Riding the wave of AI: Is your marketing campaign as smart as it can be?

AI and machine learning are helping marketers in more ways than you can imagine.

The post Riding the wave of AI: Is your marketing campaign as smart as it can be? appeared first on Marketing Land.

As 2019 gets underway and your marketing plan unfolds, you’ve probably set some goals for the coming year:

We’re going to break down the data silos that keep us from understanding our customers.

We’re going to improve our messaging relevance.

We’re going to target customers more accurately on their preferred channels

Sound familiar? What if you could just find the time to make any one of these resolutions a reality?

Although the promise of one-to-one marketing has been around for many years, brands still send customers too many marketing messages that are irrelevant, generic or only slightly personalized. The problem is that marketers today have too much data and not enough creative time to respond to soaring customer expectations for a personalized buying experience.

Enter artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning-based marketing tools that are changing the nature of how marketers make decisions and deploy campaigns. For example, an AI-powered marketing assistant can help you quickly analyze campaign performance with simple verbal commands. An automated content management system can tag images, allowing you to easily create better content for your campaigns. An AI-powered software enables you to see what your customers are doing along every stage of their journey. The list goes on.

Machine-driven innovations save time and enable marketers to be creative strategists again, rather than spreadsheet jockeys. The result is that you can course-correct campaigns faster than ever, ending underperforming campaigns sooner and executing new ones that are more personalized and perform better.

Let’s take a closer look at how AI streamlines marketing processes across the customer journey and helps marketers work smarter.

Unified data across all channels

Marketers continue to be inundated with all types of data – from third-party demographics to real-time behavioral data. The challenge is making the data unified, actionable and effective when it often resides in department silos and is spread across too many systems and platforms. You spend so much time tracking it all down that you’re left with no time to make sense of it, let alone act on it.

Like many leading retailers, HSN (Home Shopping Network) relied on separate processes and systems to drive its marketing strategy for each channel. However, this approach made it complex and time-consuming to integrate data on customer interactions across different channels. It was difficult for the brand’s marketers to know which products would appeal to which customers or what kind of messages would inspire them to make purchases. To break out of its channel-by-channel mentality, HSN worked with Watson Marketing to develop an AI-driven marketing platform that would integrate data across all of its channels, including online, mobile, email and direct mail.

The goal was to use AI to create a ‘boundaryless’ experience for its customers. This new approach enabled the company to build a more complete and accurate picture of individual customer preferences based on all of their brand interactions. HSN marketing teams now craft omnichannel, multi-wave campaigns that reach customers on their favored touch points at the right times.

Improved personalization

Consumers expect personalized brand experiences, and 94 percent of companies agree that personalization is critical to their current and future success. Yet a common obstacle to deeper personalization is the ability to create multiple versions of content and determine the right combinations at the right time for thousands or millions of customers.

Growing numbers of AI-based systems can process marketing rules and directions and then create and deliver individualized content on the fly to each customer. This hyper-personalization is increasingly based on the predicted behavior of the individual rather than conforming to a statically defined segment. AI makes personalization easier for marketers by learning through each interaction and delivering the right content in the context of the customer’s previous interactions with the brand. When you know how your customers engage with your brand, it becomes much easier – and more effective – to deliver the right message at the right time.

The Georgia Aquarium sought to harness the growing popularity of digital channels to send more personalized communications to its visitors. The nonprofit’s marketers knew that increasing numbers of guests were using their smartphones and tablets to connect with the organization before, during and after their visits. But because data was stored in siloed systems, it was difficult to build a 360-degree view of guest interests and preferences.

The solution was to deploy an AI-based centralized marketing platform based on IBM Watson Campaign Automation, which would house a comprehensive range of customer data, including first names, ZIP codes, visit histories and memberships. Machine learning enabled the marketing team to segment audiences into distinct personas, such as non-purchasers, non-members, members and donors, and to execute highly personalized campaigns that were more relevant to each member of its audience. The result has been an 89 percent increase in email open rates and a 288 percent increase in engagement with those messages. More importantly, the Georgia Aquarium has experienced a 21 percent increase in revenues attributed to the digital channel.

It’s all about the [customer] journey

In fact, customers want the quickest and most intuitive path to get to what they need. As a marketer, you want to provide a better path to customer purchases and satisfaction. Seems simple, right? But as we all know, it’s not. AI can help you analyze the entire customer journey across multiple touch points, pinpointing and alerting you to friction spots so you can diagnose the issues and fix them before they affect your bottom line.

Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC) is the leading supplier of air travel intelligence and commerce services in the U.S. The company’s martech stack included several best-of-breed platforms, but no straightforward way of connecting them to form a coherent view of individual customer journeys. ARC marketers wanted to better understand what was happening during each step of the customer journey, for example, if customers were having trouble navigating the site, finding information or signing up for services.

The company implemented IBM’s Universal Behavior Exchange to translate customer data from multiple source systems into a shared language, and combine it into a single view of the customer journey. The data is then passed into the Watson Customer Experience Analytics platform, which uses AI to automatically map out customer journeys from beginning to end — even when customers jump back and forth between channels. This approach has allowed ARC to create a rich view of customer interactions across all channels and eliminate blind spots when it comes to understanding the customer journey. Its marketers have already discovered that customers are browsing on tablet devices far more than they knew, which has led them to prioritize experience improvements on the mobile channel.

AI-powered marketing = Smart marketing in 2019

You know what you want to achieve in your marketing, you just need the time to do it. With AI, you can work smarter, and gain a holistic, real-time view of your customers and their relevant interactions throughout the entire journey. AI lets you act quickly on your data and makes it easier to focus on higher value work. Being able to get fast, actionable insights will give your team the time to focus on strategy and drive business results.

The post Riding the wave of AI: Is your marketing campaign as smart as it can be? appeared first on Marketing Land.

The A/B Testing Guide to Surviving on a Deserted Island

The secluded and isolated deserted island setting has been used as the stage for many hypothetical explanations in economics and philosophy with the scarcity of things that can be developed as resources being a central feature. Scarcity and the need to…

The secluded and isolated deserted island setting has been used as the stage for many hypothetical explanations in economics and philosophy with the scarcity of things that can be developed as resources being a central feature. Scarcity and the need to keep risk low while aiming to improve one’s situation is what make it a […] Read More...

CMOs are Becoming CROs: How to Integrate Marketing and Sales to Actually Drive Revenue

Note: This is a guest article written by David Zheng, the Founder of GrowthWit and WiseMerchant and the Head of Growth at BuildFire.Any and all opinions expressed in the post are David’s. Marketing and sales teams have a reputation for rivalry. Although they work toward the same outcome, each has a different approach. As Chip Doyle once pointed out, marketing wants […]

The post CMOs are Becoming CROs: How to Integrate Marketing and Sales to Actually Drive Revenue appeared first on Blog.

Note: This is a guest article written by David Zheng, the Founder of GrowthWit and WiseMerchant and the Head of Growth at BuildFire.Any and all opinions expressed in the post are David’s.

Marketing and sales teams have a reputation for rivalry.

Although they work toward the same outcome, each has a different approach.

As Chip Doyle once pointed out, marketing wants to tell you what to buy, while sales want to hear why you’re buying it (so they can sell you more).

Marketing requires a one-way communication, while sales require a two-way conversation.

But technology and buyer habits are changing all of that. Marketing is no longer a one-way communication, and both teams are relying more heavily on the other to truly understand what the customer wants. Now every task is a Sales and marketing collaboration.

This also means that roles are changing. Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and Chief Revenue Officers (CROs) must find a way to play nice.

How the Relationship between CMO and CRO Is Changing

In the past, CROs were mostly responsible for driving profitability and sustainability. It was the job of the sales team to ensure financial success for the organization.

That typically meant putting people on phones to answer customer questions.

The CMO, on the other hand, was responsible for making sure that people knew about the organization—to gain awareness and find new potential markets for the sales team.

They both have the same ultimate goal, but each takes a different path to get there.

sales and marketing alignment activities flow chart
But the Internet changed all of that.

Where once the salesperson was the most trusted source of information about a given product or service, now shoppers have limitless access to information—product data, customer reviews, and so on.

One search gives them all the answers they need.

Customers also have a myriad of touchpoints with any given company. From social media to email outreach to an online contact form, they no longer have to call only one person to get what they need.

This has shifted the role of the CMO to the forefront.

In today’s digital market, it’s about finding ways to not only make people aware of the brand but also trust the brand’s message in the same way they earlier trusted the salesperson over the phone.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that the CRO is obsolete. Far from it, sales will always matter.

