Posts by netgeekzcayman

The customer experience bar has risen, so too must your digital experience

The pandemic has hastened the pivot to digital exponentially, leaving some businesses unprepared. At the same time, the customer experience (CX) bar has been raised and buyers still expect businesses to be easy to buy from, engage with, and get service from.

But who bears responsibility for providing this CX? What will a ‘delightful’ customer experience look like and what will ensure this process is made as easy as possible? CX needs redefining to become a mindset, not just something a business does. And achieving this takes a holistic customer relationship management (CRM) strategy powered by a modern CRM platform, with buy-in from all team members.

The Drum caught up with Susanne Ronnqvist Ahmadi, vice-president of international marketing at HubSpot, to get her take on just what those expectations are and where that bar is set.

How have customer expectations changed and which of these new behaviors are set to stick around?

The question customers have is: If a business I was interacting with provided a great digital experience during the lockdown, why wouldn’t they be able to maintain it in a post-pandemic world?

For today’s consumers, being delighted isn’t an added value to their experience as your customer anymore; it’s the inner foundation your relationship is built on. Consumers will react more to a moment of friction than to a moment of seamless performance. With the acceleration of digitalization and the consumerization of many business tools such as Zoom, buyers are now more independent, expect more intuitive experiences and are more empowered to switch service if the experience doesn’t live up to their expectations.

Only those companies that anticipate their customers’ needs and wants, put them at the center of everything they do and deliver seamless, contextual experiences across all touchpoints will thrive in today’s highly competitive landscape.

How can businesses create a seamless CX these days?

It is crucial to bring together marketing, sales and customer service under one team and then bring together a decision-making group that owns the end-to-end customer experience and creates a winning aspiration centered around customers, not functions. This will enable any business to move faster and be customer-centric.

At HubSpot, they use a flywheel approach to ensure different business units are continually working together to help our customers. The funnel approach has previously dominated CX. Different functions focus only on fulfilling their part of the funnel before passing the customer on to be someone else’s problem once the sale is made. Instead, the flywheel approach puts the customer at the heart of a continuous process to attract, engage and delight customers, meaning all functions have an ongoing responsibility to support one another in fulfilling goals for the overall business.

What’s the role of technology and what do legacy blockers need to overcome?

The survival mindset of 2020 led to processes and operations not suitable for scale. As CX has grown more complex, most companies have brought in a patchwork of disparate technologies from different sources, each with a completely different underlying tech stack: a CRM to manage customer data, a customer management system (CMS) to build their website, and marketing automation to scale their efforts.

When two completely different systems are cobbled together, the burden of making them work together is foisted on to the customer. This route is holding companies back, slowing them down and depriving them of having a complete customer view. Also reconciling these differences without causing friction for customers is an almost impossible task.

To scale without adding complexity in 2021 and beyond, today’s businesses need a powerful and easy-to-use CRM platform that enables them to create a ‘single point of customer truth’ that customer-facing teams can feed into – and, crucially, pull from – helping them remove friction in customer interactions and deliver delightful digital experiences. On this front, HubSpot has made a conscious decision to invest in our own product team so our customers benefit from software that’s cohesive, customizable and empowering. Our solutions are carefully crafted in-house using a collection of proven tools, components and systems that seamlessly work together as the building blocks of the user experience.

Where should businesses be making better investments?

To get the digital experience right, quality data is essential: reliable, organized and actionable data, providing insights into each individual customer’s experience. ‘Who are your customers?’ is no longer a valid question. Instead, you need to be able to have the complete picture of this and that specific customer. What does the digital journey look like? When, where and how have they interacted with your business? What do they need and want from you now and, most importantly, what will they expect from you next?

It’s also critical to ensure businesses make every part of the digital journey accessible online. We’ve seen more website traffic than ever post-pandemic and customers will expect the same accessibility and convenience that companies have offered them over the last year.

Nowadays, it’s about linking what’s happening on your website – the front door of your business – to the rest of the customer experience. This can be a big challenge for companies that do not use CRM platforms. There will be brands who have reached the limit of what their current set-up can manage and feel like they have hit a roadblock. It is time for businesses to start thinking about CMS as part of CRM because of how strongly linked customer experience is to websites today. The customer experience bar has risen, so too must your digital experience.

Who should be responsible for “owning” the CX within a business?

Pretty much every customer-facing team is responsible, from marketing to sales to customer service. At HubSpot, we deeply believe in the role of the chief customer officer as the unifier and enabler for different functions across the business, with the major responsibility of bringing alignment and breaking the silos in the business.

Marketing, sales, and customer service teams have a wealth of experience in their own disciplines but are often disconnected from each other. These silos in your internal experience show up as friction in the customer experience. That’s why the chief customer officer’s role is so important to help the business run better – building alignment, unifying the customer-facing teams, and providing them with a common framework and goals so that they can deliver delightful end-to-end customer experiences.

Which brands are disrupting the CX space?

The pandemic is only accelerating trends that we were seeing before. In industry after industry, we’re seeing businesses disrupt incumbents with better experiences – both in B2C and B2B environments.

We at NetGeekz Media puts the user experience above everything else, making it as easy and intuitive for customers as possible. From accepting payments online in less than a minute to solving any inquiry via live messaging almost instantly or reaching your target audience with little effort, ease of use and speed are the credo NetGeekz Media seems to live by.

In the B2B space, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a great example. Once, businesses had to buy physical, rack-mounted servers. These were expensive for the customer to maintain. AWS flipped the model on its head. Instead of a high upfront investment to set up servers, customers essentially rented space on Amazon’s. Customers only paid for what they used, and AWS did all the optimizing for them. This saved money and time.

