LinkedIn beefs up Sales Navigator for enterprise

LinkedIn has released an enterprise edition of its Sales Navigator tool.

The company hope that the new features, which it says is aimed at ‘high-functioning sales organisations’, will help businesses make use of Linkedin user data to create better leads.

As well as the new edition, LinkedIn has bolstered the already available professional and team editions.

There are three new features aimed at enterprises.

TeamLink Extend

Previously, a company looking to create a good introduction to a lead would have to use their personal Linkedin connections, or use TeamLink.

TeamLink links together all of the networks of the Sales Navigator users in a company. The problem is that a salesperson is unlikely to be connected to all of their colleagues, which leads to gaps and potential missed opportunities.

The new TeamLink Extend feature allows any employee of an organisation to add their network to the pool of contacts in Sales Navigator, allowing for higher possibilities of personal introductions to leads.

PointDrive integration

LinkedIn acquired PointDrive in 2016 and now it is integrating it into Sales Navigator.

PointDrive provides a way for assets and content materials to be packaged up in a way that is rendered for mobile or desktop. What this means in practice is that sales people no longer have to send long lists of attachments in their emails to clients and prospects.

Instead, all of presentations, case data and sales data is presented at a single link which opens in the right order and consumption can then be tracked and monitored by the sender.

Enhanced CRM integration

The last new feature relates to how businesses can log their Sales Navigator data with the company’s CRM.
Previously, this logging had to be done manually.

The new feature allows users to record their Sales Navigator activities into their CRM with a mouse click. There will also be a range of CRM widgets available to allow users to view various aspects of their prospects LinkedIn profiles.

Sales Navigator Enterprise Edition is available now.

– by Colm Hebblethwaite

Does brain hacking have a place in your CRM program?

It is no longer a secret: Reward systems that trigger chemicals in our brains and drive user engagement are built into many modern technologies.

In fact, a piece published by The New York Times titled “How Evil is Tech?” questioned the manner in which social media applications leverage random reward loops. These psychological techniques are designed like slot machines to randomly release dopamine into users’ brains, which is an effective way to reel people back in for future rewards.

But The New York Times is not alone in its concern about how ethical this type of for-profit brain hacking is. Technology leaders — including some who pioneered these very techniques — have spoken out about the danger posed by technology addiction and how it affects our personal lives.

Meanwhile, marketers wonder not only if they can leverage these same techniques to improve their CRM programs, but also — again — whether it is ethical to do so. With so much about how to shape user behaviour out in the open, there is a real opportunity for brands to apply the same engagement techniques to CRM programs. Which posits a second, perhaps more pressing, question: Can you afford not to use these techniques if competitors start doing so?

Evade ethical cracks to find CRM success

Using brain hacking for morally unambiguous CRM work hinges on an even value exchange and transparency. If you focus on offering content that serves users instead of using the technology to push sales, these engagement techniques can actually reduce buyer anxiety. Additionally, the more transparent your offers while you provide user-friendly preference controls, the less likely you are to risk traveling into the ethical grey zone.

Brands aren’t wrong to want their content and matching CRM strategies to be as compelling as possible. It’s similar to how early playwrights discovered that certain tropes and plotlines consistently maintain audience attention. The trick, in this case, is to recognize the difference between effective, compelling content creation and a darker manipulative angle.

Beyond creating services that are transparent and easily used, brands that venture into dopamine-reward territory must also be forthright about their tactics. If a brand tells its consumers that changes are coming or have already been made, then it could be argued that consumers are responsible for how they interact with the content. Netflix users know the company is creating and suggesting content on the basis of viewer preferences because it readily admits it, and millions of people choose to use the platform because they love the content.

Recently, however, Netflix traipsed into murky ethical territory when it tested a new feature that rewards children with stickers for superfluous viewing time. Gamification is a powerful tool that’s becoming a popular sales and loyalty-building technique, but drawing vulnerable children into such a system crossed the line for many. With any of these technologies, the potential negative outcomes for any one set of users must be carefully considered, vetted, and addressed.

Improve CRM performance by focusing on user needs

Prioritizing your users and potential customers can help you leverage these new technologies without any type of harm. Most importantly, brands should apply any user data to help make the communications better for the recipient, rather than just for the brand’s needs. Use data to customize and improve each person’s experience with your CRM program.

Keeping content relevant to audiences’ interests and preferences will always help a brand’s CRM program. Ethical applications don’t say to users, “We are going to do brain hacking now and try to get your more addicted to our stuff. Is that OK with you?” Instead, they ask, “We want to make sure you get content that’s tailored to your needs and adds value to your life. Are we doing that?” And they mean it.

Ideally, the level of value provided by modern technology should augment the product and experience. People who feel heard, helped, and excited about their brand experiences usually turn into strong brand advocates and repeat buyers. Brain hacking, used first and foremost to enhance customer experience instead of profits, will always walk the right side of the ethical line.

– by Hamish McCollester

Never mind CRM – what about partner relationship management?

