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How to prepare your CRM system for a world of smart devices

CITEworld

GE’s newly introduced free-standing Profile Series gas and electric range is so tuned in to consumers’ needs, you almost start to think of it as a friend, not an appliance. If you have a smartphone, it will check to make sure you turned it off before you left for a busy day, or start preheating on your way home from work — just like a good friend with the keys to your house. It actually performs a multitude of other tasks but as someone who has rushed home during lunch on more than one occasion to make sure the house hadn’t mistakenly burned down, I must say that that “check the stove” feature is a home run.

So yes, I do want it as a friend. And you, as a company whose CRM system and approach is ever-evolving with the times, should be getting ready for the day when I do call it friend. Or at least I start relying on it for far more than an ease-my-mind safety check.

IoT must include CRM

Consumer products, in this environment, will be far more than just inanimate objects. They will be part salesperson and part customer service rep. They’ll even do a bit of cross-selling and upselling for you if the situation is right.

“Today, if you have problem with a product, you go to a support website, call or video chat with a live agent, or walk into a store,” Chuck Ganapathi, founder of a company called Tactile, tells CITEworld. Advances in software, hardware, and even biology, though, will kill off this model of customer service. Eventually, he predicts, “every product — no matter the cost or size — will have an embedded agent in it. Not a human, but a piece of intelligent software that is running on nanoscale electronics or bioelectronics.”

In fact, this scenario is already here, Ganapathi says.

“Companies are already building pills that tell your doctor whether you are taking your medication as prescribed. We already have washing machines that email you when it’s oversudsing because you added too much detergent. As we learn how to shrink electronics to fit under your skin and make circuits out of bacteria, every product can become as sensor-filled, personalized and interactive as your iPhone.”

Couple those advancements with such evolving software techniques as machine learning and natural language processing, and you get embedded agents that can mimic the intelligence of a human agent, Ganapathi concludes.

These CRM-infused devices will also be revenue generators, predicts Aaron Fulkerson, the CEO of MindTouch. These devices will know their “human” very well — including his or her limitations and possible interests, Fulkerson tells CITEworld.

Continue reading… 

Wearables could make the “glance” a new subatomic unit of news

Nieman Lab

Next year will be my twentieth in digital news. From the start, I had an underlying disposition that digital news consumers — sports or otherwise — wanted their content easily digestible: brief, formatted, convenient.

Five years in, that was the inspiration for the Daily Quickie, my column on ESPN.com. Ten years later, that was the soul of Quickish — a startup built around a quick-hit stream of editor-curated “money quotes” on the biggest news topics.

That was my biggest bet yet that news was reaching a terminal velocity of format — the “atomic unit of content” in the form of, say, a tweet (or, as Quartz’s Zach Seward has put it, a Thing.)

I misjudged — I didn’t think nearly radically enough. The quick-hit stream of Twitter or the Facebook News Feed is giving way to a largely agnostic, mostly opt-in “notification layer” on top of the phone screen.

And yet even that notification layer feels larded in the context of the single-most-interesting media-industry detail from yesterday’s Apple presentation: We are about to enter the era of “glance journalism.”

 

“Glance” is the name of the feature of the Apple Watch that let Watch-wearers skim through a series of not-quite-notifications. Maybe they are notifications, but only as a subset of a new class of ultra-brief news.

 

“Atomic unit” was a helpful metaphor, but we’re now talking about the proton/neutron level. Glance journalism makes tweets look like longform, typical news notifications (and even innovative atomized news apps) look like endless scroll, and Seward’s list of essential Things (chart, gif, quote, stat) look unresponsive.

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Marketing That’s (Just) Missing The Mark With Millennials

MediaPost

We know young consumers are picky, and not always easy to please when it comes to marketing. Sometimes a campaign can be so close to getting it right, but the slightest detail stands out to turn them off. From hashtag misuse to gender stereotyping missteps, marketing to young consumers sometimes feels like a land mine of mistakes—especially when targeting a generation who has no problem telling you when you’ve got it wrong. As we say so often, understanding the way that Millennials see themselves is a vital part to messaging to them in the right way. Here are two recent campaigns that are just missing the mark with Millennials, and why.

