Some weeks ago in this post, we have tried to define an undefined social media species: Influencers. The feedback was very positive and many companies are still trying to find the secret sauce how to use and leverage the value of influencers for their brands and their sales funnel.
Now, a recent study by Twitter gives further evidence of the value of influencers, and on how they help positioning brands and in which way they might might upload the sales funnel. The first part of the study was meant to figure out amoung more than 300 users how they responded toward brand influencers.
The study conducted by Annalect, a data analytics company, in corporation with Twitter shows that almost 40% of the responding people stated to have purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on a social platform like Instagram, Twitter or YouTube. And another 40% stated that they are following brands on Twitter.
But influencers are not only valuable in terms of sales performance. They also make people share products they are using themselves. Almost one in five (20%) respondents claimed that they shared something they saw from an influencer. Amoung Millennials even one in three said they follow a social media influencer on Twitter or Vine.
The study comes like an extension of two former studies from Nielsen and Lithium making clear that Millennials trust different people in different ways. Interestingly enough, this study also states that influencers rival friends in trust building. Just 7% of respondents rely more on recommendations from friends (56%) than from influencers (49%).
„This is telling us is that you don’t have to be a mass media star or a household name to be influential and actually drive people to buy stuff.“ Jeffrey Graham, Vice President of Market Research and Insights, Twitter
The Twitter-owned talent agency Niche revealed that the pool of influencers available to brands has grown from 6,000 to over 25,000 in a year. Honestly, we would say there os probably more depending on what you value: reach or relevance.
The smartphone has become the modern sales acceleration technology. Social influencers put trendy or interesting products on their sites or streams while walking down the street or by getting them from brands for free, and people following them would purchase those products. Have you not experienced this yourself?
The only thing we wonder is, how much would brands pay influencers to write about their product and share a picture of the product via their social media accounts? The numbers we know from influencers vary but maybe there is someone in the market who might want to share some insights.
According to the study of Harris Poll (conducted on behalf of Lithium Technologies), that addressed more than 2,300 consumers of all generations, more than half of all digital natives (56%) report to cut back or stop the use of social media platforms entirely.
Even more, 75% of the responding Millenials stated that they feel stalked by brands on social platforms. The reason: The eager way brands do target them in their news feed with the ambition to build trust and loyalty with their customers or consumers via social media platforms in the U.S.
So, what does this mean for brands? Do brands have to live according to a transformed version of the former cold call prevention: „Don’t stalk us, we follow you!“? The study suggests that direct targeting on social platforms via advertising might result in losing customers. It would be more effective to engage and to be present on the channels they use frequently. And also if brands might be tempted to leverage the huge purchasing power coming from the modern generations (Millennials and Gen Z make up 50% of the population), brands need to be careful not to waste the potential of social media and really meet their personal expectations. How challenging this might be in the end…
„The promise of social technologies has always been about connecting people, not shouting at them, and the brands that don’t do this risk their very existence.“ Rob Tarkoff, President&CEO, Lithium Technologies.
But how can brands build trust, the study also asked? A question that is also raised in a bi-annual study from Nielsen and might be evaluated in comparison with those results. Obviously, online is their general source of information but their trust in online exceeds that of former generations by far.
While in the Nielsen study, personal „recommendations from people I know“ are leading, Lithium sees „online sites with product reviews“ as the highest form of online trust creation. That websites are definitely not „dead“ can be seen that both studies see websites kind of in the second place. And, whereas Lithium sees „communities of like-minded people“ in the third place (just think about what their main product was…), Nielsen sees editorial content still a very important source.
In terms of service, the Lithium study shows that Millennials contact brands online (79%) and expect a response back within the same day – almost 10% more than Baby Boomers. So, if brands do not actively monitor and engage with the younger generations online, their brand loyalty might go down soon. The best way to interact with Millennials is described in a quote the study also delivers…
„I go on social media to see and know what my friends are doing. I don’t want to see ads clutter my news feed. If I’m interested in a product or service, I know where to look. Social media is a place for us to connect with our friends, not be attacked by advertisements.“ Mallory Benham, Graduate Student (23)
So, what are your learning on targeting Millennials and Gen Z via ads on social media?
