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The Traditional Marketing Mix May Morph Into A Broader Order | Forbes, 01 aug 2019
How Digital Marketing is Changing Recruitment and Staffing | HR Technologist, 01 aug 2019
How to Use Case Studies to Take Your Life Science Marketing Strategy to the Next Level | Labiotech Reach, 01 aug 2019
Why health companies are branding themselves as tech companies | STAT, 01 aug 2019
How to Improve Your In-House Customer Service Team | Business.com, 01 aug 2019
Your quick-start guide to podcast advertising | Marketing Land, 31 jul 2019
Advertising needs to overcome its technology hangover | CampaignLive, 31 jul 2019
Damage Control: 12 Ways To Create An Action Plan For A PR Crisis | Forbes, 31 jul 2019
Supercharge Your Marketing by Learning Advanced SEO | Entrepreneur, 30 jul 2019
What Is the Role of Predictive Analytics in Customer Intelligence? | Tech Funnel, 29 jul 2019
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 aug 2019
Startups are enabling tech-based transformation of India's retail sector through Android-based smart PoS (Point of Sale) devices. The promise of these devices goes beyond payments and makes supply chain more efficient with data analytics and potential credit scoring. Vicky Bindra, CEO of Pine Labs, says, 'Retailers and merchants from diverse sectors such as electronics, food and beverage, fashion, pharmacy, telecom, and airlines are adopting the new smart PoS machines to improve their efficiencies and enhance consumer's shopping experience.' Praveen Hari of industry association iSPIRT says, 'Today a smart PoS device is not just accepting cards, but they can also provide UPI (unified payments interface) pull transactions, QR codes (displayed on screens), NFC (near filed communication) transactions, wallet transactions, or basically, any payment mode that is available in India.' Ashish Jhina, co-founder of Jumbotail, says, 'Today smart PoS machines can do four key business functions: payment, billing, inventory management, wholesale procurement.' Smart PoS data is also valuable for credit scoring. Mr. Hari explains, 'The GST data itself is good enough for a lender to make a lending decision and the shopkeeper or his FMCG distributor now has an incentive to report all the transactions. The transaction data itself can help a lender make a lending decision.' Manish Patel, CEO of Mswipe, says, 'We have engineered a credit model where when our merchants can borrow money (to make wholesale purchases) from any of our NBFC partners, based on data we provide...In terms of recollection, the merchant can opt to pay back in daily and monthly instalments.' Read on...
Wireless, smart PoS devices revamping India's retail landscape
Author: Salman S. H.
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 jul 2019
Good content is essential for every content marketing strategy. But, getting requisite return on investment (ROI) defines it's business success. Steven van Vessum, co-founder & VP of Community at ContentKing, suggests ways to maximize the chances of success of content marketng strategy - (1) Best Content Is Not Equal To Most Successful Content: Be selective and start small; Assess competitor's weaknesses and know your strengths and leverage that; Put together a content promotion strategy that works for you. (2) Create Multi-Purpose Content: As lot of research and resources are used to create content, leverage it to create other types of content to get better ROI; An evergreen content piece can be partically repurposed as a conference talk, a support article, a podcast topic or a guest post. (3) Creating the Best Content Is Not That Hard, It's Just Hard Work: Focus on creating content that provides most value to the visitors and fulfils their search intent; Create a content piece that makes you think not to give it for free. (4) Core Content Is the Key to ROI: Core content is content that your target audience is interested in, and that's close to your products and/or services. Helps in transition to soft sale; Create core content, and build related content around that. (5) Control & Protect Your Investment: Social media and content platforms are easy to use and have large audience reach but they provide limited control. Moreover, they may shut down or modify their terms of service as per their convenience; External platforms often don't support adding Call-To-Action boxes or newsletter signup forms. This results in questionable or reduced ROI; Better option is to publish a summary or introduction on these platforms and link it back to the detailed or full content on your own website. Read on...
Search Engine Journal:
Content Marketing: The 5 Most Important Things You Need to Know
Author: Steven van Vessum
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 jun 2019
Collecting the right customer data and then understanding it to create usable insights is the key to e-commerce analytics success. But, implementing an effective and efficient analytics strategy and selecting the best tools and solutions from among many that are available in the market is no easy task. Ateeq Ahmad, consultant and founder of Albany Analytics, provides a set of ideas and road map to build an e-commerce analytics solution that would finally be used for predictive analysis. Mr. Ahmad outlines the process flow as - (1) Setting up data collection within current data sources. (2) Merging all data sources into one platform and automate such a collection. (3) Analyzing patterns in these datasets to build reports and dashboards based on KPIs. (4) Based on past behavior of customers, create prescriptive and predictive analytics around key metrics and goals. Data that is collected should include transactional data, social interactions and offline customer data. At the stage of merging all data sources into one central repository there are two possible methodologies - build own data warehouse or buy it from market. Of course, there are trade-offs involved in this selection. The best option seems to be to go initially for an available data merging tool, as it is cost effective, and then once sufficient experience and ROI is obtained graduate to build it in-house. Analyzing data and translating it into valuable business speak that paves the way for data-driven decision making is an essential part of successful analytics implementation. To provide right and timely predictive analyses it is critical to have an analytics team with strong data science expertise. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jun 2019
Wikipedia explains 'Spin' as, 'A form of propaganda in public relations and politics that is achieved through knowingly providing a biased interpretation of an event or campaigning to persuade public opinion in favor or against some organization or public figure. While traditional public relations and advertising may also rely on altering the presentation of the facts, "spin" often implies the use of disingenuous, deceptive, and highly manipulative tactics.' Researchers (Paris Descartes University: Isabelle Boutron, Romana Haneef, Philippe Ravaud; Hôpital Hôtel Dieu, Paris: Amélie Yavchitz, Gabriel Baron; Inspire: John Novack; New York University: Ivan Oransky; University of Minnesota: Gary Schwitzer) in their study, 'Three randomized controlled trials evaluating the impact of "spin" in health news stories reporting studies of pharmacologic treatments on patients'/caregivers' interpretation of treatment benefit', published in journal BMC Medicine, found that participants were more likely to believe the treatment was beneficial when news stories were reported with spin. Prof. Gary Schwitzer of University of Minnesota and founder/publisher of HealthNewsReview.org, says, 'This is important research because misinterpretation of the content of news stories due to spin could have important public health consequences as news articles can affect patient and public behavior.' Prof. Schwitzer says that spin can originate in all stages of the flow of information from researchers to the public. Researchers suggest that spin can be managed by taking the following steps - Train researchers to understand how the public uses the media and, in response, frame their communication to the public in a way which is truthful, relevant, understandable and devoid of distortion or hype; Train PR professionals, journalists and other communicators to detect spin and accurately convey research results; Educate news consumers on the resources available to help them critically evaluate health claims; Support research for developing ideal approaches for communicating scientific and health information. Read on...
University of Minnesota News:
Research Brief: Evaluating the effect of spin in health care news
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 may 2019
Prof. David Dubois, who teaches marketing at INSEAD (France), explains that by customizing digital technology according to customer relationships can provide B2B companies competitive advantage. Marketing spend is not defining factor for success, but how well companies integrate technolgical solutions is. Prof. Dubois says, 'A company's digital investment does not necessarily translate into marketing return on investment (ROI). For that to happen the firm needs to build a digital marketing organisation – data-driven marketing capabilities around the customer. A pivotal and enduring dimension of success in B2B markets lies in the relationship a company has with its clients. Thus, identifying the type of relationships that you have or would like to have with your customers is an excellent starting point to select and embed digital technology into your strategy. And this process is increasingly important for B2B companies if they are to maintain growth even as digital disruption accelerates the shift from B2BigB to B2SmallB.' He suggests defining customer-centricity by relationship type. Susan Fournier of Boston University offers a useful framework by likening customer relationships to friendship and romantic relationships. Once this has been done companies should select a technology that matches the relationship. According to Prof. Dubois, getting customer-centricity right in the digital age involves three steps after the relationship is clearly defined - (1) Test and learn: Consider the technologies and communication channels that are adapted to strengthening each type of relationship. Companies would do well to test and learn strategies. (2) Match technology to client (3) Integrate tech and new practices: Understanding the customer relationship should be an ongoing process. One part of that solution is mining big data on social media and news outlets. Prof. Dubois points out, 'At a time when the giant markets of SMEs such as China and India offer unprecedented opportunities, the roadmap to customer-centricity has never been more relevant.' Read on...
Driving B2B Digital Transformation Through Customer-centricity
Author: David Dubois
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 may 2019
Graphic design enhances the value of the brands and creates their visual memory in the audience's mind. Check out the latest trends in graphic design and keep evolving - 3D design and Typography (Brings life and depth to flat designs); Mid-century Modern Elements (Give both a mid-age and modern touch to any design); Custom Illustrations (Heavily influenced by natural and botanical elements, with softer lines and less bold text); Buxom Serifs (Serifs are smarter, better, and make content stand out); Open Compositions (Make the elements appear to be floating off of the screen); Isometric Design (Creates an entire universe in the tiniest of spaces and gives depth to any design and object); Pops of Vivid Color (Provides attention grabbing graphics); Strong Typographic Focal Points (Make content visually strong and readable, a function much needed for small devices and social media feeds); Light and Dark Color Schemes (Create a visually stunning impact); Futuristic Influences into the Mainstream (Make the brand stand out and be influencer in the marketplace); Complex Gradients and Duotones (Look great on mobile devices. Add depth and create a timeless look); Colorful Minimalism (Combining design with necessary components using minimalist approach. Limited color use); Art Deco (Add glamour quotient); Bookman and Old-style Serifs (High legibility and contrast of the traditional serifs make them a great choice to highlight the brand's value); Subtle Motion (Enhances user experience and engages users with the interface. Adds seamless transformations and transitions); Abstract Geometry and Shapes (Fits in any design that demands a modern and expressive look. Makes visuals stand out); Asymmetrical Layouts (Create visual tension. Elements have a more complex pattern); Variable Fonts (Are flexible within the multidimensional space. Consume less bandwidth and load websites or web pages faster). Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 may 2019
Ad-free environment is an expected reality with subscription-based models, ad blocking tools and alternatives to traditional media already available. Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at Proctor & Gamble, predicts that we're evolving into a 'world without ads' as brand engagement with customers changes with technology and consumer requirements. Gary Ellis, Co-founder and COO of Remesh, explains how branding will shift and survive in this ad-free environment. He says, 'There are infinite possibilities for filling the void left by traditional advertising. Success will depend on translating traditional advertising insight into new engagement tactics. Advertisers will need to focus on how they can fit themselves organically into their customer's experience, rather than disrupting a customer's experience as is often associated with traditional advertising.' He adds, 'Consider what is central to the brand building experience, which ranges from embedding tech in products to targeted ads. Pritchard predicts an increased desire for personalization, an interest in learning about a brand's values and more brand experiences. This means a brand's ability to connect with people on a human level plays an even more critical role in this new engagement paradigm. An emotional function will serve as the main connector, and one that can come in many forms.' He further explains, 'Targeted advertising is about two things: relevant content and demonstrating comprehension of customer needs. It stems from the desire to be 'helpful' – providing an audience with the information they need so that they can quickly and easily find what they are looking for. In an ad-free world, what were once targeting challenges can be avoided. This means not just focusing on personalization, but context.' Read on...
How Will Branding Survive In A 'World Without Ads'?
Author: Gary Ellis
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 apr 2019
According to the recent report 'India Digital Ad-fraud Market 2018' by techARC, the total size of digital ad-fraud in India stood at staggering US$ 1.63 Billion, which is 8.7% of the global size. The report projects 23% increase in digital ad-fraud in 2019. Digital Commerce contributed more than half 51% of the total ad-fraud in India. While, Leisure & Travel (26%), Entertainment & Gaming (13%), Banking & Finance (8%), Healthcare & Pharma (1%) and Others (1%). Although, App Fraud contributes to over 85% of the total digital ad-fraud, the organizations should not ignore the web platforms. Web platforms are more susceptible to frauds as in several organizations the digital teams are primarily focusing on the app, leaving the web space vulnerable. As video is increasingly becoming the preferred medium of content, it is also attracting fraudsters to exploit this advertising channel. The report finds that businesses who have an ad-fraud solution in place are better equipped to have higher levels of customer engagements. Faisal Kawoosa, Founder & Chief Analyst at techARC, says, 'Digital ad-fraud is getting increased attention from the C-level leadership of evolved organisations, where it is no longer an agenda of a CDO or CMO. The impact of digital ad-fraud now goes beyond diminishing the returns on marketing spends and can jeopardize the entire digital transformation journey hampering Brand Equity, Relevance and Positioning among other ramifications.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 mar 2019
Scot Henney (GVP of sales at SAP) and Marcus Venth (GVP of market development at SAP) discussed the importance of customer experience in the digital age with John Furrier and Dave Vellante, co-hosts of theCUBE at IBM Think event in San Francisco, US. Mr. Henney says, 'A new customer-experience domain is open up called the "experience economy". It brings the front office and back office together and adds in "experiential data" on end-users.' As more companies shift from products to subscription-based services, customer-experience becomes crucial. Digital provides more power to consumers and ease of switching brands. Customer feedback becomes valuable. According to Mr. Henney, '80% of customers have switched brands because of poor CX (customer experience) and companies that deliver better customer experience have more than 200% more shareholder value.' Mr. Venth adds, 'The 360 customer view that leads to stellar CX is not achieved with applications, data and professionals in silos. One of the biggest challenges we see [is]...where we have a highly customized environment with lots of disparate applications that really are poorly integrated.' Read on...
Analytics mine consumer brains in new 'experience economy'
Author: R. Danes
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 feb 2019
According to the research by Prof. Elizabeth A. Minton from University of Wyoming, Prof. Kathryn A. Johnson from Arizona State University and Prof. Richie L. Liu from Oklahoma State University, 'Religiosity and special food consumption: The explanatory effects of moral priorities', published in Journal of Business Research, people with strong religious beliefs are more likely to buy fat-free, sugar-free or gluten-free foods than natural or organic foods. The research could influence the marketing of those specialty food products. Prof. Minton says, 'Religion is the deepest set of core values people can have, and we wanted to explore how those values impacted the market choices people make. We found religiosity influenced the selection of more diet-minded foods...' The study was carried out online and included responses from over 1700 people across the U.S. Prof. Johnson says, 'Often, people make intuitive decisions about food that could require more careful thought. People might make choices based on a cultural narrative or their religious and moral beliefs, without giving measured thought to whether there is a better option.' According to the research, the moral foundation of care drives the choice of sustainability-minded food products, and the moral foundation of purity is behind the choice of diet-minded foods. Prof. Liu says, 'The findings from our work can directly help businesses promote food products to specific groups of people without potentially alienating customers by including religion.' Read on...
University of Wyoming News:
UW Researcher: Religion Affects Consumer Choices on Specialty Foods
Author: Chad Baldwin
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 jan 2019
Autonomous shopping concept intends to bring brick-and-mortar and internet shopping into a unified and integrated retail experience. The grab-and-go smart shopping carts promote cashier-free automatic check-out eliminating wait in lines. TechSpot's contributing writer, Cohen Coberly, says, 'While it seemed like brick-and-mortar retail would be all but killed off following the explosive rise of online shopping, what we're instead seeing throughout the US is not death, but evolution.' According to a 2018 survey by RIS News, 'The leading new shopping option wanted by consumers was "grab-and-go" technology (in which customers can self-checkout using their smartphones). 59% said they'd like to use this, and 9% had used it.' In a global survey of 2250 internet users conducted by iVend Retail and AYTM Market Research, 'Roughly 1/3rd of respondents said they would like to make automatic payments using digital shopping carts.' Caper is a smart shopping cart startup. Josh Constine, technology journalist and editor-at-large for TechCrunch, reports, 'The startup makes a shopping cart with a built-in barcode scanner and credit card swiper, but it's finalizing the technology to automatically scan items you drop in thanks to three image recognition cameras and a weight sensor. The company claims people already buy 18% more per visit after stores are equipped with its carts.' Linden Gao, co-founder and CEO of Caper, says, 'It doesn't make sense that you can order a cab with your phone or go book a hotel with your phone, but you can't use your phone to make a payment and leave the store. You still have to stand in line.' The current Caper cart involves scanning an item's barcode and then throwing it into the cart. Brittany Roston, senior editor and contributor at SlashGear, reports, 'The smarter version will eliminate the barcode part, making it possible to simply put the items in the cart while the built-in tech recognizes what they are.' Chris Albrecht, managing editor at The Spoon, also reports, 'The future iterations, already in the works, will remove the barcode and will use a combination of computer vision and built-in weight scales to determine purchases. The customer completes shopping, and pays on the built-in screen.' The concept of scanless carts involves deep learning and machine vision. Cameras are mounted in the cart. The screen on the cart gives the shopper different kinds of information - store map, item locator, promotions, deals etc. It recommends items based on contents already in the basket. Read on...
Next-level autonomous shopping carts are even smarter
Author: Nancy Cohen
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 dec 2018
Corporations have student ambassador programs in which they hire students to promote their brand on educational campuses. These campus representatives create buzz about the companies during career fairs, work with student organizations to invite company professionals for guest lectures, talk about their internship both in-class and outside, give samples, post on social media about them etc. Adam Grant, CEO of Campus Commandos (a youth marketing agency that runs student brand ambassador programs), provides essential elements that companies should consider when hiring students to talk about their brands on campuses - (1) Compensation: Think beyond monetary compensation; Enhance their learning and skills; Provide interaction and networking opportunity with company leaders and executives. (2) A Hands-On Approach: Have direct involvement in the program; Keep interacting with students during the program; Preferably, don't entirely outsource the program to another company. (3) Future Opportunity: Provide opportunity for internship and future employment for best performers; Engage students with the company's human resources. (4) Mobile: Incorporate mobile technologies in the program; Utilize documentation tools available on mobile devices that allow student ambassadors to provide pictures, videos and notes. (5) Work Schedule: Understand student's work schedule; Work out expectations of the program around the student's educational priorities. (6) Organization: Build a program that incorporate goals; What is required by students to reach these goals; Their progress reports; Recognize top performers. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 nov 2018
For the success of businesses a solid foundation or strong core is necessary and then only innovative strategies, tactics, programs and technology that are applied will be impactful and bear fruits. Scott Vaughan, CMO of Integrate, suggests the focus on achieving the revenue marketing goals and provides five essentials that high-performing B2B marketing teams consistently focus on to drive high performance - (1) PRECISION - Accurately defining ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) and identifying best account opportunities: Engage the right audiences; Avoid random marketing to general people; Identify smaller group of core audience; Use advanced tech such as predictive marketing and intent data modeling to identify more of the best accounts and buyers. (2) TRUST - Committing to permission-based marketing in an increasingly regulated world: Treat information with care; Ensure the understanding and fulfillment of data-privacy laws; Permission mindset builds trust. (3) HYGIENE - Generating quality, actionable data to drive performance and create experiences: Recent survey by DemandGen Report finds, on average, more than 35% of the data in existing databases is unmarketable. Use effecient data hygiene; Bad data wastes marketing and sales efforts; Audit data-capture processes and sources, and use data governance filters before data enters database. (4) SPEED - Increasing velocity makes everything perform better: Current processes and tech investments need to have a speed evaluation; Identify areas where data can be routed faster and action can be taken within an appropriate time; Watch closely 'pipleline velocity' (Time from when an opportunity identified and finally converted into a deal) (5) INSIGHTS - Measuring to understand the good, the bad and the ugly: High-performing marketing teams use insights with key ingredients like agreed-upon key performance indicators (KPIs), tools that can measure performance, easy-to-use shared dashboards for all stakeholders (marketing, sales, management etc). Read on...
5 essential strategies B2B marketers must master in 2019
Author: Scott Vaughan
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 nov 2018
In today's businesses, digital is one of the critical component that defines their growth and success. With digital and related analytics, organizations can easily track and create insights to better understand consumer behavior for their benefits. Gabriel Shaoolian, founder of DesignRush, provides valuable statistics in marketing, website design and branding for efficient online strategy and subsequent online success - (1) By 2021, mobile e-commerce will account for 54% of all online sales. (2) 38% of users will stop interacting with a website if the layout is unattractive. (3) Long landing pages generate up to 220% more leads than above-the-fold calls to action. (4) Color improves brand recognition by up to 80%. (5) Consistent brand presentation across all platforms increases revenue by up to 23%. (6) 64% of consumers say that shared values help them create a trusted relationship with a brand. (7) Content marketing efforts receive three times the leads per dollar spent than paid search receives. (8) 64% of consumers make a purchase after viewing a branded social video. (9) Facebook Ad revenue in the US will surpass total print ad spending by 2019. (10) Email has a median return on investment of 122%. Moreover, he suggests the following key points to be noted for digital strategy - Create an easy-to-use website that works on all platforms and devices; Design a memorable brand identity that communicates well with consumers; Maintain an honest and transparent relationship with customers; Invest in content marketing and social media advertisements; Test video marketing campaigns to engage users; Don't forget about the power of email marketing. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 oct 2018
When one thinks of marketing, Northwestern University Professor Philip Kotler's name comes right at the top. He is author of the most used marketing texbook in business schools, 'Marketing Management: Analysis, Planning, Implementation and Control', alongwith another 57 books on the subject. Speaking with Paul Talbot, President of a marketing strategy firm Southport Harbour, Prof. Kotler shares his views on the role of CMOs (Chief Marketing Officer) in today's business organizations. Regarding their skills and talents, he says, 'In the 1960s, marketers were hired for their flair for advertising and creativity...Today, we need CMOs with a different skill set. CMOs must be expert at digital marketing...Information and mathematics are crucial. Companies need in-depth information about their customers’ individual beliefs, values, media consumption and channel choices. Marketers today use multiple regression analysis, cluster analysis, discriminant analysis, and predictive analytics to yield customer insight. Marketers increasingly make investments in...social media. CMO has to have good creative marketers on the staff to bring up bright new ideas. The tech approach to marketing is more about efficiency. Marketing creativity and imagination is about winning big.' Regarding collaboration between between marketing teams and others in the organization, he says, 'Back in the 1960s, companies didn’t have a CMO. They had a powerful vice-president of sales who was the driving force. They had added a vice-president of marketing whose job was primarily managing marketing research and preparing advertising and sales promotions...The chief marketing officer concept emerged as markets grew more complex and competitive...who would participate in finding and shaping what the company should produce, in identifying the target markets, and evaluating the overall company strategy...CMOs need to be effective in the following relationships: ...The CMO had to 'carefully' educate the CEO to understand marketing's potential and limitations; ...the CMO and CFO would work together to find and agree on the best way to measure the return on marketing spend; ...I view R&D people to be the masters of what is possible. I view marketers to be the masters of what is valuable; ...If those two executives (CMO and VP of sales) don't get along, the company’s financial performance is doomed.' Read on...
