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Black Lives Matter.

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Posted by SarahBird

The time to use our platforms and privilege to speak out against the deep racism that plagues our society was years ago. I regret staying silent in those moments. The next best time is now. Silence is harmful because it prioritizes the comfort of those of us who benefit from racist policies at the expense of those exploited and victimized by them.

It’s not enough to simply “do no harm” or “not be racist.” That well-trodden path has produced the same brutal results again and again. At Moz, we’re moving to a higher standard. The creation of a more just world requires us to be loudly, unceasingly anti-racist.

We must acknowledge that human rights exist beyond politics.

We must hear and validate the lived experiences of people of color and amplify their voices.

We must show up.

We must reinforce, loudly and often, that Black lives matter.

This is an uncomfortable conversation for most of us. We’re afraid of saying the wrong thing, offending people, losing relationships, jobs, customers, and in some cases physical safety. By design, white supremacy has made it uncomfortable to speak out against white supremacy. Fearing angry backlash for speaking out against the risks and injustices people of color face every single day only serves a system designed to keep us silent — a system that has been shaped over centuries to oppress and exploit people who are not white. At Moz, we will practice the courage to speak out and show up for love and justice. Maya Angelou said wisely, “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”

Today, we express solidarity with Black people grieving the losses of David McAtee, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many, many others. We share and honor the outrage rippling through our country. We stand with you and we stand for justice and love.

We want to amplify the signal of inspiring people doing powerful work. Activists like Rachel Cargle and her work on The Great Unlearn project. Resources like the Intentionalist, an online directory that allows you to discover and patronize diverse local businesses in your community. Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race illuminates the harsh reality of police brutality, inequitable mass incarceration, and other lived experiences of Black people in the United States and gives us tools to talk about race and racism. EmbraceRace is an organization focused on helping parents, teachers, and community leaders raise children to think and act critically against racial injustice. Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Anti-Racist asks us to think about what an anti-racist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it. Ross Gay’s poem, A Small Needful Fact, is a powerful memorial that says so much in a few beautiful words. I invite everyone to re-read or listen to Martin Luther King Jr.’s full Letter From a Birmingham Jail. His statements and questions are heartbreakingly relevant today. May you be moved beyond thought to action, as we are.

Be well and love each other.

Editor’s note: We’re disallowing comments on this post to make sure the focus remains on the problem at hand: the indiscriminate mistreatment and murder of Black people in the United States. In addition, we will be forgoing our typical publishing schedule to make space for the more critical conversations that need to be held.

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Marketing Strategies

B2B Sellers: Get Smarter About Service or Become the Latest Churn Statistics

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Jason Michaels HeadshotToday’s B2B sellers face an unprecedented challenge when it comes to customer retention. Accenture Interactive’s Service is the New Sales study of more than 700 B2B buyers revealed that 80% of frequent buyers have either switched sellers in the past year, or plan to in the coming year — and those are just the frequent buyers. B2B buyers cite a number of motivations behind switching sellers, including uncompetitive pricing, long lead times for delivery and fulfillment, missed delivery dates, lack of integration between sales channels and poor commerce functionality. B2B sellers positioned to meet these needs have a tremendous opportunity: half of buyers switching will make more purchases — and more expensive ones.

At the same time, our research recognizes leading B2B sellers who are thriving in this environment by harmonizing human and digital sales interactions to deliver personalized service experiences that set them apart and lock in loyalty. Among the nearly 1,500 B2B sellers surveyed, these leaders in our research distinguished themselves through objective B2B sales and service metrics — with 96% reporting higher profitability and 97% reporting gains in market share due to their service-focused approaches.

The most successful sellers also deploy flexible and responsive modern service experiences to achieve bottom-line success. Research from Forrester’s Predictions 2020 guide affirms the importance of B2B service experiences, foreseeing an increase in the number of B2B organizations focused on actively supporting customer journeys from 18% to 48% next year.

B2B buyers’ expectations continue to rise, but B2B sellers can get smarter about service by understanding three key drivers to retention:

1. Tap Into The Right Technology To Make Data Work For Customers

Customer data is the source of truth for essential insights into customers’ current needs and behaviors. Unlocking these insights empowers sellers to more accurately and effectively nurture customer relationships and deliver truly optimized service experiences.

