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How intelligent technologies are helping marketers predict challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond

By Saranya Babu, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Wrike

Marketing is undeniably one of the most important aspects of modern business strategy. Whether it’s developing a unique brand image, or carrying out specific campaigns to attract the right audience, the activities of the marketing department are at the centre of driving growth and revenue within any organisation. 

This year, marketers have been presented with an entirely new and unexpected challenge – how to navigate a global pandemic. The economic uncertainty surrounding this ongoing crisis has forced many businesses to redefine their brand identity, in order to distinguish themselves from their competitors and survive. 

While many businesses are accustomed to crisis management, the scale of this pandemic calls for a more comprehensive approach. In order to truly speak to their audiences during these unprecedented times and beyond, marketers must focus on developing a meaningful and consistent brand image, with each and every project being a success.  

Make no mistakes with integrated insights

With businesses of all shapes and sizes facing a long road to recovery, tough decisions are being made across the board. Unfortunately, many marketing departments are bearing the brunt of industry-wide cut-backs. In fact, dips in business revenue have resulted in the largest ever decline in spending, with over  41% of UK firms  reducing their marketing budgets in the third quarter of 2020 as a direct result of the pandemic.  

During this time of turmoil, instant access to real-time performance metrics within existing work management platforms is essential for marketing teams, especially given the speed at which things are changing. The ability to examine the progress of ongoing projects and campaigns, their strengths and weaknesses, as well as potential areas for improvement can improve the chances of a successful outcome. 

After all, marketing is dependent on the ability to juggle several tasks at once. This is a lot easier said than done when multiple ads, email, and social campaigns are running simultaneously. Operating on outdated information – even by a day or two – can adversely affect the final outcome of a project. Moreover, as the remote work era continues, visibility will become more important than ever before. The lack of face-to-face communication demands accurate performance metrics in order to track and analyse a campaigns’ progression at any given moment.  

Ahead of the game 

Many different things can derail a project. Additional costs, failure to meet deadlines, or unplanned modifications can all have a negative impact and, ultimately, cost a business – especially in our current landscape. In order to increase the likelihood of success for a project and limit any potential risk, marketing teams should look to predict and plan for a series of different possibilities from the offset.  

This is where modern technologies – such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) – come into play. These technologies can pinpoint at-risk projects and provide an early diagnosis, so that teams can take necessary action to minimise risk and solve any potential challenges before they even occur. By recognising signals and patterns based on hundreds of factors, including past campaign results, work progress, organisation history, and work complexity, the insights provided by these technologies can help to salvage entire projects. 

With intelligent insights readily available, marketing teams can work towards prioritising matters of high-importance, such as mitigating and managing risk. This can be done by evaluating a project’s ‘risk tolerance’. In other words, how much can you allow before you need to act. This is a crucial step in any project management process, enabling marketers to choose the most effective response and ensure that resources are being used in the most effective way.  

As competition rises and budgets shrink, marketing teams are under increasing pressure to deliver. Connecting with desired audiences through brand consistency, strong messaging, and impactful campaigns is still important. However – thanks to the increased pressures brought by the pandemic – there is no longer any room for error. Therefore, guaranteeing all activities are on course and risk is at an all-time-low must be a priority. While there isn’t a single ingredient for success during these unprecedented times, integrated insights and AI and ML technologies could play a significant part in enabling marketing teams to predict and mitigate any possible risks ahead of time. 

Online Strategy: Join your online and offline worlds instantly with QR Codes

By Go Inspire

The QR code now provides the perfect mechanism for joining your online and offline worlds, whatever the desired digital action. In this short article, we discuss the numerous benefits to your online strategy of incorporating them into your tangible communications.   

In 2020, society’s need to be ‘contactless’ accelerated somewhat. So much so, the humble (and previously much maligned) QR code has experienced an exponential growth in adoption. 

With in-built QR reading capability on all modern phones and tablets, scanning a QR Code is now a much quicker journey than launching a browser and attempting to accurately type the URL – or searching for a brand in Google, landing on their homepage and hunting out the relevant page or piece of information, that you actually wanted. 

Reduce PPC Costs by driving direct traffic 

On the subject of paid search, QR Codes allow you to reserve PPC spend for the searchers who truly need a nudge, by creating a direct link between your offline communication and digital destinations and you could save your business a considerable about of marketing budget.

Many users will google your brand name, click on you paid advertising and cost you money – remove this possibility by simply adding a QR code. 

Bridge your online and offline worlds with a new level of dynamism for print

Direct Mail has time and time again been proven to offer superior cut through, with recent figures from JICMail’s Q3 2020 report showing a 33% increase in in digital actions prompted by mail – but how many of these responses were driven by a QR Code? 

With all the above advances, QR Codes now offer you the chance to present a seamless transition into your online world, moving your customers from offline consideration into online action and conversion. 

Consider the power of an abandoned basket mailing received 48 hours after browsing and featuring an enticing offer and QR codes for the individual products browsed. 

One simple scan and your customer is online, reviewing their ‘basket’ and just a click away from checkout. 

Generate a multichannel view for more effective digital marketing 

Creating a link between your online and offline worlds will also fuel your digital marketing efforts – customers or prospects who previously hadn’t engaged online may now do so, identifying themselves via their device and enabling retargeting and programmatic display advertising. 

Collect valuable insight through reporting 

Knowing who scanned, when they scanned and the region of where they scanned is incredibly powerful insight, which enables you to capitalise on live opportunities as you know who is in market, right now.

Reporting such as this also enables continuous improvement, as response data can power enhanced targeting of your door drop and partially addressed acquisition campaigns. 

Bring Your Customers Together with QR Codes

Like many, your customers may be feeling a level of uncertainty over whether they will be able to see friends, family and loved ones this Christmas and beyond; as the fight to control COVID-19 before the roll out of vaccines continues and restrictions on social gatherings and travel so frequently change.  

Our range of flexible options means you can either add QR codes to your existing format, or for added effect, incorporate them into one of our many innovative and engaging direct mail formats, as a gift tag. 

The process is simple:

  1. Your customer visits the PURL printed on their mailing
  2. Records their video message on their chosen device
  3. Uploads their video message into their PURL
  4. Applies their QR gift tag to the present, before posting
  5. When the present is delivered, the recipient simply scans the QR code which then automatically to watch the video message

Find more information here

Test a QR Code and receive an incentive discount on your next campaign!

Why not take advantage of a live incentive and include a QR code on your next Advertising Mail or Business Mail campaigns, for 15% and 30% discounts respectively?

Below are just some of the endless possibilities for driving your customers to take digital actions:

  • Drive to coupon
  • Visit web site
  • Send to Geo-location
  • Play an mp3 jingle or message
  • Visit product page
  • Drive to data capture page
  • Link to event details
  • Get a review or rating

Get in touch If you’d like to speak to our expert team and discuss how QR Codes can help you engage with customers online, we’ll be in touch shortly!

3 Quick-Wins to Improve Your Online Strategy

With the national lockdown ending Wednesday 2nd December and the new, more rigorous tiered system taking full effect, the push to drive traffic online is imperative, especially for brands looking to circumnavigate disaster and get on the path to recovery this most crucial Christmas trading period. Without the possibility to engage shoppers in-store, the need to develop effective customer strategies for digital channels, at speed, is vital.  

To help you revolutionise your online strategy – quickly – Go Inspire are providing our top 3 quick wins…

1. Truly Understand the Performance of Your Online and Offline Media Mix 

Having the confidence to adjust, reallocate or drop marketing investment for specific channels in the media mix can often be difficult for marketers, particularly when hard evidence of customer profitability and channel and campaign performance is lacking.

Imagine spending £thousands on Paid Search only to find out later that those individuals would have come to you anyway via another channel 

Ideally you would be able to demonstrate the profitability of marketing spend and business growth delivered by targeting the right individual, at the right time, with the right message using the right channel.

Digital Playback is a marketing attribution platform that maximises return on investment by highlighting when an individual is in-market, and which channel will be most effective in converting your live opportunities. 

2 things that Digital Playback achieves:

  • It chronologically clusters all interactions a known or unknown individual makes across all channels and devices to highlight the role of each media channel in the sale.
  • It also segments individuals based on engagement, value bands and channel preference to give a true measurement of incremental performance and to deploy more responsive real-time or planned campaigns.

With this new understanding of the whole customer journey you can build more effective marketing campaigns by investing in the activity that is truly working. For example, if your annual budget is £1million on Paid Search, you could typically save £150k immediately.   

If you’d like more information, simply click here and complete the short form to register your interest. 

2. Cut through the clutter and respond quickly to your known customers online actions with offline marketing.

As marketing budgets decrease, the overriding impulse may be to sacrifice quality for quantity and the physical for the digital. 

But before you put your faith in a display ad campaign with a forecasted 5,000,000 reach and 0.01% CTR, please ponder the recent JICMail and Royal Mail MarketReach research showed that a record 96% of mail was engaged with in Q2 2020. 

When you factor in that online traffic driven by direct mail increased by 70% YOY and online actions, taken as a result of receiving mail, increased by 64% since Q2 2019, its difficult to deny the role direct mail should be playing in your marketing mix. 

To facilitate this even further, direct mail manufacturing technology has now evolved to the point where it’s possible to achieve a realistic price point for standard format pre-templated mailings, for volumes as small as one record. 

Timely AlwaysOn communications can be triggered by any predetermined event in your customers’ online journey, such as repeat website visits or items being added to an online basket but not purchased. 

When an AlwaysOn approach was adopted by JD Williams and trialled alongside email, they saw a 14% increase in abandoned basket conversion using trigger mail, a 6% increase in response rates, and an 8% increase in average item value. 

One application could be to act quickly to communicate with customers in stores affected by local lockdowns, about product availability or changes to in-store services and drive them to online pages, solutions or services, rather than see them look elsewhere, to competitors, for their requirements. 

3. Improve acquisition and drive traffic online with targeted door drops

Win new ideal customers by using targeted door drops which research from JICMAIL shows are opened 74% of the time and interacted with, on average 2.8 times. 

Using advanced targeting you can reach households that match your desired profile. Find people within driving distance of a specific location or from particular demographic groups (e.g. age, location, household consumption etc.)

Door drops have evolved and are now much easier to execute. This is because end-to-end management and production of your highly targeted door drops can include insight, identification of target audiences, design, production and distribution, all in one place.

A bit about Go Inspire

At Go Inspire, we work in partnership with you to revolutionise communications strategies within your business and the relationships you have with your customers.

For over 25 years we’ve helped our customers live by the mantra “right person, right time, right message” and as technology and customer demands have evolved, we’ve ensured “right channel” has been added to that mix. 

If you’d like any support or expert advice in delivering any of the above, simply fill in the form on this page and a member of our team will be in touch. 

Industry Spotlight: Mobile – is your strategy reaping the benefits?

Mobile isn’t just the latest craze.  Mobile can’t even be called a recent trend.  It isn’t just the future, it is the now and here to stay.

We’re addicted to our phones – just look at the number of people sitting in restaurants flicking through social media rather than having a face-to-face conversation with their dinner companion(s).  We order food via our phones; we even date via our phones.  There’s an app for everything.  Mobile is constantly developing and finding new ways to integrate into our lives that little bit further – if it’s not part of your marketing strategy, you’re already way behind…

You may not be on mobile but your customers are

We wake up in the morning and the first thing we do is reach for our phones.  The Deloitte 2016 UK Mobile Consumer Survey found that almost half of 18-24 year olds check their mobile even during the night.

How many times have you browsed on your phone while on the train?  While you walk home?  While you’re watching TV? If you’re not tapping (or swiping) into the potential mobile marketing has for engaging with your customers, then your competition has a clear advantage on your offering…

Still not sold on the idea of mobile marketing?

I receive an email on my phone advertising a shoe sale and click the perfectly crafted trackable URL.  Website doesn’t load within a couple of seconds?  Goodbye!  Now, on to the next email; speed is crucial to using mobile data on the go.

Your website’s too small to read on my 4.7 inch screen?  Forget it.  Will I go back and check out the website when I’m on my desktop?  Maybe – but chances are I’ll find what I’m looking for quicker elsewhere via my smartphone.

Say a potential job candidate works long hours; has a hectic home life; and gets half an hour to themselves each day – if they’re lucky.  They’re looking for opportunities to advance their career.  Your website SEO is excellent.  They find the ideal job opening.  They click apply.

Suddenly they’re confronted with a long application form, which they grudgingly complete.

Then they’re asked to attach a CV.  Their CV isn’t stored on their mobile.  They have it on Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Docs but none of those are integrated with your website.  There’s not even an option to send their LinkedIn profile.

They give up, close their browser and end up not applying.

Want consumer engagement?

Mobile marketing is one of the best platforms for consumer engagement. How many times have you liked an incredible holiday destination on Instagram; pinned a delicious looking recipe on Pinterest; or checked into a bar on Facebook?  If your customers aren’t engaging with you via mobile, chances are they’re engaging with your competitor.

We tweet companies our complaints rather than contacting them directly.  We’re concise, quicker and don’t want to wait for more than a couple of hours to receive a response.

Everything is in the public domain.  And if you’re not monitoring what’s being said, if you’re not replying fast enough, if you’re not putting out your own content, then you don’t have control of your brand’s story online.

What’s the difference between desktop and mobile content?

Simple, mobile is shorter, sharper and punchier.  Mobile gets to the point quicker and readers don’t have time to search for what they’re looking for within a sea of text – they want it to jump out. They want easy to read content with short paragraphs and sentences. Crisp, clear language is key.

Know what you need and what’s a waste of your resources

The more you know about your audience – what they’re looking for and where they are – the simpler it becomes to implement a mobile marketing strategy that delivers return on investment (ROI).

Test your emails on mobile.  Can you see the full subject line?  Does the design work for all screen sizes?  Are your links easy to click?  Test your website on multiple mobile devices too.  What needs optimising for mobile?  Maybe a faster load time is needed; or a larger font; more spacing; bigger buttons; and simpler navigation?

Does your content need cleaning up and breaking down?  Is it time for a complete rewrite?

What content do you have that lends itself to social?  What social sites are your customers using? 


Words by Jennifer Wright, head of Group Marketing at BlueSky PR

Guest Blog, Trevor Hardy: Why marketers need to recognise consumer trends…

Examining trends is not a way of predicting the future; it’s a way of understanding the direction of forces, attitudes and behaviours. The Future Laboratory has developed a methodology for trend forecasting that combines qualitative, quantitative and ethnographic research; as well as expert interviews and an informed dose of intuition. But you can start the practice of identifying early adopter behaviours. Inspired by William Gibson who said, “The future is already here, it just isn’t very evenly distributed”, you can identify these early signs, behaviours or attitudes that are considered niche today; but will become more mainstream in months and years to come.

Understanding trends is essential. Not to predict what is going to happen or to create certainty – but to build confidence. Confidence that the decisions you take today will result in benefits tomorrow. Trends may have devalued meaning in some boardrooms, but they are essential insights which help with business, brand and marketing planning.


Trends are not trending


Understanding trends is not about knowing what is hot or trendy. Trends are a weather system; they are way to think about where things are going, where things may be and how things may change. Think of them as an insurance policy for your strategy. A way of exploring and understanding all possible futures to give you greater confidence that you are developing plans for what will be, rather than what is.


Trends slow down time


For years there has been a growing and clear sense that speed is good; speed should be aspired to. That speed of decision-making, of action or consumption and response signalled modernity, accomplishment and dynamism. We see it in our jobs, with roles changing at a greater pace; we see it in our voracious consumption and rapid disposal of news and of course we see it in our relationships with marriages not only coming to an end more frequently, but more quickly too

Without taking the space and time to consider possible futures, the road ahead is very uncertain; and that uncertainty is frightening. Whether it is Brexit, our pensions or our physical health we have a growing and worrying inability to engage with distant threats. As Ralph L Keeney of North Carolina’s Duke University puts it, ‘America’s top killer isn’t cancer or heart disease or smoking or obesity. It’s our inability to overcome our own short-term behaviour.’

The need for speed is letting us down. By taking time to develop a longer term view of your brand, market or consumer, you will be better prepared to make more informed, meaningful choices, and have a clearer picture of possible futures.


Trends are slow strategies


In one sense, understanding trends allows you to slow down time: being more prepared and informed about the future will allow people to engage in a slower, more considered planning process. The need for continuous rapid response will fade away as your teams develop more confidence in their future-readiness.

Slow strategies will become increasingly palatable as it appears that ‘fast’ is under attack in other aspects of life: food, fashion, music, sex and travel. From Jake Dyson’s 40-year light bulb and the New Horizons space probe, which took almost a decade of travel before beginning its mission, to Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood, which took 12 years to make; brands and their customers are thinking in terms of years, decades – even centuries.

There is an emerging acceptance that immediate gratification is leading to longer-term regret. A recognition, especially amongst younger generations, that a live-for-today approach may have caused irreparable harm to our bodies, our businesses, our communities and our planet. And these same younger generations may be the ones to embrace a long view so that they do not make the mistakes their parents made; the ones who will think in terms of legacy, not missions; who will consider their actions not over instants but over ages. They may be the ones to set an example to think long and slow.

Trevor is chief executive of The Future Laboratory; a trend forecasting and future strategy firm. His career has spanned management consulting and advertising agencies in Canada, USA and the UK; working with organisations including Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Chanel and MTV.