What steps should businesses take to elevate CX to mindset status?

Companies that want to be customer-first organizations often think about things like: does our product work? Are our handoffs smooth? Can our customers get the help they need, when they need it? These things are important, but they are all about orchestration and strategy, and being customer-first starts much earlier. Transforming your organization to deliver a consistent customer experience requires thinking about CX as both an art and a science.

The artistic side is all about your culture. I think of culture as ‘art’ because art is freewheeling, and something that the artist (in this case, your leadership team) creates. Your culture should be unique to your business, customers, employees and the way you want to engage them.

Science follows a methodology and order of operations, and similarly there is a set of core practices that can be applied across different industries and types of companies and still work well. These disciplines are aligned teams, strategy, systems and incentives. I would argue both are equally important, and neither is enough to delight customers on its own.

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The war of attention: Gaming brands as the future of creative excellence

As the event show runners and leaders in esport competitions in the Cayman Islands, Netgeekz Media is quite up to date with everything gaming.

Few industries are operating at the speed that gaming is right now. Accelerated by consumer adoption, marketers in all aspects of the gaming world are having to scale up their efforts to keep pace. The GamersBay Event in March 2021 brought together gaming professionals and leaders to compete for over $10,000 in Cash and Prizes.

A highlight reel of the event can be found here, watch the recap now.

With people spending more time at home, wanting entertainment and socialisation, gaming has had its already fast-growing trajectory amplified. The spotlight on gaming has never been so bright. With this comes a responsibility on marketers to create content that resonates with people, ensuring that their brand rides as much on this wave as it can. GamersBay brought together various companies across the island to reach their target audience.

Carlos Alimurung, chief executive officer of ONE Esports, explained, “In the past 12 to 18 months, primarily due to the pandemic, not only has gaming grown as a pastime for people but also, esports, which is a part of its own ecosystem in gaming. When we think about our own content and the way we advertise and promote our content and experiences, we’re increasingly thinking about how we keep these new fans that have come into the esports ecosystem. The world will eventually come out of this thing and we’re going to be in the war of attention.”

The war of attention isn’t the only factor that is complicating the effort to scale up creative production. All marketers in the discussion said they needed to localise language and were always looking to adopt new platforms and formats to reach consumers. This is because the gaming audience is inherently discerning when it comes to digital creative. The younger, meme-hungry audience is comfortable calling out disingenuous brand marketing.

Allan Phang, regional head of marketing and PR at EVOS Esports, says, “Marketers need to be localised because they need to understand the culture. Especially in esports and gaming because the audience loves memes, and they can be gaming or country-specific. Our social media pages have to be careful in how they output this content. Another aspect is that the gaming and esports audience get shown too much esports and gaming content, they get exhaustion from it. For this esports and gaming audience, they prefer different content formats, and we need to stay in touch with them and deliver what they want.”

This was one reason the marketers agreed that automation could be a viable option for gaming brands. The ability to take out the reformatting and manual labour from the job means creative and design teams can have more freedom to think about new ways of connecting with the audience.

Celtra’s general manager for APAC, Raushida Vasaiwala, commented that automation was needed because the tools most teams used were too manual to scale.

“At a very high level, the problem is that the sheer manual nature of the production means that the tools that are currently used for design purposes are not for scaling purposes. This slows down the speed or the desire to get that campaign out on time,” she said.

Razer’s digital marketing director, ecommerce, Fred Chery, added to this, explaining that his brand has success in removing creative bottlenecks from teams, which freed them up to do better strategic work.

“The aim is to not put the bottleneck on the in-house creative team because we are not asking them to do five banners in 48 hours to cover just one product and a few markets, we are able to take this part out. This means we can ask for more quality. That’s one of the benefits of automation, we are able to do a lot of quantitative ads for the bottom-funnel but also at the same time it gives time for us to do even better briefs so that we can work on greater top of funnel creative ads,” he said.

Being able to balance the performance and brand aspects of marketing at the same time is a common challenge for gaming marketers. The speakers agreed that they all had transnational or e-commerce targets to hit but also had to spend time engaging with audiences to build loyalty.

Guillaume Noe, VP marketing at Coda Payments, said, “Balancing the promotional content and the engagement content is important. We are an e-commerce website, so obviously we want to drive sales. But if you only show cashback bonus and promotions to your users, at some point, you don’t engage. The quality of the relationship would be very transactional. This is not how you create brand love.”

There is a lot to consider in the fast-paced environment of gaming marketing. The audience is more discerning and the speed at which new products and IP is launched into the market is only getting faster. Brands will all take different approaches to build teams and strategies but it’s clear that tools that automate will become normal practice within this vertical.

Visit https://www.GamersBayCayman.com to learn more.

What Apple’s iOS 15 means for marketers

Apple’s upcoming privacy changes, including Hide My Email and Private Relay, will make opt-ins more valuable and may complicate already strained efforts to reach target users on iPhones.

Apple last month caused a stir among marketers and their advertising agencies with a preview of a software update that will give its customers more control over their personal data. The planned changes, estimated to launch this fall to coincide with new device announcements, will force marketers to develop alternative ways to find potential customers and engage with existing ones. A key strategy will be to position themselves as direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands that gather first-party data from consenting customers.

“With Apple turning off all these signals and going more privacy-centric, it is more important that brands get data back from the consumer,” Tim Glomb, vice president of content and data at customer engagement firm Cheetah Digital, said in an interview. “They won’t be able to use third-party data from other sources like Facebook, et cetera — it’s going to be blocked.”

