Why Brand Success Means Cultivating Your Community

community

At its inception, a company pitches its core product ad nauseam, believing fervently in its potential to boost revenue and change buyer’s lives. It’s in that honeymoon period of development that a brand wants the general public to find them attractive, fun and dare we say, sexy.

Straying from the core product

What often happens, as with human relationships, is the first blush eventually fades and once said bees are in the honeypot, there is no need to continue to cultivate that interest. A common example of this is Facebook, whose core product is the “social network.”

Initially, It was sold as a place where people could come together as a digital community, but still create a snapshot of intimacy.

It started that way but as it morphed into the social behemoth it has become, turning that massive collection of personal data into revenue is Facebook’s new flavour of the month — leading to a loss in engagement from its once sole interest, real people.

“The fundamental confusion with Facebook is that it increasingly talks about itself as a community platform, but that is not the reality,” Benji Vaughan, chief executive at Disciple Media told The Guardian. “Do users feel part of a community when they are there? I have reservations about whether they do. Facebook’s core purpose is to sell targeted content to individuals. All its issues begin there.”

Maintaining the community 

As we move into the age of chatbots and neural networks, it seems robotically imitating humans or viewing them as merely data sources are becoming more important than actually helping their flesh and blood counterparts. “Sometimes the limitation of AI just reflects the lack of knowledge of the people who implement these solutions: they might not know much about the business operations and products and are sometimes glorified coders,” writes Data Science Central. A clear indication that technology always begins and ends with human beings.

When it comes to how digital enterprises interact with their human base, a growing trend to fix the overemphasis on data acquisition is personalisation. Putting the value of customer data back into improving the customer experience has proved to be fruitful. “The Harvard Business Review states that personalisation can reduce extra costs by 50%, lift revenues by 5-15%, and increase the efficiency of marketing spend by up to 10-30%,” says Digital Marketing Magazine.

Also, the value of community is inarguable. A southern African humanist philosophy called “Ubuntu” is centered on this concept. “It is a demand for a creative intersubjective formation in which the ‘other’ becomes a mirror (but only a mirror) for my subjectivity,” describes Michael Onyebuchi Eze in his book, Intellectual History in Contemporary South Africa.

Staying true to this sense of community, seeing a buyer base as a reflection of a core product is a proven key to both increased retention and conversion. A great example of this, when Coca-Cola decided to put people’s names on bottles as a part of their “Share a Coke” campaign, they saw an increase in US sales for the first time in ten years.


Cultivating the consumer interest that grew a product in the first place could be the secret to success and finding technology that can help with that is ready to be utilised.

Via: The Guardian, Digital Marketing Magazine, Data Science Central, Marketing Tech News. 

A Few Integrations Aimed At Improving Customer Relationships

Meeting customer expectations during a purchase journey now require segmenting and analysing a large pool of data to create a workflow that will hopefully nurture leads and make ideal use of a consumer’s time. Luckily the technology is there to manage these intricacies for digital enterprises. We’ve touched on integrations before and this round we’re looking at a few that can step up your CRM game.

Maximise your advertising lifecycle with cross-platform measurement

Making an impact is the basis of every campaign but managing the multiple platforms used by consumers can confuse the metrics a bit, leading to a short-sighted campaign. Cross-platform measurement systems have revolutionised how businesses understand their various datasets. Before this introduction, it was difficult to keep up with consumer behaviour as it nimbly adapted to the changing technologies. However, platforms like comScore have altered the campaign process starting with data scale first and going from there. “We believe that scale drives quality,” comScore CEO Fulgoni told MediaPost. “You can’t start with a panel and build up on it.” Scale is vital especially in a world where multiple screens are utilised at one time, by measuring the overall impact of a fragmented digital media environment, it’s easier to build an ironclad campaign.
Learn more about Freespee’s comScore integration here.

