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Businesses need to adapt to new marketing challenges, say experts | Gulf Today, 13 apr 2019
Why Are We So Attracted To Minimalist Branding? | LONNY, 13 apr 2019
WHY YOUR TECH STARTUP NEEDS PR | Tech Voice Africa, 13 apr 2019
Marketing Has Evolved From Changing Perception To Changing Behavior: Ravi Desai, Director Mass And Brand Marketing, Amazon | Businessworld, 12 apr 2019
Opinion: Building a marketing organisation that drives growth today | MarketingTech, 12 apr 2019
8 consumer-friendly digital tools to support behavioral health | MobiHealth News, 12 apr 2019
The Customer Is Incompetent! | Customer Think, 12 apr 2019
6 Peer-Driven Tips for Improving Marketing & Sales Performance with TechTarget Priority Engine | TechTarget, 12 apr 2019
The Secret Behind Landing Better Content Marketing Clients | Small Business Trends, 11 apr 2019
How You Influence Customer Decisions | Contracting Business, 11 apr 2019
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 apr 2019
According to the recent report 'India Digital Ad-fraud Market 2018' by techARC, the total size of digital ad-fraud in India stood at staggering US$ 1.63 Billion, which is 8.7% of the global size. The report projects 23% increase in digital ad-fraud in 2019. Digital Commerce contributed more than half 51% of the total ad-fraud in India. While, Leisure & Travel (26%), Entertainment & Gaming (13%), Banking & Finance (8%), Healthcare & Pharma (1%) and Others (1%). Although, App Fraud contributes to over 85% of the total digital ad-fraud, the organizations should not ignore the web platforms. Web platforms are more susceptible to frauds as in several organizations the digital teams are primarily focusing on the app, leaving the web space vulnerable. As video is increasingly becoming the preferred medium of content, it is also attracting fraudsters to exploit this advertising channel. The report finds that businesses who have an ad-fraud solution in place are better equipped to have higher levels of customer engagements. Faisal Kawoosa, Founder & Chief Analyst at techARC, says, 'Digital ad-fraud is getting increased attention from the C-level leadership of evolved organisations, where it is no longer an agenda of a CDO or CMO. The impact of digital ad-fraud now goes beyond diminishing the returns on marketing spends and can jeopardize the entire digital transformation journey hampering Brand Equity, Relevance and Positioning among other ramifications.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 mar 2019
Scot Henney (GVP of sales at SAP) and Marcus Venth (GVP of market development at SAP) discussed the importance of customer experience in the digital age with John Furrier and Dave Vellante, co-hosts of theCUBE at IBM Think event in San Francisco, US. Mr. Henney says, 'A new customer-experience domain is open up called the "experience economy". It brings the front office and back office together and adds in "experiential data" on end-users.' As more companies shift from products to subscription-based services, customer-experience becomes crucial. Digital provides more power to consumers and ease of switching brands. Customer feedback becomes valuable. According to Mr. Henney, '80% of customers have switched brands because of poor CX (customer experience) and companies that deliver better customer experience have more than 200% more shareholder value.' Mr. Venth adds, 'The 360 customer view that leads to stellar CX is not achieved with applications, data and professionals in silos. One of the biggest challenges we see [is]...where we have a highly customized environment with lots of disparate applications that really are poorly integrated.' Read on...
Analytics mine consumer brains in new 'experience economy'
Author: R. Danes
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 feb 2019
According to the research by Prof. Elizabeth A. Minton from University of Wyoming, Prof. Kathryn A. Johnson from Arizona State University and Prof. Richie L. Liu from Oklahoma State University, 'Religiosity and special food consumption: The explanatory effects of moral priorities', published in Journal of Business Research, people with strong religious beliefs are more likely to buy fat-free, sugar-free or gluten-free foods than natural or organic foods. The research could influence the marketing of those specialty food products. Prof. Minton says, 'Religion is the deepest set of core values people can have, and we wanted to explore how those values impacted the market choices people make. We found religiosity influenced the selection of more diet-minded foods...' The study was carried out online and included responses from over 1700 people across the U.S. Prof. Johnson says, 'Often, people make intuitive decisions about food that could require more careful thought. People might make choices based on a cultural narrative or their religious and moral beliefs, without giving measured thought to whether there is a better option.' According to the research, the moral foundation of care drives the choice of sustainability-minded food products, and the moral foundation of purity is behind the choice of diet-minded foods. Prof. Liu says, 'The findings from our work can directly help businesses promote food products to specific groups of people without potentially alienating customers by including religion.' Read on...
University of Wyoming News:
UW Researcher: Religion Affects Consumer Choices on Specialty Foods
Author: Chad Baldwin
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 jan 2019
Autonomous shopping concept intends to bring brick-and-mortar and internet shopping into a unified and integrated retail experience. The grab-and-go smart shopping carts promote cashier-free automatic check-out eliminating wait in lines. TechSpot's contributing writer, Cohen Coberly, says, 'While it seemed like brick-and-mortar retail would be all but killed off following the explosive rise of online shopping, what we're instead seeing throughout the US is not death, but evolution.' According to a 2018 survey by RIS News, 'The leading new shopping option wanted by consumers was "grab-and-go" technology (in which customers can self-checkout using their smartphones). 59% said they'd like to use this, and 9% had used it.' In a global survey of 2250 internet users conducted by iVend Retail and AYTM Market Research, 'Roughly 1/3rd of respondents said they would like to make automatic payments using digital shopping carts.' Caper is a smart shopping cart startup. Josh Constine, technology journalist and editor-at-large for TechCrunch, reports, 'The startup makes a shopping cart with a built-in barcode scanner and credit card swiper, but it's finalizing the technology to automatically scan items you drop in thanks to three image recognition cameras and a weight sensor. The company claims people already buy 18% more per visit after stores are equipped with its carts.' Linden Gao, co-founder and CEO of Caper, says, 'It doesn't make sense that you can order a cab with your phone or go book a hotel with your phone, but you can't use your phone to make a payment and leave the store. You still have to stand in line.' The current Caper cart involves scanning an item's barcode and then throwing it into the cart. Brittany Roston, senior editor and contributor at SlashGear, reports, 'The smarter version will eliminate the barcode part, making it possible to simply put the items in the cart while the built-in tech recognizes what they are.' Chris Albrecht, managing editor at The Spoon, also reports, 'The future iterations, already in the works, will remove the barcode and will use a combination of computer vision and built-in weight scales to determine purchases. The customer completes shopping, and pays on the built-in screen.' The concept of scanless carts involves deep learning and machine vision. Cameras are mounted in the cart. The screen on the cart gives the shopper different kinds of information - store map, item locator, promotions, deals etc. It recommends items based on contents already in the basket. Read on...
Next-level autonomous shopping carts are even smarter
Author: Nancy Cohen
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 nov 2018
For the success of businesses a solid foundation or strong core is necessary and then only innovative strategies, tactics, programs and technology that are applied will be impactful and bear fruits. Scott Vaughan, CMO of Integrate, suggests the focus on achieving the revenue marketing goals and provides five essentials that high-performing B2B marketing teams consistently focus on to drive high performance - (1) PRECISION - Accurately defining ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) and identifying best account opportunities: Engage the right audiences; Avoid random marketing to general people; Identify smaller group of core audience; Use advanced tech such as predictive marketing and intent data modeling to identify more of the best accounts and buyers. (2) TRUST - Committing to permission-based marketing in an increasingly regulated world: Treat information with care; Ensure the understanding and fulfillment of data-privacy laws; Permission mindset builds trust. (3) HYGIENE - Generating quality, actionable data to drive performance and create experiences: Recent survey by DemandGen Report finds, on average, more than 35% of the data in existing databases is unmarketable. Use effecient data hygiene; Bad data wastes marketing and sales efforts; Audit data-capture processes and sources, and use data governance filters before data enters database. (4) SPEED - Increasing velocity makes everything perform better: Current processes and tech investments need to have a speed evaluation; Identify areas where data can be routed faster and action can be taken within an appropriate time; Watch closely 'pipleline velocity' (Time from when an opportunity identified and finally converted into a deal) (5) INSIGHTS - Measuring to understand the good, the bad and the ugly: High-performing marketing teams use insights with key ingredients like agreed-upon key performance indicators (KPIs), tools that can measure performance, easy-to-use shared dashboards for all stakeholders (marketing, sales, management etc). Read on...
5 essential strategies B2B marketers must master in 2019
Author: Scott Vaughan
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 nov 2018
In today's businesses, digital is one of the critical component that defines their growth and success. With digital and related analytics, organizations can easily track and create insights to better understand consumer behavior for their benefits. Gabriel Shaoolian, founder of DesignRush, provides valuable statistics in marketing, website design and branding for efficient online strategy and subsequent online success - (1) By 2021, mobile e-commerce will account for 54% of all online sales. (2) 38% of users will stop interacting with a website if the layout is unattractive. (3) Long landing pages generate up to 220% more leads than above-the-fold calls to action. (4) Color improves brand recognition by up to 80%. (5) Consistent brand presentation across all platforms increases revenue by up to 23%. (6) 64% of consumers say that shared values help them create a trusted relationship with a brand. (7) Content marketing efforts receive three times the leads per dollar spent than paid search receives. (8) 64% of consumers make a purchase after viewing a branded social video. (9) Facebook Ad revenue in the US will surpass total print ad spending by 2019. (10) Email has a median return on investment of 122%. Moreover, he suggests the following key points to be noted for digital strategy - Create an easy-to-use website that works on all platforms and devices; Design a memorable brand identity that communicates well with consumers; Maintain an honest and transparent relationship with customers; Invest in content marketing and social media advertisements; Test video marketing campaigns to engage users; Don't forget about the power of email marketing. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 oct 2018
Brands are all around and everything that is put forward for public consumption requires adequate branding. Sumarie Schreiner, founder of BrandBrew Consulting, explains the value of branding and what is essential for building great brands. She provides 5 core pillars for brand building - (1) Link The Thinking And Feeling: Great brands connect, resonate and then become acceptable. They connect thinking with feeling, and attract attention and keep interest with the promise of something extraordinary. They offer value beyond products and services and make a difference. This inturn evoke emotions and provides sense of belonging, thus creating trust. (2) Build Trust: To build trust requires consistency and time. Trust provides reassurance. Trust is inherent part of human senses. It constitutes both environment and people. Trust = Reliability + Desirability x Experiences. In the present push economy people are more empowered and demanding. Their experiences define their standards of expectations. (3) Offer Value Beyond Your Product/Service: Value builds trust and need to go beyond products and services. Value is both objective and subjective and is derived from all the interactions with a business. Value creation needs to run through the DNA of the organization. It should be the way of life. Outside-in approach offers true value. Relevant and valued experiences are build in response to customers' needs at the right time and place. (4) Differentiate To Those People You Want To Connect With: Understanding diversity of needs helps provide solutions accordingly. People want to belong and connect with other people and organizations that share their values. Differentiate but more importantly make a difference. (5) Help Those People To Connect And Belong: Shared values and belonging develops true connections with emotions. Human-centered, outside-in approach connects at an emotional level and builds long-term relationships. Storytelling helps to differentiate and creates a space in people's memory. Brand is defined by what customers and employees feel about the business. Unlock and cultivate the value offered and keep building on the trust earned. Read on...
"Trust me, I'm a brand!" - What is the value of branding?
Author: Sumarie Schreiner
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 aug 2018
It's critical for the marketers to understand the collective habits of the customers of a particular segment they want to sell. Engineers are one such segment that B2B marketers have to deal with while pursuing their campaigns. Patrick D. Mahoney, President and CEO of IEEE GlobalSpec, explains the IEEE GlobalSpec's '2018 Pulse of Engineering Survey - The Changing Work Environment for Engineers Today' and how industrial marketers can utilize the insights to formulate their marketing strategy. The survey of 2236 engineers and professionals was designed to gather measurable and actionable insight on what they think about their industries and work environments. The survey also includes exclusive analysis on two key segments of the engineering workforce: millennials and technical professionals in the electronics industry. Highlights from the research - PRESSURES: 55% of engineers say the pace of engineering is increasing; 53% are required to do more with less; 40% say that pressure to meet deadlines is putting product quality/rework at risk; Majority also say that designs are becoming more sophisticated and that design cycles are shrinking, while time-to-market pressures are increasing; 44% of companies have increased design involvement from external partners and vendors. MILLENNIALS: Marked differences between mindset of younger engineers vs veterans regarding information. Millennials are information hungry. Concerning information access, 24% of surveyed millennials say they are more likely to use video for educational purposes compared to a much smaller 14% of veteran engineers; While the majority (53%) of all engineers are willing to register on a website for access to specific documents, only 44% of millennials indicated such willingness; Younger engineers tend to believe all content should be free and openly accessible (52%). Read on...
A Look Into the Mind of the Engineer: For B2B Marketers
Author: Patrick D. Mahoney
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 aug 2018
According to experts, effective use of data is key to B2B marketing success as it offers precision targeting, better customer experience and personalization at scale. Bernard Tan, APAC Regional Marketing Director at Red Hat, doesn't consider marketing as just B2B or B2C, but prefers it to be 'business-to-all'. He says, '(Data) is transforming the way that we talk to whole markets...it's transforming the way that we can actually have one-to-one conversations in volume markets, and be much more efficient about the way we go to that market...All of us are consumers...We are now at this position where we are now able to start to drive engagement at an individual level and really focus on the customer.' According to IBM's 2017 Customer Experience Index study, APAC (31) scored lower than other regions when it comes to data-driven customer experience in the B2B space [North America (35), Europe (33) and Latin America (33)]. Jodie Sangster, CMO liaison lead of IBM Watson, says, 'Unfortunately in APAC, we are lagging behind in terms of meeting consumer expectations of how we are using their data and delivering great customer experience.' Read on...
Data is key for B2B marketers, but APAC lags behind
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 jul 2018
According to the latest research by Stanford University business academics, Prof. Navdeep Sahni and Prof. Harikesh Nair, people are very good at distinguishing native advertisements from digital content, but the ads still exert significant influence on shopping behavior. Native advertisements blend with the digital content and closely match style and layout of the surrounding media. Regulators are often concerned regarding their deceptive sponsorship disclosure and the resulting misguided purchases by consumers. Prof. Sahni says, 'Native advertising is a relatively new form of advertising. Advertisers and publishers have embraced this because of the rise in mobile browsing behavior, and because banner ads are hard to implement on mobile screens, and are known to be not very effective.' Professors developed a field experiment in which they manipulated how native advertising for specific restaurants appeared on a restaurant search mobile app, creating two 'extreme' ad presentation conditions (no-disclure and prominent-disclosure) to compare to a more typical native ad. The study examined differences in how over 200000 users responded to the varied presentations and found that responses to typical native ads were similar to those in the full-disclosure condition. Prof. Sahni adds, 'We found that people who respond to the ad can spot this kind of advertising in its typical format...The effect of advertising seems to happen through direct exposure and can result in conversion even if people don't click on the ad itself.' The study suggests that because consumers who are more likely to be affected by ads can identify typical native ads easily, making the ads more prominent is unlikely to change people's behavior. For consumers, implications of the study are that even in a time of advanced analytics, ad exposure continues to have a deeply subtle, and thus harder-to-quantify, effect. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 jun 2018
Team of researchers (Prof. José Antonio Rosa of Iowa State University; Prof. Richard J. Vann of Iowa State University; Prof. Sean M. McCrea of University of Wyoming) conducted five experiments to understand how crisis influences motivation and commitment to the goal. Their research titled 'When consumers struggle: Action crisis and its effects on problematic goal pursuit' was recently published in the journal Psychology & Marketing. Prof. Rosa, the lead researcher, says, 'Setbacks are to be expected when pursuing a goal, whether you are trying to lose weight or save money. The challenge is getting back on track and not giving up after a difficulty or crisis.' The research team is working on practical ways to help people stick to health-related goals - specifically, prescribed regimens for medical ailments that require significant lifestyle changes. According to Prof. Rosa, staying committed to a long-term health goal is challenging, because it may feel as if there is no light at the end of the tunnel. He explains, 'These are some of the most difficult goals we face, because the effort has to become a way of life. If you're a diabetic, you have to be thinking about your diet every time you eat. In many ways, it is sacrificial. You must endure this cost and the reward is health.' Prof. Rosa says that action crisis, whether related or unrelated to the goal, is a point during goal pursuit when circumstances change, causing us to question whether the goal really matters. This sets in a process of goal evaluation instead of implementation and can result in the decision to quit, termed by researchers as 'taking the off ramp', and may cause another crisis. Researchers are now working to develop and test interventions for patients on prescribed health regimens. Prof. Rosa says the goal is to provide specific instructions for patients to follow and help shift their mindset from renegotiation or evaluation back to implementation. He adds, 'From a marketing perspective, it is an issue of consumption and making health care more effective for patients. The right intervention will help patients stay on track, lessening the risk for additional health issues and lowering health care costs.' Read on...
Iowa State University News:
Crisis can force re-evaluation and derail efforts to reach goals
Author: Angie Hunt
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 may 2018
Utilizing customer data to understand consumer behavior through analytics tools is key to improve products and services, and finally gain and retain customers. Restaurant and fast food industry is customer intensive with direct interactions with them. Restaurant sales were approximately US$ 800 billion last year and continue to grow. With hightened competition and increasing customer expectations it becomes challenging to serve what customer wants and keeps coming back for more. Advanced analytics can come to the rescue in this regard. Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) industry has low average ticket value, customer visit frequency is higher and cyclical, size of the meal matters and customer tastes don't vary that much. The restaurant industry's main goals remain - increase meal size, increase guest frequency and decrease customer lapsation. In today's environment, customers are digital-savvy and restaurants have their data. The value is in gaining actionable insights from this data that positively impact the Net Promoter Score (NPS). Here is what some restaurant chains are doing in this regard - (1) Identified taste affinity clusters: Created various segements of customers and looked at their past purchase behavior to identify taste preferences. (2) Buying behavior analysis: Looked at purchase behavior across different channels to identify which menu items can be added to the combo for someone that orders (mobile vs visit). Used advanced analytics to get a single view of the customer by integrating their POS, mobile, web and social data to identify the customer and hence provide consistent messaging. (3) NPS and Feedback Analysis: Integrated feedback received across all channels and layered it up with sentiment analysis. Customers were given lapsation score and offers were targeted accordingly. (4) Store location analysis: Used predictive models to identify the probability of a new store succeeding in a specific location vis-à-vis another store in the same area. They identified pockets of demand and the model prescribed a set of potential locations in a given geographic area. This data was used to score and rank comparable locations. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 apr 2018
According to Big Commerce, 51% of Americans prefer to shop online, and almost everyone (96%) has made an online purchase in their life. But, with so many competing e-commerce websites and a large number of brick-and-mortar retail stores, the challenge for retailers is to differentiate themselves and, attract, acquire and retain the customers. Retailers can do the following to increase retail sales - (1) Run Beautifully Executed Google Shopping Campaigns: Organize shopping campaigns by best-selling items; Ensure your ad images are high-quality and crawlable; Include merchant promotions and product reviews. (2) Give Shoppers a Reason to Visit Your Store: Provide special in-store discounts to shoppers; Use the power of social media to communicate special in-store deals. (3) Use Social Media Targeting Capabilities to Your Advantage: Configure your social media campaign with detailed targeting to audience who will be most willing to buy the products. Targeting to right demographics is the key. (4) Don't Forget to Be Locally Relevant: Geotargeting; Ad copy and imagery with local appeal; Use local lingo. (5) Invest in Some Guerilla Marketing Campaigns: Use public places innovatively to attract attention and spread the word around. (6) Try Podcast Advertising: According to Edison Research, 67 million Americans listen to podcasts monthly, which is a 14% year-to-year increase. Discover your audience's choice of podcasts and invest in running some advertisements to sponsor the commercial breaks. (7) Get Creative with Video: Use entertainment as a strategic tool in video to attract audience. Getting it viral is a challenge that every creative should take. (8) Celebrate All the Little Holidays: Embrace holidays and link your campaigns to them; Release special limited-edition products around them, run special events, or offer deals in festive holidays colors, it gets people excited. (9) Instill a Sense of Urgency: Urgency in messaging can pressure audience to shop; Run short-term limited-time offers and discounts. (10) Understand Your Seasonal Peaks and Plan Accordingly: Do advance planning for seasonal peaks. This includes adjusting ad spend, working with design for new creative, and executing seasonally relevant campaigns that will boost sales during these peak times. (11) Create Returning Buyers through Smart Remarketing: Remarketing allows you to remind shoppers, re-engage them and assist them in buying again; Think about the lifespan of the product that a customer have bought. Run a remarketing campaign and encourage to buy before the product is finished; Another remarketing tactic is to upsell based on the products customers have previously purchased. Read on...
Business 2 Community:
11 Killer Retail Marketing Tips to Drive Sales Year Round
Author: Margot da Cunha
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 apr 2018
Business-to-business world have a different set of rules and dynamics than business-to-consumer when it comes to branding and how interactions happen with prospects and customers. Ryan Gould, VP of Strategy & Marketing Services at Elevation Marketing, explains how B2B world is fragmented, challenges related to inconsistency in branding and what can be done to improve, enhance and control it. He explains, 'The role of the B2B buyer has evolved along with the rest of the world, and importantly, power has gradually shifted to the hands of millennials. Despite 73% of millennials making purchasing decisions, we are still seeing the world of B2B approach these individuals as if they are the same buyer from 5, 10 and even 20 years ago.' Millennials are the new B2B buyers and B2B marketing had to evolve accordingly. Emphasis on branding and brand building becomes critical. Marketing efforts should be aligned, whether it is social media, email marketing, sales collateral, video etc, and focus on addressing the need of potential buyers and differentiate effectively from competition. Sales-driven nature of B2B sector still holds supreme with marketing becoming secondary to it. But with new buyers sales pitch is not sufficient and they seek better connect with brands they deal with. B2B marketers have to understand this dynamic to build strong business relations. B2B marketers also face challenges related to their budget and lack resources to accomplish all their tasks and had to shuffle between various roles. This gives them insufficient time to focus on brand strategy and to build an overall brand value. Fragmented nature of B2B business adds to the chaos with various departments working in silos. Branding consistency in this environment becomes a challenge and customers get confusing inputs. The brand in this scenario lacks uniformity in content, design and messaging. According to HubSpot, only 50% of B2B marketers are treating visual content as a priority. Marketers have to work on this and fully utilize the power of digital and develop creative strategies to have a better connect with millennial decision-makers. B2B organizations must prioritize branding as their target consumer market is sensitive to it. One statistics suggests that 23% of average revenue increases are attributed to brand consistency. B2B marketers should play their role accordingly - understand target audience, recognize the importance of branding, realize where brand is falling short and develop better brand consistency by using latest tools and solutions to have a connect with customers and establish trust. Read on...
Why is inconsistent branding so prevalent in B2B organizations?
Author: Ryan Gould
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 feb 2018
Measurement and analysis of marketing data is becoming critical for understanding the effectiveness of marketing initiatives. The insights help in focusing efforts and money in the right direction. Marketing analytics tools and technologies continue to advance. David Sanderson, CEO of Nugit, explains what will be driving marketing analytics in 2018 and how marketers can keep pace with them - (1) Marketing analysts will need to use many new data sources: Combining data from internal data repositories with other sources like Google Analytics, SEO platform, CRM, Email, Social Media, Chat applications etc will provide better insights that will help to drive consumer interest, optimize pricing, and deliver an improved customer experience. Now analysts must also identify where important data resides, determine what needs to be extracted and devise a strategy for using new data sources to drive business decisions. (2) Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be essential for analytics: Speed of incoming data in large volumes make it difficult for human data analysts to process it effectively. In such a scenario, machine learning and AI tools come to the rescue and help analysts find patterns in customer data, elicit recommendations for optimizing performance, and allow non-professionals to access complicated analytics using simple language. (3) Analysts will become storytellers: Usual data analyst skill like SQL, Excel, business analysis etc, crunching data and making reports will not suffice now. Analysts have to do more - Obtain data from non-traditional sources; Clean data with programming languages such as Python; 'Polish' the data using data visualization tools and create attractive charts and graphs; Transform data into easy-to-understand stories which help non-analysts understand emerging trends and opportunities. Read on...
The three trends driving marketing analytics in 2018
Author: Jeff Rajeck
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 jan 2018
Confluence of sales and marketing is not often seamless. It brings challenges and creates conflicts. Business leaders keep them in silos to avoid friction. But if done effectively, collaboration between the two can bring more benefits and success, saving time and money, and yielding more leads and conversions. Following are ways in which this collaboration can be achieved - (1) Buyer Personas: Both sales and marketing have information about customer segments they serve, albeit from different sources. By sharing the two they can have much better understanding of customers. Together, they can create a precise description of the buyer personas. These descriptions generate personalized content and service delivery. (2) Timing: When the messaging and content is shared is the key to its effectiveness. Through collaboration, marketing can utilize the feedback that sales team receives from customers and time their campaigns, and plan for future strategy accordingly. On the other hand, sharing marketing strategy schedule with sales will help them know when to follow-up with prospects. (3) Content Developent: When sales team creates content it takes away their valuable time from their critical sales activities. By collaboratively developing content, sales and marketing can pool in their strengths and expertise, and focus on customers effectively. This will give sales the content they need and marketing a blueprint to create high value content that inturns generate more leads for sales. (4) Proposals and Agreements: There are software platforms that can help marketing and sales collaboratively create documents like proposals, agreements etc. According to James Kappen, CEO and Founder of Proposable, 'Marketing can go a long way to taking some of the tedious work off the shoulders of the sales team. This includes generating branded proposals with consistent formats and messaging based on the insights the sales team shares with them. That way, marketing can use its expertise in branding, corporate identity, and value-focused content to deliver a more compelling proposal to the sales team to use. The shared information and understanding of the potential buyer elevate the relevancy and engagement that the proposal can offer, enabling more conversions.' Similar tools like Eversign provide the collaborative platform marketing and sales need to work together effectively. The result is that documents can be created, revised, signed and shared between those within the company and the prospect. (5) Analysis: End of the sales cycle can also bring collaborative benefits. Working together of marketing and sales blurs the process of attracting and acquiring customers, thus making the analysis of the role each played in the process difficult. Hence, it becomes beneficial to analyze lead generation data together. This gives everyone opportunity to find out how they are contributing to the whole process and generate the necessary return. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 dec 2017
Marketing continuously evolves, and there is always something new for marketers to test, experiment and validate, and bring it to mainstream, whether it be ideas or technologies. Here are expert predictions for 2018 - (1) Zoe Burns-Shore (Head of Brand & Marketing, First Direct): 'Hopefully, more companies will start to realise digital marketing and marketing are one in the same, and the joy of all of that is seeing how everything works together, not in channel-led silos.' (2) Rachel Bristow (Director of Client Partnerships & Collaboration, Sky Media): 'It's no longer enough for brands to be passive about their brand identity as consumers are expecting more from the brands they engage with. Often this means taking a political viewpoint in order to be relevant and engaging...Although having a political voice can elevate a brand's purpose, it comes with a host of reputation risks which brands need to carefully consider. CSR also helps align a brand with a purpose while mitigating some of those reputation risks of being politically vocal.' (3) Harry Lang (Marketing Director at Online Sportsbook Pinnacle.com): '...I'm going with eSports...Now it's getting organised and brands are paying over the odds to jump on the bandwagon - the trend lines suggest it's only going to get bigger.' (4) Aedamar Howlett (Marketing Director, Coca-Cola Great Britain): 'We will add more choice and breadth to our portfolio...tap into macro consumer trends like healthy living, exotic flavours and on-the-go snacking...we will evolve the ways we communicate and engage our consumers. The trend for instant, real-time conversations and connections with brands will continue...also trialling chat bots and AI, as well as investing in editorial-style content-led media partnerships that tap into the mass appeal of social influencers to consumers...(there) is an evolution in the way marketers use and present data insights...(insights) will allow a more personalised, targeted approach for 2018.' (5) Craig Greenberg (Head of Strategic Planning & Insight, William Grant & Sons UK): 'As consumers are constantly bombarded with information across various channels, we will see more brands attempting to cut through the clutter to become memorable...it is brands that have a differentiator aligned with their brand heritage in a credible way that will win in the long term...consumers will seek brands that build on their identity, meaning a bigger push towards 'local' specificity in luxury brands...in a period of uncertainty, big brands may feel detached from a sense of place and strive to get closer to communities.' (6) Ben Rhodes (Group Marketing Director, Royal Mail): '...continued growth in retail ecommerce - and the associated need for more convenience and choice in delivery and return options...consumer trust in messaging received via physical mail to continue to grow, compared with digital channels.' Read on...
What's in store for 2018? Marketers share their predictions
Author: Lucy Tesseras
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 dec 2017
According to a recent survey by Create, a new marketplace for health systems, local health networks best serve the needs of today's healthcare consumer. The survey took a detailed look at the preferences of individuals when selecting and receiving healthcare. It finds that 1/3rd have received care from more than one health system, or network of affiliated providers. Simeon Schindelman, CEO of Brighton Health Plan Solutions, says, 'This data uncovers that individuals are already taking their own steps to make their care more localized and personalized, but they aren't reaping the cost and quality benefits of such a network model. The survey also finds that there is a strong discrepancy between how loyal healthcare consumers feel they are to their primary care doctors, and how loyal they actually are. Mr. Schindelman and his team observed that 'our current healthcare system simply does not meet the needs and expectations of today's consumer...To enhance healthcare for everyone, we must move away from the current one-size-fits-all health plan, and instead listen to the needs of individuals across the country.' He explains, 'Managed care executives are responsible for managing cost, utilization and quality of care provided, while pursuing strategies for value-driven solutions. As such, hearing the preferences and expectations of today's healthcare consumer is at the center of performing those duties...this survey also uncovers a value-driven solution that has not been explored in the industry: plans that prioritize local, integrated healthcare systems.' Mr. Schindelman suggests - (1) Offer personalized plans. (2) Stop giving people benefits they don't need or use. (3) Explore new ways of lowering costs that don't compromise quality. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 nov 2017
Customer data is key for effective decision-making in marketing and advertising. Even though technology has provided tools to collect and analyze data, and obtain valuable insights, both brand marketers and agency buyers are unsure of the transparency and effectiveness of the data their partners are providing. According to the recent study, 'More Data, More Problems: Trust, transparency, and Targeting in 2017' by Bazaarvoice and Ad Age, more than 75% of survey respondents admitted they are not fully confident that the data they're utilizing is hitting consumers who are in-market to buy. Additionally, 65% of respondents claimed they do not fully understand the origin of their data sources. Here are 10 important questions that one should ask the advertising data provider before embarking on a marketing campaign and get the best value from it - (1) What are the sources of your data? (2) How far does your data reach? (3) What percentage of your data is created from a look-alike model? (4) Which intent signals or behaviors place a user into an audience segment? (5) How do you maintain your audience segments? (6) Can you explain the process behind how you define your audience segments - and the data that feeds into them? (7) In which categories does your data best perform, and why? (8) For which metric(s) does your data best perform, and why? (9) Can you reach the same user across their multiple devices? (10) Does your data drive brand consideration and/or sales, and can you accurately attribute the performance lift directly to your campaign? If so, how? Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 oct 2017
Over the years the dynamics of relationship between patients and healthcare providers have evolved into customers and healthcare businesses type. Rising cost of healthcare, multiple providers, privatization and technology are some important reasons for this transformation. Brad Dodge, President of Dodge Communications, and Andrew Pelosi, President of Partners & Simons, provide in detail what the patients as consumers of healthcare services expect from providers and how healthcare businesses can develop robust customer oriented strategies and fulfil the role of trusted partner in providing care services. They explain, 'Healthcare consumers have come to the realization that they have options. They don't have to settle for poor service, long wait times, limited hours, or confusing bills. Customer loyalty has to be earned - as in any other business. And consumers make it perfectly clear that if a provider can't deliver a better and more personalized experience, then they will switch to one that can. Moreover, the shift in mentality demands that providers be transparent and personal as much as possible. And from generation to generation, consumers are demanding clear communication and a trusted connection with their providers.' According to the Solutionreach Patient-Provider Relationship Study, 'The Ripple Effect Starts with Boomers', 43% of millennials are likely to switch practices in the next few years, 44% of Generation X are likely to switch primary care physicians in the three years and 20% of Baby Boomers are likely to switch in the next three years. Also, 70% of patients desire the ability to text the doctor's office, and 70% would like to receive text messages from their doctor, especially about appointments. Healthcare providers have to keep in mind expectations of these consumers and provide them personalized experience if they want long-term continuous relationships. Authors suggest - (1) Communication Drives Experience: 'The essence of creating a positive experience is making customers feel that they are heard and important — before, during, and after a transaction. Consistent, relevant communication between your company and customers is the answer to optimize that experience and engender trust. Honest communication with an emphasis on personalization builds the trust that all companies need to grow in this new information-driven, engagement economy.' (2) Entering the Engagement Economy: 'Consumers are demanding a more personalized relationship that requires a depth of knowledge of their wants, needs, and buying behaviors - and, ultimately, the best ways to engage them. Brands that succeed are the ones that manage engagement across the entire customer lifecycle. In most instances, the lifecycle and trust-building process starts very early in the customer's buying decision, even before they are considering a purchase.' (3) Who Are You Talking To: 'Creating a positive customer experience requires knowing your audience, engaging interpersonally, and meeting their needs. Answering those questions helps you develop an understanding that will be reflected in how you communicate with them across all channels, as well as what content you deliver. Also, organizations must be clear and concise; they must also offer up a valuable story; and they must be prepared to tweak that story as the marketplace changes.' (4) Focus on Delighting Customers: 'Focusing on ways to delight customers will go a long way in nurturing engagement and trust in your brand. Again, communicating and delivering valuable information to potential and existing customers can please them, especially when that information demonstrates an understanding of their pain points and goals.' (5) Harnessing Engagement: In an environment where trust is in short supply and customer engagement is spread across a broad digital ecosystem, companies must focus on their customers and on nurturing relationships through effective, relevant communication. Focusing on customer experience, needs, and preferences will not only enable brands to differentiate their products and services in a competitive market but also build the trust that results in loyalty.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 oct 2017
To interact with customers, keep them connected and build long-term beneficial relationships is the goal of every business. But, achieving it is a challenge and takes a lot of planning and work. According to Cody Burch, founder of Red Anchor Marketing, far too many business owners are limiting themselves to one offering, and missing the bigger picture of what they can do to serve their target audiences. He suggests that businesses should focus on customer experience and offer them multiple products and services to choose from. Mr. Burch provides five steps to establish a complete customer journey - (1) Start with the ideal/ultimate solution that can be provided to people and gives best result. Find the price for this offering and set it as the benchmark. (2) Take a step down from the ideal and design an offering. Repeat the steps until you have an array of offerings from low-cost/low-touch to concierge-level service. Mr. Burch stresses that businesses need a variety of solutions at various price points. (3) Be clear on the transformation you provide. Make sure that the solution you offer is presented in a way your market intuitively understands and values. (4) Cross-sell (products related to and that will enhance your current offering) and upsell (an upgraded offering). Even after the first sale, continue to cross-promote your products and services. (5) Think about your customer experience as a competitive advantage. Mr. Burch says, 'No matter how big or small your business is, you can create a memorable customer journey, one that serves your market, highlights your brand, and makes it stand out from the competition.' Read on...
Your Customer Journey - Five Steps to Business Success
Author: Lain Ehmann
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 oct 2017
Festive season brings attractive offerings from businesses to influence customers to buy more. Sometimes these offerings can be wrapped in unwanted and unreal freebies and discounts. Understand the following tricks to avoid overspending during festive seasons - (1) The unreal urgency: Sales and discounts happen all the year round. There is no need to rush. If you missed one, there will be another. (2) Useless freebies: Don't fall for unwanted free gifts. Direct price discounts on individual items are good alternatives. (3) The fear of loss: When proper research is done before purchase, the best deals can be found all the year round, not just during festive season. Look for the deal that is most suitable. (4) Big savings: The promise of big discounts can be unreal and may not be available at the time of buying. It may just be an advertising attraction with many conditions in the footnote. (5) The deceptive discounts: Deceptive discounts come with asterix. You might actually overspend then what you wanted to. Here are few suggestions to buy only what/when you want and need - (1) Prioritize (2) Postpone your purchase (3) Resist peer pressure (4) Don't shop to de-stress. Performing sufficient market research before the purchase is best to avoid traps and get most value. Read on...
The Economic Times:
Festive season sales could be a trap - Here's how to find out
Author: Devansh Sharma
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 sep 2017
Team of researchers - Anatoli Colicev of Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan), Ashwin Malshe of University of Texas at San Antonio (USA), Koen Pauwels of Northeastern University (USA) and Peter O'Connor of ESSEC Business School (France) - in their paper 'Improving Consumer Mind-Set Metrics and Shareholder Value through Social Media: The Different Roles of Owned and Earned' published in Journal of Marketing, describe the impact of social media on stock market performance via three consumer mindset metrics: brand awareness, purchase intent, and consumer satisfaction. According to the research all the social media posts are not created equal. Owned social media (OSM), i.e. company's own posts, is likely to increase brand awareness and customer satisfaction but not purchase intent. While earned social media (ESM), i.e. what consumers say about brands on social platforms, is even more valuable, potentially increasing all three consumer mindset metrics. Prof. Koen Pauwels says, 'Consumers look to their peers before making purchasing decisions, which is why earned social media is so valuable. Both investors and consumers distrust companies who boast about themselves, because it's hard to know what weaknesses they're trying to hide.' The researchers also found that consumer satisfaction and purchase intent are primary contributors to firm value. While higher consumer satisfaction was found to increase stock market returns, greater purchase intent was shown to both increase stock market returns and lower idiosyncratic risk - risk that is endemic to a particular stock and not a whole investment portfolio. The researchers used time series analysis to decipher the link between social media posts on various platforms consumer mindset metrics, and shareholder value. Prof. Pauwels suggests that research findings could assist marketers to develop more effective social media strategies. He says, '...marketers and social media managers should craft their OSM messages to target customers to improve brand awareness and customer satisfaction. Due to the value-relevance of customer satisfaction, OSM that is targeted toward helping customers post-purchase, addressing their concerns, and reinforcing their purchase decisions is much more valuable than OSM crafted to persuade customers to buy the firm's products.' The research also found that brands with high credibility (reputation) are far more likely than brands with low credibility to increase purchase intent with their own posts. Read on...
News @ Northeastern:
When it comes to social media, consumers trust each other, not big brands
Author: Jason Kornwitz
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 16 sep 2017
E-commerce has disrupted traditional retail but at the same time pure-play e-commerce companies find it challenging to be profitable. Steve Dennis, strategic advisor, keynote speaker and founder of SageBerry Consulting, provides economic dynamics of e-commerce companies and analyzes the challenges to their road to profitability. He cites the case of e-commerce behemoth, Amazon, that accounts for 45% of US e-commerce and being in business for more than 20 years, still operates at below average industry margins. Some e-commerce companies are even investing to have physical retail presence. Regarding e-commerce among traditional retailers, Mr. Dennis says, '...it's clear that the e-commerce divisions of many major omni-channel retailers run at a loss - or at margins far below their brick & mortar operations.' According to him, increasingly high cost of acquiring (and retaining) customers online is one of the main dynamics that is an impediment to profitability. He explains, 'As it turns out, many online brands attract their first tranche of customers relatively inexpensively, through word of mouth or other low cost strategies. Where things start to get ugly is when these brands have to get more aggressive about finding new and somewhat different customers.' He provides three factors that lead to this - (1) Marketing costs start to escalate: To seek growth, advertising spend increases; Online platforms like Facebook, Google etc are utilized to gain broader audience. (2) More promotion, less attraction: Customers in the growth phase need more incentives, so gross margin on these incremental sales comes at a lower rate; Customers now expect discounts for future purchases, making them inherently less profitable than the initial core customers. (3) Questionable (or lousy) lifetime value: Customers that are acquired as the brand scales have lower incremental lifetime value, both because on average they spend less and because they are inherently more difficult to retain. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 aug 2017
A research study by Strategy Analytics' AppOptix practice (AO) brings good news for B2B players as it finds that 50.4% of consumers use their personal smartphone for business purposes. Employees are using their personal smartphones to conduct business and installing public domain and company-sponsored apps for file sharing, data security, time sheets, expense reporting, and collaboration. B2B companies can identify these business users disguised as consumers to target their offerings. The study also found - 20.5% of business users utilize their personal smartphone over 50% of the time to conduct business; 20.8% of business users are compensated by their employer for their network/wireless operator charges. Author of the study, Prabhat Agarwal (Director, AppOptix), says, 'This research showcases and substantiates there are entry points for B2B players that are looking to offer business services to consumers...By analyzing combinations of apps, we can create probability profiles that identify likely users of business services.' Barry Gilbert (VP, Strategy Analytics), says, 'The business and enterprise user is a critical and lucrative market for mobile operators, device OEMs, and many enterprise software firms...' Read on...
50.4% of Consumers Use Their Personal Smartphones to Conduct Business, Finds Strategy Analytics
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 jul 2017
2017 'Consumer Email Habits Report: What Do Your Customers Really Want', a study of 1003 online respondents commissioned by Campaign Monitor and conducted by Market Cube, finds that nonprofit email marketers are lagging behind peers, and the preferences of constituencies, in their ability to provide personalized, relevant messaging. 81% of consumers in the report want touches of personalization in emails they receive from nonprofits. In terms of relevancy of emails to supporters and potential supporters, nonprofits lag behind substantially with only 42% respondents stating that they regularly receive relevant emails. Andrea Wildt, chief marketing officer for Campaign Monitor, says, 'Email personalization can be based on either personal demographics or behavior - how an individual is interacting with an organization...personally relevant emails resonate better with recipients - building a trust that is sometimes hard to foster when recipients are bombarded with so many contacts from so many senders.' According to Ms. Wildt, 'Nonprofits struggle to provide personally relevant emails due to overall lack of ability to capture data and use that data to segment. Resources available to nonprofits are often far more modest than those of retailers.' Further complicating matters for nonprofits is the disparate ways various age groups interact with emailed material. Ms. Wildt suggests, 'Nonprofits must take a multi-pronged approach to marketing (using different tactics/strategies/technologies to target specific age groups)...They are just not quite as mature at leveraging some of the technology. There is so much noise that nonprofits really need help cutting through. The competition for donors' wallets is still fierce.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 jun 2017
Social media is a great digital marketing tool for businesses to connect and engage with customers, and for internal communication. Integration of social media within customer relationship management (CRM) modules can help to draw, close and create repeated engagements with customers. Inputs from different social media platforms can assist in lead generation and also set up post-sale engagement with customers. Following are some advantages of social media to businesses - (1) Business professionals can find and engage with peers and customers. (2) Responding to customer complaints, obtain feedback and engage with other customer communication has become much common on social media platforms. (3) Sales people seeking prospects and leads can utilize professional networks on platforms like Linkedin. (4) Companies with robust social media strategy can counter and overcome issues before they transform into crisis due to viral nature of social media. (5) Social media can be utilized as an effective recruitment tool. Somesh Misra, VP at Deskera, a global cloud-based ERP and CRM provider, says, 'In fact, CRM providers are developing functionalities in order to deliver the benefits of Enterprise 2.0 and built-in Web 2.0 technology. Embedding innovative features such as activity feeds, conversation threads, chatbots, etc. into CRM applications could open doors to new and immense possibilities in the field of software development as well as integrated digital marketing.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 may 2017
Personalization and customization are key for better customer relationships. According to a new research commissioned by RICOH, more than 2/3 of European consumers say the best brands are those who treat them as individuals. The survey of 3600 consumers across Europe was conducted by Censuswide. Consumers were asked to rank brands in terms of the quality of the relationships with them before (reach), during (respond) and after (retain) purchase. Chas Mahoney, director at RICOH Ireland & UK, says, 'The research we commissioned shows 57% of consumers would also spend more with brands that make them feel like valued customers. This heightens the fact that driving business growth must be intimately linked to making interactions easy and ensuring consumers feel appreciated. ...The right technology along with streamlined digital processes are the most powerful tools in the battle to satisfy and retain today's consumers.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 16 may 2017
The way technology is applied and the transformations it brings, can be analyzed by viewing technology as a complement or a replacement to humans. Every industry is impacted by technological advancements. Gartner predicted in 2011 that 85% of all customer interactions with the enterprise won't involve another human. Artificial intelligence (AI) software is now capable of helping employees from both a people standpoint and a hard data standpoint, a combination of culture with productivity. Mario Martinez Jr., CEO of M3Jr Growth Strategies, interacts with Rob Käll, creator of Cien, an app that helps sales teams use AI to fix productivity, improve motivation, and increase sales effectiveness, and explores how AI can successfully help sales teams. Mr. Käll believes that AI can also solve one of the greatest challenges to sales - Motivation. He says, 'Productivity goes down as you grow your sales team. As you grow, it's hard to keep the passion.' Following are three factors that AI can assist to create successful sales team - (1) LEADS: According to Gleanster Research, only 25% of all leads are legitimate and deserve further attention. AI can help sort leads quickly and look out for good leads. Loren Baker, member of Forbes Agency Council, 'AI bots and other AI solutions will better prequalify inbound leads and assist with customer retention. Chatbots and messenger bots can lead the lead or concerned user down a path that lets the sales team know exactly what they need from a lead (qualification) perspective.' (2) PEOPLE: AI doesn't remove people from the process, it assists them to do better. AI helps select good leads and opportunities, offer personal advice, provide daily reminders, lead prioritization performance measurement comparison etc. AI can help to monitor and evaluate team members. (3) MACRO: In sales, macro factors are to be kept in mind - economic growth, competition, seasonality etc. AI can gauge macro factors and help plan accordingly. It can assist in predicting and calculating things. Mr. Käll says, 'How do you incorporate human behavior into a quantitative model? There are plenty of learning algorithms out there, but very few take human behavior into account...We give them the ability to see and understand how and why they achieve their goals.' Read on...
