Visual Marketing – Everything You Need To Engage Customers

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Take a look at the advertising and marketing trends of the last four, five years. You can immediately recognize that there is a common trait: visual content. Today, in fact, people prefer visual contents, rather than texts.

As a result, social networks have become primarily visual oriented - i.e. stories and 360 videos - with optical technologies, such as VR and AR, used as marketing tools to create a full, immersive experience for customers.

Why do people prefer visual content? Also, how can companies choose the right image to deliver valuable content and increase customer engagement?

WHY DO PEOPLE PREFER VISUAL CONTENT?

We are meant to process and respond to visual content better than words: it’s in our DNA. In fact, 50% to 80% of our brain is dedicated to visual processing - colors, shapes, visual memory, patterns, spatial awareness, and image recollection. This tendency leads to an innate preference for images, illustrations, videos, and colors.

Also, today’s customers want to receive information quickly and without huge efforts; thus, they are more likely to consume visual content, which is processed 60000 times faster than text. What about the information we retain from experiences? We actually remember 20% of what we read and 80% of what we see.

It doesn’t mean that text is not important anymore. An extensive textual content, in fact, can provide a level of completeness that is incomparable, and sometimes you cannot use a simple image to explain complicated concepts. Combining the two elements, text and images, however, you can reach the best results.

HOW CAN VISUALS IMPROVE MARKETING RESULTS?

With the enormous amount of content and information running each and every day, companies need to do everything they can to differentiate. Using visual elements is much more effective than text only because - as we have just seen - they can capture customers’ attention.

Moreover, the use of relevant and compelling visuals generate more engagement, as it make website visitors stay longer on page, consume more content, and understand the messages you are trying to deliver.

The use of high-quality magnets such as infographics or canvas can also bring a lot of relevant inbound links, boosting your ranking in search results, and increasing brand relevance. It’s been proved that customers make decisions based on what they remember. Thus, leveraging on the most critical driver of customers’ choices - memory - visuals ultimately increase the chances to be recognized.

WHAT TYPE OF VISUAL CONTENT WORKS BEST?

According to iScrabblers, a real photo produces better results than a stock photo (35% more), and employees and customer testimonials generate engagement respectively in terms of viewing time and conversion rate.

Also, colors capture attention, increase recall, comprehension, and brand recognition. Not to mention how they can influence human emotions: certain colors or color combinations generate particular feelings and affect the way people (and customers) make decisions.

To achieve better results, consider putting more efforts on creating original contents and matching colors with the emotions you want to resonate with your message.

HOW CAN YOU FIND THE PERFECT IMAGE?

Marketers often struggle when it comes to producing engaging visual content on a consistent basis. As a result, more and more companies adopt online tools or software to facilitate the process of producing such contents and enhance their performances.

However, this might not be enough: the fact that your image is beautifully crafted doesn’t mean that it is also effective. Every time you grab the audience’s attention but they don’t recall your brand or product, you are losing a chance to convert and monetize.

So, how can you find the perfect image for your blog post, advertising, or product presentation? You can rely on AI tools such as Image Memorability, which can answer this specific need, revealing the memorability score of images or advertisements before they are published, to predict the effectiveness of your visual marketing.

 

Photo by Tony Webster on Unsplash

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Are Your Product Images Really Effective? Ask the AI.

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What makes people buy?

Among all the questions that marketers have always been trying to answer, this is undoubtedly the most important. But the most complex, at the same time.

Marketing research has paved the way to get closer to the answer, narrowing the field to questions like "What makes a memorable advertisement?", "What makes people remember your brand and your product?". Scientific studies have established that most consumer decisions are memory based. Thus, marketers continually look for ways to make people remember their brand and products, working through memory with their ads, messages, and tv commercials.

But memory alone is not enough.

Probably many of you remember the famous tv commercial Fiat launched in 2002. The one with the catchphrase «Buonasera…». That was a great campaign, which had gone immediately viral, but it had a problem: everyone remembered the spot, but no one remembered the brand (many, not even the automotive sector).

Your ad has failed if it’s so boring that nobody notices or remembers it. But it has failed too if it’s hilarious and exciting, but nobody's able to recall your brand.

For promotional images, it's the same thing. The fact that your image is impactful doesn't mean it is effective.

For instance, let's look at this image.

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If I told you that the sales target here is the pair of shoes, would you say it is an effective image?

Now, whatever your opinion, it will certainly be different from that of many other people, regardless of whether they are advertising experts or not.

The reality, in fact, is that only technology can give a clear answer to the question.

Let’s see why.

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Applying our AI model, based on deep learning algorithms, we discovered that this promotional image is quite memorable. The memorability score is 0.834, which means that - according to the calculation logic of the model - 60% of people will remember it about 30 days after first viewing.

Furthermore, as you can see from the heat maps, the objects that are positively correlated with memorability are the white sweater on the upper left and the pink garment on the right. They are responsible for activating people's memory, unlike the other objects in the image. In other words, they would be what makes people buy.

As a result, this image is not particularly effective. Although it is easy enough to remember, what remains in people’s mind is not the sales target, but other surrounding objects.

Now think about the images you have used in your recent campaigns. Are you sure they were really the best option you had? How can you avoid using images that are not memorable and are likely to make your strategy less effective? Discover Image Memorability and learn more about your images.

5 Books Every Digital Marketer Should Read This Summer

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Once you stop learning, you start dying.” This famous quote by Albert Einstein is still relevant to understand a major truth of the digital era: the only thing that is constant is change, and so you should never stop learning if you want to stay relevant.

Of course, this applies both to companies and individuals. Inspiration is all around us and it will empower you to gain competitive advantage, if you can get out of the comfort zone. What better way to improve than by reading a smart book?

