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Trade Shows – From One-Time Events To Year-Round Engagement

Tom Groenfeldt

Strategic Meeting ManagementAs the trade show season begins with CES in Las Vegas, Active Network (NYSE: ACTV) will get to work with automated, integrated systems to identify prospects, invite people who have shown an interest by logging into webinars, register attendees at their hotels to reduce lines at convention centers, track their attendance at seminars, record interactions with vendors and followup after with calls, email, social media and webinars.

While Active won’t be in use at CES, it will be used at the PCMA convention managers association meeting next week in Orlando and at Macworld/iWorld in San Francisco at the end of this month.

Even in the internet age, events are big, and important, business. The Aberdeen Group finds that 9 percent of an organization’s total budget is spent on events and that figure is expected to climb 20 percent over the next two years.

“The original evolution of the event was a point in time,” said JR Sherman, senior vice president of business solutions at Active. People showed up, had a great time, maybe the organizers did a survey and then it was “See you in 365 days.”

The next step was to engage with prospects and customers before the event and maintain contact after. Leading firms have learned to integrate social tools, mobile, and virtual content before the event and to stay in touch longer after the event

“That is where a lot of organizations have gotten to now. The next step, where we are unique, is to have the event itself no longer be the center of the universe. Instead, the participant is the center and the participant will drive the balance of virtual vs. physical engagement.”

Active has worked with Cisco for several years and helped launch Cisco 365, an online community aimed to understand participants to better personalize their experience at Cisco Live or one of the smaller regional events.

“If the content is driven by participants, it can lead to more aggressive participation,” said Sherman.

It seems a little paradoxical that Cisco, which promotes high end teleconferencing to reduce business travel, should be a leader with Active in something as arcane as physical conferences. Sherman said Cisco is a leader in both virtual and physical events, always ready to apply new technology to conferences.

Virtual conferences have driven higher participation at events

A few years ago when virtual events launched with a big splash, event planners thought their jobs were in danger, he added.

“Almost the opposite happened. Virtual participating through teleconferencing, Web casts and Skype drove deeper engagement and more participation in physical events. It is hard to replace the value of a handshake.”

After Salesforce teamed up with Facebook to offer content from its Dreamforce conference, the company found that many who had logged in to watch showed up in person for the event the following year.

Sherman said that around the time of the financial crisis events were falling out of favor, partly because firms didn’t know how to measure their return. In fact, most didn’t even know how to measure their spend. Active Network has made a number of acquisitions, most recently StarCite last January, to form a Business Solutions group that links to hotels, convention centers and suppliers as part of a comprehensive event management tool.

One of the reasons that events got cut was that firms couldn’t aggregate their spending and drive efficiency with their vendors. Marketing would run a conference, procurement would handle the suppliers, but they didn’t necessarily coordinate well. That can be costly.

Software leads to significant savings

The 2.1 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU) runs  more than 200 annual events, including 4,000-person conventions. It was tracking meeting RSVPs in Excel spreadsheets. With Active Network’s StarCite’s Strategic Meeting Management solution, the union was able to identify savings opportunities, source venues more efficiently, and reduce event costs by 48 percent in 2011.

As Aberdeen put it: “Organizations must focus on a full cycle of processes within what is now considered an engagement, and with this evolutionary notion comes a vast array of phases, including social media outreach, increased marketing and promotional activity, deep-dive analytics and consistent messaging to attendees.”

This is such a fast-moving field — even the leaders are just beginning to explore all the uses of mobile and social media — that the vocabulary struggles to keep up with developments. While Active refers to its business as Strategic Meeting Management (SMM), The Aberdeen Group says organizations should move from thinking about managing meetings to “engagement management” and talks about measures of success such as emotional ROI.

Still Aberdeen’s report says that good SMM leads to 48 percent higher compliance with internal meeting management policies, a 44 percent higher rate of meetings under management, and 30 percent high frequency of events on or under budget.

Nestlé in the U.S. has expanded from managing 150 meetings with Active Network to more than 500 meetings a year and has seen savings year-on-year.  The meetings management team provides detailed meeting analytics on spend, savings and forecasting to their key stakeholders on a regular basis.
“With the centralized portal and data collection, we’re able to see our event spend as a category versus having to track it throughout various expense reports,” said Nancy Teresa, procurement manager for travel and event planning at Nestle.

Integrating event software with ERP and CRM

Aberdeen focuses on budgets and control issues, such as integration of SMM with a company’s CRM system and travel and expense management, plus the ability to analyze the attendees and the ROI after an event. The best in class organizations are significantly better, often twice as good, at project management, registration and tracking, internal approval of meeting, marketing and formalized processes for payment of meeting related expenses.

“Best-in-Class organizations (40 percent more likely than all others) are actively instituting centralized budget management for meetings and events. This factor allows them to understand where planned meetings sit against both an overall events budget and the corporate budget.”

Organizations have a lot more focus on total spend for meetings and events, said Sherman, as CFOs look for much better information and firms look to drive efficiency in marketing.
The rapid evolution in SMM shows up in areas such as analytics and reporting, which Aberdeen says are in place in 46 percent more Best-in-Class organizations. It is often the weakest link in strategic meetings and events management, said the consultancy.
“Only two years ago, this program attribute was a low-level priority.”

In the SMM category Aberdeen calls Next Generation, the gaps between best practices and all others can be huge: 70/24 for post-event analysis, 64/33 for centralized database for contacts, suppliers and content, 60/14 for persistent engagement with audiences, 50/22 for ongoing collection of intelligence on attendees, events, and suppliers and 30/10 for consistent use of mobile apps and portals.

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Why 3D Printed Food Just Transformed Your Supply Chain

Hans Thalbauer

Numerous sectors are experimenting with 3D printing, which has the potential to disrupt many markets. One that’s already making progress is the food industry.

The U.S. Army hopes to use 3D printers to customize food for each soldier. NASA is exploring 3D printing of food in space. The technology could eventually even end hunger around the world.

What does that have to do with your supply chain? Quite a bit — because 3D printing does more than just revolutionize the production process. It also requires a complete realignment of the supply chain.

And the way 3D printing transforms the supply chain holds lessons for how organizations must reinvent themselves in the new era of the extended supply chain.

Supply chain spaghetti junction

The extended supply chain replaces the old linear chain with not just a network, but a network of networks. The need for this network of networks is being driven by four key factors: individualized products, the sharing economy, resource scarcity, and customer-centricity.

To understand these forces, imagine you operate a large restaurant chain, and you’re struggling to differentiate yourself against tough competition. You’ve decided you can stand out by delivering customized entrees. In fact, you’re going to leverage 3D printing to offer personalized pasta.

With 3D printing technology, you can make one-off pasta dishes on the fly. You can give customers a choice of ingredients (gluten-free!), flavors (salted caramel!), and shapes (Leaning Towers of Pisa!). You can offer the personalized pasta in your restaurants, in supermarkets, and on your ecommerce website.

You may think this initiative simply requires you to transform production. But that’s just the beginning. You also need to re-architect research and development, demand signals, asset management, logistics, partner management, and more.

First, you need to develop the matrix of ingredients, flavors, and shapes you’ll offer. As part of that effort, you’ll have to consider health and safety regulations.

Then, you need to shift some of your manufacturing directly into your kitchens. That will also affect packaging requirements. Logistics will change as well, because instead of full truckloads, you’ll be delivering more frequently, with more variety, and in smaller quantities.

Next, you need to perfect demand signals to anticipate which pasta variations in which quantities will come through which channels. You need to manage supply signals source more kinds of raw materials in closer to real time.

Last, the source of your signals will change. Some will continue to come from point of sale. But others, such as supplies replenishment and asset maintenance, can come direct from your 3D printers.

Four key ingredients of the extended supply chain

As with our pasta scenario, the drivers of the extended supply chain require transformation across business models and business processes. First, growing demand for individualized products calls for the same shifts in R&D, asset management, logistics, and more that 3D printed pasta requires.

Second, as with the personalized entrees, the sharing economy integrates a network of partners, from suppliers to equipment makers to outsourced manufacturing, all electronically and transparently interconnected, in real time and all the time.

Third, resource scarcity involves pressures not just on raw materials but also on full-time and contingent labor, with the necessary skills and flexibility to support new business models and processes.

And finally, for personalized pasta sellers and for your own business, it all comes down to customer-centricity. To compete in today’s business environment and to meet current and future customer expectations, all your operations must increasingly revolve around rapidly comprehending and responding to customer demand.

Want to learn more? Check out my recent video on digitalizing the extended supply chain.

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Hans Thalbauer

About Hans Thalbauer

Hans Thalbauer is the Senior Vice President, Extended Supply Chain, at SAP. He is responsible for the strategic direction and the Go-To-Market of solutions for Supply Chain, Logistics, Engineering/R&D, Manufacturing, Asset Management and Sustainability at SAP.

How to Build Customer Loyalty Through Digital Emotional Affinity

Volker Hildebrand, Lori Mitchell-Keller, Christopher Koch, and Polly Traylor

SAP_Digitl_Emotion_BRIEF_image2400x1600_1

 

When the Amazon site was launched in 1995, followed by the heady years of dot-com mania, marketers believed they had reached nirvana with the speed, convenience, selection, and plain cool factor of online stores.

Digital technology revolutionized the way companies interacted with customers by making the research and purchasing processes more convenient. Yet research shows that companies have a long way to go in effectively using digital technologies to engage with their customers.
Just 49% of consumers say their experiences using Web sites on desktop and laptop computers are excellent, while a mere 18% of consumers say the same for shopping with mobile Web sites or apps.

The reason behind the failings of all this great technology is that loyalty is driven by positive emotions not just efficiencies. Ninety percent of purchasing decisions are made subconsciously, according to Caroline Winnett and Andrew Pohlmann of The Nielsen Company. Meanwhile, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio has found that for patients with brain damage affecting their abilities to feel emotions, making any decision at all is difficult.

By developing a concerted strategy to foster positive emotions in digital, companies can reduce churn, lower customer acquisition costs, and grow revenues per customer. “It’s getting harder and harder to put your message in front of customers effectively and efficiently,” says Tim Peter, founder of Tim Peter & Associates, an e-commerce, Internet marketing, and business strategy consultancy. “If you can get them once, you will more likely reengage them. My clients see emotional engagement as a differentiator.”

How does a company move from the robotic, unfeeling interface of technology to an experience where the customer can sense the people and brand behind it all? There’s no single method here; improving emotional affinity in digital requires a culture that’s hyper about monitoring and pleasing customers. It also begs for a hybrid approach of merging human experiences with digital, investing in omnichannel integration, and developing more creative approaches to online branding.

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Amazing Digital Marketing Trends And Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015

Sunny Popali

Amazing Digital Marketing Trends & Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015The fast-paced world of digital marketing is changing too quickly for most companies to adapt. But staying up to date with the latest industry trends is imperative for anyone involved with expanding a business.

Here are five trends that have shaped the industry this year and that will become more important as we move forward:

  1. Email marketing will need to become smarter

Whether you like it or not, email is the most ubiquitous tool online. Everyone has it, and utilizing it properly can push your marketing ahead of your rivals. Because business use of email is still very widespread, you need to get smarter about email marketing in order to fully realize your business’s marketing strategy. Luckily, there are a number of tools that can help you market more effectively, such as Mailchimp.

  1. Content marketing will become integrated and more valuable

Content is king, and it seems to be getting more important every day. Google and other search engines are focusing more on the content you create as the potential of the online world as marketing tool becomes apparent. Now there seems to be a push for current, relevant content that you can use for your services and promote your business.

Staying fresh with the content you provide is almost as important as ensuring high-quality content. Customers will pay more attention if your content is relevant and timely.

  1. Mobile assets and paid social media are more important than ever

It’s no secret that mobile is key to your marketing efforts. More mobile devices are sold and more people are reading content on mobile screens than ever before, so it is crucial to your overall strategy to have mobile marketing expertise on your team. London-based Abacus Marketing agrees that mobile marketing could overtake desktop website marketing in just a few years.

  1. Big Data for personalization plays a key role

Marketers are increasingly using Big Data to get their brand message out to the public in a more personalized format. One obvious example is Google Trend analysis, a highly useful tool that marketing experts use to obtain the latest on what is trending around the world. You can — and should — use it in your business marketing efforts. Big Data will also let you offer specific content to buyers who are more likely to look for certain items, for example, and offer personalized deals to specific groups of within your customer base. Other tools, which until recently were the stuff of science fiction, are also available that let you do things like use predictive analysis to score leads.

  1. Visual media matters

A picture really is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, and nobody can deny the effectiveness of a well-designed infographic. In fact, some studies suggest that Millennials are particularly attracted to content with great visuals. Animated gifs and colorful bar graphs have even found their way into heavy-duty financial reports, so why not give them a try in your business marketing efforts?

A few more tips:

  • Always keep your content relevant and current to attract the attention of your target audience.
  • Always keep all your social media and public accounts fresh. Don’t use old content or outdated pictures in any public forum.
  • Your reviews are a proxy for your online reputation, so pay careful attention to them.
  • Much online content is being consumed on mobile now, so focus specifically on the design and usability of your mobile apps.
  • Online marketing is essentially geared towards getting more traffic onto your site. The more people visit, the better your chances of increasing sales.

Want more insight on how digital marketing is evolving? See Shutterstock Report: The Face Of Marketing Is Changing — And It Doesn’t Include Vince Vaughn.

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About Sunny Popali

Sunny Popali is SEO Director at www.tempocreative.com. Tempo Creative is a Phoenix inbound marketing company that has served over 700 clients since 2001. Tempos team specializes in digital and internet marketing services including web design, SEO, social media and strategy.

Social Media Matters: 6 Content And Social Media Trend Predictions For 2016 [INFOGRAPHIC]

Julie Ellis

As 2015 winds down, it’s time to look forward to 2016 and explore the social media and content marketing trends that will impact marketing strategies over the next 15 months or so.

Some of the upcoming trends simply indicate an intensification of current trends, however others indicate that there are new things that will have a big impact in 2016.

Take a look at a few trends that should definitely factor in your planning for 2016.

1. SEO will focus more on social media platforms and less on search engines

Clearly Google is going nowhere. In fact, in 2016 Google’s word will still essentially be law when it comes to search engine optimization.

However, in 2016 there will be some changes in SEO. Many of these changes will be due to the fact that users are increasingly searching for products and services directly from websites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

There are two reasons for this shift in customer habits:

  • Customers are relying more and more on customer comments, feedback, and reviews before making purchasing decisions. This means that they are most likely to search directly on platforms where they can find that information.
  • Customers who are seeking information about products and services feel that video- and image-based content is more trustworthy.

2. The need to optimize for mobile and touchscreens will intensify

Consumers are using their mobile devices and tablets for the following tasks at a sharply increasing rate:

  • Sending and receiving emails and messages
  • Making purchases
  • Researching products and services
  • Watching videos
  • Reading or writing reviews and comments
  • Obtaining driving directions and using navigation apps
  • Visiting news and entertainment websites
  • Using social media

Most marketers would be hard-pressed to look at this list and see any case for continuing to avoid mobile and touchscreen optimization. Yet, for some reason many companies still see mobile optimization as something that is nice to do, but not urgent.

This lack of a sense of urgency seemingly ignores the fact that more than 80% of the highest growing group of consumers indicate that it is highly important that retailers provide mobile apps that work well. According to the same study, nearly 90% of Millennials believe that there are a large number of websites that have not done a very good job of optimizing for mobile.

3. Content marketing will move to edgier social media platforms

Platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat weren’t considered to be valid targets for mainstream content marketing efforts until now.

This is because they were considered to be too unproven and too “on the fringe” to warrant the time and marketing budget investments, when platforms such as Facebook and YouTube were so popular and had proven track records when it came to content marketing opportunity and success.

However, now that Instagram is enjoying such tremendous growth, and is opening up advertising opportunities to businesses beyond its brand partners, it (along with other platforms) will be seen as more and more viable in 2016.

4. Facebook will remain a strong player, but the demographic of the average user will age

In 2016, Facebook will likely remain the flagship social media website when it comes to sharing and promoting content, engaging with customers, and increasing Internet recognition.

However, it will become less and less possible to ignore the fact that younger consumers are moving away from the platform as their primary source of online social interaction and content consumption. Some companies may be able to maintain status quo for 2016 without feeling any negative impacts.

However, others may need to rethink their content marketing strategies for 2016 to take these shifts into account. Depending on their branding and the products or services that they offer, some companies may be able to profit from these changes by customizing the content that they promote on Facebook for an older demographic.

5. Content production must reflect quality and variety

  • Both B2B and B2C buyers value video based content over text based content.
  • While some curated content is a good thing, consumers believe that custom content is an indication that a company wishes to create a relationship with them.
  • The great majority of these same consumers report that customized content is useful for them.
  • B2B customers prefer learning about products and services through content as opposed to paid advertising.
  • Consumers believe that videos are more trustworthy forms of content than text.

Here is a great infographic depicting the importance of video in content marketing efforts:
Small Business Video infographic

A final, very important thing to note when considering content trends for 2016 is the decreasing value of the keyword as a way of optimizing content. In fact, in an effort to crack down on keyword stuffing, Google’s optimization rules have been updated to to kick offending sites out of prime SERP positions.

6. Oculus Rift will create significant changes in customer engagement

Oculus Rift is not likely to offer much to marketers in 2016. After all, it isn’t expected to ship to consumers until the first quarter. However, what Oculus Rift will do is influence the decisions that marketers make when it comes to creating customer interaction.

For example, companies that have not yet embraced storytelling may want to make 2016 the year that they do just that, because later in 2016 Oculus Rift may be the platform that their competitors will be using to tell stories while giving consumers a 360-degree vantage point.

For a deeper dive on engaging with customers through storytelling, see Brand Storytelling: Where Humanity Takes Center Stage.

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About Julie Ellis

Julie Ellis – marketer and professional blogger, writes about social media, education, self-improvement, marketing and psychology. To contact Julie follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.