tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/behavioural-targeting Latest Behavioural targeting content from Econsultancy 2017-03-27T14:45:05+01:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68911 2017-03-27T14:45:05+01:00 2017-03-27T14:45:05+01:00 Brand Commerce: Pushing the value of your brand through trial Michael Sandstrom <p>It allows your customers to ‘own’ your brand without initially paying for it, and because once they have a brand they value it more highly, they are more likely to continue using your product.</p> <p>Humans are creatures of habit and comfort, making it highly unlikely that we will give up on what we perceive to be a benefit to us once it has become an established part of our everyday lives. Just as the majority of us are unlikely to eschew the benefits of modern society for a hunter-gatherer lifestyle or even go back from smartphones to flip phones, some brands and their products have managed to make themselves indispensable in our lives. </p> <p>With the right product and the right kind of trial, barring a negative experience by your customers, the removal of your product from their life could end up feeling like an opportunity cost too high to risk. </p> <p>However, there are reasons for caution when considering running free trials. When executed badly, they can end up harming your brand. As reported by The Money Advice Service, four in ten Brits continue to pay for a subscription they’re not using, costing us <a href="https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/blog/don-t-forget-to-cancel-how-subscriptions-cost-brits-338m-a-month">collectively £338m a month</a>. </p> <p>While for the short term this ensures cashflow for these companies, it’s not helping them to build long-term brand loyalty and advocacy amongst their customers. Instead your brand might end up as a source of stress, affecting your brand affinity negatively. For this article, we will go through some of the brands that have not only made trials a key part of their marketing strategy, but have managed to firmly engrain themselves in our lives through it.</p> <h3>Instant gratification through extended trial</h3> <p>The healthy snack subscription service <a href="https://www.graze.com">Graze</a> has successfully used free trials to build its service and expand its offering into a ecommerce platform. Rather uniquely, they also seem to have managed to keep opportunists at bay, stopping customers from ordering one box and then swiftly cancelling the service. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5057/graze_brand_commerce.png" alt="" width="700" height="449"></p> <p>Graze has done this by offering both the first and fifth boxes of snacks for free. Looking at this from a consumer behaviour point of view, this is successful because of the perceived instant gratification from receiving both immediate and tangible future reward.</p> <p>This increases the likelihood of Graze's products becoming an established part of its customers' lives and a benefit they would rather not be without. </p> <h3>Showing your value through sudden deprivation</h3> <p>Swedish streaming company <a href="https://www.spotify.com">Spotify</a> has been instrumental in driving the music industry away from physical ownership into the instant access of music. With over 100m active users and now <a href="https://press.spotify.com/uk/about/">50m</a> of those choosing to pay for the privilege, Spotify’s strategy of providing a 30-day free trial of its Premium paid tier seems to be working.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5058/Spotify_screen.png" alt="" width="700" height="384"></p> <p>Those that choose to either not continue past the trial or outright cancel the service then revert back to only being able to access a limited freemium model. This tactic is especially effective since it effectively becomes a deprivation exercise. By removing a newly found benefit from your customers’ lives, you have a chance at making them understand what they miss the most.</p> <h3>Speak to your customers’ aversion to risk</h3> <p>Other brands such as a online mattress company <a href="https://www.evemattress.co.uk">Eve</a> and its multitude of competitors are using another type of tactic to incentivise trial and purchase. Eve is so sure of the quality of its mattresses that the company is willing to bet you won’t return the mattress after sleeping on it 100 times.  </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5059/eve_screenshot.png" alt="" width="700" height="366"></p> <p>While this might not be as successful for digital, immaterial goods, this is especially effective when pushing trial of physical products. Once accustomed to an everyday product such as a mattress, not many are willing to go through the hassle and risk of both returning and buying a new mattress.</p> <p>Pursuing a free trial as a sales tactic has great potential to both drive sales and build long-term brand affinity among your target customers. However, planning and implementation is important to make sure you stay away from opportunists only looking for a free deal. The best way of ensuring this and keeping your new customers past the end of your trial is by tapping into and using your customers' behaviours to your own benefit.</p> <p><em>To read more about <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68176-brand-commerce-a-new-planning-model-for-marketers">Brand Commerce</a> and how behavioural science can help drive sales and build brand affinity, see our previous articles on how to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68602-brand-commerce-navigating-through-online-customer-indecision">navigate through online indecision</a> and how to use your <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68357-brand-commerce-what-is-your-brand-s-key-feature">brand’s key feature</a> to stand apart from your competition.</em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68728 2017-01-24T10:09:00+00:00 2017-01-24T10:09:00+00:00 How fashion retailers can use search trend data to inform marketing & product strategy Nikki Gilliland <p>Search terms that combine both evergreen and seasonal keywords are the easiest to predict, with terms like ‘swimwear’ and ‘coats’ guaranteed to peak at a certain time each and every year. </p> <p>On the other hand, reactive trends - while harder to forecast – are also helpful.</p> <p>Using theory <a href="https://www.pi-datametrics.com/resources/market-performance-reports/search-trend-data/" target="_blank">from PI Datametrics</a>, here’s a look at how fashion brands can capitalise on both types of search data. (Note: this can be adapted to brands in any industry, but I'm using fashion as an example here.)</p> <h3>Long-term strategy from seasonal evergreen search trends</h3> <p>The below chart outlines search trend data for the term ‘swimwear’.</p> <p>Although it has high organic value all year-round, it also peaks at the same time every year.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3256/PIPR.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="340"></p> <p>PI Datametrics suggest using the following strategy to capitalise on this.</p> <h4>Plan</h4> <p>The planning stage, which in this case would be January, involves getting ready for peak purchases, as well as ensuring all-year round interest will be met.</p> <p>During this time, it’s wise for retailers to stock up on swimwear to capitalise on off-season sales. Meanwhile, it’s also worthwhile conducting link-building activities and optimising a year-round landing page in preparation.</p> <h4>Influence</h4> <p>This stage involves taking advantage of consumer research during popular holiday periods like Christmas, when consumers are researching and planning their summer holiday. In turn, this data can also be used to build a cookie-pool, which can lead to effective re-targeting at a later date.</p> <h4>Peak </h4> <p>Drawing on the aforementioned Plan and Influence stages, retailers should also use the peak purchasing period around June and July to re-target lost customers, rather than build engagement.