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How to Capture More Buyers Earlier in their Journey

Capture more buyers earlier

 

McKinsey and Company recently published an article called The new battleground for marketing-led growth that explains in detail why marketers need to “win attention for their brands at the very beginning of a shopper’s journey.”

McKinsey’s research shows that, for shopping-driven categories (like cosmetics, personal computers, autos and financial services), the ratio of initial consideration to market share explains more than 60% of the variance in growth of market share.

So how, exactly, can we make sure we’re getting more attention early on in the buyer’s journey? Let’s explore.

Understand the buyer’s journey to capture more buyers…earlier.

In McKinsey’s Loyalty Loop, the buyer’s journey starts off with the consumer considering an initial set of brands.

 

McKinsey says to capture more buyers at the consideration stage of their Loyalty Loop.

 

The loop approach is certainly more viable than a traditional funnel. However, we believe that marketers need to back up a bit. The consumer does not start a journey by considering a set of brands; the consumer starts a buyer’s journey by identifying a need to fill or a job to complete.

The most effective framework through which to understand the buyer’s journey is therefore through Tony Ulwick’s Jobs to be Done theory. As Theodore Levitt said, “people do not want a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole.” People buy products and services to get jobs done; and while products come and go, the underlying job-to-be-done does not go away.

 

As Theodore Levitt said, “people do not want a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole.”

 

Looking at the buyer’s journey through this Jobs to be Done lens, there are 5 overarching stages:

  1. Problem Recognition
  2. Information Search
  3. Evaluation
  4. Purchase
  5. Post-Purchase Evaluation

Within each of the 5 stages, there are specific goals a customer is looking to accomplish on the journey to solving his or her problem.

 

Stages of Buyer's Journey

 

To capture more buyers early on in their journey, we need to find them in their problem recognition and information search phases. We can only do this by understanding our personas: who our customers are and the situations that cause them to enter a buyer’s journey.

Personas—way more than demographics.

When was the last time you walked into a store and the sales associate asked you your age, gender, income and location? Never. So why do we start personas this way? A human sales associate would ask, “how may I help you?” to figure out your individual needs. Demographics-based personas cannot speak to an individual, and they cannot provide context.

We need to look at the real indications that we have a ready buyer—the small data. It’s our job to determine what an interested buyer looks like—and if there are some data points in that description that we can’t easily get to, it’s our job to figure out how to get them. This often means breaking down walls inside the organization to share information at a human level rather than at a channel or interaction level. It can also mean bringing in third party enhancing data that help you understand who the buyer is.

In this case, we need to determine what physical and digital breadcrumbs (or small data) indicate that a buyer is considering solving a problem with a solution that we can provide to him—and then start tracking these indicators in real time. We can do this by understanding what situations may lead to the consumer having this problem in the first place.

For example, why might a consumer be in the market for a new smart phone? Well, he may:

  • Be frustrated with his Android phone
  • Need to have newest technology
  • Be buying as a gift
  • Have a phone that doesn’t hold a charge
  • Be up for service contract renewal

Someone that’s frustrated with his Android phone may Google for feature alternatives in other phones. Someone whose battery doesn’t last may search for ways to improve a phone’s battery life. These types of behaviors and data points help you to pinpoint potential customers early in the buyer’s journey for a new smart phone.

Once we see a buyer appear early in the journey, and we know what situation drove him there, we can provide content that’s relevant to him in the moment, adding our brand to his list of those to consider.

It’s all about the job.

Remember, it’s all about the job. A consumer does not start considering a set of brands for no reason. Each individual that is considering your brand is doing so for a specific reason in a specific context or situation. Learn to recognize these reasons and situations, and it will be easy to speak relevantly to more prospects early in their journey.

You may also want to check out a related piece I wrote, CMOs: Where Our Heads Need to be for Success in 2017.

Customer Journey Mapping: What You Need to Know

The buyer journey and customer journey mapping are the big buzz in marketing. But do you actually know what a journey map is versus an experience map? Lifecycle map? Process map? Ecosystem map? To make the matter more complex, Forrester outlines four different journey mapping methodologies, each to be used for different objectives. AND each type of agency has its own objectives and processes for mapping.

This is a lot of maps.

What IS Customer Journey Mapping?

Customer journey mapping is the visual representation of the alignment (or lack thereof) of the organization to the customer needs. It is used to create relevant, engaging and rewarding experiences that connect the brand with the customer, and it illustrates the details of and opportunity surrounding all customer interactions, including:

  • Where the customer touches the brand
  • Where the brand touches the customer
  • Where they interact with each other
  • The multiple interaction points of a customers’ engagement with the brand
  • Why the customer is seeking contact with the brand
  • The customer expectations of their experience with the brand ­

Journey mapping critically examines the entirety of the customer experience—through the customer’s eyes—and provides suggested improvements. It is therefore essential to getting it right with the customer and delivering an impactful experience. It goes way beyond mapping the outbound marketing messages you send.  It also includes virtually every touchpoint, every moment of truth, every interaction between the customer and your brand across the buyer journey and the customer lifecycle. It also goes beyond mapping the buyer journey, which focuses only on the path to purchase.

customer journey map example 1

What Makes a Good Journey Map?

Journey mapping has changed over the years.  We used to call it touch point mapping, and would use bundles of post-it notes on a wall to capture and document each touch point.  But today, we recognize that the customer experience is a self-directed journey that utilizes a myriad of touch points.  It’s the interaction that matters.  The conversation that happens over time.  And if you did your journey mapping exercise a while ago, chances are that it’s now obsolete.  Consumers have changed.

A good customer journey map considers the following:

  • It provides a visualization of customer interactions through many filters (emotional/rational) organized by the customer’s perspective. This helps in communicating it throughout your organization.
  • It becomes a living document that evolves with the constantly changing organization it supports. And like every living document, it requires proper care and feeding to keep it healthy and accurate.
  • It provides a harmonized reflection of the Voice of the Customer, as well as the Company and the Employee. You need both perspectives to get it right with the customer.
  • It provides a level of detail that makes sense for the purpose. The customer journey map must be constructed with an end game in mind.

customer journey map example 2

What Do You Get Out of a Customer Journey Map?

The most important benefit of a customer journey map is that it allows for collaboration and sharing to get everyone in the organization on the same page and forms the basis of a longer term strategic plan to build customer value. Additional benefits of journey mapping are many, including:

  • Lets you see exactly where and when customers experience satisfaction or pain points, moments of truth and who is most impacted and how it affects your bottom line
  • Presents data/ metrics as well as the effectiveness and value of targeted member and prospect interactions
  • Supports prioritization to highlight what’s most important’ to your customers, and understand what creates or detracts from value & drives loyalty
  • Presents how actions, offers, redemption, accumulation affect members
  • Shows how operations and processes in one area impact the entire organization

Many maps fail in the execution phase, making it impossible to realize positive impact on the customer experience and the business. There are a few usual suspects for failure, such as: the map wasn’t informed by customer feedback, or the initiative didn’t have enough or the right level of sponsorship, or the map only looked at outbound channels. In other cases, the journey mapping effort was really only a marketing communication plan and doesn’t have enough “teeth” when thinking about the key moments of truth in the customer’s journey.

Seeing Bang for Your Buck?

