21 items tagged "marketing"

  • 3 Important don'ts when entering the market with a new business

    3 Important don'ts when entering the market with a new business

    Entering the market with a new business is an exciting experience. Your marketing strategy will play a crucial role in the success of your company. Here are three of the most common marketing mistakes, and how you can overcome them. These are 3 important don'ts' that people tend to do.

    When most people think about starting a business, they often think too far ahead. Even though the long term plan is important, it’s also important to take some time to think about your short term marketing strategy.

    Instead of focusing heavily on niche specific marketing mistakes, we are going to take a look at mistakes that new business owners can make when working out how they are going to market their company and target their customers.

    1. Don't overestimate the idea of needing a complete website for marketing

    One of the first mistakes many business owners make is to believe they must have a complete website to start marketing to their audience. A common trend among new startups that may be useful is creating a ‘coming soon’ page for their potential customers.

    A coming soon page is a way to give customers a taste of what’s to come when your website and business officially launches. We often have it set in our minds that it is impossible to promote something that doesn’t yet exist, but that’s not true.

    2. Don’t forget a contact page

    Surprisingly, many new business owners forget about this crucial aspect of their website. It doesn't matter if you’re creating a coming soon page or launching the full website on day one, you must have an easy way for customers to contact your business!

    There is a variety of free and premium contact form builders available you can download for your website. These builders give you the freedom and flexibility to build custom contact pages for your customers so they can communicate what they need help with regarding your product or service. You could also use this as an opportunity to discover what kind of pain points your customers have, as it pertains to your niche, so you can work on improving your company once you notice a reoccurring problem.

    Contact pages are relevant because they are a way for you to keep in contact with the people who buy your products or services, potentially adding them to your email marketing list. This strategy could open the door for future email offers and makes marketing new products to a test audience easy.

    3. Don’t be afraid to experiment

    When people start marketing their website to a broader audience, they often feel as if their way is the only right way. You have to be able to come to terms with your notions of what customers want and run split tests on your marketing campaign and on-site ads to learn what your customers expect from your brand.

    For example, if you’re running a site about content marketing and keep pushing a free checklist for new bloggers and no one is responding, maybe it’s time to think about other things that could benefit your target audience. You can run split tests with two ad campaigns for instance, one with the free checklist and one with access to a SEO webinar and see which one is the most attractive.

    The point here is that sometimes you have to put different options out there, see how the customers respond, and use the obtained analytic data to determine where to take your business model next.


    As a new business owner, your marketing strategy will likely change rapidly during the first few years of business. You’ll learn how to handle customer issues and how you can use their problems to build a better product.

    After you’ve nailed down a formula, it’s essential to keep your mind open and anticipate small changes while marketing. The small changes can and will add up to more significant changes over time. One final tip is that you must be prepared to evolve with your brand and your customers. Don’t get too comfortable or set in your ways.

    If the past decade has taught us anything, it’s that marketing is continually changing based on social media, customer perception and needs, and how you present your business to potential leads.

    Author: Thomas Griffin

    Source: Business.com

  • 3 Reasons why competitive intelligence is key for marketing

    3 Reasons why competitive intelligence is key for marketing

    There are only so many hours in a day, and there are a lot of tasks that marketing teams tackle on a daily basis. When we think about competitive intelligence (CI), we most commonly think about its benefits for the product marketing and sales teams. But as new companies are popping up, companies are fighting for the top spot of the market leader. Brands are trying to find new ways to resonate with their target market and ultimately win more customers. Now, more than ever, marketing leaders need to prioritize CI in their marketing strategy. 

    Not only does competitive intelligence help shape business strategies and help evaluate where you need to invest resources, but it can also help solve common business challenges. With the help of competitive intelligence, you’ll be able to craft a strong marketing strategy, improve your competitive win rate, and never be blind-sided by your competition. Marketing leaders might not be responsible for conducting competitive intelligence research themselves, but they will gain immense benefits from having a pulse on every move their biggest competitors make. 

    Let’s dive into three reasons why marketing leaders should prioritize competitive intelligence.

    Spend more time on what matters

    As a marketing leader, you have a team to manage, budgets to build, strategy to plan, and competitors to keep watch for. With the saved time and resources of an automated CI program, you’ll be able to focus more on executing your strategy. With the support of an excellent marketing team, product marketing team, and a competitive intelligence solution, marketing leaders can focus their time on the work that matters most.

    Historically, gathering competitive intelligence data has been manual and time-consuming. Now, competitive intelligence data collection is made easy. It’s often powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, which means the data presented to you is filtered for what’s highly valuable. Depending on what you’re looking for in a competitive intelligence solution, you’re able to drill down in the data to get as specific as you need to get the results you’re looking for. Regardless of who on the marketing team is responsible for competitive intelligence, automating competitive intelligence will help your team spend less time gathering CI, and more time turning the insights into action. 

    A robust marketing strategy won’t be complete without leveraging competitive intelligence data. Whether it’s refocusing budget, redesigning a website, or figuring out which projects to focus on, none of it can be done effectively unless you have a look into your competitive landscape. CI will give you insight into your competitors’ strategies — where they’re investing resources and money, what updates they’re making to their messaging, and which companies they’re choosing to partner with. If marketing leaders have a pulse on that, you’ll be able to build out a strategy that rivals that of your competitors. 

    Better enable your sales team

    As marketers, you want to offer our sales team the right support so that they can win as many deals as possible. You especially want them to win more deals against competitors. So, you want to provide your sales team with the most impactful collateral, materials, and training that will help them sell more effectively.

    One way to make your sales enablement material more effective is by integrating competitive intelligence data. Sure, you’re conducting demo training, providing your team with product one-pagers, and arming them with case studies. But, by integrating competitive intelligence data into your sales enablement materials, you’ll be able to provide your team with all of the information they need to handle competitive objections and win those tough deals. With the help of these materials, like competitive battlecards, your sales reps will never be caught off guard by a competitive objection again.

    If you have an automated competitive intelligence solution, and you integrate your CI solution with your competitive battlecards, you’re better able to keep battlecards up-to-date. And, you’re able to provide your sales team with the most relevant data, at all times, rather than crowding them with too much, potentially irrelevant data. You’re also able to effectively track usage of your sales enablement materials and get feedback from your sales team about what works and what doesn’t. This will ultimately allow you to track marketing impact by analyzing usage and engagement on your battlecards. As time goes on, you’ll also be able to measure the impact of competitive sales enablement on win rates and revenue won from competitive deals.

    Competitive intelligence will help you build more effective sales enablement materials. CI will open up a new avenue of analysis so that you can better understand what works and what doesn’t when it comes to your team winning more deals.

    Keep everyone informed on your competitive landscape

    With an automated solution, competitive insights can be captured and shared quickly, almost immediately, so marketing leaders can be proactive rather than reactive to a competitor shift. Not only are you able to arm your sales team with up-to-date competitive intel through battlecards, but you’re able to keep your colleagues informed on major competitive shifts.

    Once your CI program is automated, you’re able to build deliverables to share key points and compare your current performance to your competitors. This data is highly important for leaders of all departments to stay on top of. Maybe you present high-level competitive updates to the rest of your executive team, or you have your product marketers and/or CI specialists prepare specific competitive intelligence deliverables for each executive. Even better — your automated competitive intelligence solution alerts your team when a major competitive insight is captured. CI data is critical for all departments to have insight into, as it impacts everything from funding to product roadmaps to customer retention, and everything in between.

    If you automate your competitive intelligence, you can save time, and focus on building out and executing on a successful marketing strategy. Because, with an automated solution, your team will be able to deliver important insights, rather than having to wade through hundreds of data points. So, your team will have more bandwidth to focus on bigger projects that will benefit your organization.

    When your sales team is winning, marketing leaders are winning. Not only will competitive intelligence help marketing provide sales support, but it will also make sure that your team is never blind-sided by competitors. Altogether, an automated competitive intelligence program will make a measurable impact on the business results that matter most. Competitive intelligence goes beyond the immediate needs of your sales and product teams, and is a valuable asset for your whole organization.

    Author: Emily Dumas

    Source: Crayon

  • 5 Arguments that will convince sales people of the value of analytics

    5 Arguments that will convince sales people of the value of analytics

    Many sales reps have a certain way of doing things. Implementing new processes or adding new tools or technologies that attempt to change their habits can often be met with resistance.

    Sales reps rely on their “tried-and-true” methods learned from predecessors, or they lean on their personal knowledge and experience to manage their customers and plan their approach with individual customers. Gut-feel has been the leading driver for sales strategies for many years, but in today’s fast paced and competitive environment, sales reps need every advantage they can get.  

    A recent McKinsey article suggested, “driving sales growth today requires fundamentally different ways of working, as well as outstanding execution across large, decentralized sales teams and channel partners. While many sales leaders accept this reality in principle, they don’t put sufficient energy or focus into driving that level of change. Advances in digital and analytics, however, mean that sales leaders can now drive and scale meaningful changes that pay off today and tomorrow.”

    So, if you’re a sales rep that doesn’t think you need data analytics, here are five reasons why you do:

    1. There are always more sales opportunities than you think 

    This alone should steer your team toward data analytics. Data can uncover trends in your customers’ buying behavior that can help you identify gaps in their ordering. In addition, your customers’ data can also reveal upsell or cross-sell opportunities that can help you increase your sales volume across a much wider swath of products, without impacting any of your existing sales. While your gut feel may tell you to spend more time with a customer, data can help you understand why, pointing you to new complementary products that can quickly grow your sales.

    2. It is critical to uncover challenges before they impact your bottom line

    There is a good chance one or more of your customers purchase products from other suppliers. What if that same customer started to buy less from you and more from that other supplier that recently entered the market? What if that decline occurred over several months? Would you even know? These are difficult questions to ask and answer, but if you’re like many sales people, you have dozens of customers that you are working with and a slow decline in sales with a single customer may go unnoticed. With data at your fingertips, from your laptop to your mobile device, you can constantly monitor your customers' purchasing habits, and ask questions about negative trends before they start to impact your company’s bottom line and your paycheck.

    3. Retaining customers is easier than finding new ones

    This is related to number two, but it deserves its own bullet point. Retention is a simple business reality that makes your business data even more important. Underserved customers are underserved for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they are new and got lost in the shuffle, or turnover at the sales rep position has left them without support for a period of time. Perhaps they have made several large purchases over the last year and deserve better pricing, or they were once a loyal customer, but their sales have slowly declined, and are at risk of leaving to a competitor. Engaging these at-risk customers requires that you recognize the signs before they take their business elsewhere.

    4. It will make your life easier 

    Access to data analytics has oftentimes only been given to the IT team or specially trained individuals. Data analytics turns raw data into actionable intelligence. No more reading outdated spreadsheets, guessing where your next sale will come from or what information to share with your customer during your next sales meeting. Business intelligence software is designed to help you quickly mine value from data so you can make the right decision for you and your customers. Rows and columns of data are now presented in charts, graphs and tables that you can click to uncover transactional level details that brings to the surface the accounts that need your attention the most. Data analytics helps you eliminate the guess work about your job and focus on what customer you can help the most while also helping you achieve your sales goals.

    5. It helps you prepare to perform

    Imagine going into a customer meeting with their entire order history at your fingertips, or an understanding of their recent commitment to certain brand, style or size of product. How will that information shape your next product presentation or sales proposal? You can turn your customers into data advocates by reviewing with them weekly reports about their engagement with you. Could that information help them improve efficiencies, capitalize on sales promotions or recognize holes in their own ordering? As you share and use your data to help them, you show them that you are committed to their success, as well as your own.

    Data analytics is a powerful tool for sales people that are looking to maximize their performance, grow sales and retain customers. The results of implementing analytics are better revenue growth at the same or improved margins, quickly, while customer satisfaction improves. If you’re not using data to drive your business, there’s no better time than the present to start.

    Source: Phocas Software

  • 5 Essential metrics for B2B marketing

    5 Essential metrics for B2B marketing

    In today’s technology and data-driven landscape, marketers are under constant pressure to prove the value of their efforts. But with the amount of data and analytics we have access to, it can be difficult to differentiate between the important marketing metrics and the not-so-important marketing metrics.

    If you’re struggling to report on the success of your marketing campaigns, we’re here to help. 

    Today we explain the five most important B2B marketing metrics. Keep reading.

    Lead-to-close conversion rate (CVR)

    All too often, marketing teams spend too much time worrying about the number of leads they generate, and not enough on the quality of the leads. A steady stream of sales and marketing leads is important, but unless these people eventually purchase from you, they don’t provide much value.

    Lead-to-close conversion rate measures the average percentage of leads that end up becoming actual customers. The natural way to calculate this marketing metric is to divide the number of sales made in a specific time period, by the number of leads generated within that same time period. So, if your organization made 15 sales the first quarter, but generated 100 leads, your ;ead to close conversion rate would be 15%.

    However, the average sales cycle can take weeks or even months. Meaning, a lead you generate this November may not become a customer until next November.

    That being said, simply calculating conversion rate by time period won’t give you a true indication of how well your programs convert. Here’s an alternative: look back to the same time the year prior, and determine how many leads were generated in one month. Then, determine how many of those leads then converted into customers throughout the year. Lastly, divide the number of customers, by the original number of leads to retrieve your conversion rate.

    When CVR is calculated and monitored on a regular basis (i.e. monthly) it can also provide insight into the lead-quality your programs produce. For example, when your lead-to-close rate is high for a particular campaign or initiative, you can prioritize your time and resources accordingly. If your lead-to-close rate is low for a particular program, you can make the necessary changes to attract better leads.

    Initial customer acquisition cost (CAC)

    Another important marketing metric is your customer acquisition cost. This metric indicates how much your organization must spend to successfully secure one customer.

    This metric is easy to calculate: simply take all sales and marketing costs from one period of time and then divide that by the number of new customers acquired within that period.

    Executives consider their organizations CAC as an indicator of performance and efficiency. When your calculations are consistently low, your executives can assume that your sales and marketing teams are operating efficiently. But, if CAC spikes quarter after quarter, it can indicate an issue.

    For more granular results, try calculating the CAC by program, campaign, or initiative. These numbers can help you prioritize projects and scale your success.

    Marketing percentage of your CAC

    Another marketing metric to monitor is the marketing percentage of your CAC. Again, this is another simple formula to calculate. Take your marketing spend for a specific time period and divide by the number of new customers generated within that time period.

    This calculation reveals your marketing team’s impact on the overall CAC, and can be used to help make better sales and marketing decisions. Naturally, a lower number here is preferable. If your marketing CAC is high, it indicates one of two issues:

    • Your marketing team is spending ineffectively.
    • Your sales team is not performing well.

    Tracking this metric over time will demonstrate how each team is improving.

    Marketing originated customers

    This marketing metric identifies the percentage of new customers acquired as a result of marketing initiatives. This proves the ROI of your efforts. And more importantly, can help reassure your team that their efforts are paying off.

    Again, this metric isn’t hard to find as long as you track lead source. Take the number of customers that originated from a marketing initiative, and divide it by the total number of customers acquired within the same time period. Obviously, the higher the percentage the better.

    Marketing influenced customers

    In an ideal world, all customers would originate from your marketing team’s initiatives. Sadly, this is not the case. But that doesn’t mean that your efforts didn’t help move them along the buyer’s journey. Even if your programs didn’t generate the lead, your marketing team can still have a hand in closing a sale through educational content and nurture programs.

    This metric is not unlike marketing originated customers, but it goes one step further. To find this number examine the leads converted within a given time period. Then, determine how many of those leads interacted with your marketing efforts at some point. After that, once you divide by the total number of converted leads, you’ll have the percentage of marketing influenced customers.

    B2B Metrics: key takeaways

    The key to marketing success lies in your ability to understand how your efforts contribute to your organization’s bottom line. Once you prove the value of your initiatives, your team will receive well-deserved credit.

    Author: Krysta Williams

    Source: Zoominfo

  • 5 mistakes to watch out for when using data analytics in marketing

    5 mistakes to watch out for when using data analytics in marketing

    If marketing were an apple pie, data would be the apples — without data supporting your marketing program, it might look good from the outside, but inside it’s hollow. In a recent survey from Villanova University, 100% of marketers said data analytics has an essential role in marketing’s future. With everyone on board with the importance of data analytics, it’s surprising that as of 2020, only 52.7% of marketers were actually using analytics in their marketing efforts (according to Marketing Evolution), and only 9% of marketers polled by Gartner’s Marketing Data and Analytics Survey said their company has a strong understanding of how to effectively use data analytics. 

    This illuminates a disconnect: Marketers understand data’s significance, but they don’t know how to use it to best serve their business objectives. Becoming a data-minded marketer is a process, and the stats clearly show a large number of marketers are still engaged in that process. With a little guidance, you can avoid some common marketing analytics mistakes to make your data journey smoother. 

    Mistake #1: Bringing data into marketing too late

    That feeling of figuring out the perfect anecdote for an ad, tagline for a brand, or video concept for a new product launch is what keeps so many marketers going. That’s why it’s understandable that having to nix a brilliant idea because it doesn’t align with your data is painful — it’s also often necessary; you must learn to kill your darlings. This is a place where data can help marketers make smarter decisions, versus going with gut instinct.

    When you choose to ignore the directions data dictates, you could be choosing to ignore the main objective of marketing: to connect with your audience and inspire users to take action. 

    “There’s this tendency to build an idea and assume it’s going to be effective, but what marketers need to do is take a step back and let data inform development,” says Deven Wisner, Managing Partner of Viable Insights, a data evaluation firm that specializes in helping business build stronger data foundations to improve organizational success. “We need to be willing to reflect along the way, pivot when needed, and be agile — data allows us to do this, but we need to build the mentality of leading with data.” 

    This mindset is still something many marketers need to adopt. In a recent Gartner survey, 32% of marketers said that data conflicting with their intended course of action was ignored. However, as Deven states, avoiding data insights and going with your gut is like choosing all the wrong answers on a test despite your professor giving you the right ones. Data can’t help your marketing efforts if you won’t let it. 

    Bonus tip from the mind of a marketer: 

    “Data and creative should live together,” says Partnership Director of Kicks Digital Marketing Brooke Heffernan. “When you discover data that means something, you need to be agile enough to make experimental changes.” 

    However, Brooke cautions marketers to still put creative efforts at the forefront of business objectives and have them supported by data, not controlled by it. 

    “Data doesn’t need to define creative; however it is so insightful to target where you market and give you a deep understanding of your audience and how they behave,” Brooke continues. “If you know who your audience is, where they are, and what they care about, you’ve solved half your equation. Data makes a big difference here.”

    Key takeaways: 

    1. Pull data before beginning a major marketing project 
    2. Use your findings to define your key audiences and their behaviors 
    3. Use data to build creative ideas to reach your audience 

    Mistake #2: Choosing the wrong data visualization to present your data

    Data visualizations are graphic representations of data. Instead of seeing rows upon rows of data and trying to discern a meaning, visualizations display essential information in the form of charts, graphs, line plots, scatter plots, word clouds, infographics — anything that visually tells the story of your data. 

    These visuals are often used to build dashboards, which allow users to view crucial data all in one place, and they are customizable based on each user and their needs. The trouble is, marketers aren’t necessarily data experts, and without background knowledge, choosing the right data visualizations to represent your data can be overwhelming. 

    “A lot of people want to pick the sexiest or coolest visual, but that’s where we end up completely misrepresenting our data,” Deven says. “Sometimes we pick the chart before we know our data. We must first know the data to find the visualization that fits.” 

    By diving into your data before you have your heart set on a visual, you can effectively determine which graphic will tell your data’s story best. For example, if you are looking to discover your most profitable months in the last year, a scatter plot would likely be a confusing choice. A bar chart organized from lowest to highest profitability would be a better option as it would allow users to see insights with ease. 

    Work with your org’s in-house data experts to build analytics into your workflows that will make sense to all your users and drive meaningful decisions.

    Mistake #3: Making vanity metrics your main event

    Every marketer knows that your energy, creativity, and sometimes sanity go into making captivating work. There’s nothing better than learning a video went viral or a social campaign generated thousands of likes, follows, and comments … or is there?

    It’s easier now than ever to lose sight of what’s truly important in marketing: generating leads that turn into conversions, turning conversions into loyal customers, and evolving loyal customers into brand advocates. When the primary focus becomes likes, retweets, follows, and comments — also known as vanity metrics — marketing efforts become less meaningful for your long-term goals. 

    Vanity metrics ebb and flow like a tidal wave, meaning they can easily consume your marketing efforts. It’s crucial to balance the data from these metrics with that of engagement metrics (the data that ignites customer action). Think of vanity metrics as a supporting layer that is peeled back to reveal core metrics, such as brand interaction, lead generation, and conversions. 

    “Vanity metrics aren’t useless. They can be important for brand awareness, but they don’t necessarily equate to sales,” Brooke says. “Vanity metrics should be your keyboardist, not your lead vocalist.” 

    Mistake #4: Relying too heavily on data

    Record scratch — yes, there is such a thing as putting too much emphasis on your data and not enough on your people. Marketing is a human-centered industry often fueled by emotion and grown by inspiration. Taking people out of the decision-making equation is a fast way to lose your impact and actually dilute your data. 

    “Too often we expect data to give us all the answers, but in reality, humans are a really important part of decision-making,” Deven says. “Without people, data is just information floating around.” 

    When presented with data, it’s you and your team who will make impactful work out of rows of information and visualizations. Data doesn’t have the ability to build copy, well-designed campaigns, ads, and videos — your people do. When we use data as a fundamental part of building meaningful work, that’s where we find value.

    “Your people, your process, your performance always matter,” Brooke says. “Data is a piece of the puzzle and a valuable tool if it’s used in order of priority within marketing, but you can’t forget the human factor.” 

    Mistake #5: Failing to build a data-focused culture

    “You don’t know what you don’t know — not everyone is a data expert,” Deven says. But not being a data analytics guru doesn’t mean there isn’t room to become a novice, intermediate, and eventually knowledgeable resource. 

    “A marketer may not be an expert at data analytics, but what you need to think about is, How can you become even 10% better at it?” Deven says. “The answer is you need to build a data-focused culture.” 

    This doesn’t happen overnight or even within a few months. True data culture must involve continued education, efforts, and engagement from marketing leadership and senior management all the way through to junior employees. If everyone accepts and embraces data analytics as a cornerstone of marketing, that is when culture begins to emerge. 

    This process can be difficult, especially when the topic of data has become as trendy as customized face masks and as popular as Marvel movies. Like anything in marketing, doing something for the sake of doing it will never lead to success. This mentality needs to be implemented when building data culture as well. Don’t just do it because data is a buzzword; do it for the extended health of your marketing efforts and business. 

    “People collect data all the time without knowing how to use it,” Deven says. “It’s essential to shift the focus away from data being this cool thing and refocus on how we can embed data into organizations for a true organizational shift.” 

    As a digital marketer, Brooke describes the process of building a data culture as self-awareness for your agency. 

    “You can learn to love your body and it still be a work in progress, and that’s how it should be creating a data-minded marketing culture — you need to appreciate where you are, what you’ve learned, and create realistic next steps to achieve your goals.” 

    No one has to become a bona fide data analyst for this culture to thrive, but there does need to be a foundation of basic principles that marketers must appreciate so data can become a priority. Once this basis for analytics appreciation has been seeded, infusing analytics into workflows will take your organization the rest of the way to becoming truly data-driven, putting the right piece of actionable intelligence in front of the right person at the right time, in the right way for them to make the best decision possible. 

    “There are some really powerful insights out there,” Brooke says. “And it’s never a bad time to start becoming aware.” 

    Author: Madi Szrom

    Source: Sisense

  • 5 Tips to support marketing the best way possible with insights

    5 Tips to support marketing the best way possible with insights

    When both insights and marketing work together effectively, everyone benefits. But it’s not always easy to get there. Here's five ways to be a better insights partner to your marketing team, straight from PepsiCo's Global CMO.

    For any great partnership to work, both parties need an empathetic understanding of each other’s wants, needs and general perspectives on life. Without this understanding, you’ll end up with a relationship drenched in confusion, animosity or resentment. (Think about a marriage: both spouses need to understand where the other is coming from, otherwise they’ll end up assuming ill intent whenever they’re not on the same page!)

    One great partnership you find in large organizations is the one between insights and marketing. These teams work hand-in-hand to grow great brands and serve customer needs. When both insights and marketing are working together effectively, everyone benefits (especially the consumer).

    As someone in an insights role, consider your own relationship with your marketing counterparts. Is there room for improvement there?

    At this year’s Virtual Insight Summit, Zappi President Ryan Barry sat down with PepsiCo’s Global CMO, Jennifer Saenz. (Jennifer is also the President of Pepsi’s food business. Rather than complaining about how she’s extremely busy with two full-time jobs, Jennifer claims both roles balance her and make her better overall!)

    A lot of great tips about how insights can be a better partner to marketing came out of that conversation. Let’s dive into them here!

    1. Know the basics of marketing

    "It can be dangerous as you get pulled toward new technologies, you almost forget the basics…It’s a lot harder to get those technologies to work for you if you forget the 'why' behind what you want to achieve."

    As an insights professional, you probably know a lot about data analysis, system 1 and system 2 thinking, qual and quant research methodologies, and so much more. But are you familiar with the basics of marketing that your marketing counterparts live every day? Trends come and go, but the basics don’t change.

    What is the marketing team responsible for day-to-day? What are they trying to accomplish? What tools do they use? How are they measured? Having the answers to these questions is an important first step to being a better insights partner with marketing — or anyone, really.