Leaders leverage data technologies to execute service-oriented initiatives and make their brands more responsive and human. For example, leaders in our survey are 19% more likely to overcome customer service barriers by getting ahead of the curve with new technology platforms. They’re twice as likely as non-leaders to maintain centralized customer data sets, and then utilize that data across their service channels and conversations. These findings are also in-line with Forrester predictions, which expect more than 50% of marketing automation and ABM platform vendors to add or enhance their data management and omnichannel orchestration capabilities in 2020.

PurchaseJourney2

Moreover, leading B2B sellers are 4X more likely to jump from legacy systems and take advantage of emerging technologies. But they understand that this acute focus on service improvement is iterative, not a one-time finish line: leading B2B sellers are less likely than their non-leader counterparts to claim to have perfected their customer experiences.

2. Balance Digital And Human Interactions As A Potent Combination

The drive to implement digital platforms has led many non-leading B2B seller organizations to overcorrect, introducing fully digital sales channels with no salesperson support. At the same time and to their detriment, many other organizations have failed to adopt modern digital tools at all.

Leading organizations surveyed have struck an effective balance by incorporating both digital solutions and an assured human touch within their service channels. For example, leaders seamlessly utilize service channels that provide a two-way dialogue with customers, implementing digital tools like chatbots and augmented reality alongside human sales representatives and call center teams. Recognizing buyers’ crucial need for knowledgeable sector-educated sales reps, leaders are 3X more likely to offer click-to-chat access to experts, and twice as likely to equip sales reps with interactive customer engagement interfaces.

Humansupport2

Forrester predicts that seller engagement will increase by 10% in 2020, while at the same time, more transactions will close digitally. These predictions may seem counterintuitive but are, in fact, congruent with the reality that B2B buyers want both the ease of digital interfaces, and high-quality human service and support when facing complex purchasing decisions.

3. Reorganize Your Business Around Customer Service Success

Leading B2B sellers view customer service as a continuous priority rather than a finite effort, and are willing to remake their businesses to enable a culture where initiatives that champion service are able to flourish. This organizational change requires full commitment and support from business leadership, and can be as much about dismantling silos and embracing collaborative team structures as it is about introducing new workforce talent and digital tools.

That said, top-performing sellers in our survey proved more active in acquiring talent to support service offerings, and also more likely to launch programs incentivizing employee innovation. These organizations are more than twice as likely to have fully integrated marketing functions across their channels, and often feature particularly close integration between sales and marketing teams, as well.

By adopting the best practices of leading B2B sellers, cohort businesses can reach better customers with higher-quality, personalized service across their purchase journeys no matter how complex — and better keep those buyers from developing a wandering eye.


 Jason Michaels is the Managing Director at Accenture Interactive focused on B2B marketing.



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Marketing Strategies

Artificial intelligence (AI) in marketing

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30-second summary:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing DCO (Dynamic Creative Optimization) and CDP analytics by giving these programs access to multiple data points, across business silos, a more accurate customer profile and effective campaigns.
  • Personalized AI marketing can drive growth and creates better engagement with your audience
  • AI is here to stay, but not in the way consumers think, it will not replace humans
  • The COVID-19 pandemic emphasized to most marketers and brands the importance of being able to quickly change content and messages across all communication channels.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is taking the world by storm. It is a relevant game-changer for every vertical, from legal to retail to travel to ecommerce and the list goes on. It only grows more in impacting almost every facet of our daily lives.

So, what is AI? And as a marketer, what can it do for you?

It is important to understand that AI is not a solution. It is not a piece of technology that you license, and that stands alone.

It is a compilation of several technology solutions that evolve on their own, but when combined – the fused solution (“The Machine”) can observe, evaluate, understand, act, analyze, learn and improve at a very high speed, scale and efficiency that go beyond any human capabilities.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that AI will replace humans. It will not. Rather, it will allow them to focus on what only humans can and should focus on, such as strategy, concepting and the storytelling.

The machine helps with automating production speed and scale, and the heavy lifting of processing massive amounts of data, analyzing and identifying insights – actions that will take humans weeks to fulfill while the machine is able to handle in milliseconds.

When it comes to marketing, we can divide AI to three main aspects that can help us better measure and understand how, when and to what extent to utilize AI and the value it can provide: Automation, Decisioning, Optimization.

