Category Archives: Observations & Answers

How Mobile Friendly is your Business?

Mobile has become a major fixture within the business world with more customers choosing to use their mobile devices over more traditional methods. In fact, statistics show that a whopping 50% of all web traffic comes from mobile devices and this number is only going to grow in the future. Therefore, it has never been more important that businesses ensure they are mobile friendly if they want to succeed in the current corporate landscape.

However, there is a misconception that many business owners have that this mobile trend is specific to B2C companies and not as important when it comes to B2B, but this just isn’t the case. The move to mobile is happening just as fast within B2B, in fact 50% of B2B queries are made on smartphones and research shows that this number is likely to rise to 70% by the year 2020. It may be that we expect a greater degree of mobile friendly interaction between businesses and customers but many interactions between companies are also happening through mobile devices.

A major factor in the rise of mobile in B2B is the impact of millennials on the workforce- obviously this new generation are tech savvy and rely much more on mobile platforms. However, interestingly, statistics have shown that age isn’t the only defining factor as baby-boomers are also conducting more and more business using their smartphones. Therefore, it seems as if the cultural and technological shift that is happening is bigger than the generational divide. A report by Salesforce which looked at over 7000 business buyers found that over 80% of millennials believe that their mobile device is essential to their work. Although the amount of Baby-Boomers who felt the same was lower (over 60%) it’s still the vast majority and signals a shift in thinking.

Mobile B2B sales are still relatively low but are continually rising and are likely to make up a significant percentage of revenue in the future. It’s also worth noting that sales figures are not the only measure of the impact of smartphones. The decision to purchase is often influenced by research conducted using smartphones and tablets and whilst the actual purchase isn’t completed using these devices- they are still playing a vital role in the overall process.

The idea of the pre-purchase activity which eventually leads to a sale is often overlooked but it can be vital. Research has found that 70% of executives will use their phone to research a product or service after receiving an offer. Furthermore, 68% of respondents actually use their mobile phones to look at news which is related to their field. What these statistics show is that even if business owners aren’t actually making purchases on a mobile platform- they are being influenced by phones and tablets.

Taking all of this in to account- it’s obviously beneficial to have a website that is mobile-friendly because it allows potential customers to not only research products and services but also encourages them to make the actual sale. Interestingly, a mobile friendly website can have a significant effect on brand loyalty. 90% of B2B buyers are more likely to repeat business with a company that provides a good mobile experience- compared with only 50% of buyers who said they would repeat business with a company that offered a poor mobile experience. Clearly, this is an aspect of the B2B landscape that is important to a lot of buyers.

The interaction between businesses is changing, in fact it seems to be becoming much more like a conventional business to customer relationship. Ensuring that the process is as easy and satisfactory as possible is integral and this includes constructing a website that is tailored to desktop and mobile platforms.

Turning Complaints into Compliments

No businesses like to receive customer complaints but they are often unavoidable. Organisations aren’t perfect and mistakes do happen, especially when you factor in human error. However inconvenient, many companies fail to realise that complaints can offer a unique opportunity to gain valuable feedback and turn a frustrated customer in to a happy and therefore loyal customer. This is particularly important as many business owners know, retaining customers is a lot easier and cheaper than attracting new ones. So how can business owners ensure that they turn their complaints in to compliments?

Before even considering the process of dealing with complaints, companies should try to change their entire mindset. Instead of viewing complaints as a chore, see them as a resource. Many businesses go out of their way to gain feedback on their products and overall customer service but ignore the consistent stream of feedback which rolls in from complaints. Furthermore, if a customer is urged to actually make a complaint- usually that means it’s about a fairly pertinent issue and one the company should be aware of.

The initial reaction to a complaint is incredibly important and will dictate the ongoing relationship with the consumer and business. It’s vital that each complaint, no matter how large or small is treated with the same level of professionalism and seriousness. Although it’s likely that the grievance has nothing to do with the customer service agent personally, apologising on behalf of the company and thanking the customer for getting in touch can go a long way to rebuilding trust.

The next step should be about gathering as much information as possible about the customer and their problem. This will both illustrate a sincere attempt at help and will expedite the process of offering a solution.

When dealing with a disgruntled customer, communication is key. The customer want to know what the agent is going to do about the complaint and an approximate timeline. Many companies will fail to keep in contact with a consumer during this process and this is a sure-fire way to lose a them forever. It’s therefore important to explain how the complaint will be dealt and when the customer will find out the end result. Contact, whether it’s via phone or email, should be initiated at all appropriate stages.

Of course, how the complaint is handled is going to play a large role in customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction. This all depends on the complaint and company policy. However, it’s obvious that faulty products should be replaced or refunded. If the situation is more complex, for example a problem with a service, it may be pertinent to reimburse or “reward” the customer in the form of vouchers, credit or free products.

It’s worth noting that agents can actually ask customers on their preferred solution. Customers often react positively to this technique because it allows them to see the agent as an ally, rather than a faceless company worker.

Once a solution is agreed upon, it should be delivered as it was explained to the customer. When attempting to rebuild trust with consumers, honesty is integral and any perceived deception will most likely lead to an irreparable break down in trust.

Businesses should be encouraged to deal with complaints correctly, not only because of the benefits but also the potential damage. Social media is everywhere and it doesn’t take much for a simple complaint to grow in to something much larger, whether through consumer review websites or even just social networking. There is also the potential for a complaint to go viral which can often lead to disastrous consequences for the company. All of these scenarios can be avoided with successful customer service.

As already mentioned, this approach to retaining customers is incredibly important because keeping existing customers is much cheaper and easier than attracting new ones. A company that settles a complaint and satisfies the customer can actually create stronger, more trusting relationships with their consumers. In fact, a whopping 95% of customers will give companies a second chance if they handle their complaint to their satisfaction.

The idea of turning a complaint in to a compliment all depends on the customer and their opinion on the process and therefore the company in question. A complaint which is dealt with quickly and in a satisfactory way will engender trust and that customer is not only much more likely to repeat business but also advertise the company through word of mouth. Considering the current age of social media, good word of mouth is worth its weight in gold.

 

 

 

How Can Agile Marketing Help my Business?

 

Agile Marketing is an approach which differs from traditional techniques, placing more emphasis on collaboration and incremental improvements. However, it didn’t actually start life in the marketing sphere. The concept began its life in the software development industry, back in the 90’s.

The software development industry was having big issues with their existing structure, known as the Waterfall approach. Basically, it involved a rigid hierarchical system in which managers would collect large amounts of information on the prospective software that was being developed and these would be the “requirements” given to the developers. These techniques led to many different problems, for example the projects would go over time and over budget. Even worse, the final product often didn’t meet consumer requirements and therefore didn’t sell. This continued until a group of seventeen software developers come together to create the very first Agile Manifesto- offering a completely different approach.

The Agile approach incorporates many different techniques as well as an overall change in mindset. To condense the main aspects- it’s a collaborative, top-up system that aims for smaller, more mindful increments along the way. Whilst this revolutionised the software development industry- it has been adopted by the marketing sector, with great success.

Looking more broadly at agile marketing and how it compares to traditional approaches- there are a number of key differences. As we have already mentioned, one of the main differences is the way in which team members interacts, with a greater emphasis on team work and collaboration. This also includes managers, who work with their employees as opposed to imposing strict deadlines within rigid frameworks.

As the name agile suggests- another major difference is the approach to targets. Whereas traditional marketing may include a detailed long-term plan with fixed targets- agile marketing has a greater degree of versatility. For example, instead of a one-year plan- there would be short term targets with regular meetings in order to understand where everyone is at. This technique also means that the overall plan is more fluid and open to change or influence from the market. One of the benefits of this is that companies can adapt to current events and feedback, making it much more likely that the final product is successful and relevant.

In terms of the campaign, there is obviously a push towards what the team knows works well but there is an element of experimentation- which is another hallmark of agile marketing. Many companies using this approach will devote the majority of their time and resources towards tried and tested approaches but will also allow for some risk in the form of more novel techniques or media. This way you are able to try new things with the potential of striking gold but there isn’t much risk involved.

Data and testing is another important aspect of agile marketing. Of course, data is vital across marketing in general but particularly so when companies are utilising this technique of rapid iterations. The use of data can completely change the way in which a campaign is progressing and this is much more useful when the campaign is flexible and open to change, as opposed to a long-term, fixed plan that is forced to remain on the same path.

One of the ways in which the agile approach is particularly successful within the marketing sphere is due to social media. The majority of marketing is now online and social media is one of the most powerful tools that we can use. One of the key aspects of social media is the speed at which is moves- news, events and campaigns can be here today and gone tomorrow. Therefore, an approach that is literally agile and open to rapid change is always going to work better with the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

This is something we have seen in recent years as there are many examples of companies using their online presence to respond to current events with media and advertising all ready to go. Those that utilise a more fixed approach to marketing may not be as nimble when it comes to response time.

Although agile marketing is based on a fairly old concept, it’s practically tailor made for our current world, where the ability to adapt and offer something completely relevant to the current conversation has never been more important.

B2B Lead Generation – Does Pay Per Lead Work?

 

Sales leads are a representation of some sort of interest from an individual or organisation. The idea behind these leads is that they could potentially lead to some sort of sale or even long-term business relationship.

The definition of what a lead is can vary but it usually it means some sort of commitment- for example a potential customer’s email address, social media information or agreement to subscribe. Basically, any sort of connection which can allow the company to convert potential customers in to actual customers.

As leads are an avenue to business and the technique of lead generation has become incredibly popular. Many companies have specific employees or even departments which are responsible for securing leads. Other businesses choose to outsource this service and opt for a designated lead generation company. Either way- the general approach is to pay per lead but is this the best way to get results?

One of the main problems with paying per lead is that it fosters an approach which prizes quantity over quality. This can be an issue as securing a lead doesn’t always mean it will progress to a significant relationship with a company. This is where lead nurturing is required- unfortunately many lead generation organisations choose not to go out of their way if they’ve already earned their money from simply identifying the lead. A good example of this would be acquiring emails- which would technically generate leads but how you use those email addresses is just as important. Sending high quality content or personalised adverts would be an example of lead nurturing.

Building upon this idea, many marketing companies will focus much more on achieving leads than converting them. Some companies will even coerce the potential lead in to providing information, even when they know it won’t go any further. Of course, these techniques aren’t beneficial to the business who employs them, who end up wasting time and money chasing after a customer who isn’t interested.

Brand reputation can also be factor when choosing to use pay per lead techniques. When employing a marketing company, it is important to research their practices and their overall approach to business before starting a relationship. These people will be representing you when conducting lead generation and therefore any negative behavior will reflect poorly on your own brand. Make sure to choose a company that are passionate about your business and will work beyond generating leads- into lead nurturing and overall sales.

Although the pay per lead model isn’t a “one size fits all” solution- it is still incredibly popular and for good reason- it does work well in some cases. For example, if you have a product that is easy to sell or you’re aiming at existing customers. Basically, situations in which customers can be convinced of a sale quickly and easily.

One of the ways in which pay per lead is changing is through social media. Networks such as Twitter and Facebook allow for these types of ads and will actually place them directly on to the user’s timelines. This means the ads are easily accessible, customisable and because they utilise personal information that those networks have already collected- people find them more trustworthy. Therefore users are more likely to engage with the ads honestly- providing accurate information.

Lead generation is a powerful tool but most of time it has to be used in conjunction with other tools. Whether that be native advertising, content marketing or traditional advertisements. It’s also worth pointing out that money is key when it comes to service- you get what you pay for. If you are employing an agency to provide leads, you need to keep in mind that going above and beyond simple lead generation will cost more. But this type of investment will ensure that these companies not only generate leads but also nurture them, making it more likely to progress to a long-lasting relationship between you and the customer.