The American political journalist P.J. O’Rourke once said that you should “Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” What’s not to love about this sentence? Learning is such a critical process that we have chosen it as one of the steps in The DCX 7-Steps Checklist, a guide that’ll help you build an amazing customer experience.

The problem with reading, today, is that we are all caught in a fast-paced world with a short attention span. Too many things happen around us, so many sources to check and so little time to do it. We are quite lucky, though, because someone else has done the hard work for us. Authors that have tackled the challenge to help digital leaders to keep up with the evolution of marketing and technology.

The more provoking is the book you read, the more you will be forced out of your comfort zone. Once you question your beliefs and layered knowledge, then you are ready to move forward. It is not just theory: In the era of the digital transformation you can’t hack your growth if you still rely on the old-fashioned way to do things.

You need innovative approaches to old questions. How can I grow my business? How can I overcome the challenges of the digital transformation? How can I engage and monetize my digital customers? How can I convert random customers into loyal brand advocates?

If you are looking for an answer to these - and many more - business problems, you might find useful insights through the pages of these five books every digital marketer should read.

EVERYBODY LIES, BY SETH STEPHENS-DAVIDOWITZ

Part technology research part psychological study, this book offers an illuminating look at what the Internet can tell us about who we really are. Everyday we create a vast amounts of information with our web searches, and all thiese data reveal truths about ourselves and our world that we did not even imagine.

What percentage of white voters did not vote for Barack Obama because he is black? Do violent films affect the crime rate? How regularly do we lie about our sex lives? The answers to these - and many more - questions are hidden behind what we type on Google in the safety of our room.

HARNESSING OUR DIGITAL FUTURE, BY ANDREW MCAFEE

Co-written with Erik Brynjolfsson, "Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future" is one of the most exciting books of 2017 so far. This is a must-read analysis of the effects of the digital disruption, a guide for the digital leaders, marketers and CEOs who truly want to understand the power of exponential.

To survive the big wave of digital shifts, in fact, "we must rethink the integration of minds and machines, of products and platforms, and of the core and the crowd. In all three cases, the balance now favors the second element of the pair, with massive implications for how we run our companies and live our lives."

PRE-SUASION, BY ROBERT CIALDINI

Robert Cialdini is the renowned author of Influence, a bestseller dated 1984. At the end of 2016 we have finally seen the long-awaited sequel, titled Pre-Suasion. This book is destined to become even more relevant than Influence because it comes out in a era when marketing and psychology are more intertwined than ever.

What separates effective communicators from truly successful persuaders? Using a rigorous scientific approach, Cialdini "shines a light on effective persuasion and reveals that the secret doesn’t lie in the message itself, but in the key moment before that message is delivered."

HOOKED, BY NIR EYAL

We always emphasize the importance of a well planned, meaningful customer experience on the road to business success. But there is a plain fact that none can ignore: If people don't like the product you sell, your strategy is more than likely doomed. So, how can you develop and market a product or service that customers will love?

Nir Eyal tries to find an answer in his book "Hooked: How To Build Habit-Forming Products". Want to be the next sensation? Try with the Hook Model, "a four-step process embedded into the products of many successful companies to subtly encourage customer behavior."

ORIGINALS, BY ADAM GRANT

"Originals - How Non-Conformists Move The World" is yet another brilliant take on how we can generate new ideas, improving the world in the process. Sharing powerful and surprising business stories, Adam Grant offers groundbreaking insights about rejecting conformity and improving the status quo.

The book "
explores how to recognize a good idea, speak up without getting silenced, build a coalition of allies, choose the right time to act, and manage fear and doubt; how parents and teachers can nurture originality in children; and how leaders can build cultures that welcome dissent."

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

If you need more food for thought during your Summer vacations, you can also download The Mobile Engagement Playbook, a collection of relevant insights that'll help you to overcome the challenges of the digital transformation and grow your business exponentially.

Content Marketing Trends That Will Shape Your Strategy In 2017

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Visibility, we all need visibility at a lower price. Ask any CEO what his top demand for the new year’s content marketing strategy is, and you will likely get this very answer. Brands and contents are becoming inextricably intertwined.

We have just entered the 2017 business arena, and yet some things are already evident: the content challenge is more fierce and wild than ever. The problem, then, is how to become and stay relevant, hopefully spending less to obtain more.

With roughly 27 million pieces of content shared on the web any single day, we can say without fear of contradiction that every person and business is creating and sharing contents.

How can you deal with such a large amount of information? How can you ensure that your pure gold nugget is not lost in the overflowing river? Well, reality is you probably can’t. So many obstacles come out every day.

In the next months, you will have to address different issues. Some come as a legacy of last year; some will be completely new. Concerns around the advertising overdose that afflicts the user experience; concerns about the loss of viewability; the urge to demonstrate the ROI and the measurement accuracy.

We grew up - as marketers and brands - in an era when the most critical part of the job was the ‘production’ of contents. We used to throw the content online with the belief that “A good content will always find its way to the heart of the customers.

Do it now and wait for the results. Unless you are one of the very few top influencers, there is no way that you can survive without ‘distribution’. Here is where content marketing gets tough today.

There is no content without context: what if the context is continuously disrupted and rewritten? Did you ever think that Facebook would become the second force in the online advertising, up there with Google?

Would you believe that marketers would look again at virtual reality as the upcoming savior? Even more, would you think that a mobile app game (namely Pokémon Go) would crash any record, generating 950 million dollars in revenues in less than one year?

In the last decade, the way we think of the content has deeply changed, due to the emergence of new technologies and devices. The way we used to do content marketing only five years ago may seem outdated, even naive in some cases.

Branded contents have some strict rules. One is to pay attention to the customer journey before planning what to do, how to do it and where to communicate it. More than buyer personas clusters, you will need a holistic view on the personalized journey.

If the personalization of the customer experience becomes mandatory, brands will be forced to create a consistent experience for each customer, no matter what device they are engaging on, where they are and what they are doing.

