Top 100 Banks Using Social Media

Source: the Financial Brand 

The top banks using social media ranked by their overall Power 100 score for the fourth quarter of 2015. If you think your financial institution should be listed here and it isn’t, please click here.

Related Power 100 Rankings for This Quarter:


Power 100 Ranks – Banks Q4 2015

#BankAreaFacebook LikesTwitter FollowersYouTube Views
1Wells FargoUSA860,395209,00048,767,684
2Capital OneUSA3,851,706135,00027,157,892
3BofAUSA2,319,327425,00028,767,229
4State Bank of IndiaIN4,397,259394,0004,842,644
5ChaseUSA3,864,285307,0006,465,507
6CitiUSA1,064,917707,00018,229,725
7TD BankUSA653,17790,30038,682,338
8ICICIIN4,373,91542,0006,369,503
9GT BankNIG3,544,336484,000330,679
10YesIN2,350,673662,00085,272
11AxisIN3,157,12290,5006,609,841
12HDFCIN2,283,82159,3005,419,470
13MaybankMAL1,291,876109,00012,096,654
14Kotak MahindraIN626,323112,00014,371,468
15Goldman SachsUSA30,132440,0006,596,756
16RBCCAN334,72077,80017,763,836
17Emirates NBDUAE489,57662,30014,941,645
18NatwestUK316,20261,00011,223,340
19BarclaysUK564,329139,00010,054,468
20Credit SuisseCH80,066163,00012,972,944
21Santander (UK)UK243,19233,70013,372,200
22IDBIIN1,325,86553,0002,481,437
23CIBCCAN311,441108,00010,307,547
24CIMBMAL1,369,18495,500984,932
25FNBSA757,67359,0002,308,826
26ScotiabankCAN657,49679,2006,351,051
27DeutscheDEU92,873328,0003,581,194
28USAAUSA883,548102,000549,431
29HSBCUK160,99318,0007,903,535
30DBSSG505,53915,4007,862,070
31CommonwealthAUS656,17159,7003,980,438
32FirstBankNIG834,651133,00097,619
33Standard CharteredUK251,68834,4007,919,645
34Bank of the Philippine IslandsPHP945,37943,700154,706
35KCBKEN516,470118,0001,230,863
36AccessNIG792,65296,300
37UBSUK54,705163,0003,882,854
38United Bank for AfricaNIG843,37827,300442,966
39ASBNZ139,88017,1006,465,117
40ANZAUS235,05972,6002,829,015
41DiamondNIG474,97178,500978,097
42AbsaSA214,63447,9002,909,046
43Fifth ThirdUSA152,66431,3005,325,679
44LloydsUK95,20865,4001,462,144
45FederalIN420,5812,2203,176,027
46NABAUS146,87943,2003,480,068
47Stanbic IBTCNIG285,229135,000
48RAKBANKUAE187,22739,1003,281,012
49RegionsUSA204,08418,4003,734,957
50NedbankSA141,13265,3002,062,416
51OCBCMAL606,64616,500245,528
52EquityKEN429,35351,700111,702
53StandardSA64,24166,6001,896,547
54Allied Irish BankIE62,05135,0003,424,922
55MashreqUAE476,66423,400620,761
56Bank of MontrealCAN96,64338,6003,592,661
57Co-operative BankKEN370,12237,300673,743
58SterlingNIG463,15919,600216,382
59WestpacAUS178,76038,4002,133,497
60TangerineCAN57,05229,2002,803,362
61PNCUSA246,08913,2001,676,720
62First City MonumentNIG430,88516,40078,015
63CapitecSA172,00528,1001,079,568
64Bank of IrelandIE32,34318,0002,396,861
65BMO HarrisUSA69,46210,4002,737,626
66Silicon ValleyUSA4,03418,1001,073,277
67SkyeBankNIG248,20118,500475,837
68FidelityNIG201,66529,500661,925
69US BankUSA212,31425,200408,213
70Virgin MoneyUK38,89141,4001,476,578
71Capital One 360USA95,20946,600442,624
72RBSUK85,13933,1001,444,586
73BarclaysKEN213,10742,5002,777
74AllyUSA164,80222,900294,815
75UnionNIG212,45440,90097,457
76SeylanLKA318,6242,78360,981
77NDBSRI307,42566232,379
78ANZNZ92,55514,6001,288,262
79Bank of QueenslandAUS29,4606,1532,374,123
80UmpquaUSA46,2306,6632,130,980
81SimpleUSA96,47345,300
82M&TUSA77,5076,5051,797,642
83BNZNZ35,05814,3001,499,124
84ChaseKEN74,06632,200187,844
85Westpac (NZ)NZ40,5586,4791,347,789
86Santander (US)USA69,7492,8281,215,369
87RBS CitizensUSA125,68515,70011,175
88SunTrustUSA56,3937,223121,332
89FGBUAE123,89219,3003,003
90BBVA CompassUSA105,1479,213187,696
91InvestecSA20,15315,000891,193
92National Bank of CanadaCAN43,1195,7581,001,074
93First DirectUK34,00115,500540,242
94NetSpendUSA57,74826,10060,951
95KiwibankNZ52,3738,267712,186
96ING GroepNL22,34924,200700,036
97I&M BankKEN88,32011,500237,201
98BankwestAUS66,41916,100298,346
99HuntingtonUSA103,51110,60028,750
100TSBNZ45,9601,148904,454

Note: All data pulled on December 27, 2015.


Content Marketers Should Find Spokespeople Outside the C-Suite

Source: Harvard Business Review

The use of content marketing has grown exponentially in recent years, and in 2015, Content Marketing Institute found that 88% of B2B marketers are now using content marketing. A lot of these efforts have focused on positioning senior executives as thought leaders, but limiting yourself to content by only those in the C-suite also limits your impact.

For one thing, senior executives are extremely busy — they’re often the toughest people to pin down. And focusing on only your C-suite narrows the number and depth of topics you can explore in your content.

To relieve the pressure on your executive team and to improve your marketing efforts, consider recruiting other internal leaders with insights, experiences, and expertise that are valuable to your audience to become content spokespeople for your brand. My team and I have seen our referral traffic more than double and our conversion rate rise nearly 75 percent since expanding our content marketing efforts to include internal leaders outside of just my co-founder and myself.

Here’s how we did it for ourselves and how we approach this process with the organizations we work with:

Step 1: Identify content spokespeople

Traditional spokespeople talk about products or services. Content spokespeople, in contrast, have a wider mandate. They help your marketing team craft content that builds your brand, engages your audience, and nurtures sales leads. To find the team members who can do this:

  • Identify your team’s natural leaders and teachers.This doesn’t mean you should look at only those on your team with leadership titles or those who talk the most. You should have an idea of who stands out as a leader among others and who is patient and knowledgeable enough to go out of their way to teach their co-workers. These abilities lend themselves well to content creation, and the team members who possess them tend to be more cooperative and effective in creating thought leadership content.
  • Pitch a piece of content that requires a quote or brief story from each person you’ve identified as a natural leader or teacher, and publish that article on your blog. Ask your content marketing team what point or points within the article resonated with readers most and which contributors were the easiest to work with. This feedback will help you refine your list of content spokespeople.

Step 2: Figure out what they know — and document it

We start with a Q&A process that uses in-person interviews and brain-dump exercises to extract the specific expertise and personal stories needed to create the piece of content coming from that spokesperson. We store all of this information in a knowledge bank where it’s saved for future use, sorted by content spokesperson, and tagged by topic so it’s easy to find. The article is then written by our team in-house or by a freelance writer using the answer sets and information in the knowledge bank, before being edited by our team, approved by the necessary parties, published, and distributed.

We’ve found that this process makes content creation easy for everyone on our team, from our marketing department that sets and executes the strategy to the various content spokespeople selected to contribute their ideas and expertise.

As with any strategy, including content spokespeople in your marketing efforts has risks. You might ask yourself, “What if this new content spokesperson says something off-brand?” or “What if his or her message doesn’t align with the company’s?”

But that’s the beauty of contributed content: You control it. With traditional PR, major risks usually include the author of an article misquoting your company rep or a message getting taken out of context. Content marketing gives you more control and substantially limits your risk.

And including multiple content spokespeople in your strategy delivers benefits beyond greater control and reduced risk. By embracing the unique experiences of your employees outside the C-suite and showcasing their diversity through thought leadership content, you’re strengthening your brand’s authentic, human connection to your audience. This connection can fuel your next sale, build your next partnership, and make your next hire feel connected to your team from the beginning.

Your senior executive team might be your first stop when developing your thought leadership plan, but it certainly shouldn’t be your last. The more strongly you embrace a thought leadership culture outside of your C-suite, the more effective your marketing efforts will be.


John Hall is the CEO of Influence & Co., a company that helps brands build their influence.


8 Ways to Stop The Cross-Sell Confusion in Banking

Article Source 

In an effort to secure a greater share of wallet, financial product and channel managers are leveraging more data than ever to reach out to customers and members. Unfortunately, many of these campaigns are based on institution needs as opposed to the household product lifecycle, creating consumer confusion.

For financial institutions looking for ways to generate revenue, cross-selling current customers continues to be one of the most reliable, tried and true methods. Any financial marketer knows cross-selling is more cost-effective than adding new customers. It also creates more engagement, increases share of wallet and promotes customer retention.
The opportunities are almost endless. Unfortunately, for organizations that are still structured in product silos, the result can be an endless array of ineffective product-centric communications delivered to a somewhat finite number of households without regard to the customer experience.

Building an effective cross-sell process does not need to be difficult. While more and more organizations are using unstructured internal and external data, an organization can have success using data already in customer file. The key is to take a customer-centric approach as opposed to a product-centric approach.

Cross-Sell Myths and Realities

According to Novantas there are six prevalent myths, or misunderstandings, that seriously degrade cross-sell performance. These myths include – 1) Developing programs with too narrow a reach or focus; 2) Trying to sell too early in a relationship; 3) Trying to sell a single service credit customer a checking product; 4) Believing any non-credit customer needs loan services; 5) Believing that cross-selling effectiveness is a ‘numbers’ game; and 6) Believing that an omnichannel sales strategy is an imperative.

Myth_vs_reality_in_retail_banking_9-3-2014As banks and credit unions seek to dispel these myths and improve cross-sell effectiveness, there are eight ways to reduce the consumer and institutional confusion and improve the effectiveness of cross-selling programs. Follow these, and the results will more than offset the extra effort required.

1. Continue Acquisition Efforts

While cross-selling a current customer or member is both less expensive and more efficient than generating a new household, acquisition is still the lifeblood of growth and prosperity in financial services. Without an ongoing acquisition process, it is difficult to gain brand recognition in the marketplace which is needed for when a consumer starts shopping for an alternative financial services provider.

Acquisition efforts should not just include traditional direct marketing and mass media, but should expand to digital channels where more and more households are shopping for new financial services. In addition, don’t forget to utilize all of the resources at your disposal to improve your acquisition efforts, including customer-facing teams, branch signage, ATM messaging, etc.

Finally, don’t just focus on the ‘best’ potential customer (emerging affluent and mass affluent). All your competitors are targeting the same households. Mass market consumers are also needed to help offset the high fixed costs of the branch system. As mentioned by Novantas, even customer relationships that are unprofitable on a fully-loaded basis can at least contribute to covering fixed costs.

2. Maximize Account Opening Opportunities

Either online or in the branch, the account opening process may be the only time you have your new accountholders undivided attention. Have you maximized and optimized this opportunity by asking questions that can guide the sales process? Do you have a discussion flow process that can take the answers provided and connect them with consumer financial solutions that ‘make sense’?

It is time for banks and credit unions to convert the new account opening process from an operational procedure to a sales discussion. In virtually all instances, the consumer has either entered your branch or begun the new account opening process online because they want to do business with you. Allocate as much time as possible to setting the stage for the consumer desires of, ‘Know me,’ ‘Look out for me,’ and ‘Reward me.’

One approach recommended by Novantas is to sell product bundles, where components can be selectively activated by the new household or, alternatively, promote relationship pricing benefits to drive additional sales at the new account desk.

3. Build Engagement Before Selling

If a household opens a new account and never uses the service, your organization has added a costly dormant account with no revenue potential. The objective is to establish your organization as the primary financial provider for the consumer. As part of the onboarding process, it is important to sell as many ‘go with’ services as possible.

The onboarding period is when you need to promote activation and usage of the service(s) opened, e.g. setting up direct deposit, establishing both online and mobile banking, building a set of alert notifications, setting up bill pay and automatic savings and reinforcing debit and credit card usage, etc.

Building customer engagement sets the stage for the introduction of new product solutions that meet the needs of the new accountholder. Learning how a new household uses their account allows you to develop event-based selling opportunities that will ‘make sense’ to the customer later.

drivers_of_relationship_value_9-4-2014

4. Focus on Checking Services

The foundation for deep financial relationships begins with the checking account. While there are many households that may get introduced to your organization through a new mortgage, new personal loan or new credit card, it is very difficult to get these households to open a new checking account that will be the center of their financial behavior as an add-on to a credit relationship.

Novantas experience indicates that it is an extremely tough proposition to convert single-service loan or investment/CD customers into core checking relationships. Even with today’s expanded data sources, response rates are typically less than 2% for direct marketing campaigns to stand-alone customers.

One of the traditional methods used by financial institutions was to ‘force’ the opening of a checking account to facilitate the payment of loans from a checking account. This strategy usually results in a costly 28-day dormant account where deposits are only made in time for the loan payment. The only way around this challenge is to build product bundles or relationship pricing that benefits the consumer. The relationship benefits are usually best when they accrue to the initial account opened as opposed to the checking account itself (loan discounts, activity offers, etc.).

5. Don’t Overwhelm Your Best Relationships

Most organizations have built ‘next most likely’ models over the years that provide a good list of prospects for cross-selling. Combine these targeted lists with new digital channels that allow an institution to reach out to households more efficiently than ever and you have both a great opportunity … and a difficult challenge.

The good news is that there is the opportunity to cross-sell applicable services to the best prospects through a number of channels. The bad news is when multiple product areas within an organization use the same lists to reach the same prospects with several unrelated offers. The result – marketing overload.

It is more important than ever for organizations to coordinate activities between product areas taking on the view of the consumer. Instead of trying to meet the goals of individual product areas, organizations should prioritize the marketing messages from the consumer perspective, leveraging customer lifecycle models and automated marketing management software that builds a common sense cadence and sequence of communication.

6. Avoid Mistargeted Campaigns

Similar to the challenge of not overwhelming your best customer relationships with too many offers is offering your best prospects an inappropriate product or service.  This occurs when organizations use purchase propensity and next-logical-product models to identify the “best” customers who may hold high balances with the organization yet have little need for credit.

To avoid having HELOC and credit card offers sent to households that have no need for credit, it is best to utilize outside insights to determine where the household is in their financial services lifecycle. If a household has never had a credit product, or illustrates credit is used for convenience only, it may be best to avoid marketing to them.

Again, using a product-focused approach as opposed to marketing from the customer perspective leads to cross-sell campaigns with an unproductive product push.

7. Maximize Sales Channel Effectiveness

When it comes to sales channels, more is not necessarily better.

According to Novantas, many organizations are funding projects to allow customers to both start and complete applications across all channels. While they note that this may be a good objective, it does not reflect how new-to-the-bank customers behave. Novantas research confirms that about two-thirds of consumers prefer to shop for a new checking relationship online, but that 85% to 95% proceed to open their new accounts in the branch.

In other words, while the shopping process is done digitally, many consumers complete the process in a more traditional manner. Novantas recommends that, given the scarce resources available in many organizations today, there may be better investments than building an omnichannel sales capability.

8. Understand the Customer Journey

It is more important than ever to understand the customer journey of the financial consumer. This journey usually begins with a traditional checking account and progresses through increased engagement to ancillary services and then to an expanded relationship through the use of product bundles and relationship pricing.

As opposed to marketing all services to all of the best prospects, organizations should leverage ‘real time’ insight to cross-sell of credit, investment, and insurance products based on triggers that predict customers’ likelihood to both buy and profitable use of a product. Performance measurement should also be structured around this journey.

Novantas recommends that financial institutions should determine: 1) which cross-sell outcomes are most desirable relative to customer needs; 2) what is the appropriate blend of channels, messages and offers for any customer; and 3) which customer interactions are critical in closing the business.


How To Start Your Own Content Marketing Business in 2016

Source: Forbes 

In the 1990′s and early 2000′s, many businesses looked to SEO agencies to drive traffic to their site. While SEO companies still exist in the 2010′s, you’ve probably noticed that another type of agency has become even more prevalent: the content marketing agency.

While most companies know they need to create a steady stream of content to attract and retain customers, this can be a difficult feat for many. This is when they turn to content marketing companies to help.

If you’ve been considering starting your own content marketing business, this post is for you. I’ll outline some of the strategies that can help differentiate you from the other SEO, social media and content marketing companies you’ll be competing with.

1. Clearly define your niche

Content is everywhere. The latest research indicates that 88% of  B2B companies are now using content marketing; and this means the competition among content marketing agencies is fierce.

Fortunately, there’s a simple way to differentiate yourself from 90% of the competition. When you become known as a content marketing expert in your niche, you’ll find the competition much less severe. Instead of trying to become a generalist agency, drill down and focus on a single industry. Do you have experience or knowledge in a particular niche? Offer specialized content services to businesses in that field.

Believe it or not, specialized content marketing services are in demand even in “unsexy” niches like dentistry and construction. Instead of competing in an already-oversaturated market, these agencies offer content services specifically to businesses in their chosen field. This allows them to produce highly specialized, expert content that generalist agencies cannot. Greatest thing about them, you can work from anywhere.

2. Offer a range of services for every budget

Particularly when you’re just starting out, having a wide range of services is imperative. You’ll find some clients want to be very hands-on, and just need a little guidance with their content strategy. Other clients will want you to take complete charge of their content strategy, development and marketing.

Keep in mind that smaller companies may want to test the waters before investing in a more expensive package. For this reason, you may even want to create DIY packages so small businesses can take advantage of your expertise without a huge financial risk.

Some of the services you could consider offering include:

  • Content creation and promotion
  • Training of in-house content marketing staff
  • Social media marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Web analytics setup and tracking
  • Web design and SEO (some companies prefer to hire one agency to do it all)

3. Consider taking the consulting path

If you prefer strategy over the day-to-day tasks of content marketing, consulting may be the right choice for you. While most content marketing agencies tend to be more hands-on, consultants focus largely on giving recommendations, planning and strategizing.

Being a consultant will mean you don’t have to be involved in specific tasks related to content creation, promotion and distribution. Instead, you can advise companies on content marketing best practices, and on helping them create a strategy that will set them apart from their competitors.


