Posts by: Joe Edwards

Social trends – why they are important… and why they are not

As marketing people, there are two things we can’t help doing: making up new words (gamification, omnichannel, native advertising…) and jumping on the latest trends. We’ve always loved shiny new things – but while trends are important, we should never forget there are some fundamentals we will always need to get right. This blog highlights some notable trends in the digital and social space, but also some of those essential and unchanging basics.

From dialogue to data
In the beginning, social was all about people, and culture. Now that businesses have adopted the medium, there’s a shift in emphasis.

I didn’t get to Social Media Week this year (too busy doing rather than coming up for air and listening to how others have been doing), but I read lots about it. One thing that struck me was that SMW 2014 was less about say, the Croydon riot effect and how social brought people together, or even how the ALS ice-bucket challenge galvanised people around the world. This year, the emphasis shifted more towards business. And the focus here was less on likes and RTs and more on hardnosed metrics, as organisations really try to get to grips with how social affects every aspect of business.

But whilst it’s crucial for all of us to understand the effectiveness of social for the business, it’s just as important to remember (and enjoy) the sociological and psychological aspects of social media. For these are the ones that will help us improve our social media business activity.

Google +
Not convinced about Google+ yet? You have a Google+ page but you’re not doing much with it? You’re not alone. You’d be forgiven for being of the opinion that Google+ hasn’t lived up to all the hype that accompanied its launch.

But it does have some great tools – including Google Hangouts – and is slowly upping its game with an ad platform. I think it’s worth sticking with it – if for nothing else at the moment but its importance for SEO.

The visual web
50% of the human brain is involved in visual processing. 70% of your sensory perceptors are in your eyes.  Researchers found that colour visuals increase the willingness to read by 80%. So whether it’s photography, diagrams or even clever use of text, the message is simply, create more visual content and you’ll get far greater levels of engagement, far more quickly.

Responsive
Increasingly, if your content isn’t mobile-ready, then it just won’t be seen. Gartner reports that tablets will soon outsell PCs and laptops combined, while the Wall St Journal reveals that mobile interaction on most social platforms far outstrips interaction via desktop (see image). Finally (if more proof is needed), according to a B2B content preference survey, only 21% of people never view B2B content on a tablet device – and only 3% never view B2B content on a mobile.
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Micro video

The ultra short-form film currently accounts for 66% of global internet traffic . If this rise of the micro video wasn’t astonishing enough already, that figure is projected to reach 79% by 2018. The original channel in this space was Vine, which allows users to post and share six-second looping micro videos. Vine has been closely followed by the likes of Instagram video (15 second videos), MixBit (16 seconds), Tumblr GIFs and more.

It may be difficult to imagine what a brand can say to an audience in a few seconds of video, but some (take Oreo for example) have been able to embrace it, work with it and take it to an art form! If you can make it work for you, it will pay. Here’s some stats: the average internet user watches 206 micro videos a month; videos in Instagram produce twice the engagement of photos; Vine currently has 40 million users ; while an enormous 5 tweets per second contain a Vine link.

The algorithm
Twitter’s new content algorithm for example. This is a means by which relevant content is served to the user’s feed in preference over the solely chronological order of tweets as is currently the case. Its developers say it makes for a better, more relevant user experience, but detractors point out that sometimes (with breaking news, for example) nothing is more relevant than chronology, and that sometimes we want human (our own) judgment of what’s relevant, rather than simply being fed what the algorithms dictate…

Real time
If you can react quickly and creatively to news or events that are capturing people’s imagination then you could be on to a real winner. Don’t think this can work in B2B? Then look at this.

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Lookalikes
A lookalike audience is an algorithmically-assembled group of social network members who resemble, in some way, another group of members. This means, for example, that you can use facebook’s ability to draw on the profile data of users in your existing audience and create a new audience of users who share similar demographics and interests.

Growth hacking
Where technological innovation meets creative marketing to achieve fast growth – born from technology start-ups when budget is tight but targets are high. Growth hackers focus on low-cost and innovative alternatives to “traditional” marketing. It’s about agility and creativity, data and testing, and development and automation.

A Dropbox offer of free space when a friend signs up for the service took registered users from one hundred thousand to four million in just 15 months. That’s fast.

What hasn’t changed?
In 20,000 years of evolution our DNA is nearly the same. It’s our unconscious thought, not our conscious, rationalised thought, that still governs our behaviour – and that’s why we need to truly understand our audiences. So that we can communicate and connect with them more effectively.