The upcoming months will be decisive to understanding how your strategy should evolve in the years to come, and if you will be able to build an ever closer relationship with customers and with the technological innovation.

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Less talk, more action”: we could sum up the entire 2017 content marketing trends in this one sentence. Here are some trends that are likely to transform your landscape in 2017 and beyond.

CONTENT VS ADVERTISING

The traditional difference between Paid, Earned and Owned media will still be an integral part of the digital marketing strategy. The advertising scenario, though, is rapidly reaching the saturation point, and companies will move towards earned and owned contents to increase customer engagement and foster loyalty.

THE POWER OF MOBILE

In 2016 we have witnessed a historical moment when mobile searches have overpassed the desktop searches. Right after the AMP experiment, Google is now ready to launch a separated SERP for mobile results, and that means that it is about time to understand how well you communicate with mobile customers.

THE ERA OF THE NICHE

Personalization is the most important keyword to reach relevance in the age of digital customers. You will never engage and monetize your customers if you still believe that the ‘one fits all’ content will appeal your audience. There is no such thing as the audience, in fact. There are thousands of different customers with peculiar journeys, desires, and needs.

TECH-SHAPED CONTENTS

We have said that contents are shaped by the context. Technology is the primary element of disruption of the environment. The smartphone has changed the way we communicate and connect with other people and brands. Your next contents will be influenced by emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, IoT, virtual and augmented reality, new social media.

FORMATS GET CREATIVE

The context is also a matter of formats. In the offline world we had the billboards, now we have the Facebook Canvas. “The format is the message”, we could say with Marshall McLuhan. The power of your contents also descends from the format. In 2017 you must learn to exploit the most innovative formats out there, from Facebook Live to Instagram Stories, from infographics to videos.

THE REIGN OF VIDEOS

Talking about videos, one of the most dominant trends emerged from the ashes of the old certainties is the influence of ‘visual’. Visual contents are the ones that get the higher ‘shareability’ percentage. Because 90 percent of the information that enters the brain is visual: the brands leveraging visual content (videos above all) will see significant increases in their traffic, conversion rates, and acquisition results.

THE REVENGE OF EMAILS

What about the dear old friend email? Is it doomed? Well, actually the stats say the very opposite. The email marketing is flourishing again, following a new approach that is less spammy and more content-driven. When implemented as part of an Inbound marketing strategy, this tool may still prove effective, to engage customers and establish a more human relationship.

THE SUNSET OF NATIVE ADS

While some old tools come back to life, some new trends seem destined to lose momentum. Native advertising, for instance. In the last couple of years, there has been a lot of surrounding native, but companies are quickly realizing that owned contents are stronger than paid, and allow them to control the data. Native is still better than banners, but the rising prices make them less and less profitable.

ENGAGEMENT OVER ACQUISITION

While the advertising is still part of the content strategy, there is a huge difference between content and ads: the first one promotes customer engagement and loyalty; the second one has one primary goal, the acquisition. In 2017 it is now evident that retaining customers is cheaper and more profitable than acquiring new ones. The investments in content marketing will adjust accordingly.

LIVE DATA MAKES GOOD CONTENT

Production and distribution are not the only two phases of the content process. There is a third one, maybe even more essential, and it is the measurement phase. How can you now that your contents are really working if you do not analyze data and measure results? Content marketing is not a joke, it is a business pillar: it requires KPIs, metrics, and a platform to gather and scan the live data stream.

Which trends do you think will have the most evident effects on your business?

Download The Mobile Engagement Playbook, a collection of relevant insights based on many years of Neosperience's expertise that'll help you to overcome the challenges of the digital transformation and grow your business exponentially.

The State of Inbound 2016 – A Few Hints on The Future of Marketing

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Hubspot has released its global 8th annual The State of Inbound, a top notch report delivering an in-depth analysis of the main global trends. ‘Inbound’, of course, is the engine that drives the whole take on the future of marketing.

The report, however, is not limited to a partial view on the matter. On the contrary, it delivers useful insights into the most urgent challenges and priorities for marketers and salespeople, based on data gathered from thousands of the world’s leading professionals.

The inbound marketing methodology is all about making business more human, empathetic and - ultimately - more useful to the customer. It rejects the traditional pushy strategies, replaced by an approach based on timely, personalized content.

When technology evolves, marketing changes too. So, where the first editions of the report mostly emphasized the need to find a way to turn complete strangers into known visitors, now the focus is on how to convert visitors into leads and finally turn them into happy customers.

The inbound methodology is all here, a looping circle that brings users from complete strangers to loyal supporters of your brand. Priorities change over the years, but the heart of the challenge remains the same: How you can create a memorable customer experience, to engage and monetize customers across the whole customer journey.

In this perspective, effective contents take the center stage. Content marketing is the foundational element of the inbound methodology, a way to connect brands and customers in a more organic way than traditional advertising.

Most companies are now aware of the importance of contents, online and in-store. What is still lacking is the ability to line up their strategy with what customers really want, and where they try to find it.

Marketers should expand their range way beyond the website, still considered as the hub of the brand identity, but not sufficient anymore to enrich the digital customer experience.

The reason is simple: Audiences are finding content in a wide variety of places. Social media and mobile represent the main areas that marketers prioritize, as people spend more and more time to share their life on the online communities, mostly using their smartphones.

Consumers are increasingly turning to social media, messaging apps and bots for content via their mobile. This means that content consumption is becoming decentralized across the web. Today, marketers’ content strategy should extend beyond their own blogs and website, and include publishing through external outlets.

As for more traditional marketing activities, paid advertising is now considered the most overrated marketing tactic, and is replaced by a more organic approach to ads (i.e. social advertising, retargeting and remarketing).

