As Cloud and mobile technologies are highly disrupting the consuming habits and the market, marketers need to take this new paradigm into account. This comes with a huge number of new tools marketers need to compare, select and adopt to keep up doing their job right and cope with those new challenges.
In addition to the tedious tasks of making the due diligence work to select the right tools and the effort needed to adopt those tools, marketers face another nightmare: “how do I integrate those tools together?”
In a recent article published on MartechAdvisor.com, Mark Geene, Founder & CEO at Cloud Elements states that, “as businesses become more digital, they must address the critical challenge of making sense of the magnitude of customer data flowing in and out of marketing automation apps. This can be made all the more difficult with the wrong approach”.
While marketing team prefer leveraging SaaS applications, pay for and run them by themselves without IT interfering in their operational needs and contributing this way to the development of shadow IT, this integration issue becomes a big challenge: “how the hell can I integrate my different marketing tools to leverage my investments and be more efficient ? Do I need to spend my time exporting and importing files manually from one tool to the other? And how do I leverage information from my existing CRM or marketing automation systems?”
Asking IT after deciding choosing a solution in their back would be an awkward situation for sure; but assuming they might be willing to do the job, how long do you think this is going to take them to make the integration right ? They will need to build multiple API-based connectors that require by definition a lot of monitoring and maintenance effort to make sure they keep working over time – yes, Cloud apps evolve all the time and their APIs too …
That’s why, when it comes to connectors, a “buy” approach is much more efficient than a “build” approach. Better rely on vendors specialized in Cloud app integration, commonly called iPaaS vendors, such as Cloud Elements. There are also vendors like Axway who are offering more limited iPaaS capabilities on top of a leading API Management solution and this might sometimes be enough to do the job right with no need for multiple investments in integration technologies. If you want to learn more about it, check out what is iPaaS …
MasterCard announced early October the launch of its new innovative payment solution in 12 European countries. This service is provided by a mobile app called “Identity Check Mobile” and was initially launched in the United States last February. France is not part of those pilot countries in Europe and will have the service deployed progressively in 2017.
The principle is simple: you can pay with your fingerprints or … with a selfie. In order to make sure that the selfie is a not a previously taken photo, the app asks the user to blink while taking the photo and processing the facial recognition.
“People from around the world will be regularly using this authentication technology within five years”, said Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise security solutions at MasterCard. According to him, this biometric authentication is safer than typed passwords as many people reuse their same password or use “easy-to-guess” passwords.
MasterCard won’t stop here: they are currently working on other ways to authenticate purchases, including monitoring a customer’s heartbeat. Voice recognition and iris scans are also being explored.
All this is for sure some cool stuff but that was definitely not the primarily goal of such an invention. All those new modern payment technologies aim at simplifying the payment process and increase the customer retention when checking out their shopping basket online.
MasterCard is not alone on this biometrics payment market. HSBC recently announced that their account holders could soon use their voice and fingerprints to access their money.
Here are below a few examples of other alternative payment methods.
The big advantage of the Visa NFC payment ring is that this is not using any Smart Phone to work as it uses anonymous tokens to make payments.
Payment with Bitcoins
You surely heard of Bitcoin. But what you might not know is that Bitcoin allows businesses to take payments without incurring important transaction fees, especially when it comes to international payments. Customers buy Bitcoins on an online exchange, such as LocalBitcoins.com, and then send it to the vendor’s Bitcoin address. The Bitcoins are then instantly converted back into real currency.
I personally don’t think cash will disappear due to the shadow economy that is more or less important according to countries. However, there will be for sure a major shift toward cash-less transactions.
Technology has revolutionized the go to market strategy of modern businesses. According to a recent Accenture report, “While it used to take Fortune 500 companies an average of 20 years to reach a billion-dollar valuation, today’s digital start-ups can get there in four years. Digital platforms are largely responsible for this shift.”
Large organizations have observed for several years helpless the fantastic growth of native digital giants (GAFA) and unicorns who have built their business model on a technology platform. They have now all understood the power of such as model and started to build their own Digital Platform that will become their new business model and accelerate the reach of new markets.
Before giving a definition to what is a Digital Platform, let’s take a few examples:
Google search engine: “advertising” business model.
Social platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn – “advertising” business model.
Knowlegde platforms aka forums such as StackOverflow – “advertising” business model.
Application stores: Apple/Google Play – “digital good” business model.
Market places: Amazon market place, shopping engines: “ecommerce” business model.
Media platforms: Spotify, Deezer – “subscription” business model.
Affiliate platforms: Commision Junction … – “earn as you perform” business model.
Crowd-sourcing platforms: Uber, BlablaCar, AirBnB – “pay as you go” business model
Repository platforms: GitHub – “freemium” business model: you pay only if you don’t want to share your code with the community.
Infrastructure platforms (IaaS): AWS, Azure – “pay as you go” business model
Classifieds platforms: real estate … – “advertising” business model
How would you define a Digital Platform?
There are many definitions on the Web, either too complex or too simplistic, so let’s define a Digital Platform with its key attributes.
#1 It is a technology-enabled business model.
#2 It facilitates exchanges between multiple groups – for example end users and producers – who don’t necessarily know each other.
#3 It offers a value that is proportional to the size of the community. There are network effects. A Digital Platform is worth nothing without its community.
#4 It is a trust enabler : it must generate trust with clear general terms and conditions regarding the intellectual property and data ownership. It also helps consumers and providers to trust each other within the network thanks to scoring mechanisms.
#5 It has open connectivity : it shares data with 3rd party developers to create new services and extend the ecosystem. This is done with APIs and participates to the API economy.
#6 It can scale massively to address millions of consumers without performance degradation.
#7 It offers compelling user experience: easy to use, no trainig needs, self-service.
#8 It has innovative business models based on the immediate value.
What are the benefits of a Digital Platform?
Foster collaboration and innovation for new products and services
Gain speed to put products on the targeted markets.
What is the size of this market?
According to Accenture, the platform’s market total value is $4,3 trillion. This pays for 1,3 million direct employees and several millions indirectly employeed at partner companies that service or complement platforms.
You might be like me a regular watcher of the Ted Talks. If you have missed this one, I recommend you to watch the talk given by Simon Sinek in 2009.
The keynote talks about how we are inspired to follow those who lead because we want to, not because we are forced to. This illustrates what makes us feel a product is different than others and why we are fascinated by specific leaders.
Actually, Simon Sinek found out there is a pattern: all the great and inspiring leaders in organizations in the world think, act and communicate the exact same way. And this is the complete opposite of everyone else …
To illustrate this, there is a simple concept called the golden circle made of three cocentric circles: “Why”, “How”, “What”. This explains why some organizations are able to inspire … and some aren’t.
Most companies develop their key marketing messages communicating outside in, that’s what we call “Leading with What”. Here is an example:
What do we do ? We make great computers …
How do we do ? They are beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. Wanna buy one ?
Why do we do it ? we want to make profit; that’s what others do; that’s what the executive board decided; we don’t really know …
Leading companies actually communicate the other way around, they are “Leading with Why”. Let’s take an example:
Why do we it? Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.
How do we do it? The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly.
What do we do it? We just happen to make great computers. Wanna buy one?
The first example (outside in) is how most B2B marketers communicate. We talk about what we have and how we’re different, and then expect from potential customers some sort of behavior change, such as a sales lead.
To shift their content from uninspiring to provocative and engaging, B2B marketers need to focus on what their companies care about, instead of what they have to offer. And the most astonishing part is that there is a biologic (not psychological) reason to that.
The human brain is broken into 3 major components as illustrated below:
The neocortex is responsible for all our rational, analytics thoughts and language
The limbic system is responsible of all of our feelings, trust, loyalty. It is also responsible for all human behavior, all decision making and has no capacity for language.
The way of communicating outside in influences the neocortex zone and doesn’t generate any behavior whereas when we communicate inside out, we first influence the limbinc system that is responsible for behavior.
The conclusion is that “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it”. Take some time to watch the amazing video above, this will radically change the way you communicate on your products.
We can read 9 top tips for a successful cold call:
Have the right attitude: you must feel you can sell anyone on any deal in any situation
Believe in your product: if you don’t believe in the product you’re selling, each time you pick up the phone, you’ll become increasingly unconvincing and robotic.
Be persistent: a study mentions that on average, reps give up after only 1.3 contact attempts. This is definitely not enough. Advice is to keep trying until you get the person on the phone.
Master the pitch: you need to know the goal of your call. What do you want to get ? Use scripts to help you through the discussion.
The big claim: “Your claim must become a hook that sinks so deep in the client that it literally creates a picture they can’t erase.” It has to be something that your prospect cannot ignore and that your competitors cannot imitate.
Gains and losses: with every call, you have everything to gain, nothing to loose.
The best value: you have to believe and understand why you have the best value, regardless of price.
Respect your prospect: useful tip to remember when you spend your whole day calling people and you got a lot of negative answers.
Diversify: never depend on one call. You need a lot of calls to be successful. If you feel disappointed or rejected, this is because you didn’t do enough calls to feel successful.
The “big claim”: that’s the piece where you can get the most of your Product Marketing team. Invite them to visit existing customers and prospects. They will help you measure benefits provided by the solution and metrics to calculate an ROI and financial gains and summarize them in a script you can leverage for your cold calls.
You can also learn in the ebook 7 contacting rules for Cold Calling Success:
Timeliness: you must get back to hot leads coming to your web site in less than 5 minutes, leading to you 21 times greater odds to reach that person. The average time for a sales person is 39 hours today …
Persistency: you are wrong assuming that a contact is not interested if he doesn’t answer right away. Most people are just busy. Sales reps who make at least 6 call attempts (against an average of 1,3) have 90% chance of reaching their prospect.
Time of the day: 114% greater chance to reach a contact when calling early in the mornings (8-9am) or late afternoons (4-6pm).
Day of the week: Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days for sales prospecting (50% more likely to reach a contact on Wednesdays than Tuesdays).
Optimal times: every industry, market and channel has optimal times to contact the audience, adjust to it.
Direct-dial phone numbers: Avoid the front desk as much as you can. Sales reps who find a way to go around the receptionist have 3 times as many meeting per month.
Caller ID: Avoid calling with toll-free numbers or long-distance numbers, you will look like a telemarketing agency and your contact won’t answer the phone. The study shows that the odds of someone picking up a local phone number are 57.8% higher than a non-local phone number.
Customer-first, customer 360, customer satisfaction … this is the big hype today and in most probably the greatest challenge for the upcoming years.
Even though the customer focus has always been part of company strategies, the rise of the digital economy has shifted the power towards the consumers:
Search engines allow consumers to search content and advice easily, forcing companies to publish quality content related to their brand.
Social media allow consumers to share experience (good or bad) instantaneously, forcing companies to hire community managers to manage the customer emotional reactions in real-time.
Mobile apps have used customers to delightful experiences and 24/7 use of service, forcing companies to provide a secured and controlled access to their core services in real-time (through MBaaS and API Management technical solutions for example).
Consumer loyalty is decreasing and consumers tend to switch to a competitor offering in just a few clicks, forcing companies to put the customer at the center of their new strategy.
In order to clearly measure the impact of customer satisfaction on your business, let’s remind a few key facts:
Happy customers who have their problem resolved will tell 4-6 people about their positive experience.
A dissatisfied customer will tell 9-15 people about it. And approximately 13% of dissatisfied customers will tell more than 20 people about it.
It costs five to six times as much to get a new (first-time) customer as it does to keep a current one.
We understand the importance of establishing a strategy that is based on customer loyalty. Every brand dreams of having loyal customers, such as the “Apple fans”, the “Amazon fans” or the “Star Wars fans”. Whatever you do, they have good chance to be excited and promote your new products.
Why is customer satisfaction so hard to attain?
Customer satisfaction is extremely complex to improve because it involves a lot of people and departments within your company: sales, support, branding, quality, product design …
It requires every employee in the company to focus on the customer value instead of looking at internal issues and politics. That’s why customer satisfaction is so hard.
I was last week in Berlin and was wondering why my airliner decided to only put one single employee at the check-in desk while there was more than 70 people queuing in the line. I was also surprised to see that the employee was remaining surprisingly calm and didn’t change his cadence to help customers who started to grow impatient. The following quote of Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, helped me figure out why:
If employees don’t feel cared by the management, why should they be the only one to care for the customer satisfaction ? This quote requires in my opinion a few seconds of silence …
So, how to improve customer satisfaction?
For many years, companies have developed many types surveys to understand their customers. The problem with surveys were following:
Happy customers don’t bother filling a survey
Unhappy customer have more chance to fill a survey but expects to be contacted in return, otherwise they will get even more dissatisfied.
Survey questions can often be misinterpreted by customers
Survey answers can be often be misinterpreted by marketing departments.
Survey results don’t circulate properly within the organization and most people in corporate functions don’t understand how they can influence the customer relationship.
A few vendors have developed solutions to improve the customer experience aka customer feedback automation solutions. They provide dashboards that can easily circulate across Executives, Corporate Staff (Market researcher, product managers, website manager), Operational & Frontline Staff (regional manager, frontline managers and employees). Customer feedback is automatically collected across all channels, including locations, call centers, web sites, social media … and turned into actionable metrics. Dashboards can be accessed online or through email reports or via mobile devices. Goal is to save at-risk customers by contacting them directly with appropriate actions.
In today’s fast changing environment, how to reach your customers efficiently and create a delightful experience to engage with them, retain them and create new business ?
Omnichannel vs multichannel
Before going further, I think it’s important to understand the difference between “multichannel” and “omnichannel”. Those two terms sound similar but there is actually a subtle difference in the digital practitioners’ world.
The difference comes down to your company’s approach to digital channels. Let’s say you want to address the common channels – physical, phone, web, mobile – and focus on maximizing performance of every channel individually. This is a multichannel approach. You will set up different specialized teams with the right tools, technology and expertise for their specific channel. Every team has their own reporting and revenue goals. Unfortunately, following obstacles can play against the company’s interest:
slower time to market
consuming resources of expensive personal – legal, compliance, regulatory and executive staff
error prone approach to deliver a consistent message across channels
not a continuous common user experience across platforms
This reminds me of the e-commerce industry between 2005 and 2014: most retailers had a separate e-commerce team that had no internal interaction with the stores. Actually, the e-commerce web site was considered as a “virtual store” and its revenue was directly compared to those of physical stores. With this type of organization, there was no chance for the “Web to Store” and “Store to Web” marketing strategies to take off and that’s why most retailers have changed their organization since then to adopt an omnichannel strategy.
An omnichannel approach puts the customer at the center of its strategy and get rids of corporate silos. A digital customer is today using multiple channels simultaneously and expects to live a consistent experience:
comparing prices on the Internet while being in the store
getting additional product information while buying in a store
getting information on the Internet and receiving a voucher to be used at the local store
leaving store and receiving attractive offers by SMS on its mobile to go back to the shop
We will see that this represents a strong shift in the corporate culture …
Putting the customer at the center of your strategy
The concept seems basic but requires important transformations at multiple levels in your company:
an organizational transformation: change the org chart to create customer-focused teams gathering experts from different functional teams and getting rid of the organizational silos slowing down every decision and killing innovation.
a management transformation: turn the metrics into customer-oriented metrics and not just revenues per product line or per channel; set new objectives that are aligned with the customer engagement level.
an IT transformation: turn all legacy applications and technological siloes into digital-enabled systems communicating with the new ecosystem through APIs.
Those transformations and their related challenges need to be addressed urgently by many industries to keep the customer relationship and not be desintermediated by new nimble players.
Enabling your applications for omnichannel
If you work in a large company that is not a GAFA, your applications are extremely heterogeneous because they have been acquired and deployed over several decades. Mainframes and in-house solutions are still there and not about to disappear from the IT landscape. Why ? Because they process critical information and do the job well. Replacing them would be an extremely high investment that could not be justified.
In order to help companies embrace the digital economy and be able to have an omnichannel strategy, middleware vendors, such as Axway, have developed interesting solutions to enable bi-modal IT. This consists in enabling APIs on top of existing applications in order to communicate with mobile, Internet of Things, social media and multiple partners who are also adopting this approach. Why are APIs so important ? This is because they are the lynchpin for digital business, they are the de-facto standard for modern communication.
By having a unified API Management layer at the edge of the IT architecture, companies can leverage their data and services and expose them in all digital channels. The experience on every channel is optimized by implementing dedicated policies making sure the delivered content/data is optimal for the device.
Enabling your marketing teams for omnichannel
Beyond enabling application integration for omnichannel, it’s also important to enable the marketing teams with omnichannel marketing tools. Their job is to make sure the services that are delivered to customers provide the most delightful experience in order to increase customer loyalty and create new business.
That’s what “Customer Communication Management” is about. This consists in enriching existing services with marketing-processed content.
As as example, take a bank statement:
API Management solutions allow to publish bank statements on the web site, on mobile, on apple watches and even potentially authorize other applications to access your account with your authorization if needed.
Everybody checks its bank statement
But what about turning the traditional statement into new modern and engaging statement ? Making this experience richer ? What about using this statement to provide additional content that makes sense to the customer ? Like embedding enriched digital items such as:
interactive and responsive dashboards
calling an agent
getting called back
videos (the rising media)
chat box with picture of the bank advisor
This concept is called “dynamic communication”, offering unmatched customer experience.
This allows to have a single team working on the messages dedicated to all channels. Layout, design and templates are centralized. Variables can be inserted and are fed with data coming from the different systems to create personalized messages. This approach:
accelerates digital adoption
creates new demand and revenue streams
Customer Communication Management (CCM) solutions allow to offer this enrichment across all channels to keep a consistent omnichannel communication:
a unique proofing and validation workflow
How do they do that ? They centralize the process of customer communication. Instead of having multiple teams working separately for every channel and spending a lot of time in internal alignment, CCM solutions allow centralized actions such as design, composition, proofing, approval, deployment, tracking and reporting, archiving
Analytics & Data enrichment
You can’t control nor improve what you can’t measure. Analytics is the master piece of every digital architecture. You need to have instant visibility on your customer behaviors, application health, SLA enforcement …
Dashboards with drill-down capabilities allow you to prepare for internal reviews and improve your next campaigns.
Data enrichment is a also extremely important to better engage with your customers through custom messaging and optimize the ROI of your campaigns. Data coming from customer response tracking are sent and stored into data lakes connected to the CRM. This helps with customer segmentation and feeds targeting algorithms that provide personalized content to reach higher conversion rates. This looks very similar to my previous experience in digital advertising: provide the customer/prospect with the content/ads is interested in in order to create a positive experience, a stronger engagement, more business and higher ROI.