Now, another report from Schneider Electric called „IoT 2020 Business Report“ delivers some new findings on how large organisations will leverage Internet of Things technologies as a serious business tool by 2020. Their study is based on feedback by 3,000 business leaders from twelve countries.
According to their global survey, 75% of respondents were optimistic about the opportunities IoT presents this year. Almost every second out of three (63%) companies use IoT to improve their customer experience and analyze customer behaviour in 2016. They hope to solve problems faster, achieve better customer service and customer satisfaction ranking.
Furthermore, cost savings in automation seem to be high on the agenda, above all building (63%) and industrial automation (62%). As results showed the improvements in automation technologies almost half of the companies (42%) say they want to implement IoT-enabled building automation systems within the next two years.
The key driver for IoT is mobile for two out of three companies (67%). Thus, they plan to implement IoT via mobile applications this year, and 32% even in the next six months. Again, cost savings of up to 59% is the major driver for IoT implementation.
The confidence is the value of knowledge gathering and sharing already exists inside most companies surveyed. 81% feel that the data and/or information generated by the IoT is being shared effectively throughout the organisation. Fears are lower than expected. Only 41% of respondents connect cybersecurity threats with IoT business challenges.
„We’re past the point of questioning whether IoT will deliver value. Businesses now need to make informed decisions to position themselves to maximise IoT’s value in their organisation.“ Dr. Prith Banerjee, Chief Technology Officer, Schneider Electric
However, Schneider Electric does not only publish numbers of their study but also provides the following predictions that business leaders might take into consideration.
1. The next wave of digital transformation.
IoT will bring operational technology (OT) and IT together while fueling a mobile and digitally enabled workforce: As more companies both expand and deepen their digitisation programmes enterprise-wide, IoT will increasingly take centre stage. This new wave of transformation will be enabled by more affordable “connected” sensors, embedded intelligence and control, faster and more ubiquitous communications networks, cloud infrastructure, and advanced data-analytics capabilities.
2. Insightful data.
IoT will translate previously untapped data into insights that enable enterprises to take the customer experience to the next level: When thinking about the value proposition of IoT, most businesses point to efficiency and cost savings as the key benefits. Yet access to data – including previously untapped data – and the ability to translate it into actionable insights, the hallmark of IoT, will deliver greater customer-service transformation and new opportunities to build brand/service loyalty and satisfaction.
3. Premise-to-cloud confidence.
The IoT will promote an open, interoperable and hybrid computing approach, and it will foster industry and government collaboration on global architecture standards that address cybersecurity concerns: While cloud-based IoT solutions will grow in popularity, no single computing architecture will monopolise their delivery. IoT instead will flourish across systems, both at the edge and on premise, as part of private cloud or public cloud offerings. Making IoT available across heterogeneous computing environments will help end users adopt IoT solutions in the way that best suits their security and mission-critical needs while also offering entities with legacy technology infrastructures a logical and manageable path forward, allowing them to transform over time.
4. Innovations that leapfrog existing infrastructure.
IoT will function as a source of innovation, business model disruption and economic growth for businesses, governments and emerging economies: Just as the Industrial Revolution, birth of the Internet and mobile revolution have driven advancement, innovation and prosperity, so will IoT. Businesses and cities alike will deliver new IoT-enabled services; new business models will emerge; and, in particular emerging economies will have a significant opportunity to quickly leverage IoT without the constraint of legacy infrastructure, essentially leapfrogging old ways. In fact, McKinsey forecasts that 40 percent of the worldwide market for IoT solutions will be generated by developing countries.
5. A better planet.
IoT solutions will be leveraged to address major societal and environmental issues: IoT will help countries and their economies respond to the biggest challenges facing our planet, including global warming, water scarcity and pollution. In fact, survey respondents identified improved resource utilisation as the number one benefit of IoT to society as a whole. In concert with the private sector, local and national governments will embrace IoT to accelerate and optimise current initiatives to curtail greenhouse gas emissions in accord with the breakthrough COP21 climate agreement, whereby 196 countries pledged to keep global warming under the threshold of two degrees celsius.