The idea of customer relationship management, or CRM, has been around for years and companies such as Salesforce have built billion-dollar businesses around managing the direct sales relationship. But a recent Impartner survey shows that nine out of ten hiring managers are finding it difficult to recruit direct sales professionals and as a result, companies are increasingly turning to indirect sales to deliver business growth.

However, when it comes to managing the channel, CRM platforms, designed for the direct sales force, don’t translate well to support the complexities of multi-tiered, multi-national partner relationships. That’s where Partner Relationship Management – or PRM – comes in. Like CRM, PRM got its start in the late 90s, but has not enjoyed the same rise to fame as CRM. This is somewhat surprising as some 75% of B2B sales are indirect. Instead, many companies still rely on spread sheets, home grown portals or myriad of point solutions to manage their channel programmes.

Early PRM was all about opportunity management, lead distribution and deal registration, while the partner portal quickly evolved to meet the needs of knowledge transfer and content management. But today’s PRM solutions include support for MDF, training and certification, incentive programme management, onboarding, communications, channel-specific business intelligence and analytics.  Other ‘chantech’ functions either delivered by PRM vendors or other providers to create a PRM ecosystem, include CMA (channel marketing automation), CPQ (configure price quote), CDM (channel data management), CIPM (channel incentive program management) and LMS (learning management systems).

The growing role of PRM is highlighted in a new report from technology analyst firm Nuvoce called, “Forging the Modern Go-to-Market Architecture”. The report recommends that sales, marketing and channel professionals need to go back to first principles to create a single system-of-record (SOR).  If you do this, you end up with three core technology platforms; CRM for customers, customer interactions and customer opportunities; Marketing Automation (MA) for marketing campaigns and digital assets; and PRM for channel partners, partner-enablement/support programmes and partner activities and interactions.

“In 2017, the martech solutions space alone grew by about 40 percent, to a total of over 5000 solutions, and it’s simply paralysing for business buyers to figure out what’s important and what the priority is in their purchase decisions,” says Tim Harmon, managing director of Nuvoce. “This report is focused on clearing away that confusion, by helping customers understand that the winning, go-to-market technology landscape for every company starts with three critical platforms – CRM, PRM and MA.”

These CRM, PRM and MA platforms act as the go-to source hubs, providing a ‘single version of the truth’ for the data that applications and point solutions says Tim Harmon in his report. But they also support regulatory compliance and underpin intelligence systems that help sales, marketing and channel professionals to understand customer journeys and partner journeys.

PRM in action

While PRM is gaining a solid footing as a core go-to-market technology with leading tech companies, channel management software is only just making its way into more traditional manufacturing industries. Take for example, 87-year old fluid management brand, ARO®, of Ingersoll Rand, which makes pumps and other fluid handling products that move nearly every fluid in general use today, from chocolate to fuel. ARO set out to reinvent its service and support of its global channel partners, many of whom have been partners for several decades.

When we thought about what we do and the mission that we’re on, it was certainly about growing our business, but it was also about the hundreds of thousands of families that rely on our business in what they do,” said ARO® Global Marketing Leader Liz Cope. “We were looking to create a space for partners to have an easier, unique business experience, and not only continue to position us as the most reliable brand in the industry, but also as the brand that’s thinking about our customers first in a demonstrable way.”

ARO wanted to bring the best-possible experience to its customers so a key feature of ARO®’s new partner portal is the asset library, which makes accessing sales collateral and training easy and fast for partners. “Our partners are in a competitive marketplace. Everything we do now in our portal is designed to give them that edge that their competitive distributor does not have,” Cope said.

Cope says the new PRM solution from Impartner has transformed ARO®’s ability to track leads, pass them to partners, and monitor their performance. “In 2017, I put together a stretch goal to increase our pipeline influence 30 percent over 2016, and thanks to efficiencies, our ability to broaden our partner base receiving leads and onboard new partners, we were able to increase that nearly 200 percent,” Cope said.

In the rollout to partners, Cope said one of the most powerful moments came when previewing the portal to a new partner. “The marketing manager looked at me, and he said, ‘Liz, this is the holy grail. No other manufacturer we carry is doing this.’ That’s a powerful statement for our business. Implementing a PRM solution for your partners lets them know that you are listening to them.”

In a business climate where qualified sales professionals are costly and in short supply, companies can’t put all their revenue eggs in the direct sales basket. Companies that already have a channel need them to work harder, while those without a channel need to create one or risk of being left behind. Either way, PRM as key component of a go-to-market architecture will help to get the most out of your channel.

– by Dave Taylor

Why marketing is the true ‘game of games’: Could a video game be in your future plans?

(c)iStock.com/ilbusca

What connects the ever-increasing rash of zombie-based, end/beginning of civilisations series, history of now, robotic lifestyles, and topic-related movies? They all seem to pose the question: does media drive culture, or culture drive media?

I ask this question in part based on this story, as well as my recent readings, which include Pendulum, by Roy H. Williams and Michael R. Drew, Prosper, by Chris Martenson and Adam Taggart, and Tribes, by Seth Godin.

