The world of marketing is always changing. It has to. As buyer expectations shift while technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, marketing cannot stand still.
If you’re in marketing, think about your career for a minute. Could you have predicted you would be doing what you’re doing now at the start of your career? Did your job even exist several years ago?
There are many ways that marketing has evolved over the years, but I think there are three key paradigm shifts that have driven that change. I’ll explore them in this blog post.
Paradigm Shift #1: From One-Size-Fits-All to Individualized Customer Connections
Historically, marketing was all about reaching the largest audience possible with the same experience. TV ads, print ads, billboards, etc. were the tactics employed by mass marketers of the past.
But the dream of individualized communication was there from the early days of internet marketing. In their seminal book, The One to One Future, published in the early 1990’s, Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D. predicted that “using new media of the one-to-one future, you will be able to communicate directly with consumers, individually, rather than shouting at them, in groups.” Unfortunately, early technology didn’t allow for this yet. Each online experience was the same, just as it was for a TV or print ad.
Now, over two decades later, the technology finally exists to deliver individualized experiences. Personally, I can’t go a week without relying on Netflix or Spotify recommendations to help me pick what I should watch or listen to. I couldn’t navigate most e-commerce sites effectively without clicking on the products they recommend for me. These are examples of businesses learning about me and delivering experiences that are relevant to me.
But those are just the most noticeable instances of personalization. There are many subtle ways that marketers are leveraging technology to deliver more relevant experiences today across websites, mobile apps, email campaigns, digital ads, and in-person channels like stores or branch locations, call centers, or online chat. Check out this blog post on the definition of personalization for more details and examples.
Marketers are finally able to speak to their customers and prospects as the unique individuals they are — they no longer need to “shout at them in groups.” As both a marketer and a consumer myself, that’s one of the most exciting paradigm shifts I’ve seen.
Paradigm Shift #2: From Delayed Decision Making to Real-Time Action
In a follow-up white paper to Peppers and Rogers’ book in 2008, Infor director of CRM Patric Timmermans made a point about the status of real-time analytics:
Companies used to cheer about having updated data every six weeks. Then they felt great about updating customer data every week. Now we’ve progressed to the point where companies can have constantly updated customer information, but I don’t think enough companies understand exactly how important real-time customer information can be.
We’ve made huge advances in big data processing since the early days of the internet. These days, any delay in data processing is seen as a massive inconvenience. Real-time data is the standard. And even if marketers may not have known how to use real-time data in 2008, they clearly know how to use it today.
We can monitor campaign performance in real time and make decisions quickly if a campaign isn’t performing as well as we’d hoped. We can respond to customers in the moment if they’re experiencing a problem. And we can understand and react to different things we learn about customers or prospects in the moment.
It’s this last one that has big implications for paradigm shift #1. What good is an experience that’s targeted to you based on something the company learned about you, if it comes too late? The ability to take in information and act on it to personalize an experience in real time is certainly possible with today’s technology, and it’s something that marketers must take advantage of.
Paradigm Shift #3: From Guesswork to Experimentation and Measurement
Think back to the olden days of marketing. Think Mad Men days. When those marketers had a decision to make about how to allocate their budgets or which creative to select for an ad, how did they decide? They may have relied on something that worked in the past or made a decision based on what an executive wanted. Or they went with their “gut.” Then, they might have been able to roughly measure the results at a later time to decide if the decision paid off. But there was no way to know for sure if another approach would have produced better results, because there was no good way to test the approaches against each other.
Today, marketing has a heavy focus on experimentation and testing to find the best approach. This is also called “optimization.” If your team can’t decide between two different website homepage designs, you simply set up an A/B test to tell you for sure which one produces the best results. And most modern and successful marketers I know are never satisfied that they have everything figured out. They know there is always a way to improve so they are always iterating on their successes.
These days, testing is evolving even further, blending into paradigm shift #1 as well. The focus of traditional A/B testing is on finding the best experience for everyone, but marketers have moved from focusing on one-size-fits-all experiences to individualized communication. A/B testing and experimentation don’t go away in a personalized world — they help marketers find the optimal experience for each segment or individual, rather than a mass audience. This blog post on combining A/B testing and personalization goes into more detail on this important trend.
Marketing has seen a lot of change over the years, but one thing has never changed: marketers have always strived to reach buyers where they are. Today, there are many more ways to reach those same buyers than in the past. Technological advances have sparked paradigm shifts in marketing in the form of individualized communication, real-time analytics and action, and experimentation and measurement.
- Published in Business 2 Community
The phrase “it takes a village” applies to much more than just raising children. Any attempt to build something new, ensure it is properly equipped to succeed and send it off into the world takes a team effort. When it comes to your B2B product launch, it is essential to have the right team members in place AND make sure they have the structure, communication channels and resources they need to succeed. B2B product launch team management and coordination aren’t things you can overlook—the health and happiness of your product “baby” depends on it.
Ensure launch day is memorable, successful and smooth by considering these product launch best practices:
Set shared goals to facilitate ownership
The most important first step to prepare a well-coordinated B2B product launch team is to cultivate a sense of ownership and intention among the team members. Remember: just because you’ve been part of the strategic vision, development and buy-in for this product doesn’t mean the rest of your team has.