What makes people share, for example? Psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott discovered that our first emotional action in life is to respond to our mother’s smile with a smile of our own. Joy and happiness are obviously hard-wired into us all. No surprise then, that happiness is the main driver for social media sharing. In fact, emotions layered with and related to happiness make up the majority of the top drivers of viral content as studied by Fractl.

Top 10 emotions that drive sharing:
1. Amusement
2. Interest
3. Surprise
4. Happiness
5. Delight
6. Pleasure
7. Joy
8. Hope
9. Affection
10. Excitement

But emotions aren’t just desirable in marketing, they’re critical. Research by the IPA that compared 880 global advertising case studies found that emotional messages were almost twice as likely to generate large profit gains than rational messages (31% vs. 16%) and also outperformed campaigns that contained both emotional and rational content.

The power of the story
According to psychologists Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, stories are more persuasive and more trustworthy than statistics because individual examples lodge in our minds, but statistics and averages do not. Our ancestors learned from specific examples, not by compiling data from huge groups of people across a range of different situations.

Stories work because our brains are primed to heed their advice and because they can slip in under our radar and “transport” us to the tale being told. And since we also make ourselves the main character of every story we hear, we identify more readily with a situation.

Surprise your audience. But be relevant
The unexpected can be delivered by great storytelling using emotional triggers. It gets your attention. But for maximum impact and the desired response, it must also have relevance. So when you’re creating marketing content, strive for the relevant and unexpected – not any of the following.

Relevant and expected – messages that are repetitive. I’ll soon tune out.
Irrelevant and expected – messages that are repetitive that I don’t even need. I tuned out a long time ago
Irrelevant and unexpected – why are you even messaging me at all?
So by all means, play with marketing’s shiny new tools. Experiment, be creative, innovate. But remember, the audiences you are trying to reach, engage with and convert are made up of people. And the fundamental needs and motivators of people are pretty much the same as they’ve always been. Don’t forget them.

Source: MOI Global Marketing Agency

Ad:TechLondon 2015 – Social trends, why they are important and why they are not

As marketing people, there are two things we cannot help doing: making up new-fangled words (e.g. gamification) and following the latest trends. We’ve always loved new shiny things and while trends are important, as social marketers, it’s important to remember that there are some fundamentals we need to get right. In this presentation, Joe highlights some interesting trends in the digital and social space, what they mean for businesses today and how they can be actioned tomorrow. But more importantly why marketers need to be careful in following every trend and forgetting the basics…. How to stay interesting to your audience.

Check out the notes on slideshare for the details


6 reasons to adopt the Social Business…

…and 5 things to overcome.

I was prompted to write this post by a conversation with a potential client recently. One of the more interesting remarks he made was that he felt that only about 10% of organisations really understand the value of the social business – and even less know how to go about achieving it.

So of course that got me thinking. Which in my world pretty soon leads to blogging.

First of all, what does it mean to be a social business, and why is it so important?

Becoming a social business isn’t just about having a presence on social networks. It’s about changing the way your entire business operates – and that includes its processes, its structure, its very culture. Admittedly that’s daunting. And is no doubt the very reason why most organisations shy away from the shift to becoming truly social. But social is where your customers are; its where your employees are. Pretty soon, not taking it seriously will leave you at a big disadvantage.

What are the benefits of being a social business?

Better customer relationships
A social business is open, transparent, accessible and responsive. If a customer can communicate with a company in a medium and at a time that suits them, then they will feel valued and respected. Better still, if that company exceeds their response expectations, then you don’t just have satisfied customers, you have potential brand advocates.

Improved insight
A social business can gain more and better insight into customers’ behaviours, sentiments and actions. That in turn can inform future communications, marketing and product development.

Employee satisfaction
A social business empowers employees by making them part of the conversation, both internal and external. The result is more involved, more collaborative, more motivated teams, who can, and are empowered to, make a difference.

Increased productivity
By encouraging open collaboration and involvement, a social business removes bottlenecks and silos, enabling a better flow of communication internally and a culture of getting things done together – rather than having departments work at cross purposes or duplicating effort.

More innovation
New ideas are more easily shared, built upon, developed, put into action. Internally, employees from all parts of the business, bottom-up or top-down are empowered to innovate; externally, customers can contribute valuable insight and opinion about product or service development.

