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Going beyond the webinar

It’s not surprising that webinars and so called ‘virtual events’ have become such an important part of the marketing mix in 2020, as the pandemic has limited travel, face-to-face meetings and physical exhibitions across the world.

Forward-looking organisations were already moving towards replacing some of their physical events with digital alternatives even before the pandemic hit earlier this year, with a view to reducing their carbon footprint and increase their efficiency. Anyone working from home will know how much more they get done in a day without travel (home-life responsibilities notwithstanding!).

On this basis, webinars, online meetings and virtual events are likely to continue to play a key part in business life when the world eventually returns to ‘normal’ – sometime during 2021 we all hope.

The question is, however, are these alternatives really a satisfactory replacement for meeting customers, colleagues and prospects face-to-face?

What is a ‘virtual event’ really?

In my view, this all depends on the format of the event. If a ‘virtual exhibition’ is simply a website with each exhibitor managing their own webpage with a live chat feature, or a Zoom call with keynotes and breakout sessions, then the short answer is no.

However, there are a number of solutions out there – such as our own VCX Quantum – that creates a bespoke virtual environment similar to a modern computer game, where visitors can create an avatar and walk (or fly!) around an exhibition, conference or meeting; attend seminars; talk to other attendees as easily if they were face-to-face; and visit branded exhibition stands to collect product marketing collateral for later – then yes.

Novacom VCX Quantum platform

Saving time, money and the environment

This type of innovative approach is currently novel, meaning people want to attend just to experience it, but I believe digital events will only grow in popularity. Not only because they save time and money on travel, accommodation and exhibition/event space, but because you can create a truly immersive brand experience not possible in the real world.

We all look to next year with the hope that there will be some return to normality where we can once again have the choice and freedom to travel, meet friends and family, and work from a desk that’s not wedged in the corner of the bedroom.

Back to normal?

But will we be rushing back to spending time on the road or in the air when we could meet customers and colleagues face-to-face without leaving our desks? I for one think we’ll see a continuation of this seismic shift toward virtual events, even after this is over.

Our expert insights will help you stay ahead of the curve.

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Will Yates - Novacom

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

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Customer Experience (CX): the race to the ‘buy button’.

In the business to business (B2B) customer journey, there is rarely a ‘buy button’ at the end of that journey, but the similarities with the consumer customer journey processes are marked, and in many cases, as flawed.

Because when we think of CX – customer experience – many marketers often confuse this with the customer journey and even then, see it all as just a race to conversion, or purchase.

Building opportunities

To think in this way means you misunderstand customer experience, and the many business opportunities made possible through best practice CX. It probably also means you don’t understand human beings much, either.

We’ll talk about the customer journey in a later blog, but for now I want us to focus on CX.

What is CX, and how does it relate to the customer journey?

Customer experience can be defined as the characterisation and summarisation of the complete interaction a prospect or customer has with your organisation during the buyer journey.

And this is where the confusion comes in, because while the phrase ‘buyer journey’ eludes to structured delectation, it can also mean chaotic, frustrating and terrible. CX relates to the quality of that buyer journey, rather than the structure of the journey itself but they are similar:

  1. Consideration
  2. Evaluation
  3. Purchase point
  4. Advocation and retention

Given that the buyer journey is structured into these four phases, we need to focus on each phase with the objective of figuring out how we can improve not only each individual phase experience, but its synergistic relationship with the other phases in the buyer journey, and beyond.

Do your customers actually know what a buyer journey is?

This question means marketers must consider one fundamental point on customer perceptions: namely, you are treading a pathway you are completely familiar with, and fully understand – but do your customers understand it?

The answer is very probably no, so the only way you can build fluidity and value into the customer experience is to take the buyer journey yourself, looking at it from the customer’s standpoint.

The customer lens

This is a tough assignment, but one that pays massive dividends because you will rapidly learn where the gaps are and how the filling of those gaps can build greater opportunities for relationship building from the consideration phase to purchase – and of equal importance, beyond.


In the B2B space the consideration phase may be triggered by a range of emerging situations within the prospect or existing customer’s business landscape.

These can include everything from vendor product or service price increases, vendor supply chain alterations, vendor specification changes, through to customer technical evolutions or new product developments.

Whatever triggered this consideration, the search that it initiates will seek to define and categorise the required replacement product or service by its level of perceived value. This means your brand needs to be recognisable, distinctive and stand out in its ability to tell stories.

To do this, your brand also needs to be very consistent in its storytelling to ensure that when B2B purchasers in the consideration phase see your brand they see beyond the logo alone, to a nomenclature that clearly and consistently communicates very strong core values.

