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Email Evolution or Revolution – From Goethe to IBM Verse

Eyes wide open, the two IBM gentlemen look at me. They sit up right. Professional. Spot On. You can feel their enthusiasm, their expectations are high. Both are social collaboration leaders at IBM, evangelizing on the #newwaytowork. That’s how the software technology company hashtags their latest journey to the revolution of the email as they call the launch of their new inbox communication software “IBM Verse”. You can tell how excited the two managers in front of me are to talk about the IBM success story. The launch seemed to have gone well so far.

On my opening question both face each other, not sure who shall answer. They are professionals in communication, they are prepared. “The term Verse is historic for communication and conversation”, replies Dr. Peter Schuett, Leader Social Business Strategy at IBM. “In times of Goethe, when carriers brought people hand-written letters, all the communication that went to and fro was written in verse.” The answer surprised me as IBM’s development sounds like a trip in the past.

It is not. For the first time, IBM has taken a new development approach. They made their customers think about the new software solution by inviting customer to their labs, by rethinking email, and by thinking design and customer experience first, based on real customer feedback, input and inspiration. Not the cheapest way to innovate. The product development cost 100 Mio. US Dollars according to them. It has got to be effective from a customer perspective.

IBM_Verse_People

For a long time, IBM has been a forerunner in terms of modern workplace technology. Their “Outside the Inbox” evangelist Luis Suarez has already been preaching for a business world with less emails. We all know the reasons why he was addressing this. People get approximately 127 emails a day. This means emails kills 28% of our daily work-time, and thus of our daily productivity.

With IBM Verse the software technology company wants to shift productivity. Creating a more effective business culture is the aim. From Ed Brill’s perspective, he is IBM’s social business transformation specialist, email should function as a transmitter. Email today should be serving notes like a private letter what Goethe used to do in hand-written form: delivering private information.

“Email is the service forever. But it needs to be a personal service.” Dr. Peter Schuett, IBM.

Focussing on the new software solution, I brought up the question in which way this is a revolution to email communication. Ed Brill emphasizes that IBM did not want to reinvent the email. IBM wished for a better email. However, IBM wanted to create a new intersection of email, calendar, social media and analytics. That’s what they have done with IBM Verse.

When I showed a bit of my disappointment around the new solution’s capabilities in terms of being an aggregation platform for direct messaging and functionality as an inbox management system in general, Ed Brill rearranges my expectations in bringing the metaphor on suits which might all look different in design but are in a sense all alike from the amount of innovation in style and structure. And by the way, the power users of enterprise email are still personal assistants.

IBM_Verse_Analytics
True, sometimes people forget where they stand in the evolution of modern communication. With their “People” and “Analytics” functionality, the modern way of a more personalized communication approach seems to get in that social direction in the future. At least, when we compare IBM Verse and Facebook from a superficial point of view. With IBM Verse people also move into the centre of the communication universe which is meant to map the efficiency form content to people. IBM Verse “People” learns to show the users dynamically who is important to their communication, by hour, meeting and topic of conversation. Obviously, users can also change that and arrange it according to their premises. The world of communication gets filtered more and more.

Spot On!
IBM Verse is definitely a big evolution step in email communication. Still, they could have made it a bit more of a revolution in delivering a multi-messaging and communication management platform in my eyes which integrates direct communication via Facebook, Twitter and others.

Brill agrees that when CEOs wanted to spread the word around some company, product or people changes in the company, IBM was about to use email for that communication. Today, via IBM Connections -the internal use of their own company community platform- gets 7 Mio. accesses a month, and the CEO messages will reach (and achieve more feedback) more people via internal social messaging than via email in the past.

Nevertheless, the two gentlemen did not want to commit to a statement whether IBM Verse and IBM Connections might become one platform in the future. But the approach to one collaborative workplace platform, serves the option to have fewer apps in the future. But hey, there is hope: “Rome was not build in one day!” summarizes Schuett in the quick Snapshot video interview in the end of our interview, and smiles.

The virtual office – Good reasons why your business may start here.

Share Word on Round Button - GenerosityIn days of Facebook, AirBnB, Tumblr & others, when new business models and start-ups spread all over the world, some marketing freelancers might think about the option to appear big. Or shall I say for some interim period of establishing a business, these people might want to look bigger than some decision-makers might imagine? Whatever their driver might be. When starting a business, marketing consultants have got the challenge to look professional all over their brand. An address in the right context location seemed to be a must-have. It’s all about the brand, right? However today, the overarching value of a new business brand might have changed. What was a shiny office address in the middle of town in the year 2000, isn’t important any more (and maybe never was). There are new and probably better options that virtual offices can offer.

Thinking back around millenium days, when we launched a start-up with some good business partners, the venture capitalists would have loved the option of a virtual business. The resons were obvious: The business model puts a foot on the “valid business reasons'” groud instantly. Operationals can start immediately. Being first to market, cannot be taken away from you. “Land and expand” is the option. All set. In 2000 this sounded like a dream for founders and their investors. Our company’s rental costs were the biggest liability we had those days (also when we bought the business and sold some years later). We couldn’t just leave and sign off our contracts. The landlord was clever enough to keep us in our rooms for at least six more months. The virtual office is much more flexible and usually offering shorter termination periods.

Talking about liabilities, you might also think about getting a secretary? Another cost topic. Virtual offices have got their own secretaries who will look after your business. Calls, postage, or even emails if you may want to leave it to them: all sorted out by them. Whether it is PR requests, marketing topics, sales inquieries or any other service related business, the virtual assistant is giving clients and business contacts what they are asking for (if you brief them properly). No overhead business. No extraordinary employee costs. If it is your own staff, you have to find replacement for them on days of illness or family issues. In virtual offices, the service is available 24/7/365. These days, you do not necessarily have to pay for health treatment if someone is ill. And speaking frankly, this harms your business in the start-up business three-fold: cost-wise, additional workload and underpaid founders doing processes and projects they should not be looking after in the start-up period.

Later, when I started some other consulting business, I used a virtual office place to start the business. The benefits were quite interesting then:
a) Pay-per-stay. When I was in London for business, my virtual office would have been fantastic. Why do you always have to commute around London and waste expense budgets, when from time to time you can just have gotten people to commute to you?
b) Pay-per-use. When clients came to visit, I did one phone call to the virtual office desk and paid for hourly use. That was really handy. Do I need to “own” (and pay) a meeting-room that is unused for 35 out of 40 hours a week?
c) Pay-per-need. When I needed a desk, I paid for a shared desk. If I wanted to stay at home, I just told the office desk the day before. Do I need to rent a place where “my” desk stands and is waiting for me too many days in a month? Traveling is the key to starting a good business. Meet as many people as you think is necessary.
d) Pay-per-inspiration. When I needed business exchange, new innovative approaches or even looked for some new networking opportunities, there were people from many industries to talk to at the coffee lounge in the virtual office. On a good talk, I paid for the coffee. No cheaper way to get consulting. And: Who goes a floor down in his office, just to meet someone as they are tenants like you are in order to speak about business?

Spot On!
There are valid business reasons to use a virtual office company when you start a business. When the business grows and you have got paperwork to store, you might think about using a bigger version of the virtual office components and features. Still, the reason for renting an office in days of cloud computing, bigger WIFI access and coffee bars in virtual offices is becoming smaller and smaller. And even, if your business grows, there are many ways to leverage the virtual office s long as you act in start-up mode.

Reports: How retail marketing managers use digital, and how customers think…

Social media marketing has become more and more important for retail marketers in the U.S. this year compared to 2013. This states the latest reports by Extole which was based on the survey response of 302 people responsible for marketing and technology at U.S. retail companies. However, mobile marketing and email are still top priorities as well for those marketers across various verticals, company sizes and geographies.

Extole Report 2014 Marketing Spend to 2013

Although social media marketing was the leading marketing spend compared to last year with 41%, mobile advertising (32%) and email marketing (31%) were catching up as well. Whereas thee marketing spends were on the sweetspot for budget spends, topics like display advertising (28%), content marketing (28%), and paid search (24%) got less marketing spends this year.

Extole Report 2014 Marketing Channels Regularly

The report also made clear that retail marketers use social media and email two most (85%). Not surprisingly as social media was mentioned as the most effective tactic for acquiring customers. 50% of the retail marketers have picked it in the top three results. Nevertheless, if retail marketers want to convert retail customers, email marketing is still seen as the most effective marketing tool.

Spot On!
If we compare this report to another much broader study by Capgemini “Digital Shopper Relevancy Report” that asked 18.000 consumers around the globe, marketers might be putting too much emphasize on social media marketing. Marketers might have a closer look at the not “socially-engaged shopper” categories and then decide in which markets to invest in social media marketing, and which stay with a broader holistic digital marketing approach.

Capgemini 2014 Digital Consumers

What is your experience on how to best address your customers in the retail or technology space?

dmexco 2014 – Flashback in Quotes & Discussions

dmexco 2014 Debate HallThe growth trend of the digital marketing show dmexco is impressive and continues to write a promising (hi)story.

Visitors: 31.900 – increase by 16% compared to 2013
Exhibitors: 807 – means over 65 exhibitors more than 2013
Speakers: 470 – as of various stages with new start-up village and work labs

This year I wanted to wait some days before I am writing my little review to see what really stayed in my mind, and what people were talking about after the event. This is what stayed in the brains of my friends – maybe it should reach you.

1. “dmexco is like the Lumascape brought to life.”
#Quote in Breaking Down Silos for Brands Panel
Damian Burns, Director of Global Strategic Partnerships, Google

2. “Nerd is the new black”
Brad Rencher, SVP & General Manager Digital Marketing, Adobe

3. “Online is the new offline.”
Quote by Joko Winterscheidt, TV-Moderator

4. “The play is to work out the first against the second screen.”
Quote in “Addressable TV – A Marketers’ Dream Panel”
Jim Clayton, Executive Vice President, HE New Business Division, LG Electronics

5. “The digital revolution is over, we are now in the digital evolution.”
Quote in Digital Revenue optimization 2.0 Panel
Sital Banerjee, Global Head of Media, Philips

6. “The brand in many ways need to take the back-seat. It can’t be all about the product if you move into the content section.”
Quote in “The Content Summit”
Jimmy Maymann, CEO, Huffington Post

7. “@ft presence at #DMexco so big they don’t even have a stand! They are on every phone and tablet! @dmexco @ftbized”
Quote from #FT rep/via Oliver Matthews

The three main takeaways from the event for me were…
a) Trend: dmexco stages are challenging global TV stages.
b) Topics: TV goes mobile. Digital is leading corporate strategy.
c) Town: Cologne needs more taxi drivers and/or UBER subscribers.

Really looking forward to moderate the next dmexco, 16th and 17th of September 2015.

CU there!

Study: Promoted tweets beat organic tweets by 160%

Some research by the guys at Convertro gives valuable insights to marketers in terms of paid social media. Compared to other platforms, paid tweets are more successful than organic tweets. The study shows that promoted tweets converted better than twice to organic tweets. However, YouTube is best in introducing new products and supporting consumers purchase decisions.

The report analyzed some 500 million clicks and 15 million conversions during the first quarter of 2014. It tracked the performance of social purchase interactions via the Convertro’s attribution technology amongst their user base. The results show that promoted tweets converted at 3.9%. The unpaid tweets received only a 1.5% figure which makes a difference of 160% that paid tweets generate.

Convertro-AOL-Social-Network-Paid Media

The variance of results can not be seen on Facebook though were paid status updates got achieved 3.1% versus unpaid status updates of 3.0%. Even worse were the figures on Pinterest were paid posts converted with only 0.2% compared to moneyless posts which received 1.1%. So, Pinterest probably needs to rethink their advertising model when unpaid posts (over 80% more successful) do more for marketers than paid posts.

Spot On!
If it wasn’t Twitter, the questions for paid social media would probably even be higher. However, if we look at the overall figure, it is clear that paid posts increase conversion rates by almost 25% – at least according to the stats by Convertro. Maybe you have made your own tests and advertising campaigns with paid social media. If so, maybe let us know if your figures show similar results.

Study: Social and Native Ads beat Email in Branding

A recent study suggests that marketers should focus more on social media advertising and native promotions. The results of the study conducted by Millward Brown Digital for MediaBrix show that these tactics are more effective than email.

The respondents -300 marketers from Fortune 5,000 companies in 17 business categories- of the study answered with the follwowing response on which advertising formats and types “meet their digital branding objectives” on a multiple choice and multiple selection questionnaire.
– Social (51%)
– Native (46%)
– Email (36%)
– Paid search (23%)
– Mobile Web (23%)
– “Emotionally targeted” in-game (20%
– Mobile in-app (20%)
– Programmatic (18%)
– Regular in-game (14%)
– Text messaging (12%)
– Direct purchse ads from websites and blogs (11%)

When Millward Brown asked marketers on their preferences on “what types of digital ad campaigns has your company conducted”, the reponses were quite similar. Of the responding marketers, 77% mentioned that social is their way forward where as 73% replied email and 68% were heading for native. Although this might suggest that email marketing is a thing of the past, the marketers did not say that email does not work any longer.

Seeing news from Procter & Gamble marketing lately, it illustrates the confusion generated by the marketing industry on what’s the future of advertising going to be like. P&G will invest 70% of their advertising in programmatic in the future. A move that follows the American Express example trying to shift 100% of digital ad buys to programmatic. Against this movement stands some results of the Millward Brown study which shows that 30% of digital marketers understand that programmatic advertising creates some negative consumer experiences, with the unfavorable result in not leveraging but hurting brand loyalty or negating their branding objectives.

Please finds the main results of the study in the following infographic.

Infographic-Social-Native vs Email

Infographic-Social-Native vs Email

The Challenge: Measuring ROI on Social Media (Infographic)

After three years, the guys at MDG Advertising have updated their last infographic on ROI on your social media “The ROI of Social Media: Is Social Media Marketing Effective?” This new version will be helpful to challenge your business objctives, your metrics and the understanding of how to leevrage your social media reccruiting efforts. The good thing about this infographic is that it shows 45% of social media marketers can build new partnerships through social media. Furthermore, an astonishing 72% of respondents claim that Social Media has helped “closing business.” And, 6% more respondents state they used successfully Social Media to recruit people for their business.

These are their 3 main factors of measuring from MDG Advertising which can be used as a guideline to foster your social media program.

Social Media Understanding
Look beyond the sales numbers and cost structure. Do your brand monitoring first, not for one month but for at least three in a row and on a daily basis. Then, try to figure out how your brand perception and recognition has changed latey (with or without latest social media efforts). Which significant issues have changed your brand perception? Which tools have help identify the changing brand perception?

Business Objectives
Most companies and their leaders start and change their social media program when the trial-and-error mode has proven the fail of the social media strategy. You better start defining your business objectives first, and one thing is for sure. You do not start, just because your competitors are active in social media platforms. Maybe you want to have a look at your brand perception and web conversations first, then you ask what engagement do your customers show in the various channels. Does all this engagement make an impact on sales? And how is your brand perceived along the social web clutter?

Measuring Figures
According to the infographic, CMOs use the following metrics to measure their social marketing efforts. It shows that as in earlier years, quantity comes first, however I would suggest you better go with quality. How says what and when, and how does this affect other consumers of your brand.
68% Site traffic
66% Conversion
63% Number of members
50% Revenue
43% Number of page views

You have good different thoughts about it? How does your company or brand measure the ROI on Social Media? Share them with us, or just have a look at the infographic, and maybe some ideas on the ROI of Social Media will come up then.

MDG Advertising 2014 ROI SOcial Media

Facebook & the "Freemium". What if Facebook charges one dollar a month?

money-sepiaStop reading this blog post if you are a Facebook fan. You might hate it. You might like it. Stop it! You won’t? Well then, don’t try to be a consultant and just read this and act like a Facebook user. This is our idea how Facebook could become even better…

When I wrote about The Social Globe -a world of paid social networks- some years ago, people called me “mad” and “crazy” teasing such “wild” and “early” paid ideas around social networks. Sometimes, I wondered why The Social Globe – a “network” of social networks like the broadcasting network Sky (earlier Premiere in Germany) never kicked off, bearing in mind all big social networks needed revenue. Maybe it was too big an idea. Maybe too superficially explained. Maybe… Whatever. I never found an answer. Well, maybe one. All major networks want to outplay their competitors. Collaboration is out. Although, we all have the social media philosophy in our heads: Sharing is caring. It does not count for social networks it seems.

Some years are gone since, and we all think about and discuss the value of Facebook. We wonder about it’s algorythm deciding what we see, watch and read. And we blame their advertising programs which often don’t make the user happy, nor does it seem to meet the personal targeting criteria. Well, in case people even notice the ads.

Traveling a lot, I have discussed a new monetization approach with social media and social networking insiders all over Europe. What happened if Facebook would change their business model according to the following “freemium” scenario. Yes, I know that Mark Zuckerberg has said, Facebook will never cost the user anything.

But what is the value of restricted and filtered content? What if I cannot see the content of my real friends? What if I don’t see (the ads of) my favorite love brands anymore on Facebook? What if Facebook loses it’s personal benefit and value for me more and more?

So, this is the moment of truth. Users get two account options on Facebook in the future…

a) Free Account
Filtered user account. Ads and branded content to be displayed according to Facebook’s targeting system. Facebook decides what content the user sees. Who your “real friends” are is decided by the algorithm.
Costs: 0 EUR per month

b) Paid Account
Unfiltered user account. Opportunity to personalize the own stream. Ads and branded content of the user’s favorite brands will be displayed according to their love brand personalization. The users decide what content they see. Who their “real friends” are is decided by the user.
Costs: 1 Dollar per month

Facebook has opened up a new field of communication, a new way of bringing people closer to each other. No matter how far separated they are. It is a great way to make us aware how close we are living, breathing and experiencing our daily lives.

The idea of paid for Facebook accounts is out there to being discussed. Go ahead and give us your thoughts.

Maybe this is the start of a new way of thinking about Facebook. Maybe we can start a real discussion on how to make Facebook a better social networking place with more personal value, less self-glorification, and so on. One that leverages “real” personal connections.

Would you use such a paid version, or stick with the old free account?

Adobe Summit 2014: Flashback in Tweets

Adobe Summit 2014Sometimes when I travel to speak or to moderate at events, I have no idea what I can expect from the stages, the audience, the speakers and their input. Sometimes you fly home disappointed as the news were old, the stories not exciting, the slides were shabby or even impossible for the audience to read. And not often you have a long lasting experience that will change the way you experience the digital (marketing) world. Adobe’s Summit 2014 has proven to become an outstanding event experience, and I am sure the following stories will stay in my mind for a long, long time.

Let me summarize the main messages of the event “Reinvent marketing” with the following five tweets…

Creativity
Not often tweets can stand on their own. This tweet has a message that marketer need to obey in order to fullfil the message of the event and justify their position in the company. Marketers don’t need to glorify their brand through advertising. They should simply enable consumers to tell the brand stories from their own perspective. “Storytelling is not story yelling!” as Gaston Legorburu, Chief Creative Officer at SapientNitro puts it.

Adobe Summit 2014 Gaston SapientNitro

Data
When you hear all the opportunities about big data and see what companies like Adobe can do, it makes you think and wonder what these institutions will do with it – no matter what (EU) regulations we will have in the future.

Adobe Summit 2014 Adobe Values

The feedback from Rod Banner made me think: “I feel pretty sure they won’t. Not even intentionally. It’ll just happen. Remember, “Knowledge is Power”. And the answer from Twitter user Corticelli (whoever you are) seems to support Rod’s and my view: “oh, they will stalk and spam. And ruin that shiny technology fur the rest of us … #AdobeSummit”. Let’s hope the three of us are wrong with our slightly pessimistic view.

Change
Having had the Head of Internet Office from the Vatican at the event was definitely surprising, hearing him speak was like meeting the Pope on stage. His gesture, his facial expression and his words were famous even before they were even spoken out. When Monsigneur Lucio Ruiz collected his words together to frame them in a picture of words that not many people on earth can paraphrase, people started smiling, applauding and laughing. Laughing, not because there was no meaning in them but just being spot on. So he said about the Pope: “His words might differ. The message is always the same!”

Adobe Summit 2014 Ruiz Vatican

Decisions
Definitely the most inspiring and touching story on starting anew came from Kurt Yaeger. The well-known actor from the American TV series “Sons of Anarchy” lost part of his left leg on a motorcycle accident in 2006. When the accident happened, he was a BMX professional and the doctor told him that with or without his leg he will only have a max. 20% chance to survive. Although it will kill his career as a bike pro, he did not have to think long to decide what to do. Sometimes, you just don’t have to wait long to stop a routine or a habit.

Adobe Summit 2014 Kurt Yaeger

Personal note
I remember when my son got meningitis in Greece. He asked me to stop smoking that day. I told him while throwing the new pack of cigarettes in the bin: “You get well again soon. And I stop smoking now.” I have never touched a cigarette again, and that was over eight years ago. And, I will never do it again.

Influencer
When you get invited to a panel on the future of marketing, it makes you think whether you really know more than the rest of the selected media audience.

Looking back, I have seen more or less all of them taking notes and starting discussions. And, when the Q&A session started, you could feel that this round could have been interesting for a wider audience, not only for the media. But who knows. Adobe reinvents their marketing. And maybe you can also discuss with us about the future of marketing at the next digital or Adobe event.

Report: Friday is Engagement Day on Facebook

The more work people have the less they have got time to engage on Facebook. Right or wrong? Well, right…

At least according to a recent report from Adobe that states Facebook users engage with brands more on Fridays than any other day on in the week. In their Q1 Social Intelligence Report which analyzes the interaction of Facebook posts and ad engagements, the company found that 15.7% of all impressions happened on a Friday.

Adobe FB Engagement Q1 2014

In the second place came Thursdays with the second highest post impressions and engagement (14.5%), followed by Saturday (14,4%) with almost the same share of impressions. Sunday appears to be the day when people are not massively engaging with Facebook compared to the rest of the week (13.4%). A detailed interaction overview shows that Fridays were the strongest interaction days examined across all engagements: comments (17%), likes (16%) and shares (6%).

Adobe FB Share of  Engagement Q1 2014

Furthermore, the report which was based on 260 billion Facebook ad impressions across different industry sector like media, entertainment, retail and travel, makes clear that photos and video seem to become the new secret sauce in user engagement on Facebook. Photos still show highest engagement rates in the first three months in 2014. 24.7% of all brand video views in Q1 came in on a Friday. Although people have more time on Sundays, it is the day with the lowest share of video impressions (6.4%). The engagement around video updates were up 25% year on year and 58% quarter over quarter.

Adobe FB Video Engagement Q1 2014

What are your findings around Facebook updates? What content types perform and which don’t? Is Friday really such a powerful day for you as well?