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  • 3 Marketing Takeaways From #INBOUND15

    inbound15

    I’m not sure what the question is, but the answer is Yes

    The #INBOUND15 saw Seth Godin on stage to open the dance with an inspiring and thoughtful keynote. 14,000 marketing-hungry professionals attended the 4-days long conference, interacting for twelve hours a day.

    To sum up, the event organized by Hubspot was all about connecting and networking. Bold talks, training, new features presentations and keynotes: here you can find the 3 major takeaways we brought back home from #INBOUND15.

    Hopefully, you made it to the most important inbound marketing event out there. It was not all roses (i.e. the long lines and full rooms that forced many attendees to change their agenda at the very last second), but our overall opinion about #INBOUND15 is definitely positive.

    Clearly it'd be pretty difficult to recap the entire week in a single article, but we want to share a few key takeaways, for those who couldn’t be there - or are simply looking for marketing inspiration.

    1. INBOUND MARKETING IS A BIG THING

    One figure says it all: 14 thousand attendees from all over the world is enough to declare the huge success of the event. Looking at the agenda, you might say that #INBOUND15 has become more than just a marketing conference: Chelsea Clinton, Aziz Ansari, Brené Brown, Amy Schumer have little to do with marketing. They serve the only purpose to make it more appealing and 'fashionable'.

    That's true, but the cornerstone of the week was inbound marketing, no doubt about it. Despite some criticism, Boston's Convention Center proved to be a place full of ideas exchange and business networking.

    Of course, Hubspot platform and its brand-new features (ads, advanced reporting, Leadin, predictive lead scoring) took the lion's share; but there was plenty of space for sales, content marketing, social media, mobile apps, customer experience and the new rules of digital business.

    In the last five years or so, inbound marketing has become the major innovation trend in marketing, disrupting the way companies build meaningful digital customer experience. #INBOUND15 was the definitive recognition of this awareness, with a strong focus on how to identify the value of your brand to involve customers into a narration.

    2. CONTENT MARKETING IS STILL UNDERRATED

    A fair number of the sessions revolved around content marketing. Is it still important? Is it different after the advent of mobile technology? Most of all, is it still underrated and misunderstood? The answer to all is Yes. The are many die-hard myths and misconceptions about content, SEO and how to run a strategy for websites and social media.

    Ann Handley, author of "Everybody Writes", pointed out the three things every brands needs to bring content from good enough to really good to epic and memorable: bigger story, braver marketing and bolder voice. The biggest missed opportunity in content is playing too safe: customers demand smarter and engaging content, and the top challenge is more about the brain than budget.

    In "The Power of COS: Using Your Website Effectively in Your Inbound Marketing Strategy", Hubspot's Jeffrey Vocell identified the key factors to evolve and make the web presence really customer-centric. Relevance, speed, weight and security have become critical in the mobile era, and you must go for:

    a) Quality content; b) ready for visitors always, anywhere; c) relevant for different buyer personas; d) SEO optimized, UX-savvy and fully usable.

    And talking about SEO, Bill King's "The Changing Face of SEO" was spot-on, and pinpointed the problem exactly. Too many entrepreneurs still think optimization the old way, surrounded by myth that don't work with the latest search engine (r)evolutions. Truth is:

    • Keywords keep losing influence as Google focuses on other factors.
    • More content is not always better. Good content is customer driven, not just keyword focused.
    • Link building will not solve all your problems. Are you building positive and valuable relationships?
    • To rank 1 for a keyword is useless if you don't get qualified traffic and deliver memorable customer experience across all channels.

     

    Seth_Godin_Inbound15

    3. WE LIVE AND WORK IN A NEW ECONOMY

    Everything has changed in the last 20 years. Everything is still changing around us, right now. Customers already know this; now companies need to acknowledge the revolution. Two keynotes outlined this new economy: Seth Godin's opening speech and R "Ray" Wang's keynote about digital business disruption.

    At the beginning of this story – our story, brands’ story - we find the Internet. One single invention that leads a revolution in customers behaviors and business environment.

    Digital customers, empowered by technology, demand a completely new approach to marketing and sales, where ‘connect’ replaces ‘push’ in building relationships and driving conversions. When the smartphone entered our lives, the idea of time and space were totally rewritten: mobile devices have disrupted the core meaning of network, in the name of omni-presence and constant connectivity.

    Let's say it with Godin's words.

    What is the definition of success in this new economy?

    Success is not doing what has already been thought or done, not doing what others do or could do. Success is doing something that would make the others say ‘We would miss you if you wouldn’t do it’.

    What is the point of investing time and resources in building a customer experience strategy?

    The new economy of the Internet is not based on what you can make, but on who you can connect with. The point is to make change happens. And it can only happen when you do something that has never been done before. When you take responsibility."

    What defines a great entrepreneur or marketer?

    Only a fool does something brand new and says ‘It’s going to work for sure’. We need to maintain both ideas (It might work – It might not work) in our mind at the same time. The way we change the world is by doing something that might not work, not letting the others decide your agenda. Take responsibility.

    Moreover, above all, do we really need an answer to these questions?

    This new economy is not about how to win a race. It is about how we choose to matter. Reassurance is futile. There would never be enough if we rely on it. The question we should always ask ourselves is: How can I make change happen?

    In the connection economy, we are playing an infinite game. You don’t win. You can just connect and make things together. Together we can create value. When someone misses you and cares about you, that is the original social media. What is marketing now? We don’t do it for clicks and branded nonsense. We do it to help and change things.

    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 5 Content Marketing Facts You Need To Know (To Be Truly Epic)

    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:

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    App Store Optimization: A Brief Guide To Perfect Your Mobile Marketing

    app_store_optimization_aso

    Where do customers discover mobile apps? In 2015, is the app store still a critical success factor in mobile marketing strategy? Since the smartphone became our friendly companion, app store has proved itself a profitable marketplace for developers. However, is it still?

    With over 3 million mobile apps available in the major stores, getting an app discovered (and downloaded) is one of the biggest challenges facing publishers today. You need to know how to marketing your app, and app store optimization (ASO) is a very important method - yet still mostly overlooked.

    Right now, we all understand the value of search engine optimization (namely SEO) to deliver the best content properly ‘formatted’ through a website, blog and social networks. The only way to climb the rankings and sit where matters the most - the first page in Google’s SERP - is to follow the SEO best practices and improve customer experience.

