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Personalized Marketing: 3 Tips For Getting It Right

Erica Vialardi

Did you know that some of today’s most famous digital innovators share a very specific and unexpected aspect of their life stories? This was a bit of a revelation to me, and I feel it sheds some light on the relationship between consumer behavior, technology, and 21st-century marketing strategies.

From wooden learning towers to digital disruption

During a presentation about co-design that I attended some months ago, there was a genuine “wow” moment when the speaker unveiled that Larry Page, Jimmy Wales, and Jeff Bezos, to name just a few, share not only success, but also the same primary education at Montessori schools, where the freedom to express one’s own self without following pre-packaged programs and rules is an underlying principle.

The purpose of this blog is not to assess fields of education, but this peculiar common thread could convey something big: Their education may have helped those business leaders identify and, more importantly, put into effect, their very individual nature and talents, rather than fitting into a conventional behavioral mold. This could be one of the reasons they became great innovators with the ability to disrupt the status quo of global business from the ground up.

Millennials thumb their noses at traditional marketing segmentation

The above-mentioned tech innovators may just be the forerunners of a broader trend that has put the individual, with its natural propensities, acquired skills, and human contradictions, at the center of marketing and commerce decisions. Executing market segmentation has never been more difficult.

What criteria can one possibly use to segment a market where even the “nerd par excellence” Mark Zuckerberg is also a classic and Latin culture enthusiast, or where Apple hires Neapolitan philosophy graduates to develop its products? It seems that self-expression, cross-pollination between historically siloed skills, and some irreverence toward establishment act as common denominators not only of the tech elite, but also of the much-touted Generation Y—or millennials—as a whole. Just open your social media apps on your smartphone and you will witness live the increasing blurring of boundaries between professional and private identities.

Brands can unlock a huge market potential

To respond to those market changes, brands have made a dramatic shift in their marketing approaches. Long gone are the days of old-school, mass-advertising (according to a recent study by Elite Daily, only 1% of millennials say they are influenced in any way by advertising). Today, companies are running to win the complete race of personalized marketing.

Digitalization has provided consumers with tools—the smartphone above all—that empower them to access and research information freely, share it among new social aggregation schemes, and, when it comes to their behavior as consumers, actively design and rate their own shopping experiences. Today, engagement on social channels, crowdsourcing, and the design of individualized buying experiences are business imperatives that brands must embrace to stay in the game. It’s a game where a huge potential is at stake: millennials indeed act as trailblazers of much vaster groups of consumers who expect brands to address their growing personal requirements.

The dark side of individualization

Give consumers the exact experience they desire, where and when they want it. This ideal-sounding description hides some pitfalls which marketers should carefully monitor. The trend toward individualization in consumer behavior indeed reflects a more general tendency in (first-world) society – and not always a good one.

Provocative theories about individualization seem to multiply, such as the flip side of an excess of self-care, which may be a detriment to the sense of community, or no less, the lure of getting back to tribes. Caution is highly recommended, as the general sentiment about individualization may change quickly. Aside from these apocalyptic scenarios, if marketers keep in mind only one warning, it would be this: Use your customer data wisely.

As my colleague Johann Wrede puts it in spot-on words, beware of “the creepy factor of marketing” and ask yourselves: How do you use customers’ personal information without it feeling like a violation of their privacy? To deliver individualized customer experiences, you need to know what to do with your customer data to keep them engaged.

How to make the best personalized marketing decisions

Individualization may therefore be a double-edge sword, but by making the right decisions you can actually have your cake and eat it, too. In more decorous business words, you can offer contextual, individualized experiences to your customers while respecting their “individual propensity to individualization.”

Here are three fundamental principles behind any successful strategy to market to an “audience of one:”

  1. Consolidate customer profiles across the enterprise: Data is the fuel to develop your personalization strategy. Capture rich customer information, with a special focus on online behavior data, consolidate it across the enterprise, and you will be able to identify and treat your customers as individuals.
  1. Capture your customer intents in real time: To access and evaluate customer intents in real time, you need to leverage both explicit and implicit consumer behavior. Sophisticated micro-segmentation capabilities are a must, but the ongoing management of customer communities, or the identification of hidden trends through predictive analysis, will enable you to access and evaluate your customer’s intents better than your competitors.
  1. Respond to customer opportunities with speed and agility: Deliver in-the-moment, personalized, and relevant experiences across all touchpoints, channels, devices, and departments. For example capture your customer’s interest at the store, follow up with targeted ads, personalize their view of the website, and not least, send them dynamic product recommendations in a remarketing email.

Engaged customers are loyal customers

By all accounts, it looks like brand loyalty is growing again, especially among the highest-potential group of consumers today: millennials. Marketers who haven’t gotten their personalization strategies right yet should do so now, because the next frontier of marketing is already in sight, and it is called “empathy marketing”—the ability to create a personal connection with every individual consumer. Solutions and tools that enable companies to establish genuine conversations and engage with their customers on social channels do exist.

Empathize, but don’t be creepy. Reach this delicate balance and you’re on track to win the prize at the end of the individualization game: customer loyalty.

For more insight on personalized marketing, see Engage At Scale: Leveraging Customer Micro-Moments.

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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.

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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

How Social Media Has Changed The Automobile Industry

Simon Davies

Cars have changed a lot since the Ford Model T first rolled onto the market. But along with the vehicles themselves, the way the automobile industry sells cars has changed too, and it’s largely thanks to social media. Social media has completely transformed the conventions of car sales in many ways. Here are just a few of them.

Social media marketing for cars is now essential to attract buyers

Car manufacturers have traditionally relied on flashy television advertisements to promote their brands. But with the ever-changing media landscape shifting into social media, this all looks set to change.

A mass of research data, compiled into one article by V12 Data, revealed a number of insights into why car sales are now so reliant on social media. First, 84% of automobile buyers are on Facebook, and 66% of car buyers or owners who saw a Facebook ad clicked on it. That’s a 100% increase on 2014’s figure, meaning that car buyers’ interactions with Facebook advertisements are growing fast.

If the willingness of car shoppers to click on Facebook ads sounds unusually high, that’s because it is. A study from Unified found that Facebook adverts for cars are twice as likely to be clicked than other ads on the platform.

Those shopping for cars don’t just sit back and wait to be bombarded with ads, either. They actively seek out information on cars on the Internet. Three-quarters of car buyers surveyed said they used the Internet, including social media, to help them choose a dealership to visit. Half of car buyers said they visited only one dealership before buying.

With figures like these emerging from several different studies, any car dealership or manufacturer that is not using social media marketing is likely doing considerable harm to their business prospects.

Cars are now more about appearance than ever

The look of a car has always been an important buying factor, but the growth of social media has made it more crucial than ever.

Several of the most popular social networks place emphasis on users sharing images. Unsurprisingly, cars frequently pop up in these images. Instagram, in particular, is as crowded with cars as an airport car park.

Instagram users, especially wealthy ones, are keen to post pictures of their cars online to garner as many “likes” as they can. Browse the accounts of the so-called “Rich Kids Of Instagram,” and you will see many images of young car owners either driving or simply sitting on their new car purchases – often Porsches, Ferraris, and Bentleys.

One particular Instagram Rich Kid, Jack Watkin, amassed a car collection worth £1.7 million after having his driving license for just a month. The fleet includes two Bentleys, two Mercedes-Benzes, one Rolls-Royce, one Porsche, and one Range Rover, all of which have seen more mileage on social media than they have on the road.

This fondness of photographing their vehicles comes with a love of customizing them. Luxuries like custom number plates, rims, and elaborate paint jobs are increasingly popular ways for Insta-fans to put their personal stamps on their new rides.

Now car brands are using social media to reach their target market directly. Audi’s Instagram page, for example, is full of original visual content portraying the beauty of its vehicles that reassure potential rich-kid buyers that their Audi purchases would look good on their favorite image-sharing platform. The page has garnered 7.4 million followers, each one of whom has the potential to become a loyal customer.

The car buying process has moved online

Social media in the automotive industry is about far more than just attracting customers by placing adverts and aping their Instagram habits. In fact, increasingly the entire car-buying process takes place over social media.

Late last year, one driver bought an £825,000 Aston Martin DB5 over a social media app called Vero. Vero is a next-generation social network with the slogan “True Social.” Its primary goal is officially to “make online sharing more like real life,” though judging by this transaction, its true strength may lie in high-value automobile sales.

It’s not just newer social networks that are hawking car dealers’ wares. Facebook’s Marketplace feature allows users to buy and sell products from their local areas including, you guessed it, cars.

Less formal car sales are also taking place online between brands and social network users. Recently, Spanish driver Raul Escolano used the hashtag “#compraruncocheportwitter” (translation: ‘#buyacarontwitter’) to challenge car manufacturers to sell him a vehicle over the social network. Nissan took up his challenge and Escolano became the proud owner of a Nissan X-Trail.

Reporting on the story, Verge said: “Given how awful car purchasing experiences can be, this probably won’t be the last car sold on a social network.” It also suggested that any online expertise will be highly advantageous to car manufacturers and dealers going forward. Based on what we’ve seen, they are not mistaken.

For more on motivating shoppers, see Primed: Prompting Customers to Buy.

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About Simon Davies

Simon Davies is a London-based freelance writer with an interest in startup culture, issues, and solutions. He works explores new markets and disruptive technologies and communicates those recent developments to a wide, public audience. Simon is also a contributor at socialbarrel.com, socialnomics.net, and tech.co. Follow Simon @simontheodavies on Twitter.

Teaching Machines Right from Wrong

Dan Wellers

 

By 2018, smart machines will supervise over 3 million workers worldwide.
21% of consumers in an FTC study had confirmed errors on their credit reports.
2014: the first annual Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency in Machine Learning conference.
A private university encouraged 20-25 students to drop out based on AI predictions of
poor grades.

Real-world examples of misused AI algorithms abound. These are just a few:

  • Women who weren’t pregnant — or weren’t ready to reveal it — received special offers of baby products and “congratulatory” messages.
  • People with minority ethnic names received a disproportionate number of ads implying they had criminal records.
  • Guests at a party learned a ride-hailing company kept track of customers who stayed out all night and went home in the wee hours.

Ethical-Edge Cases

Credit scoring algorithms designed to evaluate lending risk are now commonly used to gauge reliability and trustworthiness, determining whether someone should get a job or apartment.

Insurance underwriting algorithms determine the extent, price, and type of coverage someone can get, with little room for disagreement.

Healthcare algorithms could be used to penalize the currently healthy for their probability of future illness.

Algorithms often use zip codes as proxy for (illegal) racial profiling in major decisions, such as employment and law enforcement.

Self-driving cars will have to learn how to react in an accident situation when every possible outcome is bad.


What Should We Do About It?

All machine learning contains assumptions and biases of the humans who create it — unconscious or otherwise. To ensure fairness, business leaders must insist that AI be built on a strong ethical foundation.

We can:

  • Monitor algorithms for neutrality and positive outcomes.
  • Support academic research into making AI-driven decisions more fair, accountable, and transparent.
  • Create human-driven overrides, grievance procedures, and anti-bias laws.
  • Include ethics education in all employee training and development.

Above all, we must consider this a human issue, not a technological one. AI is only as unbiased a tool as we make it. It’s our responsibility to keep it on the ethical straight and narrow.


Download the executive brief Teaching Machines Right from Wrong.


Read the full article AI and Ethics: We Will Live What Machines Learn

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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.

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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.

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