13 items tagged "market intellligence"

  • 5 Essential metrics for B2B marketing

    5 Essential metrics for B2B marketing

    In today’s technology and data-driven landscape, marketers are under constant pressure to prove the value of their efforts. But with the amount of data and analytics we have access to, it can be difficult to differentiate between the important marketing metrics and the not-so-important marketing metrics.

    If you’re struggling to report on the success of your marketing campaigns, we’re here to help. 

    Today we explain the five most important B2B marketing metrics. Keep reading.

    Lead-to-close conversion rate (CVR)

    All too often, marketing teams spend too much time worrying about the number of leads they generate, and not enough on the quality of the leads. A steady stream of sales and marketing leads is important, but unless these people eventually purchase from you, they don’t provide much value.

    Lead-to-close conversion rate measures the average percentage of leads that end up becoming actual customers. The natural way to calculate this marketing metric is to divide the number of sales made in a specific time period, by the number of leads generated within that same time period. So, if your organization made 15 sales the first quarter, but generated 100 leads, your ;ead to close conversion rate would be 15%.

    However, the average sales cycle can take weeks or even months. Meaning, a lead you generate this November may not become a customer until next November.

    That being said, simply calculating conversion rate by time period won’t give you a true indication of how well your programs convert. Here’s an alternative: look back to the same time the year prior, and determine how many leads were generated in one month. Then, determine how many of those leads then converted into customers throughout the year. Lastly, divide the number of customers, by the original number of leads to retrieve your conversion rate.

    When CVR is calculated and monitored on a regular basis (i.e. monthly) it can also provide insight into the lead-quality your programs produce. For example, when your lead-to-close rate is high for a particular campaign or initiative, you can prioritize your time and resources accordingly. If your lead-to-close rate is low for a particular program, you can make the necessary changes to attract better leads.

    Initial customer acquisition cost (CAC)

    Another important marketing metric is your customer acquisition cost. This metric indicates how much your organization must spend to successfully secure one customer.

    This metric is easy to calculate: simply take all sales and marketing costs from one period of time and then divide that by the number of new customers acquired within that period.

    Executives consider their organizations CAC as an indicator of performance and efficiency. When your calculations are consistently low, your executives can assume that your sales and marketing teams are operating efficiently. But, if CAC spikes quarter after quarter, it can indicate an issue.

    For more granular results, try calculating the CAC by program, campaign, or initiative. These numbers can help you prioritize projects and scale your success.

    Marketing percentage of your CAC

    Another marketing metric to monitor is the marketing percentage of your CAC. Again, this is another simple formula to calculate. Take your marketing spend for a specific time period and divide by the number of new customers generated within that time period.

    This calculation reveals your marketing team’s impact on the overall CAC, and can be used to help make better sales and marketing decisions. Naturally, a lower number here is preferable. If your marketing CAC is high, it indicates one of two issues:

    • Your marketing team is spending ineffectively.
    • Your sales team is not performing well.

    Tracking this metric over time will demonstrate how each team is improving.

    Marketing originated customers

    This marketing metric identifies the percentage of new customers acquired as a result of marketing initiatives. This proves the ROI of your efforts. And more importantly, can help reassure your team that their efforts are paying off.

    Again, this metric isn’t hard to find as long as you track lead source. Take the number of customers that originated from a marketing initiative, and divide it by the total number of customers acquired within the same time period. Obviously, the higher the percentage the better.

    Marketing influenced customers

    In an ideal world, all customers would originate from your marketing team’s initiatives. Sadly, this is not the case. But that doesn’t mean that your efforts didn’t help move them along the buyer’s journey. Even if your programs didn’t generate the lead, your marketing team can still have a hand in closing a sale through educational content and nurture programs.

    This metric is not unlike marketing originated customers, but it goes one step further. To find this number examine the leads converted within a given time period. Then, determine how many of those leads interacted with your marketing efforts at some point. After that, once you divide by the total number of converted leads, you’ll have the percentage of marketing influenced customers.

    B2B Metrics: key takeaways

    The key to marketing success lies in your ability to understand how your efforts contribute to your organization’s bottom line. Once you prove the value of your initiatives, your team will receive well-deserved credit.

    Author: Krysta Williams

    Source: Zoominfo

  • 5 Strategies that lead to a better customer understanding

    5 Strategies that lead to a better customer understanding

    Understanding your customers is a crucial component of building a successful customer experience (CX) program. Collecting and analyzing data is the key to unlocking deeper customer understanding, which (in turn) drives better customer experience efforts. Let’s take a look at five foundational customer experience information sources you can use to better understand your customers.

    5 ways to listen to your customers

    There are many ways to listen to your customers, but the most important thing is always that you’re listening at all.

    Let’s walk through five different strategies for building or enhancing your current customer listening program. You don’t need to adopt all five. Rather, implement a few of these strategies and make adjustments until you find the right combination for your business.

    1. Collect effectiveness data

    There are several ways to measure the current effectiveness of your CX efforts. Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), and Customer Effort Score (CES) are among the most popular. By incorporating these measures into customer surveys, you can better understand your customers’ feelings of loyalty, satisfaction, and effort.

    NPS measures how likely your customer is to recommend your brand to someone else, which gives insight into satisfaction and loyalty. The CSAT is a direct measure of customer satisfaction, usually in relation to a specific interaction or experience. And your CES measures the amount of effort customers had to expend to achieve a particular goal.

    2. Create customer personas

    A customer persona is a finely honed profile of your best or target customer. Your company may want or need more than one persona, but you should focus on your most valuable customer types. A persona is more than a list of common characteristics. It should be as specific as possible and help you visualize the wants, needs, behaviors, and motivations of your customer.

    Think beyond demographic information like age, gender, income, or geography type. Psychographic (e.g., values, opinions, aspirations), transactional (e.g., purchase histories, service records), and behavioral (e.g., engagement on your website or social media profiles) information are key components of a richly built persona.

    3. Complete a customer journey map

    A customer journey map is an externally focused map of your customer’s experience throughout the full cycle of a particular journey. For example, the journey could start at the customer’s own awareness of a need and end with a product purchase, with steps for every interaction and impression in between.

    The process of building a customer journey map is an act of empathy. You should put yourself in your customer’s shoes and imagine their actions and feelings along the way. That doesn’t mean the map simply springs from your imagination, it should still be grounded in data. It means that by the end of the journey mapping process, you should have a deeper understanding of gaps or flaws in the customer experience and your customer’s motivations, desires, and feelings throughout.

    4. Supplement with outside data

    There are also ways to learn more about your customer using data from outside of your company. Contextual data in business draw on facts from the broader environment, including social media, news, events, weather, market changes, demographic changes, or geography.

    You can source contextual data from third-party businesses or organizations, such as market research firms or vendors. There is also a wealth of publicly available data from government sources, such as the Dutch CBS (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek), the U.S. Census Bureau or the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A variety of customer experience-related software can also aid your gathering of outside data.

    5. Use a voice-of-the-customer (VoC) program

    According to Gartner, VoC programs 'collect, aggregate, and provide the means to analyze direct feedback from surveys and interviews, indirect feedback from social media and customer care interactions, and inferred data such as web analytics and behavioral data'.

    According to Gartner, data sources for a VoC program can include customer complaints, customer surveys, employee feedback, company reviews, interviews, and social media, among others. Through rich, diversified sources of customer feedback, VoC programs help companies better understand customer experience and sentiment.

    Pull it all together with customer experience software

    Many customer experience software solutions can address any or all of the above listening approaches, from managing surveys and multichannel listening to visualizing the customer journey.

    By consolidating customer experience information into a single CX dashboard or hub, your organization can conduct more efficient analyses and see a fuller picture of your customers.

    Author: Kristen Bialik

    Source: Capterra

  • 6 signals that help you recognize the failure of competitors

    6 signals that help you recognize the failure of competitors

    On August 5, 2018, retail giant Toys R Us officially closed its doors after 70 years of business. The company’s financial troubles were already well known, having filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September of 2017, but the decision to close its remaining 807 brick-and-mortar locations still shocked many who are familiar with the toy industry. Other retailers, like Payless, Wet Seal, and RadioShack, had managed to successfully exit bankruptcy during the same year, and many believed Toys R Us was on the right track. Still, there were indications that Toys R Us wasn’t going to recover its losses, long before the decision to shut down was made public.

    Knowing in advance that a competitor is failing can provide numerous opportunities for your business to grow. On the other hand, getting caught off guard puts your company at a disadvantage, making it harder to move quickly and fill the void left behind.

    These are 6 warning signs that your competition might be going under: 

    1. CFO turnover: 

    According to a study by recruiting firm Korn/Ferry International with 1,000 companies surveyed, only 4% of businesses saw their new CFO leave within a year of taking the job. Only 15% lost a CFO within 2 years of hiring. The main reasons CFOs cited for leaving were operational problems and a fear of harming their own careers if/when the company went under on their watch. So, if a company can’t seem to hang on to a CFO, it could stem from bigger problems behind the scenes.

    2. Insider sales: 

    In a similar vein, insider selling at public companies can indicate that the company’s future isn’t looking bright. Executives sell stock all the time, often for reasons unrelated to the company’s performance. But when multiple executives dump their stock at the same time, it’s worth investigating why.

    3. Slashing budgets: 

    At Toys R Us, workers across the county reported that cleanings, remodels, and repairs were being overlooked. Sometimes indefinitely, months before the retailer went under. While that information may be hard to obtain, you can identify when expenses, such as marketing budgets, have been slashed. Are they missing from tradeshows? Have their Google pay-per-click ads stopping showing up? Has their display advertising dried up? These are only some of the signals that marketing budgets took a cut.

    4. Unpublicized website changes: 

    Failing companies may quietly update their websites to reflect internal changes that they don't want the public to notice. If you’re tracking your competitors’ websites, keep an eye out for missing product pages, removed executive profiles, and dropped partnerships. Even a general decrease in press releases, events, and everyday communication can signal that problems are mounting inside the company.

    5. Unexpected pivots: 

    To attract customers and appease investors, failing companies may try to switch up their offerings when the end seems nigh. In 2017, Toys R Us started positioning itself as an interactive playground where kids could test out new toys, in an effort to distinguish itself from competitors like Amazon, Target, and Walmart. Borders, the defunct book chain, took the opposite approach by rolling out an ebook service a year prior to closing, in a last-ditch attempt to keep up with Amazon’s Kindle. Both companies made dramatic shifts away from their core businesses in their final days, with equally unsuccessful results.

    6. Layoffs and buyouts: 

    Companies struggling to stay afloat may try to cut expenses by cutting staff. Layoffs are a pretty obvious signal that a business can’t pay its workers, but executive buyouts can also be an overlooked sign of trouble. Senior managers and executives are usually highly compensated and cutting a few of those high salaries and generous penchants might indicate that a company is looking to scale back expenditures at the cost of long-term stability and leadership.

    Conclusion

    When analyzing your competition, it is always important to keep in mind what developments for competitors mean to your business. Do you notice one or more of the 5 signals that mentioned above that a competitor is failing? Maybe this poses opportunities for your business. But it can also mean that your competitor is failing because of something that  is also a threat to your business. 

    Always keep your competitive intelligence up to date in order to grasp opportunities or defend your company against potential threat. Having knowledge about your competition helps you to stay ahead of your competition.

    Source: CI Radar

     

  • A closer look into B2B marketing personalisation strategies based on MI

    A closer look into B2B marketing personalisation strategies based on MI

    Creating effective B2B (business-to-business) marketing personalisation strategies based on market needs and behaviours

    What is marketing personalisation?

    Simply, personalisation in marketing is using data collected about a target audience to tailor content, products and services specifically to them. The quantity and richness of data collected determines the extent of the personalisation.

    Personalisation in marketing has clear business benefits

    Appetite for this marketing personalisation is still strong today. In the Gartner 2018 State of Personalisation Survey, 87% of surveyed marketing leaders said that their organisation is pursuing personalisation. This is due to the clear business benefits associated with personalisation, reaching the right person with the right message through the right channel at the right time. The Harvard Business Review states that personalisation can lift revenues by 5-15% and increase the efficiency of marketing spend by up to 10-40%.

    Various studies have shown that there is an increasing gap between customer expectations and the ability of B2B organisations to meet them. For example, 98% of consumers have chosen not to complete a purchase because of incomplete or incorrect content pushed to them.

