Digital Marketing Tools That Will Help You Understand Customer’s Journey

 Adjaou Mohamed Adesola, MSc Digital Marketing Management


As technology evolves, the digital marketing bar is being raised higher for more transcendent usability and intuitive user interaction. For such, accuracy, speed and ease are the punch that will keep your clients loyal for the long haul. According to Gartner, consumer experience is the practice of designing for and reacting to their interactions to meet and exceed their expectations in order to increase consumer satisfaction, advocacy, and loyalty.

Highlighted below are some of the digital marketing tools that will give you competitive advantage.


Website Analytics tools

User-centered design is the first checkpoint you put your customers through. According to Brilliance, 75% of stores losses sales due to cart abandonment. So, how do you avoid cart abandonment? By having an intuitive navigation. Website navigation is like a table of content. The navigation should be organized, easy and grouped. Having complex and lengthy navigation creates confusion with your end users. For instance,

Imagine being at a new airport with 3 terminals and 6 floors and several concourses, you need to reach terminal 4A in under 10 minutes. How will you reach the gate without proper sign boards? A website without proper navigation is like an airport without proper signs. Your users will get frustrated and take off, hence leading to high bounce rate. How can you solve this issue? Create a website with a uniform design style, color scheme, and typography. Besides, include navigation tools within your website.

UX design involves creating something that users love, while analytics help designers/businesses understand what the elusive thing is. Analytics provides businesses with a measurable benchmark. There are four types of analytics.

  • Predictive analytics: Used to test scenarios and make suggestions.
  • Prescriptive analytics: Check on new trends and determine the optimal patterns.
  • Diagnostic analytics: Tracks and reveal trends over time.
  • Descriptive analytics: Indicates how many and how often.

Today, web analytics tools can perform all the above. If combined with research, measurement, and analysis, then business can create and maintain businesses that meet clients’ needs. You can achieve this using the following tools.

  1. Kissmetrics

Kissmetrics offers analytics that helps businesses increase their conversion rates and track visitors. Besides, it helps to identifying barriers to conversions. Thanks to the use of Engage feature. Engage uses behavior based data to display notifications to site visitors. Using Kissmetrics, marketers can specifically set the following behavior based actions: Lightbox, dynamic content modal, announcements, bumpers, and notifications. Marketers can design triggers that prompt these actions for instances, when a customer is idle for a certain period on the website, he/she is prompted to take some action like signup for newsletter or display related products that they may be interested in. This helps reduce bounce rate, and thus leading to high ranking. The tool is pricy and not affordable to SMEs, besides being a good tool.

Image Source: CMS Wire


Social Media Digital Marketing Tools

According to the Wall Street Journal, an average American spends 37 minutes daily on social media. Thus, every business should leverage on their marketing using the following platforms.

 

  • Twitter Native Platform

Currently, twitter has 326 million users. Do you want to get more out of Twitter and aren’t sure where to start? Creating an engaging and impactful strategy can make the difference. Firstly, you need to find your own voice. As a business, establish a well-defined brand strategy by creating fresh and original content that reflect your core business values. Besides, try and resonate with your audience in a positive way.

Planning and organization are key to great marketing. One of the best ways to get much out of Twitter is to join chats. There are chats for almost every topic. The key success to twitter chats is to be an active participant by following people, replying to their messages and keeping the relationship going even after the chat has ended. If there is no chat that relates to your brand, consider starting your own.

Although planning ahead is always great, the best tweets are created on the go. Ensure you capitalize on the trending topic and world events. However, as a caution, never use a tragedy as a branding opportunity. As a rule of thumb, don’t use one-sided marketing. Your Twitter marketing strategy should be a mix of organic tweets @replies, and Twitter Ads. Nonetheless, maintaining a Twitter account requires certain level of commitment and training. Besides, you must be weary of parody accounts, which can negatively affect your business. In 2019, businesses should watch the status updates to encourage conversation between its users.

 

  • Facebook Power Editor

 

Specifically designed to run hyper-specific advertising campaigns. The tool often issues new targeting and budget-friendly features for all users. In order to get more out of Facebook Power Editor, you must understand Ad basics. Use of catchy headlines, engaging images and strong Call to Action dictates how well your ad will perform.

Image Source: Neil Patel

The catchy headline, and strong call to action makes the above ad more appealing to the target audience. Currently, Facebook Power Editor is only available on Google Chrome, thus, users of other browsers are not privy to using this powerful tool. Currently, Facebook is testing CTAs to be used on stories create on pages. This something to watch in 2019.


Conclusion

Customer experience requires a health check. One of the ingredients to this challenging task is knowing the ins and outs of your customers’ behaviour. In digital marketing, communicating with your consumers and anticipating their needs and problems even before they arise is what you need. Getting the right tool to address customer experience is what will give you a competitive advantage since the war will not be won on product features or price page.

