Lana BusignaniLana BusignaniSeptember 14, 2020
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7min729

The swift and dramatic impact of COVID-19 has created tough challenges for brands but keeping consumer relations on ice isn’t a viable solution.

As carefully laid strategies and plans continue to be derailed, brands must remember that the way they respond and interact with consumers today will affect perceptions and performance far into the future.

While the world waits to see the full impact of the pandemic on businesses, the next steps marketers take are what will separate the wheat from the chaff for brands. Being remembered for the right reasons is going to mean adopting the right set of smart and flexible tactics.

Here are four of the biggest factors they need to consider:

1. This is no time to put a stop on advertising

Even as the clouds are beginning to lift, there is still a temptation to hold off on advertising until the crisis has passed entirely. But with this approach comes a strong probability that brands will fall behind competitors.

Nielsen analysis has shown that brands typically reap almost half (47 percent) of the rewards their marketing efforts generate after one year. As a result, those cutting advertising now may face significant negative effects downstream. Alongside smaller market share, it’s likely their long absence will mean advertising messages are less impactful when they do hit the restart button, making it harder to capture attention and drive sales.

To maintain their position and place on the consumer radar, brands must resist the urge to stop all advertising spend. Instead, they should be seizing the opportunities current turbulence brings. For example, the decline in CPMs triggered by the outbreak offers a chance for brands to engage new audiences at a lower cost. The added advantage being that as well as amplifying their immediate reach across varied digital media, harnessing reduced CPMs will increase the likelihood of greater long-term returns.

2. Sudden change can create greater opportunities

The huge disruption to everyday life has fuelled massive changes in normal habits, especially media interaction. With many consumers homebound, consumption levels have soared for both online and offline media.

For brands this shift creates greater scope than ever to bolster exposure and build deeper consumer ties through meaningful advertising; particularly as a high proportion of consumers already plan to make their new behaviours permanent. But it’s also worth noting the potential to evolve standard practices.

By reassessing their usual media channels and spend allocation in line with changing viewing patterns, brands can uncover new opportunities to connect with target audiences. Put another way, they can break the cycle of ‘same as last year’ marketing and cover new ground; whether that’s moving into TV or leveraging premium video-on-demand platforms.

3. Navigating a crisis requires careful messaging

No matter what their sector, most brands have had to swiftly adjust marketing strategies and messaging in the face of COVID-19. Unsurprisingly, this has largely meant an uptick in activity based around the pandemic; according to Nielsen data, 90 percent of all Q1 ads referencing coronavirus occurred at the end of March, with the number of mentions growing particularly fast across the UK, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

But as brands continue to re-orientate, it will be crucial to do so with care. Consumers want the ads brands deliver to not only provide much-needed stability, but also authenticity and real empathy. Broadly, this involves creating ads to fit one of five central themes: assistance for frontline workers, charitable donations, championing public health advice, promoting the benefits of the business’ digital reinvention, and supporting consumer needs.

4. Every good campaign needs a firm data basis

Guiding decisions with precise insight has never been so critical, which makes analytics an essential investment. Nielsen’s own modelling data has shown analytics platforms more than pay their way in the long run; with the right mix of reliable data, sound methodology and activation, the returns platforms produce average at seven times their initial cost.

Accurate analysis of data is particularly important in today’s unpredictable climate, which has seen the value of agility soar. Opting for analytical tools capable of rapidly evaluating diverse new data is vital to drive rapid yet well-informed pivots, if needed. Better still, implementing platforms with the ability to use custom insights will enable brands to gain even more granular insight into what the next best move is to achieve their specific goals.

The future has been permanently changed by the pandemic, with many more changes are still to come. Advertisers that strive to continue building and implementing thoughtful and effective marketing plans will maintain awareness for the right reasons, placing them in a powerful position in the long term. By understanding the opportunities of the current situation and relying on a strong data foundation, brands can weather the storm and come out the other side stronger than they were before.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamSeptember 3, 2020
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5min697

New data collected from an omnichannel marketing automation platform, dotdigital, reveals the UK leads the way in omnichannel marketing, as 31 percent is scored by UK retailers against key success market, compared to the global benchmark of just 18 percent.

Despite these advances, retailers and brands are still missing out on opportunities to optimise their ecommerce operations, meaning they could be missing out on revenue.

The research published in the Hitting the Mark report benchmarks the digital marketing tactics adopted by 100 ecommerce brands worldwide, shows that while UK brands are making headway tapping into customers’ demands for easily accessible communication, they are missing the mark when it comes to the basics.

The retailers could be missing out on sales at a time when demand for ecommerce is blooming. The disruption caused by Covid-19 has accelerated the uptake of ecommerce globally, with ecommerce sales predicted to increase by up to 40 percent across all retail in the UK in 2020.

Customer data is the oil that fuels excellent customer experience (CX) online, with demand for personalisation in digital shopping journeys rising 123 percent in the last 6 months. However, more than two years on from the introduction of GDPR regulations, only 37 percent of UK brands had clear consent criteria – running the risk of encountering serious legal issues.

With cart abandonment rates averaging 70 percent across the ecommerce industry, inspiring shoppers to follow through with their purchases is more challenging than ever. Despite this, only 40 perceb of UK brands surveyed sent an abandoned cart email even though this key revenue-generating automation should be a central part of every brand’s strategy. The UK figure is 20 percent lower than ecommerce businesses in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, which sent the most cart recovery emails globally.