Enhanced reputation
Your brand’s success depends on its products and services living up to the claims that you make about them. If your service falls below the level your customers expect, they will be quick to react – and today that often means very publicly. If you can respond to problems quickly, effectively and transparently, this can only work in your favour. And if your response and your content is right – i.e. helpful or entertaining, you can quickly become very visible experts and the go-to source for helpful information.

What common hurdles might you need to overcome on your social business journey?

Culture change
This is the bit about changing the way your entire business operates. It’s about giving all employees, regardless of their position in the organisation, the tools, the training, the freedom and the encouragement to engage with social media both internally and externally. It’s about getting past negative preconceptions about social. It’s about becoming more transparent, breaking down silos and engendering a culture of collaboration, not competition

Of course, asking an entire business to change its culture in the name of social media sometimes just isn’t going to fly – especially at board level. But with such huge potential benefits, a culture change is essential. So anyone trying to deliver this should start with the low hanging fruit. Find the influential people in the business who recognise the value of social media, and make them the start of your journey. Once others see its value and you can share the proof, it’s far easier to get buy-in. The result will be a more empowered, motivated and collaborative workforce and an accessible, responsive, transparent organisation with people at its heart.

Understanding your audience
By this, I mean your internal audience. In order to define the scope of your project, you need to discover the social capabilities of employees across the business and how well they already understand and/or have adopted social media both inside and outside the workplace. This will determine the levels of support and types of training programmes you need to put in place to drive the social culture change through the business. Once employees have got past any negative preconceptions, understand what they need to do and are embracing the opportunity, communities can be built, incentives put in place, and you’ll find social adopters can very quickly become social champions and great brand advocates.

Making it relevant
Although linked to the above, this is really about ownership of social – who is driving it and who does the responsibility sit with. It may vary from organisation to organisation, but if there is a particular department driving the social business strategy, every effort must be made to understand the needs of different departments and to deliver against them.

Scalability
This is probably one of the tougher challenges for large organisations. How can you deliver training at scale – even globally – with consistency and ensure that people really do adopt? For me this is about creating a training team internally, and delivering a mix of face to face, online and on demand learning programmes backed up with the technology and support to ensure there are people helping to push it through. The hard truth in this one if you want to successfully scale you will need the 3 ‘M’s: men, money, minutes!

Proving ROI
One of the reasons initiatives and pilot schemes for the social business tend to fail is that someone in the business has decided it would be good to measure leads and sales. The problem with this is that, in a 3-month pilot scheme, when your sales cycle can be anything up to 12 or 18 months, you will never be able to deliver and your road to becoming social will be blocked. Your social business plan needs realistic targets, with baselines set before you start. Measures could include renewal rates, account profiling, business knowledge of product and services (you’ll be surprised how little your frontline know), content produced, engagement with key accounts.

Also, remember to choose your wording wisely when speaking to the executive board. “Awareness and reach” probably won’t be as effective as “renewal rates”, forecasting” and “return on investment”.

Becoming a social business is a journey. Change won’t happen overnight. But with careful planning and the right strategy, it WILL reap rewards.

Anything I’ve missed? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

And if you’re thinking of embarking on your own social business journey, or need help to drive it forward, MOI have an enablement program that can help. If you’d like to talk to us, please get in contact.

Source: MOI

Nine trends in digital B2B

If I’m practicing what I preached in a previous blog, then I should be deleting the word “digital” here. If all marketing innovation going forward will be digital, then then the term “digital” itself will be redundant. In the meantime, there’s still an offline world out there, so here’s my list of the top nine trends that should absolutely be on your radar. And they happen to be digital.

1. Inbound vs outbound
Give your customers a reason to come and interact with your brand or organisation and your conversion rate could double from an average of 6% to 12%. So says the State of Inbound Marketing Report 2013. Why?
– Inbound promotes buying while outbound is driven by selling
– you can serve your inbound audience targeted content to match their precise needs and interests
– enables lifecycle marketing as you recognise and act upon the different stages your prospects and customers go through
– allows greater personalisation the more you learn about your audience
– it’s multichannel by definition. Your audience will approach you via whichever channel suits them best – and you should respond accordingly
– enables better integration. Your analytics and publishing tools will work together as a well-oiled machine!

2. Mobile
Make sure you’re delivering properly joined-up experiences across all platforms and devices. In 2013 Gartner reported that tablets will soon outsell both PCs and laptops combined. In June 2014 the B2B content preference survey revealed that only 21% of people never view B2B content on a tablet device and only 3% never view it on a mobile. With mobile interaction on the biggest and fastest growing social platforms far outstripping desktop, if your content isn’t mobile-ready, then it quite simply won’t be seen.

3. Real time
The tech, the talent, and the creativity is out there for truly switched-on brands to react super-fast to news and events. Oreo’s Dunk in the Dark is probably an over-used example of an excellent piece of newsjacking, but the fact that it still lingers in our consciousnesses just serves to prove how impactful the idea, and the execution, was. Norton Security’s Justin Bieber alert is still a favourite of mine from the B2B world. So get listening to what’s trending, get imaginative and get reactive.

4. Social proof
Make it easier for people to decide in your brand’s favour by giving them confidence in you. Show them the confidence that others (their peers) have in you by showcasing endorsements, subscriber numbers, social shares, #mentions.

And did you know that 7 of the top 10 factors that can positively impact your search ranking are social? There’s the proof of social proof…

5. Growth hacking

Take a leaf out the books of technology start-ups. When budgets are tight and targets are high, growth hackers focus on low-cost and innovative alternatives to “traditional” marketing, e.g. using social media and viral rather than paid media. It’s all about creative thinking and clever use of the technology and data at your disposal. Build free tools, create experiences that users want to share, build the network economy into your campaigns.

6. Behavioural economics
Deliver System 1 marketing and you’ll have more ways of making it easier for people to buy from you. Most B2B marketing plays to the rational, considered side of a buyer’s personality, presenting product benefits and pricing for example, as reasons to buy. That’s System 2 marketing. System 1 is more intuitive, emotional and faster. And it’s been proven that there can be 5 times more emotion involved in B2B buying decisions than in B2C. Time to tap into it.

Use framing to give an emotional context to statements (contrast “I am blind” with “It’s springtime and I am blind”); create repetitive familiarity to breed trust; keep it simple to make response easy and quick; use scientific fact or expert opinion to instil confidence – and don’t give customers too much choice. You’ll risk causing confusion – a pain point that will send the customer elsewhere.

7. Data
Use your data not only to target your messages, but also to nuance them in the exact right way for your audience. There are more ways than ever before to discover more both the audience you know and the audiences you don’t.

Take VisualDNA. Using deeply engaging, highly visual and, for respondents, extremely simple personality quizzes, they capture detailed information about people’s lives, attitudes, demographics and interests. Then the fun starts. Psychologists use advanced statistical algorithms to analyse personalities and form psychographic profiles. These profiles can then be inferred to unknown audiences who exhibit the right behavioural patterns. Using these methods, VisualDNA have said they can profile an impressive 250 million people worldwide.

8. The Visual Web
50% of the human brain is involved in visual processing. 70% of your sensory perceptors are in your eyes. Colour visuals increase the willingness to read by 80%.

Whether it’s photography, diagrams or even clever use of text, quite simply, create more visual content and you’ll get far greater levels of engagement, far more quickly.

9. Technology singularity
Technology singularity is the point at which technological progress is so rapid that it overtakes human ability to comprehend it. And it’s estimated that this point could be reached as soon as 2045. When this happens, machine intelligence will be infinitely more powerful than all human intelligence combined (is your brain hurting just comprehending this bit? You’re not alone).

Right now there are about 13 billion connected devices worldwide. By 2020, Cisco predicts that this figure will rise to a massive 50 billion. All talking to each other.

My advice to you at this point: be very afraid!

Source: MOI

Digital as a Service: watch this space

As B2B marketers, we really need to keep on top of where technology is going. We have to be prepared for whatever curveball is thrown our way.

Wearable technology hasn’t yet taken off as expected, but it’s inevitable. Smartwatches aren’t that affordable – or, dare we say it, stylish – just yet, but that’ll change. Maybe when Apple finally drop the iWatch (or whatever), demand will skyrocket and the market will explode. It just needs the right product to light the fuse.

(Though you might want to remember the Apple rule – always hold off buying the initial release. Wait a few months for the revision that works like you expected it to.)

Likewise, Google Glass is still something of a curio, but that too (and similar products) will become commonplace when the price is low enough, and they get the styling right. Once it stops looking like something from a 1970s future, it will become a part of the actual future.

As a marketer, that demands your attention.

Why? Because Google has gone on record to say it won’t allow advertising on Glass.

It’s perfectly understandable, of course. The intimacy of the device would make push advertising much more invasive. The public wouldn’t tolerate it (at least not for long).

But the upshot is that we marketers are going to have to fundamentally rethink the way we converse with our audience. And soon. Traditional marketing just won’t cut it in the world of tiny screens and bitesize information.

If brands are going to get any sort of foothold in this environment, they’ll need to become either useful or entertaining – ideally both. And as marketers, if we want people to engage, we’ll either move more towards acting like media houses, drawing them in with entertainment, or we’ll be more like tech houses and start producing apps.

To me, the latter seems more likely; it’s a better fit for wearable tech platforms. “Digital as a Service” is not a new idea by any means – brand utility is a well established concept – but it just might be best way to take old-school marketing tactics into this new environment.

Once upon a time, that was Chevy offering stranded motorists a test drive alongside a rescue. Stiegel replacing beer labels with public transport tickets to reduce drink-driving. Michelin showing you the best restaurants.

That’s the kind of thinking we’ll need to replicate in B2B tech once wearables really begin shifting the goalposts. And, with the popularity of apps, we have an excellent opportunity.

So start planning now. Ask yourself what services could be essential, or at least highly useful, on wearable tech. Monitor the market, see what people are crying out for and figure out if where your brand might fit with that service.

It’s going to be a brave new tiny-screened world out there, and sooner than you think. Are you ready?

Source: MOI

10 reasons digital strategy is dead

Yes it’s another one of those “it’s dead” posts, but while I am not a fan of sensationalism, I do need to grab your attention. And do it quickly, given my top reason for believing that a digital marketing strategy is fast becoming surplus to requirements…

1. Online, we have a shorter attention span than a goldfish
Human behaviour online is such that, more often than not, our attention moves on to the next thing before we’ve even had a chance to digest the last. So there’s a real risk that if marketers spend too long strategising, your efforts will be wasted – because in the 3-6 months you spend planning a campaign you’ll miss the boat. Marketing almost needs to be turned on its head and become reactive rather than pro-active. Think speed, agility, creativity, imagination, opportunism and you’ll get immediately why Oreo’s Dunk in the Dark campaign is still used as a text book example of newsjacking. B2B marketing’s brilliant equivalent is Norton Antivirus software.

Norton

Norton’s quick-thinking marketing team took a current news story and created a simple piece of visual media that was funny, perfectly suited to the social environment for which it was created, and totally in keeping with the brand. It went viral instantly. Brilliant.

2. By 2040 we will reach a point of technological singularity
Technological singularity is the hypothetical moment in time when computer processing power will become faster than the human brain and superhuman artificial intelligence will prevail. Will technology do our thinking and understand our needs and responses even before we do…?

3. Testing is more important than strategy
Any planners amongst you are probably cringing at this point, and while I’d suggest we still need to plan how we deliver communications into the digital space, I strongly believe we should be spending much more time failing fast and learning faster. Every single communication should have testing built in. Learn from it, refine it, optimise it and test it again – everything, from an email subject line to the content of video.

4. Better marketing will be defined by better data management
With strategy there are often too many assumptions based on information from reports and surveys that take a segment of a “typical audience”. Companies with joined up data management and analysis can discover far more truth about their audience, their behaviours and preferences, and with enough agility, can act on those insights in real time. The single customer view is still the ultimate goal. No one in my opinion is there yet, but it will come.

5. There is no time for strategy
Technology is moving too fast, human behaviour is in flux… In fact the only thing we can be sure won’t change is change itself. Even the way we access information is ever changing. We’ve gone from big screen to small screen, to wearable screen

Bibo

to ocular,

Ocular

to gestural,

Gestural

to biometric.

Biometric

…And that’s all in the last 10 years. Companies that spend more time talking and less time innovating will lose the race and quickly become irrelevant. MOI will soon launch its own innovation lab (watch this space).

6. Everything is digital so nothing is digital
Latest prophecies suggest that all marketing will be digital, therefore the term digital itself will be redundant. While I think we are definitely closer to this and there is a definite shift in digital maturity of many businesses, there will always be organisations and instances where something physical – from direct mail, to events and experiences, is still a requirement.

7. Strategy is simply the wrong word
Often I’m asked do we need a separate strategy for individual channels. My answer is always based on PR Smith’s SOSTAC model. That is, your channel – whether that’s digital or not, forms part of SOSTAC’s tactics, actions and controls – all of which answer to the strategy to reach the overall objectives. What’s SOSTAC? Here’s what it stands for in brief, but you can read more about it at businessballs.com):

S – Situation Analysis (where we are now)
O – Objectives (where we want to go)
S – Strategy (how we’re going to get there)
T – Tactics (the details of strategy)
A – Action (implementation – putting the plan to work)
C – Control (measurement, monitoring, reviewing, updating and modifying)

8. Digital is about the delivery
It’s actually the content we should be more focused on. Get good at story telling. Everyone loves a good story – because everyone is programmed to. We personify abstract shapes, we seek ourselves in objects around us, we make ourselves the main character of every story we hear. And that’s just perfect for your brand. Tell a great brand story and you can influence how your audience behaves towards it, because everyone you tell your brand story to can be the hero. To your customers, your company can seem less like an organisation and more like a friend with whom they have things in common. Looked at it this way, it’s easy to see why the John Lewis ads evoke such a warm response from viewers.

9. Budgets will shift from strategy to business intelligence
The data explosion has meant that marketers have become more focussed on real-time data, on its analysis and on using the insight to inform business decisions. According to Gartner, Big Data spurred $34billion in global IT spend in 2013 and an Infogroup study revealed there is now a far greater focus on data analysis than on data collection (45% and 11% of respondents respectively seeing these as their biggest data-related challenge). So it follows that the key personnel focus will shift from strategists to analysts. So strategists may need to retrain – or rethink.

10. Digital will just disappear
While I’m not a fan of buzzwords or phrases, the “frictionless digital experience” is probably a good way to describe where digital is going. Products under development include 1mm2 chip devices embedded into pills and tablets that, once swallowed, can begin a process that relays information to your mobile phone about when your next dose is needed. People with diabetes could soon be managing their blood sugar via smart contact lenses that monitor the glucose levels in their tears. Digital technology that is, effectively, completely unnoticeable by the user.

11. BONUS: Digital as a service
For me, marketers should think of digital as a service. A service that gives our audience something of value, that they can use. I think there are still too many examples of the brochure-ware web, where organisations think we can just display content and customers will come running. That’s simply not the case. Try the “so what?” test. If your digital communications don’t answer that, then they haven’t done enough. Why should your audience stop and listen to what you or your brand has to say? There has to be something in it for them. But digital as a service doesn’t necessarily mean some everlasting useful thing that sits on the user’s home screen and they interact with it every day. I’ve seen some great uses of tactical mobile apps, that really deliver against objectives.

So are you convinced about digital strategy? Next time you’re tasked with sitting down to write your digital marketing plan, maybe your strategy should be no strategy at all…

Source: MOI

B2B buying. It’s an emotional business.

The road to the business to business purchase is a detached, rational, cool-headed process based solely on considerations of the business benefits that the decision will bring: making money, saving costs, bringing time efficiencies improving business performance…. Right?

Ah, so business buying decisions are just as susceptible to the influence of emotional triggers as consumer purchases?

Wrong again.

There can be 5 times more emotion involved in B2B buying than in B2C. Five times. So it’s not even close. That means that, to give your business to business marketing campaigns a better chance of achieving the results you want, you need to identify and appeal to the emotional drivers that motivate your specific audience.

But you’re in B2B. You’ll need evidence.

The evidence
A few months ago Google teamed up with the CEB Marketing Leadership Council to investigate and challenge the basic assumptions of B2B marketers when it comes to developing marketing communications. They surveyed a total of 3,000 buyers from 36 B2B brands across several different industries and what they discovered was that business buying, far from being impersonal and purely business benefit-based, is very personal indeed.

The study found that, while B2C brands have emotional connections with between 10% and 40% of their customers, most of the B2B brands surveyed had emotionally connected with well over 50% of customers.

That’s not to say that B2B and B2C buying decisions are made in very similar ways. The B2B buying process, by its very nature, is generally longer, involves more stakeholders, has several distinct stages and usually involves a much larger investment.

In addition to that, in 50-60% of cases, your prospect will already have done bucketloads of research and will have drawn up their shortlist of potential suppliers before they even contact you. And once they have that shortlist, there is very little in terms of business benefit that distinguishes you from your competitors – unless you want a price war.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

What’s more, where they do see a difference, they’re not prepared to pay for it:

Exhibit B

Q: “Do you see a real difference between suppliers and value the difference enough to pay for it?”

Exhibit B

That’s a pretty concerted “no”. So if you can’t compete on business benefits, how do you persuade prospects to choose your brand?

Consider those emotional connection percentages again. Why do so many B2B purchasers feel so emotionally connected to the brands they buy from? The answer lies in those distinct differences between B2B buying decisions and those of consumers. When a consumer makes a purchase, even a relatively high value one, there are usually very few people to answer to if it’s a bad decision, often only themselves. And in a worst case scenario, the item can usually be returned.

In business, the stakes are far higher. A bad decision here can mean huge financial losses, an adverse effect on business performance, loss of status – or even the buyer’s job. A good decision however – and one that’s perceived as good not only by the buyer but by their various stakeholders, can bring immense personal benefit – recognition, reward, status, to name just a few.

So any supplier who can minimise the personal risk and strike at their buyers’ pain points is going to have a big advantage. Huge, if the decision to choose your brand results in positive personal outcomes too.

Appeal to these emotional drivers and you’ll be providing personal value to add to the business value that got you on to the shortlist in the first place.

The Google/CEB study found that if B2B buyers perceive personal value in the decision to choose your product, then there is twice the increase in terms of consideration, preference, repeat purchase and advocacy than where they perceive business value alone. And buyers are an astonishing 8 times more likely to pay a premium.

The practice
So what are the emotions you need to appeal to in order to win the hearts and minds of your prospects? This is where you need to get to know your customer. Not just who they are and what they do, but what motivates them; what are their pain points and aspirations?

Equipment suppliers Grainger, demonstrate that they completely understand their customers’ need to get things done quickly and efficiently and keep the plant running for the good of the organisation. Their “For the ones who get it done” campaign addressed buyers’ pain points, solved their problem with products and ideas to help them do a better job and appealed to their aspirations of being recognised as someone who gets the job done.

Whilst understanding your prospect’s business needs can be relatively straightforward, understanding their personal issues in the workplace requires a great deal more research. Never forget that your buyers are people. People can be motivated by any, or many emotional triggers from the need to seek approval, to avoiding risk, to feeling safe and secure, or simply to be entertained. If you think you can pull it off and it’s appropriate, try humour!

On a serious, yet no doubt emotional note, Oracle asked MOI to create a video showing how joined-up data could improve the life of a patient with a serious long-term condition. Oracle sales reps would use the video as a conversation-starter during sales meetings, and it would be played on exhibition stands to draw attention and footfall. MOI created the character of Sabrina, a teenager with cerebral palsy. The video is her scrapbook, animated using different media and techniques (live-action video, still images, hand-drawn animation, stop-motion animation). In voiceover, Sabrina talks about her life and the magnitude and value of the role that IT plays within it. The video has a great visual impact, emphasising the human side of technology so often missed in enterprise technology marketing. Take a look at the video here.

And triggering emotional response is where social media can come into its own. Unlike the formal response to formalised research questions, social is where users will write spontaneously, qualify fact with opinion and colour reaction with sentiment. And they will share how they feel. If you can trigger social sharing when you appeal to your prospects, then your prospect pool could end up bigger than you think…

  • Emotions drive sharing
  • Sharing drives deeper understanding and action
  • Actions drive preference
  • Preference drives decisions

The verdict
Whatever method you choose to get deep inside your business buyer’s psyche, what’s important is that you demonstrate your understanding, and with empathy. And if your communications can address both the rational and the emotional buying triggers, then your prospect can buy on all the emotion they like. And be able to justify it to their stakeholders with fact.

Source: MOI

Why a “mobile first” marketing strategy means more than just your website

By now, most B2B marketers should understand the importance of thinking “mobile first”. Many have invested in a mobile or – better still – a responsive website.

Problem is, too many think “mobile first” is just about website development. And that means they’re missing a huge opportunity to engage customers and prospects.

Don’t make that mistake: “Mobile first” should touch every part of your digital marketing strategy.

In short, the more your customers become “mobile first”, the more critical it is for you to meet them where they are.

The mobile imperative

Everyone knows mobile is going to overtake PC usage pretty soon – indeed, in America it might have happened already.

There are now over 1 billion smartphones around the globe, and tablets weighed in with an impressive 168 million units in 2014 alone.

A work, its no longer the case that mobile is a handy out-of-office alternative. It’s become the first screen of choice: 70% of younger executives use mobile as their primary source of communication.

If you’re not taking mobile seriously, you’re not taking your clients’ needs seriously. When they reach for their mobile first, your whole digital strategy needs to respond.

But what does that actually look like in terms of tactics – other than your new responsive site? Let’s look at a few examples.

Responsive is for email too

First, let’s think about email. After all, 64% of B2B decision makers use mobile for reading it. So why do so many B2B marketers build a responsive website, then send out emails that get squashed, stretched, and mangled on a mobile device?

Lately, it has become a far easier, far more streamlined process to make emails responsive. It works with the vast majority of email client software, and putting in that little bit of extra effort will make the reader happier… and let you sleep that bit easier, knowing they’ll see it how you want them to see it.

Content marketing for mobile

And how about applying “mobile first” to your content marketing strategy?

You own a smartphone. Of course you do. So you know the special hell of staring at a tiny screen, trying to view content that’s not been designed with mobile in mind. But somehow, we seem to forget that experience when it comes to creating content marketing assets.

PDFs still seem to be the order of the day for a lot of content delivery, but what about all the people who find themselves reading text-heavy reports and whitepapers on an iPad or Kindle? Are they getting the best experience you could give them?

Have you ever tried reading a long PDF on a Kindle? It’s like reading a novel through a letterbox – possible, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Providing an alternative in MOBI/ePub is simple and can make a world of difference to those viewing.

And that, in turn, means your content is more likely to get read. Which is the point, isn’t it?

Use apps tactically

So… you thought that responsive site would mean you never had to think about apps again, right?

The fact is, they’re still a useful tactical tool to have at your disposal – especially when it comes to campaign planning. It’s pretty powerful to be already in your client’s pocket, just tap away.

Stripping out the preamble and presenting your content at its leanest and meanest gives you the best chance of driving home that one important point, or making your call to action that much easier.

Think outside the (tick) box

The message is clear: mobile is all-pervasive, so your whole strategy – not just the website – needs to be “mobile first”.

For every piece of your digital jigsaw, you need to think long and hard about how, when and where your audience might receive it, and plan accordingly.

Yes, it’s a big change. But it gets you closer to your customer than ever before. It’s a strategic opportunity to give your digital work – and ultimately your brand – that critical edge over your competitors.

And isn’t that what a marketing strategy’s all about?

Source: MOI

A guide to process, tools and examples for social media listening

What I’ve leant from social media listening

Two recent reports highlight the fact the business are not taking social media listening seriously and it’s still in its infancy. A study by the Altimeter group showed that only 42% of businesses are using social media listening to learn from their customers, this was a study whose respondents’ main discipline was social media, personally I would have expected it to be higher.

The second report from Amiando (a study of event marketers) showed that only 20% of marketers are listening in social for the benefit of the business.

I know I’m a big social media advocate, but I’m shocked that businesses are not using listening not only to benefit social media activity but the overall business, I guess it’s not been ‘sold’ in to the powers that be yet.

In this article, I hope to explain how to implement social media. Where possible I will mention brands in the examples, in other places I will need to be a little more respectful of the brand’s privacy. It’s also worth noting that some of this was done purely as an experiment without the brand’s permission as part of exercise, which just goes to show how much information you can garner on other brands without the need for permission.

Drivers for examining social data.

‘Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room’ Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon. With social they know you’re in the room and they still tend to say it.

I would argue that in focus groups or using surveys people tend to answer the questions in a way that they wish to be portrayed by their peers. While this may also be said for social (personal branding), the very nature of focus groups and surveys gives users the chance to reflect before saying anything. Social media has a cultural immediacy where users express their opinions en mass and are not prompted by questions that steer answers.

New Insights – drivers for examining social data

There are many drivers for examining social data, which can all be broadly put under ‘New insights’. Insights should be driving:

  • Targeted marketing activity: Informing messaging, demographics, personas, influencers, firmographics, segmentation and comms strategy.
  • Better planning and decision making within the business: Informing product and service development, market positioning to drive competitive advantage, growth hacking and business processes.

The customer decision process has fundamentally changed. A study by McKinsey showed that rather than systematically narrowing their choices, consumers add and subtract brands from a group under consideration during an extended evaluation phase.

By examining data we can derive maximum value from our customers by truly understanding their needs throughout the buying process and delivering to these needs, allowing our customer to get the maximum value from us. After purchase, they often enter into an open-ended relationship with the brand, sharing their experience with it online.

This article is a truncated version of the article I wrote for Smart Insights the rest can be read here

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