According to some infographic from McKinsey&Company successful digital marketing can boost their marketing effectiveness by 15-25% if they use the following five components of marketing operations. So, if your company wants to beat the competition, you better follow the advice to implement these five important components.
Here is just some remarks from our consulting business to why those topics might be of relevance to your digital strategy…
1. Customer Insights
Many companies still have not yet implemented a real web analytics or a social media monitoring tool in order to understand the inner and outer impact of consumer demands and reactions.
2. Customer Experience
Market research and product marketing often pretends to know what needs to be build, produced or offered. However, reality shows that often consumer expectations and company opportunities lack the match. Often companies lack the alignment with sales and marketing.
3. KPIs and Measurement
Understanding what makes consumers, companies and decision makers purchase a product or service is aiming for predictive analysis and forecasting when focusing on ROI. Still, KPIs need to be realistic and often lacks the knowledge of what technology is capable of.
4. Marketing Technology Infrastructure
The real bottleneck of digital marketing these days. As of the big marketing technology landscape and a grown intern technology infrastructure, technology decisions are very often a shot in the dark.
5. Process & Governance
Generating real benefit from technology is depending on the right people who get the appropriate training und understanding for the tools‘ capabilities. And as people are often not used to those modern tools and how to use them, they want a (brand) governance (and compliance frameworks) which keeps them in their seats.
Selling through social media has always been a challenging business. However, all brands and companies we have spoken to in 2014 wanted to turn around Social Media from a brand reputation channel into a sales opportunity touchpoint.
Obviously, many of the companies had already failed. Most of them as they were either too greedy, or just not prepared to go in a bar without expecting someone to sell them a drink – or respectively, to buy their products and services after the brands or companies have posted their first status updates. In my eyes, it is time to shift expectations and start anew. 2015 should not be your year of sales disappointment, it should become your year of redefined engagement.
All companies aim for the same goal. Customer engagement is what companies are waiting, hoping and praying for. Thus, they pump out tons of content pieces from their latest brand sponsoring activities to the best white papers and case studies they can offer until they cannot find any content piece in their PR or marketing repository that has not been shared across the globe. And by accelerating the content via Facebook, Twitter and the likes, they expect their KPIs to become real.
And then, the guys from SocialFlow conducted a study in summer last year. analyzed organic posts with almost 1.5 billion social actions, showing them 99 percent of those updates on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ create little to no engagement at all. Did brands use engagement the wrong way? Where their tactics bad? And if so, what were the obstacles they did not obey?
Let’s look at the following three tactical approaches. Ask yourself if you really follow the three rules of engagement.
1. Engagement: Think cross-department, cross-partners and cross-employee
Companies still tend to be structured in silos. Internal politics, department thinking and career ambitions rule out what could be replaced by community engagement, employee engagement initiatives or engagement incentive plans. Still, most responsible managers don’t know or forget how networking inside the company and with all external forces like resellers, retailers and partners might might leverage selling opportunities.
Now, whether it is limited digital capabilities of employees or the HR department that is often only involved in social media in terms of setting up social media guidelines, companies should start realitzing that their social media manager is not the company’s silver bullet. HR and marketing need to align forces and work closer together: Culture, relationship building and trust creation is not only a sales business which got nicely highlighted by a study from Altimeter at the end of 2014.
Setting up processes, programs and platforms that work towards a common goal, that get updated by various minds, by different perspectives and manyfold views attracts the engagement of more customers. The formula is easy and proven: More brains can be in more conversations and generate more engagement.
2. Engagement: Learn cross-platform, from „free-meal“ to „pay-for-play“
Companies and brands seem to accept that social media is not a „free-meal“ any longer by investing in consulting companies to help transforming their social media efforts into social selling enagement. Facebook is leading in driving engagement to brands according to Simply Measured’s 2014 Facebook Study which analyzed the Interbrand Top 100 Global. Photos accounting for 77% of total engagement, and link usage to around 16%.
However, brands still haven’t respected the fact that getting people to listen and read their marketing messages by posting in social media is changing dramatically. When Facebook turns the algorithm into „less promotional“ this year, companies need to start redefining how they approach their customers more subtile. Even if they will be addressing them with building clusters (or circles), contacting them via the „@name“ phenomenon or hashtags. The wording needs tob e chosen carefully, and we can be sure other networks will follow that example.