If these core brand values are clearly and consistently communicated, they power CX through instant brand recognition, surety and certainty. In other words, the brand is recognisable, and resonates with the customer.


This strong, consistent overarching brand nomenclature will help make the transition from the consideration phase to evaluation a smoother journey because the brand value is understood through clarity and consistency in storytelling.

At this stage in the buyer journey, storytelling is an ever-more critical part of CX, because the evaluation phase is simply about objective comparison, meaning that while your product or service has survived the consideration phase, it now faces more and newer competition.

Lowering competitive risk

In order to lower competitive risk, build visibility, and maintain a strong position in the evaluation phase, further optimising CX through the introduction of your own, transparent comparative information, designed to guide rather than persuade will drive customer engagement.

And this brings us back to the original question – do your customers understand the buyer journey and its relevance to CX? Again, the answer is still no, but what they will now understand is that your highly visible brand offers surety and certainty.

That is CX working as it should.

Purchase point

The purchase point is the phase best understood by marketers, because it is the area by which we most often measure our success. It’s where the mythical ‘buy button’ lives, and because of that high visibility, it’s where the greatest performance related resources are deployed.

But what does that mean when viewed through the customer lens?

For marketers, this all-consuming, one dimensional race to the buy button will distract from other fundamentals, like the synergistic relationship with the other phases in the buyer journey, and in this case we’re looking at critical areas such as customer retention.

But the sale was the end, right?

Advocation and retention

To see it that way is pretty one-dimensional and binary, because while a sale may have taken place, very many buyers – up to 600% of these new customers may still be engaged with the consideration or evaluation phases of the buyer journey – with your competitors.

So the purchase point is really the beginning of another chapter for CX, because customer consolidation and retention is critical to business growth and therefore the development of loyalty and advocacy is not only important in the purchase phase but critical in next-phase objectives.

That is because there is research to prove that well managed post-sale advocation and retention programmes can generate as much, if not more, sales volume from post-purchase service as from all funnel marketing.

Building on value

So, CX is a critical element in the buyer journey. It is not a nice to have, but a vital element in winning customers and of greater importance, keeping those newly-acquired customers engaged in a high-value, long-term business relationship.

Our expert insights will help you stay ahead of the curve.

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Will Yates - Novacom

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

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Why video powers customer engagement

Video, whether designed as an explainer, a blog, or as a product presentation, is a powerful marketing tool. Recent research indicates that 65% of viewers will visit a product website and 39% will make phone contact with the video provider after viewing the video1.

And with video predicted to form 82% of internet traffic by 20222 video power is set to dominate marketing activities.

Immersive engagement

Research shows that visual information, such as video, is processed by the brain 60,000 times faster than text, and given that humans have evolved to avoid cognitive overload, audio-visual knowledge acquisition in the form of video is a preferred learning option.

But video creation is an art like storytelling, and should be treated in the same way. Creating a compelling and immersive B2B video story that engages prospects and customers requires careful thought.

Emotional drivers

And in today’s time-poor business environment, offering vacuous, self-indulgent content – even longer content – will lose viewers, prospects and customers very quickly; viewer drop-out is fast – 33% will stop watching after 30 seconds. 45% at one minute, and 60% in two minutes.

So time is at a premium, and there’s no room for error. But when used correctly, video can deliver emotional responses, such as aspiration, which help build brand engagement, loyalty and ultimately, trust.

These emotional responses get you noticed and help you explain complex business concepts or product technologies quickly and succinctly, meaning product technical differentiation is easier to communicate and much more visible for target audiences.

Super-detailed presentation

This is where video is key, because if you have developed world-leading fuel cell technologies, or an advanced health monitoring technology, video can ‘fly’ customers through every detail of the system quickly and with powerful influence on viewer perceptions.

We also know that viewers will remember the story.

Research has shown that 80% of viewers recalled video advertisements they had seen in the past 30 days. That means complex technical concepts can be understood and retained, making your sales teams’ tasks much simpler and more effective.

Driving sales journeys

Because when the 39% of viewers who are known to respond by calling your sales team after viewing a video, the ‘technical sell’ is unnecessary. That part of the sales journey is complete.

And they’re now calling because 74% of B2B buyers conduct significant online research before contacting you directly to proceed with a purchase. So, video is a very powerful – and quantifiable – step in the buyer journey.

Specialist technical communicators

But take care. Where important and powerful technical differentiation is involved in delivering commercial advantage, you’ll need the services of a specialist B2B digital agency with the technical communication capabilities to deliver your complex message clearly.

And if your technical offering is of a highly advanced nature, you may need to consider using an alternative delivery channel, such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) or HoloLens technology, to reflect and showcase your technological leadership.

