2 min read

Creativity in the marketing world


Although an outsider might think of marketing as a 'creative' profession, the reality is that workloads and time management mean bread-and-butter tasks often take precedence over Mad Men-style spitballing.

A recent report from brand experience agency Jack Morton Worldwide, seen exclusively by Marketing Week, highlighted some of the problems facing professionals who wish to think creatively.

Worryingly, 41 per cent of respondents were unsure whether or not they have sufficient time allocated for creative thinking, with only 30 per cent feeling they did.

Barriers preventing marketers from producing creative work included a lack of training, corporate culture, the inability to prove a significant return on investment and the environment within their workplace.

By far the biggest hurdle, though, was lack of time – a third of respondents cited this as the biggest issue preventing them from engaging in creative thought.

Tim Leighton, joint head of creative at Jack Morton Worldwide, suggested that firms need to change their approach fundamentally if they are to engage effectively with consumers.

In the modern marketing landscape, customers – both in B2B and B2C businesses – expect a different approach than was seen even a decade ago, which requires innovative thinking from the firms providing them with a service.

"The workforce understands the challenges of today’s world and the fact that they need to be creative in order to address those challenges. The onus now is on corporate culture to catch up with this perception," posited Mr Leighton.

How can firms free up their staff to produce engaging, customer-focused content while still keeping pace with the various mapping and tracking tasks that are now a crucial part of the marketing function?

In the past, well-integrated CRM systems have shown that they have the potential to free staff up from administrative tasks, leaving them with more time to work in a creative, innovative fashion.

CRM also makes it easier to target specific consumers, which can increase the impact of creative campaigns.

Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

Brand honesty and social media


For all the hype over engaging with customers over social media, problems still remain with the platform, not least the fact that many Britons are uncertain whether they can trust an interaction they have over Twitter or Facebook.

Naturally, people can be dishonest in the flesh, but when speaking to someone in an official capacity the tendency is to trust them.

Over the web this bond disappears, as recent research from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) revealed.

Almost half (44 per cent) of survey respondents said they find it difficult to trust brands over social networks, reports Marketing Week.

People within the industry agreed that change needs to take place if consumers are to engage with their material over Twitter and Facebook. More than half (52 per cent) agreed that the channels will become devalued if brands spread dishonest or erroneous information online, while 51 per cent admit to having seen companies behave in this way in the past.

Interestingly, almost all respondents said they had never engaged in this kind of practice.

While this may simply represent an understandable embarrassment at admitting to sharp practice of some kind, it also suggests that many of the problems that occur on social media come about due to mistakes, lack of information or a failure to unify content strategies across different platforms.

Margaret Jobling, marketing director at Birds Eye, said: "Marketers have to figure out a way to live in this space comfortably without trying to be something they’re not as a brand."

One way of managing a series of social media accounts comfortably, while ensuring that staff have access to the information they need to avoid any discrepancies or inaccuracies, is to install a CRM system to help with the process.

Social CRM can have a major impact on how brands connect with consumers.

Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

How to engage with customers on a global basis


British firms have been urged to look abroad in order to grow their business proposition, with emerging markets in countries such as Brazil and South Africa often cited as major opportunities.

However, engagement is just as important when it comes to an international audience, and ensuring that a marketing proposition is consistent and effective across different countries can prove challenging.

Technology can be useful here – for instance, CRM can make it easier to manage customers across national borders while sustaining a strong level of engagement – but it is still a difficult area for marketers.

Mhairi McEwan, chief executive and co-founder of Brand Learning, recently highlighted the problems facing multinational firms when it comes to consistent customer engagement.

Writing for Marketing Magazine, she cited a recent piece of research from Forbes showing that 82 per cent of senior marketers feel that interconnected consumers have broken down the barriers between global and local advertising.

"Relying on outdated command and control models slows decision-making and risks missing what is trending in a particular market where campaigns need to be reviewed in real time," declared Ms McEwan.

Local market insight has long been an important driver of business activity, particularly with the emergence of big data analysis as a viable approach, but globalisation poses a whole new set of difficulties.

Recent Millward Brown analysis found that among campaigns which tested very highly in one country, only one in ten performed to the same standard when rolled out in another country.

Ms McEwan cited the importance of well-oiled processes in allowing companies to take an effective global approach to their marketing and engagement.

"The skill is in the balance: crafting a global structure (providing resources such as data and CRM, for example) that facilitates sufficient local flexibility and prioritisation," she added.

Global teams also need to ensure they have talented, experienced workers on the ground in their various offices, she concluded.

Customer engagement white paper

3 min read

UK customers ‘demanding strong service levels’


For British marketers, the last decade has brought about major changes to the way they do their job and the skills they need to carry out these tasks effectively. The reasons for this are manifold – a major factor is the increasing willingness of consumers in B2B and B2C to switch provider or service depending on how well they feel their current one is performing.

This trend, and the commensurate decrease in brand loyalty, means businesses need to do more than ever before to keep their customers onside.

A recent study from Expert Market suggested that all firms across the UK – but small to medium-sized enterprises especially – need to up their game when it comes to communication and engagement or risk losing out to their savvier counterparts.

It’s about your priorities

“Many business owners lack the incentive to dedicate funds to customer service. It’s not always obvious where their money will go or how efficiently it will be used, making the decision to invest much more difficult for smaller businesses,” said the report.

This is a trend often seen in the world of CRM, with smaller companies uncertain what benefit they will gain from utilising the software and dismissing it as something more suitable for their larger counterparts, who have the spare funds to invest in ‘soft’ areas such as engagement.

However, this complacent response will almost certainly create problems further down the line, with Britons demanding a high level of customer service and responsivity whatever the size of the firm involved.

Reflecting this attitude, 93 per cent of respondents to the Expert Market survey said good performance along this metric makes them more likely to remain loyal to a brand or company.

“Most small businesses believe that they aren’t big enough to require a full-time customer service agent, however this is far from true. Whether you have a small bricks and mortar shop, or a large multichannel operation, your customers will inevitably hit a stumbling block in their purchase path and require assistance,” explained the study.

For ambitious operators, using the human touch in conjunction with a well-integrated CRM service can ensure they provide strong levels of support to their buyers throughout the sales journey without breaking the bank or leaving workers clogged down in mundane, non-value-adding tasks.

Fix it or they leave

The biggest pain points identified by respondents were waiting times and calling charges.

While the latter may be unavoidable, making a concerted effort to drive up efficiency and ensuring that operators have the right technology available to them (as well as sufficient training in its effective use) can prevent customers from going through frustrating delays.

And given the willingness to switch discussed above, doing so could pay real dividends when it comes to brand loyalty and developing a reputation for quick, helpful customer service.

Simply dealing with issues at the point of demand is not the only problem facing firms, however, if they wish to retain consumers. Targeted marketing campaigns and well-focused information offerings can help build up a sense of loyalty and prevent people from looking to other providers.

Big data analysis can play a role in this, although sifting out the most important information can be a major challenge when it comes to producing high-quality engagement programmes.

Having an effective CRM system in place will make it easier for you to keep track of customer behaviour and encourage your sales teams to respond to it, thus driving up levels of engagement among this group.

Finally, multichannel marketing is also crucial when it comes to forming strong relationships, even for relatively small firms that may struggle to bring in the expertise needed to produce strong social messages.

“In an increasingly digital world, the majority of customers are choosing channels such as the web, email, Twitter and chat to communicate, engage and interact with brands,” said a recent study from Eptica.

Again, CRM can provide your marketing team with the tools they need to take part in this conversation, even if you have relatively little experience in social.

Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

Customers ‘want answers on all channels’


Much of the research on how to engage with customers has focused on the big picture, but a new report has indicated that what people really want is the ability to have their queries answered on any marketing channel.

Twitter and Facebook are already used to deal with consumer complaint at their first stage by many firms, an approach that has proven effective and popular, especially among millennials.

A new study from IntelliResponse has highlighted just how much importance consumers place on engaging with brands across social and traditional channels.

Some 59 per cent of respondents stressed the need for efficient service, while 24 per cent were interested in a personalised approach. Only 11 per cent want to ‘buy and say goodbye’ – this suggests that customers are aware of the role data can play in giving them a better service.

The survey also pointed to the new challenges marketers face in the digital age. Three out of five people turn to a business’s website first when they need help with a query, a proportion that is likely to increase with the advent of the mobile web and the growing web awareness among young people.

A demographic gap was noted, with 60 per cent of respondents aged between 18-34 preferring to use a mobile app to resolve an issue rather than speaking to an operator.

Dwayne Weppler, head of marketing communications at IntelliResponse, said retail, telecoms and utilities are all industries that are performing well when it comes to this kind of engagement.

“Pretty much every consumer now expects to receive efficient online self-service, and businesses should examine ways to give them just that. Your reward will be lower costs, an improvement in the online customer experience, and a nice boost in customer loyalty,” he added.

Harnessing data is one way of ensuring that any interventions or interactions that need to be made are timely and effective. Check out Redspire’s latest whitepaper to learn how to use your CRM to improve engagement

Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

Small data trumps its big brother


The levels of hype generated around big data in recent years may mean that some marketers can no longer see the wood for the trees, according to a recent whitepaper from SDL.

For firms that want to drive up engagement levels and ensure that they are learning from each interaction with a potential buyer, ‘small’ data – that is, information focused on the personal foibles and attitudes of each customer – is more important than its big brother.

Over time this can become “the currency of engagement”, SDL claimed.

The company cited research from IDG Enterprise noting that 31 per cent of organisations expect to be managing more than one petabyte of data by the end of 2014.

Ultimately, this will mean that managing large amounts of information becomes a business imperative rather than an additional extra – but it is the way in which this data is processed and analysed that will make it valuable.

Having huge amounts of unexamined insight into customer behaviour will add no value to your marketing proposition. This data needs to be polished and honed into something actionable before it becomes a worthwhile investment.

“After all, unique customer data is the only data that can help you create the hyper-targeted customer experiences needed for a competitive edge. That’s why customer data will become increasingly vital; it’s what fuels the deeper, more intimate relationships that lead to brand advocacy, long-term customer commitment and higher revenue and margins,” said SDL.

This could become even more important in the future as customers become more web-savvy – 42 per cent of millennials polled for the SDL report were able to accurately identify specific types of digital information collected and tracked by companies, highlighting the need for this process to be transparent.

The bottom line is that businesses need to focus on engaging with customers more effectively on all channels, SDL concluded.

Redspire’s latest whitepaper on customer engagement is available here.

Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

GfK: Customer satisfaction falling


The noughties have undeniably been the age of the customer – it is rare for any brand, from blue-chip services firms to high street retailers, not to play lip service to the importance of engagement, responsivity and connection.

However, new research from GfK has posited that this rhetoric may not be being backed up by strong customer relationships.

Satisfaction levels across financial services, telecoms and retail are flatlining and many businesses in the UK are failing to deliver a differentiated customer experience, reports Marketing Week.

Over the past five years, happiness with bank accounts has remained relatively static, dropping from 67 per cent to 66 per cent between 2008 and 2013. In the same period, satisfaction with insurance providers fell by a steep nine per cent.

John Banerji, director of customer experience research at GfK, told Marketing Week this is likely to come as a shock to firms that have been investing a great deal of money and time into this area of their marketing function.

“The reason it may not be cutting through is that feedback sometimes comes from a vocal minority who may not be wholly representative. Some businesses also have a tendency to focus on short-term changes to maintain profitability, so the more complex, longer-term issues are deferred,” he theorised.

Electricity and gas suppliers also recorded minor falls in their customer satisfaction levels, GfK found.

Stuart Crawford-Browne, divisional director of brand and customer service at GfK, warned that differentiation can be an issue – especially in sectors where the actual product being offered doesn’t vary a great deal from provider to provider.

“Unless the marketing and communications teams tap into how they can add value, make sure they are relevant to consumers and refresh their proposition effectively it is likely consumers will not feel engaged,” predicted Mr Crawford-Browne.

To find out how CRM can help you differentiate your brand and develop engagement levels among your buyers, check out the new whitepaper from Redspire.

Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

Digital investment to push up UK adspend


The increasing willingness among firms to invest in digital is seeing British spend on advertising reach record levels as the sector responds to the ongoing economic recovery, according to a new report.

According to the Advertising Association/Warc Expenditure Report, new forecasts will see UK adspend jump by 5.5 per cent over the course of 2014, moving up to an impressive 6.5 per cent in 2015.