Thus, the next big thing will be the shift from investing in traditional media to spending more money in platforms that leverage social networking engagement. Products like the LinkedIn Sales Navigator or individual targeting through the combination of data analytics and marketing services, will become the new sales kid in town. Where marketing and media decision makers have invested in nebulous target-group definitions, social networks can cluster target-groups by their individual interest in content, in pictures or in videos.
The only shame is that smart data (and especially media and sales data exchange) across platforms does not work yet. So, banners and sponsored posts will continue to haunt customers although they have already bought a product or service a banner promotes to them. Clever managers invest in blogger programs, in brand advocates and loyalty programs to drive up and cross-selling opportunities. Don’t just think about content!
3. Engagement: Understand cross-quality values
Just to make this clear from the beginning: A LIKE is not only a LIKE, like a Retweet, Repin or Reblog is not just a meaninglesss interaction of some lazy engagement. In many seminars, we see marketers that still center their KPIs around quantitative engagement figures while under-estimating the chances that are covered behind such „automated“ customer interactions: joy, interest, passion, emotions, etc..
Clever sales people use such quantitative engagements for profiling their customers’ habits, experiences and interests in their social CRM database or sales management systems. They value every single customer engagement as they know when to turn quantitative into qualitative engagement, and how to turn it to their favor in meetings, calls and conversations. Knowing that a client has liked a shared golf or football video can be the start of a long-term relationship and open up doors for introductions to others.
Customers will be happy if they get good content to share with their own peers and community. They appreciate the dedication (seasonal content), commitment (consistency of service) and the quality of engagement (high interactivity) that brand accounts offer to them according to a study by the Engagment Labs. Appreciation, well-understood from customers and companies, is the key to social media engagement.
The link between customer engagement and employee engagement was not only proven in a study by Answers Corporation lately. In many examples with customers and experts have we experienced that social media engagement is not rocket-science, however the process of setting it up plus using and finding the right technology is a challenge. Still, the rules of engagement are changing in social media, especially in social networks. Facebook is the former RSS feed, just with the difference that you can sponsor it now. Youtube is the new search engine. It’s 2015! Redefine your engagement mindset!
In days of Facebook, AirBnB, Tumblr & others, when new business models and start-ups spread all over the world, some marketing freelancers might think about the option to appear big. Or shall I say for some interim period of establishing a business, these people might want to look bigger than some decision-makers might imagine? Whatever their driver might be. When starting a business, marketing consultants have got the challenge to look professional all over their brand. An address in the right context location seemed to be a must-have. It’s all about the brand, right? However today, the overarching value of a new business brand might have changed. What was a shiny office address in the middle of town in the year 2000, isn’t important any more (and maybe never was). There are new and probably better options that virtual offices can offer.
Thinking back around millenium days, when we launched a start-up with some good business partners, the venture capitalists would have loved the option of a virtual business. The resons were obvious: The business model puts a foot on the „valid business reasons'“ groud instantly. Operationals can start immediately. Being first to market, cannot be taken away from you. „Land and expand“ is the option. All set. In 2000 this sounded like a dream for founders and their investors. Our company’s rental costs were the biggest liability we had those days (also when we bought the business and sold some years later). We couldn’t just leave and sign off our contracts. The landlord was clever enough to keep us in our rooms for at least six more months. The virtual office is much more flexible and usually offering shorter termination periods.
Talking about liabilities, you might also think about getting a secretary? Another cost topic. Virtual offices have got their own secretaries who will look after your business. Calls, postage, or even emails if you may want to leave it to them: all sorted out by them. Whether it is PR requests, marketing topics, sales inquieries or any other service related business, the virtual assistant is giving clients and business contacts what they are asking for (if you brief them properly). No overhead business. No extraordinary employee costs. If it is your own staff, you have to find replacement for them on days of illness or family issues. In virtual offices, the service is available 24/7/365. These days, you do not necessarily have to pay for health treatment if someone is ill. And speaking frankly, this harms your business in the start-up business three-fold: cost-wise, additional workload and underpaid founders doing processes and projects they should not be looking after in the start-up period.