Matchesfashion.com, which was ranked the top brand globally in the report, set the bar for abandoned cart communication sending a personalised, concise cart recovery email within 30 minutes of the purchase being paused. Boohoo.com is also commended for its efforts in utilising abandoned cart emails as a selling opportunity and giving shoppers a reason to return.

Whilst the UK lockdown has seen a shift back to desktop sales, it is predicted in the long-term that mobile traffic and transactions in the UK will continue to grow at a rate of 16 percent annually and will eventually overtake desktop sales by 2023. Set to capitalise on this shift, UK retailers topped the poll when it came to communicating with customers via SMS, with 40 percent of UK retailers utilising this channel to communicate with shoppers on the go.

In spite of the high uptake in m-commerce, UK retailers are still not utilising the full potential of this channel with 95 percent of messages being transactional and just one brand sending a promotional SMS message.  Younger brands targeting the millennial generation, who demand brands be available on the channels they want, are leading the SMS charge. The report highlights both Gymshark and boohoo.com as clear winners in this category, both having experienced unprecedented growth because they’re successfully meeting these demands.

Mark Jervis, Marketing Director at dotdigital said: “It’s great to see iconic British retailers leading the way in improving customer experience. However, UK brands aren’t committing wholeheartedly to a customer-centric strategy. The ultimate customer experience – the one that delights shoppers and drives sales – is created when brands combine customer data with omnichannel journeys and user experiences.”

“UK brands are working hard to gain customer confidence and acquire data, but they’re stumbling at the final hurdle. Data drives relevancy which improves experience and keeps shoppers engaged and UK retailers are still missing out a large chunk of revenue potential in the market and, as a result, customer loyalty remains fickle,” Jervis added.


Sylvie TongcoSylvie TongcoAugust 25, 2020
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7min1183

There’s no denying the global coronavirus crisis has caused an incredible amount of disruption to all aspects of daily life. The sheer force of the virus has resulted in entire industries being forced to shut down or rethink their business models in the face of this unprecedented crisis.

It’s no different for the digital marketing industry, COVID-19 is also a reset moment.

Before the pandemic, marketers were battling for the attention of consumers characterised by equal amounts of disposable income and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), ready to adopt the latest trends and experiences into their social media-saturated lives.

Now, the economic fallout of coronavirus has replaced superfluous purchases with real existential decisions in a marketplace ruled by FOLE (Fear of Losing Everything). And with the resulting communications overload around coronavirus, the battle for consumers’ attention has intensified, so creating engagement, and conversions, is an entirely different game moving forward.

The big questions plaguing everyone right now: How long will it take before the situation goes back to normal? And what exactly will this new normal look like?

The truth is, nobody knows the answer, but taking a customer-first approach can help marketers start building the foundation for a post-coronavirus future today, by making a commitment to trust, empathy and relevance – and placing the individual customer at the centre.

Adapting to a changed reality

The coronavirus pandemic has forever broken the traditional marketing model. From a marketing perspective, social distancing and the loss of real-life interactions renders previously planned strategies obsolete. Moving forward, digital communications will be fundamental in earning and maintaining, consumers’ attention and trust. More than ever, digital engagement will define consumer relationships and loyalty in a socially distanced reality.

Consumers now pay more attention to digital messages than before the crisis, especially compounded by many still choosing to remain socially-distant. Because of the crisis, email send volume increased by 19 percent in March over January 2020, while the number of companies sending emails grew by 18 percent.

With more eyeballs on messages, using your full digital reach to build strong customer relationships today will pay dividends in the future. What this new normal will look like remains to be seen, but an emphasis on Customer-First Marketing provides a critical way forward against the uncertain and complex realities of COVID-19. Instead of starting with the product or communications channel, this strategy focuses first on individual consumers.

With Customer-First Marketing, marketers implement engagement strategies that are based on trust and empathy, to ensure that every communication is meaningful and relevant.

What are the new rules for customer-first marketing

Now that digital engagement has become the primary mode of customer interaction, staying close to customers and their individual needs will be paramount. This will require a step change in marketing strategies, placing the most recent customer data at the centre of every interaction in the digital customer journey.

In a Customer-First Marketing approach, brands build programs that communicate authentically with individuals using an approach of committed customer service. To do this well, marketers must understand the consumers’ goals and use campaign elements like messaging, data, and channel selection that are most relevant and contextual at the moment of engagement. And they must use the latest omnichannel marketing technologies – including marketing AI, dynamic content, and real-time marketing capabilities – to deliver this level of personalisation at scale.

With Customer-First Marketing, marketers put themselves in the consumer’s shoes, placing unique consumer needs, passions, and emotions ahead of immediate transaction goals, especially in times of crises.

Trust

Today consumers gravitate towards brands they can trust in uncertain times. Communicate your brand mission in honest words. Prioritise relationship building over transactional value. Be honest and transparent. Communicate business policies and data practices in easy-to-follow language. And always adhere to the latest privacy legislation, to safeguard consumer data.

Empathy

Empathy builds connections. It starts with putting the consumer first, placing yourself in their shoes. It’s about understanding what drives and motivates consumers, respecting their actions, supporting their needs, and putting long-term loyalty over short-term business gains. It means showing that you care even at a time when consumers are postponing major purchases and controlling their spending.

As more and more households face financial hardships and insecurity, companies are showing empathy by making crisis-appropriate accommodations around financing. Others, including big luxury labels, show social responsibility by going beyond their core business models to produce scarce items such as hand sanitiser and face masks.

