B2B is dead; long live human to human – part 2

As I’ve already discussed,  the historical philosophy of B2B risks becoming something of a marketing dodo, and we drastically need something new to replace it, or at the very least, reinvent it.

And that’s where human to human comes in.
Whether he coined the phrase or not, it’s clear that Bryan Kramer  has done a fantastic job of getting us thinking, and his book and the myriad of conversations on the subject it has spawned are all very powerful source material.

I won’t repeat everything he’s said here. Instead, I’ll give you my view.

Social is not a nice-to-have, it’s essential
Firstly, to understand what human to human means, it helps to think back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Of upmost importance is the simple fact that we’re not just animals requiring physiological sustenance like water, food and shelter. We’re social animals, and we require much more.

‘Social’ is an interesting word. Its modern form has multiple meanings; ‘social media’ being the go-to thought. But actually social is about behaviour – human behaviour and psychology, how we share information, learn from one another, tell stories, and how we form relationships.
In fact, you can only forge a relationship through the sharing of stories. What do you do on a first date? What do you do with your friends? What do you do at a business meeting? During every one of these situations, without fail, you engage in storytelling.

B2B needs to create an emotional experience
And what’s more, every social action is underpinned by one thing – emotion. Unless you’re a robot, it’s there in everything you do and in every decision you make. Without consciously trying, we seek emotional experience and engagement from one another

That’s what human to human means.

And that’s why B2B doesn’t work anymore. Businesses do not have emotion. And nor do their products or services, but their people do.

That’s what we should be thinking about; building emotional, social relationships.
And don’t just take my word for it. Our friends at the CEB have evidence  that backs up this approach from a commercial perspective.

We need to shift to a narrative that combines the brand, product and service stories we want to tell, with something more emotionally charged, so we can appeal to our audiences in a human to human way.

Sold. Or not? You’re right; theory is one thing, but what about in practice?

Step one is easy: change what you mean by the word ‘professional’.
The thing is, we’ve let that word dominate the theory of B2B marketing. It’s shorthand for being inauthentic, boring, humourless, in fact devoid of all emotion.

But look up its meaning – it doesn’t mean any of those things.
Instead, we should let it mean being knowledgeable, skilled, and willing to share this expertise with others.

Alternatively, watch this video – it’s a fantastic example of everything that’s wrong with ‘corporate’ videos.
But it’s also a fantastic example of emotional storytelling by the stock video company that produced it.

It’s professional – because it shows the depth of the company’s inventory, and its understanding of the power of video, of editing and of the right creative concept. But it’s not boring.

And most importantly, it’s an example of a B2B organisation acting in a human-to-human way.
What do you think? Does it work? And is human to human as simple as changing professional to a more authentic version of itself?

By DMA guest blogger Phil Borge, B2B Director, Threepipe 

Read B2B is dead; long live human to human – part 1

A TV dinner: the future of TV advertising

We were excited to be invited to an event hosted by the DMA and Sky in Manchester on Tuesday 15 July to discuss the big news about the future of TV advertising. The session aimed to reveal insights from Sky’s first year of testing its new service, Sky AdSmart, allowing marketers to target TV relevant to individual customers. A welcome addition to the digital marketing space, this is exactly the direct TV revolution we’ve been waiting for.

Sky AdSmart Controller, Daniel Stephenson, emphasised that these days, marketers shouldn’t be thinking about TV as just ‘TV’ as we have always known it. Rather, it is becoming increasingly more important to spot opportunities where digital and direct marketing can work together to enhance your brand’s overall strategy. As Daniel discussed, TV complements many other media channels like direct marketing, online activity, plus regional press and radio works well with integrated campaigns.

A-TV-Dinner

Data-driven advertising opportunities
This is where something like Sky SmartAds comes in. An “addressable TV platform” B2B product which provides growth in the TV space for brands and lowers the barriers to entry, it is a more more accessible option for niche brands, SMEs and location-specific advertisers who are seeking to harness the power of TV. Offering modular and scaleable targeting, Sky AdSmart works on impressions based pricing and delivery and shows cause and effect evaluations for those using the service.

Until now, viewers watching a Sky channel would see the same adverts at the same time; with Sky AdSmart, different adverts can be shown to different households watching the same platform. How is this possible? Data driven at the household level, this is good news for marketers as these can be based on factors like age, location and life-stage derived from Sky’s own customer data plus information from external consumer profile experts.

The evolution of TV and advertising
For the consumer (Daniel made a point of saying “customer” not just “viewer” when talking about Sky SmartAds), this means more relevant content and a more discrete way of selling a product, which for us is where advertising is going across all media platforms. It was interesting to hear about Sky’s “ecosystem” made up of its own content and channels, plus the in-house technology, the Sky Media arm of the brand and Sky IQ, which are the underlying elements of this service.

Looking ahead to its future, Daniel mentioned that a reporting portal will soon be launched, while more targeting opportunities will be on offer, with even more refined and custom data sets. Additional platforms like being used on mobile and tablet are also in the pipeline, while the number of channels available continues to grow. Listening to Daniel share stats from case studies, it seems Sky AdSmart is a flexible and effective means of advertising for both big and small brands.

DMA-SkyAdSmart-event

Rounding off the night, Daniel left us with some food for thought about how Sky AdSmart could benefit marketers: it amplifies and compliments other channels, can be drilled down to local and regional activity and provides multiple creatives and offers. For us, it was interesting to see where the world of TV advertising is going, particularly as we combine traditional methods with digital marketing. We’d like to thank the DMA and Sky AdSmart for the insights and look forward to seeing how this evolves!

By DMA guest blogger Pamela Bustard, Social Media Manager, The Media Octopus

Big Nev – why most telemarketing professionals would prefer him to be a bit smaller

For almost 20 years very few people have known what a call/contact centre is. Now when you’re in a pub and you say you work in a contact centre most people happily connect and say “oh like the one on that BBC 3 programme?” I want to scream “NO! NO! NO!” but instead I just shrug and say “a bit”.

There are so many things that make The Call Centre watchable and I admire the energy evident on the calling floor and the wacky initiatives that are put in place to keep the staff engaged. It’s just a shame that the general public think this is what happens in a typical contact centre – which it clearly doesn’t.

I know it’s light entertainment, this is BBC 3 not BBC 2, but all it does is fuel misconceptions that contact centres bend the rules to get results – let’s not forget that ‘Big Nev’ was fined £225,000 over nuisance calls in 2013. The stereotypes and bad practices portrayed in the programme undermine the perceived professionalism of telemarketing.

Telemarketing done professionally definitely has a place and will deliver ROI. Almost all outsourced and in-house contact centres know that you don’t need to use such questionable practices to get results. It’s about working with the brand team and the data teams to ensure calls are being made to the right people, with the right message at the right time.

Any contact centre that is accredited by the DMA will hold up their badge as clear evidence that the data and marketing practices that are in place adhere to the clear guidelines. We care about the customer experience; we manage our diallers in a super compliant way; we bonus our staff against quality more than anything else and we love poring over our Voice of the Customer scores.

Unless he pulls his socks up Nev doesn’t, and probably never will have DMA membership so despite recognising that he is undoubtedly one of the industry’s personalities I have to give him a big red, Britain’s got better talent, cross – what do you think?

By DMA guest blogger Nerys Corfield, UK Sales Manager, Data Base Factory and DMA Contact Centres & Telemarketing Council member

Google Glass signals start of my always-on, real-time adventures

And so they arrived. About 10 days ago. Those who were there in Creative when Tess the office manager delivered the package will probably recount the story to their children and their children’s children (who will no doubt tell their children’s children).

Yes, Google Glass is in the building. And it’s remarkable how differently individuals react when their lives collide with the world’s hottest tech product.

Some gaze at it, bereft of language, as the device rests sedately in the plush white Google box. It’s as if they were staring for the first time at the Turin Shroud, Mona Lisa or that Roswell alien.

Others adopt a more dynamic approach: they grab the Glass, thrust it on their face and start barking orders at the top of their voice.

“OK Google, make me toast, er, walk the dog, er, teach me how to play the clarinet.”

This rarely works. They take them off drenched in disappointment.

Of course, there is a vital matter to be settled right here: is Google Glass an ‘it’ or a ‘them’? Hmm.

What I’ve noticed is how many people call them Google Glasses, as if they’re oversized, super-powered spectacles to be perched precariously on your proboscis.

Such innocent individuals stand wide-mouthed in amazement when they discover the bold, unbridled future nestles in a singular glass cuboid, rather than a pair of Su Pollard’s finest.

This, to me, confirms that Google Glass is an ‘it’.

But what to do with it?

Well, that’s why we’ve got them. To explore. To delve. To dissect. To investigate. To extrapolate. To pursue. To hack.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll bring you regular reports of life in a Glass-powered world. The ups, the downs, the highs, the lows. And most importantly, the opportunities. For this is the future. On one’s face.

So away we go, brimming with the pioneering spirit. Sergey Brin  would like that. In search of always-on adventures. Ready to ensnare the real-time world. Tweeting purely through the power of thought. (Just testing. You can’t do that. Yet.)

Google Glass gets people talking (other than those rendered speechless by its physical wonderousness).

My son’s told all his mates, who’ve told all they’re mates, who’ve told their mums and dads, who’ve contacted all their distant cousins. You might want to tell them someone too!

By DMA guest blogger Richard Norton, Associate Creative Director, Indicia

Can technology desensitise marketers?

Today’s marketers look at visits, impressions, opens, clicks, mail-outs, conversions, abandon rates, bounce rates, average order value, total lifetime value – but are we blinded by the numbers and what they represent?

Think of your average subscriber, and you’ll not see the uniqueness and complexity you see in the people you meet day-to-day. You and I are the average consumer to most of the brands we engage with. As a result, they treat us identically. And I am pretty sure that what influences you, dear reader, isn’t identical to what influences me. No hard feelings. Let’s look at a great example of ‘connected marketing’ from a technology point of view, then from a customer’s point of view.

My customer experience of connected marketing
I went into a shopping centre a few weeks ago and visited a well-known shoe retailer. I looked around for a while then one of the sales assistants asked if I needed any help. I said I was looking at three different styles but I’m an annoying shoe size (UK 12, European 47) so didn’t expect them to have much in stock in my size.

The sales assistant took me to an iPad mounted next to the shoes and checked what they had in-store, but was also was able to search their warehouse and surrounding stores. The warehouse had my size, and if they sent them to my home or office I could easily return them either to the store (no return cost) or post them back with a courier using the pre-printed returns slip (no cost again!). Awesome.

To me, this was a great customer experience – I ordered the shoes I wanted, they had joined up their online and the offline activity and as a customer I was getting what I wanted. So I ordered at the check-out in store, gave them my email address and was told to expect an email.

Follow-up emails undermine positive customer experience in-store
The confirmation email I received came several days later at the same time as three other emails into my personal Gmail account, the first two can be seen below:

The first email, (from ‘comments’!?) told me I had signed up to their VIP programme (I’ve made one purchase and have yet to receive the goods, why am I a VIP?). This email gave me 10% off my first online purchase (the call to action is to cancel my existing order and reorder online for a 10% discount?). Good to know they’re concerned with saving me money, at least.

The second email, sent at an identical time again from ‘comments’, was an order confirmation email which was so poorly rendered in Gmail that I couldn’t actually see what I had bought, what it cost and when it would arrive (I had been charged shipping that wasn’t explained to me in-store) and the order tracking link to a Royal Mail delivery service was broken.

There was no way to contact their customer service team in the email, no contact email, no contact number and it’s incredibly difficult on the website – they direct me back to the local store, which in the email was different to the store where I made my purchase!

The third email, again from “comments”, came nine days later confirming that the items had been dispatched – and I was told in-store that they were in stock at the time. At this stage, I still have not been told how much my items in the basket were or the cost of shipping, the delivery link to Royal Mail still does not work and I still don’t have any contact details for customer services. I don’t know when they are being delivered and how much they have already cost me, I needed to check my online banking to see how much I’d been charged. Outrageous!

I eventually got the products I ordered in-store two weeks after I had purchased them. The magic was gone. I’ve got the product I wanted but what could have been a great experience had left me frustrated and unlikely to repeat it.

How can this happen?
It’s happened here, and in many other cases, I suspect because no-one has attempted to look at the communications process from the customer’s point of view.

Test the customer experience not just the technology
I don’t doubt that the integration of the inventory management system, supply chain management, marketing automation tool and parcel delivery system was complex and time-consuming. But how often during the testing of data transfer processes, API calls, templates and content creation did anyone look at the whole end-to-end process for the customer?

We are told by industry experts in the US and Europe that 70% or more of a customer database has only made a single purchase in the last 12-24 months in online retail. If we look at the process above, functionally everything is in the right place and the data and communications are running.

But by not looking at what they’re actually sending to the customer, providing me the right information, asking me for feedback about the process or even attempting to promote other products and services I might be interested in in future they’ve lost an opportunity and they’ve lost a future customer.

Their first email told me I was enrolled as a VIP. I don’t feel like one, and that’s why I’m in the 70% of customers who – while happy with the product – won’t buy from them again.

By DMA guest blogger Alex Timlin, Director of International Sales and Solutions, Emarsys

Join Alex for a free webinar: From marketing to a personalised customer experience on Wednesday 30 July at 3pm and hear how data insight can deliver a customer experience that inspires people to come back to you again and again. Book your free place.

What gives with the DMA’s new website?

As some of you may know, we’ve been toiling away for the past few months forging a new DMA website out of cutting-edge web technologies and the tears of developers. Testing emails have gone out, feedback has been gratefully received, and we are slowly honing in on a finished product.

But why are we doing this? For what purpose are we keeping a bunch of nerds locked in a basement with only Monster Energy drinks and Sainsbury’s Basics noodles for sustenance?

In case it wasn’t patently obvious, it’s partly for our own sadistic pleasure, but mostly for the benefit of you, the DMA members. We’ve been working – and hard – on creating a website that puts you firmly in the driver’s seat.

Here’s what you can expect:

Super-powered search
You’ll always find exactly what you’re looking for (and a whole lot of stuff you didn’t know you wanted), with the new super-smart search

Turbo tools
Customise your own personal content feed, clip articles to read later and connect directly to the people that matter. Submit the content you want to see and add to other people’s work.

Rough and ready responsive layout
Want to browse on an iPhone 5c? No problem. Samsung Galaxy? We’ve got you covered. Obscure space-age technology not yet discovered? Yep, the site will still look brilliant on that too.

And much, much more besides.

The whole thing has been built using masonry.js, with a suite of proprietary, custom-built technologies just for us and, by extension, you, because we’re all special. Once it’s up and running on our dedicated servers (and you better believe we’ve got a load balancer in there), the whole thing will be lightning fast. I’m talking roadrunner fast. Somewhere between Superman and the Flash kind of fast. That’s the good news.

But these things, much like a new series of Game of Thrones or my mum’s famous shredded-chicken lasagne, take time. “But we’ve already been waiting ages!” I hear you say, much to my surprise as this is a blog and we’re not actually having a two-way conversation while I type this.
We know. We understand.

And you’re not getting the site until it’s perfect. No, more than that; until it’s ruddy-bloody amazing.

So bear with us; watch your inbox for test emails (you lucky few), and feel free to ask questions. We’re nothing if not good listeners – tell us what you’d like to see on the site, what you’d find useful, and how amazing the season finale of GoT was. Am I right?! I can’t believe they brought that guy back from the dead! Twist!

By Mark Thomas, Digital Content Executive, The DMA

 

4 ways to boost your campaign results

Data can tell you what makes your customers respond to your marketing campaigns, whether it’s delivered by email, direct mail, or even telemarketing.
Why do so many people think marketing data analysis only works for online?

New media campaigns may sound cost-effective – sending a million emails or serving a million impressions may cost just a few pounds. But longer-established media like direct mail and telephone campaigns can deliver far higher response rates making the cost equation balance.

AdWords deals in single-digit click-throughs, while there are banner programmes where 0.1% counts as positive. Yet some direct mail campaigns can achieve an 18% response from a list of just 3,000. How are they doing it?

The answer’s not just about the numbers – but about the words, too.

Here are four ways to boost the performance of your marketing campaigns:

1. Be subjective: look at the first line everyone sees
Many campaigns focus on the mailer’s content. But marketing data analysis starts with the prime commercial property above it: the headline. Whether it’s the first line of your letter, the title on the envelope, or the subject line of your email.

There’s no secret as to why. It’s the first – sometimes the only – part of your marketing communication everyone sees. And it’s often critical to their decision whether to read on.

Marketing data analysis isn’t just “by the numbers”. It’s by the words.
So headlines deserve a lot of attention. What criteria can today’s marketing manager use to get a grip on what works?

2. Dig deep into your past campaigns
The first task is to look back at previous campaign reports. Not at what you thought was good, but what actually worked.

Make a list of all the headlines you used. Then rank them by the simplest metric: whether a recipient responded. (Whether that means opening the mailer, or recalling it when you follow up by phone.)

Then apply two more metrics: whether that recipient visited your website (you can put a unique URL in your letter to find out) and whether they went further down the sales funnel, such as providing their profile data at your squeeze page or landing page. Three valuable sets of data. And all came from an offline campaign.

3. Apply numerical metrics to words
Even without mapping the data into a visual chart (a data consultant can help you do this) you’ll see discrepancies between the best and worst headlines.

Some campaigns had low responses… but high recall when you followed up. Counterintuitive? No. It means the headline wasn’t intriguing, but the content was. (Another reason to pay a lot of attention to headlines.)

And then there are high-interest mailings – where everybody opened the envelope, but nobody typed in the URL or dialled your number. Perhaps the promise of the envelope copy wasn’t paid off by the content inside. Or the content gave away too much, rather than interesting your reader in taking action.

And then there are the campaigns with high numbers, but for only for a subset of your audience. If so, think again about segmentation in your marketing data analysis. It’s probably worth targeting that content to different people, even if it’s only a change of title.

4. Cast a critical eye over every sentence
When you’ve got a list of successful opening lines, it’s time to take it to the next level. With your audience in mind, what common traits do those sentences share? Here are some ideas:

  • Nouns. Are they concrete and snappy, creating instant pictures in your reader’s mind?
  • Verbs. Are they active and alive, giving the impression something interesting is happening?
  • Adjectives. Do you have too many? (Answer: yes.)
  • Length. Both sentence length (word count) and character count. Imagine you’re reading email on your phone’s tiny screen – what do you like to see?

Of course, this doesn’t just teach you about your campaign success; it teaches you about your customers. And because so many people concentrate on email these days, thinking again about offline campaigns can give you a huge competitive edge.

So if you want to raise your numbers… try looking at your words.

By DMA guest blogger Julie Knight, Marketing Director, Marketscan

The 5 pillars of training for better contact centres

With more companies, from Barclays to RSA, bringing their call centre operations back to the UK (due to increasing customer demand for on-shore call agents), there’s been a steady increase in firms outsourcing this operation.  Npower’s decision to sell 770,000 customer contracts to Telecom Plus is just one recent example.

The increased use of social media, and the growing demand for live web chat, means more is being demanded of call centre agents in an often testing and hectic job.

As a result, there’s now a greater need for call centres to support their staff with more robust training programmes giving them the skills to keep up with constantly expanding demands. A motivated and career-focused team will generate positivity that is transferred to the customer.

The more support you can offer, the more likely you will also see an increase in productivity. But you’ll also see a decrease in staff attrition, leading to a more knowledgeable core team who understand customer needs (and the needs of your business).

When brands are looking to partner with an outsourced call centre operation, this low turnover will provide reassurance that agents will become deeply rooted in the brand values and represent these effectively to customers.

The DMA has identified five key pillars of training, which enable staff to become better agents and strengthens partnerships with brands:

  1. Train relevant to the needs of the individual, not just the product being promoted
  2. Hard skills – product knowledge, campaign objectives, customer demographics
  3. Soft skills – listening techniques, call structure, updating customer records
  4. Complaint handling and escalation
  5. Regulatory requirements – TPS, Data Protection Act, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard  (PCI DSS)

For more information on these five pillars, please check our two best practice documents: Best Practice Guide; Business-to-Consumer Telemarketing and Best Practice Guide; Contact Centres & Telemarketing, Business-to-Business

In this year’s budget, Chancellor George Osborne highlighted the need for businesses to support staff by doubling the annual investment allowance for UK businesses to £500,000. This allowance can be used for a number of investment purposes, including training and people development.

The ability to effectively communicate and resolve difficult situations with customers, be it on the phone, via email or Twitter, is vital to ensuring your company doesn’t fall at the first hurdle when engaging with customers and nurturing long-term relationships.

By DMA guest blogger Jo Varey, MD, Granby Marketing Services and DMA Contact Centres & Telemarketing Council member