The Simplicity Revolution in Banking

Source: The Financial Brand 

There are a million other things people would rather think about than banking. It is boring. It’s tedious. It’s complex. That’s why financial institutions need to build an innovation strategy completely around making banking easy and saving people time.

In the opening remarks delivered at the Forum 2015, Jeffry Pilcher, the CEO/President and Founder of The Financial Brand, showed nearly 1,000 attendees why they need to simplify banking, and what they can do to pull it off. Here’s the script from that speech.

Do you know what the most valuable commodity on earth is?

Spend a little time poking around on the internet, and you’ll find that people will pay crazy sums for all sorts of things. White truffles go for around $2,000 a pound. And some women have paid as much as $2,000 an ounce for a so-called age-defying miracle cream, Crème de la Mer. And bmbergris — which is basically whale poop — sells for $10,000 per pound. They use it in perfumes like Chanel No. 5… no joke. There’s also a fascinating little substance called tritium that’s used in self-illuminating “EXIT” signs that goes for $30,000 a gram — that’s $13.5 million per pound! Pablo Picasso’s painting “Women of Algiers” sold for an unbelievable $178 million, the most valuable piece of art on the planet.
But the most precious commodity on earth isn’t tritium, nor plutonium, nor Picasso paintings.

The most precious commodity on earth is your time. The basic principles of economics apply: Time is in extremely limited supply, and yet very high demand. There is only so much of it, and yet everyone wants more.

Think about it. The pace of life today is downright exhausting. Between your job, your kids, your friends, your family, your hobbies, you’ve got to mow the lawn, stop by the pharmacy, go to the dry cleaners, get a present for so-and-so’s birthday. You’re so busy, you don’t even have time to watch the TV shows you’ve packed onto your DVR!

That’s because everyone is starved for time!

A recent survey found that half of us feel we don’t have enough time in our daily lives. In fact, people are so stressed for time that we spend an average of an hour a day at work taking care of our personal business, things like banking.

how_people_spend_their_time

Every day, we spend 8 hours sleeping, 8.5 hours at work, 45 minutes commuting, a couple hours eating and preparing food, 45 minutes on personal hygiene, and of course some time taking care of the house and the kids and the pets. And we spend an average of 2.5 hours a day watching TV.

So how much time does that leave the average consumer with every day? None. Well, almost none. In fact, we only have about 15 minutes of actual “free time” every day. And every day, there are over 3,000 companies scrambling to get our attention — 3,000 companies duking it out over what amounts to 15 measly minutes. Google and Amazon are billion dollar companies simply because they know how to get a sliver of those 15 minutes from us on a regular basis. Google and Amazon understand that time is so precious that they measure their performance in milliseconds!

Now this is one way you can be sure that time is indeed the most valuable commodity on earth. You see, the more valuable something is, the more precisely we measure it. Consider gold. The finest unit of measurement we use for gold is the “grain” — equivalent to what one grain of wheat weighs, or about 1/20th of a gram. It’s small, but it’s not that small. When it comes to measuring time, we are a lot more precise! The smallest unit we have for measuring time is the attosecond — one quintillionth of a second. For context, an attosecond is to a single second what a single second is to about 32 billion years. If you took a journey of 31 million miles — that’s roughly about the distance between Earth and Venus — an attosecond would be equivalent to the width of one human hair. That’s how precisely we measure time. There is nothing we measure more precisely than time.

The Crisis of Complexity

Our society in general – and banking in particular – is suffering from what branding firm Siegel+Gale has called a “crisis of complexity.”

30 years ago you had one television with five channels. Today you have five TVs in your house with over 500 channels. The Cheesecake Factory has over 241 different selections on their menu, and that’s not including the specials. Makeup retailer Sephora carries 233 different mascaras, 454 lotions and 367 different fragrances — that’s a lot.

If you buy a new pair of Sennheiser headphones, they will come with a 60-page manual! Why??? 60 pages??? How complicated can a pair of headphones possibly be? You plug one end in and put the other end on your head! If you can’t figure that much out, what’s a 60-page manual going to do but just confuse you further?!?

The reality is that the world just keeps getting more and more complex, and that includes banking. In a study of 13 different industries, banking actually ranked last in terms of simplicity. Even the U.S. Post Office scored higher for simplicity in this study than the highest ranked bank.

That’s because complexity has embedded itself into every aspect of our financial system — IT systems, products, even marketing and communications.

For instance, back in 1980, the typical credit card contract was about a page-and-a-half long. Today it is 31 pages.

Reality Check: 31 pages of disclosure is not simple. Listing 14 different checking accounts with 39 possible fees is not simple. Banking terminology is not simple — HELOCs, FDIC, EHL, 401K, NSF, ARMs, IRAs. In fact, nothing about banking is simple.

And now life has become so exceedingly complex that we have all completely run out of time. That’s why people want to think about banking as little as possible — because it’s tedious, it’s a hassle, it’s complex — and there are a million other things people would rather be doing with their time.

So if your financial institution is looking for an innovation strategy, you could lay out your innovation blueprint in about 8 words:

  1. Simplify banking.
  2. Solve people’s problems.
  3. Save people time.

It’s this simple! You aren’t innovating unless you are making banking easier and finding ways to save people time. “Innovation” and “simplicity” mean the same thing. And “simplicity,” in turn, is about saving people time. That’s why you should all be constantly asking yourselves this question:

“How can this be simpler?”

Step one is to identify the problem. Identify those pain points in everyday processes… and remove them.

It sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? But in reality, making banking easy ain’t easy. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. For starters, you have to adopt a whole new organizational mindset. If you’re going to simplify banking, it requires a level of insight into the customer experience that allows you to really see what truly frustrates people, what irritates them, what pisses them off.

And this can be kinda hard for those of us who work in banking and understand its complexities and inner workings. We see banking differently than consumers do. To bankers, this is an exciting world of rates and risk, balancing issues like liquidity and capital reserves to maximize ROA.

But consumers don’t see banking anything like that. In fact, in the consumer’s world, it’s really rather simple. They either have money and they just need to figure out what to do with it, or they need money and just they need to know how to get it. All consumers are looking for is the shortest distance — the simplest path — between these two points:

  • I’ve got money → Help me make the most of it.
  • I need money → Help me get it.

That’s what simplicity means to consumers. Simplicity means fewer steps, fewer options. Less thinking, less time. More clarity, more intuitive, more usable. A consistent experience that isn’t frustrating, it’s frictionless.

Become Champions of Simplicity

As marketing leaders, you need to be the champions of simplicity in your organization. Everyone looks to you to set the tone for your brand. Well, here’s your chance to steer your strategy in a compelling direction, and differentiate your institution in real, meaningful and relevant ways.

As stewards of your organization’s simple strategy, you need to help everyone on your team stay focused on just one or two things. This is only way to avoid getting bogged down and trapped in the “Pit of Complexity.” And when you ultimately achieve this level of organizational focus and concentrate on just a few simple things, you’ll be shocked by how easy the strategic answers come — what you should do, what you shouldn’t do, what opportunities you should be saying “yes” to, and equally important what things you should be walking away from.

Now one of the neatest things about pursuing a strategy of simplicity is that everyone in your organization can actually do something about it. The entire staff can participate, they can all be involved. Every department can rally around a mission like this. It makes sense doesn’t it — to make life easier? Who can’t get behind that? Everyone can understand it, and simplicity can touch everyone and everything inside your organization.

What else can you do to make banking simple? You can start with this exercise. Make a list of everything you can think of about your organization, then classify everything on your list into two columns — what’s easy and simple on one side versus what’s hard and complex.

Look at your website. Could it be simpler? Probably, yes. Honestly, everything about your marketing communications could be simplified somehow — everything from your website down to your disclosures. The Pew Charitable Trusts has been working with banks around the world for a couple years now to simplify their checking account disclosures. They’ve helped dozens of banks and credit unions whittle their disclosures down from a hefty 20+ pages down to a single, one-sided sheet of paper.

Here are a few more ideas to make banking easier:

1. Use plain English. Let’s dump the legalese. Get rid of all that interplanetary mumbo jumbo. Keep it short. Fewer words. Shorter sentences. Fewer paragraphs. Less! “Less” is the language of simplicity — faster, fewer, frictionless, “as easy as 1-2-3.” What else can you do?

2. Chop out steps. What could possibly be easier than “1-2-3?” How about a one-step process?

3. Dedicate yourselves to minimalism. Beware of “feature creep.” The temptation when organizations innovate is to add, add — add features, add products, add functionality. But in a simple world, it’s the exact opposite. With every process, every product, and every marketing piece you produce, you need to be asking, “What can we remove?”

4. Communicate visually. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so you need to build your look-and-feel around simple imagery. Take all the clutter and visual noise out of your brand identity. Your design style should reflect your commitment to minimalism and simplicity.

5. Rethink your marketing messages. You see, as financial marketers, we tend to think about banking services in terms of products and features — a credit card with a 9% interest rate and no fee, or a vehicle loan at 7%. What we’re doing is pushing the product and the rate, but that isn’t how consumers necessarily relate to it. For instance, take a 38-year old blue-collar dude who just wants to buy a motorcycle, and all he needs is a little money to do it. Is he looking for a home equity line or an unsecured signature loan? He doesn’t know. He doesn’t care. He has no idea. All he really cares about is whether he can afford the payment because he’s dreaming about hitting the open road. He isn’t thinking about APRs and net interest spreads. He just wants to buy a Harley, and he can afford about $450 per month.


2015 Google Search Trends in Banking and Marketing

Source: The Financial Brand 

This annual study exclusively from The Financial Brand breaks down Google search trends in the banking industry — what consumers and marketing execs are looking for and when.

Note: This data is compiled using Google’s free Trends service. Each chart represents the relative increase (or decrease) in the number of searches Google’s users performed for each term over time.

Native Advertising

Native advertising refers to a new form of online marketing where paid content is positioned next to editorial content. (In the old days, this used to be called “advertorial” content.) It’s become quite common — so much so that mainstream media outlets like CNN have a huge section of paid material on their homepage, positioned as content “From Our Partners.” If you haven’t heard of native advertising yet, it’s time to put it on your radar. Native ads are a growing trend, and could be very effective for banks and credit unions alike.

native_advertising

Programmatic Advertising

The term “programmatic advertising” is little more than a fancy expression for “automated ad buying.” If you’ve ever bought Google AdWords or AdSense advertising, you’ve used a programmatic service; you specify your criteria and budget, and the system handles the rest automatically. This model is intended to replace the cumbersome approach of yesteryear, where RFPs and insertion orders required a ton of hands-on human intervention. Programmatic advertising is one of the hottest trends in the marketing world, and most experts believe it will be the primary method for buying ads in the future.

programmatic_advertising

Retargeting

Not long ago, this was considered a new revolutionary and radical idea. But today, retargeting has gone mainstream. If your financial institution hasn’t implemented retargeting as one of the main cornerstones of your marketing strategy, you are leaving money on the table.

retargeting

Read More: A Comprehensive Guide to Retargeting for Banks & Credit Unions )

Data Analytics

The maturation of the internet has lead to an explosion of digital data. Marketers are awash in more data than they know what to do with. They can track nearly everything consumers do online, and they are increasingly able to link that data with offline behaviors. This has fueled a huge uptick in the subject of “data analytics.” If you work in any kind of marketing capacity today, you had better be able to capture and crunch numbers.

data_analytics

Big Data

Unless you are an über nerd, you probably hadn’t heard the term “big data” prior to 2012 (the first articles on big data appeared here at The Financial Brand in the fall of 2012). Initially regarded with the same kind of skepticism reserved for things like alchemy and voodoo magic, big data has evolved into a tool that can help financial institutions mitigate risk, reduce fraud and improve their marketing strategies. However, big data remains largely beyond the reach of most modest-sized banks and credit unions.

big_data

Marketing Automation

With the increasing complexity of marketing in the Digital Age, it’s no wonder attention is focused on automation. The abundance of data available today allows financial institutions to slice their target audience into new segments and personalize marketing messages to new levels. But these new capabilities also require new tools, which helps explain the exponential growth of companies specializing in marketing automation such as Salesforce, Hubspot and Marketo.

marketing_automation

Content Marketing

Back in 2007, we weren’t sure what to call it, so we used the term “Web 2.0.” From 2009 to 2013, it was called “social media.” These days, the “content marketing” is the vogue term to use when referencing online channels like blogs, social media platforms and social sharing tools. The nomenclature we use isn’t irrelevant. It’s a reflection of how the online space has grown and matured. At first, we didn’t know what it was good for — it was just new and exciting. Now we have a much clearer idea of why and how to leverage online channels; today, it’s all about content.

content_marketing

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter Advertising

Many financial marketers obsess over their social media strategy — What should we tweet next? How many Facebook ‘Likes’ do we have today? But few think about social media channels as an advertising outlet. Considering Facebook’s organic reach is now Ø and most financial institutions have less than 500 followers on Twitter, more bank and credit union marketing execs will have to look at leveraging ads on these channels to generate any real traction. You can use the chart below to gauge your relative investment in each channel.

facebook_youtube_twitter_advertising

Millennials vs. Generation Y

It’s no longer cool to use the term “Gen Y,” which was never intended to be anything more than a placeholder. These consumers are now referred to as “Millennials.” Whatever you choose to call them, financial institutions have struggled — and continue to struggle — connecting with these consumers. But make no mistake: these aren’t “kids” anymore; most are adults. The oldest members of this generation are in their mid-30s — old enough to have been married, divorced, served in the military, bought a house, had kids and changed jobs multiple times.

gen_y_millennials

Generation Z

Generation Z refers to those born after the Millennial Generation. There is consensus on the exact range of birth dates, although many generational academics start this generation in the mid- or late 1990s. Considering how long it took for banks and credit unions to wrap their heads around Millennials, financial marketers should start work on their Gen Z strategy now.

generation_z

Home and Auto Lending

In the wake of the financial crisis that lead to the Great Recession, consumer lending ground to a halt. But starting in 2012, you can see search volumes in Google for terms like “home loan” and “car loan” starting to rebound, with steady improvements every year since. Will a rate increase from the Federal Reserve put the brakes on this recovery?

home_car_loans

Credit Cards

Consumer interest in credit cards hit a low point in 2007, the bowels of Great Recession. However, searches for “credit card” have been on the rise since, and suggest that the market for revolving credit is stronger than mortgage or auto lending.

credit_cards

Mobile Banking

Prior to the introduction of Apple’s iPhone, the concept of “mobile banking” was virtually non-existent. But on June 29, 2007, everything changed. It took a couple years for the financial institutions to catch up and roll out new tools and solutions for smartphones. Today, banks and credit unions — and the consumers they serve — all realize the potential mobile devices have in the banking industry. And there is no indication that the rapid growth of this new delivery channel will slow down anytime soon.

mobile_banking

Mobile Payments and Mobile Wallets

Once retail financial institutions worked out their initial challenges with smartphone solutions, everyone’s attention quickly shifted to the payments space. Mobile devices first killed digital cameras and watches — no need to lug that extra baggage around anymore. As consumer acceptance of mobile payment tools grows, physical wallets will be the next thing people ditch.

mobile_payments_wallets

Bank Branches

Despite those who decry the bank branch as “dead,” study after study shows that consumers still consistently use branch proximity as the number one factor driving their decision when choosing a new banking provider. Google search volumes seem to support this premise, with a four-fold rise in searches for “bank branch” over the last six years. If branches are dead, why are consumers still searching for them?

bank_branch

Geolocation

Thanks to the GPS systems in today’s mobile devices, it’s now as easy for consumers to find what they are looking for — in real life — as it is to type a search term into Google. Financial marketers — particularly those working at community-based institutions — need to be sure they stay on top of the geotargeting trend. You can deliver your marketing messages with pinpoint precision, at the right time and right place.

geolocation

Nearest Branch and ATM

Consumers may not be going to branches and ATMs as frequently as they used to, but they are searching for them with increased regularity. Presumably, the majority of these searches are performed on smartphones.

nearest_branch_atm

Omnichannel

Most experts agree that it’s become increasingly important to deliver a seamless, consistent, integrated experience across all channels and touchpoints — a concept captured with the single word “omnichannel.”

omnichannel

Crowdfunding

The notion of “crowdfunding” was initially dismissed by the mainstream banking sector as a quaint concept. Consumers however see it as an increasingly viable alternative to traditional lending options. Online providers like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and Kabbage represent a real threat in the business lending category, with some crowdfunding campaigns raising as much as $93.8 million in capital for a single business venture. It’s time banks and credit unions look at how they can tap into this popular trend.

crowdfunding

Fintech

The fintech sector has erupted in recent years. For every challenge facing the financial industry, there seems to be a technological solution. Fintech has captured the attention of the banking industry and venture capitalists alike. Between all the new players disrupting the status quo, and thousands of financial institutions scrambling to keep up, everyone is fixated on “digital innovation.”

fintech

Wearables

While the mainstream media has celebrated the arrival of wearable technology, the future for wearables — particularly in the financial industry — remains unclear. There was some hullabaloo about the potential Google Glass, but that initiative was aborted. Some financial pundits predict that Apple’s new Watch will play a significant role in the industry, but what does a watch offer that a smartphone doesn’t (especially when carrying a phone is a necessity these days, whereas a watch is optional)? Whatever the ultimate outcome, interest in wearables will continue to grow. Get ready… the Oculus Rift is coming next.

wearables


Three Ways To Stay Current In The Financial Services Industry

Source 

The financial services industry is a cutthroat market with razor-thin margins, making it one of the toughest industries in which to generate profit. Yet, for fintech startups, it is one of the least chartered, most lucrative sectors.

Accenture recently reported that fintech investments grew 201 percent in 2014 compared to the previous year. As a comparison, overall venture capital investments grew only 63 percent in the same period.

There is little doubt that today’s financial systems are inherently complex, outdated and inefficient. The potential to innovate within this sector has never been higher. Because of wide-scale technology adoption, mobility and digital money, banking and financial institutions are facing imminent threat from fintech startups for products such as loans, money transfers and stock trading.

Indeed, customers today have more options with third-party financial service providers when it comes to choosing products. However, running a profitable fintech startup is very challenging.

With higher cost of customer acquisition, most fintech startups are surviving on venture capital funding. Because they are new, Lifetime Value (LTV) is not yet realized. It would be very difficult for a financial institution to survive on a single product, so they must diversify their portfolio of services to maximize LTV.

No one can unequivocally predict the future. However, here three ways to stay current in the financial services industry.

Existing Banks Must Innovate

Banks are not as slow as they are perceived to be. In fact, they are very smart at focusing on revenue-generating sectors and ignoring less-profitable ones, such as money transfers, small loans, etc. While startups in the space are claiming to take over the money-transfer business from banks, this area is purposely ignored by the banks.

