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Content Marketing Fuels Pipeline Growth

Marketing automation has changed business as we know it. In the last decade, it has elevated the role of the CMO, helping marketing to be more productive and measurable through email and nurturing programs, scoring and reporting. Your marketing team more effectively manages all of your company’s contacts so they turn into customers more efficiently.

But how do you more efficiently engage new buyers? Turns out marketing automation has improved marketing, but it’s not the end-all, be-all of marketing optimization. There’s still a massive group of potential buyers who are not addressed by marketing automation alone — those who have no idea your company or product exists.

Tradeoff Between Control and Simplicity

At the crux of many management decisions today is the tradeoff between control and simplicity.

Discussion Point: Can Social Media Improve Customer Relationships?

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Life has become increasingly complex for modern marketers. In the not so distant past, all anyone expected them to do was identify, acquire and retain customers.

Now they're expected to build long-term relationships with them — and as anyone who has ever had a partner or a spouse can tell you, that takes a lot of work.

In his most recent book, "What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF)," Brian Solis explores the challenges of building customer relationships as well as options to improve them.

Solis, a principal analyst with the Altimeter Group, suggests marketers can improve customer relationships through the use of social identity, which he defines as the information about an individual available in social media, including profile data as well as ongoing social activity. As he explains:

Marketers are spending more on technology every year — especially technology that can engage customers in personal ways at scale, like marketing automation, email service providers, retargeting and dynamic web content. Social Identity improves value of these tools by improving targeting capabilities."

We shared his hypothesis with five senior marketers to see whether they agreed that brands can target and personalize customer messaging through social identity. 

The Question

How does the contextual insight available in social media provide an opportunity to better know and engage audiences with personalized content and experiences across channels?

3 Brand Asset Secrets from HBO's Game of Thrones

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The dragons are chained, The Hound is dying, Jon Snow is back in Castle Black and Tyrion Lannister is on a ship to parts unknown. If you watch the hit HBO series Game of Thrones, then you understand.

Last Sunday's season four finale was watched by 7.1 million viewers — and broke illegal download records.

With the next episode months away, we thought we'd give fans a Game of Thrones fix: three brand asset secrets from the fantasy drama TV series.

Transforming Connections in an Age of Digital Change

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The goal of marketing still revolves around accelerating new and repeat sales. But the means to that end has shifted over the past few years.

This fundamental shift can be tied, in part, to digital innovation. However, it’s not just about technology. It’s about the lifestyle shift and what could be considered a "workstyle" shift, which I define as a person’s expectations and preferences in how they work and engage with a company.

How can companies transform the ways they engage with customers and partners and connect to their existing marketing automation systems? Here are three significant points to consider.

Shocking Truths About SharePoint Disaster Recovery

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Disasters happen. Networks fail. Databases can be corrupted. Content gets deleted. And then IT steps in. Before you know it, everything is up and running once more.

Except that’s not the reality for most.

During a recent industry event, we asked a small group of SharePoint administrators about their disaster recovery plans and the tests they perform to ensure they are prepared for the worst.

The reality was shocking. Just one in four companies test their SharePoint recovery plans. Of those, 75 percent report their recovery tests failed. While few companies would ever publicly admit that level of failure, extrapolate the data. If 75 percent of tests failed for 25 percent of all users, imagine the impact of a real-life disaster.

What Comes After Authenticity?

Don't look now, but authenticity has a target on its back (and it's not the first time either). Those practitioners in the user experience, marketing and customer experience domains at the forefront of their craft have moved on and they're not sitting around waiting for you to catch up.

Every ethic and virtue has their days in the sun. Despite the wholesome goodness in any virtue, however, those days are finite and numbered. I don’t mean that the virtue will disappear entirely. I do mean that the virtue will recede from the limelight as society becomes conscious to the flaws in the virtue as another ethic that speaks to those flaws steps forward. As nothing in our universe is perfect, this goes on ad-infinitum and quite often circles back on itself. This is the cycle of virtues and we are all witnessing the waning days of authenticity.

