Eyes wide open, the two IBM gentlemen look at me. They sit up right. Professional. Spot On. You can feel their enthusiasm, their expectations are high. Both are social collaboration leaders at IBM, evangelizing on the #newwaytowork. That’s how the software technology company hashtags their latest journey to the revolution of the email as they call the launch of their new inbox communication software “IBM Verse”. You can tell how excited the two managers in front of me are to talk about the IBM success story. The launch seemed to have gone well so far.
On my opening question both face each other, not sure who shall answer. They are professionals in communication, they are prepared. “The term Verse is historic for communication and conversation”, replies Dr. Peter Schuett, Leader Social Business Strategy at IBM. “In times of Goethe, when carriers brought people hand-written letters, all the communication that went to and fro was written in verse.” The answer surprised me as IBM’s development sounds like a trip in the past.
It is not. For the first time, IBM has taken a new development approach. They made their customers think about the new software solution by inviting customer to their labs, by rethinking email, and by thinking design and customer experience first, based on real customer feedback, input and inspiration. Not the cheapest way to innovate. The product development cost 100 Mio. US Dollars according to them. It has got to be effective from a customer perspective.
For a long time, IBM has been a forerunner in terms of modern workplace technology. Their “Outside the Inbox” evangelist Luis Suarez has already been preaching for a business world with less emails. We all know the reasons why he was addressing this. People get approximately 127 emails a day. This means emails kills 28% of our daily work-time, and thus of our daily productivity.
With IBM Verse the software technology company wants to shift productivity. Creating a more effective business culture is the aim. From Ed Brill’s perspective, he is IBM’s social business transformation specialist, email should function as a transmitter. Email today should be serving notes like a private letter what Goethe used to do in hand-written form: delivering private information.
“Email is the service forever. But it needs to be a personal service.” Dr. Peter Schuett, IBM.
Focussing on the new software solution, I brought up the question in which way this is a revolution to email communication. Ed Brill emphasizes that IBM did not want to reinvent the email. IBM wished for a better email. However, IBM wanted to create a new intersection of email, calendar, social media and analytics. That’s what they have done with IBM Verse.
When I showed a bit of my disappointment around the new solution’s capabilities in terms of being an aggregation platform for direct messaging and functionality as an inbox management system in general, Ed Brill rearranges my expectations in bringing the metaphor on suits which might all look different in design but are in a sense all alike from the amount of innovation in style and structure. And by the way, the power users of enterprise email are still personal assistants.
True, sometimes people forget where they stand in the evolution of modern communication. With their “People” and “Analytics” functionality, the modern way of a more personalized communication approach seems to get in that social direction in the future. At least, when we compare IBM Verse and Facebook from a superficial point of view. With IBM Verse people also move into the centre of the communication universe which is meant to map the efficiency form content to people. IBM Verse “People” learns to show the users dynamically who is important to their communication, by hour, meeting and topic of conversation. Obviously, users can also change that and arrange it according to their premises. The world of communication gets filtered more and more.
IBM Verse is definitely a big evolution step in email communication. Still, they could have made it a bit more of a revolution in delivering a multi-messaging and communication management platform in my eyes which integrates direct communication via Facebook, Twitter and others.
Brill agrees that when CEOs wanted to spread the word around some company, product or people changes in the company, IBM was about to use email for that communication. Today, via IBM Connections -the internal use of their own company community platform- gets 7 Mio. accesses a month, and the CEO messages will reach (and achieve more feedback) more people via internal social messaging than via email in the past.
Nevertheless, the two gentlemen did not want to commit to a statement whether IBM Verse and IBM Connections might become one platform in the future. But the approach to one collaborative workplace platform, serves the option to have fewer apps in the future. But hey, there is hope: “Rome was not build in one day!” summarizes Schuett in the quick Snapshot video interview in the end of our interview, and smiles.
If you are a great marketer, you always want to be ahead of the curve with your marketing team. But what talent ingredients does it need today to be among the leading experts of modern marketing? eMarketer has just come up with their latest “Skills of the Modern Marketer” report.
In this report we get to know the skills that senior marketers have to achieve or to be coached for in order to manage their teams correct supported by the latest trends. And it becomes clear that it is not only about knowing the right marketing tactics and trends, we also have to shape our personality with empathy, adaptability and collaboration skills. And furthermore, it has become a challenge to understand the latest marketing technologies and how they can foster the ROI of your business.
