Study: Trust is king – How, when and where consumers buy online

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Fair enough, it is only a US-based insight among some 2,000 online and mobile shoppers in July 2015. However, the message could be taken to any other market I guess these days…

The main factor for consumers to make a purchase decision, is trust. This is the finding from Amazon which conducted a study with Pymnts.com in order to understand, where consumers start their buying journey, why consumers buy from one site and leave the other one without making any purchase. Furthermore, the study states that price or ease of delivery are not the main features driving purchase decisions.

The US consumer needs trust in a site (23%) so that they purchase from some retailer. Oterh features that came in th next places were tailored promotions or rewards (16%), a good experience in the past (14%) or products being available in an acceptable time frame (13%).

Interestingly enough, other tactics like good shipping considerations (11%), preferred method of payment (8%), ease of use (6%), a site that recognizes me (4%), being a preferred customer (3%), being able to check out as a guest (1%) and store billing and shipping info (1%) came in much later in the ranking.

Pymnts 2015 - Why they buy

„You need a strategy that is about more than being present,“ he said. „You need a strategy that is about being present where your customers are because if you are not, then you are not being customer centric. There’s no such thing as a relationship without trust.“ (Patrick Gauthier, VP, Amazon Payments)

So, where does the consumer journey start? The study also found that almost every second out of three respondents (64%) start by searching for a product on a marketplace, followed by their favourite brand websites (48%), search engines (40%) and social media (29%).

Pymnts 2015 - Where they buy

„The ultimate digital destinations are driven by trust – trust that the sites have what they want to buy, trust that they will be given a fair price, trust that their goods will be delivered to them in a time frame that is relevant.“ Karen Webster, CEO, MPD

Just check your own habits and experience. What would you say makes you buy something from an online shop? We look forward to your comments…

Overview on Social Selling Tools (Interactive Infographic)

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If you want to get an overview on Social Selling tools, you need to follow the industry very closely as this market has become quite dynamic. Furthermore, the value of each tool (CRM suites, monitoring solutions or engagement technologies) or platform (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) may vary. The question for many marketers is which tool does really give some value add to the business. Most marketers often tell us that they need some kind of an overview on which social selling tool they should use.

Now, the guys at Sales For Life have come up with some interesting approach that showcases all tools for the various sales stages: prospecting, qualifying, researching, nurturing, presenting, closing, and retention. Just click here to get to their interactive infographic.

For those of you who do not understand the value of Social Selling, we advice on some infographic based on a study by PeopleLinx. It shows the best platforms to use and states that 76% of sales reps consider LinkedIn as the most valuable social media network strongly before Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

What we also can see is from our projects is that not many companies offer an appropriate support and training on social selling. 11% of respondents stated their employers offer training on social selling. However, the benefits are striking. When reps get training on social selling, the adoption climbs from 28% to 74%.

Now, if that is not the right argument to start social selling today?!

Social Selling 2015 Infographic

Study: Without strategy there is no digital transformation.

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Many companies find that their people, processes and products lack digital maturiy, digital capabilities and digital innovation. Now, a recent study by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte Digital finds that most employees (and not only GenY!) are not happy how their companies understand and leverage digital transformation. They want to work for the digitally mature management teams and leaders.

The report called „Strategy, Not Technology, Drives Digital Transformation“ surveyed over 4,800 business executives across 27 industries and 129 countries. The main finding is that the opportunity to digitally transform and to turn a business into a digital business depends largely on a digital strategy enabled by leaders who understand to create a culture that is open to change and reinvent an organization.

The study also makes clear that digital maturity of brands is based on the talents that companies can safe and hire these days. Over 75% of the digital mature companies agree or strongly agree that their organizations provide the necessary skills to capitalize on digital trends. Against those stand the immature companies where only 15% say that their organizations have a clear and coherent digital strategy.

Companies that are not yet digitally developed and advanced tend to focus on operations and what technology can do for them in an operational, tactical way. However, digitally advanced companies leverage their products always evaluating the digital transformation view in their strategic approch.

