How to become a top (social) seller (Infographic)

To decide strategically on social selling is not a question, if it is going to stay in the future, rather than how and why to use it. If your sales people and your brand wants to step out of the circle of those “We are not there yet!” industries, then the following infographic from LinkedIn might deliver the right inspiration on how to leverage social selling tools in order to amplify your brands messaging and your company’s outreach. If you start today, it will demonstrate your thought leadership and brand advocacy of your employees if you set up the processes right with the aim to build loyalty and generate more leads than your competition.

So, if you want to become a top (social) seller, check out this infographic. Consider the options and make sure you use the advice given from today on.

LinkedIn-8-steps-to-become-a-top-seller-infographic

Study: Trust is king – How, when and where consumers buy online

Fair enough, it is only a US-based insight among some 2,000 online and mobile shoppers in July 2015. However, the message could be taken to any other market I guess these days…

The main factor for consumers to make a purchase decision, is trust. This is the finding from Amazon which conducted a study with Pymnts.com in order to understand, where consumers start their buying journey, why consumers buy from one site and leave the other one without making any purchase. Furthermore, the study states that price or ease of delivery are not the main features driving purchase decisions.

The US consumer needs trust in a site (23%) so that they purchase from some retailer. Oterh features that came in th next places were tailored promotions or rewards (16%), a good experience in the past (14%) or products being available in an acceptable time frame (13%).

Interestingly enough, other tactics like good shipping considerations (11%), preferred method of payment (8%), ease of use (6%), a site that recognizes me (4%), being a preferred customer (3%), being able to check out as a guest (1%) and store billing and shipping info (1%) came in much later in the ranking.

Pymnts 2015 - Why they buy

“You need a strategy that is about more than being present,” he said. “You need a strategy that is about being present where your customers are because if you are not, then you are not being customer centric. There’s no such thing as a relationship without trust.” (Patrick Gauthier, VP, Amazon Payments)

So, where does the consumer journey start? The study also found that almost every second out of three respondents (64%) start by searching for a product on a marketplace, followed by their favourite brand websites (48%), search engines (40%) and social media (29%).

Pymnts 2015 - Where they buy

“The ultimate digital destinations are driven by trust – trust that the sites have what they want to buy, trust that they will be given a fair price, trust that their goods will be delivered to them in a time frame that is relevant.” Karen Webster, CEO, MPD

Just check your own habits and experience. What would you say makes you buy something from an online shop? We look forward to your comments…

Study: Marketers biggest social media challenges in 2015

One of the latest reports around social media tells us that measuring ROI (60%) is still the most challenging aspect for marketers when facing all their social media efforts. This is the main message from a report by Simply Measured and TrustRadius.

The findings that are based on some survey data from almost 600 social media practitioners between February and March 2015 also show that other top challenges are tying social activities to business outcomes (50%), developing a social media strategy (48%), and securing enough internal resources (40%).

Social Media Challenges Trustradius 2015

Although the main message is clear, there are some small variances between company sizes when separated int small businesses (1-50 employees), midsize companies (51-1,000 employees), and enterprises (more than 1,000 employees). While smaller companies struggle setting up and developing their own social media strategy, enterprises are trying to secure enough internal resources to master their social media efforts.

The integration of social media into the overall business is also a big way to go obviously. First of all is the alignment of social media goals with the overall business goals not fully connected. But even more challenging is the question whether all the efforts generate some business impact. Many marketers are working intensely with data and analytics to optimize their marketing strategies but the proof seems not yet been given.

Maybe this is all based on the missing tool strategy, which is also one of the major findings of the report (not surprisingly based on study makers). How to manage and measure social media activities, is often not a question of whether companies know the tools but still they are predominantly sourcing the monitoring out for example, and then wonder why data gets not interpreted properly. Also, some are not happy with their tool choice.

Social Media Metrics Trustradius 2015

Spot On!
The findings are not surprising when the targets from all three company sizes is brand awareness. Still, companies should be able to better understand KPIs in the social selling process. It seems that companies and brands still have not yet understood the value of a friend, follower, LIKE, share or a comment. Furthermore, they still do not have the opportunity to link their data findings and their social media engagement back to some CRM database in order to leverage data sets around their customers. Furthermore, the missing social sales strategy combined with a clear lead processing and management is essential, and most companies do not have an answer here. Obviously, a lot of support in the social media set-up is still appreciated.

Not? Then tell us what you think…

Study: Content marketing investment on the rise

A recent study 2015 Content Marketing Survey by content marketing agency Castleford states that the amount of marketers committed to content marketing is increasing. According to their results 65% (compared to 48% one year ago) of marketers want to boost their content marketing next financial year. Their plans is to invest more in time and resources.

Even more, 97% of participants of the survey said they will increase or retain their current level of investment. And the respondents also face the support of their C-level executives. Of the responding marketers 76% replied their C-level executives viewed content marketing “quite positively” or “very positively”.

Obviously, there are also some challenges involved in content marketing creation wit time (45%) and budget (29%) being the biggest problem. Just, 3% that mentioned their C-level buy-in is their biggest challenge to content marketing will be probably persuaded over time, we think.

In terms of content marketing tactics the study shows that social media (81%) is still the favorite online marketing tactics in this field. However, the biggest growth opportunity shows video marketing and paid promotion of content for the next year. 61% are already using video marketing, (increase of 13% compared to last year). This is probably also driven by the main players Facebook and Google.

The variety of content marketing is also growing though. Almost every second marketer said that they use five or more different online marketing channels (45%).

Although Castleford director Rob Cleeve is confident with the development of content marketing, he also makes clear that marketers need to deliver results with it as well: “In my experience, content marketing is claiming an increasingly large share of overall marketing budgets, which is going to mean more pressure to show how it’s benefiting the bottom line.”

Spot On!
Content marketing definitely has changed the advertising industry drastically. However, the main challenges involved are the appropriate use of data with content to drive the right story in the right context to the right user at the right time. Here we see massive problems for many marketers still in our work with customers. Post-it recently explained it nicely in a video that leverages their banner and ask many question in terms of how retargeting actually kills good content marketing in terms in the example of banner ads.

The infographic of the study carries all relevant results of the Castleford study.

Castleford-Content-Marketing-Infographic-2015

Why influencer marketing is the future of content

In many posts have we written about the relevance of influencer marketing and how it differs from the value of brand advocates. Today, many marketing organizations and brands have understood the power of influencer marketing and dedicate a significant amount of their budget to them. And there are good reason for it which we can see from one of the latest infographics in the market provided by the guys from The Shelf.

Shoppers trust in influencers and use them as their third-most-consulted consumer decision information source. Although brand and retail sites are still in the lead as an information source. Blogs already come in right after them, even ranking higher than well-trusted social networks like Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram.

Years ago, we have made clear that the 3 Rs of the social consumer will be leading the decision making process in the future: ratings, reviews and recommendations. The infographic is another proof for our thesis those days. These days, influencer are more trusted than brand content where recommendations have got the biggest power with 92% of consumers trusting in those. Reviews have become the second most trusted source (70%). People also try to stay on top of thought leaderwith blog content that is consulted by 47%.

Although the opportunities are there, only two out of three marketers (65%) invest in influencer marketing so far. and every second company separates their budgets for sponsored social content from other budgets (52%). Still, the amount of investment is not “nickles and dimes” anymore for brands and companies. Every fourth company already spends over $500,000 already.

Spot On!
Why influencers play an important role inside your content strategy is obvious. They can explain products from various subjective and objective angles. They can play an important role in your community management when negative input needs tob e turned into positive arguments. They can have a big impact in your content production strategy in having an external view on your business and relevance in the market, and thus become your „search-engine-optimizers“. And, they will play a significant role in your sales approach if you take your time to think about it (or maybe talk to us if you don’t have an answer).

Have a look at the infographic and decide yourself if and how you would like to use influencer marketing in the future.

TheShelf-Influencer-Marketing-Infographic-2015

Hashtags: The what, how and why of success

Even some years ago, I did not really detect the value of hashtags – however it was the days when only Twitter used hashtags. Nowadays, there are still not many people able to detect the secrets and the power of hashtags in the social web world. And probably the majority of marketers still wonders if they cannot leave out the hashtags in order to make the posts more readable.

Hashtags offer a lot of benefits if you use it properly – to be searchable, to be findable, to be categorizable, to follow, to monitor as a brand, a service or a person. Hashtags are not a Twitter thing any longer: Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Google search, and various other platforms also make use of the “computer-cross” as one of our clients called it the other day in a workshop we did with them.

As (social) marketing campaigns are measured on engagements, it is fair to say that hashtags in campaigns are boosting engagement by up to 50%. Working with two hashtags seems to be the golden secret as more hashtags will kill the “boost-engine”. Still… Maybe not always though. Instagram posts with 11+ hashtags even showed the highest number of engagements. And on facebook you might also not use hashtags at all as those were most successful.

PS: If you do not know how to use hashtags, maybe check out this latest advice from Terri Seymour.

Please find the latest insights put together in an infographic by Surepayroll.

effect-hashtag-infographic-2015

Influencer Trust and Recommendation – A real challenge for marketers (Infographic)

Some years ago and in many seminars, we make clear that the 3Rs of social consumers will revolutionize the sales world: ratings, reviews and recommendations. However, the question arises what make people recommend brands and services? What is their intrinsic motivation or human driver that makes them push out more positive comments around a brand.

A recent infographic by Social Media Link pulled together the most important findings of a study that surveyed 24.000 social media consumers. Still, the best customer experience that leverages recommendations is “a positive experience with the brand” (93%) and “receiving a free product or sample” (79%). On the other hand, a poor customer experiences motivates sharing, too. 71% stated “a negative experience with a brand” makes them write a review as well.

The survey respondents also mentioned that they are more likely to trust a product recommendation on Facebook than any other social network (71%), followed by Instagram with only 38%.

Not surprisingly, Facebook and retailer websites ist he place to discover new brands and services (53%). However, for purchasing the retailer becomes more important and after purchasing a product people use predominantly Facebook to share their buy (54%) – again Instagram comes in second place.

Spot On!
Now, when you think you just need to give a free product to someone, it makes them write a review or recommendation, you might be wrong. Although, 88% trust friends’ and family members’ reviews when these write about their give free product in exchange, the bloggers only come in at 78%. BUT: Is payment included in exchange for the review, trust-level goes down – especially at bloggers to 48%. Still, the best way ist o have apersonal story which is authentic, not animated and personal.

social-media-recommendations-infographic-2015

Study: B2B executives believe they are not delivering on demand generation

It is a poor testimonial that B2B enterprise executives give their demand generation efforts. According to recent survey conducted by ANNUITAS, most of their campaigns aren’t meeting the goals oft he leading company heads. When just 2.8% of rsurveyed respondents say their campaigns are effective, most of us will wonder what needs tob e done to become more effective.

The study titled „Enterprise B2B Demand Generation Research Study“ focussed on marketers in the B2B enterprise space with 500+ employees and over $250 million in annual revenue.

The study shows that there is obviously a massive disconnect between what marketing departments want to deliver and how the results should look like. Measurement, metrics and KPIs seem not at all aligned with the business goals which somehow surprises bearing in mind that the industry is talking about this phenomon for quite some time now.

Still, marketing decision makers are not very much successful with their demand generation. When 60% state they don’t feel successful with their tactics and just under three percent feel very effective, it speaks a clear language.

The study comes alongside some recent survey by… which also shows that one oft he challenges ist he alignment with sales departments and their leaders. Many companies still are not clarifying what needs tob e done to deliver on demand generation efforts.

Especially when it comes to lead generation, the quality of leads is a point of unalignment. In terms of goals, the quality of leads is for 77% the most pressing goal, followed by customer cross-sell/upsell (56.6%), volume of leads (51.9%), and brand awareness (50.9%).

Spot On!
The survey proves that demand generation is not meeting buyer expectations. Whether it i content marketing or the creation of buyer personas, marketers need to improve their knowledge and capabilities in demand generation in order to meet business expectations. Companies need to invest in coaching and training when they keep up with the market and have a clear demand generation strategy.

Ann_B2bSurvey_Infographic_r3_v2

Why fans and friends unfollow brands on Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin (Infographic)

Some years ago, the guys at ExactTarget told us why people follow and unfollow brands on social networks and other communication platforms. Time for an update you think? Well, here we go…

The guys at BuzzStream and Fractl conducted some research, asking more than 900 people on why they unfollow brands on social networks. With their And the infographic The Unfollow Algorithm they share their findings with us.

First of all, the big winner seems to be Linkedin. Almost only half of all companies or brands (49%) need to fear that they get unfollowed by their users. More problematic seems to be Facebook: 25% of the respondents said that they unfollowed a brand’s official social media page in the last month. And, also Twitter is losing out: 12% of Twitter users stated they unfollowed a brand in the last few days.

So what are the main reasons for the „unfollow algorithm“? Well, the main reasons is that content of brands becomes repetitive and boring – 21% made clear they will unfollow a brand then. The frequency of posting is also ritical for users. If a brand posts too frequently (over 6 times per day) people will unfollow the brand page.

And what do people want? Almost every one in four (22%) claimed that “images” is the most preferred content type posted by brands.

What is your opinion, and why would you unfollow a brand on a social network?

Unfollow brands Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin

Study: Millennials do B2B purchase decisions differently

Credits: Gerd Altmann  / pixelio.de

Credits: Gerd Altmann / pixelio.de

We all have heard that Millennials, those humans that are frequently connected, well-informed, tech-savvy, and always having an eye on efficiency. But do we know much about their buying habits, especially when it comes to B2B purchase decisions?

The Institute for Business Value at IBM conducted their next study on Millennial called “To buy or not to buy: How Millennials are reshaping B2B marketing”. The research was based on the opinions of 704 Millennial respondents in order to better evaluate their thoughts about
buying habits of those business decision makers oft he future. The respondents had to have at least some degree of purchases power of $10,000 or more. Then,IBM compared the responses of Millennials (1980-1993), Gen X (1965-1979) and Baby Boomers (1954-1964) to see how the strategic buying decisions vary to other generations.

One thing becomes clear, Millennials want simplicity in handling their partners. They value ease of doing business before industry expertise. Compared to Baby Boomers it shows that the later generation was more heading for fast response times from vendors than their attitude to collaborate.

However, cooperation means a lot in terms of buying-decisions for Millennials (56%) and Gen X (64%). These employees claim to make better decisions when involving more colleagues. In contrast, only 39% of Baby Boomers will ask their colleagues for buy-in or recommendations.

In days, when we are all talking about smart and big data, it also shows that Millennials make use of analytics more than their previous generation. Millennials (53%) and Gen X (63%) leverage data to make better business decisions, whereas Baby Boomersare not much keen on using data to drive better purchase value.

Furthermore, Millennials are looking for direct contact with vendors in the sales cycle. When researching for products or services, they tend to get in touch with vendor employees directly. It shows that the days oft he good old sales pitch is over for them. Millennials want authentic and personalized customer experience to establish a better trust basis for the later cooperation. Social Media, chat and instant message are essential for smart collaboration with vendors. However, they want to stay in the driver seat.

“Digital interaction is almost table stakes. The real differentiator is … experiential opportunities to work with vendors. They want a sense of, ‘What would it be like to partner with these guys? Do they have the same values?'” Carolyn Baird, Global Research Leader, IBM Institute of Business Value

Spot on!
It becomes clear that companies and brands who aim to work with Millennial -by 2020 over 50% oft he global workforce- should prepare themselves for offering deep insights and analytics to speed up the business decision and buying process. What is definitely crucial is to be open for new collaboration habits and a culture of cooperation. Probably the most important insight suggested from the study is that vendor companies need to have a culture of open collaboration and easy access to all employees across the vendor organization when addressing B2B Millennial buyers.