 

Twitter: @AdjaouMohamed 

LinkedIn: https://t.co/rAg1jZKEzi

 

How to Speed up your WordPress Website

Xinyu Zhang, MSc Digital Marketing Management student


Plugins can often help us implement some specific functions so that people who don’t understand the code can also add features to the website, thus avoiding re-development. WordPress, as a mainstream content management system with many themes and plugins, makes its extensibility to the fullest extent. Currently, many famous blogs, news media, music sites, Fortune 500 companies and celebrities are using WordPress, such as favourite blogs like TechCrunch and BBC America on WordPress. How do you get the best performance out of your WordPress and let it fully demonstrate the benefits of your content in modern web pages centring on speed, search engine optimisation and user experience? This blog will introduce some new plugins.

Ready to work

After we use WordPress to build a website, as the website develops more and more visits, we often encounter unsatisfactory opening speeds in the foreground and background, and even exhaustion of memory. Aside from the speed of the network, there is still a way to improve performance from the WordPress. Since WordPress only allocates 64M of memory by default, we have to modify this default parameter; otherwise, it is easy to cause an error: “fatal error, allowed memory size of xxxxx bytes exhausted”.
First, you need to open the WordPress WP including a directory to find the file of default-constants.php.

The first is to increase the memory limit for running WordPress and the second chart is to raise the memory limit obtained by the background supporter. This grade is more appropriate for modern server’s hosting services.
It is modified and saved.
Restart the server to see the effect.

Add AMP functionality to WordPress

Recent changes with Google search techniques will make Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) increasingly important (Dopson, 2018). AMP is Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages.

As the name suggests, it is to speed up the loading of the mobile web to enhance the experience.

From the official statistics, the webpage average speed has increased by 4 times after use it. At the same time, it is Google’s AMP Project advocating a solution for speeding up mobile networks. WordPress provides full support for AMP pages. You only need to download two plugins and enable them to add an AMP version to your WordPress website.

Even if it is a free version, you can get quite a bit of structured content, including site names, individual text tag translations, logos, GTM, GA, structured data, etc.

You can also add a cache for WordPress

Having a slow-loading site is a serious problem because it can be catastrophic to your bounce rate. As is well known, if websites are not loaded quickly and reliably, they are more likely to leave the site. 47% of Internet users want to load in the site within 2 seconds. It is worth mentioning that a delay of one second can lead to a 7% reduction in conversions.

WordPress occupies a massive amount of CPU resources. Generating a normal page often involves dozens of SQL queries and second-level runtimes. Hence, dynamic page statics for WordPress is the best choice for optimising performance.

This is Autoptimize critical. Such a plugin not only combines various scattered JavaScript and CSS in the page but also optimises the order of loading locations, which can significantly reduce the number of HTTP requests and the problem of repeatedly rendering pages. Meanwhile, this plugin will generate some custom JS and CSS files.

Optimise WordPress images

Website image optimisation has always been a significant content. Compressing images can not only make the website faster but also improve SEO optimisation. Therefore, I recommend a WordPress image optimisation for the friends of WordPress website. Plugin ShortPixel is a full-featured image optimisation plug-in based on image compression, which provides a very comprehensive image optimisation option, including:

  • Image Compression
  • Picture cropping
  • Picture adjustment
  • Image backup recovery
  • PDF compression

All the work can be handed over to ShortPixel, and it will do the job for you in the background supporter.

Automatically add related articles

To help a website improve its Google ranking, “visitor stay” can be extended by highlighting additional topics the readers might be interested in (Dobson, 2018).

The addition of related articles has allowed some users to stay longer on the website. Some topics cannot be clearly explained in an article, and readers are able to understand it through related articles better. I recommend Related Posts for WordPress. This plugin works best, which can go to the other articles cited and then recommend according to the label and classification.

According to the reports, the number of Internet users using search engines has steadily increased, so that search engine optimisation becomes more important than ever. Yoast is known as the best SEO plugin because of its various powerful features: Internal link suggestion, Redirect manager Keyword report, XML site map, content and page analysis tools. As a simple and easy-to-use SEO plugin, Yoast SEO can provide webpage snapshots for search engine optimisation, evaluation of page readability, content length, alt attributes, keyword, title tags, meta descriptions, outbound links and URLs, etc. Furthermore, the basic optimisation elements can be easily done with Yoast SEO.

The Yoast plugin, like an advanced version of the plugin, offers a freemium model. However, most users still prefer to use the free version. There are a lot of advertisements and sales information on the free version. Although it does not affect the use, seeing it for a long time is still annoying. I will provide a plug-in for advertising to use or hide the back-end advertising content of SEO Bloat hidden Yoast free SEO plugin.

 

LinkedIn: Zhang Xinyu 

5 top tips to be successful on social media

Andrew Rizvi, MSc Digital Marketing Management Student


Planning

When mapping out a plan for social media it is always best to start with the goals you want to achieve for business standpoint and how you plan to implement them.

