Dallas Business Consultant Elijah ClarkDallas Business Consultant Elijah Clark

Trends and Innovation

For innovation to be advantageous within your business, you must have a strategy for informing customers on the specific benefits of the trend or innovation in relation to your product or service. Trends affected by customer choices, the internet, social media, and technology have a greater influence on customer behavior than conventional advertising. As a leader, you should develop strategies incorporating a knowledge of trends and areas identifying with technology, internet, innovation, and social media.

Technology Trends. Technology influences customers regarding business sustainability and corporate responsibility. Emerging innovative technology can propel your business to growth by providing a medium for evaluating choice patterns of your customers. The advancement of technology can additionally influence the value of your products and services. Moreover, by using technology, you could develop strategies that decidedly enhance your perceived product value. You can additionally utilize innovative technology to improve marketing research knowledge. For technology to remain beneficial within your markets, your business must have a system for effectively using technology to train and educate customers on the benefits of your product or service.

Technology in Marketing. Marketing is not shaped by what technology can do but instead centers on what the customer will accept, understand, and want. There are three changes that you must consider when creating successful marketing strategies using technology. The first is to move away from market research and instead look toward being able to interpret information extracted from your customers through databases of information. The second change is to move away from traditional advertising and placing more attention on social media for communication. The final stage is to stop looking at marketing as a means of mass markets and move toward building a personal relationship with customers through media outlets.

Disruptive Technology

Disruptive Technology (DT) is a powerful means of broadening and developing new markets and providing new functionality, which, in turn, may disrupt existing market linkages. DT is when a new technology upsets the way that things have been. An example of DT is the radio replacing the newspaper, or the television replacing the radio as a source of news. DT is not when a single event occurs that disrupts things. It is when a process plays out over time that causes new technology to either replace or reduce the use of an older method.

DT can be beneficial to your business considering it offers more opportunity or options to your customers and influences product innovation. By not adopting DT, your business could potentially miss opportunities for a financial gain and powerful tools that could make your business more productive. A concern with DT is that it often takes away from you or your employee having to think for yourself. An example would be a calculator replacing the deep analysis of problem-solving, or digital navigation systems causing its users to not have to remember directions, or a cell phone contact list that makes it so that you don’t have to remember a phone number. With so much dependent upon these technologies that we rely on to help us in our day-to-day, we can become lost without the benefits that DT has created.

DT is not always used as a method to remove or replace traditional methods; it can also create an alternative to the way things are done. It creates typically simpler, more convenient, and less expensive ways of doing things. DT is usually a result of the desire to make things easier, faster, and more convenient. Hence, landline telephones and traditional mail services are now second to cell phones and email.

Not everyone has or will adapt to DT. Just as cell phones have not fully replaced the landline, DT ultimately could have a major impact on an existing market without totally displacing it. Not everyone uses the internet or a mobile device in place of reading a book, looking through a map, or earning a degree. Many individuals still select to drive a car, take a train, or travel by boat to get to their destination.

There are, however, ways in which DT has caused those unwilling to adopt it, to make sacrifices. Video streaming services Redbox and Netflix have caused brick-and-mortar businesses such as Blockbuster to close shop because of Blockbusters inability to create or adapt to DT. Digital photography caused film to become practically obsolete. DT introduces threats to existing methods, but also opportunities for new sources of competitive advantages. The benefits of DT go to the risk takers. Without being willing to take risks, the individual or business would never accept DT. Risk taking, however, can have negative impacts if it is not executed properly and with a strategic plan. For DT to be successful, small businesses and individuals must weigh the benefits. Without proper knowledge and training of why DT is needed or how to use it for success, the transition will likely fail and DT will negatively disrupt your business.

Internet and Social Trends

The development of the internet has shifted businesses from paper-based and people-intensive purchasing frameworks toward electronic frameworks. In 2016, U.S. electronic commerce transactions accounted for $394.86 billion (11.7%) of total retail sales.[1] Online sales have seen a significant growth because of the internet. The progression of the internet and technology will continually add value to business and customer relationships and provide material for future marketing research.

Customers are moving toward the internet to develop knowledge, business insights, and for other personal reasons. Research has shown that businesses that utilize traditional marketing techniques and advertising methods have seen a decrease in revenue because consumers are moving online to search for businesses and make purchases. Considering the exceptional growth of the internet, businesses without a viable marketing strategy embracing the internet witnessed a lack of marketing effectiveness, product sales, and brand awareness. To counter the effects of the interpersonal communication that the internet presents, your business should obviously develop strategic marketing communication for targeting internet-based customers.

Using the internet to gather information aids in collecting pertinent data for better comprehending the perceptions of your customers toward your business. Given the development of the internet, you can utilize technology for storing and accumulating customer information. Likewise, because of the significant influence of the internet, you can also use the internet to help with establishing relationships with business partners and customers.

The internet affects individuals in their daily lives and can produce challenges for your business due to the accessibility of social media. Online networking has revealed an entryway for customers to express their concerns directly to your business, and this method of correspondence encourages interaction between your business and your customers. Subsequently, customers appreciate having their sentiments validated. However, the immediate and open forum of communication could present challenges for your business if you are not prepared to manage and grow with the online trend.

Customers have a significant influence on the brand awareness of your business as the opinions of customers can propel your brand reputation. For instance, inquiries, comments, and reactions on discussion boards often affect brand loyalty, social following, and purchasing habits. Given the internet, you have to carefully monitor your brand, public activities, and reputation if you want to stay ahead of customer concerns and problems that could impact your sales and business growth.

 

[1] https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2017/02/17/us-e-commerce-sales-grow-156-2016/

Tracking KPI’s

After reviewing your analytics report, you can confidently make a conclusion about your website’s performance and identify actionable items that will help improve the key performance indicators (KPI) going forward. You can start by looking at the average time a user spends on your website. This report will be able to help measure how visitors interact with the website’s content. If you dig deeper, you should be able to see which pages create the longest stay and conversions, and which pages users are not finding to be relevant toward their search. Digging even further, you can begin to see which pages users last visited before abandoning the website. If you see a common trend of user activity, you will be able to make the corrections as needed. The other two metrics, unique visitors and ratio of local audience to national audience, will be important in helping you understand how engaging your website content is to customers. These two metrics may also be useful in helping with future marketing. By having a true understanding of what your visitors are looking for, it will help you develop effective campaigns to accumulate more leads, which will lead to an increased ROI.

Using Analytics

Analytics are not necessarily about numbers, but about processes. It helps to evaluate what hinders people from getting from point A to point B. This starts with segmentation. Numbers don’t show you the whole picture. Segmenting tells you the factors that lead to the actual data that you collect, which will then help you to adjust your strategy. Web analytics has many benefits. Some of these benefits include tracking website visits, hits, conversions, trends, ROI, goals, etc. With a web analytics solution, you can monitor:

  • Where your site traffic is coming from.
  • The IP addresses of your visitors.
  • The customer’s actions by sequence with a time stamp.

Analytics can also help measure:

  • How many users visit your site, how many return, and how often.
  • How users navigate through your website.
  • Where in the “conversion funnel” or purchasing process customers are getting stuck and leaving.
  • What content your visitors are looking for, and whether they’re finding it.
  • Exactly which form fields are driving people away rather than bringing them in.

With analytics, you can also monitor your visitors by seeing which browser type, operating system, and the originating country, state, and city from which they are visiting. This information is beneficial for creating an effective website and will help users gain the maximum experience while they are visiting your company site. With web analytics, being analytical is not enough, but it should also be combined with creativity and company knowledge. You may find that reading analytics is confusing, mostly because there is too much information to collect. As for where people originate from when they land on your website, there are many inlets. Trying to measure the effectiveness of each inlet is a daunting task, but worth the financial savings of having to market and research.

Customer Service

These days, technology connects us in a way that we could have never imagined. And while this increased connectivity makes it easy for us to stay in touch, it’s important that we don’t let it stand in the way of real, personal engagement with customers. Think about a time when you called into a customer service line. You probably sat through a series of long, drawn-out automated messages, pressed a couple buttons, and after much frustration, breathed a sigh of relief when you were finally connected with an actual representative, right?

At the end of the day, people want to do business with other people — not machines and auto sequenced emails. By making a conscious effort to infuse more human interactions into your day-to-day communication with customers, it will be easier to build trust and deepen the relationship. Satisfying the needs of your customers ensures the survival of your business. A periodic check is required to discern the level of performance related to the current quality of services and products, followed by a plan to upgrade or enhance those services or products as necessary to build a quality relationship with your customers. In order to fulfill this goal, you must have a set of rules to measure and improve this quality.

Delivering quality services to customers is considered the most effective way to ensure that your business stands out from your competitors. The main ingredients involved in a quality relationship between your business and your customers are trust and commitment. Trust means confidence and security in the relationship you have with customers and can be treated as the biggest investment in building long term relationships. Lack of trust, on the other hand, weakens the relationship’s foundation.

Quick and Easy Marketing Methods

Newsletters should be branded if you intend to share company news and not get lost amongst the spam. Temper the marketing tone of your messages by integrating stories about your staff and customers.

Transactional emails are emails that directly promote products, promotions, and include emails sent to confirm an order or new account sign-up. Keep these emails succinct, but write with flair.

Videos are a great way to bring your brand to life. They are the perfect vehicle to introduce your products and services. Be sure to keep them short and snappy, perfect for social media sharing.

Business cards are pocket-sized promotional opportunities. Make sure they include relevant details like your social media handles and links to your website. Loyalty cards are also good for encouraging return visits to your store and should reflect your brand. Postcards are a fun way to raise brand awareness. Whether you choose to mail them, add them to your packaging, or distribute them at local businesses, they must be attractive if you want customers to view and keep them.

Most agencies know how to leverage their own email marketing skills to attract and nurture new business. However, they often overlook email as a communication channel post-sale. Email can be used to entice your customers in a scalable way as it provides the means necessary to continuously deliver added value over the course of your relationship. While many would argue that no one is looking forward to more emails, your emails should be relevant and thoughtfully written to ensure you don’t add to the SPAM issue.

Email Marketing

When done correctly, email marketing serves as a tried-and-true way to get readers to download content, convert prospects with special offers, and upsell existing customers. It’s important to focus your time and attention on email marketing in addition to social media, paid advertising, and search engine optimization. It’s one form of marketing that’s not going anywhere any time soon, and rightfully so.

With emails, you can foster a deeper, one-on-one relationship with your customers. Your emails have the opportunity to appear more personal and authentic than any other marketing effort. This builds trust with your customers considering the message creates (or appears to create) a one-on-one dialogue. Email subscribers are 3.9 times more likely to share content via the social web. Plus, your target audience wants to hear from you via email. It was discovered in a survey conducted by MarketingSherpa that 72% of people actually prefer to receive promotional content through email from businesses they like, as compared to the 17% who prefer social media.[1]

When sending email campaigns, make sure your strategy, and your business, answers questions such as:

  • What are you trying to accomplish with the email?
  • What actions do you want customers to take?
  • How will you prompt customers to take this action (i.e., using buttons, CTAs, or by clearly spelling it out in the content of the email)?

Whether optimizing your email or just writing the content, you should always do so as if you were speaking directly to one person in your target audience. Use the same language in your email as you would if your ideal customer were standing in front of you. Speak (or in this case, write) to your one reader as if you already know them. This can be tricky at first, but it will get easier over time as you come to understand more about who your ideal customer is. One easy way to sound more conversational is to use second person pronouns — “you” and “your.” This is a simple adjustment that makes the email about the reader, not your company.

Personalize the Content. In the same way that you personalized your subject line, you should also personalize the content within your email. According to research conducted by Aberdeen Group, personalized emails showed an increase in click-through rates of 14% and an increase in conversions by 10%. To get started with personalization, the simplest thing to do is address your recipients by their first name in your email greeting. Your customers will also appreciate your efforts since 74% of online customers get frustrated with websites when content (e.g., offers, ads, and promotions) appear to have nothing to do with their interests. [2]

 

[1] http://content.marketingsherpa.com/data/public/reports/benchmark-reports/EXCERPT-BMR-2013-Email-Marketing.pdf

[2] http://www.aberdeen.com/research/4904/ra-email-marketing/content.aspx

Customer Persona

In advertising, there are four user personas identified as competitive, spontaneous, humanistic, and methodical. The goal of a marketing campaign is to develop strategies for each persona, or to retain your preferred user persona and market toward only that group. Individuals within groups react differently to campaigns. Consequently, you should develop your campaigns to attract your desired customers using various strategies which include specific elements:

  • Competitive – logical, quick (fast)
  • Spontaneous – emotional, quick
  • Methodical – deliberate, logical
  • Humanistic – emotional, deliberate (slow)

Competitive. The competitive customer is business minded, power oriented, and does not like to waste time. This customer looks for businesses that have high qualifications, a positive track record, and a stellar reputation. This customer reacts strongly to marketing campaigns that outline what you can do for them and how you will support their ideas and conclusions. The best marketing strategy for this customer is to provide them with options, probabilities, and better results than they’ve previously enjoyed from other businesses.

Questions the Competitive customer considers when purchasing:

  • What are your competitive advantages?
  • Why are you a superior choice?
  • Are you a credible company?
  • How can you help me be more productive?
  • How can you help me look good?
  • What are your credentials?
  • How can you help me achieve my goals?

Spontaneous. The spontaneous persona enjoys marketing campaigns that are personalized and activity oriented. This customer requires you to present evidence that you are trustworthy and customer service oriented. In marketing to this demographic, you will need to present evidence showcasing why your business is the best solution for them. You can achieve results by focusing on their feelings, interest, and excitement. Additionally, you can help them select your business by offering guarantees and recommendations, but not options.

Questions the Spontaneous customer considers when purchasing:

  • How can you quickly get me what I need?
  • Do you offer superior service?
  • Can I customize your product or service?
  • Can you help me narrow down my choices?
  • How quickly can I take action and achieve my goals?
  • How will your product/service help me enjoy life more?

Humanistic. The humanistic customer reacts to personal and relationship-driven campaigns. This type of customer is somewhat slower in making decisions and desires to develop a personal relationship with you and your business. Their decisions are primarily based on who you are, what you know, and how well you know them, their business, and their market. You can attract this customer using testimonials and a highly attractive portfolio.

Questions the Humanistic customer considers when purchasing:

  • How will your product or service make me feel?
  • Who uses your products/services?
  • Who are you? Tell me who your company is and let me see bios.
  • What will it feel like to work with you?
  • What experience have others had with you?
  • Can I trust you?
  • What are your business values?

Methodical. The methodical customer is detail oriented and disciplined with their time. This customer will require evidence of your experience, processes, and knowledge. The desire of this customer is for you to prove that you can provide solutions. You can attract this customer by offering a solution that is rational and supports their principles.

Questions the Methodical customer considers when purchasing:

  • What are the details of your offering, including the fine print?
  • What processes will you use?
  • Can you take me through the process step-by-step?
  • What are the product specs?
  • What proof do you have that you can help me?
  • Can you guarantee your product or work?

Example campaigns for a marketing agency.

Competitive: Professional Marketing Services. Beat out your competition. Build a successful online brand. The competitive persona looks for a company that has a positive and successful reputation. This ad would satisfy the competitive persona looking for marketing services as it showcases a professional agency that knows how to help them get to the top of their industry.

Humanistic: Affordable Marketing. Stay connected with your customers. We have a plan to help you succeed. This ad will be great for the humanistic persona as it explains to them that they will be able to stay connected with their customers, which they would desire to do so. It also shows that they can contact the agency who will develop a personalized plan for success.

Methodical: Professional Marketing. Proven success stories. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed. This headline will draw in the methodical personality because it shows that it’s not a freelance or amateur company, which methodical customers generally do not prefer. Providing money back will also provide further proof that the agency is trustworthy and customer friendly.

Spontaneous: Affordable Marketing Offer! Low-cost marketing services. Get started on your marketing TODAY! This headline can be used to draw in the spontaneous persona, as they are normally looking for easy, fast, and affordable.

Marketing A/B Testing

When developing marketing campaigns, you should always A/B Test, which is referred to as creating multiple campaigns for the same goal. By creating multiple versions of a controlled campaign, it could help your business determine the most effective campaign based on a side-by-side comparison.

Example.

In a study conducted by the Coca-Cola Company, taste was considered the most important factor for their declined sales between the 1970s and 1980s. In response, the New Coke was developed to enhance the flavor and generate sales. With the approval of more than half of the 200,000 blind product testers, the New Coke was introduced to replace the original flavored Coke— which was a disaster for the company. Because of the unfavorable results and backlash from customers, the New Coke was withdrawn from the market and the Coke Classic was introduced with the original ingredients. Regarding the Coca-Cola Company’s quantitative study and the New Coke, the test provided inconclusive results because of the lack of information given to the participants. Though the participants enjoyed the flavor of the New Coke, it did not outweigh their desire and loyalty of the original Coke. The New Coke’s example of relying on only one type of study displayed poor predictive validity. A customer’s like toward a product is not a good predictor of whether they would purchase the product over another product they also like. Had the Coke Company taken a segmented approach and kept both products on the store shelves, they could have had a better idea of which the users liked best and which would generate the most sales in a side-by-side or A/B comparison.

Most businesses who do A/B testing often fail to give their testing ad a chance at achieving its best possible results. Furthermore, without testing the ad properly, these individuals or companies may ultimately lose money, time, and potentially reject a successful ad that just never had the chance to prove itself successful due to the lack of owner knowledge. Having a control ad running throughout the testing of a new ad can save money and eliminate performance history as a variable in the test ad. By creating multiple copies of a control ad, you can avoid giving 50% of impressions to an unproven ad which may fail. Creating multiple copies of a control ad allows you to save on cost considering the control ad is always running. Instead of losing 50% of ad impressions to the testing ad, that percentage shrinks to 20% because of the additional control ad copies. In addition to this type of testing saving on cost and potentially accelerating the testing process, it also allows for you to create a valid testing environment by comparing the performance of the test ad against the copies of the control only.

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