LeadGen and ROI

Finally, to drive your video and maximise return on investment, you’ll need your B2B agency to make the video as visible and accessible as possible through high visibility digital marketing campaigns, such as marketing automation (MA) to optimise lead generation performance.

This will require not only the expertise needed to produce a first-class technical video, VR, AR or HoloLens production in the first place, but now the skill to drive and maximise search visibility, reach, audience engagement and sales conversions to optimise ROI.

Our expert insights will help you stay ahead of the curve.

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Will Yates - Novacom

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

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Driving competitive advantage through customer experience differentiation.

Five fundamental questions you should consider when mapping your CX journey

Customer experience (CX) is a very simple term, relating to the perceptions created by interaction with your organisation and ultimately the impression left with potential or engaged customers during any digital relationship.

It is a simple phrase for an outwardly simple dynamic, but in reality, it can form the critical competitive differentiator between your enterprise and market rivals in tight or crowded digital marketplaces.

And if you work with your agency to get it right, then the differentiators you create will be striking and highly visible to potential customers, and with engaged customers, adept CX builds loyalty and increases sales exponentially through customer recommendations.

If we apply an emotional lens and refer to ‘customer experience’ as ‘human experience’, I think this brings us closer to the reality of CX, because as they say, it’s all about people.

It’s all about what people want. When viewed through a lens that focuses on human perception, needs and a desire for a sense of worth and belonging, rather than digital process, you’re able to engage customers more quickly and with greater effect.

Here are five fundamental questions you should consider when mapping your CX journey and if applied diligently, these five waypoints will become key to all future mapping, customer engagement and care infrastructure.


How do you reach out to customers?

This question can also be turned to ‘how do potential customers find you?’ Either way, it is critically important that you understand what channels your customers use for search or communication, how they prefer to use them and when – both in terms of time of day and with what objective.

Detailed market research and continuous data analysis will provide answers to the reach question and allow you to develop interactivity in the most relevant places and at times when potential customers or your engaged buyers need you most.

The fundamental point in successful CX is that you need to be where your potential or active, loyal customers are, not the other way around. Remember, whatever you want to call it, CX is about excellent customer service and ease of doing business, and that’s what will build successful relationships.

It also makes it difficult for potential competitors to enter your space.


What do visitors use your website for?

Research shows that in the B2B space, by the time your company receives a phone call from a potential customer, that individual will have carried out considerable online research, meaning that 60 -70% of the decision-making process will be complete before the call.

So, even if you’ve made customer interactivity and engagement relevant and simple, the amount and quality of information available to both potential and engaged customers must deliver beyond expectations to help start – and build – a relationship.

Often, as part of this research process, potential customers will return to cross-check information found on competitor sites with the information on your own, and engaged customers will also carry out competitive comparisons. This means streamlining information for optimum interaction.

In other words, streamlined interaction means offering information as a service and building the quality of your customer’s experience.


What do you know about potential customers, and engaged buyers?

Delivering information, online services and products that meet or preferably exceed customer expectations will place you in a powerful competitive position and make it difficult for competitors to enter your space.

Therefore, the quality of this information is critical.

To gain meaningful insight into potential and engaged customer needs and aspirations, sensitive analytical processes should be deployed at every interactive waypoint – from email opens and clicks to website navigation – and this information must be analysed and utilised in CX development.

Artificial intelligence systems, designed to augment CX by offering or guiding customers to relevant products or solutions based on the acquisition of personalised data over time, delivers a level of customer satisfaction that builds trust in your brand, and sales based on that trust.  


How do your CX activities fit with buying processes?

Careful thought must be given to buyer selection and purchase processes.

For example, if potential customers can research, select and purchase from you online even on weekends – remember, weekend days vary across geographies – low friction sales and the loyalty this delivers will be a key differentiator.

But many organisations operate on the Distributor Model, which may mean your approved Distributor needs online tools to assist with complex customer selection criteria. How these tools are configured will be critical to Distributor sales success – and your long-term relationship with them.


How can omni-channel communication deliver competitive advantage?

If you follow points three and four, you will have not only captured a great deal of information on potential and engaged buyer needs and aspirations, but – critically – you’ll also know how these needs and aspirations play out in the buying process.

This allows you to drive high quality customer experience ever-harder by delivering personalised, targeted information across known customer channels when and where they’re likely to need it most.

That means everything from messaging a simple offer to a direct customer when you know they’ll be considering a replenishment order, to maintaining dialogue with a Distributor’s salesperson as they attempt to close a deal over a period of time.

Investing in competitive advantage

As can be seen, there are some deep complexities with the implementation and maintenance of CX, but if implemented and maintained expertly it will deliver long term competitive advantage, with steady year-on-year sales growth in crowded markets.  

