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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.

Forecasting the Internet of Things and IoT start-ups to watch

The forecasts sound almost incredible. Gartner estimates that Internet of Things (IoT) products and services suppling companies will generate incremental revenue of over $300 billion by 2020.

The analyst company IDC sees the worldwide market for IoT solutions to grow from $1.9 trillion in 2013 to $7.1 trillion in 2020.

Brands like the electric company GE predict the Industrial 4.0″ will add somewhat between $10 to $15 trillion to the overall global GDP over the coming 20 years.

Samsung will invest more than $100 million for IoT startups that will help the technology manufacturer establish new ecosystem for connected devices.

The Internet of Things is at an all-time high until today. Companies want to connect consumer devices, appliances, and services in order to connect their services with devices and then generate some smart data to leverage their value chain.

Interestingly enough Google owns some of the most promising IoT companies (Nest and Dropcam) already which will make some people look sceptic how the search giant will move more and more into their lives.

Smart devices are definitely the big trend for 2015. Whether it will be Jawbone though. After testing the wristband and it’s usability, I am not quite sure if this will be the way into the future. The car industry seems to be catching up though with their smart watches replacing keys and other driver necessities.

Even the whisky industry works with smart bottles now telling us how old the whisky really is, according to Venturebeat.

The guys at WRIKE just recently pulled together the 11 most ambitious IoT start-up companies should have an eye on. Furthermore, they added to their infographic three established brands which they think will have their big breakthrough in 2015.

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Social Selling 2015: The year of redefined engagement

Selling through social media has always been a challenging business. However, all brands and companies we have spoken to in 2014 wanted to turn around Social Media from a brand reputation channel into a sales opportunity touchpoint.

Obviously, many of the companies had already failed. Most of them as they were either too greedy, or just not prepared to go in a bar without expecting someone to sell them a drink – or respectively, to buy their products and services after the brands or companies have posted their first status updates. In my eyes, it is time to shift expectations and start anew. 2015 should not be your year of sales disappointment, it should become your year of redefined engagement.

All companies aim for the same goal. Customer engagement is what companies are waiting, hoping and praying for. Thus, they pump out tons of content pieces from their latest brand sponsoring activities to the best white papers and case studies they can offer until they cannot find any content piece in their PR or marketing repository that has not been shared across the globe. And by accelerating the content via Facebook, Twitter and the likes, they expect their KPIs to become real.

And then, the guys from SocialFlow conducted a study in summer last year. analyzed organic posts with almost 1.5 billion social actions, showing them 99 percent of those updates on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ create little to no engagement at all. Did brands use engagement the wrong way? Where their tactics bad? And if so, what were the obstacles they did not obey?

Engagement Facebook 2014

Let’s look at the following three tactical approaches. Ask yourself if you really follow the three rules of engagement.

1. Engagement: Think cross-department, cross-partners and cross-employee

Companies still tend to be structured in silos. Internal politics, department thinking and career ambitions rule out what could be replaced by community engagement, employee engagement initiatives or engagement incentive plans. Still, most responsible managers don’t know or forget how networking inside the company and with all external forces like resellers, retailers and partners might might leverage selling opportunities.

Now, whether it is limited digital capabilities of employees or the HR department that is often only involved in social media in terms of setting up social media guidelines, companies should start realitzing that their social media manager is not the company’s silver bullet. HR and marketing need to align forces and work closer together: Culture, relationship building and trust creation is not only a sales business which got nicely highlighted by a study from Altimeter at the end of 2014.

Setting up processes, programs and platforms that work towards a common goal, that get updated by various minds, by different perspectives and manyfold views attracts the engagement of more customers. The formula is easy and proven: More brains can be in more conversations and generate more engagement.

2. Engagement: Learn cross-platform, from “free-meal” to „pay-for-play“

Companies and brands seem to accept that social media is not a „free-meal“ any longer by investing in consulting companies to help transforming their social media efforts into social selling enagement. Facebook is leading in driving engagement to brands according to Simply Measured’s 2014 Facebook Study which analyzed the Interbrand Top 100 Global. Photos accounting for 77% of total engagement, and link usage to around 16%.

However, brands still haven’t respected the fact that getting people to listen and read their marketing messages by posting in social media is changing dramatically. When Facebook turns the algorithm into “less promotional” this year, companies need to start redefining how they approach their customers more subtile. Even if they will be addressing them with building clusters (or circles), contacting them via the „@name“ phenomenon or hashtags. The wording needs tob e chosen carefully, and we can be sure other networks will follow that example.

Thus, the next big thing will be the shift from investing in traditional media to spending more money in platforms that leverage social networking engagement. Products like the LinkedIn Sales Navigator or individual targeting through the combination of data analytics and marketing services, will become the new sales kid in town. Where marketing and media decision makers have invested in nebulous target-group definitions, social networks can cluster target-groups by their individual interest in content, in pictures or in videos.

The only shame is that smart data (and especially media and sales data exchange) across platforms does not work yet. So, banners and sponsored posts will continue to haunt customers although they have already bought a product or service a banner promotes to them. Clever managers invest in blogger programs, in brand advocates and loyalty programs to drive up and cross-selling opportunities. Don’t just think about content!