The next version of the iOS software for the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac will give Apple’s customers several ways to limit or prevent data-sharing. Those privacy features include technology to mask the email and internet addresses of Apple customers, making them less effective as a unique identifier for online tracking.

Embrace personalized messaging

The Hide My Email feature is an upgraded version of an existing capability that lets Apple users create a randomized email address when they register with an app or website. Any email sent to those new addresses will be forwarded to a personal email account. While the feature prevents tracking the same consumer across different platforms, it still allows for one-to-one communication between brands and customers who opt into receiving promotions and offers with a compelling subject line.

“You have to double down on personalizing emails and SMS messages sent from your own website to reach people,” Glomb said. “An email is basically free to send, but you have to learn about your audience to send the right email or SMS message at the right time. You’ll make more revenue without having to spend for advertising.”

To entice people to share their personal information, marketers need to offer something valuable in return, Glomb said. They can gather information about purchase intent and consumer preferences through short surveys that offer discounts or chances to win a sweepstakes. By collecting the information directly, marketers have a basis for one-to-one connection with consumers that also respects their privacy.

“Being able to say, ‘I’ve got a million people in my database and I have a million contracts with every single one of those consumers,’ is the key to moving forward,” Glomb said.

Moving beyond IP addresses

With iOS 15, Apple also plans to update its premium iCloud storage and cloud computing service to offer an internet privacy service called Private Relay. The service encrypts web browsing data and assigns an anonymous internet protocol (IP) address to a user, making it more difficult for sites to track their browsing activities.

The service will add to the difficulty of reaching consumers across websites and apps. As tech companies respond to growing concerns about privacy, they’re gradually ending support for third-party cookies, a common method of online tracking. Apple blocked all third-party cookies in its Safari browser last year. Google had planned a similar update for its popular Chrome browser for early next year, but last week it delayed the plan until late 2023.

“Marketers need to stop relying on crappy old technology that got them fat and lazy, and they need to start getting creative and thinking like human beings.”

The two-year reprieve gives marketers, media outlets and ad tech firms more time to develop an alternative to cookie tracking. Glomb said the move away from third-party cookies is long overdue.

“Marketers need to stop relying on crappy old technology that got them fat and lazy, and they need to start getting creative and thinking like human beings,” Glomb said. “How do two people meet each other on the street? They ask each other questions. They listen, they learn and then they use that information to continue the conversation and build a relationship. Marketers lost that.”

The effect of Apple’s privacy updates on marketers will depend on how many of its millions of customers use the services. The disruption could be profound, considering that the iPhone has an estimated market share of 47% in the U.S. smartphone market, according to researcher eMarketer.

Popularity follows effort level

Apple’s last major update to its privacy features has proven to be popular. The company in April introduced its controversial App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature that came with an update to iOS 14. The feature notifies Apple users when apps want access to a unique Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) that’s embedded in devices including the iPhone. Marketers use the technology to improve the targeting of online ads, and users who decline to share their identifiers are more anonymous.

As Apple prepared to introduce ATT, it faced criticism from companies including Facebook and app developers that complained the feature would reduce the value of digital advertising when people opted out of tracking. Those concerns were legitimate, considering that only 9% of iPhone users nationwide have consented to share their device identifiers, according to mobile advertising and analytics firm Flurry.

The popularity of ATT is partly attributed to its effortlessness — an Apple user only needs to tap an on-screen button to opt out of tracking. It’s less clear whether the Hide My Email and Private Relay services will be as popular. People who use Hide My Email will have to remember their randomized email addresses while using a non-Apple device such as a Roku set-top box or Windows desktop. The Private Relay service costs extra money as part of Apple”s premium iCloud+ tier.

“If you want to live in the iCloud world — and there are people who do — you can,” Dave Pickles, co-founder and CTO of demand-side platform The Trade Desk, said in a company blog. “Though I believe it’s a fairly fringe activity and don”t see it being adopted at scale.”

 

Source: https://www.marketingdive.com/news/apples-next-round-of-privacy-changes-will-make-opt-ins-more-valuable/602644/

How Brands are Using NFTs

Technology has been advancing at warp speed in the past few years.

One area that has been enjoying some of the most rapid advancements is blockchain.

That doesn’t mean solely cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and the slew of other cryptos being peddled on the crypto market.

Let’s look at non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and how brands can use NFTs in their marketing campaigns.

What Are NFTs?
While they’ve been around for a couple of years, NFTs have recently become a hot topic (and even hotter investment).

What are they, and how do they work?

To understand non-fungible tokens (NFTs), we must first define the word “fungible.”

If something is fungible, it can be exchanged for something of equal or similar value. A typical example would be fiat currency (and even cryptocurrency). It’s fungible because you can trade it for goods of an equal value. You can also trade it for another currency if need be.

On the other hand, something that’s non-fungible is unique and therefore can’t be exchanged at equivalency. For example, a diamond is non-fungible as no two diamonds in the world are alike, and thus each has its unique value. You can’t trade one for another at equivalency.

A non-fungible token is a cryptographic asset created using blockchain technology.

What sets NFTs apart from cryptocurrencies (which are fungible tokens as they are identical to each other) is that they have unique identification codes and metadata to distinguish one NFT from another.

Because each NFT is unique, it cannot be traded or exchanged at equivalency with another NFT. The result is that each NFT is a digital collectible, a one-of-a-kind asset that can’t be replicated.

That’s where the craze for NFTs started. In 2017, CryptoKitties, a blend between Tamagotchi and trading cards, exploded onto the scene. Each kitten is unique and can be raised, reproduced, be traded— some for as much as $140,000.

NFT mania was born, and today, the interest in NFTs is only increasing.