The Internet of Things has been seen as the main revolution from a technology perspective. The hype seems to be at an all-time high. Real business value is not only saving money though. Customer service improvements, better process optimization and smarter work and life opportunities will have big potential to bring IoT business value to enterprises in the future.
What is your experience on the value of IoT for your business?
The Internet of Things is said to have a major impact on the business world according to Jared Newman. Goldman Sachs even thinks that IoT opportunity for industrials could amount to $2 trillion by 2020. Connected cars, connected utility, connected houses, connected vineyards, connected streets, connected everything – the opportunities seem incredable bearing in mind that with IoT everyting can be addressed in the future.
Now, a recent report called „State of the Market: Internet of Things 2016,“ shows that the Internet of Things (IoT) is already mainstream.
The motivation behind the high adoption rate is quite obvious: The opportunity for revenue growth drives many managers towards IoT adoption with data being the monetization engine behind it. Still, just 8% of the respondents make use of more than 25% of their IoT data these days.
Not suprisingly, the report also highlights that enterprises are turning to startups to help accelerate their IoT growth. In 2015, enterprise IoT startup companies outpaced funding for consumer startup companies by 75%.
Verizon’s experts think that IoT will continue to be a revenue driver for businesses both large and small due to the confluence of five macrotrends:
1. Consumer usage of smartphones.
High expectations to automation possibilities as of simplified interface. 81% of IoT adopters in the public sector believe that their citizens increasingly expect them to offer enhanced services from data and IoT.
2. Data monetization is wanted.
By 2018, almost 50% of businesses expect to be using more than 25%of their data. Descriptive data collection will become predictive and prescriptive data analytics. Paradigm shift from „big data“ to domain experts expected.
3. Regulatory landscape will bring right ecosystem partners together to drive industry standards.
In the US, with the Drug Supply Chain Act manufacturers until late 2017 will implement systems to electronically transfer and store transaction histories for their prescription drugs including shipment information across their distribution and supply chain. Result: Thwart counterfeiting drugs and savings of $75 billion annually according to the World Health Organization.
4. Democratization of innovation by network connectivity, low power devices and IoT platforms.
Businesses can scale their IoT deployments from millions to billions of connections more cost-efficiently. With the new 5G, autonomous solutions such as cars and robotics will become a reality and new categories of uses cases will evolve, such as virtual and augmented reality for IoT deployments.
5. Security experts keep up with the development of technology by looking to arising threat vectors
Some old, some new – that will impact IoT deployments and ongoing operations. Data privacy, protection and processing will remain the biggest challenge for security experts.
Sometimes reports do not look at the data challenge of the IoT development in my eyes. The interesting aspect is that IoT offers some incredible opportunities to improve our lives, simplify our ways of health tracking and be informed about the status of our cars and houses. However, most of the use cases are often based on some cloud services that people do not trust in as the generated data is stored in some unknown data center somewhere in the world. I sometimes wonder, why companies don’t start to save the data in a personal private cloud that can be added as an add-on service to the IoT business.
But hey, maybe I am asking for too much at this stage of the IoT status. Thoughts?social selling is typically championed by a Chief Revenue Officer or VP of Sales, it integrates best into a business with organization-wide support.
Social selling is a team sport
The sales team impacts all departments of an organization, including client success, product and IT. But arguably the place where sales – and social selling – has the greatest influence is on the marketing team. And vice versa.
According to Sirius Decisions, 58% of marketing and sales teams say they are seriously misaligned. Some of the repercussions of a sales-marketing duo with no alignment? Lost leads, bad content and blind decision-making.
Sales and marketing teams need to get on the same page to ensure efforts aren’t going to waste (and feelings aren’t getting hurt). To be successful, sales and marketing must focus on 3 key aspects of a strong social selling initiative:
A crucial aspect of social selling is the sales professional’s ability to provide valuable content – articles, white papers, videos, podcasts and more – to prospects in their network. Misaligned marketing departments can spend time and resources creating content for sales, but it is useless if the content doesn’t meet the needs of the prospect or if sales can’t even find it.
How do you fix it? By understanding the buyer’s journey, sales and marketing can together determine what types of content fit best for prospects at different levels of the funnel. Then, marketing can curate a database of content that is easily accessible and relevant for salespeople to use throughout their process.
