Sections

The Digital Economy Rewired Your Consumers’ Brains: 10 Tips For Engaging Them Now

Jesse Kalfel

Of all the ways the Internet has transformed our lives, there’s one change that surprises me most: our reading and communication habits. We are now a community of scanners, scrollers, and skimmers that spends more time interacting with screens than with each other. Letter writing has been reduced to tweets, emoticons, an alphabet soup of acronyms, and instant messaging. Even the Oxford Dictionary’s 2015 Word of the Year was the emoji “Face with Tears of Joy”!

Our digital environment has rewired how our brains consume and share information. People now read content to suit their purpose and find what they want without wasting time. In fact, most visitors only scroll halfway through a Web page – and only 16% of people still read them word for word.

Our attention span is down. Our impatience is up. And we’re easily distracted.

How can sales and marketing teams possibly hold peoples’ attention and keep them engaged? The key is understanding our rewired digital brains and knowing how to cut through the clutter.

10 ways to break through your consumers’ digital brains

Here are 10 steps that can help you get started – now.

1. Get your message out quickly and declutter to grab attention

Consumers will stay on your website long enough to see what’s offered if the content is relevant, engaging, and clear. By making your content stick in consumers’ brains, you can keep them engaged and encourage them to share this new-found knowledge. The key is knowing how much content is enough and whether it is eye catching and user friendly. And don’t be afraid to apply this to blogs, collateral, videos, and interactive demos.

2. Personalize and prove that you know your consumers

Use data-driven marketing to define your target audience and pinpoint what they worry about and want. Do not use a shotgun, one-size-fits-all approach. Draw on persona-based research to get a 360-degree understanding of your readers.

3. Stay tuned to all social media channels

Listen to what social media says about you, your competitors, and your industry by monitoring social channels. Not only will this information help fine-tune your persona research, but you can engage with consumers in discussions that are meaningful to them. For example, bounce off marketing or product ideas with your followers and open yourself up to their ideas as well. Drive people to your e-commerce site or other content that is interesting and relevant to them.

At all costs, do not self-promote. Rather, maintain a professional, thought-leadership approach that follows your brand’s communication and social media guidelines.

4. Keep your content concise and effective

People have become very adept at finding and consuming information quickly and efficiently. In turn, content consumers expect instant delivery of seamless, personalized, and hyper-relevant content at any moment.

There are 10 best practices that can help deliver this promise:

  1. Make your strategic message – and, most important content – visible at a glance, especially in titles, imagery, and tweetable statements
  1. Use short paragraphs and sentences
  1. Favor the use of familiar phrases and words over industry and corporate jargon
  1. Avoid passive tense whenever possible
  1. Write copy optimized for search
  1. Highlight keywords and use bulleted lists as appropriate
  1. Get rid of needless repetition
  1. Address your visitors directly
  1. Use links to related topics instead of overcrowding information
  1. Avoid content overkill

5. Select your tone of voice

The tone of your content helps define and differentiate your brand. How will your audience respond to the way you are talking to them? Do you want to create an emotional reaction or be conversational? What do you want them to know about your business and what it represents? Most of all, avoid marketing fluff and offer relevant information no matter what tone you use.

6. Create a brand bible and speak with one voice

Produce guidelines for all aspects of your company’s brand. This includes logo use, imagery, fonts, and colors as well as instructions on how to communicate across the entire business network. Consistency is vital to reinforcing your image.

7. Use images and video to complement your copy

Give your consumers an instant impression of your business and services. Through video, customers can see your brand story and value in a highly relatable and compelling way. Make sure videos and other graphical or rich media elements directly support your copy. Video is also trending for people who would rather see what you mean than read what you mean.

8. Keep it fresh and interactive

Your website and content are your company’s face to the world. Make sure it shows that your company is current on industry trends and actively engaged by regularly creating new content.

Make your website interactive to learn what content interests your readers. HTML-based assets create an interactive, participatory experience. Gamification can bring people into a new interactive experience. And quizzes, ROI, calculators, surveys, and contests can help you learn more about your audience while keeping things fun for your consumers. If appropriate, create a “try and buy” feature.