Why Are Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) Important to Brands?
One of the main reasons NFTs are important to brands is that they can be used to represent digital files, such as art, audio, and video. They are so versatile, they can be used to represent other forms of creative work like virtual real estate, virtual worlds, fashion, and much more.

What does this have to with your brand and marketing strategy?

Thanks to the global interest they’ve generated, NFTs have opened up new ways of brand storytelling and consumer interaction, which, as you know, are the two main pillars of an effective marketing strategy.

With NFTs, you can:

create unique brand experiences
increase brand awareness
encourage interaction
create interest in your brand and product
Ultimately, NFTs can help you increase conversions and drive revenue.

Here are ways brands are using NFTs to power their marketing.

6 Ways Brands Are Using NFTs
The concept of NFTs in marketing may be a bit difficult to grasp. Like most things that are difficult to understand, the best way is to look at examples.

Here are some nifty ways brands are using NFTs. Hopefully, you’ll get some inspiration from them.

1. Taco Bell GIFs
Research shows that 83 percent of millennials prefer to do business with brands that align with their values. That’s why brands need to support causes they believe in openly (and genuinely).

While Taco Bell has been doing this for years through their foundation, they took it to a whole new level by selling taco-themed NFT GIFs to support the Live Más Scholarship.

Ways Brands Are Using NFTs – Taco Bell GIFs
Within 30 minutes of putting their 25 NFTs (dubbed NFTacoBells) up for sale on Rarible (an NFT marketplace), all the GIFs were gone. Each GIF started at a bidding price of $1. However, they all sold for thousands of dollars each, with one going for as much as $3,646.

Creating and selling NFTs was a clever move on Taco Bell’s part as it generated a lot of buzz on mainstream media and social media; that’s always good for business.

Like Taco Bell, you can use NFTs to kill two birds with one stone:

drive brand awareness
support a good cause
Both are potent factors that can help drum up business for your brand.

2. RTFKT Digital Sneakers
Looking for a way to disrupt the market and make a name for yourself?

NFTs can help you do that.

That’s what happened when a little-known Chinese virtual sneaker brand called RTFKT designed an NFT sneaker for the Chinese New Year and put it up for auction.

The sneaker sold for a whopping $28,000.

Ways Brands Are Using NFTs – RTFKT Digital Sneakers
That’s quite impressive for a brand that’s barely two years old, especially considering they sold a sneaker that can’t be touched, let alone worn. Impressive as this was, it was still way behind the $3 million they generated from another NFT sneaker they designed in collaboration with the 18-year-old artist, FEWOCiOUS.

With NFTs still in their infancy, this is the right time for marketers to join the bandwagon. It’s a great way to grab attention and build a tribe of followers.

As a marketer thinking of ways to leverage NFT technology, you can take a cue from RTFKT. Create limited memorabilia to celebrate special milestones and holidays, and use them in your marketing campaigns around those holiday seasons. You can give them away to the first X number of customers or even auction them off as stand-alone products.

3. Grimes Videos
Six million dollars in 20 minutes.

That’s how much Grimes made from a collection of 10 NFTs auctioned on Nifty Gateway.

Artist, Grimes, sold an NFT collection featuring 10 pieces for $6 million.
It’s clear that people are interested in NFTs, and brands can leverage that interest to market their products. For example, you can:

Partner with artists or auction sites and have your brand present in the auction.
Create an NFT and auction it for charity.
Run a contest (for lead generation) with NFTs being the prize.
Marketing is all about riding current trends and using your creativity to harness the excitement around them to draw attention to your brand.

4. Kings of Leon ‘When You See Yourself’ Album Launch
With so many musicians and bands around, the music industry has become very competitive. Building and keeping a loyal fanbase isn’t as easy as it used to be.

The Kings of Leon found a way to get around that.

They released their album, “When You See Yourself” in the form of an NFT.

The Kings of Leon are using three types of tokens for this first-of-its-kind album release. One type features a special album package, while the second offers live show perks. The third type of token features exclusive audiovisual art.

While the album is available on all music platforms, the NFT version was only available on YellowHeart, priced at $50.

The Kings of Leon are the first band to release an NFT album.
The sale of the NFTs was only open for two weeks, after which no more album tokens were created. This move made the tokens a tradeable collectible.

Being the first band to release an NFT version of an album put the Kings of Leon in the history books.

More than that, it put them in the hearts of their fans by allowing them to own a digital collectible. Now that’s an excellent way of fostering brand loyalty.

5. Beeple Artwork
Virtually unknown in mainstream art circles, Mike Winkelmann has become something of a legend.

He sold a JPG file for $69.3 million, making him the third-most-expensive living artist at the time of the auction.

The file is a piece of art sold as a non-fungible token and is the first digital-only NFT auctioned by Christie’s.

A piece of NFT artwork sold by Beeple for over $69 million.
The two-week timed auction had to be extended by 90 seconds as a flurry of bids came in when the auction was about to close.

What lessons can brands learn from this?

Be quick to embrace new technologies and ideas. With the competition becoming more fierce with each passing day, you must be willing to take risks and be disruptive to outperform.

6. Nyan Cat GIF
A decade ago, the Nyan Cat GIF burst onto the digital scene with a colorful bang. Creator Chris Torres made an NFT version of the GIF that sold for over $500,000 on the crypto auction site, Foundation.

Nyan cat is a GIF turned NFT that sold for close to $500,000.
That’s right. An animated GIF from the past sold for over half a million dollars.

Chris, however, didn’t stop there. He organized an auction where classic memes are being auctioned off as NFTs. One of the memes, Bad Luck Brian, sold for over $34,000 on Foundation.

