Report: Best rated CRM software tools 2014

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A recent report from G2 Crowd, based on the reviews of 1,700 CRM professional users, shows that Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics are the leading two customer relationship management (CRM) systems. This is the finding of a report that has checked the 27 highest rated systems by customers.

The report grouped tools together based on two main deliveries a) overall customer satisfaction (average scores by users) and b) market presence (market share, vendor size, and social impact). The report defined the CRM systems as software systems that provide salesforce automation features (account, contact and opportunity management), marketing automation tools (lead and campaign management), customer support options (knowledge management and support case), and a unifying database.

In the CRM “leader” category finished Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. Both tools showed substantial scale and were rated relatively highly. Salesforce was rated significantly better by 9 out of 10 users: reviewers gave Salesforce 4 or 5 stars. Furthermore, 84% stated they would recommend the product to peers and 88% thought the CRM tool is headed in the right direction.

However, Microsoft Dynamic’s impact on the market in the top tier is predominantly depending to its large market share. Only 60% of Microsoft Dynamics users rated the product 4 or 5 stars. Still, 64% would recommend the tool to their peers and 60% think the CRM system is headed in the right direction.

G2 Crowd Grid CRM Software 2014

Spot On!
Another study by Salesforce.com shows that customers experince CRM systems to boost customer experience. However, data quality and predictive analytics could still do better in performance conversion. Nevertheless, the battle in the CRM tool business is on. Microsoft just bundled their product offering to challenge Salesforce. Although aggressive pricing might change proples’ minds, Salesforce.com has the benefit there exist hundreds of AppExchange partners, like Marketo, Eloqua, LinkedIn and others. While Microsoft also has its’ partners, Salesforce.com’s still offers the enterprise app cloud development platform that shows more opportunities.

The Challenge: Measuring ROI on Social Media (Infographic)

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After three years, the guys at MDG Advertising have updated their last infographic on ROI on your social media “The ROI of Social Media: Is Social Media Marketing Effective?” This new version will be helpful to challenge your business objctives, your metrics and the understanding of how to leevrage your social media reccruiting efforts. The good thing about this infographic is that it shows 45% of social media marketers can build new partnerships through social media. Furthermore, an astonishing 72% of respondents claim that Social Media has helped “closing business.” And, 6% more respondents state they used successfully Social Media to recruit people for their business.

These are their 3 main factors of measuring from MDG Advertising which can be used as a guideline to foster your social media program.

Social Media Understanding
Look beyond the sales numbers and cost structure. Do your brand monitoring first, not for one month but for at least three in a row and on a daily basis. Then, try to figure out how your brand perception and recognition has changed latey (with or without latest social media efforts). Which significant issues have changed your brand perception? Which tools have help identify the changing brand perception?

Business Objectives
Most companies and their leaders start and change their social media program when the trial-and-error mode has proven the fail of the social media strategy. You better start defining your business objectives first, and one thing is for sure. You do not start, just because your competitors are active in social media platforms. Maybe you want to have a look at your brand perception and web conversations first, then you ask what engagement do your customers show in the various channels. Does all this engagement make an impact on sales? And how is your brand perceived along the social web clutter?

Measuring Figures
According to the infographic, CMOs use the following metrics to measure their social marketing efforts. It shows that as in earlier years, quantity comes first, however I would suggest you better go with quality. How says what and when, and how does this affect other consumers of your brand.
68% Site traffic
66% Conversion
63% Number of members
50% Revenue
43% Number of page views

You have good different thoughts about it? How does your company or brand measure the ROI on Social Media? Share them with us, or just have a look at the infographic, and maybe some ideas on the ROI of Social Media will come up then.

MDG Advertising 2014 ROI SOcial Media

Report: Most Trusted Marketing Automation Tools

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Marketing automation tools are making their ways into the business world, not only for large enterprises but also for small companies some solutions have proven to be promising, and not only since IBM bought Silverpop. However, which tools are the right ones for your business? At least we get some advice now from TrustRadius“Buyer’s Guide to Marketing Automation Software”. They did a report based on 400 in-depth reviews by authenticated end-users of marketing automation products combined with the results of more than 10,000 comparisons performed on the TrustRadius’ website.

