching, CX is still key. After all, it is six times more expensive to win new business than to retain it; showing how essential it is for organisations to look after their customers, even if they are confident they won’t leave.

New touchpoints and skilled staff

The fact is, delivering a CX that enables an organisation to remain competitive and encourage the customer to return is a big challenge. With numerous touchpoints now available to today’s consumer – from social media, to the organisation’s website, webchat and phone calls – how can a brand ensure it reaches its customers across all channels but provide the same experience, irrespective of channel?

All consumers will agree that a ‘bad’ CX involves a frustrating experience, long waiting times, unanswered questions, unknowledgeable staff, faulty products or simply not being listened to. Can we really blame them if an experience like this makes them want to switch to a competitor?

However, it doesn’t need to be like this. An organisation’s contact centre should form the heart of the CX it provides, with a trained, dedicated team ready to answer queries and resolve any issues the customer may have experienced across multiple channels. A customer service team should completely embody the persona of the brand; understanding who the customer is, what issue they’re facing and how it can be resolved in a quick, seamless manner that leaves the customer satisfied and eager to purchase a product or service again.

If a bad experience strikes, an organisation can’t blame a customer for wanting to look elsewhere. It’s therefore essential for organisations to put measures in place to ensure that all channels are equipped to provide the best CX possible – so that a customer’s loyalty never comes into question at all.

Email Marketing

Email Personalisation: The Overlooked Source for Marketing Success

By Gregg Turek, Selligent Marketing Cloud

Email personalisation as a marketing strategy has evolved phenomenally in recent years. Monumental advances in technology are empowering marketers to do things once thought unimaginable.

And the skyrocketing growth of consumer expectations is a sure sign that old techniques are no longer viable for reaching customers in 2019. Marketers can no longer simply insert a first name into a subject line and consider their personalisation work done. We’ve come so much further than that and today, more than ever, personalisation is no longer just an option for marketers. In fact, it’s an imperative.

Personalisation through Time

Remember when Build-A-Bear workshops first started? For several years now, the beloved brand – and others like American Girl in the U.S. – have offered a personalised experience that has delighted parents and children alike. Teddy bears and dolls are built or dressed in outfits and colours that kids can pick out for themselves, offering an ultimate individualised experience that had previously been unavailable. In the digital realm, Amazon and other brands have extended these types of experiences by offering stronger and stronger product recommendations based on consumer behavioural data every day. The days of recommendations simply based on “customers also purchased…” are in the past. Consumers now demand ever more individualised offers.

As these kinds of advances occur, personalisation becomes second nature for consumers, who expect similar experiences wherever they go and whenever they shop. And it makes sense: as humans, we all want to be recognised and remembered. These desires are very real to us as consumers, too. Personalisation not only satisfies this desire, it also amplifies marketing results to a great extent.

The Case for Personalisation

Personalisation is the key to keeping your customers engaged – and spending money. 74% of marketers say targeted personalisation increases customer engagement.1And research shows thatemail personalisation boosts open rates by 26% and click-through rates by 97%.2

Marketers that get it right stand to gain a lot. Those who don’t, lose. Consider some of the major retailers that have struggled or failed in recent years. British casualties of the “retail apocalypse” in 2018 alone include Maplin, Debenhams, House of Fraser, Evans Cycles and Mothercare.3  One major common denominator among these retail casualties is this: they each failed at some level to adapt to escalating consumer demand for digital experiences and personalisation.

Mar-Tech & Email Personalisation

So how do you get it right? How can you take your email marketing to a new and more successful level through personalisation? Fortunately, tools exist today that allow marketers to hyper-personalise emails and other customer communications at a level previously unseen, using consumer data as the fuel for greater engagement. Today’s marketing technology allows you to deploy emails so that every automated message feels personal, every intelligent product recommendation appears hand-picked, and the timing of delivery is always right.

