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2 min read

Brands ‘must engage in new and different ways’

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Businesses have been urged to take a fresh look at how they engage with consumers.

According to Nick Turner, consumer business digital lead at Deloitte, brands need to look beyond marketing as a means of engaging with their target audience.

Instead, he told Travolution that firms need to make sure they are communicating in "new and different ways".

Mr Turner said technology can be particularly advantageous in this regard, as it can ensure all consumer interactions across various channels and touch points are tracked and integrated.

"They can help with identifying failure points and guiding real-time, targeted responses," he commented.

"For example, you will see a number of businesses contacting you if you dropped out of their site whilst making a purchase."

Mr Turner also insisted that firms must make sure employees at every level are aware of the "role they play in serving consumers".

This, he said, can empower them to make correct decisions on how best to deal with anyone who is unhappy.

Businesses were then advised to be mindful of the reputational damage that can ensue if their social media channels are not properly managed.

Mr Turner suggested that firms set up social command centres so they can find out what people are saying about them on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

He said this approach would also enable brands to share positive stories beyond their existing customer base and reach "those who are just about to start their search for a product or brand".

Mr Turner added that if a company is looking to launch a content marketing strategy, it should make sure any material inspires and informs customers rather than presents a sales pitch.

Firms were told that equipping people with the right information enables them to "move independently through the shopping journey". 

Mr Turner said this could in turn bolster trust and brand loyalty, but stressed that this is a "sequential process that can't be short-circuited".

Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

Retailers ‘must consistently fine-tune approach to marketing’

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Retailers have been encouraged to make sure their approach to marketing evolves over time.

According to entrepreneur and web developer Dario Zadro, many aspects of engaging with consumers are consistent and timeless.

However, he told Business 2 Community that the actual operating environment for retailers changes on a regular basis.

Therefore, Mr Zadro believes companies in the sector must alter accordingly in order to stay ahead of factors such as demographic shifts and wider retail trends.

"Retailers must consistently fine-tune their marketing approaches by understanding demographics and the variables that influence consumer decision-making," he commented.

Mr Zadro noted that consumer markets have evolved a great deal in the last five years, partly because new technological innovations have established themselves in the mainstream.

As a result, he believes retailers might benefit from comparing and contrasting today's operating environment with conditions in the recent past.

He stated that this would make recent developments and how the marketplace has altered far more apparent.

Retailers would therefore be able to alter their customer engagement strategies in line with these changes.

Businesses could support these efforts by using customer relationship management software to extract meaningful insights from the data they possess, such as information on their core demographics and people's various tastes, habits and preferred means of communicating with a company.

Mr Zadro added that today's communications environment has led to consumers being bombarded with lots of messages from organisations every single day.

This, he stated, means that messages regarding individual products can easily get drowned out. As a result, he has suggested companies focus on branding, as this can have more of a long-term impact on customers and help them convey their core values and principles.

For instance, Mr Zadro suggested that establishing a brand as a "trusted resource" could create relationships with people that encourage them to transact with that firm on multiple occasions.

"To be most effective reaching modern consumers, each aspect of an organisation’s branding strategy must link to the next, creating continuity and trust among consumers," he advised.

Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

What’s standing in the way of effective digital customer engagement?

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In order to ensure that your company is effectively engaging with its customers digitally it is important to remove as many obstacles to this relationship as possible.

Problems can include a shortage of digital talent, which executives perceive as the greatest hurdle to effective engagement, particularly those at smaller organisations.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software offers an ideal way to remove barriers to digital engagement, including talent shortages, by providing a system for interactions with new and existing clients.

Warc, a specialist in advertising best practice, recently cited a study of 850 executives carried out by McKinsey as demonstrating how skills shortages, internal structures and a lack of understanding may hamper digital engagement efforts.

Digital engagement with consumers is becoming more important and CRM is a means for companies of all sizes to access effective methods in a flexible, cost-effective and scalable way.

While the McKinsey poll discovered bosses are aware of the importance of digital customer engagement and perceive it as a strategic priority, ranking as the leading digital trend among respondents, a series of hurdles prevent firms from achieving their goals in this area.

Employing CRM can provide a roadmap for success for companies keen to enhance digital customer engagement, simplifying processes, improving planning and increasing the accuracy of forecasting.

Investing in CRM could significantly improve a business's bottom line, as the McKinsey research discovered more than one in three respondents predicted digital would fuel at least 15 per cent of their organisation's growth during the coming three years.

In addition to highlighting problems attracting digital talent, many of those questioned also stated they do not feel enough investment is being made by their firm in big data and analytics in order to meet targets – an area where CRM systems can really give companies a competitive edge.

Another problematic area was internal structures, in particular within larger organisations, where a lack of flexibility prevented new digital opportunities from being fully exploited.

By investing in a CRM solution, these obstacles can be overcome, with flexible systems able to respond to changing market conditions and systems tracking and measuring the success of campaigns so they can be adapted and improved.

Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

UK insurers ‘should improve customer experience’

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Insurers need to improve their customer relationships in the UK market in a range of ways, a new report has indicated.

A study by KPMG has found that the general experience of British consumers is better than it was, but leaves much room for further enhancement – something online retailing may help achieve.

Its Customer Experience Barometer found only 16 percent of UK general insurance policyholders thought firms had improved in this area since last year, a figure that drops to 13 percent for life insurance. KPMG noted that most other countries have seen much more progress, with 39 percent of Chinese consumers happier with their service than 12 months ago.

The same pattern was apparent when it came to the overall level of experience, with only 34 percent of UK general insurance customers and 30 percent of life insurance policyholders rating this highly, again less than other countries.

KPMG said one way British insurers can improve is by increasing their focus on better personal interaction with customers, the use of digital channels and the adoption of a “retailing mentality”. It noted that those who retail online do best in the survey, with a 53 percent approval rating.

Global head of insurance at KPMG Gary Reader remarked: “The greatest opportunity for sustainable revenue growth does not come from new products or geographical expansion, but rather from their ability to deliver a high quality and differentiating customer experience.

“Those that get it right will not only capture a greater share of new customers, they will also be better placed to keep their customers and extend their existing relationships.”

CRM technology may help with this as it means companies can keep closer tabs on their customers and use the data available to offer better services more geared up to their needs.

The importance of providing a good customer experience was highlighted in the EY Global Consumer Insurance Survey 2012 report, titled Voice Of The Consumer.

It noted that insurance companies need to improve their quality of service, communicate better, be more transparent with their products and reward loyalty.

2 min read

CRM helps SMEs ‘get organised’

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Owners of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been encouraged to invest in customer relationship management (CRM) software.

According to Nadia Finer, founder of smartli.co, the amount of client data a business needs to manage will increase as it grows.

Writing in the Guardian, she suggested that SMEs might therefore benefit from seeking an alternative to "relying on lots of different lists and spreadsheets".

Instead, Ms Finer recommended they use a CRM system, as it will keep all their client details in one easily accessible location.

This, she stated, will eradicate the chances of files going missing, omissions and mistakes, as well as prevent unnecessary repetition.

Ms Finer also pointed out that SME owners will be driven to distraction if they try to remember every single person's contact details, as well as when certain people were spoken to and what was discussed during these conversations.

"Don't waste your brain power on this stuff – put a CRM system in place so you can focus on greater things," she commented.

Ms Finer described CRM software as a "handy tool" that enables companies to both manage and nurture their relationships with customers.

"A CRM can also help you grow your business and keep customers happy by keeping track of interactions and tasks – and giving you a clear view of your sales pipeline," she said.

SME owners were advised that strong client relationships are fundamental to the success of a firm, which means they could fall by the wayside if they forget to make a crucial call or follow up on earlier enquiries.

Ms Finer said a CRM can prevent these kinds of mistakes occurring as it will enable firms to remember key actions and deal with potential issues before they escalate into something more serious.

This, she said, will ultimately allow companies to deliver a great service and adopt a highly streamlined sales process.

Bosses were told that if they know which stage every lead is at, they can focus their efforts accordingly so they can close the deal.

Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

Social media changing customer relationships

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Across B2B and B2C channels, the rise of social media platforms has had a major impact on how companies connect with their customers. 

This is a great opportunity, allowing firms to offer around-the-clock, reactive support to the people who make their business a success – but it can also pose a host of challenges, especially for organisations without the infrastructure and talent in place to deal with it.

Topshop marketing director Sheena Sauvaire recently spoke to Retail Week about the role social is playing in its operation, highlighting the trendy clothing firm's use of Pinterest as a way of engaging with young, web-savvy consumers.

She said: "This gave us another insight into how crowd-sourced recommendations can drive purchase in the physical space. The results were positive and I think it shows how peer-to-peer influence continues to be a driving factor, particularly for the younger shopper."

As m-commerce begins to reach maturity, this will provide another data source – but also another challenge – for marketers keen to harness the power of customer information.

eBay vice-president of UK marketplaces Tanya Lawler told the news provider that 2014 will see a further drive towards integrating social, mobile and other platforms with overall engagement processes.

"There’s a huge opportunity for brands to capitalise on the sweet spot between utility and engagement," she posited.

Research from KANA Software recently found that consumers' 'expectation reflex', meaning how quickly they expect brands to respond to complaints and queries, has shrunk drastically in the social media age.

Companies need to combine utility and engagement in the way Ms Lawler suggests to work well with customers.

Of course, for retail brands this type of approach needs to be converted into sales if it is to have a tangible impact on the bottom line and provide a strong return on investment.

Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

Locational data ‘can offer personalised marketing’

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Locational data offers companies a way of using their customer relationship management (CRM) software in a smarter way, according to mobile phone network EE.

The firm has been using location data to establish that the London suburb of Surbiton is the biggest hotspot in the UK for young people checking out fashion websites and apps via their smartphones, the BBC reports.

It is an example of how the internet can be used by firms to establish the geographical areas in which particular products might be most – or least – popular. 

Geographical variations might be obvious in some places; for example, expensive cars might be much more popular in an affluent area and certain locations may have a higher than average number of people from particular ethnic or other minority groups. However, this new source of data means that further information may be available to marketers than was previously the case. 

Chief strategy officer at OOH agency Posterscope observed: "Thanks to location data we now understand the relevance and value of a particular advertising position compared with another.

"For instance, commuters at one station may tend to look at financial apps on their phones, whereas people travelling from another station may prefer fashion apps.

"Knowing this helps advertisers ensure their ads are relevant, which saves money and improves effectiveness."

The use of locational data may also mean individuals can be contacted using personalised marketing based on the common preferences of those who live in a particular area.

Of course, not everyone likes being marketed to on the basis of search data and other information they may regard as private, with a recent OpinionLab survey showing eight out of ten people don't want consumers to be tracked using smartphone data.

However, this information could be used in conjunction with CRM software in a way many consumers will welcome, as it could help establish the kind of products people may not be so keen on – and thus avoid the potential irritation to them of marketing goods that they have no interest in.

Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

Marketers ‘must look at automation’

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Although marketing automation has been a hot topic for some years, it appears that industry professionals do not yet feel that they have come to terms with the technology involved.

VentureBeat and RazorSocial recently found that only 48 per cent of companies that have implemented marketing automation would do so again, despite the fact that many of them have recorded a positive return on investment.

The benefits of CRM and automation are clear when they are implemented properly, but the sector remains somewhat cautious, reports Marketing Week.

Research firm SiriusDecisions’ 2014 report on automation suggested that it will only become more important in the future, noting that 80 per cent of the highest-performing firms it surveyed used the technology.

"By 2020, the marketer who doesn’t understand how marketing automation should be used to drive demand creation will be an endangered species," the study explained.

One firm that has embraced the possibilities of engagement is the Caravan Club, which feels it can drive up engagement levels among members and ensure they provide a good service across the board.

Head of member marketing Tony Lewis suggested that automation is a good way of keeping new sign-ups aware of the products and services the caravanning organisation offers.

"With new customers we must find ways to drive value without throwing the kitchen sink at them marketing-wise. We need to introduce them to services and benefits in a consultative way, when they need to hear about something and not before." he explained.

In practical terms, the Caravan Club's automated system ensures that new members receive a series of informative messages, pamphlets and emails to keep them up-to-date with the offers they can receive.

Mr Lewis pointed out that non-directed email can be as ineffective as old-fashioned junk mail, meaning that CRM is useful when it comes to targeting communications.

"Automation helps us to send time-appropriate messages and offers to the right people at the right time," he concluded.

Customer engagement white paper