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Marketing Strategies

Now Is The Time To Find And Correct Your Digital Strategy Pitfalls




/Every brand or enterprise is crafting and refining their digital strategy on a daily basis. However, especially in the world of B2B, companies fall into many of the same mistakes. 

According to a 2019 Forrester report, “44% of B2B buyers expect to do more than half of their work-related purchasing online in the next three years.” In the wake of COVID-19, that figure is probably even higher. It is crucial that marketers create engaging digital content, leveraging every digital touchpoint as an opportunity to build trust and strengthen relationships.

Marketers have access to more target audience research and data than ever before, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to avoid pitfalls. Let’s consider the consequential B2B marketing mistakes that companies are making, and demonstrate why a digital strategy audit is the solution.

Your Content Shouldn’t Reflect Your Organization Chart

 Too often, companies — particularly B2B enterprises — build their websites and digital assets around their internal organization structure rather than a customer’s needs. As an example, imagine you are a customer looking for a mop. You surf to a company’s website to buy a complete cleaning solution, but they have separate pages for mop handles and mop heads because they operate as separate divisions. Now you have to research the parts separately, figure out what you need and ensure they are compatible with one another. That’s not a huge ask for a mop, but imagine you are purchasing a complicated business system with hardware, software and a consultative service component.

Your Messaging Should Focus On The Customer, Not The Product

Companies often lead with the news of the capability or product they just launched, but prospects don’t come to your website for product announcements. They visit because they have a question or a problem. Your messaging should show people you understand that problem. This is a best practice for all marketers, but it is especially true for those marketing to developers, engineers and the C-suite. These audiences are highly skeptical of “marketing speak” and an overly product-forward content strategy will turn them off. Plus, leading with product makes your company seem uninterested in building strong audience bonds.

Don’t Overload One Area Of The Buyer Journey With Content But Neglect Others

Another mistake that is easy to overlook when you are inside the organization is creating content around some areas of the buyer journey, but not others. If your organization doesn’t have a healthy mix of content formats, you may be making this error. For example, you might have multiple white papers and blog articles that are relevant to a prospect comparing competitive solutions, but no video to share on social media to create brand awareness.

It is also common to create content for one audience segment but forget about other personas, or simply run out of time and resources. B2B purchasing decisions involve multiple decision-makers with different priorities and needs. A complete digital strategy needs to encompass all of them, which is part of what makes B2B marketing so challenging.

Don’t Overuse Jargon

Your existing customers know your lingo, but new ones may not. It is important that your messaging and content use natural language, rather than jargon, so it resonates with your audience. This may sound like a simple one, but it can be hard to catch yourself because you are accustomed to the company’s lexicon.

Why Now Is The Time For A Digital Assessment

The first step in fixing mistakes is finding them. Your company may have slowed or even stopped marketing initiatives in response to COVID-19, so use this time to audit your digital strategy.

There isn’t an industry on the planet that hasn’t been upended by the pandemic. Buying processes have changed overnight, so even if your company has managed to avoid these marketing traps, you still need to audit your strategy and update it to reflect the new normal.

A comprehensive review should include:

  • A content audit and effectiveness assessment;
  • A website CX health assessment;
  • A channel audit and effectiveness assessment;
  • A brand message assessment; and
  • An event strategy assessment.

The good news is an audit will likely uncover low-hanging fruit — low-effort/high-impact actions you can take to drive fast results for your company. Next, you can devise a plan for tackling the bigger initiatives.

Remember, as a B2B marketer, your goal is to build relationships with prospects and to lead them through their consideration journey, fostering trust every step of the way. The missteps above compromise your ability to do so. An audit kicks off the process of doing this right.

Greg Harbinson is the Senior Strategy Director at Centerline Digital, where he focuses his time on helping companies create messaging and experiences to better communicate with their customers. His work includes building messaging frameworks, defining the information architecture for websites, designing customer experience programs and helping companies understand the best ways to solve communication problems.

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Marketing Strategies

Generating The Spark For Memorable Virtual Experiences




/Now more than ever, marketers are competing for customers’ attention. With many professionals working from home, not only are you up against the internet, but you are angling for time in the midst of your customers’ workloads, emails, children, pets, laundry and whatever else is going on in their lives.

 The potential for distraction is everywhere. So the primary goal needs to be getting and keeping your customer engaged, with limited time to achieve that.

I call this sustained engagement goal as “generating the spark” — creating an experience for a user that will ignite a lasting memory. But how do we transform traditional sales models into truly engaging, digital, interactive experiences that create a spark? Here are a few tips.

Brevity Is Your Friend

Traditionally, B2B companies focus on lots of details. In a first engagement, especially a digital one, the visitor needs to be able to connect very quickly to the value you provide. It’s critical to start with the digestibility of the message — an easy-to-understand story that shows logical progression. Don’t get caught up in the particulars at first. Remember that the minutia, which you may find important, probably doesn’t apply in your first interaction. Your goal is to get customers to return, so they can ask more detailed questions during the second engagement in their buyer journey. 

Find Your Inner B2C

When we think of a virtual “connection,” we think of connecting with other people, not with content. But we make emotional connections with content, as well. The key ingredient to establishing a connection with content is creativity. 

Traditionally, B2B marketers are on the conservative side when it comes to their content and customer engagement strategies. B2B buyers want to be entertained in the same way they are by consumer-focused marketing. B2B organizations can set themselves apart from the competition by embracing bold expression over the same old, conservative methods.

Bring Your Customer Into Virtual Environments 

If you want your product to be remembered, you need to bring your buyer somewhere that will evoke emotion and feelings of connection. I like to categorize a virtual experience into three scenarios:

  1. Real, but impossible: Take your audience somewhere that exists in the real world but is not accessible because of physics. For example, if you are talking to the power of a processor or technical product specifications, you could drop your guest onto a motherboard or the working mechanism of a complicated device. This change of perspective transforms their perception of the products you sell, demonstrating unique value to the customer.  
  2. The real world: You can recreate any place, but you have to know why you’re recreating it. The sky’s the limit in the virtual world and you can create a space that is widely inaccessible to the average person like an oil rig or medical laboratory.
  3. It’s OK to be abstract: Sometimes the value of a product or service can be conceptual, and that’s fine. This is an opportunity to place a user in a more creative or artistic space. If we can create a visually appealing environment — one that uses color, shape and captivating user interfaces in dynamic ways — the experience can elicit a visceral reaction, one that will create a lasting impression. 

Creating the application environment is just the beginning of “generating the spark” for a buyer. As we move forward in this crazy new world, it will get increasingly more important to relate to users in creative and meaningful ways.

 As Associate Director of Creative Services / Mixed Reality Experience Strategist at Kaon Interactive, Howard’s role is to innovate user interaction and engagement for applications for Fortune 500 companies. Howard’s passion for interactivity has helped Kaon’s customers tell complex stories while creating emotional connections and exciting their audiences.

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Marketing Strategies

Real-time customer engagement and omnichannel personalization deliver a superior CX



30-second summary:

  • Marketing is increasingly viewed as a mission-critical organization responsible for driving new revenue, and the current situation only enhances its indispensable role for creating innovative experiences that fulfill a customer’s needs, wants and desires in real time. Real time customer engagement is how ambitious marketers lead markets.
  • Customer journeys have become more dynamic, fluid and uncertain with traditional patterns of engagement upended and consumers adopting entirely new behaviors (curbside pickup, grocery delivery, etc.)
  • Real-time customer engagement, always an important capability for providing a differentiated CX, is now an imperative to provide a relevant, timely and personalized engagement with every customer throughout an omnichannel customer journey.
  • Real-time customer engagement that drives revenue growth as a competitive differentiator needs to include five core elements: a CX strategy, data collection & governance rules, a single customer view, automated machine learning, and intelligent orchestration.

A superior customer experience (CX) has long been understood by ambitious marketing teams as a driver of new revenue and business growth. A 2019 Harris Poll, commissioned by Redpoint, highlighted the CX imperative: 37 percent of consumers surveyed said they will stop doing business with a company that fails to deliver a personalized customer experience. Asked what prevents them from providing such an experience, marketers cited real-time engagement (50%) and customer understanding (48%) as the top barriers.