Later, when I started some other consulting business, I used a virtual office place to start the business. The benefits were quite interesting then:
a) Pay-per-stay. When I was in London for business, my virtual office would have been fantastic. Why do you always have to commute around London and waste expense budgets, when from time to time you can just have gotten people to commute to you?
b) Pay-per-use. When clients came to visit, I did one phone call to the virtual office desk and paid for hourly use. That was really handy. Do I need to „own“ (and pay) a meeting-room that is unused for 35 out of 40 hours a week?
c) Pay-per-need. When I needed a desk, I paid for a shared desk. If I wanted to stay at home, I just told the office desk the day before. Do I need to rent a place where „my“ desk stands and is waiting for me too many days in a month? Traveling is the key to starting a good business. Meet as many people as you think is necessary.
d) Pay-per-inspiration. When I needed business exchange, new innovative approaches or even looked for some new networking opportunities, there were people from many industries to talk to at the coffee lounge in the virtual office. On a good talk, I paid for the coffee. No cheaper way to get consulting. And: Who goes a floor down in his office, just to meet someone as they are tenants like you are in order to speak about business?
There are valid business reasons to use a virtual office company when you start a business. When the business grows and you have got paperwork to store, you might think about using a bigger version of the virtual office components and features. Still, the reason for renting an office in days of cloud computing, bigger WIFI access and coffee bars in virtual offices is becoming smaller and smaller. And even, if your business grows, there are many ways to leverage the virtual office s long as you act in start-up mode.
It’s hard to look into the future, or claim how the workplace could look like in 2020. And that in mind, although I get invites to different event looking years ahead and telling us, which technology will rock, which cloud model will be staring, and how friendships might die as of millennials heading towards a straight career, and forgetting the working colleagues, they have held close for years.
Still, certain drivers of change become more and more obvious. With the increasing advent of mobile and cloud systems in companies, some smart machines, sensors and systems will replace workload from people, and probably also erase some job profiles. And automation will organize a lot of processes that will connect the world around us.
What I see from our consulting business already today is that „sense making“ and „social intelligence“ has still often not found it’s way towards board rooms. Sometimes this is based on the missing people, sometimes just it’s a matter of traditional management methods that block the change process as of company or personal politics.
Furthermore, I can see that „virtual collaboration“ is desired in many companies. Still, the culture of training and changing the mindset as a basis for this capability gets not the right support and budgets from top management. Finally, „cognitive load management“, the challenge to filter information from importance, was an approach I thought of in my vision of the Personal Web Manager some years ago. It will come, I am sure…!
The guys at Top Ten Online Colleges have create an infographic which summarizes the top 10 business skills for 2020. Have a look and tell us what you think!
It is one of the findings, we often experience in reality when we advice companies: The employees understand how the digital transformation works. However, the management -especially CEOs and executives- are not seeing the urgency in moving on with the digital transformation. In a recent study of more than 1500 executive people in 106 countries released by Capgemini Consulting in partnership with MIT Sloan Management Review these findings become clear again, although the study writers make clear that the common agreement is that the future is digital.
The results show that those company executive who have the digital transformation on their agenda almost four out of five executives (81%) believe that it will offer their company a competitive advantage. They also see that it will become a critical development to their organization within the next two years. Still, nearly two out of three (63%) see that the velocity of technology change in their organizations is not moving fast enough.
Not surprisingly, many employees are becoming more and more impatient with the development and progress compared to their upper managers. This stays against the fact that 53% of the CEOs think that the pace of the digital evolution inside their company is „right“, „fast“ or „very fast“. Especially, the middle managers and staff employees think that the progress isn’t enough toward a digital realm. Just 25% of managers see the pace is right. One of the comments in the report blamed that the management was guilty of „complacency, [and] ignorance of modern technology“. And another one stated „Clueless management“.
