tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/web-project-management Latest Process & Project Management content from Econsultancy 2018-03-02T09:10:00+00:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69838 2018-03-02T09:10:00+00:00 2018-03-02T09:10:00+00:00 How Admiral built a full end-to-end car finance solution in four months Heledd Jones <p>Most of us working in big brands will be familiar with new product launches taking years from feasibility studies to go-live; as companies grow so does the complexity across the number of teams involved. So how did Admiral car finance do it? Read on....</p> <h3>Thought and acted like a start-up</h3> <p>Admiral might have over 6,000 employees, but the Admiral Loans team is made up of around 50 people and it has that small company/start-up feel, which the following process was part of....</p> <h3>Set up a project team</h3> <p>We set up a project team and everyone met on a daily basis at scrums to review everyone’s progress against the plan. Everyone on the project had a significant workload, and this was on top of everyone’s BAU workload involved in running a successful personal loans business!</p> <h3>Outsourced the IT development</h3> <p>As with many start-ups, it was quicker and easier to outsource the IT build. We had two different IT companies to manage – one working on the front end, one working on the back end. Again, daily communication was key here.</p> <h3>Followed our intuition</h3> <p>There was of course a comprehensive business case backed with customer focus groups but ultimately when building a new product from scratch, a lot of the day-to-day smaller decisions are led by intuition. Reconciling everyone’s different intuitions was a daily challenge!</p> <h3>Launched a minimum viable product (MVP)</h3> <p>A <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/10441-the-what-and-how-of-minimum-viable-products">MVP</a> is very much a feature of start-up businesses; building a version of the product which allows a team to collect the maximum learnings with the least amount of effort (to paraphrase Eric Ries!), whilst still guaranteeing great customer outcomes.</p> <p>Big brands have aims and expectations that a new product launch will be perfect from day one; it was refreshing to work somewhere that was realistic about what we could achieve but still did not compromise on providing excellent service to our customers.</p> <h3>Stuck to the launch date!</h3> <p>Despite (or due to!) the record-breaking speed of the build, the launch was delayed by about six weeks. Working in lending, we work in a highly regulated industry where positive customer outcomes are key – so the only ‘show-stoppers’ that were allowed to delay launch were ones that would cause a customer detriment. When it came to e-commerce and marketing, there were compromises and sacrifices made along the way so we..... </p> <h3>Went straight into optimisation mode</h3> <p>Post-launch, make sure you have dedicated resource to fix live bugs and constantly test and optimise on the product based on customer behaviour (this includes the offline elements and processes off the product). In the first month post-launch, we made about 50 product improvements to the online journey.</p> <p>You’ll see if you <a href="https://www.admiral.com/loans/car-finance">try out the website for yourself</a> that it’s still in MVP and optimisation mode , but we did it!</p> <p>From little acorns grow mighty oaks....</p> <p><em><strong>Related reading:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69321-with-peugeot-now-selling-cars-online-how-is-retail-influencing-automotive">With Peugeot now selling cars online, how is retail influencing automotive? </a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/3417 2018-01-25T17:15:50+00:00 2018-01-25T17:15:50+00:00 Creating Inspiring Briefs & Giving Effective Feedback <p>Great creative work can give you an unfair advantage, that’s a fact. It always starts with a great brief that is insightful, challenging and inspiring – and also relies on your ability to truly spot and nurture the best ideas. This workshop will help.</p> <p>It will instil the techniques and confidence in writing better quality briefs and giving inspirational briefings, along with the core skills involved in creative judgment and giving constructive feedback.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69509 2017-10-20T01:00:00+01:00 2017-10-20T01:00:00+01:00 Four things to know about agile marketing before you try it Jeff Rajeck <p>Well, one new approach which some are taking is agile marketing. (For those unfamiliar with topic, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68373-what-is-agile-marketing-and-what-do-marketers-think-about-it">you can read up on it here</a>).</p> <p>And agile marketing certainly fits the bill of a new and different approach. With its own terms, habits, and outcomes, agile could potentially completely change how you and your company manages its marketing.</p> <p>But the problem with agile marketing is that while it sounds good in theory, <strong>it's difficult to get good information about how well agile works in practice</strong>, for marketing departments specifically.</p> <p>To shed some 'real world' light on the topic, Econsultancy recently invited a number of senior client-side marketers to discuss Agile Marketing at our recent Digital Cream Sydney. At a table led by agile marketing expert Mariella Villa, senior marketing leader at ANZ, a few key points emerged which will help you on your way to making an informed decision about agile marketing for your team.</p> <p>Before we start, we'd like to let readers in South-East Asia know about an upcoming training course, <strong>Content Marketing for Web, Mobile and Social Media</strong> in Singapore on November 13th. For more information and to book your spot, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/content-marketing-for-web-mobile-and-social-media-singapore/dates/3134/">click here</a>.</p> <p>Here are the key points from the discussion.</p> <h3>1) Agile works for marketing</h3> <p>Many attendees on the day had heard of agile, but typically associated it with software development or other large-scale project management.</p> <p>Those who had been part of agile marketing teams, however, assured participants that <strong>agile does indeed work for marketing.</strong></p> <p>Agile's approach for helping teams deliver continuous value to business combines very well with marketing's overall goals, namely engaging customers and managing ongoing customer relationships.</p> <p>And while it takes some time to get used to it,<strong> few who have been on agile teams indicated that they willingly went back to their old project management methods.</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/9729/1.