As an example, Western Union, a money-transfer company that controls approximately 18 percent of the money-transfer market, had revenues of $5.6 billion last year, while JP Morgan earned $102.1 billion.

Lending, on the other hand, is considered a profitable service, but bank shares within this sector are decreasing. As per a Goldman Sachs estimate, 20 percent of money lending will move to alternative finance companies, costing the banks $12 billion in lost revenue (this is 7 percent of the total profits for the banking sector).

Banking and financial institutions are facing imminent threat from fintech startups.

Banks have the resources to acquire the best talent, infrastructure and whatever it takes to get the job done. However, the scale of business reduces chances of upward mobility. Fortunately the banking sector has an extremely low churn rate when it comes to core products — deposits and lending.

As per a Consumer Intelligence survey report, approximately 3 percent of people change their banks in any given year. Other findings indicate that 57 percent of people have been with their banks for the last 10 years, and 37 percent are trusting their banks even after 20 years.

Banks have the leverage of a huge customer base, experience, licenses and deep pockets. They will try to stay relevant, but if they fail to innovate faster, they could be looking to acquire winners in the niche product markets. In this case, financial companies retain the monopoly.

The Emergence Of Fintech Banks

The biggest challenge for any company is to acquire customers. High acquisition cost can kill any venture. However, once you have acquired a satisfied customer, you can always cross-sell other financial products to maximize ROI. For instance, a lending platform can sell mortgages. Once they are selling mortgages, they can sell insurance and ancillary services, and so on.

Banks initially started with deposits and lending, diversifying their product offerings later on. Most startups are currently focused on a singular niche product to take incumbent market share away from a profitable line of business. Because of the technology-centric nature, they are better at analyzing data and offering better products and a better customer experience.

The key here is to expand horizontally by being equally good at it.

If you are already using a money-transfer company, why not store money with them, as well? Or, if you are a lending platform, why not take customer deposits to strengthen the deposit base? Rather than going through resource-intensive banking licenses, there are many financial institutions open to giving access to their licenses. This will not just be limited to fintech startups, but also social giants like Facebook, WeChat, etc. that are eager to enter the financial space.

In this case, a technology startup can be the bank of future.

3.0 Brokerage Banks

There is no secret sauce to running a financial institution, but the bottom line is always the same: Keep your operations as efficient as possible.

However, it is almost impossible to be good at every product facet. A lending platform might not be able to beat their competition in the money-transfer space, and vice versa. Similarly, the lending company may struggle when it has to issue insurance.

If banks are unable to innovate faster or startups are struggling with distribution, this creates an opportunity for a marketing company to consolidate all the services under their brand name.

There is little doubt that today’s financial systems are inherently complex, outdated and inefficient. 

Rather than developing any expertise, they just take the role of an intermediary and route the transactions through the best possible partner. For example, they may direct a money transfer of $150 to Pakistan via one of their partners, whilst they might use another provider for mortgages. It is not an uncommon practice in other industries. However, such an amalgamated model is rarely found in the financial space if you are just a marketing company.

It would not be out of place to say that by 2020 you might be a marketing brand, showcasing and selling repurposed/repackaged products to the consumers — but at the back end, you are neither a technology company nor a bank.

There might not be enough space for multiple players to exist without venture capital in this cutthroat industry. It will be interesting to watch who wants to be the bank of 2020.

But be it a financial, technology or marketing company, the customer will always win.


Post-Holiday Money Blues: Should the U.S. Have a National Financial Health Day?

Source 

Americans have driven themselves into debt this holiday season, and now that the dust of spending sprees has settled in the new year, Americans are lackadaisical about their financial predicament.

In a new study, MagnifyMoney states that, after a rush of holiday spending, Americans are heading into big financial troubles in 2016. Nick Clements, a consumer advocate with MagnifyMoney, says Americans spent more in 2015 while making less.

“While salaries are not higher, Americans spent more on holiday shopping this year,” he says. “MagnifyMoney found the average American spent $833 this holiday season, while MasterCard reported a 7.9% increase in holiday spending over 2014.”

What’s more, many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. “After spending money on the holidays, 56.3% of Americans have less than $1,000 remaining in their checking and savings account, and 38.3% of Americans will not be able to pay off their credit card this month,” Clements says. “Instead, they will be paying off their credit card balance over time, at high credit card interest rates.”

Despite the challenges that await them, American consumers aren’t particularly anxious.

“Americans aren’t fretting over debt – 85.7% of Americans say they have no regrets about their holiday spending,” Clements notes. “It seems we are a nation that dives happily into holiday debt.”

That’s why Clements is calling for a national “Financial Health Day,” where Americans go to work but spend their day at the office learning more about personal financial issues and strategies. “By setting aside just seven hours to understand finances and set a plan for the future, this financial health day would likely be the highest earning day of the year for most Americans,” he says.

Clements has some company in calling for a national financial health day.

“This is a great idea,” says Bradford Hines , a consultant and founder of Bradhines.com, a professional writing, marketing and design site. “We have Groundhog Day and other frivolous holidays. Why not a day to help people plan a budget every year, too?”

A bonus – financial services companies would eventually jump on the holiday by offering incentives and discounts on that holiday, Hines adds.

Others say such a designated day might help, but it’s going to take more than that to change the way Americans view money, savings and debt.

“Having only one day won’t work in most cases,” says Debbi King, a Washington, D.C.-based personal finance coach. “Think of New Year’s resolutions – we make them on January 1, and they are mostly broken by Jan 15. Your financial health needs to be about a lifestyle not a one time thing. It is great to have a day that brings focus on our finances, but it is important that we focus on them daily. Not paying attention is the main cause of debt and the reason most stay in debt.”

It would take more than financial services companies to get a national financial health day off the ground; all U.S. companies should be involved, other experts believe.

“In theory, I think a financial health day would be helpful,” says Nate, the founder of HackingYourBudget.com who withholds his last name on his site. “However, with the huge number of ‘days’ that people recognize for awareness, I believe it would just get lost in the shuffle.”

“If enough large brands and voices in the media were able to coordinate the sharing of helpful resources, along with the hosting of educational events, I think the day would actually be beneficial,” he says. “Without that, we can’t trust that by simply having a day for financial health that Americans will take the time to assess their finances.”

Another roadblock – there already is a Financial Literacy Month in April, but it’s not having an impact on the American public.

“We have Financial Literacy Month, yet there are no major programs that take advantage of this designation,” says Robert Wilson, a financial advisor with Wilson Insight in Pittsburgh. “We could fix that. There are only three things that people can do with money: make, spend and invest. Each week during Financial Literacy Money could be devoted to topics in each area.”

Launching a national financial health day is a good idea, but a raw one, and it needs development. But imagine one day where all U.S. adults spend it in coaching sessions, workshops, and peer group meetings, learning and exchanging great ideas on money management.

And it would be especially well-timed, now that we’ve woken up after the holiday hangover to see the credit card balances we’ve racked up.


What Financial Services Can Learn From Luxury Marketing

by Beau Fraser, November 25, 2015, 11:35 AM

For an industry that targets the wealthy, Financial Service marketing, while well-crafted and professional, does not always connect with their target.

This could be remedied if Financial Services studied the lessons learned by another group that successfully target the affluent: Luxury.

Much of financial marketing is very rational (performance rankings) and transactional (theme of the month) with a dollop of fear mixed in for good measure (will you have enough to retire?].

Conversely, luxury marketing is invariably aspirational, positive and emotional.

How is it that two different industries can take such a diametric approach when speaking to the same target?

Here are five lessons we’ve learned from the Luxury category and how they apply to Financial Services.

1. There are many different affluent types.

If you look at financial services ads, you’d think the affluent come in only two sizes: be-suited professionals, or sweatered-and-khakied retirees fishing with their grandkids. These images are a turn-on to perhaps 15% of the market.

Luxury markets have learned that no brand appeals to everyone, and the most successful know to appeal directly to a target type.

2. There’s a big difference between affluence and wealth.

The affluent segment is defined as HH income above $100K. That might sound impressive to some—but they probably don’t have enough investable assets to make them worth your while.

Unless you sell to the mass affluent—think Coach and Ralph Lauren—there’s more money to be made focusing on the wealthy. You need to insure 20 $1mm homes in Hastings to equal one $20mm house in the Hamptons.

3. The wealthy are sophisticated shoppers.

The wealthy, regardless of income, lifestyle or nationality, are smart, sophisticated buyers. They know the difference between excellent and mediocre, between real and pretend. They have very high standards and are not easily fooled.

Luxury marketers have learned that most purchases are consideredpurchases—requiring an emotional appeal to values and self-image as well as facts that support purchase decision.

4. Getting beyond the gate is harder than you think.

The affluent are hard to reach. They’re walled off, and live—literally and figuratively—gated lives. Luxury marketers have learned that speaking and acting like a trusted advisor gets them inside.

How?

  • Make the complicated simple. Trusted Advisors help their clients identify critical factors and present a small list of options that meet those criteria.
  • Be honest about the pros & cons. Trusted Advisors let their customers know where the risks are.
  • Put change into context. Trusted Advisors have the experience that lets them explain, with confidence, how enduring products and services adapt to change.

5. A positive future view is the antidote to a volatile world.

While Financial Services focus on the future (i.e., retirement), most of their messages are based on fear: will you have enough?

Take a leaf from the Luxury playbook, and talk about the positive economic, social and scientific changes occurring now, their impact on long-term investment opportunities, and on the bright future that can be expected for the children and grandchildren of the wealthy.


Why IT & Marketing must unite to drive business growth – Computing

In the digital world we live in, it’s unsurprising to hear that, according to managed services provider Avanade, 37 per cent of technology spending is now controlled by departments other than IT, with a majority share going towards marketing. It is clear that the relationship between IT and marketing has changed in recent years, and as a result the role of IT and marketing leaders is changing rapidly.

At Police Mutual, we’ve been helping officers, staff and their families with their finances for over 140 years. In February 2014, the Police Mutual Group acquired the R3 Group, which includes Forces Financial, an established provider with around 180,000 UK Police and military customers.

With the rise of digital and online services, outdated technology threatened to trap us in the past. Our systems and processes were built up by piecemeal over time, and were ultimately creating corporate drag in multiple areas of the business. Combined, this critically threatened our customer service, performance, competitiveness and culture – we knew we wanted to overhaul our IT.

Moving forward meant realigning the group’s technology investment with its strategic objectives and its people.

When I joined Police Mutual in 2011, the IT and marketing departments were heavily siloed, with a low awareness of the other team. This wouldn’t work in today’s mobile-first world, and we needed to change our approach to IT and marketing if we were going to remain competitive. Working with Avanade, the company began its journey to the digital workplace, implementing technologies that addressed many of the challenges listed above, and slowly the two teams were recognising an aligning of their skillsets.

We realised that both marketing and IT skillsets were needed for Police Mutual to maintain optimum customer satisfaction. We decided to unify the CIO and CMO to create the CIMO [chief information marketing officer – a term coined by Avanade] perspective.

This was by no means a quick fix, but at the Police Mutual Group we found that with the CIO, and CMO, working more closely together it means new ideas and innovations emerge and come together faster. By merging the two roles, we were then open to strategic conversations about growing our customer base and improving customer experience, with technology acting as the enabler. When the CIO and CMO work more closely together, both technology and sales are on the same page, with the shared goal of growth.

In practice this means, for example, that marketers are brought in at the early stages of technical and platform project groups to jointly address fresh challenges. With the technology side of the business being similarly consulted on how, together, they can achieve the organisation’s “mar-comms” goals.

This doesn’t mean a systems analyst and content strategist needs the same set of skills; it does mean that only through greater understanding and shared objectives can today’s businesses find the right path forward.

The CIO role itself has changed too. CEOs now want a more aggressive approach to innovation, co-ordination, input to strategy, and so on. Much like what’s expected of today’s marketing directors. Nor is a contemporary marketing programme complete without the understanding and utilisation of data.

The CIMO perspective was an evolutionary process rather than a fast-and-hard approach, as we needed to manage the rapidly shifting priorities and responsibilities of the CIMO, and readdress both short and long-term priorities to achieve true collaboration between IT and marketing. But the result was worth it – identifying ways to better serve our customers and enable an enhanced digital experience.

You can’t make decisions without insight, and the best insights of all come from IT and marketing operating in harmony.

David Loughenbury is CIO of financial services and advice group Police Mutual.


From tactical overhead to strategic growth driver: B2B marketing in the … – CMO

In order for business organisations in complex selling to not only stay competitive in the future, but to achieve growth in markets where customer needs are constantly changing, a strong marketing function that is digitally capable is a necessity, writes Veolia’s Jason Gow.

In the world of complex selling, where multimillion-dollar opportunities are a slow burn and where buying decisions are made by a handful of people, B2B marketing has traditionally been perceived as a support function to business development.

I however, have always been a firm believer that marketing functions within B2B organisations should have the same level of importance, if not greater, as other functional business lines such as finance or human resources, or as they do in B2C companies.

Many B2B organisations are yet to see value in doing this, being unable to understand the bottom-line benefits marketing can potentially deliver. But in those companies that do recognise marketing as having the same level of importance as other internal functional lines, the CMO function can truly embed itself and achieve optimal, customer-focused business outcomes.

Having been in B2B marketing for close to 10 years now, I can sincerely say that marketing is a driving force for growth within an organisation, playing a critical role in matching market needs with company solutions through many forms of strategic and persuasive communications.

Through multiple channels and touchpoints, an effective marketing function influences the handful of decision makers that must be targeted throughout the B2B buying cycle. Measuring this influence in B2B marketing, however, has been difficult.

Thankfully, this is now beginning to change as we welcome a new era for B2B marketing through digital enablement.

Brand building in a business environment

From a branding perspective, there are many things leading B2B companies can and have adopted from the world of consumer marketing. And there are examples of B2B organisations that have built strong brands for the exact same reasons B2C companies have done so.

Companies such as IBM, Boeing, GE, Siemens, Veolia and Salesforce.com, which are all involved in complex selling, have embraced a B2C approach in building brand equity through storytelling that attempts to make an emotional connection with the audience. These companies often employ multiple channels to deliver branded content through print and online advertising, trade shows, customer focused forums, and more recently, social media platforms such as LinkedIn.

As a result, these organisations are reaping the rewards of having a strong brand. Among these are fast-tracking the buying process, linking the buyer need with the seller’s solution, providing better access to potential clients for the sales function to pursue as the brand is known, gaining a competitive point of difference, and communicating a promise or commitment on the service or product to be delivered.

Thanks to the value communicated, all of these companies can charge a premium. The perception of quality is also greater, and for the organisation as a whole, this means a higher stock price and stronger balance sheet.

Content strategies employed by these companies are akin to the likes of a Nike, Apple or Starbucks in that they’re highly creative, emotive and focus on promoting brand attributes. This is about things that make up a brand’s identity. Nike’s ‘Last’ and GE’s ‘Childlike Imagination – What My Mom Does at GE provide great examples of storytelling that resonate regardless of whether you’re in a B2C or B2B environment.

Business organisations are also going into consumer dominated mass-market platforms like TV and social media channels. Why? To gain access to the younger, influential millennial audiences. Millennials are now being targeted by first-mover B2B organisations for the potential they represent in terms of being future investors or prospective employees. Businesses have also seen value in targeting these group as part of a network that influences the buying decision in a B2B organisation.


Giving Tuesday: ‘Cause marketing’ more than writing a check to charity – Palm Beach Post

Giving Tuesday — Dec. 1 — is a Black Friday-like equivalent for many Palm Beach County nonprofits. It’s a day for charitable organizations to raise money, and just as important, raise awareness about their causes.

Charitable giving isn’t new, but Giving Tuesday offers nonprofits an extra marketing boost from the day’s spotlight on philanthropy.

More important, a key trend in business is the adoption of cause marketing strategies that venture beyond just writing a check to a charity — though many nonprofits would be pretty happy to receive one — by aligning business operations with broader societal missions.

An example is Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Almost 40 years after it was founded in a renovated gas station in Vermont, the company is often lauded for its ice cream and advocacy of fair-trade policies, marriage equality and labeling of genetically modified food.

Most recently, Ben & Jerry’s Israel announced a new flavor to benefit the Ethiopian National Project, a global partner agency of Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County. Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield is speaking at Temple Beth El, 2815 N. Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach on Tuesday evening, so I got an opportunity to chat with him in advance of his appearance.

“I’m going to speak about the history of the company, and how we grew it, how we tried to integrate social and environmental concerns into the day-to-day operations,” said Greenfield.

Notice Greenfield didn’t separate Ben & Jerry’s business from its social mission. He didn’t interject an and to separate the two concepts, because the objective is a symbiotic link between business and mission.

“Business isn’t bad, but business often just looks out for its own interest. Its goal is to maximize profits and it will do whatever it needs to do to make more money,” he said. “We felt business ought to be more of a good neighbor and look out for the community.”

Now, I know a couple of things about cause marketing. My professional career includes a stint running an ocean conservation foundation founded by marine scientist and artist Guy Harvey. The foundation was funded by the sale of merchandise bearing Guy’s art.

Interestingly, the commitment to conservation and better fisheries management broadened the popularity of the brand beyond the traditional customer — adult men — to include millennials, particularly women.

Which proves cause marketing can be as important to business as products and customer service. Greenfield said that’s been Ben & Jerry’s experience.

“You still have to make great ice cream. You still have to distribute it well. People may like your values, but if they don’t like your ice cream they aren’t going to buy it,” he said. “But it definitely helps when people know they aren’t just buying a product from you but are working with a company to bring about a better world.”

Think about that on Giving Tuesday. Yes, by all means support a nonprofit financially. But look and see how your business can be more closely aligned with a cause.


Digital Marketing: Capitalizing on content in 2016 – The Gazette: Eastern Iowa Breaking News and Headlines
By Regina Gilloon-Meyer, correspondent
Nov 28, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Here’s a little digital marketing heresy you won’t hear very often: Sometimes the newest, freshest content isn’t the best (ducking to avoid rotten tomatoes hurled by my SEO friends).

Sometimes last year’s (and even older) content can be new again — if you have existing, quality content to pull from and you know how to use it.

As you plan your 2016 marketing strategy, analyze your website’s performance, particularly blog posts and articles, to uncover content to rejuvenate. Updating and republishing your best and most successful pieces as a part of your content strategy can reduce your marketing costs and bring you more quality traffic and leads.

Historical Optimization

Historical optimization is just a $10 term for updating and republishing your existing content so it is fresh and up to date. While it may feel like cheating, according to Rand Fishkin of Moz, Google often rewards republished content with higher rankings.