The following infographic summarizes the report and the findings, based on interviews and a survey with senior level marketers.
Buyers like cloud solutions and are looking for automation software supporting their sales efforts. These are the main findings of a recent report based on interviews with 385 prospective buyers of new sales force automation software conducted by Software Advice. Two-third of all respondents (67%) stated they are interested in sales automation software solutions for the first time. Those sales leaders with a deployment preference trying to find a new solution these days were prefer a cloud-based solution (96%). Just 4% were evaluating on-premises solutions.
Interesting to see that still one out of four managers (25%) still use spreadsheets or email clients (21%) to handle their sales activities (tracking leads and managing contacts). Furthermore, a big portion do not have a real system in place (22%); these guys still use pen and paper. Those buyers who have got a system in place use commercial customer relationship management (CRM) software (17%), work with industry-specific solutions (8%), or developed their software in-house (3%).
Almost two out of three prospective buyers (62%) argued their top reasons to buy sales force automation (SFA) with improving organizational output and increasing efficiency. Many managers in enterprises (33%) and also in small companies (22%) are dissatisfied with their current sales management solution.
The top requested features that managers are looking for are contact management features in their new sales software (93%). Almost two from three respondents (65%) claimed they need a note-taking feature, so they can keep track of interactions between clients and their sales force. More than every second manager (54%) wants lead management features to be included at every stage of the sales process. Only every forth manager asked for sales reporting and forecasting as an expected feature. Larger companies are a bit ahead in that development as 56% of those expect that functionality for their business, says the report.
The questions we usually get from marketers are quite similar: What makes a good blog post? When is the best time to publish? How do questions in headlines perform? And so on. A recent report by TrackMaven analyzed 1.16 million posts from 4,618 blogs and 1.9 million social shares of those blog posts. The results were published in their Colossal Content Marketing Report. The analyzed content included blog posts from various publishers, like content marketers, individual bloggers, and media companies.
The report shows that Tuesday and Wednesday performed as the most popular days for publishing posts. Of the analyzed blog posts 87% were published during Monday and Friday (9 AM to 6 PM ET with a peak at 11 AM-12 PM). This does not say though that weekends don`t perform well. 13% of blog posts published on weekends got more social shares per post on average. Although just 6.3% of posts were published on Saturdays, these still received 18% of the total social shares.
As most marketers strive for engagement to justify their social business activities, one of the findings will be of best interest for them. The most social shares from blog posts came in the evenings around 9 PM-midnight ET (highest engagement 10-11 PM). Special peaks also occur when people get their coffee, meeting hours go down and after midnight TV shows (4-6 AM ET, 7-8 PM plus 1-2 AM).
Some more findings…
– Blog post titles of around 60 characters in length performed with most social shares (average was around 40 characters in length).
– Blog posts with question marks in their title had almost twice as many social shares that those without any punctuation.
– Blog posts with a mixture of capital and lowercase letters achieved most shares.
– Blog posts get most sharings via Twitter (Tweets shares got 38.6% of total social shares) and Facebook (Facebook shares 26.7% – Likes got 33.8% of engagement).
The headline definitely is a key element for blog posts being read and getting shares as on Twitter and Facebook there is not much more to see, and many people won’t even read but still share it the blog post. Although the magic headline might sound like a perfect tactic for blogging, there is more in blogging tactics than knowing when to publish or some rules around punctuation. Good content, relevant aspects, various point of views (interviews) and probably one of the main elements: continuity. Most blogs starts euphoric and die after some weeks. Blogging is a time-consuming challenge but with the right blogging tactics it is not rocket-science.
In order to demystify the myth around social influencers, brand fans and brand advocates, we will discuss the topic in the future with different leading marketing specialist of emerging platforms and different cloud marketing providers.
In this first interview The Strategy Web spoke with Kevin Bobowski, Vice-President Marketing at Offerpop, about social influencers, their relevance for brand perception, and how he sees the future of brand advocates.
TSW: Will social influencers and brand fans ever play a role in the sales process of companies?
Kevin Bobowski: Brand advocates and social influencers already play a key role at every stage of the customer journey – often simultaneously. Through sharing branded content and recommending products, they build brand awareness, move prospects through the consideration cycle, and help convert those prospects into customers. Companies must do more to nurture the relationships with influencers and advocates, formalizing their involvement in the buy cycle.
TSW: Why is it so challenging for marketers to find and leverage real brand fans?
Kevin Bobowski: I think that most social marketers have a sense of who their real brand fans are. The challenge is in translating that knowledge into real business value. To do this, social marketers must break out of the “social silo” and play a bigger role in impacting marketing strategy. For example, they might work with email marketers to create campaigns that target brand advocates they’ve identified with exclusive rewards. Their ability to communicate their insights across marketing organizations will have a long-term impact on conversions.
TSW: What is a successful tactic to build a strong database of brand fans?
Kevin Bobowski: Marketers should run consistent, engaging social marketing campaigns. These campaigns build strong, active fan bases, and hit other key goals like email capture and sales. One standout tactic: hashtag campaigns. They incentivize fans to share user-generated content, which deepens their relationships with brands. Many brands promote them through traditional channels like TV, and encourage participation through multiple social networks. This grows their viral reach, leading to fan growth and engagement.
TSW: When is a brand fan converting into a superfans?
Kevin Bobowski: Our definition of a superfan is a customer who consistently shares your content, advocates your brand, and influences others to form relationships with your brand. Marketers should track the interactions, loyalty and influence of their fans, and use those insights to create more targeted, ROI-driven marketing efforts across every channel.
TSW: How does Offerpop help to boost the value of brand advocates?
Kevin Bobowski: Offerpop social campaigns help brands boost the value of brand advocates in a number of ways. Number one, we encourage fans to amplify brand messages (through retweeting, sharing, etc.) Number two, we help brands run campaigns that inspire engagement and brand affinity. Brands use our platform to capture rich data about their fan base, which enables them to cultivate relationships with them through multiple channels, like email, direct mail, etc. And they also help brands capture user-generated content, which brands can choose to showcase in a number of ways. All of these actions help brands deepen relationships with their advocates and increase the virality of their messaging.
TSW: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.
Kevin Bobowski leads all marketing efforts at the social marketing platform provider Offerpop including branding, product marketing, demand generation and digital marketing. Prior to Offerpop, Kevin was the Vice-President of Product & Solution Marketing at ExactTarget where he was responsible for the strategy and execution of ExactTarget’s go-to-market strategy, demand generation programs and product launches.
There are different views on why mobile advertising is performing. However, some new studies might spread some light: one form TNS and one from SessionM which did their study in cooperation with Millward Brown. The study SessionM published today shows that consumers react positively twice as often to mobile ads… but only as long as they get some value out of it.
Mobile banners are most used from smartphone owners when they get a gift card, coupon, events tickets or loyalty points. Although this gives some good insight in the ranking of the preferred mobile engagement options, consumers want to know what benefit they get out of the digital experience. It means that marketers need to be clever and having some good approach. The surveyed consumers replied that the way mobile ads are presented was crucial to their feedback.
The study makes clear that the mobile strategies need to be clear to the consumer, said Lars Albright, CEO of SessionM: “The questions are, ‘What value am I bringing to the consumer?’ And, ‘How am I doing it?'” It asked 1,000 consumers in a digital survey, as well as a dozen participants in each four hour interviews. 93% of respondents said they had the opportunity to choose a reward in exchange for their smartphone time was “important”. This comes as no surprise after the latest Adobe study telling us that often digital advertising is found “annoying”.
The difference between rewards-based mobile ads and different types of on-the-go promos was that rewards-based mobile ads performed better for purchase consideration (+65), the brand in brand interaction (+14%), branded website traffic (+13%), web searches (+8%), in-store shopping for the brand (+6%), and approaching the brand’s social media pages (+5%). Obviously, the user can be handled and does not always see banners as “annoying and invasive”.
Finally, while a lot of industry players see location-based services as the key to mobile’s future, Joline McGoldrick, research director at Dynamic Logic, Millward Brown’s digital practice, spoke about how interest-level marketing can be a huge help to the space. “Targeting is getting better in mobile,” Joline McGoldrick, Research Director at Dynamic Logicsaid, “but it is still not perfect.”
Now, although mobile ad revenue is far from reaching big amounts of ad spendings, many marketers see it as a growth area. Whatever the number that is attached to total mobile ad revenue worldwide is, Google is the leader with over half of surveyed people according to eMarketer. And if you see the numbers it seems that Gogle is still not happy with the budget chunk they do get, reaching out for more it seems. But also Facebook investors will see some light at the end of the tunnel with mobile ads on the rise. However, Google might like the competition but all that market dominance simply making way for some more challenging competition.
