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Study 2014: What marketers see as their top priorities

Obviously, all marketers are ROI-driven – or made to think that way. Not surprising then, the top priority in digital marketing comes to be increasing the conversion rates (47%), followed by increasing/improving brand awareness (46%) and collecting/measuring/using behavior-based data (29%). This is the outcome of the latest study by ExactTarget entitled “2014 State of Marketing”. The report, conducted between October and November 2013, gives insights from over 2,600 global marketers.

ExactTarget-2014-top-priorities-exacttarget

Although I would have expected from our conversations with clients that demand generation comes in as one of the top priorities, only 28% of the marketers said acquiring new subscribers, improving channels (24%) and leveraging actionable data is among their main challenges for 2014.

ExactTarget-2014-success-metrics

The good sign for publishers, consultants, advertising platforms and marketing service providers is that 98% of responding marketers plan to increase or maintain their digital marketing budgets. The rise in digital marketing spends goes primarily to data and analytics (61%), marketing automation (61%), email marketing (58%), social media marketing (57%), and content management (57%).

ExactTarget-2014-budgets

Spot On!
It would actually be interesting to have a study that asks marketers what they define as social media marketing. Why? Interestingly enough, only 34% of those marketers find ROI in social media marketing. As of a lack of definition, we cannot argue whether there is a misunderstanding in the definition or in the company’s approach to social media. Still, only 52% think their social media activities will actually pay out in ROI. But when Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are cited as the most popular social channels for the respondents, I doubt that their social media approach is properly understood. At least there are positive signs when the repondents see that Google+ gets more impact with 18% planning to start in 2014.

Study: Business Elite increasingly embraces mobile technology

Harald Wanetschka  / pixelio.de

Harald Wanetschka / pixelio.de

Does mobile technology really have “more influence on global change than countries, governments or corporations”? Well, at least if we can believe in the 50% of respondents of a new European research by CNBC called “Europe’s Mobile Elite 2013”. The study states that Europe’s business elite continue to embrace the latest smartphones, tablets and devices. In general, most European business executives (73%) believe that they are keeping up with technology change within their sector, however almost less than four in ten are not confident with their companies’ technology change.

The study shows that most business leaders own a mobile device (90%), live and like the mobile business and are agreeing that life is “easier” (68%). Even more, 64% see their lives becoming more productive and enjoyable. Apple is still leading with 44% owning an iPhone versus Android users with 35%. Obviously tablets are on the rise as well with almost. The merging worlds of private and business becomes clear with the fact that 72% (up 39% from 2011) use their tablets for both work and leisure.

Not surprisingly, two thirds value tablets “useful business tools”. Also second screen usage is big among the business elite: 75% watch TV at the same time as using their tablet. The engagement effect of the tablet is striking with nine in 10 of these consumers taking some form of action on their tablet as a result of seeing TV content. And when the study shows that a third of the business executives are responding to TV advertising, marketers should think about ow to implement clever brand and lead generation campaigns in their TV spots. And when marketers want to reach the business elite, they are best in sending out their messages in the evening and at weekends (tablet usage). Smartphones are always-on, so no special advice here.
 
“This study shows the huge influence mobile technology has on our lives. Europe’s elite are keeping up with technological change, owning more devices than ever and using each in different ways. In the area of social media and its value in business, the jury is still out and it will be interesting to see where this leads next year.” Mike Jeanes, Director of Research, EMEA, CNBC.

Top content for tablets…  
– business and financial information (72%)
– web browsing (70%)
– news updates (70%)
– email (69%)
– reading newspapers/magazines (69%).

Top content for mobiles…  
– email (79%)
– business and finance (72%)
– web browsing (70%)
– news updates (70%)
– GPS (69%)
 
Spot On!
Despite some common disagreement that the business elite is not on social networks, the study makes clear that 85% are a member of at least one network with 61% on Facebook, 58% on LinkedIn, and 43% on Twitter. It is important to note that 40% (up from 19% in 2011) of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter users are now connected to all three social networks. Furthermore, 58% of the business decision makers use social media for business (still private use is the standard for 75%). It could be that private and business worlds are really not kept as separate any longer. The commercial impact of social media is seen critical. When 46% see social media “neither useful nor essential” (compare study 2012), it shows that most business decision makers had either the wrong advice or the wrong expectation raised by consultants. One of the reasons why we are always very critical in analyzing the benefit of social media for a company or brand, and trying to show the realistic benefit for companies.

Customer Service Report: Phone support still top, Twitter comes before Facebook

In an interesting report by Zendesk across the globe, it becomes obvious that telephone is still the preferred way to the customer service of companies. The report shows insights based on actual customer service and support interactions from over 16,000 companies across 125 countries.

According to the Zendesk report, customer all over the world were most satisfied with customer support they received on the telephone. The insights done in Q3 2013 show that 91% of customers liked the way they got help on the phone. In the second place of the satisfaction ranking came Chat (85%), followed by Help Centers/Web Forums (83%). On the social networks side Twitter (81%) came in before Facebook (74%).

zendesk satisfaction cs channel 2013

Not surprisingly, the report also made clear that during normal business hours the support got the slowest first reply times (FRT) plus the lowest satisfaction scores. In the time period between 5-6pm local time -often when the service teams change or leave business for the day- companies have got the longest FRTs.

Interesting to see that Brasil and Canada received the highest customer satisfaction scores although there was no real indications on what the reasons could be. United Kingdom finished in position 6, US in 11 and Germany only in 14. From an industry perspective, the IT services and consultancy business, government and education achieved the highest customer satisfaction rankings.

zendesk industry cs 2013

Spot On!
Companies would be clever to combine these findings with their customer churn and growth rates to see the impact of customer servcie on the development of their customer base. Although many companies do custoemr servcie via Twitter and Facebook, which is steadily growing and improving since 2012 according to the report, we have experienced that social media in customer service if often just used to calm people down and get them engaged in a phone call to solve their issues. A trend that has shown the best customer service satisfaction results.

History of Hashtags (Infographic)

Whether you use hashtags “#” or not, they have made their history since first introduced in 2007 by Twitter. They became the filter, not only for Twitter – also for special topics, for branding, for trends, and for what not.

Although many people ignored hashtags from the beginning on the social platform, they find more and more acceptance today, now that people know why they are in the world of social web communication. Their real increase in use cam with the year 2009, when the 140 character network decided automatically linking anything preceded by the pound sign.

Nowadays, if you want to get retweets, you better use hashtags as these tweets are 55% more likely to be shared than those without any #. Even Google+, Facebook, Instagram or Vine have started to accept the hashtag value. And Offerpop now introduced an interesting infographic which shows the history of the hashtag.

PS: Interesting to see that more people use hashtags on their mobiles than on their laptops or desktops. Mobile information is consumed in short time periods, so you better make sure people grab your information when they jump on the bus, the train or at a break at an event. Hashtags are the access keys!

History-of-Hashtags-Infographic

Ratings, Retweets, Repins & Likes: Automated response creators = killers of insight creation?

twitterview-2Some years ago, I have written about the Retweet button being the “killer of positive blog comments”. Over the years in many seminars and speeches, I have stressed the point that the ROI of the social web is not about generating high quantity in “thumbs up” on Facebook or Retweets on Twitter, or anything automated that comes along with similar meaning.

Retweets, Repins & Co. are only of value for your business, if…
– you accept those automated response generators as the pillars of your ROI system.
– you are a marketer who builds their business on proving the capability of accelerating reach rather than relevance.
– you are a brand that struggles to understood the value of building a community-centric business.
Still: Are ratings as insightful as a written comment – be it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other community platform out there in the social web?

Yesterday, it became public through a post on TechCrunch that Facebook is testing out a system of openly displaying star-ratings on Pages. Will this be another killer of value creation?

I definitely agree that the Facebook “Like” has become confusing, and in some way worthless. Many users just click on the Like button out of a pure and immediate emotion, nothing sustainable, lasting or resilient. Some are expressing their solidarity with it. Some are missing the dislike button, and click the Like button.

Do those automated responses tell us what they really feel? Do they tell us what people really think? Do they help us to evaluate our position? Fair enough, these automated response creators are some word-of-mouth catalysts. Well, I admit by adding these five star ratings, there is at least some specification in the differentiation of generating feedback.

Obviously, the new rating system puts Facebook in a different position and moves it more to the likes of Foursquare, Yelp and traditional trend shop systems. Furthermore, it allows users to be more concrete in defining their opinions. Users might get better orientation in why a coffee shop or a business or restaurant deserves to be tested.

Spotted by TechCrunch

Spotted by TechCrunch

But does it really help us? What is a 4.2 with twelve votes compared to a 4.9 what two people have build up? Do we know who gave the votings, and if these people have the same interest and preferences that we have got? Doesn’t orientation get even more confusing? What will we book on travel websites when there are less and less reviews and recommendations?

Spot On!
The 3 Rs of the social customer (ratings, reviews and recommendations) might make our lives interesting and exciting for new stuff. But maybe there is too much new trends and products out there to get our heads around. Maybe a real review or recommendation will sometimes help (one positive and one negative like Amazon does it already). Still, automated feedbacks -be it stars, RTs, Likes, etc.- are the least valuable insight creation generators on a relevance scale that helps defining internal and external social web ROI.

PS: If your managers are still happy when your numbers of Likes go up, be happy and tell them nothing about this post. If not, let’s discuss further how social networks should constitute in order to deliver deeper insights in the mindset of our customers.

Study: Online forums still popular and leading community option (Infographic)

According to a recent “2013 Social Media Survey” by Proboards the interactive communication preferences across platforms are still heading towards forums. Although you might think that they asked their own users (which is probably right), the survey still shows the importance of forums and communities. For their results the company promoted the research toover 150 respondents via Facebook, Twitter, and the ProBoards customer support forum.

The study claims that online forums are still popular. What was interesting for me to see is that they were even preferred compared to social media platform for interactive communication. Two out of three respondents (67%) stated that forums were the social media tool they found most valuable. Obviously, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and Google+ follow but the question here could be asked whether most people realize that all these platforms are also forums if used in the right way. That LinkedIn did not figure in as a significant social media tool is in my eyes not correct as the forums there within, are very powerful and interactive, plus they generate very valueable input for managers.

“The survey results do not surprise us since platforms such as Facebook and Twitter do not give you the level of control that forums do,” said Patrick Clinger, founder and CEO of ProBoards. “Forums provide greater customization and more options…”

Forums -although we would define them as communities according to our Community Centric Strategy– offer a great way of engaged communication, and probably with better and deeper quality than any other social network. There is more information in the infographic attached…

ProBoards-Social-Media-Study-Forums

Rise of Social Media as a Profession (Infographic)

When I started my blog some years ago, people in my industry were shaking their heads and wondered what the benefit was to be a “social media professional”. Some asked why I was wasting time on social networks like Twitter, Facebook & Co., and what the ROI is in writing blog posts and then sharing them. Some wondered how I managed to stay on top of the main trends and developments in the “social web” world. Well, time is passing by and people start to be getting answers.

In the last years, many companies have thought about hiring a social media specialist, or have even given it a proper job description. Still last year, we went into companies and found some young interim or part-time freelancer being responsible for the feedback on the 3R’s (ratings, reviews and recommendations!) of their own social customer. Often these people earned nothing but a smile from their colleagues.

These days seem to change. Can it be that companies understand the value of engaging with their customers on the social web – the place where they not only spend a lot of their spare time? They actually do marketing, sales, customer service, employer branding and much more for companies and brands. Some companies still have not understood though…

Now, the social marketing platform Offerpop has created a nice infographic based on data from LinkedIn that shows a staggering 1,357% increase in social media jobs posted on LinkedIn in the last three years.

Rise-of-Social-Media-Profession

Study: Increase in marketers social spendings expected (Infographic)

With their recent study The Creative Group predicts that the majority of advertising and marketing executives (62%) expect an increase of their company’s spending on Facebook marketing in the follwoing twelve months – 9% more than they predcited one year ago.

Not surprisingly, the advertising spend on Facebook leads the list of social ad spendings. However, the majority of executives will also invest in other channels more than last year: LinkedIn (51% up from 38%) and Google+ (50% from 41%). Twitter is also on the plan for a budget increase with 48%, as well as Youtube (40%), Pinterest (35%) and Instagram (32%)

Although this shows a great breakdown of all industry sectors and job titles in an overview, the different industry segments and job titles varied in their view on budget increase:

Facebook
– Large companies (100+ employees): 74% of marketers expect an increase in Facebook spend
– Smaller companies (100-249 employees): 60% predict an increase for Facebook spendings

Twitter
– 57% of advertising executives expect an increase in spendings
– 48% of marketing executives expect an increase in ad spends
– 12% of marketing execs expect a decrease in spend
– 6% of advertising executives expect a decrease

The study was based on a US survey of 300 marketing executives and 100 advertising executives.

How about your marketing budget planes with Facebook, Twitter and the likes? Increase or decrease?

Forecast-Social-Media-Spend-2013

Spot On – How to write the perfect post (Infographic)

It is something we keep being asked seminar after seminar. What is the perfect status update looking like on Google+, Facebook or Twitter? Well, the answer is there is no secret sauce. Or maybe there is now? The guys from Mycleveragency have at least try to define it and put in as much knowledge as possible. If it helps when all tweet and chat on social platforms at the same times, I might doubt here but still…

PerfectPost