Drastic, sudden changes to consumer behaviors in the wake of coronavirus exacerbates the personalization challenge for marketers.

Customer journeys have become more dynamic, fluid and uncertain with traditional patterns of engagement upended and consumers adopting entirely new behaviors (curbside pickup, grocery delivery, etc.).

In a recent McKinsey report on consumer sentiment during COVID-19, 75% of US survey respondents said that they have tried a new shopping behavior during the pandemic, with upward of 80% claiming that they will continue their adopted behavior beyond the current health crisis.

Furthermore, US consumers said that value, convenience and availability are now their top three priorities, ahead of price or brand loyalty.

Real-time customer engagement, always an important capability for providing a differentiated CX, is now an imperative to provide a relevant, timely and personalized engagement with every customer throughout an omnichannel customer journey.

Ultimately, real-time customer engagement that drives revenue growth as a competitive differentiator needs to include five core elements.

1) Set a CX strategy

Overcoming the barriers to providing a personalized CX through real-time customer engagement begins with setting a strategy.

Organizations must first think about the outcomes they want to achieve; what is the type of experience they’re trying to deliver, how will it be measured, and what metrics will define success both in the short-term and long-term?

Whether the goal is to improve retention, NPS or loyalty, strengthen an emotional connection with customers, or to provide a competitive advantage, real-time customer engagement has many benefits that ultimately drive revenue growth.

Formulating an engagement strategy helps brands prioritize which capabilities – from data to automated machine learning and orchestration – will yield the optimal result for the metric the business is trying to achieve.

2) Set data collection and governance rules

With a clearly defined strategy in place, organizations are positioned to map out all of the data they need access to, and in what cadence.

Real-time customer engagement requires knowing everything there is to know about that customer’s current situation – which is now subject to day-by-day and minute-by-minute change.

This detailed customer understanding requires determining all the data sources pertinent for an updated view, including behavioral, transactional and demographic data.

Customer data siloes are antithetical to the notion of a true single customer view, which requires aggregating data from every source and of every type: batch and streaming; anonymous and known, structured, semi-structured and unstructured; and first-party, second-party and third-party data.

Establishing a data-focused mindset with stringent data governance procedures is a foundational requirement for engaging with each customer seamlessly through each stage of a journey.

With a data governance approach in place that ensures data breadth, depth and quality, companies satisfy the second core component of real-time customer engagement.

3) The golden record/single customer view

A single customer view that is accessible in real time, and combines properly aggregated and managed customer data (cleansed, matched, merged) with a complete identity graph is known as a Golden Record.

This unified, real time and easily accessible profile resolves a customer’s identity across all devices, ID’s, behaviors, transactions and preferences and is the beating heart of a personalized experience as the basis for real-time decisioning.

The Golden Record sets the table for marketers, providing them with everything they need to serve the right offer at the right moment of a journey.

For it to accurately reflect a customer’s needs, wants and desires at a set moment in time, the Golden Record requires advanced identity resolution combined with zero data latency.

Real-time data collection, and real-time processing are both foundational requirements to ensure relevancy with every engagement.

If a customer abandons a shopping cart but continues to browse a web page, a brand’s ability to provide a personalized experience during that visit depends on knowing not just about the abandoned cart, but also the clicks and browsing history that led to the initial cart fulfillment – all within the same online visit.

The Golden Record infuses context into every customer interaction, the key for data-driven marketers to provide relevance in real time and to coordinate consistent messaging across the entire journey.

4) Automated machine learning

Embedded, behind-the-scenes automated machine learning (AML) is the next core element of real-time customer engagement. AML powers real-time decisioning at scale based on the Golden Record.

On-the-fly insights about a customer become triggers for contextually relevant communications and interactions, but this only made possible with automated machine learning models that can do this at scale for highly granular segments (up to a segment of one) throughout increasingly dynamic customer journeys.

It is now possible for marketers to manage a fleet of models that are tuned to constantly drive intelligent decisions for optimized customer engagement across channels.

Built to yield the best outcome for whatever metric a marketer is trying to optimize, these automated models drive associated revenue growth while making real-time adjustments based on the direction of a specific customer journey.

For models to truly drive breakthrough results, however, they should be developed, updated and applied in real-time and on an ongoing testing basis so marketers can best capitalize on each moment of interaction.

AML removes the latency that arises when the responsibility for these tasks is given to data scientists. Instead of waiting for models to be re-built, re-trained and refreshed, AML empowers marketers to let the self-trained models run 24/7 as the automated recommendations are aligned with the targeted results.

5) Orchestration and execution

Intelligent orchestration completes the real-time engagement process that results in a perfectly timed, next-best action at any point throughout an omnichannel journey.

Intelligent orchestration coordinates all communications (inbound, outbound, digital or traditional) to power the real-time decisioning engine, factoring in a customer’s up-to-the-second behaviors to ensure the optimal relevancy of a next-best action.

Because every step operates in real time, marketers will always be in cadence with the customer. This is paramount, as customers view interactions with a brand as holistic experiences.

Rendering a next-best action across channels aligns with this expectation, whereas marketing to fragmented channels with siloed data creates a gap between what a customer perceives as a unified experience and what is being delivered.

Intelligent orchestration is listed here as the final step in a real-time customer engagement strategy, but real-time customer engagement is more accurately described as a closed-loop process.

A next-best action that delights a customer with relevance and personalization will likely lead to a positive result; action or inaction become real-time updates to a customer’s Golden Record, and the process continues with the self-learning models continuing to refine and optimize a next-best action for the next engagement.

Now is the time to innovative with real-time engagement

With consumers having dramatically altered how they interact with businesses – and indicating little interest in reverting to traditional engagement models – it is incumbent on businesses to intermediate each interaction.

Real-time engagement provides an opportunity to deliver relevance and personalization that strengthen relationships with customers and ultimately drive business growth.

Marketing is increasingly viewed as a mission-critical organization responsible for driving new revenue, and the current situation only enhances marketing’s indispensable role for creating innovative experiences that fulfill a customer’s needs, wants and desires in real time.

Real time customer engagement is how ambitious marketers lead markets.

John Nash has spent his career helping businesses grow revenue through the application of advanced technologies, analytics, and business model innovations. As Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer at Redpoint Global, John is responsible for developing new markets, launch new solutions, building brand awareness, generating pipeline growth, and advancing thought leadership.

The post Real-time customer engagement and omnichannel personalization deliver a superior CX appeared first on ClickZ.

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Marketing Strategies

Defining value stream management for SEO agencies business owners



30-second summary:

  • Value stream management is the practice that helps businesses to determine the value of the software development process. 
  • By managing value streams, you can improve the flow of value to your SEO agency and monitor the software delivery lifecycle.
  • Mapping value streams will help you improve visibility throughout the whole software development cycle.
  • You can enable value stream management by defining real-time metrics, creating a value stream map, enabling cross-team collaboration, connecting different processes, and automating the workflows.

With the scope of the competition on the market, the delivery of SEO options is becoming harder than ever. To stay competitive, all processes within the software development cycle must be optimized to their best.

If you’re looking to improve the workflows in your SEO agency, consider implementing value stream management. To help you get started, we’ve created this ultimate guide to value stream management. After reading, you’ll get a better idea of what is a value stream and how you can start managing your value streams by creating maps. 

What is value stream management (VSM)?

To define the concept of value stream management, it’s important to understand the fundamentals. Let’s cover the basics and define key terms before moving further to discuss value stream management for SEO businesses. 

A value stream refers to every step of the software delivery lifecycle (SDLC), from the product idea to the production and tools required to deliver your software to the customers. To help you visualize the concept, here’s an example of a value stream for product (not software) development.

Source: Dragon1

In other words, a value stream is a series of activities that build up the value of your SEO software. Value is defined by something a customer gets, like high-quality software, in a fair period of time for a fair price. 

Value stream management flow

Source: Maaw info

Value stream management (VSM) refers to the process of optimizing processes from the very point when you conceptualize an idea to the time when this idea is in production and generating revenue. To put it simply, VSM allows you to manage your SEO software development process from idea to cash. 

The benefits of value stream management for your SEO agency

Value stream management enables SEO software companies to deliver higher quality products faster and more efficiently than their competitors while significantly reducing risks. Besides, proper implementation of VSM enables the following benefits. 

  • VSM helps you find and address the limitations of your workflows. By mapping out all stages of the software development process, you can identify potential limitations and blunders. 
  • VSM enables you to deliver higher quality SEO solutions. By optimizing development processes, you can deliver better quality products. 
  • VSM allows the continuous development of your agency. By investing in optimization and VSM, you can guarantee the success of your business in the long run. 
  • VSM helps you to make the overall flow of information across the entire process visible to people who normally manage separate functions, processes, and departments. 

How does value stream mapping work?

By now you should understand that value stream management allows optimization of all development processes, from the first time an idea of a product is conceptualized to the moment when the product is produced and launched in the marketplace. 

Within value stream management, many capabilities feed that process. Value stream mapping one of these capabilities. 

A value stream map refers to the visualization of all critical steps in the SEO software development process. Value stream maps include a description of each stage and information, like the time, the volume of work, and spendings dedicated to each of the stages. 

By creating value stream maps, you can analyze the current state of your processes and improve your product based on the series of events that take your SEO solution from the initial concept to the finished product your customers receive. To put it simply, value stream mapping allows you to identify where you’re adding value and where you’re wasting it. 

Besides, creating value streams allows you to categorize activities into high priority vs. low priority items. This way, you can prioritize and triage some processes in favor of others. 

How can you enable VSM?

In order to optimize your SEO software development practices and tools, you need total visibility throughout the whole development cycle. Likely, you can achieve this by mapping value streams. 

Not particularly sure where to start? Follow these five steps to enable value stream management for your SEO agency. 

1. Defining real-time metrics and objectives

Defining real-time metrics is the first step toward enabling value stream management. Unfortunately, many businesses fail to define metrics which leads to misleading results and inability to assess the effectiveness of their VSM efforts. 

Choosing the right objectives allows you to understand what’s happening in the development and identify where value is “leaking” in the process. 

Here’s a list of metrics to help you get started: 

  • The development cycle time 
  • The overall volume of change (before and after VSM)
  • Lead time (LT)
  • Process time (PT)
  • Percent complete & accurate (percept of time when the software is received by users in the correct and ready-to-use form)

Collecting these metrics is paramount for the successful evaluation of your VSM efforts. 

2. Creating a value stream map

After you’ve defined the key metrics and objectives, you can start studying your workflows. Create a map (either physical or digital) that explains each step of the software development process, from conceptualizing an idea to delivering the final product to customers. This way, you can see the distribution of resources within your software development cycle. 

Here’s a great example of a value stream map. 

Value stream management map example

Source: ipinimg 

3. Enabling cross-team collaboration

Value stream management requires you to enable cross-team collaboration. Rather than testing business analysts separately from developers and other teams, you want to optimize the workflow across all of these teams. 

4. Connecting multiple processes, teams, and tools 

Now, as you’ve created opportunities for all teams to work together, you should find a way to answer the following question. How do you make sure that all of the work that your employees are doing, the value streams of their development, map to your priorities? 

To answer this question, you have to evaluate the workflows and roles of each team regarding your objectives and priorities. 

5. Coordinating and automating workflows 

VSM tools allow you to embed governance into existing system development cycles. In other words, some platforms allow you to automate the value stream management processes. 

Tom Hayes, a VSM advisor at the Guerrilla Agency shares his expertise,

“By coordinating and automating workflows, you can continually improve your SEO solution and ultimately achieve better results.”

The bottom line

Value stream management is different from other approaches because it’s focused on the idea that everything that happens to your customers, from the idea to the delivery, is important and needs to be managed in a holistic manner. 

By implementing VSM in your SEO agency, you can better understand your system development cycles and workflows. 

Implementing value stream management is easier than it may seem. You can start by mapping value streams and defining your main objectives. Moreover, there are many platforms that will make the VSM process easy and personalized for your SEO agency.

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 Defining value stream management for SEO agencies business owners appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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