Blog articles and other content with perfectly accurate and valid information often lose credibility with the search engines and with readers simply because the posts were published a couple years ago. Once republished with a current date and a few updates, these proven topics have the potential to generate even more traffic and conversions than they originally did — at a fraction of the cost.

Judging Your Content

Good analytics will provide objective, measurable results you can use to gauge which pieces of content are right for historical optimization. Take inventory of which blog posts attract the most visitors and which generate the most leads — hint: they may not necessarily be the same blog posts.

Then start digging into what changes you could make to the posts more relevant and current. The changes don’t need to be extensive: Improve your image game, write a better headline, or optimize for any relevant, new keywords you have added to your keyword strategy.

Conversion Tips

You ideally want blog posts that attract high page views and high conversions. Then again, those aren’t the blog posts you have to worry about.

Opportunities for historical optimization usually lie with posts that have high traffic and low conversions or low traffic but an awesome conversion rates. This is where the most potential exists.

For example, if you have a blog post with high traffic but low conversions, this may be an indication that your conversion path is misaligned. You may want to change the call to action or landing page, or perhaps rewrite your meta descriptions.

For older posts with low page views but high conversion rates, you may want to attract more page views with better headlines or keyword optimization strategy.

Look at every facet of the reader’s journey to decipher why the post isn’t performing as intended.

Up Your Promotion Game

Perhaps you’ve been blogging for years but only recently started promoting your content on your social media platforms. If you feel strongly about the blog article’s potential, you may want to try a more aggressive promotion strategy — social media or paid ads — to see if you can draw more traffic that way.

Historical optimization should be only one tactic in your content marketing strategy, but it can be a powerful tool. As consumers and search engines continue to find new and innovative ways to block poor quality content, capitalizing on your proven winners and creating helpful, new content will set you up for marketing success in the future.

l Regina Gilloon-Meyer is a content marketing specialist for Fusionfarm, a division of The Gazette Company; (319) 368-8530, regina@fusionfarm.com, @Regiimary


5 Productivity Hacks for Boosting Your Marketing Team – Tech Cocktail

What you do when your marketing team starts giving dull results? Do you think about searching for a new smart team instantly? If yes, you are on the wrong boat. Without understanding the cause, how can you decide the effectiveness of your team members? There may be specific reasons. And, don’t forget to include yourself in this dull response.

Ya, you heard it right. When you overlook the mounting stress levels of your team, you are the culprit. By putting more and more work on their shoulders, you forget that they possess the human powers only.

This brings us to the next question. Do you think about boosting the atmosphere of the workplace? With this question in your mind, you start thinking about the overall productivity of the company. To increase the productivity level of your marketing team, you need to put extra efforts from your end.

No matter how hard you try, you won’t get the results until and unless you start examining all the bottlenecks by looking the processes and management techniques.

When your group’s energy level goes down, and everything is going in the random direction, you need to buck them up by providing these five productivity hacks.

Communicate with Your Team Members

Before things get tight, arrange short meetings with your marketing department. Start the day by giving the brief overview of the day’s priorities for each member. After giving the clear picture, hand over the deadlines to the team leader.

By assigning the workload, you avoid the emergencies which one faces while handling the big projects. Create a friendly environment in which the group members are free to clarify the doubts on any issues.

You also get the chance to get some valuable feedback from them. Apart from the project, discuss the company’s growth idea with your marketing team. In this way, you will form a stronger bond with them. By bringing everyone on the same page, you help your team to come up with creative ideas.

Provide Automation Tools to Your Marketing Team

In today’s time, the whole marketing process is becoming complex. Now, you can’t excuse yourself by giving dismal output to the clients. Your customers don’t care about the route you are taking for bringing out the best results.

To make them and your team happy, embrace the power of marketing automation tools. They are one of the biggest assets of your productivity arsenal. They have the potential to take off the huge burden from your shoulders. These tools organize the tasks of your team. It minimizes time and effort and maximizes the sales of your company.

Provide Proper Breaks and Allot Time for Fun Stuff

You must have heard of this proverb ‘All Work no Play makes Jack a dull boy.’ In the marketing sphere, the proverb takes this shape:

All Work no Break dulls your Marketing team.

In a stressful environment, most of the people forget the take some rest. They skip their lunch because they are too busy to take the breaks. In reality, the breaks revive all the smart thinking skills back into the system.

Indulge your team in the online recreational activities. Continuous work hampers the output of your team. So, give scheduled breaks to your team for getting successful results.

Give Benefits to Your Team Members

Increase the efficiency of your team members by providing incentives. If someone is bringing in great results, reward that individual with surprising incentives. It will give a solid indication to other team members to work harder.

Develop training sessions for educating the members with the latest trends in the market. Apart from monetary returns, concentrate on providing value to the group. Conduct workshops for improving the work rate of your marketing gang.

Provide a Flexible Atmosphere

Most of the businesses don’t pay attention to this important issue. As long you are getting the results, give full flexibility to your team members. Never treat them like your slaves by forcing them to work in a confined space.

Unleash their productivity levels by giving them a chance to choose their workplace. It doesn’t matter whether they are working from home or a coffee house. Analyze the member’s capability by checking their performance levels.

In the beginning, discuss the details with the members in person. Then, let them work in their comfort zone. More freedom means better results.


Ed Chambliss Promoted to President at Phelps® Driving the Marketing Agency’s … – PR Newswire (press release)

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Nov. 18, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Ed Chambliss has been named president of Phelps, one of the West Coast’s largest independently owned marketing agencies. Chambliss joined Phelps 16 years ago as a team leader, managing key accounts including Petco, DirecTV and Public Storage, and served as COO for the past four years.

“He has a remarkable skill set, with marketing and technology savvy and an excellent ability to attract and keep smart, caring people,” said Joe Phelps, chairman and CEO of the 34-year old integrated marketing agency. “We’re entering a new phase with a continued expansion of new clients and associates. Ed is guiding that growth and managing our company’s upcoming relocation.” Phelps is moving to Playa Vista in January, following the sale of its Santa Monica property, which has been its headquarters for the past 18 years.

Agency chairman, Joe Phelps, left, and newly appointed president, Ed Chambliss, review plansfor Phelps' new offices. After outgrowing the largest agency-owned building in Los Angeles, Phelps has signed a 10-year lease at The Bluffs in Playa Vista.
Agency chairman, Joe Phelps, left, and newly appointed president, Ed Chambliss, review plansfor Phelps’ new offices. After outgrowing the largest…

In an industry where big account wins and losses have put many ad agencies out of business, Phelps has maintained steady growth for more than three decades. As a pioneer in true integrated marketing communications, Phelps has a client longevity that is well above industry averages. “Our clients find that their communications programs are more efficient and effective when all communications speak with one voice,” he said.

“When Ed joined us, he had just received his master’s in integrated marketing communications at the University of Colorado — one of the first IMC graduate degree programs in the country. Over the years he has helped make us an IMC leader.” Chambliss started his marketing career as a writer at BBDO and taught copywriting at the Portfolio Center in Atlanta.

About Phelps

Phelps has delivered fully integrated messaging and media campaigns for category-leading brands for 34 years. Clients include Deloitte, Dunn-Edwards Paints, Hong Kong Tourism, Learn4Life, Los Angeles World Airports, Natrol LLC, Panasonic, Public Storage, Ryze Capital, SoCalGas, SunPower Corp., Tahiti Tourisme and Whole Foods Market. As one of the West Coast’s largest independent agencies, Phelps’ purpose is to build brand and generate sales for clients whose products enrich the lives of their customers. It offers multicultural marketing services through its partnership in PTM, a WMBE certified company, and international capabilities through the ICOM global network of agencies. Visit us at www.phelpsagency.com and follow us at www.facebook.com/PhelpsAgency  and @phelps_agency.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Judy Lynes

(310) 752-4400 ext. 124

Email

Photo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20151117/288417

SOURCE Phelps

Related Links

http://www.phelpsagency.com


Salesforce Plans to Make Marketing Cloud Even Smarter – CMSWire

Next year Salesforce will be making new data science capabilities generally available in its Marketing Cloud. These new features — called predictive journeys, predictive audiences and predictive scoring — are being debuted now per the San Francisco-based company’s MO of giving customers sneak previews of what’s to come.

And while predictive journeys and the others were built specifically for the Marketing Cloud, one gets the sense that Salesforce users will be seeing similar functionality in its other cloud offerings.

As Meghann York, director of product marketing for the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, put it, removing burden of heavy analytics lifting from customers’ shoulders has become Salesforce’s newest obsession.

“I think you are going to see Salesforce injecting this type of functionality throughout its portfolio,” she told CMSWire.

The underlying tech is new, York said, developed internally by Salesforce’s engineers and data scientists and made native for the next iteration of Marketing Cloud

Currently the features are in beta.

New Approach to Predictive Analytics

Salesforce decided to revamp its analytics approach after concluding that the old models dominant in the industry no longer work, York said.

“Marketers need better and more accurate insight into how they can deliver an optimal customer journey.”

The system developed scores the likelihood of a customer to engage — or, conversely — to disengage or discontinue the relationship with the company.

The models developed have selected the behaviors that predict a certain engagement, such as a purchase or renewal, or cancellation.

It might have determined, for example, that a customer who downloads a brand’s app is more likely to spend more than $250 per purchase.

Another determination might be that a customer who hasn’t opened an email in six months will be unsubscribing by the end of the year.

In other words, these models look at various scenarios that routinely play out in marketing and try to predict how to encourage or discourage the outcome.

To that end, marketers can request audiences likely to fall in these scenarios — such as people most likely to unsubscribe or even more granularly, previously high-spending customers who are now likely to unsubscribe. These customers are then sent on a “journey.”

“The system listens for certain behaviors of customers that might indicate a change. Then it can route these customers to a new path,” York said.

Not that it happens automatically — the marketer has to set the perimeters and instructions first.

A Surprising Journey

But with the information the system gathers, the marketer might be a bit surprised about the journey it is sending the customers on.

Take, Rue La La, the online flash site that was one of Predictive Journeys’ early adopters. One issue it has is that many of its customers sign up for emails but then don’t make any or many purchases, York explained.

“Predictive Journeys discovered that people who are likely to make a purchase have interacted with the site’s mobile app,” she said.

“So Rue La La launched a ‘win back’ journey for people who have only purchased from the site once,” she said.

It would not surprise you to know that one crucial element in that journey — which might have once been called a campaign in a previous life — was an email urging these users to just download the app.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic LicenseTitle image by teamstickergiant


Marketing giant Interpublic Group leasing big space in Century City – Los Angeles Times

Marketing giant Interpublic Group is moving to Century City and leasing a huge chunk of space that has been vacant since Northrop Grumman Corp. moved its corporate headquarters to Virginia.

IPG, a New York holding company, signed an 11-year deal for 150,000 square feet at 1840 Century Park East and an adjacent tower, according to brokerage Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, which represented IPG. About 700 employees are relocating.

Newmark called the deal the biggest relocation into Century City since 2004, when Creative Artists Agency announced its move to 2000 Avenue of the Stars, a new office building.

IPG and Newmark declined to disclose the value of the lease, but a real estate expert pegged it at more than $70 million.

Richard Haray, IPG’s senior vice president of corporate services, said Century City is more centrally located for IPG’s employees and major clients than its current location at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center. The new offices also are being redeveloped into “creative” offices with more shared work spaces.

IPG’s subsidiaries are expected to complete the move by the end of 2016, Haray said. They include public relations heavyweights PMK-BNC and Rogers & Cowan, which will have signage on top of one of the towers.

Steve Kolsky, who represented IPG in leasing, said the space has been vacant since Northrop completed its move two years ago.

The deal, he said, is the latest example that Century City, long known as a legal and financial center, is becoming more tied with entertainment.

“It’s a really big jolt to Century City,” he said.

andrew.khouri@latimes.com


New Positions, Promotions Strengthen Nurture Marketing Practice at Fathom – PR Newswire (press release)

CLEVELAND, Nov. 18, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — As marketing technology proliferates and buyers increasingly take the purchasing process into their own hands, the need for marketing to start healthy dialog with potential customers is paramount. It is in this climate that Fathom has created 4 new positions to help companies be more effective in their marketing communications.

Photo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20151117/288409

Named to the new positions are Colleen Masters (Director of Nurture Operations), Brittany Trafis (Director of Nurture Strategy), Efi Golan (Director of Technology) and Stephen Lehner (Director of Nurture Solutions Consulting).

According to Stephen Epple, Fathom’s VP of Nurture, a consistent theme among these individuals is a desire to grow themselves as well as others, along with high standards and winning attitudes. “Today’s buyers typically do not contact sales until at least halfway through the process, which requires companies to master appropriate forms of communication well before the moment of purchase,” said Epple. “The creation of these new roles and concurrent expansion of Fathom’s nurture capabilities is a direct response to this growing buyer reality and business necessity.”

Colleen Masters as director of nurture operations will oversee operations for nurture across all of Fathom. This includes ensuring both client success and employee happiness through resource planning, career development of solutions experts, and the creation and maintenance of high-performance client teams.

Brittany Trafis as director of nurture strategy will support nurture strategy across Fathom’s entire client base. She will be accountable for purposefully growing the business and ensuring Fathom consistently offers the optimum strategies to clients.

Efi Golan as director of technology will address the market need for direction in building and operating marketing technologies. He will bring his extensive consulting and implementation experience (including the design and development of mobile apps) to the position.

Stephen Lehner as director of nurture solutions consulting will continue the consultative approach to selling nurture services while drawing on his significant email marketing experience.

The new positions signify Fathom’s continuing investment in this vital marketing function under the direction of nurture VP Epple.

About Fathom

Fathom creates profitable growth through content strategy, digital marketing and sales/analytics consulting that serve a greater purpose. The greater purpose is serving the mission of its customers, as well as inspiring transformation in its own people, local communities, and larger world. In today’s buyer-first world, the organization has embraced the call for companies to act as media publishers that build audiences with resourceful content. Fathom fuses data and creativity to optimize the emotional connection between its clients and their buyers in order to help them thrive in an unpredictable marketing climate. Fathom recognizes and appreciates the role all of its stakeholders—customers, employees, partners, community—play in its success.

SOURCE Fathom


Oracle upgrades its marketing cloud with mobile, attribution, and testing … – VentureBeat

Oracle announced it has enhanced its Oracle Marketing Cloud to help marketers connect with increasingly digital-savvy customers. These innovations are part of a growing platform war among the various marketing cloud players, including Salesforce, Adobe, Marketo, and Demandbase.

The upgrades, Oracle said, let marketers orchestrate mobile customer engagement, clearly attribute revenue to marketing activities, and optimize experiences for individual customers.

The new release includes enhancements to the marketing cloud’s sales tools, which will “help salespeople better understand the profile of their individual contacts and engage them with relevant content,” Oracle said in a statement. One enhancement makes pre-loaded campaigns and content accessible on mobile devices. Another improves the salesperson’s view of the customer through a new Google Chrome Extension.


From VentureBeat

Customers don’t just get irritated when you screw up cross-channel personalization. They jump ship. Find out how to save your bacon on this free research-based webinar with Insight’s Andrew Jones.

Oracle adds more out-of-the-box in-app messaging options to help marketers deliver the right message within mobile apps. And the in-app messaging can be planned as part of a larger campaign that includes email, social, push notifications, and other channels.

A new self-service tool lets marketers build integrations that send audience data from the Oracle Data Management Platform (DMP) into other digital advertising and media platforms, such as demand-side platforms, ad networks, and website optimization tools.

The platform adds multivariate testing, which goes a step beyond traditional A/B testing, Oracle said. The tool can test the performance of up to eight versions of the same marketing message by analyzing variables, including subject lines, content, and the sender of the message.

And finally, Oracle announced a new set of dashboards designed to let marketers attribute conversions to specific content and interactions. Marketers can also build customized reports based on specific engagement and conversion metrics.

“As we look ahead to 2016, marketing’s ability to modernize existing processes and embrace data, technology and content will increasingly define the success of organizations across all industries,” said Kevin Akeroyd, senior vice president and general manager at Oracle Marketing Cloud. “For many marketers, this will require a significant transformation and that is why we are so focused on making marketing technology more integrated, more holistic and, frankly, easier to use.”


Are Sponsored Social Posts the Most Effective Marketing Channel? – eMarketer

Social media users say sponsored social messages are equally—if not more—effective as other types of marketing tactics, according to the results of a July 2015 survey. Even newer platforms such as Periscope and Snapchat ranked higher than more mature tactics like search or print ads.

Top 25 Most Effective Marketing Tactics According to US Social Media Users, July 2015 (% of respondents)

Data from Izea, an online marketplace that connects brands with content creators, Lightspeed GMI and the Halverson Group found that nine out of the top 10 most effective marketing tactics comprised sponsored social messages.

The survey polled US social media users ages 18 to 70 who spent 15 or more hours online and visited at least one social media site or app per month. They were asked to indicate their top 3 most effective marketing tactics and rate them on a 10-point scale. Sponsored social messaging on still-maturing platforms like Periscope, Snapchat and Instagram scored higher than on “traditional” social platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Usage and Effectiveness* of Paid Advertising Methods According to B2C Content Marketers in North America, 2014 & 2015 (% of respondents)

TV commercials were the only nonsocial (or nondigital) marketing tactic in the top 10. Other traditional-media and older digital tactics like search and print scored lower on the list. Website banner ads were rated the lowest.

B2C content marketers are a bit less positive about social tactics, but a growing number of them say social is an effective platform. In an October 2015 survey by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), Marketing Profs and TrackMaven, 61% of B2C content marketers in North America said promoted posts such as Promoted Tweets were effective. And the effectiveness of such paid posts increased compared to 2014.


TNT and TBS Continue Brand Evolution by Beefing Up Marketing Team – Variety

Turner-owned cablers TNT and TBS are continuing their brand evolution under president Kevin Reilly by beefing up the networks’ marketing teams with the promotion of Jeff Gregor and the hire of Michael Engleman, who comes from NBC Universal’s Syfy and Chiller.

Gregor has been elevated to the newly-created position of chief catalyst officer for TNT and TBS, while Engleman — who was responsible for Sci Fi’s rebrand to Syfy — will join the company in early 2016 in the new post of exec vice president of entertainment marketing and brand innovation.

“We are reinventing two market-leading brands, TBS and TNT, which calls for a forward-reaching, re-imagining of our marketing organization,” said Reilly. “I have worked closely with Jeff since I joined the company, and he is one of the rare leaders who can draw on his deep brand marketing experience while reaching for new ideas and emergent methodologies. Michael will be the perfect complement to Jeff in our leadership suite – a stellar media professional with a successful track record in finding new, culturally relevant paths to the consumer.”