    Over-focusing on demographics means B2B personalisation isn’t as effective as it could be

    Thinking of marketing personalisation solely as a marketing activity is the main reason organisations are not fulfilling their potential. Despite investment in customer data, predictive analytics, and marketing cloud solutions, marketers forget the role primary market research plays in creating an effective personalisation strategy, through the understanding of needs and behaviour.

    Personalisation in B2B marketing can be broken down into three categories that affect broad and large-scale marketing activities:

    • Segment-specific – personalised by demographics (such as industry, organisation size, age & job titles etc.)
    • Persona-specific – personalised for specific buyer types
    • Stage-specific – personalised for a stage of the buying process

    When asked about the effectiveness of types of personalisation approaches used, three out of four B2B organisations stated that segment-specific personalisation is very poor, poor or neutral. However, despite the poor returns the majority of B2B organisations employ this ineffective approach to personalisation.

    There is a need to capture more behavioural information around needs throughout the buyer or customer journey. Stage- and persona-specific approaches to personalisation are more likely to be rated well and very well in terms of effectiveness. Yet only a third of B2B organisations utilise behavioural and persona-specific information into personalisation strategies and only a quarter personalise information across the customers and prospects position in the customer and buyer journey.

    B2C organisation on the other hand have invested more heavily into research for their personalisation efforts. When marketers were asked about the data and insights they have available for personalisation, 61% of B2C companies thought they had sufficient information compared to only 52% of B2B organisations. This under utilisation of persona and stage-specific information presents strong opportunities for B2B organisations to better meet individual customer needs and capture a competitive advantage.

    B2B marketers value personalisation but are not supported by the wider organisation

    Marketers are not overly satisfied with their performance when it comes to personalisation; only 12% were very or extremely satisfied with their performance.

    The main reasons driving this dissatisfaction were identified in a following open ended question and can be grouped into three key themes: lacking information to connect with customers on a personal level, lacking dedicated personalisation roles and a lack of investment. When further considering investment and spend on marketing personalisation, B2C are outspending B2B. 53% of B2C organisation expected their personalisation budget to increase throughout his year, compared to only 25% of B2B organisation.

    As a result of this lack of organisational support, B2B marketers feel that they are ‘'barely scratching the surface of what could and should be done'.

    Author: Joe Boag

    Source: B2B International

  • Five fundamental topics in Commercial Due Diligence (CDD)

    Five fundamental topics in Commercial Due Diligence (CDD)

    Commercial Due Diligence (CDD) is a vital aspect of the pre-investment process for private equity firms and investors. CDD is typically conducted before buying negotiations begin, in order to allow the potential buyer to assess the risks and potential of the target company before proposing an offer. CDD is often performed alongside Financial Due Diligence and Legal Due Diligence.

    ''The purpose of CDD is to provide a holistic and comprehensive picture of the internal and external environment of the target company.''

    Acquiring a business is complex and challenging. A solid CDD process is always necessary in order to support a buying decision. It is desirable to get a clear view of the targets’ commercial attractiveness, it is even more of interest to conduct solid CDD when investors are not familiar with the market their potential target is operating in. Markets have their own dynamics and characteristics and can easily appear attractive on the outside. CDD should warn investors from targeting a company that appears attractive (based on its prior financial results and historic growth) but is actually active in a market threatened by competitive innovation, new regulations, shift in demand or other disruptive events.  

    The specific structure of a CDD report depends on the party responsible for delivery, the target company, scope of the research, timeline and available budget. Still, some fundamental topics are (almost) always present in the report:

    Target Company

    Of course, intelligence needs to be collected about the target company. It is essential to make an assessment of the achievability of their business plan; is it realistic taken into account the internal and external environment? How does the current cost structure look? Additionally, it is vital to learn more about the company’s historic and future strategy.

    Also, recent developments within the company need to be considered. Was there a recent change in management team, restructuring, capacity expansion or lawsuit? The portfolio of the target company also needs to be assessed. How is their portfolio diversified and what are makes their products or services unique? This will provide a first indication of the competitive edge of the target company. In a further stage of the analysis this information is used to create a solid understanding of the ability to compete of the target company.

    Market

    In order to provide a decent assessment of the market the target is operating in; it is of utmost importance to get insight in where the market is heading. Is the market mature? Which growth drivers and key developments do we see? Is the market susceptible for disruption? Can we identify a regulatory framework? Which substitute markets are evolving?

    Sometimes, data about a certain market is not available. In that case it is necessary to estimate or model the actual and obtainable market value to get reliable insights in market shares and market growth. All the insights combined give a clear understanding about how market developments affect the (future) value of the target company. 

    Competitors

    Competition plays a major role in assessing the commercial attractiveness of the target company. Creating a better understanding of the competitive playing field is crucial. How are market shares divided among competitors? What is the intensity of the rivalry? Can the market be seen as consolidated or fragmented? Part of this is creating competitor profiles of the key competitors and identify how the target company is positioned in the value chain.

    Next, it is necessary to estimate future competitive threats. Think about companies competing in a related market, or companies from other geographical markets with expansion drift. Depending on the level of competitive intensity within a market, new competitors will enter the playing stage. The entrance of new competitors in a market is more likely when there are high profit margins, no major entry barriers and when there is still a high future growth potential.

    Customers

    In analysis of customers of the target company, it is imperative to first define who we see as a (potential) customer. This demarcation helps to keep focus and reduce the scope. Next, customer profiles can be made with the right segmentation. Are the customers other companies or consumers? What is their purchasing behaviour? Are customers easily switching between different brands? What are they willing to spend? Also, conducting an order analysis and get understanding of the distribution channel is essential.

    A crucial element are the key buying criteria; are customers making their purchase decision based on price, quality or service, and how is the target company performing on those criteria?

    Relevant buying criteria provide context for solid competitor analysis, it enables to draw a framework in which the competitors and their products can be valued or scored. It also supports in assessing whether the target company has a strong and defendable position with respect to customers. Pinpointing the right buying criteria is a tough task, but when done right, the information is invaluable.

    Revenue and pricing

    Last but not least it is useful to take a deeper look into the balance sheet, P&L and cash flow of the target company. Where is the main revenue deriving from? Are cost and revenue projections reasonable? How much can the target company be expected to make over a set period of time? Prices can fluctuate over time; what is the forecast for prices in the future and what factors affect the price? Examining revenue and pricing structures can also be shared with activities performed in Financial Due Diligence.

    Of course this list is not complete. The exact content of a CDD report truly depends on the profile of the target company and the specific characteristics of the business environment. However, these five topics are always present and absolutely essential as building blocks for a solid CDD report.

    Author: Kees Kuiper

    Source: Hammer, market intelligence

  • How digital breadcrumbs can help to achieve the right intelligence

    How digital breadcrumbs can help to achieve the right intelligence

    The concept of a digital breadcrumb trail isn’t new. In the digital world, intentionally or unintentionally, we leave behind a trail of information that can reveal a lot about us. The web pages we visit, the links that we click on, our location, browsing history, our device, everything reveals something about us. Notice that cookie that you need to accept on a website? That’s a digital breadcrumb you’re leaving behind. These breadcrumbs are used by B2C companies like Google and Facebook to put together our consumer profile and then make billions of dollars by showing us ads off of those profiles.

    Surprisingly, B2B companies haven’t been able to leverage the power of digital breadcrumbs to develop their market and competitive intelligence strategies. Just like consumers, companies also leave behind digital breadcrumbs such as a tweet about an event, a job posting on their careers page, a blog post announcing new features, a new case study, changes on the management page, customer comments on a review site, discussion forums, press announcements, news coverage, and much more. In the context of B2B companies, the word ‘digital breadcrumbs’ was first coined by Meltwater CEO Jørn Lyseggen in his book Outside Insight.

    Digital breadcrumbs are any information that might not mean much in isolation, but reveal valuable insights when collected, organized, and analyzed in a structured manner over a period of time.

    While implementing market and competitive intelligence solutions at some of the world’s leading companies, we’ve discovered novel ways in which the smartest teams use digital breadcrumbs to gain competitive insights. Here are a few handpicked, real-life examples from our experience that illustrates this concept.

    Industrial accidents: the digital breadcrumbs that helped a company generate sales leads

    Sales teams have one of the most critical and challenging roles in the company: they bring in the money. The sales team of a safety equipment manufacturing firm often complained of missing opportunities because they did not receive the right lead from their marketing team at the right time. As a result, the company was losing revenue opportunities to the competition. The marketing team started to look for leading signals that might point to a requirement for safety equipment. Their experienced salespeople told them that it usually takes an industrial accident for the management, to realise the importance of safety and invest in the right equipment.

    This information was publicly available as such mishaps are covered by the local news. Similarly, another leading indicator of potential leads was the expansion or announcement of new projects, which results in a new facility being built or tenders announced by the government. By tracking such news reports of industrial accidents, facility openings, and tenders announced by the government, the company was able to build a sales pipeline worth $5 million in the first three months of implementing our Market and Competitive Intelligence platform.

    Negative news: the digital breadcrumbs that helped a bank avert business risk

    When a bank lends money to businesses, it often runs the risk of not getting their money back, should the business fail. Good banks are better at managing their risk exposure. Therefore, instead of just relying on voluntary disclosures by current and potential clients, a European bank, after lending money, proactively tracked negative news on these companies and monitored their filings with the United Kingdom’s Companies House for signals of potential business risks.

    These signals included publicly available information about management changes, lawsuits involving directors, litigations, fines, money laundering, liquidation, and corruption. With this intelligence practice in place, the bank reduced the time for flagging risky accounts by 80%.

    Job postings: the digital breadcrumbs that revealed competitors’ next big move

    In a hyper-competitive market, knowing where your competitors are headed is an important strategic advantage. Consider the case of a Fortune India 500 IT services major with $9 billion in annual revenues. The company was looking to focus on blockchain and wanted to ascertain which of their competitors were also focusing on this new space. By looking at the job postings of their competitors for blockchain-related roles in specific regions, their market and competitive intelligence team was able to intelligently predict specific competitors they would be up against.

    Sales signals: the digital breadcrumbs that enabled a sales team to engage with prospects

    A common strategy for B2B companies selling to large enterprises is account-based sales development (ABSD). Instead of trying to sell to everyone and spreading themselves thin, enterprise sales teams focus on a few high-value accounts to deep-dive into. The healthcare division of a Fortune 500 IT major was seeing success with its ABSD strategy but was looking to cut down on the lengthy sales cycle. They realised that account managers that were having personalised conversations with prospects and following up with them frequently were closing deals sooner than the others.

    They started tracking their key accounts for conversations starter signals such as event participation, awards, new office opening, and leadership changes. These signals,  'conversation starters', gave the opportunity to the sales teams to follow-up with the right context without being a nuisance. By scaling this activity across the sales team, they were able to get to a point where 90% of their account managers reported finding opportunities to engage with their prospects.

    So the question remains, if there is value in tracking these digital breadcrumbs, then why do companies tend to overlook them? We think it is because it’s usually easier said than done. It is overwhelming to identify such signals in the extremely noisy place like the internet without the aid of sophisticated tools that are specifically engineered for this purpose. As it turns out, the first step towards building a market-intelligent company is to define the goals of your market intelligence programme. As you might have already noticed, in all the examples above, there was a clearly defined goal which helped these companies identify and capture the right digital breadcrumbs.

    Author: Mohit Bhakuni

    Source: Contify

  • Steering your business towards consumer centricity

    Steering your business towards consumer centricity

    Customer centricity is more important than ever before. Learn the skills necessary to position your company as engaging and relevant to your consumer base.

    With consumer expectations on the rise, it’s more important than ever to structure your organization around creating amazing and engaging customer experiences. Godin put it best when he said: 'You don’t find customers for your products. You find products for your customers'.

    Here we discuss some practical approaches to deepening the engagement between you and your brand community, and how having the right technology solutions in place helps you put your customers at the heart of everything you do.

    Open the dialogue to deepen the value exchange

    An important place to start is to first open up a dialogue with your customers on how they experience your brand. It’s not enough to simply send the occasional email survey, or only ask consumers to answer an automated service recovery questionnaire at the end of a customer service call.

    It’s crucial that customers understand the benefit of voicing their opinions. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways: you can offer discounts, deliver premium content, or loop consumers into new product innovation discussions before they even hit the market. The latter is also a great way to beta test new product features. Whichever direction you take, it’s important that your customers feel as if their time and opinions are valued.

    A customer insights platform makes it easy to facilitate a two-way conversation. The end game here is to create more engaged customers and develop a more meaningful value exchange, by giving your customers a role in co-creating their own experience with your brand.

    Centralize your data

    Most businesses have a range of consumer data coming from disparate sources. Your browser activity might be telling you about online purchase behaviors, your DMP tells you what ad creative performs the best, and your CRM data shows you who your most engaged buyer personas are. But all this data sits in its respective platform, accessible to only very specific stakeholders, and valuable insightis wasted by looking at only one part of the entire picture at a time.

    To achieve a single customer view, it’s crucial to centralize a continuous feed of real-time customer data and insights. By putting the right structures in place, your customer data is easily visible and actionable across the entire organization.

    You have now put your business in a position where you can listen, understand and respond to the evolving needs of your customers.

    Empower your teams with a continuous loop of customer insight

    Many organizations miss the mark when deciding when to ask for customer feedback, with the vast majority of businesses asking for feedback only at the end of the purchase, if at all. As best-practice, customer feedback engagements should be personalized, progressive, and feel organic within the existing experience.

    The insights learned should empower your marketing and customer service teams to provide the best possible experience. This will ensure that you’re constantly building rich profiles of real people, who keep coming back to your business.

    Because you know as well as your customers do, that there’s nothing more powerful than feeling heard.

    Author: Tallulah Thompson

    Source: Greenbook Blog

  • The art of looking beyond vanity metrics

    The art of looking beyond vanity metrics

    B2B marketers beware: Marketing vanity metrics are easy on the eyes but only skim the surface when it comes to actual value. Although vanity metrics may make you feel good about your marketing efforts, these surface-level metrics only reveal part of the story.

    But, fear not dear marketer! If you turn your attention to the metrics that matter, you can improve your marketing strategy and communicate the important insights to leadership.

    Before we get into it, here’s a quick definition of a vanity metric: a vanity metric is data that looks good at first glance, but provides little insight into business success, company revenue, and ROI.

    So, which data points are the common culprits? Examples of marketing vanity metrics include:

    • Page views
    • Downloads
    • Facebook likes
    • Twitter followers

    An alternative to marketing vanity metrics

    In order to communicate the value of marketing initiatives, marketers must hone in on actionable metrics: metrics that can guide decision-making. These types of metrics are often referred to as engagement metrics. Engagement metrics can tell you more about what’s working, what’s not working, and what information you need to test further. In fact, 91% of marketers named engagement metrics, such as social media interactions, time on site, and bounce rate, as the number one way to measure success.

    But let’s face it, executives and board members can get stuck on marketing vanity metrics. So, how can you manage the ever-increasing expectations around marketing vanity metrics? Today, we take a closer look at three common marketing vanity metrics and explore the different ways to steer the conversation towards more meaningful metrics. Let’s jump right in!

    1. Social media followers

    Many marketers rely too heavily on their social media followers to measure their social media success. And we get it! All marketers want to see an increase in social media followers, but, these numbers don’t necessarily equal an engaged audience.

    Think about it this way: you may have thousands of Twitter followers but if only one of them engages with your social content regularly, what is your following really worth? On the other hand, you may have a small but dedicated following on LinkedIn with your social posts often leading to big sales. Yes, your LinkedIn audience is smaller, but it turns out these users engage more with your content, ultimately bring in more value. Just by digging into the data, you’ve zeroed in on actionable information to guide your social media efforts.

    The next time higher-ups inquire about your social media following, be sure to shift the focus to more important engagement metrics. It’s important to note that your marketing and business goals will dictate which metrics are most important to your executive team. Here’s what we recommend:

    Brand awareness:

    An easy way to show brand awareness on social media is through the number of brand mentions or tags you receive. During your next marketing campaign or product launch, keep a close eye on branded keywords. Next, keep an eye on the competition’s branded keywords to reveal how often social media users interact with competing businesses. Use this information as a benchmark to measure and understand your own performance.

    Lead generation:

    When tracking lead generation, focus on conversions for maximum impact. As you review conversion data in your preferred analytics platform, take note of the social networks that deliver the highest number of qualified leads.

    Website traffic:

    If your goal is to generate website traffic from your social presence, look closely at metrics that demonstrate real social engagement. For instance, check out where your social media leads enter your website, track the pages you visit, and where they drop off. Also, take a look at the specific posts and channels that garner the most clicks so you can scale your success and serve more content that resonates with your followers.

    Customer experience:

    If you use social media as a customer support channel, the number of followers you accumulate won’t give you any information about how you are doing. Instead look at metrics like the ratio of questions asked to questions answered or responsiveness. Then, work to improve how many cases or complaints you solve.

    Event or webinar registrants:

    If your goal is to generate event participation, break your reports down by social channel. This shows you where users are the most active and engaged in your webinar or event. Simply include campaign tracking information in your social links.

    Content downloads:

    Not all content is created equal. For instance, a high conversion on gated content signals a high-quality piece of content. Use this metric to strategize on future content offerings and bring those insights to leadership.

    The list above is a good starting point to show the senior team how your social efforts meet specific business goals. Roll up your sleeves, and start tracking!

    2. Total app, product, or software downloads

    Total downloads. This number can be impressive on the surface but it isn’t a clear way to gauge the impact your marketing efforts have on product adoption. Instead of looking at total number of downloads, look to yearly and monthly download trends to reveal if downloads are increasing or decreasing over time. Then, look at this timeline in comparison to a timeline of major marketing campaigns. That way, you can pinpoint which efforts had an impact on downloads and which did not.

    Another issue with total downloads, is that it doesn’t paint a complete picture of product usage or adoption. Instead, look at these key usage metrics for a clear understanding of how your customers and prospects engage with your offers:

    • Uninstall rate
    • Renewal rate
    • Trial conversion rate
    • Time users spend using the software

    Although higher-ups and executives may only express interest in total downloads, it’s your job as a marketer to paint a more complete picture for them. For example, you could explain that total downloads are up after a recent marketing campaign, but usage metrics stayed level. This indicates that your campaign was faulty in some way. Maybe you didn’t give an accurate description of your product, or maybe it was too difficult for users to figure out. These are important insights to highlight to upper management.

    3. Website pageviews

    A high number of pageviews is an ego boost, but pageviews are another metric to be wary of. When you report this data to management, it’s important to provide pageviews along with actionable engagement metrics to fully show user behavior. Focus on how users engage with your website content rather than how many pageviews each webpage garners. Important engagement metrics include:

    • Time spent on site
    • Unique users
    • Bounce rate
    • Pages per visitor
    • Conversion rate

    Some questions to think about when reviewing website analytics:

    • Which pages keep people engaged, and which ones do users abandon quickly?
    • Which elements and CTAs convert best?
    • Can you identify which traffic sources perform best and why?
    • Or, can you determine which campaigns generate the most traffic and why?
    • Is your website content mapped to your sales journey in a way that makes sense?
    • Can you pinpoint at which stage of the buyer’s journey users leave your website?

    Take an in-depth look at these engagement metrics to really focus your online marketing initiatives on engagement over pageviews. Use your findings to build best practices and reduce bounce rate to ultimately keep users coming back for more great content.

    Final thoughts on marketing vanity metrics

    While higher-ups may ask for marketing vanity metrics, it’s your job to refocus on data points that correlate to sales and revenue, improving your business' KPI's.

    Know that you can still report on vanity metrics to management, but don’t spend much time there. Instead, focus the conversation on more actionable, advanced metrics, highlighting the value they offer your company.

    Source: Zoominfo

  • The benefits of analyzing the customer journey of your users

    The benefits of analyzing the customer journey of your users

    Skills related to User Experience (UX) design are high in demand. They are among the top 10 most demanded skills in 2019. ranked by a recent LinkedIn study. Finding qualified UX designers is tied with finding software engineers in terms of hiring priorities, according to a recent Adobe study. Within that UX bucket, designers who have skills related to data analytics and research are particularly sought after, with those qualities being named as a must-have.

    But the ability to analyze the user journey to create delightful experiences for end-users isn’t just a skill that is exclusive to (nor required only by) UX professionals. For stakeholders across the spectrum of software development and delivery, access to interactive data visualizations on how the user is moving through a task can help each group more successfully deliver on their own goals. From engineering, to product management, to marketing. And while access to this data may be expected in a cloud-based application, it’s equally (if not more) important for on-premise software publishers to enable this type of analysis in their products.

    By looking at data related to user flow (also known as ´path analytics´), product stakeholders begin to identify the series of steps it takes users to reach their goals. With a deep view into the steps surrounding a key task, several helpful pieces of information that may have been difficult or impossible to visualize now become readily apparent. Things like unanticipated actions, broken workflows, or shortcuts that power users have discovered that could be promoted or productized. 

    Having this knowledge has benefits that extend beyond streamlining and optimizing the user interface. This insight can help better determine training requirements and guide users, and also provide points for comparison between old and new user interfaces that inform product development.

    How does user flow analysis work?

    It starts with choosing a ´hotspot´ event to analyze. This can range from launching the application, to launching any event within it such as using a wizard, opening a menu, or accessing a particular feature. Next, pick a path direction within the hotspot to drill further into. This can be the start, the end, or somewhere in between. This is where it is crucial to understand the question you’re trying to answer. For instance, the hotspot would be the starting point if the goal is to understand where users go from a particular point, the steps taken, and whether that meets expectations. The hotspot would be the endpoint if you’re trying to answer a broader question about the value of the experience, such as the steps leading up to the user clicking on a link to explore upgraded functionality.

    Choose the number of steps to analyze, and the number of events within each step, as well as any paths that you don’t want to look atAs you audit the events you have tagged, there are a couple of best practices you can follow.

    First, make sure to have a naming convention for events that makes interpreting them easier in user flow reports and visualizations. Secondly, make sure that all of the high value events are tagged, to get data on them as soon as possible or before a specific marketing campaign or product roadmap decision.

    Having a window into these user flows has several key benefits, as it enables the organization to:

    Validate design: Confirm that users are taking the path designed for them or identify if different workflows may produce a better result.

    Visualize the journey: Quickly navigate through path reports to see traffic patterns through events and relative popularity of next/previous steps with a single click. This includes the ability to filter reports to view paths of specific sets of users based on their properties, and exclude noise events such as system generated events that are not user-initiated for clean user paths. The best tools will enable chart-based analysis, and provide the ability to export the data to CSV for offline analysis.

    Verify campaign effectiveness: User flow analysis can also be applied to measuring the effectiveness of marketing campaigns being pushed out through in-application messaging, with the ability to see the path a user took after seeing that message. User flow analysis lends the ability not only to see click-throughs, but also drill down within that to see the exact path users took.

    Author: Victor DeMarines

    Source: Dataversity

  • The different levels of a CX strategy and how to level up

    The different levels of a CX strategy and how to level up

    Customer experience (CX) needs to be an essential part of your business plan to stay competitive.

    About seven in 10 customer experience management professionals (67%) say their organizations are already competing mostly or entirely on CX, according to a recent Gartner survey. By two years from now, nearly nine in 10 CX managers (86%) expect to mostly or entirely compete on the basis of CX.

    If you want your business to beat the competition, you need to create a robust CX strategy.

    In this article, we’ll cover the current state of CX marketing strategies and popular CX initiatives at other organizations. Use this information to identify gaps in your organization’s initiatives and to propose investing in improvements.

    Where organizations are now in their CX strategy

    Most organizations are still in the early stages of customer experience maturity, according to Gartner’s CX maturity model. This model is a tool to help organizations assess where they are and where they want to be in their CX strategy and initiatives. The model consists of five levels, ranging from an ad hoc approach to a fully embedded, organization-wide approach.

    About two-thirds of B2C organizations are in the earliest two stages of CX maturity, representing an initial ad hoc approach (32%) or an early established CX road map (33%). In comparison, just 5% of organizations are in the upper two levels, which are characterized by optimizing and fully embedding CX considerations across all levels of the organization.

    What a CX strategy looks like at different levels of maturity

    To get a stronger sense of what CX maturity looks like, take a look at the following table, which lays out key characteristics of what an organization’s customer experience program looks like across the five maturity levels.

    Ask yourself where your organization is now and where you want the organization to be.

    From there, you can begin building a strategy to close the gap between your current level and goal level.

    Customer experience maturity levels

    1. Ad hoc

    • Purpose and strategy:Reacting, fighting fires
    • Customer insight: No research team or budget
    • Personas and journeys: None exist
    • Voice of the Customer: Irregular surveys

    2. Establishing

    • Purpose and strategy: Reducing complaints, developing strategy
    • Customer insight: Dedicated researcher
    • Personas and journeys: Developed
    • Voice of the Customer: Standardized surveys

    3. Performing

    • Purpose and strategy: Implementing a unified CX strategy
    • Customer insight: Dedicated research team
    • Personas and journeys: Used to identify and prioritize efforts
    • Voice of the Customer: Limited, closed-loop feedback process

    4. Optimizing

    • Purpose and strategy: Optimizing to meet CX goals
    • Customer insight: Continuous
    • Personas and journeys: Detailed, represent full journey
    • Voice of the Customer: Fully operationalized across organization

    5. Embedded

    • Purpose and strategy: Pursuing innovation, whole organization buy-in
    • Customer insight: Insights widely distributed, used daily
    • Personas and journeys: Used throughout the organization
    • Voice of the Customer: Continuous monitoring

    The maturity model is not prescriptive. It’s important to note that not all organizations will even want to reach level 5, which involves continuously monitoring customer feedback to make real-time decisions. The technological and financial requirements for this approach are likely prohibitive for small and midsize businesses, not to mention the time and staffing it would require.

    Take your customer experience strategy to the next level with these 3 popular CX initiatives

    As you can see from the maturity model table, personas, journey maps, and a Voice of the Customer program are key characteristics that can help define where you are in the development of your CX program. Here are some tips for implementing or optimizing these initiatives.

    1. Develop customer personas to better identify CX needs

    A customer persona is a finely honed profile of your best or target customer and should be as specific as possible to help you visualize their wants, needs, behaviors, and motivations.

    Think beyond demographic information such as age, gender, income, or geography type. Psychographic (e.g., values, opinions, aspirations), transactional (e.g., purchase histories, service records), and behavioral (e.g., engagement on your website or social media profiles) information are key components of a richly-built persona.

    Where to start:

    If you don’t already have a customer persona, start by working on a persona for your most valuable customer type.

    Level up:

    If you already have a customer persona, consider creating additional personas to acknowledge other valuable customer types. Validate your existing persona by checking back in on the data you used when you created it and updating it as needed. Use your customer personas to identify CX needs.

    2. Build customer journey maps to better prioritize CX efforts

    A customer journey map is an externally focused map of your customer’s experience through the full cycle of a particular journey. For example, the journey could start at the customer’s own awareness of a need and end with a product purchase, with steps for every interaction and impression in between.

    The process of building a customer journey map is an act of empathy; you should put yourself in your customer’s shoes and imagine their actions and feelings along the way. By the end of the process, you should have a deeper understanding of gaps or flaws in the customer experience and your customer’s motivations, desires, and feelings throughout.

    Where to start:

    If you don’t already have a journey map, have a workshop with key stakeholders involved in any customer-facing touchpoint.

    Level up:

    If you have a journey map already, validate that it’s still accurate every year or so. Use your journey maps to identify pain points within your customer’s journey and brainstorm solutions.

    3. Create a Voice of the Customer program to improve CX efforts

    A VoC program helps measure customer experience (CX) by capturing and analyzing multiple types of customer feedback to identify customer experience areas that need improvement. As one of the core ways to better understand your customers, VoC programs enable organizations to follow one of the foundational pillars of strong CX.

    Data sources for a VoC program can include customer complaints, customer surveys, employee feedback, company reviews, interviews, and social media. Through rich, diversified sources of customer feedback, VoC programs help companies better understand customer experience and sentiment.

    Where to start:

    If you don’t have a VoC program in place, start by improving your customer survey program: Standardize surveys and make timing regular and consistent.

    Level up:

    If you already have a VoC program in place, consider adding other forms of feedback to enrich your VoC. Use this data to track progress on your CX efforts.

    Envision your long-term CX strategy goals

    Using the customer experience maturity table above, ask yourself where your organization’s CX program is now, where you want it to be, and how you can get there.

    Starting or improving your efforts in one or all of the popular CX initiatives laid out here (personas, journey maps, and VoC programs) is a great place to start in leveling up your CX maturity.

    Auhtor: Kristen Bialik

    Source: Capterra

  • The growing importance of Market & Competitive Intelligence

    The growing importance of Market & Competitive Intelligence

    Market & Competitive Intelligence is becoming more and more important and it is today seen as one of the few sustainable competitive advantages for many companies. To be distinguished today is increasingly difficult, with many vendors producing similar products and services, selling them for sharp prices, delivering excellent after sales services, but often lacking unique selling points. 

    Differentiation does not only imply exclusivity of products and services, but also the ability to see and understand shifts and drivers in the market. Questions that need to be answered include:

    • What would customers like to buy from you?
    • What are the likely strategic moves of your competitors?
    • How fast is the market growing?
    • What are the disruptive market trends?

    Asking and answering these questions is the role of a Market & Competitive Intelligence team.

    Looking forward

    An important shift in intelligence roles and activities is the move towards forward looking intelligence. While in the past many intelligence teams focused on the current situation (competitive position, number of happy customers, revenue, profit, etc.)  or measuring past performance to understand patterns, share and progress, today intelligence teams try to understand what will happen in the future by doing predictive analytics, modelling, scenario planning, competitor simulation and so forth.  Forward thinking is what will help a company anticipate, be proactive, be smarter than competition and grow faster than the market.

    This means that the role of market intelligence is becoming more important, and the better a team’s capacity to answer the above-mentioned questions, the stronger the company’s sustainable competitive advantages.

    It is therefore important to know how well intelligence teams are developing, how they are organized within a company, how big the team is, what budget they have and where they are positioned on the global intelligence scale.

    Author: Joost Drieman

    Source M-Brain

  • Truly making the customer the centrepiece of your CX program

    Truly making the customer the centrepiece of your CX program

    I often see customer experience (CX) programs that connect point A directly to point B, equating the actions the brand does to the value it derives from those actions. A straightforward example of this is when a martech vendor claims, 'We improve the brand’s CX by enhancing offers and ‘next best actions,’ resulting in more clickthroughs and conversions'. Or, you might hear an executive say: 'We improved our CX by implementing self-service, which reduced call volume and headcount, thus saving us money'.

    Those are both excellent business outcomes, but is either a CX outcome? In neither of those examples do we know the impact on the customer. Are customers happier? Do they perceive more value? Have we changed their attitude toward the brand or themselves? Are they more likely to be loyal or tell others? We don’t know because, in both of those examples, we skipped the customer. If you are doing CX, you cannot go from point A: what we do, to point B: what we get, without going through point C: the customer.

    When we skip the customer and tie our 'CX' projects only to the value the brand receives, we convert our customers into objects rather than the subjects of our efforts. In your life, objects fit into one of three broad categories: They are tools for you to exploit, barriers for you to overcome, or they are nothing. In those examples, we made the customer a tool (a wallet for us to pluck) and a barrier (an annoyance for us to eliminate). In neither case did we treat customers as people: Human beings with wants, needs, and expectations. Nor did we, in either example, measure (or even care about) the impact on the customer.

    To make the customer the subject of what you do and not merely an object that is acted upon to get what your brand wants, go from point A to C to B. That means connecting what you do to how it changes customer perception, and then recognizing how those changes in perception drive behavioral shifts that deliver long-term brand value. That may sound complicated, but it’s not. We just have to listen to customer perception and tie that to the loyalty behaviors that drive brand value, such as retention, sales growth, purchase frequency, the cost to serve or retain, and brand advocacy and word-of-mouth.

    If you start with what you want (more sales or lower costs), develop a plan to enhance your brand’s immediate financial outcomes, and measure only brand impact and not how or if customer perception has changed, you may deliver short-term ROI but cannot know if you’ve provided a better customer experience. More to the point, you cannot know if you’ve traded improved financial results today for powerful, lasting relationships that drive growth, margin, and profit tomorrow. Instead, you must connect point A and B by going through C.

    To change the customer from an object to the subject of your CX program, start with what customers want and need, develop a plan to lift customer satisfaction, and measure how you improve the customer and their relationship with your brand. Here’s how:

    • Listen to customer needs, perceptions, and feedback.
    • Bring your attitudinal and behavioral data together to understand the ROI of CX.
    • Start with customer wants and needs by developing the right personas.
    • Collaborate across functional silos to understand and identify customers’ desired journeys.
    • Measure impact on customers and not merely the effect on your brand.

    Author: Augie Ray

    Source: Gartner

  • Why investing in MI is key to your sales performance

    Why investing in MI is key to your sales performance

    In the age of data, choosing not to invest in a quality market intelligence (MI) solution can mean your sales team is losing market share to your competitors. More companies are investing in MI than ever before. These companies are achieving a significant advantage over those who are not using market intelligence solutions.  In today’s blog, we will discuss a few key ways in which the choice not to use MI can kill your sales.

    Without MI you do not know which customers you are losing

    Sales managers typically have at least one rep who reports to them. These reps often sell a wide variety of products and can work long hours. It can be difficult for a rep to detect when a customer has partially decreased their order volume over time, or gradually stops buying one product but not another.

    Oftentimes, this insight is discovered by chance. For instance, a colleague in another team or department may remark that a customer hasn’t ordered a particular product lately. In this case, proactive management to retain this customer gives way to chance. This can have a substantial impact on your overall sales figures.

    Because MI provides you with a clear picture of your customers’ buying patterns, your team can quickly detect any decrease in order volumes. With this knowledge, your team is empowered to respond proactively to the situation by sending in a rep before any major damage is done. 

    For instance, the customer may have negotiated with another vendor for a lower price or shorter lead time. By catching this problem at the front end, you can quickly intervene to re-negotiate better terms. This, in turn, may enhance your relationship with this customer as they now know they can come to you first before negotiating with another vendor in the future. Interestingly, 95% of customers don’t raise concerns before they stop buying. Having an open dialogue with your customers may minimize this issue.

    Without MI it is more difficult to discover new sales opportunities

    Increasing the number of products you sell to existing customers can be an easy way to boost revenue. That is, as long as you have MI. Without MI,cross- and up-selling are reliant on your sales reps and their personal assessment of your customers’ needs. For instance, a customer may be buying a product but not a complimentary product such as pasta but no sauce. In this case, the customer is purchasing that product elsewhere. An experienced rep may have fine-tuned their gut-instincts to recognize the bigger picture, but hunches and instincts are based on human interpretation, not fact.

    With MI you can easily see which customer is buying product A, but not product B, and respond by sending in a sales rep to make the sale. With MI, you are also able to identify the purchasing trends of similar customers.  With this information, you can quickly detect new sales opportunities. For example, a customer may benefit from being offered a line of more luxurious products. Another may be interested to in learning about a new product their competitors are buying. With the power of MI, you can become an advocate for your customers’ experience and business success.

    Without MI, preparing for a meeting with a customer is time-consuming

    Without the benefit of timely and accurate reports generated by MI, it is difficult to gain true insights into a customer’s buying patterns or to uncover sales opportunities. In this case, sales reps and leaders are reliant on traditional reporting through the IT team. Because these reports can take several days to reach your desk, the data is often outdated. And due to their static nature, these reports provide no opportunity to query the data to discover the underlying reasons for the trends you’re seeing.

    While some sales meetings do allow for this amount of pre-planning, chances are many do not. In reality, spending time to have reports generated and then examined before meeting with a customer is something not all sales professionals can afford. From a business point of view, even if your sales team is capable of getting the reports, consider all the time and effort involved. Time is an expense. 

    With access to a quality MI tool, your sales reps have a clear profile of each customer and their buying trends. 

    Not only does MI help to improve overall sales performance, it may also reduce the long hours and stress of your individual sales reps. Happier reps may create a happier work environment.

    If you're looking for a reliable MI partner, be sure to check out Hammer Market Intelligence.

    Source: Phocas Software

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