With all of this in mind, you have several questions to ask yourself: Have you mapped your customer journeys recently (within 12 months)? Have you used the right methodology for your business goals? Were they done correctly? Are you seeing the value you expected from your mapping exercises? If you are unsure, or haven’t answered ‘yes’ to all of these questions, it may be time to take another stab at it—you might be surprised at what you uncover about your customers.

Stay tuned for our next post on how to map your journeys and the tools you may use along the way.

What Every CMO Needs to Know About the Buyer’s Journey

Everything you learned in school and early in your career about marketing and product promotion is now table stakes. It used to be enough to get it right with the product and you’d find buyers. Now, you must get it right with the product AND with the customer experience to be successful in marketing.

This is why the buyer’s journey and customer experience are the big buzz in the industry.

You’re probably doing a lot of research on your customers and attempting to understand what satisfies them with NPS, CSAT, voice of the customer and other types of surveys. But do you really know what makes your customers tick? And more importantly, how you can use this information to improve their experience in a way that positively impacts your business?

The reality is that many of these discrete measures of customer satisfaction answer a very narrow set of questions. They are all important.  But they should be considered inputs into a larger diagnostic assessment around a more holistic view of the customer that can be used to both improve the experience and reduce wasted efforts. If you’re focused only on the parts and pieces, you’re going to miss the big picture. It’s what the buyer wants that drives everything. In order to know what the buyer wants, you have to be crystal clear on the job the buyer is trying to do.

mapping the buyer journey

The First Step is Asking the Right Question

In the past, marketers have considered the buyer’s journey to be a linear process. We start with awareness and move through consideration, purchase, retention and advocacy. But the buyer’s journey is not linear at all—it’s a very convoluted, self-directed path based on what the customer is trying to achieve. It is a conversation that happens over time, at the buyer’s discretion. Think of it as a self-directed and opportunistic path through a forest.

The key to optimizing your buyer’s journey is therefore to first understand the problem the customer is trying to solve and how they measure the success of the solution. Every CMO needs to first and foremost be asking: What job is the customer trying to do? Once we know what job the customer is trying to complete, we can figure out what individual steps he/she must check off along the way and identify which improvements to those steps will have the most impact on the customer experience—and on your business. In other words, we can identify where customer needs are not being met and determine the value of working smarter to meet them. We can also identify where customer needs are being overserved and reduce spend in these areas, reallocating the budget to more impactful efforts.

A Closer Look at the Buyer’s Journey Process

Let’s take a closer look at how to uncover actionable gaps in your buyer’s journey through a diagnostic process. This four-step process looks at the journey of purchasing a product or service through the lens of the jobs-to-be-done theory. The same way you hire a drill to put a hole in piece of wood, a customer will hire a product/service that to do a specific job, and a positive buyer’s journey is one that allows him to research, evaluate and purchase most effectively.

1. Qualitative Research

While journeys do have distinct phases, every organization’s particular buyer’s journeys will have nuances. The first step is to conduct qualitative, in-person interviews with prospective buyer audiences to understand these nuances (what we call complexity variables). For example, the journey may be different for a buyer that is purchasing an item for herself versus a gift for her significant other or for her child. A B2B buyer’s journey may be heavily influenced by time and budget. The goals of this step is to understand the universe of potential buyer narratives that may be applied to the journey and to understand every single potential possibility that may affect the journey for that segment or product. 

2. Quantitative Research

Once you understand the entire universe of buyer narratives and complexity variables, the next step is to validate this qualitative data with a significant survey sample of your market audience. The data you collect from this survey will help you to understand which variables have the most potential for impact on your business. In other words, take your universe of possibilities and serve it up to a sample to understand which pieces are most relevant.

3. Segmentation

The next step is to use the data from your survey to determine which segments and variables have the most potential to positively impact your business. To do this, conduct cluster analysis to determine the most relevant variables and identify statistically valid segment groups. You’ll also use the data to document key variable identifiers for each segment and identify outcomes that are underserved within each segment.

For example, we conducted this exercise in the retail industry and discovered a subset of the retail audience that accounted for 38% of buyers yet was highly underserved. We were also able to determine which variables were causing the most friction for these buyers and could be improved to help them continue down the path to purchase. Learn more about the underserved audience we discovered in retail.

4. Strategy

At this point, you know which segments have the most potential for positive change and what variables affect their buyer’s journey. It’s time to select which segments to focus on and to and which variables to invest efforts against. Then, you need to develop content and marketing strategies to address these underserved segments.

It’s All About Impact

At the end of the day, this entire process is about understanding which opportunities will have the biggest impact on your business and how to best pursue them. The final output is a data-driven, step-by-step plan to optimize your buyer’s journeys, moving more people through the areas they usually feel friction along to the point of purchase.

Once you really know what makes your customers tick and what problem they’re trying to solve, you can use this information to improve their experience in a way that positively impacts your business. Just a little bit different than net promoter score, right?

How to Optimize Spend with Fractional Attribution

Database

 

When traditional “database marketing” first took off in the early 1990’s, marketing performance measurement and attribution was quite simple. We generated sales and direct mail campaign performance reports using a handful of dimensions. Attribution was easily derived through business reply cards (attached to direct mail pieces), phone numbers or tracking codes. We also used indirect attribution rules by making control group comparisons. We were fairly accurate and the process was easy to execute.

The Current State of Attribution

We all know that the marketing landscape has changed … and it continues to evolve with massive channel proliferation. With so much data and so many options regarding how to best apply a limited marketing budget, how can a CMO receive richer insight to influence tactical decisions that will improve media/channel performance?

Let’s first examine the various states of attribution from the viewpoint of the modern day marketer:

  • Direct Attribution: Still used widely today and still relevant. A specific customer behavior (e.g. a purchase) can be “directly” attributed to a given marketing stimuli via a unique code, landing page/URL, response device, etc. However, other marketing stimuli may have created momentum and been a significant contributor to the consumer’s ultimate decision to purchase.
  • Last Touch Attribution: Attributing the desired customer behavior to the last “known” marketing touch. Similar to “Direct” Attribution, but not always the same, here the marketer attributes the desired customer behavior to the last known touch. This method is very common when there are no specific tracking codes/tags that tie a desired customer behavior directly to a specific marketing stimuli.
  • Multi-Full Attribution: Channel proliferation has led to individual channel/media silos, each with their own unique attribution rules. The separation of traditional offline data and online data is very common. For example, direct mail data is stored in a traditional customer database, email data is stored with the email service provider, and online data is stored by various DMPs, by vendors/partners that are contracted to capture it, each often with their own siloed attribution logic taking FULL credit for the same desired behaviors.
  • Rules Based Attribution: Building on the “Multi-Full Attribution” described above, here marketers use what is often called a “common sense approach” to proportionally assign attribution to very siloed marketing stimuli. For example, a business had recently identified the large overlap between their direct mail and digital channels. For the overlapping purchases identified in both groups, 100% of a given purchase was attributed to direct mail, while simultaneously 100% was also attributed to a combination of digital channels. A rule was then quickly implemented to assign 20% of the attribution to the direct mail channel and proportionally reduce the attribution by 20% across the various forms of digital media. So, it is “fractional” by the simplest definition, but no real math or analytics was being used to assign the “fraction” to each media/channel.

Each of these options contains significant attribution bias towards channels/forms of media, that when taken for face value will result is less than optimal decision-making.

Database-1

What’s Next and What is Fractional Attribution?

Marketers must now leverage math, science and statistics to analyze and derive insight from large pools of data, much of which can now be integrated across channels to inform decisions across touch points during the customer journey. Fractional Attribution is a necessary tool for understanding campaign performance across a multitude of touch points.

Through advanced (and proven) analytic techniques, a weighting calculation is developed and applied to the various marketing touches during the customer’s buying journey. In short, you are attributing a portion of that customer’s purchase to each of the marketing touches that impacted the customer’s decision to buy.

Harte Hanks has a team of analysts that work with marketing organizations to create a fractional attribution model through a collaborative development process:

  1. Define the overall objectives and identify the behavior metrics you want to positively impact (e.g. response, sales, conversion, product registration, etc.).
  2. Define and implement the roadmap including identification of key performance indicators (KPIs) and setting the overall attribution approach. Companies have used both “quick start” fractional attribution solutions and more robust solutions that require dedicated data stores and data integration tools.
  3. Collect and compile the data.
  4. Execute the fractional attribution solution and create the scenario planning tool.

The “scenario planning tool” is what enables the user to optimize media/channel performance. Using the tool, the analyst or marketer can quickly run “what-if” analyses to estimate the impact of reallocating marketing spend across channel/media or removing a channel/media from the mix altogether. The end result is a much more informed decision that can result in significantly higher returns from your marketing budget. Performance data and insights from the optimization exercise are then used to calibrate and refine the attribution engine going forward.

Fractional Attribution rooted in proven math and statistical techniques is a critical tool to accurately improve and optimize the performance of an incredibly fragmented and complex system of channels and media, both online and offline.

database-2

It’s not perfect – no marketing science or advanced marketing analytic solution is. But a robust modeled attribution solution is proven marketing science, and those that leverage it appropriately will generate higher return from their marketing spend and outperform their competitors.

Has your company used fractional attribution to better analyze your marketing spend? Tweet us at @HarteHanks and share your experience with us.

Smarter Demand Gen Awakens

Convergence of Tech and People Will Amplify Demand Generation in 2016

UnknownThe B2B demand-marketing ecosystem continues to evolve at a rapid pace. It’s driven by emerging technologies, tactics and buyer behaviors, alongside other well-established factors that continue to shape the discipline.

Industry influencers and analysts such as SiriusDecisions and Forrester identified a raft of demand generation trends and requirements in 2015. These range from better use of analytics as a foundation for demand planning to buyer journey alignment and operationalizing personas.

The notion of operationalizing personas involves integrating persona intelligence into demand generation efforts. At a fundamental level, it involves dynamic delivery of persona-based content, messaging and offers across email, landing pages and websites. It was first mooted by SiriusDecisions in 2014, but began to take hold last year. During 2016 it will occupy a more central role as we enter the next stage of the journey: smarter demand generation.

Why do we need Smarter Demand Generation?

Many B2B organizations find their demand generation efforts are characterized by small pipelines, missed targets and failure to respond to the needs of today’s buyers. It’s not surprising when you consider the seismic shift in buyer behavior over the past few years.

B2B sales and marketing is becoming increasingly complex and far less linear in its nature. There are multiple influencers, decision makers and stakeholders. There are multiple online and offline marketing channels. And there are multiple interactions and conversations taking place.

In this fractured, multifaceted landscape we need to find a path to more effective, joined-up demand generation. We need an approach that embraces the complex realities of the B2B sector today and handles them with ease. Smarter demand generation is the answer.

What does it mean?

A central feature of smarter demand generation is the convergence of people and technology. This is true throughout the process. Human insight and expertise facilitates the creation and operationalization of personas. It also shapes the development and substance of programs that are augmented and delivered via sophisticated technologies. Finally, individuals at the receiving end of smarter demand generation are served with optimized, highly personalized communications. Content is relevant to their current and future professional needs and it is delivered at an opportune time via the most appropriate platform. The upshot is finely tuned buyer engagement and a more robust pipeline.

This might sound a world away from traditional demand generation. And it’s true that it requires a deeply analytical and intelligent approach expertly integrated with technical capabilities. But every journey begins with a single step. Marketers who set their sights on smarter demand generation can quickly realize benefits at a micro level that can later be replicated at a larger scale.

Exploring smarter demand generation with one segment of your target audience can be a good place to start. Integrating data, technology, people and tactics for the first time isn’t easy – but it is more manageable and achievable at a smaller scale. Ring-fence a project that leverages insight to improve targeting, messaging and optimization. Then closely monitor the results to track the impact on the sales pipeline. Spotlighting the effectiveness of smarter demand generation in this way, and sharing it at a Board level, can create an appetite for more. It might help secure investment in the technologies and skills required for a wider rollout.

The B2B sector has strived for precision marketing for decades. With the awakening of smarter demand generation, it is finally within reach.

 

Alex Gill explores this theme in a B2B Marketing webinar on 27 January: How to align your marketing for smarter demand generation and stronger ROI. Book your seat here.

The Hottest Three Letter Acronym for 2016: D-M-P

dmp_blog_harte-hanks

Marketers are overwhelmed with tools and channels, and most of these – OMG! – have a three-letter acronym (TLA) that we use to theoretically make it easier for us to discuss them (and of course, to make us feel like we are in the know!). DSP, SEM, PMD, PLA, SEO, FPD, LOL, CRM, FAN, GDN . . . the list goes on and on. BTW, “LOL” on the previous list refers to “laugh out loud,” ICYM!

IMO, the hot TLA for 2016 will be DMP – data management platform. FYI, a DMP is a data warehouse that “can be used to house and manage any form of information, but for marketers, they’re most often used to manage cookie IDs and to generate audience segments, which are subsequently used to target specific users with online ads.”

For example, let’s say that you have a CRM full of FPD (first-party data) about your customers. You can upload this data to a DMP, enhance the data with third-party behavioral targeting, and then generate audience profiles that you can use to create more targeted and effective ads across your social, search, and display channels. Compared to your competitors without a DMP, your marketing campaigns should resonate better with consumers. Information asymmetry leads to better ROI, so marketers who don’t have a DMP have more to fear than just the FOMO – they may actually be at a significant disadvantage.

All of this assumes, of course, that marketers who invest in a DMP will install it correctly and use it correctly. As anyone who has seen an amazing pitch of marketing technology knows, the product never seems to work quite as well as it does in the canned demo! Setting up a DMP properly is fraught with potential pitfalls, from not properly importing data to incorrect data interpretation. So simply having a DMP is not enough – having the right pilots of data collection and analysis is vital. Given that this is a corporate blog, now would be a good time for me to promote Harte Hanks’ DMP/service solution, which we call Total Customer Discovery.

The future of marketing is always murky, so the centrality of the DMP is still TBD. That said, theoretically DMPs make a lot of sense, and it seems likely that it will be an important component of all online marketing strategies going forward. TTYL!

Black Friday vs. Every Friday

iStock_000053625904_Full_MonotoneBlack Friday. The retail holiday that drives consumers by the masses into the retail marketplace for door-busting deals. It’s also the day that traditionally marked the first day of moving from “red” losses to “black” year-to-date profits for many retailers. It’s no surprise retailers put extra time, resources and effort preparing for this big day, but as retailers look to connect with their customers more frequently, is it surprising the day after Thanksgiving remains such a powerful customer engagement point?