Relevance

Relevance is a relationship accelerator. Consumer purchase paths have given way to a much more complex process that can best be described as a series of micro-moments: points of opportunity for marketers to engage with consumers in context, such as a search for product information on their computer or a scroll through a news feed on their phone. Location, channel, mindset, recent activities, current environment; these elements make up the consumer’s micro-moment.

Future-proof your marketing

By adopting Customer-First Marketing you are, not only embracing a set of values and practices that will outlast the crisis, but you are also pivoting to a data-driven approach that will make your entire marketing infrastructure more responsive to consumer needs.

And by consistently serving trust, empathy, and relevance at a time when customers need stability, you can build loyalty and long-term relationships for years to come.


Tim StoneTim StoneFebruary 24, 2020
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7min1586

The relationships between brands and consumers have changed.

The way we consume products, services, and even marketing messages is not the same as before. The proliferation of smartphones and tablets, along with the rise in value of the subscription economy, is leading this change.

Consumers are now hyper-connected across multiple channels in ways that never existed before, and the onus is on brands to evolve. This digital innovation has given consumers unprecedented levels of flexibility too. It has redefined their expectations of how brands ought to communicate with them.

At the same time, these hyper-connected consumers are creating a mass of data and information for marketers. From demographic, to social and transactional data, consumers are happy to offer personal data in exchange for a more personal service and experience.

Since much of the power rests with consumers today, keeping up with their changing needs and delivering the kind of connected experiences that today’s new breed of consumers demand will be paramount in 2020. Therefore, as brands wrestle with this challenge, what will the impact on customer experience be?

CX is no longer a differentiator: it’s a requirement

Despite the fact that great CX is one of the leading ways in which businesses can differentiate their brands today, many are still failing. In a recent survey, only 36 percent of marketers claimed they look after CX, and a majority (45 percent) said that they are not responsible for it.

In 2020, the CX responsibility can no longer live within the confines of ‘CX’ professionals or the marketing department alone. It needs to involve every individual within a brand – whether that’s marketing, sales or service.

This makes it important for brands to strive to achieve a seamless, positive, cross-departmental Customer Experience, regardless of whether it’s during marketing, billing or customer service scenarios. Dealing with this industry wide challenge is what marketers need to address.

Additionally, today’s hyper-connected customers have higher customer expectations. They expect instantaneous responses to queries. Dealing with customer impatience, therefore, is now an imperative for brands, as they seek to deliver high-value and truly connected experiences, regardless of department or channel that customers are engaging with.

As organisations look to deliver a truly connected CX, they must aim to continuously build rounded profiles of their customers; tracking available information like behavioural data, transactional data, data from social media and much more.

Only then can companies deliver highly relevant and personalised experiences for each customer and ultimately maximise the lifetime value of that customer.

Everyone’s a winner, including the contact centre

A connected CX doesn’t solely benefit brand marketers either. Take the contact centre, where delivering value to a customer at each and every interaction has an acute impact.

Today, expected customer service response timeframes are shortening: 96 percent of people expect brands to respond within 24 hours of a flagged issue and 90 percent also expect a resolution to come within 24 hours.

What’s more, 71 percent expect brands to have all the information about them during an escalated brand interaction; which highlights and stresses the importance and need for brands to develop a full 360-view of the customer.

Within this scenario brands also need to adjust their perspective of the value of the contact centre. By no longer viewing the contact centre as a ‘cost centre’, companies can empower agents with the customer insights they need to deliver value and even close sales during particular key moments with clients.

Additionally, a recent study indicates that 54 percent of consumers will abandon a brand after only two or three negative experiences. And, with the majority of a customer’s human interaction happening within the confines of customer service, brands can’t afford to deliver poor experiences in this domain.

This means that customer care reps can become important brand ambassadors, who are crucial towards maintaining and elevating that customer perception during a call, by arming them with the right data to deliver real customer value.

The incentive for achieving a truly connected CX has never been clearer. As consumers continue to mount pressure on brands, 2020 should be the year that connected experiences become standard. Over the next 12 months, the brands that succeed will be the ones who have effectively achieved cross-department collaboration and enabled a 360-degree view of the customer.

This holistic CX approach will not only win favour with consumers, but give ambitious brands the essential information they need to innovate and gain a competitive edge.


Amit SharonAmit SharonNovember 18, 2019
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7min1887

Companies know all about the importance of visual content.

According to a 2018 study from Venngage, 56 percent of marketers surveyed said that between 91-100 percent of their content contained visuals. Delivering the right compelling visuals quickly is critical to achieving the desired visual hook. However, many images and videos can be optimised to provide better user experiences and higher engagement levels.

Too often it’s the technical details that derail your visual storytelling efforts. Nothing is more frustrating than having invested a lot of time and resources creating beautiful visuals for a campaign only to discover that audiences aren’t seeing them how you intended. When high-quality images are cropped in the wrong places or displayed incorrectly in social sharing, for example, response rates and brand image suffer.

The browser and its long tail

Another recent report revealed that 75 percent of consumers expect a consistent experience wherever they engage with brands – website, social media, mobile, or in-person. This is easier said than done. One big reason for consistency failures is the browser long tail, which refers to the different versions of browsers people use.

Cloudinary recently published its State of Visual Media Report to help people understand how visual content is being consumed. Analysing billions of media transactions across a sampling of more than 700 of our customers, we were fascinated to discover just how many different types of browsers are in use worldwide.

Browser choice: Consumers use a wide variety of browsers to consume visual content

While Chrome and Safari, as expected, dominate the browser market (45.9 percent and 4.1 percent respectively in the UK), there are significant regional differences across lesser known variants. For example, the research shows that Nokia Symbian smartphones are still popular in some regions and that Nintendo devices DS devices share more than 15,000 images per day. There is even image traffic coming from the very old legacy office software, Lotus Notes.

This is important as not all browsers support every image or video format you might use for your campaign. JPEG, GIF, and PNG are the most popular image formats used on websites today. However, developed in the 80s and 90s, when they’re not properly optimised they may not always be the best choice as they are quite heavy in file size and don’t offer the image quality and color spectrum expected for delivering today’s immersive online experience. Newer image file formats such as WebP and HEIF offer advantages worth exploring.

The same applies to video formats. The old H.264 video standard is pretty common but newer more lightweight formats such as VP9 and H.265 are anywhere from 30 to 50 percent more efficient.

Now for the long tail of browsers out there, JPEG and GIF for images and H.264 for video are the lowest common denominator that work with almost every browser. Does this mean you have to compromise your visual storytelling efforts just because some of your users still stick to their legacy BlackBerry web browser?

The browser’s long tail doesn’t need to compromise visual storytelling

Fortunately, the answer is no.

Your web developers don’t need to abandon the unlimited visual possibilities that come with newer image formats. Newer AI-based image and video management solutions can automatically detect your web visitors’ visual requirements and their browsers. Based on this information they automatically deliver each image and video in the most efficient format, quality, and resolution – even to a BlackBerry web browser. But these tools can do even more.

Intelligent image detection and cropping

As mentioned earlier, the last thing your brand needs is for beautiful images that you’ve invested dearly in to get badly-cropped and poorly displayed. AI-based image and video management solutions can solve this problem. These tools apply AI smarts to optimally resize and crop images. For example, AI applies algorithms to automatically detect the subject in an image that is most likely to capture a viewer’s attention.

It also analyses the type of browser and device the images are displayed on. Based on all this combined information, brands are able to deliver images and videos that will drive greater customer engagement.

Visual are great for boosting engagement and fostering long-lasting connections.

With a little help from AI you can be assured that the browser long tail doesn’t degrade the user experience so that your visual storytelling efforts really pay off.


Sonja KotrotsosSonja KotrotsosOctober 21, 2019
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5min2129

The old war is ending.

A truce has been called in the 20-year battle between marketing and IT for the territory of Digital Experience. Enterprise architects are turning IT departments into business consultancies and marketing now frequently takes on the development capacities for digital. As a result, growth-hacking and T-shaped marketers made it into mainstream marketing teams in 2019.

In 2020, marketing will go one step further and include front end engineers into their teams. But because of this, another war stirs – the war for front-end developer talent is going to become incredibly fierce, incredibly quickly. And this may actually define the success of many businesses.

The lessons of history

Like all wars, there are lessons in history. For this particular battle, those lessons can be found in Photoshop. 

Twenty years ago, marketing made leaflets. Marketers looked at what topics would be interesting for the audience and what brand feel they wanted to portray. For the layout however, businesses used agencies. And when those agency relationships didn’t work as fast as they were needed, businesses hired photoshop guys internally. The resulting war for talent, ideas, and execution defined marketing in many industries and the impact is still felt today.

Now, leaflets and brochures are gone. Largely, at least.

The main channel of communication today is digital media, and the photoshop guys of digital media are front-end developers. 

A different digital battlefield

It is also worth noting that the ‘digital’ battlefield itself is changing. Businesses used to have templates and drag-and-drop teasers on a homepage in a content management system. That worked in the world of desktop web. Now, businesses and consumers live in the world of mobile experiences, smart spaces, and connected products. As a result, desktop websites will continue to lose importance year over year. 

2020 is the year marketing disciplines will need to be ready for this fight. Modern content management systems don’t do templates anymore. They focus on content delivery, speed, and versatility to deliver into these new channels and experiences. They cater to the philosophy of growth hacking and constantly testing assumptions. 

This new way of working starts with these new channels, increasingly employs personalisation in real-time, and tests and refines customer interactions. In this context, front-end developers will become the highly prized special forces that can define marketing success.

There is no way around this. Marketing needs front-end developers if the business wants to deliver the latest and greatest Digital Experience to customers. With Digital Experience being the main differentiator, a business cannot afford to fall behind. 

There will undoubtedly be casualties, but to the victor will go the spoils of keenly engaged customers ready and willing to engage with a business in a variety of ways.


Oliver MaussOliver MaussOctober 9, 2019
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7min1916

In their earliest days, dynamic startups are so intently concentrated on the product or solution they have created, and the innovative, creative concept behind it, that they lose focus on the key process of taking it to market, engaging with prospective customers, and driving up sales volumes.   

If you are a budding entrepreneur, you will recognise the scenario: you wake up with the best idea ever – an idea that creates something you see as ‘incredibly unique’ or that solves a problem that your ‘customers-to-be’ didn’t even realise they had. You start working on it with dogged intent, overtaxing your energies, getting all the raw materials together and assembled, until one day you have a product in your hands. All you have to do now is let the customers roll in.

But as time goes by, you realise your plan has a flaw. Your products are still on the shelf. Prospective customers are not jamming up your email or heating up your phone lines. Sales aren’t rolling in. Why not?

Because people have no idea your product even exists.

 If you are developing a startup, it should be no surprise that marketing is key to the success of your business. It’s your route to customers and enhanced sales revenues. In fact, it is just as vital as the product itself.

One doesn’t work without the other. Understanding that is the easy part. But if you don’t have a marketing background or knowhow, you are likely to find it difficult to decide how much to spend on marketing and then how to allocate your budget.

A great place to start answering these questions is to see where other companies spend their money and how that’s working for them.

Marketing spend as a proportion of revenue

A good way to analyse different marketing budgets is to look at them as a percentage of revenues. This way a single metric can be tracked and measured against a key performance figure and more easily compared with the strategies of other businesses.

In its CMO Spend Survey 2018-2019 report, Gartner found that among companies (with $500 million to $10 billion or more in annual revenues) in North America and the UK, had levelled off in 2018 to an average of 11.2% of company revenue.  Of course, these figures represent relatively-established businesses and brands that have already made their mark in their desired target markets, whereas start-ups and smaller businesses need to invest significantly more to achieve the same level of market awareness.

Bright prospects for digital marketing

Moreover, despite the slight levelling off in chief marketing officer (CMO) spend over recent years, the future of marketing does look bright. According to the 2018 Gartner CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey, 57 percent of CEOs expected to increase their investment in marketing in the coming year. In addition, it is also true that digital marketing is rapidly accounting for a bigger slice of the pie, often at the expense of traditional marketing.

For example, Marketing Charts estimated, based on the PwC 5-year outlook, digital advertising in the US that in 2018 was nearly $30 billion larger than TV advertising.

Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey broke down the numbers.

The report states: “Spending on digital commerce chimes with CEOs’ digitisation goals. In a Gartner survey of 460 CEOs and senior business leaders last year, 62 percent of respondents said they have a management initiative or transformation program underway to make their business more digital. In short, the majority of CEOs recognise that they need to transact with their customers online, be they in B2B or B2C brands.”

These figures indicate the ongoing journey that many businesses are on towards digital transformation today. If you are a budding entrepreneur or start-up business, this growing focus on digital should also act as a clarion call that you must not neglect marketing as you launch new products, solutions and innovations but also that you are likely to need a strong focus on building a digital approach.

There is no magic number of how much to invest; it depends on your industry, your product, your growth aspirations and you have to keep the stage of your business life cycle in mind. Digital marketing provides a cost-effective and measurable way of targeting and engaging with a defined group of prospective customers. And it also provides a great way of educating them about your business in that crucial early engagement phase. Given its benefits in attracting prospects and building customer interest, it should come as no surprise that, for any start-up business, digital marketing is here to stay.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthSeptember 4, 2019
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3min3056

Over three-quarters of IT teams don’t understand the buzzwords that marketers use, causing concerns over how firms handle their Digital Experience (DX).

A new report from content management system (CMS) provider Magnolia, Straight talking content management, incorporates a survey of over 200 IT professionals and 200 marketers across both the UK and US and garners unique insights into the DX landscape and the attitudes both groups hold in relation to their peers.

It reveals that the emerging field of DX has become swamped with buzzwords and jargon, which has led to a huge disconnect between marketers and IT teams.

The research found that almost a quarter (23 percent) of IT teams believe that marketers use too many buzzwords, with 21 percent saying they don’t know what marketers mean when they ask for ‘omnichannel’ content, and 24 percent saying they don’t know what a ‘call to action’ is online.

Furthermore, with 80 percent of marketers collaborating with their IT team on a weekly basis – and 46 percent interacting on a daily basis – it’s crucial that both teams can communicate with one another effectively.

Commenting on the research, Rasmus Skjoldan, CMO at Magnolia, said: “In order for brands to create great content, both IT teams and marketers must work together to understand each other’s unique pressures and objectives. Talking in technical jargon and marketing buzzwords isn’t helping, if anything it’s just causing more frustration for both groups.

“Too many CMS brands add to this problem, expanding rather than bridging the divide. As an industry we need to focus on developing straight-talking solutions that work for everyone across the business – from marketers, to developers, to customers and IT teams.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthAugust 15, 2019
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3min1942

In a further death-knell for traditional print media, British firms are focussing their ad spend away from newspapers and magazines more so than ever before, new research has revealed.

A survey of 1,325 UK marketing professionals carried out by digital marketing agency, Marketingsignals.com, revealed that 56 percent of UK based businesses have turned their main focus away from spending on print advertising during the past 12 months.

The top reason given for this shift was the increased control companies have over their ad spend, with results being much more measurable as they are fully trackable and attributable.

In fact, 64 percent of those surveyed said that this transparency over ROI was their main reason for moving the majority of their ad spend over to digital.

In addition to being able to accurately measure ROI, almost the same number of respondents (62 percent) said that the increase in conversions – compared to traditional advertising methods – was a major reason why they shifted their budgets.

For more than half of the companies surveyed (55 percent), the ability to reach a more targeted audience (with an investment level that’s much lower compared to other traditional advertising methods) was cited as their primary reason for preferring digital advertising.

Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed said they were actively using social media advertising as a tool to acquire new customers. A strategic social media campaign can ensure that businesses are speaking to the most relevant potential customers for their products or services by building out tailored personas based on location, gender, interests and income level (amongst many others).

Completing the top five reasons why UK businesses are focussing their advertising spend on digital, was flexibility, with one-in-four (24 percent) of those surveyed saying that having the agility to change tact and strategy mid-campaign was a key reason for their increased focus on digital.

Gareth Hoyle, Managing Director at Marketingsignals.com, said: “It’s fantastic to see that in 2019, more companies than ever have become fully on board with the digital age.