Our expert insights will help you stay ahead of the curve.

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Will Yates - Novacom

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

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Another high-profile win for Novacom. Here’s why.

Novacom has won Best B2B Digital Marketing Agency 2019 in the high profile 2019 UK Enterprise Awards, adding this to a growing number of prestigious awards picked up in the past twelve months.

We believe that what any of our clients will tell you is how the team at Novacom work hard to lead in the markets in which we operate, rather than follow client industry trends.

They’ll tell you how we deliver accelerated transformative digital marketing experiences, measurable, high performance customer engagement and ultimately, return on marketing investment.

But why?

The answer is simple, but not visible: our team have worked hard to gain both ISO 9001 certification for digital management, allowing us to follow given processes and workflows that deliver predictable financial performance and client return on investment in the digital campaigns we launch.

We’ve gained ISO 27001 certification for data security – one of only 0.05% of companies globally to achieve this – meaning when you work with us, you’re GDPR compliant and every system we use is independently audited for security regularly.

Behind these ISO certifications are other accreditations and marketing platform approvals which means we can go all out to deliver powerful client success, with global legal compliance and with industry-leading security.

That doesn’t sound particularly glamourous, does it?

No, but when this level of global legal compliance and security is mixed with award-winning creative thought, communication and innovative multi-language, multi-cultural delivery, it puts our clients on the fast track to market leadership across the world.

And we keep moving. This latest award comes during a year of accelerating change at Novacom, which includes further innovation and evolution in the service offer and business development across an expanding international office network.

This growth includes new geographies with offices in Frankfurt, Germany and New York City, USA, further supporting Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Cambridge, UK operations.

So, while we like to talk with our clients about the more glamourous, creative award-winning stuff we do, it’s the commitment to straightforward, process-driven global management that keeps everything real.

We believe that what any of our clients will tell you is how the team at Novacom work hard to lead in the markets in which we operate, rather than follow client industry trends.

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Darwinism for digital: disrupt or be disrupted

Digital disruption has created a lot of buzz across industries in the last few years, along with a lot of anxiety in boardrooms across the world as leaders seek to protect their companies.

But from what?

Disruption is so broad and can affect so many parts of a business, it’s difficult to define. This means it’s also difficult to plan to mitigate.

So, what is digital disruption? Digital disruption is the transformation that occurs when new digital technologies or ways of doing business fundamentally change the value proposition typically expected in that industry.

Are you with me so far?

Digital disruption isn’t really a ‘thing’ that companies must do. It’s what happens when a company identifies a better way of doing business using new digital technologies, exploits a market or opportunity and answers a need among customers.

This in turn has a significant effect on the companies in that space who are maintaining a traditional course. This won’t be a sudden change, but shifts in market share, revenue and profitability as a result of disruption will take place, causing ‘traditional’ businesses to atrophy on an exponential scale through lack of investment and inability to compete with the disruptor.

Digital disruption isn’t new, but it’s happening more and much faster as technology advances and catches up with business needs. Just some examples of companies that have disrupted their industries are Netflix in entertainment (remember Blockbuster?), Apple with the iPhone back in 2007, Amazon in the retail space, and Tesla in automotive.

Think about it. Apple and Amazon are often vying for the top spot as the world’s most valuable company, Netflix streams 100mn hours of content every day, and Tesla outsold Mercedes in the US late last year, after just eight years in the market.

So, the take away is be the disruptor, rather than let your business be disrupted. Great, so now you should be building digital disruption into your business plan, right? Not quite.

Don’t disrupt or ‘do digital’ for the sake of it. It must serve a purpose, such as meeting customer demand, improving operational efficiency or lowering cost of doing business. All too often, we hear from clients that they need to be launching a digital campaign or digitally transforming themselves. This is true, because digital opens up so many opportunities to deliver better business performance and customer satisfaction. But it needs to be done with a strategic objective (or indeed, the customer) in mind, rather than it being an objective in itself.

New technologies and digital advancements are already disrupting the marketing space, from big data, AI and machine learning, through to voice assistants and the Internet of Things (IoT).

By taking a holistic view of your business, looking ahead at trends in the industry and customer behaviour, and thinking about how new technologies can be applied to create a more efficient business that improves the customer’s experience, this will form the first steps in digitally transforming your business.

Of course, I’m not saying that by taking this approach you’ll disrupt your industry, but you might make the incremental changes need to adapt, evolve and survive in an increasingly changing business environment.

We want to be ready when video-on-demand happens. That’s why the company is called Netflix, not DVD-by-Mail.

Reed Hastings, Founder, Netflix, 2005
Will Yates - Novacom

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom