Author: kearbar

I am strategic communications consultant with an ecclectic background and many interests.

Digital transformation dreaming

creativeThere is a huge pile of research reports and studies on my desk how digitization will change the way we do business. And I am sure there are similar piles in many managers’ offices. But what good are the best reports if you are unable to move the transformation forward?

Those that are succeeding in moving along their digital transformation have two things in common: one, they not only understand what digital transformation means, they also know that it means a fundamental change for the whole company. And two, they ensure that they have the right resources with the right expertise to transform their corporate culture to meet the upcoming challenges.

Digital transformation needs to driven by the CEO. Not your Head of IT. Not your Head of Sales. Not your Head of Something Something. It needs to be one of the top strategic priorities for the whole company driven from the top down.

Digital transformation is not walking down a straight path. You will need to be open for new business models. For new ways of implementing products and services. And your corporate culture will need to allow failure.

Digital transformation can be driven an internal facilitator like a Chief Digital Officer or even be outsourced into a new venture that can work without any “analog”disruption from the organization in form of resistance or doubts. But whatever way is chosen at the end of you will need a leader.

Digital transformation needs a leader who has a strong project management background, who is a multitasker, open to try new things. You will need someone who is impatient, a fast thinker , who plays well with others and is able to influence change within the culture of the board and with it the rest of the company. And you will need someone who is a strong communicator. Someone who can combine the “old” with the “new”.

That is why it is imperative for all organizations to start understanding what digital transformation means for their business and  how the digital competencies of new and existing directors will fit emerging strategies. And it is the CEO’s task to ensure that this journey is started on the right path.

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Insights from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report 2016

Venture captrenditalist Mary Meeker’s annual presentation on the State of the Internet always gets my attention (and many other’s as well) as it outlines where digital trends and with it marketing are headed to in the next few years.

At 213 pages it is a lot to digest and here are my main takeaways;

  • Internet growth is slowing down. The adoption rate was flay YoY at 9%. At the moment it is reaching about 42% of the world’s population.
  • The smartphone is hitting the saturation point. There are 7.4 billion people in the world and about 2.5 billion smartphones. And it seems as though the majority of those who can or will own a smartphone already do. But marketers shouldn’t worry, mobile will only become more important as people spend more time on their devices.
  • Online advertising is up 20% and mobile is a big driver of growth. Google and Facebook are also big drivers commanding 76% of all spend. Meeker sees a $22 billion opportunity in mobile advertising based on data showing consumers spend 25 percent of their media time on mobile while advertisers spend only 12 percent of their budgets here. But if marketers want to be effective they need to fit in with consumer behaviours. Think fitting the content with the platform specific consumer behaviours such as vertical, short length, full screen.
  • Ad blocking is on the rise. Obviously the public is making a statement here – time for marketers to find some acceptance and start to create content that is truly relevant to our audiences.
  • Messaging apps are huge and over time could take over the home screen on mobile devices. After all, 80% of users time is spent on 3 apps: Facebook, WhatsApp and Chrome. We will see a shift from messaging being just for us to be social to include more business related interactions. We must not forget that in Asia messaging apps like WeChat are already more or less used as home screens with people going there to not only chat but also shop, order taxis, transfer money or play games. Plus the next generations prefer to chat than actually physically talk.
  • Visual is exploding and images are fuelling sales. Meeker says that in 5 years at least 50% of searches will be made through images or speech. We are using our smartphones more to tell and share stories – no wonder Snapchat has made such a huge leap recently. For marketers this means if we can help our target audience visualize how a product fits into their lives, we can help drive sales.
  • Video is also obviously exploding with Snapchat and Facebook Live which increases the pressure to produce relevant, authentic and real-time content. Funnily enough, video ads are not doing so well. Ad blocking plays a major part here and many people mute the sound. Once again it is all about relevant targeting and delivering the relevant content at the right time and place.
  • Privacy and personal data. Obviously marketers love digital data as it gives us the opportunity for effective advertising ROIs. But according to Meeker, 45% of people are more worried about digital security than last year. What does this mean? Do not risk the trust you have earned with your audiences and listen to their concerns.
  • And finally after the rise of text, images….now the rise of the voice interfaces. Voice is probably the best “real time” format we have. We can speak faster than typing and it is definitely much more personal. While we may not be there completely from a technological point of view yet this is open up new avenues for sales and marketing.

Enabling (digital) transformation

filmNext week  I am joining a panel discussion about “Digital Transformation and Shared Economy – what family owned companies can learn from start-ups”as part of the Pioneer Festival in Vienna, a major event for future technologies and entrepreneurship.

The impact of digitalization presents unprecedented challenges for all companies – big or small.  Digitalization can not only extend the reach of organizations and improve management decisions, but most of all it can speed up the development of new products and services. But this can also mean that your traditional business model may become disrupted. Having a solid strategy for your digital transformation is therefore key.

For established companies working together with start-ups for their digital transformation can have many benefits. These range from having better access to new technologies to an increase in innovation as well as learning to be more lean and fast.

But what are the most important pre-requisites for a successful transformation? I know that there are a few but here are my top 4:

  1. The C-suite is boss
    Digitalization is a key change for any business model. But it will also mean changes in your corporate culture. Therefore it can only be successful if the transformation process is owned and backed by CEO.
  2. Startup mentality is part of your DNA
    If you want to be innovative and foster new technologies, you will need people that have an entrepreneurial mindset in your organization. And you will want to give them all the support they need. Digitalization means being hands-on, open to trial and error and being convinced of its success. And being given the space to to develop new business models will be key to get ahead in the process.
  3. Protect innovation
    Innovation, just like any change, can often fail if the organization does not embrace it. As mentioned above, it is critical that people working on digital transformation are given the (protected) space to create and develop new ideas and are able to test these in an agile manner. Give them the autonomy to go  and impact things.
  4. Truly understanding your customer
    The key word here is “customer centricity” – if you do not know who your customers are nor what they really need you will already have lost. Services and products should be developed with a focus on what the customer needs rather what the organization believes is needed. And ideally, this should be done as fast as possible to quickly meet the market demands.

 

But something we must not forget: digital transformation is not only driven by technology but also by humans and how they communicate this transformation.  I think the latter is often forgotten when we hear or read about digital transformation. But that is something I will focus on in my next article. Watch this space!

 

ROI, Facebook and Snapchat

According to a new survey taken in March, almost all (95.8%) of social media marketers worldwide believe that Facebook produces the best ROI out of the major social platforms. With Facebook continually adding new revenue streams, it is not a suprise marketers are using Facebook for their marketing efforts.

ROI

Snapchat, however, is at the bottom – which sort of fits into the results from L2 Think Tank. They found that brands are more hesitant when it comes to using Snapchat.
Instagram on the other hand seems to have almost every industry fully using the platform.  Maybe they have not discovered yet that Snapchat allows you to create unique content in-app that may increase brand following?  Interestingly enough though, posting frequency is higher on Snapchat than Instagram on a weekly basis.
By the way: I am a sucker for both.

snap

 

Marketing customer centricity

3dWhile customer centricity is nothing new, customer experience lies at the heart of digital transformation.

Digital is putting customers in the driver seat, transforming their purchasing decisions. Today’s customers are more empowered, they can get a lot of information online way before they need to get in touch with a sales representative. It is a true shift in power and organizations need to adopt a customer centric approach across their company to offer value.

While most companies today claim to put their customers first, a surprisingly small number are actually doing it right. Servicing your customers well cannot be put into a “one size fits all” strategy and marketing plays an important role in helping to achieve customer centricity.

It’s all about “Personas”
The better you know your customers, the better you can give them what they want. Customer centric marketing needs to acknowledge that there is no average customer. Nobody wants to be spammed with generic email promotions that do not speak to your needs or is just plain boring. This is where personas can help you. By understanding your audiences and buyer types, you can craft a specific message, with relevant content, in the right channels, creating value along the way and hopefully creating long-term relationships, ideally with your customers becoming brand advocates.

Understanding the customer journey
The ‘customer journey’ can be defined as all interactions that customers’ have with a company’s brand, product or services across all touch points and channels. In today’s digital world it is imperative that a seamless experience is created across all channels – and this includes on- as well as offline. Understanding the customer journey allows us to better connect, communicate and give the right information at the right time of the journey or purchasing process.

Make use of data
Too many marketers talk about data-driven marketing but data is only useful if the right technology and know how is in place to capture and analyse. Every day customers are telling us what they want by clicking, sharing, downloading. And it is not about collecting vast amounts of data but more to look at the data and understanding what customers need and want and then using that insight to develop better marketing campaigns, design products and services as well as other efforts and initiatives.

Customer centric business = social business
Customer intimacy relies on two-way conversation. Social media allows you to understand and communicate with your customers, making your relationship with them more meaningful. Social media is a key channel for customers in their decision-making. Make sure that you are present where your customers are present, that you listen, identify the gaps in customer engahement and respond in real-time.

The shift towards becoming a customer centric organization is complex and takes a long time. Marketing plays an important role in helping create a change in corporate culture where the focus is on the customer. The future of marketing (as always) is exciting and challenging.

Facebook F8

FBFacebook is on a roll – the rate at which it is introducing new features is mind-blowing.

Here are the main new things to watch out for:

  • The chatbots are coming
    Through Messenger, businesses can now deliver automated customer support. Might still be a little wearisome now (like ordering flowers) but as Techcrunch wrote it is estimated that chatbots could replace the 1-800 numbers (and probably the humans behind it).
  • Sponsored message ads are go
    Businesses can now send re-engagement messages to people who’ve already started a conversation with them on Messenger. Will be interesting to see how this works out, consumers will not want anything that is to spammy so businesses need to see what the right balance will be.
  • Keeping you in app
    We all know that with the battle over networks everyone’s intention is to keeo you “in app” for as long as possible. So Facebook now also allows you to drop files straight from your Dropbox into Messenger (saves emailing) and have a “persistent Chat Head” at the top of your screen (Android only for now)
  • Instant articles
    And if you haven’t had enough, then instant articles can now be used by ALL publishers. Developers get on it.