Article | June 15, 2020
Intapp serves many of the world’s top legal, accounting, consulting, private equity and investment banking firms with its connected firm-management solutions. After nearly two decades as the market leader, the company was seeking to amplify its global brand and broaden its reach to engage with new audiences. Taking a holistic approach, the Intapp team worked closely with April Six to refine its market positioning and brand strategy, and refresh its visual identity. The goal was a new POV and look-and-feel that would demonstrate Intapp’s focus on empowering client innovation.
Article | June 15, 2020
There are over 4.4 billion Internet users worldwide. If you look at them collectively as a country, it would indeed be the largest in the world. With every click on the keyboard, there is content being added to this virtual infinite universe that is being created, trillions of pieces of content get created every day. It is being created in terms of updates, likes, comments, and of course the larger pieces—websites, videos and blogs, among others.
This is a borderless country, so this content is actually accessible to anyone online, and we are no longer competing with ‘India-specific’ content. Consumers are also easily shopping across borders today. No wonder there is a switch to the digital content piece as you can swipe across this vast network and choose what you want to.
Today, digital content is an integral part of the consumer’s journey, regardless of whether she’s looking for entertainment, information or exchange (EIE). As marketers, the amount of mindspace we are able to occupy is what matters to us.
OMNI CHANNEL MARKETING
Article | June 15, 2020
It’s that time of year again where we reflect upon the prior year and make informative predictions for the months ahead in order to adjust our business activities and refocus our strategies.
Unsurprisingly, due to the nature of 2020’s events, just about every industry and business will be looking to 2021 with hope and optimism, as well as a strong sense of caution.
And while the physical retail sector has been one of the hardest hit, ecommerce has experienced the opposite effect, but that’s not to say it has been without its challenges. Consequently, businesses need to respond to shifts in the market for the chance of a successful future.
Nate Burke, CEO of Diginius, a UK provider of proprietary software for digital marketing and ecommerce solutions, shares his predictions for the industry for 2021 and beyond.
Physical retail outlets have been facing uncertainty long before the term became widely used. This is due to multiple factors, including high commercial rents, a shift towards digital-first consumer shopping habits and online competitors’ ability to undercut prices. These influences have resulted in the gradual digital transformation of retailers, whereby online offerings have become a primary focus for business efficiency.
Proof of this is the year on year increase in online sales. But the spike experienced in early 2020 is the basis of the first prediction, which is high levels of online shopping will continue into the next twelve months, with no going back to pre-COVID ways. But many organisations are already in a position to accommodate this trend, particularly as 85,000 new businesses enabled ecommerce functionality or joined an online marketplace during the first national lockdown.
And now these businesses have made the digital switch, they will want to continue maximising sales through online channels as the pandemic has created a permanent digital shift in consumer shopping behaviours with more predicted to shop online post-pandemic than before it.
Alternative sales channels
The next prediction is fuelled by both digital innovation and the rise in ecommerce. As more and more businesses enable ecommerce functionality, there will inevitably be greater competition and an increase in options for consumers to choose from.
Therefore, the channels through which businesses sell their products will widen and become more accessible in order to generate the greatest chance of items or services being seen and ultimately, chosen over competitors’.
Fortunately, the rising popularity of online marketplaces and the developments in social media shopping functions, means businesses now have the opportunity to distribute products through more channels than ever before. And this will only continue to increase in the year ahead.
When it comes to marketplaces, Amazon is leading the way with a year on year rise in net revenue. Not only is the business’s performance evidence of this, but so is the consumer shopping behaviour shift which is seeing more consumers go directly to Amazon first (40%) when searching for a product, as opposed to Google (30%) or a brand’s owned channel (19%).
Facebook and Instagram are also notable channels for ecommerce businesses, with YouTube also growing in popularity and prominence. Although by nature, these platforms are designed for social interaction and content consumption, in recent times, they have placed greater focus on shopping with Facebook’s marketplace, Instagram’s shopping tab and YouTube shopping ad functions, for example.
One of the biggest benefits of utilising social media as a shopping channel is the streamlined customer experience that can be created. Fundamentally, shoppers can see a product on their feed, click through to view it and then place an order without even having to leave the app.
But as well as convenience, social media is an effective shopping channel as platforms are key influences on consumer consumption decisions anyway. In fact, 80% of Instagram users and 68% of YouTube users say content on the respective platforms helps them decide whether to buy a product or service.
Therefore, as more businesses realise the impact of these platforms, we’ll see social media being added to an increasing number of online sales strategies.
Many are hopeful for a return to some form of normality in 2021. And with the potential reopening of physical retail, businesses will be faced with the opportunity to maximise their presence and in turn, sales through both online and offline channels, creating an omnichannel brand offering.
This way, brands will appeal to a larger customer base. And no matter which channel a customer chooses to use to interact with the brand, they can expect a consistent quality of service and overall experience.
But in 2021, what many will realise is the challenging nature of upkeeping both channels. Of course, there will be a greater financial burden due to property costs and employee wages, which will only be felt deeper due to the volatile, COVID-struck economic climate.
So instead, a true omnichannel experience will be created through integration and innovation whereby each channel is used to support and supplement the other.
For example, we’ll see retailers using their physical locations to relieve some of the pain points of the online service, such as delivery and returns processes. Some retailers are already excelling in this, including the likes of supermarkets, Next, John Lewis and Argos who have all integrated click and collect services and other smart shopping options firmly into their primary offering.
As technology and creativity moves on, we’ll also begin to see an increasing number of concept stores that make shop visits an unmissable experience that is personal to each customer and adds value to their purchase, rather than simply a distribution channel.
With all these additional sales channels, retailers will see the benefit of digital management systems that relieve some of the administrative burden and enable greater efficiency.
The VTEX solution, for example, provides a single comprehensive commerce platform for brands and retailers. Combining activity across every sales and logistics channel, these platforms allow for a unified customer experience, lower cost of ownership, and increased business capabilities across physical stores, websites (B2B and B2C), third party and company owned marketplaces.
With all this information in one place, businesses can provide better customer experiences as order information can be retrieved faster and response times reduced. Customer updates can also be automated to ensure any important information about an order process is timely communicated, with no additional workload for employees.
And as well as customer-facing benefits, these systems enable better collaboration between points in a supply chain, which can streamline a business’s processes, and in turn reduce waste and increase efficiency.
For example, orders for items that are low in stock can be placed automatically and only when they are needed. This way, businesses won’t have cash tied up in unused products and materials, and resources can be reallocated to other critical activities.
And as these systems collect and analyse data, they can also provide meaningful insight into market trends, that can inform accurate future predictions and business decisions.
These trends are evidence that the ecommerce landscape is ever-changing. While digital transformation is set to continue, the speed at which it has occurred for retailers this year means the ecommerce market will inevitably undergo further significant change in the months to come.
Businesses that are prepared to adapt now will experience better growth and success than those that remain static or stuck in their ways.
Article | June 15, 2020
Q.1. As more platforms become available, generating traffic and leads seem to get harder instead of easier. What should marketers do differently to increase leads and traffic?
A.1. Testing, tracking responses, and evaluating all lead generation methods is the best way to reduce your cost per sale. The increasing options for traffic and lead generation can do nothing but increase your opportunities for improving your effectiveness.
A marketers’ preference for using one tactic over another by eliminating the channels or not considering all available methods reduces your chances for making the most of your marketing spend. By deciding not to use email, direct mail, phone support, Google ads, social media, or any combination of these methods reduces your company’s effectiveness.
Above all, become channel agnostic. Even if it didn’t work before, continue to modify and test all channels during the height of your selling season. Do not prejudge any technique just because you and your team may be unfamiliar with it.
Channel and market fragmentation continue to challenge all marketers. This particularly aggravates the marketer’s ability to find a reliable attribution model by channel. That’s why the evaluation process has evolved to include campaign spend rather than channel spend.
Q. 2. For many businesses across various industries, there’s just not much room in the budget, and marketing is not a major priority. From your experience, what should marketers do to justify marketing spend, and where should they spend more money on?
A.2. Budget allocation has always been a challenge for marketers. Nothing new there.
Most companies budget according to the overall budget’s percentage increase. If a company spent $10,000,000 on advertising, then they might add 3% or $300,000 to the new year’s budget. There is often little to no correlation to the budget and net revenue growth plans. The whole thing becomes more of a political exercise than real financial planning.
In my opinion, marketing budgets should include all marketing activities. This includes
- inbound telemarketing
- sales, and
- customer support.
All such areas should integrate and become almost invisible to the customer.
All company marketing activities speak with one voice and exist to serve the company’s customer for maximum return on investment.
If this is done, then the company must determine an allowable marketing cost for each new customer, and possibly an allowable new customer acquisition cost by channel.
For example, if a company wants to add 10,000 new customers, and the allowable marketing cost per customer is $250, then the marketing budget becomes 10,000 X $250 = $2,500,000.
A similar approach should be applied to customer retention. Eventually, customer retention and growth are merged into a single budget.
This is all an oversimplification, but it shows the potential for taking the guesswork out of marketing budgets. Some client companies have used this approach for the last 40 years. I think this approach to budgeting leveraging today’s sophisticated big data should be used to reduce the politics and emotions driving budget decisions.
Q. 3. How effective are digital marketing campaigns in these times? Should marketers complement their digital strategy with SEO and social media?
A.3. Marketers should increase their budgets based on testing. Yet, evaluation relies on accurate sales attribution.
Social media, SEO, and mass general advertising, all require a long-term view when compared to direct response strategies using both digital and traditional advertising. Direct response is easily tested and evaluated in all channels. Social media, on the other hand, works like general advertising to support site visits, and leads from other marketing activities.
SEO is directly attributable to sales if the site is an ecommerce site. For other company websites, SEO is usually seen as necessary to support all other marketing activities similar to inbound sales support, customer support, and retail outlets.
Just like social media and general advertising, SEO budgets are not directly attributable to sales. Yet marketers know SEO drives considerable sales volume. SEO is not as easily evaluated as an ecommerce site, direct response mail, print, and broadcast. Yet SEO has become more important as overall web volumes increase the competition for customer views.
General advertising and social media do not work in a vacuum and should be supported with direct marketing strategies.
I think general advertising and social media should blend in with the overall marketing budgets and prove their worth by improving overall marketing performance.
Q. 4. What kind of content do modern consumers seek? Is there an ideal content mix you would suggest in terms of videos, infographics, and articles?
A.4. The content for all channels require what they have always required. The writer must answer these basic questions in clear and emotionally persuasive language (as appropriate).
1. What customer problem the product or service solves?
2. What are the customer benefits (not just features) from buying the product?
3. How is this product superior to competitors?
4. Prove that the benefits are real through customer testimonials and objective external evidence.
5. Make an offer as required to generate a sale or inquiry.
6. Use photos rather than drawings to support the product, or customers using the product.
7. Make minimal use of reverse type and only with short headlines.
8. Avoid small type and fancy font styles that are hard to read.
As for the mix, videos are hot right now. I think bloggers and social media should continue to test the length and impact of video, audio, and pure text.
Q. 5. How important is blogging in generating revenue for a company?
A.5. Blogging definitely builds website traffic if the content contains interesting information for the targeted market. As words continue to grow on the Internet the relevance is on the decline. This applies to many blogs.
Not everyone can write compelling copy or has sufficient subject matter knowledge to keep things interesting for the long term on a blog.
Blogs require a lot of time and consistency. Successful blogs may require more energy and company consistency than small companies can sustain.
I think that relevant blogs are almost impossible to assign to external bloggers without considerable customer input. The more complex the service, the more difficult it is to outsource successfully.
It always helps if the writer knows the subject intimately. Otherwise, the reader doesn’t gain much from reading the post.
Another challenge is the proliferation of posts, podcasts, videos, computer games, and the whole environment that competes with blogs for attention.
I question the long-term viability of blogs’ ability to warrant the writer’s efforts. But I continue the effort knowing that consultants generally get good response to their writings.
Q.6. What are the trends influencing the direct marketing industry?
A.6. I don’t really view direct marketing as an industry. Just like positioning advertising and public relations, direct marketing is a strategy. Direct response/direct marketing have always used all available channels well beyond direct mail. There is direct response TV, direct response radio, outbound telemarketing, ecommerce, mail order catalogs, direct mail fundraising, and direct response email. In fact, the Internet as a whole is probably 95% direct response driven.
The direct marketing strategy budgets have easily overtaken general or awareness advertising spending.
The trends that made this a reality is that companies are demanding accountability from their advertising dollars. This puts downward pressure on marketing activities that cannot be tracked such as general advertising and social media. In fact, sales for these strategies may never be attributable. The same applies to SEO even though the reality is that all of these activities are essential.
Marketers must discover more accurate ways to attribute actual sales by strategy, if not by channel. Showing accurate sales accountability for marketing activities has become essential in today’s highly competitive environment.
Q.7. What factors are used to test and optimize email marketing campaigns?
A.7.The greatest response predictors for email are the same as they are for direct mail. Here they are listed by priority.
1. The list source
2. The product’s ability to solve the customer’s problem
3. The offer
4. The creative execution such as benefit copy, promise support, format, and design
5. Ongoing testing of all of these elements singly, or in combination as A/B/C… splits
Once these basics are understood, implemented and tested, then the marketer is well into email optimization.
Beyond this, optimize email campaigns by overlaying support channels such as landing pages, outbound telemarketing to existing/high value customers, print, and direct mail.