Don’t arrive with a launch day plan for your team to execute: build it together. Does this mean every single member of a potentially large product launch team needs to be part of the planning process? Not necessarily, but key stakeholders who can represent the needs, goals and pain points of each team member should be part of the process. If team members are excluded from contributing expertise, raising concerns or collaborating on deliverable timelines, it will be much harder to hold them accountable over the course of product launch planning and execution.
Effective brainstorming is essential to creating relevant and focused shared goals. Consider incorporating different brainstorming methods with different configurations and group sizes to ensure that the full scope of the team is represented in your B2B product launch goals, deliverables and timeline. Reference this list of questions to ask before launching a B2B product: which team members will have valuable answers to some or all of them?
Build a plan together
Involve key stakeholders from all relevant departments
Brainstorm effectively to ensure team member buy-in
Collaborate on a shared checklist
When a product launch team is comprised of members from multiple departments across your organizations, facilitating alignment can be a challenge. In fact, marketing and sales alignment is a common problem that B2B organizations face. Instead of allowing departments to remain siloed while executing against shared goals, create a shared checklist or implement a project management tool to promote transparency and communication across launch teams of all sizes.
There’s no need to start from scratch: reference previous product launch materials and/or templatized checklists like this one to get a sense of what kinds of activities need to be represented across departments. Make sure this document has “one truth,” AKA one, single, unified presence that everyone on your team can access. Project management tools like Trello or Aha! can provide this, as well as a simple Google Document or Sheet. Using a cloud-based tool that automatically updates and allows for shared collaboration will promote communication and transparency across departments as team members execute against their shared goals.
Develop a timeline of deliverables once shared goals are set
Refer to past product launches or search for a templatized checklist for a starting point
Consider using a collaborative tool to track checklist progress
Resist the urge to micromanage
While it’s true that micromanagement tends to reduce employee job satisfaction and increase management stress, it’s not entirely true that micromanaging is always a bad thing. When dealing with a complex, multi-faceted B2B product launch, however, it’s best to leave your micromanagement tendencies at the door.
Instead of relying on one person to oversee every launch-related task, assign deliverables to team members based on both past performance and their future development goals. Depending on the size of your team, it may make sense to involve multiple supervisors or stakeholders from different departments to create these accountability structures. Rely on the expertise of your team—giving team members and their supervisors more autonomy will ultimately make them feel more accountable and responsible to the success of the product launch.
Schedule regular check-ins with relevant stakeholders to understand progress and mitigate potential errors in order to take the pressure off of everyday supervision. Be candid when discussing progress, expectations and impact with the team, and hold management to the same expectations as team members. If your team has a clear understanding of the impact of their work, up-to-date knowledge of progress and potential obstacles to success, high-quality work will follow.
Create accountability structures based on past performance and future goals
Schedule regular check ins
Model transparency and accountability for team members
Incorporate Shine Theory into performance evaluation
Product launches are fast-paced, complex and often stressful projects. While it is almost certain that mistakes will be addressed, it’s not uncommon for successes and small wins along the way to launch day to go unnoticed. Leadership can facilitate better communication and learning around these positive achievements, even small ones, by incorporating elements of Shine Theory in team communication and overall performance evaluation.
While Shine Theory refers specifically to a movement that encouraged women to continually credit the ideas and contributions of other women to attain gender parity in the workplace, the practice is beneficial to teams of all demographics. Shine Theory disrupts unhealthy competition and promotes collaboration by encouraging and rewarding team members for shouting out accomplishments from coworkers that may otherwise go unseen by management.
Tracking these shout-outs and kudos during individual and team meetings can provide data for an overall performance metric, both for the team and each member. How many times did you acknowledge someone’s success? What new connections and successes were formed because of these shout-outs? What process improvements were made because someone was given a kudos and other people replicated their success?
Internalize Shine Theory in team culture to facilitate success
Cultivate collaborative attitude; everyone succeeds or fails together
Incorporate Shine Theory principles into measurable job performance metrics
- Published in Business 2 Community
At Bop Design, most of my day is spent working with clients on generating and nurturing leads from their B2B website so that they close more deals. The following are some best practices and habits to avoid when performing business development for your B2B company.
When inbound leads come in through your B2B website, it is important to have a process to qualify and disqualify leads. Before you even agree to a phone call with a prospective client, send a qualifying email to the lead to ensure there is alignment on budget, timeline, project type, etc. Typically, an initial call with a lead is at least 30 minutes, so you want to ensure your time is well spent only on prospects that appear to fit your ideal customer profile. Devise a process with a diplomatic email qualification communication to better guarantee that any initial phone calls or meetings are worthwhile for you and for your prospect.
The lead qualifying needs to be done immediately but it’s not over after that initial email. Remember that you are interviewing the prospect as much as they are interviewing you. Be aware of personality fit, communication style, etc. to help make you feel confident that you can work with this person long-term.
Take the Lead
When leads come in, as a salesperson it’s incumbent that you take command of the process. Don’t be too casual or timid. Prospects want to be led. They are looking to hire you as an expert, so be the leader of the process immediately. Be specific about next steps and provide thought leadership resources so you build a case of credibility. This way the prospect has the peace of mind to commit to your firm over the competition.
You want to balance qualifying with being open-minded to new types of engagements. Too many times salespeople are rigid about what their firm does and what a project looks like. As salespeople, you need to be open-minded to new types of engagements suggested by a prospective client. Do not dismiss all new ideas immediately. Being open-minded as a salesperson at Bop Design has created new streams of revenue and new types of project engagements. Open-mindedness is responsible for at least 50% of our 2018 revenue.
Paralysis by Analysis
Analytics, statistics, scoring, etc. are good but in only in moderation. It is much more important to be responsive to leads. Too many clients spend too much time lead scoring and not enough time on creative ways to build a relationship with a prospect. Yes, we need to measure and optimize, but spend the bulk of your time as a salesperson responding to inquiries.
Web Leads Require Nurturing
Many salespeople mistakenly think that all inbound leads from a B2B website will be sales-ready. Expectations need to be altered. Most leads from a website are not sales-ready, and they require lead nurturing with regular communication and content marketing. Make sure your company has a marketing automation process in place or at the very least, a regular email newsletter and ad retargeting. This type of nurturing ensures your B2B company is not forgotten about when it’s time for the prospect to send the RFP.
Lastly, Be Optimistic
If you don’t think web marketing generates sales, guess what, it won’t generate sales! You need to believe in the efficacy of the process and platform for website lead generation, nurturing, and deal closing to work.
- Published in Business 2 Community
Employees need an efficient Human Resource (HR) department to be optimally productive. When HR is struggling, the whole organization feels it.
But owing to chaotic processes, the HR team is usually knee-deep in delays and inefficiency. It is also considered a cost centre rather than a function that drives value. The reality, however, is that HR processes are in dire need of efficiency and productivity. Automation can help achieve this without breaking a sweat.
Impact of automation
A survey called The State of HR Automation conducted in 2018 by HR.com and Iron Mountain studied the extent and impact of automation in HR functions across 397 enterprise organizations. Some of the top HR operations automated by the respondents include payroll management (62 per cent), benefits (58 per cent), and time and attendance (56 per cent).
Respondents reported that the most likely functions to be automated in the near future were onboarding (46 per cent) followed by records management. Their organizations reported automation advantages such as above-average productivity, increased time for strategic planning, business initiatives, and internal consulting, ability to provide faster HR services, and reduction in the cost of providing HR services.
Respondents also preferred more automation (96 per cent) to outsourcing operations (41 per cent) in order to boost efficiency levels.
How HR functions benefit from automation
A major function of the HR department, recruitment can influence how a company performs. Finding the right candidate for a job is a combination of mundane tasks and strategic decisions. Sourcing resumes, for instance, is a task that takes a lot of time and can be performed more efficiently with automation. Organizations with highly automated HR functions use AI to cherry pick suitable resumes from online pools. This allows the human effort to be saved for tasks that require judgment calls.
Onboarding and offboarding
A company typically deals with multiple onboardings and a few offboarding formalities every month. A large part of these two processes is predictable and repetitive. From collecting documents and training to conducting exit interviews, it’s good business sense to automate these HR processes. Automating them facilitates deeper insights and feedback that can be utilized to improve HR functions in future.
HR teams also have to manage a significant part of an employee’s development at work along with their managers. Activities such as appraisals, timesheet tracking, leave management, and event planning are just a fraction of what their work entails. Automating these processes with effective HR software can ensure efficiency and faster turnaround times.
Workforce transformation has led to the introduction of remote employees, freelancers, and contractors to organizations. On-time payroll processing is critical for businesses that wish to retain competent teams and vendors. Automation software can help these processes function seamlessly. HR teams are also responsible for benefits administration to employees, which can be streamlined with automation.
HR teams deal with massive amounts of data from their vast range of responsibilities. From simple counts of new employees in a quarter to complicated employee engagement metrics and productivity levels, analysis of HR functions can provide powerful insights into driving the organization in the desired direction. HR software typically features powerful analytics capabilities that facilitate valuable insights.
Automation allows HR teams to record data regarding process performance. These records prove useful during audits when the team has to demonstrate compliance.
Benefits of automating HR management
Common advantages reported by companies include
streamlined efficient processes,
effective records management,
better resource allocation,
improved productivity, and
consistent operations across locations.
Needless to say, when the team that powers your employees are functioning optimally, your business gains an extra edge over competitors with ease.
If you’re at the beginning of your HR automation journey, you may find the entire notion somewhat daunting. Ensure you have organizational buy-in from the top as well as from the end users who will be implementing the strategy on a daily basis.
Get a keen understanding of what your organization’s HR team really needs to achieve goals and use that knowledge when identifying the right HR software for automation. Schedule adequate training sessions for the end users to ease the transition.
Arming yourself with know-how and keeping the execution simple is key to a successful implementation. If automation starts to become counterproductive, don’t be afraid to hire an expert to identify and resolve snags.
Empowering your HR department with automation will help the team drive value through efficient people management. High-performance HR teams get businesses fired up and on the path to success.
- Published in Business 2 Community
James Muir published an outstanding post, “Is it ok to manipulate clients for their own good?” It’s a must read.
Basically, James describes a conversation with a sales person who feels it’s OK to manipulate and pressure a customer because that sales person knows how happy the customer will be with the solution.
Most of you would, hopefully, find this premise not only arrogant, but preposterous. The logical extension of this behavior is this sales person will manipulate and pressure every customer–because why would he be selling to a customer that would be unhappy with a product?
Some might think, “How is it that the sales person knows better than the customer what is the right thing for the customer to do–only the customer can make that determination?”
Others, as James suggests, would take the position, “Does the end justify the means?”
Those and other arguments are well founded. Let me suggest another argument, “It doesn’t work!”
Everyday, we see various forms of manipulation being attempted, for good and bad reasons. I’ll grant you, some people are susceptible to being manipulated, each of us probably falls victim every once in a while, but it is seldom sustainable. People catch on, people tend to value their ability to think independently, when they realize they are being manipulated, they tend to react negatively–even if they know it’s for good purposes.
Whether it’s selling to our customers or leading our employees, manipulation is unsustainable. First, who are we to make the determination of what’s the right way of doing things or the right decision for our customers or our people? We don’t know their situations, what’s driving them, what motivates them, how they best achieve? We can only project our interpretations of those on them–inevitably what’s good or right is a reflection of our own views, not those of the customer or our people.
Second, there is no ownership in manipulation. The customer or our people simply don’t own what we have coerced them into doing. While they may do what we’ve gotten them to accept, it has a high probability of failing, because it isn’t theirs.
We may even be right, but we fail. Any reader who is a parent knows this doesn’t work with children (forget the fact that children are pre-wired to always say “No.”). As much as we may be right, and as much as we want to see children not make mistakes, they don’t learn until they make their own decisions, they don’t know how to learn and make good decisions until we give them the freedom to choose.
This is no less true with our customers, our people, and our colleagues. None learn, grow, and improve, unless they make their own choices. None will be able to sustain that learning and growth unless they decide for themselves.
There is no argument that supports manipulation, even if the manipulation is done for good purposes. If we want to create value, we create it with our customers and our people, both discovering, learning and growing in the process.
- Published in Business 2 Community
Facebook has recently acquired a new patent for technology that could completely change the way advertisers acquire photos using social media. The latest social network scanning technology could effectively sort through your pictures for signs of logos and branding for the products you like. This data could be sent to advertisers to target ads directly to you in sponsored story posts. The patent is known as a “computer vision contact detection system” for sponsored stories.
At the core of this idea, the goal is to apply computer vision algorithms to any user uploaded multimedia on the network. The multimedia object could then be promoted from the users’ newsfeed to an area of sponsored stories.
The best example of this could be going to McDonald’s and picking up a drink and a burger. If you snap a picture with the logo on your cup and then share it to Instagram, the algorithm will quickly pick out the logo. The next time that you check your stories you could see an offer for McDonald’s the moment you log in.
What makes this algorithm even creepier is that Facebook can enter into an agreement with any brand to share that photo with the advertiser as well as your profile info. With the case of a brand like McDonald’s, they could get info on your favorite menu items for targeted advertising or even use some of the user-generated content you create in their advertising later on.
Post algorithms on Facebook/Instagram will also change as a result of this sponsored activity. Facebook post algorithms for your friends could place a priority on sponsored stories where you include brands that they like. The change will place brand related photos over the photos that you would rather appear in their feed. A picture of your new puppy could be blasted to the bottom of a featured album on Facebook in favor of a post of you drinking a coffee from a new café. Depending on the algorithm settings, that same photo could stay at the top of your friends feed for days.
Utilizing a number of them for scanning photos is an advanced technology. The program will very quickly scan a picture, recognize brands within it and then start changing the advertising you experience. It will change the way friends experience your profile too based off of ranking algorithms.
Some of the primary examples cited in the filing included Grey Goose Vodka, Starbucks and more. Facebook demonstrated that it could automatically detect a vodka bottle in a photograph and then determine the brand. The scan would allow for targeted advertising for those drinking competitor products or loyal customers.
The scanning application could change the way that we browse social media and provide limitless demographic information to advertisers. Facebook advertisers could have a heat map of adjustable filters for targeting as well as ongoing demographic data that they receive in reporting. Coordination with online retailers like Amazon also ensures that large companies can have direct purchase links across social media for quick sales conversions.
As this technology is implemented, we will have to see just how social media use is impacted in the future.
- Published in Business 2 Community
Have you ever overheard people having heated discussions about the differences between help desks, service desks, and IT service management (ITSM)? Surprisingly, we have.
Some argue that help desk is an outdated term referring to an IT-centric support capability born in the late 1980s (think mainframes), with little attention to the end user. They may say service desk was coined to describe a new focus on serving end-users in a timely manner. They argue that ITSM is characterized by proactive capabilities such as remote monitoring and automating tasks like patch management.
We’ve also heard all the jargon around help desk, service desk, and ITSM like time to ticket resolution, change management, active listening, average call duration, blended call center, cost per contact, escalation, etc. The list of buzzwords is long.
To all this, we say “potayto, potahto.” Does it really matter that much what you call your IT support team? After all, many help desks are very proactive, automated, and focused on end users. Alternatively, service desks may spend a lot of their time solving IT issues, depending on the organization’s mission. ITSM, too, may not be able to provide automated services due to system incompatibilities and integration issues.