Gap’s “Dress Normal”

When we asked Millennials 13-24-years-old what they think of Gap’s new “Dress Normal” ads, 67% gave it a thumbs down. Online, the reactions have ranged from confusion to tongue-in-cheek analysis of what exactly it means, and of course inevitable references to normcore (which probably wouldn’t have been good inspiration). Gap Global Chief Marketing Officer Seth Farbman told BuzzFeed, “We wanted it absolutely to be a provocation—what does ‘Dress Normal’ mean to each individual? I think that certainly when it’s paired with photography and paired with some of the headlines, people will understand that it’s about dressing the way you want to.” Unfortunately, the tagline, “Dress Normal,” paired with actors dressed fairly blandly does not call up feelings of individuality, and the tagline instead feels like a directive to choose clothing that doesn’t stand out.

Why It Missed the Mark: As Refinery 29 pointed out, today’s teens are not looking for conformity. Sure they want to “fit in” in some ways, but while looking unique, and they have so many resources—from ModCloth to ASOS and beyond—online that allow them to find clothing that lets them stand out in the right way. This season, we’ve seen tweens arming themselves with spiked backpacks, and 20-something women donning glittery temporary tattoos. Normal is not a motivator. The idea of dressing “like yourself” would be far more likely to resonate, and unfortunately, though that might be Gap’s ultimate message here, it’s lost under the hints at conventionality.

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You Might Not “Like” This, But You Should

MediaPost

Boy, it’s been a hard year for the Facebook “like” — because, well, no one likes it anymore.

First came the news that a simple “like” was useless –  to advertisers anyway –because it has long ago stopped meaning that consumers who “like” advertiser pages will actually see the content that is then stuffed into their News Feed

And then, this week, came this news: Facebook is now disallowing most incentivized “liking,” of the “’Like’-our-page-if-you-want-to-enter-the-sweepstakes” variety. From a post on a Facebook developer blog: “You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page.”

Now, this is a sad day. If you can’t trick people into liking your Facebook page, why even get up in the morning?

Or is it such a sad day?

I think not. It’s actually a much-needed reset of what used to be advertisers’ baseline Facebook currency, a measurement of their worth. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an advertiser boast about its number of “likes,”  at least publicly, for three reasons:

1.     A lot of these “likes” were just the sort of ill-begotten, meaningless clicks that came out of this silly incentivizing meme.

2.     Given the death of organic reach, it’s become less and less clear what those “likes” actually mean, anyway.

3.     Lastly, marketers who don’t do social media for a living stopped pointing to their “likes” because their social specialists told them to. “Shut up about the number of ‘likes’ we have, already! You’re embarrassing yourself!”

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Tablets with voice calling functions take off in Asia

IDG News Service

Using a tablet to make a phone call may sound unorthodox. But in Asia’s emerging markets, vendors are increasingly shipping 7-inch tablets with voice call functions, according to research firm IDC.

During the second quarter, electronics vendors shipped 13.8 million tablets to the Asia Pacific region, excluding Japan, IDC said on Wednesday. Of those tablets, 25 percent were designed for voice calls over a cellular network. This marked a jump of 10 percentage points from the first quarter.

Voice call tablets are taking off in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, said Avinash Sundaram, an IDC analyst, who added that it had become a trend unique to Asia.

Although large screen phones are already popular, some consumers in the region have tighter budgets, and want a product that merges all their electronic needs into a single device, Sundaram said.

“They don’t want to walk around with a phone, tablet and PC,” he said. “This is basically addressing budgetary needs.”

Vendors releasing these products include Samsung, which early on incorporated voice call features into its tablets, along with Asus, Huawei and Lenovo. But smaller vendors such as India’s Micromax and Indonesia’s Advan Digital are also fueling the market with rival tablets.

“We definitely see this as a vendor strategy to help differentiate their products,” Sundaram said. Many of these tablets cost between US$100 to $300.

It’s still not known how many consumers in Asia use their tablets for voice calls. But vendors are marketing the features in their advertisements.

“If we look at advertising campaigns in India, Indonesia, they call it a tablet with voice option,” Sundaram said. Vendors could conceivably put cellular features into all their tablets. But bigger companies such as Samsung might refrain from doing so, to better position their smart phone products, he added.

“From a vendor perspective, they want to target every single kind of device, as opposed to selling one kind of device,” he said. “There are no technical hurdles. It’s more about product strategy.”

Where Is Digital Video Viewing Most Popular?

eMarketer

Internet users around the world are tuning in to digital video—whether it’s to watch long-form content like TV shows or movies, short snackable clips, or even branded video content produced by marketers. And according to research among weekly internet users conducted by TNS in June 2014, web users in South Korea are more likely than their counterparts anywhere else in the world to do so.

178307 Where Is Digital Video Viewing Most Popular?

Penetration in the East Asian country reached nearly 96%, meaning virtually anyone who goes online at least weekly also watches digital video with some frequency. Three other countries boasted penetration rates above nine in 10 internet users: Spain, Italy and Mexico. Penetration in China was nearly as high.

It may appear surprising for some of those countries to lead highly developed internet economies like the UK and US in penetration rates, but since the survey was taken among weekly internet users the numbers are somewhat boosted. Overall internet penetration is relatively low in Mexico or India compared to the US—but those who are online are avid digital video viewers.

177922 Where Is Digital Video Viewing Most Popular?

eMarketer estimates that in the US, 77.3% of monthly internet users will watch digital video at least once per month this year, for a total of 195.6 million viewers. Those figures include viewers of any age.

Infographic: The Multiscreen World

By Nick Rojas

Over the past decade, the amount of technology available to the public has gradually changed the way that people live their daily lives. More importantly: the versatility of these technologies have allowed people to become more efficient, revolutionizing market consumption, and creating demand for things that had never really been considered before.

As people grew more and more reliant on these devices, more and more of them became available. Laptops and televisions, smartphones and tablets,all permitted their users to do things that they hadn’t thought they needed to before, and this all pointed towards one thing: how users consumed media. Before, television viewers were at the mercy of the networks, watching commercials because they had to. While DVRs changed that for many viewers, it was smartphones and tablets that took them to a different place entirely. With the technology available, users began using their devices while they watched television. This trend towards multi-screen usage was seen by many as an overindulgence in entertainment, at first, but as the trend continued to grow and grow, it became readily apparent that it was more than just a trend.

Mult-screen usage indicates a shift towards multitasking, something that consumers have grown to love. This infographic, provided by TollFreeForwarding.com, is an exploration into the ways that users are consuming information, and why cross-platform development is becoming a key component of not only user experience, but for content marketing, as well.

TFF M5 Multiscreen Infographic: The Multiscreen World

The 5 mistakes marketers make that prevent them from becoming leaders

MarketingWeek

The job of turning that aspiration into a reality is fraught with obstacles – some self-imposed and others dictated upon marketers by their organisations. Business leaders speaking at The Marketing Academy’s inaugural “Inspire” event in London this week outlined the five challenges and how they can be overcome in order for marketers to get to the top of their careers.

Mistake #1: marketers are underselling marketing

Marketers are “best placed” to become future CEOs, but they need to reframe how they and the skills they have are seen within the business, according to founding partner of creative agency 101 Phil Rumbol, who also draws on his experience as marketing director at Cadbury and alcohol giant InBev.

He said: “Part of the problem is too often people equate marketing to advertising and promotions, but I think marketing is about a whole lot more than that. It’s about doing things that make a brand or service relevant, but the whole image of marketing is skewed to the fluffy, spin, marketing men getting people to buy things they don’t really want. Marketers need to go back to basics and use [and talk about] advertising once the core and basics are as strong as they can possibly be.

That warped image of what a marketer does (or should be doing) in their role, is affecting their ability to influence the finance director.

As Rory Sutherland, executive creative director and vice chairman of OgilvyOne, acerbically framed it: “There’s a  danger marketers are suffering from kind of Stockholm Syndrome, it’s a bit like being [Josef] Fritzl’s [- found guilty of imprisoning his daughter for 24 years, alongside four of the children he had fathered with her -] children to the finance director. It’s been going on for so long [marketers] have started to take on some of the attributes of their oppressors”.

The result has seen marketers trying to speak the “deranged” language of economists – a lexicon that implies human behaviour is predictable – in justifying their actions, which means many finance directors still see marketing as a cost centre: a source of inefficiency rather than competitive advantage, Sutherland said. In order to obtain the budgets required for marketing innovation, marketers would do well to learn behavioural economic theory and apply it to marketing, using the “scientific terminology finance directors have come to expect”, giving them the opportunity to fight back with case studies of marketing effectiveness.

Mistake #2: marketers aren’t curious enough about other areas of the business

Former Procter & Gamble marketer and now CMO of holiday rental site Housetrip Zaid Al-Qassab said a good marketer is “insatiably” curious about people, but for many marketers that stops at their customers rather than looking internally too.

“An awful lot of people have a major blind spot where they’re not insatiably curious about all the other people in the business around them. I speak to a lot of marketing directors who do not know what they key performance measures are for their finance director and other departments…it’s hard to make it on to the board if you’re not curious about what they are trying to achieve,” he added.

Richard Robinson, managing partner at marketing consultancy firm Oystercatchers, shared Coke’s mantra: “the only brand you will ever manage is yourself”.

“That stuck with me, knowing who the hell you are, what your personal brand was and managing your career across all those different brands: it’s all about you and how you can enable all the other people around you to succeed. To do that you have to be hungry, hoover up as much information as you can to be interesting and have a point of view,” he added.

Mike Hughes, director general of ISBA, advised marketers to be particularly curious about the procurement department – not least because they report into the chief financial officer.

He added: “Procurement has to be embraced, cuddled or part of the team, one thing a marketing director should not do is be excluded in the conversation about the agency…because procurement can completely undermine what you get from an agency as if their margins are slashed wafer thin, you won’t get the best people.”

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3 mistaken assumptions about what Big Data can do for you

CITEworld

Big data is certainly all the rage. The Wall Street Journal recently ran a piece ondata scientists commanding up to $300,000 per year with very little experience. Clearly the era of embracing big data is here.

However, since the tools and best practices in this area are so novel, it’s important to revisit our assumptions about what big data can do for us – and, perhaps more importantly, what it can’t do. Here are three commonly held yetmistaken assumptions about what big data can do for you and your business.

Big Data Can’t Predict the Future

Big data – and all of its analysis tools, commentary, science experiments and visualizations – can’t tell you what will happen in the future. Why? The data you collect comes entirely from the past. We’ve yet to reach the point at which we can collect data points and values from the future.

We can analyze what happened in the past and try to draw trends between actions and decision points and their consequences, based on the data, and we might use that to guess that under similar circumstances, if a similar decision were made, similar outcomes would occur as a result. But we can’t predict the future.

Many executives and organizations attempt to glean the future out of a mass of data. This is a bad idea, because the future is always changing. You know how financial advisers always use the line, “Past performance does not guarantee future results?” This maxim applies to big data as well.

Instead of trying to predict the future, use big data to optimize and enhance what’s currently true. Look at something that’s happening now and constructively improve upon the outcomes for that current event. Use the data to find the right questions to ask. Don’t try to use big data as a crystal ball.

Big Data Can’t Replace Your Values – or Your Company’s

Big data is a poor substitute for values – those mores and standards by which you live your life and your company endeavors to operate. Your choices on substantive issues may be more crystallized, and it may be easier and clearer to sort out the advantages and disadvantages of various courses of action, but the data itself can’t help you interpret how certain decisions stack up against the standards you set for yourself and for your company.

Data can paint all sorts of pictures, both in the numbers themselves and through the aid of visualization software. Your staff can create many projected scenarios about any given issue, but those results are simply that – a projection. Your job as an executive, and as a CIO making these sorts of tools and staff available within your business, is to actually reconcile that data against your company’s values.

For instance, imagine you’re a car manufacturer. Your big data sources and tools tell you that certain vehicle models have a flaw that may cost a few cents to repair on vehicles yet to be manufactured, but would cost significantly more to repair in vehicles that have already been purchased by customers and are in production use. The data, and thus your data scientists on staff, might recommend fixing the issue on cars still on the assembly line but not bothering to fix the cars already out there in the world, simply because the data might have shown the cost exceeded the likelihood of damages across the board.

(Note that this scenario may sound familiar to you if you have been following theGeneral Motors ignition switch saga. However, this is only a hypothetical example, and further, there is no evidence big data played into the GM recall.)

Say your company has a value statement that quality is job 1 and safety is of paramount importance. Though the data suggests a recall isn’t worth it, you make the call as an executive to start the recall. You’re informed, but you’re not controlled by big data.

Above all, it’s vital to remember that sometimes the right answer appears to be the wrong one when viewed through a different lens. Make sure you use the right lens.

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Context is King: Points to Consider When Implementing a Contextual Marketing Strategy

IDG Connect 0811 300x141 Context is King: Points to Consider When Implementing a Contextual Marketing Strategy

For the past few years, marketers have focused on pushing incredible amounts of content to their consumers and prospects to fit the mold of content marketing, having been told that is the future of their industry. This isn’t entirely false. Marketers need content to communicate with their consumers. However, many don’t know the context in which the consumer is engaging with that content, making it impossible to deliver the most relevant information to the right person at the right time. Today, consumers expect an optimal experience when interacting with any brand. They are accustomed to on-demand, personalized information and want marketers to understand their preferences before they buy. Because of these heightened expectations, marketers have to recognize who they are talking to and accept that context, not content, is now king. What should marketers today consider when developing a contextual marketing strategy? Here’s a start:

Continuous profile development

In order to effectively communicate with a consumer and determine the context in which they are consuming content, marketers should be continuously building a profile of each individual that touches their brand. Points to consider are consumer value score, age, location, gender, etc. Once a profile of an individual begins to develop, the process of communication becomes easier and more natural. Consider this: you meet a friend of a friend at a cocktail party and have a 30-minute conversation. The next week, you run into that same person at the supermarket. You wouldn’t start the relationship over by re-introducing yourself. You have the history of the previous conversation, and you would pick up from where you left off. The same holds true when a consumer engages with a brand – the context from previous engagements is key to making the current conversation relevant and more likely to result in a positive outcome.

The mobile conundrum – a blessing and a curse

The definition of “location” has shifted as consumers now have the opportunity to interact with a brand from anywhere in the world without stepping into a physical store. This anywhere, anytime access makes it challenging to recognize each consumer as they move across multiple channels and locations during the path to purchase. As individuals increasingly adopt tablets, social media, mobile phones and other technology, the marketing approach must shift to provide an optimal experience based on that specific consumer’s location, meaning in-store or out, inbound or outbound.

Mobility has given marketers the chance to keep track of every consumer inside and outside store walls. This has the potential to be a great opportunity, but can make it challenging for a brand to identify where a consumer is located and serve them appropriate content. With the rise of geo-fencing and iBeacon technologies, as well as advanced consumer engagement systems, brands are learning to embrace mobility and use it to their advantage. Targeting a consumer with a relevant piece of content—be it an in-app offer, automated email or tailored website material—when  they are in the location most appropriate can result in a powerful touch point.

Bridging the online-offline communication gap

Marketers think contextual marketing is easy, largely because many people are talking about its value in the online world. In reality, most companies are struggling to turn that vision into practice because context is only fully valuable when all touch points – online and off – can be linked and a complete profile of a user’s engagement with a brand can be built continuously. Many retailers, for example, are missing the full power of context because they are often unable to connect consumers’ in-store experience to those they have online—such as understanding which products they may have purchased in store in the past, or how many times they have stepped in and out of a location. The key is for the marketer to be aware of every touch point regardless of where and how it happens, which cutting-edge technology can help to track. As more and more consumers begin to blend their online and offline engagements with a brand and technologies continue to evolve, it will be important for marketers to facilitate an omnichannel experience, understanding a consumer’s full profile and targeting them in the context that makes the most sense. For instance, if a consumer was researching a sports car on an auto maker’s website or app, they should be directed immediately to that model (or others like it) when they visit the showroom (and vice versa), acknowledging their past preferences and therefore strengthening the bond between brand and consumer.

Potential pitfalls

Marketers do have the ability to buy consumer profiles and derive context from third-party media channels. This route doesn’t have the same, immediate timeline idea and it doesn’t translate into an effective contextual marketing strategy. Furthermore, the information is not always related specifically to a consumer’s interaction with the specific brand and rarely is it detailed at the individual level. Taken out of context and with a lag in time, a brand misses a lot of the consumer’s story, and marketers can only take context into account if they know all of it—not just bits and pieces—and can act quickly to leverage it.

If a company doesn’t have inside intelligence on its own consumer, they’re coming in last in today’s data-driven, personalized world.

Brands need to recognize that context is critical to starting a conversation with their consumers and maintaining that dialogue throughout the customer journey. Brand loyalty and repeat purchases are results of a series of positive engagement—each linking to the one before. By aligning content with context, marketers can make educated decisions on how to proceed with communication by helping and guiding consumers along the buying journey. As a result, consumers get what they really want in a way that makes sense to them and ultimately drives them to purchase while simultaneously improving their experience across channels.

For more blogs and research from IDG Connect, click here