“Black Fridays have become a cultural phenomenon, a bit of a marathon for many people”, says Kelli Hollinger, Director of the Center of Retailing Studies at Mays Business School, Texas A&M. “But things are changing. For example, prices are now guaranteed online so that the in-store price matches what is offered online. This gives consumers more choice and control over how and when to buy.”

“Consumer shopping behavior is shifting toward finding deals year-round, so the traditional ‘big sale’ days are somewhat less important,” says Steven Kirn, Ph.D. of the David F. Miller Retailing and Education and Research Center at the University of Florida. “Perhaps it started with ‘Cyber Monday,’ and then ‘Small Business Saturday,’ but it appears to be a larger trend to spread holiday sales over a longer period, which makes a lot more business sense.”

Despite the extension of holiday sales and desire to get the best deals everyday, Black Friday still generates a lot of buzz and excitement. It’s also one of the biggest days for retail operations such as inventory flow, staffing, security and logistics.

“At Harte Hanks we help our retail customers connect with their customers every day,” says Kevin Berthiaume, Logistics Lead for Harte Hanks. “But in preparation for Black Friday, success is about scale and execution. To date, our logistics team helped Kohl’s deliver 100s of millions of inserts. More than 10 million of those inserts needed to arrive timely in preparation for Black Friday. We understand the importance of delivering on that kind of volume any time of year, and the significant impact it has on our customer’s business.”

“Consumers are increasingly geared to shop for deals year-round,” Says Kirn. “They wait for sales and then buy. They generally think opening prices are set high so that the retailer does not lose money when they finally put items on sale. There is a difference between consumer attitudes and behaviors. Consumers will say they want everyday low prices, but their actual behavior is to prefer to wait for sales. JC Penney ran into this problem. They marked their prices down 40 percent, but sales dropped. Consumers interpreted the low prices as a sign of low quality. They wanted to buy when items were on sale and did not trust everyday low prices from JC Penney.”

In a recent conversation with Steven Kirn Ph.D., he shared some interesting shifts in consumer perception reflected in a survey released this week:

“Just a few years ago, shoppers said that 25 percent off was a ‘good deal’ and enough to influence them to buy. A new survey released this week suggests it is necessary to discount up to 60 percent to be considered a good deal.”

This increase is deal seeking further emphasizes the need to establish valued relationships with your customers in order to take them beyond price points to valuing the experience with the brand.

Ken Bernhardt, is the chairman of the Harte Hanks Marketing Advisory Board and Regents Professor Emeritus at Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business. As Ken sees it, the rise of digital shopping together with increasing consumer procrastination have resulted in the Saturday before Christmas replacing Black Friday as the busiest shopping day of the year. Black Friday, however, remains important as the traditional start of the holiday shopping season and still represents more than $50 billion in retail sales.

“At Harte Hanks, we know every day is an opportunity to help our clients connect with their customers,” says Frank Grillo, CMO, Harte Hanks. “Black Friday will always be an important day for retailers, but so is every other day of the year. Customer expectations are increasing with proliferation of mobile, social and access to channels of communication. Sending out deals isn’t enough anymore. Now more than ever it’s important to engage customers in a memorable, meaningful experience at every opportunity.”

Savvy consumers are aware retailers gather information and preferences so it’s a real miss when a retailer fails to engage in relevant customer interactions. According to a recent study by Magnetic, 50 percent of consumers say they regularly see email with irrelevant information and only half of all retailers report they know what messages resonate with their customers.

From an operational perspective, the 2015 holiday season is a done deal. But data and research can be a North Star for your brand moving forward. It’s the perfect time to get your 2016 game plan together to take customer engagement to a new level, each and every day, including Black Friday.

Marketing Technology: Where’s My ROI?

HarteHanks_MarektingTechnology_ROI

The modern customer journey is consumer driven and often fractured. Unlike the linear, vendor-led customer journeys of the past, the buyer is now in full control. With endless options – and a bevvy of information about each product or service readily available for consumers – marketers must devise new ways to attract customers and secure brand awareness and loyalty. A slew of new marketing technology, including CRM, marketing automation and inbound marketing platforms, have risen up to solve the new customer journey riddle. But despite the effectiveness of these platforms, too many B2B companies are reporting negative ROI for marketing technology investments. There are a number of reasons why.

Failure to Launch

The B2B sales cycle is a complex process. Unlike B2C products, there is no such thing as an “impulse purchase.” Buyers typically spend weeks, months and sometimes even years researching and deliberating before deciding on a purchase – particularly where big-ticket items are concerned. Marketing technology can help significantly simplify this process, but it isn’t a magic bullet. Marketing platforms aren’t plug and play; they are a set of interconnected tools for marketers to utilize as part of an overall strategy. Too often, B2B companies purchase marketing technology, but fail to allocate the resources necessary to realize their benefits. Marketing systems are a great delivery system, but engaging and strategic content that guides prospects along the customer journey must be created first. You can buy a car, but if you don’t fill it with gas and get behind the wheel, it isn’t going to move.

Scratching the Surface

Most of the marketing technology platforms available today come equipped with an array of features that justify their cost – intelligent analytics, A/B testing, easy integration, etc. Companies who fail to realize ROI on these products are often utilizing only a fraction of the features available to them. These features can significantly enhance the power of the platform and should be utilized whenever possible.

Stove Piping

With so many different types of technology available, B2B companies often have more than one system for sales and marketing. Failure to integrate these systems – particularly marketing automation platforms and CRM software – creates a confusing environment where systems are not communicating with each other and often duplicating efforts. In order to get the most out of marketing software and a favorable ROI, marketing platforms and CRM software should always be integrated.

Putting the Cart Before the Horse

Too many B2B companies dive head first into marketing technology – purchasing platforms without a full understanding of the system or a plan to implement it. B2B marketers often find themselves tasked with becoming technology experts trying to implement and integrate systems they know little, if anything, about. Additionally, systems are often purchased before a strategy has been developed to utilize them.

Boost Your ROI

To fully realize the benefits of marketing technology platforms, B2B marketers must view these platforms as an important tool, but as only part of the process. Creative campaigns, strategic plans and actual customer conversations are all an integral part of the modern customer journey as well. Before purchasing a new marketing technology platform, B2B companies should perform due diligence on the products they wish to purchase and have a plan in place on how they will be utilized.

And if you need help boosting the ROI of your marketing investment, Harte Hanks has extensive experience integrating marketing technology with marketing strategy. We’re here to help!

Back to the Future: Predictive Analytics

Predictive-Analytics_HarteHanks

What if you knew what your customers wanted, when they wanted it? With predictive marketing analytics, gazing into the future is entirely possible. While predictive analytics is not a new concept – marketers have often tried to use past performance to predict future behavior – the dawn of the information age has amplified its effectiveness and usability. Predictive analytics allow marketers to focus efforts and maximize their budgets by identifying targets who are ready to buy and by eliminating those who aren’t.

Big Data

 To accurately predict consumer behavior, you need more than focus groups and surveys. The era of Big Data has armed marketers with a deluge of information on consumers – including engagement with marketing automation platforms and “intent” data from across the web. The technology to crunch this data and make sense of it is rapidly evolving, providing marketers with a roadmap to reach the right audience at the right time.