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></strong></p> <h3>2) But you have to do it 100%</h3> <p>Many people unfamiliar with agile were curious about how to start. Was it possible for just a few people to be agile? Or are there agile principles which any team could adopt to improve performance?</p> <p>The answer from agile veterans was no. In order for agile to work, particularly when starting out, <strong>it is necessary to implement all of agile's principles across the whole team. </strong> "Don't cherry pick," advised one attendee.</p> <p>Additionally, once you decide to try out agile, it's necessary to do it for at least three months. Reason being that agile, at first, is not so fun. It can be confusing and add time and complexity to previously quick and simple tasks.</p> <p>Once underway, though, those who were familiar with agile said that adopting its principles had a major impact on performance and brought tremendous satisfaction to those who put in the effort to get it going.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/9730/2.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <h3>3) Agile brings more benefits that you might anticipate</h3> <p>One marketer revealed that her team had been using agile for marketing for more than two years and named some of the benefits they had enjoyed. Projects took less time to get started, accountability increased, and, most importantly they were able get their work out to customers much quicker.</p> <p>But besides the well-known benefits, she said that <strong>agile also improved team engagement so that everyone felt ownership of the team's successes.</strong> Individual performance still mattered, but now everyone felt like they were contributing to a common goal.</p> <p>Additionally, she noted, <strong>team members feel tremendous satisfaction at getting through a sprint, </strong>a feeling which is rarely encountered when marketing is run in a fire-fighting fashion.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/9731/3.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <h3>4) Cool it on the agile language</h3> <p>For those who were starting to research or implement agile, the agile veterans had one more piece of advice – <strong>don't use agile language with people outside of the team.</strong></p> <p>Agile comes with a number of its own special terms – sprint, squad, scrum, etc. – and those who haven't been exposed to them are made to feel like outsiders when people 'talk agile'.</p> <p>Also, another noted, using agile terminology may make you sound like you're in the 'cult of agile' which, again, is off-putting to those who are unfamiliar with the practice.</p> <p>Instead, reserve your agile talk for your team and speak to stakeholders using term that makes sense to them: teams, objectives, and deadlines.</p> <h3>A word of thanks</h3> <p>Econsultancy would like to thank all of the marketers who participated on the day and especially our Agile Marketing table leader, <strong>Mariella Villa, senior marketing leader at ANZ.</strong></p> <p>We hope to see you all at future Sydney Econsultancy events!</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/9732/4.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68977 2017-04-07T10:00:00+01:00 2017-04-07T10:00:00+01:00 10 notable digital marketing stats from this week Nikki Gilliland <p>Before we kick things off, remember that you can also download the <a style="font-weight: normal;" href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/internet-statistics-compendium" target="_blank">Internet Statistics Compendium</a> for lots more.</p> <h3>A third of B2B marketers are tracking sales from social</h3> <p>A new <a href="http://immediatefuture.co.uk/resource/b2b-report-what-has-social-media-ever-done-for-us/?utm_source=PR&amp;utm_medium=Msr&amp;utm_theme=&amp;utm_term=&amp;utm_campaign=B2B_Report17#sf_form_salesforce_w2l_lead_22" target="_blank">report by IF</a> has found that 33% of marketers are tracking sales through social media, with social platforms driving sales upwards of £50,000 per month. </p> <p>However, some B2B marketers are less adept at measuring social value, with 58% not rating their ability to measure social at all. More than one in 10 marketers also appear nonchalant about the benefits - 13% suggest that social media measurement is neither important or unimportant.  </p> <p>Senior marketers are much more optimistic, with 67% being confident that their ability to measure social will improve in the next two years, and 50% of them planning to increase resource and budget investment in the next 12 months.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5309/IF_report.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="480"></p> <h3>More marketing teams planning to restructure in 2017</h3> <p>An increasing number of marketing teams are restructuring to cope with technological challenges, according to new research by Technology for Marketing, the IDM and Pure360.</p> <p>In a survey, 33% of marketing teams said they expect to become more specialist in 2017, with just 3% becoming generalist in their expertise. However, just 12% of marketers said they exclusively ‘own’ the marketing technology they rely on, instead turning to partnerships with IT and external technology teams to get results. </p> <p>This highlights the need for restructuring, with marketing teams having to move away from all-purpose marketing managers towards specialist roles, agencies and freelancers.</p> <h3>UK consumers more trustworthy of familiar brands</h3> <p><a href="http://lp.outbrain.com/research-unconscious-content-bias-uk/?utm_source=press&amp;utm_campaign=research-content-bias&amp;utm_medium=pr" target="_blank">Outbrain suggests</a> that UK consumers place greater trust in familiar brands, with 77% of survey respondents citing them as a reliable source of information.</p> <p>In comparison, 67% say they trust content shared by their own friends on social media, while three in five people believe relevant content from even unfamiliar brands to be trustworthy.</p> <p>Research also shows that consumers place more trust in traditional publishers as opposed to social media or blogs, with two-thirds of respondents believing that content from the likes of The Guardian or The Sun is reliable.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5310/Outbrain.JPG" alt="" width="400" height="670"></p> <h3>Traffic to betting websites surge ahead of the Grand National</h3> <p>Hitwise has analysed the key data behind last years’ Grand National, looking at its demographic in comparison to other racing events.</p> <p>It found that betting websites saw a 35% increase in online traffic in the week of the race last year, with those searching for betting and racing sites most likely to be between the ages of 25 and 34.</p> <p>It also discovered that people who earn over £100,000 are 161% more likely to visit racing and betting sites in the week of Royal Ascot. Meanwhile, people aged 18-24 years old are most likely to visit Sky Bet over the week of Royal Ascot, whereas those aged 55 and over are more likely to choose At The Races.</p> <h3>37% of smartphone owners are using voice technology</h3> <p>According to a new report by <a href="http://www.mindshareworld.com/uk/about/speak-easy" target="_blank">Mindshare</a>, voice technology has the ability to drive a greater emotional connection with brands. </p> <p>A study carried out by Neuro Insight found that emotional activity was twice as high when consumers voiced a brand question rather than typing it out. People also find it much easier to use, as 50% less brain activity occurs when processing an answer delivered by voice.</p> <p>The technology is already becoming prevalent among smartphone users, with 37% using voice technology of some kind at least once a month and 18% using it at least weekly.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5312/SpeakEasy.JPG" alt="" width="599" height="357"></p> <p><em>Reasons for using voice technology</em></p> <h3>Aldi and Lidl are struggling to build shopper loyalty </h3> <p>An ICLP survey has revealed that Aldi and Lidl are struggling to build consumer loyalty despite an ever-growing market share. In a survey of over 1,000 people, 37% of Tesco shoppers and 34% of Sainsbury’s shoppers felt that their custom and loyalty was rewarded. In contrast, just 16% of people said the same for Lidl and just 9% for Aldi. </p> <p>Similarly, only one in four Brits believe that they get something back when they share their personal information with a supermarket. 52% of Sainsbury’s shoppers and 35% of Tesco shoppers said that they have benefited from sharing data, compared to 26% of Aldi shoppers, and 20% of Lidl shoppers.</p> <h3>UK retailers are failing to invest in AI and machine learning</h3> <p>A <a href="http://www.qubit.com/research/catalysts-of-change" target="_blank">Qubit report</a> on the future of retail tech suggests that the majority of brands are failing to invest in artificial intelligence, despite recognising its potential.</p> <p>While 82% believe that machine learning will have an impact on the retail sector, just 48% are currently using it in their business. As a result, 82% of companies are planning to invest less than £1m to introduce new tech, while 22% are planning to invest less than £50,000. </p> <p>Effective data collection appears to be hindering AI, with just a third of retailers having a strategy to collect and analyse data across all their channels. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5311/Qubit.JPG" alt="" width="588" height="618"></p> <h3>Digital performance of luxury brands is improving</h3> <p>Research by <a href="http://contactlab.com/en/more/reports/digital-competitive-map-march-2017/?step=step2" target="_blank">ContactLab</a> shows that there’s been a significant improvement in many luxury brand’s digital performance over the past year.</p> <p>The Digital Competitive Map found that Burberry still has the strongest digital presence of 32 international fashion and luxury brands, with Louis Vuitton and Gucci also remaining stable in comparison to the previous year.</p> <p>An overall 5% increase in the digital performance of 32 brands is said to be due to a focus on geographical localisation, a wider range of languages used on brand websites, and strong email campaigns. However, some are still lagging behind on social, with only half of the 32 brands using Instagram and only 10 having Snapchat accounts.</p> <h3>Consumer loyalty reduced by the threat of security breaches</h3> <p>A report by <a href="https://www.retail-week.com/analysis/retailers-face-losing-battle-in-fight-against-hackers/7019678.article" target="_blank">Retail Week and Cisco</a> has highlighted the impact of data breaches on both consumers and retailers.</p> <p>In a survey of 2,000 consumers, 72% said that they would be unlikely to do businesses with a company that has experienced a data breach. If their own personal data had been breached, nearly nine out of 10 respondents said they would reduce spend if the retailer did not take steps to quickly correct the problem.</p> <p>Lastly, only 9% of consumers would rule out taking legal action against a company if a data breach has occurred. However, 53% said they would definitely consider it and 38% would give it due consideration.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5308/Retail_Week.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="404"></p> <h3>US news consumption on the rise</h3> <p>Finally, a <a href="http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/reports/2017/the-nielsen-total-audience-report-q4-2016.html" target="_blank">study by Nielsen</a> has found a rise in news consumption in the US. Consumers spent 73.5bn minutes consuming news content in the average week last year – an annual increase of 18%.</p> <p>Insight suggests that the rise is due to an ‘unrelenting flood of stories’ resulting from events like the presidential election. To put this into context, the typical consumer dedicated 18.5 hours to this activity a week in 2016, compared to just over 16 hours in 2012 when the last presidential election was held.</p> <p>National cable television has been the main beneficiary of the rise, claiming 20 additional minutes of weekly attention in the first month of this year compared with the average from last year as a whole.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68896 2017-03-15T14:17:00+00:00 2017-03-15T14:17:00+00:00 Nine questions to ask your new ecommerce platform supplier when migrating Emma Forward <p>The below will be a good starting point for discussions.</p> <h4>1.<strong> How agile are you?</strong> </h4> <p>Heaps of agencies claim to be agile but you’ll want to check your expectations on workflow and practices are aligned before you sign up. </p> <p>You might want to consider the following in your negotiations:</p> <ul> <li>Visibility of all tasks being worked on, ideally on JIRA.</li> </ul> <p> <img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0008/4679/scrum_board_jpg-blog-flyer.jpg" alt="Scrum board" width="470" height="314"></p> <ul> <li>Daily communication with your project manager and developers.</li> <li>Ability to prioritise your backlog of user stories and bug fixes and willingness to adjust prioritisation when things change.</li> </ul> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4692/user_story.JPG" alt="" width="700" height="448"></p> <ul> <li>Trust your agency to estimate tasks in either hours or story points so that you know how many tasks will be delivered that month.