A Man, a Blouse and an Awesome Customer Experience

customer experience, One Man, One Blouse and One Awesome Customer Experience

You never know where you'll find a great customer experience.

I found it today when I ran out to do an errand for my wife — a day late as usual.

Husband duty this time involved bringing a blouse/top/wrap (whatever you call those things — I usually go with "shirt") to the local tailor.

Hit the Digital Accelerator: 5 Reasons You Must Go Digital Now

2014-19-June-Skid.jpgDigital transformation describes how companies are using technology to add a digital dimension to customer or partner experiences, change the way employees do their jobs, or add new digital or data-based lines of business. These kinds of experiences are no longer just conveniences. They are becoming the de facto standard, and have created strong impetus for businesses who haven’t done so already to start on the path to digital transformation. These five key trends are making digital transformation an imperative for businesses today.

Context Defines the Future User Experience

2014-19-June-You-Are-Here-2.jpg"The better we know our customer, the more effectively we can market to them." This has been true since cavemen traded animal skins for berries. But it was with the advent of the Internet that marketers suddenly had the tools to truly understand their consumers in real time. First it was websites and email marketing, followed by social media marketing. More recently, marketers have turned to inbound marketing, in which they gently "prod" customers with valued content, until the customer signals they are ready to engage.

Now there’s "context marketing." Context marketing, in the words of one marketing firm, “uses technology to glean insight on the person behind your persona, and deliver customized messages in a way that most appeals to that individual.” But what do we mean by context?

How Much Is Your Data Worth?

2014-19-June-Froggy-Love.jpgIn today’s age of information, data is currency. Information about our preferences, habits and everything in our life is a valuable commodity for companies trying to learn more about us in order to make us their customer. The value of our personal data seems to rise every day.

If our personal data is valuable, shouldn’t we guard our privacy more closely? If we are giving away information for free, how much are we getting in return? Data for services is the business model for both Google and Facebook. They provide you a free service and in return, they mine your data to drive advertising revenue. The question people don’t seem to be asking is this, “Is the average consumer aware of the value of their information to make an informed decision?”

How Marketers Can Get a Better Handle on Data

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Web analytics means nothing without website content to measure. But over the past few years, web developers and designers have increased the ways in which website content can be curated and marketed.

The result is an overwhelming number of options for measuring how well digital media such as websites, social media and apps serve customer needs. But marketers can get a better handle around all this data by understanding data structure.

How can marketers do that? The solution starts with a light overview of HTML and object oriented programming protocols, which specify data type and format.

Chief Digital Officer: Vital Leader or Fading Trend?

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To hire a chief digital officer or not to hire a chief digital officer.

Is that the new question in the digital age? Could be. 

And depending on who you ask, the answer differs.

A Forrester report found just 1 percent of firms plan to hire a chief digital officer (CDO) in the next 12 months. A full 50 percent have no plans to create this executive role.

And then there's Constellation Research, whose June 18 report stressed the need for the chief digital officer. CDOs, it suggested, can help companies successfully navigate this era of digital disruption.

And don't get David Mathison started. Forrester came out with a similar report and thesis last November, which suggested that CDOs may not be the answer.

Mathison, the curator for the Chief Digital Officer Summit, told us then that these are the “glory days for digitally savvy CMOs who can now bypass IT entirely by using the cloud and AWS and BYOD. (Forrester) should be looking at the underlying reasons for the drive to hire digital leaders such as CDOs versus having the CIO or the CMO do the job.”

Escape Digital Experience Deja Vu

2014-18-June-Mimes.jpgDéjà vu, a French term that literally means “already seen” is defined as the phenomenon of having a strong sensation that you have already experienced something that is actually happening for the first time. Up to 70 percent of people report having experienced some form of déjà vu.

For me it happens all the time. Especially in terms of the marketing messages and offers I receive.

Measuring Business Communities: Are We Doing It Wrong?

2014-18-June-Sandbar-Shark.jpg“What gets measured gets done” — we've all heard the saying. And business communities are no exception. But how do you measure something that you don’t understand – or understand something that you can’t measure?

It's unfortunately still the case that most companies don't understand community, judging by job postings on job boards and attempts to measure its ROI.

But it’s not their fault. Because community is not a discreet set of activities but rather, a foundational communication platform. Calculating the ROI of community is a bit like calculating ROI of email – as difficult as it is pointless. And yet understanding the business impact of communities is critical to being taken seriously by company executives.

Enterprise Content Management Isn't Dead - It's Evolving

There’s lots of talk about how Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is dead or dying. Some say it’s a vendor category coined to give a name to bloated, one-size-fits-all software products that eschewed a real understanding of user requirements in favor of a Swiss Army Knife approach that sought to be everything to everybody — and wound up being truly useful only to a handful.

Others say that it’s a specialist creation, coined by consultants and industry talking heads to make it easier to promote their own expertise, drum up traffic for their blogs, and sell more services to clients.

Yet others say that ECM is a once-useful domain that’s outlived its usefulness. It made sense once upon a time, but the new modes of content creation, sharing and consumption have made it obsolete alongside systems of engagement and record, information lifecycle management and the rest.

This Tiny Restaurant Knows More than You About Customer Experience

Thumbnail image for 2014-18-june-Joe's-HomemadeIf you want to learn about customer experience, forget the next overhyped, overcrowded, tech-focused conference. Just eat at Joe's in Savannah, Ga.

Joe's Homemade Café, Catering and Bakery is the best of 750 restaurants in Savannah, at least according to TripAdvisor, a travel site that offers "trusted advice from real travelers." The 510-square foot gem of a restaurant is known for its sandwiches, salads, desserts and exceptionally warm and friendly service.

And while the food is delicious, it begs a customer to ask a question: "How did this tiny space with eight employees in a city of landmarked, exotic restaurants win the hearts of more travelers than any other?"

Don Holland, shown left, who co-owns the business with Ted Paskevich, shown right, doesn't have to think long when asked. "We believe that a strong commitment and delivery of quality food and exceptional service makes us appreciated by our customers," he said.

Oh, and one other thing. "We're big believers in social media."

Amazon Opens a Brick-and-Mortar Cloud Store

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Retailers along San Francisco's Market Street have struggled to make a buck over the past decade, in large part because of competition from online stores like Amazon.com. So it isn't without irony that Amazon Web Services opened a brick-and-mortar pop-up store in their midst.

At first, the 30-foot wide, three-story high storefront looks empty compared to the carefully decorated windows and sales banners in neighboring stores. Then you spot the burly bouncer guarding the door, suggesting that something private is going on behind the whited-out windows. Finally, you see the modest lettering for Amazon Web Services somewhat above eye level. And still, you wonder, what is this?

This is a month-long experiment for AWS that blends one part Apple Genius Bar, two parts hip startup and a smidge of trade show marketing to produce a coffee-scented, loft-like environment where Amazon's cloud clients can ask for some free advice, attend events, get some training or, perhaps, just wash down a handful of M&Ms with a complimentary cappuccino. Day-long boot camps, normally $600, are free, like everything else here.

Communication Is Key to Continuous Compliance

Compliance is no longer a monthly, or even weekly, task — it’s something that needs constant evaluation and adjustment. Sources change and applicability of control over data should be under consistent review — that’s the age of continuous compliance we live in today. One requirement of continuous compliance is ongoing, effective and intelligent communication. There are some ways to help improve communication and ensure your compliance and security teams get the best, most relevant and timely information to keep you secure and compliant — and remain that way.

4 Ways to Kick Start Your SharePoint Implementation

2014-17-June-Motocross.jpgWe've discussed the importance of proper planning, change management strategies and providing end user training in order to ensure a successful SharePoint implementation. While it is definitely good to have a plan or strategy in place for any software project, with the fast pace of change you shouldn't wait until you have the entire project complete before rolling out anything. If you wait too long to deliver something, users will get impatient and the project will lose momentum.