Data in Action

The Big Data era has produced an incredible amount of information about habits, desires and tendencies of consumers. Marketers who follow these digital footprints can optimize their marketing efforts to target individual audience segments and personalize messages to speak directly to potential customers. Predictive analytics can help create incredibly specific buyer personas – marketers no longer need to rely on broad demographic data and guestimates of what a particular buyer prefers. Enhanced buyer personas lay the groundwork for highly personalized messaging for nurture campaigns, which multiple studies show leads to significant increases in conversion and revenue. Predictive analytics also provide the benefit of targeted spending. Knowing what audiences to target and which platforms to target them through significantly increases the impact of marketing budgets.

B2B Adoption

B2B marketers have lagged behind their B2C counterparts in the adoption of marketing technology ­­– predictive analytics included. And while it’s true that personalized data from individual consumers offer a more clear view into purchasing habits and tendencies, plenty of data exists for B2B customers that can be utilized to implement more intelligent marketing tactics. Purchase history, for instance, is a great predictor of current and future behavior. If a customer has recently purchased a software system that won’t need an upgrade for three years, targeting that customer with marketing messages is not only inefficient, but could negatively affect that customers’ perception of your brand. Existing software licenses, log-in frequency, help desk calls and firmographics can also help B2B companies predict the need and desire for their products. Normally this kind of data will predict the type of customers that buy your products. Add social data sources to the mix, and you can predict customers that are ready to buy.

Implementation

Depending on the level of sophistication and budget resources, B2B marketers can deploy analyst-led solutions or automated “black box” solutions to perform predictive analytics. For larger, more comprehensive data operations, an analyst-led approach is preferred. Computers are wonderful, but a human touch – specifically when there are oddities in the data – can more accurately utilize the information output to design programs and messaging that take into account both the customer and the nuances of the company. However, there are various automated solutions that are more than sufficient for less sophisticated marketing automation programs. Both approaches have their own merit, but one thing is clear: predictive analytics allow businesses to focus on what’s important and discard what’s not, leading to amplified revenue growth – and happy customers.

 

The 4 Biggest Challenges Facing B2B Tech Marketers Today (Part 4)

Unifying Communication Strategies Across Channels Throughout the Customer Journey

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Over the past few weeks, we’ve been exploring the four biggest marketing challenges faced by B2B tech companies.

Whether you’ve been following along or just tuning in now, you can find the first three installments about utilizing all available tools and technologies, leveraging high-quality, real-time data and generating ROI with less budget and fewer resources on our blog.

For the fourth and final challenge, I will discuss the best strategies to unify communications across channels in order to drive the customer journey.

CHALLENGE #4: How do I unify communication strategies across channels to drive customers through the buyer journey?

Your brand is a powerful thing. Not only does it represent the essence and promise of your company, it also embodies the expectations and opinions of your customer as they move through their buying journey. Each touch point with your brand is a chance to enhance – or diminish – a customer’s perception.

That means that each piece of advertising, each call to your contact center and each visit to your landing page should work in tandem to convey a consistent message that represents your brand. Just one negative interaction can damage your customer’s perception. And it’s much more difficult to reverse a negative perception than it is to proactively ensure positive customer interactions from the start of a campaign.

So how can we ensure a single view of customer across their entire journey, with consistent brand touch points and a clear, unified message? Read on:

  1. Start with a clear definition of your brand. First and foremost, you need to clearly define what your brand represents. Your brand platform needs to be articulated and shared with everyone in the company, particularly the external-facing representatives. A marketing program is the creative output built on top of the brand, designed to build awareness and the desire to purchase.
  2. Decide what you are trying to achieve with your marketing efforts. What is your vision of success? What are you trying to do and why are you trying to do it? At this stage, it’s helpful to look at what Harte Hanks Creative Director Alan Kittle calls The Beautiful Intersection. Draw two intersecting circles. In one, write out what you or your client wants to say. In the other, detail what your audience wants to hear. The intersection of this Venn Diagram is your sweet spot – the message that will tell your story while resonating with your audience.
  3. Identify the necessary building blocks and work streams. After you define your end goal and key objective, work backwards to figure out what will get your there. Start with a solid strategist or planner. This individual or team should gather and interpret all available data, and determine how that insight into the customer will enable a connection with the brand. Data intelligence should help form creative briefs and build a campaign message that is highly measurable.
  4. Cut through with a single unifying thought. In a complex, multi-channel, multi-territory campaign, it is essential to have one unifying idea that all marketing efforts tie back to. In fact, the more complex the marketing campaign – the more channels, audiences, periods of time – the simpler the message should be. By looking at the whole picture, you can determine how all the pieces fit together throughout the journey: how an audience reacts to an email, then a phone call a few weeks later and a piece of advertising leading them to a customer landing page a few days after that.
  5. Create an ecosystem of collaboration and information sharing. It is essential that all agencies plug into the brand and work together in a creative, synergistic manner to tell the same story. Branding agencies need to work in tandem with creative teams – the strongest teams collaborate to make a greater sum of their parts.

By following these steps for a new marketing idea, or to increase the effectiveness of an in-progress marketing program, it is possible to unify communications across channels and create that single, unifying thought that weaves through the entire customer journey. Data helps inform and define this thought and to create a cycle of excellence: use data to create something with the best chance of success, then look at what to improve and start the process again.

Staying in Touch With the Zeitgeist

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Last week I had lunch with an incredible group of people: an Academy Award-nominated director, a 21-year-old nuclear physicist, and a New York Times columnist. Just another day in the glamorous life of a digital agency executive, right?

Not exactly.

The lunch was just a small part of the amazing parallel universe Google creates once a year called Zeitgeist, which Google describes as “a series of intimate gatherings of top global thinkers and leaders.” And a few lucky agency wonks, apparently!

On one level, Zeitgeist is Google’s version of the TED conference. The topics are eclectic, inspirational, and thought-provoking. This year’s speakers included an astronaut (from space, no less), Kanye West, a North Korean defector, a golf pro, two Nobel Prize winners, a civil rights lawyer, and so on. And, I assume like TED, the hallway discussions were equally if not more interesting than the amazing speeches. I personally chatted with two billionaires, a few Google executives, forward-thinking CEOs, and some great non-profit leaders.

So why does Google put on this lavish event? I’m sure there are many reasons. First, because they can. Google is doing pretty well as a company, so funding a modern-day Bloomsbury Group once a year isn’t going to put much of a dent in their numbers. More importantly, however, I think it reflects the intellectual curiosity of Google’s founders and executives. Remember, this is a company that could have sat back and counted their cash from AdWords but instead has set out to revolutionize everything from cars to diabetes.

And there’s a lesson here for the SEM community. Life is pretty comfortable for the average SEM pro these days. High-paying jobs are easy to come by. (Don’t like your current gig? Don’t worry, someone will no doubt offer you a 30% raise to come across the street to their company.) And whilst SEM continues to change, the industry won’t be going away anytime soon. So if you want to, you can put your head down and do SEM really well and have a great life (for the foreseeable future, at any rate).