</p> <h4>Repeat</h4> <p>Finally, marketers should ensure that <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65455-why-you-need-an-evergreen-content-strategy/">evergreen content</a> is optimised, and clear stock in time for next year’s seasonal cycle.</p> <h3>Reactive strategy for peak search trends </h3> <p>Google UK data shows that searches for the ‘off-shoulder look’ grew 261% between December 2015 and May 2016.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3257/Reactive.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="537"></p> <p>In instances like this, it is useful to implement a reactive search strategy, as outlined below.</p> <h4>React</h4> <p>When it comes to new fashion trends, peaks in search can happen very quickly. As a result, success often comes from reacting at the right time.</p> <p>ASOS capitalised on 'off-the-shoulder' by creating and optimising a landing page for the trend term as quickly as possible. Similarly, it's helpful to utilise marketing channels other than organic search to capture interest. </p> <h4>Perform</h4> <p>Once it is clear that a keyword is growing in popularity, optimising content organically could prove to be more cost efficient and improve visibility. </p> <h4>Review</h4> <p>Once the peak has died down, retailers should reassess the value of continuing this campaign. Other tactics during this final stage include adjusting stock accordingly, or linking the landing page to a different or more popular trend.</p> <h3>In conclusion...</h3> <p>Whether it is based on evergreen, seasonal or one-off trends - search trend data can provide retailers with the ability to create a well-defined strategy.</p> <p>From replenishing stock levels to creating multi-channel content, if used and interpreted correctly, it can help fashion brands meet customer demand and increase sales.</p> <p><em>To learn more on this topic, download Econsultancy’s brand new <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/seo-best-practice-guide/">SEO Best Practice Guide</a> or check out our range of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/topics/search-marketing/">Search Marketing training courses</a>.</em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68609 2016-12-08T01:30:00+00:00 2016-12-08T01:30:00+00:00 Four things to consider before marketing on a new digital channel Jeff Rajeck <p>The same study also shows that <strong>these new consumer behaviours are good for brands which can keep up.</strong>  </p> <p>As the percentage of sales that a brand makes online increases, the more likely it is that a consumer will select the brand at some point in the purchase funnel. <strong><br></strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2149/Picture1.png" alt="" width="570" height="444"></p> <p>Because of this, marketers should always be on the lookout for new digital channels. With new ones appearing regularly, however, knowing which ones to use can be difficult. </p> <p>To find out how professional marketers decide whether to use a new digital channel, Econsultancy in association with <a href="https://www.ibm.com/watson/marketing/">IBM Cognitive Engagement: Watson Marketing</a> recently held roundtable discussions in Delhi.</p> <p>There, senior client-side marketers discussed how they launch on digital channels to improve customer engagement, acquisition, and loyalty.</p> <p>Below are four questions which attendees indicated that they ask when launching on a new digital channel.</p> <h3>1. What is the objective of using the new channel?</h3> <p>The first thing delegates consider when reviewing a new digital channel is their objective. That is, what are they trying to accomplish?</p> <p>To answer this, they look at what part of the buying cycle they are trying to influence and ask whether or not the channel is appropriate. For example: </p> <ul> <li> <strong>Awareness:</strong> Is this where people interested in our brand spend their time?</li> <li> <strong>Research: </strong>Do potential customers look for information here? If so, can we tell them what they want to know?</li> <li> <strong>Interest: </strong>Will we be able to draw them away from the platform to tell our brand story?</li> <li> <strong>Conversion:</strong> Will they be in the right mindset to buy when they are in this channel?</li> <li> <strong>Advocacy: </strong>Does the platform allow us to engage with customers one-on-one at scale? </li> </ul> <p>Different platforms will suit different purposes. Highly visual networks, such as Instagram and Snapchat, tend to perform better at the top of the funnel.  </p> <p>Special-topic sites such as a blog are more suitable for the middle and conversion. Messaging platforms are best for ongoing engagement.</p> <p>Marketers should, therefore, understand where a channel fits in the customer journey before committing resources and budget to develop their presence on it.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2152/1.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <h3>2. Is it possible to segment audiences on the channel?</h3> <p>In <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/quarterly-digital-intelligence-briefing-2016-digital-trends">Econsultancy's latest Digital Trends report</a>, 'targeting and personalization' was seen as one of the three top priorities for organisations in 2016.</p> <p>Marketers in Delhi agreed. Participants noted that whenever they look at new digital channels, <strong>they consider whether they are able to segment and target audiences on the platform.</strong></p> <p>The reason is that in order to increase engagement with the brand, content must be personalised to some extent. And to personalise, marketers need to be able to segment.</p> <p>Ideally, marketers would be able to segment using demographics, interests and behaviour, but at least one option must be available.</p> <p>While this is not a problem with established channels like Google and Facebook, many marketers have voiced frustrations with difficulty in doing so with Snapchat and Pinterest.</p> <p>Interestingly, both <a href="https://econsultancy.com/admin/blog_posts/new/%20http:/www.adweek.com/socialtimes/snap-audience-match-snapchat-lifestyle-categories-lookalikes/644849">Snapchat</a> and <a href="https://business.pinterest.com/en/blog/new-targeting-tools-make-pinterest-ads-even-more-effective">Pinterest</a> have recently announced that audience targeting will be available.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2153/2.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <h3>3. Does the channel provide attribution data?</h3> <p>Another issue which marketers face when using new platforms is that they need to know whether it is effective in driving new business.  </p> <p>The way this is typically done is through a 'referrer source' tag which is picked up by web analytics platforms and recorded along with page views and conversions. </p> <p>While nearly all established digital channels provide this tag, many new platforms do not.  </p> <p>Out of eight messaging platforms commonly used in Asia-Pacific, <strong>only Facebook Messenger and Twitter DMs provide 'referrer source' and the rest are considered <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67529-the-rise-of-dark-social-everything-you-need-to-know/">'dark social'</a>.</strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/8441/dark_social_messaging_apps.png" alt="" width="607" height="471"></p> <p>The only alternative in these cases is for marketers to tag links they post on the platforms themselves. This is not easy to do and makes analytics even more difficult.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2154/3.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <h3>4. Can we use marketing automation on the channel?</h3> <p>Attendees asserted that <strong>marketing automation reduces marketing costs and increases conversions.</strong> Because of this, marketers should consider to what extent new channels support automation initiatives.</p> <p>Again, this was not really an issue when using established search and social platforms as they offer APIs, ad bidding automation, and even automated customer service.</p> <p>Newer platforms, however, require that marketers post content manually making it even more difficult to send the right message to the right person at the right time. </p> <p>Participants agreed, though, that in order to reach their customers it was worth putting efforts into new channels such as chat platforms even without automation. Many felt that, in time, these platforms will support integration and allow marketers to use them more effectively.</p> <h3>A word of thanks</h3> <p>Econsultancy would like to thank all of the marketers who participated on the day and our table leaders: </p> <ul> <li>Antonia Edmunds, Business Leader - IBM Watson Marketing.</li> <li>Gowri Arun, GBS Marketing Leader - IBM India/South Asia.</li> <li>Joseph Sundar, Business Development Executive, ISA/ASEAN - IBM Watson Marketing.</li> <li>Harsh Anand, CSP Leader - IBM Commerce.</li> </ul> <p>We hope to see you all at future Delhi Econsultancy events!</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2155/4.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68534 2016-11-23T16:00:00+00:00 2016-11-23T16:00:00+00:00 What are dark Facebook posts? Nikki Gilliland <p>You might have heard of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67529-the-rise-of-dark-social-everything-you-need-to-know/" target="_blank">dark social</a> or dark web – but this is something different.</p> <p>Let’s shine a light on the subject.</p> <h3>Social posts for select eyes only</h3> <p>A dark post is anything a brand might post on Facebook – such as a link, video, photo or status – that will only be seen by a specific or target demographic. </p> <p>Unlike a regular published post, a dark post does not show up on a brand’s timeline or on its follower’s organic newsfeed. </p> <p>Instead, it appears as an advert for some, but remains hidden to everyone else.</p> <p>You might have heard dark posts also being referred to as ‘unpublished posts’ – they are the same thing, a promoted and targeted post that is not published on your brand page.</p> <p>A similar option is available on LinkedIn.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/1527/Creating_dark_posts.JPG" alt="" width="500" height="739"></p> <h3>Why do brands use them?</h3> <p>There are many benefits to using dark posts.</p> <p>The biggest is that unlike organic or boosted posts, they enable brands to carry out <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67249-a-beginner-s-guide-to-a-b-testing/" target="_blank">A/B testing</a> without cluttering up their own pages and annoying users in the process. </p> <p>By tweaking headlines, call-to-actions and even the time of publication - brands can measure CTR’s and determine what kind of ads are the most effective and why.</p> <p>Further to this, it allows brands to ramp up <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67070-why-personalisation-is-the-key-to-gaining-customer-loyalty/" target="_blank">personalisation</a>.</p> <p>With the ability to post dozens of ads without the fear of backlash, posts can be targeted to a user’s location, interests or previous online behaviour.</p> <p>The idea is that the more targeted they are, the larger the likelihood of engagement. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/1529/FB_flyer.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="602"></p> <h3>Are they better than boosted posts?</h3> <p>A <a href="http://trackmaven.com/thank-you-2017-facebook-advertising-index/" target="_blank">recent report from TrackMavens</a> found that businesses are spending on average nearly twice as much on dark posts as they are on boosted posts.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/1531/Dark_post_average_spend.JPG" alt="" width="750" height="514"></p> <p>However, despite this increased spend resulting in greater reach and more page likes, boosted posts appear to garner more engagement overall.</p> <p>The average boosted post on Facebook receives 643 total interactions, while the average dark post on Facebook receives 559 total interactions.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/1532/Dark_posts_interactions.JPG" alt="" width="718" height="411"></p> <p>With the latter having more longevity - staying active for around 42 days - it appears that dark posts are being used as more of a long-term strategy for larger brands.</p> <h3>Should you use dark posts with caution?</h3> <p>While dark posts mean improved targeting and testing, brands do need to be wary that they don’t enter into ‘creepy’ marketing territory.</p> <p>Instead of increasing engagement, using super-personal details like names has the potential to alienate users instead of attracting them.</p> <p>However, if used correctly, these types of posts can undoubtedly be a valuable tactic for brands online.</p> <p>The chance to carefully measure how an ad performs, as well as tailor it to a target demographic, could easily outweigh the high cost and potential pitfalls.</p> <p>With a recent survey finding that <a href="https://www.iabuk.net/about/press/archive/15-of-britons-online-are-blocking-ads" target="_blank">46% of users use ad blockers</a> due to annoyance over irrelevant ads - it's sometimes better to be left in the dark.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68494 2016-11-18T09:56:00+00:00 2016-11-18T09:56:00+00:00 How programmatic out-of-home can aid influencer marketing campaigns James Perrott <p>Everyone is looking for a method to create targeted content that audiences are searching for, through the right channels/publications which allow transparent measurement with positive ROI. Tough ask? </p> <p>One distribution option many brands probably haven't considered is influencer content delivered using <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/programmatic/">programmatic</a> out-of-home ads, which can be used to drive very specific actions among a target audience.</p> <p>Here's more on how it works...</p> <h3>Definitions</h3> <p>Definition of content marketing by the CMI:</p> <p>“Content marketing is about delivering the content your audience is seeking in all the places they are searching for it. It is the effective combination of created, curated and syndicated content.”</p> <p>Definition of influencer marketing by John Hall on Forbes.com:</p> <p>“Basically, influencer marketing is about providing product context and expertise through an inspirational person.” </p> <p>If we merge the two, we get somewhere close to Programmatic Influencer Content Marketing: “Programmatic influencer content marketing is about delivering the content your audience is seeking to a specific customer, in a specific context through an inspirational person.”</p> <p>Remember that, it’s what’s next – but it’s a mouthful...</p> <h3>Where is content moving towards?</h3> <p>Some enterprise-level businesses are now realigning their content efforts - more so internally - to focus on their current audiences. For example, Unilever <a href="http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/unilever-plots-in-house-branded-content-division/1410371">recently announced</a> that it is creating a brand-led content studio internally. </p> <p>U-Studio has been established to create content sought out by consumers that meets an immediate need related to a brand or product. </p> <p>The interesting part that I took from this announcement is the types of content that U-Studio will be creating - commonly-used content marketing material:</p> <ul> <li>How-to videos.</li> <li>Infographics.</li> <li>Ratings and reviews.</li> <li>Editorial.</li> <li>Product information.</li> <li>User-generated content.</li> </ul> <h3>Why content marketing is becoming static and dangerously close to not evolving…</h3> <p>Through a generic content marketing approach, the content types mentioned (infographics, editorial, etc) would be created and then syndicated online. This is very one-dimensional. </p> <p>Unilever could make a large push after the creation of this unit to robustly develop its content efforts into a more integrated programmatic approach that will attract a much wider audience. This is where out-of-home ads could come into play.</p> <p>For example, one of Unilever’s brands, TRESemmé, has just launched a new product range – Beauty-Full Volume. </p> <p>Instead of working with a few bloggers or vloggers and have their reviews distributed to their audience and reviews syndicated online, a much wider approach could be taken which would significantly enhance the reach of this content and drive serious results. </p> <p>This wider approach incorporates programmatic practices, and most importantly digital out of home (DOOH). Below is an example of how you can forecast eyeball capture from advert screens to shop location:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/1555/map.png" alt="" width="944" height="508"></p> <h3>Why programmatic offers a new opportunity for influencer and content marketing</h3> <p>Working with bloggers and vloggers is hugely beneficial, more so with a wider distribution remit. TRESemmé will have its own personas for the typical customer/user and through using this information it could identify the right influencers. </p> <p>Below is the process that’s needed to run a successful, and targeted DOOH campaign:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/1557/list_of_six.jpg" alt="" width="911" height="563"></p> <p>For example, let's figuratively say that Jane Smith (random person) is an influencer for TRESemmé’s targeted audience. </p> <p>A new approach could be to work with Jane Smith on a wide content campaign for the launch of the new product. </p> <p>The types of content that could be created for this launch are exactly those that U-Studio is designed to create. The syndication of ambassador/influencer led content is heavily limited to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65560-what-s-the-difference-between-paid-owned-and-earned-media/">owned and earned channels</a>, but being smart through paid channels could unlock large potential. </p> <p>By locating where TRESemmé’s audience largely hangs out in London, you could then repurpose this content. </p> <p>Through digital billboards, the brand could run campaigns showing the influencer and new product with a '50 metres to your nearest Boots’ call-to-action, pushing the target audience to a store where they can buy this new product.</p> <p>Alternatively, you could also include a unique coupon code for stores on the advert that appears on billboards to have a much more accurate measurement of performance of campaigns. </p> <p>This part of programmatic is called digital out-of-home and is geared up to target a specific audience through traditional advertising techniques; digital billboards, rotating banners at train stations, etc.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/1554/ecosystem.png" alt="" width="903" height="364"></p> <p>Furthermore, if you were to launch this campaign with a challenge or <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67547-10-excellent-examples-of-user-generated-content-in-marketing-campaigns/">user-generated content</a> element, such as showing before and after pictures of your hair with this product, you could push this through targeted billboards where you know the audience are located at times they will view this content - commuting, lunch hours, and so on. </p> <p>Through Bluetooth, we could even then begin to identify who went into the store from a nearby ad, not directly attributing it to that, but dig into data insight to see if there was an increase when adverts ran at times those personas were nearby. </p> <p>Testing the resonance that brand ambassadors have is always tricky, but if you have more than one, rotating these adverts could prove useful in knowing which has the most reach with your audience and drives sales.</p> <p>Similarly, using different competition ideas to decide which has the most potential for audience self-involvement, you would then be able to roll this out through owned channels such as social and by a blog.</p> <p>Alternatively, or as well as, we could also identify national papers, magazines or specific niche websites (fashion, sport, etc) where the audience spend their spare time through tools such as Global Web Index, Comscore, YouGov data and others. </p> <p>Using these publications, we can then begin to create campaign specific creative and push another portion of people through to the campaign content through these avenues. Due to the granular detail that can be used to target audiences through SSP and DSPs, these visits would be hugely valuable and most importantly, measurable. </p> <p>This more detailed targeting element of programmatic is becoming much more granular making it better for brands and advertisers. A recent example of this <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/gnm-press-office/2016/oct/04/guardian-programmatic-audiences-launches-with-eurostar-and-iprospect">is the partnership that The Guardian, Eurostar and iProspect have begun</a> in order to create an inventory that drills down to demographic, interest (luxury travel) and persona-based (business decision makers) targeting. </p> <p>This is a very specific audience that Eurostar can really tap into and drive much more relevant traffic.</p> <h3>Is this restricted to influencers?</h3> <p>Definitely not.</p> <p>Some of the best online campaigns are ones which involve real people in real situations. Using the before and after images in the TRESemmé example, a simple advert image could be created showcasing real examples on billboards with a similar call-to-action, which could have potentially greater impact. </p> <p>This programmatic approach with a designated hashtag could be part of a much wider campaign that has blogger challenges, infographics, how-to guides and editorial, all part of the more traditional content marketing approach. </p> <p>However, with this targeted approach in the out-of-home environment, a campaign will be able to reach a much larger number of eyeballs with real value associated to it through measurement of product performance.</p> <p><em>For more on this topic, see:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68051-six-case-studies-that-show-how-digital-out-of-home-advertising-is-changing/"><em>Six case studies that show how digital out-of-home advertising is changing</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67414-is-this-the-next-step-in-programmatic-out-of-home/"><em>Is this the next step in programmatic out-of-home?</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-rise-of-influencers/"><em>The Rise of Influencers</em></a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68505 2016-11-09T10:50:00+00:00 2016-11-09T10:50:00+00:00 A closer look at Booking.com's customer-focused strategy Nikki Gilliland <p>From multichannel ads to personalised apps – Booking.com is intent on keeping up with the evolving needs of its customers.</p> <p>Here's more on Gillian's talk, including other ways the company is delivering a winning experience all round.</p> <h3>Fostering diversity and innovation</h3> <p>When asked if Booking.com was a travel site or a tech company, Gillian didn’t miss a beat before answering with the latter. </p> <p>Because while travel might be its product, what many people fail to realise is that Booking.com is in fact the third largest ecommerce platform in the world. </p> <p>With a large team of web developers, and running more than 1,000 A/B tests at any one time, it also prides itself on innovating through continuous experimentation.</p> <p>Interestingly, while on this topic, Gillian emphasised how Booking.com also prides itself on diversity.</p> <p>Women make up 60% of the company's workforce, and with little to no background in technology herself, she explained why the company’s diversity is an important reflection of its global and wide-ranging demographic. </p> <h3>Concierge services to improve experiences</h3> <p>Booking.com fosters innovation through its constant measurement of data.</p> <p>In other words, it is continually looking at what customers want from the site as well as how they behave online.</p> <p>In turn, it is always introducing new technology and features to improve the online experience.  </p> <p>One example is a focus on delivering personalised messaging even long after the customer has booked their accommodation. </p> <p>Now, customers can interact with the site on their way to a hotel or apartment or even while out and about looking at tourist landmarks.</p> <p>Whether they want to order room service or make a restaurant reservation, concierge features like these help to create a more bespoke and personalised experience from start to finish. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">The only thing better than finding your perfect getaway home, is arriving there. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/bookingyeah?src=hash">#bookingyeah</a> <a href="https://t.co/hVuE7hxX6e">https://t.co/hVuE7hxX6e</a> <a href="https://t.co/dDCp8thAlg">pic.twitter.com/dDCp8thAlg</a></p> — Booking.com (@bookingcom) <a href="https://twitter.com/bookingcom/status/794113931149185024">November 3, 2016</a> </blockquote> <h3>Targeting mobile travellers in the moment</h3> <p>So, what enables innovation like this to occur in the first place?</p> <p>Increased mobile usage, of course.</p> <p>Gillian spoke about how today’s consumers, and specifically millennial consumers, are using their mobiles in the moment – deliberately travelling without a plan and relying on smartphone technology to give them the service they need in real time.</p> <p>Naturally, when it comes to push notifications, there is a fine line between a mobile app being helpful and annoying. </p> <p>However, Gillian goes back to the notion of measuring and testing user response to determine when and how often interaction is required.</p> <p>Ultimately, it should never be about bombarding the customer with messaging, but engaging with them in the moments when they need it most. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/1302/travel_app.jpg" alt="" width="780" height="521"></p> <h3>Staying relevant in a competitive space</h3> <p>With over 1m transactions every day, Booking.com’s customer base is huge.</p> <p>So, how does the company compete for the millennial audience against the likes of Airbnb.</p> <p>For Gillian, the answer is offering a non-traditional mix of multichannel marketing.</p> <p>While Airbnb and other more digital companies might resist offline entirely, Booking.com still dedicates a small yet focused portion of its budget to this. </p> <p>Why? Well, despite the ‘in-the-moment’ demand of mobile consumers, the company recognises the fact that a memorable offline ad is also what’s needed to stay in the mind of someone booking in six months' time. </p> <p>That being said, the company is still largely digital in its marketing presence - continually optimising for search to ensure relevancy and visibility online. </p> <p>Likewise, social media spaces like Facebook, where travel is an ever-present topic of conversation, offer great opportunities for targeted ads.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/1LHTKVtiDnQ?wmode=transparent" width="640" height="360"></iframe></p> <p><em>(If you fancy a look at other travel marketing campaigns, you can find <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67766-10-examples-of-great-travel-marketing-campaigns/" target="_blank">10 great examples here</a>.)</em></p> <h3>The future of travel</h3> <p>While Booking.com is undeniably functional, its site has often been criticised for being incredibly unsexy in design.</p> <p>A little harsh, perhaps. But does this matter?</p> <p>For Gillian, the answer is decidedly no.</p> <p>What <em>is</em> important is that the company takes into consideration actual customer feedback rather than just assuming what it is they might want.</p> <p>Again, this goes back to user testing, with the developers making small and constant changes in order to gauge response.</p> <p>In future, more pressing matters include improving the Booking.com experience in any way possible.</p> <p>This looks set to include greater <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67894-what-are-chatbots-and-why-should-marketers-care/">chatbot</a> functionality, with booking assistants enabling an even faster and easier journey (both online and in literal terms) for customers than ever before.</p> <p>Finally, at the end of the talk, Gillian was asked a rather shoehorned-in question about Brexit. More specifically, its potential impact on the travel industry.</p> <p>For a global company like Booking.com, there doesn't appear to be any major issues on the horizon.</p> <p>Ultimately, it appears that people will always travel. The only thing that might change is where they travel to. </p> <p>But then again, with more leaving this decision up to the last minute, and even using sites like Booking.com to decide for them – nothing in this industry is quite so certain any more.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/1301/London.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="483"></p> <p><em>For more on this topic, see:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/digital-trends-in-the-travel-and-hospitality-sector/"><em>Digital Trends in the Travel and Hospitality Sector Report</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67996-what-travel-tourism-marketers-can-learn-from-discover-la/"><em>What travel &amp; tourism marketers can learn from Discover LA</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66156-12-insanely-beautiful-travel-and-leisure-websites/"><em>12 insanely beautiful travel and leisure websites</em></a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68446 2016-10-27T14:09:49+01:00 2016-10-27T14:09:49+01:00 Marketing is failing at its top priority: Three findings from new research Arliss Coates <h3><strong>Customer recognition is the end-all, but we’re far from the end</strong></h3> <p>When we look at marketers’ priorities in the chart below, we find a focus on personalizing messaging and the larger customer experience. But there is an alarmingly wide and consistent discrepancy; organizations simply don't have the skills and capabilities they need for growth.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/0830/Screen_Shot_2016-10-27_at_11.40.40.png" alt="" width="754" height="436"></p> <p>Roughly 75% of executives surveyed agree that recognition - the ability of a company to identity individual customers across media and under different circumstances - and its attendant benefits are essential for growth.</p> <p>Yet in every category, only small minorities can boast a strong capability.</p> <p>A successful personalization strategy helps meet corporate goals and customer expectations, but before that can happen, data management vendors and marketers must absorb a few realities.</p> <h3><strong>We don’t know what we can’t define</strong></h3> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65425-what-is-the-single-customer-view-and-why-do-you-need-it/">Single customer view, or SCV</a>, is an advanced capability. It means tying together a set of data sources that truly offer a complete picture of a customer, past and present.</p> <p>That sets a high bar, and yet over 40% of respondents suggested that their organizations took advantage of an SCV. That figure is somewhat higher than observed in previous studies, but of greater concern is that when compared to what companies have actually achieved, there’s a huge disparity.</p> <p>Of the more than 220 companies in the study, only 12% have tied together the data sources required for a true SCV.</p> <p>Even for those advanced organizations, some activities are still obscured for technical or procedural reasons. For example, among those that have integrated offline data sources, only half can tie offline sales back to online marketing programs.