Implementing a well-run social selling program provides the sales organization a predictive, guided approach to everyday sales. In an environment where nearly 60% of the B2B buying process is done by the prospect before they ever speak to sales, reps need guidance on how, when, and where to connect on social networks. Marketing and sales need to understand and agree on their buyer persona so marketing can provide the resources that will guide sales to success.
How do you fix it? For social selling to become part of a sales professional’s everyday process, it must be easy for them to identify the best way to engage with prospects online. Marketing and sales must collaborate to identify the ways in which their buyers navigate the buying process. This enables marketing to develop relevant campaigns and channels for sales to leverage in their social selling practices, resulting in the most important aspect of all…
Too often, misaligned sales and marketing teams hurt themselves and end up doing more work when they let good leads slip through the cracks. Whether it’s marketing campaigns missing the mark on the right buyer, or sales failing to follow up on solid marketing leads, it’s a lose-lose situation.
How do you fix it? First and foremost, clearly define what each team will commit to accomplishing in order to support each other. As the saying goes: Build the social selling process, and the leads will come. When marketing provides sales the resources and tools to become problem-solving thought leaders in their networks, everyone wins.
„Never leave Social media to marketing alone. Marketing spreads the brand and product messages. Sales plants conversations, seeds solutions and harvests on needs.“ (Martin Meyer-Gossner on Social Selling)
This is a guest blog post by PeopleLinx CEO Kevin O’Nell. PeopleLinx helps B2B enterprise sales teams activate socialselling with individualized guidance.
They blog from the first row at catwalks. They share cool design gadgets on Instagram. They strike a pose with a selfie in front of 5-star hotels on Pinterest. And, they record „Let’s plays“ for Youtube while testing the latest computer games. The one thing they have in common? They are online influencers. A digital species that challenges and changes the marketing world of models, testimonials and the publishing industry.
According to an annual Nielsen study, it is a common knowledge that people trust most in recommendations of people they know. In the past, marketers put models or celebrities in this „recommendation seat“. It was meant to address two benefits: Brands intended to grasp some of the consumers’ attention by trying to hitch-hike on the wave of VIP awareness and public relevance. And, they used the reach of magazines and the trust those public voices had for the people.
It seems to me that the tables are turning now, and marketers have to rethink their brand extension strategy.
1. Models – the personalization dilemma
When using models, brands couldn’t tell exactly which audience they were addressing. It was a marketers’ and model agent’s best guess which model fits which brand. However, a model does not have a transparent target-group. They are just faces without any open address books or lead list.
Social influencers are their own agents. Their content markets their personality, their personality defines their content, their reach expresses their quality. They have got fans, followers, and friends that everybody (not only when following them) can see. A clear defined and dynamic target-group that is commited to them and engages with them on a regular basis. What they say gets read. What they state is trusted. In fact, their consumer opinion becomes one of the most trusted sources that people believe in – more than traditional ads of any kind.
Just imagine the influence on purchase intent, when an influencer is posting online to a large audience of friends and fans. Social influencers are perceived of their active and growing audiences as „more real“ than models, somehow even as „friends“.
But also the traditional model business is affected by the upcoming influencer trend: Previously interchangeable and relatively anonymous faces are now increasingly becoming personal brands thanks to their personalized Instagram and Snapchat channels and/or (mostly fashion- and beauty related) blogposts. Consequently, numerous models with significant reach are also acting as influencers to their audiences.
2. Testimonials – the authenticity dilemma
Testimonials need to match brand authenticity and follow the brand message in order to become valuable for marketers. Serious investment in dollars does not allow a testimonial’s mistake. Contracts are long-term and include testimonial involvement not only in all brand campaigns but also in personal PR and marketing engagement during the contracting period.
Money counts for testimonials – as much as monetary rewards do for online influencers. This is definitely true for the fashion and beauty industry, states the „Fashion & Beauty Monitor“ report in partnership with Econsultancy named „The Rise of Influencers„. However, three out of five surveyed influencers believe that the „relevance of brand in relation to own area of expertise „is essential when collaborating with marketers. Influencers are very well aware of their personality as brand that has to be secured and consequently, they do not sell everything just because they are asked to. Of course, this in return means a certain loss of control for marketers when working with powerful influencers. Just to state an example, years ago, I offered MINI a cool opportunity to collaborate with me. I fear the idea never reached the BMW four-cylinder tower – perhaps for fear of losing brand control?
Think about it: How authentic can testimonials be that are selected by brands as of their popularity in sports, fashion and lifestyle? Testimonials sell their media value. On the contrary, engagement with influencers can only work when brands do not act too commercial with them and meet their personal authenticity. Social influencers are personal brands; authentic brands that companies can collaborate with.
3. Publishers – the relevance dilemma
When content from influencers gets more attention (and is trusted more) than content from advertising, relevance becomes a critical tipping point. For years, marketers and PR experts were convinced that „serious“ traditional publishers are more relevant to readers than bloggers or any other form of social media active people. Thus, they invested serious dollars in brand building activities with the publishing industry. Today, these very media houses are approaching influencers to increase their declining media value.
A recent study by Collective Bias shows that content from influencers is viewed for more than 2 minutes (which is 7 times longer than the digital display ad average with a view time of just 19.2 seconds). Plus the relevance of someone’s personal opinion -whether rating, recommendation or review- has become of high value for consumers. Now if content from an influencer is relevant and perceived as being „authentic“ , publishing is facing serious competition in the future.
However, relevance needs to meet relevance both ways. Just putting brand messages into the mouth of online influencers won’t accelerate a brand’s value. In order to become relevant to an influencer and his or her audience, a brand needs to be „love-brand“ in a social influencer’s mind. If not, the influencer will be perceived (and probably also act) like a traditional publishing product without a media-kit.
Solving the dilemma – budget and advertising strategy
The world of testimonials, models and publishing is changing with the rise of influencers.
More and more companies and brands start working with social influencers. I personally doubt that they will completely replace models, testimonials and publishing houses, but the future will tell. However, the world of recommendations will be redefined by a new species.
According to a recent #BrandofMe study, brands invested 1 Bio. USD in 2015 in influencer programs on Instagram only. Influencers earn between 500 and 10.000 USD per Instagram photo or Youtube video – obviously depending on their media reach. Which means that some influencers get paid as much as some publishers for their ad space. A lot of budget that moves away from traditional brand building worlds.
The question is what values more to brands in terms of business impact: tradition or progression. But that question can only be answered when brands understand the power that online influencers can have on and in the sharing economy.
Mobile has become more and more important for sales in the last years. The 2015 Criteo eCommerce Industry Outlook states that mobile’s share of global online sales went up from 23% in the first half of 2014 to 30% in the second half, and will get up to 40% by the end of 2015.
A recent report by Flurry shows that personalization apps (including Android lock-screens to Emoji keyboards) are becoming the fastest growing apps in the mobile industry (332% increase in 2015). News and magazine apps are also growing fast (135% growth) as of a general shift in media consumption from television and PCs to smartphones. Obviously, productivity apps are booming as many people are using their mobile devices as their „primary computing device and their sole device to access email and other productivity apps“.
Now, if you think about a better app experience for your users, you may want to know how your mobile users come to your app, what they want to read and find there, and how they will convert. According to an Targeting Mantra infographic more than every second person (52%) find their apps via friends, family, and colleagues.
Although you might think your company website is one of the promotion places to drive awareness for your app, it becomes clear that just one in four (24%) will find your app there. Furthermore, also search engines are not the secret sauce. Only 27% of consumers will discover apps there.
However, end-to-end customer journey and conversion is still a challenge. While e-commerce apps achieve a 77% install-to-registration rate, the install-to-first-purchase rate is very low (2,1%). The main reason for uninstalling apps is „changes and hangs“ (71%). Still, A/B testing can resolve the loss and make people come back once or twice even if the app was uninstalled (79%).
Although consumers tend to not be interested in your notifications via email too much, notifications are still the engagement drivers and also the main reason why people download your app.
Gambling is a competitive industry just like any other and as with other industries advertising campaigns can be the key to a site’s success. There are many different incentives used by those in this sector to entice in new players and make themselves stand out.
One of the most prolific deals that gambling sites extend to their public is a bonus, whether it’s totally free or comes with a deposit. These work particularly well as it is seen by many as an equivalent to free money to use however they please and works as an excellent incentive.