    Jennifer recommends reading the book How Brands Grow by Byron Sharp (which we’re also strong proponents of at Zappi!) to learn more about the challenges marketers are facing and the levers they can pull to make an impact.

    We would also recommend just having a conversation with your marketing partners, if you haven’t already done so. You can learn a lot about someone’s world by just opening up that dialogue.

    2. Translate knowledge for impact

    “I think the best insights partner is focused on helping us make sure that the knowledge we’re creating is really intended to create an impact. That’s the most important thing the insights partner can bring.”

    Jennifer cautions that you never want to get into the habit of creating knowledge for the sake of it. The best insights partners are those who can translate knowledge for impact.

    Any information that makes someone respond with “ok, that’s cool” is not really effective. But data that makes your audience sit up and say “wow, we need to do X now!” — that’s the dream. That’s how you know you’ve really made an impact with your work.

    It’s up to you to translate what you’ve learned in your research into a form someone can use. Because everyone is busy and no one is suffering from a shortage of data. Give your stakeholders the SO WHAT from your data so they won’t miss it.

    Give some thought to your insights career. How many times do you feel like someone was able to immediately identify the actions they should take based on research you shared? How many “holy shit” moments have you been responsible for? If that number isn’t as high as you’d like, take a few extra moments each time you deliver results to think about the SO WHAT. How can you synthesize your learnings so the person consuming them knows exactly what they need to do next?

    When you can do that every time you deliver insights (and do it quickly, as Jennifer notes that the time it takes to go from data to action is compressing all the time), you’ll make a big impact on your organization.

    3. Democratize insights

    “When you can democratize that information and understanding, all of a sudden the amount of impact you can make increases because so many people have access to it.”

    Ultimately, it’s up to you to make sure the right people have access to the right data to make the right decisions.

    “Democratization” of data is a bit of a buzzword, one that can evoke strong emotions from insights professionals. But it really just means making data available to as many people as possible. When you democratize insights, suddenly every marketer has the benefit of that data right at their fingertips whenever they need it. It can significantly grow the impact of your work.

    This is, of course, easier said than done. PepsiCo has invested in this area because it’s important to both insights and marketing teams. PepsiCo built an internal tool that gives everyone access to customer data and standardized research methods. While a lot of work went into this, Jennifer says that it has certainly been worth it because:

    1. With standardized tools and a common language to use, PepsiCo has more effective cross-functional conversations

    2. The work that the marketing and insights teams are doing now has greater visibility and credibility within the company

    3. PepsiCo’s marketing is getting better and better!

    4. Reflect back to move forward

    “If you're testing to just get to ‘yes,’ you're only looking forward. But if you're testing to learn, you are taking a moment to be reflective, understand the ‘why’ behind it, and then take that ‘why’ and pour it into all the work you do moving forward. It's a very different mindset when you're testing to learn versus testing to ‘check the box.’”

    For too long, insights teams have been tasked with “checking a box” or assigning a grade to an idea at some point in the development process. They give marketers a red or green light and move onto the next project.

    Those days are long gone.

    Jennifer’s view is that you do the work to uncover whether you should move forward with an idea, but that’s just the start. You need to regularly reflect backwards to learn as you go. Reflecting backwards can help your business lean more into what it has done well and improve what it hasn’t done well. In other words, you can use what you’ve learned in the past to affect decisions in the future.

    You can always just answer the questions you’re asked (like, will consumers like this ad?) but you’ll take your partnership to the next level if you can always provide the WHY behind that answer (why do consumers like this ad?) and look at how those trends are evolving over time to predict the future.

    Jennifer notes that this requires a different mindset. It reflects a shift in the role of insights from order taker to true strategic partner. And isn’t that what we’re all aiming for?

    5. Act as an owner of your company

    “If you see an outage, you have to speak up. You have to share that with people. I wouldn’t hold it in and let it fester. Because you can make an impact.”

    It’s easy to feel like your voice doesn’t matter in a big organization. That one person can’t affect change. So if you see something that could be improved (what Jennifer calls an “outage”), it may feel like it’s not worth it to try to do something about it.

    But Jennifer vehemently disagrees with that idea. She suggests you act like an owner of your company and call something out when you see it (this was actually a common refrain in our lineup of C-level feature speakers).

    You have a unique perspective that executives in your company don’t have, and they often won’t know there’s a problem or opportunity unless it’s brought to their attention.

    Jennifer recommends not just calling something out, but also looking a step or two ahead. You may not have the ability to solve the problem on your own, but what steps can you take to address it? What recommendations can you offer? Be a part of that solution.

    Final thoughts

    At the end of the day, you’ll be a better insights partner to marketers if you help marketing do their job better. Work together to make your marketing stronger. That’s really what all of these points come down to.

    Author: Katie Sweet

    Source: Zappi

  • 6 Changes in the jobs of marketers and market analysts caused by AI

    6 Changes in the jobs of marketers and market analysts caused by AI

    Artificial intelligence is having a profound impact on the state of marketing in 2019. And AI technology will be even more influential in the years to come.

    If you’re a marketer or a business owner in today’s competitive marketplace, you’ve probably tried just about everything you can think of to maximize your success. You’ve dabbled in digital marketing, visited trade shows, paid for print advertising, and incentivized customer testimonials. It’s probably resulted in lots of stress, sleepless nights, and even CBD oil drops to give you the energy and focus to keep going.

    Marketing requires multiple approaches to succeed, so while you should stick with the things you’ve been doing successfully, you’ll also want to include artificial intelligence (AI) in your current strategy. If you haven’t already, you might be falling behind your competitors. As many as 80% of marketers believe that AI will be the most effective tool by 2020.

    AI marketing techniques increase the efficiency of your marketing and are often more effective than some of the traditional tactics you may be using. You’ll combine big data and inbound marketing to deliver a practical marketing strategy that drives conversions. Here are some ways you can apply this seemingly magical tool:

    1. Customer personas

    The most basic rule about marketing is that you can’t hope to run successful campaigns if you don’t know who you’re targeting. A good marketer will create customer personas that tell you who your target market is and how you can best service them. Personas are made at the basic level by listing demographics, interests, and other information that can help you target an audience.

    About 53% of marketers say that AI is extremely useful in identifying customers. It provides information that you might not have otherwise considered when drafting a marketing strategy. This is extremely valuable since more specific information leads to more effective marketing.

    In order to capture this essential data, look through your company analytics. Define the demographics of those who follow you on social media, make purchases on your website, and comment or inquire about your products/services. This essential data can develop a more profound persona designed to target the right customer base.

    2. Digital advertising campaigns

    Many marketers have heard about the essentials of a digital advertising campaign in furthering sales, but they haven’t seen the results they hoped for. Artificial intelligence can significantly improve these campaigns. Once you’ve created a comprehensive view of your customer base, you’ll experience far more effective digital advertising campaigns.

    A great example of this is Facebook advertising, which is named by many marketing experts as the best bang for your buck. It allows you to create advertisements that are specifically targeted towards those who are most likely to make a purchase. However, it only works if you know exactly who your target audience is.

    Thanks to the abundance of consumer data collected by websites, social sites, and keyword searches, you’ll have all the information you need for more effective digital ads.

    3. Automated e-mail and SMS campaigns

    E-mail and SMS marketing are considered some of the best lead-generating marketing tactics out there. E-mail is the number-one source of business communication with 86% of consumers and business professionals reporting it as their preferred source. More importantly for sales, nearly 60% say it’s their most effective channel for revenue generation.

    SMS marketing, although not as popular as e-mail among marketers, boasts similar data for millennial clients, or those aged 18-36. Thanks to AI, we know that about 83% of millennials open an SMS message within 90 seconds of receiving it. Three quarters say they prefer SMS for promotions, surveys, reminders, and similar communications from brands.

    With the help of AI, we do not only understand the essentials of e-mail and SMS for marketing, but we have the insights that help to make it better. AI-enabled tools facilitate targeted campaigns to a specific audience. They handle the busy work behind these campaigns so that you can focus more on developing products and customer service.

    4. Market research

    Savvy marketers begin every new campaign with market research, gathering information about customers, effective marketing strategies, and trends in the industry. This information is invaluable for directing campaigns effectively and making products more appealing to the intended audience.

    Big data provides all that information for you, although it’s difficult to understand it all on the surface. There’s so much information that you’ll need analytics tools to decipher the most useful data that can be used to direct your marketing efforts.

    Once you’ve broadened your horizons with data-deciphering tools, you’ll have an easier time interpreting customer emotions and their perceptions of your brand. You’ll be able to make changes or continue implementing an effective strategy with this insightful information.

    5. User experience

    As business owners know, it’s all about the user experience. A good marketing campaign begins with a website and advertisements designed specifically for customers’ benefits. In fact, customers are beginning to demand information, products, and services at lightning speed. AI can help you give that to them.

    One example is the use of chatbots for customer service. When customers reach out to you on Facebook Messenger, for example, you can set up a chatbot to respond immediately and let them know you’ll be with them shortly.

    Another example is personalization that comes through AI. As you know your audience better, you can set your advertisements and website experiences to be catered to the individual. Each time they log onto your website, they’ll be greeted by name and advertisements all over the web will show them only the things they’re interested in seeing. e-mail marketing will improve with personalization as well.

    Social media and Google advertisements are all about catering more directly to the user experience. The data you collect about individual consumers all but guarantees your ads will be shown to the right people.

    6. Sales forecasting

    Fruitful marketing drives sales, a metric that’s easier to forecast and understand with the use of AI. Marketers can use all the information derived from inbound communication and compare it to traditional metrics in order to determine updates and improvements for sales strategies.

    It can show you a forecasting of the results of a certain metric, so you can determine if it’s worth the expense to do so. This can save marketers significant time and money in the industry all while driving more sales and growth as a result.

    AI is redefining the state of marketing

    Artificial intelligence is having a profound impact on the state of marketing in 2019. And AI technology will be even more influential in the years to come. Make sure that you understand its impact and find ways to utilize it to its full potential.

    Author: Diana Hope

    Source: SmartDataCollective

  • A closer look into B2B marketing personalisation strategies based on MI

    A closer look into B2B marketing personalisation strategies based on MI

    Creating effective B2B (business-to-business) marketing personalisation strategies based on market needs and behaviours

    What is marketing personalisation?

    Simply, personalisation in marketing is using data collected about a target audience to tailor content, products and services specifically to them. The quantity and richness of data collected determines the extent of the personalisation.

    Personalisation in marketing has clear business benefits

    Appetite for this marketing personalisation is still strong today. In the Gartner 2018 State of Personalisation Survey, 87% of surveyed marketing leaders said that their organisation is pursuing personalisation. This is due to the clear business benefits associated with personalisation, reaching the right person with the right message through the right channel at the right time. The Harvard Business Review states that personalisation can lift revenues by 5-15% and increase the efficiency of marketing spend by up to 10-40%.

    Various studies have shown that there is an increasing gap between customer expectations and the ability of B2B organisations to meet them. For example, 98% of consumers have chosen not to complete a purchase because of incomplete or incorrect content pushed to them.

    Over-focusing on demographics means B2B personalisation isn’t as effective as it could be

    Thinking of marketing personalisation solely as a marketing activity is the main reason organisations are not fulfilling their potential. Despite investment in customer data, predictive analytics, and marketing cloud solutions, marketers forget the role primary market research plays in creating an effective personalisation strategy, through the understanding of needs and behaviour.

    Personalisation in B2B marketing can be broken down into three categories that affect broad and large-scale marketing activities:

    • Segment-specific – personalised by demographics (such as industry, organisation size, age & job titles etc.)
    • Persona-specific – personalised for specific buyer types
    • Stage-specific – personalised for a stage of the buying process

    When asked about the effectiveness of types of personalisation approaches used, three out of four B2B organisations stated that segment-specific personalisation is very poor, poor or neutral. However, despite the poor returns the majority of B2B organisations employ this ineffective approach to personalisation.

    There is a need to capture more behavioural information around needs throughout the buyer or customer journey. Stage- and persona-specific approaches to personalisation are more likely to be rated well and very well in terms of effectiveness. Yet only a third of B2B organisations utilise behavioural and persona-specific information into personalisation strategies and only a quarter personalise information across the customers and prospects position in the customer and buyer journey.

    B2C organisation on the other hand have invested more heavily into research for their personalisation efforts. When marketers were asked about the data and insights they have available for personalisation, 61% of B2C companies thought they had sufficient information compared to only 52% of B2B organisations. This under utilisation of persona and stage-specific information presents strong opportunities for B2B organisations to better meet individual customer needs and capture a competitive advantage.

    B2B marketers value personalisation but are not supported by the wider organisation

    Marketers are not overly satisfied with their performance when it comes to personalisation; only 12% were very or extremely satisfied with their performance.