Regardless of what you prefer to call these support teams, there are many solutions that help you better meet customers’ needs.
By any name, the goals of IT support are the same:
Resolve issues quickly and efficiently so employees can get back to work. For issues related to machines, one of the best ways to accomplish this is to have bidirectional integration between your IT asset management and your customer service software. When support agents receive tickets, they can see the status of the employee’s asset, its needed maintenance, refresh schedule, age, how the asset is being used, and so on. This bidirectional capability between IT asset management and customer service software allows them to provide high-quality, swift service.
Attract and retain the smartest knowledge workers in a world where every company is a tech company. To keep employees happy and maximize their productivity, organizations must continuously equip them with the best possible technologies.
Secure the organization’s precious intellectual property (IP). Every “smart” asset is a window into your network, one that can shed light on the proprietary IP that is the lifeblood of any organization.
Ensure IT efficiency by automating manual tasks to save time. This will require integrating best-of-breed technologies and disparate systems, and creating workflows that complete many tasks for you. The IoT revolution will only increase the need for automation, because IT support teams will go from managing desktops, laptops, and smartphones to tracking myriad Things. They will need to figure out which sensor is acting up on a wind turbine or discover why a smart car is acting dumb. The IoT will go beyond IT asset management to a new era of “Thing Management.”
Find solutions that tie your service desk solutions, messaging, system management, mobile device management, single sign-on, and finance tools together. With so many APIs and easy integration options, it no longer makes sense to have all these systems operate separately. Integrating them will make your life easier and slash manual work activities.
Help the organization stay report- and audit-ready at all times. With a single source of truth for every asset, centralized in one place, companies can stay continuously audit-ready and make the monthly/quarterly/annual audit process a breeze.
Make it as easy as possible to report issues, in ways that are convenient for end-users. Some integrations allow users to create support tickets within their favorite collaboration software. Instead of filling out support tickets when they have a problem or need, users report issues about an asset from within the collaboration platform.
It’s time to stop splitting hairs about what to call the IT support capability, because there are more important things to consider: the onslaught of the IoT, the need to integrate best-of-breed technologies, security, compliance, and more.
- Published in Business 2 Community
With dizzying new innovations coming out every day to further disrupt the market, many analysts have been deeply misled about the future of work. Looking at impressive nascent technologies like artificial intelligence, these speculators of the future wrongly predict that clever machines are going to take over the future of work, rendering it useless for humans to even hold down day jobs in the era of automation. In reality, however, other technologies are going to be more important to the future of work, with blockchain in particular standing out for its notable potential.
Here’s why the future of work is on the blockchain, and why companies everywhere will soon learn to love this decentralized ledger technology.
Negotiating contracts will never be the same
Perhaps the most notable way that blockchain services will reshape the future of work is by changing the way that we negotiation contracts. Speculators have been mulling the idea of automated “smart contracts” for years now, but only recently has technology actually advanced at a sufficient rate to make such ambitions a reality. Over the past couple of years, we’ve gradually seen the introduction of smart contracts into a diverse set of industries, illustrating that the future of work will be heavily shaped by contracts that can adjust themselves in real-time.
The impressive promise that smart contracts hold for the future of business will only grow more impressive in the near-future as blockchain services that make such clever agreements possible in the first place become more advanced. Businesses will rely on smart contracts for a wide number of reasons, but nowhere will they be more important than when it comes to negotiating complex agreements with other businesses. These companies will cut the costs of working together by removing third parties from the equation, as smart contracts will be able to manage and adjust themselves with minimal to no human oversight.
Changes to the supply chain, too, will be easier to manage with smart contracts that are powered through the blockchain. We’re going to witness more efficient supply chain management in the foreseeable future than we’ve ever enjoyed before, especially since the secure nature of blockchain technology helps build trust amongst those using it. This means that companies will be able to forge firmer relationships with their suppliers and other business partners thanks to the security and real-time updates that blockchain based contractual agreements offer.
Blockchain is also changing recruitment
Another reason that you can be confident the future of work is on the blockchain is that this technology is also changing how businesses go about recruiting the top talent in their industries. This self-sustaining public ledger is attractive to businesses who need to verify the credentials of their employees, as institutions like universities can upload qualifications to a blockchain which can be securely accessed and utilized by anyone else who has wallet access to that blockchain.
Better work history verification than companies have ever before enjoyed is also coming thanks to blockchain, ensuring that employers can guarantee candidates aren’t lying about their previous experience before hiring them to an important position. All in all, the myriad of ways in which blockchain technology is bolstering recruitment like few other recent innovations should help prove why it’s so crucial to the future of work in general.
The final reason that blockchain can be considered the future of work is that this technology is reshaping HR to a massive extent. HR professionals around the country have been swamped lately; a rapidly changing “gig economy” has reshaped what it means to hire and retain workers in the long-term. Blockchain’s tumultuous disruption of HR has ultimately proved to be a boon to the experts working there, however, as it’s enabling them to cut the costs of doing their jobs while simultaneously boosting their cyber security.
Far too often, business owners and analysts are counting HR out when it comes to determining the future of work, yet human resources will grow ever-more important in an economic era where digital machines take on new responsibilities and free up humans for other deeds.
