Sections

Marketers: Revive Your Sales Funnel With Social Collaboration

Roger Noia

Despite rumors of its death, the sales funnel remains very much alive. However, what has died is marketing’s traditional approach to the funnel. The idea of the sales funnel is no longer about dumping leads generated from a campaign, tradeshow, referral, or any other interaction into a database; determining how “hot” they are as a prospect; and turning them into a customer. Instead, the concept is open-ended – maybe even resembling the shape of a mug rather than a filter.

For marketers, this is quite a challenge. They must now not only take leads through the funnel until there is a clear intent to buy, but also turn new clients into advocates willing to spread the word about the brand to their connections, company, market, and industry. To be successful, this means that marketing must collaborate effectively and in real time across every organization that interacts with customers.

How will your marketing organization keep your sales funnel alive and well in 2016? For some companies, the path to transparent customer intelligence is as simple as the social collaboration tools we use in our daily lives.

Did you know social collaboration brings funnel transparency and 14% greater productivity? 

Customers are more unpredictable than ever before and do not take the same path down the funnel. They enter and emerge the sales funnel at various stages and, at times, disappear for long periods of time before they initiate the final purchase.

For marketers who are trying to keep up, they cannot afford to get lost in e-mail chains and outdated reports and spreadsheets. Without a central location for collaboration, it is very difficult to improve business processes that provide transparency into the latest information on any lead, prospect, and client.

According to the March 2015 commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of SAP, titled The Total Economic Impact™ of SAP Jam, social collaboration is an incredible vehicle for providing information quickly, accurately, and easily to the right people at the right time. Because social collaboration platforms deliver all relevant information on any potential and existing account 24×7, employees do not have to search for information, wade through reports from different sources, and wait for a response. In fact, in the study, Forrester calculated that social collaboration enabled a composite organization to be 14% more productive.

Did you know social collaboration can move customers through the funnel faster?

According to CEB, the average buyer is 57% done deciding whether they are planning to purchase long before their first interaction with a sales representative or channel. As a result, customers tend to fall through the funnel undetected, appear without warning, and take an undefined journey.

By connecting communications and information with every customer-facing organization, marketers can have a better sense of each customer’s journey. From the initial Google search to a call into customer service, marketers can pinpoint when and where the “next big deal” may happen.

More important, other organizations have an opportunity to help move customers along the funnel. Take customer service, for example. Using social collaboration, customer service can quickly locate the best experts and information across the company to answer any need. They can also access a complete customer view, including service and sales histories, and quickly gather the right team to handle escalations of any degree of difficulty. While this experience builds the customer’s trust and loyalty, Forrester revealed that it also leads to a 10% faster resolution of customer and internal issues with an associated annual financial benefit of approximately $384,600.

The key to the 2016 sales funnel: Real-time transparency, access, and communication

For years, efficient collaboration has been a holy grail that eluded many. However, marketing organizations that have achieved real-time transparency, access to information, and company-wide communication know social collaboration is the secret. By centralizing collaboration to streamline and connect business processes, marketers can accelerate the transformation from lead to customer to brand evangelist.

Are you interested in how social collaboration can help your marketing team? Check out The Total Economic Impact™ Of SAP Jam, a March 2015 commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of SAP.

 

 

Comments

Roger Noia

About Roger Noia

Roger Noia is the director of Solution Marketing, SAP Jam Collaboration, at SAP. He is responsible for product marketing and sales enablement for our dedicated sales team as well as the broader SAP sales force selling SAP Jam.

3 Millennial Expectations Every E-Commerce Business Needs To Address

Tracy Vides

Ah, the millennials – the generation brought up with the Internet and the rest of the digital revolution! While there may be a good deal of stigma attached to this crowd, there’s no stopping the fact they are flooding the job market and are predicted to spend $1.4 trillion in the U.S. retail market by 2020.

Due the fascinating point in history this age group grew up in, they are an extremely tricky bunch to market and sell to. They have essentially caused a lot of brands to throw out their entire playbook and start from scratch.