Using SMART for goal setting can be a successful foundation for social media marketing if followed correctly:

  • Goals must nail down exactly what is expected of the initiative. Also simply being just more active on social media is one of the quickest ways to burn valuable time unnecessary. That’s why it’s crucial to ask ‘why’ your business is on social media.
  • Measurable – Being able to definitively answer “yes, we hit the goal” or “we missed the goal by 20%” is a good goal standard. Key Metrics, Goals or OKRs that you would like to accomplish broken down into days, weeks, months, and the year.
  • Attainable – Out of reach goals are demoralizing and frustrating. Having to stretch to hit a goal is productive, but don’t go overboard with expectations.
  • Relevant – A social media-marketing goal needs to tie in to marketing’s overall goal. Is it to build an audience? Increase website traffic? Strengthen branding?
  • Timely – Dates and times keep companies accountable to their goals. Staying on track may at times be impossible, so be able to acclimatise to change is also important

Engaging with customers rather than just promoting

Social media is becoming more and more like a customer service platform. A tricky part of this is that the better you get the more difficult engagement becomes. The other side of this is that customers are more often than not the best source of inspiration, as they will often be asking the questions ‘why’ don’t you do this. Useful tools to find out what’s working on social media are Twitter List, Google Keyword Planner and Facebook Pages to Watch or even simply creating a community site. This allows a company to then evaluate and remarket itself in the future by using metrics from former campaigns.

Engaging with your target audience by using free or low-cost brands, such as Buffer Reply or TweetDeck. This allows for a more interactive service that can help with providing insight to customers as well as the business. For example, everyone person on Twitter has 100 friends that follow them, and those 100 friends have 100 friends that follow them. Even if only 5% of the total friends share the content, that’s still a massive number of shares and impressions. Crafting content unique to each platform is critical and is why planning is so important to keep a constant stream of customer engagement for marketing purposes.

Boost organic content to a targeted audience

Unless you would have a big team overseeing your social media with the ability to invest a lot of time, you can end up wasting a lot of money on paid advertising. Organic social media posting is the perfect testing ground for paid ads and boosted posts. In other words, you’re using organic reach to determine what posts you should put money behind and use this as an opportunity in disguise. And therefore, being able to use A/B testing can help use company resources wisely regardless of the size of it.

That opportunity is paid social media advertising. Even if you only have £5 to spend on boosting a Facebook post or promoting a Tweet, it will effectively get that content in front of hundreds of potential customers. That is why looking out for posts with high engagement but low reach as a good barometer for potential success and is something that should be checked regularly by using analytics, to ensure that the content will be maximising its possible target audience.

Using a combination of Facebook Audience Insights and Twitter Audience Insights to learn about your audience and create personas. Once you have an idea of who they are, use those insights to create highly targeted ads that will resonate with users.


Measuring Your Results

A clear and fundamental part of this is holding up the results against the goals you set at the beginning to compare. This gives a clear indication as to what is working and what is not. The main providers of gaining this information can be found using tools such as Sprout Social, Google Analytics, Iconosquare and Snaplytics to make sure that resources are being spent wisely and how they can be better placed elsewhere if not.

  • Followers. Total up the number of new followers each social media platform received, and compare this number to the goal set. This can be achieved using analytics tools such as Sprout Social to measure the success.
  • Likes/shares/comments. Measure the amount of engagement the audience has with the posts. Note which type of content gets the biggest responses for future strategies.
  • Leads. Ultimately, successful social media marketing increases the number of qualified leads for the company. This is the metric that tells you the most about your efforts. Therefore can give the biggest indictor as to where it was a success and where it can be improved.


Create an Editorial Calendar

Last but least, an important way of keeping on track of everything and staying ahead of the game is to have a ‘content schedule’. If there’s a common thread between the biggest brands on social, it’s that they post on a consistent basis.

Chances are that when doing it, juggling multiple social channels and trying to tick as many boxes as possible is incredibly challenging. This is why having a content calendar can make the process much easier by:

  • Allowing you to fine-tune each post for each platform without having to jump between sites.
  • Timing posts to maximize engagement, keeping you from having to constantly post in real-time.

Taking the time to make a schedule does double duty of keeping your social media presence organised while also maximising your contents’ reach. This inevitably helps a company reach its potential, whilst being able to continuously funnel information to a specific target market.

 

 

 

The Future of Facebook Marketing

Ben Hocking, MSc digital marketing management student


Facebook is going to be one of the main places to focus your social media marketing for the foreseeable future. But will you be marketing in the right place? For a while now, the news feed has been the place to be to engage with consumers, using display ads and chatbots. However, these methods had varying success due to them being easily overlooked and being a nuisance  when posted too frequently. In response to this, 2018 saw an update to Facebook’s algorithm in order to reduce the amount of fake news and improve the reputation of the platform. As always, with the changing of Facebook algorithms comes a change in marketing culture within the platform. In an environment that has ever increasing scrutiny on user content by employers and relationships, users are experiencing a shift from news feed-based engagement to an increasing popularity of private messaging and stories.

With Facebook messenger becoming increasingly popular with 1.3 billion users a month, a huge new market is presenting itself. Thanks to copying of the original innovation by Snapchat and the subsequent success of stories on Instagram, stories (short videos and images that appear temporarily on a user’s social media) are becoming the next big thing in social media, with users clearly finding more comfort in the creating limited time content that can be forgotten about much easier than a public post on social media. Social media platforms are predominantly buying in to having stories on their platform, even with private messaging groups such as WhatsApp making the transition. Always attempting to be remain the leader of social media platforms, Facebook have clearly thrown their metaphorical hat into the ring and transitioning Facebook into a more story-oriented experience, and in typical Facebook fashion, making it bigger and better. These improvements are much needed for Facebook, as when it comes down to private messaging, it still lags behind WhatsApp by hundreds of millions of users.

One of the main changes to Stories is how the platform now uses the story cards (a collection of images taken from the stories of other users that provide a link to their complete story). Bigger cards, easier access and constant reminders: Facebook is clearly showing its cards on how it wants users to engage, and we can understand why. By using stories to market to users, pages can post as often as they like without filling up the news feed of their followers and risking being branded a as “nuisance” content. From a marketing perspective, this allows advertisers to place ads in the middle of a stream of content more seamlessly than before interruptive. Even if you scroll past the initial set of stories, there is no escaping them. After every few posts on the news feed there is another opportunity to engage with stories, this time Facebook even doubles down with the amount you can choose from on your screen.

Interestingly, Facebook is clearly playing the media platform game and winning. On mobile, stories are king, but switch to desktop like over 30% of users, and we are greeted with the same old Facebook we know and love. Other than stories being available along the right-hand side when you first open your news feed, their presence is very limited, showing that the ease of image-based content curation that mobile provides has been accounted for when transitioning, as well as accommodating desktop users in the changes. (Need to find data for older audience not engaging in stories).

So, you’re probably asking yourself why the predominance of stories is so important in shaping the future of marketing. Well, by using stories you can combine all your posts into one convenient little package to, believe it or not, tell a story about your product. Stories let your content be consistently viewed in the order you decide you want it to, allowing you to engage your audience with the correct posts without the risk of them missing the good bits. They also allow you to get the users invested in your content before presenting them with your long-form marketing through the stories themselves and the ability to swipe and tap to take them from Facebook to your website effortlessly, and the best bit- they already know they want to go there, reducing bounce rates and encouraging good quality engagement with your content. Another amazing feature of Facebook stories is the integration between the Facebook platform and the messenger app, with stories appearing seamlessly between the two platforms as is typical for Facebook messenger. This will allow advertisers to target any users from either platform with meaningful content.

The final trick up the marketer’s sleeve with Facebook stories is the ability to embed polls and links within the story itself. Want feedback on a new service? Add an emoji slider and let them show you how happy they are, the possibilities are endless. And this is only the beginning, with the increase of popularity for Facebook stores expected to overtake news feeds as the primary way to share on social media in 2019. With more than double the users of Instagram, Facebook may have been late to the party, but they are soon going to be the life of it.

Lecturer’s top tips on what NOT to do when blogging and how to read

Andras Kenez, Lecturer at Staffordshire business school


This is the most important rule of content marketing for bloggers: use data to understand your readers.

The data-driven content marketing is a way of continuously measuring the user data to develop the content.

Here is an interesting fact I found whilst researching different target groups and reading about different segments of the society, trying to understand how they react to content:

We can’t read anymore.

Mankind has lost the ability to work with complex texts. It is not just Generation Z – it is all of us. We are not able to read texts as we have before. We live in a faster world where information is unlimited.

The bottom line is we do not have time for reading. Our brain and reading habits are adapted to this environment. We can see the world through videos and images, we have experts and politicians to explain us what we see, there is no need for reading anymore. Even the interfaces are different: it is not the same to read on screen than on paper.

  • Almost 50% of the people have limited reading skills. They know the alphabet and have the basic reading and writing skills, but they might have problems with understanding texts beyond a basic, simplest level. They do have problems with reading long emails, articles, blogs. One of three of your colleagues are functionally illiterate, no matter where you are: schools, universities, newsrooms are no exceptions. Look around, if you don’t know who it is, it’s you.
  • Skimming is the new reading. Based on online analytics, we spend less than a minute to read articles and blogs online: we get the keywords and the most significant points (those with bold font or the first few words after the bullet points) quickly, without processing the information. Skimming and scanning are effective techniques to get a general overview immediately. Why bother with the details? Therefore, I can write whatever I want here: no one will read this part. I could even call the editors idiots: even they won’t read (and delete) this. Students use skimming and scanning methods to speed up assignment writing, bloggers use this to save time on research. The problem is: we never go the next step (deep reading) after getting the point.
  • Reading is not critical anymore. Readers are not able to manage conflicting information. As the neuroscientist, Maryann Wolf writes: “My research depicts how the present reading brain enables the development of some of our most important intellectual and affective processes: internalized knowledge, analogical reasoning, and inference; perspective-taking and empathy; critical analysis and the generation of insight.” (Such a long sentence!) Serious (deep) reading is paying attention, working with the content, thinking, and using your brain. Reading requires time.
  • We have no dedicated time for reading. Reading articles and blogs: we do it in our fragmented time (these are the small breaks, in-between moments). During the day, when there is some free time to read: at lunch, on the train, during lectures, in waiting rooms, in bed before sleep. We do not dedicate time for reading, we try to find time for it. Digital devices make it possible to read anytime and anywhere. This is an and endless opportunity and a total game changer.

During the time of the Brexit debate, it is extremely interesting to see this “development” of reading. Propaganda also understands this: telling a lot of contrasting information makes us vulnerable as we have lost our ability to critically evaluate.

To build a new argument here I tried to reread the Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose – but I Kant, it is TL;DR (too long, didn’t read). I used to like it, but now it is too difficult to read. By the way TL;DR: we do not even write sentences anymore. Shortening, abbreviation and simplifications everywhere. Not just ideas but words are too long as well. But TBH, TLA (especially in CTA) is bad for UX and CTR. KISS.

In my last piece here, I have argued to be sceptic with the information you see, now I advise you to read. Spend time deep reading. Reading is like language skills: if you don’t use it you’ll forget it. PRACTISE DEEP READING each and every week.

And if you write a blog, do not forget that you’re writing for people with reading difficulties. Readers like to skim, not chew.

 

Undergraduate courses

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Getting Personal: 3 Ways to Improve Personalisation in Your Business

Leah Mahon, Student, Staffordshire Business School


Personalisation is starting to get just that little bit more personal.

According to Campaign Monitor, digital personalisation is predicted to see major change from past methods of user-created profiles and preferences, purchases and life stage events. Instead digital customers can expect to see their data used within new machine learning and data science-based features and platforms to create the personal interaction customers crave. Now, in this digital age with marketing spend predicted to improve ROI for businesses across all platforms by 10-30% with the use of personalisation, businesses now are rediscovering the meaning of personalisation and getting to know their customers all over again with these new developments in digital.

  1. The Discovery of Data

The way personalised data can be used now goes far beyond the days of an email address with a customer’s name on it. Now, the meaning of data is beginning to expand as businesses begin to harness important information not just about their customers, but the very the context of the product or service, and how customers align within this. Econsultancy describes the new data outlook for businesses to consider:

The Customer Context: –

Personalistion is about targeting the right message to the right person

  • Location: Geographical status can affect which product/services are relevant, or even accessible.
  • Commuting, working, relaxing: What a person is doing in the moment affects their mindset and therefore the outcome of the purchase.
  • Time of day, day of week: This helps to structure the message being sent out – a “Friday feeling” contrasts greatly from the “Monday blues”.
  • Season: Weather and time of the year can impact buyer behaviour.
  • Customer journey position: What a first-time buyer is offered can contrast greatly with a repetitive buyer.
  • Satisfaction: Negative feedback should determine the tone in the business message to a more humble standpoint, and reconsider the regularity of marketing communications.
  • Demographics: Basic demographics determines who has a need or desire for certain products/services or messaging.

The Product/Service Context: – 

  • Motivation: Whether the motivation behind a purchase is from desire or necessity.
  • Price: Evaluate whether customers can make regular transactions or if it is a one-off.
  • Frequency of purchase: Regular promotion of a product that is only purchased scarcely is misspent effort.
  • How they are used: Whether the product or service is an important aspect of your customer’s live people’s lives as this determines how regularly to market to them.
  • Likelihood of repeat purchase: If an item was bought as a gift the likelihood of another transaction is scarce, however if it’s replenishable marketing to these customers again can prompt a repeat purchase.

The new perspective of data cannot be used solely on its own, however. It rather propels and informs the underpinnings of Behavioural Personas;  understanding the psychology of your customers and utilising the right customer data platforms  inform all aspects of the customer journey stage, customer lifetime value, purchase frequency to satisfaction, marketing engagement and price sensitivity. One business that has embraced this strategy is Netflix. According to Wired, they do not utilise gender specification upon subscription as the traditional demographic outlook has become statias buyer behaviour has become incredibly impulsive. Instead,

they utilise strategies such as A/B testing to lead customers to their preferred genre of television and film on the landing page, right up to whether their customers watch content in later hours often, personalising it to a programme that’s half way watched, or simply shorter in duration to suit them.

 

2. Automated Decision Making

Those all important customer data platforms (CDPs) have advanced significantly in this digital age provide a crucial two-way communication that traditional data management platforms do not offer, because it is only able to personalise customer information as far as a signpost for future messages and offers. While CDP “provides the connective tissue between and among them [customers] to integrate the marketing stack and enable orchestration across the web, mobile, email, social and so forth.” CMS Wired details why advanced CDP is essential in digital marketing:

  • A Single View of the Customer across all channels and devices, and offline touch points, enable a smooth customer journey
  • Persistent Customer Profile data tracks all customer interactions and ad impressions, developing a continuously updated history of individual customers.
  • Cross-Device Stitching eradicates problems associated with third-party cookie data collection, advanced CDP will have the ability to stitch data, which can identify a user across different touch points.
  • Real-Time Decision Making need near real-time data collection and distribution of insight to optimise marketing campaigns and the conversion funnel to re-targeting and supporting call centre work progress.
  • Integration with the Digital Eco-System enables the CDP to expand to more technology as well as first-party data sources on a comprehensive level.
  • Privacy and Data Governance helps to protect customer data, and provides flexible opt-out solutions for customers, while its standards for governing data use makes curtail data leakage near impossible.

A business like Netflix again does this incredibly well with not only offering their customers streaming content, but tailoring it to their preferred genres every time along with some new closely related editions, heightening the personalised experience.

3. Content Distribution

One dimensional content personalisation would have included specific ads dependent upon engagement with content, and visits to certain websites to entice customers. But with the power to offer personalised messages, experiences, services, and products businesses can begin to delve deeper to execute a truly one-to-one experience with their customers. Building upon the findings from the context of a product or service and how this aligns with a customer can be seen within weather based marketing, which is keeping up with relevant trends simultaneously, and prompt browsing and purchases related to the weather. Some elements of content distribution to consider are:

  • purchase history
  • preferences
  • demographics
  • browsing and buying behaviour
  • customer life-cycle

Online clothing store Very evidently utilise the tradition forms of marketing by addressing the customer by name, but these fuel the necessary underpinnings to create a “richer experience with content or information” by relating it the world shaped around the consumer.

As customers demand more than ever for a one-to-one experience, it’s important for businesses to remember the new digital marketing strategies that are changing marketing as we know it, all the while meeting their customers -old and new – all over again.

How the New Customer Funnel Could Change the Customer Journey in Your Business

Leah Mahon, Student, Staffordshire Business School


The new customer funnel is changing the way that businesses interact with their customers on their customer journey as we previously knew it.

For years, the traditional funnel has been one of the most used by businesses. However, according to Davies BDM, it has endured criticism due to its inability to adapt to the changing customer journey aligned with what customers want and need in an era of rampant digitalisation and self-controlled consumerism.

Now, the new funnel is set to be one of marketing’s biggest developments for the digital plethora, as predicted by Campaign Monitor. Its new hourglass shape represents non-linearity and continuity throughout the customer journey. It also boasts of new varied stages for every customer to experience as an acknowledgement of true individuality. The new funnel merges the stages of pre-purchase and post-purchase like never before to demonstrate a truly complete view of the customer life cycle. The concept of multi-touch, multi-channel and multi-path customers journeys are now changing the marketing strategies for every business that is embracing the rise of digital.

Some insight from Customer Journey Marketer, breaks down a little more why the previous customer funnel wasn’t quite cutting it in the dawn of this digital age, and what the new funnel can offer customers.

The Old Customer Funnel:

  • Inconsideration of external influences
  • Customers are linear and the same
  • Lack of focus beyond the point of purchase
  • Lack of granularity
  • Lacking perspective of journey

The New Customer Funnel:

  • Customers can enter at any pre-purchase stage
  • Customers do not enter every stage
  • Movement in non-linear way
  • Customer journeys are individual experiences

 

So, How are Businesses Using the New Funnel?

Good question! And it’s one that’s on every savvy business’s mind. The streaming service Netflix is using this new funnel with the non-linear perspective at the forefront, as described by Blue Coda. For instance, the average Netflix user would usually enter at the Engagement stage of the funnel.

Netflix market effectively to their customers with a “call to action” by offering a free streaming trial upon subscription for a month on their landing page with just a URL or Google search. This non-linear approach helps to reel in potential long-term subscribers quickly, and enable Netflix to collect data which can lead to profitable conversions. In a time with iron clad subscription polices, they emphasise that users can cancel this at any time, which increases trust in their service too.

According to Towerdata, customers crave that “1 to 1 level” experience and personalisation of their journeys’ which Netflix do throughout. After Engagement, the customer could then move their way down to Advocacy after watching their favourite series with personalised recommendations for similar streaming content. They could pass this onto friends and family, even before they make their way back up the funnel for an official subscription at the Purchase stage.

Another business that is putting the new marketing funnel to good use is Pinterest, as they prepare to launch their ad business in the UK market. Marketing Week demonstrates that they too market themselves well at the Engagement stage, which prompts potential customers to relinquish their data by signing up to their service, which would enable them to view more pins and to create their very own.

UK County Manager for Pinterest, Adele Cooper, highlights that businesses that work with them have the option of a using a “conversion pixel” which tracks if customers click on a pin and what they go onto do next. This means that ad companies now know what to market to their customers as they could make their way to Expansion with targeted ad campaigns personalised to there need and wants, before the Purchase stage has even been met.

Is it Worth the Journey?

It’s not just Campaign Monitor that has proclaimed the death of the old marketing funnel, but a marketer himself – Mckinsey – has also declared the concept of the funnel entirely dead as we knew it. However, according to McKinsey and Company, revival is not far away in the form of the Customer Decision Journey. 

Albeit, this model underwent a revival of its very own after failing to meet the forever changing scope of digital. Previously, its journey allowed customers to actively evaluate products or services through technology, while being able to add and remove choices. It also included a feedback loop where customers could continuously evaluate products and services after purchase, prompting products to perform and brands to provide a satisfactory experience every time. However, now in an era of accelerating digital advancements, the Customer Decision Journey was forced to undergo a drastic change.

Throughout the new journey, McKinsey argues that the stages of Consideration (Awareness) and Evaluation (Discovery) can be compressed, or in some cases completely eliminated. Businesses do not just react or respond to customers as they make purchasing decisions, but they also shape their decision journeys entirely. The rise of the digital plethora that once allowed self-controlled and self-educated consumerism, as outlined by Davies BDM is now fuelling the underpinning of further technological advancements that allows businesses to take back control. They have greater control over aspects like design and optimisation, and are now being able to create a space for not just value for the customer, but simultaneously for businesses too with “end to end purchase in consumer markets” being the end goal in this strategic model.

Albeit, an improvement from the linearity found in the traditional funnel with its entry and re-entry method, the Purchase stage is still a primary point of contact with the onus on customers to make a buyer “decision” on their journey. And with personalisation and customer individuality at the forefront, it is arguable that emphasis in this stage is complying with the demands of digital consumerism, because the pivot for customers has now become “the experience, not the purchase.” According to Relevance, personalisation can increase “five to eight times the ROI on marketing spend, and can lift sales by 10% or more.”  Customers feel more connected to the message that a business is sending out through personalisation also. Despite the “circularity” of the Customer Decision Journey, it is merely limited to “eating its own tail” while the focus remains on B2C transaction, and the assumption that can customers will remain loyal even if they have a good post purchase experience. Yes, there is more freedom for customers to explore, but ultimately the static nature of the end goal limits this model to a similar function of the traditional funnel. Customers crave a human touch, and businesses that use this strategic tool can risk compromising customer the longevity of their customer life cycle, and ultimately their sales if the journey itself to a potential purchase is indeed a bumpy one.

The connection between the stages of Purchase and Advocacy of both the new funnel and the Customer Decision Journey has also been criticised by marketers. Both models allow non-linearity to move freely throughout, but only once a customer has interacted with a product or service in some way. Take Netflix, for instance, and its call-to-action landing page, or Pinterest and its coaxing to sign up for more pins. The Harvard Business Review argues that now with the expansion of digital, the Purchase and Advocacy stages are now entirely disconnected, because people no longer have to be a customer or relinquish their data to become an advocate for a business. Potential customers are now experiencing what businesses have to offer through live events, content marketing, social media and word-of-mouth. This advocacy is an individual journey in itself that is not acknowledged fully with the previous strategic models, which  puts emphasis in the business, before the customer. True non-linearity through the customer journey is yet to be achieved, and now with more than 4 billion digital users around the globe and only predicted to increase by 20% each year, businesses that continue to rely on the convergence of Purchase and Advocacy could find themselves disconnected from their target markets before they have even truly met is this digital dichotomy.

It is food for thought whether the Customer Decision Journey has met its limitations, because its promise to reclaim self-controlled and self-educated consumerism as its very underpinnings for their B2C goals are undoing itself as customers’ feelings aim to be at the heart of every business – and not their money. For businesses to reject this concept would ultimately mean rejecting their customers. As they continue to shape their own individual journeys, and let the journey’s of others influence them, the impulsive nature of human behaviour is the foundation for the personalised digital experience to just keep getting bigger.

What about the Future of the Funnel?

The Customer Decision Journey and the funnel – new and old – don’t quite offer a smooth journey just yet. But just like the dawn of digital, they don’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon, and they have a been a catalyst for further development of the journey customer’s embark upon. As predictions rise to up to 72% of marketing teams to increase spending and create bigger budgets for marketing tools and technological assets in the next two years, and as marketing strategies shift to transactions in the context of a relationship one thing can be for certain…

That in an age of counting followers and subscribers as a sign-point for the changing face of digital, the customer funnel – and the customer journey itself – will be changing right along with it on its very own journey. And businesses that embrace the multi-dimension of social influence, advocacy from non-customers and truly non-linear paths to purchase, they too are sure to come along on the journey.

Marketing for a greater good – health promotion

by Dr Samanthika Gallage

In my day to day life, I always hear people say that marketing is all about selling, it is about creating demand, it is about manipulating consumers by corporations to make profits. Do you think the same? Without a doubt marketing is powerful and it has a strong convincing power. Do you think marketing can use this powerful discipline for a greater good in the society?

In 1952, G. D. Wiebe raised the question “Why can’t you sell brotherhood like you sell soap?”  What do you think? Do you think we can sell brotherhood like we sell soap? Decades ago a few marketers were inspired by this idea and started seeing marketing in a different light and they chose the term SOCIAL MARKETING to define this novel approach. In a nutshell, it is an approach of using marketing principles for a social transformation.  

Kotler et al. (2002, p.394) defined social marketing as “the use of marketing principles and techniques to influence a target audience to voluntarily accept, reject, modify or abandon behaviour for the benefit of individuals, groups or society as a whole”. It has gained much attention from scholars and practitioners over the years. Most of the developed and developing countries have benefited from social marketing interventions in addressing problems such as excessive drinking, smoking, obesity, HIV and other diseases. 

There have been various successful social marketing campaigns such as

Change 4 life

These campaigns have marketing tools and techniques to persuade consumers to make healthy choices and thereby to encourage a social transformation. This sub discipline and faces many challenges due to lack of funding, lack of understanding, contextual issues etc. Yet, there is more room for improvement, new knowledge to fight back with these challenges. It has made a good progress over the last 50 years and there are more social marketing researchers (like me) and practitioners out their trying to use this powerful technique for a greater good of the society.

If you are interested in any research collaborations or projects or even a chat about this concept please do not hesitate to contact me. 

Dr Samanthika Gallage  01782 29 4352

 

Do Marketers have the right skill set for your business?

Vicky Roberts, Senior Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School


In these uncertain times, with budgets slashed and cost cutting evident, companies may now need to turn to their to their marketers to drive business growth. The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), have identified key challenges facing marketers moving forward, each accentuating how important it is to ensure your marketing team are trained and market ready.

In a digitally driven market place, achieving higher sales through SEO and PPC can demonstrate how digital marketing activity can count towards the bottom line. However, a report by the CIM in May of this year (The Digital Marketing Skills Benchmark) warned business about the failure to stay relevant, engaging with their customers, adding value through their digital offer. Too many companies rely heavily on email marketing, viewing it as a win-win tool in the digital age. With the ramifications of correct data management following GDPR, the danger in pursuing this strategy, founded on weak marketing skills & knowledge, can have a detrimental effect on business performance.

Besides digital skills, junior marketers in the UK often lack the strategic marketing knowledge they need to contribute effectively in meeting & understanding how marketing fits with corporate objectives. Paradoxically, senior marketing managers and directors, can often have scant knowledge of key digital sales drivers like SEO and PPC. In an ever changing market with more demanding customers, solving this paradox becomes even more important. In a recent lecture organised by the CIM in Wolverhampton University, Professor Malcolm McDonald stated that the marketer needs to get back into the boardroom. To do that effectively the marketing team needs to support their board, demonstrating a thorough understanding of key strategic marketing issues, whereas senior marketing managers need to upskill to lead their businesses more effectively.

Here at Staffordshire University we have a rich heritage of marketing education for professionals, spanning decades. Working with our partners, CIM and the Digital Marketing Institute (DMI) we can off a range of career development opportunities for your business. From the CIM Certificate to the CIM Professional Diploma, we cover key skill sets such as a digital focus along with coverage of marketing strategy and consumer behaviour. For those who want an introduction to the new digital marketing language, we offer a DMI course by blended learning. If you want to take your digital marketing knowledge to the next step we have our MSc Digital Marketing Management.
If you need to chat these options through with one of our marketing team, please drop me an email at v.a.roberts@staffs.ac.uk

Alternatively visit us at our Post Graduate Open Evening on Wednesday 28th November 2018, 4pm-7pm

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Would you like to market to customers when they’re in your area or about to go to a competitor’s location?

Paul Dobson, Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School


The ability to market to customers or potential customers by their location has been around for a while. However, in my conversations with local businesses not many are aware of this facility.

The number of mobile users is consistently on the rise and already outnumber PC users for internet access.  Therefore, it is a necessity for businesses to make sure their marketing is working as effectively as possible for mobiles. Geolocation is the ability to show where the mobile device, and the user of the device, are located using the built in GPS.  The best thing about using geolocation data is that it knows where mobile users are in-real-time.  Therefore, it enables businesses to create a tailored and relevant promotion to target these potential customers in a more effective way.  For example, it can be used for presenting coupons or adverts to potential customers when they are in the same street.  Geolocation can target users in a few different ways. However, the three most common are:-

  • Geo-targeting is the act of reaching someone based on their location.
  • Geo-fencing is typically used when targeting small regions like specific streets or towns. These targets are especially useful for apps that want to direct foot traffic to business premises, such as shops and restaurants.
  • Beacons are the narrowest of the three location targeting methods. A beacon is a small, Bluetooth device that receives location data from nearby mobiles, if the mobile Bluetooth is switched on. Often these are deployed in the interior of building such as shops, and airports etc.

Search results on a mobile can also be an effective location based marketing tool, for example if potential customers do a Google search for an Italian restaurant near them.  The search results can display the nearest restaurants and, at the press of an icon, the customers can: call the restaurant, get navigation instructions to the restaurant, or have a look at the website and menu.

Screenshot from Google Maps showing local Italian restaurant

Unfortunately, I’m not aware of a single marketing tool that works for everybody all the time, and this is no exception.  The biggest downside of using geolocation data for mobile marketing is that it is easily blocked by mobile users.  Although there are many mobile users that use apps with the GPS location feature enabled, there are also many users that don’t. Also, geolocation-triggered ads may not work on all devices due to ad blockers.

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