The digital age needs blockchain
It should go without saying that the digital age needs blockchain to succeed, yet many business owners still aren’t paying enough attention to the way that the future of work is being determined on the blockchain as we speak. Whether it’s radically overhauling the way that employers can vet their potential hires or changing the way that HR departments operate on a daily basis, blockchain technology is disruptive in all the right ways and clearly isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Those who are focused on other nascent developments like AI should pause and consider the still-developing potential of blockchain. The future is largely uncertain, but one thing that’s increasingly indisputable is that blockchain services will be in wide demand for the next few years.
- Published in Business 2 Community
Data protection has never been more crucial within the financial industry. With stories regarding high-profile cyber-attacks appearing in the news cycle with increasing regularity, financial firms are facing a new imperative to remain compliant. Ensuring that their communications and data transmission are secure, therefore, must be a top priority for risk management and the safeguarding of systems, process, and procedures.
2018 saw the implementation of regulations such as MiFID II and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which have given national regulators the scope to levy hefty penalties for financial organizations who are in breach of compliance. IT decision-makers within financial companies that are operating under a stricter data protection regulation need to implement advanced technologies to bolster their infrastructure. As the industry continues to evolve and the workforce spreads across the globe, it is vital that employees can collaborate safely from any place and any device.
StarLeaf commissioned a survey conducted by Vanson Bourne, which included IT decision-makers and line of business managers, on the use of collaboration solutions. Within the financial services sector, the findings revealed that 52% of respondents reported an increase in the use of free messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, and 61% stated it is the most effective way to communicate with remote colleagues, compared to 58% for email. However, the results also showed that 78% of respondents to the StarLeaf survey have serious security concerns around the use of free apps, and 85% reported that the security of their instant messaging apps could be improved.
As free messaging apps grow increasingly popular for colleagues to communicate with each other, financial advisers must, as a priority, look at how this affects their compliance with the relevant regulations. For example, MiFID II specifically highlights that all forms of communication concerning financial transactions are recorded as an auditable trail. However, free messaging apps, like WhatsApp, store the messages on the user’s device, where the company has no access to them for auditing purposes. Therefore, if employees use these apps to communicate with their colleagues, not only may they be in violation of their company policies, they may cause their employers to flout regulations. Firms found to be non-compliant with MiFID II can be hit with fines of up to €5 million or 10% of their annual turnover, which could be devastating for any financial advisory firm, particularly smaller businesses with narrow margins.
The risks of being non-compliant with regulations go beyond financial penalties. Financial firms and advisors guard their reputation very carefully and the impact of sensitive information being stolen through a data breach or a disgruntled employee can inflict serious damage on their brand, as well as affect customer trust.
Ease of Communication
As instant messaging and group messaging becomes increasingly popular and efficient as a workflow, IT departments try to provide messaging solutions, which offer enterprise-grade functionality. Unfortunately, many traditional enterprise tools do not give the ease of use, speed of access, and gentle learning curve of their consumer counterparts. It is therefore understandable when employees migrate to using their personal device and their consumer apps to get work done.
I worked with the IT department of a business that had rolled out an enterprise-grade messaging solution and had seen limited take up from the user base. They decided to create a task team to try and encourage usage and adoption and ironically the team agreed to use WhatsApp to coordinate their efforts. However, I advised them that any tools which store information on the user’s own device, rather than in a secure cloud, means that the company has no access to the content of the chats to ensure compliance.
The Risks of Consumer tools
Consumer tools such as WhatsApp allow the users to create groups of employees to collaborate on projects. However, as these apps are consumer tools, there is no overarching management, so when one of the employees leaves the business, IT administrators cannot remove that employee from the groups in which they have a membership. If an employee leaves the company and goes to work for a competitor, they may still have access to the historic and new content of these group chats, presenting a huge security risk on the business. Former employees that are removed from the group will still have access to all the historical information since it is stored on their phone.
The choice of security
The first step is to work with a vendor that has achieved compliance with the ISO 27001 standard, offering the best authorisation, access, process, and management controls, to give decision-makers the confidence that their collaboration services contain robust security protocols and can protect users’ data.
Robust architectural design is essential for a reliable and secure instant messaging service and, ideally, the core services should minimize the use of third-party shared cloud infrastructure, which eliminates the starkly real threat of their data being affected by vulnerabilities, such as Spectre or Meltdown. Vendors with a robust offering will deliver a 99.999% SLA guarantee.
Reliable team messaging which the users will embrace requires more than the built-in security that the company requires. Messaging platforms should also give users an intuitive experience on any platform they use, whether it’s Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. Whether one-to-one or group messaging, all devices should be completely synchronized with messages and the sending and receiving of all file types, including videos, images, and documents. Built for business, StarLeaf, for example, offers a comprehensive collaboration tool that is both feature-rich and as easy to use as WhatsApp while giving IT leaders complete control and peace of mind.
Instant messaging can be the gateway to enabling more effective collaboration between colleagues and providing a channel for secure data sharing, improving productivity for financial firms. With financial advisers now responsible for keeping an auditable trail of communications, they need to find solutions that meet the relevant regulations and provide a user experience that the employees can embrace.
Instant messaging is a growing part of our culture of communication, but financial organizations should adopt the right solutions to minimize risk and protect users’ data. Secure messaging engineered for the enterprise enables a more mobilized workforce to meet and message more effectively, as well as retain customer trust.
- Published in Business 2 Community
Getting clever with your RLSA strategies can have a significant effect on boosting your conversions. As we learned in our five ways to increase eCommerce traffic post, Google remarketing campaigns are a must for any eCommerce store. And your remarketing lists for search ads (RLSAs) are the vital component of these campaigns.
RLSAs enable you to create customized search campaigns that target previous online store traffic, based on their behavior while browsing your store. Being able to target searchers who already know your brand can have a dramatic effect on your conversion and click-through rates while lowering your CPCs – if they are tailored to your brand and optimized correctly, that is.
Before you get started with RLSA, here are some tech points and FYIs to ensure you are ready to build and implement your remarketing list strategies.
List members have a maximum time limit of 540 days
If you have someone in more than one remarketing list, Google will use the list with the higher bid
To use RLSAs, your online store will need at least 1,000 active cookies
But the most important must-do before you get going on strategy testing is to know your audience. You will want to be familiar with your target shopper, your traffic and customer journey maps, and have planned out your sales funnel strategies. Once you know that, you’re ready to get started.
Newbie Tip: If you’re brand new to Google Ads, we suggest you start with our beginner’s guide to Google remarketing campaigns. You can find this and other newbie guides here.
Here are 11 RLSA strategies you can test to drive more conversions and improve your CTRs.
RLSA Strategy 1: Messaging Coordination
One of the most powerful ways to use RLSA is by creating campaign personalization. This means matching specific ad text to searchers based on the way they first interacted with or behaved on your online store. To do this, you would first create a remarketing tag for certain traffic behavior, and then add bid modifiers in your ad group to ensure the ad copy matches the behavior of the tag.
Let’s say a potential shopper visited your online store for the first time and viewed a specific product page or feature. You could create RLSAs that allow you to show more details about the benefits of that product or feature. Alternatively, you could use promotional ads that show discounted prices on the products they viewed.
A brand that has had great success with using RLSAs to tailor keywords, creatives and bids for individual users is Clarks – which was able to increase their conversion rates from 0.68% to 4.5%. Here is a video summary of the case study and how they used RLSAs to improve their business.
RLSA Strategy 2: Competitor Terms Bidding
There is nothing wrong with a little healthy competition – especially when it comes to remarketing campaigns. By using RLSAs to show ads – that include your competitors brand as keywords – to potential shoppers who already know your store, you can reap the rewards of their comparison shopping.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to target your own brand name as well, and not only with your remarketing campaigns. This will help reach people searching for your brand after seeing an awareness campaign elsewhere. Additionally, this will help if your competitors are bidding on your brand name. You can read more about branded keywords in our full guide to branded keywords.
RLSA Strategy 3: Demographic Targeting
Demographic targeting is nothing new, but have you tried combining demographic targeting and remarketing? Let’s say you have a specific product that appeals to a particular gender or age demographic. You could then target previous visitors who match that demographic, with specific product or promotion search ads. Alternatively, if you have popular products that do well in certain locations, you can target previous store visitors from those specific locations with those specific products.
RLSA Strategy 4: Abandoned Cart Targeting for Shopping Campaigns
Using remarketing lists for search ads with Google Shopping campaigns can have awesome results. Why? Because they allow you to target shoppers already familiar with your brand and with higher buying intent, who are actively searching for what you’re selling.
However, it’s using this strategy based on cart abandonment behavior that could be really, really lucrative. This would mean using remarketing lists made up of traffic that abandoned a cart, with a specific product that you could add to a Shopping ad group with that and similar products.
Here’s Google’s step-by-step guide on how to add remarketing a list to your best-performing Google Shopping campaign ad groups.
But it isn’t just abandoned cart campaigns you should be infusing with the power of RLSAs. When it comes to kicking conversion butt, Google Shopping is an eCommerce must. But it is by adding RLSAs that you can amplify your results. For example, Ulmart was able to increase their Shopping conversions by 13% without additional ad spend, by doing just that.
Layering your Shopping campaign product groups with RLSA enables you to target your campaigns without the need for segmented product grouping and negative keywords. This is because your remarketing lists themselves will serve as intent signals, showing specific products with high buying intent.
RLSA Strategy 5: Combining RLSAs and DSAs
Another must-have Google campaign type for eCommerce are DSAs (Dynamic Search Ads). By using RLSAs for your Dynamic ads, you’re are able to use the power of DSAs for remarketing campaigns. This can be highly effective, with one case study showing a nearly 1,000% increase in ROIs, conversions and CTRs when this strategy was used.
Newbie Tip: If you’re not familiar with Dynamic Search Ads, these are search campaigns that match content on your site to what a user is actually querying. You will want to start with one ad group (that includes RLSA of all site visitors) which targets all site content, to cast a broader net. This will not only bring in more targeted traffic but help gather data on possible keyword and customer flow behavior that you can then use for more defined campaigns. Visit our Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) Guide for more details.
This RLSA strategy allows you to target potential shoppers who not only know your brand but are actually looking for products you’re selling.
RLSA Strategy 6: Pairing Remarketing Lists and Broad Terms
Broad terms with high competition can be costly in traditional search ads. However, when combined with RLSAs you have the power of remarketing previous traffic in your corner, thus improving ROI potential. There are two main ways you can try this strategy:
Create a broad match campaign, starting with lower bids, increasing your big modifiers as your site gets more traffic.
Clone your exact match campaigns, converting to broad match type, and add RLSA targeting.
Unlike traditional broad match campaigns, integrating RLSAs allows you to reach potential shoppers who not only know your brand but have more intent.
RLSA Strategy 7: Segment Bids Based on Sales Funnel Stages
Another good RLSA tactic is to tailor your remarketing campaigns to specific buying stages in your funnel. This strategy involves increasing your bid modifiers the closer a potential shopper is to converting. You can do this by creating different campaigns at different stages and then increasing bids for those users who have visited your store multiple times or for more extended periods – as these shoppers have higher conversion intent.
Here’s an example of how you could set up these campaigns using Google bid adjustments:
1. Hot Audience: Ready to Convert
Visited your store more than three times
Increase bid by 20%
2. Medium Audience: Considering Your Brand
Spent over 90 seconds on a product page
Increase bid by 15%
3. Cooler Audience: Visited Your Store for the First Time
New site sessions
Increase bid by 10%
Newbie Tip: Want to know how else you can use bid adjustments and how to create them? This guide will take you through it step by step.
RLSA Strategy 8: Supplement Your Low Impression Volume With Cheap Social Traffic
By exclusively showing your search ads to those searchers who have a retargeting cookie through ‘target and bid,’ you are ensuring your clicks are highly targeted. The drawback of excluding all other non-cookie traffic is that your impressions will be lower. This is where social awareness campaigns can be a substantial cross-channel asset. Take advantage of low-cost Facebook and Instagram awareness campaigns to bring in first-time traffic, which you can then retarget using a variety of RLSA-integrated Google ads. For more on how to create a highly converting cross-channel strategy, visit our Google and Facebook combined strategy guide.
RLSA Strategy 9: Implement Negative Bid Modifiers or Exclusions to Avoid Wasted Spend
Just because you’re targeting previous site visitors who know what you are selling, doesn’t mean you should forget your Google Ads simplest, but most beneficial campaign elements: negative bid modifiers and keywords.
Negative bid modifiers exclude traffic based on a number of factors including devices, scheduling, and location variants. They can help you refine your targeting and segment your campaign for more targeted remarketing and reduce unnecessary spend.
For example, you could possibly exclude or negative-bid traffic that spends very little time on your store before bouncing off your site, as these users would have low conversion potential. Another way you could use this strategy could be to exclude traffic that has already converted, which you would then push into campaigns designed especially for previous and repeat customers.
Pro Tip: To ensure your RLSA campaigns aren’t competing for your traditional search campaigns, you should create and add negative remarketing lists to your regular campaigns. This will ensure you’re not leaving it up to Google to decide which of the two ads to show.
RLSA Strategy 10: Using RLSAs to Build LTV
LTV (Customer Lifetime Value) is a crucial eCommerce KPI. Therefore, your Google remarketing strategies shouldn’t just be focused on those shoppers who are about to convert. By targeting people who have specifically visited your thank-you pages (therefore converted), you can increase your return rates. Or they could be used to up- or cross-sell other products to customers who have just purchased from you. Ultimately, to use this strategy, you would combine Customer Match (email lists) and cookied purchasers (based on thank-you page visits) and then break them down into smaller segments.
Here are some examples of segments you could test with this strategy:
Target hot customers who just bought and you could up- or cross-sell
Add warm customers, who purchased from your store in the last 180 days, to specific product promotions
Retarget colder customers who bought once outside the 180-day window
RLSA Strategy 11: Merge Ad Customizers and RLSAs for More Targeted Messaging
Another way to ensure you are personalizing your Google remarketing campaigns to increase results and maximize your budgets is by leveraging ad customizers.
Newbie Tip: Ad customizers allow for dynamic ad copy changes based on location, device, prices and promotional specifics. This enables you to reach potential shoppers with hyper-specialized search ads. You can read more about ad customizers here.
This tactic will enable you to create remarketing campaigns with ads specifically targeting different audiences depending on their behavior. For instance, you could create different messaging for remarketing campaigns that are unique to checkout abandoners or those who have bought from you before. Therefore, giving you the ability to tailor your ad copy to highlight different aspects more likely to convert those segments.
Conclusion: Mine Your RLSA Campaigns for Invaluable Data
Last, but by no means least, you want to mine your RLSA data for more RLSA strategies to test. Strategies that will be unique to your brand, your products and your market. This is particularly important if you’re a newer store that is just beginning with RLSAs, where you will want to run broader remarketing campaigns before you drill down segments by leveraging bid modifiers and other strategies mentioned here.
Regardless of whether you’re starting out or have been using RLSAs effectively for some time, the data you can gather from these campaigns is invaluable for not only optimizing your retargeting but integrating to your other campaign types.
Have questions about optimizing your Google remarketing campaigns? Post them in the comments below; our Google Ads gurus are standing by to assist.
- Published in Business 2 Community
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