Northwestern Professor Philip Kotler On Today's CMO
Author: Paul Talbot
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 oct 2018
Voters have to apply different standards to political advertising and take them with a pinch of salt. According to Prof. Jonathan Rose, Dept. of Political Studies at Queen's University (Canada), says, 'Political ads aren't subject to the same rules as other kinds of advertising. The Advertising Standards Council is a the professional regulatory body that regulates truth in advertising so I cannot say a nonfactual claim in an ad...But that truth-in-advertising doesn't apply at all to political advertising, so, literally, there's no method of enforcing truth-in-advertising.' Even though there can be limits on spending by political parties and by third parties, but it is hard to enforce the limit on online campaigns as the message can be spread for little to no expense and with virtually no oversight. Prof. Rose says, 'A lot of advertising is priming...priming is putting an item high on the public agenda by way of reinforcing a message...Priming is putting the ballot question in the minds of voters.' There are other tricks that third parties can utilize, for example portraying them as amateurish and create a perception of being a grassroots movement but in reality has been backed by big money. He advises people to be aware of political advertising in any form and be critical and do research about the accuracy of the content. He also suggests, 'At least use the ads to have a conversation with family and friends about the claims they're hearing. If you use an advertisement as a sort of a talking point to thinking about these issues then that’s at least better than accepting them without question.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 oct 2018
Brands are all around and everything that is put forward for public consumption requires adequate branding. Sumarie Schreiner, founder of BrandBrew Consulting, explains the value of branding and what is essential for building great brands. She provides 5 core pillars for brand building - (1) Link The Thinking And Feeling: Great brands connect, resonate and then become acceptable. They connect thinking with feeling, and attract attention and keep interest with the promise of something extraordinary. They offer value beyond products and services and make a difference. This inturn evoke emotions and provides sense of belonging, thus creating trust. (2) Build Trust: To build trust requires consistency and time. Trust provides reassurance. Trust is inherent part of human senses. It constitutes both environment and people. Trust = Reliability + Desirability x Experiences. In the present push economy people are more empowered and demanding. Their experiences define their standards of expectations. (3) Offer Value Beyond Your Product/Service: Value builds trust and need to go beyond products and services. Value is both objective and subjective and is derived from all the interactions with a business. Value creation needs to run through the DNA of the organization. It should be the way of life. Outside-in approach offers true value. Relevant and valued experiences are build in response to customers' needs at the right time and place. (4) Differentiate To Those People You Want To Connect With: Understanding diversity of needs helps provide solutions accordingly. People want to belong and connect with other people and organizations that share their values. Differentiate but more importantly make a difference. (5) Help Those People To Connect And Belong: Shared values and belonging develops true connections with emotions. Human-centered, outside-in approach connects at an emotional level and builds long-term relationships. Storytelling helps to differentiate and creates a space in people's memory. Brand is defined by what customers and employees feel about the business. Unlock and cultivate the value offered and keep building on the trust earned. Read on...
"Trust me, I'm a brand!" - What is the value of branding?
Author: Sumarie Schreiner
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 sep 2018
As retail in India grows and get more organized, diversity among retail leadership will become visible. Women in retail have a major role to play as women consumers are a big demographic and they have very specific needs and wants. Here are 5 women entrepreneurs who have taken the mantle of leadership in various areas of retail - (1) Farah Malik (Managing Director, Metro Shoes Ltd.): '...Retail had always excited me and I have never regretted the decision of joining the business. The fashion retail industry is extremely demanding and women still often have to make a choice between a family life and a career...' (2) Rashi Menda (CEO & Founder, Zapyle): 'The whole eco-system is very different from what it was 3 years back and I think that the biggest challenge that any woman entrepreneur would face in today's world lack of understanding of one's own abilities...For me, forming a winning team and hiring the right people was the biggest challenge...' (3) Shubhika Jain (Founder, RAS Luxury Oils): 'When I initially joined family business it was difficult for the existing staff to accept a young lady as their head. I had to prove myself to be worthy by way of executing tasks and handling situations in a mature and strategic manner...India has as many as 9% of women entrepreneurs...Yet there are a lot of problems that women have continued to face in this country.' (4) Jagrati Shringi (Co-Founder & CTO, Voylla): 'More women entrepreneurs need to look at the big picture and think about scaling up, sustaining and growing their businesses. Despite extremely talented individuals, there aren't enough women driving big brands...there is a need for more skilled women to look beyond the safety net of IT and other jobs to realise their career goals.' (5) Trishla Surana (Founder, Colour Me Mad): 'While women entrepreneurs form only 3% of the total universe of the entrepreneurs in India, it is welcoming that people are becoming more open to having women as bosses. Also, women today need to focus more on upgrading their skills, understanding interface of design and technology and get as much exposure as they can to achieve their dreams...' Read on...
How these 5 Women Entrepreneurs Are Making a Difference in Retail Industry?
Author: Tanya Krishna
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 sep 2018
Mentors are an important component of learning-based relationships. Wikipedia quotes a definition of 'mentoring' from a research published in 2007 in SAGE Journals, 'Toward a Useful Theory of Mentoring: A Conceptual Analysis and Critique' (Authors: Barry Bozeman, Mary K. Feeney - University of Georgia, Athens, USA), 'Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the protégé).' On prsa.org (PRSA - Public Relations Society of America) website, PR expert Prof. John Guiniven of Elon University in North Carolina, says, 'Mentoring is all about communication and relationships, so it's natural for public relations to be in the forefront.' Over the course of learning, people can go through many mentoring relationships, brief or long. But, there are few mentors and their inspiring advice that sticks in one's memory and they often share this with others. 10 members of Forbes Agency Council share the most important learning received from their mentors about PR and media strategy - (1) Consistency Is Essential - Darryl Mascarenhas, LivelyGroup (2) Don't Send Garbage To Media Contacts - Ajay Gupta, Stirista Digital (3) Collaborate With Stakeholders - Ana Miller, Asquared Communications Group (4) Nobody Can Tell Your Story Better Than You - Alexander Yastrebenetsky, InfoTrust LLC (5) Go Big, Go All In, Or Go Home - Dan Russell, Vivid Labs (6) The Order Of Operations Matters - Jared Mirsky, Wick & Mortar (7) Create A Connection - Drew Kraemer, Marketplace Strategy (8) Depict Core Beliefs And Values - Chris Gutierrez, TouchFuse (9) Develop Insights - Julia Gardner, MAAST DIGITAL (10) Be Authentic - Mark Stubblefield, Stubgroup Advertising. Read on...
Memorable Mentor Advice: 10 Thoughts On PR And Media Strategy
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 aug 2018
It's critical for the marketers to understand the collective habits of the customers of a particular segment they want to sell. Engineers are one such segment that B2B marketers have to deal with while pursuing their campaigns. Patrick D. Mahoney, President and CEO of IEEE GlobalSpec, explains the IEEE GlobalSpec's '2018 Pulse of Engineering Survey - The Changing Work Environment for Engineers Today' and how industrial marketers can utilize the insights to formulate their marketing strategy. The survey of 2236 engineers and professionals was designed to gather measurable and actionable insight on what they think about their industries and work environments. The survey also includes exclusive analysis on two key segments of the engineering workforce: millennials and technical professionals in the electronics industry. Highlights from the research - PRESSURES: 55% of engineers say the pace of engineering is increasing; 53% are required to do more with less; 40% say that pressure to meet deadlines is putting product quality/rework at risk; Majority also say that designs are becoming more sophisticated and that design cycles are shrinking, while time-to-market pressures are increasing; 44% of companies have increased design involvement from external partners and vendors. MILLENNIALS: Marked differences between mindset of younger engineers vs veterans regarding information. Millennials are information hungry. Concerning information access, 24% of surveyed millennials say they are more likely to use video for educational purposes compared to a much smaller 14% of veteran engineers; While the majority (53%) of all engineers are willing to register on a website for access to specific documents, only 44% of millennials indicated such willingness; Younger engineers tend to believe all content should be free and openly accessible (52%). Read on...
A Look Into the Mind of the Engineer: For B2B Marketers
Author: Patrick D. Mahoney
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 aug 2018
According to experts, effective use of data is key to B2B marketing success as it offers precision targeting, better customer experience and personalization at scale. Bernard Tan, APAC Regional Marketing Director at Red Hat, doesn't consider marketing as just B2B or B2C, but prefers it to be 'business-to-all'. He says, '(Data) is transforming the way that we talk to whole markets...it's transforming the way that we can actually have one-to-one conversations in volume markets, and be much more efficient about the way we go to that market...All of us are consumers...We are now at this position where we are now able to start to drive engagement at an individual level and really focus on the customer.' According to IBM's 2017 Customer Experience Index study, APAC (31) scored lower than other regions when it comes to data-driven customer experience in the B2B space [North America (35), Europe (33) and Latin America (33)]. Jodie Sangster, CMO liaison lead of IBM Watson, says, 'Unfortunately in APAC, we are lagging behind in terms of meeting consumer expectations of how we are using their data and delivering great customer experience.' Read on...
Data is key for B2B marketers, but APAC lags behind
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 aug 2018
Nonprofits have to take the cue from their for-profit counterparts for successful implementation of marketing and technology oriented strategy implementations. Content marketing is now a mature field both in B2B and B2C aspects of business. Best practices are available. Gloria Horsley, founder of Open to Hope Foundation, explains the value of effective content for nonprofit organizations to educate, inform and engage with donors, volunteers and those the nonprofits intend to support and help. She shares her mistakes in content marketing in nonprofit realm and the learning from these experiences - (1) Transferring Existing Print Content Online: Offline content is outward-facing and telling rather than sharing or interactive; Written for entire audience and not personalized for specific segments; Online content need to be written in a way to engage audience; Interactive for audience to share their opinions; Utilizes story telling and visual content. (2) Delivering Content That Lacks Educational Value: Merely information and facts are not always valuable content; Specific content that educate different audiences is more valuable; Produce content that answers specific questions; Educational content attracts more supporters, donors and volunteers. (3) Letting Volunteers Run With It: Giving too much control to volunteers for content development risks consistency and integrity; They may create content that is not fully compliant with regulations; Specific rules and guidelines for content must be laid out; Templates and formats must be shared with temporary workers and volunteers; Provide volunteers access to content management system where content is checked and approved before being published. (4) Failing To Focus On High-Quality Writing: Emotion-based writing may not always be the best quality writing; Long sentences, grammatical mistakes, passive voice use etc leads to content exhaustion where audience lose interest; Use online tools like WordPress and Grammarly for appropriate writing; Professional writing techniques need to be adopted. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 jul 2018
According to the latest research by Stanford University business academics, Prof. Navdeep Sahni and Prof. Harikesh Nair, people are very good at distinguishing native advertisements from digital content, but the ads still exert significant influence on shopping behavior. Native advertisements blend with the digital content and closely match style and layout of the surrounding media. Regulators are often concerned regarding their deceptive sponsorship disclosure and the resulting misguided purchases by consumers. Prof. Sahni says, 'Native advertising is a relatively new form of advertising. Advertisers and publishers have embraced this because of the rise in mobile browsing behavior, and because banner ads are hard to implement on mobile screens, and are known to be not very effective.' Professors developed a field experiment in which they manipulated how native advertising for specific restaurants appeared on a restaurant search mobile app, creating two 'extreme' ad presentation conditions (no-disclure and prominent-disclosure) to compare to a more typical native ad. The study examined differences in how over 200000 users responded to the varied presentations and found that responses to typical native ads were similar to those in the full-disclosure condition. Prof. Sahni adds, 'We found that people who respond to the ad can spot this kind of advertising in its typical format...The effect of advertising seems to happen through direct exposure and can result in conversion even if people don't click on the ad itself.' The study suggests that because consumers who are more likely to be affected by ads can identify typical native ads easily, making the ads more prominent is unlikely to change people's behavior. For consumers, implications of the study are that even in a time of advanced analytics, ad exposure continues to have a deeply subtle, and thus harder-to-quantify, effect. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 jul 2018
Implementing an effective content marketing strategy with original content that stands out from competitors is a challenging task. Online content needs to be continuously updated, should be valuable to the audience and fulfil the required marketing goals. For this hiring a professional writer, full-time or freelance, is a good option. Professional writers can ensure that the content is more engaging, informative, credible, and persuasive. Following are ways in which he/she can contribute to the content marketing strategy - (1) Improve Search Engine Rankings: Professional writers understand search engine optimization (SEO) and create keyword rich copy. They have knowledge of the latest SEO trends and ensure that content meets the standards of search engine robots. (2) Save Money: Outsourcing content can be more cost effective. Companies using inbound marketing generally experience a 61% lower cost per lead than those using traditional methods (HubSpot). The average cost of hiring an in-house writer is US$ 7221 per month (Society for Human Resource Management). (3) Save Time: Creating quality content is time consuming. Outsourcing content as per requirement assists to focus in other essential areas of business. Moreover, multiple expert writers can be hired at the same time. (4) Meet Deadlines: Professional writers can work as needed and maintain schedule. (5) Boost Your Social Media Presence: Continuous stream of content can make businesses focus on their social media strategy, share content timely and create brand awareness. (6) Increase Conversions: The average web user leaves a web page after less than 20 seconds (Nielson Norman Group). Skillful writers can write persuasively to hold audience on website and increase conversions. (7) Communicate More Effectively: Professional writers can write in conversational tone and keep audience engaged. They communicate effectively about products and services keeping in mind the audience's perspective. (8) Deliver a Wide Range of Content Types: Different experts can be hired for providing different type of content. Read on...
Business 2 Community:
How Hiring a Professional Writer Improves Your Content Marketing
Author: Chris Reid
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 jun 2018
Logos are a brief visual representation of what the brand is all about. They help brands connect with customers and a memorable logo make it easier to do so. According to Siegel+Gale's 2015 study, 'Logos Now', memorable logos are 13% more likely to get consumer attention and 7% more likely to make them want to learn more about the brand. Ross Kimbarovsky, founder of Crowdspring, runs one of the world's leading marketplaces for crowdsourced logo designs, web design, graphic design, product design, and company naming services. Following are five things he recommends all organizations to do before hiring someone to design (or redesign) their logo for optimal results - (1) Your brand has to come before your logo: 'Your logo must derive meaning from your brand, not the other way around. Before a logo can communicate anything about your brand, you will need to better understand your brand. What values, practices, benefits, products or services set your company apart and make it unique?' (2) Assess what styles you like and don't like: 'New design trends and fads in logo design appear every year and not all designers can effectively incorporate popular trends and avoid the fads...Spend some time looking at various styles and build up a list of what you like and don't like.' (3) Decide what you are willing to pay: 'Pre-made logos is a terrible idea that will actually harm your business in the long run...it's not possible for a client to get a great logo for less than several hundred dollars. There's simply not enough incentive for a designer to spend time creating a custom design unless they get a reasonable fee for their work.' (4) Write a stronger 'project brief': 'The project brief can make or break a project...Most designers have limited time to do their work, so they will be picky when choosing which clients to work with...Help designers understand how you see your company or your products...Define the problems and define your goals: designers are problem solvers.' (5) Decide who will make the final branding decision: 'One person should own this process and be able to make the final decision...Pick a group of 2 or 3 people whose opinions you trust, whether in-house or not. In fact, people outside your company can often be better at this than insiders.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 jun 2018
Team of researchers (Prof. José Antonio Rosa of Iowa State University; Prof. Richard J. Vann of Iowa State University; Prof. Sean M. McCrea of University of Wyoming) conducted five experiments to understand how crisis influences motivation and commitment to the goal. Their research titled 'When consumers struggle: Action crisis and its effects on problematic goal pursuit' was recently published in the journal Psychology & Marketing. Prof. Rosa, the lead researcher, says, 'Setbacks are to be expected when pursuing a goal, whether you are trying to lose weight or save money. The challenge is getting back on track and not giving up after a difficulty or crisis.' The research team is working on practical ways to help people stick to health-related goals - specifically, prescribed regimens for medical ailments that require significant lifestyle changes. According to Prof. Rosa, staying committed to a long-term health goal is challenging, because it may feel as if there is no light at the end of the tunnel. He explains, 'These are some of the most difficult goals we face, because the effort has to become a way of life. If you're a diabetic, you have to be thinking about your diet every time you eat. In many ways, it is sacrificial. You must endure this cost and the reward is health.' Prof. Rosa says that action crisis, whether related or unrelated to the goal, is a point during goal pursuit when circumstances change, causing us to question whether the goal really matters. This sets in a process of goal evaluation instead of implementation and can result in the decision to quit, termed by researchers as 'taking the off ramp', and may cause another crisis. Researchers are now working to develop and test interventions for patients on prescribed health regimens. Prof. Rosa says the goal is to provide specific instructions for patients to follow and help shift their mindset from renegotiation or evaluation back to implementation. He adds, 'From a marketing perspective, it is an issue of consumption and making health care more effective for patients. The right intervention will help patients stay on track, lessening the risk for additional health issues and lowering health care costs.' Read on...
Iowa State University News:
Crisis can force re-evaluation and derail efforts to reach goals
Author: Angie Hunt
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 may 2018
Consistent communication through various channels both internally and externally is the key for successful public relations. Eileen Sheil, ED of Corporate Communications at Cleveland Clinic, shares her PR experience and suggests key elements that PR teams should be focused on. Regarding her PR strategy at Cleveland Clinic, she says, 'We are trying new communication approaches that better reach our target audiences through the media and to our key stakeholders. Sharing our stories internally and externally about patient care, innovative procedures, medical research, opinions on important healthcare issues, and breaking news will help people know more about the work we do to help patients locally, nationally, and around the globe.' Following is her advice for PR teams - (1) Be Strategic About PR: Know the organization and industry; Know the company's narrative and be consistent in your communication; Conduct reputation research and develop a PR strategy; Know your audience; Research and alter strateg as needed. (2) Go Digital: Traditional media is essential but amplify the communication through latest digital technologies. (3) Measure The Value Of PR: The Barcelona Principles (initially developed in 2010 and updated in 2015) are used to measure the real value of PR; Focus on qaulity of coverage to build better reputation; Learn to use metrics, data and analytics to drive strategy. (4) Be One Communications Team And Build One Strategy: Internal and external communications are merging; Be consistent to all shareholders. (5) Know This Is A Journey: Teams should continue to evolve, learn and make their work better together. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 may 2018
Utilizing customer data to understand consumer behavior through analytics tools is key to improve products and services, and finally gain and retain customers. Restaurant and fast food industry is customer intensive with direct interactions with them. Restaurant sales were approximately US$ 800 billion last year and continue to grow. With hightened competition and increasing customer expectations it becomes challenging to serve what customer wants and keeps coming back for more. Advanced analytics can come to the rescue in this regard. Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) industry has low average ticket value, customer visit frequency is higher and cyclical, size of the meal matters and customer tastes don't vary that much. The restaurant industry's main goals remain - increase meal size, increase guest frequency and decrease customer lapsation. In today's environment, customers are digital-savvy and restaurants have their data. The value is in gaining actionable insights from this data that positively impact the Net Promoter Score (NPS). Here is what some restaurant chains are doing in this regard - (1) Identified taste affinity clusters: Created various segements of customers and looked at their past purchase behavior to identify taste preferences. (2) Buying behavior analysis: Looked at purchase behavior across different channels to identify which menu items can be added to the combo for someone that orders (mobile vs visit). Used advanced analytics to get a single view of the customer by integrating their POS, mobile, web and social data to identify the customer and hence provide consistent messaging. (3) NPS and Feedback Analysis: Integrated feedback received across all channels and layered it up with sentiment analysis. Customers were given lapsation score and offers were targeted accordingly. (4) Store location analysis: Used predictive models to identify the probability of a new store succeeding in a specific location vis-à-vis another store in the same area. They identified pockets of demand and the model prescribed a set of potential locations in a given geographic area. This data was used to score and rank comparable locations. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 apr 2018
According to Big Commerce, 51% of Americans prefer to shop online, and almost everyone (96%) has made an online purchase in their life. But, with so many competing e-commerce websites and a large number of brick-and-mortar retail stores, the challenge for retailers is to differentiate themselves and, attract, acquire and retain the customers. Retailers can do the following to increase retail sales - (1) Run Beautifully Executed Google Shopping Campaigns: Organize shopping campaigns by best-selling items; Ensure your ad images are high-quality and crawlable; Include merchant promotions and product reviews. (2) Give Shoppers a Reason to Visit Your Store: Provide special in-store discounts to shoppers; Use the power of social media to communicate special in-store deals. (3) Use Social Media Targeting Capabilities to Your Advantage: Configure your social media campaign with detailed targeting to audience who will be most willing to buy the products. Targeting to right demographics is the key. (4) Don't Forget to Be Locally Relevant: Geotargeting; Ad copy and imagery with local appeal; Use local lingo. (5) Invest in Some Guerilla Marketing Campaigns: Use public places innovatively to attract attention and spread the word around. (6) Try Podcast Advertising: According to Edison Research, 67 million Americans listen to podcasts monthly, which is a 14% year-to-year increase. Discover your audience's choice of podcasts and invest in running some advertisements to sponsor the commercial breaks. (7) Get Creative with Video: Use entertainment as a strategic tool in video to attract audience. Getting it viral is a challenge that every creative should take. (8) Celebrate All the Little Holidays: Embrace holidays and link your campaigns to them; Release special limited-edition products around them, run special events, or offer deals in festive holidays colors, it gets people excited. (9) Instill a Sense of Urgency: Urgency in messaging can pressure audience to shop; Run short-term limited-time offers and discounts. (10) Understand Your Seasonal Peaks and Plan Accordingly: Do advance planning for seasonal peaks. This includes adjusting ad spend, working with design for new creative, and executing seasonally relevant campaigns that will boost sales during these peak times. (11) Create Returning Buyers through Smart Remarketing: Remarketing allows you to remind shoppers, re-engage them and assist them in buying again; Think about the lifespan of the product that a customer have bought. Run a remarketing campaign and encourage to buy before the product is finished; Another remarketing tactic is to upsell based on the products customers have previously purchased. Read on...
Business 2 Community:
11 Killer Retail Marketing Tips to Drive Sales Year Round
Author: Margot da Cunha
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 apr 2018
Business-to-business world have a different set of rules and dynamics than business-to-consumer when it comes to branding and how interactions happen with prospects and customers. Ryan Gould, VP of Strategy & Marketing Services at Elevation Marketing, explains how B2B world is fragmented, challenges related to inconsistency in branding and what can be done to improve, enhance and control it. He explains, 'The role of the B2B buyer has evolved along with the rest of the world, and importantly, power has gradually shifted to the hands of millennials. Despite 73% of millennials making purchasing decisions, we are still seeing the world of B2B approach these individuals as if they are the same buyer from 5, 10 and even 20 years ago.' Millennials are the new B2B buyers and B2B marketing had to evolve accordingly. Emphasis on branding and brand building becomes critical. Marketing efforts should be aligned, whether it is social media, email marketing, sales collateral, video etc, and focus on addressing the need of potential buyers and differentiate effectively from competition. Sales-driven nature of B2B sector still holds supreme with marketing becoming secondary to it. But with new buyers sales pitch is not sufficient and they seek better connect with brands they deal with. B2B marketers have to understand this dynamic to build strong business relations. B2B marketers also face challenges related to their budget and lack resources to accomplish all their tasks and had to shuffle between various roles. This gives them insufficient time to focus on brand strategy and to build an overall brand value. Fragmented nature of B2B business adds to the chaos with various departments working in silos. Branding consistency in this environment becomes a challenge and customers get confusing inputs. The brand in this scenario lacks uniformity in content, design and messaging. According to HubSpot, only 50% of B2B marketers are treating visual content as a priority. Marketers have to work on this and fully utilize the power of digital and develop creative strategies to have a better connect with millennial decision-makers. B2B organizations must prioritize branding as their target consumer market is sensitive to it. One statistics suggests that 23% of average revenue increases are attributed to brand consistency. B2B marketers should play their role accordingly - understand target audience, recognize the importance of branding, realize where brand is falling short and develop better brand consistency by using latest tools and solutions to have a connect with customers and establish trust. Read on...
Why is inconsistent branding so prevalent in B2B organizations?
Author: Ryan Gould
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 mar 2018
Corporates often fund nonprofits to fulfil their commitments and responsibilities to the communities they operate in, and also to enhance their brand value and achieve a positive public relations. But, since the funds are limited and there are number of competiting nonprofits, corporates seek best value and return on their giving and investments. Nonprofits have to find ways to differentiate themselves and give an attractive proposition as part of their corporate fundraising effort whether they are considering cause sponsorship, 'pin-up' or point-of-purchase campaigns, corporate volunteering/employee engagement or cause marketing. Chris Baylis, president and CEO of The Sponsorship Collective in Ottawa (Canada), suggests ways to consider for successful corporate fundraising - (1) Corporate partnerships are not just philanthropy. Think beyond the good cause, clearly define your audience and understand the value of your brand. Determine the interest and buying power of your audience. (2) Use your cause to attract (and define) your audience and your audience to define and attract prospects. Use the cause as a valuable link to connect your audience and prospects. (3) Make your value known to the prospects and list every single asset you have to offer. Estimate the cost of similar exposure and services that prospects can avail elsewhere. Understand the value of your audience. (4) Logo placement, although more visible to the public, is just a small component of cause partnership. Think more of real value and outcomes. (5) Share fulfillment report with your partners and how it is tied to their goals. It explains the value they got in return, satisfies internal decision makers, helps in renewal of contract and build long-term partnerships. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 mar 2018
Basic principles of business success remains the same, but with time new ideas, concepts and rules become game changers and critical to its success. Inspired by David Politis's book '66 Rules for Publicity Success', Sheryl Conner, entrepreneur, author of 'Beyond PR: Communicate Like A Champ In The Digital Age' and co-creator of Content University, explains how public relations has transformed and brought in new dynamics while some of its concepts remain the same. THE NEW - (1) New publishing platforms give more freedom to publish and provide metrics and analytics about how much interest and engagement the content has created. (2) Know the rules of publishing on varied platforms and understand the difference between owned (company blog), earned (national journals and publications), leased and rented (social media platforms) publishing space. (3) Search results are the greatest ally (and one of the most significant risk). (4) Visual content is becoming increasingly important. Text content with video/audio and compelling images provides effective multimedia experience to the audience. (5) Customer feedback is equal (or more) important to purchases than traditional analyst views. THE USUAL - (1) Press releases are still important. (2) Value add educative information for your audience is more valuable than promotion and hype. According to Conductor.com, a consumer is 131% more likely to purchase from a vendor who publishes an educational article they have read. (3) Meaningful and consistent messaging is vital. (4) Authenticity is more important than ever before. (5) Earned media is important. Remember what others say about your company is more valuable and add to reputation, than what you say yourself. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 feb 2018
Measurement and analysis of marketing data is becoming critical for understanding the effectiveness of marketing initiatives. The insights help in focusing efforts and money in the right direction. Marketing analytics tools and technologies continue to advance. David Sanderson, CEO of Nugit, explains what will be driving marketing analytics in 2018 and how marketers can keep pace with them - (1) Marketing analysts will need to use many new data sources: Combining data from internal data repositories with other sources like Google Analytics, SEO platform, CRM, Email, Social Media, Chat applications etc will provide better insights that will help to drive consumer interest, optimize pricing, and deliver an improved customer experience. Now analysts must also identify where important data resides, determine what needs to be extracted and devise a strategy for using new data sources to drive business decisions. (2) Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be essential for analytics: Speed of incoming data in large volumes make it difficult for human data analysts to process it effectively. In such a scenario, machine learning and AI tools come to the rescue and help analysts find patterns in customer data, elicit recommendations for optimizing performance, and allow non-professionals to access complicated analytics using simple language. (3) Analysts will become storytellers: Usual data analyst skill like SQL, Excel, business analysis etc, crunching data and making reports will not suffice now. Analysts have to do more - Obtain data from non-traditional sources; Clean data with programming languages such as Python; 'Polish' the data using data visualization tools and create attractive charts and graphs; Transform data into easy-to-understand stories which help non-analysts understand emerging trends and opportunities. Read on...
The three trends driving marketing analytics in 2018
Author: Jeff Rajeck
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 feb 2018
As streaming video services on internet get popularity, advertising on television is seeing a decline. Now advertisers are shifting their dollars towards digital. In 2016, US revenues from digital advertising exceeded revenues from TV for the first time - US$ 72.5 billion (+22%) compared to US$ 71.3 billion from TV. This trend is also reflected in global markets. Some corporates are even focusing solely on digital advertising. The young (13 to 24 years age) are showing less affinity towards traditional advertising as they spend more time on Internet in comparison to TV. Only 36% of consumers noted that they cannot do without a TV screen. Meanwhile, 67% cannot imagine their lives without YouTube and 51% seem to lose meaning in life without Netflix. The same audience is watching 2.5 times more internet videos than traditional TV. Video-bloggers are the new influencers for the young population as they advocate brands and products while sharing their experiences with them in the form of effective video presentions. Video bloggers are becoming a guaranteed way for advertisers of reaching target audiences and getting predictable results. Influencer marketing is becoming more relevant. Return on investment from online videos is 77% more than from TV promos. The main trend nowadays is native advertising through opinion leaders. Traditional advertising is slowly getting outdated and a personalized Internet, along with personalized advertising, is becoming the real future. Read on...
The Next Web:
Advertising in the digital age - Why online-first is the future
Author: David Geer
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 jan 2018
Confluence of sales and marketing is not often seamless. It brings challenges and creates conflicts. Business leaders keep them in silos to avoid friction. But if done effectively, collaboration between the two can bring more benefits and success, saving time and money, and yielding more leads and conversions. Following are ways in which this collaboration can be achieved - (1) Buyer Personas: Both sales and marketing have information about customer segments they serve, albeit from different sources. By sharing the two they can have much better understanding of customers. Together, they can create a precise description of the buyer personas. These descriptions generate personalized content and service delivery. (2) Timing: When the messaging and content is shared is the key to its effectiveness. Through collaboration, marketing can utilize the feedback that sales team receives from customers and time their campaigns, and plan for future strategy accordingly. On the other hand, sharing marketing strategy schedule with sales will help them know when to follow-up with prospects. (3) Content Developent: When sales team creates content it takes away their valuable time from their critical sales activities. By collaboratively developing content, sales and marketing can pool in their strengths and expertise, and focus on customers effectively. This will give sales the content they need and marketing a blueprint to create high value content that inturns generate more leads for sales. (4) Proposals and Agreements: There are software platforms that can help marketing and sales collaboratively create documents like proposals, agreements etc. According to James Kappen, CEO and Founder of Proposable, 'Marketing can go a long way to taking some of the tedious work off the shoulders of the sales team. This includes generating branded proposals with consistent formats and messaging based on the insights the sales team shares with them. That way, marketing can use its expertise in branding, corporate identity, and value-focused content to deliver a more compelling proposal to the sales team to use. The shared information and understanding of the potential buyer elevate the relevancy and engagement that the proposal can offer, enabling more conversions.' Similar tools like Eversign provide the collaborative platform marketing and sales need to work together effectively. The result is that documents can be created, revised, signed and shared between those within the company and the prospect. (5) Analysis: End of the sales cycle can also bring collaborative benefits. Working together of marketing and sales blurs the process of attracting and acquiring customers, thus making the analysis of the role each played in the process difficult. Hence, it becomes beneficial to analyze lead generation data together. This gives everyone opportunity to find out how they are contributing to the whole process and generate the necessary return. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 dec 2017
Marketing continuously evolves, and there is always something new for marketers to test, experiment and validate, and bring it to mainstream, whether it be ideas or technologies. Here are expert predictions for 2018 - (1) Zoe Burns-Shore (Head of Brand & Marketing, First Direct): 'Hopefully, more companies will start to realise digital marketing and marketing are one in the same, and the joy of all of that is seeing how everything works together, not in channel-led silos.' (2) Rachel Bristow (Director of Client Partnerships & Collaboration, Sky Media): 'It's no longer enough for brands to be passive about their brand identity as consumers are expecting more from the brands they engage with. Often this means taking a political viewpoint in order to be relevant and engaging...Although having a political voice can elevate a brand's purpose, it comes with a host of reputation risks which brands need to carefully consider. CSR also helps align a brand with a purpose while mitigating some of those reputation risks of being politically vocal.' (3) Harry Lang (Marketing Director at Online Sportsbook Pinnacle.com): '...I'm going with eSports...Now it's getting organised and brands are paying over the odds to jump on the bandwagon - the trend lines suggest it's only going to get bigger.' (4) Aedamar Howlett (Marketing Director, Coca-Cola Great Britain): 'We will add more choice and breadth to our portfolio...tap into macro consumer trends like healthy living, exotic flavours and on-the-go snacking...we will evolve the ways we communicate and engage our consumers. The trend for instant, real-time conversations and connections with brands will continue...also trialling chat bots and AI, as well as investing in editorial-style content-led media partnerships that tap into the mass appeal of social influencers to consumers...(there) is an evolution in the way marketers use and present data insights...(insights) will allow a more personalised, targeted approach for 2018.' (5) Craig Greenberg (Head of Strategic Planning & Insight, William Grant & Sons UK): 'As consumers are constantly bombarded with information across various channels, we will see more brands attempting to cut through the clutter to become memorable...it is brands that have a differentiator aligned with their brand heritage in a credible way that will win in the long term...consumers will seek brands that build on their identity, meaning a bigger push towards 'local' specificity in luxury brands...in a period of uncertainty, big brands may feel detached from a sense of place and strive to get closer to communities.' (6) Ben Rhodes (Group Marketing Director, Royal Mail): '...continued growth in retail ecommerce - and the associated need for more convenience and choice in delivery and return options...consumer trust in messaging received via physical mail to continue to grow, compared with digital channels.' Read on...
What's in store for 2018? Marketers share their predictions
Author: Lucy Tesseras
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 dec 2017
According to a recent survey by Create, a new marketplace for health systems, local health networks best serve the needs of today's healthcare consumer. The survey took a detailed look at the preferences of individuals when selecting and receiving healthcare. It finds that 1/3rd have received care from more than one health system, or network of affiliated providers. Simeon Schindelman, CEO of Brighton Health Plan Solutions, says, 'This data uncovers that individuals are already taking their own steps to make their care more localized and personalized, but they aren't reaping the cost and quality benefits of such a network model. The survey also finds that there is a strong discrepancy between how loyal healthcare consumers feel they are to their primary care doctors, and how loyal they actually are. Mr. Schindelman and his team observed that 'our current healthcare system simply does not meet the needs and expectations of today's consumer...To enhance healthcare for everyone, we must move away from the current one-size-fits-all health plan, and instead listen to the needs of individuals across the country.' He explains, 'Managed care executives are responsible for managing cost, utilization and quality of care provided, while pursuing strategies for value-driven solutions. As such, hearing the preferences and expectations of today's healthcare consumer is at the center of performing those duties...this survey also uncovers a value-driven solution that has not been explored in the industry: plans that prioritize local, integrated healthcare systems.' Mr. Schindelman suggests - (1) Offer personalized plans. (2) Stop giving people benefits they don't need or use. (3) Explore new ways of lowering costs that don't compromise quality. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 nov 2017
Customer data is key for effective decision-making in marketing and advertising. Even though technology has provided tools to collect and analyze data, and obtain valuable insights, both brand marketers and agency buyers are unsure of the transparency and effectiveness of the data their partners are providing. According to the recent study, 'More Data, More Problems: Trust, transparency, and Targeting in 2017' by Bazaarvoice and Ad Age, more than 75% of survey respondents admitted they are not fully confident that the data they're utilizing is hitting consumers who are in-market to buy. Additionally, 65% of respondents claimed they do not fully understand the origin of their data sources. Here are 10 important questions that one should ask the advertising data provider before embarking on a marketing campaign and get the best value from it - (1) What are the sources of your data? (2) How far does your data reach? (3) What percentage of your data is created from a look-alike model? (4) Which intent signals or behaviors place a user into an audience segment? (5) How do you maintain your audience segments? (6) Can you explain the process behind how you define your audience segments - and the data that feeds into them? (7) In which categories does your data best perform, and why? (8) For which metric(s) does your data best perform, and why? (9) Can you reach the same user across their multiple devices? (10) Does your data drive brand consideration and/or sales, and can you accurately attribute the performance lift directly to your campaign? If so, how? Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 oct 2017
Over the years the dynamics of relationship between patients and healthcare providers have evolved into customers and healthcare businesses type. Rising cost of healthcare, multiple providers, privatization and technology are some important reasons for this transformation. Brad Dodge, President of Dodge Communications, and Andrew Pelosi, President of Partners & Simons, provide in detail what the patients as consumers of healthcare services expect from providers and how healthcare businesses can develop robust customer oriented strategies and fulfil the role of trusted partner in providing care services. They explain, 'Healthcare consumers have come to the realization that they have options. They don't have to settle for poor service, long wait times, limited hours, or confusing bills. Customer loyalty has to be earned - as in any other business. And consumers make it perfectly clear that if a provider can't deliver a better and more personalized experience, then they will switch to one that can. Moreover, the shift in mentality demands that providers be transparent and personal as much as possible. And from generation to generation, consumers are demanding clear communication and a trusted connection with their providers.' According to the Solutionreach Patient-Provider Relationship Study, 'The Ripple Effect Starts with Boomers', 43% of millennials are likely to switch practices in the next few years, 44% of Generation X are likely to switch primary care physicians in the three years and 20% of Baby Boomers are likely to switch in the next three years. Also, 70% of patients desire the ability to text the doctor's office, and 70% would like to receive text messages from their doctor, especially about appointments. Healthcare providers have to keep in mind expectations of these consumers and provide them personalized experience if they want long-term continuous relationships. Authors suggest - (1) Communication Drives Experience: 'The essence of creating a positive experience is making customers feel that they are heard and important — before, during, and after a transaction. Consistent, relevant communication between your company and customers is the answer to optimize that experience and engender trust. Honest communication with an emphasis on personalization builds the trust that all companies need to grow in this new information-driven, engagement economy.' (2) Entering the Engagement Economy: 'Consumers are demanding a more personalized relationship that requires a depth of knowledge of their wants, needs, and buying behaviors - and, ultimately, the best ways to engage them. Brands that succeed are the ones that manage engagement across the entire customer lifecycle. In most instances, the lifecycle and trust-building process starts very early in the customer's buying decision, even before they are considering a purchase.' (3) Who Are You Talking To: 'Creating a positive customer experience requires knowing your audience, engaging interpersonally, and meeting their needs. Answering those questions helps you develop an understanding that will be reflected in how you communicate with them across all channels, as well as what content you deliver. Also, organizations must be clear and concise; they must also offer up a valuable story; and they must be prepared to tweak that story as the marketplace changes.' (4) Focus on Delighting Customers: 'Focusing on ways to delight customers will go a long way in nurturing engagement and trust in your brand. Again, communicating and delivering valuable information to potential and existing customers can please them, especially when that information demonstrates an understanding of their pain points and goals.' (5) Harnessing Engagement: In an environment where trust is in short supply and customer engagement is spread across a broad digital ecosystem, companies must focus on their customers and on nurturing relationships through effective, relevant communication. Focusing on customer experience, needs, and preferences will not only enable brands to differentiate their products and services in a competitive market but also build the trust that results in loyalty.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 oct 2017
To interact with customers, keep them connected and build long-term beneficial relationships is the goal of every business. But, achieving it is a challenge and takes a lot of planning and work. According to Cody Burch, founder of Red Anchor Marketing, far too many business owners are limiting themselves to one offering, and missing the bigger picture of what they can do to serve their target audiences. He suggests that businesses should focus on customer experience and offer them multiple products and services to choose from. Mr. Burch provides five steps to establish a complete customer journey - (1) Start with the ideal/ultimate solution that can be provided to people and gives best result. Find the price for this offering and set it as the benchmark. (2) Take a step down from the ideal and design an offering. Repeat the steps until you have an array of offerings from low-cost/low-touch to concierge-level service. Mr. Burch stresses that businesses need a variety of solutions at various price points. (3) Be clear on the transformation you provide. Make sure that the solution you offer is presented in a way your market intuitively understands and values. (4) Cross-sell (products related to and that will enhance your current offering) and upsell (an upgraded offering). Even after the first sale, continue to cross-promote your products and services. (5) Think about your customer experience as a competitive advantage. Mr. Burch says, 'No matter how big or small your business is, you can create a memorable customer journey, one that serves your market, highlights your brand, and makes it stand out from the competition.' Read on...
Your Customer Journey - Five Steps to Business Success
Author: Lain Ehmann
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 oct 2017
Festive season brings attractive offerings from businesses to influence customers to buy more. Sometimes these offerings can be wrapped in unwanted and unreal freebies and discounts. Understand the following tricks to avoid overspending during festive seasons - (1) The unreal urgency: Sales and discounts happen all the year round. There is no need to rush. If you missed one, there will be another. (2) Useless freebies: Don't fall for unwanted free gifts. Direct price discounts on individual items are good alternatives. (3) The fear of loss: When proper research is done before purchase, the best deals can be found all the year round, not just during festive season. Look for the deal that is most suitable. (4) Big savings: The promise of big discounts can be unreal and may not be available at the time of buying. It may just be an advertising attraction with many conditions in the footnote. (5) The deceptive discounts: Deceptive discounts come with asterix. You might actually overspend then what you wanted to. Here are few suggestions to buy only what/when you want and need - (1) Prioritize (2) Postpone your purchase (3) Resist peer pressure (4) Don't shop to de-stress. Performing sufficient market research before the purchase is best to avoid traps and get most value. Read on...
The Economic Times:
Festive season sales could be a trap - Here's how to find out
Author: Devansh Sharma
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 sep 2017
Team of researchers - Anatoli Colicev of Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan), Ashwin Malshe of University of Texas at San Antonio (USA), Koen Pauwels of Northeastern University (USA) and Peter O'Connor of ESSEC Business School (France) - in their paper 'Improving Consumer Mind-Set Metrics and Shareholder Value through Social Media: The Different Roles of Owned and Earned' published in Journal of Marketing, describe the impact of social media on stock market performance via three consumer mindset metrics: brand awareness, purchase intent, and consumer satisfaction. According to the research all the social media posts are not created equal. Owned social media (OSM), i.e. company's own posts, is likely to increase brand awareness and customer satisfaction but not purchase intent. While earned social media (ESM), i.e. what consumers say about brands on social platforms, is even more valuable, potentially increasing all three consumer mindset metrics. Prof. Koen Pauwels says, 'Consumers look to their peers before making purchasing decisions, which is why earned social media is so valuable. Both investors and consumers distrust companies who boast about themselves, because it's hard to know what weaknesses they're trying to hide.' The researchers also found that consumer satisfaction and purchase intent are primary contributors to firm value. While higher consumer satisfaction was found to increase stock market returns, greater purchase intent was shown to both increase stock market returns and lower idiosyncratic risk - risk that is endemic to a particular stock and not a whole investment portfolio. The researchers used time series analysis to decipher the link between social media posts on various platforms consumer mindset metrics, and shareholder value. Prof. Pauwels suggests that research findings could assist marketers to develop more effective social media strategies. He says, '...marketers and social media managers should craft their OSM messages to target customers to improve brand awareness and customer satisfaction. Due to the value-relevance of customer satisfaction, OSM that is targeted toward helping customers post-purchase, addressing their concerns, and reinforcing their purchase decisions is much more valuable than OSM crafted to persuade customers to buy the firm's products.' The research also found that brands with high credibility (reputation) are far more likely than brands with low credibility to increase purchase intent with their own posts. Read on...
News @ Northeastern:
When it comes to social media, consumers trust each other, not big brands
Author: Jason Kornwitz
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 16 sep 2017
E-commerce has disrupted traditional retail but at the same time pure-play e-commerce companies find it challenging to be profitable. Steve Dennis, strategic advisor, keynote speaker and founder of SageBerry Consulting, provides economic dynamics of e-commerce companies and analyzes the challenges to their road to profitability. He cites the case of e-commerce behemoth, Amazon, that accounts for 45% of US e-commerce and being in business for more than 20 years, still operates at below average industry margins. Some e-commerce companies are even investing to have physical retail presence. Regarding e-commerce among traditional retailers, Mr. Dennis says, '...it's clear that the e-commerce divisions of many major omni-channel retailers run at a loss - or at margins far below their brick & mortar operations.' According to him, increasingly high cost of acquiring (and retaining) customers online is one of the main dynamics that is an impediment to profitability. He explains, 'As it turns out, many online brands attract their first tranche of customers relatively inexpensively, through word of mouth or other low cost strategies. Where things start to get ugly is when these brands have to get more aggressive about finding new and somewhat different customers.' He provides three factors that lead to this - (1) Marketing costs start to escalate: To seek growth, advertising spend increases; Online platforms like Facebook, Google etc are utilized to gain broader audience. (2) More promotion, less attraction: Customers in the growth phase need more incentives, so gross margin on these incremental sales comes at a lower rate; Customers now expect discounts for future purchases, making them inherently less profitable than the initial core customers. (3) Questionable (or lousy) lifetime value: Customers that are acquired as the brand scales have lower incremental lifetime value, both because on average they spend less and because they are inherently more difficult to retain. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 aug 2017
Businesses invest heavily on external communication and PR, but internal PR can sometime take a back seat and get neglected, although it is as important and keeps organizations focused and uniformly branded. Lindsay Nahmiache, Co-founder and CEO of Jive PR + Digital, explains the value of internal PR and provides three creative ways to enhance internal PR strategy. She says, 'Effective internal PR benefits brand identity, boosts employee retention and paves the way for a connected culture where teams are focused on common collaborative goals.' Moreover, digitally evolved workplaces and remote collaboration has brought in new communication dynamics that need to be addressed with robust internal PR strategy. She explains, 'In my experience, creating a forward-thinking internal strategy requires consistent and open two-way communication that is fueled by team cohesion and recognition.' (1) Openness: Promote teamwork; Place trust in your team; Attend outing with employees and do team oriented activities; Start hashtags that reflect your office culture and encourage team member participation; Once a month organize socializing events during office time. (2) Consistent Two-Way Communication: Encourage questions and open discussions on best practices and solutions; Consistency is key for collective innovation and individual responsibility; Publicize internal PR through multiple channels; Hold scheduled weekly meetings with all employees in one place to ensure lines of communication are open about current and future projects; Give higher-level insight into new employee hirings, business decisions, holiday news and more during weekly manager meetings. (3) Team Recognition: Team members respond positively to recognition of their work because it confirms their impact on the bottom line; Take time to reward your team through informal or formal awards; Hold innovation challenges by creating opposing teams; Focus on client wins as much as you do with client struggles. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 aug 2017
A research study by Strategy Analytics' AppOptix practice (AO) brings good news for B2B players as it finds that 50.4% of consumers use their personal smartphone for business purposes. Employees are using their personal smartphones to conduct business and installing public domain and company-sponsored apps for file sharing, data security, time sheets, expense reporting, and collaboration. B2B companies can identify these business users disguised as consumers to target their offerings. The study also found - 20.5% of business users utilize their personal smartphone over 50% of the time to conduct business; 20.8% of business users are compensated by their employer for their network/wireless operator charges. Author of the study, Prabhat Agarwal (Director, AppOptix), says, 'This research showcases and substantiates there are entry points for B2B players that are looking to offer business services to consumers...By analyzing combinations of apps, we can create probability profiles that identify likely users of business services.' Barry Gilbert (VP, Strategy Analytics), says, 'The business and enterprise user is a critical and lucrative market for mobile operators, device OEMs, and many enterprise software firms...' Read on...
50.4% of Consumers Use Their Personal Smartphones to Conduct Business, Finds Strategy Analytics
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 jul 2017
2017 'Consumer Email Habits Report: What Do Your Customers Really Want', a study of 1003 online respondents commissioned by Campaign Monitor and conducted by Market Cube, finds that nonprofit email marketers are lagging behind peers, and the preferences of constituencies, in their ability to provide personalized, relevant messaging. 81% of consumers in the report want touches of personalization in emails they receive from nonprofits. In terms of relevancy of emails to supporters and potential supporters, nonprofits lag behind substantially with only 42% respondents stating that they regularly receive relevant emails. Andrea Wildt, chief marketing officer for Campaign Monitor, says, 'Email personalization can be based on either personal demographics or behavior - how an individual is interacting with an organization...personally relevant emails resonate better with recipients - building a trust that is sometimes hard to foster when recipients are bombarded with so many contacts from so many senders.' According to Ms. Wildt, 'Nonprofits struggle to provide personally relevant emails due to overall lack of ability to capture data and use that data to segment. Resources available to nonprofits are often far more modest than those of retailers.' Further complicating matters for nonprofits is the disparate ways various age groups interact with emailed material. Ms. Wildt suggests, 'Nonprofits must take a multi-pronged approach to marketing (using different tactics/strategies/technologies to target specific age groups)...They are just not quite as mature at leveraging some of the technology. There is so much noise that nonprofits really need help cutting through. The competition for donors' wallets is still fierce.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 jul 2017
According to 'Instructional Design Report 2016' funded by the Gates Foundation, there are 13000 instructional designers in US. The field is increasing in popularity as online education proliferates and the need to translate content into digital forms rises. Designing online learning experiences is becoming essential training employees, mobilizing customers, serving students, building marketing channels, and sustaining business models. Instructional design has deep roots in distance education, human computer interaction, and visual design. ontemporary instructional design sits at the intersection of three core disciplines: learning science, human-centered design, and digital marketing. Following are some lessons and resources for those starting out in the field of instructionl designs - (1) Start with a deep understanding of your learners: Start by developing an Empathy Guide similar to one put together by Stanford d.School or reviewing the free book 'Talking to Humans' by Giff Constable; Conduct observations and interviews with target learners; Synthesize finds into learner archetypes; Test instructional concepts and product ideas by building rough prototypes; d.School 'Protyping Dashboard', Design Thinking process courses by IDEO.org or free resources offered by IDEO's Teacher's Guild. (2) Ground yourself in the fundamentals of learning science: Research on learning and teaching; 'The ABCS of How We Learn', a 2016 book by Daniel Schwartz; 'How People Learn', the 1999 foundational text edited by John Bransford, Ann Brown, and Rodney Cocking; Online Stanford lectures on Education's Digital Future. (3) Determine the 'powerful ideas' you want to teach and build your curriculum using backwards design: For education technology read Seymour Papert's 'Mindstorms: Children, Computer and Powerful Ideas'; Then use 'Understanding By Design Framework' (ascd.org) to structure your curriculum. (4) Go study other great teachers and other great learning experiences: altMBA program by Seth Godin that runs using Slack; Angela Duckworth's delivery of messages on camera; Animations produced by Amnesty International; Interactive lessonas produced on Oppia; Screen-based technologies produced by groups like Paulo Blikstein's Transformative Learning Technologies Lab; Explore multiple approaches from diverse instructional materials available online. (5) Get a lay of the technological landscape, but don't let your LMS hold you hostage: Get familiar with various platform options, particularly with most popular ones - Coursera, Udacity, Udemy, and EdX; Check out the list of global MOOC platforms curated by Class Central; Read some critical perspectives from the likes of Digital Pedagogy Lab or the MIT Media Lab; Check out the blogs of online learning pioneers like Connie Malmud. (6) Don't try to migrate an in-person experience into an online format: Read 'Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology' by Allan Collins and Richard Halverson; Explore perspectives and research of Mitch Resnick and the late Edith Ackermann of the MIT Media Lab. (7) If you build it, they won't come. Understand the fundamentals of digital marketing: Check out blog post of Alex Turnbull (Founder of Groove) that explains 6-step marketing strategy for selling online course; Udemy has also created a great toolkit to help online course instructors market their learning experience. (8) Collect student feedback. Iterate. Share what you learned. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 jul 2017
Time management is a critical component of work-life balance. Content marketing is a busy and stressful job. Following are valuable tips for content marketers - SETTING THE STAGE: Make a plan before you start creating content; Use to-do lists; Set clear goals; Know who your audience is. INCREASING PRODUCTIVITY: Work when you feel alert and creative; Do similar tasks in groups; Do one thing at a time; Reuse your content; Take breaks. USING TIME WISELY: Find productivity tools that work for you; Automate chores; Delegate when it's appropriate; Prioritize tasks that give you the most ROI; Drop unnecessary tasks; Create evergreen content; Spend time on the right social media channels; Curate content; KEEPING THE WHEELS TURNING: Make an idea bank; Have a backlog of content; Listen to your audience; Stay on the same page as the rest of your team. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 jun 2017
Social media is a great digital marketing tool for businesses to connect and engage with customers, and for internal communication. Integration of social media within customer relationship management (CRM) modules can help to draw, close and create repeated engagements with customers. Inputs from different social media platforms can assist in lead generation and also set up post-sale engagement with customers. Following are some advantages of social media to businesses - (1) Business professionals can find and engage with peers and customers. (2) Responding to customer complaints, obtain feedback and engage with other customer communication has become much common on social media platforms. (3) Sales people seeking prospects and leads can utilize professional networks on platforms like Linkedin. (4) Companies with robust social media strategy can counter and overcome issues before they transform into crisis due to viral nature of social media. (5) Social media can be utilized as an effective recruitment tool. Somesh Misra, VP at Deskera, a global cloud-based ERP and CRM provider, says, 'In fact, CRM providers are developing functionalities in order to deliver the benefits of Enterprise 2.0 and built-in Web 2.0 technology. Embedding innovative features such as activity feeds, conversation threads, chatbots, etc. into CRM applications could open doors to new and immense possibilities in the field of software development as well as integrated digital marketing.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 may 2017
Personalization and customization are key for better customer relationships. According to a new research commissioned by RICOH, more than 2/3 of European consumers say the best brands are those who treat them as individuals. The survey of 3600 consumers across Europe was conducted by Censuswide. Consumers were asked to rank brands in terms of the quality of the relationships with them before (reach), during (respond) and after (retain) purchase. Chas Mahoney, director at RICOH Ireland & UK, says, 'The research we commissioned shows 57% of consumers would also spend more with brands that make them feel like valued customers. This heightens the fact that driving business growth must be intimately linked to making interactions easy and ensuring consumers feel appreciated. ...The right technology along with streamlined digital processes are the most powerful tools in the battle to satisfy and retain today's consumers.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 16 may 2017
The way technology is applied and the transformations it brings, can be analyzed by viewing technology as a complement or a replacement to humans. Every industry is impacted by technological advancements. Gartner predicted in 2011 that 85% of all customer interactions with the enterprise won't involve another human. Artificial intelligence (AI) software is now capable of helping employees from both a people standpoint and a hard data standpoint, a combination of culture with productivity. Mario Martinez Jr., CEO of M3Jr Growth Strategies, interacts with Rob Käll, creator of Cien, an app that helps sales teams use AI to fix productivity, improve motivation, and increase sales effectiveness, and explores how AI can successfully help sales teams. Mr. Käll believes that AI can also solve one of the greatest challenges to sales - Motivation. He says, 'Productivity goes down as you grow your sales team. As you grow, it's hard to keep the passion.' Following are three factors that AI can assist to create successful sales team - (1) LEADS: According to Gleanster Research, only 25% of all leads are legitimate and deserve further attention. AI can help sort leads quickly and look out for good leads. Loren Baker, member of Forbes Agency Council, 'AI bots and other AI solutions will better prequalify inbound leads and assist with customer retention. Chatbots and messenger bots can lead the lead or concerned user down a path that lets the sales team know exactly what they need from a lead (qualification) perspective.' (2) PEOPLE: AI doesn't remove people from the process, it assists them to do better. AI helps select good leads and opportunities, offer personal advice, provide daily reminders, lead prioritization performance measurement comparison etc. AI can help to monitor and evaluate team members. (3) MACRO: In sales, macro factors are to be kept in mind - economic growth, competition, seasonality etc. AI can gauge macro factors and help plan accordingly. It can assist in predicting and calculating things. Mr. Käll says, 'How do you incorporate human behavior into a quantitative model? There are plenty of learning algorithms out there, but very few take human behavior into account...We give them the ability to see and understand how and why they achieve their goals.' Read on...
Business 2 Community:
3 Ways Sales Managers Can Use AI to Increase Sales Effectiveness
Author: Mario Martinez Jr.
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 apr 2017
The rise of the mobile phones and mobile internet users worldwide is expected to result in growth of mobile advertising. But according to Celtra and On Device Research, mobile ads are unpopular with users - 60% of clicks on mobile banner ads being an accident, 71% saying half the ads disrupt the mobile experience and 69% saying that mobile ads obscure content. The research also finds that top-performing mobile ads (top 20%) follow some common principles, when followed (6 or more) by brands will lead to better ad performance - Logo presence on every frame; Human presence; Product shots; Placing branding at the top; Caution with dual branding; Single clear message; Video; Humour; Interactivity; Strong call to action. Alex Saric, CMO of Celtra, says, 'To effectively tell their stories, brands must ensure quality creative in their ads...By combining the guidelines from this study with a compelling story, and enabling such quality ads at scale, only then will advertisers realize the full potential of their advertising efforts.' Alistair Hill, CEO of On Device Research, says, 'These recommendations are rooted in robust quantitative analysis and as such provide a useful check list for mobile marketers to reference before embarking on a mobile brand campaign.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 apr 2017
John Murphy, founder of Interbrand, first coined the term 'branding' in 1985 in his book 'Branding: A Key Marketing Tool'. He explains the value of brands and branding and its evolution through the years. According to him, 'Our view of a brand 25 years ago was quite prosaic and utilitarian. We viewed it as a business asset whose purpose was to enhance the earnings of the brand owner. We saw a brand as a product or service, or business, which had developed a personality that was appealing to consumers. This is still mainly true today, but with the development of branding has come a great deal of over-elaboration. Much of what is being offered by branding consultants today seems to be deliberately over-complicated...A good consultant makes the complicated simple, not the simple complicated.' He adds, 'A further trend, which I dislike, is to view branding as a kind of religious or life-enhancing process...It amazes me that brands, things developed to benefit their owners, have acquired such reverence. In practice, branding's reach has expanded greatly over the last quarter century, but the fundamentals have not changed much at all; and a great deal of the increased sophistication of the brander's art is illusory.' He cautions, 'Just remember that a brand is a differentiated product or service, or company, with a distinct persona. Treat it carefully and appropriately in order to reflect and enhance this persona. Even if you develop the most wonderful brand in the world, you may still suffer business failure. On its own, a brand can never guarantee business success; conversely, without a brand, business success may prove impossible.' Read on...
Branding might be everywhere, but it's as simple as it ever was
Author: John Murphy
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 mar 2017
According to CMS.gov website, 'Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers, who come together voluntarily to give coordinated high quality care to their Medicare patients. The goal of coordinated care is to ensure that patients, especially the chronically ill, get the right care at the right time, while avoiding unnecessary duplication of services and preventing medical errors. When an ACO succeeds both in delivering high-quality care and spending health care dollars more wisely, it will share in the savings it achieves for the Medicare program.' ACOs promise to get patients more involved in their own treatments. These healthcare delivery systems are held accountable to meet cost and quality criteria. The study, 'A Multilevel Analysis of Patient Engagement and Patient-Reported Outcomes in Primary Care Practices of Accountable Care Organizations' (Authors - Stephen M. Shortell, Bing Ying Poon, Patricia P. Ramsay, Hector P. Rodriguez, Susan L. Ivey, and Thomas Huber of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health (USA); Jeremy Rich of HealthCare Partners Institute for Applied Research and Education, Los Angeles, CA; and Tom Summerfelt, Advocate Health, Chicago, IL), published in Journal of General Internal Medicine, found that adult patients who were treated in a primary care practice site that promoted a patient-centered culture reported fewer depression symptoms and displayed better physical functioning. According to Prof. Stephen M. Shortell, principal investigator of the study, 'These findings add to a growing literature on the importance of engaging patients in their care to achieve better outcomes that matter to patients like how they function physically and socially. In addition, it breaks new ground by identifying specific features of primary care practices that appear to be associated with achieving such outcomes through increased patient engagement.' He adds, '...more highly activated, engaged patients ask more questions to have their concerns addressed, and, as a result, are more satisfied with their care experience and more motived to achieve desired outcomes.' Prof. Hector P. Rodriguez, study co-investigator, says, 'Healthcare organizations will increasingly need to find ways to efficiently collect patient-reported data and strategies to use this information for monitoring treatment plans, engaging patients in their own care, and improving their health behaviors.' Read on...
UC Berkeley Research:
How patients, ACOs, and researchers partner to achieve better health
Author: Jaron Zanerhaft
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 mar 2017
As crowdfunding becomes a mainstream strategy for individual fundraisers and nonprofit organizations, it becomes imperative to understand the industry trends that provide best fundraising results, and have potential to continue into the future. Christopher Moore, Marketing Mixologist at Floship, shares important trends shaping the industry and shows how to incorporate these ideas in crowdfunding campaigns - (1) Diverse Crowdfunding Platforms: Assess crowdfunding needs. Select the right platform to get specific target audience. Niche platforms are now available. (2) Nonprofit Crowdfunding Campaigns: Many crowdfunding websites are specific to nonprofits. It's easier for nonprofits and charitable organizations to meet their fundraising goals through crowdfunding. The benefits include - Expanded social reach; High speed fundraising; Low-risk giving. (3) Fully Customizable Fundraising Experiences: Fundraising process is becoming more customizable. Campaigns could be specifically designed and promoted. Ways it is happening is - Brandable campaign pages; Fundraising model flexiblitiy; Variety of sharign options. (4) Crowdfunding Campaigns Paired with Events: Events add a real-world component to the online campaign. It boosts the fundraising potential. Following ideas can be used - Pick the perfect theme; Include a variety of fundraising activities; Simlify event registration. (5) Highly Visual Campaigns: To make an impact on online donors include videos, photos, graphics and to-the-point campaign story. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 mar 2017
Seeking customer loyalty is a challenge that every business faces. But to achieve success at it consistently, requires precise understanding of what customers want and provide it to them. Hotels are utilizing big data analytics to gain insights into which amenities help them attract and retain customers. According to Anil Kaul, CEO of Absolutdata, which provides marketing and customer analytics to hotels, 'We want to help hotels determine which free amenities give them the best chance to boost their hotel's appeal, increase sales, and improve customer satisfaction.' He explains two scenarios that hotels deal with while attracting customers - (1) 'When the customer first begins to seek a hotel. You want to offer a free amenity package that will convince him or her to choose your hotel over many other possibilities.' (2) 'Providing a great customer experience to your guest during his or her stay. Part of this customer satisfaction is achieved by offering the right free amenities. If you do this well, the guest is likely to return.' Based on Mr. Kaul's research and analytics on different types of hotels, Wi-Fi is at the top of guest's expectations, followed by free bottled water. To gather the data and compute a hotel's amenity analytics, the software uses a methodology that taps into the hotel's reservation system and then combines this data with survey data from customers on amenities and other elements of their stays. Read on...
How big data analytics help hotels gain customers' loyalty
Author: Mary Shacklett
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 feb 2017
'Drop Shipping' is a practice adopted by retailers where orders are shipped directly from the supplier's warehouse. It gives retailers opportunity to provide more products on their website without keeping them in stock, thus saving on inventory. Some analysts predict that drop shipping will be a mainstream process this year. According to a retail industry survey by SPS Commerce, 40% of respondents said they expect more drop-ship vendors in 2017. This will also benefit logistics companies as small suppliers and manufacturers often outsource tasks like inventory management, shipping etc to them. Josh Miller, VP of business development at CTL Global Inc, says, 'The (supplier) gets the audience, the retailer gets the sales. Drop shipping accounts for about 20% of CTL's revenue, compared with 5% five years ago.' The downside of drop shipping is that retailer has to give control of inventory management, shipping etc to third parties, while in case of wrong orders retailers are still on the hook. Nikki Baird of Retail Systems Research LLC, that conducted the survey for SPS, says, 'It's a big trust issue. Heavy, bulky things are better to ship from the supplier. But the problem is that the retailer then doesn't have control or visibility as to how that process is going.' Moreover, retailers also run the risk of turning suppliers into rivals by sharing customer data. Moreover, number of manufacturers are themselves turning to ecommerce to sell directly to customers. Following are some expert comments on the dynamics of online retail - (1) Irv Grossman, EVP at Chainalytics: 'Retailers are looking at Amazon and saying I may miss an opportunity. They're concerned about market share.' (2) Cathy Morrow Roberson, head analyst at Logistics Trends & Insights LLC: 'Managing capacity as drop-ship orders ebb and flow could pose a challenge for logistics companies.' (3) Frank Layo, retail strategist at Kurt Salmon: 'The practice (drop shipping) also costs more than buying items wholesale, because logistics and delivery get baked into the price.' Read on...
The Wall Street Journal:
'Drop Shipping' Looks Set to Go Mainstream as More Retailers Get on Board
Author: Jennifer Smith
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jan 2017
Creating long-term and sustainable partnerships between businesses and nonprofits, can play a valuable role in tackling social challenges facing communities. Hussein Farah, founder and executive director of New Vision Foundation, explains how nonprofits can build partnerships with corporations and derive benefits from these meaningful relationships for the communities they serve - (1) Have a strong and relevant mission that provides distinctive value to the community and relates to the values of a corporate partner and identifies it as a significant contributor. (2) Leadership of nonprofits should effectively and compellingly communicate the mission to the corporate partner. Strong marketing effort is required that embodies the mission and displays business sense. (3) Nonprofits should create a solid board that assists in dissemination of its value proposition on a peer-to-peer basis. Boards that include corporate members would be more effective in negotiating the terms of partnerships. Moreover, nonprofits must be clear in their expectations from corporate partners, who should beforehand know their resource commitments. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 jan 2017
Building a successful CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) program requires commitment, consistency, continuity and culture within an organization. Claudia Schiepers, Chief Marketing Officer of Greystone and winner of The CMO Club's CSR Award'2016, helped promote a culture-centric curriculum for CSR and shares valuable insights to inspire marketing leaders to develop a successful CSR program in their organizations - (1) Start from the ground up: 'We try to engrain it in everything that we do. I would say start small, test and grow it from within the company...It's all about making suggestions, trying things out and then rolling them out across the organization.' (2) Assemble a top-notch toolbox: 'We gave them a lot of tools. We have employee engagement data that we share with managers, (teaching) them how to have difficult conversations and great conversations. So, it's all about empowering the managers in your company to use the system, having your employees feel like they are involved in it.' (3) Give instruction: Developed a culture book that outlines standards of behavior when it comes to being charitable. 'We say, at Greystone, (caring) means being interested in or concerned about the wellbeing of others. It means that you actively listen, keep an open mind, seek to understand, treat people with respect and kindness. We don't allow yelling. Mentor others, foster other's development, lead by example.' (4) Know that if you build it, they will come: Strikes a balance between good PR and sincerity by publicly commending their local offices' good deeds on social media platforms. 'I think that makes the story more powerful because it is not a corporate driven initiative. We don't do it to get a pat on the back afterwards. I think that's the key for our social responsibility. That is the biggest return on the investment, that we get people that care about other people to join our company.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 jan 2017
According to eMarketer's Sept'2016 ad spending forecast, digital will overtake TV ad spending this year for the first time (Digital - US$ 72.09 billion; TV - US$ 71.29 billion), and will represent 36.8% of US total media ad spending. Scott Symonds, MD of media at AKQA, 'In 2017, digital will become the single largest media investment channel, passing television for the first time...digital is no longer just a test or an innovation budget. It needs to be expected to work as hard or harder vs. every other investment channel.' Experts from across the industry suggest ways digital marketing will evolve in 2017 - (1) Artificial intelligence gets smarter: Tom Edwards, Chief Digital Officer at the agency within Epsilon, says, 'From leveraging machine learning to accelerate sentiment analysis and domain-specific insights to cognitive computing solutions that automate experiences without human intervention to the rise of voice-based user experiences that will continue to expand in 2017 to deep learning that will fundamentally change how brands approach SEO to predictive API's that will expose access to predictive models to further create seamless experiences for consumers, cognitive and intelligent systems will play a key role in how we approach marketing in 2017.' (2) Measurement takes priority: Brigitte Majewski, an analyst at Forrester Research, says, 'The fundamentals have to take priority. Measurement and data are the only way for marketers to get control of a situation they have completely lost control of. They have to understand what part of the mix is truly working and that takes measurement...Once marketers get control of their measurement and connect the dots with the data, they can really start to do orchestrated branded experiences told in a sequence that makes sense.' (3) Turning up the volume: Audio-driven experiences will become mainstream in 2017. Trevor Guthrie, Co-founder of Giant Spoon, says, 'Giant Spoon believes the rise of voice-based AI - Google Home, Amazon Echo, etc. - will have a profound impact on computing and how consumers interact with technology. The next wave of computing will be driven by voice, and clients need to begin to build a voice strategy for their brands.' (4) Reestablishing trust: Forrester's Majewski says, 'The biggest difference in 2017 is going to be a focus on transparency. But now marketers have gotten much smarter and they can legitimately ask hard questions that they might have let pass before. They will really dig into the numbers from agencies and platforms - they are not going to let things slide.' (5) A clearer picture for digital video: AKQA's Symonds says, 'As video becomes untethered from television in terms of its primary investment opportunity or most likely viewing occasion, we believe it will continue to have exciting emerging opportunities in and around the space including augmented and virtual reality, 360 video, live video, programmatic innovations, etc.' (6) Social pivots back to sharing: David Song, MD at Barker, says, 'It will no longer be about paid, earned, and owned social but rather, how a consumer engages with a brand through its social channels. Social channels are and will continue to become more important than client websites.' Epsilon's Edwards says, 'Marketers will need to shift their strategy from one of personification of the brand to a seamless experience that is about simplifying and predicting needs while also empowering consumers to create their own stories.' (7) Cleaning up the landscape: Anna Bager, SVP and GM of mobile and video at Interactive Advertising Bureau, says, 'The days of static display banners are numbered. Consumer expectations for rich, relevant ad and content experiences are growing.' Gabe Weiss, digital experience and transformation leader at SapientNitro, says, 'I feel like there's been a significant maturation of understanding within leadership that the old-normal approaches no longer work. They have bought into designing approaches that work for their brand and for their customers. They will be more committed to delivering their messaging in all forms of content and fragmented channels to make an impact. They will offer engaging and unique experiences and not just yell at their audiences.' (8) Getting the message: IAB's Bager says, 'In the U.S., the rapidly evolving messaging space represents a tremendous opportunity beyond social media platforms to engage with consumers in a native way.' (9) Mobile evolves into people-based marketing: Kurt Hawks, SVP of cross-device and video, at Conversant, says, 'Additionally, as the digital and physical worlds continue to converge, a focus will be placed on the intelligent and responsible use of location data to better understand and anticipate consumer needs and track in-store visits. Mobile will finally evolve from a device to a set of behaviors that inform people-based marketing.' Giant Spoon's Guthrie says, 'We're finally starting to see UIs truly built for mobile instead of just converting what we're used to on desktop. I don't simply mean 'make it vertical' or 'make it short and snackable.' A few companies are completely reworking the structure - not just the details of the content pieces.' (10) Looking towards a post-broadcast, post-digital future: Giant Spoon's Guthrie says, ' The digital media bubble will pop this year. Media will bifurcate into massive networks that roll up many properties for scale and synergy or niche publications charging premium prices based on the strength of their brand. Media's middle class of independent venture-backed digital publishers will either get acquired or fold.' Jeff Liang, Chief Digital Officer at Assembly, says, 'Digital marketers can no longer think inside the box to reach and engage with digital consumers effectively. They must quickly adapt to how audiences are using new forms of digital media to avoid getting lost in the sea of change.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 10 dec 2016
Gifts are an important tool for initiating and enhancing relationships, and it is often challenging to give just the right gift that connects well. According to Prof. Cassie Mogilner Holmes of University of California at Los Angles, 'What we found was that the recipient feels more connected to you as the gift giver after receiving an experiential gift rather than a material one.' Prof. Holmes is a social psychologist and marketing expert, and is a world's leading authority on consumer happiness. She says, 'Everbody wants to be happy. But we don't often know the best path towards that end. I am trying in my research to understand what are the ways we can think and behave that are most conducive to our happiness and well-being.' Prof. Holmes has been exploring the relationship between happiness, time and money for almost a decade. Her studies found that when your attention is drawn subconsciously to time, you are more motivated to engage with other people, and that will make you happier than if you were thinking about money. Prof. Holmes and her UCLA colleague, Prof. Hal Hershfield, posed the question of what people want more of - time or money - to thousands of Americans representing different ages, socio-economic levels, occupations, races and genders. According to her, 'We found that those who were more likely to choose having more time over having more money were happier.' She further explains that the psychology around these choices has less to do with age than with people's outlook on their futures and on time. She adds, 'Younger people who feel their time is expansive and that they have a very long future in front of them will enjoy greater happiness from extraordinary experiences. For older people who feel their time is limited and fleeting, they feel a need to savor the moment. These people extract happiness from even mundane, ordinary experiences, like having coffee with a friend.' Read on...
UCLA marketing prof probes what will make you happier
Author: Cynthia Lee
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 nov 2016
Research by Prof. Ali Besharat of University of Denver, 'The Effect of Review Valence and Variance on Product Evaluations: An Examination of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Cues' (Other authors - Ryan Langan of University of San Francisco; Sajeev Varki of University of South Florida), explores how the rating and variance in reviews affect the decision process. Researchers find that the nature of products, a product's brand, reviewers' credibility, and the structure of online customer reviews all significantly impact consumer decision-making and, subsequently, a company's bottom line in terms of sales. According to Prof. Besharat, 'In the case of high online review variance, we find that when brand equity is high - Nike for example - then reviewer credibility does not influence consumers' purchase intentions. But when a consensus among reviews exists (low variance), reviewer credibility emerges as a significant diagnostic cue.' Another research by Prof. Ana Babić Rosario of University of Denver, 'The Effect of Electronic Word of Mouth on Sales: A Meta-Analytic Review of Platform, Product and Metric Factors' (Other authors - Francesca Sotgiu of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; Kristine De Valck of HEC Paris; Tammo H.A. Bijmolt of University of Groningen), confirms Prof. Besharat's findings and demonstrates that a wide variance in consumer opinions has a detrimental effect on product sales. According to Prof. Rosario, 'The reason why variability of reviews can harm sales more than negativity is that electronic world of mouth, in theory, is a way for consumers to reduce risk and uncertainty, which does not happen when other consumers' feedback is highly inconsistent.' Prof. Rosario's findings should be of interest to product and platform managers, internet and social media monitoring agencies. Read on...
University of Denver News:
What Brand and Marketing Managers Need to Know About Online Customer Reviews; How They Influence Purchase Decisions
Author: Amy Jacobson
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 oct 2016
According to Mapp Digital's whitepaper, 'Consumer Views of Email Marketing', more than 98% of consumers, aged 18-64, check emails at least one to three times a day. The survey for whitepaper included a national panel of 1765 consumers between the ages of 18-64, 70% had a household income of over US$ 35000 and participants were evenly distributed by gender and geographic region. The findings point out the importance of age in receptiveness of email marketing. Nearly 2/3rd (64%) of respondents aged 55-64 said that they will delete email, as opposed to 38% of 18-24 year-olds. 91% aged 18-24, and 83% aged 25-34 said that they use smartphones to view emails. It suggests that for effective email marketing, optimize for smartphones. Mike Biwer, CEO of Mapp Digital, says, 'Email marketing is still very relevant to brands, specifically for the hard-to-reach 18-34 year-old audience. The survey results suggest that this group of consumers are engaging with fewer brands on a more intimate level. Millennials and Gen Y are strong audiences for email marketers, but now more than ever, the email marketing experience needs to cater to what they want and how they want it.' Read on...
Email marketing still vital for targeting young US consumers
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 oct 2016
To avoid customer attrition in the digital age requires multiple service-centric online strategies. Cynthia Johnson, Managing Partner & Director of Marketing for RankLab, provides some of them - (1) Use Your Customers' Information to Benefit Their Experience: Ensure effective customer data collection using browser cookies, account login data in CRM and marketing automation tools; Personalization; Targeted product recommendations, send event triggered messages and auto-fill forms. (2) Make it Easy for People to Reach You: Display contact information prominently; Use multi-channel chat solutions. (3) Have a Mobile-Friendly Website Design: Mobile digital media time with 51%, exceeds desktop and other devices combined; Use responsive web design; (4) Pay Attention to Reviews and Rants on Social Media: Ensure monitoring of social chatter about your business; Use tools that can provide you with alerts when there are comments, reviews and inquiries on social media. (5) Above All Else, Listen and Respond. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 sep 2016
Comedian John Oliver in one of the recent episode of 'Last Week Tonight' on HBO described journalism industry's 'dire straits' and analyzed the depressing financial state of journalism in 2016 and the subsequent tendency for news outlets to focus on stories that get the most traffic. Moreover, he emphasised the importance of traditional reporting via newspapers that often get quoted by TV news channels. He says, 'It's pretty obvious without newspapers around to cite, TV news would just be Wolf Blitzer endlessly batting a ball of yarn around. The media is a food chain which would fall apart without local newspapers.' On the current financial situation of journalism, falling print advertising revenue and digital journalism, he says, 'A big part of the blame for this industry's dire straits is on us and our unwillingness to pay for the work journalists produce. We've just grown accustomed to getting our news for free and the longer that we get something for free, the less willing we are to pay for it...If journalists are constantly required to write, edit, shoot videos and tweet, mistakes are going to get made. It is clearly smart for newspapers to expand online. But the danger in doing that is the temptation to gravitate towards getting the most clicks.' Read on...
John Oliver examines journalism's many problems: The blame is on us
Author: Adam Gabbatt
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 sep 2016
Journalism industry faces numerous challenges and is going through a difficult phase, as comedian John Oliver recently expained in his show on HBO. But there is also a ray of hope as the demand for good content is high and there is need of editorial skills. Journalism aspirants, who aspire to be Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein, may not feel happy about it though. Kayvan Salmanpour, chief content officer at digital marketing agency iCrossing, says, '99% of brands struggle with content because they publish without an editorial mindset. So I think (editorial is) hugely important - now more than ever.' He explains what brands can learn from media companies when it comes to content and suggests the following - (1) Hire an editor in chief who can have ultimate control of the content produced and can assure it's quality. Content represents the brand. (2) Create an editorial mission statement before anything else. There is need for clarity of objectives and everyone in the organization should be aligned to it. (3) Put the audience first as compared to brand/product first. Create content that is audience focused. Find the intersection between what the audience wants to read and what the brand stands for. (4) Don't try to be everything to everyone. Good content fits seamlessly between the brand and its target audience. It may even require conducting psychographic studies of the target audience and thinking about their habits in excruciating detail. Read on...
Journalists, take heart - Content marketing needs you
Author: Lisa Lacy
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 aug 2016
Social media provides ease of connecting and sharing information with ones network and communities. Peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising works towards bringing the supporters and their networks together for financial contributions. Social media can be an effective tool to reach donors and networks to fulfil nonprofit's fundraising goals. Following 8 strategies can be utilized to successfully implement social media into P2P fundraising campaign - (1) Optimize online components - Ensure that all fundraising pages are functional, user-friendly and mobile responsive; WHY: Strong online fundraising gives a positive signal to supporters. Social media is an extension of online fundraising. Having a strong online background is needed to support individual fundraisers that may lack technological expertise; WHAT: A clear, straightforward, and simple fundraising page. A platform that allows individual fundraisers to create their own giving pages. Active social media accounts. (2) Tell a cohesive, simple story - Telling a story about the recipients of your aid is the perfect way to engage with social media while reaching your donors; WHY: Compelling stories add value to your nonprofit. They connect people to people, generating an emotional response that can lead to action; WHAT: An individual or a community to focus your story. An interview with your chosen subject. An accompanying photo. A short, postable format. (3) Use a multimedia approach - Pictures, videos and sound, capture our attention. They offer the user a diverse, vivid experience, one that can connect supporters more directly to the cause; WHAT: High-quality content. A posting schedule. (4) Strategize for each platform - Nonprofits often post the same content to each site with little adjustment. For maximum effectiveness the approach should differ for each platform; WHY: Different social media platforms offer different opportunities for engagement, and likewise, different opportunities to reach your donors in meaningful ways; WHAT: Hashtags. Character-limit copy. The right language. Specific calls to action. (5) Post, share, tag, and like - Active social media presence gives positive signals. It also helps in tracking the online conversations regarding the campaign; WHY: Liking and sharing supporters' fundraising milestones and accomplishments shows supporters that you're engaged with their work and appreciate what they've done for your mission. Posting the campaign's success at regular intervals inspires individual fundraisers to keep working toward long-term goals; WHAT: A social media coordinator. Tracking tools. The rules of operation. (6) Set goals for your fundraisers - Set goals in a way inspires your supporters and anyone who stumbles upon your campaign; WHY: Clearly displayed goal will show the supporters the level of progress they have made and how much more is needed. Similarly, an individual goal establishes each individual fundraiser's role in the campaign. Setting clear goals is the only way for your supporters to meet your expectations; WHAT: Fundraising metrics. Fundraising thermometers. Integrate fundraising goals into user-friendly pages for clear communication at different stages. (7) Provide toolkits to supporters - Right materials and tools helps to keep message consistent and clear for supporters and their networks; WHY: Providing toolkits helps supporters create the most effective tasks. Provide templates to easily relay the message; WHAT: Suggested copy. Images. Suggested posting schedule. Background information. (8) Generate friendly competition - Needed to push the campaign reach its goal within time and even go beyond its goal; WHY: Competition inspires to work effectively with vigour. It's easy for family and friends to get caught up in the fun and donate more to see their own reach the goal and get on top; WHAT: Leaderboards. Badges. Recognition. Read on...
8 Social Media Strategies for Nonprofit Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
Author: Abby Jarvis
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 aug 2016
According to WordStream.com, 'Marketing analytics is the practice of measuring, managing and analyzing marketing performance to maximize its effectiveness and optimize return on investment (ROI). Understanding marketing analytics allows marketers to be more efficient at their jobs and minimize wasted web marketing dollars. Beyond the obvious sales and lead generation applications, marketing analytics can offer profound insights into customer preferences and trends. Despite these compelling benefits, a majority of organizations fail to ever realize the promises of marketing analytics.' It is imperative for marketers to overcome analytics related challenges and bring customers closer to the brands and serve each one of them in the best possible way. Ensuring better data quality, effective knowledge and skills to analyze data, focus and clarity of goals, collaborative approach and creativity, will provide what marketing analytics promises. In KPMG's 2016 Global CEO Outlook, 84% of CEO's indicated their concern about the quality of the data they use to make decisions. Moreover, Forrester Research noted that 58% of the work in a business intelligence initiative is spent on trying to find the right data and integrate it for analysis. Openprise released a study on marketing data management, noting barriers to data management success included - Poor data use/accessibility (54%); Poor data quality (44%); Poor database integration (37%). Study by Ascend found similar challenges to data-driven marketing, listing integrating data across platforms and enriching data quality and completeness as the top two challenges. Finding the right data and analyzing it properly and gain valuable insights is the key to effective data-driven marketing. This requires specialized knowledge and expertise for marketers. eMarketer points to an IAB study that found that 34.8% noted a lack of internal experience at the functional and operational level as a major obstacle to deploying and deriving value from data-driven marketing. Moreover, collaborative approach and focus are other critical factors required to get maximum results. Amar Doshi, VP of Product at 6sense, says, 'Marketing can't operate in a silo if the enterprise wants to be successful at data-driven marketing. It takes a team that includes resources across the organization to work together.' He adds, 'Marketers are also trying to do too much and, as a result, not doing anything well.' The key is to agree on performance goals and metrics. CMO Solution Guide suggests to always be testing and measuring. But in all these processes and focus, importance of creativity should never be forgotten. Robert Glazer, founder and managing director of Acceleration Partners, says, 'Marketing needs to do both, but too often it's choosing the data over creative. Focusing on creative doesn't mean ignoring data. In fact, data plays an important role in directing creative. Incorporating both data and creativity means maintaining a balance between insight-driven ideas and compelling execution. Smart marketers bring their creative team and data geeks together.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jul 2016
Packaging is an important component of product handling, logistics, advertising, marketing and selling. There are variety of materials that are currently in use for packaging. Environmental challenges arise due to the waste generated through discarded packagings. The packaging industry is exploring better materials that can reduce environmental footprint. In spite of scientific breakthroughs in developing new packaging materials, there are issues related to their performance and price, inhibiting their mass adoption and usage. Bryan Shova, packaging designer and industrial design director at Kaleidoscope, explains sustainability aspects of packaging. He says, 'I dream of the day when material science and manufacturing can deliver on the promise of zero environmental impact, high performance, premium finish and low costs.' He explains, 'The viability of true sustainability is a complex economic challenge, and the ugly truth is that few consumers, brand owners or municipalities are willing to pay the premium price for cutting-edge sustainable packaging solutions. True solutions will come through "systems thinking" that requires the material supplier, manufacturer, retailer, consumer and the municipality to share in the premium costs and labor required to design, collect and recycle packaged materials.' He provides 10 principles for designing sustainable packaging - (1) Start with commodity materials that are commonly recycled. (2) Design the package from a single material. (3) Focus on the product-to-package ratio. (4) Design for assembly at the point of manufacture. (5) Avoid gluing and laminations. (6) Design for distribution. (7) Eliminate secondary and tertiary packaging when possible. (8) Design for disassembly. (9) Clearly mark the materials on the packaging components. (10) Use Lifecycle Assessment. Read on...
10 ways to design sustainable packaging with intent
Author: Bryan Shova
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 jul 2016
In today's highly competitive and fast paced world of business, innovation can be a differentiating factor and a source of strategic advantage. It can help businesses to stay ahead on the success curve. Risk-taking is an important component of innovative thought process and activity. Val DiFebo, CEO of Deutsch New York, suggests three ways to encourage employees to take risks and build an innovation seeking organization - (1) Explore Unchartered Territory: Encourage risk-taking by rewarding and applauding new ideas and by listening and building when teams want to do things that don't exist. Explore the uncharted territory strategically and patiently. (2) Support the Ideas: Provide support financially and practically. But budget carefully for risks involved. Be realistic when evaluating returns on these investments. Encourage employees to take calculated risks. (3) Be Passionate: It takes courage and passion to introduce new idea. Ask employees to bring ideas they are passionate about. Asking people to be a bit vulnerable encourages risk-taking and can be tremendously rewarding, as well as provide an element of team bonding. Accepting failures of the past and learning from them minimizes the risk of repeating them in future. A smart risk is well thought out and demonstrates that employees have looked at other options and genuinely believe that the risk is worth the gain. Read on...
The One Thing Every Company Gets Wrong About Innovation
Author: Val DiFebo
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 jun 2016
E-Commerce strategy once was a source of competitive advantage and differentiating factor in business. But now it is an essential strategy for businesses to connect and engage with their customers and, market and sell their products and services online. AJ Agrawal, Founder and CEO of Alumnify, suggests 4 affordable marketing strategies to boost e-commerce efforts and stand out from the competition - (1) Start Testing More On Facebook: Utilize split testing or A/B testing to evaluate advertising effectiveness and save cost. Continue the process until best results are achieved. One tactic you can implement in your testing is to prequalify leads. (2) Use The Right Influencers: Word of mouth generates twice the number of sales as paid advertising. Invest in reputation marketing and word of mouth marketing. Use the right and relevant influencers. (3) Invest In Your Email Marketing Campaign: 44% of customers click on promotional emails and then make a purchase. Build email list and invest in email marketing campaign. Finally get a group of brand ambassadors from the list and initiate word of mouth marketing through them. (4) Retargeting In The Right Style: Use retargeting to highlight and establish that unique selling point to convince them to buy and not go to competitors. Use data analytics to understand customer behavior. Segment your adds based on user interactions with site. Keep testing advertising effectiveness until best results are achieved. Continuous testing of marketing strategies and improving upon them will help in differentiating from competitors and attract customers. Read on...
4 Marketing Strategies To Take eCommerce To The Next Level
Author: AJ Agrawal
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 jun 2016
Creativity and innovativeness are some of the most sought after skills and qualities that are required in all types of industries. These abilities keep the wheel of businesses and organizations running, and stay competitive. Fast Company developed a list of 100 most creative and innovative professionals for 2016. The list includes individuals from 13 countries and has 50% representation of women. Here are selected few in MARKETING, BRANDING, ONLINE COMMUNITIES, MEDIA and ENTERTAINMENT (The numbering is retained as in the original list) - (1) Lin-Manuel Miranda (Composer, Lyricist & Performer. Rap Musical 'Hamilton'): For making history in entertainment. (2) Divya Nag (Head of ResearchKit and CareKit, Apple): For moving Apple into the doctor's office. (3) Jill Soloway (Writer, Director, Producer at Topple, Amazon Studios): For televising the revolution. (4) Jean Liu (President, Didi Chuxing): For building China's biggest ride-sharing business at breathtaking speed. (5-6) Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli (Co-Creative Directors, Valentino): For turning a storied fashion house into a US$ 1 billion juggernaut. (7) Cindy Holland (Vice President of Original Content, Netflix): For offering Netflix viewers a lot more to binge on. (10) Amit Agarwal (VP and Country Manager, Amazon India): For extending Amazon's reach, one vendor at a time. (12) Katie Nolan (Host of Sports-Comedy Show Garbage Time): For shaking up sports. (13) Mark Fields (President and CEO, Ford): For steering Ford in a more adventurous direction. (15) Carlos Mario Rodriguez (Director of Global Agronomy, Starbucks): For keeping Starbucks and farmers everywhere, full of beans. (17) Rachel Tipograph (Founder & CEO, MikMak): For making infomercials binge-worthy. (18-19-20-21) Sarah Schaaf (Community Director, Imgur), Alex Chung (Founder and CEO, Giphy), Adam Leibsohn (COO, Giphy), Nick Bell (VP of Content, Snapchat): For creating and curating the most clickable content on the Internet. (25) Kakul Srivastava (VP of Product Management, GitHub): For seeing the people behind the code. (27) Baba Ramdev (Founder, Patanjali Ayurved): For disrupting India's US$ 49 billion consumer packaged goods market. (28) Martin Lotti (VP, Global Category Creative Director, Nike): For stretching Nike in new directions. (29-30-31) Will Ruben (Product Manager, Facebook), Laura Javier (Product Designer, Facebook), Jasmine Probst (Content Strategy Manager, Facebook): For seizing the moments through Facebook Moments photo app. (35) Sara Wallander (Concept Designer, H&M): For putting a new face on H&M through eco-conscious beauty products at low cost. (37) Kathleen Kennedy (President, Lucasfilm): For restoring the Force to "Star Wars". (38) Dylan Field (Co-founder & CEO, Figma): For redrawing digital design. (39) Alex Wolf (Founder & CEO, BOSSBABE Inc): For leading a millennial girl gang. (40) Chance The Rapper (Musician, Chance The Rapper): For generating music that's priceless. (41) Jennifer Bandier (Founder, Bandier): For turning leggings into art. (42) Dani Rylan (Founder & Comissioner, National Women's Hockey League): For giving women a shot at a professional sport. (43) Jill Szuchmacher (Director, Google Fiber Expansion, Alphabet): For shaking up the hidebound business of broadband. (44) Zainab Salbi (Host of The Nida'a Show): For being a voice of change and foster frank communication in the Middle East and North Africa. (45-46) Abby Schneiderman and Adam Seifer (Co-founders and Co-Chief Executives, Everplans): For helping us make arrangements through a mobile-optimized consumer platform to build a digital vault of everything. (47) Chris Young (SVP & GM of Intel Security Group, Intel): For expanding Intel's arsenal through products with focus on bettering customer's security infrastructure. (50) Quincy Delight Jones III (CEO, WeMash): For fostering harmony between mashup artists and copyright holders. (51) Jeff Turnas (President, 365 by Whole Foods Market): For lowering the grocery bill. (52-53) Heben Nigatu (Social Producer, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert), Tracy Clayton (Co-Host, Another Round, BuzzFeed): For mixing comedy with commentary. (55) Adam Grant (Professor of Management and Psychology, The Wharton School, U. of Pennsylvania): For pinpointing the secrets of success. Author of the book 'Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World'. (60) Ryan Coogler (Director, Marvel Studios): For being a knockout filmmaker. (63) Emily Oberman (Brand Designer & Partner, Pentagram): For giving Snoop's product line some California cool. (64) Amy McDonough (VP, FItbit Wellness, Fitbit): For bringing exercise to the enterprise. (65) Neha Narkhede (Co-founder & CTO, Confluent): For teaching businesses to read Kafka. (66) B. J. Novak (Co-founder, Li.st): For putting everything in order. Allowing people to create and share content in the form of list on Internet. (69) Ricardo Vice Santos (Co-founder and CEO, Roger): For being a fresh voice in messaging. Lets users exchange recorded sound snippets. (71) Ivan Askwith (Founder, Askwith & Co.): For knowing how to get fans more of what they want. Specializes in community building and crowdfunding projects that empower fans. (76) Susan Salgado (Managing partner, Hospitality Quotient): For spreading hospitality. (80) Asako Shimazaki (President, Muji USA): For importing the cult of Muji, Japanese housewares brand, to the United States. (81) Cassidy Blackwell (Brand Marketing Lead, Walker & Company Brands): For combining razor-sharp storytelling with product marketing. (82-83) Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson (Co-founders, ATX Television Festival): For getting television fans off the couch. (84) Nicole Van Der Tuin (Co-founder and CEO, First Access): For turning mobile phone payments into credit histories. (91) Kamasi Washington (Jazz Saxophonist, Kamasi Washington): For breathing new energy into jazz. (94) Moj Mahdara (CEO, Beautycon): For seeing beyond the cosmetic. (96) Sally-Ann Dale (Chief Creation Officer, Droga5): For energizing brands. (98) Ahmed Abdeen Hamed (Research Assistant Professor, University of Vermont): For discovering drug links in hashtags through computer program that data mines social media. (100) Lilly Singh (Entertainer, YouTube): For creating a unicorn business. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 may 2016
Altimeter Group's April 2016 report, 'The Race Against Digital Darwinism: Six Stages of Digital Transformation', defines 'Digital Transformation' as, 'The realignment of, or new investment in technology, business models, and processes to drive new value for customers and employees to effectively compete in an ever-changing digital economy.' According to Brian Solis, an analyst at Altimeter, 'Many conversations around digital transformation are focused on the IT side, and technology does play a big role, but there's a human side of the story and it's driven by the customer experience.' He explains that most digital transformation happens without top leadership, and it actually develops from the middle of the organization, from change agents, who act as lawyers, cheerleaders, and politicians, as they have to gather evidence, rally everyone together, and convince people to work together. The report provides six stages for digital transformation - (1) Business As Usual: Digital is present but not prioritized; Leadership is change resistant; Roadmap focuses on technology, not customer experience; Customer strategies and processes are siloed; Teams are not collaborating. (2) Present and Active: Occurence of early adopters experimenting with new technologies; Teams operating independently; Focus on customer experience starts to develop; Change agents are present and engage with colleagues to share latest digital trends. (3) Formalized: More collaboration happens between change agents and early adopters; Decision making driven by data, analytics and insights starts; Conversations revolve around customer experience, digital vs traditional; Need for formal vision regarding digital transformation and executive sponsorship for it; Education and training for digital begins. (4) Strategic: Most parts of the organization are now aware of digital transformation efforts and mapped processes; They start to get streamlined; Change agents become prominent; Role of CDO (Chief Digital Officer) or CCO (Chief Customer Officer) emerges; Data and analytics become more important; More collaboration is visible; Digital investments become ROI focused. (5) Converged: Digital efforts converge and get streamlined; Customer experience efforts now influence all processes; Change agents become leaders; Top leadership gets actively involved in digital transformation; Governing body is established to oversee changes; More collaboration between IT and customer experience teams. (6) Innovative and Adaptive: Digital transformation and innovation become interwoven into the fabric of the organization; An omni-channel system develops and provides consolidated information on customer data and its effects; New teams and roles evolve that prioritize digital. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 may 2016
Companies partner with public relations firms to build and enhance value of their brands. Chuck Cohn, Founder and CEO of Varsity Tutors, suggests identifying the right PR firm that is affordable, free of conflict of interest, have a skilled staff, understands your industry, provides the appropriate level of attention and support as you grow. He explains four criteria to consider while getting a PR agency on board - (1) Timing: Assess the need for PR; Are products and services mature enough; Is website optimized for sales; Is the content PR worthy. (2) Agency Type: Search for the right fit of agency for the business goals and desired outcomes. (3) Agency Staffing: Interact with the right people in the firm who will handle the account and not just the pitch team; Seek continuity in the team for a long-term. (4) Agency Size: Depending on the budget and specific requirements choose the optimum size PR agency. Read on...
What to Consider When Evaluating Potential PR Partners
Author: Chuck Cohn
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 apr 2016
As web technologies continue to evolve along with user expectations, businesses have to keep pace with them for successful digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO). User experience optimization (UXO) and user experience design (UXD) are at the core of online marketing and SEO strategies. UXO keeps customers hooked to the website and UXD is the process that is used to create the website with customers in mind. Optimal UXD utilizes best usability principles to provide best user interface by keeping customer interactions at the core of design. Dan Makoski, VP of Design for CapitalOne and most currently Chief Design Officer at Garage Partners, says, 'Experiences are personal moments felt by people, something that can't be owned by designers; however, we can design for it. The experience of the people we design for is what determines the success of the products, services and relationships that we create.' Don Dodds, Managing Partner and Chief Strategist at M16 Marketing, suggests a list of 38 tips for website design, content creation and online marketing strategies for better user experience. Here are some selections from the list - (1) Top of the page is critical for user attention. (2) Make sure content is visible and readable for everyone including colorblind users. (3) Provide symmetry in object placement. (4) Place objects in logical order for better user flow. (5) Keep site navigation panel consistent. (6) Design for ease of use and easy comprehension. (7) For better loading use content before images. (8) Keep pages as short as possible for ease of content utilization by user. (9) For long pages use sticky menu that moves with the scrolling. (10) Make sure your pages load quickly, preferably in couple of seconds. (11) Make it easy for users to undo an action or back out of a navigation option. (12) For mobile content, do not require a double-click to activate an element. (13) Pay attention to contrast when designing your mobile content. (14) Link anchor text should tell the user exactly where the link will take them. (15) Use fonts that are easy to read. (16) Most website visitors scan your content first before reading it. Use elements like bold text, headlines etc to attract attention to the content that is most meaningful to users. (17) Avoid pop-ups, banners and slideshows as much as possible. (18) Always be truthful regarding what you can offer. Avoid false advertising and misleading information. (19) Use icons that are simply designed and easy to understand. (20) Establish a brand image and include it everywhere you've established a presence online. Read on...
38 Design Tips for Creating an Amazing User Experience
Author: Don Dodds
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 apr 2016
Financial services industry has vast amount of consumer data and firms can utilize analytics to gather purposeful insights for better customer relationships and business success. Consumers are now more digitally connected than before. But according to Boston Consulting Group, despite the huge availability of data and better analytics tools, banks are far from realizing big data's full potential. Some of the reasons are - Competing priorities like regulatory changes that happened during financial crisis; IT complexity due to multilayered systems and siloed data; Lack of coordinated vision. Jim Marous, Co-Publisher of The Financial Brand and Publisher of the Digital Banking Report, suggests steps that traditional banking and financial institutions can take to take advantage of consumer data and analytics - (1) The Partnership Between Banking and Fintech: A win-win is created by combining data and technology skills of many of the entrepreneurial financial technology firms with the data from the larger legacy firms. (2) Removing Friction from the Customer Journey: Focus on providing better digital experience at each step of customer interaction by leveraging advance customer insights that go far beyond simple demographics to include channel preferences, lifestage insights and even geolocational information. (3) Making Data Actionable: Beth Merle, VP of Enterprise Solutions at Epsilon, says, 'Banks need to stop talking about gathering big data and starting using big data to make a difference for the consumer. We need to see the integration and synchronization of data sources, enabling real-time determination of relevant data points for analysis, communication, and decision making, the 'trifecta' of big data. (4) Introduction of Optichannel Delivery: Financial organizations have to go beyond multichannel and omnichannel strategy and provide 'optichannel' experience by delivering solutions using the best (optimum) channel based on the customer's need and preferred channel. In the future, the integration of processes from the consumer's perspective is foundational to the optichannel theme. According to Nicole Sturgill, Principal Executive Advisor for CEB TowerGroup, 'Rather than looking at channels independently, banking needs to develop and provide financial tools that are integrated in daily life.' (5) Exploring Advanced Technology: Jim Eckenrode, Executive Director of the Deloitte Center for Financial Services, says, 'By enabling the collection and exchange of information from objects, the IoT (Internet of Things) has the potential to be as broadly transformational to the financial services industry as the Internet itself.' In the process of leveraging customer data legacy firms face multiple challenges that they need to overcome to reap financial benefits and establish data and analytics expertise that would be hard to replicate by competitors. Some of these challenges include - Lack of talent; Lack of resources; Lack of urgency. Despite advanced data analysis being one of the top challenges mentioned in the recently released State of Financial Services Marketing, only the largest regional and national banks (over US$ 10 billion) ranked improving data and analytics capabilities in their top three priorities (47%), compared to community banks and credit unions (only 8%). Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 apr 2016
Businesses apply different set of strategies and tactics when they market and sell to other businesses or directly to consumers. Daniel Scalco, CEO of Digitalux, provides 5 important B2B (Business to Business) marketing strategies that should be considered to increase leads, ROI (Return on Investments) and finally sales - (1) Dig deeper when targeting your demographic: Use 'hyper-targeting' to narrow down audience. (2) Get feedback: Strategy should be data driven; Use survey process into marketing methods. (3) Extend your funnel: B2B marketing strategy cycle to go from a prospect, to lead to consumer is much longer than B2C; Nurture leads by extending funnel through better content, webinars and social media to engage with target audience. (4) Invest in an explainer video: eMarketer study found that B2B buyers consider video as top 3 most useful content for marking purchases; Inform potential customers through a story-based video. (5) Create goals and milestones: Break down the journey to reach marketing goals into smaller steps or milestones for effective execution. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 mar 2016
According to the latest study 'The State of Consumer Healthcare: A Study of Patient Experience from Prophet and GE Healthcare Camden Group', that incorporates responses from 3000 consumers and 300 senior leaders (Vice President or higher) at healthcare provider systems that employ at least 20 physicians, patient experience is one of the main concern as 81% of consumers surveyed indicate that they are unsatisfied with their healthcare experience. Moreover, the study also points towards a large gap between consumer expectations and what providers believe regarding their service offerings. Jeff Gourdji of Prophet says, 'There is a misperception among providers about how well they are truly meeting consumer expectations.' CEO's surveyed in the study also said that patient satisfaction is not currently among their top five priorities. According to Helen Stewart of GE Healthcare, 'The common misperception is that focusing on the patient experience means spending less time on other cost and revenue initiatives...Investments to improve the patient experience can drive both growth and cost reduction.' Paul Schrimpf of Prophet says, 'Providers are struggling to adapt to the rising culture of 'consumerism', which has heightened people's expectations. The power has shifted to the consumer in nearly every industry, and now it's healthcare's turn.' Laura Jacobs, President of GE Healthcare Camden Group, explains, 'Creating better and more holistic experiences doesn't just mean happier patients. It translates to increased capacity, lower operating costs, improved financial performance, and higher employee satisfaction and retention. For healthcare providers, the key to profitability and longevity lies in their ability to deliver a superior consumer experience.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 16 mar 2016
Organizations invest money, time and efforts in branding to build their credibility and reputation. In the online world with expanded global reach, social media and changing dynamics of customer relationships, there are further challenges that the organizations face to keep and sustain their brand image. Moreover there are also steps that are required before embarking upon creating and developing a brand. John Lincoln, Co-founder and CEO of Ignite Visibility and professor at University of California San Diego, explains 8 branding mistakes that should be avoided for brand value and business success - (1) Not Getting a Trademark. (2) Not Vigorously Searching Google and Doing Proper Research. (3) Not Coming Up With a Good Domain Name. (4) Picking a Name That Competes With a Well-Established Brand. (5) Picking Color Schemes and Visuals That Aren't Relevant to What You Do. (6) Not Checking Cultural References Around the Name. (7) Not Checking the Name's Translations in Other Languages. (8) Check Potential Stigmas Associated With the Name. Read on...
8 Branding Mistakes That Can Result in Major Setbacks
Author: John Lincoln
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 10 mar 2016
According to the recent forecast available at IDC.com, the big data technology and services market will grow at 26.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to US$41.5 billion through 2018, or about six times the growth rate of the overall information technology market. While on the other hand, McKinsey estimates 1.5 million more data managers will be required by 2018 in the US alone. The demand for talent with big data and analytics skills may far exceed the supply. A new field of study has emerged in educational institutions to fulfil anticipated talent shortage. Business schools are partnering with companies that are at the cutting edge of big data technologies to structure big data and analytics focused programs. Some are providing MOOCs to impart knowledge and train business professionals for the data-driven world. While others are leveraging the strengths of their computer science departments to bring technology know-how to the business classrooms. Massimo Beduschi, CEO of WPP in Italy, says, 'The big data wave is surging through every sector - and profound digital transformations are making it mandatory to leverage analytics.' MIT Sloan School of Management has launched master's in business analytics and the senior lecturer and associate dean at the school, Jake Cohen, says, 'Recruiters have said they are looking for training in advanced business analytics...people who can take insight to action.' Prof. Soumitra Dutta, dean of Cornell University's Johnson School of Management (US), says, 'Many schools have courses linked to digital technology, one way or another.' Cornell is partnering with Twitter and Linkedln for analytics in their MBA program. Prof. Dutta is concerned at slow pace of transformation towards blended technology and business management education. Radhika Chadwick, a partner at Ernst & Young, comments, 'I applaud that we have universities tackling this, but we need to do it at a higher speed.' Stanford Graduate School of Business have electives like digital competition, business intelligence from big data, and data-driven decision-making. Maeve Richard, director of Career Management Center at Stanford GSB (US), says, 'Most of the curriculum is about looking for opportunities to be transformative.' University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School (US) offers a program track and MOOCs on business analytics. According to Prof. Peter Fader, co-director of Wharton's Customer Analytics Initiative, 'Now we have all this data, how do we actually build strategies? How do we use the data and the models to run businesses better?' Prof. Juergen Branke of UK's Warwick Business School, that was one of the pioneers and had a program since 2008 developed in partnership with IBM and SAS, advocates for new education and skills to managing effectively in the digital economy. Prof. Jeffrey Camm, chair of business analytics at Wake Forest University (US), says, 'Managers need to understand analytics, how it converts data to valuable insights, and also understand issues such as data privacy, and the ethical use of data and analytical models.' Commenting on slow development and adoption of new curriculum, Prof. Jim Hamill, director of futurdigitalleaders.com and teaches digital leadership module at University of Edinburgh Business School (UK), says, 'Most senior deans and professors are not 'digital natives'. They are baby boomers.' According to Prof. G. Anandalingam, dean of Imperial College Business School (UK) that launched a Data Observatory in partnership with KPMG and offers a degree in business analytics, 'Big data is changing the way everyone operates...need to be able to make sense of all the valuable information.' Prof. Juan José Casado Quintero, director of masters in business analytics at IE School of Business (Spain), developed with IBM, says, 'Companies are struggling to fill their data science positions.' Prof. Gregory LaBlanc, faculty director at Haas School of Business at University of California at Berkeley (US), that works with Accenture, says, 'There is huge unmet demand for data science.' Industry-institution collaborations are a win-win for both, as they provide companies access to talent and to universities the expertise and knowledge of latest business practices and market technologies. Read on...
Future Of Big Data - These Business Analytics Degrees Are Bridging The Gaping Skills Gap
Author: Seb Murray
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 feb 2016
According to a study by Prof. Sachin Modi of Iowa State University (USA) and Saurabh Mishra of McGill University (Canada), a strong marketing department is crucial to helping a firm leverage its efforts to be socially responsible. Study results show the combination of marketing and CSR can provide shareholders with a 3.5 percent gain in stock returns. Researchers defined CSR as discretionary firm activities aimed at enhancing societal well-being and analyzed six different types of CSR activities - environment, products, diversity, corporate governance, employees and community - to determine whether marketing of these efforts increased long-term firm value and stock price. Firms often consider CSR as a cost and have to make an investment and may not always see the benefits. Prof. Modi says, 'What we want to show is that if a firm is good and has some complimentary capabilities, it can gain a lot from CSR activities...The return is dependent upon the type of activity. Firms benefited from five of the six types of CSR efforts studied, with the exception of charitable giving and philanthropy...We're not saying firms shouldn't give to charity, because it is a very important component, all we're saying is we don't see a financial return.' Prof. Modi further suggests, 'Our hope is that firms see it is important to be socially responsible. It's not a choice of one versus the other. Firms have to do multiple aspects of being socially responsible.' Read on...
ISU News Service:
Marketing key to return on corporate social responsibility investment, ISU study shows
Author: Angie Hunt
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 feb 2016
As digital get seamlessly interwoven into the fabric of life, it will not remain anything extraordinary. In future, advancements in digital technologies will converge to enhance physical experiences that involve our bodies, feelings, emotions, actions and reactions. Auro Trini Castelli, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer at gyro, explains how the 'Physical Revolution' will be driven by the following five trends - (1) Sensors will be the new devices (Virtual Reality; Motion and Gesture Recognition Technologies; Haptic Technology). (2) Surfaces will be the new screens (Interactive digital screens on walls, floors, ceilings, walkways etc). (3) Smart cities will make us smart citizens (Interactive city systems and digital environments). (4) Only meaningful interactions will survive (Well-integrated interfaces that get activated when required; Focus on human experience). (5) The world will be printed (3D printing for mass customization; Laser cutting; Computer modeling). In this experiential world, architects, designers, engineers, technologists, marketers, advertisers etc have to increasingly think and create with focus on providing solutions that appeal to all five human senses. The success will depend on how invisibly the digital will become part of the physical and improves every aspect of human interactions and experiences. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 12 feb 2016
Corporations can find themselves in situations where their profit seeking goals can develop conflict with their ethical and sustainability related direction. According to Wikipedia, 'Corporate sustainability is a business approach that creates long-term consumer and employee value by creating a "green" strategy aimed toward the natural environment and taking into consideration every dimension of how a business operates in the social, cultural, and economic environment. It also formulates strategies to build a company that fosters longevity through transparency and proper employee development.' Most reputed organizations now have sustainability department that manages sustainability issues and integrates them with overall business objectives. Sustainability and marketing departments are trying to develop a converged approach to influencing customer behavior and persuading more responsible habits. But it can be a challenging task to align strategy and resources of both these departments. 73% of 1000 listeners of a webinar 'Influence customer behaviour through integrated marketing and sustainability' on website ethicalcorp.com believe that their organisation has not successfully integrated marketing and sustainability to influence customer behaviour. To do so they can utilize the following tips - (1) Start at the top: Senior managers should be made aware of all sustainable efforts in the organization to drive their support and channel effective internal and external communication through them. (2) Ensure internal integration: Continuous and consistent sharing of ideas between different departments help in integration. According to Rupert Maitland-Titterton of Kellogg Company, 'Our marketing and sustainability departments report to one and other and see each other every day. This ensures that ideas are shared and a feeling of inclusion rather than "us and them" is created.' (3) Understand your customer: Customers demand more sustainable and responsible behavior from companies. Both departments should focus on customer-centricity and develop collaborative approach to fulfil consumer expectations. (4) Keeping messaging consistent: Have long-term sustainable goals, communicate regularly and involve customers in achieving them. Dr. Kirstie McIntyre of HP says, 'Companies need to make it part of the value proposition.' David Brunt of AkzoNobel suggests seeking a 'win-win' situation. (5) Make sustainability the norm: Sustainability should be integrated seemlessly into every process and product so that the overall organization is marketed as a sustainable one. Read on...
How marketing and sustainability can drive customer behaviour change - 5 top tips
Author: Liam Dowd
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 06 feb 2016
Reviews and recommendations related to products and companies are an important part of consumer buying decisions. Nowadays, technology has transformed word of mouth into word of clicks and taps, bringing consumers closer to other consumers and brands. Online communities around interests, products, and brands have mushroomed. Social media has further brought quality, quantity and speed into the recommendation and review process. According to a study by McKinsey, social media recommendations induced an average of 26% of purchases in 2014, that's up from 10% in 2013. Kishore Kumar, serial entrepreneur and CEO of AllThingsMine, explains how social media networks are assisting cosumers in their buying and purchasing decisions and what companies need to do to effectively utilize these channels for their product marketing and competitive strategies. According to him three aspects of social media influence consumers, and companies have to incorporate them to expand their product sales - (1) Social Referrals: Brands have to encourage and invest in social media referrals. Adweek infographic suggests that 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals. Recommendations from friends and trusted sources are more valuable than product advertisements. (2) Access to Reviews: Consumers research before buying products and reviews are an important source. Companies should provide product reviews and give incentives to those consumers that leave a review. (3) Social Media Accessibility: Social media is freely available to anyone with an internet connection. Consumers can now purchase products directly from their social media feeds when people in their network recommend them. Companies need to effectively tap this potential and reach out to larger public through influencers. Read on...
How Social Networks Impact Buying Decisions And The Modern Consumer Society
Author: Kishore Kumar
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 jan 2016
A panel of health experts from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the Public Health Foundation of India and the National Institute of Nutrition, recently demanded pictorial and health warning on junk food packets in order to provide information to people on health issues caused by them. According to Prof. Vandana Jain, in-charge of Division of Pedriatrics Endocrinology at AIIMS, 'We have recommended pictorial warnings on junk foods...or health warnings saying that this product contains fat and salt in excess of what is recommended or even a picture of liver may be put on pack indicating that consuming them may lead to fatty liver in children and adults.' Consumption of products with high sugar, fat and salt have adverse health implications and World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that the best way to prevent obesity among children is to put restrictions on marketing of unhealthy foods. Read on...
The Economic Times:
Health experts demand pictorial warnings on junk food packets
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 jan 2016
According to the 2016 Best Countries Ranking of U.S. News, prepared in collaboration with Wharton School and BAV Consulting, India is included at top of the Movers ranking of countries with up-and-coming economies, and overall it is ranked 22nd. Prof. David J. Reibstein, who teaches marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and participated in developing the rankings, says 'Nations should pay attention to how they are seen by others, since enhancing these perceptions could create a large economic benefit. The experience of tourists is just one of the factors that colour those impressions, along with the experiences of customers, investors, followers of global news and social media, and what people hear from others.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jan 2016
According to a study, pharmaceutical promotional and marketing expenditures, that include direct-to-consumer advertising (like TV ads), promotions to physicians, journal advertising, distributing free samples etc, increased from US$ 11.4 billion in 1995 to US$ 28.9 billion in 2005. But a recent research study titled 'Does Increased Spending on Pharmaceutical Marketing Inhibit Pioneering Innovation?' by professors Denis Arnold and Jennifer Troyer from University of North Carolina at Charlotte, found that the more pharmaceutical firms spend on marketing drugs, the less likely it is that the firm will produce breakthrough drugs that offer major advances in treatment. Conversely, the more pharmaceutical companies spend on research and development, the more innovative are the results in terms of the development of pioneering drugs according to FDA classifications, i.e. drugs that will improve public health. Authors of the study comment that the research has important policy and ethics outcomes. Prof. Arnold says, 'This article is the first using empirical data to demonstrate that aggressive marketing of pharmaceutical drugs and truly innovative new drug development are at odds. The current patent regime, that provides equal patent protection for drugs regardless of their innovativeness, can be manipulated by firms to increase sales and drive up costs for society without improving public health.' According to Prof. Troyer, 'The effects of increased spending on R&D are large for pioneering drugs. For firms producing at least one pioneering drug over the period (1999-2009), increasing permanent R&D spending by 1% results in an almost one pioneering drug approval per firm.' Read on...
UNC Charlotte News:
For Pharmaceutical Companies, More Marketing Equals Less Innovation
Authors: Kirsten Khire, Buffie Stephens
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 jan 2016
Product returns are an important part of customer-retailer relationship dynamics. In 2014, customers returned US$ 280 million worth of products across all US retailers. The latest research by doctoral student Ryan Freling (University of Texas at Dallas), Prof. Narayan Janakiraman (University of Texas at Arlington) and doctoral candidate Holly Syrdal (University of Texas at Arlington), conducted the meta-analysis of existing studies on return policies to quantify the policies' effect on consumers' purchase and return behavior. The study challenges the underlying assumption that all return policies affect purchases and returns in a similar manner. The study suggests that this is not the case, as retailers tend to impose restrictions to dissuade returns or offer leniency to encourage purchases by manipulating five return policy elements: time, money, effort, scope and exchange. The study found that overall lenient return policies positively affect purchase and return decisions. According to Mr. Freling, 'In general, firms use return policies to increase purchases but don't want to increase returns, which are costly. But all return policies are not the same...Return policy leniency should depend on the retailer's objectives. If a retailer wants to stimulate purchases, offering more lenient monetary policies and low-effort policies may be effective.' Read on...
UT Dallas News Center:
Researchers Examine Effect of Return Policies on Consumer Behavior
Author: Brittany Magelssen
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 jan 2016
Social media has provided opportunities for publishing industry and their reporters, editors, journalists and columnists, to promote and market their content. In many cases this has resulted in the elevation of individual personal brands to iconic status with huge following, immensely benefiting the individuals and their employers. In some other cases it has also created challenging situations and adversely affected their careers. There are a number of academic studies that has been done to understand the role of company branding and personal branding. But Prof. Avery E. Holton of the University of Utah and Prof. Logan Molyneux of Temple University, assert that questions about the trend's impact on journalists' personal identities were largely left unanswered. Their study, 'Identity Lost? The Personal Impact of Brand Journalism', explores this issue and is based on interviews of 41 reporters and editors from various US publications. The authors suggest that publishing groups may need to reconsider how social media is used for branding, promotion and identity creation. Journalists find it challenging to balance their jobs and personal online identities and often have to choose one over the other. According to the authors, 'This choice presents a paradox: If journalists choose to present too much of a personal identity, they risk punishment by their employers. If they present only a professional identity, they risk offending their audiences.' Read on...
Journalism branding - Impact on reporters' personal identities
Author: Denise-Marie Ordway
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 dec 2015
The technology-enabled interactions of consumers and businesses have provided opportunities to capture data and utilize analytics to improve business processes and enhance products and services for customers in variety of industries. The analytics industry ecosystem is mushrooming with numerous vendors, from niche providers to one-stop solutions that include capture, storage, access and study of data for valuable insights. Suhale Kapoor, Co-founder of Absolutdata Analytics, captures various aspects of the analytics industry and its evolution in 2015 and explains what are the expected trends in the year ahead. Trends in 2015 - Growth of new startups and digital marketing tools; Increased use of analytics and Business Intelligence (BI); Rise in use of social media and social advertising on mobile; Rapid expansion of Internet of Things (IoT); Video content; Content marketing and predictive analytics; End-user experience and integration of online and offline content to improve service standards. Trends for 2016 - Shift towards cloud; Streaming architectures will hasten data computations; Visuals will come to rule; Data integration tools will assume more importance; Centre of Excellence (COE) will equip a business in understanding the peculiar needs and challenges for a data scientist; The Internet of Things (IoT) is all poised to bring about a data revolution; Non-analysts will start to dabble in data. Read on...
The Analytics Sector - Emerging trends and forecast for 2016
Author: Suhale Kapoor
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 dec 2015
Although Business Intelligence (BI) and Big Data Analytics (BDA) are being successfully utilized for incremental innovation, but they are insufficient to provide breakthrough innovation, which is more challenging and requires uncovering latent needs, or even creating needs and meaning. Soren Petersen, author of the book 'Profit from Design', and Finn Birger Lie (Co-founder and Chairman of Northern Analytics AS), explains how combination of BDA and Small Data (SD) when integrated at the early stages of new product development process can create breakthrough innovation. The conventional design process includes steps that combine analysis and synthesis, prototyping, testing and learning to create unique and valuable insights. While more advanced design processes, like Design Thinking, include an element of design research or Design Science Research, to enable design teams gain better understanding of the current and future market, and technologies, leverage this knowledge, and then create roadmap that includes the concurrent building of new capabilities that assist them to design future offerings. Mr. Petersen says, 'Innovation is often ambiguous. The 'Market-Technology Risk Matrix' provides a useful mapping of new ventures and offerings according to their position in the market (Recognized Needs, Clarifying Needs and Realizing Needs) and their technology level (Current Technology, Applied New Technology and Development of New Technology). Different combinations of Big Data Analytics (BDA) and Small Data Analytics (SDA) may prove more productive, depending on where design identifies insights within the Market-Technology Risk Matrix.' With grounded research and vertical thinking, BDA can support incremental innovation, while through lateral thinking, SDA can utilize a combination of hypothesis and grounded research to support breakthrough innovation. Read on...
Creating Breakthrough Innovations Through Design With Big and Small Data Analysis
Authors: Soren Petersen, Finn Birger Lie
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 16 dec 2015
Public relations need to continuously evolve with the changing behavior of society, advancement in technologies, and new ways of communication and reaching out to public. The industry is undergoing shifts in business models, traditional firms are finding shrinking revenue streams and there is excessive competition along with the wave of consolidation. To navigate successfully in this environment, PR firms have to move ahead with the latest practices and technologies. John Hall, co-founder and CEO of Influence & Co., explores 7 digital PR trends that firms should keep into consideration in 2016 - (1) The traditional press release is no more: Utilize social media. Develop relationships with industry leaders and influencers. Attract journalists and other outlets through quality visuals in the messages. (2) Thought leadership will become a growing PR budget priority: To position as a leader in a particular space is not an easy task. Need to build original content around the brand. For thought leadership the content has to be valuable, educational and engaging. (3) Content amplification will become (even more) critical: First focus on the quality of content. Then amplification for the targeted audience will be easier. Distribution avenues will also expand. (4) Negative brand advocates will be prevented through content: Train the PR team to handle all types of situations and experiences. Learn from the book 'Hug Your Haters' by Jay Baer where he advocates a proactive approach to handle negative people. Moreover use content to educate and engage the team. Give them knowledge to effectively tackle clients and avoid negative brand advocacy. (5) Online reputation management will be necessary: Create and publish quality content to achieve better online reputation management and getting the message to the right audience. Credible online reputation will attract publishers and journalists to use your content. (6) True influence will win over number of followers: High quality smaller network wins over ineffective large following. Focus on developing a network and building influrnce among a targeted, valuable audience and social following. (7) Use of paid promotion and social ads will continue to rise: Content Marketing Institute's 2016 content benchmark report found that more than 50 percent of B2B marketing professionals use social ads and promoted posts to distribute content. The effectiveness ratings for each of these methods have increased since last year. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 dec 2015
While peer recommendations and other customer's views have an important influence on purchasing decisions, but an experiment by Cranfield University's Prof. Hugh N. Wilson, Prof. Emma K. Macdonald and doctoral student Shane Baxendale, identified another influential touchpoint that is mostly ignored by marketers: observing what other customers actually do. They analyzed brand touchpoints of 14000 people from N. America and Europe over a week. The data was collected as text message by using research agency MESH Experiences's real-time experience tracking approach. The people were asked to report their experiences of a brand in one of four categories: mobile handsets, soft drinks, technology products, and electrical goods. The results collected from 69000 text messages found that observing other customers in influencing purchase decisions is as important as word-of-mouth recommendations for mobile handsets and soft drinks, and even more important in case of technology products and electrical goods. The experiment overall found that peer observation was equal in importance to the costly brand advertising. Similar thinking that Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, psychologist and economist, termed as 'System 1 Thinking' also applies in consumer behavior: with many decisions to take, it saves effort to assume that if others are using a product, it's probably good. For marketers, the researchers have the following suggestions - (1) It's important to think about distinctive branding for the product in use not just for the purchase moment. (2) If decision-making is made by the group rather than the individual, marketers can try to win the group. (3) Expose normally invisible customer behaviors to their peers. (4) Build in peer observation to product launches. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 nov 2015
Successful companies provide exemplary customer service. Companies have huge amount of data regarding their customers that they can utilize to achieve better understanding and insights and serve their consumers in the best possible way. But the big question is, how many metrics can customer service professionals focus on to get the best results. Piyanka Jain, President and CEO of Aryng, explains 'There is a better way to drill into the treasure trove of data you have, to find the root causes of your most important metrics slipping - and you don't need to use any complicated systems to do it. 80% of the business problem faced by most front line managers can be solved by using simple business analytics methodologies - (1) Aggregate Analysis (2) Correlation Analysis (3) Trend Analysis (4) Sizing and Estimation. If you and your team can learn to master these four techniques, you can solve most of the business problems you will encounter in your day-to-day workflow. And it can be all done using simple tools like Excel, with the data you already have at hand.' She further povides three simple steps that are to be followed - (I) Determine your team's analytics aptitude (II) Learn how to ask intelligent questions and derive actionable insights from your data (III) Practice and learn to become more proficient with your business analytics. Ms. Jain has devised a framework, 'BADIR Process', that include steps that most analytics projects follow - Real 'B'usiness Question; Hypothesis-driven 'A'nalysis Plan; Collecting Relevant 'D'ata; Deriving 'I'nsights; Making Actionable 'R'ecommendations. If the 'BADIR' framework is utilized in a way as explained, the analysis will find the following biggest drivers of customer dissatisfaction - (1) Multiple calls needed to get an issue resolved. (2) Hold times greater than 150 seconds while the agent looks for the answer. (3) Unprofessional agents. The analysis would show that addressing these drivers would bring customer satisfaction (CSAT) up from 57% to 69%. These important driver metrics should become the part of the daily dashboard - (1) First Call Resolution (FCR) (2) Agent Hold Time (3) Professionalism Among Agents (graded on scale). Read on...
Harvard Business Review:
Improving Customer Satisfaction with Simple Analytics
Author: Piyanka Jain
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 nov 2015
Marketing technologies are changing the nature and dynamics of strategies that marketers use to reach, engage and serve their customers. Moreover these technologies continue to evolve and marketers have to keep pace with these advances to stay ahead of the game. The four key innovation areas in marketing technology in which all marketers should have deep understanding and continue to emphasise in their strategies are - (1) Use Advanced Analytics (2) Optimize the Mobile Experience in Real-time (3) Cut Down on Call Center Time to Value (4) Maximize the Voice of Customer (VOC). Marketers should be able to collect, analyze and act on omnichannel data throughout the whole customer funnel (customer journey & engagement process) for each of the mentioned areas to achieve success. This will finally help build better customer profiles, prioritize business actions, analyze macro trends, optimize customer engagement and customize offerings to get better outcomes. Read on...
4 Advanced Use Cases of Marketing Technology Innovation
Author: Rohit Roy
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 oct 2015
According to recent research regarding consumer psychology by marketing professors Gina S. Mohr of Colorado State University, Margaret C. Campbell of the University of Colorado, and Peeter W. J. Verlegh of the University of Amsterdam, 'Consumers remember and like products better after seeing covert marketing, such as a product placement in a sitcom, but reminding them that product placement is "marketing" eliminates the effect.' Prof. Campbell, the lead invesigator of the study, comments 'Frankly, we were a bit surprised at the power of covert marketing across a variety of studies. Even though most US consumers know that marketers pay to surreptitiously get their brands in front of consumers, consumers are still influenced by covert marketing efforts.' Prof. Mohr adds, 'In the US there has been some reluctance to incorporate disclosures for fear that it may interfere with creative content. This research suggests that product placement disclosures need not occur at the time of product placement to be effective.' Researchers suggest that the study provides support for the idea that requiring disclosure after exposure to covert marketing would give information to consumers that helps them make better decisions. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 oct 2015
According to Pew Internet Project's research on social networking, as of January 2014, 74% of online adults use social networking sites. While as of September 2014, the usage statistics of popular social networking sites is - Facebook (71%); Twitter (23%); Instagram (26%); Pinterest (28%); LinkedIn (28%). Moreover research by Full Impact Studio found that social media has surpassed Google as Americans' 'number one daily activity'. All these stats point towards the relevance and importance of social media to reach people. Brands and businesses have to carefully carve out their marketing strategies on social media, and engage with their target audience accordingly. Social media can be utilized to gain subscribers, promote a service or sell a product, and helps build a business's social brand. Following are the five social media branding strategies for business suggested by Full Impact Studio's infographic - (1) Choose channels that best support your brand image: Facebook (For brand awareness and promotion. Biggest and most influential); Instagram (For heavily visual brands. Targets young adults); Pinterest (For Visual brands. To reach women); LinkedIn (To connect with corporate influencers and promote business-related content) (2) Provide exemplary customer service: Timely engage with customers and provide effective answers and solutions. (3) Don't forget about Google+: Still relevant considering that its part of Google ecosystem. Posted content's visibility on Google search. Connected to YouTube. Acts as free ad space for each post when searched on Google. (4) Deliver interesting and engaging content: Regularly update. Keep content fresh and relevant. Include articles, updates, audios, videos and visuals. (5) Get involved and make connections: Attract audience and build relationships through relevant engagement tactics like contests, giveaways or meaningful advocacy. Make them feel part of the community. Read on...
Business 2 Community:
Infographic - 5 Social Media Branding Strategies for Business
Author: Deanna Zaucha
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 sep 2015
Design thinking is used by organizations to spur innovation. It is often a source for product innovation teams to generate radical new product ideas and concepts. Once applied effectively and become a part of organization's culture it can emerge as a sustainable competitive advantage. According to Professor Michal Herzenstein, who teaches marketing at University of Delaware, 'Radically new products are products that allow consumers to do something that they couldn't have done before. They are products that create a shift in consumption - how consumers respond to and use products.' Her chapter 'Optimal Design for Radically New Products' alongwith Prof. Steve Hoeffler of Vanderbilt University and Tamar Ginzburg of Vanderbilt University, appears in PDMA Essentials book titled, 'Design and Design Thinking' by Michael I. Luchs of College of William and Mary, Scott Swan of College of William and Mary, Abbie Griffin of University of Utah. Prof. Herzenstein provides six processes that product innovation teams need to implement to create ideas for radically new products. Large organizations can use them in an ascending sequence with a focus on communicating the goal of achieving breakthrough product to innovation team. While smaller companies and startups can pick any process that they feel will assist them to learn more about developing radically innovative product ideas. The six processes are - (1) Communicate the Challenge Goal Toward Radically New Products. (2) Shift Time Frames to Future and Past. (3) Promote an Emerging Technology Focus Across the Product Consumption Chain. (4) Promote the Use of Analogical Thinking. (5) Look for Novel Ways to Solve Simple Problems. (6) Leverage More Ideators Via Crowdsourcing. Read on...
Product Innovation Educators Blog:
6 Processes for Generating Ideas for Radical Innovations
Author: Chad McAllister
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 sep 2015
In a highly competitive market, brands can utilize excellent customer service strategies to differentiate themselves. Listening to voice of the customer, understanding their behavior and analyzing their interactions, can provide companies the needs and wants of the customer. Companies can use these insights to better serve their customers and that has direct impact on their bottom line. According to Defaqto Research, '55% of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience.' Study published in Journal of Marketing (2004 Edition) by team of researchers, Prof. Eugene W. Anderson of University of Michigan (now at University of Miami), Prof. Claes Fornell of University of Michigan and, Prof. Sanal K. Mazvancheryl of Georgetown University (now at American University, Washington DC), quantified the consequence of quality customer service on shareholder value. Study points out, 'Among 200 businesses represented in the Fortune 500 across 40 industries, a 1% improvement in customer satisfaction increased a firm's value by US$275 million.' Danny Wong, co-founder of Blank Label and digital marketer, explains the importance of customer feedback and how ecommerce stores can turn this into a competitive advantage through effective engagement, building relationships and developing better products and services. According to him, 'Develop an intimate understanding of what your customers know, want and need to establish a competitive edge that helps you improve how you do business and the value you offer to end consumers. Start by categorizing reasons for why your customers purchase your products i.e. their primary motivations.' He suggests stores to source high-impact feedback and utilize the following tactics to expand the scope of their customer research - (1) Audit the reviews competitors receive (2) Conduct surveys (3) Dive into your analytics (4) Encourage user-generated content (5) Track public conversations. Once the research is at hand, stores need to summarize actionable takeaways and use the following three steps to build a strong business case for doing anything - (1) Quantify its impact (2) Measure its market opportunity (3) Get leadership buy-in. To implement new changes the stores can use gradual strategies to first consider the high-impact initiatives that are easy to do and then to implement moderate changes and finally move on to more resource intensive projects for long-term meaningful outcomes. Companies should incorporate excellence in customer service into their corporate culture and should consider the opportunity of every interaction with customers to build lasting relationships. Read on...
How to Leverage Customer Feedback to Improve Your Ecommerce Store
Author: Danny Wong
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 sep 2015
Retailers need to identify their most valuable customers to specifically target and focus their specialized marketing campaigns for building long-term customer relationships with them. Most valuable customers are to be retained for maximizing profitability. But according to the study 'Engaging Customers Across the Lifecycle Journey: How Clienteling Helps Enhance Customer Relationships' by Yes Lifecycle Marketing and Retail TouchPoints, based on the survey of nearly 200 retail marketing executives, most retailers are still struggling to utilize customer data effectively to find and nurture these important customers. Main highlights of the study are - 52% say identifying and engaging their most valuable customers is one of their top business challenges; Nearly 1/3rd of respondents (32%) say they're not able to integrate or analyze their data in a timely fashion; Employee access to data is uneven and most who need it don't have it (44% of C-level executives have customer data while only 27% of store managers and 13% of store associates have access); Only 27% of retail marketing executives have their customer's lifetime spend on file and only 18% have data related to shopping preferences of customers. Read on...
Direct Marketing News:
Infographic - Retailers Fail to Fully Leverage Customer Data
Authors: Elyse Dupre, James Jarnot
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 sep 2015
Innovations in certain industries take longer for adoption and proliferation in the consumer market. Consider the case of healthcare industry where innovations take years to diffuse into the market. Sandeep Acharya, Vice-President of strategy and new business at One Medical Group, explains how the healthcare innovation works, provides reasons for longer time the innovation takes to reach healthcare consumer and suggests the role that consumers can play to bring changes in healthcare and accelerate the pace of innovative products and services to reach them. The three main reasons why innovation in healthcare takes longer to reach consumers are - (1) In healthcare, the consumer is not the payer: Most patients don't pay their healthcare bills directly. Large corporations are payers and in order to generate revenue for the innovative service they have to agree to imburse patients for it, and doctors have to recommend it. The process may take years for entrepreneurs to pass through. (2) All healthcare is local: Healthcare decision makers - physicians, hospital systems, insurance companies and regulators - vary from state to state and sometimes even cities. For healthcare innovation to get adopted more broadly, entrepreneurs have to navigate a different set of decision makers for every new market they want to serve - each with its own rules, politics and dynamics. (3) The healthcare industry is used to moving slowly: Healthcare industry has seen too many great ideas stall. Over time, optimists became skeptics, and some even became cynical. When it comes to change, many in the industry have accepted the slow pace as a given. But to bring the necessary change in the pace of healthcare industry, consumers need to be proactive. They should expect more, demand more, provide timely & impartial feedbacks & reviews, do thorough research and be informed about latest health products and services. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 sep 2015
Healthcare industry in US is undergoing transformation driven by multiple factors that include technology, changes in consumer behavior, rising costs, legislation etc. Employees are becoming more independent in making their healthcare decisions that were earlier influenced by their employers. Healthcare providers are now dealing with more proactive consumers. Healthcare marketers need to understand consumer preferences, adapt to the changing needs, create products and services that fulfil needs and satisfy customers and utilize consumer insights to develop effective marketing progams. Brent Walker, Chief Marketing Officer of c2b Solutions, explains the drivers that are leading to shifts in healthcare and how marketers should adapt and succeed in this new healthcare scenario. According to him, in addition to rising costs, the three main reasons that we are evolving towards consumer-driven healthcare are - (1) Demographic and Socio-Economic Realities: More pronounced health issues and chronic conditions of aging Baby Boomers; Lack of health insurance for a sizeable population; Heterogeneous population; Expensive healthcare products and technologies. (2) Legislation: Healthcare system is adapting to Affordable Care Act; Health insurers have to deal with individual consumers; Healthcare providers are investing in infrastructure; Integrated Electronic Health Records and Big Data technologies; Reimbursement based on medical outcomes and patient satisfaction. (3) Technological: Digital media is a catalyst of consumerism; Informed consumers due to internet and mobile apps; Improved transparency; Better ability to assess cost and quality, and research about products and services with more choices; Inclination towards prevention and wellness. He explains three implications that healthcare providers have to plan for - (1) Massive investments are required for technological upgrade and update of systems to facilitate integrated patient record sharing and also reporting care quality. (2) Business models must change. Physicians are leaving smaller firms to join large healthcare systems due to IT investments and scale necessary to control costs and manage risks. (3) New competitors are entering as a result of advancement in technologies and consumer-driven approaches. In this changing healthcare landscape marketers have to continuously evaluate and assess their direction. He suggests four dimensions to do so - (1) Data: Right data to understand and reach the target audience. (2) Systems: Infrastructure to understand consumers, create insights and build valueable customer-firm relationships. (3) People: Have consumer marketers in team with experience in latest web and mobile technologies. Combine industry experience with consumer insights and customer behavior understanding skills. (4) Processes: Newer sales methods. Analytics and measurement of marketing effectiveness. Focus on analyzing consumer acquisition, retention and satisfaction. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 sep 2015
The relationship between consumers and businesses is continuously evolving. Technology is playing an important role in creating a shift in consumer behavior. Smartphones are providing consumers with connectivity that is driving this change. Ori Karev, US CEO of Gett, explores the reasons that are leading to transormations in consumer dynamics and how they interact and connect with brands. According to him, 'Consumerism has shifted from a world of physical images and personal communication to a world of imagery and perception. Regardless of industry, product or service, vendors that enable instantaneous access and deliver on their digital promise will survive.' Consumers have become more pragmatic. They have access to tools and services to research for best solutions at best prices that are available with just a tap on their phones. Online consumers have become more like business-to-business consumers. But they do have emotional attachment to brands that can provide them with the best experience. The power is shifting towards consumers and businesses are getting more and more consumer dependent. Mr. Karev explains, 'On-demand industry has gone through such a rapid change of behavior within a mere five years. The swift change stems from two factors: the availability of smartphones, and people's desire to maximize the convenience and efficiency of procuring services and products.' He further points out that certain fundamentals of consumer-seller relationship will remain - 'Shoppers want to do business with companies that are fair, so this treaty must hinge on veracity, transparency, credibility, honesty and good will.' Today people place most value on fulfillment and satisfaction. They have concerns regarding how a vendor treats its employees and suppliers and would get influenced by these factors while making purchases. Online research, decision and purchase behaviors have now made consumers a strong part of businesses. Companies that understand and fulfil the consumer expectations - real-time, always-on support; competitive pricing; respect and transparency towards vendors and suppliers; ethical corporate culture - in the current on-demand environment will be the one that survive and succeed. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 06 sep 2015
'Digital Marketing' utilizes online technologies and provides opportunities to add prospective customers at the top of the sales funnel and nurture them to build a strong customer base for products and services. Advancement in technologies have provided multiple ways and channels through which marketers can connect and engage with the prospects and build strong relationships. One of the most important aspect of digital marketing is the measurability of the campaign through analytics. The availability of metrics provides marketers with clear understanding of the audience, their interaction with the brands and success of the marketing campaign. According to Jamie Turner, founder of 60 Second Marketer and co-author of 'Go Mobile', the 7 essential channels of digital marketing are - (1) Responsive Websites (2) Search Engine Marketing (SEM) that includes Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Paid Search (3) Online Display Advertising (4) Video (5) Social Media (6) Mobile Marketing may include Mobile Website, Mobile Search, Mobile Display Ads, In-app Display Advertising (7) Email Marketing. The action steps required to leverage digital marketing include - Taking the initiative and start using digital marketing; Implement gradually with complete understanding and continuously analyze campaign progress; Use analytics to measure and track campaign results, make adjustments and optimize the process for better ROI. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 04 sep 2015
Use of technology for customer interactions, particularly for large businesses, is often seen as an automation and cost cutting exercise. And for customers it may not all be a pleasant experience. In case of small and medium businesses (SMBs), considering their limited budgets and other challenges, use of technology as a customer support tool should be a well thought out decision. It should provide them with cost savings alongwith building lasting customer relationships. Varun Shoor, founder and CEO of Kayako, provides ways in which SMBs can utilize technologies to enhance customer experience and create best value for their businesses - (1) Understand customer context: Have clarity of purpose; Evaluate context of customer inquiries; Availability of fast and easy access of information to resolve customer iquiries; Updating and sharing information with other departments (2) Deliver personal service at scale: Try to know your customer better; Understand customer's interaction points across all channels; Seek customer's needs and wants through surveys (3) Stop firefighting, start anticipating: Find ways to interact with customers even if they aren't; Use effective CRM tools; Utilize customer analytics (4) Customers want to help themselves: Provide them with self-explanatory information and tools; Give access to effective FAQs, intelligent search, tutorials and videos. Read on...
4 Ways Technology Helps Build better Customer Relationships
Author: Varun Shoor
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 12 aug 2015
'Product Marketing' function in an organization is not very clearly defined and people more often confuse it with 'Product Management' or 'Marketing Management'. According to Wikipedia, 'Product marketing deals with the "7 P's" of marketing, which are product, pricing, place, promotion, physical environment, process and people. Product marketing, as opposed to product management, deals with more outbound marketing or customer-facing tasks.' Justin Topliff, Product Marketing Manager at Infusionsoft and Founder at ProductMarketingSummit.com, explains that product marketing managers are often a bridge between the product management and marketing management. Their role becomes significant when product managers and marketing managers become hyper-focused on their respective roles and as a result product management and marketing become siloed. The communication between the two functions get disconnected. Mr. Topliff describe 3 categories of responsibilities of product marketing department - (1) Research: Keep tab on industry, market and competition; Competitor profiling; Qualitative and quantitative research of customers and prospective users; Recommend and implement iterative product improvements. (2) Messaging, Positioning and Pricing: Humanize the technology in messaging; Train about product communication; Create effective marketing communication; Package and price products scientifically. (3) Product Launches and Lifecycle Management: Develop and execute go-to-market strategies; Coordinate with other deparments for product launch; Drive product consumption; Manage continuous improvement of product. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 04 aug 2015
Consumer psychology plays an important role in influencing their buying decisions. They buy products and services from companies that they trust and make them feel good about the purchase. As brands get more connected with their customers through technology, transparency and trust become critical factors in customer relationships. Customers intend to learn and understand more about the companies and their work culture. To keep customers closer and informed, and influence their behavior, brands can integrate the following - Treat your employees better; Invest in employee's future; Aesthetics of the workplace matter. Moreover as internet presence is a critical component of today's marketing strategy, brands need to have a robust digital strategy and in addition to providing relevant and usable information about the products and services offered, they should create a section that focuses on what the market wants to see - Being honest e.g. share customer interactions, that may not always be positive, through social media feeds; Try to share work-in-progress and engage customers in the process; Get involved with customers through effective social media strategy and share relevant content and information; Include wide array of stakeholders as the innovative ideas may come from anywhere like customers, interns etc. Companies should be careful in implementing fringe marketing tactics and should not go overboard in doing so. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 jul 2015
In recent years marketing has been consistently evolving due to the changes driven by technological advances. These digital transformations are creating a resource crunch in marketing departments of organizations. They are facing more challenges and to effectively manage the digital require new skillsets. Initially digital was considered as a medium of communication like TV, Print etc. But according to Jean-Luc Ambrosi, a marketing expert and author of the book 'Branding to Differ', 'Blending traditional marketing skills with the new age of digital is not an easy affair...What has changed, however, is that digital is not simply a medium, it is many mediums with different media consumption patterns. Both a push and a pull mechanism, it is above-the-line, direct marketing, social media as well as point-of-sales, all under one big label.' Marketers now need multiple skills and to clarify roles and resource accordingly is becoming a difficult task for marketing departments. Mr. Ambrosi further explains, 'With the shift in emphasis around treating digital as a multi-medium platform, the solution may lie in building teams focused on the customer rather than the digital channel. With customer centricity at the core, marketing teams can treat digital for what it is: A multifaceted mechanism to interact with customers, and a means rather than an end.' The best sourcing solution would be to seek marketing specialists with the specific skillsets adapted to the digital environment. The basics of marketing should not be ignored while focusing on digital. Mr. Ambrosi advises, 'The under resourcing of digital activities is a function of the expansion of marketing activities in the digital ecosystem, rather than the disappearance of traditional marketing. Therefore, it should be answered via the adaptation of marketing specialist resources to digital rather than a shift towards technical digital specialists.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 16 jul 2015
Companies spend substantial time and money to create their brands. It is a continuous process to keep the brand value intact. Jarad Hull, CEO of Blueroof360, elaborates on the mistakes that companies should avoid while pursuing their branding journey - (1) A lack of passion: Be passionate about your branding and create an emotional connect with customers. Passion leads to genuine enthusiasm. (2) Inconsistencies: Create a consistent brand identity and showcase it to both employees and customers. As representatives, employees should maintain this branding consistency. (3) No focus: Keep focus and have a detailed marketing plan before embarking on a branding process. Concentrate on the target audience. (4) Trying too hard: Don't use excessive humor or get too trendy as it may repel customers. Engage them with meaningful and relevant messages. (5) No branding communication: Ensure that employees understand the branding strategy. Train them as brand representatives. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 04 jul 2015
Professor Clayton Christensen of Harvard University on his website claytonchristensen.com, defines 'Disruptive Innovation' as 'A process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.' Eli Schwartz, Director of Marketing (APAC) at SurveyMonkey, explains that continuous customer feedback through surveys is an effective approach to be disruptive by staying in the customer's value perception. In a disruptive scenario, satisfying customer needs and obtaining their loyalty are two most important considerations. He cites an example of Uber's constant feedback process that successfully keeps the company closer to the customers and provides them ability to tweak the service offerings based on customer suggestions. He offers following tips on how to utilize Uber like feedback to disrupt the markets - (1) Gather feedback after every customer interaction. (2) Ask actionable questions and act on the feedback. (3) Make feedback an integral part of business metrics. (4) Use Net Promoter Score (NPS) i.e. a question where a customer is asked to rate their likelihood of referring a product or business to their friends. Read on...
Tech in Asia:
A successful disruption requires customer feedback
Author: Eli Schwartz
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 jun 2015
Marketing strategies for startups are different from established companies as they have limited budget and resources. Over the years SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has evolved due to changes and improvements in search engine technologies. SEO strategies for today require a fresh look to keep business relevant in search engine results. John Rampton, entrepreneur and president of Adogy, provides 10 suggestions for startups to develop effective SEO to market their business - (1) Figure Out Your Target Keywords (2) Mobile Friendly is a Necessity (3) Simple is Usually Better (4) Develop and Follow a Marketing Strategy (5) Leverage the Power of Infographics (6) Prioritize (7) Figure Out Your Social Networking Channels (8) Link Building (9) Keep Your Content Relevant (10) Analytics are your Friend. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 jun 2015
Companies are targeting their product and service offerings to the growing Millennial market. Pew Research predicts that this year Millennials, with 75 million people in US under 34, will overtake the Baby Boomers. But the question is: Should the companies consider Millennials as homogeneous entity and design their products and services accordingly? Authors, Timothy Morey and Allison Schoop of frog (a global product and strategy design firm), argue that to design offerings with exclusive focus on generational cohorts will result in meaningless or potentially damaging outcomes. There is little that unites them totally. According to them, 'A better approach is to design for archetypes that are representative of certain attitudinal and behavioral traits, and then combine these with social, market and emerging technology trends-all things that transcend age or generation. Defining an ideal customer for a potential product or service using broader human themes allows you to create solutions that resonate with a larger group of people.' They further explain, 'Far too many companies take a "product-out" view of segmentation, where they essentially ask their customers to line up around their products by demographics such as age or income. They should take an "outside-in" view that orients its products around their customers' attitudes and behaviors instead. Meeting the functional and emotional needs of a group of people is much more likely to generate transformative results than targeting a generational cohort with tenuous links.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 may 2015
Staying close to the customer and fulfil his needs and wants has been the mantra of successful brands and businesses. Technology has brought the customer even closer and given brands the opportunity to better understand and analyze the customer behavior and focus strategies to satisfy him/her. Considering the highly competitive and fast paced world of fashion and luxury, established luxury brands need to think like disrupters by putting customers at the center of their strategies. Disrupters focus on 'jobs to be done' in the present. Clayton Christensen's disrupter framework focuses on consumers' social, emotional or functional problem, and turns business into its solution. This framework makes innovation independent of the latest technology or the hottest new gadget and firmly relies on human behavior. Thinking about customers and their behavior patterns provide brands insights into the future. Understanding the next generation of customers and removing friction from their brand experience with a well thought out solution will hold the key for the brand's survival. Following are four ways established luxury brands can succeed by staying close to the customer - (1) Create a seamless path from inspiration to purchase. (2) Make your brand narrative attainable, intuitive and immersive. (3) Evoke in your customers the feeling of belonging and being special. (4) Serve and reward. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 may 2015
As businesses continue to pile-up huge amount of data there are opportunities for data scientists to provide meaningful insights to help them grow and succeed. Even startups at their early stages have substantial data that can be utilized for business value. Tianhui Michael Li, Data Scientist and Executive Director of The Data Incubator, gives his view on how a skilled data scientist (DS) can be a catalyst of growth for entrepreneurial ventures - (1) Growth Hacking: DS can utilize social data and web analytics to implement low-cost, high impact marketing campaigns. (2) Customer Retention: Bain & Co. found that 5% increase in customer retention increases profits by 125%. DS can analyze customer behavior and target communication for customer engagement, retention and even identify brand advocates to bring new customers. (3) Personalizing Products and Services: DS can utilize sales, marketing and web data to identify customer needs and wants. This will assist in customizing offerings. (4) Marketing Optimization: DS can optimize every aspect of marketing and advertising from ad budget to ad clicks to actual conversions and purchases, and much more. Read on...
4 Things a Data Scientist Can Do for Entrepreneurs
Author: Tianhui Michael Li
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 may 2015
The value of big data lies in extracting insights and its meaningful use in solving business problems. In recent times organizations have made big investments in technologies associated with it to store, analyze, report and visualize data. Stuart Frankel, CEO and co-founder of Narrative Science, provide his perspective on why these investments haven't got expected returns, limitations of human-powered data science as it is not a scalable solution, unaffordable data scientists and, opportunities and prospects of scalable automated solutions to analyze and interpret data, and obtain hidden insights for business value. According to him, 'Artificial intelligence (AI) is beginning to transform data and analysis into relevant plain English communication. AI is shortening employees' data comprehension-to-action time through comprehensive, intuitive narratives.' Following are some examples which he shares regarding use of AI in data analysis - Some mutual funds are using advanced natural language generation (Advanced NLG) platforms, powered by AI, to automatically write fund performance reports in mere seconds; In medical billing, AI scours thousands of billing records across hundreds of hospitals and generates narrative reports that immediately provide the desired analysis; AI solutions are improving customer experience. AI is the first technology to make personalized, "audience of one" communication a reality; Wealth management is beginning to use "Robo-advisors", the automated financial advisor that can offer a low-cost alternative to expensive, human advisor. Moreover AI is being embedded into existing advisory platforms, delivering personalized portfolio reviews and recommendations in natural language to customers. He further explains, 'The commonality across all of these new technologies is that they offer something additional humans cannot provide: the power of scale...In the near-term, the adoption of AI within business intelligence platforms and customer-facing applications will accelerate...The key to all of this is the intersection of AI and advanced natural language generation. We're at the beginning of the next phase of big data, a phase that will have very little to do with data capture and storage and everything to do with making data more useful, more understandable and more impactful.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 may 2015
Pervasion of technology in every aspect of society is leading to ease of access and instant availability of products and services to customers. There are multiple vendors vying for consumer's attention. This highly competitive environment makes the marketers job more relevant and challenging. They need to equip themselves with the right skills, tools and strategies to reach out effectively to their target audience. Christian Eriksen, Regional Director of Marketing and Solutions at SimCorp Asia, provide four tips to marketing professionals for efficiency, effective communication, partnerships and growth - (1) Buyer Personas: Know who you are selling to. (2) Buyer's Journey: Know where your buyers are at in the buying process. (3) Invest in Technology: Automation in marketing is key. (4) Partner with the Right People: Those who understand your brand and market. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 apr 2015
PR is undergoing transformational shifts. In this year's Agency Business Report, the main themes are integration, convergence and the enhanced value of digital and social media. The new PR firm is highly influenced by these factors as they change the dynamics of agency leadership roles, the structure of the firms, and the talent that is recruited and retained. Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, defines the largest PR firm in the world as, 'It's a Venn diagram where the overlaps of the four [media, PR, social media, advertising] are becoming more present. It used to be distinct valleys and now the roads are crossing. We're going to try to have stronger creative, stronger planning, and look at problems differently.' Inspite of recognition of advertising agencies for their PR work and some ad-shops 'integrating forward', most PR agency leaders still believe PR has a unique mentality and heritage to bring to the modern content marketing mix. They don't see the need to rebrand as something other than PR. According to Andy Polansky, CEO of Weber Shandwick, 'Some advertising firms, like Mullen, have a strong PR capability - others do it around the edges. The key is to develop depth and have a credible, strong offering. PR has never been held in higher regard by the C-suite, and there's a lot more dimension to our business now. We've emerged as leaders in content marketing and social.' He further believes the sweet spot for PR agencies is the ability to engage multiple constituencies across different platforms and stakeholder groups. Fred Cook, CEO of PR firm Golin, says, 'It's getting harder to define what a PR agency is...We're competing with different types of agencies in different categories. You can call yourself anything you want, but it is how your clients define you. Our clients still define us as a PR agency, but a PR agency that does a lot more than before.' According to Dave Senay, CEO of FleishmanHillard, the principles of PR have never changed. He cites Edward Bernays' definition of PR as informing, persuading, and connecting people with people. He points out, 'PR is no different than it's ever been. If you take the two schools of PR, the behaviorist or socially responsible or conscious side, they are converging like never before. The wind is completely blowing into our strengths.' He believes modern marketing communications is all about how and why people behave the way they do, which requires an understanding of their culture, media consumption habits, and the global push toward shared value. Online video is at the forefront of new PR services. Although it has been mostly associated with ad agencies, but PR firms are now effectively utilizing the medium to construct engaging narratives. The change in skill sets required at the "new PR agency" is changing the people who come into the business and inevitably resulting in legacy personnel leaving at the other end of the talent funnel. It is also evolving different workforce structures more suited to the new environment. Many agencies have restructured their practice offerings and tried to inculcate collaboration across disciplines, geographies, and offices. Compensation structures are being amended to better reflect overall results at agencies, rather than being based on individual office P&Ls. Bonus pools are increasingly tied to individual objectives aligned with strategy and client goals rather than offices. Skeptics about this new age of PR and subsequent delineation for PR agencies may highlight the issue of measurement and how these new skill sets are producing return on investment for brands and clients. But in reality the payback and return on investment of content-based executions built from smart data can totally be monitored in real time, via measurement and social analytics. Effectiveness is measured on criteria such as the number of people who link to, share, view, or create their own content using the source material. Social metrics are much more powerful because they show someone is actively involved in the content and sharing it with their community. Rob Flaherty, CEO of Ketchum, points out, 'And now with the Internet of Things you can link these metrics to visits in-store and to purchases, which is the Holy Grail for every communicator and marketer - and also for the new age of PR firms servicing those clients' needs.' Real-time marketing is fueling a new range of skills, services, and ways of working at PR agencies. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 apr 2015
According to MarketingTerms.com, 'Affiliate Marketing' is the 'Revenue sharing between online advertisers/merchants and online publishers/salespeople, whereby compensation is based on performance measures, typically in the form of sales, clicks, registrations, or a hybrid model.' Wikipedia defines 'Customer Relationship Management' (CRM) as 'System for managing a company's interactions with current and future customers. It often involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support.' Affiliate managers need to keep track of their affiliate relationships efficiently and they can use CRM tools to stay organized. According to Dustin Howes, Director of Marketing at Marketing Clique, 'Using the CRM creates full transparency of the current state of the affiliate program and the growth in the near future.' He provides the following ways CRM can be effective for affiliate marketing - (1) Document Hot Leads (2) Task Reminders (3) Institutional Memory (4) Predicting Affiliate Performance. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 apr 2015
Marketing strategy need to be communicated, accepted and implemented by the whole team to get the expected results. Oftentimes it is observed that a good plan and strategy fails due to lack of understanding and support by the members of the team. John Rampton, president of Adogy, provides three innovative techniques to bring the team on the same page regarding the marketing plan - (1) Make it a Game: Allen Graves, a content marketing strategist, suggests making the marketing strategy a game. The idea is based on Joe Pulizzi's 'Epic Content Marketing'. Make four small teams and a team is constitued with 4-5 members who don't generally work together and use a 10-step process to create strategy (i-Decide on a single product to market; ii-Research & document general audiences, buyer personas etc; iii-Define goals of the conent; iv-Detail the buying process and engagement cycles; v-Define the conent niche; vi-Develop a content mission statement; vii-Create a comprehensive content marketing plan; viii-Build a content calender to include at least 12 pieces of content; ix-Develop a strategy to market each piece of content; x-Define key performance indicators and how goals will be measured). Finally team answers the 10-steps in a PowerPoint presentation. (2) Implement an Internal Communication Plan: According to Kris Prendergast, a communication expert, 'Internal communication is the strategic process of gaining employee support for external branding efforts and marketing campaigns.' This can be achieved within the organization by internal newsletter or blog; internal social network; sales conferences and marketing conferences; team building/training events; and digital interactive capabilities. (3) Hold a Strategy Planning Day: John Jantsch, author of 'Duct Tape Marketing', suggests scheduling a strategy planning day, preferably on an offsite location and including a facilitator for the session. Brainstorming sessions would include a team leader, who assembles his own team & resources, and creates a framework and plan based on key themes like objectives, results, constraints, goals, projects and tactics. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 mar 2015
Web design is a constantly evolving field. New concepts, technologies and designs give rise to new trends, that some time stay and catch on user's attention while at other times they just fizzle out in popularity. But there are also designs that stay too long in use due their popularity at one point of time but in actuality they have already lost their shine. Repetition of old ideas and trends just because of being comfortable and familiar with them may lead to loss of customers and business. Ilya Pozin, CEO of Pluto TV and Ciplex, explains why the following five web design trends have become obsolete and should be replaced by new concepts - (1) Mobile versions of websites are not cool anymore. Innovative designers are using responsive design that allows the layout to adjust based on the contextual experience of users. It provides fully integrated experience irrespective of the width of the user's device. (2) Text-heavy websites are unable to hold user attention. More designs now have precise text integrated with visuals like images and videos alongwith interactive functionality. (3) SEO copywriting, which was large part of web design and promotion at one time, is now should be replaced by developing keyword informed and user-centric content. (4) Pay-per-click advertising is losing its popularity as new technology tools are available that utilize new mediums and new targeting capablities to reach precise customer segments. Some new concepts are contextual advertising, online video and highly targeted product ads. (5) Designs below 200 pixels per inch (ppi) is getting obsolete as new devices are adopting retina displays. If the design resolution is low it gives poor quality on these displays. Moreover most web design is now more simplified with flat user interface and avoids use of gradients and shadows that provided three-dimensional look. Read on...
Let It Go - Say Farewell To These 5 Web Design Trends
Author: Ilya Pozin
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 mar 2015
Customers are one of the most critical component of today's business ecosystem. Organizations need to understand and analyze customers with diligence and deliver the best customer experience and value to stay relevant and successful. According to Corrine Sandler, CEO of Fresh Intelligence Research, 'We are living in the age of the customer and customers are now the only source of sustainable competitive advantage - and the only thing you should be measuring.' She advocates digital transformation of businesses, use of big data and analytics tools to get customer and business insights and predictive analytics to anticipate customer's requirements. Moreover she emphasizes need of emotional engagement to achieve customer value. She points out an interesting customer behavior - 'About 96% of unhappy customers don't complain; however, 91% of those will simply leave and never come back. It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 mar 2015
Corporations utilize business strategy to achieve their long-term goals and objectives. Healthcare strategists work towards understanding the pulse of the customers and markets that they serve and mould their organization's actions to provide best solutions. In the process their goal is to grow and retain their customer base and maintain the financial health of their organization. Richard Miller, CEO of Virtua Health Inc, believes that balance of power in health economics will shift to the consumer in future as the Affordable Healthcare Act matures. According to him, 'They'll be buying their products and their insurance, whether in a public exchange or a private exchange. So the relationship to the customer may change when you aren't dealing with large employers insuring people.' The relationship with the consumer will be more direct and participatory. While explaining his organization's recent focus and strategy towards women's health, he says, 'They are the decision makers. So when you talk about economics and the consumer being front and center, I want to talk to the women in the community who are going to make the economic decisions in their families.' Read on...
Business strategy - Marketing to women improves hospitals' health
Author: Jane M. Von Bergen
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 10 mar 2015
Generation Z, cohort of people born after the Millennials, is now getting attention of marketers. According to research by Global Messaging, some of defining characteristics of this generation include - 86% use some kind of social media; 72% want to start their own business; 25% left Facebook in 2014; 66% list gaming as their hobby; 1 in 2 will be university educated; Communicate with images, emoticons and emojis. Marketers have to target this generation with innovative, directed and focused strategies to have an impact. Here are few suggestions - (1) Agile Marketing (2) Programmatic Mobile Marketing (3) Snackable Content Marketing (4) Text Message Marketing . Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 mar 2015
The pharmaceutical industry in India and around the world is one of the fastest growing industry with a total revenue of about US$ 3 trillion. Indian pharma industry's revenue in 2013 was US$ 12 billion and is primarily driven by exports in the regulatory and emerging markets. India has 20,000 pharma companies and 60,000 distributors and large number of big and small retailers. Marketing is one of the most critical component of pharma industry. Continuously chaning business environment due to strict regulations, policies and guidelines have driven companies to adopt innovative ways to expand their customer base and stay ahead of the competition. Pawan Chaudhary, CMD of Venus Remedies, provides his perspective on the evolving aspects of the pharma industry, marketing strategies to survive in the dynamic and competitive environment and the future challenges that the industry faces. According to him, Patent Act of 2005 has shifted the approach of most pharma companies from merely generics to branded generics and towards R&D orientation. They generally spend 8-10% of their total sales on marketing related activities to properly position and promote their products. Due to highly specialized nature of his company's products, he explains the following tools that are used for effective marketing - Key Opinion Leaders (KOL); Webinars; Expositions; Conferences/Seminars; Social Media; Continuing Medical Education (CME) Programs. According to him the challenges faced by the pharma industry are - Rising costs of research and development with 8-10 years of time and US$ 800-1000 million investment to successfully develop a new chemical entity; Increasing regulations and drug policies like National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy (NPPA) to reduce prices of essential medicines. He suggests that companies now need more agile, smarter and smaller marketing teams and field staff. They have to focus on new drug development and competitive pricing strategies to provide best value to customers. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 07 mar 2015
Entrepreneurs and customers are important components of the business ecosystem. Entrepreneurs create innovative products and services for the customers. A strong exchange and partnership between the two will assure that the activity of product and process innovation and improvement never stops. The efficient integration of what customers need and what entrepreneurs develop will lead to growth of businesses and markets. Read on...
Relationship Between Entrepreneurs and Customers to Drive Innovation
Author: Mohammad Anas Wahaj
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 feb 2015
In today's business world driven by social media, mobile and numerous other digital technologies, to seek customer's attention and stand out seems to be a logical digital powered brand strategy. But in the process of jumping on the digital bandwagon are brand strategists forgetting the golden rules of human strategy and customer connection. Umair Haque, author and Director of Havas Media Labs, explains why digital strategy shouldn't focus too much on ephemeral customer attention but on customer relations and not only seek their loyalty but try to be loyal to them and care for them as human beings. He suggests 4 mistakes of digital strategy and how to overcome them - (1) Titillating, not educating (2) Making zombies, not superheroes (3) Infecting, not connecting (4) Communicating, not elevating. Read on...
Harvard Business Review:
Your Digital Strategy Shouldn't Be About Attention
Author: Umair Haque
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 feb 2015
Apart from providing excellent products and services, businesses have to ensure that their brand connects with customers with a uniform and consistent message. Small companies and startups have to be even more careful to provide the unified message all across the different media as they have limited budgets and are trying to build their reputation in a competitive business environment. As a small and emerging business make sure that you answer the following questions with diligence - (1) Are you presenting a universal message? (2) Is your theme always consistent? (3) Do you have clear brand guidelines? Read on...
Why consistency is crucial in on and offline branding
Author: Lucy Wayment
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 16 feb 2015
The report 'The Sales Organization Performance Gap' by Prof. Steve W. Martin of University of Southern California and Nick Hedges, CEO of Velocify, is based on surveys of about 800 industry participants and dismantles the myth of a lone, star performer, cowboy-type salesman without whom the organization can't generate revenues. According to Mr. Hedges, 'The goal of the study was to identify the differences between a "good" sales organization and a "great" one. When we quantified what made the great sales organizations work, we found the underlying factor was a team process, a team culture.' Prof. Martin says, 'Another differentiator between good and great sales operations is that the latter are quick to recognize a poor fit in the team and rectify it. That usually means terminating employment.' The study also found that, 'The best sales organizations are not a collection of individuals trying to succeed as a team. Rather, they have a high level of morale and camaraderie. They are united for a greater purpose than themselves.' Read on...
No Cowboys Here - Teamwork, Culture Leads to Sales Success
Author: Erika Morphy
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 12 feb 2015
Recent research by Bell Pottinger Digital suggests 15 top digital trends that are going to change the way brands communicate in 2015. The data is obtained through searching the web (blogs, social media, comments etc) and finding out the most talked about and mentioned trends online in 2014. According to James Thomlinson, Partner and Managing Director of Bell Pottinger Digital, 'While technology will be one of the biggest drivers of marketing change in the New Year, the key focus for brands will be on delivering truly integrated strategies.' The following 15 trends are ranked in order of percentage increase throughout the year 2014 - (1) Near Field Communication (NFC): Increase- 358%, Mentions- 42530 (2) Internet of Things (IoT): 283%, 1126700 (3) Wearables: 220%, 1793574 (4) Internal Communications: 167%, 6597; (5) Storytelling: 145%, 82618 (6) Branded Content: 73%, 165898 (7) Beacons: 64%, 348468 (8) Personalization: 49%, 68443 (9) Big Data: 41%, 5032773 (10) Content Marketing: 41%, 3216165 (11) Augmented Reality: 38%, 400242 (12) 3D Printing: 35%, 1160336 (13) Real-Time Marketing: 16%, 252537 (14) Mobile: 6%, 1433582 (15) Gamification: 4%, 384938. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 16 jan 2015
Since small businesses have budget constraints and can't spend too much on marketing, branding & advertising, they have to try to do less with more. Moreover they have to develop a solid marketing plan to attract and retain their customers. Christine St.Vil and Julian Kiganda, authors and entrepreneurs, provide tips on branding and marketing for small business owners. On Branding - (1) Have total clarity on your WHY (2) Know who you are (3) Deliver on your promise. On Marketing - (1) Focuse on relationship building (2) Focus on creating and sharing great content that your audience wants/needs/will benefit from (3) Tell your story (4) When your business grows, make sure your head stays the same size. Read on...
7 BRANDING & MARKETING TIPS FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS JUST STARTING OUT
Author: Kara Stevens
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