It simply means that the lines between the CRO/CMO are blurring together in a new way.

sales and marketing alignment for communication with customer

Following some of the Sales and marketing alignment best practices, both parties are now responsible for the financial well-being and reputation of the company. If one fails, the other fails too.

It’s more important than ever that these roles find ways to integrate so that both teams produce real, measurable results.

With that in mind, here are 5 best practices for sales and marketing to help them collaborate to drive revenue.

1. Sharing Sales and Marketing Data for Customer Research

Both marketing and sales use targeted buyer personas to inform their strategies.

According to the Data-Driven Marketing Survey by Teradata, 50% of marketers agree that data is the most underutilized asset in their organizations; but less than 10% use the data in a systematic way.

Salespeople have a leg up when it comes to data, as they’re often the first to develop buyer personas to understand their customers better.

But that data isn’t always accessible to the marketing department.

sales and marketing quality data report January 2017

Marketing teams also need these buyer personas to update its strategies.

The team may need to know whether the customer is a Millennial or a Gen X-er (social media or email?), their income level (affordable or luxury?), and any other behavioral drivers (mobile or desktop?) that might drive their purchasing decisions.

Who knows this data better than anyone else? Salespeople.

The sales team has insights into customer’s goals, mindset, and expectations, and potential obstacles to purchasing.

Marketing needs to have this data to create content and advertising that actually works.

Sales and Marketing Persona comic

To build an effective partnership, sales will need to share the following information with marketing:

  • Sales data:
    • Which products are selling well?
    • Which products are faltering?
  • Customer lifetime value:
    • How low or high are retention rates?
    • How long does the average customer stick around?
  • Internal performance metrics:
    • How fast is the turnaround for a product or service?
    • Are there any obvious bottlenecks?

In turn, marketing should share the following data with the sales team:

  • Traffic and engagement:
    • How many visitors are coming to the site? How many are engaging? Where are they coming from?
  • Email marketing: What are the open and click-through rates for each email campaign?
  • Clicks and conversions: What is the conversion rate of sales landing pages? What are the shopping cart abandonment rates?

With each party measuring these metrics, each can proactively adjust its strategies to achieve better results.

Lead flow for sales and marketing alignment

Marketing can see how its ad campaigns affect the lifetime value, or whether the promises are creating more demand than the team can keep up with (causing bottlenecks), for example.

Sales can see whether there is a significant gap in the sales process (too many people are leaving the website without buying!) or whether or not email is still the best outreach source for certain customer segments.

2. Using Sales CRM Data to Inform Marketing Strategies

Timing is critical in sales.

The sales team has a sense of its current month’s forecast (or even the next month’s) when it comes to the revenue. Part of the job of the CRO is to answer the “when” of the sales cycle.

When is the best time to promote a specific product or launch an outreach campaign? When should marketing initiatives be kicked off? When should sales expect to see results?

best time for sales team to contact customers

The marketing team is the “how” and “what.”

How should that product be promoted based on the sales cycle? Is it a seasonal product or available year-round? How will people be made aware of changes to the product? What is the desired outcome?

Sales should have a good idea of when the best time is to launch a new initiative, according to the purchasing data.

Marketing should know what that initiative should be and to whom it should be targeted, as well as the specifics of the time of the day and week (based on engagement metrics).

sales and marketing emails optimized for the best day of the week

Without both teams working in harmony, it’s possible to launch a revolutionary marketing campaign that doesn’t sell any products at a measurable level.

Here’s an example:

Say you have a 25% conversion rate for every step of the sales funnel. If your monthly sales target for the next quarter is $1 million and your average sales are around $10,000, you need around 100 conversions every month to achieve this goal.

But for some months, sales are slower than others.

Let’s assume that January and February are much slower sales months compared to June and July.

By using this information, the marketing team can determine what offer to include for customers during those months (discounts on orders over a certain price point, for example) in their campaigns.

But this means that the sales team needs a reliable way of identifying these trends, like a sales pipeline CRM, and give the marketing team access to this information.

sales pipeline

Sales should know where leads are coming from when the customers are more willing to buy, and what entices the customers the most so that the marketing team knows how to send out the right offer at the right time.

3. Adjusting Ad Campaigns by Using Sales Data

Advertising is one of the main drivers in sales, and one of the main tasks in marketing.

One of the challenges with advertising is that it’s easy for a company to spend more money compared to earn money.

It’s always a risk. You could drop millions on an ad campaign only to see a moderate sales increase. But this risk gap can be closed when sales and marketing work together to produce a certain outcome.

Take PPC advertising, for example.

For a marketer, a successful pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaign might be the one that just drives engagement.

successful adwords campaign for driving more engagement

If someone clicks a Google PPC ad, goes to the home page, and then clicks through the website, that’s a success.

To that end, marketers may try to use specific keywords to improve website traffic or engagement.

But the sales team cares about one area—sales.

It doesn’t matter if website traffic improves but no qualified leads come from it. They might care if an ad had a high cost-per-click (CPC), and was essentially “ineffective” in producing a real, paying customer.

Sales is looking for revenue, not just metrics.

channel wise breakdown of ROI for marketing

So what does this mean for a partnership between sales and marketing? It means that both have to work together to create the most effective campaigns.

Marketers need to understand the Lead Scoring System (and subsequently, the sales CRM system) so that when they spend money on PPC ads, they know which targeted personas will be most likely to convert.

Both parties need to understand how the marketing funnel works and how it can be combined with the sales funnel to create something new.

new sales and marketing alignment funnelA top-of-the-funnel marketing “lead” (like a website visitor) may not ever turn into a customer, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important for sales.

The marketing team needs to know how to measure successful campaigns based on sales data, not on just its own metrics.

4. Improving Brand Identity (and Sales) with Marketing

Not everything that impacts sales is measurable.

A study by Harvard Business Journal found that CEOs tend to favor sales over marketing because sales outcomes are often more “tangible.”

As a CEO puts it, “Why should I invest in more marketing when I can get better results by hiring more salespeople?”

Because of this mindset, many marketing teams are underfunded, and, as a result, underperforming.

suggested percentage of revenue that needs to be spent on marketing.

This is a problem because there are many immeasurable entities that can impact your bottom line.

Brand identity, for example, is not measurable by any metric, yet a brand’s reputation can be a key driver of that brand’s equity.

This is also known as the “halo effect,” or a situation when a customer buys from a brand based on its positive reputation, whether or not the product is truly inspirational.

In other words, the value of a brand can be measured by its marketing.

When Apple began marketing the iPod back in 2005, they put millions into advertising. You may remember the campaign.

marketing of apple ipod comic

Even though iPod (and iTunes) sales made up only 39% of Apple’s overall profits that year, by the end of their marketing campaign, they were hailed as a technology leader and revolutionaries.

As a result, its fiscal year sales in 2006 increased 38% and their profits rose by 384%.

It has since leveraged their reputation as tech innovators to create more and better products, making it one of the biggest companies in the world.

And it doesn’t even sell the iPod anymore.

sales of apple ipod year on year

This goes to show that when the marketing team is properly supported, they can produce results worthy of the sales department.

5. Improving Sales Outreach with Marketing Analytics

One of the biggest contention points between sales and marketing is measuring outcomes.

For marketers, a “good” outcome for an email outreach campaign is high click-through and open rates. However, sales don’t care about click-through rates. It cares about sales.

It might be better to measure your outreach campaign multidimensionally.

measuring content marketing valueOn the other hand, you won’t necessarily get sales if no one opens and clicks through the email.

This is where marketing and sales must come together to identify what a successful outreach campaign looks like.

The marketing team should introduce key analytic tools to the sales team.

While the marketing team can also forward crucial data or statistics, at some point, it inevitably will become an issue of “teaching a man to fish.”

Teaching helps as an economical resource

If the marketing team moves ahead based on important information, the sales team might accidentally ignore crucial statistics that can improve its sales strategy, just because they don’t fully understand it.

This can lead to miscommunication and a negative impact on sales.

If the sales team understands how to use the same tools that marketers use; however, it can create a seamless conversation between the two departments and reduce the odds of an essential piece of data being overlooked.

right marketing or sales tool for your job

Even beyond analytics, sales and marketing teams should a discuss other ways to use technology effectively.

For example, if the marketing team intends to produce content for potential customers on LinkedIn, then the sales team should guide it on best practices for targeted leads on that platform.

Marketing can also assist sales in some of its follow-up endeavors.

If the sales team becomes overwhelmed following up on cold email outreach, for example, the sales team can use a tool like Gmass to automate the process and eliminate the burden on the salesperson.

follow up email tools for sales.

This frees up the sales team to focus on metrics that matter rather than chasing down leads.

But if the sales team doesn’t understand how to use Gmail, they might not be automating their follow-up effectively and miss important sales opportunities in the process.

When marketing and sales work together with the same tools, they can maximize efficiency and move customers through the sales funnel as painlessly as possible.

Conclusion

Even though both the teams have notoriously been rivals in the past, it’s time for sales and marketing team to work together.

This process should be made easier with the addition of technologies that improve the marketing/sales relationships (automation tools like Gmass, or analytic tools like Google Analytics).

It’s important for the two teams to remember that when one succeeds, the other succeeds, even if they approach a problem from different angles.

When marketing is successful at getting traffic or open rates, for example, or improving brand reputation, sales will increase.

When sales are successful at closing leads and measuring their data, marketing will be more effective.

When the CMO and the CRO work together, everybody wins.

The post CMOs are Becoming CROs: How to Integrate Marketing and Sales to Actually Drive Revenue appeared first on Blog.

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The Google Optimize Statistical Engine and Approach

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Bayesian vs Frequentist A/B Testing – What’s the Difference?

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Increase Conversion with Personalized Live Chat

Being greeted by a sales associate is more pleasant than not being addressed. However, the interaction rarely goes beyond, “welcome in” and perhaps a “hello” back from the person browsing. It’s an impersonal, passive interaction because you know that’s what they say to everyone who walks through their doors. Wouldn’t you be more likely to […]

The post Increase Conversion with Personalized Live Chat appeared first on Bound.

Being greeted by a sales associate is more pleasant than not being addressed. However, the interaction rarely goes beyond, “welcome in” and perhaps a “hello” back from the person browsing. It’s an impersonal, passive interaction because you know that’s what they say to everyone who walks through their doors.

Wouldn’t you be more likely to engage with the sales associate if the conversation was tailored to you? What if, instead of “welcome to Apple!”, they said, “how’s your iPhone 6 treating you?” (Yes, I have a 6. No portrait mode for me.) Or, “did you know that we have a new iPad accessory specifically for demand gen marketers?”

Now, compare this to the impersonal, digital buying experience. B2B marketers have realized the importance of having live chat on their site. Statistics show that, on average, only 2% of website visitors convert to an inquiry or sale. However, live chat can help this abysmal conversion rate by helping generate 4-8x more leads.

B2B marketers know that a website visitor who engages with onsite chat is more likely to result in a conversion. Now, they’re taking it a step further by dynamically changing a generic greeting to a custom one served to the right person at the right time.

Benefits of Personalized Live Chat

Marketers are increasing engagement with live chat when the message is tailored to an attribute about the visitor. Visitors are more likely to respond when a chat prompt speaks to their industry or function.

Marketers are increasing quality of live chat conversations by choosing who should be invited to a personalized chat. It’s easy to waste time responding to chats with out-of-market visitors. Instead of greeting everyone who walks in the door, greet only those who fit an ideal customer profile.

Marketers are increasing conversions from live chat by choosing when to serve personalized chat. Most visitors aren’t ready to talk to someone after gathering only three seconds of information. Live chat is most effective when served on a second page in a session or even a second visit.

Personalized Live Chat in Action

A large IT solution provider connected a messaging platform to the Bound personalization platform to serve a personalized live chat feature on their website. The company’s goal was to earn more qualified leads from live chat conversations.

First, they segmented their audience into key industries including finance, quality assurance, IT, consumer, consulting, and general traffic.

Chat icons and CTAs based on industry

Then, repeat visitors were greeted with an industry-relevant message in the chat box, leading to successful conversations 6 out of 10 times the personalized live chat was served.

Do you think you could generate more qualified leads from online chat? Contact us to find out how we help B2B marketers serve custom chat messages that convert leads faster.

The post Increase Conversion with Personalized Live Chat appeared first on Bound.

Costs and Benefits of A/B Testing: A Comprehensive Guide

This is a comprehensive guide to the different types of costs and benefits, risks and rewards related to A/B testing. Understanding them in detail should be valuable to A/B testers and businesses considering whether to engage in A/B testing or not, wha…

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