</li> <li>Have a set monthly retainer to spend each month on site maintenance and optimisations (whilst keeping question four in mind), rather than an ad hoc pot of money for development work.</li> <li>Clarity on acceptance criteria. Detailing exactly what you expect the task to enable the user to do, what it should look like, how it should work, what it should and shouldn’t affect (nothing is too obvious), is so crucial to avoid misunderstandings and ensure a task passes customer testing first time.</li> <li>Clear accountability. Ensure tasks are thoroughly tested by the developers before being handed to you to go through with a fine tooth comb. Ideally another developer should review the developer’s work, then it should go to their internal QA team, and only if it passes both those steps should it be passed to the client to sign off.</li> </ul> <h4><strong>2. What does support include? </strong></h4> <p>Every agency will charge for support differently. Some agencies might include a bit of development time in your support fee, others will clearly distinguish between ‘How do I…?’ advice and investigation work needed by developers to fix bugs.</p> <p>There’s not necessarily a right or wrong way, just so long as you’re clear what the escalation processes are and who your points of contact are for different issues. </p> <p>For instance, your agency may have a support desk as the first port of call, which is suitable for emailing questions like ‘How do I do xyz in the admin?’ or ‘Why can’t I get this roundel to show up on that product page?’. </p> <p>If there’s a serious Priority 1 issue though (e.g. the site goes down or you can’t access the checkout page), then you’ll want to be able to phone your project manager and expect them to look into it within the hour, depending on the service level agreement that you sign. </p> <h4><strong>3. How much do you charge per hour?</strong></h4> <p>Obviously pricing will depend on the agency, but try to make sure you get a like-for-like comparison so that you can easily compare hourly rates across the different agencies that are tendering (some might quote daily rates for instance). </p> <p>Agencies may charge different amounts depending on whether it’s front-end, back-end or strategy work. You’ll also be paying for your project manager’s time, so don’t forget to factor that in. </p> <p>What may sound like more than enough hours per month on these may transpire not to be, because it has to include all internal meetings your agency has about your work (e.g. weekly estimation meetings, daily stand ups), as well as the likelihood of more than one developer working on the same task.</p> <p>Some agencies will charge for client meetings, others will use their discretion. </p> <h4><strong>4. How often can I flex the retainer?</strong></h4> <p>Your stakeholders are pushing for Feefo reviews, or you may want to bring forward gift wrapping in time for the Christmas trading period. Whatever it is, there may be some months when you want to increase your monthly retainer to deliver functionality quicker. Running out of budget half way through the month is really frustrating for all involved. </p> <p>Similarly, if you’re running a small business, budget for development may need to be diverted to other costs for a couple of months. </p> <p>Make sure that the contract allows you to decrease or increase your retainer when you need to. It’s only fair to give your agency notice because they’ll need to ensure there is available resource if it’s an increase, but check that the notice they’re asking for is reasonable.</p> <h4><strong>5. Will I have access to developers?</strong></h4> <p>The ability to communicate directly with developers is a deal-breaker, be it via Slack or a project management platform like JIRA.</p> <p>Of course, your project manager plays a pivotal role in briefing the team on tasks, but rather than he or she having to be the interface between you and the dev team when they have questions, I’ve found it much more cost and time-efficient to answer the developers’ questions directly, especially when you’re writing your own user stories and acceptance criteria.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4672/Dev_comms.JPG" alt="" width="700"></p> <p>You know better than anyone how you expect the functionality to work and you don’t want anything lost in translation. Provide anything you can to make your expectations clear – mock ups, screenshots and videos all help.</p> <h4><strong>6. Who owns the code?</strong></h4> <p>Firstly, check your existing supplier’s contract: if they own the code, it could be difficult and costly to migrate the code base as is to a new agency. It may end up being more cost-effective to re-build rather than to strike a deal.</p> <p>If you own the code, then you should be able to migrate to a new agency (see next question), but you want to make sure code ownership is written into the new supplier’s contract too to future-proof yourself, bearing in mind the average ecommerce site’s lifecycle is five or six years.</p> <h4><strong>7. Experience of migrating old code as well as building new sites?</strong></h4> <p>It’s never a new supplier’s preference to take over another agency’s code base. Migrations are cheaper than total rebuilds, and agencies will usually try to sell-in the re-build over a migration. Once you’ve honed in on a new supplier, request a code audit to ensure they can take over the code base, maintain it and extend it going forward. </p> <p>A decent agency will do the audit objectively, and should tell you which areas of the code may be areas of concern (usually third-party extensions or customisations by the incumbent supplier). </p> <p>Do take it with a pinch of salt though; there may be an element of sucking teeth at another workman’s work, and the site doesn’t have necessarily have to pass with flying colours to be portable.</p> <h4><strong>8. Do you outsource any development?</strong></h4> <p>Understandably, agencies often won’t volunteer this information without being asked directly.</p> <p>While outsourcing developers enables smaller agencies to offer cheaper hourly rates, you can sometimes risk quality, not to mention on a basic level, it’s tricky to work with developers in different time zones if you don’t want to be camping out in the office.</p> <h4><strong>9. Who looks after hosting?</strong></h4> <p>Your new agency will most likely have a preferred hosting provider. If you’re very happy with your existing hosting company, stick to your guns, as it could keep costs down not changing servers. </p> <p>However, if it’s a pre-requisite for the new agency to use their hosting supplier, negotiate on cost, and decide whether you’d prefer to look after the hosting relationship directly or whether you’d rather your agency did this.</p> <h4>In conclusion...