The study’s authors categorized four different stages of digital transformation:
a. Beginners: Have been slow to adopt, or are skeptical of, more advanced digital technologies like social media and analytics.
b. Conservatives: Have deliberately hang back when it comes to new technologies.
c. Fashionista: Very aggressive in adopting new technologies, but do not coordinate well across departments.
d. Digiratis: Have the vision, and are willing to invest what it takes.
The reasons for the slow adaption for the modern digital challenge is made obvious: Time. When 53% of CEOs and executives say that the „don’t have time for this right now,” it sounds like a normal common excuse when things are not familiar or understood in the importance for the future development of companies. They (52%) simply don’t know how to do that, or are resistent to move on „this is the way we’ve always done it“.
When the study finds that 65% of organizations have just begun to step into the digital transformation process, it shows that most managers have not yet understood where the world of mobile and social media is getting us in the future. And when only 15% of respondenting CEOs and executives can be considered „mature“ adopters of digital technologies, it reflects our view of how we experience the top management that comes to us and wants input on how to change the company towards the digital realm. And whent he study authors conclude that just some companies rank in the same category as a Starbucks or Intel, which are kind of top notch in digital transformation, we might still see potential for even them to become better. It is one thing, to have a chief digital officer at Starbucks that also enables customer mobile engagements. But it is another thing to make all employees follow the rules of the digital transformation. The challenge is on…!
PS: Study can be read here.
Most professors might answer in a diplomatic manner: „There is always two sides of the coin!“ Smart bloggers love to look into the future and prefer outlooks to reviews. However, those always rely on findings and insights which bring them to life in the end.
So, I have dared to head for an outlook in 2015, into the future of web strategy. As many managers are not quite familiar with the term „web strategy“, let me define it our way. In 2012, we have often realized that there is quite some misunderstanding what web strategy really means:
„Web Strategy translates the organisational targets and values in roadmaps for the top management and their teams in terms of all generated and doable business processes via the Web. Web Strategy creates a picture of the future of client communication which connects the networking trends of the Internet and the tools of modern web development with the individual business tactics of a cooperation in order to develop a superior company vision. ©The Strategy Web GmbH 2012“
Bearing this in mind, I have written a blog post that defines a futuristic view on some new job titles. It shall illustrate which old job roles might become critical as well as which new challenges arise in companies when changing or restructuring organisational frameworks in companies. So, let me define some new job roles that clever managers should be thinking about. Each top management should be thinking carefully whether or not they will need one of these job roles in their company. I am quite sure that these job roles will become important in the future on web strategy.
And don’t be surprised when I give those job roles kind of a hierarchy. The formula behind it is quite simple…Knowledge x Data x Content x Culture x Clients = Company Success
a.) Corporate Knowledge Officer
The main challenge for any HR department is to tie the pearls of the corporate value chain long-term. These employees are the knowledge of the company, the pillars of productivity. If one of those pillars leaves the company behind, the person takes the knowledge with them, and often all of their knowledge gets lost. But what if employees understand that the feeding hand of a company offers less pension protection by 2025? What if by 2020, Millennials, the generation that will make up almost 50% of the global workforce, will deny the traditional workplace mentality and start making their knowldge available more on a project basis? What if knowledge workers stop working for one company but prefer to share their knowldge in a „buy-my-brain“ mode?
Leaders who believe in Social Business, those who want to secure knowledge and make it „always-on“ available shall consider the position of a Corporate Knowledge Officer. They are game changers for analysts, market researchers and leading consulting corporations.
b.) Corporate Data Scientist
The world speaks Big Data. Buzzword or biz value? There were not many words you could hear in 2012 at web events, where „web stategy“ still often is a foreign word. Why Big Data rules? Well, just look at how much data is being generated in 60-Minuten on the web, or how fast reactions and conversations evolve. That’s why data is becoming a challenge for the whole value chain of the company. However, which business is able to accomplish a job role which is said to become one of the sexiest in the future according to Harvard Business Review? Where is this person located in the excel sheets of businesses that unites the capabilities of a logician, explorer and mathematician in one person? There are not many avalaible yet. Corporate Data Scientists are those brains who know how to turn the process of 0 and 1 upside down in order to draw some conclusions for new content and values.