What I see is a new need to engage the next few generations, not only with the current predictable field of marketing, but also with a highly defined strategy that includes AI, VR, experiential marketing, and even brand-based video games.

Why video games?

Brand-based video games are designed to support a target market. They provide avatars, characters, locations, objectives, challenges, antagonists, and conflict, as well as the resolution of conflict, telling the brand’s story not in a 15 or 30 second commercial but across the life of the targeted audience, at a speed and end result that the consumer in part drives, across long-term dialogue and engagement.

Included with this brand-based trans media strategy, as dubbed by Jeff Gomez of Starlight Entertainment – whose email to me sparked this article – is a defined brand objective combining the very best of all the interactive and haptic based media into a defined proprietary device: the branded and brand-owned video game.

A video game based on a brand’s needs provides the best of many worlds; the world of culture-driven media and the world of media-driven culture.

Does marketing need a video game to engage the next few generations of consumers and businesses?

Think about your brand as a storyline, and consider all the different paths of media you can take to get that storyline ‘out there’. Then, think of all the different levels that the consumer can experience while on the buying adventure. Why not provide the opportunity to your clients and customers to select the targeted line they feel best fits their life – their past and present, their desires, their response, and their ability to close the sale?

The game rules are simple: follow your part, your story, to the end result – a sale or interaction – and keep the communication open via ongoing updates, dialogue, and interactive engagement. Allow for a change of storyline and personal additions to the narrative, or if you prefer, ‘na-your-tive’. In planning your game, ask yourself what a lead character must go through to achieve an objective. Actions must reflect gameplay and unique features. Reward the use of tractable and measurable unique strategies to achieve the end game.

Rewards, levels, expansions, and contractions are part of the next stage of simplification of marketing, placing as many of the media and tracking devices into one tool, a foundational tool that becomes the ‘I’ of marketing: the marketing video game.

Is a marketing-based video game in your future?

What better way to tell your story than via a branded video game – a truly responsive marketing tool. Games can be played at home, on the road, or at stores, with retail locations as part of the background across most, if not all, media.

Your game needs to determine who is playing and track the interaction of the consumers and the impact of that interaction on your story. Which incentives are provided to allow the consumer to move up or down a level? How is the information presented to the consumer? What skill sets can be taught, allowing the consumers to be kept in the loop and aware of their current position and future rewards – based on your brand?

Furthermore, how will the distinct chapters or sections of the game creatively and visually roll out the story’s progress and increase challenge, while effectively and simply leading to a defined end point? Your branded game needs to measure the rise and fall of events, provide interactions, and drive elements. It should offer crucial or critical information, plot twists, rising stakes, events – game-based and real world-based such as experiential marketing – leading to the climax, the sale. Consider updating the ongoing sales process and even using the game foundations as a device to enhance the engagement and relationship between the brand and the consumer.

– by Thaddeus Kubis

Mobile marketing is dead: Long live gaming marketing

(c)iStock.com/Cylonphoto

Opinion A recent study conducted and released by MobileBridge indicates that mobile marketing tools, though accepted by the marketing community, have been slow to receive updates and delayed in expanding their current mobile apps. It seems that mobile technology is way ahead of marketing applications and perhaps ahead of the understanding of this potentially beneficial technology as well.

What does that mean to me, as a supporter of integrated marketing and omni-channel marketing? If the past is any indicator of future trends, once any brand stops, delays, or hesitates to update a media, that media may be in for a tailspin and possibly a crash-and-burn ending. Why? Because slow updating means that the (actual or perceived) ROI/ROR of the tools may be in question. Or the effectiveness and response to the customer journey/experience may not be fitting the defined goals and objectives of the tool and supporting the marketing goals and objectives. This mindset has been trending with clients and their creative marketers so that the data gathering is out of whack and not acceptable if not offered by companies such as Facebook and Google.

Is something better on the horizon?

If we all agree on some of the key tenets of mobile marketing strategy (as discussed and evaluated by MobileBridge), we would recognise that the main marketing purposes are engaging employees, attracting new prospects and establishing dialogue with existing customers, while the primary goals are building customer loyalty, engaging customers, and, of course, driving revenue.

Then why must we look for something new, something rising above the marketing horizon? The “why” is simple: Marketers are always looking for the “Next Big Think,” which, in my opinion, may be a serious error in media use and selection.

All of this is fine, but is mobile coming up short because it is a linkage media and not a closing media—despite the fact that mobile firms argue that mobile by its very nature is an action-based, closing-the-sale media?

Long live game-based marketing?

Consider the concept of developing and using marketing-based video games for your brand. I’m not suggesting “Call of Duty” to sell underarm deodorant, but games designed and defined from the onset to benefit the brand with relevant stories, content, and contests that support the marketing strategies of the brand and will start a dialogue and engage the consumer or prospect.

