Archive for April, 2013

Need of the hour : Analytics to utilise fast doubling Big Data

Social media today is carrying a lot of data within companies but to make that information useful , a lot of focus has to be diverted to analytics and Big Data strategies.

A decade ago, social media and analytics were not expected to see such a boom. But it has been amazing to see the amount of knowledge ( in terms of data) it has carried for the past few years. Interestingly, knowledge is doubling today at a rate of between 1 to 2 years. IBM predicts that doubling time will be 11 hours by 2014. And he most important lesson is that those who can’t manage that Big Data will be toast. Secondly, with so much of data, uniqueness of it in regards of a person or business would be difficult to expect.

According to a research from Gartner : By 2015, 35 percent of the Fortune 2000 would derive some of their revenue from subscriptions. But revenue is not profit always and even a bad subscription company can generate revenue while going out of existence as it loses money on every transaction.

To become a part of top quintile, a company has to develop metrics that it derives from customer data about use, payments and sentiments – and pursue them for optimizing customer experience and involvement. It definitely requires a lot of analytics at work.

Most of the companies today still don’t know what to do about Big Data, and they aren’t exhibiting the curiosity to find out that it is high time to work hard on analytics. The metric of new knowledge vs. applied knowledge would show a huge gap between what we know and what we do with it. No doubt, knowledge doubling is one of the biggest opportunities of this century.

April 18th, 2013

Video Calling to be the next face of Social Media

Looking at the last decade, social media and video calling have grown together exponentially. Although social media is newer than video conferencing, the two technologies are mixing together in fascinating ways.

But having a look a little elaborately, video conferencing has not grown enough as expected. For example, Skype’s mobile video calling services application has not been able to replace cellular calling systems as expected. And the majority of communication over social networks is still through cellphones and chats.

Why so?

The problem has half its answer in implementation, many video conferencing services require more than what the easy to use services like Skype and Tango offers. For Many users, simply getting the hang of understanding text communication is a big task and do not want to step further in the mess by using video calling. And finally, we have got technical problems, that have been hindering the way all along. Lack of speed, fuzzy videos, numerous dropped calls to add a few. And most of all, they are not easy to use.

While sending a message just takes a second, to even thousands, with video, it has been a problem as sending video request takes time, leading to a longer effort. With all these serviced, video calling is expected to take off high.

Integrated video calling with chat platforms is a great sign towards advancement in this field. Companies have started to work for launching easy to use voice and video calling systems along with social media. Beyond these, the general structure and technological capacity of internet is expanding daily. Smart phones are becoming robust than ever in terms of processing power, and the popular growth of mobile web has created an infrastructure perfect for instant video calling.

 

 

April 10th, 2013

What’s driving the increased focus on marketing?

In present scenario, marketing is using CRM by storm. While we are all stuck to social media, many companies – both vendors and customers – have been acquiring and extending marketing solutions.

Recently, at Microsoft Convergence 2013, the company put a lot of emphasis on marketing, acquiring Marketing Pilot (a renovated marketing campaign company) and Netbreeze, a marketing analytics company. By the end of last year, Oracle bought Eloqua and Salesforce launched its cloud dedicated to marketing. One can conclude that marketing is the final CRM frontier and companies are investing more and more to build it strong.

Lets look how our economy led us to such a scenario.

When the economy tanked five years ago, it took a lot of jobs leading to depressing effect on demand. Interest rates continue to test the zero lower bound, in part because corporations are flush with cash and consumer borrowing is still less. With less jobs, banks are not ready to lend to people who can’t repay. So, the demand is slack and customers are the limiting factors in economic formula. With such a scenario, companies hire more sales people and step up their marketing games to help identify likely customers. And therefore, marketing is hitting a stride!

Conventionally, in case of a new market or category, there is a lot of ground work marketing which is not the case now. Today, markets are not new and customers, having experienced things before, are sure as to what they want. Also, with a lot of competition today, smaller margins have little room for expensive and risky approaches to the market.

Marketing has become the hottest trick of the hour and CRM vendors have shown an understanding of this reality.

But this wont last forever. At some point from now, we will have new fields to conquer with some new idea. We might hear a company talk about over engineered marketing approaches in favor of ideas about importance of sales over marketing. For now, however, demand is down, margins under pressure and competition is way too tough!!

April 9th, 2013

Time to refine the mobile email experience!

An elevator. In a Train. A mall or a restaurant. Almost anywhere, customers today are engaging with brands via email on their mobile devices and as the statistics say, at the end of 2012, mobile email made up 43 percent of total email opens, which is likely to increase this year.

Time for brands to refine the mobile email experience!

It has been found that customers use their mobile devices to clean out inbox of irrelevant emails and they use PC for making a purchase or taking an action in lack of a mobile application of a retailer. It is therefore important to understand what your email audience looks like from a mobile perspective.

Data opened by email on a mobile device can be tapped from ESP, or third party service providers, like Litmus and Return Path. They can incorporate a 1 X 1 blank pixel in your emails to determine the device your audience uses to open messages. And you might find more number of a particular type of device, say Android, over others, say iOS or Windows.

Now very important is to interpret this data correctly and this info can be used by your creative team to make emails more consumer-friendly. Thus, understanding your mobile audience is very crucial.

One can use a mobile optimized email designed to be viewed on a smartphone or tablet. Responsive design might be used with media queries to format or style the layout. What to be used depends on your available resources. Both should be tested to determine which of them suits best the customer targeting requirements.

Engagement is just the beginning of the concerns and marketers are likely to see decline in their conversion rates if post click experience is not optimized for mobile devices. One very important fact is that major internet service providers use some level of engagement metrics in their filtering and inbox placement algorithms. And long term repercussions of not having mobile optimized mails can be their placement in junk/spam folder.

April 4th, 2013

Introducing Social Media 2.0 with SEC announcement

With the report of SEC ruling that companies can use social media for announcements officially marked the launch of Social Media 2.0 in the industry.

Earlier, for any company announcement on social media, a Form K-8 had to be filled along with a Press Release. This made them comply with Regulation Fair Disclosure and news used to reach mostly to those having a direct interest in it.

With Social Media 1.0 , presence on social media was required and having a Twitter/Facebook account was proof that your brand was social. Content and visibility were subject to audience uptake of social media as a communication channel.

The huge popularity of Facebook and Google+ have vastly accelerated the impact of social media. This SEC announcement indicates the acknowledgement that social media is a de facto channel of communication for billions and is likely to increase with time.

The new Social Media 2.0 is :

Platform Agnostic : where platform loyalty is no longer required and audience uses the medium to suit itself.

Pervasive : Social media has started to replace TV, email and RSS feeds with increase in use of mobile devices, keeping users always in loop of new information.

Filtered : Users have become smart enough to filter the content on social media and receive only news of their interest.

Situation has become hard for marketers used to auto-publishing tools and platform specific marketing campaigns. Winning edge is nothing but valuable, focused and contextual content. It is a time to return to basics where in order to market successfully one needs to understand the motivation and needs of your customers and position yourself accordingly to meet them.

If one masters at this, there is no bounds to the success his business can see.

April 4th, 2013

Importance of managing Big Data

In present day scenario, data has become a buzz everywhere, with everyone talking about the huge benefit it can give to a business, but without precautions, big data can equally lead to a lot of problems. A very simple example is storing all your precious and personal pictures on a drive with no backup plan.

The problem with big data and its warehousing is its size and speed, though the stuff remains same over the years. Tools are emerging to manage excessive amounts of data suited for the usage of cloud. It has become important not to have a large no of items collected but rather having the quality in every field. With mobile environment, we have people interacting and creating data, outside of the planned business hours of the past. Organizations are logging all this data to look at it later which has become worrisome.

With such a big flow of data, two problems can happen majorly. One, the format of the stored data will require heavy lifting to make it usable, or  it might miss key pieces or attributes that made it meaningful.

The whole purpose is to use the data to make informed decisions and gaining competitive edge, which should not be defeated with mismanagement of big data. For example, having an app requiring optional signup can lead to incomplete data with only interested customers present in the database, defeating the purpose of judging customer behavior for the app.

Without researching what storage amount is necessary for a specific data campaign, or monitoring data storage activity, an organization can run out of drive space and miss data that is critical to proper analysis.

Now, leveraging big data is about properly managing and organizing the bulk of information received. When companies underestimate the space needed to store data or they omit certain information, they are bound to make weak decisions.

So, its not just about doing, but doing it right. Investing in data warehousing is the best way to make informed decisions leading the company forward in right direction.

April 2nd, 2013

How to expand email database of your business?

Though nowadays, social media has set its claws deep In the industry for customer engagement, yet email marketing has sustained its value due to more in-depth and segment-driven content. According to Hubspot, email marketing databases degrade by 25% every year, so it is utmost important to adding and refreshing your database so that email marketing campaigns are successful and reach the right audience. It is a fact that 93% of consumers read email each day, so lets look at various ways to grow this database.

Website: Your website should direct customers to take action and engage with your services, be it in the form of blogs, guides or registration forms for all products or services. It should provide an option to the consumers to opt-in to your business email messages, a widget in the sidebar can be a good way to do this. Also, offering an incentive for registering with the site like a discount/coupon is really effective. Host a webinar and use emails for registration to add in the database. Another good way can be to have a incentivized referral system set up on your website, which will contribute greatly to build the database.

Social Media : Staying up to date with recent trends and having a track of most valued content in social media can be a good way to encourage people to sign-up for your business emails, if you provide info on similar lines. Analyzing the success of channels is a good way to start with. Some of the great ideas can be:

  1. Start a twitter campaign to promote an offer which requires customers to sign up with an email address.
  2. Use Pinterest to promote offers which require email signup. It will encourage a click-through and will prompt the reader to register.
  3. Last, but not the least, your company’s facebook/ Google+ / LinkedIn page is a great platform to promote offers with email address submission.

On Location: A very basic but effective idea would be to use in-person interactions to collect email addresses at trade shows or live demos of your products. Host meet-ups and conferences where registrations can be done online with email addresses. Co-sponsor an event and ask the host to promote your business newsletters. Any kind of networking event followed by a follow-up mail would be a good way to have database increased with some value additions.

 

April 2nd, 2013


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