Welcome To Conversation Marketing

Noticed how your marketing gurus are all talking chatbots and messenger apps?

Well, that’s because in recent years there has been a drastic increase in the uptake of messaging apps. In fact, the usage of these apps and chatbots is actually outpacing that of social media networks. It is predicted that in 2017, the number of messaging app users will be around 2.10 billion. This is indicative of a new trend, as pointed out by Mark Schafer, the rise of the private network. Consumers are changing how they feel about public scrutiny. They’re becoming increasingly afraid of public record and are favoring privacy through apps like Facebook Messenger or Kik.

This is no longer a trend that digitally savvy marketers can ignore!

In 2016, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said,

“Chatbots are the new apps.” 

Chatbots are not new, or at least, the technology is not new. The Guardian, a UK-based newspaper, took a look at the history of Chatbots in September last year. The technology behind the bots dates back to mid-1960s. AI psychotherapist ELIZA was an early computer program created by scientists at MIT that processes natural language cues to simulate conversations. ELIZA was the first Chatbot! In the 1970s, ELIZA was joined by Parry who mimicked paranoid schizophrenia. Scientists did actually attempt a bot-to-bot conversation in 1972, between this two early chatbots. Parry quickly got lost down a rabbit hole of corrupt horse racing gambling.

1991 saw the birth of the chatbot Olympics with the annual Loebner price. The format of the competition is that of the Turing Test, where a human judge holds two conversations simultaneously, one with the computer program and another with a human via a computer. The judge must then attempt to distinguish between the two.

But marketers are not (yet) concerned with computers passing as humans. Instead, they are interested in the fake! Facebook Messenger, Kik, WeChat (to name but a few), are simulating human interaction, in an unashamedly false way.

Chatbots create real-time conversation, that mirrors chatting with a friend. Expectations are, from both consumers and businesses, extremely high. Consumers are favoring the instantaneous nature of these platforms. They can now get information about products, or questions answered immediately. Chris Messina, the Twitter hashtag inventor, wrote in his blog last year,

“2016 will be the year of conversational commerce … you and I will be talking to brands and companies over Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, Slack, and elsewhere before year’s end, and will find it…2016 will be the year of conversational commerce … you and I will be talking to brands and companies over Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, Slack, and elsewhere before year’s end, and will find it normal….I’m less interested in whether a conversational service is provided by a human, bot, or some combination thereof…”

Businesses are witnessing consumers engage more and more with chatbots. It enables companies to engage in real-time with their customers or potential customers. New technology like Cloud Computing has made it possible for chatbot integration. Artificial Intelligence has enabled companies to develop a better understanding of their consumers’ behaviors. With future improvements imminent, businesses will be able to use these apps to have an even deeper understanding, which will lead to smarter business decisions. In fact, one such technological development expected is speech recognition. These will further enhance these pivotal customer service tools. Kia used a chatbot for the release of its Super Bowl commercial this year. In fact, they won the coveted Super Bowl Ad Game with “Hero’s Journey” featuring comedienne Melissa McCarthy.

The huge uptake in messaging apps and chatbots has heralded a new era.

Welcome to the ‘Conversation Marketing’ era!

It’s now impossible to ignore this trend. Chatbots and messenger apps are changing the digital marketing field.

As a CMO, why should you invest in this technology?

Its 24/7

In this time of Amazon Prime 2-hour delivery, consumers want everything now, literally. Your consumer will get frustrated if they don’t get timely responses from you and your business. The banking industry suffered from failing to adapt to the consumer desire for service at the time they want it. Don’t make the same mistake.

You’re also way more likely to get engagement within Messenger apps or chatbots than say from your Facebook page. That’s because the communication is 1:1 and 24/7. You aren’t in competition with the hundreds of other marketers who are flooding your target’s newsfeed.

Unique data to create personalized campaigns

Possibly my favorite element of this new technology is the data you can extract. Can you tell I’m a marketer by trade? You can monitor your consumer, gather data and ultimately adapt your marketing to be highly personalized. Marketing has to be personal. The customer should be at the heart of all your content.

What’s also great is that as soon as you engage with someone, you then have the ability to push messages out to them. You can even set automation workflows, just as you would on email.

All-inclusive

Chatbots can provide an all-inclusive ecosystem for shoppers. Users can ask questions, receive answers, and based on data you’ve collected, gather recommendations increasing their likelihood to buy additional products.

Self-perpetuating marketing

This technology markets itself. Leads to more word-of-mouth, social sharing, better customer experiences…need I say more?

You can actually create a chatbot in minutes with companies like ManyChat or ChatFuel so why not try it?

 

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A New Waze to Get in Front of Your Customer

Over the weekend, I headed upstate to Hunter Mountain in the Catskills, NY to escape the city for the weekend.

As we settled into the hire car and plugged in our phones, we downloaded Waze to get the fastest route to our destination.

Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app, that leverages crowd-sourcing to providing real-time traffic and road info. That’s not all. It is also a fantastic example of how thinking digitally can open up new marketing roads.

“As traditional and digital media become more and more synonymous, Waze brings to McDonald’s the ability to marry intelligent data and targeting to what would otherwise be broad reaching OOH. The learnings we’ve captured for our client have provided deeper insight into creative, daytime, geo, and consumer behavioral performance.” – LIZ WOOD, Media Supervisor, McDonald’s Northern California, H&L Partners

Staying ahead of the latest marketing technology is not easy. As consumers move away from traditional platforms, we are increasingly pressured to find the next best way to engage with our target markets.

How Waze became the World’s Largest Community-Based Traffic App

Ever sat in a traffic jam and thought ‘there must be a better way’? In 2006, a community project founded and developed by Ehud Shabtai called “FreeMap Israel” worked to provide an answer to that very question. The project aimed to leverage crowd-sourcing to create a community of users, that would work together to provide up-to-date traffic and road information.

The success of the project and potential commercial application led to the creation of Waze in 2008, later rebranded to Waze Mobile Ltd in 2009.

Waze answered a growing consumer need that traditional GPS navigation software failed to respond to. Similarly to traditional software, Waze learns from its’ users’ driving times to provide real-time traffic updates. What makes it more efficient, is that users can report accidents, traffic jams, speed and police traps, and from the online map editor, can update roads, landmarks, house numbers, etc. providing users intelligence to speed up their journeys. By January 2012, Waze had expanded globally and boasted 12 million downloads worldwide. In just one year, Waze reached 50 million users and became one of the most successful apps of all time, winning Best Overall App award at the 2013 Mobile World Congress.

In 2013, the app was purchased by Google for $1.3 billion and from there has continued to grow. This acquisition enabled the app to leverage social data to provide more value to the user.

Waze as a Marketing Tool

CMOs are having to think innovative. Choosing the smartest tactic to stand out from the competition is not easy.

Google’s acquisition of Waze has opened the door for marketers to engage with this pre-built community.

How does it work?

Waze Ad ExampleThere are several ways to leverage the Waze platform.

Branded Pin – Using location-based data, brands can now choose to place their digital billboard informing Waze users that their business is on or nearby. By tapping the pin, users open up the creative and are provided with more information about the business, including how far away it is. They can then opt to reroute their journey. One more tap and Waze provides directions.

Zero-Speed Takeover – This option is designed for brands to get their creative in front of Waze users when their attention is at the highest.

Nearby Arrow – Great for local businesses looking to attract more walk-in traffic. Again tapping the arrow displays your creative. Another tap and the user is one their way!

Promoted Search – Get your brand image to the top of a search. We all love being top of a Google search.

Essentially Waze has disrupted the traditional ideas of signposts and billboards into something new, that is user-friendly, targeted, mobile-friendly, and track-able. By leveraging their existing expertise, Google has created another ad platform.

Targeting & Reporting

Waze’s power as a marketing tool is driven by its targeting and reporting capabilities. Marketers are given the power to target their consumer by who’s driving, operating system, place type, weather, traffic type, route length, time of day and more.

Marketers are also provided a wealth of powerful data. From average ‘distance driven from ads’ to ‘driver loyalty’ statistics, this platform is providing unique consumer insight.

The success stories are numerous and can be found on the Waze website. Here a links to a few that stood out to me:

In this digital world, staying on top of the latest technology and choosing smart marketing avenues is front of mind for all CMOs. Whether you’re looking to build brand awareness or drive traffic to your store, Waze is a platform you should consider.

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Marketer in New York heads to Nashville – the home of country music, and venue of Digital Retail Transformation Assembly

Had a lovely week hanging out in the home of country music, Nashville for the Digital Retail Transformation Assembly.

As my first event for my new company, I was super excited to see what our products look like in real life.

It was fantastic!

IMG_0835I had the chance to also sit down with a marketing hero of mine, Sarah Robb O’Hagan, who has just written a book EXTREMEYOU.

Once the video is edited, I’ll share! 😉

But what was also great was the conversations that delegates were having. There were 7 key trends that the marketers in the room were keen to discuss.

Here’s a rundown:

Phygital

As the digital retail landscape continues to grow, it is important not to forget the in-store experience for the consumer. Connecting the digital experience into the physical space, by bridging the physical and digital divide. In other words, the Phygital is now an imperative for many retailers.