How do we go about creating and using such games? First, to move forward we need to define what our game-based market is and perhaps offer a new more serious, friendly and less entertaining description. I suggest choosing ‘Brand-Based Interactive Narratives’, or BBINs, for a working title, and determining which of the three gaming level definitions below apply to your needs. (Note: These are my definitions. I know of no “official” offering of marketing based gaming based definitions, but perhaps some should be developed.)

Level one: The game of non-response. Simple non-responsive (in most instances) games; toy-based gaming interfaces such as those used by restaurant chains or retail locations to entertain or get people involved in the offerings of the locations. These generally have limited response, and few are action oriented. Most ask for contact information but ask in a passive way.

Level two: The game of instruction. These involve greater detail, more like a true video game but primarily designed to instruct, exchange knowledge, and, in some of the better examples, gather user information. Sailing games, car-driving games, or travel and tourism games are examples that fit within the definition of level-two gaming.

Level three: The game of relevance. Marketing by nature is the telling of a story, a narrative, defined to support a specific or multiple markets segments. Interactive, action-based marketing is designed to support the messaging of the brand and to counter perceived brand challenges; reduce the role of a competing product, service, or other antagonist; or remove or reduce points of conflict.

These goals can be achieved by introducing BBINs to your marketing mix.

The goal and objectives of a brand-based gaming solution are not only sales related

According to the MobileBridge study, engagement is a top goal of mobile marketing, but the study analysis poses the question of whether active users are active enough. I would respond that active users need to be reclassified into buyers and non-buyers, and any messaging that will be used in a video-based brand game would need to start with at least two paths—(1) YES, I am interested and (2) NO, I am not. From this point on, the narrative should support the selected path.

The problem, as I see it here, is that many brands are afraid or not interested in challenging the consumers/prospects when they say (2) NO, I am not interested. Many of the clients I deal with simply move on to those that are interested, and few focus with discovering or resolving the reasons that a NO response was generated. Why is this true? Because on face value the cost to convert a negative response is significantly higher than the cost to convert a smiley-faced consumer, which may not be totally true. Yet we all know that the percentage of prospects responding negatively to a narrative is large, so large that a brand is foolish not to develop gaming strategies designed to convert negatives to positives.

I can understand this, since the current reasons for NO are driven by the consumer or prospect and are often misunderstood by the brand or considered to be mountains too high to scale. A properly developed and designed brand game will allow the data to counter those NO’s with valid reasons to say YES and provide “levels” to the game that will allow the “NO” consumer to easily become a YES or perhaps a MAYBE consumer – a MAYBE consumer is potentially a future yes consumer. The game offers a trail to the summit or a path to reach a new level of success, and, on the way, offers your customers ways to gain new business, expanded profits, and perhaps, more importantly, increase market share.

Strategies, tactics and results

It has always amazed me how many brands look to strategies and tactics but often do not link S&T with their result model, or often forget that S&Ts need to be directly supported by the operational tools of marketing. The MobileBridge study cites engagement as a top priority, but, as with much else in the world, engagement is constructed of many strata. Dialogue is one of the layers. If you can get past the 59% threshold as indicated in the MobileBridge study, the conversion rate will increase proportionately, perhaps exponentially?

We as marketers seek personalized touches or interactions with the consumer or B2B base. A well-designed BBIN provides that interaction on a level never previously seen. After the introduction has been made, player data received and analysed via unique strategies can be developed for each group of consumers and, as with a clay sculpture being worked by the artist, the marketer can alter the demographic sculpture of the brand as more information is provided or as the base design of the demographic changes.

Next steps and summary

A brand or brands need to step forward to break the mold of traditional marketing and commission a game to be developed that will include a story arc, define the rising and fall of brand- and consumer-based events, and develop a narrative that contains multiple layers and is designed to gather data both overtly and covertly.

All this leads to a narrative that includes plot twists and rising of the stakes, and, in the end, leads not only to sales but also to a long-term, honest, two-way engagement. Marketing has been and must always be a two-way street—a super highway offering multiple lanes—that reflects an understanding that some consumers like the slow right- hand lane approach, others live within the fast lane of life, and still others may be open to crossing the lanes and taking advantage of the newest options available.

Let the games begin, or, as one of the main partners in my favorite literary partnership has said. “Watson, the game is afoot!”

I am ready to lead the way. Brands need to apply!

– by Thaddeus Kubis

The top five gamification mistakes marketers make – and how to avoid them

Gaming has been around for decades, and anyone who has ever played a game of Candy Crush Saga will tell you, it’s undeniably addicting. I know I’m not alone on this – considering the deceptively simple game has generated more than 500 million installs during its first year in the app stores. As online gaming continues to soar in popularity, it makes sense that it’s caught the attention of advertisers and marketers who are eager to reach the growing gaming audience.

Gamified marketing has been on the rise in the past year, as it has brought impressive results to various markets. For example, Gatorade’s gamified ad on Snapchat was a hit last year, with an average time spent of more than 200 seconds per person and a share rate of 35 percent.  For this very reason, giant social media companies like Facebook and Snap have continued to integrate gaming features into their platforms.

With more marketers starting to leverage gamification, it’s crucial to avoid some common pitfalls in order to maximize customer engagement, brand awareness and revenue stream. It’s not enough to make a game that you think is fun and engaging. Gamification must fulfill a specific purpose and more often than not, marketers unfortunately lose sight of this.

Here are five common mistakes to be aware of:

Mistake #1: dependence on desktop

Internet activity is clearly shifting from desktop to mobile devices. According to research from Statcounter, mobile and tablet devices accounted for 51.3 percent of global internet usage in October 2016 compared to the 48.7 percent coming from desktop. With the rapid adoption of mobile devices, marketers should shift gears and focus on developing mobile-friendly interfaces.

Having a responsive game design means that it can be played on different types of devices while still creating a rich experience across all channels. Having an HTML5 web-based framework is one way to ensure games will run correctly within any application, allowing users to not only play the game without going through an installation process, but also easily share it with friends.

Requiring consumers to download and install an app has become a growing hurdle for app developers over the past couple of years and game developers should take note. In a recent announcement at the 2017 Mobile World Congress, Adobe shared data that illustrates Europe mirroring US trends, where the number of mobile apps being installed has decreased by 38 percent compared to 2014, in addition to  a 28 percent decrease in the number of apps that are opened post-download. Those numbers portray the growing resistance to downloading apps, and proves that building web-based games is the best way to avoid the installation hurdle.

Mistake #2: one-size-fits-all promotions

Every promotion is different and business owners should be aware that gamified campaigns are not one-size-fits-all solutions. Customization is key, and beyond choosing the right game for your promotion, it’s also essential to customize the game by incorporating logos, branded game objects or company taglines to increase brand awareness. For example, a promotion for movie tickets will resonate more with your audience if the game reflects this theme as well.

Marketers should identify their specific goals and what they want to achieve through the game, whether that’s to attract new members, collect customer information or reward loyal customers, in order to determine what kinds of prizes are best for the campaign.

Mistake #3: overly-complicated games

People might think the more unique the gameplay, the better, but that’s not always the case for gamified marketing. Understand that the ultimate goal for players is to win the prize that you’re offering. Overly-complicated gameplay could cause confusion and a subsequent loss of engagement. Arcade style games are ideal for gamified marketing because they are fun, interactive and easy to play. It’s always better for games to be simple and quick, so users can easily play right away without paying too much attention to the rules.

Loading time also plays a huge part in user experience. A recent survey commissioned by kissmetrics shows that 40 percent of Internet users will abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. Players are usually enticed by the addictive nature of online games and the prizes offered. If a game doesn’t load quickly, consumers will quickly lose patience and give up, eventually killing your campaign.

Mistake #4: extended enrolment page

One of the advantages of gamified marketing tactics is their ability to facilitate the collection of user data. A consumer playing an online game won’t hesitate to give out his or her personal information when it’s needed for prize collection purposes.

That said, marketers must be selective with the information they ask for and keep it concise.  A long enrollment page tends to be a big drawback for users, as no one likes to fill out a form for 10 minutes before getting into the game. Fight your urge to be greedy with data collection, and keep the form short and sweet. It is vital for marketers to keep the enrollment process brief by identifying and collecting only two to three pieces of information from each user.

Mistake #5: not putting data to good use

For gamification campaigns, the end result is hopefully an ocean of data and email addresses that can be used to follow up with potential customers. Email marketing is an effective way to reach customers, and open rates are increasing across all industries as the reliance on more consumers checking their email from their smartphones. It doesn’t matter where they are or what they’re doing – people will be checking their email, so be sure to put those email addresses collected through gamified marketing to good use.

Survey respondents to Adobe’s second annual email survey say they check their email while watching TV or while watching a movie (69 percent), in bed (57 percent), and on vacation (79 percent). If you’re lost on where to start, services such as MailChimp can help organize and simplify your email marketing campaign, helping you foster relationships with those game-loving customers.

And as with any marketing campaign, you should be keeping track of user engagement with your games and making changes in real time if necessary.

Game on!

Main picture credits: Fetchbot.com

– by Darold Parken

Why emotional intelligence needs to be better utilised in customer service interactions

Daniel Goleman, the psychologist who popularised the term ‘emotional intelligence’ (the ability to read, understand and respond to human emotions appropriately) argued that Emotional Intelligence (EI) was just as important as IQ when it comes to leadership and achieving success at work.

He suggested that decision makers should look beyond the typical skillsets required for customer service work, and instead find ways to measure the EI of potential new employees.

Today, despite the importance of EI skills in customer service interactions, it still doesn’t have the workplace profile that it perhaps deserves.

Why do customers care about EI?

A key tenet of customer service is recognising that customer satisfaction is driven by an ability to meet their needs; these varying from person to person. Keeping service users satisfied through a consistently friendly and empathetic manner should be a standard for customer-facing teams. Indeed, initial points of contact are frequently scripted or even played as a message in order to uphold this standard.

However, where EI differs from basic interactions is in its emphasis on feelings and measured responses.

How a customer feels about a customer service interaction will often be influential in how they feel about a company. If their service experience is positive, proactive and reassuring, then this will most likely be reflected positively in their brand perceptions.

Customer retention needs to inspire loyalty build upon a foundation of a trusted relationship. Whilst it is unrealistic to expect a customer service representative to develop a personal relationship with every customer, if every employee is encouraged to work on their EI, the chances of this happening are greatly increased.

Significantly, interactions between customers and businesses are now increasingly across digital communication platforms; transactions taking place over email, social media, or via automated systems. While this steady move towards a more efficient model saves time and money, so phone or face-to-face interactions are becoming increasingly important – a conversation building greater brand equity if delivered with the requisite social skills, empathy and to a positive outcome.

So how can you improve EI within your teams?

Building EI skills isn’t always a key component of customer service training, but perhaps it should be.

Employees usually possess the key skills for emotional intelligence, such as self-awareness and empathy, but putting these into practice within a working context requires direction and insight from their managers and team leaders.

A diverse workforce that incorporates different levels of experience and backgrounds is a great foundation for building an emotionally intelligent team; encouraging employees to share their experiences and help others to expand their knowledge and way of thinking.

Using case studies and reference points as examples of both positive and negative customer exchanges can also help employees to deepen their understanding of how to apply emotional intelligence to customer service.

Text-based information such as emails, surveys and social media interactions can hold vital information about the customer experience.

Agile methodologies such as Customer Experience Journey Mapping are also useful in examining critical customer journeys and identifying high impact points where customer emotions are pivotal. Their output can quickly identify where changes are needed to better meet customer needs and facilitate the building of stronger relationships.

With the influence of ‘digital-shift’ across customer services phone and face-to-face interactions are becoming rarer and therefore more important in building customer loyalty and retention.

Ensuring that your customer-facing workforce understands the need to use EI in every customer interaction has never been more important to upholding and improving your company image.

Although these skills may vary from individual to individual, progression and improvement is possible through regular case study focused training, shared experience and a strong emphasis on personal communication skills development.

– by Adam Wilkinson

Exploring the motivations of the rarest – but most powerful – type of consumer

Encouraging customers to be loyal to a brand is becoming increasingly difficult for marketers, as online and in-store offerings diversify and expand to meet consumer needs. The retail industry is also evolving, which was recently demonstrated by Andrew Griffiths, retail minister, whoannounced a new collaborative Retail Sector Council.  Tasked with bringing the government and industry together, the council’s main aim is to help retailers adapt to meet the changing demands of consumers.

With change afoot, as retailers face challenges from rising operating costs, it’s more important than ever for marketers to understand what really drives consumers to repeatedly purchase from a brand.

Shedding light on the factors that influence shopper behaviour, we conducted research with over 5,000 consumers in 13 countries to create the 5Ps of Shopper Motivation report. The report identified five key shopper profiles – Peer, Price, Practicality, Personalisation and Perk Motivated Shoppers. It also found that the smallest group, the Peer Motivated Shopper is the most likely to shop daily (16 per cent) when compared to Price Motivated Shoppers (6 per cent) and importantly, is the most loyal. And as the most loyal consumer group, Peer Motivated Shoppers are the most likely to act as brand ambassadors by promoting their favourite retailer to others; 65 per cent compared to just 38 per cent of Price Motivated Shoppers.

Following the lead of their peers, unsurprisingly, those aged 25-34 years old are most likely to fall into this category of shopper (11% globally). It’s also been found that 68 per cent of this age group won’t make a major decision until they’ve discussed it with people they trust – compared to just 52 per cent of those aged 35-74.

Interestingly, a report by Deloitte discovered that 47 per cent of the younger generation say their purchase decisions are influenced by social media, more than double that (19%) of other age groups. With this age group set to have more spending power than Baby Boomers for the first time this year, it’s essential that retailers gain their loyalty and crucially, their regular purchases.

So how are marketing professionals evolving their campaigns and use of technology to reach, engage and build a relationship with Peer Motivated Shoppers?

As active users of social media that are influenced by recommendations, online influencer campaigns have proven effective in reaching the younger generation. For example, in 2017, clothing retailer Boohoo nearly doubled its profits following an Instagram influencer campaign where it used celebrities and bloggers to promote its products.

Social media platforms are also evolving to provide brands new engaging ways of reaching their audience. For example, Pinterest is using its Lens feature to partner with retailers, so customers can  simply take a photograph of a product and find a similar item available from the brand. Instagram has also taken its Stories “swipe up” function one step further with the launch of its “Shopping” function. Allowing shoppers to tap on a tagged post within their feed to buy a specific product directly from the brand’s website, enhances both the Instagram and shopping experience.

Tying in with the Peer Motivated Shoppers’ use of social media for recommendations and sharing their latest purchases, new social shopping apps have been created, such as Qwibe. These combine a shopping platform with a social media channel, allowing users to share images whilst shopping, gain followers and purchase products directly through it.

Other more practical aspects of purchasing can also help keep Peer Motivated Shoppers happy – potentially resulting in word of mouth recommendations – so making the purchasing process as smooth as possible is essential. For example, Mindmeister provides a number of different payment methods, including several different credit cards, Paypal or coupons. This means shoppers can use their preferred method of payment to quickly and easily confirm their purchase.

From 2018, those aged 25-34 years old will apparently have the most purchasing power of any generation and with retailers facing increasing operating pressures, marketers should look to retain their most loyal customers – Peer Motivated Shoppers. The most likely to promote a retailer to another, this group will repeatedly purchase from a brand and share their latest shopping haul with the world via social media, helping marketers reach both new audiences and existing customers.

-by Richard Piper

Analysing ‘digital body language’ and getting real-time responses from your users

Can you tell whether your website users are engaged? Frustrated? Bored? Your customers’ emotions and mindsets are valuable information for personalising service. In brick-and-mortar stores, this information is readily available through body language.

The digitalisation of retail removes body language from the equation, and makes online service personalisation that bit harder. Ecommerce brands can’t rely on tell-tale hand gestures or eye flickers to gauge customer mindset. But ecommerce hasn’t killed body language as a sales tool – it’s digitalised it.

From slow scrolling to quick-fire clicking to hovering mouse pointers, eCommerce shoppers are offering a world of signals that act as digital body language. Reading this digital body language – and responding to it in real-time – is becoming an essential aspect of eCommerce success.

Banking on body language

Body language refers to our communication via non-verbal means. Our small movements and fleeting facial expressions may be almost involuntary, but they volunteer key insights into our mood.

Before the digitalisation of retail, salespeople could use these body language cues to optimise engagement with each customer. They could differentiate between passive and eager shoppers, and identify customers that needed help. For example, if a customer looked lost in the store, a team member could proactively offer assistance before it’s asked for.

Online, it’s not possible to see the way your customer is sat, standing or gesticulating. You can, however, see the way they interact with your website. So, understanding digital body language starts by tracking how a user behaves while browsing your pages.

General digital body language

Just as there are different levels of physical body language, there are different levels of digital body language. You have broader, general factors such as a physical stance, as well as smaller, fluctuating factors such as the twitch of a lip or the movement of an eyebrow.

In the online space, these more general digital body language cues cover the wider behaviour of your visitors. Think factors such as how the user found your website, how often they visit, and the bounce rates for each page. They aren’t the kind of micro-details that will finetune your understanding of the customer, but they give away overarching information.

Knowing where most of your customers come from tells you were to focus your other marketing efforts. Page popularity and bounce rates highlight the content and buttons on your site that are performing well, as well as those that aren’t. How often a customer visits signals how likely they are to be ready to buy.

In other words, general digital body language starts to paint a rough data picture of your shoppers. Built up over time, this data provides a rich source of information that will help you improve your overall website performance.

Real-time digital body language

Real-time digital cues give you the opportunity to start understanding each visitor’s mood and mindset on a deeper level. These are the smaller, flickering micro-actions that betray the user’s mood as their journey unfolds.

In a brick and mortar store, your team can respond to subtle, real-time changes in body language immediately. The digitalisation of retail and body language doesn’t need to change this. You should be able to interpret (and respond) to digital body language as you would face to face.

In this instance, you’re thinking factors such as fast and slow scrolling, the way the visitor moves their mouse, and how fast they click. These online behaviours are just as subtle as a customer’s stifled yawn or deep inhalation would be offline, but just as important to observe and understand.

Reading real-time cues

So, what kind of real-time digital body language should you be looking out for? If a website visitor is clicking quickly multiple times, for example, it suggests frustration or confusion. It shows that they expect the area they’re clicking to be interactive, or that they can’t find the information they’re looking for. These clicks are the digital equivalent of a furrowed brow, or an exasperated eye sweep.

Meanwhile, visitors that are following text with their cursor as they read demonstrate engagement with your content. If your visitors are spending a long time browsing your pages, they may be browsing your products leisurely (showing a lack of stress or urgency) or interested in your offering. Likewise, slow scrolling indicates a relaxed, invested visitor. For these kind of online behaviours, think an in-store shopper strolling through the aisles, taking their time to look around.

Rapid scrolling up and down, on the other hand, shows a user that’s confused or searching for something. If they’re hastily navigating from page to page, they may be in more of a rush, or searching for something specific. In-store, this kind of behaviour would be represented by a shopper pacing impatiently, or with eyes darting from sign to sign.

The point is: the kind of body language that you could read and react to offline also has its own online equivalent. Unfortunately, few brands respond to digital body language in real-time.

Real-time response

Reading digital body language is only the start. Real-time response is the next step, enabling smooth, emotionally intelligent customer experiences.

Real-time responses can include digital elements such as pop-ups, adjusted call to action buttons, banners, and recommended content. To truly replicate the in-store experience, however, a real-time support channel such as live chat software is needed.