Let’s a take a quick look at a couple of the top brands today: Amazon, the leading retailer, does not own any physical stores. Uber, the leader in transportation, does not own any cars. Both of have one thing in common: the point-of-sale happens electronically.

This phenomenon is a big indicator that e-commerce is taking over. Modern shoppers (particularly millennials) have much different values and expectations than shoppers did 20 to 30 years ago. No surprise, therefore, that for most online companies, appealing to a millennial audience has become a top priority. Let’s discuss three of the most prominent expectations these shoppers have for e-commerce businesses.

1. Persuasive social media presence

Hundreds of years from now, when historians discuss the biggest breakthroughs happening early in the second millennium, the rise of social media will undoubtedly be one of the most debated topics.

What took off in the early 2000s now has a collective user count around 2.5 billion, many of them millennials. In fact, a recent survey found that 88% of millennials get their news via Facebook.

With this many eyes on social media, having a strong brand presence on popular outlets is no longer an option. The harsh truth is that millennials are not responsive to traditional ads or played-out sales tactics. While social advertising is proving to be very effective, one of the main goals of your brand’s social media presence must be to give your messaging a playful and humanized tone that connects with the younger audience on a more in-depth level.

Red Bull is well known for its superior social media presence. It uses its accounts to become so much more than just an energy drink. If you follow Red Bull, you’ll see how good it is at promoting original, branded material such as films, competitions, live shows, and of course, user-generated content.

In addition to favoring e-commerce brands with a human touch, millennials value consistency and responsiveness across channels. Be sure you are keeping up with all your accounts in all networks to remain in touch with your audience.

2. Personalized user experience

Even though the development of technology and the evolution of the Internet have done a lot to bring us together as a species, e-commerce is getting more individualized. Millennials are not fazed by traditional marketing and sales pitches. They want interactions to be tailored to their needs.

Unfortunately, there is no formula written in stone about how to deliver the perfect personalized experience.

However, there are certain things you can do to embrace this concept. For example, Amazon’s homepage looks different to each and every customer. Using workflows and user information, it recommends relevant items to customers based around their online behavior.

The overarching goal for retailers is to understand customers’ needs throughout the entire sales funnel. The most effective way to do this by implementing marketing automation within your e-commerce platform. For example, Shopify lets you profile customers, map their journey, market to them across digital channels, and provide a consistent shopping experience across multiple devices, online and in-store.

Personalization has become a staple in many e-commerce operations. In fact, a study by Gartner predicts by 2020, smart personalization engines used to recognize customer intent will enable businesses to increase their profits by up to 15%.

Basically, younger audiences want e-commerce companies to show them exactly what they want to see.

3. Transparency

Sales techniques have seen a huge shift as millennials gain spending power. Smartphones have literally given people all the information in the world in the palms of their hands. With this in mind, e-commerce brands need to come to terms with the fact that each buying decision will be well-researched.

“Millennials have changed the old retail model of price obfuscation, especially in online commerce,” says Jason Goldberg, VP of strategy at Razorfish. “They have grown up with transparency and information available to them at their fingertips, so brands have to design their business around transparency.”

Everlane, a luxury clothing store, is a prime example of how to use this concept in a business model. It openly promotes how all of its products are made, from A to Z, directly on its e-commerce website.

It doesn’t hide any manufacturing costs or warehouse details from the public. A lot of companies are known for relying on cheap labor, and the stigma around that helps get Everlane’s transparent approach into millennials’ good books.

Additionally, it maintains a strong social media presence that constantly reinforces its values. For example, it famously gives its audience behind-the-scenes glances at its factories in action via Snapchat. Using raw footage like this puts customers in a better state of mind about their purchases.

Transparency and authenticity are essential for gaining traction with millennials. It’s not just about what you sell anymore. It’s about how you promote it.

Parting words

Millennials are a fascinating group. Apart from the selfies and constant social media updates, they have a lot to offer in terms of digital consumerism. The truth of the matter is the online shopping landscape is incredibly crowded. Regardless of what products or services you provide, chances are there hundreds of other businesses working towards the same goals. Since millennials have been brought up in the middle of this reality, they have no problem looking around until they find an experience that really speaks to them. It’s up to you to differentiate yourself as a brand that meets them where they hang out.

For more on marketing to today’s consumers, see 5 Steps to Your Customer’s Heart with Emotionally Aware Computing.

Comments

Tracy Vides

About Tracy Vides

Tracy is a content marketer and social media consultant who works with small businesses and startups to increase their visibility. Although new to the digital marketing scene, Tracy has started off well by building a good reputation for herself, with posts featured on Steamfeed, Business 2 Community and elsewhere. Hit her up @TracyVides on Twitter.

Ready To Jump On The Instagram Bandwagon? Expert Tips To Help You Succeed

Michael Brenner

If you are marketing for a visually intense industry like travel, food and beverage, or the arts, or for any brand that targets millennials, you can’t afford to ignore the latest force to join the social media leviathan lineup. While relatively new when compared to Facebook (which purchased Instagram in 2012), Twitter, and Pinterest, Instagram has risen to prominence rapidly – and I mean Bugatti Chiron 261+ mph-type fast.

From its inception in 2010, the network today captivates one-third of all Internet users. And its forecast 2017 global mobile ad revenue? $2.81 billion!

It is also right now a gold mine for brands that target millennials, with 90% of users under 35.

BrightEdge CEO and digital marketing expert Jim Yu describes Instagram as a perfect complement to Facebook, specifically for mobile engagement. This is because it is so well integrated to Facebook; it has in many ways become Facebook’s creative little sister. Cultivating a strong presence for your brand through the biggest social media site’s cooler younger sibling may not be a bad idea. With its premium Zuckerberg ownership, we can count on Facebook channeling its penchant for efficient innovation through this highly popular medium.

Ready to start creating your own fantastic Instagram marketing campaigns? Here are some expert tips to inspire your strategies.

Use Instagram to compel

President of Ignite Social Media Jim Tobin explains that one of the best ways to use Instagram is to motivate others by showing products being used in compelling ways. When people can see how amazing/thrilling/soothing/fun a product can be via a stunning Instagram image, they imagine themselves using that product and having a good time. They can visualize the value they will derive from the product.

Tentsile, a company that sells tree tents, or “portable treehouses,” is an excellent example of the power of compelling visuals. See for yourself – who wouldn’t want to ponder the universe perched above the ground in their very own tent treehouse?

Use hashtags to define your brand on Instagram

Instagram marketing expert Jenn Herman uses this site to build the “we’re-all-human” bridge between brands and consumers. It’s a place to connect more intimately. To do that, you need to define your brand’s personality on the network, which can be done eloquently and effectively with the hashtag. This will help your audience identify what you’re all about and show that your brand shares their interests.

Instagram hashtags aren’t just about keywords. They’re about expressing commonality with your audience. That does take some research, tracking what your buyers are talking about on social media, researching trending hashtags at the moment, and evaluating what works, what doesn’t, and why.

Herman has shared her secret Instagram hashtag formula to get the most brand-building traction:

  • Use a total of 15-20 hashtags in a post
  • 4-5 should be popular, generic terms like #digitalmarketing, #startup, #videos
  • 5-7 should be moderately targeted to your brand or industry
  • 2-5 should be niche-specific; these are the target keywords your audience is searching for
  • 1-2 are specific to your brand

Tell a story with your images

Bianca Cheah, founder and managing director of Sporteluxe, a popular lifestyle blog, advocates using Instagram to tell your brand’s story in order to relate to potential buyers. “I always tell a story through my images and make the image as relatable to the viewer as possible,” she explains. “There’s a fine line between being too inspirational, where it becomes out of reach, and then being on a level where viewers feel like you’re one of them.”

There are lots of ways to launch powerful visual storytelling on Instagram:

  • Use your audience to tell your brand’s story by encouraging user-generated content. This is perfect for travel and tourism, and fashion and beauty brands.
  • Post images of your team at work to give your audience a glimpse into the inner workings of your agency. This works well for B2B marketing.
  • For nonprofits, posting visuals that tell the story of the difference their organization makes can be very effective. CharityWater does this well, showing images of the people who are directly helped, or of their volunteers and staff in action.

Be consistent

To be effective and digestible to your audience, be consistent in terms of style and timing. The best way to help your buyers recognize your brand is to create a cohesive presence that they can come to expect, like their morning cup of coffee with caramel syrup and a splash of coconut milk.

Make sure your images fit seamlessly with your brand. If you are clean and minimalistic on your website, use the same style on your Instagram account. Is your brand lighthearted and colorful? Then be quirky and eye-catching on Instagram. Have you been posting pictures using a particular filter that makes your brand really shine out? Keep using it.

Second, stick to a consistent posting schedule. This doesn’t mean over-posting. In fact, posting too much is one of the biggest Instagram mistakes you can make. Two to three posts a day is a standard that many brands use for successful social media marketing, but be flexible and use what works for your brand.

These expert tips can guide you as your create your brilliant marketing campaigns on Instagram. This social media site is an effective tool that you can use to build your brand, and is essential if you are marketing to a younger audience. Instagram is growing faster than most other social media networks, and this growth is expected to continue, especially as sites like Twitter and Facebook begin to feel more “aged” in our very trend-driven digital world.

Right now, however, Instagram is still young, which means it has a lot of room to grow. Jump on the Instagram bandwagon now so you can take advantage of the power of visual marketing and serious social media engagement for your brand.

For more on marketing strategies that get results in today’s connected world, see How To Master Social Media Marketing In 2017.

Image: Instagram

Comments

Michael Brenner

About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of  The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider GroupHe has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and   a top  CMO influencer by Forbes.

The Future of Cybersecurity: Trust as Competitive Advantage

Justin Somaini and Dan Wellers

 

The cost of data breaches will reach US$2.1 trillion globally by 2019—nearly four times the cost in 2015.

Cyberattacks could cost up to $90 trillion in net global economic benefits by 2030 if cybersecurity doesn’t keep pace with growing threat levels.

Cyber insurance premiums could increase tenfold to $20 billion annually by 2025.

Cyberattacks are one of the top 10 global risks of highest concern for the next decade.


Companies are collaborating with a wider network of partners, embracing distributed systems, and meeting new demands for 24/7 operations.

But the bad guys are sharing intelligence, harnessing emerging technologies, and working round the clock as well—and companies are giving them plenty of weaknesses to exploit.

  • 33% of companies today are prepared to prevent a worst-case attack.
  • 25% treat cyber risk as a significant corporate risk.
  • 80% fail to assess their customers and suppliers for cyber risk.

The ROI of Zero Trust

Perimeter security will not be enough. As interconnectivity increases so will the adoption of zero-trust networks, which place controls around data assets and increases visibility into how they are used across the digital ecosystem.


A Layered Approach

Companies that embrace trust as a competitive advantage will build robust security on three core tenets:

  • Prevention: Evolving defensive strategies from security policies and educational approaches to access controls
  • Detection: Deploying effective systems for the timely detection and notification of intrusions
  • Reaction: Implementing incident response plans similar to those for other disaster recovery scenarios

They’ll build security into their digital ecosystems at three levels:

  1. Secure products. Security in all applications to protect data and transactions
  2. Secure operations. Hardened systems, patch management, security monitoring, end-to-end incident handling, and a comprehensive cloud-operations security framework
  3. Secure companies. A security-aware workforce, end-to-end physical security, and a thorough business continuity framework

Against Digital Armageddon

Experts warn that the worst-case scenario is a state of perpetual cybercrime and cyber warfare, vulnerable critical infrastructure, and trillions of dollars in losses. A collaborative approach will be critical to combatting this persistent global threat with implications not just for corporate and personal data but also strategy, supply chains, products, and physical operations.


Download the executive brief The Future of Cybersecurity: Trust as Competitive Advantage.


Comments

Tags:

Unleash The Digital Transformation

Kadamb Goswami

The world has changed. We’ve seen massive disruption on multiple fronts – business model disruption, cybercrime, new devices, and an app-centric world. Powerful networks are crucial to success in a mobile-first, cloud-first world that’s putting an ever-increasing increasing amount of data at our fingertips. With the Internet of Things (IoT) we can connect instrumented devices worldwide and use new data to transform business models and products.

Disruption

Disruption comes in many forms. It’s not big or scary, it’s just another way of describing change and evolution. In the ’80s it manifested as call centers. Then, as the digital landscape began to take shape, it was the Internet, cloud computing … now it’s artificial intelligence (AI).

Digital transformation

Digital transformation means different things to different companies, but in the end I believe it will be a simple salvation that will carry us forward. If you Bing (note I worked for Microsoft for 15 years before experiencing digital transformation from the lens of the outside world), digital transformation, it says it’s “the profound and accelerating transformation of business activities, processes, competencies, and models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of digital technologies and their impact across society in a strategic and prioritized way.” (I’ll simplify that; keep reading.)

A lot of today’s digital transformation ideas are ripped straight from the scripts of sci-fi entertainment, whether you’re talking about the robotic assistants of 2001: A Space Odyssey or artificial intelligence in the Star Trek series. We’re forecasting our future with our imagination. So, let’s move on to why digital transformation is needed in our current world.

Business challenges

The basic challenges facing businesses today are the same as they’ve always been: engaging customers, empowering employees, optimizing operations, and reinventing the value offered to customers. However, what has changed is the unique convergence of three things:

  1. Increasing volumes of data, particularly driven by the digitization of “things” and heightened individual mobility and collaboration
  1. Advancements in data analytics and intelligence to draw actionable insight from the data
  1. Ubiquity of cloud computing, which puts this disruptive power in the hands of organizations of all sizes, increasing the pace of innovation and competition

Digital transformation in plain English

Hernan Marino, senior vice president, marketing, & global chief operating officer at SAP, explains digital transformation by giving specific industry examples to make it simpler.

Automobile manufacturing used to be the work of assembly lines, people working side-by-side literally piecing together, painting, and churning out vehicles. It transitioned to automation, reducing costs and marginalizing human error. That was a business transformation. Now, we are seeing companies like Tesla and BMW incorporate technology into their vehicles that essentially make them computers on wheels. Cameras. Sensors. GPS. Self-driving vehicles. Syncing your smartphone with your car.

The point here is that companies need to make the upfront investments in infrastructure to take advantage of digital transformation, and that upfront investment will pay dividends in the long run as technological innovations abound. It is our job to collaboratively work with our customers to understand what infrastructure changes need to be made to achieve and take advantage of digital transformation.

Harman gives electric companies as another example. Remember a few years ago, when you used to go outside your house and see the little power meter spinning as it recorded the kilowatts you use? Every month, the meter reader would show up in your yard, record your usage, and report back to the electric company.

Most electric companies then made a business transformation and installed smart meters – eliminating the cost of the meter reader and integrating most homes into a smart grid that gave customers access to their real-time information. Now, as renewable energy evolves and integrates more fully into our lives, these same electric companies that switched over to smart meters are going to make additional investments to be able to analyze the data and make more informed decisions that will benefit both the company and its customers.

That is digital transformation. Obviously, banks, healthcare, entertainment, trucking, and e-commerce all have different needs than auto manufacturers and electric companies. It is up to us – marketers and account managers promoting digital transformation – to identify those needs and help our clients make the digital transformation as seamlessly as possible.

Digital transformation is more than just a fancy buzzword, it is our present and our future. It is re-envisioning existing business models and embracing a different way of bringing together people, data, and processes to create more for their customers through systems of intelligence.

Learn more about what it means to be a digital business.

Comments

Goswami Kadamb

About Goswami Kadamb

Kadamb is a Senior Program Manager at SAP where he is responsible for developing and executing strategic sales program with Concur SaaS portfolio. Prior to that he led several initiatives with Microsoft's Cloud & Enterprise business to enable Solution Sales & IaaS offerings.