What can brands take away from this?

The lesson here is that your customers are willing to pay for great experiences. Capitalize on this by turning some of your best ads into NFTs. Create an event where you auction them off and make sure to publicize the event well.

Not only will this boost your brand awareness, but it will also help you reach new audiences in the tech space.

The Future of NFTs
Sure, NFTs are still relatively new, and their practical use is still limited. However, people love them and are willing to spend on them. These are sure indicators that they’re here to stay.

Like blockchain technology powering them, NFTs could play a significant role in the digital landscape of the future. That’s particularly true for marketers as non-fungible tokens have opened up new avenues for interacting with your audience and creating memorable experiences for them.

Remember, most common technologies we use today (like social media) seemed like fads when they started.

Yet today, we depend on them for so many things in life. NFTs may seem like a craze today, but they bring to the table a lot of beneficial features (like transparency coupled with security) that break the limitations of current technologies we’re using.

Conclusion
NFTs are fantastic in creating memorable experiences for your customers. They’re also an excellent way of engaging with and interacting with your target audience.

While the technology is still in its infancy, brands need to pay close attention to it. More specifically, you need to research ways you can leverage NFTs in your marketing strategies. For example, you can mint luxury designs of your product, create memorable ad campaigns, or collaborate with NFT creators.

The bottom line is that NFT technology is here to stay, and it’s undoubtedly set to be a part of digital marketing.

Are NFTs a fad? Or are they here to stay?

 

Content Source: https://neilpatel.com/blog/non-fungible-tokens/

How much has consumer behaviour changed in the past year – and how can marketers adapt?

There is no doubt that, in the past year, changes to consumer behaviour have occurred faster and more extreme than ever before. Digital adoption has skyrocketed as consumers and brands alike responded to the new demands of lockdowns and social distancing. That’s bought with it new expectations for shopping, customer service and marketing that will stick around long after the pandemic ends.

It’s critical now that brands are adapting their messaging, strategy and priorities for a new-age of consumers. Read on for a few must-haves for your marketing strategy.

Consider your messaging
There has been a seismic change in what people are buying and how they are buying it. According to Selligent’s most recent consumer survey 60% consumers now focus on buying essential items and almost a third (29%) say their shopping behaviours have changed forever.

These changes have been largely driven by a change in employment, with 75% of global respondents reporting that they have less work. Despite the economy and jobs market recovering, conservative approaches to spending will have a lasting effect, making it more important for brands to cater to cost conscious customers in the long term.

While people do remain optimistic overall with the vast majority (82%) believing they will be employed again in the near future, there will be long term impacts. For example over half respondents believe that working remotely will be part of their future.

Brands must respond to the changing reality of everyday life. More people working at home means greater opportunities to cater to the new work / life balance. That might mean less footfall on the high street, but it also means a new opportunity to target and cater to, consumers everyday life in the 2020s.

64% of consumers for example now want mobile and contactless pick-up or check-in options. Accessible shopping will become the standard, with consumers around the world coming to expect a contactless experience as part of a seamless, efficient, and flexible omnichannel customer approach.

High quality customer service is key
The good news for brands is that with the shift in behaviour, consumers are becoming more patient overall. 38% agree that brands have made a considerable effort to improve their customer experience in the last year.

Don’t underestimate the role of flexible and empathetic customer service – quality products with competitive pricing plus an understanding attitude means customers will stick with brands for the long haul.

Invest in omnichannel offering
Ever changing consumer behaviour means that 75% of consumers now prefer to receive brand communications via email or mobile, and only a third prefer to start customer support interactions via phone or customer service representatives. This underpins the importance of both marketing and customer service being available across channels, including email, website chat, social, and SMS/text.

Brands that can adapt and offer digital and real-life experiences that weave seamlessly together will drive economic recovery for the commerce industry. Omnichannel fluidity and flexibility will allow brands to cater to changing consumer needs addressing things like safety, real-time updates and options in this “new normal” of consumerism.

There is a real opportunity for brands to continue to instill consumer confidence with strong offerings and relevance focusing on delivering what customers truly want and need during this time.

Tangible benefits build loyalty
The meaning of loyalty is changing in this new age of consumerism too – only 8% consumers now say a brand name is important to their loyalty. The real driver for repeat custom is tangible benefits, with over half of consumers saying sales or deals are the most valuable communications from brands, and that buyer perks and freebies show that brands care about consumers. There is a fine balance however; 2 out of 5 respondents unsubscribed from multiple brand emails with 55% citing that they received “too many”.

Privacy builds trust
Privacy is another critical factor for consumers. Our survey showed that for 64% privacy is now more important than online experience. Digital marketers need to build trust with consumers by understanding their needs and preferences more closely. 2021 will see brands collaborate with consumers to create a more personalised online experience combined with greater control and respect for privacy.

Despite the evolving world around us, the tenets of a customer-first focus on delivering exceptional customer experiences remain true. Consumers are changing and it’s up to brands to keep up by understanding what they want, and how to keep up.

8 major Google ranking factors — SEO guide

8 major Google ranking factors — SEO guide
Of over two hundred Google ranking factors that we know about, which ones are the most important? Here is the definitive list.
Sponsored Content: SEO PowerSuite on September 15, 2020 at 7:30 am

The SEO community is always looking for new ranking factors and we have discovered over two hundred of them so far. But there may be hundreds more actually used by Google. Luckily, we don’t have to work on all of them. Most have very little weight in SEO and are often used as tie-breakers rather than ranking signals. Instead, here is the definitive list of Google ranking factors, each of which can make or break your search optimization strategy.

1. Backlinks
Even though Google is planning to move away from backlinks in the future, they still remain the most important ranking factor for your pages. Except it is now too risky to use black hat SEO strategies — your links have to come from a variety of high authority websites that are similar to yours. Furthermore, some Google patents say that freshness and traffic may also be important backlink metrics.

Optimization strategy
The most efficient way to grow your backlink profile is to borrow backlink ideas from your search competitors. All you have to do is launch SEO SpyGlass, go to Domain Comparison > Link Intersection, and add a few of your top competitors. The tool will analyze your competitors’ backlinks and find the backlink gap — websites that link to your competitors, but not you. Those websites are your prime outreach targets. Seeing how they already link to other websites in your niche, they are very likely to host your links as well.

2. Semantic saturation
Your SEO content has to contain an appropriate amount of relevant keywords, entities, and images for the length of the copy. The content should not be stuffed, like in the old days of SEO, it should rather be a natural-sounding copy written in an informative style.

Optimization strategy
It could be a little challenging to figure out exactly which keywords to use, where to put them, and how many of them are needed. So, if you want to play it safe, a good strategy is to create a benchmark by analyzing your search competitors’ top-ranking pages. To do this in Website Auditor, go to Content Analysis > Content Editor, enter your main keyword, and get a detailed list of SEO writing instructions. The SEO Content Editor tool will tell you the right amount of main and secondary keywords, their placement, and the recommended length of the copy.

3. HTML tags
HTML tags tell Google which bits of your copy are the most important. The title and meta description tags are what users see in search results – write them like a keyword-rich promo. Heading tags (H1-H6) split your copy into sections — they should also contain keywords and be written in an informative style. Finally, alt text is used to describe images to search engines and should be filled out if you want to appear in the image search results.

Optimization strategy
If you weren’t mindful of HTML tags, then there are probably hundreds of pages on your website that are not properly optimized for search. A thorough approach would be to use Website Auditor and review your pages in bulk. First, go to Site Structure > Pages > On-page and sort the pages by their search optimization score. If you spot any pages with a low score, click on them for a detailed report. It will tell you exactly which HTML tags are in need of optimization and what’s wrong with them.

4. Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals are the newest user experience metrics that will soon become Google ranking factors. The metrics will measure the first impression the user gets when visiting a page. Specifically, how fast it loads, how soon it becomes interactive, and how stable the layout is. Now, it’s important to note that the vitals are not yet official Google ranking factors. But they definitely will be, so it’s best to use the remaining time to get them into proper shape.

Optimization strategy
Google has been kind enough to equip each vital with a detailed set of optimization guidelines. For faster loading, Google recommends better server response times, less render-blocking JS and CSS, and faster resource loading. For improved interactivity, Google recommends code splitting and using less JS. Finally, for better visual stability, Google recommends using size attributes for images and videos and loading content from the top.

5. User behavior
There is a lot of uncertainty in the SEO community on whether Google actually uses behavioral metrics to rank pages. Google says that it doesn’t, but there’s been some pretty convincing evidence that it might.

The metrics we are talking about are the click-through-rate (CTR), bounce rate, session depth, and session duration. To check your performance on user behavior metrics, use your

Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts.

Optimization strategy
Improving user behavior metrics has a lot to do with creating engaging content. For example, CTR relies on having an attractive snippet in search results. Meanwhile, bounce rate, session duration, and session depth rely on whether there is anything fun to do on your page. To keep users engaged, make sure to produce high-quality copy with plenty of visuals and internal links. The goal is to catch the visitors and send them down your sales funnel.

6. Structured data
There are thousands of tags to choose from, and they can tell Google every little detail about your content. Structured data can be used to tag authors, ratings, product features, locations, and so much more. And it can do wonders for your SEO — create links between entities, pin your location, and enhance your search snippets with rich elements:

Optimization strategy
If you are not a technically inclined person, then it’s best to use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper. Choose the type of markup (article, local business, and product come highly recommended) and submit a link to the page you want to enhance. Now highlight bits of text and choose corresponding tags. When done, save the HTML file and upload it to your website. Extra step — check whether your structured data actually works with the help of Google’s Rich Result Test.

7. Google My Business listing
Claiming, optimizing, and maintaining your Google My Business listing is the single most important thing you can do for your local SEO. It helps establish your company as an entity, which in itself is a great asset to your SEO. More importantly, it skyrockets your local search performance. Once you create a listing, it becomes eligible for the local business panel as well as Google maps, opening your business to nearby searchers:

Optimization strategy
First, you have to visit Google My Business and either create or claim your profile. You will be asked to provide a few basic details as well as verify your ownership. When done, you will be transported to your Google My Business dashboard, where you will find many additional ways to enhance your listing. The least you can do is add a description, business hours, and photos, but there are many more cool features to explore. Google is constantly adding new Google My Business features and it’s gotten so advanced that it’s almost like a website of its own.

8. Mobile optimization
Mobile-first indexing is fully rolled out. Google announced that starting from September 2020 all websites without exception will be judged on their mobile version, not the desktop version. So, if you want your website to have any chance of ranking in search results, you have to make sure that it is designed for mobile users.

Optimization strategy
To check whether your page is mobile-friendly, visit Google’s mobile-friendly test, and submit a URL. If the page is ok, you will get a green light, and if it’s not, you’ll get some suggestions on what to improve.

Checking your website page by page is hardly practical, so you can use Google Search Console to check all your pages at once. Launch the tool, go to Enhancements > Mobile Usability, and view a report along with a list of suggested improvements.