Even Sales must evolve from cold calls to a more ‘inbound’ approach, due to the evolution of technology and customer behaviors. Whether it is B2B or B2C, Sales is now wrapped in the online and mobile environments.

If we have to choose just one main trend that you need to watch out, we would go with social selling. Once again, mobile proves to be the most effective channel to convey the ‘smarketing’ (sales + marketing) messages.

The 2016 edition of the State of Inbound highlights the urge to transform how you do business. Focus on the whole process, not just one aspect of the customer journey. Moreover, add a human touch to whatever you plan and do.

Have a look at the State of Inbound 2016.

Also, if you have not done yet, download The Mobile Engagement Playbook, a collection of relevant insights based on many years of Neosperience's expertise that'll help you to overcome the challenges of the digital transformation and grow your business exponentially.

Google AMP – The Future Of Mobile Marketing: What You Need To Know

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What is Google AMP Project? Mobile devices have changed the way we access information. As a consequence, they have disrupted the news and communication industry, promoting new tools to create and share contents.

The problem is: While publishers now use the mobile web to reach readers, the customer experience is often discouraging, and leaves a lot to be desired. As usual, people and technology evolve at a quicker pace than companies. Let’s get back to the question, then: Is Google AMP the next revolution for mobile marketing?

When you search for something on Google using your smartphone, you may stumble upon some boxed articles at the top of the result page. They come with a mysterious acronym, AMP. It stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, and it aims to become the new standard for the mobile web.

Almost one year ago (October 7, 2015) on the pages of Google’s official blog was published and article titled “Introducing the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project, for a faster, open mobile web.” A few hours later, digital marketers already had shivers of terror down their back.

They were just recovering from the smash caused by the mobile-friendly algorithm, and they feared another SEO revolution. A small step for Google, a huge workload for brands. Despite everything, however, the AMP Project has gone on the backburner, and marketers’ attention has been drawn by other priorities (i.e. Pokemon Go).

But it was only a matter of time before AMPs would come back as an urgent topic. And here we are, one year later, witnesses of the official launch of the project. The assumption is that customers do not have time to waste. In a world of overabundant information, they want to find the right content at the right time.

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Speed is all that matters in the mobile era. This is true for users, and even more true for publishers:

"Every time a web page takes too long to load, they lose a reader - and the opportunity to earn revenue through advertising or subscriptions. That's because advertisers on these websites have a hard time getting consumers to pay attention to their ads when the pages load so slowly that people abandon them entirely."

The big Internet players know that time is money, and they are competing on developing a technology that will allow users to load contents instantly. Facebook Instant Articles is yet another example, a cornerstone of Mark Zuckerberg’s project to create a self-sufficient ecosystem for its customers.

The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project is an open source initiative that embodies the vision that publishers can create mobile optimized content once and have it load instantly everywhere. The project relies on AMP HTML, a new open framework which allows websites to build lightweight pages:

"We want web pages with rich content like video, animations and graphics to work alongside smart ads, and to load instantaneously. We also want the same code to work across multiple platforms and devices so that content can appear everywhere in an instant - no matter what type of phone, tablet or mobile device you’re using."

Like any significant new technology, accelerate mobile pages are still surrounded by a halo of doubts. How do they work? How will Google rank them in the result pages? Should companies jump on the bandwagon?

Here are the most common concerns, and everything you need to know to face this challenge well prepared.

HOW WILL AMP IMPACT SEO

Let’s start with the obvious question. How are AMP and search engine optimization connected? Right now AMP is not directly a search engine ranking factor but it is evident that this technology will affect the rankings one way or another.

What we know now is that “AMPs are completely separate from a typical mobile site. The mobile and AMP versions will each be annotated separately as alternates." (Jim Robinson, founder and CEO of ClickSeed). The same content will have two different versions, then.

The fact is that speed is one of the most critical elements in how Google ranks the different pages. AMP focus on speed and ease of use, and it is likely that they will indirectly influence where Google places the two different versions in the results:

"If we had two articles that from a signaling perspective scored the same in all other characteristics but for speed, then yes, we will give an emphasis to the one with speed because that is what users find compelling." (Richard Gingras, senior director of news and social products at Google)

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WHAT TYPES OF BRAND SHOULD USE AMP?

Right now the AMP results focus on two different types of contents: news and e-commerce results. Informative contents are ideal for accelerated mobile pages, and it is not by chance that the sites currently using AMP are news-based publishers like Google News, Forbes, Time Inc., Buzzfeed.

If you are a publisher or simply have a company blog and you want to grow your audience, you should definitely think about implementing AMP as a part of your content marketing strategy.

There is also another type of brand that might find AMP useful, e-commerce websites. First in line we find eBay, one of the most recent adopters of the technology, with over 8 million AMP-based nodes in production. The idea of having a carousel of product at the top of the result page is tempting, isn’t it?

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF AMP?

It will take some time to fully understand the implications and the extent of this evolution. It will surely require time, budget and study to the companies that want to embrace the power of AMPs. Being a separated and unique platform, it is not something that you just improvise and decide to do from one day to another.

The pros are many. The most evident is the potential increase in mobile traffic, given that AMP is another door to convey visitors to the official site. Other benefits could be the decrease in bounce rates, due to a higher load speed; an increase in conversions, thanks to a better digital customer experience; and the eternal Google’s goodwill that might have good effects on the digital presence as a whole.

What about the cons? First, AMPs are only served on mobile devices. If your mobile presence is not the core of your strategy, you will not see miraculous results. Second, it takes work and resources to implement the technology, and that translates into investments. Stay prepared to involve the IT crowd, because AMP means code.

Third, not all kinds of contents work with AMP (for instance, you might have problems with images, presentations, video, pop-ups and subscription forms). Last but not least, AMPs have weak analytics insights right now, and even advertising is all but simple (even though Doubleclick by Google has just announced AMP for Ads). If you plan to play with this technology and get actual results, then, prepare to sweat.

IS AMP THE FUTURE OF MOBILE MARKETING?

Given everything we have said, is AMP technology the real deal for the future of mobile marketing? The truth is, we do not know. Behind this new approach to mobile contents, we find Google, and that is usually synonymous with revolution. But we know that not every single revolution is successful, as stated by all those projects that the Big G has canceled or downgraded in the recent years.

The accelerated mobile pages have the potential to disrupt the web, but it has to face fierce competition, with Facebook (with Instant Articles) and Apple (with Apple News) already involved in the mobile battlefield. Who will win the speed race to the new standard?

If you want to know more or get started with AMP, check the official page of the project.

Need more insights on how to engage millennial customers? Download The Mobile Engagement Playbook, a collection of relevant insights that'll help you to overcome the challenges of the digital transformation and grow your business exponentially.

10 Inspiring SlideShare Presentations For Your Customer Experience

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In the last few years, SlideShare has become the perfect place if you are a digital leader looking for inspiration. A true business platform, with over 70 million unique visitors. No wonder that it is today one of the top 100 most-visited websites in the world.

It surely is the world’s largest community for professional content, even though sometimes the amount of information can be daunting. We have done the dirty work for you, tracking down 10 of the most inspiring SlideShare presentations that could help you improve customer experience.

As of now, SlideShare counts on 18 million pieces of unique content. It is widely considered an easy way for brands and individuals to share their expertise with large audiences across social platforms, building a distinctive identity in an easy-to-consume format.

If you have a story packed with compelling visuals, 'SlideShares' make the perfect content dissemination tool. Thus, you must consider this site a major cornerstone for your content marketing strategy.

Even if you are just searching for a good read about customer experience, there are plenty of presentations you can take as a guide, to learn how to engage and monetize your digital customers, and eventually retain their eternal loyalty.

Customer experience management mirrors the complexity of the digital customer journey of the mobile era. From social media to mobile marketing, from Big Data to customer retention, there are many aspects you have to take into account before implementing your business strategy.

Here is our selection of must-read for all marketers and entrepreneurs out there.

"How Google Works" by Eric Schmidt
Though it may seem strange, in the era of global connectivity too many companies still don’t know how exactly Google works. This presentation by Eric Schmidt, executive chairman at Google, show how critical is to understand search engines, even more now that customers have gone mobile, and brands have to face the consequences of the Mobilegeddon.

 

“Customer Retention: Why Your Dog Would Make More Money Than You” by Chris Hexton
Great business ideas might come from unexpected places. Chris Hexton knows it well and delivers one of the most interesting presentations with this excursus on customer retention. We know that loyalty is cheaper than acquisition but harder to get. How can you improve to conquer your customers’ heart? Just learn from the loyalty your dog shows to you.

 

"2016 Internet Trends Report" by Mary Meeker
When it comes to understanding where technology is headed to and how you can use it to improve your customer experience, nothing beats the yearly release of the Internet Trends Report. Mobile technology has disrupted business, changing the way we live, we search product information and make purchases. If you still have to adapt your strategy, this presentation will make you - finally - change your mind.
"Digital Darwinism and the Dawn of Generation C" by Brian Solis
Brian Solis is a well-known marketing guru whose work focuses on the digital disruption and the future of business. With this presentation, he explains how to develop an evolutionary approach to marketing. A change in your mindset is the only way to build an extraordinary digital customer experience, and engage with the new generation of customers, empowered and always connected.
"Why Content Marketing Fails" by Rand Fishkin
If you want to create a profitable connection with digital customers, you must start from your storytelling. The importance of an innovative (and omni-channel) content marketing strategy is highlighted in this SlideShare presentation by Rand Fishkin, self-proclaimed 'wizard of Moz'. Because sometimes what you need to learn is what NOT to do, and how to recover from your errors.
"Digital Strategy 101" by Bud Caddell
What makes a great digital strategy? This question is the tipping point for the presentation created by Bud Caddell, renowned consultant and marketing blogger. Almost 100-slides long and packed with lots of useful insights, Digital Strategy 101 may help you find your answers to critical questions: What is a digital strategy? What core concepts should you know? What are the real-life business effects of a great strategy?

 

"Social Media Secrets" by Guy Kawasaki
In the last decade, Facebook, Twitter and all social networks have become so important to build (or fix) customer experience that digital marketing is not even conceivable without them. Whether you use social media marketing to showcase your products, to engage with customers or to serve them better, there are secrets you need to know. You will find them in the SlideShare presentation by Guy Kawasaki, a collection of tips and tricks to rock your social strategy.
"The History of SEO" by Hubspot
SEO is dead, long live SEO: with the introduction of the new mobile-friendly algorithm, Google has brought to attention the importance of search engine optimization. The spread of the smartphone and the emergence of mobile searches present marketers with a considerable challenge: How to build an optimized identity across all digital properties to increase sales? This presentation is great to understand what SEO meant at the beginning, and what it means in the mobile era.

 

"Digital, Social and Mobile" by We Are Social
Yes, this presentation by We Are Social dates back to 2015, but it is so humongous that it is worth reading even in 2016. This SlideShare covers all things digital, a comprehensive picture that contains global snapshots, regional overviews, and in-depth profiles of 30 of the world's largest economies. Whether you are looking for invaluable statistics or just trying to undestand how to connect with customers abroad, you will find the answer in this report.

 

"20 Inspirational Customer Experience Quotes" by Neosperience
Let us to close with a little self-reference. Where can you start to improve customer experience and foster engagement? Learning from those that have already taken the decisive step into the Age of the Customer. Here is our selection of 20 inspirational customer experience quotes, to “get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves."

 

If you need more food for thought, you can also download The Mobile Engagement Playbook, a collection of relevant insights that'll help you to overcome the challenges of the digital transformation and grow your business exponentially.

Engage Millennial Customers Using Mobile & Social Media

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Millennial customers defy any categorization by definition. They have some traits in common, however: Mostly optimistic; self-aware and demanding; always connected and empowered by technology.

They breathe in symbiosis with their smartphone. They definitely are the living proof of the digital transformation, that has changed the way we live, communicate, search and make purchases. How can you engage and monetize millennials?

Given that premise, it’s easy to see why brands are so focused on the Generation Y (those born between 1981 and 2000). They are your digital customers, and a failure to impress them will likely lead to your irrelevance on the market. Do you dare to risk so much?

Of course, millennials are not the only customers you need to attract and engage. However, in an era shaped by mobile devices - where the ability to exploit the micro moments means everything - they become a key factor to decide whether you succeed or fail.

WHO’S YOUR CUSTOMER?

It's not all about millennials, as said. On the one hand you have the Generation X (1965 - 1980) and Baby Boomers (1946 - 1964), born and raised in an analog world. These customers are still critical but are going to become inevitably marginal. On the other hand, you have the Generation Z (from 2001 on), born and raised in a digital ecosystem but still too young and with low buying power.

Here’s the secret of Millennials. They are your true native digital customers. Conscious of their role and their purchasing power. It's not just guesses: Statistics talk about some 600 billion dollars spent by millennials customers every year globally, a figure projected to reach 1.4 billion in 2020.

Breaking news, before 2018 ends they will surpass the spending power of Baby Boomers. A very good news if you are a retailer, because millennials - unlike their fathers - love to spend. They do it now that earn less than their fathers, and they will do even more so in the future. As a result, your only goal for the next years is to be obsessed with the pursuit of a great customer experience for millennials.

HOW MILLENNIALS BUY

They spend more than save, but they aren’t making the same buying decisions their parents made. The purchase behaviors of digital customers have deeply changed in the last decade. It's not just what they buy but also - and most of all - how they buy. Your entire strategy, from awareness to conversion and loyalty, must begin with this fact.

The emergence of Micro Moments, as told by Google, means that your business strategy has two founding elements: mobile devices and social media. Ask any Millennial what is the only thing he can't live live without, and you will receive the same answer over and over. The smartphone. Today’s customers rely on their phone for any daily activity, outside and inside the physical store.

Since the smartphone has become the primary door to access the Internet, you need to preside all possibile channels to establish a strong and engaging relationship with customers. Millennials are connected 24/7, and if you are not there when they need you, it’s like you don’t exist at all. Just look at the following numbers:

  • 58% of mobile shoppers are Millennials;

  • 50% of Millennials use their smartphone to search for information while shopping;

  • 41% of Millennials have made at least one purchase using mobile;

  • Millennials are twice as likely to be influenced by mobile apps while deciding a purchase.

Whether you like it or not, today every company is a mobile company. Mobile commerce is disrupting your business. A fancy responsive website is just the beginning of the story, a piece of the puzzle, together with social networks, mobile apps, augmented and virtual reality, and chatbots.

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SOCIAL IS THE NETWORK

Where do Millennials find their most trustworthy source of knowledge? Most of this generation’s time is spent using technology to gain access to social media platforms. A complete framework for the customer journey considers the social networks one of the most critical touch points to oversee.

Social media are their favorite place to share opinions and gather information about brands and products. If you are a retailer, a fashion & luxury firm or even a financial institution, never underestimate the importance of social dynamics. Millennials are not loyal to companies; they are loyal to innovation:

  • They trust word-of-mouth as a purchase incentive;

  • They stay updated on brands through social pages;

  • They want to be engaged by brands on social media;

  • They dislike traditional loyalty programs;

  • They always come back to the brand they truly love;

  • In the next future, they will buy directly from the social profile.

Choose the networks that fit you best and use them to attract customers, answer to their questions, delight them with useful content, serve in real-time (and ultimately sell your products). Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube: to engage your audience, you first need to understand who and where they are.

THE APPS THEY LOVE

Downloading mobile apps for personal and professional life is like a game for Millennials. Mobile app marketing, therefore, becomes a faulty science when it comes to digital customers. You must reinvent your KPIs. The fact that they download your app doesn’t remotely mean they will use it or even open it.

The truth is, some apps become old and do not stay trendy for long, so they are celebrated for a short period before they quickly disappear (and get uninstalled). A small part - only 26% - is used daily, and very few become necessities for ever-connected customers. Spotify, Uber, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder, Pokemon Go are the apps Millennials use the most in 2015.

What can you do, if you are not in the lucky ones, to capitalize on your mobile app development? The secret of successful apps is "Be sure to make your customer’s life easier."

  • Build around a distinctive concept that creates a consistent experience;

  • Make sure your app is available wherever digital customers may find it: app stores, social media, search engines;

  • Maintain engagement using bonus contents, exclusive features, and gamification dynamics.

HOW TO ENGAGE MILLENNIALS

Once you know who these digital customers are, what they like and how they buy, you still need to understand one more thing. How to engage millennials so that your brand stays top of mind when they make purchases. They take technology for granted, so that is the ideal starting point.

Think and act mobile - 19 out of 20 Millennials across the world own a smartphone and most check them an average of 43 times per day. There is a huge opportunity here, and the app is just one piece of your mobile strategy: customer assistants (bots), wearable technology, the smartwatch, proximity marketing, geo-fencing, the Internet of Things. Everything you do must be mobile-first.

Connect on any channel - traditional advertising alone doesn’t work, nor old fidelity cards or newspapers. Digital channels become the main reference for all things marketing if you want to build a successful campaign. According to Accenture, 68% of millennials demand “an integrated, seamless experience, regardless of the channel.

Ask them to contribute - the Generation Y is also known as ‘Me Generation’. One of the most effective ways to engage Millennials is playing up to this peculiar mind-set, by asking them to contribute with self-generated contents. Personalization is the keyword you should never forget when dealing with empowered, exacting customers.

Serve them fast & easy - whatever you do, do it fast & easy. Millennials are less than pleased to waste their time waiting for your reply. They are the perfect multi-taskers, with a short attention span. If you can’t reach them in the micro-moment they want you, then you have lost your customers. Ensure you provide a good experience across all channels.

Stay true and epic - Millennials look for meaningful interactions. They do not consider price as the main brand differentiator; the ability to stand out and be amazing is what makes a truly epic brand. Whether you do it by using content or disruptive technologies (i.e. virtual reality), create a unique story rooted in your true brand identity.

And remember: Praise and criticism are the two sides of the same coin. Deliver an amazing digital customer experience and you will earn their trust and loyalty; offer a poor customer experience and they will abandon you with no regrets.

Need more insights on how to engage millennial customers? Download The Mobile Engagement Playbook, a collection of relevant insights that'll help you to overcome the challenges of the digital transformation and grow your business exponentially.

5 Key Takeaways From SXSW 2016

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SXSW Interactive is mostly known as a hub of innovation in everything digital and marketing. The 2016 edition made no exception. Every year, for an entire week, Austin is where the future happens. It is the place to be if you want to stay at the forefront of the tech world we all live in.

Between all day conference sessions, an agenda packed with meetings, and the nightlife, you come out of the event full of new business ideas and insights. Now that we are safe back home, here are the 5 most important things we have learned from SXSW 2016.

Last year, when we had to compile the report for the 2015 conference, we started by pointing out that mobile marketing and customer experience management have become the two sides of the same business coin.

This year’s edition of the South By Southwest confirmed that marketing, technology and digital customer experience are now closer than ever. So close, in fact, that you cannot even imagine:

  • A marketing strategy that does not think and act digital (and mobile) first;
  • A marketing strategy that does not start with customers and their experience;
  • A customer experience that is not influenced by smart and connected technology;
  • Tech trends that are not influenced by the evolution of society and markets;
  • Technological innovations that do not imply a deep change in how we live, buy and communicate.

Put all the pieces together and you will see a completely renewed customer journey; a complex map that moves across multiple touch points, and is not easily predictable. This suggests that the ability to engage and monetize customers in the moments of truth is the key to winning the competition for relevance.

As an example of this inextricable link, we can mention:

  • The pervasiveness of the smartphone, that has become the first reference to access online information, and is changing our purchase behaviors;
  • The spread of the wearable technology, that is forcing an evolution of the health experience, and is the primary force behind the self-tracking mania;
  • The importance of social networks, that have created a wider concept of community and human relationships, mostly lived in mobility;
  • The emergence of smart objects, that are able to communicate without human intervention, and to learn from habits and behaviors.

We have seen the breadcrumbs of this evolution in almost any keynote and panel at the Interactive week of the 2016 SXSW, with a schedule that could count on the likes of Barack Obama, Brian Solis, Brené Brown, Andy Puddicombe, Kevin Kelly, and Pedro Domingos.

EXPERIENCE IS THE NEW BRANDING

We want to start with Brian Solis, an analyst that we particularly appreciate for his ability to highlight the business disruption caused by the digital transformation. In his session, “The Future of Brand, Tech & Business is Experience”, Solis stressed out the idea that ‘experience’ is not a buzzword destined to fade, but the present (and future) of branding. It is the heart of all things disrupting our world.

The experience is the X factor in the evolution of marketing, but we need to define what is exactly this variable of the equation. What makes and experience “an experience”? It is not just mere theory: “Without defining experiences, brands will become victim to whatever people feel and share.

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MACHINE INTELLIGENCE IS THE FUTURE

Just like customer experience is now essential to deliver on the brand promise, the evolution of smart technology will soon set the boundaries of what we call business. Pedro Domingos, a professor of computer science at the University of Washington and the author of The Master Algorithm, talked about this topic in his keynote “The Secrets of Machine Learning Revealed”.

Artificial Intelligence is not (or, at least, should not be) so scary as it seems when it translates into “artificial smartness”. Objects learn from us, and they can teach a lot about ourselves, in return. We especially loved the description of the five tribes of machine learning - Symbolists, Connectionists, Evolutionaries, Bayesians, and Analogizers - tipping points for the rules to invent your own master algorithm.

TECHNOLOGY WILL SHAPE OUR LIFE

Smart machines took the center stage also in Kevin Kelly’s keynote, titled “12 Inevitable Tech Forces That Will Shape Our Future” and based on the new book that will soon hit the shelves. Today, technology evolves at a faster pace, and there is nothing we can do about it. We will face many revolutions, and the ability to embrace the force will decide whether we survive them or not.

Much of what will happen in the next decades is independent of where we live or what we do. The evolution will be driven by tech trends that are already in motion, even though the future is often difficult to believe. Cognifying, tracking and interacting are just three of these trends; they amplify each other, they push our lives in new directions … and they are inevitable.

HIDDEN FORCES SHAPE BEHAVIORS

Actually, “Invisible Influence and Winning at SXSW 2016” looked more like a metadiscourse than a keynote. Jonah Berger, a professor at The Wharton School, tried to teach us how we could take the best from SXSW Interactive, and how it could change our life. It has been, after all, one of the most intriguing sessions of the entire week.

Based in part on the acclaimed book Invisible Influence, the speech explored the hidden forces and influences that affect every single decision we make. Yes, even how we decide to live the SXSW experience. Berger, in fact, focused on how to make our days a time to remember, how to make better choices, and how to have more fulfilling interactions and improve other people’s life.

WE ALL NEED A HEALTHIER LIFE

If you think about it, any experience we live in our daily routine is partly made of technology and partly of emotions. Smart objects and revolutionary devices can improve our lives, but they cannot bring us happiness like some sort of black magic. This was the starting point for the keynote by Andy Puddicombe.

Why Happiness Is Hard and How to Make It Easier”: the title and the main question at the same time. Pubbicombe, former Buddhist monk and co-founder of Headspace, led us to an exploration of ourselves, blending science, technology, and mindfulness on a path to discover what it means to be happy and how we can tap into our creative potential. To reach a healthier life.

If you want to know more about what has happened at SXSW Interactive 2016, here are few articles that you should read:

The Top Digital Marketing Takeaways from SXSW

11 Things We Learned at SXSW 2016

To help you provide a strategic advantage to your organization, Neosperience has crafted the first DCX 7-Steps Checklist, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation. Download the free guide here:

10 Keywords To Improve Customer Experience In The Next Years

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Words have always been important, the ground to establish relationships between human beings. In the Internet era, we have learned that keywords also play a critical role in determining the success of business.

Content marketing, search engine optimization, online advertising, mobile app stores: they all rely on the power of keywords. The connection between a brand and customers makes no exception: when you plan your digital customer experience, there are pivotal keywords you cannot ignore.

"Words are free. It is how you use them that may cost you." (Anonymous)

What do you do when planning a piece of content for your company blog? You look for the most interesting and searched keywords. And when you are about to launch a new website? You take care of the meta and connect the contents to the context (your brand, your identity).

What happens if you put online an AdWords campaign without deep keywords analysis? You will likely spend your budget in useless clicks and bad positioning.

Keywords make the foundations of your storytelling and, at the same time, create the context for your digital customer experience. They have the power to guide your development strategy, not just to influence on your content.

At this point, it is important to clarify that the experience cannot be reduced to SEO tricks, advertising, and optimized online contents. The customer journey unravels across many touch points, in the physical and digital worlds.

What you do to engage customers and create a meaningful experience in each touch point is always more important than what you say. The management of experiences is not just a declaration of intent; excellence is not a copy.

"Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality." (Edgar Allan Poe)

There is nothing worse than facts that do not match the promises. Aiming too high with your words can jeopardize your position in customers’ mind if you cannot meet (not to tell exceed) expectations with facts.

For example, in a recent report, Google states that only 9 percent of users will stay on a mobile site or app if it does not satisfy their needs, in terms of information provided or overall experience. Also, 28 percent will be less likely to purchase products from that company in the future.

However, in the same report, we find out that 69 percent of customers agree that the quality, timing, and relevance of a company’s message influences their perception of a brand.

To sum up, keywords are extremely helpful:

  • For customers, as a compass to find a product, identify the essence of a brand and create an emotional relationship with a company.
  • For businesses, as a compass narrate the inner values of a brand, and to give a sense (meaning and direction) to every action in a holistic view.

For their own nature, keywords are unstable. Just like there are no tools that work for any kind of business without distinctions, the same happens with keywords: they are very peculiar and change with the evolution of society and technology.

So, keep in mind that what we are about to say might be not valid in five years. Nothing is forever, even more so in an age shaped by mobile devices.

EXPERIENCE

What is the most critical keyword when you need to create and manage digital customer experience? Experience, of course. And yet, you might be surprised to know how many companies still do not understand that ‘experience’ is not just smoke and mirrors to hide a product-centered strategy.

CONNECTION

The customer experience is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a company. In the Age of the Customer, the key to succeeding is not product-based; it is concealed in the connection between your brand and people, and constantly rewritten as a result of the digital and mobile transformation.

ENGAGEMENT

To sell is the ultimate goal of your business strategy. How can you get there, ensuring that those sales are not once and for all? Engagement is the answer. Customer engagement and employee engagement. You need to engage digital customers and employees, leveraging technology and social media to increase loyalty.

MOMENTS

The smartphone and all other digital and mobile technologies split our daily routine into a sequence of moments, each with a specific intent and importance. In a company’s perspective, finding the micro moments of truth (mostly live in connectivity) become critical to engage customers with meaningful experience.

EMOTIONS

The spread of smart objects and mobile devices does not hide an obvious fact: a meaningful experience always comes from rational and emotional elements. The digital transformation of your business involves both aspects: Loyalty is the result of products or services as much as it is the result of emotional, fulfilling connections.

BEHAVIORS

Businesses must acknowledge that human behaviors and technology evolve together. The analysis of customer behaviors has become a critical part of the experience management. Remember that not all customers were born alike: they embark on very different journeys, with different touch points that can be influenced by very different causes.

MEMBERSHIP

In markets where the experience replaces the product as the main element of differentiation, the competition is mostly played on the field of relationships. One-time sales may boost short-term revenues, but it is only customer retention that will sustain your business in the long-term. This is the essence of the membership economy.

TESTING

We have said that engagement is the primary objective of any marketing strategy for the Age of the Customer. How can you build genuine engagement? Creating digital contents that resonate well with customers and entice them to spend is not easy. The only way to figure out what works is testing, in other words A/B testing.

ANALYZE

There is no testing without a precise analysis. Data analysis should be inherent to the entire process of planning and executing a customer experience strategy. Digital screens and mobile devices generate a huge amount of information that you must learn to select, examine and transform into actionable insights. In short, smart data.

HACKING

No doubt that growth hacking is one of the buzzwords that marketers love the most right now. It revolves around a new approach that supports the adoption of low-cost and innovative alternatives to traditional tools, hacking the business development with growth-focused activities and technologies.

Of course, this is just a selection of the keywords that will guide your strategy in the years to come. You are more than welcome to add your list to the discussion.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 5 Customer Experience Questions For Your 2016 Digital Strategy

To help you provide a strategic advantage to your organization, Neosperience has crafted the first DCX 7-Steps Checklist, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation. Download the free guide here: