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Most Companies Can’t Yet Handle Great Marketing Technology
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Aysh is the home of appreciated digital specialists who deliver Browse, Social, Paid Media, and Material Marketing. They mix innovation and skill to accomplish magnificent results.
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Croorm’s objective is to help forward believing clients build, work and think with a digital-first approach. They believe that successful work online is driven by smart ideas and a design-led technique. They produce work that presses your company forward.
Digital Marketing — Just What Are The Benefits?
Meglakor is a digital marketing news company which blends strategy, imagination and technology to build measurable client engagement throughout web, mobile and social. As a growing group of specialized experts, they deliver impact work that has the power to transform brand names.
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Best Digital Marketing Companies in South Africa
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
I spent a few days last week with 10,000 digital marketers, enveloped by all things Adobe at their Adobe Summit event. They paid me to cover the event as an insider. It was my first-ever Adobe event, and I was impressed. Adobe Summit is a classy confab in every respect.
The combination of speakers was especially well handled, with a combination of Adobe personnel, partners and industry types, and celebs (including George Clooney, Abby Wambach, Donny Osmond, and Thomas Middleditch — star of the HBO show Silicon Valley). It seemed like a too-eclectic mix at first, but Adobe did a very good job keeping a consistent messaging thread throughout the 3-day event:The business of the future is powered by customer experience.
In the opening general session, Adobe’s Brad Rencher defined the characteristics of an “experience business” as a firm that offers these four benefits to customers:
- Know and respect me
- Speak in 1 voice
- Make technology transparent
- Delight me at every turn
Is Customer Experience New, or Just Newly Buzzed About?
The analyst and futurist Brian Solis spoke at Adobe Summit too, also hewing to the customer experience is critical theme, and summarizing key points from his book on the topic (I reviewed Brian’s book “X” here).
Brian emphasized that customer experience is the new differentiator, but I’m not certain I agree.
Customer experience is of course a differentiator. People will willingly pay more to interact with brands that offer superior experience. Feelings as currency is real, as long as you live in circumstances where you can afford to prioritize them.Casting aside a product because another offers better emotional resonance and ease-of-use is the very best kind of #FirstWorldProblem.
So I can certainly agree that customer experience shifts customer preference (and just published my own book that touches on the theme). But hasn’t customer experience always been one of the ways we choose where to spend?
Liberal return policies. Drive thrus. Open 24-hours. Bags fly free. Dogs welcome. Free dessert for kids. These are all business components that have been around for years (decades, in some cases). We used to call them “building a better mousetrap.” Now, the world of marketing and business has collectively agreed to call them elements of “superior customer experience.”
Fair enough. But let’s not pretend that giving your customers a better, faster, easier interaction is some 2016 invention. It’s not.
The Power of Analog Customer Experience
Particularly striking, in fact, was a session with the legendary musician Donny Osmond. Osmond remains a strong draw in Las Vegas even though he’s been in the business for a full 50 years, and just released his 60th album (!!!).
Osmond talked about how he stays relevant in changing times by expanding his audience and repackaging his content. Smart man.
My favorite part, however, was when he talked about the “purple cards” segment he incorporates into his live show at The Flamingo. Before each, his team finds two dozen or so interesting audience members, and gives them a purple index card and a marker. They are invited to write down a question or request for Donny.
During the performance, Osmond reads the purple cards, answers questions, does requests, sings Happy Birthday, etc. delivering a remarkable customer experience to the card-writing fans, and due to the extreme customization and personalization of each show, creates a bespoke version of a seven times per week gig.
Donny Osmond needs no software to deliver a great customer experience. He understands that customer experience is first and foremost a human-powered endeavor. For Donny Osmond, customer experience lives in your DNA, not your marketing cloud.
The Battle Between Hearts and Minds
This is the challenge faced by modern business.
We have more software than ever to provide the scaffolding for heightened customer experience. Adobe announced some very nifty innovations at Summit, and their “smart shopping bag” technology and new “immersive retail experience” could revolutionize bricks and clicks businesses if and when it’s widely deployed.
But software alone will not create great experiences. It’s just the gas in the engine.
As always, marketing that wins customer hearts and minds is about the wizard, not the wand.
And the wizards aren’t ready to meet the challenge. The irony was thick when vendors at Adobe Summit spammed the hashtag with marginally relevant tweets DURING a keynote on the need for personalized marketing and better customer experiences.
The smart and savvy marketers, Pam Moore and Ken Burbary were also at Summit as insiders, and the three of us had a fun and fascinating dinner where the topic turned to this issue:
Why, when they have at their disposal technology that is easy(ish) and affordable(ish) do so many companies still rely on techniques and tactics that clearly do not meet the test of great customer experience?
I believe it’s because for premise of personalized customer journeys and 1:1 marketing to take root, brands must commit to experimentation. And experimentation requires an appetite for risk that most brands do not have because it’s not culturally acceptable to fail.
Said in a shorter, tweet-friendly way:To deliver great customer experiences brands must embrace experimentation, risk, and failure. (highlight to tweet)
Pam had lunch the following day with several representatives from a large insurance company, and they inadvertently ratified this thesis (which I also witness consistently in our consulting practice here at Convince & Convert). Pam asked them why they weren’t making use of more of the outstanding Adobe technology to improve their marketing, especially in personalization and customization.
Paraphrasing, the answers were:
“We want to, but we can’t get budget. The CMO just wants to constantly study new software, but nothing gets implemented. Our job is to run reports that help the CMO keep his job.”
So this is the state of modern marketing. Technology is outstripping our ability to adopt it because the pace of change on the software side is so much faster than the pace of change on the organizational and corporate culture side.
For us to be able to actually harness the power of experience-led businesses, we need to focus as much on the wizard as on the wand.
Any meaningful improvement in customer experience through marketing tech must start first in the heart, and then move to the head. If your organization doesn’t really and truly believe at the molecular level that customer experience is transformative, you’ll never embrace the risk enough to reap the reward.
Thanks again to Adobe for bringing me out to Adobe Summit. I learned a lot and restoked some fires.
My Start in Digital Marketing
McKinsey Quarterly published an excellent article last week, “Measuring B2Bs Digital Gap” by Liz Harrison, Candace Lun Plotkin and Jennifer Stanlin. The article was based on an analysis of the McKinsey Digital Quotient (DQ) database that the firm has been building over the last three years. Harrison, Plotkin and Stanlin mined the database and found that business-to-business (B2B) companies are behind their business-to-consumer (B2C) counterparts in how they use digital tools.
For me, this comes as no surprise. I recently co-wrote a study with Barbara Angius Saxby of Accelent Consulting, “CMO Insights on the Journey toward Digital Agility”, looking specifically at digital marketing agility. Just like Harrison, Plotkin and Stanlin, we found that B2B companies are lagging B2C. In the core areas of skills, maturity, flexibility and alignment, B2C come out ahead every time, and in most instances they are at least twice as advanced.
- B2C CMO’s feel that 24% of their teams are “digitally fluent” compared with 12% at B2B organisations. More importantly, 18% of B2B marketing professionals are “lacking” in digital skills compared with just 8% in B2C organisations.
- B2C enterprises are more than twice as likely to have “mature” and “flexible” digital marketing programmes (68% vs 39% for maturity and 79% vs 38% for flexibility). In terms of flexibility, almost a third of B2C companies are in the top quartile, compared with just a fifth for B2B companies.
- For digital/traditional marketing alignment, 66% of B2C enterprises claim marketing activities are either “well-aligned” or “completely-aligned” compared with 32% for B2B.
The more advanced nature of digital marketing in B2C enterprises has a cumulative ripple effect throughout the entire marketing mix. Advertising, direct marketing, events, media relations, market insight, etc. are all impacted positively by effective use of digital technology. This means that B2C enterprises are:
- more responsive — reacting quickly to changing market dynamics,
- more innovative — continually adopting new marketing approaches, and
- more engaged — constantly building their understanding of the customer.
The last attribute on the list above, customer engagement, seems to be emerging as a key catalyst for digital marketing. In B2B environments, individual customers can have a significant overall impact on business performance, often much greater than in B2C environments. But, just 29% of B2B enterprises feel that digital technology has provided them with a “much enhanced” or “full 360” view of the customer (compared with 66% for B2C).
B2B marketers seem to have recognised this, and “getting closer to the customer” is the number one driver of digital marketing. Other drivers such as “increased sales” and “enhanced competitive position” are still important, but considerably lower on the priority list.
So, it’s very likely that ‘customer experience’ will be the impetus that drives B2B enterprises to strive for greater digital marketing agility. It’ll be interesting to see if this proves to be the case. I’m looking forward to updating the digital marketing agility study in a few months’ time and seeing if B2B has started to catch up with B2C.
In the meantime, what does all this mean for marketing professionals?
If you’re operating in a B2C environment, it means that you’re going to have to work hard to maintain market position. You’re in a massively competitive environment where everybody has recognised the importance (and value) of digital marketing. You need to continue embracing digital marketing tools and techniques; rapidly integrating those that deliver strong RoI and equally rapidly abandoning those that do not. Fail fast (and succeed even quicker) has never been more important.
If you’re operating in a B2B environment, it’s good news/bad news. The good news is that there is headroom to rise above your competition but the bad news is there’s a good chance that you’re lacking the core skills to do it. You need to be rapidly building organisational digital proficiency and driving integration across the entire enterprise, not just within marketing.
Whether your focus is B2B, B2C or both, and no matter where you are on the journey towards digital marketing agility, there are three key areas for any marketing organisation to focus on:
1. Vision and Planning
Digital technology is fluid and continually evolving. The most successful organisations are those that are good at implementing plan-B. But, it’s difficult to implement plan-B if there was no plan-A. So, clearly define digital strategies and then frequently assess and update. Rather than being part of top-down annual planning cycles, make digital strategy a dynamic process with key individuals from across the entire enterprise actively engaged as participants.
2. Execution and Implementation
Many (perhaps most) marketing functions have a good idea of what digital technologies they should be embracing. But there is a chasm between knowing what needs to be done and actually doing it. So, build an environment that actively encourages bringing ideas from concept to reality. Continually reinforce awareness of the fact that value is only derived when plans are implemented.
3. Measurement, Monitoring and Adjustment
It’s impossible to know how successful an activity is (or even when a goal has been achieved) unless it is measured. So, establish clear goals and associated metrics for every digital initiative. As the initiative progresses, make appropriate adjustments and refinements — widely deploying successful projects and adjusting, suspending or abandoning those that are unsuccessful.
You can learn more about digital marketing agility in “CMO Insights on the Journey toward Digital Agility” which can be downloaded.
Digital Marketing Agility — B2B vs B2C
The Bitter Business is a results driven sales and marketing company, focused on helping companies in Ireland to get more customers. The Bitter Business is more than a consultancy but a partner to build sales and internet marketing channels on a performance basis. Results driven go to market service.
Does your Go-To-Market strategy include Digital media, SEO, Social media and Internet marketing as a way to reach with your customers? Today, the internet is the sales lead enabler and brand driver for most businesses be they selling on-line or using the internet to drive awareness.
Internet marketing and traffic building is hard work, it’s not inspirational, it’s about perspiration and to have a constant approach where it’s the number 1 task every day. Be careful how you delegate internet or social media marketing and how much you pay for it. A few posts on twitter does not internet marketing make, it is all about using all the social media channels (most which are free) to build momentum behind your main website so it leads to long term SEO reward and drives customers towards your brand and website.
Outsourcing internet marketing and SEO to a 3rd party is fine but in my experience the vast majority of these companies over promise and under deliver. Ask how many of them have got a company of the 1st page of Google, bet not that many. The old “The proof of the pudding is in the eating” has never been more relevant when it comes to on-line marketing.
If you would like a chat on delivering performance based marketing and sales solutions without the bull, then feel free to contact me. And yes, I have got companies on 1st page in Google for multiple keywords and opened up international sales channels for over 10 South African companies