    The main reasons driving this dissatisfaction were identified in a following open ended question and can be grouped into three key themes: lacking information to connect with customers on a personal level, lacking dedicated personalisation roles and a lack of investment. When further considering investment and spend on marketing personalisation, B2C are outspending B2B. 53% of B2C organisation expected their personalisation budget to increase throughout his year, compared to only 25% of B2B organisation.

    As a result of this lack of organisational support, B2B marketers feel that they are ‘'barely scratching the surface of what could and should be done'.

    Author: Joe Boag

    Source: B2B International

  • AI omzetten in een succesvolle strategie: 8 tips voor marketeers

    AI omzetten in een succesvolle strategie: 8 tips voor marketeers

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) zou het belangrijkste aspect moeten zijn van een datastrategie. Dat vindt meer dan 60 procent van de marketeers, blijkt uitonderzoek van MemSQL. Maar het daadwerkelijk inzetten van AI blijkt een ander verhaal. Hoe kunnen bedrijven AI omzetten in een succesvolle strategie? Hier volgen 8 tips voor marketeers:

    1. Recommendation engines

    Richt je op upselling door recommendation engines in te zetten. Recommendation engines zijn gebouwd om te voorspellen wat gebruikers op basis van hun zoektermen verder interessant zouden kunnen vinden, met name als er veel keuze is. Recommendatin engines tonen gebruikers informatie of inhoud die ze anders misschien niet hadden gezien, wat uiteindelijk kan leiden tot hogere inkomsten uit meer verkopen. Naarmate er meer bekend is over een bezoeker, is een steeds betere aanbeveling te doen en daarmee wordt de verkoopkans steeds groter. Zo is meer dan 80 procent van de programma’s die mensen kijken op Netflix door hen gevonden via de recommendation engine. Hoe dit werkt? Ten eerste verzamelt Netflix alle data van zijn gebruikers. Wat kijken ze? Wat keken ze vorig jaar? Welke series kijken na elkaar? En ga zo maar door. Bovendien is er een groep freelance en in house taggers actief, die alle content van beoordelingen en tags voorzien. Speelt een serie zich af in de ruimte of is de held een politieman? Alles krijgt een tag. Vervolgens worden machine learning algoritmes losgelaten op deze gecombineerde data en worden kijkers opgedeeld in meer dan 2000 verschillende ‘smaakgroepen’. De groep waarin een gebruiker is ingedeeld bepaalt welke kijkvoorstellen hij/zij krijgt.

    2. Forecasting

    Goede salesprognoses helpen bedrijven te groeien. Maar voorspellingen worden al jarenlang door mensen gedaan, terwijl emoties een kwartaal kunnen maken of breken. Zonder wetenschap zijn voorspellingen vaak ofwel overdreven optimistisch, ofwel overdreven pessimistisch. AI kan helpen met forecasting louter gebaseerd op gegevens en feiten. Deze gevgevens en feiten zijn met dank aan AI ook uit te leggen, waardoor bedrijven kunnen leren van eerdere voorspellingen en de volgende prognose alleen maar nauwkeuriger wordt.

    3. Ga ‘churn’ tegen

    Zoals iedere marketeer weet is het werven van nieuwe klanten veel duurder dan het behouden van de huidige klanten. Maar hoe voorkom je dat klanten zich uitschrijven voor je diensten of kiezen voor andere oplossingen? Zorg dat je klanten die de website willen verlaten steeds beter begrijpt en hun gedrag kunt voorspellen, want daarmee is klantverlies te minimaliseren. Wanneer je klanten die op het punt staan je website te verlaten effectief aanspreekt, vergroot je de kans op conversie. Door met behulp van AI een voorspellend analysemodel te bouwen dat potentiële ‘churners’ detecteert en hier vervolgens een marketingcampagne op in te zetten, voorkom je klantverlies en kun je veranderingen in je product aanbrengen om churn tegen te gaan.

    4. Content generation

    Content blijft koning. En daar kun je op inspelen met Natural Language Processing (NLP). Dit is de vaardigheid van een computerprogramma om menselijke taal te begrijpen. NLP zal zich in de nabije toekomst steeds verder ontwikkelen en wordt meer mainstream. Doordat computers taal steeds beter begrijpen, kan simpele content steeds beter automatisch gegenereerd worden. Dat content enorm belangrijk blijft, blijkt uit onderzoek van het Content Marketing Institute (CMI). Content marketing blijkt wel drie keer zo veel leads per uitgegeven dollar op te leveren als het genereren van betaalde zoekopdrachten! Bovendien kost content marketing minder terwijl het tegelijkertijd grotere langetermijnvoordelen biedt.

    5. Hyper-Targeted advertising

    Klanten hebben steeds meer toegang tot informatie en worden met een overschot aan keuzes minder loyaal aan een product of merk. De klantervaring die een bedrijf biedt is steeds belangrijker, dus ook advertenties moeten aanvoelen als een persoonlijk aanbod. Uit onderzoek van SalesForce blijkt dat 51 procent van de consumenten verwacht dat bedrijven rond 2020 zullen anticiperen op hun behoeften en actief relevante suggesties doen, oftewel hyper-targeted advertising inzetten. Zet daarom AI in voor data-driven klantsegmentatie en maak advertenties steeds relevanter per doelgroep.

    6. Prijsoptimalisatie

    McKinsey schat dat zo’n 30% van alle prijsbeslissingen die bedrijven elk jaar maken niet leiden tot de optimale prijs. Om concurrerend te blijven is het van belang continu het evenwicht te vinden tussen wat klanten willen betalen voor een product/dienst en wat de winstmarges aan kunnen. Grote bedrijven tonen aan dat prijsoptimalisatie vaak cruciaal is voor hun succes. Naar verluidt wijzigt Walmart zijn prijzen wel meer dan 50.000 keer per maand. Door met behulp van AI dynamische prijsbepaling in te zetten, zijn prijzen continu te updaten op basis van veranderende factoren en ben je niet meer afhankelijk van statische gegevens.

    7. Scoor betere leads

    Zet voorspellende lead scoring in om betere leads te scoren en daarmee alle pijlen te richten op diegenen die het meest waarschijnlijk zullen kopen. Uit een IDC-enquête blijkt dat 83 procent van de bedrijven voorspellende lead scoring voor verkoop en marketing al gebruikt of van plan is te gebruiken. En met de hulp van AI is daar een enorme slag in te slaan. Voorspellende lead scoring is speciaal ontwikkeld om te bepalen welke criteria bij een goede lead horen. Het maakt gebruik van algoritmes die vast kunnen stellen welke eigenschappen geconverteerde leads en niet-geconverteerde leads met elkaar gemeen hebben. Met die kennis kan lead scoring-software verschillende modellen voor voorspellende lead scoring maken en testen, en vervolgens automatisch het model kiezen dat het meest geschikt is voor een set voorbeeldgegevens. Omdat lead scoring-software ook machine learning gebruikt worden lead scores steeds nauwkeuriger.

    8. Marketingattributie

    En tot slot: begrijp tot op de details waar de beste (en slechtste) conversies vandaan komen, zodat je hiermee aan de slag kunt gaan. Met conversieattributie is goed te meten via welke website, zoekmachine, advertentie etc. een bezoeker op jouw website kwam en hier wel of niet een bestelling plaatste. Met behulp va machine learning kun je een slimmer marketingattributiesysteem bouwen, waarmee precies geïdentificeerd kan worden wat individuen beïnvloedt om gewenst gedrag te vertonen. In dit geval is overgaan tot koop het gewenste gedrag. Een goed marketingattributiesysteem met behulp van AI kan dus zorgen voor meer conversie.

    Auteur: Hylke Visser

    Bron: Emerce

  • AI: The Game Changer in Online Businesses

    AI: The Game Changer in Online Businesses

    AI technology is unquestionably changing the future of business. A growing number of companies are revamping their online business models to deal with new AI tools. Therefore, it should not be surprising to hear that the market for AI is expected to grow from $100 billion in 2021 to over $2 trillion in 2030.

    Traditional company growth techniques depended mainly on face-to-face encounters, print marketing, and word-of-mouth recommendations before the Internet. Yet, the digital revolution has resulted in a radical shift, changing the corporate landscape in unimaginable ways. This article delves into how the Internet has impacted and transformed traditional business development strategies:

    • Shift from Traditional Advertising to Digital Marketing
    • The Decline of Print, Radio, and Television Advertising

    Before the Internet, businesses relied heavily on print, radio, and television advertising to reach their target audience. Yet, due to the spread of digital platforms and the inevitable growth of social media, these traditional advertising methods have seen a cascading decrease in both reach and performance.

    The rise of AI technology has only exacerbated this trend. Keep reading to learn more about the effect AI is having on Internet business models.

    Rise of AI-Driven Social Media Marketing

    AI has led to a number of improvements for social media marketers, especially when it comes to ad management and optimization. AI-powered tools can analyze numerous ad targeting and budget variations, segment audiences, create ad creative, test ads, and enhance speed and performance in real-time for optimal results.

    Rem Darbinyan is the Founder and CEO of SmartClick, talked about some of the benefits of using AI in social media marketing in a post on Forbes. He points out that artificial intelligence is changing our lives, especially in social media. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram use AI for content moderation, personalized recommendations, and ads. There are 4.26 billion active social media users worldwide. They spend an average of 2 hours and 27 minutes daily on social media platforms. As social media users grow, the need for AI solutions to understand customer preferences is also increasing. The AI market in social media is expected to reach $3,714.89 million by 2026, with a CAGR of 28.77%. While the social media platforms themselves use AI technology, businesses also leverage social media tools to get the most from social media.

    The development of social media has created an opportunity for businesses to engage with their consumers in a more focused and engaging manner. The ROI is higher than ever, now that so many businesses can use AI tools like HootSuite and Buffer. This novel marketing approach encompasses several tactics that involve AI technology:

    • Targeted Advertising: Social media platforms offer granular targeting options, enabling businesses to reach specific demographics based on age, location, and interests.
    • Influencer Marketing: By collaborating with influential personalities with a substantial online following, businesses can promote their products and services more authentically, leveraging the trust and credibility these influencers have cultivated with their audience.
    • User-Generated Content: Encouraging customers to create and share content related to a brand helps foster a sense of community and enhances the brand’s credibility, effectively turning customers into brand advocates.

    AI technology is going to continue to impact the future of social media marketing for years to come.

    Growing Importance of AI for Search Engine Optimization

    As search engines have become the primary gateway for users to access information, businesses must ensure their websites rank prominently in search engine results to attract potential customers. SEO involves optimizing a website’s structure, content, and user experience to improve visibility and achieve higher organic search rankings. Moz provides a comprehensive guide to understanding the intricacies of SEO and implementing effective strategies.

    AI is especially useful in SEO. A 2021 report by the American Marketing Association found that 80% of SEO professionals intend to use AI. Of course, AI technology really took off in 2022, so that figure has probably increased substantially in the past year.

    AI can help improve your SEO strategy by discovering opportunities, such as helping businesses find relevant keywords to get more organic traffic to their platforms. AI SEO tools can expedite the process and enhance the accuracy of keyword research, competitor analysis, and search intent research.

    AI can improve the accuracy, efficiency, and performance of SEO strategies, including content production. Many SEO professionals have been using tools like ChatGPT to scale content production considerably. AI serves as a supporting tool, not a replacement for SEOs. AI tools can be used to complete dozens of functions and analyze billions of data points making it a smart step for any SEO strategy.

    Early adopters of AI for SEO can benefit the most by creating data-backed content that interests readers and aligns with search engine algorithms.

    Role of AI in Content Marketing

    Content marketing focuses on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience, ultimately driving profitable customer action. By crafting informative and engaging content, businesses can establish themselves as thought leaders in their respective industries, building trust with their audience and fostering long-term customer relationships. Content Marketing Institute offers valuable insights into content marketing and its various facets.

    AI technology can invaluable for many parts of the content marketing practice. As stated above, many businesses use tools like ChatGPT to scale content production. However, they can also use AI tools like Grammarly to improve the quality of their content.

    E-commerce and the Transformation of Retail

    AI Leads to Growth in Online Shopping

    The Internet has radically transformed the retail landscape by facilitating the growth of online shopping. Customers may now buy items and services from the comfort of their own homes, with nearly limitless options and very competitive pricing. According to Statista, global e-commerce sales have been steadily increasing, highlighting the importance of having a solid online presence for businesses of all sizes.

    Evolution of Brick-and-Mortar Stores

    Despite the rising dominance of e-commerce, brick-and-mortar retailers continue to change and adapt to the changing landscape through a variety of strategies:

    • Omnichannel Retail Strategies: This approach entails integrating various online and offline sales channels to provide customers with a seamless and consistent shopping experience. For example, retailers may offer services such as buying online, picking up in-store (BOPIS), or in-store returns for online purchases.
    • Experiential Retail: To differentiate themselves from online retailers, brick-and-mortar stores increasingly focus on creating unique and immersive customer experiences. This can include hands-on product demonstrations, interactive displays, and in-store events.

    Impact on Supply Chain Management

    E-commerce development has also resulted in changes in supply chain management strategies, with enterprises adopting new models such as:

    • Drop-shipping: In this model, retailers do not hold inventory but transfer customer orders and shipment details to manufacturers or wholesalers, who then ship the products directly to customers. This allows businesses to minimize inventory costs and mitigate the risks of holding stock.
    • Just-in-Time Inventory Management: This strategy involves closely monitoring inventory levels and ordering products only when needed, reducing the amount of stock held on hand and minimizing storage costs.

    Online Business Loans and Alternative Financing

    The Rise of Online Lenders

    Traditionally, businesses seeking financing would approach banks and other financial institutions for loans. However, the emergence of online lenders has revolutionized the borrowing landscape, offering faster application processes and more flexible loan options. Moreover, online lenders offer some unique advantages over traditional lenders, making them an increasingly popular choice for businesses in need of capital.

    Advantages of Online Business Loans

    • Access to Capital for Small Businesses: Online lenders often have less strict eligibility requirements than traditional banks, making it easier for small businesses to secure funding.
    • Competitive Interest Rates: Due to lower overhead costs and increased competition, online lenders often offer competitive interest rates and more favorable loan terms.

    Crowdfunding and Peer-to-Peer Lending

    Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms provide alternative financing options for businesses by connecting them directly with investors or individuals willing to lend money. These platforms allow businesses to raise capital without relying on traditional financial institutions while also providing an avenue for investors to support innovative ideas and earn returns on their investments.

    Invoice Financing and Other Innovative Solutions

    Invoice financing allows businesses to receive immediate cash advances on outstanding invoices, helping to alleviate cash flow issues that often arise from delayed payments. Companies like Fundbox and BlueVine specialize in providing invoice financing services, enabling businesses to maintain their working capital and continue growing.

    Remote Work and the Global Talent Pool

    Advantages of Remote Work for Businesses

    The widespread adoption of the Internet has facilitated the rise of remote work, bringing numerous benefits to businesses, such as:

    • Lower Overhead Costs: By embracing remote work, companies can significantly reduce costs associated with office space, utilities, and other operational expenses.
    • Access to a Wider Range of Talent: Remote work enables businesses to tap into a global talent pool, unshackled by geographical constraints. This allows them to find highly skilled professionals that may not be available in their immediate vicinity.

    Impact on Company Culture and Communication

    Remote work also necessitates a shift in company culture and communication practices. Businesses must foster an environment of trust and autonomy while implementing practical communication tools and strategies to ensure seamless collaboration among remote team members. Resources like Remote.co provide valuable insights and best practices for managing remote teams and maintaining a strong company culture.

    Use of Collaborative Tools and Software

    To maintain productivity and collaboration among remote teams, businesses must leverage a suite of digital tools and software. These may include project management tools like Asana or Trello, communication platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams, and file-sharing services like Google Drive or Dropbox.

    Leveraging Data Analytics for Business Development

    Importance of Data-Driven Decision Making

    Businesses in today’s hyper-connected world have access to massive volumes of data that may be used to make educated decisions and drive development. Data-driven decision-making is gathering, analyzing, and interpreting data in order to find patterns, trends, and insights that may be used to influence strategic business choices.

    Customer Segmentation and Personalized Marketing

    Businesses may segment their consumer base into various groups based on demographics, tastes, and behaviors by leveraging data analytics. This enables them to tailor their marketing efforts, creating personalized campaigns that resonate with their target audience and foster customer loyalty. Segment is a platform that helps businesses implement effective customer segmentation strategies.

    Predictive Analytics for Forecasting Trends and Demand

    Predictive analytics utilizes advanced data mining techniques machine learning, and statistical algorithms to forecast future trends, customer demand, and market conditions. This enables businesses to make proactive decisions, optimize their operations, and mitigate potential risks.IBM provides comprehensive solutions for businesses seeking to incorporate predictive analytics into their decision-making processes.

    Cybersecurity and Data Privacy

    Increased Risk of Cyber Threats for Businesses

    As businesses increasingly rely on digital platforms and store sensitive data online, they become more susceptible to cyber threats, such as data breaches, ransomware attacks, and phishing scams. These cyber incidents can result in significant financial losses, reputational damage, and legal repercussions.

    Importance of Data Protection and Privacy Regulations

    To safeguard customer data and ensure compliance with data protection and privacy regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), businesses must implement robust data security measures and adhere to industry best practices.

    Best Practices for Maintaining a Secure Online Presence

    To maintain a secure online presence and mitigate the risk of cyber threats, businesses should consider the following best practices:

    • Implement strong authentication measures, such as multi-factor authentication and secure password policies.
    • Regularly update software, applications, and operating systems to patch security vulnerabilities.
    • Encrypt sensitive data during transmission and storage to protect it from unauthorized access.
    • Conduct regular security audits and vulnerability assessments to identify and address potential weaknesses.
    • Educate employees about cybersecurity best practices and the importance of maintaining a secure online environment.

    Organizations like the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Center for Internet Security (CIS) offer valuable resources and guidelines for businesses looking to bolster their cybersecurity posture.

    AI Advances Are Driving Changes in Online Business

    The Internet has irrevocably changed the way businesses operate and develop their strategies. New advances in AI technology are accelerating the trend towards digital adoption. By embracing this ongoing evolution and leveraging the myriad digital tools, platforms, and technologies at their disposal, businesses can adapt to the ever-changing landscape and position themselves for sustained success in the digital age.

    Author: Annie Qureshi

    Source: Datafloq

  • Back to the essence of human-to-human marketing

    Back to the essence of human-to-human marketing

    While multiple sessions at this month’s Cannes Lions international festival of creativity looked at harnessing data and artificial intelligence, B2B International has been conducting some pretty interesting research into the role of emotion in business decision-making.

    The surprising fact is that in the process of choosing a supplier, when it comes down to deciding between the two final contenders in a pitch process, a very significant 56% of the choice comes down to emotional factors.

    Clearly this means marketers need to think harder than ever about building a human connection with potential customers. So it was very interesting to see at least one discussion at Cannes looking at how to combine the benefits of automation with an increasing desire for a one-to-one, completely personal service.

    Called ‘Human-to-human marketing in a world of technology’, the discussion featured Elizabeth Rutledge, American Express’ chief marketing officer, talking about the brand’s global marketing journey and how they are balancing technology with humanity.

    ‘Tech can connect us but also push us far apart,’ Rutledge said. She called for a ‘focus on digital empathy’ that is, making things more personal and fusing marketing with a real human touch. ‘The more relevant tech becomes, the more we value true, human qualities,’ she added.

    Rutledge’s philosophy ties in with the findings of B2B international's ‘Winning with Emotion’ research, particularly our insight that business-to-business communication is human-to-human connection.

    Tracking the full decision-making process from research to appointment, although rational factors such as an acceptable price, viable product quality and effective distribution form the minimum requirements necessary to enter and rise to the top of the consideration set, generating an emotional connection is ultimately what counts when the final decision is made.

    It is critical for suppliers to have a strong brand in which customers feel emotionally invested. Not only does it impact on the final decision, but 95% of decision-makers stated that even before contacting a supplier, feeling a sense of connection to a supplier’s brand is as important as feeling confident about what they do.

    Whatever they might claim about their logical thinking, there is also the fact that business decision-makers don’t simply leave their experiences as consumers at the front desk.

    SME decision-makers in particular, rely on their experiences as consumers when choosing a supplier. While 26% of enterprise decision-makers reported to have been influenced by their consumer experiences, 34% within SMEs reported doing so. Suppliers who serve both businesses and consumers should be aware of the synergies between their B2B and B2C offers and ensure an excellent experience and consistency across both.

    So how can B2B brands form better connections with customers? Here’s the strategy:

    Create positive word-of-mouth by delivering an excellent customer experience. Recommendations are important, so this can give potential buyers confidence from the outset in the suppliers they consider.

    Strengthen thought-leadership positioning to connect with potential buyers. Business decision makers reported that a demonstration of expertise via content marketing was the third-most important factor in evaluating suppliers under consideration. For enterprise decision-makers, thought leadership was even more influential (ranking as the second-most important factor).

    Clearly communicate your point of differentiation and sell on value because although B2B buyers are not driven by price alone, the value they perceive a supplier can add to their business is crucial.

    Build connections with the influencer network because B2B decisions are rarely made unilaterally. In 80% of cases, more than one person is involved in the decision and for a third of purchase decisions, a team of four or more is required. So, do aim to connect emotionally with multiple stakeholders (often from different functions) rather than focusing all efforts on the one person traditionally considered 'the decision maker'.

    Elizabeth Rutledge’s final remarks at Cannes were worth repeating: 'Go out and find the empathy', she said. 'Create real human connections one customer at a time'.

    It’s really something to think about. Human-to-human marketing is going to transform what we do in the most positive way imaginable: a brave new world we can embrace in good faith.

    Source: B2B International

  • Before jumping to conclusions, ask 'why'?

    Before jumping to conclusions, ask 'why'?

    An account executive on your sales team, Jen, is chatting with a prospect. The conversation is going well. The prospect doesn’t seem to be evaluating any other vendors.

    And then they say this: “Talk to me about your SMS marketing tool.”

    Your product doesn’t include such a tool—and for good reason. Your product managers have done their research. There’s no real customer need or demand for it.

    Nevertheless, one of your competitors launched a flashy SMS marketing tool six months ago, and ever since then, they’ve been using it to put Jen and her peers in a defensive position. They tell prospects to bring this topic up in hopes that your sellers will get flustered, thus casting doubt on the quality of your product.

    Apparently, this is a competitive opportunity after all.

    So, how should Jen respond to the prospect’s request? Should she explain why your product doesn’t have the thing they’re looking for? Should she try to change the way the prospect thinks?

    Nope. She should calmly respond with a question: “Why do you need an SMS marketing tool?”

    The goal is to help the prospect help themselves—to gently nudge them towards the realization that they do not, in fact, need an SMS marketing tool for what they’re trying to achieve. This realization alone will not eliminate the competitor from the evaluation, but at the very least, it will keep them from gaining the upper hand and make it clear that Jen has the prospect’s best interests at heart.

    Chris Pope, a former member of the Crayon sales team who is now our Senior Director of Strategy, added his two cents: “When it comes to objections and landmines, your sellers need to get to the root of your buyers’ problems. If a buyer is mesmerized by flashy features that don't solve their problems, it's the seller’s job to direct them back to the reasons they’re speaking in the first place. That’s the power of asking why: It steers the conversation back in your favor in a non-salesy way.”

    Obviously, the primary benefit of this tactic is that it will help your sellers win more competitive deals. For those of you with access to a call recording tool like Gong, the secondary benefit is that it will help you, as a product marketer, better understand your customers.

    See, if you can get your sellers to ask “Why?” more often, then you’ll soon have a library of invaluable call snippets—snippets in which your customers really get to the heart of the pain points they’re experiencing. With this data, you’ll be better equipped to position and promote your products, your product managers will be better equipped to innovate, your content marketers will be better equipped to attract and engage site visitors—and the list goes on.

    Author: Conor Bond

    Source: Crayon

  • Ethical insights on the future of Generation AI

    Ethical insights on the future of Generation AI

    Millions of our youngest people, children under 10 years old, are exposed to misleading and biased uses of artificial intelligence. What will you do about it?

    We are a digital society in transition: children born since 2010 (known as Generation AI or Gen AI) are being shaped by the ubiquitous presence of artificial intelligence (AI) from birth. Already some of the 650 million members of Gen AI, ages 5 through 9, are exposed to AI used in schools and by marketers.

    Young children adopt technology easily. While the numbers vary by country and economic stratum, children as young as 2 years old use tablets and play with smartphones. Indeed, a 2015 study conducted at the University of Iowa found that, by age 2, 90% of children have a moderate ability to use a tablet. Toddlers who are just learning to walk know how to swipe and point and generate results from tablets, even though some games are simply too complex for their age.

    A review of studies published in Child Development Perspectives in 2018 found that toddlers may learn more from interactive digital media that employ machine learning than from educational TV and videos. The question for you and me is: 'Who decides what is important for the Gen AI child to know, how is their attention guided to that content and by what algorithms?'

    Bob Hetu, Kelly Calhoun Williams and I recently published a piece of 'Maverick' Gartner research, presenting our findings that the infusion of AI into the world of our youngest generation, the first 'AI natives', will produce dystopian results. Gen AI’s critical thinking skills, that is, the ability to independently analyze, assess and reconstruct ideas, have not yet fully developed, making them unable to discern if a marketing message is partisan or discriminatory. Yet businesses and educational technology providers are incorporating AI into products targeted at or used by Gen AI children.

    As a result, Gen AI is exposed to unscrupulous (as well as well-meaning but misguided) uses of AI in their young lives. Young enough to be influenced by AI, they are also too young to do anything about it.

    Moreover, AI-driven content intended for adults is also exposed to children. Adult-oriented content will affect Gen AI, reinforcing and extending the impact that AI has on the children. And while the current exposure to AI is largely limited to marketing messages and interactive responses based on machine learning techniques, its use in Gen AI’s lives will expand exponentially over time.

    If this exposure is left unchecked, Gen AI children will consider it as a normal part of being a consumer, student and citizen, leaving themselves open to malicious manipulation. Society must ensure Gen AI learns how to differentiate and evaluate the AI-based content. Children must learn and practice critical thinking and evaluative skills early and often.

    You and I know children, in our families, neighborhood, or community, who are members of Generation AI. And as members of society, we have a responsibility to moderate the influence AI has on society’s youngest and most vulnerable members. We need to support them until the children have developed the critical thinking skills necessary to discern AI’s influence and have a healthy skepticism about what they see and do.

    And as people who are in business, education or other professions, you and I must also advocate for neutral AI results in products, marketing messages and educational tools. The decisions about the use of AI in education, commerce and other social policy areas will determine how Gen AI is raised into adulthood.

    What will be the impact of lifelong exposure to AI on customers and workers? Will our children grow into independent, critical thinkers or dependent, unthinking individuals passively influenced and easily shepherded? An entire generation awaits our response.

    Author: Pete Basiliere

    Source: Gartner

  • Identifying and monitoring your target audience as a B2B brand

    Identifying and monitoring your target audience as a B2B brand

    We often make the mistake of not using proper data-driven insights to connect the dots between our business and consumers.

    How well do you know your brand’s target audience?

    Or, how well do you think you know your target audience?

    We find that many brand managers in Europe assume they know their audience very well indeed. They might even have a very clear image in their head of the type of individual they are trying to target with all of their advertising and marketing strategies

    What is often the case, however, is this image in their heads isn’t always completely correct. When it comes to targeting your audience in Europe and motivating them into making a purchase, you need to ensure that your understanding of this group is bang on. Any slight differences between what’s in your head and your audience could result in some of your targeted work falling flat.

    If you know that you have this problem in your business currently, here are steps to take to understand your target audience better. If you follow them through, you’ll know how to discover your target audience and start fine-tuning your aim for them in all your campaigns.

    Brainstorm your target audience

    The first thing you should do is sit down and brainstorm what you already know about your target audience. Think about the characteristics that all of the individuals who are most likely to buy your products will share. Are they in the same age group? What is their job title; what kind of salary do they earn? You should also look at the common challenges, needs, and objections that this group of people might face in their life.

    One great tip is to take a look at the audience that your competitors are targeting. How does that group differentiate from yours? Examine the data-driven insights using the right tools to understand the entire funnel, and how you can leverage this data to incorporate your USP to retarget.

    Take advantage of brand trackers

    Use a brand tracker to get measurable and actionable data on your audience. This data can give you various, but specific insights. For instance, tracking brand awareness will tell whether or not your ideal target audience actually knows about you. As well as that, tracking brand consideration will show if they would consider using your brand. You can also track this data for your competitors and compare how your brand fares against them. 

    In addition, you might even discover that this isn’t actually the best audience for you to be targeting. By digging deep into all of this brand tracking data, you might see new audiences appear that you had never previously considered. Just make sure to choose a brand tracker that caters to niche audiences.

    Develop a persona for your target audience

    Now it’s worth creating a persona of what the quintessential member of your target audience is like. There are so many benefits from audience personas, so why not use it?

    For example, if you target the millennial generation, go beyond a generic idea of a millennial and think more closely about who you are selling to. If you find that millennial females who live in urban areas and work in the tech sector buy your product more than anyone else, then their defining features and characteristics should also be those of your audience persona. 

    Once you have made a persona, it’s important that you inform everyone on your team. To keep everyone on the same track with all their strategic work, you all need to be targeting the same persona.

    Start targeting

    Now that you know who you are aiming at, it’s time to start trying to reach them. In order to target your audience, focus your efforts on the channels they use most often. 

    If you know that your target audience spends a lot of their online time using Twitter, then it’s worth starting a campaign on that social media platform. However, if you are targeting an older audience who might prefer to spend their evenings in front of their TVs than tweeting, think about running some TV adverts.

    Researching the channels that your audience use really can help you immensely, not doing so could end with you shooting blindly and completely missing. 

    How does running marketing campaigns help find your target audience, you may ask. Well, how can you be positive that they are the audience for you unless you see if they work? And don’t forget...

    Continue to monitor

    So you research your target audience well and then start to target them using suitable methods and channels. Job done, right? Not quite.

    Sure, you’ve taken the right kind of steps so that the right kind of consumers will see your brand marketing. But how do you know whether that’s really happening once your adverts and promotions are out there in the wild? How do you know that they are helping your sales?

    Keep your eye on the ball and monitor how your marketing efforts are doing. You can do this by tracking your brand guidelines and campaigns to make sure that they are hitting the spot. 

    It’s also worth noting that target audiences can change or shift over time, so monitoring them is a continuous task for every brand manager. As long as you do make monitoring a habit of a lifetime, then there’s no risk of you ever being left behind by competitors

    Those steps don’t sound too difficult, right? If you follow through with them, you should discover new things about your target audience that you might never have realized. And those nuggets of wisdom could help you polish up your marketing campaigns like never before. 

    Not only that, but you can now carry out all of your campaigns confidently, as your target audience shouldn’t be even easier to reach. 

    Author: Steve Habazin

    Source: Entrepreneur Leadership Network

  • Market segmentation as a tool to help your business improve effectively

    Market segmentation as a tool to help your business improve effectively

    So, your organization has embarked, or is planning to embark, on concerted customer segmentation efforts. Or maybe you’ve already gone through segmentation work to identify key customer segments to target. Great!

    Practical, clear-eyed customer segmentation is vital to marketing and sales success. As tempting as it may be to claim: 'we sell to everyone!' , this ultimately only leads to confusion: poor sales enablement, weak demand generation, fuzzy content marketing, products and campaigns that perform worse than expected.

    What is segmentation, and what do I do with it?

    Segmentation is the process of dividing the market into target customers, acceptable customers… and everyone else. It means identifying who your products or services should be sold to, and of identifying which segments exist within that group. Segmentation prevents you from boiling the ocean, giving you clear direction for marketing and sales in terms of where to prioritize investment and effort. It helps you to really know your customers.

    Don’t boil the ocean on customer acquisition.

    There are numerous different segmentation approaches, from needs-based, to demographic, geographic, firmographic, psychographic, or combinations of the above. All these approaches are typically focused on identifying what a good customer looks like for your organization.

    However, marketers often raise the question what one should do with customer segments once you have determined them. Once you know what your ideal B2B or B2C customers look like, what then?

    Applying segmentation work to marketing activities

    Segmentation results can be applied to a number of marketing activities:

    • Account-based marketing (ABM): When taking an account-based marketing approach, segmentation allows you to determine which customers deserve the greatest attention and effort from marketing. At minimum, your key accounts who you target with ABM, will likely come from your key customer segments. So, not knowing who those key segments are is an enormous barrier to continued customer growth. Segmentation can also drive a more efficient, tiered approach in which key accounts get the most effort, while at the next tier, accounts that 'look like' those accounts but don’t share all their characteristics, receive some marketing effort and resources. This allows you to focus on the customers most likely to repurchase and buy more, and scale some of the benefits of ABM to other accounts as well. Once selected, your segmentation work will inform the kinds of campaigns, themes, and messages that are sent to those accounts, and how sales engages with them.
    • Content marketing: Tighter focus on a specific customer segment even at the highest level (e.g. content for large enterprises vs. content for small or midsized businesses) will yield clearer understanding of customer needs and competitive alternatives, which allows for the development of more disruptive and differentiated content marketing. You may find benefit in selectively tailoring content marketing pieces to appeal to a few specific segments or buyers within those segments as well. Creating a few prestige content pieces can yield great returns in helping those prospects better see themselves in your customer set, and answering their most pressing questions. This may be done in combination with a vertical strategy, creating content that speaks to specific industries who may buy or use your product or service differently, or you may wish to create content that targets key sub-segments based on psychographic profiles (e.g. content targeting a growth-business). Regardless, understanding how different segments buy differently from you helps you create content that speaks more effectively to your customer base, and to prospects.
    • Customer experience: Customer segmentation is a core part of customer journey mapping, and customer experience improvements. The customer journey may look different for different key segments, and different segments may engage with different products differently! They may have different pain points, and there may be different places in the journey where investment in improving the experience drives higher ROI. Identifying your priority segments also allows you to map customer journeys more effectively, because you can focus your efforts and resources on improving experiences for your best or most profitable customers, first. Indeed, we often recommend approaching customer journey mapping segment-by-segment and product-by-product, examining how your most important customer segment buys your core products/ services first, rather than trying to map all the customer journeys for all products and services, all at once. (Remember what was said about not boiling the ocean?)
    • Demand generation: Understanding your target market segment, ideal customer profile, and buyer personas (particularly when selling to a B2B buying group) helps marketers and sales teams build stronger target audience lists for initial outreach, and can help inform channel strategy (e.g. determining whether a customer is more likely to respond to an email vs. a phone call, or social media message). Segmentation also helps you determine which messaging themes to develop, and which calls to action or offers to highlight.
    • Product marketing: It’s been touched on in the bullets above, but strong customer segmentation helps you better investigate and understand customer needs and challenges, which in turn provides the foundation for tighter messaging, more fine-tuned campaigns, better channel or partner selection, and in general, higher degrees of decision-making confidence in campaign planning, leading to higher response rates, more inbound interest, higher credibility with sales, and improved marketing and campaign efficiency over time.
    • Sales enablement: Clearly defined customer segmentation will allow marketing to develop stronger sales support that speaks to customer pain points and challenges. It also helps sales more directly, by allowing frontline sales reps to classify individuals they are speaking with (or, potentially, to identify an individual as non-target, thus saving themselves some time and effort). Marketing can develop customer-classification questionnaires and tools that can be easily used by sales so that reps can identify what segment a prospect likely belongs to, and in turn, which pieces of sales collateral are most likely to resonate.

    Segmentation fuels marketing and sales success

    Segmentation work, the approach you select, and how many key segments you define will vary based on your product or service category, and even your geography. Your target market in Asia might be very different than your target market in Europe, even for the very same product. And as in all cases where we attempt to better understand our customers, you will need to ensure that your segmentation work is a truthful representation of what your customers are actually like, rather than what you imagine they are like. This means drawing on customer voice, synthesizing behavioral and attitudinal data, and engaging sales in the segmentation process. You may also wish to revisit segmentation work periodically as markets and market dynamics continue to shift, and as your organization continues to evolve.

    But once completed, segmentation is the driver of a range of marketing and sales activities. It’s all about knowing the customer, and knowing yourself, understanding that nexus between what your organization does well and what your organizational goals are, and who your customers are and should be. Segmentation is only a part of this puzzle, and there’s certainly more to solve. But without customer segmentation firmly in place, it’s a much harder puzzle.

    Author: Kristina LaRocca-Cerrone

    Source: Gartner 

  • Marketing attribution in B2B: What's going on?

    Marketing attribution in B2B: What's going on?

    It’s no surprise to see more and more marketers explore and invest in attribution modeling in 2019 and beyond. After all, the B2B buyer’s journey has become increasingly complex, as each prospect engages with a number of digital touchpoints on their path to becoming a customer. It’s imperative for marketers to understand their customers’ journey and the role that each touchpoint plays in an eventual purchase, and marketing attribution is the one tactic that helps them do so.

    In today’s blog post we take a look at the current state of marketing attribution, and the latest marketing attribution trends you should be aware of. Let’s get into it!

    What is marketing attribution?

    Before we get into the latest attribution trends, let’s review the definition and main objectives of marketing attribution.

    Marketing attribution refers to a system used to determine how each touchpoint in a customer’s journey contributes to an eventual conversion. From there, a marketing attribution model will assign a specific percentage of attribution to each touchpoint. By assigning credit to each touchpoint, marketers are able to better assess and optimize the various campaigns and channels they use to engage their target audience.

    Here’s where it gets a little more complicated. There’s no singular model for successful marketing attribution. In fact, there are more than a handful of attribution models marketers use to track their customer journeys. 

    The three main types of marketing attribution are as follows: First-touch attribution, last-touch attribution, and multitouch attribution. First-touch attribution assigns 100% of the credit to the first touchpoint in a prospect’s path to conversion. Last-touch assigns all the credit to the last touchpoint. Multi-touch attribution models disperse credit among the many touchpoints in a prospect’s journey to converting.

    Trend 1: Multi-touch has become the most common form of attribution model

    As we stated above, there’s some debate over which marketing attribution model is best. Given the variety of options, it’s easy to see why only 22% of marketers believe they’re using the right attribution model (LeadsRX).

    Many businesses have stuck with a first-touch or last-touch attribution model, but they’re no longer in the majority. Over the past year, multi-touch attribution has become the predominant form of attribution modeling (eMarketer):

    • Of B2B marketers who have adopted marketing attribution, 45.3% use a multi-touch attribution model. Comparatively,  43.2% use first-click attribution and 24.% use last-click attribution.
    • 44% of marketers say they plan to implement multichannel attribution within the next year or two. 

    Make no mistake about it, the increasing reliance on multi-touch attribution is a good sign for the future of B2B marketing. One-touch models (first-touch and last-touch) have certain benefits, but they don’t paint a wholly accurate picture of a multi-faceted buyer’s journey. Multi-touch attribution models are much more realistic. They recognize every channel and piece of marketing content a prospect interacts with. 

    Compared to first- or last-touch, the only drawback to multi-touch attribution is its complexity. In other words, it’s easy to assign 100% attribution to a blog post that started a customer’s journey. It’s also easy to credit the webinar they attended right before conversion. But, assigning credit to each touchpoint in between is a more complicated process.

    The good news is, modern technology has simplified the process of implementing a multi-touch attribution model. Free tools like Google Analytics enable marketers to track multiple touchpoints and even create custom attribution models that let users assign attribution to individual channels. Considering that 41% of marketers say custom attribution modeling is very effective (Econsultancy), we’re likely to see more and more marketers embrace a multi-touch attribution strategy.   

    Trend 2: Attribution technology has impacted marketing budgets

    In a recent survey, marketing leaders were asked how attribution technology has affected their marketing spend across the channels they use. While responses varied, the survey results showed a general increase in spending on channels like content marketing, paid search, and organic search. Conversely, paid social and display advertising saw a general decrease in spending (Clickz).

    What do these results mean? For one, they show that attribution modeling has helped marketers develop a better understanding of SEO/SEM and content marketing ROI. But on a broader level, surveys like this one point to a trend in how marketers will allocate their budgets moving forward. 

    Marketing attribution is paving the way for more strategic allocation of money and resources. By optimizing their spending based on attribution metrics, marketers are able to ensure that every dollar they spend is actively driving conversions. 

    Trend 3: Cross-device attribution moves into the spotlight

    While the rise of multi-touch attribution is promising, there’s much more progress to be made. Modern customers don’t just use multiple channels to engage with a brand before the point of conversion. They also use multiple devices. In fact, Google reports that a majority of online consumers who use multiple devices start their purchase on a smartphone and complete it on a PC or tablet (Clearcode).  

    Marketers who implement an attribution model are beginning to recognize the importance of tracking customer behavior across multiple devices. To illustrate the value of cross-device attribution, let’s look at a hypothetical scenario:

    A person clicks on a paid advertisement for a security software on their smartphone. They’re intrigued, and later they visit the company’s blog and social media feeds while using their tablet. The next day, they use their laptop to visit the company’s website and submit a free trial form.

    In the above scenario, a standard attribution model may only recognize the final touchpoint of the prospect’s journey: they went to a website and filled out a form. Meanwhile, cross-device attribution would recognize the prospect’s previous actions on their smartphone and tablet, which led them to the point of conversion.

    The question is: How does one identify and track users across different devices? As you might expect, there’s no easy answer. But, there’s been a strong push among marketing software providers and data management platforms to solve this cross-channel conundrum. As technology becomes more adept at tracking users across devices, we should expect to see cross-channel attribution become the norm in the coming years.

    Trend 4: Attribution has driven more businesses to consolidate their sales and marketing technology stacks  

    Attribution modeling provides more insight into the buyer’s journey and allows for more accurate, comprehensive reporting. But, marketers fail to fully realize these benefits when their technologies do not integrate with those used by their sales department.

    For example, let’s say your marketing team uses a specific tool to track your various channels and assign attribution. If that tool does not integrate with your CRM, important prospect and customer data become siloed, making it more difficult to analyze and create comprehensive, accurate reports.

    Consolidating your sales and marketing technology stacks yields a number of benefits that contribute to better marketing and sales alignment. As marketing attribution becomes more ubiquitous, fully integrative technology stacks will become even more prominent among sales and marketing organizations. 

    Trend 5: More job titles include 'attribution'  

    Marketing attribution is not a minor undertaking, nor is it a simple set-it-and-forget-it tactic. In fact, it’s on its way to becoming one of the most essential components of a data-driven marketing strategy. As businesses recognize this development, the demand for employees with specific expertise in the realm of marketing attribution rises.

    Unsurprisingly, there’s been a recent surge in job titles related to marketing attribution. Search any online job board, and you’re likely to find a number of open positions calling for a 'Marketing Attribution Analyst' or 'Attribution Specialist'. It’s likely that over the next decade, marketing departments across all industries will include entire teams dedicated to marketing attribution. 

    Final thoughts on marketing attribution trends

    Marketing attribution is far from a fully-realized concept. It’s a tactic that continues to develop and improve, as marketing technology advances towards the idea of a 'perfect' attribution model. But, the trends we discussed today prove that the buzz around marketing attribution is much more than flash-in-the-pan industry hype. 

    If you have yet to explore the value of marketing attribution, now’s the time to start. A word to the wise: The benefits of marketing attribution aren’t always immediate. It’s likely that you’ll experiment with a number of attribution models before you find the one that works for your organization. Work out the kinks now and you’ll stay ahead of the curve as marketing attribution continues to evolve into a vital business strategy

    Author: Sam Holzman

    Source: Zoominfo

  • Precision in Practice: The Power of Optimizing Market Segmentation  

    Precision in Practice: The Art of Optimizing Market Segmentation

    Segmentation studies are a large investment, which makes it critical to ensure that your organization will utilize the results to their fullest to justify the ROI. Here are several actions you can take to use your segmentation results:

    1. Develop & Implement A Bridging Model

    This process will apply the segmentation solution to your database to classify your customers (or even prospects) into one of the new segments. Once applied, you will have an overall picture of where your current customers over- and under-index on the segments and can identify where opportunities for greater penetration exist. You may also wish to take a look at how your current customers differ from your total addressable market to understand gaps, such as whether the customer base is younger or older.

    Importantly, segment assignment allows you to identify which of your current customers fall into your target segments and which are of lower priority to your business. In turn, you know where and how to focus your direct marketing efforts to maximize ROI.

    In addition, segmentation assignment can help with customer service and retention strategy. Knowing a customer’s segment can guide how your organization treats them. With the knowledge of customers’ key motivation factors, you can keep them satisfied and retain them.

    This information can help your organization create a dashboard to monitor KPIs and shifts in segments over time.

    2. Conduct An Activation Workshop

    An activation workshop allows you to bring internal stakeholders or department leaders together to socialize the learnings and bring the segments to life across the organization. The workshop is similar to an innovation session, with guided, moderated creative exercises used to brainstorm about the segments.

    If not already done, one goal of the session might be to select target segments. Typically, an organization will focus their efforts and strategy on 2-3 key segments—the segments that best represent their current customer base or the segments that will benefit the most from their future strategy. This activity will help team members evaluate the segments on attractiveness and ability to win and generate reasons for or against targeting the segments.

    After target segments are identified, a common goal of these sessions is to determine a strategic action plan. The activities will focus the team on developing or modifying how the organization will appeal to the key segments with messaging, marketing, products, and services. The goal is for each stakeholder to leave with next steps of how to focus efforts to appeal to the key segments from the perspective of their role in the organization.

    3. Craft Training For Employees:

    Not only is an activation workshop important for your leading stakeholders to buy into, but implementing the use of the segment information throughout the organization is also critical. As referenced above, segmentation can help guide your customer service efforts. A better understanding of the needs and motivations of your target segments can help develop standards for how to approach them both during a sales process and ongoing customer service. Training manuals or sales techniques should be modified to appeal to key segments and disseminated to sales and customer service associates.

    For example, if these segments are ‘quiet shoppers,’ training manuals should be altered to advise sales associates to approach shoppers less frequently. However, if your key segments are ‘information shoppers,’ advise sales associates to carry product information sheets or QR codes that display additional information available on the product to ensure the shopper has what they need to make an informed shopping decision.

    4. Utilize A Typing Tool In Other Research:

    In both qualitative and quantitative research, a typing tool can be used to classify future respondents into your segments. When your organization wishes to test new messaging, packaging, or develop new products, the typing tool can be programmed directly into the survey instrument to classify all respondents into your segment groups. This allows you to not only have the general reaction of respondents to your new messaging, packaging, or products, but it also allows you to analyze reactions by segment to ensure you are appealing to (or at least not alienating) your target segments.

    For example, if you wish to test two new snack food package designs, the typing tool will allow you to analyze research results by segment group. If one package is significantly more likely to increase the purchase intent among your key segments, you can now easily identify the winning package.


    Changes to your organization over the years may also change how segments look over time. If the segment size has changed, if there are mergers or acquisitions of your organization or industry, if buyers change the way they shop, or if the segmentation has been conducted more than 5 years ago—it is time for new segmentation models to be developed. In addition, it would be time to re-educate your team and likely some new team members as well about the segments.

    Date: August 12, 2023

    Authors: Ellen Williams and Stephanie Trevino 

    Source: Decision Analyst


  • Ruimte voor verbetering in B2B lead generatie in Nederland

    Ruimte voor verbetering in B2B lead generatie in Nederland

    B2B leadgeneratie laat nog veel te wensen over. Dat blijkt uit de nationale B2B leadgeneratie benchmark 2019 van Prospex. Hoewel meer dat de helft van de respondenten een omzetgroei noteerde van 5 procent, zijn nog veel wensen onvervuld.

    De grootste uitdagingen voor B2B Nederland zijn het in contact komen met de doelgroep (36%), het verkrijgen van een voorspelbaar aantal leads (38%) en het opzetten van succesvolle marktbewerkingscampagnes (31%).

    Om betere verkoopresultaten te behalen noemen de deelnemers de noodzaak van een onderscheidende waardepropositie, een duidelijke contentstrategie en een effectieve samenwerking tussen marketing & sales.

    Vergeleken met 2018 noemen directies nog vrijwel dezelfde top drie aan prioriteiten. Met stip bovenaan staat: groei, nieuwe klanten werven en betreden van nieuwe markten. Dit geldt voor maar liefst 74%van de deelnemers, gevolgd nieuwe productintroducties (36%) en een hogere productiviteit van mederwerkers (34%). Bij groei en het werven van nieuwe klanten speelt leadgeneratie een hoofdrol. Opvallend genoeg geeft men dit punt slechts een mager zesje als rapportcijfer.

    Zeker 18% van de deelnemende organisaties heeft naar eigen zeggen geen zicht op het aantal contactmomenten dat nodig is om met succes een verkoopdeal te sluiten. Ruim 60% van de bedrijven vindt daarbij dat de fase van suspect naar lead het minst succesvol is.

    En ook al is de nodige kennis over content marketing aanwezig, dan wordt deze nog te weinig effectief ingezet. Met name het maken van unieke en onderscheidende content die leidt tot conversie wordt hier als uitdaging genoemd.

    Het voeren van een actieve dialoog op sociale media, ook wel audience engagement genoemd, zorgt voor een waardevolle stroom aan nieuwe contacten. Slechts 30% van de respondenten is daar mee bezig. Veel bedrijven delen nog vooral product- of referentie materiaal. Relevant zijn op het juiste moment voor de juiste mensen blijkt voor veel bedrijven nog een uitdaging.

    Wel past ongeveer 40% social selling toe. De nieuwe generatie is opgegroeid met content en dit wordt steeds belangrijker. Veruit de belangrijkste uitdaging is om het een onderdeel te laten zijn van de dagelijkse routine van sales. Voor een deel komt dat ook omdat accountmanagers er nog onvoldoende de toegevoegde waarde van inzien en omdat het management het niet omarmt.

    De verwachting is dat social selling de komende jaren zijn plek zal veroveren tussen de andere traditionele manieren van verkoop in B2B als bellen, emailen en klantbezoek.

    Bron: Emerce

  • The art of looking beyond vanity metrics

    The art of looking beyond vanity metrics

    B2B marketers beware: Marketing vanity metrics are easy on the eyes but only skim the surface when it comes to actual value. Although vanity metrics may make you feel good about your marketing efforts, these surface-level metrics only reveal part of the story.

    But, fear not dear marketer! If you turn your attention to the metrics that matter, you can improve your marketing strategy and communicate the important insights to leadership.

    Before we get into it, here’s a quick definition of a vanity metric: a vanity metric is data that looks good at first glance, but provides little insight into business success, company revenue, and ROI.

    So, which data points are the common culprits? Examples of marketing vanity metrics include:

    • Page views
    • Downloads
    • Facebook likes
    • Twitter followers

    An alternative to marketing vanity metrics

    In order to communicate the value of marketing initiatives, marketers must hone in on actionable metrics: metrics that can guide decision-making. These types of metrics are often referred to as engagement metrics. Engagement metrics can tell you more about what’s working, what’s not working, and what information you need to test further. In fact, 91% of marketers named engagement metrics, such as social media interactions, time on site, and bounce rate, as the number one way to measure success.

    But let’s face it, executives and board members can get stuck on marketing vanity metrics. So, how can you manage the ever-increasing expectations around marketing vanity metrics? Today, we take a closer look at three common marketing vanity metrics and explore the different ways to steer the conversation towards more meaningful metrics. Let’s jump right in!

    1. Social media followers

    Many marketers rely too heavily on their social media followers to measure their social media success. And we get it! All marketers want to see an increase in social media followers, but, these numbers don’t necessarily equal an engaged audience.

    Think about it this way: you may have thousands of Twitter followers but if only one of them engages with your social content regularly, what is your following really worth? On the other hand, you may have a small but dedicated following on LinkedIn with your social posts often leading to big sales. Yes, your LinkedIn audience is smaller, but it turns out these users engage more with your content, ultimately bring in more value. Just by digging into the data, you’ve zeroed in on actionable information to guide your social media efforts.

    The next time higher-ups inquire about your social media following, be sure to shift the focus to more important engagement metrics. It’s important to note that your marketing and business goals will dictate which metrics are most important to your executive team. Here’s what we recommend:

    Brand awareness:

    An easy way to show brand awareness on social media is through the number of brand mentions or tags you receive. During your next marketing campaign or product launch, keep a close eye on branded keywords. Next, keep an eye on the competition’s branded keywords to reveal how often social media users interact with competing businesses. Use this information as a benchmark to measure and understand your own performance.

    Lead generation:

    When tracking lead generation, focus on conversions for maximum impact. As you review conversion data in your preferred analytics platform, take note of the social networks that deliver the highest number of qualified leads.

    Website traffic:

    If your goal is to generate website traffic from your social presence, look closely at metrics that demonstrate real social engagement. For instance, check out where your social media leads enter your website, track the pages you visit, and where they drop off. Also, take a look at the specific posts and channels that garner the most clicks so you can scale your success and serve more content that resonates with your followers.

    Customer experience:

    If you use social media as a customer support channel, the number of followers you accumulate won’t give you any information about how you are doing. Instead look at metrics like the ratio of questions asked to questions answered or responsiveness. Then, work to improve how many cases or complaints you solve.

    Event or webinar registrants:

    If your goal is to generate event participation, break your reports down by social channel. This shows you where users are the most active and engaged in your webinar or event. Simply include campaign tracking information in your social links.

    Content downloads:

    Not all content is created equal. For instance, a high conversion on gated content signals a high-quality piece of content. Use this metric to strategize on future content offerings and bring those insights to leadership.

    The list above is a good starting point to show the senior team how your social efforts meet specific business goals. Roll up your sleeves, and start tracking!

    2. Total app, product, or software downloads

    Total downloads. This number can be impressive on the surface but it isn’t a clear way to gauge the impact your marketing efforts have on product adoption. Instead of looking at total number of downloads, look to yearly and monthly download trends to reveal if downloads are increasing or decreasing over time. Then, look at this timeline in comparison to a timeline of major marketing campaigns. That way, you can pinpoint which efforts had an impact on downloads and which did not.

    Another issue with total downloads, is that it doesn’t paint a complete picture of product usage or adoption. Instead, look at these key usage metrics for a clear understanding of how your customers and prospects engage with your offers:

    • Uninstall rate
    • Renewal rate
    • Trial conversion rate
    • Time users spend using the software

    Although higher-ups and executives may only express interest in total downloads, it’s your job as a marketer to paint a more complete picture for them. For example, you could explain that total downloads are up after a recent marketing campaign, but usage metrics stayed level. This indicates that your campaign was faulty in some way. Maybe you didn’t give an accurate description of your product, or maybe it was too difficult for users to figure out. These are important insights to highlight to upper management.

    3. Website pageviews

    A high number of pageviews is an ego boost, but pageviews are another metric to be wary of. When you report this data to management, it’s important to provide pageviews along with actionable engagement metrics to fully show user behavior. Focus on how users engage with your website content rather than how many pageviews each webpage garners. Important engagement metrics include:

    • Time spent on site
    • Unique users
    • Bounce rate
    • Pages per visitor
    • Conversion rate

    Some questions to think about when reviewing website analytics:

    • Which pages keep people engaged, and which ones do users abandon quickly?
    • Which elements and CTAs convert best?
    • Can you identify which traffic sources perform best and why?
    • Or, can you determine which campaigns generate the most traffic and why?
    • Is your website content mapped to your sales journey in a way that makes sense?
    • Can you pinpoint at which stage of the buyer’s journey users leave your website?

    Take an in-depth look at these engagement metrics to really focus your online marketing initiatives on engagement over pageviews. Use your findings to build best practices and reduce bounce rate to ultimately keep users coming back for more great content.

    Final thoughts on marketing vanity metrics

    While higher-ups may ask for marketing vanity metrics, it’s your job to refocus on data points that correlate to sales and revenue, improving your business' KPI's.

    Know that you can still report on vanity metrics to management, but don’t spend much time there. Instead, focus the conversation on more actionable, advanced metrics, highlighting the value they offer your company.

    Source: Zoominfo

  • The use of competitive intelligence for five different business units explained

    The use of competitive intelligence for five different business units explained

    Getting the most out of your competitive intelligence system means investing the time and effort necessary to set-up and maintain your CI process. It also means effectively distributing the information you gain to decision makers throughout your company, some of whom may not even realize its potential value. Here are five key areas where your hard-earned competitive intelligence data can be put to good use:


    Getting executives invested in competitive intelligence can be daunting for a number of reasons, but when it comes to making high-level, strategic planning, having good information to work with is key. Competitive intelligence is one several tools successful executives use to stay informed. Yet, some business leaders still rely on ad-hoc briefings and reports to keep them up to date.

    Reviewing industry trends and news may not be a high priority on a day-to-day basis, but you can still create an ongoing process that will keep them up to date and ensure that they’re ready to make the big decisions when they arise. This means created targeted briefings that include only the most vital information your CI team digs up. Competitor mergers and acquisitions, for example, can signal a potential shift in the competitive landscape, even if they don’t make front page news. Making sure your leadership team knows about possible industry-changing moves is a critical function of your CI process.

    Competitor documents can also offer insight into a business’s overarching goals and strategy. Investor presentations, sales decks, and financial reports provide different perspectives on how your competition presents itself to investors and potential customers. Compiling and distributing these resources in an organized, easy to digest format will go a long way towards ensuring executives are invested in your CI output.


    Sales teams play a critical role in translating product development and marketing efforts into actual paying customers. Your sales people are on the front lines when it comes to presenting and defending your products. Perhaps more than any other department, they need up-to-date info about what other companies are offering. Sales meetings move quickly, and there’s rarely time for sales people to pause and research a competitor before reacting when another company comes up during a conversation with a potential customer. A good competitive intelligence process can compile that information in advance, allowing your sales team to build thoughtful, tactically advantageous responses that place you company in the best possible position.

    CI for sales can be translated into daily or weekly briefings, background research, or more interactive tools like sales battlecards. Competitive intelligence data can also bring to light potential customers by flagging failing competitors, unrenewed competitor contracts, and Requests For Proposal documents.


    Marketing is responsible for promoting and positioning your brand so that it stands out, no matter how saturated your industry space happens to be. Marketing teams benefit from competitive intelligence in a few ways. Knowing how and when your competitors advertise their products or services can give you insight into their strategy. To that end, tracking competitors on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will give your marketing team an edge. Blog posts, product announcements, and other press releases can also be good sources of marketing information. Gathering this type of CI on a regular basis will give your team a complete, current picture of the competitive landscape, and allow them to spot trends and potential changes in the market before they affect business.

    Understanding how other companies market their products can also help you to refine your own brand and identify ways to distinguish it from the pack. One way to do so is by identifying content gaps, areas where your competitors aren’t providing the type or volume of content customers want. Identifying these gaps offers your business with an opportunity to generate content that is both distinct and in-demand, further differentiating your brand. Overall, your marketing team crafts your brand image, and their work can have an impact on potential customers long before they make contact with a sales person. It’s critical that your marketing efforts are backed by the best, most up-to-date information available on your competitors.

    Hiring and Training

    When most people think of competitive intelligence, they think about applying it to external challenges—generating sales, developing products, planning a marketing campaign, etc. While these are some of the most classic uses of CI, many companies have discovered the value of applying their hard-earned CI data in as many areas as possible. That means looking at processes that are normally handled “in-house” through a competitive lens.

    HR departments are using competitive intelligence data to track hiring and benefit trends across your industry. This ensures that your company stays competitive in terms of salary, benefits, and other “perks” that are increasingly in-demand among high-value employees. CI can also illuminate how your company is viewed by former, and potentially future, employees, by tracking sites like Glassdoor and TeamBlind. These forums offer anonymous employee feedback, so it is important to take individual posts with a grain of salt. However, if you notice a particular complaint or issue popping up across several posts, take it as an opportunity to address a potential source of talent-drain. Beyond hiring, onboarding teams often use competitive intelligence to acclimate new hires to the industry space and company culture. Background research on primary competitors, recent news, and product trends are all helpful, especially for employees who are new to your industry.

    Product Development

    Product development is all about staying ahead of the competition to provide the best, most advanced solutions on the market. When product developers achieve this goal, they make things easy for marketing and sales team. When they fail, they create an opportunity for competitors to siphon away current and potential customers with their superior offerings. All product teams need competitive intelligence in order to stay ahead of the latest trends and technological developments. Along with product announcements and advertisements, product teams can benefit from competitor documents like product brochures, solution overviews, manuals, user guides, and technical notes.

    Hiring trends are another potential indicator of competitors’ product roadmap. Tracking job postings over time can help you spot spikes in hiring that might correspond with new product developments—like a sudden hiring spree in a competitor’s engineering department. Beyond developing new products, competitive intelligence can give your product team a better understanding of how customers use and feel about your solutions. Reviews, industry sites, and social media discussions can all be tapped for insight. This gives your product team an opportunity to offer support and updates when a product or feature is struggling, and build on successful features in future releases.

    Source: CI Radar

  • Truly making the customer the centrepiece of your CX program

    Truly making the customer the centrepiece of your CX program

    I often see customer experience (CX) programs that connect point A directly to point B, equating the actions the brand does to the value it derives from those actions. A straightforward example of this is when a martech vendor claims, 'We improve the brand’s CX by enhancing offers and ‘next best actions,’ resulting in more clickthroughs and conversions'. Or, you might hear an executive say: 'We improved our CX by implementing self-service, which reduced call volume and headcount, thus saving us money'.

    Those are both excellent business outcomes, but is either a CX outcome? In neither of those examples do we know the impact on the customer. Are customers happier? Do they perceive more value? Have we changed their attitude toward the brand or themselves? Are they more likely to be loyal or tell others? We don’t know because, in both of those examples, we skipped the customer. If you are doing CX, you cannot go from point A: what we do, to point B: what we get, without going through point C: the customer.

    When we skip the customer and tie our 'CX' projects only to the value the brand receives, we convert our customers into objects rather than the subjects of our efforts. In your life, objects fit into one of three broad categories: They are tools for you to exploit, barriers for you to overcome, or they are nothing. In those examples, we made the customer a tool (a wallet for us to pluck) and a barrier (an annoyance for us to eliminate). In neither case did we treat customers as people: Human beings with wants, needs, and expectations. Nor did we, in either example, measure (or even care about) the impact on the customer.

    To make the customer the subject of what you do and not merely an object that is acted upon to get what your brand wants, go from point A to C to B. That means connecting what you do to how it changes customer perception, and then recognizing how those changes in perception drive behavioral shifts that deliver long-term brand value. That may sound complicated, but it’s not. We just have to listen to customer perception and tie that to the loyalty behaviors that drive brand value, such as retention, sales growth, purchase frequency, the cost to serve or retain, and brand advocacy and word-of-mouth.

    If you start with what you want (more sales or lower costs), develop a plan to enhance your brand’s immediate financial outcomes, and measure only brand impact and not how or if customer perception has changed, you may deliver short-term ROI but cannot know if you’ve provided a better customer experience. More to the point, you cannot know if you’ve traded improved financial results today for powerful, lasting relationships that drive growth, margin, and profit tomorrow. Instead, you must connect point A and B by going through C.

    To change the customer from an object to the subject of your CX program, start with what customers want and need, develop a plan to lift customer satisfaction, and measure how you improve the customer and their relationship with your brand. Here’s how:

    • Listen to customer needs, perceptions, and feedback.
    • Bring your attitudinal and behavioral data together to understand the ROI of CX.
    • Start with customer wants and needs by developing the right personas.
    • Collaborate across functional silos to understand and identify customers’ desired journeys.
    • Measure impact on customers and not merely the effect on your brand.

    Author: Augie Ray

    Source: Gartner

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