Alternatively, you can take the Google path and decide not to rest on your laurels. You can learn Facebook advertising, attribution, mobile acquisition, and audience segmentation. You can experiment with Beacons and Bitcoin. Heck, you can even try to understand branding and out-of-home advertising (call me if you figure this out, because I certainly haven’t).

As an added benefit, expanding your expertise is a good way to maintain that comfy lifestyle you worked so hard to achieve. Some day – maybe even sooner than we think – SEM will decline and possibly disappear entirely. Learning new skills will enable you to effortlessly leave SEM in the dust and move into the next age of digital marketing. Intellectual curiosity aside, there’s strong business strategy behind Google’s forays into video, mobile, shopping, delivery, healthcare, Internet, transportation, and so on: self-preservation.

The tough part about keeping up with the Zeitgeist is that it is fickle and changes quickly and often unpredictably. Whether you’re a multi-billion dollar Internet giant or a really sharp SEM pro, staying on top of the vanguard of online marketing (and really, of the world in general) does more than keep your mind fresh; it is also just a smart business decision.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I believe a Google drone just dropped off my groceries on my doorstep!

Global Patient Support Needs to ‘Think Local’

PharmaPatient support programs play a vital role in facilitating better disease management and treatment optimization. Traditionally pharmaceutical companies launched such initiatives on a local level. However, from a regional perspective, this sometimes resulted in patchy and fragmented support. Today, many pharmaceutical companies are driving centralized programs that benefit from a more sophisticated and strategic approach.

This approach brings many advantages around compliance, visibility of success and cost-effectiveness of implementation and maintenance. Yet centralized programs can be inherently complex and unwieldy. This is compounded by the fact that they often need to be coordinated at a global or area level to maximize infrastructure and management efficiencies.

Walking the line between global/regional efficiency and local effectiveness is no mean feat. Patient support is not a ‘one size fits all’ discipline; activity needs to be expertly tailored and carefully orchestrated.

At Harte Hanks, we believe five critical factors underpin patient support that is successful both at a global and a local level.

  1. Gather and leverage local knowledge

Understanding the nuances and intricacies of healthcare provision in different regions is essential. Ideally, you should have people on the ground who have in-depth knowledge of their local system and keep a finger on the pulse of any changes or developments.

Typical patient paths can vary significantly between countries for the same disease. Take the patient touchpoints and interactions for the U.S. healthcare system versus the UK’s NHS or Spain’s Seguridad Social. Prescription behaviours, drug dispensing and the length of time between specialist visits can be entirely different. There can even be differences in the role of healthcare practitioners during treatment, in terms of nurse interaction levels, nurse-led advice, pharmacist involvement and primary or speciality care.

  1. Create space for consultation and collaboration

Regional offices need to have clear channels of communication with the head office, and regular opportunities to report back on the local healthcare environment. They need to know that their observations are taken into account and actively used to shape the delivery of patient support in their territory.

At a strategic level, this collaborative approach enables program goals and objectives to be adapted to the realities of each country and healthcare system. It also needs to work at a tactical level, with regional teams of medical and regulatory professionals reviewing and approving materials before they are issued to healthcare professionals and patients.

Pharmaceutical companies often lack the time and resources required to give adequate attention to each country of a global patient support program. This is especially true when implementation needs to happen in parallel with a product launch or other internal deadlines. Working with a trusted third party can be a mutually beneficial solution for individual countries and the global program as whole. They can offer expert guidance as well as coordinate materials distribution and facilitate knowledge sharing.

  1. Ensure processes and training are water-tight

It’s vital that staff delivering the program, especially those with direct patient contact, understand indicators of pharmacovigilance events. Processes need to be in place to ensure that any spontaneous or solicited reports of adverse effects are handled appropriately and escalated in the right timeframes.

A centralized model can ensure that training compliance efforts are optimized and that all pharmacovigilance processes are managed in a cohesive way. A balance needs to be struck to ensure that training and reporting procedures meet certain standards, while respecting any elements or formats that vary between countries.

  1. Coordinated multi-channel communications

Using a CRM suite to facilitate patient and healthcare provider communications boosts efficiency and enables better control of patient support programs. For example, Harte Hanks can act as a multichannel one-stop-shop which is managed centrally but enables local offices to customize activity, such as:

  • Secure data management and hosting, in-line with local privacy rules
  • SMS, email and direct mail assets (drawing on print-on-demand and personalization capabilities)
  • Creation, development and hosting of personalized online portals for patients and healthcare providers, with self-tracking tools to support all digital communications
  • Advanced reporting and analytics to measure success and monitor progress

CRM and digital services should be flexible enough to accommodate multilingual communications and adaptations for the individual needs of each country. For instance, a global program will encounter various regulatory frameworks and the requirements of medical, legal and regulatory teams differ between countries.

  1. Continual improvement philosophy

If program goals and objectives are tailored to local regions, it follows that KPIs need to be tailored too. For measurement to be meaningful, successes or failures need to be considered in context. And they need to feed into the development of ongoing goals and objectives geared towards a cycle of continual improvement. To facilitate effective management at a macro level, it’s important to ensure global real-time visibility across the entire programme, from high-level KPIs to more detailed local perspectives.

The cornerstone of any successful patient support program is recognition that patients are people. They have their own lives, families, work and hobbies, as well as living with a disease or illness. They deserve to be listened to and helped to live their life to the fullest.

Treating patients as people within a program that operates on a global scale is complicated., but with an intelligent, carefully coordinated approach that draws on local knowledge, it is possible to achieve this. Communicating with patients at the right time with the right message via the most appropriate channel is half of the story. Ensuring information and interventions are precisely tailored to their real needs completes the circle, both supporting the treatment and enhancing the overall patient experience.

Harte Hanks handles patient support programmes for leading global pharmaceutical companies. Patient data is handled sensitively and an integrated approach ensures improved patient support and outcomes. Natalia Gallur has more than ten years’ experience in the sector. To learn more about the services we offer, take a look at our case studies.

Taking Your Customers from Anonymous to Known: Introducing Total Customer Discovery

A Deeper Dive into the Solution

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Today, we are excited to announce our newest solution to enable smarter customer interactions: Total Customer Discovery. You can learn more about the details through our press release, video and digital guide. In this blog post, I’m going to break down some of the technology components that went into creating it.

In a nutshell, Total Customer Discovery provides a holistic, 360-degree profile of customers, merging data from online and offline channels and across devices. This single customer view encompasses data across demographics (contact data, social profiles); psychographics (interests), historical (purchase and promotion history) and influencing power (networks, connections). With this richer customer view, marketers can deliver enhanced and personalized customer experiences, leading to increased acquisition, retention and, ultimately, ROI.

So without further ado, here are the different components of the Total Customer Discovery Solution and what they help address:

Solution Component: Cross Screen Identification

With cross-screen identification, each customer has a persistent, unique ID that carries with them, helping marketers track associated devices with that customer even when customers delete their browsing history (and their cookies). With Total Customer Discovery, we can identify and track customers across various devices (mobile phones, tablets, computers, laptops and so on), learning their behaviors, adding to their customer profiles and offering a seamless brand experiences across touch points that takes into consideration their past purchase history and preferences.

Solution Component: Cross Journey Mapping

To solve the problem of internal silos and overwhelming amounts of data, the cross journey mapping function captures customer’s digital behavior and stores meaningful attributes, such as click, searches, interests, preference, etc. to produce richer, more multi-dimensional customer profiles. These attributes can then be linked with other data sources within an organization such as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database. Total Customer Discovery identifies customer interactions across multiple devices and channels, so that we can track a customer throughout their entire journey, from smartphone, to tablet, to computer, to in-store.

Solution Component: Data Onboarding

A single view of customers provides a comprehensive view of the purchase journey. Integrating both online and offline data helps round out the single view of customer for a comprehensive picture of customer behavior for better retargeting and personalization. With data onboarding, online and offline data are merged and customer files are created using email or physical address lists that are matched with a database of advertiser tracking parameters. Particularly for brick-and-mortar stores, integrating online and offline data sources is crucial for delivering relevant content across channels based on the customer identification, from digital interactions on their smartphone to offline purchases at a retail store.

Solution Component: Social Linkage

Personalized, relevant content is the key to driving ROI in today’s world of real-time “micro-moments.” With social linkage, customers’ social interactions and behaviors are tracked across sites to enable deeper customer segmentation. Social linkage takes data from over 150 social sites, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and Google+, and gives marketers insightful social profile data to inform their social investment decisions and make their digital marketing efforts more effective.

We’d love to tell you more about how Total Customer Discovery takes customers from anonymous to known. For more information, you can visit hartehanks.com/TCD or email TCD@hartehanks.com.

The 2015 B2B Content Marketing Report: My Top 3 Stats

Earlier this month, the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs released their annual B2B content marketing report, the 5th of its kind.  The report includes findings from 1,820 North American B2B marketers from among 5,000+ marketers surveyed across 109 countries and 25 industries.  Naturally, the result has been a number of articles from varying sources, outlining key findings.
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One piece in particular
, that received a lot of attention when referenced on the Harte Hanks Twitter account, came from Social Media B2B and highlighted 20 of what they consider to be the most important stats from the report. Now, while they are all valuable stats, I am not going to discuss all 20.

Instead, I would like to focus on 3 that stood out to me most:

  1. 86% of B2B Marketers are using content marketing:

I know that we have all heard numbers like this repeatedly, but what’s interesting about it this time is the fact that the number has gone down from last year’s 93%. What also changed this year is the way “content marketing” was defined, which the aforementioned article speculates as the catalyst for the drop in participation.  The 2015 report defined “content marketing” as: “A  strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” So, it is likely that the decrease is due to the realization to some that they are not truly using content marketing, but merely creating and distributing content.

  1. 54% of the most effective B2B Marketers have a documented content marketing strategy:

The key takeaway from this stat seems to be that if you want to become more effective in your content marketing, the first step may be as simple as documenting your strategy. Now, I obviously use the term “simple” loosely, and a written strategy will not solve all of your content marketing problems overnight.  But, when you compare the overall 35% of B2B marketers who currently have a documented content marketing strategy to the 60% with a documented strategy who consider themselves to be highly effective, the need to record this type of information is evident.

  1. 94% of B2B Marketers use LinkedIn to distribute their content:

There were a number of notable social media platforms mentioned as a distribution channel for content, with an average of 6 platforms used.  LinkedIn, however, was not only the most frequently used, but also considered the most effective (with 63% rating it as a 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale.) These numbers have stayed pretty consistent with last year’s results and continue to prove that LinkedIn can be a B2B marketer’s best friend, if utilized correctly.  Social media is here to stay, and new platform options are debuting on a regular basis.  So, with the 92% who are using social media in their content marketing efforts, it is important to have a sense of which channels to invest in.   In my experience, LinkedIn tends to offer the greatest reach opportunity as well the highest potential for businesses to speak to the most appropriate audience.

 

In reality, I have offered a very small sample size of the information provided by the 2015 B2B Content Marketing Report.  With so many terrific findings to choose from, selecting just 3 was not an easy task, but I feel that my assortment touches on key issues that range from the overall use of content marketing to the best way to distribute content in the ever evolving digital world we live in. Which points from the report were most significant to you?

Temporal Messaging: the hot marketing trend that never was

temporal messaging dataEvery few years a new term or catchphrase comes along that catches fire. Omnichannel marketing is one, for example.

A catchphrase I heard a few years ago—which didn’t catch fire, but still smolders (especially in Europe)—is temporal messaging and its close cousin, temporal rhythms. Simply put, when do consumers send messages to one another? What patterns do their messaging behaviors follow? And how can we use this data?

Why temporal messaging matters

Messaging is just one online behavior, but peak messaging times and patterns are vital to know and here’s why:

  • Messaging is a very good proxy for other online activities. People who are online messaging are also shopping, watching streaming media, etc.
  • Messaging is becoming device agnostic, and people can send or accept messages on a laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc.
  • People message one another with word-of-mouth product recommendations.
  • People message one another when it is convenient to do so, so are likely to share product recommendations within social media.

When is it best to reach them online? Well, it seems people fall into patterns and rhythms of messaging one another: temporal rhythms.

The best study of temporal messaging was performed in 2006 by HP Labs. They studied student use of Facebook messaging, and at the time, only college students had access to Facebook (and 90% of them used it). The title was nearly as long as the study itself—Rhythms of Social Interaction: Messaging Within a Massive Online Network. The researchers tracked 362 million messages exchanged by 4.2 million users over 26 months—an absolute mountain of data by 2006 standards.

It surprised the researchers just how consistent and predictable student behavior was. For example:

  • Facebook messaging peaked during class time and study hours. That made sense—students used computers to socialize, study and exchange information about classes.
  • Facebook messaging tanked on Friday and Saturday nights, as well it should. Presumably, students were socializing face-to-face during those periods.
  • Weekend “rhythms” ran from mid-Friday to mid-Sunday, while weekday behavior ran the five days in between.
  • Seasonal messaging behavior was pretty consistent, including over summer and winter breaks.
  • About six in 10 messages were between students at their own school, the remainder to students at other schools. So, the word-of-mouth “reach” was very significant, both on-campus and on other campuses.

Behold the temporal database

Those findings were surprising and groundbreaking—eight years ago. But HP Labs promoted something very innovative at the time, which was the temporal database. It was (at the time) the latest dimension of online behavior and the least utilized. We knew already just who bought what, where and why they bought it, but now we could measure when—when they talked about it, when they researched it, when they purchased it and when brands could reach them online.

Temporal data would include:

  • Peak online hours for whichever demographic you choose, be it college students, parents of college students, Hispanic consumers, single women between 18 and 34, etc. When are they online most? Least?
  • Peak online hours for specific activities, like consuming streaming media, playing massive-multiplayer online games, online shopping.
  • Peak hours for brick-and-mortar activity, like when consumers (choose the demographic) are in stores with their smartphones or mini-tablets.

This all sounds familiar

But, you say, we do know all of that. Yes, we do—or, at least, we know much of it. That does not mean taking advantage of it is a piece-of-cake. For temporal data to work, there must be sufficient data to make the necessary determinations on communications and applicable layered segmentation. Then, the trick is using it wisely, for example, to target someone in your demographic sweet spot enough times to intrigue rather than annoy. To target them in the hours before their typical brick-and-mortar shop, or when they’re typically relaxing with their devices at home. All temporal data.

I thought the term temporal database would catch fire—it didn’t. Instead, the phrase big data did, and temporal data was wrapped into it.

To summarize what temporal messaging is, it is the construct of hitting the right audience with the right message through the right channel—at the right time. The end goal is to achieve the best possible response.

Sound familiar?

Sure it does. It just wasn’t called that.

Do you track temporal messaging? How do you use temporal data to improve your reach?

They’re Talking About You: 3 Reasons to Use Social Listening

By: Michael McCurdy

Man listensPeople can’t help but let the world know exactly how they feel at any given moment using their handy smart devices. Amused by something? Better turn to Facebook and make a post. Frustrated? Turn to Twitter to complain. But the fact is, these posts are an opportunity to better engage your customers and make smarter business decisions. Social media has become one of the best tools through which to gauge the habits, likes, and dislikes of customers.

Think about it. The last time you logged onto Twitter, was a follower ranting about a company because they spent the last 5 hours on the phone trying to get help? Or maybe a Facebook friend posted a video of their comic flight attendant. Or shared a selfie wearing their favorite brand. You get the picture. Your prospects and customers are talking about you on social. All the time. Sounds a little scary, but it shouldn’t be.

Social Listening

Savvy companies take advantage of social media to listen to these conversations and intervene where necessary to improve the customer experience. This goes beyond simply responding to @ messages or hashtags on Twitter and messages posted directly to your Facebook wall. Social listening takes it a step further and carefully monitors a comprehensive list of keywords that may be associated with conversations about your brand.

For example, one of our recent clients, a large entertainment provider, decided to roll out a streaming service for its broadcast events. There was a huge number of viewers trying to migrate to the new streaming service across multiple types of devices and operating systems, which naturally resulted in a variety of technical questions. Of course this company implemented a typical phone-based customer service solution. But they also put social listening into place with agents actively monitoring Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for problems and working with the customers in real-time to solve them.

To put some numbers behind it, Cisco claims a 281% ROI with social listening through Salesforce.com and Radian6. Using a consistent, scalable means of understanding and acting on social conversations, Cisco increased productivity and profits, achieving this impressive return on investment in less than one year.

3 Reasons to Listen

If you still need convincing, here three top advantages of social listening.

  1. Engage your customers.

If you’re actively monitoring consumers’ conversations, it’s easy to insert yourself just when the customer needs you. They have a need, you provide a solution. They have a question, you provide an answer. It’s a zen-like moment. You fit naturally into the conversation and become a welcomed, valuable participant.

  1. Keep tabs on your competition.

Not only can you get a real-time look at how consumers feel about your own brand, but you can also hear what they’re saying about your competition. Take a look at conversations about your competitors and see what they do right, what they do wrong, what customers love and loathe, and consider how you can apply these insights to your own strategy.

  1. Plan your roadmap.

A brand that has its finger on the pulse of the customer knows exactly where to go next. Using the information collected from social listening, you can more effectively position your brand, products, services, etc. Identify what your customer needs or wants and then supply it.

Get It Done

Everyone is talking. Social listening is like having an exclusive wiretap to monitor and record every conversation. Use it to your advantage to enhance the customer experience, stay ahead of the competition and plan your next moves.

How to Get the Most Value Out of Your ERP Solution

By Nick Castellina

Organizations rely on their ERP solutions to completely support them. As such, ERP solutions have long lifecycles within organizations. But business, and the technology that supports it, changes over time. Therefore, organizations such as yours are left with a few choices. Do you update your ERP solution when it is offered by your ERP vendor, do you stay put, or do you replace the whole solution when it… …read more

Source: Aberdeen Group

Catching Up At WWDC

By Jim Rapoza Over the years, Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) has seen its share of major announcements and new products, from the rise of OS X to the first Intel-based Macs to many of the key iPhone evolutions. At first glance, the 2014 WWDC, held this week in San Francisco, doesn’t look like it will be as impactful as some of its predecessors. However, some of the announcements this week, especially for… …read more

Source: Aberdeen Group

How Do You Manage Your Business?

By Nick Castellina How do you manage your business? Whether you are a small business just getting started or a large enterprise trying to stay efficient, technology can have a profound effect on success. From desktop tools and accounting applications to enterprise-level ERP solutions (and everything in between) top performers are able to benefit from increased efficiency, visibility, and effectiveness. As a research analyst, my job is to identify best practices… …read more

Source: Aberdeen Group

Business Planning and Execution Report Roundup for June 2014

By Nick Castellina This month, we have a few reports that may be a little bit different than what you are used to seeing from me. First, we have a report on rapid implementation for ERP. This is the first time I’ve used this data and I think you’ll find the data exciting if you are a business exploring a new ERP solution. Next, we have a report on managing customer… …read more

Source: Aberdeen Group

Meeting the Challenge: Modern Selling Best Practices for the Pharmaceutical Sector

By Peter Ostrow The bulk of Aberdeen’s Sales Effectiveness research results in non-industry specific, far-reaching recommendations, so it is valuable to more closely examine whether certain verticals are more or less tuned-in to best practices revealed in the research process. A new Research Brief assesses the always-challenging pharmaceutical sales sector, a high-stakes and competitive arena full of big deals, big profits, and heavy regulations. Setting the Stage: An Industry like No… …read more

Source: Aberdeen Group

Data-Driven Marketing on the Roadmap to Revenue [Infographic]

By Andrew Moravick

We don’t just happen upon effective marketing initiatives, or strike it rich with successful campaigns by hapless strokes of luck. Great marketing is engineered. It’s built out of a better understanding of our buyers and a bolder focus on delivering value. We don’t leave our audiences to wander aimlessly on their buyer’s journey; we build roads to speed them to their desired solutions. To chart such precise pathways to purchase decisions, however, it takes equally precise insights into what’s happening in the marketing and sales pipeline. In other words, this road to marketing-sourced revenue is written in data…

Read More >>

Source: Better Demand Gen

SOS: Secure Our Servers!

By Derek Brink

To recap: the personal information of millions of consumers has been exposed in yet another security compromise, this time at eBay. eBay’s public statements informed us that a “small number of employee login credentials” were compromised, “allowing unauthorized access to eBay’s corporate network.” They also disclosed that the database that was compromised included customer names, passwords (encrypted), email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers, and date of birth – affecting up to 145 million eBay users.

Read More >>

Source: Aberdeen Group

No More Spaghetti against the Wall: How Best-in-Class Sellers Use Social Relationships to Build a Better Pipeline

By Peter Ostrow Throughout the calendar year, and particularly near month-, quarter- and year-end, sales professionals everywhere keep an especially watchful eye on their end-of-cycle opportunity pipeline. In the business-to-business (B2B) space, the stakes are especially high, with commissioned accelerators, bonuses and President’s Club qualification often on the line — not to mention job security for the “C” players in our sales organizations. The challenge that reps and managers alike face… …read more

Source: Aberdeen Group

Don’t Let the Evolution of Service Pass You By

By Aly Pinder The evolution of the service organization as a profit center has been well documented, at least within Service Management research here at Aberdeen. We have tracked service and manufacturing organizations as they have moved from primarily being managed as a cost center to a profit center. This transformation has been directed by the emergence of the CSO (Chief Service Officer). Unfortunately, to this point, not a lot of… …read more

Source: Aberdeen Group

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