Leaders that don’t want to stop at data mining or business intelligence processes should figure out the value of the Corporate Data Scientist. They are challengers for PR and marketing decision makers who need to prove their credibility by showing facts to their CEOs.
c.) Corporate Content Officer
Content forms data. The problem? Content is the weakest production department of companies. In most cases PR experts or publishing houses have taken over the content production. Although most media companies are struggling themselves with unique content generation. But who is meant to do the content research? Who is able to write and schedule stories? Who can prioritize, aggregate and curate content? And where will companies find the publishing expertise to become a media company? If content marketing is the future, who will pioneer on the path from PR and marketing to the journalistic hybrid of corporate publishing and community management in the company?
Leaders who see conversations as an opportunity and understand the sense of integrated communities in websites will evaluate the position of Corporate Content Officers. They are the media coaches and editors-in-chief of businesses who bring all company departments to produce content for their special business area.
d.) Chief Culture Officer
The modern development in content and data generation as well as a new understatement for knowledge management is walking on the stage of change management. A stage that Grant McCracken featured in his book. Employees need to find the deeper sense in the evolution of new platforms in business processes. Employees need to understand the complete benefit of tools and tactics before they will be forced to make use of them. Especially, for those employees who do not like email communication but shall start working with communication streams and updates all of a sudden. Stream-Working is a culture of openness and transparency which is not everybody’s friend. And sometimes the best lighthouses might not embrace those changes.
Leaders who know about the challenges of working with multiple project platforms will appreciate the additional benefit of a Chief Culture Officer. This job role will be the prolonged arm of the management team, the „personified culture geek“ and at the same time working very close with the HR team.
e.) Chief Customer Officer
Customer change the rules of the game via open communication, praise and critic. What was top-down is now bottom-up. Customers are kings. A sentence that made people cry some years ago. Today, the 3R’s of the social customer -Rating, Review, Recommendation- make managers and leaders start crying. They let whole revenue streams start shaking at times. Those managers who get their experience from digital conversations with customers, who appreciate when data becomes content, and who create a culture of cooperation and collaboration, then you live and breathe the values of empathy that customers are longing for. Then companies create the right fascination for brands, products and their own company.
Leaders who accept the community of customers as the ecosystem of perception, and who believe in brand advocates, critics and moaners as equal process partners will think about integrating a Chief Customer Officer as an institution that is meant to drive business growth. They will be game changers for sales people and customer service employees.
Never before have I spoken about and discussed so much about new job definitions and job roles in my life like in 2012. On congresses as a moderator, on B2B events as speaker, or as a rebellious start-up panelist.
Will one or some of these job roles become reality? You decide…
We already know that Social Media use confers a wide variety of benefits for the average company. It can work as an effective platform for marketing a new product. It can act as a focus group to gauge consumer opinions. It can be used to reinforce brand image and community engagement on a day-to-day basis. And, for most basic uses, social media is free, easy, accessible, and convenient. From a business perspective, there’s really not much to dislike.
Now research has revealed another reason for businesses to use social media: credibility.
According to a study released recently by BRANDfog, a social media consulting firm, CEOs that use social media are perceived by consumers as more credible.
A full 82% of the respondents in the survey said that they trust a company more when its top executive actively uses and communicates via social media. Furthermore, 77% said that they were more likely to purchase a product from a business that has a socially-engaged CEO. These findings fall in line with earlier credibility studies, although they are the first to consider the CEO’s role in particular.
The strong preference given to CEO engagement is likely a testament to the power of informal, personalized communication in the digital age. In the past, an executive might have given a human face to his or her business by writing individualized letters with custom pens or by making a point to speak with small shareholders at the annual meeting. These days this appeal to personalized informality is best found on Facebook and Twitter, where the CEOs communicate just as we do and may actually respond to our individual comments or complaints.
At the same time, social media is perceived as an „honest forum“ where people can speak candidly and where companies cannot stand behind layers of advertisers, consultants, and brand managers. By putting its brand message on Facebook and Twitter – and by keeping that message the same across traditional and non-traditional platforms – companies can appear more transparent and dependable. A brand message coming from the CEO only boosts that perceived transparency.
A minority of top CEOs currently use Facebook and/or Twitter to connect with consumers. Is this about to change? If companies are paying attention to this study, the answer very well may be yes.
