Tag Archives: Technology

Like most of you, I am continually bombarded with articles and blogs claiming mobile, social and data will “forever change the way we do business.” So why would I write another one? I take issue with most of these articles because few actually dig into specifically how these buzz words will change our lives. I have an iPhone, I use social media and I'm sure there's all kinds of data about me floating around the Internet. I want to know how each of these is being used to sell to me better, make me buy more, or otherwise affect my behaviors.

With that in mind, I recently reached out to five top analysts in my field to garner their thoughts on how mobile, social and data will impact customer relationship management specifically. We came up with a list of what we are calling CRM's Next 5 in 5 – a play off of IBM's five innovations that will change our lives in the next five years. My colleague Lauren Carlson devised a similar report last year, so I wanted to update her findings.Future of CRM

For this article, I consulted with each of the following analysts:

• Denis Pombriant, CEO of Beagle Research Group LLC

• Brent Leary, owner of CRM Essentials

• Esteban Kolsky, principal and founder of ThinkJar

• Brian Vellmure, CEO and founder of Initium LLC / Innovantage

• Paul Greenberg, owner of 56 Group LLC

 Here's a list of specific aspects of mobile, social and data they see impacting CRM software during the next five years.

Curating Technologies Will Siphon Data for a Specific Business Goal

As we all know, Big Data means nothing unless you can actually do something with it. But there's so much out there, it's difficult for a business to know what pieces they can use to actually grow their business. Do they want to generate leads? Garner market intelligence? Develop their product?

Curated data services will start with the business goal then filter out the data that achieves it. Let's say you wanted to better score and generate leads off of your website visitors. One technology could, for example, automatically score site visitors as a lead with Dun and Bradstreet, social media and IP address information. Then adjust that score based on how they interact with your website.

In the hypothetical above, sales reps might be alerted through their CRM if a website visitor at that moment is in their buyer persona sweet spot, on the site for the fourth time that day, and just emailed a white paper about your product to a colleague.

Companies Will Leverage Contacts in New Ways with Crowdsourcing

Customers and clients are paying less and less attention to traditional marketing and sales strategies, such as television and print. Just take a look at this recent report showing a huge disparity in marketing spend between traditional and digital channels.

What customers do pay attention to – particularly in today's social and Yelpified world – is what their friends, family and contacts say about your brand. This is where crowdsourcing comes in. It isn't a new concept, but technology developers will come up with services that empower customers and contacts to be personal brand advocates. This could layer in gamification elements, but the idea is leveraging contacts to market your brand for you.

Social Media Will (Finally) Directly Prove ROI

Many of you out there will probably fight me on this, but I still struggle to see the direct ROI in social media. For me, it's a wonderful tool for relationship building and staying “in the know.” But generating leads off the channel is still cumbersome and inefficient because it's a mostly manual process – if you do it at all.

There are definitely some products out there innovating in this space, but they face one huge challenge. The data needed to automate this process is accessed through open social APIs – these are evolving so quickly that the data is often imperfect and unreliable. As these APIs improve, technology developers will innovate new products that leverage social data to generate leads and produce revenue.

Voice-Enabled Technology Will Mobilize CRM

Many CRM mobile apps today essentially work and function much like the desktop version. They might be optimized with slimmed down dashboards and navigation with swiping and pinching. But they still require a lot of tapping and fishing around various pages.

Voice is one way to work around to this. Apple innovated in this space with Siri. But I can't count on one hand the number of times I've seen comedy sketches poking fun at her for getting commands hilariously wrong.

Eventually Natural Language Understanding – the algorithms that understand not just what is said, but the context of it – will perfect voice-enabled navigation. Once they do, CRM developers will feel more comfortable leveraging that technology in their mobile experience.

Predictive Analytics Will Improve Personalized Marketing

Predictive analytics tell companies what a customer is likely to be attracted to based on their past behaviors. We see early versions of this from Amazon, which suggests products based on what you’ve already purchased or searched for.

Uses for this intelligence will continue to improve so personalized messaging, offers and deals will happen right at the moment when there is the greatest opportunity.

Imagine, for example, that you go to a clothing site and add five items to your cart. Five minutes later you navigate away from the page without buying. In the future, you might receive an email or text message a minute later saying “Buy those five items now and get a 10 percent discount and entry into a drawing for an iPad.” This wouldn't be sent to everyone that abandoned their cart. Just to me because the site knows from my history I only buy sale items, or shop when there's a special; and I enter every contest. Additionally, I'm a loyal customer and a big spender. It makes sense to spend money marketing to me.

These are just a few of the specific ways our experts see mobile, social and data changing CRM in the future. What do you see in your crystal ball? Join the conversation with a comment here.

Guest Author:  Ashley Verrill is a market analyst that writes for the Software Advice website. She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has appeared in myriad publications including Inc., Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. Before joining Software Advice in 2012, she worked in sales management and advertising. She is a University of Texas graduate with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

 

Today's business world is largely driven by sophisticated technology. Even the smallest of businesses can offer products and services on an international scale, which has been a boon for business owners. However, many consumers feel that business have lost the human touch, or the ability to relate to customers. Executives who wish to optimize business success should consider humanizing their brands.

Adding a human touch to your business doesn't need to be difficult. You can do so by paying close attention to the messages you send to consumers and to the marketing platforms you use. It also pays to build strong communications and relationships with customers. After all, consumers are more likely to patronize a business when they feel that they are more than just their pocketbooks. Keep the following in mind when working to humanize your brand, no matter how large or how small.

Think Through the Language Used in Marketing Messages

Crafting slogans and marketing messages presents a challenge to any business leader. In an increasingly technologically connected world, it's more important than ever before to make sure that marketing messages are both sophisticated and relatable. In other words, consumers should feel that they can relate to your messages without feeling that content has been dumbed-down.

Making marketing messages more relatable means choosing the right language. Avoid using impersonal pronouns, opting instead to use pronouns such as she, he, his and her in marketing messages. It's important that the consumer is reflected in advertising. Messages that focus only on products may seem cold. Remember that humans use your products and should be included in your marketing messages.

Evaluate Company Visuals

In addition to thinking through the wording of your marketing messages, you should also think carefully about visuals connected to your company. What sorts of illustrations, photos and videos do you use in connection with your company? Do these videos feature products and services or do they feature consumers? It's important that consumers see themselves reflected in the visuals used by your company.

Of course, most companies have brand-related images that consumers recognize. It's important to retain recognizable logos. However, consider using rich visuals with models or actors who reflect your consumer demographic. Many customers also enjoy seeing videos of a company's executives and employees. Consider posting videos that go behind the scenes of your business on a company blog.

Establish Strong Customer Communication Systems

Any business can use new technologies to stay in touch with customers. Building a profile on a social networking site or establishing a company blog is a great way to put a human face on your business. By creating a profile or blog, you can also attract consumer traffic to your website. You'll be able to draw in consumers and provide them with a way to contact your company.

Remember that it's important to clearly present company contact information on your website and on marketing materials. Consumers will be frustrated if they have no way to contact your business. To make the most of communication with customers, you should also establish a communications tracking system. Make a note of when communications were received from customers and when your company responded. Remember to respond in a personable, friendly tone. Always respond respectfully to your customers and they are sure to fall in love with the human side of your business.

What ways have you added a human touch to YOUR business?

Guest Author:  Dane Cross is a blogger and online marketer who writes extensively about trade show marketing. He is currently writing on behalf of Marler Haley.

 

The reason that customer loyalty programs work is that people like to get something for nothing. So the average consumer, when confronted with major savings simply for signing up, is bound to fork over a name and address in order to get immediate savings at the register with the swipe of a card, and in many cases receive the added benefit of coupons and special offers by mail (or email). Of course, few people operate by such archaic systems these days. It seems like everything worth doing is done with a dose of social networking involved, and customer loyalty programs are apparently no exception. Since most people are spending quite a bit of time checking their Facebook wall or re-tweeting their favorite Samuel Jackson or Ellen Barkin gem (or their own 140 characters of must-share news), many companies are finding ways to use that interconnectedness to their advantage.

The real trick here is getting customers to connect to your business. Signage or advertising that contains QR codes is a good place to start, and anyone with a smartphone or tablet can use them to get connected to a business by simply scanning the coded square. But once you've hooked consumers into connecting with you, how can you best use social media to your advantage? After all, most of your loyal customers won't be too happy with your brand if they get bombarded with spam day and night. This means you have to be selective in your promotional tactics.

You could try offering daily deals or click-thru options for discounts, for example. This type of promotion is generally acceptable because it offers loyal customers added value without a necessarily subjecting them to a hard sell. The decision is theirs. But you can take it even a step further. When customers connect through a loyalty program you can track their purchases in order to offer them an individual experience via social networking. For example, in-store programs that come with a card to swipe during transactions store account information pertaining to customer purchases so that deals and discounts can be given on items they buy frequently or those they might like based on their previous shopping preferences.

Social networking allows businesses to cast a wider net, not only because it is a much more rapid delivery system than snail mail (or even email in most cases), but also because there is more information that may be gathered in regards to a customer's personal preferences. Some businesses are even using it to infiltrate friend networks in order to offer their customers gift suggestions based on the preferences of their friends (gifts available at their own store, of course). Okay, it's a little "Big Brother", but that's the world we live in. And frankly, your competitors are doing these things, so perhaps it's time to stop relying on your business signs and print ads to do the trick.

Of course, one of the best things that social networking can offer both businesses and their clients is a chance to connect on a personal level. Consumers now have the ability to follow a company's CEO on Twitter or Facebook, just for starters, and potentially even contact said executive with questions and concerns. By the same token, businesses can go directly to customers for opinions about the products they purchase and their consumer experiences. It's a brave new world thanks to the internet and mobile technology, and businesses are finding ways to make social networking work for them. You can, too, if you get with the program.

Guest Author:  Sarah Danielson is a contributing writer for Business Signs where you can browse through a variety of signs to find the right one for your business.