9. Assess and measure your content and delivery

With real-time analytics, you can track your visitors’ digital footprint, including time spent reading, bounce rates, and what content is of most interest. These stats can be fed back to sales and marketing for insight and follow-up on:

  • Content usefulness and relevance
  • Influences for better engagement
  • Findability and optimization of search results
  • Success metrics for the intended audience
  • Consistency with business priorities
  • Areas for improvement
  • Opportunities for monetization and new sales

10. Keep an eye on laptops, tablets, smartphones, and next-generation devices

People are using mobile devices more often than laptops, and for the marketplace that means a Web design that is clean, simple, and engaging. For example, adding hyperlinks to deeper content can guide people towards related topics. Choose fonts that are easy to read across devices and design every page as a landing page.

Smartphone use will continue to escalate, but you still need to be prepared for new devices as technology continues to advance. That’s why you need to create content that all audiences can view and interact with – no matter which device they use. Make sure your website can detect all devices and format content accordingly.

From distracted to engaged: A marketer’s dream come true

As attention spans shrink from minutes to mere seconds, giving consumers a reason to stay for more than a few seconds is getting harder. Slow Web page loads, cluttered content, confusing navigation, limited interaction – these are the attention killers.

If consumers are not engaged quickly, they jump off to something else. Worse yet, that can be to a competitor’s website. Can your content keep them engaged and ready to purchase? Maybe it’s time to take a look at your content and see if any of these tips can move your audience from distracted to engaged and loyal.

Gather more expert insight on how to differentiate your organization in this dynamic new environment in  The Digital Economy: Disruption, Transformation, Opportunity.

Comments

Jesse Kalfel

About Jesse Kalfel

Jesse Kalfel is the Director of Creative Services, Global Marketing Communications at SAP. His specialties include marketing communications, strategic planning, demand generation, go-to-market strategy and product marketing.

Amazon And Whole Foods: The New Terrain Ahead

Jenn Vande Zande

We all felt the ground shake recently with the news that Amazon plans to acquire Whole Foods.

Similar to an earthquake, while living through the experience is shocking, there were ways to predict that it might have been coming, and ways to prepare for it. While the after-tremors of this surprise announcement are being felt far and wide (and will be for a long time), right now is the time to take a deep breath and realize that the landscape is changing, and that you can navigate through it.

Next week we’ll offer in-depth assessments of what this means for the long and short term, but for today, it’s time for reflection and a renewing of your strength and dedication to the market and the customer.

Here are the facts as we see them:

This is a game-changer

How many times has the term “game-changer” been used with Amazon? Countless. However, Amazon has been ramping up their entry into the grocery retail market. “Amazon has been steadily breaking into grocery, the largest segment of retail, with AmazonPantry, AmazonFresh, AmazonGo, and most recently their AmazonFresh Pickup pilot. Just yesterday they released a Dash Wand that can not only be used to scan products into a shopping list or cart, but also includes Alexa for find recipes, get product recommendations, and place orders,” said Stephanie Waters, retail industry principal with SAP Hybris, “And now, today, this.”

Stephanie noted, “Some grocers haven’t been overly concerned about Amazon, saying they don’t know how to do fresh and they don’t have stores. That all changed today when they acquired one of the world’s experts in fresh and 465 stores across North America and the UK. The grocery industry will never be the same. We are on the cusp of a quickly moving environment and I think we will see the acceleration of supermarket chains innovating their business models and modernizing their organizations.”

Price wars are coming

Experts in the industry have been aware that a battle was brewing when it comes to pricing and grocery retail, but today’s announcement brings grocery retailers to the front line.

Cutting prices isn’t the answer. You need to deliver an outstanding customer experience and maximize operational efficiencies.

Data: the not-so-secret weapon

Many grocery retailers partnered with Instacart to provide fulfillment services, thereby turning over their customer data to a third-party vendor rather than retaining and using that data. Today should mark a shift in how grocers proceed with this process.

It remains to be seen what impact the Amazon acquisition will have on the Instacart and Whole Food partnership, but taking back control of both the customer experience and data derived from it will be a key element in getting through this disruption in the industry.

Fewer customers walking into stores and ordering online from the retailer equates to lower slotting fees, which means a significant crack in one of the foundations of grocery retailer bottom lines.

Online is the new frontier

It’s hard to believe that there are grocery retailers who haven’t made the leap to online, but they exist. “The news of this acquisition today only accelerates the online grocery forecast which is estimated to grab 20% of grocery by 2025,” said Waters, “retailers who are not online risk losing market share. Period. Full stop.”

Prepare to fight for your customer

Today is a day to recognize that a long battle lies ahead. You have to be prepared to fight for your customer, and you need the tools and strength to do it. It’s time to take a deep breath and assess where you are and where you need to be.

It’s been noted before, but bears repeating over and over: If you evolve your business model to include online retail but you ignore the customer experience, you have gained nothing, and could even lose customers.

What’s next?

Watch this space next week, when we’ll do some deep-dives into what all of this means. In the meantime, know that you can still thrive, and that SAP Hybris can help.

Comments

How Mobile Apps Power Up On-Demand Startups

Granner Smith

On-demand is set to transform the mobile commerce entrepreneurial space. Whether you’re looking for taxi bookings, food orders, healthcare services, home maintenance, business info, or more, the app store has a solution for practically every service you can think of, and smartphone owners are more than willing to use these mobile apps. While innovative startups are already trying to take the market by storm, there are still countless opportunities available for people looking to make their mark. This means there’s a phenomenal growth outlook for e-commerce startups that provide unique services on-demand. On the other hand, there are equally big challenges to overcome, as the competition is daunting.

Understanding the basics of on-demand business

Many opportunities and challenges of on-demand service startups are similar to the those of conventional e-commerce businesses. The difference is how services are delivered – as the name suggests, on-demand businesses deliver services to the buyer when, how, and where they need them.

The unique selling proposition of on-demand (compared to traditional e-commerce) lies in its convenience and spontaneity. To be successful, on-demand startups are tasked with creating a unique business idea that has sustainability, scalability, and profitability over a period of time.

Before you venture into this space, it’s important to understand the on-demand service business model, which is based on the following components:

  1. Identify a pain point (demand): Identifying and solving a pain point is the basis of any business model. The more unique your idea, the better its chances of survival and success.
  1. Determine whether your service is instant or scheduled: Once you have a business idea, you have to work on how you’ll provide the service you are promising. One consideration is whether the service is instantly delivered or scheduled. For instance, food delivery is an instant service with the customer expecting a short wait time. Scheduled service could be an airline booking for a future point of time. Startups providing instant services must have adequate capacity and supply to meet excess demand as needed.
  1. Find a reliable staff supply: Meeting that latter point requires a steady and reliable source of staff and supplies. On the staffing side, startups may choose between contracted workers and freelancers. While contracted staff provide reliability, freelancers may be more cost-effective. Startups should try to strike an equilibrium. Begin with more stable contractual supply on a small scale and gradually add freelance support to scale to your growth.
  1. Strengthen the core: Once the operational side of the business is taken care of, you need to strengthen your core with the right technology, meaning the mobile app that links you with potential customers.
  1. Planning and patience: Finally, when you have all the processes in place, it’s time to streamline them. The integration between offline (operations) and online (app technology) is a complex task, an art that’s mastered with patience and precision. Be prepared to invest a good deal of effort and money to make your business a success. At the same time, be realistic in your expectations, as overnight success is unlikely.

On-demand startups must be prepared for slow-paced growth, but the results can be phenomenal if they can sustain themselves through the testing phase. Creating a sound business strategy and adhering to it is the best way to proceed.

Mobile app: the lifeline of on-demand business

The entire concept of on-demand business is woven around mobility. Its services must be available anywhere and anytime, making the mobile app an essential ingredient of the business. An app is the platform by which the business accesses the market, provides services to users, and retains loyal customers. Here are the mobile app features needed to give users a great experience and bring business to the startup:

  • Convenience: On-demand service is synonymous with convenience. Convenience is not confined to delivering the service, but encompasses the entire performance of the app. The app should load quickly and have an excellent user interface. The entire checkout process should be quick and smooth, completed with a minimum number of clicks, and have few forms. Simplicity can be a deciding factor in engaging users, converting them, and bringing them back.
  • Live tracking: Real-time tracking that sends location-based offers to customers and enables them to track their order or service ensures customer satisfaction and helps build long-term loyalty.
  • Seamless payment: Customers prefer mobile apps that enable cashless transactions through the most popular, secure, and seamless payment options.
  • Reviews and ratings: Customer ratings are a key element in an on-demand business’ growth, as potential customers are more likely to have confidence in reviews and ratings provided by actual users. Real-time customer feedback is also an effective way for a business to continuously evaluate its performance.

A mobile app is a lifeline for an on-demand startup. It matches supply with demand to enable the business to deliver the service at the right place and the right time. For startups providing services on demand, the main driving force in growth is not money or inventory, but technology in the form of mobile apps.

For more on digital selling, see Primed: Prompting Customers to Buy.

Comments

Granner Smith

About Granner Smith

Granner Smith is a Professional writer. His skill set is vast, his greatest expertise revolve in the worlds of interactive design, development, UX, social media, brand identity design, content creation. He works with reputed company, Orange Mantra that provide web and mobility solution. Follow us on Twitter @Orangemantraggn Facebook @OrangeMantraindia

Taking Learning Back to School

Dan Wellers

 

Denmark spends most GDP on labor market programs at 3.3%.
The U.S. spends only 0.1% of it’s GDP on adult education and workforce retraining.
The number of post-secondary vocational and training institutions in China more than doubled from 2000 to 2014.
47% of U.S. jobs are at risk for automation.

Our overarching approach to education is top down, inflexible, and front loaded in life, and does not encourage collaboration.

Smartphone apps that gamify learning or deliver lessons in small bits of free time can be effective tools for teaching. However, they don’t address the more pressing issue that the future is digital and those whose skills are outmoded will be left behind.

Many companies have a history of effective partnerships with local schools to expand their talent pool, but these efforts are not designed to change overall systems of learning.


The Question We Must Answer

What will we do when digitization, automation, and artificial intelligence eject vast numbers of people from their current jobs, and they lack the skills needed to find new ones?

Solutions could include:

  • National and multinational adult education programs
  • Greater investment in technical and vocational schools
  • Increased emphasis on apprenticeships
  • Tax incentives for initiatives proven to close skills gaps

We need a broad, systemic approach that breaks businesses, schools, governments, and other organizations that target adult learners out of their silos so they can work together. Chief learning officers (CLOs) can spearhead this approach by working together to create goals, benchmarks, and strategy.

Advancing the field of learning will help every business compete in an increasingly global economy with a tight market for skills. More than this, it will mitigate the workplace risks and challenges inherent in the digital economy, thus positively influencing the future of business itself.


Download the executive brief Taking Learning Back to School.


Read the full article The Future of Learning – Keeping up With The Digital Economy

Comments

Dan Wellers

About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is the Global Lead of Digital Futures at SAP, which explores how organizations can anticipate the future impact of exponential technologies. Dan has extensive experience in technology marketing and business strategy, plus management, consulting, and sales.

Tags:

Why Millennials Quit: Understanding A New Workforce

Shelly Kramer

Millennials are like mobile devices: they’re everywhere. You can’t visit a coffee shop without encountering both in large numbers. But after all, who doesn’t like a little caffeine with their connectivity? The point is that you should be paying attention to millennials now more than ever because they have surpassed Boomers and Gen-Xers as the largest generation.

Unfortunately for the workforce, they’re also the generation most likely to quit. Let’s examine a new report that sheds some light on exactly why that is—and what you can do to keep millennial employees working for you longer.

New workforce, new values

Deloitte found that two out of three millennials are expected to leave their current jobs by 2020. The survey also found that a staggering one in four would probably move on in the next year alone.

If you’re a business owner, consider putting four of your millennial employees in a room. Take a look around—one of them will be gone next year. Besides their skills and contributions, you’ve also lost time and resources spent by onboarding and training those employees—a very costly process. According to a new report from XYZ University, turnover costs U.S. companies a whopping $30.5 billion annually.

Let’s take a step back and look at this new workforce with new priorities and values.

Everything about millennials is different, from how to market to them as consumers to how you treat them as employees. The catalyst for this shift is the difference in what they value most. Millennials grew up with technology at their fingertips and are the most highly educated generation to date. Many have delayed marriage and/or parenthood in favor of pursuing their careers, which aren’t always about having a great paycheck (although that helps). Instead, it may be more that the core values of your business (like sustainability, for example) or its mission are the reasons that millennials stick around at the same job or look for opportunities elsewhere. Consider this: How invested are they in their work? Are they bored? What does their work/life balance look like? Do they have advancement opportunities?

Ping-pong tables and bringing your dog to work might be trendy, but they aren’t the solution to retaining a millennial workforce. So why exactly are they quitting? Let’s take a look at the data.

Millennials’ common reasons for quitting

In order to gain more insight into the problem of millennial turnover, XYZ University surveyed more than 500 respondents between the ages of 21 and 34 years old. There was a good mix of men and women, college grads versus high school grads, and entry-level employees versus managers. We’re all dying to know: Why did they quit? Here are the most popular reasons, some in their own words:

  • Millennials are risk-takers. XYZ University attributes this affection for risk taking with the fact that millennials essentially came of age during the recession. Surveyed millennials reported this experience made them wary of spending decades working at one company only to be potentially laid off.
  • They are focused on education. More than one-third of millennials hold college degrees. Those seeking advanced degrees can find themselves struggling to finish school while holding down a job, necessitating odd hours or more than one part-time gig. As a whole, this generation is entering the job market later, with higher degrees and higher debt.
  • They don’t want just any job—they want one that fits. In an age where both startups and seasoned companies are enjoying success, there is no shortage of job opportunities. As such, they’re often looking for one that suits their identity and their goals, not just the one that comes up first in an online search. Interestingly, job fit is often prioritized over job pay for millennials. Don’t forget, if they have to start their own company, they will—the average age for millennial entrepreneurs is 27.
  • They want skills that make them competitive. Many millennials enjoy the challenge that accompanies competition, so wearing many hats at a position is actually a good thing. One millennial journalist who used to work at Forbes reported that millennials want to learn by “being in the trenches, and doing it alongside the people who do it best.”
  • They want to do something that matters. Millennials have grown up with change, both good and bad, so they’re unafraid of making changes in their own lives to pursue careers that align with their desire to make a difference.
  • They prefer flexibility. Technology today means it’s possible to work from essentially anywhere that has an Internet connection, so many millennials expect at least some level of flexibility when it comes to their employer. Working remotely all of the time isn’t feasible for every situation, of course, but millennials expect companies to be flexible enough to allow them to occasionally dictate their own schedules. If they have no say in their workday, that’s a red flag.
  • They’ve got skills—and they want to use them. In the words of a 24-year-old designer, millennials “don’t need to print copies all day.” Many have paid (or are in the midst of paying) for their own education, and they’re ready and willing to put it to work. Most would prefer you leave the smaller tasks to the interns.
  • They got a better offer. Thirty-five percent of respondents to XYZ’s survey said they quit a previous job because they received a better opportunity. That makes sense, especially as recruiting is made simpler by technology. (Hello, LinkedIn.)
  • They seek mentors. Millennials are used to being supervised, as many were raised by what have been dubbed as “helicopter parents.” Receiving support from those in charge is the norm, not the anomaly, for this generation, and they expect that in the workplace, too.

Note that it’s not just XYZ University making this final point about the importance of mentoring. Consider Figures 1 and 2 from Deloitte, proving that millennials with worthwhile mentors report high satisfaction rates in other areas, such as personal development. As you can see, this can trickle down into employee satisfaction and ultimately result in higher retention numbers.

Millennials and Mentors
Figure 1. Source: Deloitte


Figure 2. Source: Deloitte

Failure to . . .

No, not communicate—I would say “engage.” On second thought, communication plays a role in that, too. (Who would have thought “Cool Hand Luke” would be applicable to this conversation?)

Data from a recent Gallup poll reiterates that millennials are “job-hoppers,” also pointing out that most of them—71 percent, to be exact—are either not engaged in or are actively disengaged from the workplace. That’s a striking number, but businesses aren’t without hope. That same Gallup poll found that millennials who reported they are engaged at work were 26 percent less likely than their disengaged counterparts to consider switching jobs, even with a raise of up to 20 percent. That’s huge. Furthermore, if the market improves in the next year, those engaged millennial employees are 64 percent less likely to job-hop than those who report feeling actively disengaged.

What’s next?

I’ve covered a lot in this discussion, but here’s what I hope you will take away: Millennials comprise a majority of the workforce, but they’re changing how you should look at hiring, recruiting, and retention as a whole. What matters to millennials matters to your other generations of employees, too. Mentoring, compensation, flexibility, and engagement have always been important, but thanks to the vocal millennial generation, we’re just now learning exactly how much.

What has been your experience with millennials and turnover? Are you a millennial who has recently left a job or are currently looking for a new position? If so, what are you missing from your current employer, and what are you looking for in a prospective one? Alternatively, if you’re reading this from a company perspective, how do you think your organization stacks up in the hearts and minds of your millennial employees? Do you have plans to do anything differently? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

For more insight on millennials and the workforce, see Multigenerational Workforce? Collaboration Tech Is The Key To Success.

Comments