    Optimization is the keyword both Apple and Google are focusing on, to win the mobile war and ensure that users find what they need, when they need it, wherever they are and whatever device they are using. Why this evolution should not be valid also for mobile app stores?

    A recent research by Google shows that, while apps are often discovered thanks to the opinion of friends, family or colleagues, stores still make the preferred channel to browse and scan thousands of alternatives.

    In the exact moment you develop and publish your app, you enter a fierce battle, competing with over 1.6 million competitors in both the Apple Store and the Google Play Store to conquer customers’ attention.

    WHAT’S APP STORE OPTIMIZATION?

    What is, in a few words, the ASO? It can be defined as “the process of optimizing mobile apps to rank higher in an app store’s search results. The higher your app ranks in an app store’s search results, the more visible it is to potential customers. That increased visibility tends to translate into more traffic to your app’s page in the app store.” (Kissmetrics)

    The goal of all your ASO efforts is evident: drive more qualified traffic to your page in the app stores, so users can convert, downloading your app.

    The download might be just the first step in a more complex mobile app marketing strategy but, if you are untraceable in the depths of app stores, you will not even make that first step. When customers are not able to find you, it is like you do not exist at all. This is the first (and only) rule of app store optimization.

    DO YOU REALLY NEED ASO?

    Of course, you can live without optimizing your presence - much like you can avoid any investment in SEO and content management. It is a choice many brands have taken, spending in paid promotions to boost downloads, but competition raises costs. How can you compete with companies that have hundreds of thousands in advertising budget?

    You can invest huge budgets in advertising and incentivized downloads, but that is not always a useful shortcut. You can spend all the money in this world to be first in line, but you must work to offer all useful information in a proper manner, or you will fall short anyway.

    Same as results pages on search engines, organic is the answer. Moreover, that is where app store optimization comes in handy. ASO is your bet to avoid high expenditure while receiving the best outcome.

    Optimization allows you to gain low-cost app visibility, increase the quality of your store page and boost downloads from quality users - increasing revenue in the process. With so many brands still overlooking optimization, ASO might become your secret weapon. Do you need further reasons?

    A BRIEF GUIDE TO ASO

    SEO and ASO are at the same time very similar (in tactics) and totally different (in scope).

    Here we describe the core components of app store optimization, but consider that Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and Windows Phone Store have slightly different rules.

    KEYWORDS - All relevant keywords for that specific app should be included in all strategic pieces of the page (name, app description, keywords tag), but stuffing your content with keywords, is a terrible mistake too many still don’t understand.

    CATEGORY - Choose the right category for your app, also based on the level of competition, to influence your ranking. Always keep an eye on competitors to learn what you should be doing in the store, and what you are doing wrong.

    VISUALS - The first thing that users see is your logo. Make sure it is iconic and unique. Even on the app page, visuals represent the main element to attract. The rule is simple: take advantage of screenshots and video trailer to describe the app and be memorable.

    PRICE - Is it price an internal ASO factor? Yes, because app stores often use prices to categorize, suggest and offer discounts. The app store homepage is your display window, make sure to put a price that make sense for what you offer.

    LOCALIZATION - your app must speak the same language your customers speak. Localization is critical to helping users decide whether that is the right app for them or not. Use description to explain all localized features.

    RATINGS - What is the first thing users look at when scrolling down an app list? Ratings and reviews. While they are out of your control, they can decide the fate of your app. Make sure to highlight positive reviews and always reply to negative comments.

    DOWNLOADS - of course, you do not have complete control on the total number of downloads, often considered and external factor. Nonetheless, it has a great impact on ASO and customers’ evaluation.

    BASIC ASO REQUIREMENTS

    Search engine optimization is not made to cheat the machine but to satisfy customers. The same way, the ultimate aim of store optimization is not to increase traffic but to make sure your app is discovered by relevant users.

    That said, ASO management requires that you fulfill few critical preconditions:

    • You will never optimize if you do not know who your digital customers are.
    • This knowledge is the base to understand the language spoken by those who search for your keywords.
    • Optimization takes time; customer engagement takes even more times.
    • Most of all: if your app is useless or badly designed, no optimization might save you from failure.

    Remember, ASO is not carved in stone. It is in constant motion.

    Store Optimization continues to become more sophisticated today than it was yesterday. In the future, Apple and Google will recognize install/uninstall rates, engagement, retention, and ratings/reviews data. This will allow app developers to focus optimization efforts on keywords, images, descriptions and, most importantly, on in-app user activity.” (Aykut Karaalioglu, CEO of Mobile Action, on Go-Mash)

    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 5 Content Marketing Facts You Need To Know (To Be Truly Epic)

    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:

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    4 SEO Ranking Trends That Will Define Your Brand In The Next Years

    What factors will define your rankings in the results pages from 2015 on? An aggressive link building strategy is still more important than quality content? What is the weight of mobile in the optimization best practices?

    These and many other questions come out of the hat every time Google and the other search engines make changes to their algorithm. As ranking factors evolve, so do digital strategies. The analysis of SEO ranking trends, therefore, needs to become an integral part of your marketing routine.

    The inspiration for this article comes from a recent research from Searchmetrics, which year after year analyzes in depth the structure of the algorithm. Search Ranking Factors 2015 is the perfect place to look for variations and signals that Google is changing the rules of search.

    Analyzing the top 30 search results for 10,000 relevant keywords on Google, the report aims to identify the key elements that high ranking websites have in common and provide insights and benchmarks for marketers.

    If you look back on what happened to the optimization in the last five years, you will notice remarkable changes in how SEO rules condition not only content strategy but also digital marketing strategy as a whole. 2015, in particular, has seen a massive change in the industry.

    Of course, we refer to the mobile-friendly update, already affecting the destiny of all companies involved in the online competition. The biggest consequence of the new algorithm is the awareness that mobile SEO is now critical to delivering a great customer experience.

    Why is SEO connected to customer experience? In the last decade or so, the Internet has disrupted the connection between brands and customers. The dawn of a new generation of clients - the digital customers - has forced marketers to review the purchase funnel, and adapt the customer journey map to include the digital touch points.

    Google suddenly turned out to be our main reference to share opinions, find product information and make purchases. Marketers have long struggled to keep up with the rules arbitrarily decided by Google and the other major players (Yahoo, Microsoft).

    The parameters of good search engine optimization were set up, but it was clear to all that this was not a ‘Word’ carved in stone. And then a second revolution happened: the Internet went out of the house, and the smartphone became the daily companion for all our activities.

    In 2015, the point of no return was passed, when mobile searches have overcome desktop searches. Now a broad 60% of the entire traffic on Google comes from mobile connections, with more than 80% of users using the smartphone as the favorite tool to search the Internet.

    The building and management of a positive branded experience are impossible if you don’t take the dynamics of mobile transformation into account. The mechanism created by the Big G, after all, adapts to changing times, and our times tell that mobile devices and empowered customers walk hand in hand.

    This relationship revolutionizes purchase behaviors and forces (again) marketers to embrace technology and innovate their digital strategy, in the name of an omni-channel presence, mobile first.

    Customers know what they want, and they want it now, easy and seamlessly. If you can satisfy their needs, and be always present when they ask for help, then you are halfway in your race to relevance.

    In the world where purchase decisions are mostly made with a tap or swipe on a smartphone screen, result page ranking equals the preference ranking in your customer’s mind. Your clients (actual and potential) will ultimately reward brands fully optimized for the mobile experience.

    From a quick overview of the Search Ranking Factors 2015 report, it is clear that Google is following its path with determination, stepping away from plain keywords and moving towards relevant content.

    Higher-ranking websites are those that try to understand the user’s intention and behavior as a whole, working to reflect these patterns in quality content and site structure. From here descend four major SEO ranking trends that will define your brand in the next years.

    RELEVANT CONTENT MATTERS

    The key finding is that factors associated with the quality of content have more weight year after year. Higher ranking pages tend to have more words, but quantity is useless without a proper organization. Content marketing, focused on customers’ needs, evolves in the name of relevance.

    As the number of digital touch points increases, a holistic approach seems the only appropriate to offer what users want when they want it. Mobile app development and social engagement optimization now contribute to content consistent and your presence coherent.

    MENTIONS REPLACE LINK BUILDING

    Forget the days when link building was the key to SEO paradise. The times of unnatural links are over, and also links in wider terms might be doomed. The number of backlinks to a page from external sources is still a factor correlated with ranking positions, but the overall importance is declining.

    At the same time, mentions are growing in relevance: whenever your brand is mentioned on websites other than yours (social media included), your ranking will increase. Again, you need to understand the user’s intention and ensure you optimize content for all platforms.

    USER EXPERIENCE IS CRITICAL

    The mobilegeddon has brought to light the need to optimized for the mobile customer experience. Your website - and online presence in general - must be fully usable, regardless the device. On average, 30% of sites that appear in the top 30 Google.com search results use responsive design to optimize the search experience.

    Responsive is critical, and it is now considered prerequisite, not something exceptional. Search habits are moving beyond the desktop; thus the emergence of mobile SEO, even more than just a website: social media, apps, e-commerce, app stores, blog, advertising.

    SEMANTIC SEARCH ENGINES

    Keywords have always been the basis of search engine optimization, yet their importance in the future will steadily decline. The problem is that marketers have learned to use them in a mechanical way, as a technical element more than the core of content.

    Keywords are becoming obsolete, and the focus on one or two short keywords is not your insurance against ranking drops. The evolution moves towards semantic search optimization, which focuses more on the meaning of content than on the content components like plain keywords.

    Google is more focused than ever on offering good quality contents, but SEO is - and will always be - a technical matter. On-page factors - such as title tag, meta description, and quick load - are still standard requirements that all high-ranking pages display (and that affect social pages too)

    You need to find the perfect balance between great content marketing and technical elements. Between customers’ needs and your business goals. Cheating with black hat SEO tactics won’t help you save a bad customer experience.

    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 5 Content Marketing Facts You Need To Know (To Be Truly Epic)

    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:

    Receive updates from Neosperiece:

    10 (+10) Content Marketing Tools To Boost Customer Engagement

    content_marketing_tools

    Content is king,” said Bill Gates in a prophetic article dating back to 1996. The Internet was a child, and mobile was yet to come, but he foresaw the importance of content curation to build a marketing strategy for the digital era.

    So, what is the purpose of content marketing? To attract and engage customers, delivering brand value in the process. As the number of players in the digital arena continues to grow, you need something to jump-start your output. You need content marketing tools that’ll help you boost customer engagement.

    Branded content curation has rapidly become one of the favorite tactics companies use to create awareness and word-of-mouth, that will lead - hopefully - to sales. This perspective is particularly true since the inbound marketing methodology has become standard, replacing worn-out and outdated outbound actions.

    Brands have become publishers, and the result is the proliferation of content, on social media and digital properties. Roughly 27 million pieces of content are shared on the web every single day, and brands challenge to retain customer attention. The attention invaluable, and replaces ‘space’ as the main element to succeed and pave the way for loyalty.

    You are defined today not by your products or services, but by your unique story. In the Age of the Customer, it’s content that helps craft a story about your company, drive your unique value and persuade clients that they should choose you over the others. Content is essential to deliver an amazing customer experience.

    Yet, there is one point too many marketers still miss: the most remarkable content is never product-based. If you want to attract, you need to offer a solution that puts together customers’ needs and company goals in one amazing piece of content.

    While you can take advantage of technology to improve productivity, you can’t rely on it to stand in for you in the content curation. While other parts of marketing are being increasingly automated, content is still very much a manual job.

    That being said, luckily there are plenty of content marketing tools out there to make the art of shaping great content much easier. Tools to pick up the perfect topic, to organize your daily routine, to find and share inspiration. In a few words, tools to set up a smooth content creation machine.

    FEEDLY

    The content curation process starts with finding inspiration, and that involves reading tons of insightful articles and blog posts. Since Google Reader has shut down, Feedly has become the best option to gather news from different sources in one place. You just need to create your feed, choosing your favorite sources and sorting content by topics.

    KEYWORD PLANNER

    If your content does not come out on search engines when customers enter your keywords, that’s a problem. There are plenty of fantastic tools to search the Internet - or scan your website - to find the perfect keyword for your piece of content, but Google Keyword Planner is the best, because it’s included in AdWords and connected to Analytics.

    Also try: KeywordTool

    TRELLO

    Content marketing without accurate planning is just a waste of time and resources. Trello is the (free) answer to managing everything from ideas to publishing calendar. It uses cards to streamline your content creation and gives you the ability to collaborate with your team using real-time feedback on what you create. A storage of potential articles, packed with links and notes.

    Also try: Evernote

    BUZZSUMO

    Do you want to gather ideas on a particular topic? Do you wish to understand what types articles get more shares on a specific industry? BuzzSumo is the ideal tool to find the most shared content and the key influencers to get inspiration. The downside is that you can only get a few insights with the free version, but it is surely worth the price.

    Also try: Ninja Outreach

    MINDMUP

    Sometimes you simply can’t untangle the skein of a topic, and you need a sort of map to solve the puzzle. MindMup enables you to put your ideas ‘on paper’ in the form of mind maps, to better understand what’s on track and what’s not working for your content strategy. A simple way to map out your brainstorm sessions and ideas.

    Also try: MindNode

    CANVA

    In the age of social media, visual content is critical to creating the ‘wow’ effect for your customers. Over the last months, all major social networks have raised the value of visual into their feed streams. With Canva, you can create your own in few easy steps: flyers, posters, infographics. A simple design software with a huge library of templates and assets that you can personalize.

    Also try: Easelly

    HEMINGWAY

    Even if English is your mother tongue, it doesn’t mean you can write effective content in a style that is concise but explanatory. Hemingway, inspired by Ernest Hemingway - well known for his style, will help you do exactly this: create easy to understand texts. Short, simple, and readable on mobility; this is the main requirement for online content.

    Also try: Grammarly

    GROWTH HACKERS

    Content marketing is not only about creation and curation. It is also about dissemination. You can create the best piece of content on earth but, if nobody reads it, then it is totally useless. Once you have published your blog post or article, you can spread the word using social media and communities like Growth Hackers, specifically dedicated to marketing and innovation topics.

    Also try: StumbleUpon

    PLACE IT

    Do you want to use visuals to promote your brand or products, but you don’t want to pay a graphic design studio do realize the video/picture. That’s when PlaceIt comes into play. The service lets you upload your own images into real-world environments, with a focus on people holding smartphones or laptops. You will save the time needed to learn or edit and receive a professional output.

    Also try: Magic Mockups

    GOOGLE ANALYTICS

    Data analysis is the beginning and the end of any content marketing strategy. Google Analytics is the benchmark, but you can test and try different tools to decide which one fits you best. Whether you need to find the perfect keywords, understand customer's behavior on your pages or study real-time statistics, this is the tool you can't live without. Content without stats is blind.

    Also try: Webtrends

    Now it's your turn. What do you think of these tools? Have you used them yet? Do you have other tools/apps to suggest? Comment to share your insights.

    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 10 Inspiring SlideShare Presentations To Improve Customer Experience

    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:

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    10 Digital Strategy Mistakes That Can Kill Your Marketing Efforts

    What are the secrets to a great digital strategy? We have entered a new era of marketing, yet digital strategy is still too often sidelined as the poor cousin of traditional planning. The next generation of customer experience requires a totally different approach.

    Even when digital is not overlooked, it still seems that many brands play the game not knowing why they are actually creating a strategy in the first place. This lack of analysis exposes them to (avoidable) mistakes that might kill their marketing efforts.

    If you search on Google, you find out tons of discussions about the best practices to shape an amazing digital strategy. In this time of constant technological (and social) changes, it is surely easier to specify what you should do, rather than point out what are the most critical digital strategy mistakes.

    While there is no magic recipe to fix all your customer experience troubles, analysts still prefer to focus on the virtuous practices that brands need to adopt to face the challenge of digital disruption. Talking about what's wrong exposes to a big task: critically analyze ourselves, our work and the results we have achieved to date.

    And that is exactly what we will do in this article: we have traced the 'worst practices', in other words the top 10 don'ts for developing a digital marketing strategy. Mistakes -small or big - that could cost you more than you think, doing harm more than good and reducing the power of your digital customer experience.

    Before going on with the list, we need to outline the scenario we all - brands and customers - live in. A world defined by few major changes:

    • The fragmentation of our daily life into a sequence of Micro Moments, inspired by specific needs and desires.
    • The passage from traditional consumers to empowered customers and the dawn of the new generation of digital customers.
    • The transformation of the traditional customer journey into a new, complex map across different devices and touch points.

    Only if you recognize these seeds of evolution, you will be able to adapt your strategy and compete for the most important element in the mobile era: customer engagement and loyalty.

    We are facing a revolution driven by mobile technology, where traditional marketing patterns and methodologies are not effective anymore. Old and static strategies won't help your company to adapt and grow in a dynamic scenario shaped by smartphones, smartwatches, wearables, iBeacons, and virtual reality.

    A new era is always full of opportunities, but also threats. What decides whether you succeed or not is your ability to catch the rainbow and avoid the pitfalls.

    That is the reason why you should carefully take note of the 10 digital strategy mistakes. They will help you create an amazing digital customer experience.

    YOU BECOME SPAM

    Do you know who is your digital customer? The inbound methodology is all about attracting rather than pushing communications. When you send out emails, post on social media or create any other kind of company content, you need to target the right customers at the right moment (specific buyer personas). In the mobile era, talking to everybody equals talking to nobody, and that the 'spammer' label is easily taken.

    YOU JUST WASTE MONEY

    The creation of buyer personas and the mapping of the customer journey should not be intended as a mere speculative analysis. Too many companies focus their efforts on ineffective actions or technologies not suited to their specific industry. When you don't know your customers, and ignore the evolution of social dynamics, you only pave the way to bad customer experience.

    YOU FORGET CUSTOMERS

    We are submerged in an ecosystem where the digital customer is the key to deliver amazing experiences. All your efforts should start from - and be dedicated to - that customer. Your brand is valued not just for what you produce or sell but even more for the experience you create and the story you narrate. Underestimate customer behavior and the door to their heart and mind will be out of reach.

    YOU DON'T TAKE RISKS

    New strategies, new actions, new approaches. Whatever makes you different from competitors could be your winning point. Marketers should benever afraid of embracing the change. You can't rely on the 'no change is good change' philosophy anymore. Mobile disruption opens huge opportunities, you just need to pick what is best for you (just think about innovations like the Apple Watch, mobile payments or the HealthKit).

    YOU DON'T OPTIMIZE CONTENT

    The best way to drive away the customers' attention is to create a 'one-fits-all' content, regardless the audience and the channel you are using. Content marketing in the social era is a science you can't improvise. The ideal content tailored for empowered customers should answer to two priorities: right-time personalization and content customized with context (geofencing, location-based, iBeacons).

    YOU ARE NOT MOBILE-FRIENDLY

    There is no digital strategy without a mobile presence. Be it just a responsive site or a complete omni-channel approach (with proper mobile app development), you need to become a mobile-friendly brand. Customers live connected 24/7, using the smartphone to search and buy. With the recent change in Google's search engine algorithm, if you don't optimize your presence for mobile it's like you don't exist at all.

    YOU UNDERESTIMATE SOCIAL MEDIA

    Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Vimeo. You can't build a proper content marketing if you ignore the power of social networks. The rules to reach social success are very simple: be real (but not too much); follow the stream; engage (using visual to stay epic); connect with your followers. Doing social media the right way is the best insurance to win their trust and fix a defective customer experience.

    YOU DON'T TEST & LEARN

    Digital marketing is a matter of test and try, starting from the solid grounds of predictive analytics and customer behavior analysis. Constant testing helps you choose between two (or more) options when it comes to actions aimed to engagement and lead generation. A common mistake is to think that testing is something you do just once in a while. Never take the result as carved in stone. Loyalty evolves with technology, and your strategy should evolve accordingly.

    YOU DON'T USE DATA

    With the spread of smart object, customer live in constant connection. This eventually leads to a huge amount of information about customer habits and purchase behaviors, in addition to data about markets and competitors. Having data in your hands has no utility in itself. In the era of Big Data, you only succeed when you can dive through this vague quantity of numbers and statistics and convert them into reliable marketing actions.

    YOU DON'T MEASURE

    Once you have your marketing machine set up, don't think that the job is done. Actually, that is just the beginning. How could you know if everything is going as planned? Measuring your efforts, of course. The Internet gives you a wide range of technologies and tools when things work and what you need to change. To adapt budget and KPIs. Pick up one (i.e. analytics dashboard) and learn from your mistakes.

    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Customer Engagement - 5 Things Sports Can Teach You About Loyalty

    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:

    Editor's Note: This post was originally published in October 2014 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy with the latest trends and advancements of digital marketing and mobile technology.

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    Top 5 Social Media Mistakes That Can Kill Your Brand

    Long gone are the days when social media were the most underrated element of the marketing funnel. Even old-fashioned B2B companies now acknowledge the value of their presence on Facebook & Co.

    The fact that everyone is online and social, however, doesn’t mean that brands have a better understanding of what makes a successful social strategy. Many still get it wrong, committing brand social media mistakes that might kill their company.

    The reason behind the increasing interest in social networks is they have a huge potential for businesses looking to improve inbound marketing and increase their reach, traffic and leads. What started as a battle of likes, shares, retweets and pins (with undefined ROI measuring) has quickly evolved into a customer experience matter.

    Actual figures even go beyond the wildest expectations analysts had just five years ago. According to Gartner, “global revenue from social media - composed of advertising, games and subscription revenue - will reach 29 billion dollars by 2015 up from 7 billion in 2010, increasing fourfold in five years.

    While brand reputation, engagement and customer delight still make the primary reason why top managers decide to bring their company online, social media are quickly evolving into something more complex than just entertainment. They can help you fix bad customer experience, being now integral part of your customer journey.

    Social commerce is just the latest - and inevitable - trend in digital marketing. It’s no secret that all major social networks are working on implementing buy buttons: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, they all aim at increasing advertising shares and making users buy without leaving the site (or the app).

    Retail industry advised: social media may still only drive a small share of total online sales, but their impact is already impossible to ignore. There is not other online channel driving bigger increases in retail traffic (+200% in the first quarter of 2015, according to a new report by Business Insider).

    More than desktop computers and laptop, the smartphone has become the perfect habitat for social media to display full potential. On figures, together with games, social communities are the most downloaded and profitable mobile apps. Even traditional e-commerce firms are changing skin to resemble the idea of 'network'.

    In the digital era, social networks and mobile technology go hand in hand towards a (not-so-future) customer experience where clients will instinctively buy what they want, whenever they want, simply by tapping on a product included in the social news flow.

    With this in mind, it’s no wonder that social media spending is projected to grow steadily in the next years. In their State of Marketing 2015 report, Salesforce stated that:

    • 70% of marketers plan to boost social media ad spend;
    • 70% of marketers plan to increase budgets on organic social media marketing;
    • 66% of the marketers confirm that social media is now core to their business, with a dedicated team in place.

    It is of utmost importance that your brand and products are always available, across all touch points of the journey map, whenever people take action in the decisive micro moments of mobile purchase decision.

    Sales, engagement, loyalty: you should never ignore the power of social networks. You can only disregard Facebook & Co. at your own risk. Why social media are so important in the Age of the Customer? Here are just few benefits of a well-designed social presence:

    • Reputation management;
    • Targeted marketing;
    • Product launch;
    • Right-time personalization;
    • Profiled advertising;
    • Authority building;
    • Gamification dynamics;
    • Crisis management.

    Social media marketing requires a strategic approach, not a rough-and-ready mentality. There are hundreds of pages dedicated to the embarrassing (and sometimes tragically funny) mistakes social media managers do while trying to be smart, funny or amusing.

    Branded social presence online is a full time commitment, a game with very specific rules and harsh penalties. Just log into your Facebook account and you will see how many companies still treat their page as a ‘plus’, something they do because everyone else in doing.

    But the social media world is not all about sunshine and rainbows. There’s a fair amount of pitfalls and traps that might ruin the entire structure of your digital marketing strategy, that might put your brand image at risk. If you don’t learn how to avoid them.

    Here are the 5 social media mistakes - you probably do without knowing - that can kill your brand.

    Want to Be Everywhere

    The first and most common mistake is the will to be everywhere, regardless of the actual benefit and value. Many companies open accounts and build pages without considering the difference between the social networks. Pinterest is not Facebook; Twitter is not LinkedIn. They have specific rules, and they don't necessarily fit your brand identity and marketing purposes. Don't try to be on every single network that exists.

    Post Randomly (and Pray)

    Consistency is the most disregarded keyword in the social ecosystem. When you try to be everywhere without specific plan, it's like throwing a wooden stick in the air, hoping that someone is there to catch it. You want to establish yourself as a thought leader, a reference for your customers, but you will never do it if you just randomly post unorganized content, praying for shares and likes.

    Consider Social a Side Thing

    Social media should be integrated in your digital customer experience. This is the only way to reach effective engagement and retain customers' loyalty. If you consider social management outside the context of your omni-channel marketing routine, your business will never be social in nature. If that happens, you will never see results, no matter how high is the budget you spend on it.

    Treat Customers as One

    The old idea of broad target groups of consumers subject to your push communication is now out of time. The greatest consequence of social networks on marketing is exactly the creation of a two-way communication, mostly bottom up. Too many brands treat all fans as one big entity instead of individually unique. Sure, targeting still happens, but the connection with customers should never be dehumanized. Answer promptly, with a human touch.

    Pay, Promote and Spam

    Success on social media is not about the numbers. How many followers or like you have on your page doesn't really matter if people is not engaged in a productive conversation. Yet many managers still rely on cold numbers to measure and allocate resources. The ultimate purpose of social media strategy is not to collect more fans than your competitor, nor to fill the page with self-promotional useless contents.

    In the digital era, there's a fine line between being social and being spam.

    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 5 Content Marketing Facts You Need To Know (To Be Truly Epic)

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    5 Digital Marketing Lessons From Game Of Thrones

    game_of_thrones

    Now that the fifth season of Game of Thrones is behind our back, millions of fans (just like us) are trying to recover from the absolute jaw-dropping finale. Shock is the only constant in George R. R. Martin’s epic series.

    If there a TV show out there that can teach us something about the world of digital marketing, that is HBO’s Game of Thrones.

    Before starting, a necessary ‘spoiler alert’. While in this article we will avoid references from the finale, it may still include some spoilers from previous seasons of the show.

    Despite all controversies about the actual contents of the series (too many naked scenes, too many gruesome deaths), there is no doubt at all that Game of Thrones is a great brand, probably one of the best Tv productions ever created.

    And it not just great programming, but also an amazing opportunity to learn few lessons about the art of marketing in the digital era. Taking a ride in Westeros you can find remarkable insights, hidden in the intricate plot twists, the raw dialogues, the extreme characterization of all elements.

    It’s no surprise to us that both the novels and the Tv series have gathered legions of faithful supporters, particularly among the youngest (the so-called millennials). Armed with the inseparable smartphone, they are picky customers, demanding and extremely hard to please.

    Customers of the ‘post digital transformation era’ know what they want and waste no time looking for your brand. Either you’re there when they need it or you don’t exist at all. They ask for exciting experiences, stories that jump off the screen and inspire loyalty. And Lannister, Targaryen and Stark have pleased them all.

    In fact, the Game of Thrones brand has everything needed to appeal digital customers:

    Another season has come to an end; ten episodes full of emotional turmoils. And now we will all have to wait in the cold for another year, wondering what the author and the producers have in store for the next season. Nobody knows who will win the Iron Throne, but one thing's sure: the story will raise the bar, even more.

    While we ponder, it’s also worth considering why - as marketers - we’re so enthralled by the destiny of the Westeros. Game of Thrones’ massive success is more than a simple fortunate event. It’s a well planned strategy. Here are 5 digital marketing lessons we can learn from Game of Thrones.

    BRACE YOURSELF, GOOGLE IS COMING

    We start by borrowing the motto of House Stark, "Winter is Coming". If you’re a fan of the show, you know that Stark is the most ill-fated family of the whole world depicted by Martin. The deep meaning behind these words is one of warning and vigilance. Even when things are good, you must always be ready for unexpected changes.

    What’s the greatest marketing challenge in the Internet era? To get noticed by Google and recognized as the first reference to fulfill customers’ needs. Google algorithm, with the mobile-friendly update, could be ‘winter’ for your mobile marketing if you can’t deal with the Mobilegeddon. Knowledge is power: stay in control by staying up to date.

    CONTENT IS CONSTANT WAR

    In the first season of the show, Cersei Lannister offers one of her most chilling warning: "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” Same with content marketing, the ground you build amazing customer experience on.

    In an inbound marketing perspective, empowering customers means being what they want to consume, the best resource they find in the purchase process. Game of Thrones gives hints: create an epic storytelling, always exceed expectations and make customers anxiously wait for what’s next.

    LOYALTY IS THE KEY TO WIN

    Varys ‘The Spider’ explains the two principles that guide most people in Westeros: “Those who are loyal to the realm, and those who are loyal only to themselves.” The world of Westeros is based on one simple fact: every single person is loyal to someone.

    Every business wants loyal customers, the key to succeed in the long term. Customer retention is cheaper than acquisition, but way harder to get. You need to be customer obsessed and give people a reason to keep coming back to you: loyalty programs, gamification dynamics, a remarkable customer experience.

    ALWAYS DELIVER YOUR PROMISE

    The entire Game of Thrones plot revolves around the story of someone who makes a promise and tries to deliver it, no matter how hard it is. The Lannistersalways pay their debts”; Brienne of Tarth tries to protects Catelyn’s daughters; Arya Stark wants to avenge his father’s death.

    At the core of every brand there’s a distinctive promise: what you are is what you ultimately deliver to your customers. Every single touch point of the customer journey is shaped by your ability to deliver that promise. In the Age of the Customer, when you sell your products, you always sell yourself too.

    NEVER UNDERESTIMATE ENEMIES

    Knowledge is power”, says Petyr Baelish'Littlefinger' to Cersei. If you know what your enemies are doing, then you’re always one step ahead. The game of the throne is played with swords and shields, but also with strategy and analysis. Only the weak has no knowledge.

    To stay top of mind, you should know what everyone else is doing and, most important, you should never underestimate your competitors (just look at the ‘retail vs e-commerce’ war). If you know who your competition is, what they offer and how they engage with customers, you can get ideas and discover opportunities.

    And remember: in this ever-changing scenario, disrupted by innovative technologies, you can’t rest on your laurels.

    You know nothing, Jon Snow”.

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    5 Content Marketing Facts You Need To Know (To Be Truly Epic)

    viral_social_media_post

    A great customer experience always lies on great content marketing. With digital transformation in full swing, content has become the new focal point in the overall brand marketing effort.

    Great content is never static. It moves with society and technology. In the wake of recent trends, we have traced 5 content marketing facts you absolutely need to know. And yes, they are all true.

    In the last decade mobile technology has had a considerable effect in increasing the points of contact between brands and customers. You website is still the primary digital business card you have, but not the only one. The spread of digital properties makes it mandatory to focus efforts - and money - on your online and mobile customer experience.

    "Roughly 27 million pieces of content are shared on the web every single day."(AOL, Nielsen)

    That number will only continue to grow, showing the role of epic content as true king of the marketing landscape. Would you spend your - low - budget on traditional advertising rather than the set-up of a smooth ‘content creation machine’?

    It’s a fact that inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads than traditional outbound marketing.

    Content marketing has flipped the traditional marketing models from the push paradigm to pull.” (Jeff Bullas)

    Marketing for the Age of the Customer can’t even exist without content. In the pre-Internet age ‘space’ was the main element of competition; today brands challenge to retain ‘attention’. The attention of customers is critical to succeed in crowded markets and pave the way for trust and loyalty.

    The following stats highlight how competitive content will be in the next years:

    • Content marketing (30%) is considered the most commercially important digital marketing trend for 2015; more than big data (14.6%) and marketing automation (12.8%) (Smart Insights);
    • Marketers now spend 25% of their budgets on content marketing, and 78% of CMO’s think custom and personalized content is the future of marketing (Yahoo Advertising);
    • 86% of companies are doing content marketing, but 56% admits they do not have a defined strategy for it (Content Marketing Institute);
    • 53% of marketers rank content creation as the single most effective SEO tactic (NewsCred).

    Quality is the most important factor you should focus on to increase conversion rates in the inbound marketing perspective. Remember: remarkable content is never product-based; it’s a solution that puts together customers’ needs/desires and company goals.

    Content marketing is not about luck; it’s about producing and distributing relevant content, to deliver your message, strenghten your brand identity and empower your customers.

    You are your content, and what you share is what you narrate about yourself. That becomes even more true now that you deal with customers that spend most of their time sharing thoughts and opinions on social networks, using their mobile devices.

    Smartphones, tablets, and - last, but not least - the Apple Watch, disrupt the way people communicate and, consequently, how brands build engagement. And content marketing is a puzzle with many moving parts:

    • Start with finding your true why - your vision and mission;
    • Build upon your archetype - the foundation of brand identity;
    • Blend storytelling and technology - evolve to involve;
    • Involve different channels - blog, social media, email marketing, online advertising;
    • Use content to deliver highly personalized experiences at the right time.

    If you want to create an amazing digital customer experience, all pieces of your content marketing need to match perfectly. Relationships rely on honest, relevant communication across all touch points of the customer journey. And the content you create is your first line of communication with prospects and potential leads.

    So, what does the actual landscape look like? Here are the 5 content marketing facts we have promised. They might not surprise you, but it’s way more surprising how many companies still ignore them.

    NEED A PLAN?

    Just like anything else in life and business, you need a plan to create a competitive content strategy. You can’t just throw online articles, blog articles and social posts, expecting that customers come to you miraculously. That will never happen, and even Google won't notice you. Coherence and consistency, these must be your keywords.

    MIND THE COST

    Don’t think that it all comes down to being creative. Yes, the ability to stand out and delight customers with unique content is priceless, but content marketing has a cost (usually 33% of all marketing budget). Not all content is good: you need ideas, you need expert people, you need technology and software. You do need a budget.

    BE SHEARABLE

    As Hubspot says, “Distribution is what makes content relevant for a specific buyer persona.” Creating invaluable content is useless when nobody reads it. Be sure that you design 'shearable' contents: Nielsen research reveals that users share content when it is trustworthy, helpful, current, relevant, and easy to access on all devices. Or it's about cats.

    MEET THE EYE

    Internet is a huge database of information. How can you attract customers with your piece of content evenly distributed around the web? Remember that any channel has its own rules: information and delight might come from long articles but the most loved pieces of content are infographics, engaging videos and amazing visuals. Be epic!

    STAY SOCIAL

    By 2016, there will be an estimated 2.13 billion social network users around the globe (Statista). One numbers says it all. While a mobile optimized website and blog are still the core of your online identity, if you want to connect with customers on all levels you have to rely on the power of social relations. And if your company still refuses to have a social account … well, you are in trouble.

    Blogging, online advertising, social sharing, mobile apps, gamification dynamics, notifications, in-store promotions: they are all based on great content.

    What matters is that big companies are embracing big content, and in so doing they are changing the expectations of YOUR customers. Whether you like it or not.” (Jay Baer)

    Do you still deny the value of content marketing?

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    Why Digital Customer Experience Is More Than a Website

    woman_using_mobile

    The website is dead, long live the website. In the Age of Mobile, designed by the emergence and spread of the smartphone, digital branding is more than a fancy website.

    By 2020 there will be 6.1 billion mobile users, leading the mobile charge despite the rise of new mobile-based services. Multiple assets come into play to shape a compelling digital customer experience, and the website is just one piece of the puzzle.

    According to the latest Mobility Report by Ericsson, by the end of this decade smartphones will account for 80 percent of all mobile data traffic. Some 70 percent of the entire world’s population will be using smartphones. This figures help you measure how critical mobile devices (smartwatch and wearables included) are becoming to how people communicate and connect with others and brands.

    BEYOND THE WEBSITE

    Not so long ago, digital assets basically revolved around a website made to show the brand identity and gather page views. In a rush, every company wanted to be online, without a reasonable understanding of what mobile really means. That ultimately led to digital for digital’s sake, with no vision or long term digital marketing plan.

    Vanity was the keyword. The online presence was a mere showcase, with no feedback or two-way communication; the customer experience was optional and real engagement almost impossible. Until social networks and the smartphone came in to disrupt business and bring both customers and brands into the Age of Mobile. And Google changed the rules to bring the web in our hands.

    Since then, we have witnessed a discrepancy in how people and organizations have faced the digital transformation: while customers go digital, embracing the mobile revolution and adopting smartphones as first screen, companies still struggle to think and act mobile-first, and even to adapt their website to the mobile friendly algorithm.

    With clients empowered by technology, a pretty facade can’t hide the lack of tangible digital assets management. If you aim at encouraging real engagement and customer retention, you need to start from those 2.6 billion smartphone subscriptions. And the website is not enough.

    THE MOBILE SHIFT

    The definition of digital experience already involves a multi-faceted digital customer journey, not necessarily starting from your website. The mobile and social shift has one huge consequence: markets become conversations, customers turn into stakeholders and companies transform into publishers.

    Most frequently, the tipping point of the online experience is not the branded website. Customer-facing apps, search queries and advertising, blog posts, landing pages, social media, e-commerce: you need to preside over all pieces of content around the net to build your storytelling and deliver your promise.

    Being true to yourself, in the mobile age, goes beyond a responsive website. It implies a continuous work on all channels to offer a complete, omni-channel experience across digital touch points. The user experience gets absorbed in the digital customer experience and mobile becomes the bridge to connect online and physical worlds.

    CONTENT GOES MOBILE

    All elements must be well-coordinated and all departments must work together to deliver the best experience possible. One missing piece and the result will be a bad customer experience. Technology is relevant to define the outline of this new omni-channel journey, but you will miss the point if you focus first on technology.

    The best way to guide people across the conversion funnel is to offer distinctive content and fulfilling relations; your digital properties are just tools, not the purpose. High‑quality and relevant content marketing - verbal, video, visual - is a primary driver, fundamental for the customer experience to be interesting and ultimately cost-effective.

    And your content should spread across all digital media. Marketers often distinguish between paid, earned, and owned media. Tools are different, the goal is the same: to generate awareness and engage customers with an amazing customer experience.

    THE UNIFIED EXPERIENCE

    It is now widely accepted that the experience will soon be the main brand differentiator, and the primary field of competitions for innovative companies. As a consequence, influence and control have shifted from technical IT departments: marketers will soon spend more than IT on technology innovation (Gartner).

    Marketing, IT, employees, management, customer service, front and back office: truth is, all branches of the organization have - or should have - one objective. In the inbound methodology, this objective can be translated in the ‘Attract, Convert, Close, Delight’ process.

    Why customer experience can't be lessen to a website? Because clients of the Age of the Customer want to be empowered, and demand that your company can be accessed anytime, anywhere from any device. You will be able to empower people only by matching these areas:

    • Technology -responsive website *and* customer-facing app, taking advantage of a native user experience, iBeacon, mobile payments, virtual reality, Internet of Things;

    • Content - personalized and tailored to specific buyer personas and buyer's journey stage);

    • Context - every piece of content must be suitable for the specific context, so that data can align closely with customer needs;
    • Relations - even automation needs a human touch, because buying experiences are based on how customers feel they are being treated.

    Online or offline, web pages or retail stores, it makes no difference. The customer wants to connect with a unified experience. Behind a compelling digital customer experience there are many different components, but what people see is the final picture.

    Today, organizations come across the challenge of retaining their customers with a fully integrated system that goes far beyond the website. To offer the complete experience to every customer, on every screen, start by choosing the right partner that combines the best techniques of mobile, content, social and cloud.

    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: The Evolution Of Mobile Customer Experience - 4 Steps To Improve

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    Customer Delight: 5 Steps To Deliver Engaging Experiences

    happy_customer_delight

    Do you have what it takes to engage customers? To connect with them on an emotional level and promote a positive reactions?

    This is the basic requirement of customer delight: the willingness to go above and beyond normal relations in order to provide a customer experience that will leave an indelible impression.

    Customer delight is not (just) a strategy; it is a business asset in markets where clients demand a leading role. It is so critical, in fact, that you should paint it on your walls and make it the core of company culture.

    True customer obsessed companies never underestimate the power of delight. The emotional reaction is what allows you to transform average experiences into amazing experiences, leading to positive word of mouth and laying the ground for genuine engagement.

    If you want to overcome the challenge in crowded competition, you should never settle for the minimum required. You must establish a unique identity, rooted into the ability to exceed expectations.

    Customer delight happens exactly when you amaze a customer by exceeding his or her expectations. And it’s not just an abstract thought: delight directly affects sales and the return on investment of your digital marketing strategy, working as a major factor of distinction for your company and its products and services.

    In the Age of the Customer, every brand works hard to offer high quality products and positive customer experience. In one word, they strive to meet customers’ expectations.

    But this is only the starting point if you want to delight customers, an ideal place where needs and desires are not only met, but met in such a way that exceeds all expectations.

    The art of cultivating happy customers is grounded on 3 pillars (according to Hubspot):

    • Innovation - to serve people in the best way possible;

    • Communication - to be personal rather than impersonal;

    • Education - to empower people and create great company culture.

    In the conversion path, delight has a specific place: it is usually considered the last step of the inbound methodology loop, right after Attract, Convert, Close. Despite being the closing element, delight does not only applies to the post-conversion stage.

    In fact, it should be inherent to all moments of the process and touch points of the customer journey map. The experience they bear in mind and bring with them during the connection with your brand - and even when they’re doing something else - is formed by every interaction customers have with you, both in the digital and physical world.

    Interactions with brand (i.e. content marketing), interactions with objects and technology (i.e. the Internet of Things), interactions with people (i.e. customer service): while the element of delight can be created by the product itself, there is no doubt that the overall omni-channel experience is the real critical element to exceed expectations.

    Experience and delight are so closely connected that you will never reach true engagement and loyalty if you can't build and deliver an amazing customer experience. Companies usually spend to improve their products and the acquisition process; as a result, sometimes customers feel left out.

    The quality of your outcome is direct consequence of how much your organization is aligned around the centricity of customers. If your employees are disaffected, your clients will be too. Engagement is always employee engagement in the first place. There is no customer delight without delighted employees.

    Delight should be treated as a competitive advantage to transform average customers into loyal promoters. The key is the ability to establish trust and interest, and create a long term relationship. Remember: customer retention is always cheaper than acquisition (at least 6 times cheaper, according to recent reports).

    So, how can you be sure you’re actually exceeding expectations? Start with these 5 steps to deliver customer delight.

    1. Listen to what customers say - instead of walking in the fog, always listen to your customers before planning and executing your strategy (or launching a new product). Try to create something truly useful and delightful for those who actually experience it.

    2. See through customer’s eyes - more often than not, customers know brands better than they do themselves. This is a critical point: to deliver a positive experience, you need to wear your customers' shoes, to understand what they see when they look at you.

    3. Be coherent, be flexible - customer experience is (almost) never a matter of black and white. Flexibility is important to adapt to changes and adopt new technologies and methodologies. Of course, you should never betray your brand identity, your true why.

    4. Always give a little more - the rule is to offer customers what they want, when they want it, wherever they are. But competitors, they do it too. To stand out and become top choice, always deliver something more, something unexpected. Tell them what they don't know yet.

    5. Give customers space - the times of one-way communication from companies to consumers are well behind us. Empowered customers expect to be main characters of your brand story. Engage them with gamification and user generated contents to enable immediate digital advocacy.

    And remember, the effort to delight customers should never replace the main focus of any successful company: improve the service and deliver the best customer experience they will ever have.

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