</h4> <p>Migrating to an alternative agency can inject new ideas, enthusiasm and proactivity into your ecommerce site, which can come together to increase conversion rate and ultimately turnover of your site through carefully crafted acceptance criteria, properly tested functionality and well-considered changes.</p> <p>Asking the right questions before you commit to a migration can help to ensure the new agency will be able to deliver the strong partnership that you’re after and ultimately the return on investment that your stakeholders will expect.</p> <p><em>To learn more on this topic, book yourself onto one of Econsultancy’s <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/topics/ecommerce/">ecommerce training courses</a>.</em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68693 2017-01-11T14:46:00+00:00 2017-01-11T14:46:00+00:00 The importance of the blockchain: The second generation of the internet Nick Hammond <p>The profile of bitcoin (powered by a blockchain network) has often masked the <a href="https://www.businessesgrow.com/2016/07/20/blockchain-101/">rising importance and relevance of the underlying blockchain technology</a>, but this is changing rapidly.</p> <p>One perspective is that the blockchain is the ‘second generation of the internet’.</p> <p>According to an article <a href="http://raconteur.net/business/the-future-of-blockchain-in-8-charts">published on Raconteur</a>, ‘The first generation brought us the internet of information. The second generation, powered by blockchain, is bringing us the internet of value; a new, distributed platform that can help us reshape the world of business and transform the old order of human affairs for the better. But like the internet in the late-1980s and early-1990s, this is still early days.’<a href="http://raconteur.net/business/the-future-of-blockchain-in-8-charts?utm_source=pardot&amp;utm_campaign=wed50117&amp;utm_medium=email"><br></a></p> <p>The initial paper regarding bitcoin (and blockchain) entitled <a href="https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf">Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System (2008)</a> was authored by a mysterious individual, likely a pseudonym, going under the name of Satoshi Nakamoto.</p> <p>While the original paper was written with financial transactions in mind, blockchain has far wider potential. Time will tell, but it may be that Nakamoto’s paper will have ramifications on a par with Tim Berners-Lee’s innocuously titled 1989 paper <a href="http://info.cern.ch/Proposal.html">Information Management: A Proposal</a>.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Gc2en3nHxA4?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <p>In December 2015, the UK government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Mark Waldport, stated in his report <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/492972/gs-16-1-distributed-ledger-technology.pdf">Distributed Ledger Technology: beyond blockchain</a>, that: ‘The technology [blockchain] offers the potential, according to the circumstances, for individual consumers to control access to personal records and to know who has accessed them.’  </p> <p>Canadian writers and researchers, Alex and Don Tapscott, authors of the recent book <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Blockchain-Revolution-Technology-Behind-Bitcoin-Changing-Business/1101980133">Blockchain Revolution</a>, believe that the blockchain goes way beyond the second coming of the internet. The pair, like so many others, stumbled across blockchain via the bitcoin association, quickly realising the genie is out of the bottle. </p> <p>Alex Tapscott observes, ‘With blockchain technology, a world of possibilities has opened and we now have a true peer-to-peer platform that enables personal economic empowerment. We can own our identities and our personal data; we can do transactions, creating and exchanging value without powerful intermediaries acting as the arbiters of money and information.’</p> <p>The blockchain, essentially a database and a giant network, known as a distributed ledger, records ownership and value, and allows anyone with access to view and take part. The asset database can be shared across a network of multiple sites, geographies or institutions. All participants within a network can have their own identical copy of the ledger. Any changes to the ledger are reflected in all copies, like a Google doc. </p> <p>The blockchain is currently having its biggest impact in financial services, with the largest changes caused by infrastructures using blockchain APIs, which are delivering in the areas of speed in data processing, transparency (amongst the right people) and security. </p> <p>But what does the blockchain mean for businesses outside of the financial sector? The answer lies in the areas of - privacy/information control, disintermediation, and business processes. </p> <p>As mentioned above, the blockchain offers consumers opportunity to achieve greater control over their information. This will impact on most organisations, as they increasingly rely on the acquisition and application of customer data.</p> <p>The importance of privacy is obviously a sensitive issue. One current solution for consumers is the selection of ephemeral applications like Snapchat and encrypted messaging, but the future might lie in the anonymity of blockchain technologies. </p> <p>Another change will affect business sectors where there are many intermediaries, for example travel and tourism. Here, the blockchain’s ability to simplify and speed up interactions, will likely lead to a process of dis-intermediation.</p> <p>Current examples of businesses and categories active in the blockchain include: Peer-to-peer payments (Abra, BTC Jam), <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68612-how-the-internet-of-things-will-fundamentally-change-marketing/">internet of things</a> (Chimera-Inc, Filament), collaborative transport (La’Zooz, Arcade City) and online gaming (Auckur, SatoshiDice).</p> <p>As the number of applications that utilize blockchain technology increases, so will its relevance. Not only will we be selling products through the blockchain, but marketing companies that run off it as well.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68420 2016-10-24T10:11:00+01:00 2016-10-24T10:11:00+01:00 How to make your mark as a disruptive startup Nikki Gilliland <p>So, where exactly should you start?</p> <p>Recently, we sat down with six executives from the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/top-100-disruptive-brands-2016/" target="_blank">Top 100 Disruptive Brands</a> list, a report produced in association with Marketing week, to find out their top tips.</p> <p>You can see the interviews in full by watching the video below, or read on for a summary of what they said.