Retailers are searching for innovative technologies to bridge the digital and physical worlds. There are many new companies out there looking to help retailers merged their digital and physical realms into one.

Leading retailers have invested heavily in physical locations. But today, every business must also invest in delivering a rich online experience.

Today’s consumers are more tech-savvy than ever. They don’t just delight in seamless omnichannel commerce, they expect it. Some enterprise-sized brands forget that shoppers are humans, not just segments. Not only do retailers need to merge the digital and physical, they also need to think human. Companies that succeed in marketing to the individual will thrive, those that don’t are destined to fail.

It can be difficult for large companies to shift quickly. Nobody does it well, and consumers don’t care about your legacy platforms or IT roadmaps. They care about personalized experiences and getting access to the most relevant digital content. Potential customers interact with a brand on multiple channels.

Data

PlaceIQ at Digital Retail Transformation AssemblyWe are “data-reach but knowledge-poor” (Sarah Robb O’Hagan).

The explosion of digital has enabled businesses to gather an extraordinary amount of data. What’s missing is the knowledge on how to use it. Retailers consistently adopt the latest technology but do not take the time to investigate how it adds value for the consumer.

Take location data for example. Mobile means more of today’s brands are empowered to gather in-depth insight into the true customer journey. Innovative brands are embracing location data.

Our sponsor PlaceIQ led an extremely popular workshop during the Digital Retail Transformation Assembly, They were key to emphasize the power of this data if used right. Location data has helped brands to make holistic marketing decisions, which have led to creative marketing plans built on customer behavior.

Storytelling

Storytelling is a huge trend, not only in retail but in marketing across industries. New digital channels have not only provided an unprecedented amount of customer insight but also present a unique opportunity to personalize experiences.

What is vital to remember is that brand purpose is still as relevant as ever, especially when you consider the consumer desire for authenticity.

“The “four P’s” have changed significantly. Not Product, life solutions. Not Price, time/knowledge (privacy could become currency too) have emerged as alternate perhaps more valuable currency. Not Place, but context (access/immediacy), not Promotion, but storytelling/co-creation/trust-building. And the 5th P for People is now personalization.” (Russ Klein)

Understanding and delivering content that really connects with the consumer is critical to marketing strategy. Storytelling is more relevant than ever. There is no debate on who owns a story, only on who has adapted their business in a way that delivers truly integrated and effective real-time experiences. Clients who want this level of integration and simplicity, look to brands who are using data to understand what content they want and deliver authentic stories to engage with.

Unified Brand

Delivering unified brand experiences is heavily linked to the previous trend, Phygital.

Marketers must deliver a unified brand message across multiple channels, including in-store. With digital tools, it is possible to change and deliver messages directly, in a quick way.

At Digital Retail Transformation Assembly, the unified brand session leaders emphasized the importance of authenticity.

Marketing according to the dictionary definition, isn’t authentic. Brands try to position themselves in the best light, omitting the negative and do everything they can to woo consumers. In this age of unprecedented consumer empowerment, where the reality of products and services is just a Google search away.

In today’s marketing landscape, consumers trap brands who fail to be authentic, or as is often the case, fail to unify their brand message.

Mobile

IMG_0806The definition of mobile is changing, expanding past the apps you have on your phones or tablets. Mobile is about the user, and understanding how their physical environment and digital technology interact.

Leading businesses are getting closer to their end-user by leveraging technology to create contextually relevant and more personalized experiences.

Social

Social media is a vital tool for retailers. It can be used in multiple ways.

Firstly, it’s a listening tool. Social media’s greatest power is that it enables brands to listen, by monitoring their target customers and learning about what they are talking about.

Due to this listening aspect, social media also offers marketers the opportunity to collect in-depth data on their customers. This analysis can impact the direction of a company, ignite future growth, and help stay ahead of competitors.

Social media is a tool of engagement. It really is the first example of conversation marketing, which with chatbots and messaging apps, is becoming more important.

Influencers

IMG_0794Influencer marketing has made a huge impact in retail.

Americans spend 1.8 hours per day on social networks, which is more time than on personal email and search engines combined. As a result, we’ve become a society whose purchase behavior is heavily influenced by those we choose to connect with online. We’re also a society suffering from ad fatigue, ad fraud, and ad blockers. When people get overwhelmed, they tend to revert back to the things they trust, like human relationships.

In the context of marketing, this gives influencer marketing a major advantage over other digital advertising methods. Following the best practices from leading consumer brands, learn how to harness the power of influence and content consumers trust.

Had an amazing time in Nashville! would highly recommend the city to anyone visiting the USA.

Can’t wait to go back!

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The Marketing Unicorn – Myth or Reality?

A Unicorn, a mythical creature of legend, that is as rare as it is majestic, has ignited a craze recently that many a marketer is looking to leverage.

Take Starbucks for example, who last week launched their ‘Unicorn Frappuccino’, a brightly colored drink that changes color and taste as you drink it.

Starbucks announcement of the Unicorn Frappuccino on Twitter
Starbucks announcement of the Unicorn Frappuccino on Twitter

With all this talk of unicorns, it got me thinking about if the Marketing Unicorn exists.

Who is the Marketing Unicorn?

Marketing in recent years has become strategically vital to any company’s long-term success. It has also developed the reputation for being a creative, agile, and digital career choice. Whilst this is in part true, marketing is indeed a job for the creative and agile, the Marketing Unicorn knows not to limit the focus to the digital.

Instead, they limit their focus to the customer. The increasingly rare Marketing Unicorn sees the customer first and foremost, and understand that the customer does not always favor digital.

Customers use multiple channels, and yes absolutely, a large proportion of the most popular channels are digital. Whilst, it is foolish not to leverage digital marketing tools in this age of digital transformation, there is something worse – not using the tools that will spark the desired response from your customer. The most powerful examples of marketing can all be traced back to one common characteristic. They put the customer first.

In fact, marketing failures can also be traced back to the customer and failing to put them first. Take Pepsi, who recently found out how disastrous misreading customer sentiment can be with their television commercial featuring Kendall Jenner. Instead of inspiring of a message of unity, it provoked a huge, negative reaction on social media. Many accused the Pepsi of adopting the spirit and imagery of the anti-Trump resistance, Black Lives Matter, and other movements to sell soda.

How to recognize a Marketing Unicorn?

  1. The word Customer, not the word Digital, makes up 50% of their sentences.

It’s almost impossible to have a conversation with a marketer these days without them talking digital or social media. In fact, if you were to ask a marketer to explain what’s integral to their strategy in under 60 seconds, I guarantee you’ll hear digital or social media a minimum 5 times.

The Marketing Unicorn, however, would say customer 5 times. Their explanation would be littered with references to customer needs or experience. They talk of personalization, targeting, the value of customer feedback, and continually work to engage differently with their target markets.

Not to say that digital tools, like social media, are not extremely effective. But what is more effective, is choosing the tools that engage the customer directly, in a unique way. Successful examples of digital marketing do just that.

  1. Their Power comes from Data.

Mythical creatures often have a source of power. In the case of the Unicorn, the source is the single large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead. For the Marketing Unicorn, this source is data.

Data is more abundant than ever. Marketers who use data to their advantage are more powerful. They come armed to meetings with statistics and have consumer insight that sounds almost fabricated in its specificity.

The Marketing Unicorn can also take this data to the next level, channeling their power to predict the future. This ability enables them to stay one step ahead of consumer trends. It also helps them assess marketing channels, and choose the MarTech that will enhance their efforts.

  1. The Supervillain of their Story is…

Dr. Buzzword! An evil force that focuses on the latest trend, not the customer. In other words, a business leader who thinks trend-first, trapping the Unicorn in a cage and preventing the formulation of a marketing strategy that thinks customer-first.

What to do if you find a Marketing Unicorn?

Don’t scare it away.

Don’t be Dr. Buzzword and trap this rare creature in a cage.

Nurture it.

Also posted on Business2Community >

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5 Indicators That Marketing Is Taking A Step Back

Also shared on Business2Community >

The headline of this blog is purposely provocative. Marketing is not taking a step back in the sense that’s it’s not innovating.

If anything, it’s the opposite. Marketing has never been so innovative, so forward-thinking.

By taking a step back, I mean to denote that Marketing is looking back to roots, examining its purpose.

“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” – American Marketing Association

In other words, as marketers, we are tasked with the challenge of figuring out how best to communicate a product or service to our target market. This starts by thinking about who the customer is and how they behave. This need to understand the customer has never been more important.

Why?

Because marketing is shifting once more.

With the advent of digital technology, came a myriad of marketing tools to increase the views to your website exponentially, or grow your social following from the hundreds to the millions.

As we begin to settle into this new digital world, marketing is looking back to targeting, personalizing, and thinking of the customer as an individual once more. We’ve reached a digital maturity.

Here are 5 indicators of this changing trend and what to keep your eye on:

  1. The Rise of Individualism

The success of ChatBots and messaging apps like SnapChat illustrate a shift in consumer behavior.

Social Media opened the opportunity for the individual to create and develop an online, public persona. For marketers, this was an invaluable source of consumer information.

Now, the consumer is looking to more private platforms to seek information. Consumers are protecting themselves by being pickier about the public persona they portray online.

The consumer is also looking to platforms that generate conversation, be it with a human or a robot. This indicates that the consumer is looking to engage with a brand as an individual, more authentic basis.

As a marketer, the rise of individualism indicates the consumer’s desire for authenticity. Keep this in mind when writing copy. You need to speak to the individual with a voice that resonates with them.

Whether you are a B2B or B2C marketer, you are talking to a human.

  1. Personalized Messaging

The need for personalized messages is not a new trend. It links neatly with the previous indicator of the rise of individualism.

As consumers and brands move to engaging on ChatBots and messenger apps, the use of other digital platforms like email will not diminish.

Marketing strategy needs to take a holistic view of every customer touchpoint, close the loop, unify the message, and adapt the message in real-time to react to consumer behavior.

  1. Facebook Targeting Features

Back when Facebook first launched its advertising platform, it was simple and allowed businesses to target local students or businesses for a small fee.

As the social giant grew, it became a powerful platform for marketers to get in front of millions of potential consumers in one hit. In 2009, came the first launch of what we know today as the Facebook Advertising platform. Its success is down to its advanced targeting options, that outstrip those of other platforms like Twitter.

Facebook remembered what marketing is all about. Talking to your target market on a platform that they use. Now Facebook advertising is a staple of every marketer’s digital marketing strategy.

Compare if you like the decline in advertising on television commercials. Since the launch of “binge” streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu, TV viewers no longer patiently sit through 5 minutes of commercials. Instead, they now have the power to avoid them completely, except during a live sporting or music event.

Savvy advertisers have spotted this trend and adapted their practices. Take Kia, the clear winner of the 2017 Super Bowl Ad Game according to USA Today’s Super Bowl Ad Meter. Interestingly, they launched their Super Bowl campaign with the Nirobot on Facebook Messenger.

Kia identified that the mass message would ignite interest, but the need to engage on an individual level would ultimately lead to sales.

  1. Growth of Customer Experience

The rise of Customer Experience is the fourth indicator that marketing is shifting back to being more targeted.

With the emergence of new job titles like CXO, coupled with the rise of experience technology like Augmented Reality, marketers are increasingly having put their consumer at the center of an experience to gain their business.

Take the retail industry. In-store shopping has been declining in recent years, with the online and mobile platforms winning the holiday battle in 2016.

Virtual reality (VR) and its sister technology augmented reality (AR) are adding a new dimension to retail, by transforming how people shop. You are no longer limited to the 4 walls of a store or the limits of a website. In the future, the consumer will be able to try on that dress without going in-store or test if a dining set fits in their dining room, without having to take out a tape measure.

This technology is creating a unique, individual experience for customers.

Retailers like IKEA, Lowe’s, Topshop are ahead of the game here. Marketers in all industries need to watch this technology in 2017, as those who use it effectively (with their customer in mind) will certainly come out ahead.

  1. The Abundance of Data

Data is a driving force behind the success of digital technology in marketing. Gone are the days of spending thousands on a product launch without hope of knowing its impact or ROI.

The availability of consumer data and the use of it is another indicator that marketing is taking a step back.

We can now message individuals based on their behavior, on a specific action they’ve taken on our websites.

The data-savvy marketer or marketing team will be able to harness this shift to back to targeted, consumer-centricity faster than others.

With each of the indicators, it is not possible to emphasize enough the importance of taking the time to understand your target customer.

5 things you need to make sure your marketing team is doing:

  1. Using profile to understand your customer
  2. Think about the individual consumer, not just the target of thousands of web views
  3. Closing the loop on all consumer touchpoints, sending out unified, personalized messages
  4. Choosing technology that adapts in real-time to consumer behavior
  5. Gathering data, analyzing it, and making smart decisions based on what they discover

As marketing takes a step back to focus on its core function and purpose, new technology makes it ever easier for the marketer to forward-think and grow their businesses.

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A Visit to the Museum of City of New York

IMG_0463We found ourselves in Central Park this last weekend, after getting up early for a typical Saturday stroll. After a cookie the size of my face from Le Pain Quotidien, we decided to walk up Museum Mile and visit the Museum of City of New York.

This museum is one of the best in New York and on my recommendation list to anyone visiting the city.

One of the exhibitions that stood out to me was the recently opened Posters and Patriotism. As a marketer, I’ve been interested in the history of the business function. The marketing orientation or the marketing concept did not emerge until the 1950s, post World War Two. Walking through this particular exhibition, it became clear that what we now know as marketing, has actually played a vital role in how we communicate long before it became a recognized business practice.

Many marketing studies have found evidence of advertising, branding, packaging, and labelling tactics as early as the antiquity.

During the Middle Ages, market towns sprang up across Europe. Some historians have theorized that the term, ‘marketing,’ may actually have first been used in the context of market towns, to denote the process of buying and selling.

Marketing first appeared in dictionaries as early as the sixteenth century, where according to etymologists, the term referred to the process of buying and selling at a market. The more contemporary definition of ‘marketing’ as a process of moving goods from producer to consumer first appeared in 1897. It was this definition that was the first to emphasize sales and advertising.

WW1 Propaganda PosterThe Posters and Patriotism exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York focuses on the use of propaganda to essential “sell” the Great War (First World War) to the American people.

The Second World War is a case in point of the power of marketing. Hitler, a famed orator and propagandist, used marketing tactics to take his party from a small faction in 1919, to power in 1933. Using these tactics in the following years, he also swayed many to his extremist views.

Likewise, the US used propaganda to promote its own war effort; raising money for its troops, and encouraging those at home to do their duty and support those fighting abroad.

Propaganda is an interesting case, as it has both negative and positive connotations. If you think of modern marketing, branding is much the same. It can ignite negative, or preferably positive reactions in a target consumer.

The first reference to ‘modern marketing’ came in 1957 when Hollander and others debated the emergence of the marketing as a business function. From then on Marketing was defined as a planned, programmed professional practice that incorporated activities such as segmentation, product differentiation, positioning and marketing communications. ‘Marketing’ was no longer seen as a simple form of distribution and exchange.

Throughout history, be it a political movement or a theatre production, people have used marketing tools to communicate a message.

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How Do You Know When Too Much Email is Too Much?

Email is not dead. Email is the core of every marketers’ digital strategy and will remain so for some time. Social Media has tried and failed to knock email off its pedestal.

“Three-quarters of companies agree that email offers “excellent” to “good” ROI.” (Econsultancy, 2016) (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)

When it comes to developing your email marketing strategy, there are several elements to consider.

  • How much data do you have?
  • Can you segment the data?
  • Why am I sending emails?
  • How many emails are you planning on sending?
  • How often should I send these emails?
  • What time zone are your recipients in?
  • Does my email system allow me to create mobile friendly emails?

Once you’ve starting experimenting, you’ll start to see significant return. Email is still the number marketing tool in terms of direct engagement and conversion.

We’ve all got frustrated at our inbox at one time or another.

As marketers, we crave information and often sign up for multiple email newsletters all offering to give us details on the latest marketing trends. Recently, two of influencers that I follow teamed up to promote one of their sales training courses.

Now, the idea of this co-promotion is sound. Leveraging off a fellow influencers’ network and getting their seal of approval is a great way of boosting your reach. Another great point to add is that the copy was brilliant. Almost convinced they’re best friends in real life!

However, one thing they didn’t manage well was the sending times of their emails. I would receive and email from one of them, and then within 30 minutes receive an email with the same subject matter from the other guy!

At first, this wasn’t too bad. Obviously, it’s a short-term promotion as there are clear deadlines detailed in the emails. Couple of emails here and there are not too bad.

Oh, how wrong I was.

This bombardment continues for what felt like weeks (3), culminating in an onslaught on my inbox in the early hours of the morning.

Had these emails been the only 6 emails I had received from them that day, I may not have noticed. But, this was only half.

How do you know when too much email is too much

An aggressive sales strategy often works. Telling a story in email also often works. These emails certainly had both.

When sending email, it’s vital to plan the sending. Sending emails at 2am on a Wednesday to a busy executive with an immediate deadline is most likely going to be ineffective. Unless they suffer from severe insomnia, or like to party.  I came in to the office and deleted them all without even reading them (after I took the screenshot of course!)

Considering that at no point had I opened or clicked any of these emails, it may have been smart to remove me from the campaign. Focus efforts on more engaged readers.

How do you know when too much email is too much?

From the outset. Think about your own relationship with your inbox. What email tactics irritate you? Which emails stand out to you?

Thinking like your customer is not a trick. It’s not even an art. It’s actually common sense.

The emails I received came from two seasoned marketing professionals, with tried and tested methods. But as their supposed target customer, these tactics were not appropriate to get me to engage with them, let alone buy their product.

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Start-ups: here’s why you should invest in marketing expertise early

Short answer, because of your customer

Long answer, because the function of marketing is to act as the ‘voice of the customer’ within your business and this should be a driving force from day one.

Growth hacking is a fantastic marketing ideology that has launched many a start-up into a given market, propelled them to the top, and helped them disrupt the space. According to Ryan Holiday’s book, Growth Hacker Marketing, the first important step is Product Market Fit. In other words, ensuring that your product fits the needs of your customer, your market. To do this you need to understand the ‘voice of the customer’.

Enter Marketing. This customer-focused expertise is needed from the outset, from the point of product development. Often a misunderstanding arises where the function of marketing is being restricted to communication. Effectively sharing the message of your product or service to your target market is a huge component of the role that marketing plays within a business. But it’s also more.

The ‘voice of the customer’ should not be overlooked. From the outset, as an entrepreneur you need to invest in consumer insight, gaining a marketing advantage over your competitors.

When I say invest, I don’t necessarily mean spending thousands on a marketing consultant or hiring a marketer from day one.

Eventually, as your company takes off you will need to hire a trained marketer. That is a fact. However, in the early days adopting a few basic marketing principles will help guide your product launch and get your business safely off the ground.

  1. Start with customer personas.

Who are your customers? Sounds like a simple question. It is. Writing down the answer is often overlooked for this reason. It’s not enough to say, “Millennials who use mobile apps”. You need to note down:

  • Demographics – age, gender, income, location.
  • Psychographics – personality traits and preferences.
  • Behavior – what do they like? What do they dislike?

B2B business should also take note of characteristics pertaining to the ideal business, in which their ideal customer works.

  • # of employees
  • Product or service
  • Revenue
  • Geographic scope
  • Type of business
  • Leadership structure
  • Budget
  1. Make S.M.A.R.T. goals and map the steps needed to hit each one.

There is a difference between a target and an objective. In this target fearful world, it’s important not to forget to set clear, well-defined, and measurable objectives. As your business starts to grow, these objectives need to be decided and defined by the entire team, so they are engaged and invested.

I have always favored the S.M.A.R.T. principle. All goals must be Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic, and Time-related.

  1. Create your brand by telling an authentic story.

Authentic marketing is more powerful than anything else. Start to define your brand by telling your story. Don’t skip out the failures. Talk authentically about yourself and your reasons for launching.

Your brand identity will grow from here.

  1. Understand that your website is the shop window of your company.

Do not take your website for granted. It is the more important marketing tool you have. Your website will adapt as your business grows, but should always be the platform from which you disseminate information and a point-of-contact for your customer.

When creating your website, think about how your customer will navigate through the website, and make it easy to do so. I do this by brainstorming the questions I think my target customer will want answers to inform their buying process. Your website must be mobile friendly. In this day and age, having a non-responsive website is business suicide.

Write concise copy that guides the customer to the information they need, and ultimately how they purchase.

When I say invest, I also don’t necessarily mean spending hours a day on an online course, gaining additional qualifications.

Again, you don’t need to invest hours a day into gaining marketing expertise. Read, listen, and learn from the abundance of free publications and podcasts out there. Find some specific to your industry vertical as well. The way healthcare markets to patients is different to how retail markets, despite both industries being forced to leverage digital platforms for the on-demand consumer.

Here are just a few marketing specific portals to help you on your way:

  • GrowthHackers – get tips on the latest growth hacking principles, to drive fast growth for your business.
  • MarketingProfs – fantastic portal for newbies and veterans.
  • HubSpot Marketing Blog – Inbound Marketing or Content Marketing experts.
  • Six Pixels of Separation – fantastic read that cuts through the jargon.
  • Grow – great read for marketers, but also provides unmatched leadership advice.
  • Chief Marketer – help you understand how to leverage data in marketing.
  • com – watch out for what seasoned CMOs are keeping their eyes on.
  • Jeff Bullas – self-made social media tycoon.
  • The Marketing Companion Podcast – easy to absorb insight into the latest marketing trends.
  • VentureBeat Podcast – MarTech discussions, interviews with digital leaders, all packaged in a light-hearted podcast that is perfect for the subway ride.
  • Social Media Today – best practices to utilize these free platforms.
  • CIO.com – technology is changing marketing. Keep this in mind.

Also, network at local events. Meetup.com is a fantastic resource for start-ups. Marketing events are a dime a dozen, so why not attend a few. Ask pointed questions about the challenges you’ve been facing to seasoned professionals over a glass of wine or two.

Marketing New York

3 factors that influence sustainability. What the whaling industry missed!

I recently finished reading Troubled Waters: The Changing Fortunes of Whales and Dolphins.

If you haven’t read my twitter bio, you may not know that, as much as I love marketing and love New York; I also have two other loves – the Wales Rugby team and Whales.

My career in marketing was not planned. I fell into after finishing a French and European Studies joint honors degree at the University of Birmingham.

Optimized-killer-whales-1945411_1280As a child, I had dreamed of being a Marine Biologist after a family vacation to Canada, where my parents took us whale watching and I came face-to-face with the true eye of an Orca (Killer Whale).

The excitement was too much. I actually temporarily stopped breathing.

Due to a nasty susceptibility to sea sickness, a deep fear of sharks and a natural love of history and languages, my schooling took me a different route.

Graduating from university, I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. One thing I did know, was that I wanted to work in a dynamic business function. I like to try new things; hence the choice to study European Studies, where I got a taste of History, Film, Drama, Literature, Psychology and Sociology, alongside my core study of languages.

Marketing was the obvious fit. Now, in my fifth year in the industry, I couldn’t be happier with my choice.

But, my love of whales and dolphins has not dissipated.

My wonderful little sister got me Troubled Waters: The Changing Fortunes of Whales and Dolphins and I have actually read it twice.

The book itself is a history of our relationships with whales and dolphins. What can only be described as a rocky relationship, our treatment of these magnificent creatures has drastically changed over the years.  What is particularly interesting is how intertwined this relationship has been with human history.

From when hunters first hunted whales over 1000 years ago to the growth of a global industry that (literally) fueled human progress; we now rally behind these animals, fighting to protect them.

As I was reading the book again, I couldn’t get the idea of business sustainability out of my head.

Running a sustainable business with a long-term future is the goal of every entrepreneur and businessman.

But there are many factors to sustainability, some that are often overlooked.

Let’s look at the case of the whaling industry. There are several reasons why this industry was not sustainable. The first and most obvious is that the industry outstripped the resource.

The whaling industry hunted faster than the whales could reproduce.

Understanding your market and its limitations is vital to any business’ survival. Be it the need to monitor animal populations or keep an eye on new technology making traditional methods obsolete, long-term survival is dependent on the businesses monitoring their resources. 

Next, the whaling industry lost public support. As the general population began to understand more about these gentle giants, the industry came under intense pressure to cease or at least reduce their activities.

A key turning point in public opinion actually came upon the discovery of whale song by military sonar technology. Recordings of whales singing, in a sense, personified the creatures. They were communicating.

Public opinion around your business practices is also vital to sustainability. PR activities are great tools to change opinion.

Another factor that can influence a business’ sustainability is its staff.

The whaling industry, as did many industries in the early 20th century, did not look after its employees. For example, those who worked on the boats and did not hold a position were subject to horrible working conditions. Disease was rife. Food was limited and often rotting.

Treatment of your team should not be overlooked, especially these days when the individual is active on social media and should be considered a social (marketing) asset.

Your employees can be great advocacy tools for your brand. Don’t forget them!

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#ThrowbackThursday A look at what Facebook used to be

Facebook announced that it’s once again updating its algorithm to take into account the use of ‘reactions’.

It’s been a little over a year since Facebook updated its “Like” button to allow its users to react to a post. Now Facebookers can “haha”, “love”, “anger” and more at the posts that appear on their newsfeed.

This latest algorithm update will favor posts that have been reacted too, over those that have been liked. So, you may want to careful about how to react to certain posts, as even “anger” will be ranked higher.

“Over the past year we’ve found that if people leave a reaction on a post, it is an even stronger signal that they’d want to see that type of post than if they left a like on the post,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “So we are updating News Feed to weigh reactions a little more than likes when taking into account how relevant the story is to each person.”

With the news of this pending update breaking this week, coupled with the fact that it’s my birthday tomorrow, I started to feel a little nostalgic about what Facebook used to be – when a simple “like” was all that was required.

Facebook was originally invented as a social platform for university/ college students to communicate across campus and find out if someone they liked is in a relationship. I actually registered for Facebook back in 2007, one year before I left home for University. I saw it as a fantastic way to keep in touch with my school friends, and also a way to meet fellow University of Birmingham freshers before we all descended on the city in September.

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My first Facebook profile picture vs. my current.

Since 2004, and its initial launch, the Facebook platform has grown exponentially. By the end of 2014, it had over 1 billion users.

Facebook’s rise to success is almost counterintuitive. Initially, the platform answered a specific niche need. Now, it is no longer concerned with this niche market. Instead as a global behemoth, it now caters to a unmeasurable market. What this shows is that if you have a product that works, you can go against the market practice, and take the reach a lot further.

It is now an extremely powerful marketing tool. Marketer’s everywhere are trying to take advantage of the fact that over a billion people are active users. Facebook’s advertising tool also, by far, outstrips the functionality of other social platforms. You can target effectively by any criteria that people add to their profiles. Not only job title, company, location, but also interest, groups, pages likes and more.

As a marketer, it is a platform you can’t ignore!

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