It will be interesting to see who will come up as the leader in this cmpetition, who can compete with Google in general, and will Google continue to grow their business? You tell us your views….
Sometimes studies bring some flashback to your mind. This time it was some study results that reminded me of two of my four moderations of the dmexco Night Talks.
In a recent country comparison study by Adobe half of the respondents made clear that digital advertising is distracting, invasive and annoying – in the UK less than in Germany and France though. The study which asked 1,750 marketers and 8,750 consumers across the UK, France and Germany, shows that two out of three users find TV campaigns still more important than online ads (US 66%, UK 70% and Germany 67%). Consumers even responded online ads were “annoying” (US 68%, UK and Germany 62%), “invasive” (US 38%, UK 45% and Germany 17%) and “distracting” (US 51%, UK 44% and Germany 31%).
There is still some negative perception of digital advertising that the repondents described in their feedback. However, web ads came in the top three preferred advertising tactics in the UK. In France print magazines (31%), billboards (24%) and TV ads (23%) were the leading three categories. For Germany, print magazines were also the leader with (28%), billboards (23%) and window displays (21%) came in second and third. In the UK 39% favoured print magazines, 23% TV ads, and 12% websites.
Some weeks ago, I have been interviewing Mark Phibbs, VP Marketing EMEA at Adobe on the dmexco hot chair in Cologne. Nice seeing some statements on the study from him:
“Some digital advertising is failing to hit the mark. While digital provides great promise, often it is not being delivered in an emotionally compelling or targeted way.”
The storytelling boom was again also highlighted in this study. Even in the ad world content plays an important role. 68% of UK users responded that ads should tell a unique story which mentioned John Lewis and Guiness as good examples. One of the main ingredients should be the humour factor of the story. Funny is the driver for happiness, and outplaces “sexy” ads (92% thought so).
“We think online advertising can learn from traditional advertising in three ways. Is it beautiful and eye-catching? Is it integrated? Do consumers have control over it? Creative agencies have had decades to get traditional advertising right. It’s not wholly surprising that online and digital isn’t resonating to the same degree – not only is it still relatively in its infancy as an advertising channel, but the digital landscape and the corresponding opportunities for brands are constantly changing,” said Phibbs.
The study also made clear that targeted banner ads based on programmatic buying in Social Media like i.e. in Facebook could be “creepy” (76%). Even more, 49% would like a dislike button in Social Media for it. Again this reminded me on my last dmexco Night Talk moderation in Munich when I could ask Scott Woods, Commercial Director Facebook DACH, how it can come that I get banners for social networks 60+ years old people. Facial recognition (do I look so old)? Bad programming? Bad automation or bidding process? Maybe the people behind? The answer was “Well, technology can only do what it is capable of!” Fair enough… It seems we will have to live with that weakness for some time.
Technorati Media just shortly released its 2013 Digital Influence Report which is replacing the former annual “State of the Blogosphere” periodical.
The report explains in detail why inbound marketing is on the rise at the moment, and how it influences consumer behaviour.
“When it comes to community size, 54 percent of consumers agree that the smaller the community the greater the influence … The survey findings also indicate that many of those consumers are turning to blogs when looking to make a purchase. Blogs were found to be the third-most influential digital resource (31%) when making overall purchases, only behind retail sites (56%) and brand sites (34%). In fact, blogs were found to be the fifth-most trustworthy source overall for information on the Internet.”
Technorati makes clear what the real top influencers in digital marketing are doing in a different way than other marketers: 88% of the top influencers blog for themselves, and 52% have more than one blog. Furthermore, top Influencers are evaluating content differently when blogging. They keep monitoring different people, different blogs, different content sources in order to boost some extraordinary blogging experience.
When Richard Jalichandra, CEO of Technorati, was interviewed by Social Media Examiner, he states that close to 90% of all professional bloggers and 73% of bloggers are using Twitter as opossed to 14% of the general population. This also shows the high popularity and growth of the micro-blogging service.
But watch yourself what Richard tells us about influencers…
Some day, I have to be at CES, just to say I have been there, I assume. But time is money and the more projects you are juggling on a daily business, the less time there is for events. And the questions is if it all worth the traveling. So, the CES 2013 passed without me but the three main web connected inventions that caught my attention, shall be summarized briefly in this post.
At different events in 2012 you could hear many speakers talking of the car becoming the most expensive but also most connected mobile device in our lives in the future. CES speakers were following kind of the same lines. When Will Smith was handling many issues while driving his car in iRobot, it seemed all too far away for us those days. Now, just some years have passed and AUDI is already showing the first prototype that allows drivers to travel via autopilot with the option to check emails and social channels when driving under 30 miles per hour. More and more, the car is emerging towards a connected multimedia vehicle which also offers new advertising and marketing approaches through mobile and navigation systems that bridge new opportunities for brand integration. This Beet.TV interview with Rob Norman, Global Chief Digital Officer at GroupM, tells us how…
Magic Glass & Augmented Reality
When we have written about the Google Glass and the short film “Sight”, the vision of integrated and intelligent augmented reality technology seemed even further away from reality. At CES, another company called Innovega showed their version of augmented-reality eyewear. They previewed their invention of a wearable transparent heads-up display, enabled by iOptik contact lens technology, which delivers mega-pixel content with a panoramic field-of-view. An unbelievable “enjoyment of immersive personal media”? Well, the video shows us in two parts Innovega’s glasses why the approval of the FDA would be welcomed soon. And then I can see a future, where we will have the latest content and ads from our brand right in front of our eyes…
Do you still think, TV commercials are one-way communication? You might think again. Audible Magic, an audio fingerprinting and recognition technology company, will be able to detect content and then react on a second screen. The company will partner with three advertising companies (Accelerated Media, DG Mediamind and Cheshire Duo) to create interactive commercials. Those ads shall trigger users by detecting relevant content and then send “relevant” brand content to the viewer. Imagine you are watching a new James Bond film on TV with all their great commercials around “Skyfall”, Audible Magic’s technology recognizes the content and sends you a coupon or a video commercial on a second screen with a nice discount offer.
Although I have listened to Ford’s Community with similar visions where via GPS billboard content shall sync with a smartphone app to be remembered while passing those billboards, it still sounds quite far away.
But the other innovations have shown that the future is just around the corner sometimes. Maybe I need to go to CES 2013 next year to find some more brand power options. You never know…
Now, the IBM Institute for Business Value published a report, called The Business of Social Business: What works and how it’s done. The study surveyed more than “1,100 businesses around the world and conducted extensive interviews with more than two dozen widely recognized leaders in social business”.
And these guys had some answers, basicallly 3 main topics came out as their main ROI aspects:
a) creating valued customer experiences
b.) driving workforce productivity and effectiveness
c.) accelerating innovation.
And the final numbers? How about the ROI? Well, there are two other studies that need to be mentioned when quoting this study: the works of Deloitte and McKinsey. The McKinsey Global Institute study found that the top-line growth for Social Business can improve between 3 and 11 percent, while productivity can be enhanced by 2 to 12 percent.
The other study by Deloitte explains that 41% of responding business executives believe social networking helps to build and maintain workplace culture. Compared to the just 21% of employees with the same view, these results illustrate a massive perception gap between business leaders and their employees. Furthermore, 45% of business leaders think that Social Media has a positive effect on the workplace culture (vs. 27% of employees) and 38% believe it allows for increased management transparency (vs. 17%).
Still, it also suggests that most companies have best prctise guidelines in place but still worry too much about those guidelines in these changing times that comes alongside the employees’ use of Social Media. They demand a better workaround process concerning the risks.
However, these might sound obvious to those people familiar with Social Busines in general, all studies emphasize the importance of the cultural aspect of Social Business. Reading through them, they give straight hints to how to make your business culture become social-driven…
1. Figure out how to incorporate social metrics into traditional efficiency processes.
2. Be clear on the risks involved and how to manage them.
3. Although managers hate this word: change management. It still is one! nevertheless, it will nonetheless require tried and tested techniques to influence corporate culture and performance.
With a sub-sample of Social Business savy companies the IBM study makes clear that the percentage of companies using Social Business for promotional benefits will increase slightly (from 71% to 83% in two years). The amount of businesses that use Social Business to generate leads and revenue will increase dramatically (from 51% to 74% in two years). Another massive benefit will come from post-sales support which is expected to increase form 46% to 69%.