AI and Automation

‘Automation’ is increasingly becoming more relevant as channels, formats and experiences are added to the marketing mix and the number of touchpoints between a brand and its consumers are constantly increasing.

Marketers need to be able to produce, control and test the content and the quality of the experiences delivered to each individual. We are already beyond the scale that humans can handle, and things only get more and more complex.

AI allows us to streamline the production of ad experiences and messaging at high scale, quickly and cost-efficiently, using dynamic creative templates and massive feeds that include all the potential combinations of products, messages, locations, call-to-actions, backgrounds, content, and more, where literally every component in the ad experience is fully dynamic and can be customized and personalized per viewer in real time.

Recent events resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic only emphasized to most marketers and brands the importance of being able to quickly change content and messages across all communication channels and to stay relevant and authentic.

Decisioning with AI

‘Decisioning’ is where data is introduced into the mix. How do you make sure that every element and component within the experience you serve your consumers is the most relevant for them and resonates with them?

How do you make sure it relates to their own personal context, location and time – three important factors that can build brand trust or crush it instantly if not done and executed correctly.

AI plays a huge role here in the real time decision making of what to show to who, when and why.

Decisioning is also where different situational data signals beyond user preferences, behavior and affinity come into the mix, such as time of day, weather conditions, location, language, and other parameters that should affect the experience delivered.

Advanced marketing teams are investing time and bandwidth on the strategic level and utilizing AI for the more tactical execution.

Up until now we dealt with the activation part. Now we get to the more interesting and sophisticated part where AI truly accel, as it simply becomes impossible for humans to handle.

Optimization with AI

‘Optimization’ is where scale and speed matter the most.

Just think, not that long ago the first machine-based optimization was just simple A/B testing for better click rates, then media performance was added to click rates and that made for more effective spending, but you were still measuring only two variables… but now, there are dozens of variables and more complex decisions, can we handle it the same way, at the same speed we used to for a single or two variants?

Well, as a marketer you already know the answer.

The current amount of data from every captured event and user interaction collected from all experiences served, in all ad formats across all channels for every user in every online impression, email, in-store activation and other environments, are all aggregated, analyzed and digested into meaningful, actionable learnings.

But the role of true AI doesn’t end here. Your platform should learn as it goes, and — most importantly — use what it learns in each channel to make decisions in the others. For most companies, what they learn in YouTube only applies to optimizing in YouTube.

This is missing the full-omnichannel direction in which marketing is sprinting towards, as the whole idea is to learn and then apply those learning across the different channels and activations holistically in literally every touchpoint.

AI was wrongly perceived among many marketers as a mystery and a threat to avoid and fear as it is destined to replace the humans in the process. It is here to enhance you. It is an additive not a replacement.

Think of it as your smart and strong extension for what you need to do but unable due to human limitations, resources and time constrains.

The amount of data, calculations, versioning options and learnings are too much to handle at the speed of digital marketing today – these should be done by the machine.

This is all good news! because now you have more time to do what you should be doing – think, plan, strategize and manage. While AI lacks human creativity and rely on facts, people can derive insights from facts and create hypotheses and strategies.

It is important to define the roles of Artificial Intelligence in your organization and make sure you’re maximizing the outcomes, and as you embrace it and learn how to best implement and utilize, you’ll quickly enjoy and focus more on the ‘I’ and less on the ‘A’ in AI.

Oz Etzioni is CEO and co-founder of Clinch. After spending years leading user experience, design and innovation teams at major agencies, Etzioni founded Clinch to take advantage of the explosive growth in programmatic and address the need to provide data-driven video creative at scale.

The post Artificial intelligence (AI) in marketing appeared first on ClickZ.



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Guide: How to effectively incorporate customer journey mapping into your marketing strategy

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30-second summary:

  • A customer journey map is a visual representation of every interaction between you and your customers. Proper customer journey mapping can make a huge difference in conversions and help you create a more customer-centric marketing strategy.
  • Customer journey mapping starts with identifying your user personas. This way, you’ll know exactly which customer segment to market.
  • Next, you identify and map out every touchpoint or experience along the customer journey. This will help you learn and later predict customer behavior and buying decisions.
  • Chief content writer, Connie Benton guides you through the customer journey mapping process outline with some great examples and tools to help you.

When it comes to building a robust marketing strategy, most beginner entrepreneurs have nothing to start off with except expert advice they find on digital marketing blogs, let alone the idea of customer journey mapping. While this alone will last you a long way, ultimately, you’re borrowing experiences from somebody else’s business, not building on your own. This is why large corporations spend so much on big data and analytics. 

But it’s not just the corporations that do that. According to OnePath, 67% of SMEs spend over $10,000 a year on analytics. Why do they pay this huge price?

The answer is simple. You can only go this far using somebody else’s analytics. At some point, you should start gathering and interpreting data yourself. Without this, you can’t possibly expect to understand your thousands of clients.

If you’re looking for a point where you can start, you can postpone getting into behavioral segmentation and other advanced analytics, and follow a strategy that can yield great results on a shoestring budget. Create a customer journey map. Here’s all the information and tools you’ll need to create one.

How to create a customer journey map

A customer journey map (CJM) is exactly what it sounds to be. A map of the path that a customer makes from their decision to make a purchase or any other action, to successfully making it. Here’s an example of what it looks like from the NNGroup.

Source: NNGroup

You can create a customer journey map for most processes that involve customer decisions and use this map for different purposes. A detailed map of going from the latest stage of the sales funnel to making a purchase can be used to improve conversions. A map of making purchases after the initial conversion will help you increase customers’ lifetime value.

For now, we’ll concentrate on the basics and look at how to create a general customer journey map that covers a customer’s path from being interested in your product to making a purchase. It will help you improve your overall marketing strategy.

The first thing you’ll need to do is to set the frame of the customer map, where it should start and where it should end. Since we’re making a general map that covers the whole funnel, let’s set the start at being interested in the market, and the end at making the first purchase.

The most important thing, though, is to find the right path to trace. Most businesses have different types of clients that have different journeys. Let’s start by defining your user personas.

1. Define user personas

Needless to say that a user looking for online shopping websites will differ from someone in search of the best online business ideas. That’s why defining user personas is so important for successful customer journey mapping. 

Before you trace the customer’s journey, you need to have an idea of who’s making that journey. To do this, you need to know at least these four core data sets about your customer:

  • Demographic information (for example, age, gender, country)
  • What problems do they solve with your product
  • What do they value from the product
  • Where do they get information

With these points, you’ll be able to learn more about the customers themselves and their journey. Here’s how you can gather this information.

Tools to use

  • Sign-up forms
  • Google Analytics
  • Facebook Analytics
  • Pop-up surveys (Hotjar or similar)
  • Email surveys (MailChimp or similar)

You can easily gather the most basic demographic information on your leads with the sign-up form. When they’re registering on the website or grabbing a freebie, ask them to fill a bit more than their email address, and you already have a decent database. While you’re at it, you can also gather employment information, which is extremely helpful if you run a B2B company.

If that’s not an option, gather that data with Google or Facebook analytical tools. You can also get an insight into what your users are interested in by looking up Affinity Categories in Google Analytics.

Most likely, you have not one but several main demographics. Look for the largest age and sex groups and run Affinity Category reports on them. You may find that say, men and women in their 30s that buy from you have different interests on average.

The answers to why people buy from you and what do they value the most can only be inferred from user surveys. Do it via pop-ups or send surveys to your newsletter subscribers.

That said, these are just the basic tools that will cover most needs. Feel free to use any advanced analytics tools at your disposal.

2. Identify touchpoints

Once you know who your customer is, it’s time to begin tracing their path towards the purchase. You’ll need to track the touchpoints they have with your brand as they go through every step of the sales funnel.

Asking them how they ended up on your website may not be the perfect idea as a lot of touchpoints will be forgotten before the purchase. Here’s how you can do it more efficiently.

Tools to use

  • Google Analytics
  • Lead scoring software (HubSpot or similar)
  • Sign-up forms

Let’s start by looking at the off-website touchpoints. These are the touchpoints that lead a customer to your website: social media, ads, blog articles in Google search, and other similar online portals. You can gauge these easily by looking at where the traffic comes from in the Google Analytics panel.

Don’t forget to add UTM markers to different links you leave around the web to make sure you’re getting the full picture.

You can also get an approximate picture by including a question like “How did you find us” in your sign-up forms. However, this only shows the bottom of the funnel, and won’t provide the full picture.

The idea behind it is to award more points to actions that lead to conversion. You can use this system to first track what actions do lead to a conversion.

This way, you’ll know what set of actions a potential buyer performs on the website. The other method to learn is to use the ‘Reverse Goal Path’ in Google Analytics.

This tab lets you take a goal from your campaign and see what actions did a person who ended up converting did on the website. This shows you the majority of the on-site customer journey.

3. Draw the map

Now you know who your customers are and what set of actions do they perform before making a purchase. All you have left to do is to actually draw the customer journey map.

You can do it whatever way you want, just make sure it will always be handy for future use.

Tools to use

  • Drawing tool of choice: A piece of paper, an online mindmap, Photoshop, or any such platform that you’re comfortable using

Start with defining the user persona for the map you’re drawing. Since different user personas may have different journeys, you may need to draw several maps.

For now, let’s assume your customer is a 25 to 35-year-old male or female who owns an online store and is looking for SaaS software to help run it. Let’s call them Jessie since it’s a good gender-neutral name.

Start with what drives Jessie to make the purchase. Point out their motivation in this search. Then, track their behavior off-site. Maybe they search for the product reviews online or see several ads before they finally click on one of them.

Follow their path on your website based on the data you received from website analytics, and end the journey on their first purchase. Make sure to state how many users leave at a certain touchpoint and do not covert further.

In the end, you’ll have something like this.

Example - Customer journey map

Source: Digital.gov

How to improve marketing strategy with CJM

There you have it,  you’ve successfully created your first customer journey map. Now, let’s dig into how you can use it to improve your marketing efforts.

1. Search for insights

No customer journey map is complete without the insights, or potential opportunities for improvement, as noted in the map above. Gather your team if you haven’t already, and brainstorm the opportunities for improvement that you can infer from the map.

There’s no single way to go about it and it all depends on the situation you have on the map. For instance, if you see that a particular touchpoint has a conversion rate far below the rest, it’s probably something you should address.

Do more research on it, come up with a hypothesis as to why it underperforms, and try to improve it.

2. Improve messaging

Your customer’s motivation to make a purchase is a huge factor in how they decide what company to stick with. If you find that what your customers are looking for is not what you advertise, it’s a clear sign you should improve it.

3. Focus tangential interests

If you’re doing content marketing, your findings from the ‘Affinity Categories’ could be of good use. Some users can discover your product while reading articles on topics connected to it. For instance, Jessie’s journey to discovering a SaaS tool they need may have begun from reading an article on SMM.

Look up the data on affinity categories, and you can add a few more topics to your content marketing arsenal.

4. Focus on high-converting channels

While we’re on the topic of content marketing, customer journey mapping also allows for figuring out what marketing channels work best. Look at what channels are the most prevalent in the first half of the customer journey and figure out why they work best.

From then on, you have two options. You can either try to fix the channels that do not bring you enough customers or double down on the ones that already bring you the best ROI.

5. Improve on-site conversion

CJM provides some of the best analytics on the on-site actions of your customers. This gives you an opportunity to see what exactly are your customers doing on the website before they convert and improve the whole process.

This goes far beyond just improving the touchpoints you have. You can also change your on-site conversion strategy and add new touchpoints.

For instance, you may notice that people who grab freebies or attend webinars convert much more than regular visitors. You may start including these converting assets in pop-ups, or on the bottom of your blog posts.

If the issue is that your sales reps can’t keep up with the number of customers, you may need a sales funnel software to automate some of the tasks and work with bigger loads.

Improve every business aspect with customer journey mapping

A customer journey map is a tool that helps you visualize so much data about your customers and their path to conversion. Create a map that reflects how customers really do, not what you think they’re doing, and you can see all the mistakes your business does in attracting them further to conversion. Gather the data continuously and update the map to see how customer behavior changes, especially during unusual situations like a pandemic.

But it doesn’t stop there. You can improve most business processes that involve customers taking a set of actions towards a goal with a customer journey map. All you have to do is to set another frame and go through every process in this guide again.

This way, you can improve anything from increasing viewership on your blog to reducing customer churn.

Connie Benton is a chief content writer, guest contributor, and enthusiastic blogger who helps B2B companies reach their audiences more effectively. You can find her on Twitter at @ConnieB34412379.

The post Guide: How to effectively incorporate customer journey mapping into your marketing strategy appeared first on Search Engine Watch.



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