Become a conversion hero

Optimising a website for higher conversion rates is a very complicated way of describing how to make a site desirable to droves of click-happy people — whether it be buying something or spending a length of time researching a car. Conversions are when customers follow through, creating a desirable space for this to happen is a priority for most online-centric businesses. WPO stats found that 53% of visits to mobile sites are abandoned after 3 seconds according to research from Google’s DoubleClick. Technology offered by a platform such as Webtrends Optimize uses both A/B testing and more in-depth multivariate testing to boost the customer’s experience across multiple screens and units. The testing is whittled down to even the colour button an audience prefers clicking. In this digital age, figuring out what your customers want is based on more than just a gut feeling, delving into the incidentals of their online interactions is essential to upping that conversion rate.
Learn more about Freespee’s WebTrends integration here.

Figure out where your digital spend is most effective

Knowing whether programmatic advertising has any punch is down to the numbers, but often with a highly competitive digital environment plus separation of online and offline data pools, it can be difficult to achieve an accurate bottom line.
Additionally, “You’re fighting for customers on a digital battlefield where Google and Facebook command nearly 80% of internet time and over 60% of online ad dollars,” says Marin Software. With this in mind elevating advertisement performance is the first step towards victory, delivering dynamic campaigns targeted at specific customers can make it easier to understand where the revenue derived from those ads is coming from. Custom-made algorithms can automatically adjust set budgets per top performing audiences, helping brands save money and refocus on lucrative client pools.
Learn more about Freespee’s Marin Software integration here.


These are only a few of our integrations up for grabs. Check more of Freespee’s multiple integrations on our website.
Via: MediaPost, The Drum, WPO Stats.

IoT And Call Centers: The Current State Of Customer Interaction

pixabay/IoT

Now call centers are called contact centers and agents are tackling more data than ever before. We can partly blame this phenomenon on IoT, (Internet of Things).

What is Internet of Things?

The ubiquitous IoT means a network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity which enables these objects to connect and exchange data.
Its a term conceived way back in the eighties, but the concept found legs in the early noughties thanks to Kevin Ashton, co-founder of MIT’s Auto-ID Center when he began considering using RFID to connect devices.
Eventually, the future of device interconnection became more of a reality — with the introduction of city-wide WiFi networks. Now, we can’t imagine a world without it.

Call centers and IoT

Though the two wouldn’t usually seem interconnected, they have a relationship of playing catch-up. As customer needs and devices expand so should the technology offered by a customer care hub. Many organisations are taking heed.
“Research of more than 350 executives and managers conducted by ICMI and Oracle finds that 57 percent of respondents say their organisations intend to support IoT/connected technologies within the next six to 12 months, in a 21 percent jump from today. And while only 35 percent of organisations currently use AI, 85 percent of respondents would like to see their companies expand its use or adopt it,” according to 1to1 Media.
The role of a call center agent has changed too thanks to IoT; support teams are taking on a prolific roster of skills, now customer data is derived from multiple sources such as Facebook, Twitter, smartphones, iPads, etc. In response to this, teams are spearheading strategy for “marketing, branding and customer engagement.”

Legacy systems

Integrating IoT into a legacy call management system is a challenge facing businesses making the transition to a digital enterprise. Many believe that wiping the slate clean before implementing new technology is the right path.

However, that’s just not the case; now many new cloud comm platforms have instead built systems able to integrate into a company’s existing stack. “By adopting the approach of adding an IoT layer, enterprises can keep costs down and reap the benefits of IoT in a way that makes sound business sense,” say Evolve.

For their call centers, this is taking the form of combining both self-service and live agent contact. Notably, one technology that has been lost in the changeover is IVR; we explored this shift in a past blog.

The future

Investing in technology to make our lives easier is becoming a common occurrence for huge companies. In fact, Facebook recently acquired VR company Oculus Rift for an alleged $2 billion, will we soon be able to interact our Facebook friends on a virtual level?

Who knows? But regarding how customers interact with brands, we could see a major shift from human interaction to AI or chatbots. “Chatbots will offer the companies the opportunity to replace human agents with chatbots in low-productive customer service areas without hampering customer experience,” claims Ameyo Emerge.

Still, we’re not quite there yet, humans are still legacy systems themselves and at times require the comfort of human to human exchange to solve a problem. Streamlining the journey to that helpful person is the goal at this point in our digital development. But the time of robotic customer service and IoT totality is close, though according to Forrester it won’t be the robot apocalypse we fear.

“Yes, there will be jobs lost in the coming years thanks to robots, driverless cars, and cognitive computing: Forrester predicts a 16% job loss rate between 2015 and 2025. But what about jobs created in categories like software, engineering, design, and maintenance? Forrester forecasts automation will create 13.6 million jobs over the next decade, equivalent to 9% of the workforce.”

Via: Ameyo Emerge, Forrester, 1to1 Media, Evolve, IT Pro Portal. 

A Few Ways We’re Entering The Age Of Digital Context

digital context blog

The “Quantified Self” is a movement developed by Wired magazine’s Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly which explores incorporating technology to collect data on every aspect of a person’s daily life. Practitioners often wear self-monitoring and self-sensing sensors like; Apple Watches, FitBits and even sleep-monitoring headbands like Zeo to determine sleep patterns.

“Our goal is to gather and organise the world’s collective self-tracking resources in one place, in a way that is useful for self-tracking experts and beginners who are just starting out,” writes Gary Wolf on their official website.

It seems a bit voyeuristic, but this is touching on the future of how we interact, soon our digital context will be as commonplace as a blood type.

Digital context merely is our IoT footprint; the pages we look at, the passwords we save and the data we implement into technology to make our lives so much easier. For marketers and anyone in e-commerce, this information is a goldmine and can be used to make the purchase journey much smoother. Still, it can be challenging to keep up with a modern-day prospect.

“The shift in consumer attitudes toward sharing data with connected devices is the most important shift in digital consumption since the advent of mobility. It is a big deal for marketers and innovators to be thinking about,” writes David Norton for Entrepreneur.
Forming digital context can be achieved by utilising techniques such as personalisation for individual users and segmenting for larger groups. This is where dynamic content comes in.

Dynamic content

The core of why digital context is so important to both B2C brands and their consumers has a lot to do with personal relationships. Giving a company your name, gender, birthday, etc., is meant to establish an intimate connection. Customers want to feel like they are being spoken to directly even if they are just one of many.
“Personalisation in an analogue world existed when the guy at the video store knew your name. As we move into an increasingly connected and switched-on digital age, personalisation is a powerful tool where a company knows what you want to buy before you’ve even thought about it,” writes Samuel Shepherd for Relevance.

So far, 86 percent of UK brands are aiming to personalise their communications according to Experian.
Dynamic content is useful in this way because it creates a playground for brands to establish an accurate context for each customer. Examples of this include, personalised emails, webinars or meet-ups based on a person’s location, progressive profiling (allows you to select which form fields appear based on the information you already have about a particular lead) and algorithms like Facebook’s News Feed or Amazon’s recommendation system. Studies have shown that click rates can increase by 5 percent when using methods like this.

However, nothing is perfect, and there has been backlash with this form of customer engagement,
“Nearly 90% of respondents are happy with brands using their data to personalise the way they communicate with them as long as what is being said is relevant to them or it’s from companies they have recently purchased from. In the same vein, 67% of respondents found it intrusive if brands they have never purchased from use their details to personalise their comms,” says Experian in a white paper.

The future of digital context

This is where a movement like the “Quantified Self” could be onto something. More and more, a prospect engages with multiple touch-points each day, utilising numerous screens. Therefore the future of establishing digital context could involve a more cognitive take.
Understanding the movements of a customer on a specific site is one thing, but if the future means we’ll be logging the minutiae of our day into technology — what’s stopping brands from collecting this information to further customise an experience just for one?

In fact, “A survey by fashion research unit Sonar found that 64% of UK millennials also believe that, as the technology develops, brands that use AI will soon be able to predict what they want to buy accurately,” says Drapers.

Learn more about Freespee’s contextual routing here 

A lot could change before then, regression is possible, but still, our digital context could one day tell us more about ourselves than we ever expected.

Via: Experian, Drapers, Entrepreneur, Quantified Self, Relevance, Salesforce Pardot. 

Q&A With Alice Lamy: Freespee's Resident Data Analyst

Data analysis is defined as a process of inspecting, cleansing, transforming, and modelling data with the goal of discovering useful information, suggesting conclusions, and supporting decision-making.
At Freespee we process and manage a significant amount of data from our significant client pool. Data is our bread and butter. Therefore to sort through our cache, we have Alice Lamy, our resident Data Analyst.
Alice was born in Montreal, Quebec — a province nestled in the Great White North (Canada). She then migrated to France with her family at ten-years-old.
Since then, she completed a Bachelor’s in Communication Science at the University of Montreal and a Master’s degree in Persuasive Communication at the University of Amsterdam, focusing mainly on consumer psychology and different modes of persuasion in advertising and health communication.
We caught up with Alice in Freespee’s London office to touch on the inner workings of data at a cloud communication platform like ours.
Freespee: Hey Alice, so what does a Data Analyst do?
Alice: Hey! I analyse data to gain useful insights on both Freespee and our customer’s behaviour and performance. We work with statistics in our own platform, but also use external tools like Tableau and plain Excel to develop different variables from which we pull numbers to produce relevant information.

Freespee: How do you turn data into concrete and useful information?
Alice: I think the most important thing to have before you start analysing is a hypothesis to achieve the right calculation. The way it works is that you have a dependent and some independent variables. If you have an idea of what could be the relationship between these variables, you can start to do your analysis.
For example, if a customer wants to understand what drove people to call their business, I can look at what might have influenced a good or bad performance. It can be many things from business hours, business days, online advertising, click to call to the different regions or countries the call is coming from.

Freespee: How important is customer data to the growth of a company?
Alice: I think it’s essential because it helps you understand more about the consumer lifecycle, and it definitely helps the customer success team offer up advice and ideas to solve business problems more creatively.
Internally, it also helps us manage the business, and get an idea of where we stand as a company and how we are performing with our customers so we can evolve and become more aware of their needs.

Freespee: Would you say it’s a great predictor of behaviour?
Alice: Yes, it’s really insightful. It is a way to give very good insights on consumers’ wants and needs, but it has its limits. We can predict what will drive them to call your business, but there are always going to be inconsistencies in behaviour. What is so interesting about humans is that you can never be 100% certain what they will do, need or want next.

Freespee: How do you define big data?
Alice: Big data can be a confusing term in my opinion, as I think there are so many ways you can define it and it depends on the context. At university, for example, we were using Python to do some “sentiment analysis” derived from Twitter posts during Donald Trump’s election. Big data can, therefore, be a lot of things, and you can find many tools to analyse it.
In the context of Freespee, big data is handy for us to know more about our customers: analysing performance and trends thanks to the use of our platform (CTR, which campaigns drive calls, what people call about, etc.). This kind of data helps us understand how to solve our customers’ business problems better and how our service can enhance sales performance or brand awareness.

We also use big data to know more about where Freespee stands thanks to Salesforce: how sales are growing, how we are taking care our current customers, how we are dealing with prospects, etc.
So big data is a collection of data from different sources that allow us to discover and analyse so many different sides of our business.

Freespee: What is the hardest data to analyse?
Alice: To me, the analysis part is probably the most natural part of the process of using data. As long as you know what your research question is, and what you want to verify, it is quite straightforward. However, collecting and cleaning the data can be a pain, and you need a lot of patience to end up with clean and easy-to-use data.
No one can deny the importance of data in our lives, sometimes however it can overwhelm us. Luckily we have professionals like Alice to make sense of it all.