“Pretty much every company has some form of online presence, as it’s almost a necessity to survive in this day and age, though it’s really interesting to see some of the reasons behind the upscaled shift in budgets being researched and published.

“In short, British businesses are fast seeing the benefits to their bottom line when their marketing departments focus their advertising spend on digital.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 11, 2019
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3min1800

Current digital marketing techniques are failing to win over customers, a new report warns.

Published by London-based tech firm Ogury, The Reality Report examines the attitudes of over 287,000 mobile users towards marketing and data, and suggests that current practices of digital marketing fail to provide value to users and could endanger organisations’ long-term prosperity.

Fifty-two percent of respondents agree that intrusive or irrelevant messages give them a poor opinion of the app or website that hosts these messages, while only 25 percent of UK respondents believe that targeted messages are useful.

Wider market data suggests that the majority of mobile  ads are served by Big Tech companies, otherwise known as the walled gardens. These technology behemoths have access to an incomparable mass of user data, enabling them to target users with relevant messages. However, nine out of 10 UK users find targeted marketing messages annoying, even though 13 percent out of the 88 percent find them also useful.

Thomas Pasquet, Ogury’s co-founder and co-CEO, said: “If users feel any form of intrusion, they will be annoyed regardless of the relevancy of the message they receive. Therefore, brands and publishers should always offer consumers clear and fair choices: accept anonymous data to be collected to receive customised marketing; opt-out from sharing data and therefore receive irrelevant ads; or pay a fair price in exchange for a marketing free and data collection free environment.”    


Sandra LoefflerSandra LoefflerJuly 10, 2019
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7min2433

Today’s consumers want it all – freedom to research purchases using any device (66 percent), the ability to visit stores if the internet doesn’t meet their needs (49 percent), and personalised advertising offers (26 percent) – all as part of a seamless, integrated experience.

Businesses recognise these rising demands; globally, almost two-fifths (34 percent) plan to adopt an omnichannel model in the next year. Yet meeting this goal can be challenging. Ensuring consistency, convenience, and relevance requires a comprehensive view of individual journeys: insight that isn’t easy to obtain when shopping activity is highly fragmented.

With CX rivalling price and product as a factor that matters most to customers, it’s crucial for retailers to understand the always-connected consumer by adjusting their measurement approach.

The troubled status quo

Most retailers are already striving to keep up with convoluted consumer journeys: using siloed, channel-specific tools and metrics to assess the impact of online and offline marketing efforts. And these silos are only getting deeper, especially when cookies are becoming less effective, privacy regulations are imposing stricter requirements on data, and walled gardens are preventing meaningful insights into the consumer journey altogether.

As a result, retail marketers are left with fragments of insight they must attempt to piece together, making it increasingly difficult to gain a complete view of how individuals connect with their brand across touchpoints. Little wonder only seven percent of firms have successfully implemented an omnichannel approach. Clearly, measurement must evolve to match modern consumer habits. If marketers want a precise picture of where purchase paths flow, how their initiatives perform and what form strategy should take, they need the right measurement solutions at their disposal.

Making the right measurement choice

Modern marketing measurement approaches can pave the way to better customer engagement; giving retailers the means to analyse interactions across every channel and device, evaluate the impact of each touchpoint on sales, and power smarter future decisions. But different measurement models serve different needs, which means retail marketers must select the approach that matches their data, channels and goals.

For example, marketing mix modelling harnesses summary level data to provide a holistic understanding of what’s driving sales, including online, offline and external factors that can affect product demand. It looks at the historical relationships between marketing spend and business results, and is most valuable for retailers who want to inform their strategic and periodic planning on an annual, half-yearly, or quarterly basis.

In contrast, methods such as multi-touch attribution offer more frequent, granular analysis. Leveraging household and person-level data from addressable channels, it measures the influence that each touchpoint – from ad creatives and offers to placement, keyword, recency and so forth – has on consumer actions in near real-time. For retailers looking to make tactical optimisations to live campaigns, multi-touch attribution is likely to be the best option.

Comprehensive media coverage matters

It goes without saying that marketing measurement relies on a steady and comprehensive supply of data. The more complete the coverage, the more accurate the analysis will be. But amid the growing emphasis on data security, media coverage gaps are increasingly common.

Measurement providers must therefore be chosen as carefully as the models, and maximum coverage should be a top priority. Finding a partner that has strong relationships with large media platforms, ways to track data despite cookie limitations, and methods to cross-check the accuracy of data sources is key for getting as much visibility into the omni-channel consumer journey as possible. Only then can retailers dissect the complex web of factors that affect consumer decisions and make smarter, more impactful decisions.

The value of preparation

One final and often overlooked aspect of successful measurement is preparing for the future. In the wake of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and an increasing focus on digital security, the utility of cookies has significantly diminished – and with the e-Privacy Regulation (ePR) due to be enforced in 2020, its value is only set to fade further.

This makes it critical to choose a provider with the resources and ability to adjust to the ever-changing marketing landscape. Declaring intent to plan for a cookie-less world isn’t enough; providers should also be proactively demonstrating their commitment to future proofing marketers’ measurement success.

As consumer preferences for multichannel shopping grow, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for retailers to make sense of the fragmented data they leave behind and understand true marketing effectiveness. Instead of siloed tools that are at odds with the needs of always-connected consumers, retail marketers need a modern measurement approach so they can drive performance to the maximum and put their marketing investment where it matters most to their businesses.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 14, 2019
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3min1448

Bombarding customers with irrelevant marketing messages is costing retailers conversions and customer loyalty, new research warns. 

A study of 1,000 UK shoppers by marketing tech firm BounceX found that customers want relevant, timely email communications from retailers. Almost two fifths (37 percent) of respondents said they would be more likely to make a purchase if they received a personalised notification about a product they have already looked at online, while over a quarter (28 percent) find onsite overlays helpful, as long as they are personal and enhance their user experience.

Both of these statistics demonstrate the impact of showing the right message to the right shopper at the right time in order to increase conversions, BounceX has suggested.

Robert Massa, General Manager of BounceX EMEA, said: “The need to know your customers and provide personalised marketing messages of value is becoming vitally important for brands and retailers. By enabling retailers’ to recognise site visitors on a unique basis, they have greater clarity of where each individual customer is on their individual buying journey which allows them to trigger relevant emails or overlays to deliver the online personalisation that customers now both demand and expect.”

With 269 billion emails received globally each day in 2017, and the number expected to rise to 320 billion by 2021, being able to identify and understand a shopper’s digital buying behaviour, across channels and devices, in order to serve them the most relevant message at the right time and frequency, will be an increasingly critical capability.

Meanwhile, 70 percent of consumers feel they receive too many marketing emails from brands, with a third (34 percent) regretting giving their email address to a brand. Over half (57 percent) of shoppers say that receiving too frequent marketing messages would cause them to unsubscribe from a retailer’s database entirely, meaning in their efforts to engage their customers, retailers could in fact be turning away the very audiences they are trying to influence. In fact, a third (32 percent) of shoppers would be more likely to make a purchase if a retailer did not bombard them with marketing messages.

“As the research shows, timing is everything and knowing when not to communicate with your customer can be just as important as knowing when to communicate with them,” added Robert.


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7min2889

Each year, analysts predict trends that will determine the course of the advertising, media, and digital industry in the near future.

Year after year, we see the same predictions about the importance of video content, new approaches to SEO optimisation, growth of mobile internet penetration, and related advertising tools. However, it seems that a lot is going to change in 2019. So let’s take a closer look at the new revolutionary solutions and approaches that are going to shake the market this year.

1. Personalised marketing

Personalisation is a key trend in many business areas. The idea of ​​delivering a personal message to the client, taking into account the characteristics of his or her behaviour, personality, and sociography is not new. However, such an approach becomes a reality thanks to the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Even if a person uses hidemyass, it will be still possible to track his online actions.

The love of marketers for digital is largely due to the possibilities of fine-tuning the targeting for advertising, but now more advanced personality recognition mechanisms are being tested. Thus, Amazon uses AI-based solutions that combine user data from various sources, such as transaction archives, trending sales, competitor information, CRM data, and information from social accounts. At the latter point, the machine predicts the desires and capabilities of the user. As a result, a company is able to formulate and prepare a 100 percent personalised offer, which will hardly be refused.

2. Voice services

There are some technologies that burst into our lives suddenly. Voice assistants are one of them. At first, users limited themselves to comic dialogues with smartphones; with time, they began using voice assistants for their intended purpose. Siri, Google Now, Alice, Amazon Alexa, Cortana, and others teach users to use the voice dialogues with the software. Markets are saturated with Voice Search Tools, Amazon Echo, Google Home, and others.

According to NPD Group, by the end of 2019, sales of ‘smart speakers’ will grow by 50 percent, and the market volume will reach $2.7 billion. This technology is in the trend of marketing integration with services and applications for delivering food, calling a cab, searching for the right locations, and other things. Just like vpn services were popular a few years ago, voice assistants are on the peak now.

3. Communication automation & chatbots

According to Gartner, 85 percent of user interactions with companies will occur without human participation by 2020. Nowadays, many companies use chatbots in social networks and instant messengers to simply communicate with their audience. In the future, scripts will become more complex, and the bot will be able to imitate a live seller or manager, saving companies’ resources.

4. Augmented reality (AR)

According to the estimates of the Harvard Business Review, global investments in the development of the AR sector will exceed $ 60 billion by 2020. The research centre MarketsandMarkets states that market growth will exceed 75 percent over the next five years. In 2022, it can reach an estimate of $120 billion.

The largest technology brands have seized upon this promising technology because it is extremely interesting to the end user and does not force it to acquire new products. Everything works on your favourite smartphone. AR is used in education, medicine, and, of course, marketing solutions, especially in a retail segment. The investment volumes are impressive, and we will see a lot of interesting consumer variations using augmented reality in the coming year.

5. 5G

Standards for deploying fifth-generation mobile networks are still in development, but individual elements are being tested by operators around the world. 5G networks will create new opportunities for users, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as broadband media services and real-time communication in areas of natural disasters or mass events.

Final Say

According to many experts, we are now entering the era of digital technology, which will mostly depend on the introduction and development of artificial intelligence (machine learning) and all the consequences associated with it. The incredible development of the digital environment over the past ten years (social media, improved search technologies, the AppStore, and PlayMarket, cybersecurity, streaming video, etc) will not slow down, but go to a new level.

In 2019, marketers will need to prepare for constant experimentation with new technologies. Only a continuous stream of testing new ideas will allow you to be on the success wave.


Naeem ArifNaeem ArifApril 5, 2019
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8min2219

The focus of many marketers and CEOs is to ensure they are getting the attention of their target customers.

Most of them are spending most of their time and effort on this activity, without thinking about the other related activities. Once you have the attention of your target market and you have them highly engaged in all the content you are producing…what next?

Well hopefully, they will buy from you now; they will accept that you are good at what you do and you align with their own personal values. Up until now, it is all based on you issuing a promise to your prospect that should they follow-through and make that purchase, this is the outcome you will deliver.

I read recently a long article on HBR that stated “highly engaged customers will become loyal customers”, and it got me thinking: this is not necessarily the case. From our own real world experience, yes the two things are linked, but not dependent on each other. Some of the best marketing campaigns do not lead to long-term profit.

If we break this down, a customer is someone who buys from you and a loyal customer is someone who repeat buys from you. So no matter how engaged they are with your content and your brand, they may or may not repeat buy. They could stay engaged in order to receive the content or information because it is educational or amusing, but will they definitely maker another purchase?

This is a separate question completely and there are an increasing number of consumers out there who consume content, but do not buy.

A key realisation will happen at the point when they consume your service. This is the moment of truth, when we will really find out if you deliver on your promises. This is the point at which they decide – does the product taste as good as the packaging?

So far it has been an emotional connection, where they feel this is a good choice for the prospect to make. Now we will see the delivery of this promise. You can either fall short of the promise and maybe lose them, or you can fulfil that promise, in which case you will retain that customer for the future.

At this point, your content marketing is irrelevant; if the product does not match the packaging it will be a failure for your objectives. So no matter how good your engagement strategy is, you will not have a loyal customer.

So a few questions you may want to ask yourself:

  1. Does your team – who are delivering the service – match the passion, drive, and standards that your sales and marketing staff possess?
  2. Are you interested in this single transaction, or are you willing to treat the customer so well that they want to come back for more?
  3. What is that little bit extra or something different that you are giving that will make you stand out and be more memorable than your competition?

If you want to get loyal customers, then you need to ensure that your operations strategy is in line with your marketing. Building loyalty is not just about a single transaction – it is about many transactions. If you only measure your team on turnover or profit, then there is no reason for them to worry about repeat business. The reality is that the returning customer will firstly buy quicker, and secondly buy bigger or more than they bought last time, because they already know and trust you.

Your team should be thinking about what your customers value, not about how much they can squeeze out of them in this single transaction. I would rather give something that is fit for purpose today, because the customer will appreciate my honesty and come back to me for more. The multiple transactions will deliver more profit to me and so I am interested in the lifetime value of this customer.

A lot of people talk about this concept, when in reality, it is something that has be measured and delivered over a period of time. You need to be ready to see the benefits over time, because you will not see them in the short term. This is why it is important that you are prepared to measure your staff on things other than sales.

If you deliver on this, you could of course exceed expectations and deliver more than what was promised, which is even better. In such cases you will probably have an advocate on your hands – someone who not only returns to you, but actually tells others to also buy your product. Make sure your team understands your strategy here and follows it through.

So if you are thinking that engaged customers will always lead to loyal customers, think again. Consider instead that delighted customers will be what leads to loyalty. 


Andy WoodAndy WoodFebruary 27, 2019
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5min1367

For many years the marketing world has been deliberating between direct email and direct mail to determine which strategy is the most effective.

A number of different opinions and studies have been voiced throughout the years, none of which put an end to this debate.

Every year 4.4 billion pieces of direct mail and 37 billion emails are sent in the UK; however, quantity doesn’t always equate to results. According to a survey by Proactive marketing, 70 percent of consumers in fact say that they receive ‘too much’ email; the click-through rates for direct marketing emails (1.56 percent) are lower than the average response rates for direct mail (4.4 percent) and the lifespan of an email is just two seconds – compared to 17 days for a piece of direct mail.

To add to this a direct mail campaign costs much more than a direct email campaign. On average, a typical prospecting direct mail piece costs 70 pence to produce and transmit, while an email costs 20 pence (mainly due to data costs). This is why it comes as no surprise that cost is one of the main factors that drives direct email to be the channel of choice for many.

Email campaigns are perceived as inexpensive and easy to be issued in high volumes; this however, often results in filling consumers’ inboxes with low quality and low relevance emails, without taking into consideration the important variant of customers’ behaviour.

In light of this data, there is evidence in favour of direct email as well as for direct mail – so how can we objectively identify the best strategy? In order to solve this conundrum, Go Inspire Insight decided to run a large-scale randomised control trial (RCT). The goal of the trial was to  gather meaningful evidence about the relative performance of direct mail vs direct email; putting equal creative effort, creative variants, the same level of segmentation, as well as equitable or equivalent timings into each channel.

Among the 240,000 customers randomly selected to receive the dedicated campaign, one randomised segment received offers by post alone while another segment received the offers via email. Finally, the third segment received the offers via both channels. Segmentation was also applied with the same level of detail to ensure an objective channel evaluation.

What this RCT reveals is that the success of a campaign cannot only be measured through response rates; commercial outcomes turned out to be an important differentiator between standalone email and standalone postal mail. This exercise shows in fact, that response rates are relatively similar, while conversion and incremental revenue rates diverge significantly across the three segments – providing us with the data needed to find an answer to our question.

The numbers show that the incremental revenue per customer generated by those who received the offers by email is just under £1; those who received the offers only through postal direct mail generated an incremental revenue per customer of around £5; and finally, those who received the offers through both post and email generated an incremental revenue per customer of over £6.

What these numbers reveal is that marketers should not be looking to choose one channel over the other; it is in fact the combination of the two channels that can make your marketing strategy a success. Marketers should start seeing the benefits of a combined strategy and understand that one option doesn’t exclude the other one; they should in fact start experimenting with these two mediums and try to understand how to create the perfect mix for the best result.




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