If this does come to pass, 2015 will see British investment in advertising and marketing go past the £20 billion mark for the first time ever, attesting to the rude health of the sector.

Pleasingly for marketers, this study comes hot on the heels of similarly positive predictions from respected sources such as the IPA’s Bellwether report.

CRM and other digital areas are one of the biggest drivers of the strong growth levels being recorded; mobile advertising increased by a startling 95 per cent from 2013, while broadcast video and digital national newsbrands also performed well.

“Another set of positive indicators to support the growth story – every pound spent on advertising returns roughly six. The forecast explosion in mobile advertising and digital formats points to UK advertising as the centre of a global revolution in consumer information, service and choice,” said Advertising Association chief executive Tim Lefroy.

Because the Advertising Association’s study is one of the only reports of its kind that uses advertising expenditure gathered from across the entire media landscape rather than relying on models or vague predictions, it is often considered the most reliable.

It revealed that internet adspend jumped by 15.6 per cent over the course of 2013, reaching £6.3 billion. As mentioned above, mobile was a major factor in this development, which is a genuinely remarkable growth story given the relative newness of the sector.

This development is matched by the decline in spend seen in more traditional areas such as print and magazines, according to the survey.

2 min read

How to engage with ‘Generation C’


The dizzying array of alphabetised generations can be hard to keep track of – I think we’re up to Generation Y now, but who can be sure? According to a new report from Infomentum, it is Generation C that needs to be targeted by marketers over the coming years.

This group of consumers are people who are fully engaged with social media – digital natives who are unconvinced by traditional marketing techniques and demand more personalised, engaging experiences when connecting with brands and companies.

Some 65 per cent of people within this category are between the ages of 16 and 24, the report found, meaning they are likely to be a strong audience base for years to come.

Gen C respondents tended to own a range of devices, such as smartphones and tablets, highlighting the importance of integrated mobile strategies among marketers keen to reach as wide an audience as possible.

Some 86 per cent used social media as part of their personal lives, as well as banking and shopping online, suggesting that plenty of data should be available from this demographic if companies develop the ability to harvest and analyse it.

Only 1.5 per cent of respondents would describe themselves as fully satisfied by the features of the websites they use on a daily basis, with 98.5 per cent annoyed or unimpressed by certain facets of their experience.

Generation C consumers demand flexibility and collaboration within their working environments as well, highlighting the fact that companies need to develop their procedures internally and externally.

John Mancini, chief executive officer of AIIM, said: “We live in an age of big data and mobility, and where we can pull information from hundreds or thousands of different sources – the challenge for employees and employers is managing and understanding this.

“For employees, particularly those in the Generation C bracket, being able to find information and to find it quickly is an essential part of their jobs.”

2 min read

Young people ‘concerned about data security’


The importance of maintaining strong data security levels has been underlined by a new report from Voxburner, which highlighted how aware young people are of the issues around keeping their personal information safe.

Two-thirds of 16 to 24-year-olds told the company that security is their number one factor when purchasing an internet-connected product, while over a third feel that the risks involved in the Internet of Things are unlikely to outweigh the benefits it offers.

While the development of a network of web-connected devices has big consequences for marketers, who could potentially utilise that information to target their campaigns more effectively by using CRM and other software, it is obviously important they ensure they keep their knowledge as safe as possible.

Some 87 per cent of the young respondents expressed concern about the safety of the data they share. This was leavened by the interest 80 per cent of people felt at the prospect of the Internet of Things, but 16 per cent expressed some trepidation at its growth.

Luke Mitchell, head of insights at Voxburner, told the Drum that the Internet of Things can have tangible benefits for consumers when it comes to saving time and money.

Nevertheless, these prospective plusses should not encourage a laissez-faire attitude to security.

“Despite having a higher than average stake in technology and a strong interest in what the Internet of Things can bring, there are concerns too,” said Mr Mitchell.

“We’re seeing young people becoming more worried about their data and control of personal information. Respondents can see that the Internet of Things potentially means more of their life is exposed digitally,” he explained.

The biggest impact offered by web-connected devices would be in making it easier to research products and save cash, while it would also help with social connectivity and tracking fitness or productivity, the surveyed consumer suggested.

For marketers, it will offer a new boost in the figures they can utilise when it comes to analysing consumer behaviour.