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Customer engagement: big data or big ideas?

Customer engagement: big data or big ideas?

Today, marketing automation (MA), pay-per-click (PPC) and Programmatic Advertising (PA) campaigns, along with social advertising all generate huge quantities of performance data, barraging even experienced marketers with mountains of campaign information.

The reality is that while some of this data is extremely useful, a significant amount of it is extraneous to campaign performance and if used as a basis in strategic campaign development, may easily derail your marketing objectives, through distraction.

Derailed by data?

In the hands of inexperienced digital marketers, data seems to offer myriad insights into target market prospect and customer behaviour, thereby casting an almost magical light on strategic options in future marketing campaigns.

But campaign performance data is almost completely misleading and irrelevant unless it is highly focused, and has been specifically added to the performance metrics to deliver highly specific information.

Keeping it simple

For example, data needs to be drawn from, and laid against, precise campaign touch-points – such as the performance of a specific call-to-action touch-point along the buyer journey – and therefore allowing data to deliver specifically on one simple metric.

When these simple call-to-action metrics are examined sequentially against other touch-points in the buyer journey, data will form a clear picture of campaign development and hopefully indicate greater visitor engagement as prospects become increasingly engaged with the campaign.

Less is more

This simple example metric – increasing prospect and customer call-to-action engagement along the buyer journey – will be critical in the future development of the live campaign as it illustrates precise campaign impacts at highly specific points of contact.

What this process does is reduce the blizzard of information data delivers to a level where it provides manageable, meaningful information to enhance the performance of live campaigns, while providing information on which to develop a strategic framework to future campaigns.

Strategy through data analysis

This is where big data can start to build big ideas, allowing you to use what you know from selected, highly specific areas of data to create and continually enhance live and future campaign development as you analyse data in real time.

And what this means in live campaigns is that because you are now working with highly specific and simplified metrics on live campaigns, this can be done in real time, allowing for your communications to be shifted dynamically, keeping you ahead of your competitors.

Agility is key to success

What achieving success through data really means is the careful, pragmatic selection of precisely what you need to know from a campaign to make it resonate closely and engage more effectively with your target buyers.

This means data – or information – is restricted to precisely what is required to build and nurture prospect relationships and keep them moving through the sales funnel. In other words, stay focussed on your objectives, and don’t get blinded by the data blizzard.

In the hands of inexperienced digital marketers, data seems to offer myriad insights into target market prospect and customer behaviour, thereby casting an almost magical light on strategic options in future marketing campaigns.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

Multi-language B2B market development: beyond words

Multi-language B2B market development: beyond words

The European Union (EU) is the world’s largest economy, towering over the US, China and India respectively by quite a long way, and its growing commercial integration makes it a great and highly accessible marketplace.

But by US standards, the EU is the new kid on the Federal block, emerging in the 1950s and over 160 years later than our American cousins. So there’s a long way to go to reach US levels of integration in commerce and governance, and even further to go in unifying business culture.

24 languages, one B2B market

And while the most widely spoken language in the EU is English, which is understood by 51% of adults, there are 24 official EU languages, but in practice only two – English and French – are in wide general use.

But unlike our closest rival in the super-economy league table – the US – where there are just two languages, with the most widely used being American English and Spanish the second most common language, spoken by approximately 35 million people, the EU presents some unique complexities.

Not just lost in translation

At first sight, it may seem that translating your website into some or all 24 languages may ensure deeper federal market penetration, but the reality is that language itself is just one barrier to these markets.

The other issue – and an equally significant one – is business culture. In short, what will engage and persuade in one regional business culture will not necessarily deliver the same market penetration and performance in another.

In-depth research is key

What this means is in order to communicate effectively with EU B2B target markets, a clear understanding of the business culture is key. And that covers everything from how products are sourced, selected and purchased, to how they are utilised locally.

When this is understood, then developing a close understanding of effective in-region marketing strategies, and how these may be applied needs careful consideration and implementation. Here, in-depth market research will save a lot of time and money.

Streamlined regional prioritisation

This in-depth market research will give you a clear insight into your target EU markets, and there will be considerable differences in both strategic approach and communications campaign format, which could, in theory mean 24 versions of the same communication.

The simple fact is that this would become prohibitively time consuming and expensive very quickly, so from this research needs to come some detailed strategic market analysis, including phased prioritisation of the most lucrative regions.

Re-interpretation rather than translation

With this phased regional prioritisation in place and using your regional market research, you can now start to assess communications for the selected regions, and while the initial communications should be developed in English, this will need to be re-interpreted rather than translated for in-region use.