</p> <p><iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/184675406" width="640" height="360"></iframe> </p> <h3>Buying time</h3> <p>According to Eren Ogazir, the founder and CEO of Push Doctor, time is one of the most important factors for setting up a company. </p> <p>As a result, whether it is in terms of help from friends or family or free services from those around you, he emphasises how you should focus on buying yourself time in order to gain the flexibility you need.</p> <p>In doing so, you will be able to move towards the end solution at a quicker pace, without having to worry about finding extra income.</p> <h3>Simplifying the proposition</h3> <p>Justin Basini from ClearScore suggests that disruptive startups can be guilty of over-complicating their proposition, especially when entering a complicated market like finance or technology.</p> <p>However, the best thing to do is to hone it down to a single sentence so that it can be communicated to consumers in simple terms.</p> <blockquote> <p>In the case of ClearScore, it is “get your credit score for free for ever”. It doesn’t get any simpler than that – it is really easy to communicate. </p> </blockquote> <h3>Caring about the customer</h3> <p>It might sound obvious, but many startups focus on the end goal rather than finding out exactly what it is the customer wants from your product or service.</p> <p>The founder of Pact, Stephen Rapoport, explains how a non-existent marketing budget meant that he was forced to take other measures in order to get the word out to consumers.</p> <p>By using social media channels like Twitter, he was able to build trust on a one-to-one level with customers – even delivering the product in person. </p> <p>This enabled him to tweak and hone the company’s proposition, website and product in line with customer feedback.</p> <h3>Sticking to your guns</h3> <p>Having a strong vision for the company is a given, but Emma Chalwin, Marketing Leader at Salesforce, suggests that sticking to it in the face of opposition is key.</p> <p>Whether the obstacles are in the form of resistance to investment or simply people not believing in your idea, it is easy to waver at this point and bend to the perception of others.</p> <blockquote> <p>If you really believe that your proposition and your vision for the customer experience within your industry is valid, then really stick to your guns and take that risk.</p> </blockquote> <p><em>Download the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/top-100-disruptive-brands-2016/" target="_blank">Top 100 Disruptive Brands report</a>.</em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68178 2016-08-30T14:34:54+01:00 2016-08-30T14:34:54+01:00 Five tips for how to future-proof your marketing technology Lindsay McEwan <p>But we all know life begins at 30, so one thing we can be certain about as we look to the future is that the development of marketing technology doesn’t stop here.</p> <p>The methods and channels customers use to interact with brands are continually evolving and the rapid development of systems and technologies means new possibilities open up virtually overnight. </p> <p>The traditional waterfall approach to technology planning – where business requirements and technical capabilities were understood in advance – is no longer effective in this highly dynamic situation.</p> <p>Marketers now need a future-proof system that can adapt to the next generation of marketing tech and ride the wave of innovation, whichever direction it takes them. </p> <p>So what does a future-proof system look like and what do marketers need to know now to prepare for the next stage in the marketing technology lifecycle? </p> <h3>1. Make flexibility the number one priority </h3> <p>The key to a future-proof marketing system is the flexibility to accommodate unanticipated new technologies and requirements.</p> <p>This requires an extensible modular framework where components can be replaced or added without restructuring the entire system. </p> <p>By creating this type of flexible architecture, marketers benefit from greater marketing agility as they can quickly adopt new techniques.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/8585/modular.jpg" alt="" width="578" height="385"></p> <p>They also enjoy better integration with data shared between systems providing a <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/intensive-mastering-customer-experiences/">seamless customer experience</a>, and reduced costs as new technologies can be deployed without expensive changes to the existing system. </p> <h3>2. Centralise all sources of consumer data </h3> <p>While the technologies that make up a future-proof marketing system will be upgraded and supplemented, the core functionalities that it must support will remain constant.</p> <p>The most important of these is the unification of customer data from disparate sources, enabling any type of query or extraction to access that data. </p> <p>This includes connection with customer-facing systems that aren’t owned by the organisation such as social networks, which can provide valuable user information.</p> <p>Selecting the right tools to aggregate and analyse customer data is a vital part of building a future-proof marketing system. </p> <h3>3. Employ enhanced connectivity for instant data transfer </h3> <p>Other functionalities a flexible system must be able to support include marketing management tasks such as planning, budgeting, content creation and access, and results analysis.</p> <p>These individual tasks may all be performed by different technologies. </p> <p>The system must be capable of analysing data from multiple systems to select the best customer treatments.  </p> <p>Furthermore it must allow instant transfer of data to enable real-time actions to be triggered using information about the customer’s immediate situation.             </p> <h3>4. View technology acquisition as an on-going process </h3> <p>A future-proof marketing technology system is distinct from a more traditional system in a number of ways. </p> <p>Its architecture is built on the goal of flexibility rather than specific marketing programs, and all components of the system meet general compatibility criteria including integration standards.</p> <p>The system is created with the assumption that components will be continually changed in line with technological developments and evolving marketing needs. </p> <p>This means technology acquisition is an on-going process rather than a project with a start and end date.  </p> <p>Because future-proof systems use standard interfaces, marketers have a far wider choice of individual solutions and can select the best technology for each task, including independent minor components to complement major components. </p> <h3>5. Align the organisation around a flexible philosophy</h3> <p>While a flexible system is crucial to future-proof marketing, it can only be effective if the organisation itself is equally flexible.