Another way that sites can get players in the door is by creating a theme that’s on trend. This could be anything from a movie to a character and online casino sites that will be opened in 2016 or those that already exist are using this to its full advantage. This tactic taps into an existing fan base and combines recreational gaming with a concept that players already know they enjoy. Branded slot games are a growing trend because of this, as players see a movie that they enjoy reincarnated and can’t wait to take it for a spin. This also helps the site seem more personable and friendly, especially if they use a mascot.
Being social with players gives another boost to the ranks of a casino. As we all know social media is an excellent way for brands to reach out and be seen by a wider audience. The use of incentives by online casinos also helps when using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as they can boost posts that offer the best deals.
Television advertisement is a medium that never grows old and many gambling sites now rely on creating an eye-catching advert. This can be a little trickier than advertising online however as there are governing bodies that must review these adverts.
The need to drive traffic to a site is felt by every business on the internet and these are just a few ways that gambling sites manage this flow. They still rely on basic advertising principles but they are tailored to the market.
The Internet of Things (IoT) has become on of the most discussed topics in the digital landscape these days. Based on sensors, mechanisms, processes, the cloud and big data sets, companies as well as people try try to rethink how we can better use the Internet for our homes, our cities and the daily business.
We have collected the three most impressive pieces of content that came up lately to give you an overview of the potential and the challenges involved when using IoT.
1. IoT and legislation
A recent post by Cyberlex is discussing in details the approach of the European Union with their „Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation“ (AIOTI) and Digital Agenda for Europe on IoT against the American Federal Trade Commission with their Staff Report on the Internet of Things in order to deriver some logic for a Canadian IoT approach.
While the European guideline makes clear that the future regulations will lie on security, privacy, consumer protection, functioning competition and choice. The American discusses the issues of privacy, security and is trying to give guidance whether legislation is required to regulate the Internet of Things.
2. IoT and Social Media
Over at WT Vox a post is discussing the opportunities and the challenges that the combination of the IoT with social media generates. Although we might be seeing the power of commerce data to understand the mindset of the next customer, there might be more business impact on the image, machine and health data for our future lives when it comes to the value of IoT. However, they make clear that the all deciding question on the future of IoT will be how everybody is handling their „digital persona“ over the next years and whether we open up or step back from giving out personal data to people and companies we have got no idea what, how and why they derive data via smart health, smart home technology or smart city.
Gartner sees a more and more connected world and predicts there will more than 6.4 billion connected devices by the end of 2016. Cisco goes even further and forecasts that by 2020 even 37 billion connected devices will be in the world. McKinsey even estimates that IoT is expected to have an economic impact of $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion per year by 2025 (representing up to 11% of the world’s economy).
3. IoT and Investments
The infographic that delivers data by Venture Scanner that we came across via the guys at Appcessories gives some good impression of how much investment goes into the IoT development and in which industry sector most most investments and innovations are produced.
In all of those posts it becomes clear that there is a demand for companies to enable and ensure processes that make people aware of how they use data and technology to understand the consumers development and movement. Furthermore, it is wanted to see a continuous progress in monitoring and improving peoples‘ privacy and security. And finally, the question is whether companies and regulation units need to give clearer guidance and legal advice on compliance and data collecting and processing laws in order not to loose the trust of customers and consumers.
One of the questions, consultants get asked day in and day out is: „What are the latest tools we could use to boost our lead generation and accelerate lead management?“ Being in the sales environment for almost twenty years, I have seen a lot of tools coming and going: From Excel to Goldmine, from Plaxo to SugarCRM, and from ACT! to LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
As for all marketing technology, the business impact and the value for the sales results always depends upon various factors like people, process and prospects. However, some tools have proven to become more successful than others lately – depending on where in your pipeline they might come up and drive your sales people to some unknown height.
The team at KeyReply have come up with some interesting infographic that highlights some of the latest cool tools and where they perform best in the sales pipeline.
maybe this already helps you to save you from your next RFP. In case you need some more information on the definition of the funnel stages, check out the original post from KeyReply here. And if you need some help in understanding the value of some of those tools for your social selling strategy, feel free to get in touch.