Final thoughts
It’s important to keep tabs on the ever-evolving Google algorithm. Some ranking factors, like keywords and backlinks, are gradually losing importance. Other ranking factors, like user experience and semantic saturation, are taking their place. For now, though, the list above is a pretty solid selection of tactics to add to your SEO strategy.

Gen Z More Likely to recall adverting

Generation Z — consumers ages 13 to 24 — are more likely to recall advertising than older generations, even when they spend less time watching skippable content.

 

Fifty-nine percent of Gen Zers recalled a brand’s skippable video ad, compared with 57% of millennials and 47% of Gen Xers, per a study by Snap and Kantar emailed to Mobile Marketer.
More than half (55%) of Gen Zers who watched a skippable ad for less than two seconds correctly remembered it, compared with 46% for millennials and 26% for Gen Xers and baby boomers, the study by Kantar found.

Gen Zers also showed higher rates of brand preference, with 65% of younger consumers saying brands help them to express themselves, compared with 40% for Gen Xers and baby boomers. The cohort’s higher rate of brand preference demonstrates a key opportunity for marketers to connect with this valuable audience.

Insight:
While many have argued that Gen Z’s short attention span is a challenge for marketers, Snap wants to show the cohort offers brands an opportunity to achieve higher ROI on their marketing if they tailor it correctly.

“This study proves that Gen Z audiences are far faster at processing information than we might have given them credit for,” according to the study. “This faster speed of cognitive processing means that brands who want to engage Gen Z need to tailor their video creative and focus on communicating brand and product messages as early as possible.”

Gen Z, a consumer group with an estimated yearly spending power of $1.2 trillion, watch less advertising than older groups. On a scale of time spent with advertising, the cohort under-index at 79 compared with the mean of 100. Millennials indexed at 94, while folks over 40 indexed at 151 on time spent with advertising. The shorter attention span suggests marketers must communicate their message more quickly, including through ads that may be viewed for two seconds at the most.

Snap is highlighting the study as part of a broader campaign targeting brands and their ad agencies. The company last month launched its first B2B campaign, “Meet the Snapchat Generation,” to showcase the app’s appeal among Gen Z users. The B2B effort featured testimonials from marketers such as snack maker Frito-Lay and the NFL, which explained why Snapchat’s audience is important to their marketing efforts. Social responsibility, community-building, individuality, nurturing friendships and new ways of communicating were the key themes in connecting with Gen Z.

The campaign followed a prior effort in June to demonstrate how marketers can use Snapchat more effectively. The company’s “Snap Focus” education portal introduced six classes that marketers could take individually or as a complete course to receive a free Snapchat Ads Manager certification. Before that, the company hosted its annual Snap Partners Summit to showcase a variety of new features for developers, marketers and creators.

 

Source: https://www.marketingdive.com/news/gen-z-shows-higher-ad-recall-than-older-age-groups-snap-study-finds/584990/

Usage of voice has plateaued — for now

Compared with past growth, 2020 survey data show flat-to-declining usage.

Roy Amara’s oft-cited law states, “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.” This appears to especially applicable to voice and voice search.

While there’s been steady growth in the use of voice and virtual assistants since Siri was introduced more than a decade ago, the market hasn’t been transformed. Smart speakers are even a better case-in-point: widely adopted, they’ve failed to become the revolutionary product many had expected.

Now survey data from Perficient Digital suggests voice may have hit a plateau of sorts. This is the fourth year the agency has asked over 1,000 U.S. adults about their use of voice, voice search and virtual assistants. Last year, the survey found voice was second only to the mobile browser as the “first choice” entry point for mobile search (with all answers combined, it ranked fourth).

The current survey didn’t replicate this “first choice” segmentation. And overall, voice search remained in fourth position. The question was: “how are you most likely to ask questions on your smart phone?” Manually entering text into a search app, browser or search bar on the phone all captured more total votes. Usage thus appears to be flat.

Beyond this, voice usage appears to be down for people at all education levels, although it’s positively correlated with education. College graduates and those with more education use voice more than those with less education.

The survey also asked respondents how often they use smart speakers to search for information. The responses “never” and “less than twice per week” constituted a majority (56%); 44% used them at least twice per week, while 20% of the 44% used them six to nine (or more) times per week. This argues smart speakers are not a search substitute for other devices, although overall “search” volume may be expanding as a result.

The survey goes on to explore what factors might explain the results. It asserts that user frustration with virtual assistants not understanding commands or questions (or delivering wrong answers) may partly explain this flat-to-declining usage. By the same token, improved accuracy and better comprehension would potentially generate additional usage frequency.

Why we care. As with so many compelling technologies, early hype has given way to slow, incremental growth. In one sense voice is just an alternative input mechanism for text. But in another it represents a fundamentally different user experience. And voice technology behind the scenes is becoming increasingly sophisticated, almost imperceptibly to the public.

As the survey discussion points out, voice is central for the majority of non-traditional connected devices: “77% of all Internet-connected devices are something other than a tablet, PC or smartphone.” Indeed voice is the UI for the next generation of devices and virtual assistants are the logical successor to “search.” It’s just going to take longer than expected.

Source: https://marketingland.com/usage-of-voice-has-plateaued-for-now-280241

2 tips quick for ecommerce site search

A good digital experience is more crucial now than it ever was. So how can retailers make sure their on-site search experience is as seamless, effective and easy to use as possible?

 

Search box placement and functionality

There’s more to search box and site search functionality than you may think. Even something as basic as search box placement can make a big difference to usability, and a few seemingly minor additions to functionality can vastly improve the overall experience of searching.

1. Make the search box easy to spot

The prominence of the search box on the page can influence the user’s decision to make use of it to find products – and determine how easily they can find it if they’re looking.