Chat is a great tool for responding to digital body language triggers and emotional customers. By understanding the digital body language of your website visitors, you can identify the mood and mindset of the customers and adjust your real-time service accordingly.

For example, when online visitors display confusion or frustration, it’s a good time to trigger a proactive live chat invitation, offering help to find items or answer queries. Or, if a visitor is demonstrating hesitancy by hovering over a button, you can use a chatbot to deliver an offer or deal to incentivise the tentative buyer.

Read your customers like a digital book

The digitalisation of our world isn’t slowing, and business isn’t the only area going online. Our human behaviour, emotions and yes, body language, are all being increasingly digitalised.

So, just because your visitors are online rather than in store, there’s no reason that you can’t offer real-time, emotionally intelligent support. All you need is a real-time support channel, and an understanding of your customers’ digital body language.

– by Howard Williams

Why webinars are a key martech channel for sales enablement

As early as the 1990s, Microsoft and other tech companies were offering primitive web conferencing and webinar software options – but this soon ballooned into an industry in its own right.

Webinars and virtual meetings used to be a quick and easy way of connecting with geographically dispersed teams, delivering integrated internal communications, and providing training no matter the location. But their use in sales and marketing now means they are a powerful tool for business growth, and can be a key driver of lead nurture traction as well as sales enablement.

Webinars are still not used by that many companies and the technology is much more sophisticated than it used to be, with the tech fails of the past no longer a standard. Webinars have become a key player in the marketing technology mix and, alongside other productivity tools and applications, they can be crucial in achieving sales targets and growth.

Welcoming the modern webinar

The martech stack built by any business should incorporate a webinar solution as they bring many benefits to any campaign, and offer both time and cost savings too. Internally, they provide for a time efficient process with no need to travel to meetings, no need to hire rooms, and easy, flexible access for all attendees. Webinars run live but they can also be watched at a later date for those who signed up, ensuring that work isn’t interrupted.

As well as hosting them for later or repeat viewing, powerful analytics on attendees’ in-webinar behaviour can make a significant difference for targeted follow-ups as you aim to nudge attendees into progressing along their lead nurture journeys. Although, as ClickMeeting say in a recent eBook about increasing sales with webinars; beware of how the customer journey begins: “Hopefully after hearing your message, they will be ready to enter your sales cycle and become a lead. But before hearing your message, all your qualification questions can measure is THEIR attractiveness to YOU. It can’t yet go the other way… YOUR attractiveness to THEM.”

From a content perspective, webinars are an effective and powerful way of getting a point across. Valuable insights are offered by your chosen keynote speaker or speakers, and they are a highly efficient way of focusing in on a topic or area, allowing for targeted, actionable insights for the benefit of all viewers.

The role of the webinar in your martech stack

Marketing software spending is increasing at rates no one could have predicted, predicted to reach $32bn by 2018 and this is evidence of how many companies are recognising martech and its essential role in business growth. Webinars are a crucial martech channel and they feed naturally into other channels and elements of your stack, making it easy to connect campaigns and further enhance the value of both your webinars and the other technologies they’re partnered with.

Webinars combine particularly well with other marketing activities including email and content marketing as they come together and can reference each other and be combined.

Choosing your tech for marketing success

Understanding that you need to invest in technology to get the most from your business and achieve the sales you need is one thing, but when it comes to building your martech stack, including creating and promoting your webinars, you need the right tech solutions.

For e-mail marketing, companies like AWeber have been tried and tested, and also incorporate analytic features to ensure you can go forward in the right direction after a campaign has ended. Analytics tools like Google Analytics and Docalytics allow for in-depth insight of your campaigns and content to ensure they are delivering the results you need, and pinpoint problem areas.

For webinar creation and editing, ClickMeeting is a specialist tool that has been honed to help you run custom webinars for whatever purpose you need. As you carefully piece together your stack you’ll find many opportunities to integrate and combine tools to ensure a cohesive and successful campaign, with the sales results you were hoping for.

Webinars could be your key sales driver

A sophisticated approach to your webinars will allow you to make more of your leads and convert them into sales. Many people make the mistake of believing registrants to their webinar are in fact sales leads but this is not the case: they are a marketing contact whom you can hope to shape and direct towards sales.

People who truly understand how B2B sales really work know that webinar registrants represent a targeted audience of engaged people who are ready to be nurtured. Indeed, many are potentially high-converting leads, but it is the webinar itself that will determine whether they remain interested.

Registration is vital to using your webinars are a sales tool as you can research and personalise your content to your potential leads and the more you personalise in the modern marketing world, the better the results you achieve. Sales webinars are an effective method of pinpointing those most likely to become customers and tailor your content towards them.

Webinars are about much more than simply showing off and promoting products, they play a vital role in the marketing operations process and can be a crucial driver of sales. When used properly webinars inform, engage and deliver actionable insights, gently directing your registrants to becoming leads and then customers.

– by Dan Purvis

TLK Fusion

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