Engleman served as exec vice president of marketing, digital and global brand strategy for Syfy and Chiller, where he developed campaigns for “Defiance,” “12 Monkeys,” Face Off” and the pop culture phenomenon of the “Sharknado” franchise. First joining Syfy in 2008, Engleman was behind the cable net’s rebrand as it changed from Sci Fi. Before, he had served as vice president and creative director for CMT.

When he joins Turner, Engleman will oversee all branding and marketing initiatives for TNT and TBS, in addition to creating a new content marketing group to maximize opportunities presented by a fast-changing media landscape. He will be responsible for growing consumer relationships through audience development, digital and social content creation, real-time marketing and cross-platform consumer experiences.

Gregor previously served as exec vice president and chief marketing officer of both networks. In his new role, his marketing purview will be expanded; he will continue his duties and accelerate organizational change, supporting sales to monetize brand content and innovation, driving key strategic initiatives and operational efficiency and providing support to executives across all areas that interact with marketing.

While at Turner, Gregor and his team launched “Conan” as well as streaming apps for both TNT and TBS. He led marketing initiatives behind “Cougar Town,” “Rizzoli & Isles,” “Major Crimes,” “Falling Skies” and “The Last Ship,” among other series, including “The Big Bang Theory.” He also developed campaigns for the NBA, Major League Baseball and NASCAR.

Prior to TNT and TBS, which he joined in 2000, Gregor oversaw marketing for Turner Classic Movies and was the network’s general manager.


Top Ten 2016 Marketing Trends – Memphis Daily News (blog)

Guerrilla Sales & Marketing

Lori Turner

Lori Turner-Wilson

By Lori Turner-Wilson

Updated 2:43PM

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This column is the first in an 11-part series. Check back for the remainder of the series and a deep dive into each of these 10 trends.

As the new year draws closer, it’s an ideal time to reflect on this past year’s marketing strategies – those where you hit it out of the park, as well as those where you may have struck out. This honest self-reflection on historical performance is the key to continuous improvement and the development of a solid 2016 strategic marketing plan. Equally important is the ability to look ahead to marketing trends on the horizon that will or already are impacting your company’s growth.

As such, consider these top ten 2016 marketing trends as contenders for your 2016 marketing plan.

2016 is expected to bring an explosion in proximity or beacon marketing, with nearly half of retailers launching these programs in 2015 – up from just 15 percent in 2014.

Expect a new form of search engine optimization – specifically for digital assistants like Siri and Cortana – to become a focal point. Siri alone processed 1 billion search queries per week in January of this year.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that digital media ad revenue – including social, video and search – will surpass TV ad spending in 2016.

Consumer purchase decisions will grow increasingly more complex. The average consumer making a high-impact purchase – such as insurance services – visits five websites, engages with each brand of interest in seven different ways, and spends 35 days researching that decision. Sales teams must adapt to this new reality.

Mobile website design isn’t just important in 2016; it’s everything, with 62 percent of Internet time being spent on mobile devices this year.

Forty-two percent of B2B companies used marketing automation in 2015 to more effectively market on multiple channels online, to automate repetitive marketing tasks, and to track a prospect’s brand interaction across all digital channels.

A shakeout in social media providers will take place in 2016, leaving fewer players of consequence with which to contend. Facebook will grow more dominant, and Instagram and SnapChat will be seen as mainstream versus niche players.

A veritable app explosion is expected in the new year, given 87 percent of all mobile time was spent in apps versus browsers in 2015.

Digital silos are evaporating as the terms “digital marketing” and “marketing” are becoming ubiquitous. Our lives are digital after all. That’s why savvy companies will be fully integrating digital and offline marketing strategies in 2016.

Prepare for these trends before your competitors, and you may very well create a competitive advantage, which is highly difficult to do in this highly commoditized world in which we live. Check back over the next 10 weeks for follow-up columns on each of these trends and a road map for adjusting your marketing plan accordingly.

Lori Turner-Wilson, CEO and founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy, can be reached at redrovercompany.com.


Auto-Tune for Marketing: Tips For Using Analytics To Plan, Execute And Adjust … – Marketing Land

1. Find the business KPIs that matter. Reverse-engineer your marketing performance to hit the notes that you know the senior leadership of your company will listen to most closely. Ultimately, most KPIs ought to tie back to revenue in some way — units sold, customer churn, sales performance with a certain demographic and so on.

Speak openly with your company’s leadership to determine which data line they’re tracking most closely, as well as the volatility they see in that data.

Specifically, explore any blind spots around why those KPIs do or don’t do well. Where are you facing a KPI mystery? And which KPIs should you check most regularly to keep an eye on changes?

2. Benchmark and correlate your data against those KPIs. Once you know what KPI you need to impact most, explore the connection between what marketing has been doing and how that KPI has been performing.

What are the most likely causes behind an increase or decrease in that KPI? What are the obvious correlations you can spot, and where do you as a marketer have blind spots?

And go a level deeper than just putting two data lines next to each other. Get curious and courageous.

Make sure you’re using analytics to find correlations that matter, not coincidences that don’t. And if you can’t tell the difference, bookmark those and get help investigating them.

New approaches to “explanatory analytics” can help you explain correlations, not just predict outcomes.

3. Build explicit checkpoints into your marketing plan. While you may not be able to predict what course corrections you’ll need to make, you can safely predict that you’ll need to make them. So be explicit about that.

Plan ahead for what questions you’ll investigate along the way. Where you have hunches, build in ways to test them against data. Where you have blind spots, build in ways to examine your data to fill them in.

And build in explicit permissions with your internal stakeholders so that when the data tells you that you need to course-correct, you’ll do so.

Educate them on what explanatory analytics can do that predictive analytics can’t. Find out what it will take for them to trust the data you bring them.

Changing lanes or making a U-turn is a lot less painful if you signal in advance. Making explicit agreements to course-correct helps reduce the friction and awkwardness of course corrections as they happen.

4. Let the data lead you to better questions. The only thing worse than the wrong answer is the right answer to the wrong question. And some of the most pernicious side effects of unpredictability are the unknown unknowns.

If you don’t know what questions would yield the best insights, then let your data whisper to you and guide you to smarter questions. Explanatory analytics solutions can help you explore how strong certain correlations are.

The simple act of scanning your data for strong correlation signals can sometimes lead you to serendipitous discoveries that make a huge difference. Learning how to let your data lead you to smarter questions is going to create massive advantages for marketing organizations in 2016 and beyond.

5. Act on insights decisively and courageously. According to the same Gartner report, one in four market leaders will be overtaken by a smaller, younger company by the end of 2017. One of the reasons given is that smaller, nimbler companies are more comfortable with digital technologies such as data analytics, social media and mobile technologies.

But another reason is that smaller companies have fewer cultural barriers to overcome when it comes to acting on data. At a recent Techonomy conference, business leaders from multiple companies including PayPal, Hilton and Visa talked about how larger companies that need to compete with smaller businesses must have the courage to change and act on insights.

Plan ahead for whatever cultural barriers you might face when marketing recommends a course correction. It may be as minor as adjusting your creative approach or messaging for a specific campaign. It may be as major as recommending a fundamental shift in your product or go-to-market strategy.

Whatever it is, scan ahead for where you might run into opposition. Bring other players into your process. Walk them through your data, and make sure they appreciate the strength of the correlations you’re looking at.


Why Digital Marketing Should Join The Sharing Economy – Marketing Land

ss-sharing-shareBack in 2008, potential investors thought the idea of renting airbeds and rooms to strangers was a crazy idea. But today, Airbnb is upending the hospitality industry, serving an average of 425,00 guests per night — more than many global hotel brands — with expectations of generating $900 million in revenue this year.

The fast-growing sharing economy is disrupting industries from ride sharing to finance to music streaming.

This has been good for consumers, who are reaping the benefits of low prices and convenient new options: They can now stay in a British castle for the price of a hotel room. They don’t have to stand in line for a taxi. They’re “monetizing” their kids’ former bedrooms and empty guestrooms.

At its core, the sharing economy is about fostering collaboration to turn underutilized resources into new revenue streams. This quest for increased efficiency appeals well beyond the consumer marketplace as businesses seek to optimize assets by fostering B2B exchanges for vehicles, parking spots, office space and more.

In some ways, marketers are well ahead of this curve. They’ve been using co-operatives for years to enrich their customer data.

For example, catalog retailers have long shared their mailing lists with other retailers to reach customers beyond their own. Financial services companies have hedged against fraud by pooling data.

In the travel industry, airlines and hotels have successfully shared data with one another to identify in-market travelers.

Now, as the sharing economy picks up steam, the concept of collaboration in data-driven marketing has never been more relevant. The most pressing challenge for brands today is having the ability to recognize the same customer at each and every touchpoint and to understand her needs in the moment.

Achieving People-Based Marketing

Advertisers want addressability. They want to leverage first-party data from their CRM systems to target real customers, not cookies or devices. In short, they want people-based marketing.

True people-based marketing requires recognition and right-now relevance with every interaction on desktops, smartphones, tablets, in stores, and more. Cross-channel identity is the new currency — and as of yet, only the big walled gardens and very largest Internet brands have enough consumer log-in data to win this do-or-die battle for addressability.

That’s why there’s so much buzz about second-party data right now. Second-party data is another company’s first-party data that is strategically shared with your brand, in exchange, most likely, for some of your own first-party data.

The idea is this: While few brands have the scale necessary to match the sheer number of identifiers in Facebook or Google’s possession, together they do.

New technology is allowing brands to securely share anonymized data with trusted marketing partners to scale their ability to market to real people across all channels. While cooperatively exchanging data in a privacy-compliant way, “trust groups” can leverage deterministic matching methods to fill in the gaps to become smarter about each customer and her journey.

What makes the customer unique? What are her interests? What devices is she using? Where is she researching products? In which channel is she buying? With these kinds of insights, the opportunities are endless for creating people-based marketing experiences that are more personalized and engaging.

Sharing Requires Trust

In the new sharing ecosystem, participation in cooperatives won’t entail throwing your data over the wall for anyone to use. Networks of complementary brands with overlapping audiences will create private trust groups.

A network might include a publisher and its advertisers, an automaker and its dealerships, a retailer and its co-op advertisers, publishers within a premium ad exchange, or sub-brands within a larger retail organization. Members will be in the driver’s seat by controlling with whom they share and what they share — while staying focused on their mutual goals of extending audience reach and bringing the customer into focus.

With data sharing comes responsibility. Before exchanging their hard-earned customer data, marketers will demand security and privacy compliance.

In the sharing economy, the key to success is offering a trust model that makes people feel safe. (This certainly was the case in convincing people to share houses or cars with people they don’t know.)

In digital marketing, the stakeholders include brands and their customers, and both groups will expect transparency and fair value in exchange for shared data.

High-quality customer data is a growing source of competitive advantage. For too long, marketers have been overly dependent on third-party data that is less than fresh, rather than real-time knowledge about real people.

The first-party data that marketers have collected through direct interactions with consumers — the best source of truth about their customers — has been one of marketers’ most underutilized assets.

Working together, marketers can maintain control of this valuable data while accelerating their ability to recognize and target known customers across channels.

As it’s already done in other industries, the sharing economy will soon disrupt digital marketing. It will change how marketers think about their engagement data, and how they use it, scale it and share it, in order to gain deeper insights and achieve people-based marketing and deliver better customer experiences.


Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Mike Sands is CEO of Signal. Prior to joining the company, he was part of the original Orbitz management team and held the positions of CMO and COO. While at Orbitz, Mike helped take the business from start-up to IPO, then through two acquisitions (Cendant and Blackstone). After Orbitz, Mike joined The Pritzker Group as a partner on their private equity team. Mike also has held management roles at General Motors Corporation and Leo Burnett. His work at General Motors led him to be named a “Marketer of the Next Generation” by Brandweek magazine. Mike holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from Northwestern University and a Masters in Management degree from the J.L. Kellogg School of Management.

(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)


RIP Millennials: Marketing Will Be ‘Age Agnostic’ Next Year – AdAge.com
Credit: Andrejs Zemdega/iStock

In 2016, marketing and communications professionals will stop targeting millennials as one demographic and focus on reaching the younger consumers based on their passions, according to a study released today by Hotwire PR.

The agency’s seventh annual “Communications Trends Report,” which was based on crowdsourced data from 400 communicators across 22 countries, revealed that brands will look to engage consumers with age-agnostic content that emphasizes certain values.

Another key finding from the study is that the industry is not prepared for mobile ad blocking, especially since Apple enabled apps that stop ads from popping up on smartphones and iPads through its iOS 9 operating system. To rise above the ad blocking influx, marketers will need to spend more time on native advertising, sponsored podcasts, influencer partnerships, and experiential efforts, according to the research.

Other key trends for 2016 from the study include:

1. The rise of virtual reality: Consumers are craving more experiences, and while VR will continue building momentum in the gaming and entertainment space, marketers will begin looking at new ways to integrate it into a wide range of content.

2. Using content to compete with Amazon: Brands will use targeted content and campaigns to offer consumers rich experiences that will encourage them to return to their company sites rather than Amazon to make purchases.

3. Real-time rather than planned content: Marketers will focus resources more on real-time content than planned editorial calendars next year.

4. Lots of hyperlocal content: One or two pieces of hyper-targeted content will not be enough for marketers in 2016. They will need to create at least 10 specific messages for each subset group within an audience.

5. Marketing campaigns that provide a service: The most successful campaigns in 2016 will offer relevant and useful services to consumers and society at large.

6. Continued focus on brands as activists: Values will continue to be placed at the center of brands’ communications strategies, specifically on major social and political issues.

7. Marketers get a handle on digital video: With more consumers cutting the cord, marketers will use production experts, planners, and accounts teams to figure out which platforms work best for video in 2016.

8. The growth of third-party publishing channels: Brands will still use their websites to post content, but publishing platforms with built in distribution services, such as Medium and LinkedIn Pulse, will become more important for marketing campaigns.


So Much for Millennials: Marketing Goes ‘Age Agnostic’ Next Year – AdAge.com
Credit: Andrejs Zemdega/iStock

In 2016, marketing and communications professionals will stop targeting millennials as one demographic and focus on reaching the younger consumers based on their passions, according to a study released today by Hotwire PR.

The agency’s seventh annual “Communications Trends Report,” which was based on crowdsourced data from 400 communicators across 22 countries, revealed that brands will look to engage consumers with age-agnostic content that emphasizes certain values.

Another key finding from the study is that the industry is not prepared for mobile ad blocking, especially since Apple enabled apps that stop ads from popping up on smartphones and iPads through its iOS 9 operating system. To rise above the ad blocking influx, marketers will need to spend more time on native advertising, sponsored podcasts, influencer partnerships, and experiential efforts, according to the research.

Other key trends for 2016 from the study include:

1. The rise of virtual reality: Consumers are craving more experiences, and while VR will continue building momentum in the gaming and entertainment space, marketers will begin looking at new ways to integrate it into a wide range of content.

2. Using content to compete with Amazon: Brands will use targeted content and campaigns to offer consumers rich experiences that will encourage them to return to their company sites rather than Amazon to make purchases.

3. Real-time rather than planned content: Marketers will focus resources more on real-time content than planned editorial calendars next year.

4. Lots of hyperlocal content: One or two pieces of hyper-targeted content will not be enough for marketers in 2016. They will need to create at least 10 specific messages for each subset group within an audience.

5. Marketing campaigns that provide a service: The most successful campaigns in 2016 will offer relevant and useful services to consumers and society at large.

6. Continued focus on brands as activists: Values will continue to be placed at the center of brands’ communications strategies, specifically on major social and political issues.

7. Marketers get a handle on digital video: With more consumers cutting the cord, marketers will use production experts, planners, and accounts teams to figure out which platforms work best for video in 2016.

8. The growth of third-party publishing channels: Brands will still use their websites to post content, but publishing platforms with built in distribution services, such as Medium and LinkedIn Pulse, will become more important for marketing campaigns.


31 Tips for Local Digital Marketing – Small Business Trends

Creating a digital marketing strategy for a local business is quite different than creating one for an online-only business. Your local digital marketing strategy should specifically target and appeal to potential customers in your geographic area.

To better reach local customers for your store, restaurant or other locally focused business, take a look at the local digital marketing tips below.

Local Digital Marketing Tips

Have a Mobile Friendly Website

This is an important local digital marketing tip for any business. But for local businesses, it can be even more essential. Customers who are looking for a restaurant, store or other local business are likely to do a search on their phone or mobile device. If you don’t have a mobile optimized site, not only will it be difficult for them to interact with your site, but it will also be difficult for them to find it in the first place.

Tiffany Monhollon, director of content marketing for ReachLocal, said in an email interview with Small Business Trends, “Google recently updated its mobile algorithm so that businesses that don’t have mobile friendly websites may not show up in mobile search results when consumers search (and other prominent search engines followed this pattern).”

Optimize Your Site for Local Search

If you want local customers, either on mobile or desktop, to find you, you have to have a comprehensive search strategy. Your website should include information about the products and services you provide, your location, and other relevant keywords.

Have a Clean, Professional Design

Local customers who are browsing websites to decide where to eat, shop or obtain various services are going to make a judgement about your business based on its website. So you need to make sure that it looks professional and offers all the relevant information they might be looking for.

Include Address and Hours

One of the most common things customers look for on websites of local businesses is the location and hours. Make sure that information is clearly marked and easy to find so customers won’t be left guessing.

Offer Multiple Contact Methods

You should also make it easy for people to contact you if they have additional questions. Offer a phone number, email, social media accounts, live chat, or some combination so that people always have a way to get in touch.

Have a Clear Call to Action

The main goal of your website is likely to help your business gain customers. So you need to make it clear to people who visit how they should go about doing business with you. Do they need to call and make an appointment? Should they just stop by during business hours? Have a clear call to action so that customers will know exactly what steps they should take.

Regularly Post on Social Media

This may be an obvious local digital marketing tip as social media can also be a great tool for targeting potential customers online. But you have to actually engage people on those sites. That means you have to post regularly to stay top of mind.

But Always Keep Your Audience in Mind While Posting

You also have to post things that are actually relevant and useful to your audience. If you offer heating and cooling services, maybe that means you could post links to helpful articles about keeping your home cool enough during the summer or warm enough during the winter. That type of content gives people more of an incentive to follow and interact with your business online.

Include Multimedia Posts

Media like photos and videos can also be helpful to your social media strategy. Make sure that they always fit with your overall goals and include a call to action.

Consider Social Media Advertising Targeting Your Area

Advertising on social sites like Facebook can help you increase your reach and gain an audience for your business online. Just make sure that your campaigns target relevant customers in your area.

Leverage Locally Targeted Advertising

Whether you’re advertising on Facebook, Google or other online platforms, targeting is essential. Always target customers in your city or community and use other relevant factors as well.

Monhollon says, “One of the main ways to ensure you are maximizing your budget with local advertising is to leverage targeting capabilities to reach local consumers. That way, you are focusing as much of your budget as possible on people most relevant to your business.”

Use Search Engine Advertising — Again Locally Targeted

Search engine advertising can be another great way to get your business in front of relevant customers. Platforms like Google allow for local targeting. And with the right strategy, you can reach customers that are looking for exactly what your business offers.

Create Locally Optimized Keywords

Part of your local digital marketing strategy should be choosing keywords that are both relevant to your business and your location. Targeting people who are looking for an Italian restaurant in some other state won’t do your business any good. So make sure you include your location information in keywords.

Choose Relevant Landing Pages

When people click those advertisements, you need to think about where you want them to land on your website. Should it be the main page or the page for a particular product or service? You could also create a landing page specific to an advertising campaign if you feel that is necessary.

Refine Your Advertising Strategy Based on Response

Through the process of advertising, you’ll need to monitor your results and make changes based on what’s working. If a particular keyword phrase isn’t bringing you any clicks or actual business, it may be necessary to switch it up.

Monhollon elaborates, “Once it’s set up, you should regularly refine these configurations to those variables and components that are driving the right results — conversions in the form of calls, web form fills, emails, etc. — and not just clicks. A good cost per click rate is important, but it’s more important to make sure that you are driving people to actually contact your business.”

Bring Previous Visitors Back with Retargeting

Retargeting also provides a great opportunity for your business to convert leads who may have been interested before but just didn’t complete a purchase for whatever reason.

Claim and Optimize Your Local Listings

Sites like Yelp, Google and others also provide a lot of information to online customers about local businesses. So it’s important that you claim the listings for your business so that you can control the basic information.

Keep Your Information Continuously Updated

If your business ever changes its hours, location or other information, you need to make sure that those local listings are updated so that customers don’t get confused.

Monitor Online Reviews

Online reviews are also incredibly important for local businesses. Make sure that you regularly monitor sites like Yelp and Facebook to see if any action needs to be taken.

Respond to Negative Reviews When Appropriate

When people share negative reviews about your business, it may be necessary for you to respond. Every situation is different, but an apology and acknowledgement of their experience can sometimes go a long way.

Accept Constructive Feedback

Receiving criticism from online reviewers can be tough. But it can also help improve your business if you allow it. Take what your customers say to heart and see if it can help you make relevant improvements.

Keep an Eye Out for Themes

If online reviewers are constantly sharing the same complaints, you likely need to make a change in that area. Or if they share something positive about your business, that could also help you create some talking points about your business for your marketing efforts.

Share Concerns With Your Team

Share the concerns gained from online reviews or otherwise with your employees. If you need to make improvements, they should know what and why.

Create a Customer-Focused Mindset

But you don’t always have to wait for customers to point out a flaw in order to address it. Try to think like a customer and encourage your employees to do the same. If you do this, you could prevent some of those negative reviews from ever being posted in the first place.

Remind Happy Customers to Share Feedback

Of course, some customers are just more likely to share complaints over positive comments. But you need some positive reviews to maintain your online reputation. So remind happy customers that they can leave feedback on sites like Yelp.

Put Reminders in Follow-up Emails

It can help to remind people to leave reviews or feedback when you send them a follow-up email after completing their purchase. This also helps to ensure that they were happy with the experience and to keep your business at the top of their mind.

Promote Your Online Presence in Your Signage

You can also ask customers to leave reviews or visit your website or social accounts by including that information on the signs at your location. That could increase your reach online and encourage customers to do business with you again.

Tell In-Person Customers Where to Find You Online

Whether you put it on signs, in pamphlets or just tell people, make sure you let in-person customers know where they can find you online in case they have any questions or just want to follow along with your latest business updates.

Target Hyper-Local Customers With Apps

Mobile apps now offer unique opportunities to target customers who are in very close proximity to a business. So if your business has an app, you could use it to send alerts or offers to your customers who are nearby. You could also use other location-based apps like Foursquare to send out such offers.

Measure the Full Impact of Your Marketing Efforts

No matter which local digital marketing strategy you choose for your local business, it’s important to track your progress and find out what is working and what isn’t.

Constantly Tweak Your Efforts Based on Results

Over time, you’ll be able to determine which tactics give your business the best return on investment. This likely means that you’ll want to refocus some of your efforts on those local digital marketing tactics that are bringing you the most customers.

Local Businesses Photo via Shutterstock



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10 guidelines for your content marketing in 2016 – 2017 – Customer Think

Check out my new slide deck to discover the 10 guidelines for content marketing in 2016 – 2017

1. More purpose-driven than ever

Starbucks is setting up a partnership with a former journalist for the Washington post. The goal is to make content about global issues the world needs to address. Starbucks is not just about selling coffee. Starbucks is about connecting people one coffee at a time, one neighborhood at a time. By setting up this partnership they want to push their content marketing to the next level and make it more purpose-driven. The ambition of SpaceX (Elon Musk’s second company next to Tesla) is to colonize Mars. Their partnership with Nasa is almost like a means to an end. Their content is about their ambition, about their purpose. Since both Starbucks and SpaceX have lofty goals, everyone talks about them and shares them.

The more purpose-driven the content, the better. Nowadays most people understand that content marketing is not about selling, but rather about selling without selling. You’re trying to get people excited about your story. Instead of thinking think about what you’re trying to sell, you should be looking for ways to enthuse people. In the long run, it’s more valuable to excite people with the story of your brand purpose than with a hyped one-shot viral movie.

2. More consumer value driven than ever

A few years ago there was this company that sold swimming pools. During the financial crisis, business was down. The sector as a whole was suffering but there was one company that kept on growing. Their secret? A brilliant marketing strategy: answering consumer questions. The owner of the company listed the 200 most frequently asked questions and answered all of them in blog posts on his site. Because of this strategy, everyone who still had money to buy a pool ended up on this company’s website. It made a huge difference. It kept his company alive.

The first guideline was about the story you want to share as a brand, about what you think is important. This guideline concerns the questions consumers ask themselves. This part is about being relevant. It focuses on what people think is important. If you know what consumers are wondering about, all you need to do is answer them and they will find your content. Make a list of all the questions people could possibly have about your sector, your passion, your products, your business, your people. And then answer these questions in blog posts, videos and infographics. Remember to use consumer terminology instead of technical jargon. The popularity of this content will depend on the search behavior of consumers.

In the long run, this content can create a bigger business impact than purpose-driven content as it represents extreme value for consumers.

Invest most of your efforts in this type of content. Being customer-centric implies thinking about content from a consumer point of view. Give them value and it will pay off eventually.

3. More engaging than ever

Almost every week there are new possibilities to engage with people on social media. This is a huge opportunity for companies to connect with their audience. Engaging is about giving attention back to the market. If someone shares your content, if someone asks you a question, they are giving you one of the most valuable things in life: their attention. The best way to leverage that attention is by giving attention back.

If someone tweets something nice, most brands favorite that tweet. It’s a one-second investment. What if you were to change that into something more engaging? Try out the video replies on Twitter and record a 5-second video to thank people in a more engaging way. Let your marketing team and/or general management team spend 10 minutes a week on sending engaging replies to customers. Make 5- to 15-second thank-you movies for fans and see what happens. This is a lot more conversation worthy than a favorite because your movie will win hearts. Winning a heart every day is something I truly believe in.

4. Micro content rules: it’s a volume game

The biggest privately owned e-commerce store in the world is a Dutch company named Coolblue. Founded 15 years ago, it is still 100% owned by its three founders. It is a profitable company that generates close to half a billion in annual sales. Coolblue are experts in using YouTube as a content channel. Every week they post anywhere between 50 to 100 new videos, all based on the ‘more-consumer-value-driven-than-ever’ principle. All videos feature employees explaining how to insert a SIM card in an iPhone or what the difference is between an iPhone and a Samsung Galaxy. Over the last 12 months, Coolblue racked up 20 million views on this channel. And all content is Dutch spoken, so the total market is something like 22 million people. According to their CEO, “the secret of our YouTube channel is not to achieve this one hit video with millions of views. No, it is a volume game. The more movies, the more views.”

As a content marketer, it is important to maintain a certain content frequency. It is better to create 10 small pieces of content than a single huge piece. Creating these smaller content items makes it possible to maintain a presence on every channel while changing precious little in the way of content. Micro content is about having a certain direction to your story and then fragmenting it into as many small pieces of content as possible. When posting a message on a blog, you can also make a short accompanying video, crate some visuals, provide expert feedback on the post, etc. This one post suddenly becomes a series of micro content pieces that can be shared via the most suited channel.

5. Question and demand philosophy

Most marketers look for the medium with the biggest reach. For this reason (and others), Facebook is still the most popular medium among marketers even though the value of reach depends on what stage a medium is in. Right now, 1000 followers on Instagram is worth more than 1000 likes on Facebook or 1000 followers on Twitter. It’s all a question of supply and demand. The more branded content there is on a certain channel, the harder it becomes to catch the attention of your audience. Facebook and Twitter are very blurred channels. This doesn’t mean you should stop using them; it just means you need a larger follower base to achieve your goals. Or you need to pay more. Instagram still contains less branded content than Facebook and Twitter, making it easier to grab the attention of your followers on Instagram. Right now, Snapchat is probably the channel with the highest value per follower. Brands are still discovering Snapchat. Companies that start early on a new medium undeniably have a fast mover advantage. It builds up the relationship in an early stage so you attract more followers early on. Once the medium is saturated, you will need less effort (read: money) to achieve your goals. Invest in the channels that will be REALLY hot 3 years from now. Other brands won’t because they only look at absolute reach and ignore relative reach. Thanks to this, you will be one up on those brands in the near future.

6. Create in the moment

80% of your content can be planned upfront. As a marketer, you know what to say weeks and sometimes even months in advance so it’s pretty easy to make a planning based on your own plans. The other 20% of the content should be about what is happening in your customer’s world. Content marketing requires a certain level of flexibility and creativity to play with what is happening in the world of the consumer. This does not mean you have to jump on everything that’s trending on social media. Instead you should look for elements in your customer’s world that fit with yours. See if you can add value. There’s more to it than making a funny remark about something that happened in the Super Bowl – which is great – but it is about using your knowledge to help consumers. Too many brands use this approach in an opportunistic way. It’s much better to use your creativity to add value in a debate you are knowledgeable in. Imagine you are in the real estate business and the entire country is talking about some changes in real estate law. If so, this is not the time to make jokes; this is when you share your knowledge in a blog post or a video. This proves your expertise to the market and it adds value. While being funny in the moment is fine, adding value in the moment is even better.

The success of Meerkat (a very popular live streaming app) and the arrival of Twitter’s alternative Periscope proves once again that ‘in the moment’ is one of the key trends. With Meerkat and Periscope anyone can live stream an event from anywhere in the world. This will enhance the “it’s happening now” feeling even more in the social world. The content market can jump on this wagon.

7. Use the blurring world in a smart way

Michelle phan is one of the most influential people in the make-up industry. She is a beautiful young woman with a very popular YouTube channel. She has more than 7 million subscribers and her videos have racked up more than 1 billion views. Impressive. Michelle seems like a smart business woman as well. She published a book that sold very well. She also started an offline service. Her fans can subscribe to her Glam bag. If you pay 10$ per month, you receive a small bag with the samples of the make-up Michelle uses in her shows. More than 700,000 people subscribed to her business concept. Michelle is an online superstar who is very savvy about how to present herself in the offline world, once again proving that there is no difference anymore between online and offline.

As content marketers we should also stop distinguishing between the two. A lot of the work a brand does online could have an offline link. Everyone is talking about digital first, but in the content/advertising world, most companies still put offline first. This will change over the next few years. The online channel will prevail and will look for ways to get offline exposure. One of the goals of every content marketer should be to get as much free PR as possible. Good, added value content is very relevant to the offline media. Today’s newspapers are filled with yesterday’s tweets. The same could and should happen with your content a few times a year. Make that a concrete objective.

8. It’s about scenarios

Pieces of content are very often stand-alone pieces of content. Successful content is created through scenarios. Pretend that your content plan is the scenario for a TV show. A never-ending TV show. A successful TV show has suspense and surprises, there are emotions and different characters, and there are happy moments and sad moments. Stories evolve and fade into the background, it’s almost like real life. One of the most fun brainstorms is to write the scenario for your brand. By doing so, you will see that the impact of each small piece of content increases because it leads to something, viz. to the next step in the scenario, a new piece of the puzzle.

Over the last few years, Lego has implemented the extreme version of this philosophy. Lego created real movies and short videos in which Lego toys play a central role. The climax of this concept was the Lego film which was released in 2014. Millions of people went to see a movie consisting of 100% product placement by one single brand. They wrote a scenario for their brand. A company that does really well in this respect is Google. Google takes us along on their journey of Google X. Every week we read about some new idea, invention or failed concept. It’s exciting, it’s new, it’s emotional, sometimes it’s good news and sometimes it’s bad news. We all watch the Google movie, almost on a daily basis.

9. Don’t forget to use your hook

Hubspot was one of the first brands to become successful with content marketing. As their business is selling inbound marketing software, it was pretty smart to show the market how it should be done. Hubspot posts about 5 to 7 blogs a day. They write about how to increase your inbound marketing performance. They are not selling the audience anything, they are showing them tricks within their field of expertise. Good content marketing. Hubspot is also very smart when it comes to using their hook to catch some leads. A lot of content marketing is simply about fantastic bait. You create a beautiful piece of content, people like it and that’s it – they move on to the next beautiful piece of content. Once in a while, it is smart to use your hook. If you create a brilliant piece of content then try to acquire the consumer’s data. For instance, by collecting e-mail addresses you can connect with clients and enhance the relationship. If you keep producing top content, after a while you will have created enough goodwill to ask something back from your followers. If you give 90% of the time, you are allowed to ask 10% of the time. This does not mean that all content should be shared from a platform where you use your hook. Just remember to use your hook on occasion because it’s a smart thing to do.

10. Make it personal

Use real stories and real people in your content marketing. I meet so many marketers who are afraid of making their own people the stars of their content marketing. Traditionally schooled marketers still feel that online content should be created like a 30-second commercial. Expensive, big, takes time, fake, not personal… for online content marketing, the goal is to achieve the exact opposite. “Making it personal” is a crucial aspect. As we all live in a digital world, many clients hardly have any contact with actual people working for the companies they buy from. Using real people in content marketing says to the market that you are a real company with real people. It is also a source of pride for employees. Consumers feel as if they are getting to know you on a more personal level. Use more videos with real people in them instead of animated videos. Use fewer actors and let your staff play the starring role. If you are tweeting from a corporate account then mention the name of the person behind the account. The same goes for Facebook. Blog posts should be written by employees. You are bound to have employees who know their way around a camera so let them shoot the footage. Everyone should be able to choose their own preferred channel for sharing their expertise. Of course, it’s still a good idea to let a content marketer oversee the entire process.

Anything missing?

These are my 10 guidelines for content marketing in 2015 and 2016. Please let me know what you think and which guidelines you would like to add. It would be great if we could come up with 20 guidelines based on your feedback and expertise. I would love that.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for sharing. Thanks for adding your guideline(s) to this blog and deck.


The 3-step secret of small-business marketing – azcentral.com

Ah, the allure of owning your own business! It starts with a dream and a passion paired with buckets of heart and soul. Yet sometime after the initial steam wears off, we find ourselves wondering why our endeavor isn’t as fruitful or successful as we had dreamed.

Worry not: you most likely made the common error of thinking marketing is something you only do to get your baby on her feet. But whether you realize it or not, when you signed up to be an entrepreneur you also agreed to become a king (or queen) of marketing. As a small business owner, we are often required to be a jack-of-all trades. Through a combination of entrepreneurial intuition, diligent research and experience from the school of hard knocks, we learn to run a business successfully.

Coming from a background heavy in accounting, I believed that marketing would be my nemesis in business. I like the math involved in exact cause-and-effect relationships.  Marketing is not like that.  Although some things are predictable, choosing where to spend our time and money as we grow our businesses involves some risk. Nothing drives me batty faster than something that makes perfect sense but turns out to be ineffective — except maybe when something you’d hardly expect to help turns out to be fabulous. That, my friends, is the beast we call small-business marketing.

After taking a business from zero to gangbusters in less than a year, with almost no marketing budget, I became known among my entrepreneurial peers as a marketing and PR guru — which I find quite ironic, to say the least!  Fast forward five-plus years and I find myself loving the study of marketing so much that I own a respected marketing consulting firm.  Go figure.

Here’s my special recipe:

1. Always, always, always use strong branding.

Do you have a constant, memorable logo? Do you use your themed colors, fonts, feel and messaging on everything from your business cards to your newsletter? Many small businesses let this slip. We all know it takes a few impressions before people take action, but unless you connect those impressions for them, your potential customer may see your marketing over and over and still not remember you. Make sure to look at your branding from your customer’s perspective, and then stick to it 100 percent of the time.

2. Know your customers and be where they are looking.

I know that sounds like a given, but we often overlook it. Do market research to identify what group is your target client base and then walk a mile in their shoes. Where are the places they should see information about you, what would make your messaging memorable and when are your customers most likely to retain it? Educate yourself on marketing options and then test and track the ones that make sense. Don’t underestimate the many free options out there. For example, a great rating on Yelp will do wonders for most businesses.

3. Be diligent.

In my version of the perfect world, marketing would be something that we only have to do once. But alas, I have come to peace with the fact that this is not the case. So you submitted a news release last month? Well, do it again! Keep it fresh, fun, and interesting – and frequent. This principle applies to communications with your customers as well as the local media. Send out your newsletter regularly. Create reasons for clients to choose you, and broadcast them. Show your current clients how much you appreciate them and their referrals.

If the gal who hated marketing can do it, you can too.

Christie Kerner is the assistant director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. The center’s 19th Annual Spirit of Enterprise Awards Luncheon is Nov. 20 at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa. For registration go to asufoundation.org/spirit.

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7 Tips for Finding the Best Digital Marketing Agency – Huffington Post

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Image via Flickr

Companies with a strong digital marketing presence in their industry tend to outperform their peers, according to research from Capgemini Consulting and MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Of course, rather than invest immense resources in hiring, onboarding and training new talent for your team, it may be wise to bring in expert consultants or an agency to fulfill all of your marketing needs. Oftentimes, it is money better spent.