Interestingly enough, the study proves the agile way of doing bsiness and inventing products in the future. Those compannies that are igitally maturing organizations are more open to taking risks than the laggards. Over 50% of those laggards fear the risk as a major shortcoming. Embracing failure as a „prerequisite of success“ seems to become the new standard if companies want o be innovative and fast in driving digital transformation.

Not surprisingly, the maturing organizations are nearly twice as likely as less digitally mature entities to have a single person or group leading digital transformation process. The fluency of these leading digital companies is highly appreciated by employees – but it is not based on technology. Translating the capabilities of technology into value creation is much more challenging for companies but delivering the value that digital transformation needs. And leaders seem to (90%) understand the technology according to their employees.

Spot on!
The main message of the study for us was that leaders (70%) encourage their employees to innovate with digital technologies. Now, the study does not tell the readers how the managers are empowering their employees, in which way they provide motivation or technological ways to do so (which as we know ist he masterclass that most managers have not visited yet), and how much they have succeeded with their approach. In the last years, we have learned that most companies are exactly on that spot blank. Defining the ambition, delivering creative concepts, leveraging the sustainability of the concept, and finding the right processes was often the biggest effort in our projects for companies.

Please also find the infographic to the findings attached…
MIT SMR infographic_Wireframe_v7LTR

Study: Marketers biggest social media challenges in 2015

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One of the latest reports around social media tells us that measuring ROI (60%) is still the most challenging aspect for marketers when facing all their social media efforts. This is the main message from a report by Simply Measured and TrustRadius.

The findings that are based on some survey data from almost 600 social media practitioners between February and March 2015 also show that other top challenges are tying social activities to business outcomes (50%), developing a social media strategy (48%), and securing enough internal resources (40%).

Social Media Challenges Trustradius 2015

Although the main message is clear, there are some small variances between company sizes when separated int small businesses (1-50 employees), midsize companies (51-1,000 employees), and enterprises (more than 1,000 employees). While smaller companies struggle setting up and developing their own social media strategy, enterprises are trying to secure enough internal resources to master their social media efforts.

The integration of social media into the overall business is also a big way to go obviously. First of all is the alignment of social media goals with the overall business goals not fully connected. But even more challenging is the question whether all the efforts generate some business impact. Many marketers are working intensely with data and analytics to optimize their marketing strategies but the proof seems not yet been given.

Maybe this is all based on the missing tool strategy, which is also one of the major findings of the report (not surprisingly based on study makers). How to manage and measure social media activities, is often not a question of whether companies know the tools but still they are predominantly sourcing the monitoring out for example, and then wonder why data gets not interpreted properly. Also, some are not happy with their tool choice.

Social Media Metrics Trustradius 2015

Spot On!
The findings are not surprising when the targets from all three company sizes is brand awareness. Still, companies should be able to better understand KPIs in the social selling process. It seems that companies and brands still have not yet understood the value of a friend, follower, LIKE, share or a comment. Furthermore, they still do not have the opportunity to link their data findings and their social media engagement back to some CRM database in order to leverage data sets around their customers. Furthermore, the missing social sales strategy combined with a clear lead processing and management is essential, and most companies do not have an answer here. Obviously, a lot of support in the social media set-up is still appreciated.

Not? Then tell us what you think…

Study: Content marketing investment on the rise

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A recent study 2015 Content Marketing Survey by content marketing agency Castleford states that the amount of marketers committed to content marketing is increasing. According to their results 65% (compared to 48% one year ago) of marketers want to boost their content marketing next financial year. Their plans is to invest more in time and resources.

Even more, 97% of participants of the survey said they will increase or retain their current level of investment. And the respondents also face the support of their C-level executives. Of the responding marketers 76% replied their C-level executives viewed content marketing „quite positively“ or „very positively“.

Obviously, there are also some challenges involved in content marketing creation wit time (45%) and budget (29%) being the biggest problem. Just, 3% that mentioned their C-level buy-in is their biggest challenge to content marketing will be probably persuaded over time, we think.

In terms of content marketing tactics the study shows that social media (81%) is still the favorite online marketing tactics in this field. However, the biggest growth opportunity shows video marketing and paid promotion of content for the next year. 61% are already using video marketing, (increase of 13% compared to last year). This is probably also driven by the main players Facebook and Google.

The variety of content marketing is also growing though. Almost every second marketer said that they use five or more different online marketing channels (45%).

Although Castleford director Rob Cleeve is confident with the development of content marketing, he also makes clear that marketers need to deliver results with it as well: „In my experience, content marketing is claiming an increasingly large share of overall marketing budgets, which is going to mean more pressure to show how it’s benefiting the bottom line.“

Spot On!
Content marketing definitely has changed the advertising industry drastically. However, the main challenges involved are the appropriate use of data with content to drive the right story in the right context to the right user at the right time. Here we see massive problems for many marketers still in our work with customers. Post-it recently explained it nicely in a video that leverages their banner and ask many question in terms of how retargeting actually kills good content marketing in terms in the example of banner ads.

The infographic of the study carries all relevant results of the Castleford study.

Castleford-Content-Marketing-Infographic-2015

Status Social Selling in 2015 (Infographic)

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Not many companies are leveraging the power of social selling so far. Just recently have the guys at PeopleLinx released some findings on how companies and brands are using social media for their sales efforts. And it becomes clear that they still have a long way to go to incorporate social media into their sales process.

The main findings of the study among 277 B2B sales and account management professionals in U.S. B2B companies (500+ employees) show mainly three things…

PeopleLinx-Most-Valuable-Network-2015
1. Salespeople & social selling. Nearly three out of four marketers (73%) state that at least one social network is valuable for their sales efforts. LinkedIn (76%) is seen as the most valuable of the „big four“ social networks, followed by Facebook (44%), Google+ and Twitter (16%).

2. Salespeople & sales process.
Social media is not part of the sales process. Just 31% of respondents include social in their process as just one out of four is clear about how to use social in the sales process.

3. Salespeople & Social media sales training.
Only 11% of sales reps answered that their company offers training on social selling. Surprising as the adoption rate accelerates from 28% to 74% when training gets offered and executed.

Salespeople who want to be relevant to their customers in the future will need to adopt to social media and use it for their sales efforts if they want to stay on top of the curve. The team at Sales For Life now came up with some nice infographic which also makes clear why companies should better jump on the social selling train. Any questions?

Social-Selling-2015-SalesForLife

Influencer Trust and Recommendation – A real challenge for marketers (Infographic)

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Some years ago and in many seminars, we make clear that the 3Rs of social consumers will revolutionize the sales world: ratings, reviews and recommendations. However, the question arises what make people recommend brands and services? What is their intrinsic motivation or human driver that makes them push out more positive comments around a brand.

A recent infographic by Social Media Link pulled together the most important findings of a study that surveyed 24.000 social media consumers. Still, the best customer experience that leverages recommendations is „a positive experience with the brand“ (93%) and „receiving a free product or sample“ (79%). On the other hand, a poor customer experiences motivates sharing, too. 71% stated „a negative experience with a brand“ makes them write a review as well.

The survey respondents also mentioned that they are more likely to trust a product recommendation on Facebook than any other social network (71%), followed by Instagram with only 38%.

Not surprisingly, Facebook and retailer websites ist he place to discover new brands and services (53%). However, for purchasing the retailer becomes more important and after purchasing a product people use predominantly Facebook to share their buy (54%) – again Instagram comes in second place.

Spot On!
Now, when you think you just need to give a free product to someone, it makes them write a review or recommendation, you might be wrong. Although, 88% trust friends’ and family members’ reviews when these write about their give free product in exchange, the bloggers only come in at 78%. BUT: Is payment included in exchange for the review, trust-level goes down – especially at bloggers to 48%. Still, the best way ist o have apersonal story which is authentic, not animated and personal.

social-media-recommendations-infographic-2015

Study: B2B executives believe they are not delivering on demand generation

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It is a poor testimonial that B2B enterprise executives give their demand generation efforts. According to recent survey conducted by ANNUITAS, most of their campaigns aren’t meeting the goals oft he leading company heads. When just 2.8% of rsurveyed respondents say their campaigns are effective, most of us will wonder what needs tob e done to become more effective.

The study titled „Enterprise B2B Demand Generation Research Study“ focussed on marketers in the B2B enterprise space with 500+ employees and over $250 million in annual revenue.

The study shows that there is obviously a massive disconnect between what marketing departments want to deliver and how the results should look like. Measurement, metrics and KPIs seem not at all aligned with the business goals which somehow surprises bearing in mind that the industry is talking about this phenomon for quite some time now.

Still, marketing decision makers are not very much successful with their demand generation. When 60% state they don’t feel successful with their tactics and just under three percent feel very effective, it speaks a clear language.

The study comes alongside some recent survey by… which also shows that one oft he challenges ist he alignment with sales departments and their leaders. Many companies still are not clarifying what needs tob e done to deliver on demand generation efforts.

Especially when it comes to lead generation, the quality of leads is a point of unalignment. In terms of goals, the quality of leads is for 77% the most pressing goal, followed by customer cross-sell/upsell (56.6%), volume of leads (51.9%), and brand awareness (50.9%).

Spot On!
The survey proves that demand generation is not meeting buyer expectations. Whether it i content marketing or the creation of buyer personas, marketers need to improve their knowledge and capabilities in demand generation in order to meet business expectations. Companies need to invest in coaching and training when they keep up with the market and have a clear demand generation strategy.

Ann_B2bSurvey_Infographic_r3_v2

Study: Millennials do B2B purchase decisions differently

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Credits: Gerd Altmann  / pixelio.de

Credits: Gerd Altmann / pixelio.de

We all have heard that Millennials, those humans that are frequently connected, well-informed, tech-savvy, and always having an eye on efficiency. But do we know much about their buying habits, especially when it comes to B2B purchase decisions?

The Institute for Business Value at IBM conducted their next study on Millennial called „To buy or not to buy: How Millennials are reshaping B2B marketing“. The research was based on the opinions of 704 Millennial respondents in order to better evaluate their thoughts about
buying habits of those business decision makers oft he future. The respondents had to have at least some degree of purchases power of $10,000 or more. Then,IBM compared the responses of Millennials (1980-1993), Gen X (1965-1979) and Baby Boomers (1954-1964) to see how the strategic buying decisions vary to other generations.

One thing becomes clear, Millennials want simplicity in handling their partners. They value ease of doing business before industry expertise. Compared to Baby Boomers it shows that the later generation was more heading for fast response times from vendors than their attitude to collaborate.

However, cooperation means a lot in terms of buying-decisions for Millennials (56%) and Gen X (64%). These employees claim to make better decisions when involving more colleagues. In contrast, only 39% of Baby Boomers will ask their colleagues for buy-in or recommendations.

In days, when we are all talking about smart and big data, it also shows that Millennials make use of analytics more than their previous generation. Millennials (53%) and Gen X (63%) leverage data to make better business decisions, whereas Baby Boomersare not much keen on using data to drive better purchase value.

Furthermore, Millennials are looking for direct contact with vendors in the sales cycle. When researching for products or services, they tend to get in touch with vendor employees directly. It shows that the days oft he good old sales pitch is over for them. Millennials want authentic and personalized customer experience to establish a better trust basis for the later cooperation. Social Media, chat and instant message are essential for smart collaboration with vendors. However, they want to stay in the driver seat.

„Digital interaction is almost table stakes. The real differentiator is … experiential opportunities to work with vendors. They want a sense of, ‚What would it be like to partner with these guys? Do they have the same values?'“ Carolyn Baird, Global Research Leader, IBM Institute of Business Value

Spot on!
It becomes clear that companies and brands who aim to work with Millennial -by 2020 over 50% oft he global workforce- should prepare themselves for offering deep insights and analytics to speed up the business decision and buying process. What is definitely crucial is to be open for new collaboration habits and a culture of cooperation. Probably the most important insight suggested from the study is that vendor companies need to have a culture of open collaboration and easy access to all employees across the vendor organization when addressing B2B Millennial buyers.

Social Selling 2015: The year of redefined engagement

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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?

Engagement Facebook 2014

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.

Spot On!
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!

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