The report looked at software solutions that include various demand generation capabilities like email campaign management, landing pages,or even lead scoring. However, the analysis out those providers which just offer one aspect of marketing automation (i.e. only lead scoring). In their focus were those tools that “help to automate and scale repetitive marketing tasks and the analysis of those efforts.”

These were the findings they came up with…

Small Businesses (Up to 50 employees)
Small companies gave quite positive and high ratings with at least a 4 out of 5 (average was 4.3 out of 5 – better than the average in the midsize and enterprise companies). Then TrustRadius ranked the products via two factors: a) average user rating and b) how does the product serve the business segment (determined by the number of comparisons made by organizations of that size).
The leading 3 solutions were HubSpot (4.8, 69% of comparisons by small businesses), Act-On (4.7, 53%), plus Infusionsoft (4.3, 96%). Other solutions like Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua, and Silverpop also got good ratings. Still, they ranked lower as they had a smaller proportion of small business comparisons.

TrustRadius Marketing Automation Small Business 2014

SMB Businesses (From 51 to 500 employees)
The average rating in the midsize company category was 3.9 out of 5. The report shows that a higher demand goes alongside bigger companies and more complex requirements for marketing automation tools. Here, the trusted vendors are Marketo (4.2, 60% midsize category) and Pardot (4.0, 58%). Act-On, Eloqua, and HubSpot also got positive ratings.

TrustRadius Marketing Automation SMB 2014

Enterprise Businesses (500+ employees)
The average rating for enterprise marketing automation products was 3.8 out of 5. Eloqua showed up to be the top marketing automation software for enterprise companies (4.4, 59% enterprise focus). Act-On, HubSpot, Marketo, and Pardot also performed well according to users, but they had a smaller proportion of comparisons from enterprise customers.

TrustRadius Marketing Automation Enterprises 2014

Tell us about your findings. Which tools do you use and what has proven to be successful for you? All insights can help other companies make faster decisions.

Study: Value of social media analytics tools still not understood

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The findings of a study by Demand Metric and Netbase sound positive – but not on a second glance. Although most marketers seem to have understood why they need to work with social media analytics tools, they still haven’t figured out how it helps them to find the social ROI. At least, 61% of responding marketers use social media analytics tools, and of those 53% started working with the tools in the last two years.

The study based on 125 marketers (70% B2B-focused, 13% B2C and 17% split) shows that marketers find social analytics tools most valuable for helping with campaign tracking, brand analysis, and competitive intelligence. 60% of the reponsing people use social media analytics tools for campaign tracking, brand analysis (48%), competitive intelligence (40%), customer care (36%), product launches (32%), and influencer ranking (27%).

Demand Metric SM Use Case Optimization

It still surprises me that the majority of respondents (66%) states that social media analytics tools are most valuable to help assess and quantify the degree of engagement. Is there more in it like understanding where engagement of the company is needed, leveraging content for production and curation, spoting the mentality and value of influencers, identifying engaged communities or platforms, or detecting features and traffic of personal brand advocacy? Obviously, most marketers are still far behind in understanding how to use and leverage social media analytics tools.

Demand Metric ROI SM EffortsSpot On!
Although most marketers see the opportunities to leverage the social ROI, most are still in their infancy in converting data in findings, and leveraging social media in their daily business. The findings show that most of those marketers (70%) still cannot quantify their social media ROI. The question is why they cannot do so? Do you have any ideas or experience where the main challenges are? Is it a problem of resources, of technology misunderstanding, or simply not clear which social KPIs make sense to meet the overall business targets? Let us know what you think…

Report: How Mobile Apps Monetize

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One of the questions, we often get is… What kind of apps make money? Now, an interesting recent report by Distimo and Chartboost based on data from 300,000 apps worldwide with 3.8 billion downloads per quarter sheds some light here. In the Apple App Store free mobile applications with in-app purchases (IAP) get most revenue. The report shows that in-app purchases from free apps went up from 46% to 79% in the United States in only two years (Jan. 2012 to Jan. 2014). The leading countries in this app revenue context are China and Japan with the biggest revenue share (94%) generated from freemium business models.

Distimo Free InApps 2014

Not surprisingly, Germany is one of those different markets again. Here, just 70% of Germany’s revenue was generated from free apps with IAP. The report makes clear that in Germany a bigger revenue share comes from paid business models. However, this is based on the evolution of efficiency enabling tools such as education or navigation which seem to be tools that the German population uses predominantly.

Distimo RevSharePerDownload 2014

The APAC region shows the highest average revenue per download (ARPD). The leader being Japan with an average per download revenue of $5.32. Japan gets followed by Australia $3.60 and South Korea $3.40 places two and three. Canada, Germany, United States and United Kingdom almost generate the same amount per download of around $2.30. China came in last with an ARPD of just $0.92.

Distimo ARPD 2014

Still, this does not mean that the profit is as high as it sounds. In order to figure the profit out, Distimo and Chartboost compared the revenue per download (ARPD) to cost per install (CPI) for the leading 250 apps in the games category in 4Q13. Here, the winners were Japan before Australia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Distimo APPD 2014

The report shows that there is still money to be made. However, the cost per promotion in the App store or outside the app store should be calculated in. And then, the figures could look massively different…

Study: Why corporate newsrooms fail to meet journalists’ needs

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Credits: © momius - Fotolia.com

Credits: © momius – Fotolia.com

The value of corporate newsrooms has been discussed for years. Now, a recent Proactive Report survey by Sally Falkow, president of PRESSfeed: The Social Newsroom, gives insights into what the power of newsrooms could be and where journalists stand so far with them. The survey strikes the fact that the PR industry hasn’t adapt to the latest image- and video-based environment that users and journalists alike are looking for; especially videos and embedded codes which only one third of the newsrooms surveyed offered. The report makes clear that the majority of journalists (83%) sees images with content important, still just 38% of them add images to news content.

From Falkow’s perspective, many corporate newsrooms do not provide the content and links that journalists “are looking for, and things they think are important, and things that make their jobs easier for them, and that they would therefore use that content more readily.” The value of pictures for content could be seen when Twitter started displaying pictures in peoples’ feeds, so that users did not have to click the link connected with it, she states.

The main findings from the survey…
– Just 37% of online newsrooms provide videos and embedded codes compared to 82% of journalists asking for it
– 49% of online newsrooms fail to meet the standards of images for publications, only 39% of corporate newsrooms offer an image gallery
– 53% of journalists find video important with content, but only 13% of PR professionals are adding videos to their news, and only one third have a video gallery in their newsroom

So, the question is why companies fail with their newsrooms? Sally Falkow’s answer is as simple as it is obvious: “The No. 1 reason that they quote is lack of resources and, also very close behind, lack of skills. They don’t know how to do it.” Based on the knowledge of their 2013 newsroom study, Peter Ingman, founder of the newsroom technology platform Mynewsdesk, responded: “The power of images and videos have become central parts when coaching companies on how to set up newsrooms with our technology. Providing news and information to journalists has to be three things: simple, simple, simple! It has to be an easy process of uploading data for companies and easy to implement the appropriate content articles and posts for the media contacts. Journalists need to have or find the essential data for their reports and articles without challenging search activities. Come, find, implement – this is the key to successful newsrooms!”

Spot On!
The way journalists work has not changed drastically over the last decade in the way investigating for the news content works. Check the media, check Google, check the brands. Newsrooms offer new opportunities to journalists, social influencers and brand advocates to access data faster with an “everything-at-a-glance” perspective. The use of implemented analysis tools, clever SocialCRM technology, and by changing the way employees are allowed to speak for their brands via online channels, newsrooms foster brand and trust building. However, newsrooms can sometimes be of good and bad experience as the standard in companies newsrooms varies, apart from the different technologies that companies use, from self-developed platforms to personalized SaaS newsrooms.

Often enterprises have got newsrooms up and running already like Daimler, AUDI, ING or Costa Coffee. Still, most SMBs don’t even think about it as they are still relying on their traditional way of spreading news via content distribution platforms – an outdated way in terms of the value it provides for SEO, and even more (or less?) for journalists. Companies should start thinking about providing value with their newsroom in the form of video quotes or brief updates or blog posts alongside photos about the latest developments or news in the company or the market. Quick and simple information bites that come via tweets, Facebook updates or direct mail out of platforms straight to the editor, optimized according to their user behavior. It will make a massive impact on brand reputation and the way journalists will work with corporate newsrooms in the future.

Study: Business Elite increasingly embraces mobile technology

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Harald Wanetschka  / pixelio.de

Harald Wanetschka / pixelio.de

Does mobile technology really have “more influence on global change than countries, governments or corporations”? Well, at least if we can believe in the 50% of respondents of a new European research by CNBC called “Europe’s Mobile Elite 2013″. The study states that Europe’s business elite continue to embrace the latest smartphones, tablets and devices. In general, most European business executives (73%) believe that they are keeping up with technology change within their sector, however almost less than four in ten are not confident with their companies’ technology change.

The study shows that most business leaders own a mobile device (90%), live and like the mobile business and are agreeing that life is “easier” (68%). Even more, 64% see their lives becoming more productive and enjoyable. Apple is still leading with 44% owning an iPhone versus Android users with 35%. Obviously tablets are on the rise as well with almost. The merging worlds of private and business becomes clear with the fact that 72% (up 39% from 2011) use their tablets for both work and leisure.

Not surprisingly, two thirds value tablets “useful business tools”. Also second screen usage is big among the business elite: 75% watch TV at the same time as using their tablet. The engagement effect of the tablet is striking with nine in 10 of these consumers taking some form of action on their tablet as a result of seeing TV content. And when the study shows that a third of the business executives are responding to TV advertising, marketers should think about ow to implement clever brand and lead generation campaigns in their TV spots. And when marketers want to reach the business elite, they are best in sending out their messages in the evening and at weekends (tablet usage). Smartphones are always-on, so no special advice here.
 
“This study shows the huge influence mobile technology has on our lives. Europe’s elite are keeping up with technological change, owning more devices than ever and using each in different ways. In the area of social media and its value in business, the jury is still out and it will be interesting to see where this leads next year.” Mike Jeanes, Director of Research, EMEA, CNBC.

Top content for tablets…  
– business and financial information (72%)
– web browsing (70%)
– news updates (70%)
– email (69%)
– reading newspapers/magazines (69%).

Top content for mobiles…  
– email (79%)
– business and finance (72%)
– web browsing (70%)
– news updates (70%)
– GPS (69%)
 
Spot On!
Despite some common disagreement that the business elite is not on social networks, the study makes clear that 85% are a member of at least one network with 61% on Facebook, 58% on LinkedIn, and 43% on Twitter. It is important to note that 40% (up from 19% in 2011) of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter users are now connected to all three social networks. Furthermore, 58% of the business decision makers use social media for business (still private use is the standard for 75%). It could be that private and business worlds are really not kept as separate any longer. The commercial impact of social media is seen critical. When 46% see social media “neither useful nor essential” (compare study 2012), it shows that most business decision makers had either the wrong advice or the wrong expectation raised by consultants. One of the reasons why we are always very critical in analyzing the benefit of social media for a company or brand, and trying to show the realistic benefit for companies.

Six Common Ecommerce SEO Mistakes

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Search PlayerIncorporating a strong SEO strategy into the design of an ecommerce website can greatly improve its chances of success. For an online shop to succeed, customers must be able to easily find it using a search engine. Whether you’re using an expensive SEO consultant or simply relying on a subscription ecommerce platform, you’ll want to take heed of the following common mistakes made by ecommerce websites.

1. Not Including Product Descriptions
High quality photos are essential for ecommerce websites, but if there is no accompanying description the product stands a low chance of being picked up by search engines. Be sure to add descriptions to each product in order to help give each product page an SEO boost. In addition to the description itself, the navigation, text, sidebar, and footer all count towards the final word count. With unique, descriptive content you can help market your wares while becoming more visible by the search engines.

2. Duplicating Product Descriptions
One common mistake that ecommerce sites make is copying the manufacturer’s product description word-for-word, usually in an attempt to avoid making mistake #1. While this will give you an accurate product description, it can work against you in the end. If your site uses the same manufacturer description, there’s a high chance that other rivals are doing the same. This creates the problem of duplicate content. Either rewrite the description, or add your own editorial underneath it. The same rule goes for listing your products on 3rd party sites such as Amazon or eBay. If you use the same content that appears on your website, you’ll run into the problem of duplicate content.

3. Lack of Related Content
Product descriptions are a mainstay of any ecommerce website, but they are not the only facet of ecommerce SEO to pay attention to. Many buyers are interested in finding out more about your products and company. Include information about your business’s history, along with shipping and return policies. Keeping a business blog is an easy way to rejuvenate your site with fresh content, as is opening up the site to customer reviews.

4. Using Non-Targeted URLs
You may have beautifully written unique content on your ecommerce site, but what about your URLs? If these are a jumble of letters and numbers it can not only be confusing for visitors, but it misses out on a chance to incorporate keywords into a clean, descriptive URL.

5. Not Targeting Content to Keywords
As you work on revising your content, it’s helpful to keep the keywords that your customers are typing into search engines in mind. These can be easily followed using analytics tools and are important for promoting the right terms for your audience. Keywords and search terms can also be incorporated into your off page SEO strategy. When you create content that links back to your main website, if it includes these same keywords it will draw in the type of readers who would be interested in your shop.

6. Not Using Robots.txt
Using the robots.txt file gives ecommerce website owners a way to give instructions to search engine spiders. This helps you make sure that you have control over which pages you wish to be indexed and which you don’t. For example, you can use robots.txt to block areas of the website with duplicate content, such as tags or archives. Not using this can hinder your SEO presence.

By avoiding these six common mistakes, you can improve your ecommerce website’s chances of standing out from the crowd online.

Microsoft Study: 40% of employees see a lack in workplace collaboration

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The management view of the future workplace is still not yet fully evolved to a real social workplace. The main concerns are still loss in productivity and security concerns which still don’t give employees access to social tools. This is the main findings of a new study commissioned by Microsoft. However, employees (40%) still believe that there isn’t enough collaboration in the workplace.

The question managers asking themselves remains whether social tools help foster better teamwork, or not. And whether here lies the disconnect between employees and the management, and where companies should have a look at when they want to detect the reason why employees brought their own technology and software to the modern workplace. Via social networks and testing them out, employees found tools to share content, communicate across business borders and grow business through networking.

Microsoft-Recognizing-Value-In-The-Workplace-Study

The report with nearly 10,000 respondents in 32 countries states that 34% think their company underestimates the benefits of social technology. The misperception of management versus social tools becomes more obvious when 37% believe they could perform their jobs better if management gave access to the use of social tools.

“Freemium products let employees try new tools in small groups before the IT department even knows about them. Work is becoming more global and less routine. People are more dispersed than ever and there’s a stronger need to stay connected regardless of location. The workplace is changing, and that’s causing tension.” Microsoft’s Brian Murray, Director Enterprise Strategy, Microsoft.

Spot On!
Although the perception of employees remains positive about the value of social networks, management stays resistent to change their attitude towards social workplace. Probably as they are backed up by Gartner reports concluding that 80% of enterprise social networks won’t deliver real business value. The Strategy Web would argue that most managers have never thought about getting a deeper insight in a social business strategy, hene the social workplace opportunity.

The question is whether it is just easier for managers staying away from a cultural change and all it’s implications like new technology, training and management coaching? But maybe some managers want to answer this question after reading through this infographic…

Microsoft-Social-Tools-in-the-Workplace-Study

CMOs: Feeling unprepared for digital challenges ahead? 4 in 10 say YES…!

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Sometimes surveys bring out the final truth about the status in which chief marketing officers (CMOs) find themselves in. One of the latest reports by Accenture, titled “Turbulence for the CMO: Charting a Path to the Samless Customer Experience” was done with 405 senior marketers from 10 countries. It makes clear that almost 4 in 10 CMOs think they don’t have the right set up to manage their business challenges in front of them. They are missing the right tools, resources and people.

The annual survey shows a decline in 5% in preparedness compared to 2011. Especially, the digital transformation is lacking behind. Compared to 2011 10% find it challenging to improve their workforce’s responsiveness to digital shifts. Furthermore, CMOs also stated that they find it difficult to keep up the efficiency of marketing operations (8% increase!).

CMO Digital Orientation Accenture 2013

Some deeper findings indicate what CMOs main interest in the business will be. The most interesting observation in the results is that digital orientation has the biggest gap between importance and performance among the five marketing capabilities.

The top priority for them is profitable growth (87%) and operational efficiency (85%). The good point for agencies and consultants is that CMOs have this as a bigger objective that cutting their marketing budgets (58%). From a long-term perspective, consumer expectations for specific experiences have the biggest impact on marketing strategy (65%).

And I am sure, you will detect some more interesting findings in their infographic.

CMO Challenges Accenture2013

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