This post is a guest post from Inkhead.
Many companies are asking when Facebook commerce is really taking off. Especially as some consulting companies like Strategy& see in Facebook an emerging market that might reach $30 billion within the next five years.
However people spend a lot of time on Facebook, social commerce is still low. And the reason is…? No other than those people fear in e-commerce: traditional security topics.
The key findings of the study were…
– 75% indicate they would be more likely to purchase a product or service that a friend openly endorses via social media
– 55% don’t feel comfortable giving credit card information via social media
– 45% are somewhat comfortable however especially men between 18 and 54 with an income of $35,000 or more
– 34% are more likely to share info about a purchase they made on a social media site with friends than one made on a traditional e-commerce site
– 50.7% access Social Media sites close to a full hour per day on average via a mobile device
Virtual currency like Bitcoin or Facebook Credits seems to be a „NoGo“ as the new currency model. 74% of the respondents stated they wouldn’t use virtual currency to pay for a purchase made on a Social Media site. Nevertheless, it seems that trust is a new link for brands to get money through Social Networks. 20% agree they would purchase products or services from their favorite brands on a Social Media site. So, another emerging trend could become that brands will use their merchandise shops and make it accessible through Social Media sites.
We all know that the web economy is exploding at the moment in terms of activity and users. In the next four years the value of the web is expected to achieve a valuation sum growing from 2.7 to 4,2 trillion pounds. This means that the value of the web economy in the G20 countries is nearly going to double in the next four years.
The global web user base is expected to increase foe 1,9 to 3 million users by 2016 – almost half the world’s current population. All these findings are based on a new report commissioned by the Boston Consulting Group. Still, the report also states that there is at present no standard way of measuring the parts of web economy that is ‚digital‘.
Boston sees the growth in the evolution of the mobile web access as 80% are assumed to access the web via smart mobile phones. Thinking back to 2010, which is just about two years back, mobile internet access accounted for just over 4% of the G20 economies. The study makers claim that each household has an approximate valuation of 2,000 pounds worth of purchases online before buying.
Some more key conclusions from the study…
– Digital transformation is key for companies. Companies have to build their digital assets and reduce the digital liabilities that limit their ability to tap rich opportunities. People, processes, and organizational structures need to change and adapt them to the digital world.
– IBM forecasts 1 trillion devices to be connected to the Internet by 2015. This has an effect on the ways companies interact with customers and run their supply chains but also how traditional industries have to build their business.
– The power of digital experience goes far more local in terms of impact on everyday life, reflecting economic, political, national characteristics and social influences specific to individual countries.
– The “Millennials” have different expectations as employees, consumers, and citizens. TheArab Spring protests and grass-roots “occupy” movements in the West are the most visible manifestations of the power of the Millennials to shape society and commerce.
Seeing the rapid economical and market changes, the intensity of competition will improve and increase. Companies and brands will need to plan more flexible in terms of their strategic approaches how to reach clients than in earlier years when long-term planning cycles were the common status. Today, it will be important to create an adaptive strategy planing and restructuring process.
PS. A challenge might be if evangelist entrepreneuers like this guy spread market distraction and confusion….
The study concludes that 27% of business executives are on the move to integrate Social Business in 2012. Moreover, another 20% are wishing that the integration of Social Media projects will increase business efficiency. As there are no reliable or established measurement and metrics standards most companies are still waiting to invest big budgets. Still, as competition is high companies start integrating social into their business to be competitive in their market.
The results of the inSites study show that most companies (69%) will invest in Social Media marketing and launch campaigns in 2012 hoping to improve online conversations and their web efforts. For now 64% of businesses have at least one person responsible for Social Media activities and platforms. With a reason: One-third are sure that Social Media is changing their operations.
The challenge for companies will be to set up the right Social Business strategy as it involves the right understanding of community centers as an external strategy issue. And it needs an appropriate internal company culture with social policies, social training and social commitment and the people. Apart from that, 45% of the respondents said that they cannot find the people for their Social Media efforts. The best option is to start investing in the people you have to integrate social in your business. The Community Centric Strategy could be one starting point…