</p> <p>A change-oriented mind-set – where continuous reinvention is expected and welcomed – is essential, as is an approach where every technological component is evaluated based on its ability to integrate. </p> <p>Organisations must develop a consistent measurement framework for assessing business outcomes if they want to interchange individual components without disrupting the whole system. </p> <p>Businesses need to focus less on hiring experts in specific systems and more on developing general analytical and technical skills.</p> <p>They also need to promote inter-department co-operation as systems of the future will be centred on the customer rather than the department.    </p> <h3>Six steps to future-proof marketing tech </h3> <p>So to recap, organisations must take the following steps to make the most of evolving technologies: </p> <ul> <li>Adopt a modular system with standard interfaces where components can be swapped or added with minimal disruption. </li> <li>Integrate a customer data platform (CDP) to centralise all sources of consumer data. </li> <li>Accept technology procurement will be continual process.  </li> <li>Promote a company mind-set that views change as positive and beneficial. </li> <li>Focus on analytical and technical skills in marketer recruitment and training. </li> <li>Ensure a feedback loop is in place; analyse and quantify financial impact of investment.</li> </ul> <p>We may feel marketing technology has already come of age but it is only just beginning to mature – and there are endless unpredictable life changes ahead. </p> <p>To take full advantage of the technological developments in store, marketers must build future-proof systems with interchangeable components that allow the aggregation, analysis, and transmission of customer data, as well as aligning their organisations around this flexible philosophy.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67979 2016-06-23T14:27:54+01:00 2016-06-23T14:27:54+01:00 The five steps to an effective and repeatable sales process Shaun Haase <p dir="ltr">The most important thing to remember is to establish clearly defined goals early on to ensure that your sales team is on the same course of action as you.</p> <p dir="ltr">By developing and implementing a strategy that’s consistent across all of your customer segments and touchpoints, your sales team becomes a well-oiled machine that offers the same impeccable service and experience that is in line with your company’s bottom line.</p> <p dir="ltr">Here are five steps to help you get started:</p> <h3 dir="ltr">1. Segment your leads</h3> <p dir="ltr">Organizing your leads is the key to success. Business is done by people, and as such, there is enormous value in noting the unique attributes and preferences of each potential or existing customer.</p> <p dir="ltr">From the industry they’re in, to their communication preferences, remembering the specific needs of each lead helps establish your sales team as more personable, relatable and thoughtful.</p> <p dir="ltr">This level of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66576-why-make-it-personal-personalisation-vs-contextualisation/">personalization</a> can only be achieved by segmenting your customers, either based on their industry, opportunity or other variables.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6380/segment.jpg" alt="" width="545" height="362"></p> <p dir="ltr">Lead segmentation can also help reduce the number of emails sent, increase the open rate for each message and help your sales team gain valuable insight into what does and doesn’t work.</p> <p dir="ltr">Sales teams will be able to cater to customers in a more personalized way, which can lead to higher conversion rates because they feel like a person is reaching out to them, not Mailchimp.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">2. Start with the full cycle in mind</h3> <p dir="ltr">Initiate the sales cycle with communication that’s warm and inviting.</p> <p dir="ltr">The first point of communication should bring awareness of your product to the customer; it’s certainly not the time for a hard sell, though the time for this will surely come.</p> <p dir="ltr">If you jump too early, you’ll be putting yourself at risk of alienating the potential customer even before they’ve had a chance to learn about what you have to offer. </p> <p dir="ltr">Use the first touchpoint to get to know the customer. When you better understand their desires and pain points, you’ll be able to craft a relevant message that speaks to their exact needs.</p> <p dir="ltr">More importantly, see this first step as part of a larger story that’s weaved together through multiple touchpoints.</p> <p dir="ltr">What is the key message you want to convey to this customer? Be brief, to the point and think carefully about a messaging tactic that will resonate with your target audience. </p> <p dir="ltr">You may also encounter customers who are familiar with your product and have already shortlisted you as a viable solution. Don’t be too pushy but do try to feel customers out.</p> <p dir="ltr">Give every customer the opportunity to take action with a simple call-to-action that empowers them to move forward if so desired. </p> <h3 dir="ltr">3. Utilize feedback to refine your pitch</h3> <p dir="ltr">Customer feedback can dramatically enhance the effectiveness of your messaging and communications.</p> <p dir="ltr">By analyzing email open and response rates from previous campaigns along with a customer sentiment audit, you’ll be able to uncover valuable insights on customer interest or lack thereof.</p> <p dir="ltr">If the messaging you’re using is not hitting your engagement targets, take the time to evaluate the issue and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64116-a-b-testing-software-recommendations-from-four-ecommerce-experts/">try A/B testing</a> different variations of your core message.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6381/alphabet.jpg" alt="" width="750" height="472"></p> <p dir="ltr">You might even find that you need to expand your predefined customer segments to ensure that all customers are being ushered down the most effective sales path for them. </p> <p dir="ltr">Utilising existing feedback on your outreach is important when optimizing your sales strategy.</p> <p dir="ltr">You’ll quickly learn which types of messages and approaches work best on each group, and you’ll also be able to better identify which customer segments are proving to be the most valuable.</p> <p dir="ltr">By regularly monitoring and adjusting your communications, you’ll create a much more efficient and lucrative sales pipeline.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">4. Connect with your warmest leads</h3> <p dir="ltr">Once you get further along in your conversations, you’ll have a better sense of which leads are the most promising.</p> <p dir="ltr">It’s now time to connect personally with each of your warmest leads. Offer to connect over a phone call or in person.</p> <p dir="ltr">By doing so, you’ll be able to directly address any potential questions/concerns while creating a deeper connection with each lead.</p> <p dir="ltr">If you’re lucky enough to generate many warm leads and haven’t done so already, you need to be <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64545-what-is-crm-and-why-do-you-need-it/">utilizing a CRM</a> to track and manage these relationships.</p> <p dir="ltr">A CRM becomes increasingly important as the sales process progresses so it’s best you implement one early on.</p> <p dir="ltr">The right CRM will ensure that you are maximizing the conversion potential of your warmest leads. </p> <h3 dir="ltr">5. Don’t be afraid to use incentives</h3> <p dir="ltr">Now that you’ve established rapport with potential customers, it’s time to close the deal. Start by sending a follow-up reminder with the key benefits and solutions of your product/service.</p> <p dir="ltr">At this point, your lead should have all pertinent information about your product/service so keep it short, simple and to the point.</p> <p dir="ltr">If they’re still on the fence, try presenting them with a limited-time promotion to give them an immediate incentive to convert right then and there.</p> <p dir="ltr">Rather than dwelling on the lost revenue from the promotion, consider the potential lifetime value that customers can provide.</p> <h3>In conclusion...</h3> <p dir="ltr">Creating a scalable and repeatable sales process is a relatively straightforward endeavor but the true challenge is remembering to continually adapt your processes to the needs of your customers.</p> <p dir="ltr">When you have a clearly defined process in place, it becomes much easier to scale your sales team and keeps them focused on what they do best: close deals.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67812 2016-05-05T12:01:00+01:00 2016-05-05T12:01:00+01:00 People & Process: Four key takeaways from Digital Cream 2016 Luke Richards <p>That said, we had some fascinating conversations which mostly centred on agile marketing and a diverse group of attendees contributed.</p> <p>Here are my top four takeaways from the day, which are covered in greater detail in my <a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/reports/people-and-process-agile-working-collaborative-tools-and-cloud-based-marketing-tech/">Digital Cream 2016 Report</a>.</p> <h3><strong>1. ‘Agile’ is a relative term</strong></h3> <p>Working in an agile way is very much rooted in the software development sector.</p> <p>Developers often prefer to work in this non-linear/non-waterfall fashion so user and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64417-horror-stories-how-to-avoid-an-a-b-testing-nightmare/">A/B testing</a> is more frequent (every week rather than just before deadline, for example) and bugs are dealt with more quickly.</p> <p>In marketing, things seem a little less nailed down.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4640/Digital_Cream_2016.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/agile-marketing/">Agile marketing</a> can relate to becoming more of a ‘social business’, using more digital technologies and giving marketers or developers more authority to launch campaigns and services in a more responsive, efficient manner.</p> <p>Our discussion of agile incorporated all of the above and ultimately represents a newer way of working which is collaborative and more driven by employees and the end users of the products and services.</p> <p>This is in contrast to, for example, simply waiting on orders from managers who often are somewhat disconnected from digital culture and the needs of the consumer.</p> <h3><strong>2. Disrupt and be disrupted</strong></h3> <p>Much of the need to go agile is driven by young businesses that are disrupting the market.</p> <p>For example, in finance we see <a href="https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/01/06/atom-bank-creates-1-4-million-logos-in-bid-to-prove-customer-obsession/">Atom Bank</a> – a boundary-less, customer-led, digital bank – behaving in ways legacy banks have never dreamed of.</p> <p>But disruption can also be something which is stimulated within agile businesses.</p> <p>With investment, staff who are empowered enough to innovate and allowed to fail, learn and re-try, can develop new products, new services or new campaign ideas.</p> <h3><strong>3. Fear stifles progress</strong></h3> <p>Most barriers to adopting agile ways of working in modern businesses seem to relate to the people working within them, rather than – for instance – lack of funding and time.</p> <p>Some staff members are concerned about digital taking over and putting jobs at risk, so it is understandable that we were hearing some people are worried about being made redundant should agile work methods be adopted.</p> <p>Attendees also spoke of fear in regards to increased transparency and scrutiny which come with greater drives to ensure team members know what others are working on.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4641/Digital_Cream_2016_v2.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <p>In-office stand-ups and weekly catch-ups may appeal to some staff members but not to those who are shy, anxious or admittedly not as efficient as they should be.</p> <p>Some marketers were keen to stress that middle managers were often the most reluctant to adopt more transparent ways of working.</p> <h3><strong>4. Education, education, education</strong></h3> <p>It soon emerged that the best way to overcome fear and other barriers to adopting agile work methods is to educate staff about the benefits of these progressive ways of working.</p> <p>Simple, shocking data (and that which comes from third-parties) can assist in getting buy-in from managers – especially if it relates to the bottom line.</p> <p>Staff on ‘the floor’ are often keen to learn about other parts of the business and new techniques as it can enhance their work skills, employability and life outside of work.</p> <p>Fundamentally, people need to be educated patiently, trustingly and without jargon about the benefits of agile working.</p> <p>For more information about our People and Process discussions at Digital Cream 2016, check out <a title="People and Process: Agile working, collaborative tools and cloud-based marketing tech" href="https://www.econsultancy.com/reports/people-and-process-agile-working-collaborative-tools-and-cloud-based-marketing-tech/" target="_blank">my report</a>.</p>