3. Engagement: Understand cross-quality values

Just to make this clear from the beginning: A LIKE is not only a LIKE, like a Retweet, Repin or Reblog is not just a meaninglesss interaction of some lazy engagement. In many seminars, we see marketers that still center their KPIs around quantitative engagement figures while under-estimating the chances that are covered behind such „automated“ customer interactions: joy, interest, passion, emotions, etc..

Clever sales people use such quantitative engagements for profiling their customers’ habits, experiences and interests in their social CRM database or sales management systems. They value every single customer engagement as they know when to turn quantitative into qualitative engagement, and how to turn it to their favor in meetings, calls and conversations. Knowing that a client has liked a shared golf or football video can be the start of a long-term relationship and open up doors for introductions to others.

Customers will be happy if they get good content to share with their own peers and community. They appreciate the dedication (seasonal content), commitment (consistency of service) and the quality of engagement (high interactivity) that brand accounts offer to them according to a study by the Engagment Labs. Appreciation, well-understood from customers and companies, is the key to social media engagement.

Spot On!
The link between customer engagement and employee engagement was not only proven in a study by Answers Corporation lately. In many examples with customers and experts have we experienced that social media engagement is not rocket-science, however the process of setting it up plus using and finding the right technology is a challenge. Still, the rules of engagement are changing in social media, especially in social networks. Facebook is the former RSS feed, just with the difference that you can sponsor it now. Youtube is the new search engine. It’s 2015! Redefine your engagement mindset!

Most Popular Websites By Country (Map)

Two researchers Mark Graham and Stefano De Sabbata at the Oxford Internet Institute mad use of Alexa to determine the most visited websites by Internet traffic. Although the findings are quite obvious for some regions like the US and Europe where Google dominates, Facebook has already taken over Spanish-speaking parts of the America, the Middle East, and North Africa. Still, in those 50 countries where facebook “rules”, Google or YouTube appear just behind. Yandex is leading in Russia with approx. 60% of search traffic, Baidu in China (however, the researcher doubted their leading position in South Korea). Interesting for me to see that Yahoo is still powerful in Taiwan and Japan.

Most Popular Websites Global

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?

Digital Strategy Toolbox 2014 (Slideshare)

Julian Cole released his second presentation of the “Digital Strategy Toolkit”. This Digital Strategy Toolbox for 2014 can be viewed on SlideShare and give marketers some new ideas on which tools to use for their next digital strategy set-up. It contains some valuable insights and examples of tools (19 in total). Furthermore, it is looking at cool websites, research stats and some more inspirational material. Maybe you already know a lot of these tactics but still, it is worth to double-check if you are still up-to-date, right?

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.

"Stream me up, Scotty!" – Viacom study shows streaming is the new black

Credit: © XtravaganT - Fotolia.com

Credit: © XtravaganT – Fotolia.com

Scotty’s world is gone. Today’s future is not “beam me up”, but “stream me up”. At least when it comes to listening to music. The Viacom music group, consisting of CMT, MTV and VH1, published some summary results which prove that teenagers and adults up to age 40 consume music in a streaming mode.

In a quantitative study with 1,200 respondents, which also included some qualitative secondary research and some new form of “blography” component, it made clear that streaming has become a mainstream behavior. Almost four out of five (78%) participants of the survey had streamed music in the past three months. The streaming habit on the way to purchase is most often (91%) a form of auditioning music before buying it – especially YouTube has an important role in this process.

The age group of 22-30 year olds is even more active than their older and younger counterparts. Streaming music has become a daily habit for them (63% do it daily). As the group sample was taken from their target audience, it might be a reason that this result is even higher than in usual user studies.

The young generation of “streamers” listens to radio as an important source of information to this group. However, the study credited broadcast and the Internet as sources of music discovery. Interestingly enough the study states that the act of listening seems to be passive. User do not seek to find their music, it basically comes to them. It could be a prove that the music industry has understood how to use big data to favor the music taste of their users.

Obviously, TV is another major discovery platform for this generation. 88% of respondents mentioned that they searched for songs on TV shows next to listening to them. This could become another important opportunity for track-identification mobile apps (like i.e. Shazam).

The path from discovery to purchase (which in this study can mean several things, including “streaming it incessantly”) is interestingly charted. The role of streaming in that path is often a form of auditioning music before buying, according to 91% of participants, who use YouTube for that purpose.

Spot On!
Not surprisingly, the respondents state that downloading music via P2P networks is not popular for them (60% see it as “risky” or “wrong”). Still, this does not mean that the idea is completely gone from their minds. Sharing music data with friends via DropBox or other sharing platforms is a common practice for music fans. However, if 81% of participants believe this is a support to bands they admire can be doubted. Maybe the music fans haven’t quite understood how their bands make money. It probably “beams up” the bands relevance and popularity more if 63% of fans follow artists on Facebook and share the bands’ news in their personal networks.

Companies monetizing the Internet of Things (Infographic)

Many companies and brands are thinking about ways on how to embrace the Internet of Things (IoT) in connecting devices to cloud products and services. Whether it’s cars, switches or home appliances, the IoT will change the world we are living in but also give us opportunities to ease our daily life. IDC estimates that internet of things market has already a volume of $1.9 trillion dollars -and in 2020 8,9 trillion US dollars- based on some research they have done recently.

Now, the guys at AriaSystems have created an interesting infographic showcasing products and services which companies have created, and how they already make money with the Internet of Things.

Iot_Infographic

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