</p> <p>With consistent recognition, brands can build upon profiles to refine and improve their understanding of the individual, but that’s a future state for the vast majority of marketers.  </p> <p>These distinctions aren’t just important in understanding the state of the industry as it works to implement single customer view. It also highlights how a lack of knowledge and agreement can confuse the marketer’s path to maturity.</p> <p>If organizations believe they have a single customer view, but have only part of the puzzle, it confounds their progress in information gathering, data strategy and customer experience.</p> <h3><strong>Unfulfilled promises</strong></h3> <p>Few spaces in digital marketing have evolved more dramatically or rapidly than data management, so perhaps it’s not surprising that marketers aren’t all happy with their data management platforms.</p> <p>Nearly 60% say that the reality of their technologies does not align to the promises they were sold. This is a notable figure, considering the scale and ubiquity of investment in the new technology stack.</p> <p>Part of the problem is in the difficulty vendors have with applying test-and-control measurements across devices, limiting brands' understanding of their mobile audiences.</p> <p>Similarly in personalization, a disappointing 13% of marketers reported high satisfaction with data management vendors’ ability to tailor messaging to particular channels.</p> <p>Returning to marketers' top priorities, customized messaging is a critical aspect of integrating customer experiences across devices and media.</p> <h3><strong>How to improve</strong></h3> <p>A compilation of failures makes for dismal reading, so the Customer Recognition Report includes a list of recommendations:</p> <ul> <li>Learn how to conduct a true capability audit and align the company behind measurement as a strategic resource.</li> <li>Discover the threat to evolving measurement practices, and the importance of reducing data-friction with customers, as well as the guidelines for getting you there.</li> <li>Get attuned to the increasing discrepancy between customer behavior and media allocation.</li> </ul> <p><em>Subscribers can click <a title="Customer Recognition" href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/customer-recognition-how-marketing-is-failing-at-its-top-priority">here</a> to access the Customer Recognition Report.</em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68413 2016-10-12T17:07:00+01:00 2016-10-12T17:07:00+01:00 Four implications of Snapchat’s update to its Stories page Bola Awoniyi <p>Users that have updated the app recently will find that: </p> <ul> <li>The Discover channels have been demoted to the bottom of the feed.</li> <li>Snaps no longer auto advance when watched in the feed (i.e. after watching one person's Story you are now directed back to the feed, rather than automatically being shown Snaps from the next user in your feed).</li> <li>But users can now make story playlists which will auto advance.</li> </ul> <p>What does all of this mean and what are the implications for publishers, marketers, users and Snapchat itself?</p> <h3>1. Prepare for a decline in Discover impressions</h3> <p>Not many publishers have the privilege of being a part of Snapchat’s Discover library; a privilege they have to pay for, but a privilege nonetheless.</p> <p>However, being present in Discover doesn’t guarantee premium placement within the app. </p> <p>While the publishers' dedicated Snapchat content still has its own page, the Discover channels are now also situated at the bottom of the feed, underneath the stories produced by the people that users follow, despite being previously placed at the top of the Stories page.</p> <p><img src="https://support-tools.storage.googleapis.com/about_discover-57887509.gif" alt="" width="375" height="667"></p> <p>There is sure to be outrage from publishers who have invested significant resources (many of these publishers have dedicated Snapchat teams consisting of eight to ten staff) into the product, only to see it become less of a priority in the eyes of Snapchat.</p> <p>A drop in Snapchat traffic should be expected, while publishers will also be concerned that Snapchat is following Facebook's lead in making alterations to the UX at their expense.</p> <p>However, when it comes to reaching teenagers and young audiences in Western markets, there is little alternative, so publishers will have to make do with the change.</p> <p>To counter this, Discover publishers will likely increase CTAs for Snapchat users to subscribe to their channel for updates and attempt to make content stickier and headlines more catchy.</p> <p>In short – <strong>expect more Kardashians in the Discover channels.</strong></p> <h3>2. User Stories are front and centre</h3> <p>Snapchat is sending a clear message to its users: There is nothing more important than the Snaps and Stories they actually want to see.</p> <p>This is the reason why the Discover channels were demoted and likely the rationale for scrapping the auto-advancing of Stories.</p> <p>Auto-advancing was seen as a pivotal move when it was first introduced, as it prepared the app’s mechanics for more advertising.</p> <p>Instead the app saw an increase in Story skipping, as users swiped away the stories they didn’t want to see, which means less time viewing content.</p> <p>So in order to create the lean back experience Snapchat (and supposedly users) are looking for, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68333-what-brands-need-to-know-about-snapchat-spectacles/">the self-christened camera company</a> has created Story playlists – a feature that allows users to select all the snaps they want to watch, so they can be preloaded and watched, while making it easier to ignore the snaps that are deemed not interesting.</p> <p>In theory, this should increase time spent consuming video in-app and a decrease in abandoned Story viewings.</p> <p>Snapchat will certainly be hoping this is the case, as this type of lean back viewing experience is critical for the next phase of its business.</p> <h3>3. Marketers should get ready to play in Snapchat’s world</h3> <p>The news of this product update should be viewed through the lens of Snapchat recently opening the door to its ads API.</p> <p>Before limited to just a handful of advertisers, now Snapchat will gradually become open to all marketers that wish to get in front of its highly engaged audience.</p> <p>While these ads will initially be carefully reviewed, adopting the approach Instagram took when it made its platform open for ads, once the editorial and creative standards have been set, marketers can expect the freedom and flexibility that they get when using Facebook’s advertising tools.</p> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/0239/4C_Screenshot.png" alt="" width="600"></p> <p><em>Screenshot taken from <a href="http://adage.com/article/digital/inside-snapchat-s-ad-delivery-system/306172/">AdAge</a></em></p> <p>Although Snapchat doesn’t offer the extensive demographic details that Facebook and its social graph present, it will provide some degree of interest-based targeting, custom and lookalike audiences, along with A/B testing capabilities.</p> <p>The fast growing startup is sure to add increased sophistication to its targeting as time goes on, but it can be argued that the relative bluntness of its targeting makes it even more appealing to businesses like P&amp;G, who famously reallocated part of its Facebook budget <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68182-what-can-p-g-and-facebook-teach-us-about-the-reality-of-targeting-and-the-future-of-tv-ads/">upon realising that its targeting capabilities were too intricate for its business</a>.</p> <p>Depending on Snapchat’s ability to decrease the skipping of Stories, which should increase ad viewability, the next few months will prove crucial in living up to its promise as a sustainable social platform.</p> <h3>4. Snapchat is finally ready to be a business</h3> <p>An underrated part of Facebook’s rapid growth has been its ability to increase monthly average users, user engagement, ad load and price per ad quarter after quarter.</p> <p>While this is evidence of a remarkably unsaturated advertising market, it is also a testament of its incredible product market fit.</p> <p>This product update, alongside the public API, is Snapchat’s first attempt at pulling off the same trick, as it introduces itself as an advertising tool worth using. </p> <p>Advertising on the web has had more than its fair share of problems.</p> <p>But the introduction of the native ad units that Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have created have bucked that trend and in some ways even improved the product (like Snapchat’s sponsored lens/filters).</p> <p>While the reorganisation of the Stories page is clearly in the user's interest, the addition of more advertising benefits the company.</p> <p>Seeing how well the two will align will be very telling in assessing its future viability as an advertising platform.</p> <p><em>For more on this topic, see:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66867-five-seriously-creative-snapchat-campaigns-and-their-results/"><em>Five seriously creative Snapchat campaigns and their results</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67257-15-reasons-your-brand-should-be-on-snapchat/"><em>15 reasons your brand should be on Snapchat</em></a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68301 2016-09-19T15:40:00+01:00 2016-09-19T15:40:00+01:00 Instant messaging: An introduction to the future of communication Blake Cahill <p>For those of you that don’t know – I’ll assume you must have been trapped on a desert island for the past few years – instant messaging (IM) is a catch-all name for a range of different services that primarily provide users with the opportunity to engage in real-time communication.</p> <p>Typically led by text conversation, messengers often also provide a range of additional functionality that varies wildly from provider to provider.</p> <p>This additional functionality has, on some platforms, led to them being considered as full-blown social media networks, on a par with Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.</p> <p>In 2015, mobile phone messaging apps were used by 1.4bn consumers and eMarketer predicts that, by 2018, the number of chat app users worldwide will reach 2bn, representing 80% of smartphone users worldwide.</p> <p>In a nutshell, it’s only a matter of time before everyone and their granny, in practically every country on the planet, are using IM.</p> <h3>So who are the Big Players?</h3> <p><strong>WhatsApp</strong></p> <p>Owned by Zuckerbeg &amp; Co. and with over 1bn users, most of which are tech savvy millennials, WhatsApp is the clear front-runner in the IM community and the only truly global IM service with any significant uptake in all continents around the world.</p> <p>Offering text chat, voice recording, media sharing, group broadcasts and a robust network, you would surely bet your house on this IM giant being the one to pave the way for the future of IM [insert smiley face emoticon].</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0004/4627/whatsapp-facebook-blog-flyer.jpg" alt="whatsapp" width="300"></p> <p><strong>Facebook Messenger</strong></p> <p>Formed from the online chat function of the social network, Facebook Messenger has made real inroads in the EMEA and US regions with over 800m users.</p> <p>However it’s clear that with certain restrictions in places such as Asia, its move out of these two markets and into the APAC region will be a tough one to tackle. </p> <p><strong>WeChat</strong></p> <p>With 650m users, primarily in the APAC region, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67490-10-things-you-didn-t-know-about-wechat/">WeChat</a> is, significantly, dominant in the Chinese market offering users the chance to chat in a ‘walkie talkie’ style conversation, as well as other typical features such as group chats and video calls.</p> <p>WeChat is also a social network and an extendable transactional platform. It gives its users the opportunity to shop, talk to brands, order taxis (its ‘Didi Dache’ service is essentially China’s Uber) and read the news.</p> <p>WeChat is also the only social platform 80% of Chinese millennials use every day.</p> <p><em>WePay</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/1483/wepay.png" alt="wepay" width="615"></p> <p><strong>kik</strong></p> <p>With over 240m users, kik has its biggest presence in the US with an impressive 42% of US users being between 16-24 years old.</p> <p>It’s a promising start, however kik has seen very little uptake out of the US and it’s still dwarfed by the progress of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger for the moment at least.</p> <p><strong>Others?</strong></p> <p>Though there are some exceptions to this global picture – KakaoTalk is the most popular chat app in South Korea, for example, while Line dominates in Japan, Thailand and Taiwan – there’s no doubt that it’s Facebook that’s winning the race so far.</p> <p>And before you say, “but what about Snapchat?!”, though this service is doing some serious business with teens in the UK and USA (over 40% use it), one a global level it’s still early days with only 7% market penetration.</p> <h3>The future of IM</h3> <p>With the landscape of IM changing and its scope reaching all aspects of the user's life, both personal and professional, it’s clear to see that IM offers real opportunities for businesses to get involved – but how will this play out? </p> <p>Firstly, IM is not a place to advertise, it’s a place for marketing. It gives us a powerful new space for brands to change the way consumers think about retail and customer service.</p> <p>The promise of IM is that if offers a near perfect form of personal, intimate, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67767-will-conversational-marketing-become-a-reality-in-2016/">direct link between brands and customers</a>.</p> <p>Facebook Messenger has already started to make real inroads in expanding the capabilities of its own IM platform, recently announcing the introduction of so-called <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67894-what-are-chatbots-and-why-should-marketers-care/">chatbots</a>.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/7478/kiksephora-blog-flyer.png" alt="sephora chatbot" width="300"></p> <p>Similar (but arguably less advanced AI) has been prevalent in WeChat and other channels previously, but inclusion in Facebook Messenger is likely to see increased quality of functionality.</p> <p>Chatbots will offer the ability for businesses to create bespoke responses based on natural language input. </p> <p>As the use and complexity of chatbots expand, users will find themselves being able to order goods simply by messaging the brand – as users of WeChat are already doing – receive tailored news updates based around your interest and even control connected smart devices.</p> <p>The future of commerce and customer service could well be a hybrid of IM as it steadily becomes our primary way to interact with companies, buy things, provide service and build loyalty.</p> <p>As the big players (and the many smaller innovators) continue to expand and develop the platforms’ potential, it’s safe to say we’re only at the beginning of what looks to be a long and interesting road.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68236 2016-09-14T11:00:00+01:00 2016-09-14T11:00:00+01:00 Three big problems with marketing automation rules (and how to solve them) Andrew Davies <h3>Is marketing automation delivering?</h3> <p>As marketers, we live in a world where the number of choices that we have to make to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time is increasing exponentially.</p> <p>Marketing has moved from mass advertising where you sent one message to everyone, to segments where messages are sent to a limited number of people, to now having to understand individual <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/understanding-the-customer-journey/">customer journeys</a>.</p> <p>Marketing automation has emerged as a supposed panacea to this problem, yet despite years of propaganda from vendors promising the world, many B2B enterprises that have bought <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/marketing-automation-best-practices">marketing automation</a> are finding that it is not quite the silver bullet they expected. </p> <p>The Annuitas 2015 B2B Enterprise survey of over 100 B2B enterprise marketers from organizations with annual revenues that exceed $250m revealed that only 2.8% of respondents believed demand generation campaigns achieve their goals.</p> <p>Similarly, Econsultancy’s <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/email-census-2016/">Email Marketing Industry census</a> surfaced that only 7% of respondents deemed their in-house automated campaigns to be “very successful”. </p> <p>The truth is that even if you avoid marketing automation mistakes (<a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67250-seven-avoidable-marketing-automation-mistakes/">such as these</a>), you are still lumbered with the task of using marketing automation rules and decision logic to select and deliver campaign messages.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9143/Screen_Shot_2016-09-14_at_09.19.22.png" alt="marketing automation success" width="615" height="518"></p> <h3>Three big problems with marketing automation rules</h3> <p>At the heart of all marketing automation technology and outputs are the rules used to tell the marketing automation platform which content or message to select and send to which particular contacts in your database.</p> <p>This structure necessarily leads to three big problems for B2B organisations:</p> <p><strong>1) Marketing automation rules cannot cope with complex buyer journeys</strong></p> <p>All marketing automation relies on preset logic (“If this X happens then do Y”, “if X does not happen, then do Z”) and traditional purchase-funnel theory to architect marketing campaigns and trigger communications.</p> <p>The problem is that the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66322-do-companies-understand-the-customer-journey/">B2B buyer journey is much more complex</a> than marketing automation vendors would have you believe. </p> <p><strong>2) Rules cannot adapt to changing contexts</strong></p> <p>The nature of marketing automation rules is that once they have been activated they remain active until you manually deactivate them.</p> <p>This mean that they are not adaptive and they cannot learn from a campaign’s results, only repeat them.</p> <p>Sure, you can create a rule that says: IF [Marketing Automation score] [increases] [+5] THEN [remove from] [LISTNAME] AND [add to] [NEW LISTNAME], but rules cannot cope with the reality that prospects are continually evolving in their <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67121-the-lead-data-hierarchy-for-busy-sales-people-savvy-b2b-marketers/">interests and needs</a>, not just their sales stage or marketing automation score. </p> <p><strong>3) Marketing automation rules mean more - not less - staff</strong> </p> <p>As counterintuitive as it sounds, marketing automation often means having to bring on more – not less – staff.</p> <p>As well as a marketing manager, a database manager, a demand gen exec, a content strategist, you will most likely need a marketing technologist who is able to help you get the most out of your new system.</p> <p>All of these people have input into creating the rules that are used and the cost of hiring will ultimately prolong the time it takes to see positive ROI on your marketing automation purchase.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9141/marketing_automation_complexity.jpg" alt="complexity of marketing automation" width="615"></p> <p>As soon as you begin to understand the three big problems with marketing automation rules, it all becomes clear why <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66882-how-to-fix-the-50bn-problem-in-b2b-content-marketing/">60% of content in B2B organisations is wasted </a>and why one of the biggest issues in demand generation is <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/63400-interest-abandonment-coming-to-a-purchase-funnel-near-you/">interest abandonment.</a></p> <h3>What are the solutions to the marketing automation rules problem? </h3> <p>As the co-founder of a B2B technology company, and having spent the past few years refining our demand generation process, I know just how powerful a good marketing automation system and practice can be - but I am also cognisant of the above problems.</p> <p>This has led us to try the following solutions:</p> <p><strong>Create more rules

</strong></p> <p>It’s true - one way to address the problem of imperfect marketing automation rules is to create more marketing automation rules to try and meet every kind of conceivable customer journey, context or need. </p> <p>However, you can only create so many rules. It is perhaps feasible when an organisation has a limited product portfolio or few content assets, but when you are a high-volume publisher with a wide variety of products and customer types (such as a <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67419-how-to-make-content-marketing-easy-for-wealth-asset-managers/">wealth and asset management firm</a>) this is impossible.</p> <p>The problem is that although the number of choices is increasing, the number of rules that we can make (to make the decisions to govern those choices that we can create) is very limited. </p> <p><strong>Hire more people

</strong></p> <p>We can only create so many rules whilst retaining the same number of marketers before the Law of Diminishing Returns kicks in.</p> <p>The next option then is to increase the number of rules and increase the number of marketing staff to create and manage these rules.</p> <p>The problem here is that number of available marketers is finite and the number of marketers that one can afford is even more finite, so CMOs that are on a hiring spree will still ultimately be faced with this fundamental gap between the number of choices they need to make and the number of marketing automation rules that their team can can create to make those choices. 

</p> <p><strong>No More Rules - use predictive machine-learning

</strong></p> <p>This leaves us with a third option - eschewing marketing automation rules altogether by turning to predictive, machine-learning technologies that use algorithms to make decisions, rather than rules.</p> <p>Although some marketers may baulk at the idea of turning over marketing decisions to artificial intelligence, it is becoming an<a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67745-15-examples-of-artificial-intelligence-in-marketing/"> increasingly common and accepted practice</a>.</p> <p>The benefit of using predictive machine-learning is that it can learn from new information and quickly decide what the next best action is for an optimal outcome.</p> <p>Machine learning is well-suited to environments where CMOs face complex buyer journeys, constantly evolving user profiles and myriad pieces of content that need to be categorised and structured before being served across multiple channels.</p> <p>Better yet, these technologies can be integrated <em>with</em> your marketing automation platform. </p> <p>Rather than relying on restrictive rules-based logic, a ‘no more rules’ approach adapts to the unique signals and interactions of each buyer and automatically decides the best message, content or product to send to them.</p> <p>It’s an approach that saves both the prohibitive operational costs of hiring more staff and time-intensive stress of having to create rules that can govern every scenario in the ever-complex B2B buyer journey.</p>