In some cases, the cost of recruiting may exceed $31,000. To onboard a new employee, companies invest in new equipment, signing bonuses and more, which can total at least $10,000. Similarly, organizations spend roughly $1,200 on average per employee on training. The approximate $42,200 spent on merely hiring and developing just one new employee to support your company’s marketing initiatives does not even consider that person’s salary. Worse, it can take anywhere between 8 to 26 weeks for a new hire to adjust to his or her role and begin to demonstrate their peak potential.

Most businesses do not have the luxury of money or time to recruit just the right candidates to fill out a marketing team that may only start being productive six months later. To accelerate growth sooner, partner with a digital marketing agency with the expertise and skillset to consistently drive meaningful results starting from day one.

Below are seven tips to follow closely in order to hire the perfect agency to support your company’s long-term goals.

Lower base fees, higher performance incentives

First and foremost, you will want to partner with a digital marketing agency that prioritizes growing your bottom line over their own billings. These days, a number of marketing firms are aligning client interests with their own, and putting their money where their mouth is. Instead of charging exorbitant fees irrespective of performance, many of the better agencies you will work with, instead, lower their retainer fee and bake in profit-sharing bonuses. To minimize your risk when hiring a marketing agency and generate the best ROI, partner with a purely pay-for-performance firm.

Industry focus or specialty

Some marketing firms do particularly well when working with B2B companies. Others primarily focus on growing B2C businesses. Therefore, you will want to hire an agency that specializes in servicing companies like yours. Ask about their current client roster and who they have had the most success with. Ideally, you do not want your business to stand out too much. A marketing consultancy that focuses on helping enterprise technology businesses grow may provide dismal results for a small business account.

Proven track record of success

After learning a bit more about the work an agency does, request sample case studies. Any good salesperson will try and share reports of their successes with brands similar to yours. Kelsey Libert of content marketing agency Fractl recommends seeking out long-term engagement case studies to see how well an agency’s campaigns have withstood the test of time.

Account staffing

One of the most common, yet frustrating things marketing firms do is they overpromise experience and expertise, but staff junior team members to manage the account and execute strategy. Always ask agency representatives about who will be responsible for developing and pushing out your different marketing campaigns. Ultimately, you will want only the most experienced marketers staffed on your account to ensure you get the most value out of the engagement.

Full-service arrangements and collaborative projects

Ask yourself: How involved do you want to be in marketing? Do you have available resources to spare to collaborate on each campaign? Or would you be willing to trust your agency to appropriately represent your brand?

Some digital marketers perform better when they have permission to provide full-service campaigns. Others prefer your input throughout each step of the conception, development and execution processes.

Tools, resources and competitive advantage

In addition to experience and expertise, the smartest marketers use a variety of premium tools and proprietary technology or processes to save time and deliver the best results for their clients. When prospecting for the right agency, gather an understanding of how they operate behind the scenes. Avoid anyone that still uses outdated applications or programs. Seek out agencies that constantly tinker with new tools and take advantage of the best marketing technology out there.

Reporting and transparency

Digital marketing firms like to shield themselves by providing reports which only highlight successes they’ve had throughout the engagement. High-impact marketers, instead, add focus to areas where they can improve to reassure you that they are doing their absolute best to leave no stone unturned in their pursuit to grow your business. Find agencies that are willing to provide weekly or monthly reporting, who also hold themselves accountable for both their successes and shortcomings.

This article originally appeared on the Group 8A blog and is republished with permission.

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Danny Wong is the co-founder of Blank Label, an award-winning luxury menswear company. He is also a digital marketing consultant and freelance writer. To connect, tweet him @dannywong1190 or message him on LinkedIn.


7 marketing strategies that will turn a holiday fling into a long-term … – Mashable

As the many big brand holiday advertisements trickle out online (like the highly controversial spot from Bloomingdales), the imminence of the lucrative holiday period has hit hard for many small business owners, sending strategizing into full swing.

Amid the intense focus on scoring sales in a sea of competition, it can be easy to forget what should be the priority — winning a client who sticks around long after the final slice of ham is eaten and the lights come down. If the value of loyalty escapes you, know this: according to Harvard Business Review, increasing customer retention rates by just 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.

With this in mind, we’ve gathered the top 7 marketing strategies that will win long-term commitment.

1. Give something for nothing

‘Tis the season of giving, but so many brands are too fixated on what they’re going to get to realize that it’s what they give that will win the long game.

One phenomenal example of this is OfficeMax’s on-going Elf Yourself campaign. Nine years on from its conception, the campaign has become a revenue source in and of itself with mugs, mouse pads, and even DVDs of your ‘elfed’ self available for purchase, but its popularity and incredible shares are in large part the result of being a completely free, personalized and relatively unbranded experience.

The much-loved campaign has generated incredible amounts of good will and loyalty around the brand.

2. Use custom content to make holiday searching extraordinarily simple

During a season full of stressful and time-consuming experiences, the number one way you can win a customer’s loyalty is by creating a website experience that is fast and simple. Custom content devoted to gift suggestions and sort-by functions are two simple ways to do this online — they minimize the noise to give the customer only what they really want to see — and the content developed can serve to inform in-store displays for on-the-go shoppers.

Indie online foodie spot Mouth do an amazing job of this online with a dedicated gift section that allows customers to sort by gift type and by price low to high. They offer just the right amount of options — enough to accommodate different tastes, but never so many that the shopper becomes overwhelmed.

3. Build personal connections with data

In a study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, researchers discovered that waiters were able to increase their tips by 23% simply by offering their customers a second set of mints and framing the act as if it were for them and them only.

The lesson to learn here is that a personal, meaningful connection is essential to getting the most out of people, and the way to achieve this is through customer data.

Even something as simple as collecting data on whether a purchased item is a gift can be used to send a friendly follow-up that offers the buyer something special for himself or herself together with a query about how the gift was received.

4. Make the small print a big deal

During the course of the year, your refund or exchange policy and other fine print like gift voucher expiry dates should exist as a stalemate. Over the holidays, they can become a feature.

This is especially true for the ever-popular gift voucher purchase, where often terms and conditions are murkier territory. Being completely transparent can break down what otherwise might be a barrier to purchase and ensure the buyer and recipient’s experiences are highly positive.

Remember that no matter how transparent you may be, it’s crucial to have a strategy in place for when things go wrong or complaints come in. This will help your team turn a negative experience into a positive one for customers who misread or misunderstood policies.

thewaitinggame

Video: YouTube, kate spade new york

5. Get mileage out of your video

For a small business, video can get expensive. But if you have an amazing idea for video content, you can get extra miles out of it with editing and placements.

Last year fashion retailer Kate Spade created ‘#missadventure‘, a video series starring Anna Kendrick, and made the most of each clip by creating short pre-roll and shoppable formats. They also created 5-second clips made for mobile viewers with short attention spans and shared snippets across social media.

6. Use data to make changes

The increased traffic over the holiday period is a golden opportunity to get a sense of the way customers interact with your business in person or navigate your website, but all of this data is worthless unless you set a plan in place to actively make changes in the new year.

Metrics on where people bounce off your site, comments and complaints on social media platforms and maps of user flow (both online and in store) will help you improve your business. The trick here is in letting people know when you’ve made a change (through social media, email, or in-store) and asking for their feedback.

7. Bring real life, online and vice versa

If you’re still thinking about your business website, social media platforms, blog and real life presence as separate entities with separate strategies: stop. The best marketing strategies live across your brand’s entire presence, creating one cohesive message that shows the world what you stand for.

Starbucks does this incredibly well with each and every celebration. This year’s bizarre red cup controversy is a testament to how iconic the seasonal design tweak really is, and the brand seamlessly integrates this in-store activation online with an Instagram Red Cup Contest which provided content for Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter and a design tweak to bring the festivities to the business website. Despite a surely-enormous marketing budget, Starbucks still heralds simple ideas and consistency across platforms – and strikes success every time.


[Reminder] Live Webcast: Why Agencies Need Marketing Automation – Search Engine Land

It’s clear in today’s market that traditional media companies need to adapt to the digital environment to grow their market share. A major challenge for agencies is to be able to quickly and accurately identify which customers are ready to adopt a digital strategy while insuring their sales team a cost-effective and efficient conversion.

In this webcast, Abid Chaudhry of BIA/Kelsey and George Leith of Vendasta will discuss how marketing automation can help you identify quality leads, help you identify and nurture leads that you may have overlooked and boost your sales team efforts with better information about their prospects.

Register now for “Adapt, Adopt, Automate: Why Agencies Need Marketing Automation to Succeed,” produced by our sister site, Digital Marketing Depot, in partnership with Vendasta.


About The Author

Digital Marketing Depot is a resource center for digital marketing strategies and tactics. We feature hosted white papers and E-Books, original research, and webcasts on digital marketing topics — from advertising to analytics, SEO and PPC campaign management tools to social media management software, e-commerce to e-mail marketing, and much more about internet marketing. Digital Marketing Depot is a division of Third Door Media, publisher of Search Engine Land and Marketing Land, and producer of the conference series Search Marketing Expo and MarTech. Visit us at http://digitalmarketingdepot.com.
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)


Marketing automation battle for SMBs heats up as Salesfusion raises $13.5M – VentureBeat

Atlanta-based Salesfusion, a marketing automation platform serving B2B small and medium-sized businesses, is raising $13.5 million in a series B funding round. Investors include Noro-Moseley Partners, BLH Venture Partners, Alerion Ventures, Tech Square Ventures, and Hallett Capital.

Marketing automation adoption rates remain highest among B2B enterprises, but interest from the B2C and SMB segments is growing. In fact, every single one of the top five growing marketing automation vendors is focused on either B2C or SMB companies (or both).

Noro-Moseley led the round with that apparently in mind. General partner Alan Taetle said in a statement, “There is enormous opportunity for SMB players to adopt and leverage marketing automation the way the enterprise market has.”


From VentureBeat

How do you get consumers to connect with and engage with your brand flawlessly? This free and interactive web event arms you with the tools you’ll need to get ahead.

However, marketing automation remains a complicated space.

With a variety of features, and vendors that serve a wide set of business sizes and types, knowing which vendors matter most to your business can be a major challenge. And SMB marketers are often the least educated about their options.

Marketing automation vendors segmented by B2B, B2C, enterprise, and SMB.Marketing automation vendors segmented by B2B, B2C, enterprise, and SMB.

Above: Marketing automation vendors segmented by B2B, B2C, enterprise, and SMB.

Image Credit: VB Insight

Salesfusion competes somewhere between Hubspot, Act-On, and Pardot (which Salesforce now owns through the ExactTarget acquisition), each of which has deeper pockets and larger established footprints.

The injection of cash will help the company compete in a market of rapidly growing opportunity and interest, but also strong and growing competition.

The company said it will utilize the funds to launch the next generation of its product, Salesfusion 360x, and to increase its marketing efforts and expand its sales team.

We found in our research on marketing automation that, for marketers at SMBs, the criteria of highest importance is the ability to meet most needs off the shelf — that is, with minimal setup or customization. As companies tend to underestimate the resources required to benefit from marketing automation, it’s critical that smaller companies get their needs met without additional investment, as much as possible.

Salesfusion is betting it can deliver just what SMBs are looking for.

More information:

Salesfusion’s mission is to help marketers attract new opportunities, convert them into customers and nurture them into lifetime relationships. Salesfusion stands out among cloud-based marketing automation vendors for its superior le… read more »

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What you missed in Cloud: Smarter marketing – SiliconANGLE (blog)

Marketing providers managed to hold onto the cloud spotlight last week thanks to a series of major product updates offering to help sales professionals take better advantage of the software-as-a-service model. Demandbase Inc. led the charge with the introduction of a hosted platform for tracking the behavior of customers throughout the different stages of the engagement cycle, a notoriously complicated task that is especially difficult to achieve in the business-to-business segment where its clients operate.

The challenge stems from the fact that corporate buyers are far fewer in number than everyday consumers, which leaves a proportionally smaller margin of error for the behavioral analyses that marketers rely on to target promotions. Demandbase’s new B2B Data Cloud promises to improve campaign accuracy with a homegrown IP lookup engine that is able to identify the company to which a particular website visitor belongs and estimate their role using a profiling capability gained through its acquisition of WhoToo Inc. two months ago. The results can then be correlated with third party information like advertising performance metrics to identify the best way of reaching out to that particular prospect.

Nearly as important as the targeting functionality itself is the fact that the platform enables marketers to carry out the entire process in a unified browser-based environment. A company called Cloud9 IDE Inc. set out to provide the same convenience for the developers who support corporate marketing campaigns behind the scenes last week with a new edition of its namesake coding platform that has been specially adapted to Salesforce.com. The integration makes it possible to create custom extensions for sub-components of the customer management service such as the Desk.com support app, which received an update of its own against the backdrop of Cloud9’s announcement.

Care representatives can now quickly access account details when fielding a complaint from a customer to gain a better understanding of their problem and thus hopefully solve the problem faster. Salesforce.com Inc. sees the functionality coming particularly useful when dealing with high-value users who might be more inclined to make additional purchases later down the road if their requests are handled in a timely manner.

Image via Geralt
Maria Deutscher

Maria Deutscher

Maria Deutscher is a staff writer for SiliconANGLE covering all things enterprise and fresh. Her work takes her from the bowels of the corporate network up to the great free ranges of the open-source ecosystem and back on a daily basis, with the occasional pit stop in the world of end-users. She is especially passionate about cloud computing and data analytics, although she also has a soft spot for stories that diverge from the beaten track to provide a more unique perspective on the complexities of the industry.
Maria Deutscher


George Washington’s basketball star is marketing the school, and himself – Washington Post

George Washington University needed a few photos of athletes to decorate the side of a building this fall; the task of choosing those photos fell to a senior sports marketing intern, sitting in his temporary desk on the third floor of a Foggy Bottom row house. He thought it might be a good idea to highlight some of the men’s basketball team’s role players, and so he selected some possibilities.

“Well,” the intern’s supervisor said, attempting to be kind. “In this case, I think that we should use you there.”

“It’s like, ‘Okay,’” said a resigned Patricio Garino, who is both that marketing intern and the school’s most marketable athlete. “‘I’m not trying to be cocky or anything. But if you want me to, I’ll do it.’”

In this era of athletes who flock to sports management programs, it’s not unusual to find a basketball or football player interning inside an athletic department. But Garino — the 6-foot-6 wing who will attempt to lead the Colonials to a second NCAA tournament berth in three years — has more than a passing interest in the field.

He served on the board of the school’s Colonial Army fan club last season, going to weekly meetings and bringing posters into dorms to help promote student enthusiasm and better understand fandom. He met with the school’s golf coach last week, and is now the department’s point person for the golf program’s rebranding efforts. He runs weekly social-media reports for all of the school’s athletic teams, trying to figure out which accounts are performing best and why. He designed the online sign-up form for local grade schools that want to attend the Colonials’ Nov. 24 matinee — “just to tell us how many teachers are coming, if they want to order a pizza, if they’re bringing outside food,” he explained.

And he and the athletic department’s director of marketing and sales already have a half-serious succession plan worked out. When Garino’s professional basketball career is over, they figure, the director of marketing and sales will take over the head sports marketing position, while Garino slides into Chris Monroe’s current role. Yes, the school’s career leading scorer. That Chris Monroe.

Of course, Garino also thinks his current 12-hour-a-week internship might come in handy after he graduates in May, when he expects to turn pro.

“I think that would be a great pitch for a team if they want me: if you need some [help] in marketing …,” he said. It wasn’t clear if he was joking.

The 22-year old Argentine was already among the most prominent athletes on campus last spring, when he led the NIT-bound Colonials in scoring and made the Atlantic 10’s all defensive team. The offseason didn’t exactly hurt his profile. Garino accompanied Argentina’s “B” team to the Pan American Games, where he was hoping to “maybe get a couple minutes, feel the experience.” Instead, after an injury to his team’s captain, Garino was inserted into the starting lineup.

That put him in the mix for the ensuing Olympic qualifying tournament, where he was “just going for the experience of the training camp.” Instead, Garino made the team and wound up starting in seven of 10 games, as the Argentines locked down a bid to Rio.

Now, you have to understand what this meant to Garino. He was 11 years old when the country’s Golden Generation — Andres Nocioni and Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola and Fabricio Oberto — stunned the U.S. at the Olympics, and went on to win the title. He said he can “distinctly remember being in bed at 4 in the morning, crying, because they got the gold.” Now he was practicing against Scola and Nocioni — the two veterans on the qualifying roster — and being asked at a team dinner why he wore the number 29.

The reason was because his usual number — 13, in honor of Nocioni — was being worn by, you know, Nocioni.

“It’s very hard to describe,” Garino said of the experience. “Seeing them walk around, it shocks you a little to see you’re wearing the same gear as them, you’re getting ready for practice with them, you’re taking shots next to them. It’s kind of crazy.”

Garino logged the third-most minutes on the team during qualifying — behind just Scola and Nocioni. He guarded 2014 No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins during a win over Canada. He averaged 8 points a game, despite being the second-youngest player on the roster. He now talks frequency with Scola, exchanges messages with Nocioni, went to Verizon Center to see Ginobili when the Spurs visited the Wizards, and figures to at least contend for an Olympic roster spot next summer.

The experience left Garino more eager than ever to play basketball full-time, but it didn’t damper his enthusiasm for his fall semester internship. He had entered George Washington hoping to study international business, before realizing “I totally hate politics.

“Being from Argentina,” he said, “our politics are incredibly bad right now, so I kind of took a step back from that.”

Which led him to consider athletics as a post-basketball career. He now talks with wonder about watching the ticket office print this year’s season tickets, and about helping them label the season-ticket envelopes. He got to choose the photographs to display in the rowing, swimming and cross-country offices; “that was pretty cool, I took pride in that,” he said. And he just received his first independent task: to serve as the marketing liaison for the golf team.

That means working on “marketing collateral” for the team’s golf tournament, measuring the dimensions for “environmental branding” in the team’s locker room, and meeting with the team’s coaches to discuss their motivational displays.

“I think they were a little surprised,” Garino said, describing his arrival at that meeting. “I know the coaches and everything, and they were like ‘Oh, can we help you?’ I was like, ‘No, I’m with the marketing department.’”

There was another double-take when a member of the golf team spotted the school’s best-known athlete.

“He walked in, and Patricio was feverishly taking notes, and it was like, ‘What’s going on here?’” said Nicole Early, the school’s assistant AD for marketing. “I realized very early on that the workload I thought he was going to be able to get through in his time here, he could get done in half the time. He’s taken on more than I even anticipated he would when he first got here.”

Garino’s working schedule will become less regular now that the season has started. In addition to his work with the golf team and the social media project, he’ll also remain involved with basketball marketing. Ask him about any highlights this fall, and he’ll immediately point to Monday’s home game against No. 6 Virginia.

“We’ve been marketing that game for so long,” he said. 

Of course, once the game starts, Garino’s role will change. He’s valuable to the school when he chooses photos for campus displays, labels envelopes and monitors Twitter accounts. Helping the Colonials knock off a top 10 team would offer a different sort of marketing.


What is affiliate marketing & why do you need it? – Econsultancy (blog)

No doubt you’re all sick of hearing about ad blocking by now, but it has opened up some interesting conversations around alternative ways for publishers to make money. 

Affiliate marketing is one such method, and it is also a way for retailers to sell more products with relatively little up-front investment. 

In this post I’m going to cover everything you need to know if you’re new to affiliate marketing, whether you’re a retailer or a publisher.  

In basic terms, affiliate marketing is when a publisher drives traffic to an ecommerce site in return for commission if those visitors take a specific action within a set timeframe. 

Usually the desired action is buying something, and the publisher will get a share of that sale in return for directing the customer to the product page

How does it work?

The process is split between the following four participants (I’m sure there’s a better word for it than that, but bear with me):

  • The merchant
  • The network
  • The publisher
  • The customer

The merchant

Otherwise known as the retailer or advertiser. A brand is looking to increase sales but all those content campaigns ate up its marketing budget and it certainly doesn’t want to shell out for more staff. 

So the brand researches how to achieve this seemingly impossible feat and comes across affiliate marketing as an option. 

‘What’s that? We can get other people to do all the work creating content and attracting customers and we only have to pay them once we actually make a sale? Where do I sign?’

Again, this is an extremely simplified version of events, but generally this is how it works from the retailer’s point of view:

  • The merchant gives a publisher a trackable link to its site.
  • The publisher includes the link in its content.
  • If someone follows that link to the retailer’s site and buys something within a certain timeframe, the retailer pays that publisher a percentage of the sale. 

The network

Some retailers, such as Amazon, have their own affiliate programmes. But many will go through affiliate networks. 

These networks effectively act as the middle man between multiple merchants and publishers. So a publisher could sign up and get access to any merchants that network is working with, and vice versa. 

(Note: these types of affiliate display ads obviously won’t get past most ad blockers)

Working in this way ultimately makes life easier for the merchant, but it does mean they give up a certain amount of control over where their products are advertised. 

The publisher

These are the guys that include affiliate links to retailers on their sites and promote the products of said retailers in the hope that people will click the links and buy something when they get to the other side.

If that does happen, the publisher will get paid a percentage of the sale.

Either that or they’ll get paid for each click or action the customer takes, depending on the arrangement they have with the link provider.

Some publishers include affiliate links in their everyday content, while other sites are dedicated to producing content with the specific goal of selling affiliate products. I’ll cover both types in the example section below. 

The customer

This is the consumer who clicks on the links on the publisher’s site and hopefully purchases something when they get to the merchant’s site at the other end.  

Different compensation methods

Around 80% of affiliate programs use revenue sharing to compensate, i.e. the affiliate gets a percentage of any sales that result from their affiliate links. 

But there are other payment methods available, such as cost-per-action (CPA), which could be used when the brand in question isn’t actually selling physical stock. 

Then there is cost-per-click (CPC), where the brand is simply paying the affiliate for traffic.

A couple of examples…

If you’re still not 100% sure what affiliate marketing is after my earth-shatteringly brilliant explanation, perhaps these two examples of slightly different approaches will help enlighten you. 

Smart Passive Income

This is an example of a site where the publisher built up a following and then started using affiliate links to gain additional income. 

The products are ones the author regularly talks about anyway, and his/her readers trust his/her opinion, so there is an opportunity to make money by using an affiliate link.

smart passive income affiliate marketing

As you can see from the image above, this particular author is very honest about the fact that he gets commission when people follow the links and make a purchase.

This is because he doesn’t to damage his audience’s trust.

Kitchen Faucet Divas

Some sites are specifically designed to make money through affiliate links, such as the example from Kitchen Faucet Divas below. 

This site is full of content related to kitchen faucets, including blog posts, buyer’s guides and how-to articles, with plenty of affiliate links to Amazon included. 

Kitchen Faucet Divas affiliate marketing

Kitchen Faucet Divas doesn’t explicitly say it makes commission from the links, but by only linking to Amazon pages that are completely relevant to the content, it is likely to avoid annoying its readers. 

Conclusion: an additional revenue stream requiring relatively low investment

Whether you’re a retailer or a publisher, affiliate marketing, like anything in the digital marketing world, is not going to fix your dying balance sheet all by itself.  

What it can do, however, is add another revenue stream without the need to expend masses of effort or money. This is particularly important for publishers with the rise of ad-blocking

But brands that go down the affiliate marketing route need to remember that it is effectively a form of advertising, and there are certain responsibilities that come with that.

Namely: protecting the trust in your brand or products.


Green Reit to start marketing new developments in early 2016 – Irish Times

Green Reit’s move into development is progressing well, the property investment company said on Monday, noting that it is now on site in four of its five development projects, with marketing for some, including Central Park in south Dublin, expected to commence in early 2016.

In an interim management statement the property investment company said that it has increased its annual rental income by € 1 million and reduced overall vacancy rate from 2 per cent to 1 per cent in the period from July 1st 2015.

Pat Gunne, chief executive, at Green Reit’s investment manager, said: “We are making good progress on our development programme against a background of rising rents and our focus continues to be on delivering as early as possible into the development cycle to reduce our exposure to market risk and rising construction costs. Our asset management has also been a great success with our estate at almost full occupancy.”

Other moves during the period included the renegotiation of the lease to its fourth largest tenant (by passing rent), Pioneer Investments, increasing the term certain by ten years to 2027 at a rent of € 51 per square foot;

With respect to specific developments, Green Reit said that its office project at Central Park in Dublin 18 is “progressing well”, and is on schedule to complete by December 2016. It will formally commence marketing the building in early 2016.

On Dawson Street in Dublin’s city centre, Green Reit has demolished its building at 13-17 Dawson Street. It expects marketing of the new building to take place from mid-2016, with an expected completion date of Q3 2017.

In Cork, the development of an office block at One Albert Quay “is progressing well”, the company said, and the overall letting level of the building is now at 68 per cent (by income), following Investec’s agreement to lease 3,717 square feet of accommodation on the ground floor for 15 years with a tenant break option in year 10 at a rate of €25 per square foot.


Honda finds marketing rhythm – Automotive News
Massive music effort targets hard-to-reach millennial buyers

Massive music effort targets hard-to-reach millennial buyers

Sponsorship of high-profile music festivals such as Austin City Limits is part of a massive marketing effort aimed at millennials.
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Automotive News

November 16, 2015 – 12:01 am ET

AUSTIN, Texas — It’s a hot October afternoon at the annual Austin City Limits Music Festival, and revelers have found shade anywhere they can: the few trees dotting the park where the event is held; a camp chair from home with a built-in awning; and the Honda HR-V parked on a small stand next to the festival’s artist-signing shack.

Honda, as it turns out, also wants to be cool — cool enough to make an impression on the hundreds of thousands of millennials who pack the park for two weekends every fall. Hence the HR-V on-site and the massive Honda Stage it faces, where popular acts such as The Weeknd, Alabama Shakes and alt-J perform.

Honda’s presence in Austin is part of a massive marketing effort that uses music to attract the fleeting attention of millennial car-buyers. The push, which started in June 2014, includes sponsorship of three high-profile music festivals — Austin City Limits, Governors Ball in New York and Music Midtown in Atlanta. Honda also partners with Live Nation, Sean Combs’ REVOLT TV cable network, iHeartRadio, Vevo and YouTube to aggregate videos of its live shows on the Honda Stage YouTube channel.

Fans visit the Honda-sponsored artist-signing shack at Austin City Limits.

So far, Honda says, it’s been a success, generating some 2 billion impressions (marketing speak for the number of times a tweet, video or advertising of any kind has been seen by consumers) since launching.

The effort is aimed at reaching those picky, digitally oriented millennials, especially the ones ages 18 to 25. They’re the kind of buyer that every automaker wants to pull in while they’re young and then keep as their needs and budgets grow.

And they’re harder than ever to reach.

Peyton: Part of an emotional experience

“It wasn’t long ago we’d be buying lots of MTV and CW airtime,” Tom Peyton, associate vice president of advertising and marketing for American Honda Motor Co., told Automotive News. “Now, the ratings aren’t there like they used to be.”

Today, automakers must think outside the traditional media box or risk losing out on an audience that’s critical to their brands, even if that audience isn’t buying vehicles today.

“If you’re an automaker who’s not doing this, you’re definitely behind the curve,” said Eric Lyman, vice president of industry insights at TrueCar.com. “This is where we’ll see more automakers move, into this kind of experiential and lifestyle marketing.”

Using something as emotional as music — and experiences that involve music — was what attracted Honda to this effort.

“You become an integral part of an emotional event,” Peyton said. “It’s rare that a sponsor can be part of that emotional experience.”

The Honda Stage video channel piggybacks on the established success of the Honda Civic Tour, which has been around since 2001 and has featured acts such as One Direction, Maroon 5, blink-182 and The Black Eyed Peas.

Fans of the bands flock to their videos online, and by tapping into their popularity, Honda says it saw video views for Civic Tour content jump tenfold to 18 million in one year, thanks in part to the tour’s featured artist, One Direction.

“They’re not on your playlist, they’re not on my iPod,” Nick Lee, national brand manager for Honda, said of the U.K.-based boy band. “But the people whose playlist it is on — 18- to 25-year-olds, skewed heavily female — that’s a really good audience for us to reach.”

This narrow approach also has risks. Since the marketing is specifically targeting members of a single age group, if it doesn’t grab their attention, it won’t grab anyone’s. “It’s like a rifle shot versus a shotgun blast,” Lyman said.

Even if that rifle shot does land, is it actually selling more cars to younger buyers?

“We believe it does correlate,” Lee said. Honda estimates that along with auto shows, when people are likely into the purchase funnel already, events such as the Honda Civic Tour generate some of the highest response rates from consumers.

Honda declined to specify how many sales its music marketing efforts influenced or how much it was spending on them, but the numbers are big enough to justify the “significant” costs, Lee said.

Some of the marketing and launch budget for each featured Honda vehicle is earmarked for the Honda Stage avenues. Honda generally favors pushing its cheaper, youth-oriented models in advertising linked to its music efforts, primarily the Fit, HR-V and Civic.

Despite recent successes, Honda executives know they’re now chasing a moving target.

“What worked last year won’t necessarily work the same way the next year,” Peyton said. “It wasn’t like that when media was media.”

Panera Bread: Marketing Flows Through Cost Of Goods Sold – Seeking Alpha

Summary

Panera released another update indicating their progress in transition to cage free eggs and pigs that are free of crates.

Investors may occasionally be worried about the impact of the cost of sales for Panera Bread.

The cost of sales is increased by using more expensive ingredients, but the use of those ingredients is a selling point for Panera.

Despite that, the cost of sales is still very competitive with other fast casual restaurants.

If you haven’t read Panera’s update on their Animal Welfare program and new commitments, you might want to check it out. Panera Bread (NASDAQ:PNRA) isn’t the only company advocating for the ethical treatment of animals, but they are one of the first restaurants to push so aggressively against the common practices.

By pushing against these commonly accepted practices Panera is able to generate goodwill with their target audience. That goodwill serves to bring in customers in much the same way as marketing expenditures. This is a recurring expense, but it is important to Panera Bread’s ability to bring in customers.

Panera Customers

I am a very frequent customer of Panera. I fit well inside their target demographics, and I regularly pay a premium for cage free eggs. I love bacon, but I don’t want to support inhumane treatment of pigs. Panera Bread pays a premium to support their stance on food and it works. I’m a more frequent customer because I feel that my purchase is voting for ethical treatment of animals. This may be a fairly common sentiment today as popular opinion has been changing.

Popular Opinion

There has been a shift in public thinking as people learned about the use of gestation crates. These pigs are in cells that are dramatically smaller for them than jail cells are for people that actually committed crimes.

This was a cost-efficient way to manage the pigs and lower cost production allows for the final product to be sold at lower prices. When Panera refuses to purchase hogs that are raised in the cheapest manner, they are forced to pay higher prices. I believe that this cost is material, but I also believe that Panera is making the right fiscal decision.

Financial Implications

Panera Bread’s commitment to better treatment of animals leads to higher costs showing up in their “cost of sales”, but it also serves as another type of marketing for the brand. I couldn’t care less how many commercials Panera Bread tries to use to reach me, but I do remember the ethical practices of the company and it does influence me to choose Panera over other options. Essentially, part of Panera Bread’s marketing campaign is flowing through the cost of goods sold. The costs of treating animals ethically will appear to be a continual drag on earnings, but marketing functions in precisely the same way.

When Companies Cut Marketing

How often have you seen a company indicate that they will “cut expenses” by not advertising? It’s fairly rare, and the one time I’ve seen it turn out remarkably well was when Monster (NASDAQ:MNST) pulled the move. I saw the decline and thought they were about to fall apart and slapped a bearish rating on them. Shortly after that shares rallied hard when it was announced that Coke (NYSE:KO) had acquired a huge chunk of the brand. Their decision to reduce their advertising commitments made perfect sense when it was revealed that they would be modifying their strategy to take advantage of Coke’s distribution system.

Essentially, what I’m suggesting is that marketing is a very important expense for the company, regardless of how the cost is recognized. The one time when it appears to be okay to slash marketing budgets is when Coke is buying a huge chunk of your company. Otherwise, investors should view a cut in marketing as a sign of pumping short-term earnings by not reducing the costs in the current period while the drop in sales will be spread across a couple periods.

Not That Expensive

When you look at the margins for Panera Bread, the impact on their cost of goods sold is not that substantial. I put together the following chart from the latest earnings release:

As a percentage of sales, the cost of goods sold is slightly over 30%. This is quite within reason and demonstrates that Panera Bread has been able to leverage their ethical stances into getting a premium on the products they sell.

Comparing Panera Bread with a few peers allowed me to create the following chart:

The comparison companies are Texas Roadhouse (NASDAQ:TXRH), Bloomin’ Brands (NASDAQ:BLMN) which owns Outback Steakhouse as well as a few other brands, and Kona Grill (NASDAQ:KONA) which offers up a mix of an American grill, sushi, and alcohol.

For the sake of fair comparisons, the two steakhouse brands are suffering higher costs in recent periods from the impact of beef prices moving materially higher during the year and their costs may shrink back down by a couple percentage points. In the case of KONA, I believe selling alcohol is a distinct advantage.

Arguments Against These Initiatives

There have been some arguments made against companies “pandering” to “animal lovers”, but this is simply Panera finding an intelligent and ethical way to target to their core demographics. The pricing power they have achieved is enough to keep their cost of goods within line with peers and that cost of goods is effectively wrapping in part of their marketing expenses. Overall this is a very well designed plan and the theory that Panera Bread is sacrificing shareholders to fulfill other goals is simply inaccurate. The shareholders are benefiting from the very strong sales figures.

Those Sales are Great

When QSR magazine compiled their annual statistics on restaurants, they found that Panera Bread was tied with McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) for third place in average sales per restaurant. While McDonald’s is doing it with remarkably small footprints and effective drive-through service, Panera Bread’s ranking at third on the list is still fairly solid.

Conclusion

Panera Bread is announcing more progress and goals on their ethical treatment of animals and it may cause some shareholders to worry that they have been forgotten. Rather than getting bent out of shape by Panera’s commitment to animals, those shareholders may want to appreciate how effectively Panera Bread has been able to utilize their commitments as a marketing edge that allowed them to drive strong sales per restaurant and to keep a pricing premium that limited their cost of food to less than 31% during a period when many peers are struggling with higher costs.


New analytics sequence enhances marketing and business education – Vidette Online

Marketing as a discipline is constantly evolving, and in today’s society, becoming less reliant on traditional marketing research as it responds to the industry’s continuous changes is key.

As the field moves away from relying on consumer satisfaction surveys for marketing research, a newer, crucial skill begins to take the forefront: marketing analytics. To embrace this change, the College of Business recently added a new marketing sequence entitled Advanced Marketing Analytics, where students will learn to measure and analyze market performance.

After discovering no other universities offered a marketing analytics major, the faculty decided to offer this program to Illinois State University undergrads. Chiharu Ishida, an associate marketing professor, said after “big data” became a buzzword in business, research into the sequence began.

“We thought there was a big opportunity here to make our graduates more attractive, have better résumés, and this is what it’s all about,” she said. “We want to prepare our students for jobs that are in demand.”

Woojung Chang, an assistant marketing professor, said several companies collect large amounts of analytical data, but don’t have employees possessing the skills or ability to handle it.

“Those types of analytical skills can make a difference, and then will distinguish our students in the job market — that is our strong belief,” Chang said.

Students going through the new sequence are geared toward making a difference in their regimen and within the job world.

“Analytics is kind of where we’re headed as a market,” Ishida said. “There are multiple sources of information available whether it’s history purchase data, or what people were saying about a brand on social media.”

By enrolling in the analytics curriculum, students are guaranteed to fit within any situation where traditional marketing jobs use analytical skills to make smart decisions.

“That’s what marketing is all about, to be more efficient, to be more responsive,” Ishida said. “So even if we have specific degrees in marketing analytics, it doesn’t mean you go into a marketing analyst, or you know titles that have analyst in it, but you could go into any marketing job. You could be five steps ahead of everyone else because you know how to analyze data, sort and take actions.”

With the marketing analytics degree, professional opportunities could lie within several areas, including online media managing, or retail.

“Companies need somebody who handles, monitors, listens and engages with customers on social media,” Ishida said. “It could be in retailing. They want to use customers’ historical purchase data, customers’ transaction data, use other sources of data to kind of predict and demand for the future, or segmenting customers.”

Despite its recent launch, 26 students have already declared enrollment in the analytics curriculum. To spread these skills even further, the curriculum is available to non-marketing students as a minor.

“Size of the sequence is one thing. What we really want to focus on is quality. One thing we need to focus on is job placement, and we were talking about mentorship program,” Ishida said.

“We’re also doing some work in terms of internships and job shadowing. So we’re planning all of these things ahead before we get a surge of demand if it happens.”

Chang anticipates students becoming less skeptical about tackling big data through this sequence.

“My recommendation is to not be afraid of the data or big data types of things,” Chang said. “If you are interested in those topics and see some kind of opportunity in this area, just try it, and then after taking the basic courses, they can figure out the path. We have a lot of opportunities.”

Gianna Annunzio is a features reporter for The Vidette. She can be reached at vidette_gmannun@ilstu.edu. Follow her on Twitter at @G_Writes.


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