Thanks Alice!

Exploring The Diverse World Of System Integrations

The concept of integrations in software or iPaaS (integration platform as a service), can be confusing to anyone outside of a technological background, after scouring the internet it is pretty tricky to find what one needs on the topic explained in layman’s terms. 
Most cloud-based businesses work with a wide range of applications and platforms to form a suite which keeps their day-to-day activities running at peak optimisation. The way an enterprise bunches their existing digital arrangement together is essential, that’s where integration friendly platforms are very useful.
“For example, a human resources applicant tracking system is a standalone product, but most are integrated with payroll providers, background assessment tools and interviewing platforms. This [system] creates a full suite by combining the best provider in these three industries,” explains Forbes.
Recently, most digital enterprises favour a platform that can adapt to multiple integrations; it’s simply easier to keep all data in one place while following similar procedures – plus its becoming the norm.
“The iPaaS market is growing because more [enterprise architect] professionals see dynamic integration as the best solution to integrate cloud-based systems of engagement — like Marketo or Salesforce — with their cloud or on-premises system of records,” wrote Henry Peyret, a principal analyst at Forrester who penned “The Forrester Wave: iPaaS for Dynamic Integration, Q3 2016 as reported by Jessie Scardina of Tech Target.
There are multiple terms cropping up as the market continues to dominate within the industry, we’ve laid out a few definitions below to help flesh out this somewhat complicated topic.

Native Integrations

Simply put, a native integration is a program that has been developed for use on a particular platform or device. It’s usually an API (Application Programming Interface) that can adapt to another system and work within it, immersing itself into the process. Without this handy creation, an enterprise would have to switch between multiple modes – such as their marketing automation or call centre, losing the cross-channel perspective of a customer’s journey.

Cloud Integrations

Cloud integrations encourage multiple programs to share the information they collect in the ever mysterious cloud. It works because, in the fast-paced world of commerce, it’s much easier to stay one step ahead with real-time data. Cloud integrations aid in this by maintaining data integrity and avoiding data silos — which are never good.

Data Silos

This brings us to data silos, which can be problematic. A data silo is a repository of stagnant information that is controlled by one department and often kept apart from the rest of a company’s data cache. They are elusive and usually erupt from legacy technology. One solution for this problem is implementing a platform that can integrate it all into one system.
 

 


As we move further into relying on technology to manage and solve both professional and personal management issues, its good to know that there is a digital progression happening along with our needs. Who knew integrating could be so simple?
Via: Forbes, Tech Target, Bedrock Data.

Here's How To Strengthen A Brand's Verbal Identity

On average businesses in the UK spend around £116,000 on “tone of voice” development, meaning that brands are just as interested in defining the way they sound as refining how they look.
One company that has aced verbal branding is Apple. A substantial portion of people on earth can identify the voice of Apple’s intelligent personal assistant Siri, whose original American female voice is borrowed from flesh and blood human and not whipped up in a computer. Apple recognised our need for human interaction, even if we’re only talking to our smartphone.
That reliance on smartphones is increasing; upcoming generations are leaning more into self-service than ever before. But, for more demanding queries or more expensive purchases, callers want to hear another person.
So what does this mean for the future of verbal customer service? “There’s so much noise in the world, and you’ve got a very small window to initiate a conversation with people. If people aren’t interested in what you have to say, they’ll go elsewhere,” Fred Perry’s brand director Rob Gaitt told Marketing Week.
Fully utilising the time a company interacts with customers after initiating a conversation is a hurdle for any enterprise, because no two callers are alike. Here are some ways to make a brand’s voice heard.

Making the call-centre standout

A caller emotionally connects with a brand the moment they pick up the phone to interact with an agent. No pressure. Robotic legacy tech just isn’t going to cut it anymore; callers want to know that if they’re making the jump to put receiver to ear — it’s going to be worth the time. Every word should be on point. “[It’s] 80% good writing principles and 20% [what] we can own in our writing style that makes us distinctive,” explained Jon Hawkins, former head of brand language at BT and founder of Honk to Marketing Week.

Get a head of brand language

Having someone’s single vision guide a brand’s voice isn’t a bad idea. Brand identity must stay consistent to maintain caller loyalty. Humans, man; we’re all far more comfortable with the familiar, and the best organisations know that.
“Sixty percent of global consumers with Internet access prefer to buy new products from a familiar brand rather than switch to a new brand,” says Nielsen.

Sophisticated analytics

After engagement, understanding the metrics behind what worked or didn’t between caller and agent is essential data in this algorithmic age. The future of CX means that content finds consumer and not the other way around, integrating the right technology into a verbal communication system is a great way to ensure that no discourse data is wasted.
 


 
The whole concept of “verbal identity” is still relatively new, it was only introduced into the marketing sphere some fifteen years ago by marketing consultant and author John Simmons, yet its become mighty useful for brand growth since. Its success could be attributed to the simple idea behind it; what do you want to say?
Via: Forbes, Marketing Week, Nielsen

A Few Data Privacy Innovations Leading The Charge

Data Privacy Day was recently celebrated worldwide as a way to promote personal safety online. But with the upcoming GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the subject of data has become the dominant topic on many a digital company’s lips. Now it seems, information shared online could eventually be as regulated as a natural resource.

Last year, The Economist described data as “the oil of the digital era,” prompting a rash of responses against the statement, with many claiming that oil is markedly different. “Data today has something important in common with oil a century ago. But the tech titans are more media moguls than oil barons,” writes BBC’s Amol Rajan.

However, data is becoming a highly valuable commodity to the digital realm, and consumer data is worth more than gold in some instances. But unlike oil, data is a far more prolific asset and therefore, vulnerable — leading many companies to begin turning their focus to data protection. Especially with heavier regulations right around the corner.

“Businesses need to shift their perception of data, from a money-making material waiting to be plundered to an asset that needs to be safeguarded and treated with respect,” said The Guardian.

Getting around breaches is the first hurdle for many brands, some large corporations have been hurt by major ruptures in their data pools. Studies show that “hacked companies underperform by 42 percent after three years.” So what preventative measures are coming out of the new age of data as an (arguably) precious resource?

2-factor authentication

2FA adds an extra blanket of protection over personal data and is trusted by most consumer tech brands worldwide, Apple’s iOS system has within it a 2FA system as well as social media centers such as Whatsapp and Instagram.

See more about Freespee’s 2-factor authentication here. 

Encryption

An ancient form of security but even more impressive when used to cloak information online. Still, hackers are quick to break the code despite advances in random number generation and other forms of cryptography. Enter Honey Encryption, developed by Ari Juels, former chief scientist at computer security company RSA, and Thomas Ristenpart from the University of Wisconsin. The technology tricks intruders by flooding them with the wrong data any time an incorrect password or encryption key is guessed. Sneaky yet effective.

Tokens

We can blame Bitcoin for this development. It works by “substituting a randomly generated value—the token—for sensitive data such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and social security numbers,” says Forbes. The mapping of the token is then stored in a reliable database. MasterCard is also a fan.


“Since the invention of coded messages used during the Revolutionary War, technology advances have always required adaptations in the law to preserve both privacy and social order,” writes Larry Downes for The Washington Post.

We’ve come a long way since morse code and smoke signals to protect valuable information. Our digital growth seems to be infinite, and its preservation is becoming more complicated. Though it may not be an organic asset, it still represents who we are, and that is definitely worth protecting.

Via: The Guardian, Forbes, The Washington Post, Gizmodo, BBC, The Economist.