Many leading brands are already investing in marketing technology for personalisation and the required data. Demand for customer data platforms (CDPs) is growing tremendously.4 And marketing automation is expected to grow by nearly ten percent in 2019, with more than half of companies surveyed using some form of automation already.5

AI: The Secret Sauce for Personalisation

Artificial intelligence (AI) is unlocking the hyper-personalised future of marketing – and changing the game for marketers. AI engines can boost email personalisation and individual relevance by automatically turning consumer insights into on-taste messages, at scale and at previously unimagined levels. And it’s not only satisfying the demands of today’s entitled consumers, it can also save marketers time and money. In fact, according to an August 2018 survey of 400 retail executives worldwide by Capgemini, AI could save retailers as much as $340 billion annually by 2022.6

Getting Personal: The Key to Survival

It’s clear that the old ways of marketing are no longer enough to satisfy consumers. Marketers need to start thinking from the point of view of the customer. With every email you send – and every interaction a customer has with your brand – you need to put that individual’s preferences, histories, and current states front and centre. Carefully look at what you’re delivering versus what your customers expect – and make sure every email is injected with a human touch, providing personal relevance for every single consumer. When you are able to deliver hyper-personalised email messages at precisely the right time, you’ve discovered not only how to survive, but to thrive in today’s marketplace.

Getting personal with your customers starts with being human – in the way you collect and share data, and how you communicate with your customers. Download the free whitepaper, “The Case for Personalisation,”to learn how to get more human with your marketing, including a deeper look at the role of artificial intelligence for hyper-personalisation in your campaigns.

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1          https://econsultancy.com/tag/reports/

2          https://www.marketo.com/articles/how-is-personalization-changing-the-face-of-marketing/

3          https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/dec/01/everything-must-go-what-next-for-the-high-street-new-retail-empty-shops)

4          “Seven Marketing Tech Trends for 2019,”eMarketer PRO, December 19, 2019

5          “How AI Is Driving Marketing Automation,”Entrepreneur, January 25, 2019

6          “Will AI Transform Retail,” eMarketer, January 8, 2019

GUEST BLOG: How best to market your business with a mix of channels

Your business’s success could come down to the marketing strategies you choose. In a bid to get your business up and running and continuing to grow, marketing is crucial. It can be used to help you inform, sell, engage and sustain. But, what exactly should you be doing? Here, alongside Lookers, who sell Transit Connect vehicles, we look at some of the options available…

Leaflets

An extremely cost-effective advertising method is by using leaflets. Leaflet distribution, according to research, is a much more memorable form of advertising, with nine out of 10 people remembering door-drop mail they’ve received. This form of marketing can send your customers the message you’re intending to get across from as little as 5p per household. It also enables you to get customers engaging with your business.

Potential customers and clients are more likely to keep your leaflet if you choose a simple design that includes your business’s name, logo, telephone number, email address and the service(s) you are offering, potential customers or clients are more likely to keep a hold of your leaflet, thus meaning they’ll always have a hard copy on hand. To fully engage the reader, consider including a coupon or discount code so they are tempted to use your product or service.

Banners

Make the most of any new venture by including outdoor banners. Doing so can help direct the attention of passers-by to your business in a relatively cheap manner. Research has found that the majority of a local business’s regular customers live within a five-mile radius of where you are based, so your banner could possibly be viewed by a single customer 60 times in a week.

Vehicle wraps

Any time you’re in your vehicle you’re likely to have spotted a car or van that has a company’s logo plastered all over it. This is because it can turn your transport into an all-year-round marketing machine. Even if you’re parked up, members of the public can still engage with your brand. It doesn’t matter how big the company is either, as all sizes can benefit from this, although for smaller businesses this would be a relatively cheap way to get their brand or product noticed every day.

According to figures by the Outdoor Advertising Association, a vehicle wrap is actually the cheapest cost-per-impressions form of advertising. Naturally, a television advert is most expensive, with costs of close to £40 per thousand impressions during primetime. Radio is cheaper, but can still cost in the region of £10 per thousand impressions for a 30 second slot. Vehicle wrap, however, can cost as little as 30p per thousand impressions and has a much longer shelf life.

Social media

It’s possible to both pay for campaigns on social media and use the platform for free. In January 2018, the UK had 44 million active social media users, representing 66% of the population. Of course, not all users will be potential customers or clients, but that is a phenomenal outreach for a free service. This is why a company, no matter what the size, should fully utilise this tool. One way to interact and engage is by running competitions and giveaways.

Realistically, the type of marketing you go for will depend on your budget. However, you certainly shouldn’t scrimp on how much you set aside as its worth could be crucial to your business succeeding and growing. The above options should definitely help with your quest if you deliver it correctly.

Sources

https://movingtargets.com/blog/business/why-marketing-is-so-important/

https://www.directletterboxmarketing.co.uk/why-are-leaflets-so-effective/

https://www.statista.com/statistics/507405/uk-active-social-media-and-mobile-social-media-users/

http://blog.quizclothing.co.uk/12-days-of-quizmas/