Business 2 Community:
3 Ways Sales Managers Can Use AI to Increase Sales Effectiveness
Author: Mario Martinez Jr.
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 mar 2017
According to CMS.gov website, 'Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers, who come together voluntarily to give coordinated high quality care to their Medicare patients. The goal of coordinated care is to ensure that patients, especially the chronically ill, get the right care at the right time, while avoiding unnecessary duplication of services and preventing medical errors. When an ACO succeeds both in delivering high-quality care and spending health care dollars more wisely, it will share in the savings it achieves for the Medicare program.' ACOs promise to get patients more involved in their own treatments. These healthcare delivery systems are held accountable to meet cost and quality criteria. The study, 'A Multilevel Analysis of Patient Engagement and Patient-Reported Outcomes in Primary Care Practices of Accountable Care Organizations' (Authors - Stephen M. Shortell, Bing Ying Poon, Patricia P. Ramsay, Hector P. Rodriguez, Susan L. Ivey, and Thomas Huber of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health (USA); Jeremy Rich of HealthCare Partners Institute for Applied Research and Education, Los Angeles, CA; and Tom Summerfelt, Advocate Health, Chicago, IL), published in Journal of General Internal Medicine, found that adult patients who were treated in a primary care practice site that promoted a patient-centered culture reported fewer depression symptoms and displayed better physical functioning. According to Prof. Stephen M. Shortell, principal investigator of the study, 'These findings add to a growing literature on the importance of engaging patients in their care to achieve better outcomes that matter to patients like how they function physically and socially. In addition, it breaks new ground by identifying specific features of primary care practices that appear to be associated with achieving such outcomes through increased patient engagement.' He adds, '...more highly activated, engaged patients ask more questions to have their concerns addressed, and, as a result, are more satisfied with their care experience and more motived to achieve desired outcomes.' Prof. Hector P. Rodriguez, study co-investigator, says, 'Healthcare organizations will increasingly need to find ways to efficiently collect patient-reported data and strategies to use this information for monitoring treatment plans, engaging patients in their own care, and improving their health behaviors.' Read on...
UC Berkeley Research:
How patients, ACOs, and researchers partner to achieve better health
Author: Jaron Zanerhaft
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 mar 2017
Seeking customer loyalty is a challenge that every business faces. But to achieve success at it consistently, requires precise understanding of what customers want and provide it to them. Hotels are utilizing big data analytics to gain insights into which amenities help them attract and retain customers. According to Anil Kaul, CEO of Absolutdata, which provides marketing and customer analytics to hotels, 'We want to help hotels determine which free amenities give them the best chance to boost their hotel's appeal, increase sales, and improve customer satisfaction.' He explains two scenarios that hotels deal with while attracting customers - (1) 'When the customer first begins to seek a hotel. You want to offer a free amenity package that will convince him or her to choose your hotel over many other possibilities.' (2) 'Providing a great customer experience to your guest during his or her stay. Part of this customer satisfaction is achieved by offering the right free amenities. If you do this well, the guest is likely to return.' Based on Mr. Kaul's research and analytics on different types of hotels, Wi-Fi is at the top of guest's expectations, followed by free bottled water. To gather the data and compute a hotel's amenity analytics, the software uses a methodology that taps into the hotel's reservation system and then combines this data with survey data from customers on amenities and other elements of their stays. Read on...
How big data analytics help hotels gain customers' loyalty
Author: Mary Shacklett
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 10 dec 2016
Gifts are an important tool for initiating and enhancing relationships, and it is often challenging to give just the right gift that connects well. According to Prof. Cassie Mogilner Holmes of University of California at Los Angles, 'What we found was that the recipient feels more connected to you as the gift giver after receiving an experiential gift rather than a material one.' Prof. Holmes is a social psychologist and marketing expert, and is a world's leading authority on consumer happiness. She says, 'Everbody wants to be happy. But we don't often know the best path towards that end. I am trying in my research to understand what are the ways we can think and behave that are most conducive to our happiness and well-being.' Prof. Holmes has been exploring the relationship between happiness, time and money for almost a decade. Her studies found that when your attention is drawn subconsciously to time, you are more motivated to engage with other people, and that will make you happier than if you were thinking about money. Prof. Holmes and her UCLA colleague, Prof. Hal Hershfield, posed the question of what people want more of - time or money - to thousands of Americans representing different ages, socio-economic levels, occupations, races and genders. According to her, 'We found that those who were more likely to choose having more time over having more money were happier.' She further explains that the psychology around these choices has less to do with age than with people's outlook on their futures and on time. She adds, 'Younger people who feel their time is expansive and that they have a very long future in front of them will enjoy greater happiness from extraordinary experiences. For older people who feel their time is limited and fleeting, they feel a need to savor the moment. These people extract happiness from even mundane, ordinary experiences, like having coffee with a friend.' Read on...
UCLA marketing prof probes what will make you happier
Author: Cynthia Lee
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 nov 2016
Research by Prof. Ali Besharat of University of Denver, 'The Effect of Review Valence and Variance on Product Evaluations: An Examination of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Cues' (Other authors - Ryan Langan of University of San Francisco; Sajeev Varki of University of South Florida), explores how the rating and variance in reviews affect the decision process. Researchers find that the nature of products, a product's brand, reviewers' credibility, and the structure of online customer reviews all significantly impact consumer decision-making and, subsequently, a company's bottom line in terms of sales. According to Prof. Besharat, 'In the case of high online review variance, we find that when brand equity is high - Nike for example - then reviewer credibility does not influence consumers' purchase intentions. But when a consensus among reviews exists (low variance), reviewer credibility emerges as a significant diagnostic cue.' Another research by Prof. Ana Babić Rosario of University of Denver, 'The Effect of Electronic Word of Mouth on Sales: A Meta-Analytic Review of Platform, Product and Metric Factors' (Other authors - Francesca Sotgiu of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; Kristine De Valck of HEC Paris; Tammo H.A. Bijmolt of University of Groningen), confirms Prof. Besharat's findings and demonstrates that a wide variance in consumer opinions has a detrimental effect on product sales. According to Prof. Rosario, 'The reason why variability of reviews can harm sales more than negativity is that electronic world of mouth, in theory, is a way for consumers to reduce risk and uncertainty, which does not happen when other consumers' feedback is highly inconsistent.' Prof. Rosario's findings should be of interest to product and platform managers, internet and social media monitoring agencies. Read on...
University of Denver News:
What Brand and Marketing Managers Need to Know About Online Customer Reviews; How They Influence Purchase Decisions
Author: Amy Jacobson
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 oct 2016
According to Mapp Digital's whitepaper, 'Consumer Views of Email Marketing', more than 98% of consumers, aged 18-64, check emails at least one to three times a day. The survey for whitepaper included a national panel of 1765 consumers between the ages of 18-64, 70% had a household income of over US$ 35000 and participants were evenly distributed by gender and geographic region. The findings point out the importance of age in receptiveness of email marketing. Nearly 2/3rd (64%) of respondents aged 55-64 said that they will delete email, as opposed to 38% of 18-24 year-olds. 91% aged 18-24, and 83% aged 25-34 said that they use smartphones to view emails. It suggests that for effective email marketing, optimize for smartphones. Mike Biwer, CEO of Mapp Digital, says, 'Email marketing is still very relevant to brands, specifically for the hard-to-reach 18-34 year-old audience. The survey results suggest that this group of consumers are engaging with fewer brands on a more intimate level. Millennials and Gen Y are strong audiences for email marketers, but now more than ever, the email marketing experience needs to cater to what they want and how they want it.' Read on...
Email marketing still vital for targeting young US consumers
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 oct 2016
To avoid customer attrition in the digital age requires multiple service-centric online strategies. Cynthia Johnson, Managing Partner & Director of Marketing for RankLab, provides some of them - (1) Use Your Customers' Information to Benefit Their Experience: Ensure effective customer data collection using browser cookies, account login data in CRM and marketing automation tools; Personalization; Targeted product recommendations, send event triggered messages and auto-fill forms. (2) Make it Easy for People to Reach You: Display contact information prominently; Use multi-channel chat solutions. (3) Have a Mobile-Friendly Website Design: Mobile digital media time with 51%, exceeds desktop and other devices combined; Use responsive web design; (4) Pay Attention to Reviews and Rants on Social Media: Ensure monitoring of social chatter about your business; Use tools that can provide you with alerts when there are comments, reviews and inquiries on social media. (5) Above All Else, Listen and Respond. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 aug 2016
According to WordStream.com, 'Marketing analytics is the practice of measuring, managing and analyzing marketing performance to maximize its effectiveness and optimize return on investment (ROI). Understanding marketing analytics allows marketers to be more efficient at their jobs and minimize wasted web marketing dollars. Beyond the obvious sales and lead generation applications, marketing analytics can offer profound insights into customer preferences and trends. Despite these compelling benefits, a majority of organizations fail to ever realize the promises of marketing analytics.' It is imperative for marketers to overcome analytics related challenges and bring customers closer to the brands and serve each one of them in the best possible way. Ensuring better data quality, effective knowledge and skills to analyze data, focus and clarity of goals, collaborative approach and creativity, will provide what marketing analytics promises. In KPMG's 2016 Global CEO Outlook, 84% of CEO's indicated their concern about the quality of the data they use to make decisions. Moreover, Forrester Research noted that 58% of the work in a business intelligence initiative is spent on trying to find the right data and integrate it for analysis. Openprise released a study on marketing data management, noting barriers to data management success included - Poor data use/accessibility (54%); Poor data quality (44%); Poor database integration (37%). Study by Ascend found similar challenges to data-driven marketing, listing integrating data across platforms and enriching data quality and completeness as the top two challenges. Finding the right data and analyzing it properly and gain valuable insights is the key to effective data-driven marketing. This requires specialized knowledge and expertise for marketers. eMarketer points to an IAB study that found that 34.8% noted a lack of internal experience at the functional and operational level as a major obstacle to deploying and deriving value from data-driven marketing. Moreover, collaborative approach and focus are other critical factors required to get maximum results. Amar Doshi, VP of Product at 6sense, says, 'Marketing can't operate in a silo if the enterprise wants to be successful at data-driven marketing. It takes a team that includes resources across the organization to work together.' He adds, 'Marketers are also trying to do too much and, as a result, not doing anything well.' The key is to agree on performance goals and metrics. CMO Solution Guide suggests to always be testing and measuring. But in all these processes and focus, importance of creativity should never be forgotten. Robert Glazer, founder and managing director of Acceleration Partners, says, 'Marketing needs to do both, but too often it's choosing the data over creative. Focusing on creative doesn't mean ignoring data. In fact, data plays an important role in directing creative. Incorporating both data and creativity means maintaining a balance between insight-driven ideas and compelling execution. Smart marketers bring their creative team and data geeks together.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 jun 2016
E-Commerce strategy once was a source of competitive advantage and differentiating factor in business. But now it is an essential strategy for businesses to connect and engage with their customers and, market and sell their products and services online. AJ Agrawal, Founder and CEO of Alumnify, suggests 4 affordable marketing strategies to boost e-commerce efforts and stand out from the competition - (1) Start Testing More On Facebook: Utilize split testing or A/B testing to evaluate advertising effectiveness and save cost. Continue the process until best results are achieved. One tactic you can implement in your testing is to prequalify leads. (2) Use The Right Influencers: Word of mouth generates twice the number of sales as paid advertising. Invest in reputation marketing and word of mouth marketing. Use the right and relevant influencers. (3) Invest In Your Email Marketing Campaign: 44% of customers click on promotional emails and then make a purchase. Build email list and invest in email marketing campaign. Finally get a group of brand ambassadors from the list and initiate word of mouth marketing through them. (4) Retargeting In The Right Style: Use retargeting to highlight and establish that unique selling point to convince them to buy and not go to competitors. Use data analytics to understand customer behavior. Segment your adds based on user interactions with site. Keep testing advertising effectiveness until best results are achieved. Continuous testing of marketing strategies and improving upon them will help in differentiating from competitors and attract customers. Read on...
4 Marketing Strategies To Take eCommerce To The Next Level
Author: AJ Agrawal
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 may 2016
Altimeter Group's April 2016 report, 'The Race Against Digital Darwinism: Six Stages of Digital Transformation', defines 'Digital Transformation' as, 'The realignment of, or new investment in technology, business models, and processes to drive new value for customers and employees to effectively compete in an ever-changing digital economy.' According to Brian Solis, an analyst at Altimeter, 'Many conversations around digital transformation are focused on the IT side, and technology does play a big role, but there's a human side of the story and it's driven by the customer experience.' He explains that most digital transformation happens without top leadership, and it actually develops from the middle of the organization, from change agents, who act as lawyers, cheerleaders, and politicians, as they have to gather evidence, rally everyone together, and convince people to work together. The report provides six stages for digital transformation - (1) Business As Usual: Digital is present but not prioritized; Leadership is change resistant; Roadmap focuses on technology, not customer experience; Customer strategies and processes are siloed; Teams are not collaborating. (2) Present and Active: Occurence of early adopters experimenting with new technologies; Teams operating independently; Focus on customer experience starts to develop; Change agents are present and engage with colleagues to share latest digital trends. (3) Formalized: More collaboration happens between change agents and early adopters; Decision making driven by data, analytics and insights starts; Conversations revolve around customer experience, digital vs traditional; Need for formal vision regarding digital transformation and executive sponsorship for it; Education and training for digital begins. (4) Strategic: Most parts of the organization are now aware of digital transformation efforts and mapped processes; They start to get streamlined; Change agents become prominent; Role of CDO (Chief Digital Officer) or CCO (Chief Customer Officer) emerges; Data and analytics become more important; More collaboration is visible; Digital investments become ROI focused. (5) Converged: Digital efforts converge and get streamlined; Customer experience efforts now influence all processes; Change agents become leaders; Top leadership gets actively involved in digital transformation; Governing body is established to oversee changes; More collaboration between IT and customer experience teams. (6) Innovative and Adaptive: Digital transformation and innovation become interwoven into the fabric of the organization; An omni-channel system develops and provides consolidated information on customer data and its effects; New teams and roles evolve that prioritize digital. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 apr 2016
As web technologies continue to evolve along with user expectations, businesses have to keep pace with them for successful digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO). User experience optimization (UXO) and user experience design (UXD) are at the core of online marketing and SEO strategies. UXO keeps customers hooked to the website and UXD is the process that is used to create the website with customers in mind. Optimal UXD utilizes best usability principles to provide best user interface by keeping customer interactions at the core of design. Dan Makoski, VP of Design for CapitalOne and most currently Chief Design Officer at Garage Partners, says, 'Experiences are personal moments felt by people, something that can't be owned by designers; however, we can design for it. The experience of the people we design for is what determines the success of the products, services and relationships that we create.' Don Dodds, Managing Partner and Chief Strategist at M16 Marketing, suggests a list of 38 tips for website design, content creation and online marketing strategies for better user experience. Here are some selections from the list - (1) Top of the page is critical for user attention. (2) Make sure content is visible and readable for everyone including colorblind users. (3) Provide symmetry in object placement. (4) Place objects in logical order for better user flow. (5) Keep site navigation panel consistent. (6) Design for ease of use and easy comprehension. (7) For better loading use content before images. (8) Keep pages as short as possible for ease of content utilization by user. (9) For long pages use sticky menu that moves with the scrolling. (10) Make sure your pages load quickly, preferably in couple of seconds. (11) Make it easy for users to undo an action or back out of a navigation option. (12) For mobile content, do not require a double-click to activate an element. (13) Pay attention to contrast when designing your mobile content. (14) Link anchor text should tell the user exactly where the link will take them. (15) Use fonts that are easy to read. (16) Most website visitors scan your content first before reading it. Use elements like bold text, headlines etc to attract attention to the content that is most meaningful to users. (17) Avoid pop-ups, banners and slideshows as much as possible. (18) Always be truthful regarding what you can offer. Avoid false advertising and misleading information. (19) Use icons that are simply designed and easy to understand. (20) Establish a brand image and include it everywhere you've established a presence online. Read on...
38 Design Tips for Creating an Amazing User Experience
Author: Don Dodds
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 apr 2016
Financial services industry has vast amount of consumer data and firms can utilize analytics to gather purposeful insights for better customer relationships and business success. Consumers are now more digitally connected than before. But according to Boston Consulting Group, despite the huge availability of data and better analytics tools, banks are far from realizing big data's full potential. Some of the reasons are - Competing priorities like regulatory changes that happened during financial crisis; IT complexity due to multilayered systems and siloed data; Lack of coordinated vision. Jim Marous, Co-Publisher of The Financial Brand and Publisher of the Digital Banking Report, suggests steps that traditional banking and financial institutions can take to take advantage of consumer data and analytics - (1) The Partnership Between Banking and Fintech: A win-win is created by combining data and technology skills of many of the entrepreneurial financial technology firms with the data from the larger legacy firms. (2) Removing Friction from the Customer Journey: Focus on providing better digital experience at each step of customer interaction by leveraging advance customer insights that go far beyond simple demographics to include channel preferences, lifestage insights and even geolocational information. (3) Making Data Actionable: Beth Merle, VP of Enterprise Solutions at Epsilon, says, 'Banks need to stop talking about gathering big data and starting using big data to make a difference for the consumer. We need to see the integration and synchronization of data sources, enabling real-time determination of relevant data points for analysis, communication, and decision making, the 'trifecta' of big data. (4) Introduction of Optichannel Delivery: Financial organizations have to go beyond multichannel and omnichannel strategy and provide 'optichannel' experience by delivering solutions using the best (optimum) channel based on the customer's need and preferred channel. In the future, the integration of processes from the consumer's perspective is foundational to the optichannel theme. According to Nicole Sturgill, Principal Executive Advisor for CEB TowerGroup, 'Rather than looking at channels independently, banking needs to develop and provide financial tools that are integrated in daily life.' (5) Exploring Advanced Technology: Jim Eckenrode, Executive Director of the Deloitte Center for Financial Services, says, 'By enabling the collection and exchange of information from objects, the IoT (Internet of Things) has the potential to be as broadly transformational to the financial services industry as the Internet itself.' In the process of leveraging customer data legacy firms face multiple challenges that they need to overcome to reap financial benefits and establish data and analytics expertise that would be hard to replicate by competitors. Some of these challenges include - Lack of talent; Lack of resources; Lack of urgency. Despite advanced data analysis being one of the top challenges mentioned in the recently released State of Financial Services Marketing, only the largest regional and national banks (over US$ 10 billion) ranked improving data and analytics capabilities in their top three priorities (47%), compared to community banks and credit unions (only 8%). Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 mar 2016
According to the latest study 'The State of Consumer Healthcare: A Study of Patient Experience from Prophet and GE Healthcare Camden Group', that incorporates responses from 3000 consumers and 300 senior leaders (Vice President or higher) at healthcare provider systems that employ at least 20 physicians, patient experience is one of the main concern as 81% of consumers surveyed indicate that they are unsatisfied with their healthcare experience. Moreover, the study also points towards a large gap between consumer expectations and what providers believe regarding their service offerings. Jeff Gourdji of Prophet says, 'There is a misperception among providers about how well they are truly meeting consumer expectations.' CEO's surveyed in the study also said that patient satisfaction is not currently among their top five priorities. According to Helen Stewart of GE Healthcare, 'The common misperception is that focusing on the patient experience means spending less time on other cost and revenue initiatives...Investments to improve the patient experience can drive both growth and cost reduction.' Paul Schrimpf of Prophet says, 'Providers are struggling to adapt to the rising culture of 'consumerism', which has heightened people's expectations. The power has shifted to the consumer in nearly every industry, and now it's healthcare's turn.' Laura Jacobs, President of GE Healthcare Camden Group, explains, 'Creating better and more holistic experiences doesn't just mean happier patients. It translates to increased capacity, lower operating costs, improved financial performance, and higher employee satisfaction and retention. For healthcare providers, the key to profitability and longevity lies in their ability to deliver a superior consumer experience.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 10 mar 2016
According to the recent forecast available at IDC.com, the big data technology and services market will grow at 26.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to US$41.5 billion through 2018, or about six times the growth rate of the overall information technology market. While on the other hand, McKinsey estimates 1.5 million more data managers will be required by 2018 in the US alone. The demand for talent with big data and analytics skills may far exceed the supply. A new field of study has emerged in educational institutions to fulfil anticipated talent shortage. Business schools are partnering with companies that are at the cutting edge of big data technologies to structure big data and analytics focused programs. Some are providing MOOCs to impart knowledge and train business professionals for the data-driven world. While others are leveraging the strengths of their computer science departments to bring technology know-how to the business classrooms. Massimo Beduschi, CEO of WPP in Italy, says, 'The big data wave is surging through every sector - and profound digital transformations are making it mandatory to leverage analytics.' MIT Sloan School of Management has launched master's in business analytics and the senior lecturer and associate dean at the school, Jake Cohen, says, 'Recruiters have said they are looking for training in advanced business analytics...people who can take insight to action.' Prof. Soumitra Dutta, dean of Cornell University's Johnson School of Management (US), says, 'Many schools have courses linked to digital technology, one way or another.' Cornell is partnering with Twitter and Linkedln for analytics in their MBA program. Prof. Dutta is concerned at slow pace of transformation towards blended technology and business management education. Radhika Chadwick, a partner at Ernst & Young, comments, 'I applaud that we have universities tackling this, but we need to do it at a higher speed.' Stanford Graduate School of Business have electives like digital competition, business intelligence from big data, and data-driven decision-making. Maeve Richard, director of Career Management Center at Stanford GSB (US), says, 'Most of the curriculum is about looking for opportunities to be transformative.' University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School (US) offers a program track and MOOCs on business analytics. According to Prof. Peter Fader, co-director of Wharton's Customer Analytics Initiative, 'Now we have all this data, how do we actually build strategies? How do we use the data and the models to run businesses better?' Prof. Juergen Branke of UK's Warwick Business School, that was one of the pioneers and had a program since 2008 developed in partnership with IBM and SAS, advocates for new education and skills to managing effectively in the digital economy. Prof. Jeffrey Camm, chair of business analytics at Wake Forest University (US), says, 'Managers need to understand analytics, how it converts data to valuable insights, and also understand issues such as data privacy, and the ethical use of data and analytical models.' Commenting on slow development and adoption of new curriculum, Prof. Jim Hamill, director of futurdigitalleaders.com and teaches digital leadership module at University of Edinburgh Business School (UK), says, 'Most senior deans and professors are not 'digital natives'. They are baby boomers.' According to Prof. G. Anandalingam, dean of Imperial College Business School (UK) that launched a Data Observatory in partnership with KPMG and offers a degree in business analytics, 'Big data is changing the way everyone operates...need to be able to make sense of all the valuable information.' Prof. Juan José Casado Quintero, director of masters in business analytics at IE School of Business (Spain), developed with IBM, says, 'Companies are struggling to fill their data science positions.' Prof. Gregory LaBlanc, faculty director at Haas School of Business at University of California at Berkeley (US), that works with Accenture, says, 'There is huge unmet demand for data science.' Industry-institution collaborations are a win-win for both, as they provide companies access to talent and to universities the expertise and knowledge of latest business practices and market technologies. Read on...
Future Of Big Data - These Business Analytics Degrees Are Bridging The Gaping Skills Gap
Author: Seb Murray
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 12 feb 2016
Corporations can find themselves in situations where their profit seeking goals can develop conflict with their ethical and sustainability related direction. According to Wikipedia, 'Corporate sustainability is a business approach that creates long-term consumer and employee value by creating a "green" strategy aimed toward the natural environment and taking into consideration every dimension of how a business operates in the social, cultural, and economic environment. It also formulates strategies to build a company that fosters longevity through transparency and proper employee development.' Most reputed organizations now have sustainability department that manages sustainability issues and integrates them with overall business objectives. Sustainability and marketing departments are trying to develop a converged approach to influencing customer behavior and persuading more responsible habits. But it can be a challenging task to align strategy and resources of both these departments. 73% of 1000 listeners of a webinar 'Influence customer behaviour through integrated marketing and sustainability' on website ethicalcorp.com believe that their organisation has not successfully integrated marketing and sustainability to influence customer behaviour. To do so they can utilize the following tips - (1) Start at the top: Senior managers should be made aware of all sustainable efforts in the organization to drive their support and channel effective internal and external communication through them. (2) Ensure internal integration: Continuous and consistent sharing of ideas between different departments help in integration. According to Rupert Maitland-Titterton of Kellogg Company, 'Our marketing and sustainability departments report to one and other and see each other every day. This ensures that ideas are shared and a feeling of inclusion rather than "us and them" is created.' (3) Understand your customer: Customers demand more sustainable and responsible behavior from companies. Both departments should focus on customer-centricity and develop collaborative approach to fulfil consumer expectations. (4) Keeping messaging consistent: Have long-term sustainable goals, communicate regularly and involve customers in achieving them. Dr. Kirstie McIntyre of HP says, 'Companies need to make it part of the value proposition.' David Brunt of AkzoNobel suggests seeking a 'win-win' situation. (5) Make sustainability the norm: Sustainability should be integrated seemlessly into every process and product so that the overall organization is marketed as a sustainable one. Read on...
How marketing and sustainability can drive customer behaviour change - 5 top tips
Author: Liam Dowd
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 06 feb 2016
Reviews and recommendations related to products and companies are an important part of consumer buying decisions. Nowadays, technology has transformed word of mouth into word of clicks and taps, bringing consumers closer to other consumers and brands. Online communities around interests, products, and brands have mushroomed. Social media has further brought quality, quantity and speed into the recommendation and review process. According to a study by McKinsey, social media recommendations induced an average of 26% of purchases in 2014, that's up from 10% in 2013. Kishore Kumar, serial entrepreneur and CEO of AllThingsMine, explains how social media networks are assisting cosumers in their buying and purchasing decisions and what companies need to do to effectively utilize these channels for their product marketing and competitive strategies. According to him three aspects of social media influence consumers, and companies have to incorporate them to expand their product sales - (1) Social Referrals: Brands have to encourage and invest in social media referrals. Adweek infographic suggests that 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals. Recommendations from friends and trusted sources are more valuable than product advertisements. (2) Access to Reviews: Consumers research before buying products and reviews are an important source. Companies should provide product reviews and give incentives to those consumers that leave a review. (3) Social Media Accessibility: Social media is freely available to anyone with an internet connection. Consumers can now purchase products directly from their social media feeds when people in their network recommend them. Companies need to effectively tap this potential and reach out to larger public through influencers. Read on...
How Social Networks Impact Buying Decisions And The Modern Consumer Society
Author: Kishore Kumar
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 jan 2016
Product returns are an important part of customer-retailer relationship dynamics. In 2014, customers returned US$ 280 million worth of products across all US retailers. The latest research by doctoral student Ryan Freling (University of Texas at Dallas), Prof. Narayan Janakiraman (University of Texas at Arlington) and doctoral candidate Holly Syrdal (University of Texas at Arlington), conducted the meta-analysis of existing studies on return policies to quantify the policies' effect on consumers' purchase and return behavior. The study challenges the underlying assumption that all return policies affect purchases and returns in a similar manner. The study suggests that this is not the case, as retailers tend to impose restrictions to dissuade returns or offer leniency to encourage purchases by manipulating five return policy elements: time, money, effort, scope and exchange. The study found that overall lenient return policies positively affect purchase and return decisions. According to Mr. Freling, 'In general, firms use return policies to increase purchases but don't want to increase returns, which are costly. But all return policies are not the same...Return policy leniency should depend on the retailer's objectives. If a retailer wants to stimulate purchases, offering more lenient monetary policies and low-effort policies may be effective.' Read on...
UT Dallas News Center:
Researchers Examine Effect of Return Policies on Consumer Behavior
Author: Brittany Magelssen
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 dec 2015
The technology-enabled interactions of consumers and businesses have provided opportunities to capture data and utilize analytics to improve business processes and enhance products and services for customers in variety of industries. The analytics industry ecosystem is mushrooming with numerous vendors, from niche providers to one-stop solutions that include capture, storage, access and study of data for valuable insights. Suhale Kapoor, Co-founder of Absolutdata Analytics, captures various aspects of the analytics industry and its evolution in 2015 and explains what are the expected trends in the year ahead. Trends in 2015 - Growth of new startups and digital marketing tools; Increased use of analytics and Business Intelligence (BI); Rise in use of social media and social advertising on mobile; Rapid expansion of Internet of Things (IoT); Video content; Content marketing and predictive analytics; End-user experience and integration of online and offline content to improve service standards. Trends for 2016 - Shift towards cloud; Streaming architectures will hasten data computations; Visuals will come to rule; Data integration tools will assume more importance; Centre of Excellence (COE) will equip a business in understanding the peculiar needs and challenges for a data scientist; The Internet of Things (IoT) is all poised to bring about a data revolution; Non-analysts will start to dabble in data. Read on...
The Analytics Sector - Emerging trends and forecast for 2016
Author: Suhale Kapoor
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 dec 2015
While peer recommendations and other customer's views have an important influence on purchasing decisions, but an experiment by Cranfield University's Prof. Hugh N. Wilson, Prof. Emma K. Macdonald and doctoral student Shane Baxendale, identified another influential touchpoint that is mostly ignored by marketers: observing what other customers actually do. They analyzed brand touchpoints of 14000 people from N. America and Europe over a week. The data was collected as text message by using research agency MESH Experiences's real-time experience tracking approach. The people were asked to report their experiences of a brand in one of four categories: mobile handsets, soft drinks, technology products, and electrical goods. The results collected from 69000 text messages found that observing other customers in influencing purchase decisions is as important as word-of-mouth recommendations for mobile handsets and soft drinks, and even more important in case of technology products and electrical goods. The experiment overall found that peer observation was equal in importance to the costly brand advertising. Similar thinking that Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, psychologist and economist, termed as 'System 1 Thinking' also applies in consumer behavior: with many decisions to take, it saves effort to assume that if others are using a product, it's probably good. For marketers, the researchers have the following suggestions - (1) It's important to think about distinctive branding for the product in use not just for the purchase moment. (2) If decision-making is made by the group rather than the individual, marketers can try to win the group. (3) Expose normally invisible customer behaviors to their peers. (4) Build in peer observation to product launches. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 nov 2015
Successful companies provide exemplary customer service. Companies have huge amount of data regarding their customers that they can utilize to achieve better understanding and insights and serve their consumers in the best possible way. But the big question is, how many metrics can customer service professionals focus on to get the best results. Piyanka Jain, President and CEO of Aryng, explains 'There is a better way to drill into the treasure trove of data you have, to find the root causes of your most important metrics slipping - and you don't need to use any complicated systems to do it. 80% of the business problem faced by most front line managers can be solved by using simple business analytics methodologies - (1) Aggregate Analysis (2) Correlation Analysis (3) Trend Analysis (4) Sizing and Estimation. If you and your team can learn to master these four techniques, you can solve most of the business problems you will encounter in your day-to-day workflow. And it can be all done using simple tools like Excel, with the data you already have at hand.' She further povides three simple steps that are to be followed - (I) Determine your team's analytics aptitude (II) Learn how to ask intelligent questions and derive actionable insights from your data (III) Practice and learn to become more proficient with your business analytics. Ms. Jain has devised a framework, 'BADIR Process', that include steps that most analytics projects follow - Real 'B'usiness Question; Hypothesis-driven 'A'nalysis Plan; Collecting Relevant 'D'ata; Deriving 'I'nsights; Making Actionable 'R'ecommendations. If the 'BADIR' framework is utilized in a way as explained, the analysis will find the following biggest drivers of customer dissatisfaction - (1) Multiple calls needed to get an issue resolved. (2) Hold times greater than 150 seconds while the agent looks for the answer. (3) Unprofessional agents. The analysis would show that addressing these drivers would bring customer satisfaction (CSAT) up from 57% to 69%. These important driver metrics should become the part of the daily dashboard - (1) First Call Resolution (FCR) (2) Agent Hold Time (3) Professionalism Among Agents (graded on scale). Read on...
Harvard Business Review:
Improving Customer Satisfaction with Simple Analytics
Author: Piyanka Jain
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 nov 2015
Marketing technologies are changing the nature and dynamics of strategies that marketers use to reach, engage and serve their customers. Moreover these technologies continue to evolve and marketers have to keep pace with these advances to stay ahead of the game. The four key innovation areas in marketing technology in which all marketers should have deep understanding and continue to emphasise in their strategies are - (1) Use Advanced Analytics (2) Optimize the Mobile Experience in Real-time (3) Cut Down on Call Center Time to Value (4) Maximize the Voice of Customer (VOC). Marketers should be able to collect, analyze and act on omnichannel data throughout the whole customer funnel (customer journey & engagement process) for each of the mentioned areas to achieve success. This will finally help build better customer profiles, prioritize business actions, analyze macro trends, optimize customer engagement and customize offerings to get better outcomes. Read on...
4 Advanced Use Cases of Marketing Technology Innovation
Author: Rohit Roy
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 oct 2015
According to recent research regarding consumer psychology by marketing professors Gina S. Mohr of Colorado State University, Margaret C. Campbell of the University of Colorado, and Peeter W. J. Verlegh of the University of Amsterdam, 'Consumers remember and like products better after seeing covert marketing, such as a product placement in a sitcom, but reminding them that product placement is "marketing" eliminates the effect.' Prof. Campbell, the lead invesigator of the study, comments 'Frankly, we were a bit surprised at the power of covert marketing across a variety of studies. Even though most US consumers know that marketers pay to surreptitiously get their brands in front of consumers, consumers are still influenced by covert marketing efforts.' Prof. Mohr adds, 'In the US there has been some reluctance to incorporate disclosures for fear that it may interfere with creative content. This research suggests that product placement disclosures need not occur at the time of product placement to be effective.' Researchers suggest that the study provides support for the idea that requiring disclosure after exposure to covert marketing would give information to consumers that helps them make better decisions. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 oct 2015
According to Pew Internet Project's research on social networking, as of January 2014, 74% of online adults use social networking sites. While as of September 2014, the usage statistics of popular social networking sites is - Facebook (71%); Twitter (23%); Instagram (26%); Pinterest (28%); LinkedIn (28%). Moreover research by Full Impact Studio found that social media has surpassed Google as Americans' 'number one daily activity'. All these stats point towards the relevance and importance of social media to reach people. Brands and businesses have to carefully carve out their marketing strategies on social media, and engage with their target audience accordingly. Social media can be utilized to gain subscribers, promote a service or sell a product, and helps build a business's social brand. Following are the five social media branding strategies for business suggested by Full Impact Studio's infographic - (1) Choose channels that best support your brand image: Facebook (For brand awareness and promotion. Biggest and most influential); Instagram (For heavily visual brands. Targets young adults); Pinterest (For Visual brands. To reach women); LinkedIn (To connect with corporate influencers and promote business-related content) (2) Provide exemplary customer service: Timely engage with customers and provide effective answers and solutions. (3) Don't forget about Google+: Still relevant considering that its part of Google ecosystem. Posted content's visibility on Google search. Connected to YouTube. Acts as free ad space for each post when searched on Google. (4) Deliver interesting and engaging content: Regularly update. Keep content fresh and relevant. Include articles, updates, audios, videos and visuals. (5) Get involved and make connections: Attract audience and build relationships through relevant engagement tactics like contests, giveaways or meaningful advocacy. Make them feel part of the community. Read on...
Business 2 Community:
Infographic - 5 Social Media Branding Strategies for Business
Author: Deanna Zaucha
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 sep 2015
Design thinking is used by organizations to spur innovation. It is often a source for product innovation teams to generate radical new product ideas and concepts. Once applied effectively and become a part of organization's culture it can emerge as a sustainable competitive advantage. According to Professor Michal Herzenstein, who teaches marketing at University of Delaware, 'Radically new products are products that allow consumers to do something that they couldn't have done before. They are products that create a shift in consumption - how consumers respond to and use products.' Her chapter 'Optimal Design for Radically New Products' alongwith Prof. Steve Hoeffler of Vanderbilt University and Tamar Ginzburg of Vanderbilt University, appears in PDMA Essentials book titled, 'Design and Design Thinking' by Michael I. Luchs of College of William and Mary, Scott Swan of College of William and Mary, Abbie Griffin of University of Utah. Prof. Herzenstein provides six processes that product innovation teams need to implement to create ideas for radically new products. Large organizations can use them in an ascending sequence with a focus on communicating the goal of achieving breakthrough product to innovation team. While smaller companies and startups can pick any process that they feel will assist them to learn more about developing radically innovative product ideas. The six processes are - (1) Communicate the Challenge Goal Toward Radically New Products. (2) Shift Time Frames to Future and Past. (3) Promote an Emerging Technology Focus Across the Product Consumption Chain. (4) Promote the Use of Analogical Thinking. (5) Look for Novel Ways to Solve Simple Problems. (6) Leverage More Ideators Via Crowdsourcing. Read on...
Product Innovation Educators Blog:
6 Processes for Generating Ideas for Radical Innovations
Author: Chad McAllister
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 sep 2015
In a highly competitive market, brands can utilize excellent customer service strategies to differentiate themselves. Listening to voice of the customer, understanding their behavior and analyzing their interactions, can provide companies the needs and wants of the customer. Companies can use these insights to better serve their customers and that has direct impact on their bottom line. According to Defaqto Research, '55% of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience.' Study published in Journal of Marketing (2004 Edition) by team of researchers, Prof. Eugene W. Anderson of University of Michigan (now at University of Miami), Prof. Claes Fornell of University of Michigan and, Prof. Sanal K. Mazvancheryl of Georgetown University (now at American University, Washington DC), quantified the consequence of quality customer service on shareholder value. Study points out, 'Among 200 businesses represented in the Fortune 500 across 40 industries, a 1% improvement in customer satisfaction increased a firm's value by US$275 million.' Danny Wong, co-founder of Blank Label and digital marketer, explains the importance of customer feedback and how ecommerce stores can turn this into a competitive advantage through effective engagement, building relationships and developing better products and services. According to him, 'Develop an intimate understanding of what your customers know, want and need to establish a competitive edge that helps you improve how you do business and the value you offer to end consumers. Start by categorizing reasons for why your customers purchase your products i.e. their primary motivations.' He suggests stores to source high-impact feedback and utilize the following tactics to expand the scope of their customer research - (1) Audit the reviews competitors receive (2) Conduct surveys (3) Dive into your analytics (4) Encourage user-generated content (5) Track public conversations. Once the research is at hand, stores need to summarize actionable takeaways and use the following three steps to build a strong business case for doing anything - (1) Quantify its impact (2) Measure its market opportunity (3) Get leadership buy-in. To implement new changes the stores can use gradual strategies to first consider the high-impact initiatives that are easy to do and then to implement moderate changes and finally move on to more resource intensive projects for long-term meaningful outcomes. Companies should incorporate excellence in customer service into their corporate culture and should consider the opportunity of every interaction with customers to build lasting relationships. Read on...
How to Leverage Customer Feedback to Improve Your Ecommerce Store
Author: Danny Wong
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 sep 2015
Retailers need to identify their most valuable customers to specifically target and focus their specialized marketing campaigns for building long-term customer relationships with them. Most valuable customers are to be retained for maximizing profitability. But according to the study 'Engaging Customers Across the Lifecycle Journey: How Clienteling Helps Enhance Customer Relationships' by Yes Lifecycle Marketing and Retail TouchPoints, based on the survey of nearly 200 retail marketing executives, most retailers are still struggling to utilize customer data effectively to find and nurture these important customers. Main highlights of the study are - 52% say identifying and engaging their most valuable customers is one of their top business challenges; Nearly 1/3rd of respondents (32%) say they're not able to integrate or analyze their data in a timely fashion; Employee access to data is uneven and most who need it don't have it (44% of C-level executives have customer data while only 27% of store managers and 13% of store associates have access); Only 27% of retail marketing executives have their customer's lifetime spend on file and only 18% have data related to shopping preferences of customers. Read on...
Direct Marketing News:
Infographic - Retailers Fail to Fully Leverage Customer Data
Authors: Elyse Dupre, James Jarnot
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 sep 2015
Innovations in certain industries take longer for adoption and proliferation in the consumer market. Consider the case of healthcare industry where innovations take years to diffuse into the market. Sandeep Acharya, Vice-President of strategy and new business at One Medical Group, explains how the healthcare innovation works, provides reasons for longer time the innovation takes to reach healthcare consumer and suggests the role that consumers can play to bring changes in healthcare and accelerate the pace of innovative products and services to reach them. The three main reasons why innovation in healthcare takes longer to reach consumers are - (1) In healthcare, the consumer is not the payer: Most patients don't pay their healthcare bills directly. Large corporations are payers and in order to generate revenue for the innovative service they have to agree to imburse patients for it, and doctors have to recommend it. The process may take years for entrepreneurs to pass through. (2) All healthcare is local: Healthcare decision makers - physicians, hospital systems, insurance companies and regulators - vary from state to state and sometimes even cities. For healthcare innovation to get adopted more broadly, entrepreneurs have to navigate a different set of decision makers for every new market they want to serve - each with its own rules, politics and dynamics. (3) The healthcare industry is used to moving slowly: Healthcare industry has seen too many great ideas stall. Over time, optimists became skeptics, and some even became cynical. When it comes to change, many in the industry have accepted the slow pace as a given. But to bring the necessary change in the pace of healthcare industry, consumers need to be proactive. They should expect more, demand more, provide timely & impartial feedbacks & reviews, do thorough research and be informed about latest health products and services. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 sep 2015
Healthcare industry in US is undergoing transformation driven by multiple factors that include technology, changes in consumer behavior, rising costs, legislation etc. Employees are becoming more independent in making their healthcare decisions that were earlier influenced by their employers. Healthcare providers are now dealing with more proactive consumers. Healthcare marketers need to understand consumer preferences, adapt to the changing needs, create products and services that fulfil needs and satisfy customers and utilize consumer insights to develop effective marketing progams. Brent Walker, Chief Marketing Officer of c2b Solutions, explains the drivers that are leading to shifts in healthcare and how marketers should adapt and succeed in this new healthcare scenario. According to him, in addition to rising costs, the three main reasons that we are evolving towards consumer-driven healthcare are - (1) Demographic and Socio-Economic Realities: More pronounced health issues and chronic conditions of aging Baby Boomers; Lack of health insurance for a sizeable population; Heterogeneous population; Expensive healthcare products and technologies. (2) Legislation: Healthcare system is adapting to Affordable Care Act; Health insurers have to deal with individual consumers; Healthcare providers are investing in infrastructure; Integrated Electronic Health Records and Big Data technologies; Reimbursement based on medical outcomes and patient satisfaction. (3) Technological: Digital media is a catalyst of consumerism; Informed consumers due to internet and mobile apps; Improved transparency; Better ability to assess cost and quality, and research about products and services with more choices; Inclination towards prevention and wellness. He explains three implications that healthcare providers have to plan for - (1) Massive investments are required for technological upgrade and update of systems to facilitate integrated patient record sharing and also reporting care quality. (2) Business models must change. Physicians are leaving smaller firms to join large healthcare systems due to IT investments and scale necessary to control costs and manage risks. (3) New competitors are entering as a result of advancement in technologies and consumer-driven approaches. In this changing healthcare landscape marketers have to continuously evaluate and assess their direction. He suggests four dimensions to do so - (1) Data: Right data to understand and reach the target audience. (2) Systems: Infrastructure to understand consumers, create insights and build valueable customer-firm relationships. (3) People: Have consumer marketers in team with experience in latest web and mobile technologies. Combine industry experience with consumer insights and customer behavior understanding skills. (4) Processes: Newer sales methods. Analytics and measurement of marketing effectiveness. Focus on analyzing consumer acquisition, retention and satisfaction. Read on...
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