Therefore, if site search is important to your site and you want shoppers to use it, the prominence and visibility of the search field should reflect this.

Some retail websites, intentionally or unintentionally, sideline the search bar in their site design, effectively absorbing it into the background or crowding it out visually with distracting page artefacts and making it difficult to spot.

Take Boohoo, for example, whose business model and site design are much more oriented around customers browsing the site for products than searching for a specific item. There is a search icon in the header, but you practically need a magnifying glass to spot it:

2. Keep the search box placement consistent

While this might seem like a basic tip and one that most ecommerce retailers have mastered, it’s still worth bearing in mind: when you design your pages, make sure that your search box is located in the same place each time, so that customers know where to find it.

Final:

The components of a good digital experience are now more important than ever, and have a major role to play in ensuring that customers who visit your site are united with the products they’re looking for as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

On-site search is a big factor in the customer journey of those consumers who either know exactly what they’re looking for and have come to your site to find it, or who have some idea of what they’re looking to buy but may need some help narrowing it down.

A good site search experience will help them to find that product/those products and maybe several others that they either didn’t know they wanted or hadn’t thought to look for. But a poor site search experience will leave them frustrated, and result in them deciding to shop elsewhere for the product or at best, feeling less inclined to buy anything additional or shop via your website in the future.

Top 3 Marketing Opportunities or Tips During Covid-19

As a premiere digital marketing agency, we have been planning for years for the eventuality of the digital age to consume the old analog economy, but with the spread of covid-19, some of the human behaviors we were expecting to be adopted this decade has already been adopted in just a few short months.

COVID-19 has certainly made an impact on commerce as well as ecommerce over the past couple of weeks here in the Cayman Islands, especially now that isolation and social distancing measures have been put in place.

Not just in the Cayman Islands, but workers in many infected countries have been asked to work from home, countries including the UK, Italy, and France have been placed under lockdown and schools have been shut down just as they have here.

Unsurprisingly, since taken the decision out of consumers’ hands by closing non essential brick and mortar businesses, forcing traditional consumers to adopt ecommerce and social media as more than an alternative, but a necessity.

Many of your competitors are taking their foot off of the marketing pedal, which means you may be able to blow right by them! Think of it like the hare taking a break while in the lead only to let the tortoise win the race with consistent effort. Don’t take your foot off the pedal!

Of course, I realize many businesses are simply not able to invest due to lost revenue and if that’s the case then simply skip this info. However, for everyone else, this is the most important takeaway of this article.

Now is the time to invest more, not less in your marketing. That is how you can gain a competitive advantage in the months and years to come.

We have put together a top 3 opportunities list to assist our clients with maximizing their brand exposure as well as ROI, and felt this would also benefit a wider audience of all businesses, please find below our list of top 3 marketing opportunities during covid-19 thus far.

 

Opportunity #1: Paid ads are really, really cheap
The latest trend we are seeing is that paid ads are becoming cheaper.

It makes sense because the way these big ad networks make money is through an auction system. They need small businesses to drive up the cost per click (CPC) for ads so that way the big, billion-dollar corporations have to spend more money on ads.

If you don’t have as many small businesses advertising (like we are experiencing now) there isn’t as much competition for the inventory, so the cost per click decrease.

But the virus has been causing us to spend more time online, so much so that companies like Netflix have had to reduce their streaming quality to help.

In other words, traffic on the web is up and there are fewer advertisers. This means ads are cheaper.

Now we are also seeing conversions rates dropping in certain industries, but nowhere near at the same rate as the CPCs.

When we average things out per industry and globally, we are seeing paid ads producing a much higher ROI than before the Coronavirus hit.

Our clients, in general, have seen their ROI go from 31% to 53%. That’s a 71% increase in ROI.

If you haven’t tried paid ads yet, you should consider it. If you do, consider ramping up as there is more excess inventory than there has been in years.

 

Opportunity #2: Offer educational based training
If you are looking for a good opportunity, consider selling your audience educational based courses.

With unemployment numbers reaching all-time highs, more people than ever are looking for new opportunities.

Many of these opportunities are in fields like high-tech that not everyone has experience in.

And, of course, going back to school can be expensive and is time-consuming. Plus, let’s face it… you can probably learn more applicable knowledge on YouTube than sitting in a college class for 4 years (at least for most professions).

So, where do people go to learn? Any online education website offering very specific, niche advice and courses.

Whether that is Udemy or you are selling your own courses, people are looking for help.

If you don’t know how to sell online courses in mass quantity, contact us for a free consultation.

 

Opportunity #3: Share Experiences Through Digital PR
Yes, the news is Ubiquitous with COVID-19 stories, but digital PR activity shouldn’t stop during coronavirus.

Now is a great opportunity to maximize social media, with interesting and personnel stories that are a ​distraction from the wider news.

People still want to read good news stories and want escapism from the pandemic currently dominating mainstream media.
Journalists themselves have been quoted on social media multiple times saying they need to put a smile on people’s faces.

If the story is strong, it can still get picked up right now.

If your business can offer comments to help other businesses and people during this tough time, distract them, or put a smile on their faces, that’s a great thing and should be encouraged!

 

Conclusion
Sadly, the next few months are going to get worse. The daily count of new Coronavirus victims is growing.

From a personal standpoint, all you can do is stay indoors and practice social distancing.

But from a marketing, business, and career perspective, you can make a change.

You should have more time now (sadly), so use it to your advantage. Put in the effort so you can grow, that way you’ll come out of the Coronavirus stronger.

So which one of the above opportunities are you going to implement first?

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