Content development in English – the most common EU language – is important as it allows each translator to work from a common text in a language he or she will most likely be fully fluent with. And content re-interpretation rather than translation also offers other communications opportunities.

It’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it

Content re-interpretation allows local, in-region translators to interpret marketing communications in way that resonates with the local market, channelling and guiding prospects and customers, and fully optimising engagement in all local markets.

This re-interpretation means that using the central core messages and brand values developed in the English language version content can be precisely targeted to maximise market impact and penetration in specific regions.

Multi-language SEO

Local language search engine optimisation (SEO) will be critical to optimising regional website visibility and therefore should be implemented as a part of the local content re-interpretation programme.

This process will call heavily on the re-interpreted content which, if developed properly, will contain all relevant phrasing in the on-page content, and this can be very simply applied to metadata.

Lucrative and diverse markets

When entering lucrative but highly diverse markets like the EU, guidance from a digital marketing agency with not only local but pan-European experience is essential.

Formulating a strategic EU market development plan and partnering with an experienced agency in prospective high value markets such as Europe offers great potential for solid long-term business growth.

At first sight, it may seem that translating your website into some or all 24 languages may ensure deeper federal market penetration, but the reality is that language itself is just one barrier to these markets.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

Content marketing: five ways to deliver customer engagement

Content marketing: five ways to deliver customer engagement

Marketing today is almost completely data-driven, meaning that when it comes to content marketing, measurement of open rates, click-through statistics and website page visits data is seen as critical to marketing performance indicators.

These statistical indicators are key to delivering marketing success, but can however also create distractions, moving the focal point away from your original marketing message and emotional prospect and customer engagement to one of pure data analysis.

And while we at Novacom live for data-driven performance statistics – we’re even ISO 9001 certified and only one of a small handful of EU agencies holding ISO 27001 – we believe strategic content marketing is what engages and builds loyalty in customers, not data.

So, here are five basic strategic elements for content marketing that will help deliver customer attention, engagement and long-term loyalty.

Research and differentiation

Effective marketing is about taking care of the basics. And the start-point has to be knowing your target marketplace, understanding buyer personas and positioning and differentiating your products or services in a way that makes them visible.

Within this, and through focused market research, you will know what your target buyer is looking for and if, using this information, you start to reflect and communicate this in your marketing content across appropriate channels, you will begin to set yourself apart from the crowd.

Value proposition and increased visibility

This differentiation will increase your visibility, but this visibility needs to be backed by a solid value proposition, meaning using your market research and analysing buyer personas and their needs, you can channel content on multiple and highly specific customer demands.

Continually communicating these multiple and known value propositions and targeting these strategically across appropriate communications channels will build a growing prospect and customer awareness of your proposition, ensuring engagement as the sales journey progresses.

Engagement and the sales journey

Careful and detailed data analysis will help you and your digital marketing agency to stay on track in optimising engagement as you will know how your marketing content is impacting on prospect and customer behaviour.

At this point in the marketing journey, the research done initially, your close understanding of your prospect and customer behaviour and your continued drive for engagement will now have created clear target audience interactivity.

This interactivity will be as close to a human conversation as it is possible to get in the digital space.

Conversion and building on success

If your analytical data has been properly managed throughout the journey, it will have been pretty clear for you to see who among your prospects and existing customers was likely to buy from you as the journey progressed.

This ability to (albeit causally) predict these outcomes will be a clear indication of the quality of your initial work in research, buyer persona development, and the resultant communications strategy driving the campaign.

This means that on an intuitive level you had the communications right. However, the quality of this work will also be informed by the conversion rate performance which tells you that the overall strategy was also right.

Loyalty building

But this is not the end of the road. These customers are valuable assets, and as such should be nurtured for subsequent sales, building brand loyalty by feeding them intelligent and useful information between sales events.

Modern marketing is all about relationship building through the thoughtful delivery of helpful information – content – designed to guide prospects and customers in your sphere of interest.

If you do this, you are creating emotional, loyal bonds with your audience, rather than treating them as cold, hard targets. And while statistical data is key in measuring marketing performance, it is only an analytical tool, not an end in itself: it’s content that delivers customers.

And while we at Novacom live for data-driven performance statistics – we’re even ISO 9001 certified and only one of a small handful of EU agencies holding ISO 27001

Email marketing: five simple tips to get read, and loved!

Email marketing: five simple tips to get read, and loved!

The fight for attention in recipient inboxes grows ever-more ferocious, to a point where some client-side marketers are beginning to question the validity and effectiveness of email marketing.

And while others may now view email marketing as old school, it is at the very heart of all customer relationship management (CRM) programmes, including marketing automation (MA), the current new and shiny communications channel.

What’s the problem?

One issue that we have noticed in client conversations in recent times, is that some people think that CRM and MA are solutions to prospect engagement in themselves. That is to say, flicking the CRM or MA system switch does the job alone.

This is a very long way from reality, as CRM and MA systems are just that – systems. What really matters is the communication itself, how it is written and within that, how it attracts and engages recipients. While some of this is technical, much of it is people-focused.

So here are five tips on briefing your agency, and getting your emails read:

1. Make it personal

If your contact database is properly configured, your digital agency should be able to insert the recipient’s name in the subject line, or any number of other details personal to that recipient. This adds a level of intimacy and engagement with recipients that means they’re more likely to read on.

Ask your agency to use this same data configuration and start by inserting the recipient’s name into the salutation line, so that the reader feels they are in direct and personal communication with the sender.

2. Stay visible

Research indicates that readers are spending only 15-20 seconds on scanning each email they open 1, meaning in that period your email has either had a click-through or has been dumped.

This indicates the importance of clear, visible headlines, kept above the fold (the part of the email that appears to a viewer first, without scrolling or opening) and grouping any other highly relevant information, such as important links close to the headline.

Images and even infographics above the headline may distract, so ask your agency to factor immediacy into all areas of graphic work.

3. Keep it short

Given that your email message is only going to be around for 15-20 seconds, you may think this is a good reason to keep it short. And it is. But you will find that many agency-side content writers will often want to ram as much information into a single email as is possible.

But the issue is two-fold: the longer the message, the less chance there is of content being completely read, and the more content, more links and more offers there are the more dense the message, and the less likely it is that critical click-throughs will happen.

4. Analytics: know what prospects want

Rather than firing off subsequent emails into the darkness, ask your agency to provide detailed website analytics during every campaign so you can see what links in your emails recipients are using, and what they are looking at.

That way, you can start to segment these email recipients into prospects not only through their level of interest, but by specific type of product or service interest and using segmentation, work to develop a higher level of engagement with those specifics.

5. Mixed messages

As the campaign builds, your agency’s analytics will start telling you the story of each email recipient. You will know if they responded to a link, how long they viewed it for and what else interested them while on your website.

This information is critical for accurate segmentation, allowing you to categorise these recipients (this can simply be done with an Excel spreadsheet) by where they are on their buying journey, and allowing you to separate the messaging to reflect this as the campaign moves to close the sale.

Old school?

Email is still the most effective form of marketing channel: it is a primary form of communication, and is ubiquitous. In 2013, business email accounts totalled 929 million mailboxes, and this figure is expected to grow to reach over 1.1 billion by the end of 2017 2.

And while there are those both client-side and on agency teams who will tell you email is old school, there’s something much older school that is a part of this email effectiveness and success and of equal, critical importance: laser-sharp communication.

1 EmailLabs
2 The Radicati Group

Images and even infographics above the headline may distract, so ask your agency to factor immediacy into all areas of graphic work.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

B2B native advertising: delivering powerful brand credibility

B2B native advertising: delivering powerful brand credibility

Business-to-business (B2B) traditional online advertising has always been a powerful and effective channel for targeted and focused B2B marketing communications, when delivered contextually, and through appropriate channels.

However this effective traditional route to business communication is now threatened by ad blocking systems, mainly deployed by those B2B website users who are weary of being bombarded by irrelevant and untargeted advertising during professional searches.

Maintaining B2B engagement

To my mind, whatever else we hope for, ad blocking will continue to grow and has increased by 41% globally in the last 12 months1. There are now 198 million ad-blocker users across the world2 so B2B marketers with an important story to tell will need to find another more visible channel.

And there is such a channel, where advertising cannot appear unless a website owner or web-publisher has vetted the content, and approved it as suitable for display ahead of website inclusion: native advertising.

Native builds advertising credibility

Native gives Internet site owners and publishers the opportunity to shine. That is because native material needs to be embedded (physically included by those in control of the website), allowing them to properly assess and vet carefully the content they serve.

This screening and selection process pharmacies raises the editorial bar, and adds a perception of editorial and therefore advertising quality to a website and helps build an improved reputational perspective in relation to editorial integrity.

Reflected integrity

From a B2B marketers’ point of view this is great news, because these site owners and publishers will now serve only credible advertising messages that have been assessed and judged to meet their elevated editorial reputational aspirations, creating an exclusive communications environment.

With this, native advertising then attains a similar level of credibility and by extension your brand becomes more trusted, and viewers will not, and cannot, block these messages.

Native, useful and valuable

It is also a great opportunity for agencies to create helpful, related and highly relevant advertising that far from distracting B2B visitors, actually helps them in their decision making on the buying journey.

This new elevated web environment not only adds to both the reputation of the website B2B visitors are now using, but your native advertising will be an inherent part of this reputational perception, making your messaging more credible and compelling.

Native credibility and helpfulness equal power

But there is one more important step to take to deliver the credibility and reputational power this situation can deliver: content. Credible and useful related content is critical in achieving the potential level of integrity native can offer in this exclusive situation, and you need to work for it.

And that means creating content that helps and guides visitors, improving their industry sector knowledge and informing them in order to help facilitate in their decision processes. This is not a quick sale, it’s building on trusted brand perceptions.

Successful native is long-haul

What this means is that using native advertising, and now in an exclusive environment, you have the opportunity to nurture your brand through this prospect/brand collaboration, creating engagement away from any flash-in-the-pan advertising distractions.

By taking this exclusive native advertising route and providing host website-related advertising content, you not only extricate yourself from the noisy world of irrelevant traditional advertising.

But from the start, if working with a digital agency who understands your market and can deliver targeted and synergistic content, you are building trust in your brand that will, over time, deliver customers.

1,2 PageFair

There are now 198 million ad-blocker users across the world2 so B2B marketers with an important story to tell will need to find another more visible channel.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

CRM and MA: the personalised route to fast-track engagement

CRM and MA: the personalised route to fast-track engagement

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems such as Salesforce and marketing automation (MA) platforms including Marketo and Hubspot today offer client side marketers some very sophisticated tools for market development.

But to fully utilise these tools and create close and effective engagement with prospects and existing customers alike requires more than a high performance CRM or MA platform.

Cutting to the chase

Statistics will tell the story and fill in the gaps: in recent research, 87% of marketers claimed that email was their most popular lead generation channel; with online registration and opt-in at 70% and social networks and content marketing at 68% and 67% respectively.

So why are these channels so popular and how does this work? How is it made cohesive and why? Well, what makes it work is the ‘glue’ that holds it all together: email.

Up close and personal

Practically every form of online communication has an email component in the mix, and in many cases at its very centre, as email – whether through Salesforce, or one of the MA platforms – is the only way of delivering personalised communications direct to the recipient.

While technology is changing things, email is currently the only way of effectively segmenting prospect or customer communications in a way that is personal and meaningful to recipients, creating engagement that develops over time to form individual relationships.

Is automatic personal?

What this means is client side marketers need to focus on what makes marketing work: is it technology or is it personal communication? Hint: what got you your current romantic partner – the technology your online dating agency uses, or the strength of your personality?

Well, it had to be the latter because (as far as I know) no-one wants to date a computer. At least, not yet. So, person-centred communication, driven by a well set-up and sophisticated delivery platform works.

Empathy is everything

So, gaining a close understanding of how your prospects think, what they want from you, and using this information to build a prospect profile (persona) is the first step to developing a personal relationship.

But this relationship needs to be way more than a clear understanding of who these people are – you need to be able to communicate with them on a personal level and as you do so, offer them more information and help them on their buying journey.

Making it real, and making it work

Careful strategic planning, borne of diligent market research is key to making marketing work, because unless you fully understand and can fully empathise with your prospects, you will never communicate on a personalised level and never resonate with their needs.

And no amount of CRM or MA technology will help you. Because while technology makes it easy to become blind to your objectives and the prospects with whom you wish to engage, the salient issue is that they are people, not machine-generated targets.

Names, not numbers

In short, CRM and MA platforms are purely intelligent delivery systems designed to segment, personalise and categorise your person-to-person email communications and are configured to help you optimise customer experience on the sales journey.

So when talking with your digital agency, make sure both you and they understand that – at the end of the day – you are writing for people; folk who, if you work diligently, you will soon engage with and bring them home as long-term and loyal customers.

In effective digital marketing, email and empathetic, personalised writing skills are key. That is the glue that holds everything together. Without it, there is no customer relationship, there’s just cold, hard technology.

In short, CRM and MA platforms are purely intelligent delivery systems designed to segment, personalise and categorise your person-to-person email communications and are configured to help you optimise customer experience on the sales journey.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom