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A Look Ahead: Community Manager Appreciation Day 2015

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What runs for 24 consecutive hours in late January?

No, it’s not the Super Bowl pre-game show -- although that certainly comes close. It's Community Manager Appreciation Day (CMAD), which will take place Jan. 26, 2015.

In a blog post that established the first CMAD in 2010, industry analyst and founder of CrowdCompanies Jeremiah Owyang called for the event to take place on the fourth Monday of January. The purpose, according to Owyang’s post, is “to pause, recognize and celebrate the efforts [of] community managers around the world to improve customer experiences.”

A Fresh Pair of Eyes Keeps Customer Experience From Going Flat

2014-10-December-Flat.jpg“Originality is simply a pair of fresh eyes.” -- Thomas W. Higginson

We all know the importance of a fresh pair of eyes. They can catch mistakes and spark inspiration when you're too close to your work. While the term usually refers to visuals, it can also apply to a more universal sentiment: the power of perspective.

Perspective impacts what we produce when it comes to customer experience. While we work to deliver top-notch experiences, most are designed with a certain time, audience and goal in mind. But if we approach this with a single unexamined perspective it will quickly become outdated. Just as the thrill of a new car fades over time, when a company does little to innovate or inspire, its customer experience can become stale and flat.

Emotions and Ecosystems Drive Customer Experience in 2015

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Companies that provide good customer experience (CX) will miss the mark in 2015, states a new Forrester report.

Instead, as companies strive to differentiate themselves based on the quality of their customer experience, only those that deliver great customer experience will come out ahead, according to "Predictions 2015: The Race From Good To Great Customer Experience Heats Up" ($499 fee).

Discussion Point: To Cross-Post or Not to Cross-Post on Social Channels

Discussion-Point-640x480.jpgMarketers are falling short when it comes to building real social relationships with their customers.

This from the recent Forrester report, "Social Relationship Strategies That Work," which suggests that more often than not, the carefully crafted messages they post on social media essentially go off into space. Customers either miss them or ignore them. “Top brands Facebook and Twitter posts reach only about 2 percent of their fans and followers, and less than 0.1 percent of fans and followers interact with each post,” according to the report.

It's a crowded field and businesses are looking for effective strategies to engage with customers on social media.

This means answering more detailed questions about how, when and what to post. To save time, some marketers cross-post content on social channels -- is this a good or a bad idea?

Shep Hyken: A Guy Who Embraced Customers Before It Was Popular

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Anyone who knows anything about customer experience (CX) knows Shep Hyken.

Hyken is a go-to source for anything related to CX. He's also a professional speaker and bestselling author who works with companies and organizations who want to build lasting relationships with their customers and employees.

In addition to writing in hundreds of publications, he is the bestselling author of "Moments of Magic," "The Loyal Customer," "The Cult of the Customer," "The Amazement Revolution" and, most recently, "Amaze Every Customer Every Time." He is also the creator of The Customer Focus program, which helps clients develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset.

Did we mention he's the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations — a company he founded in 1983?

Organizational Ego is Eating Trust

I had reason to visit the International Monetary Fund website recently. Based on its content, the IMF is an organization overflowing with ego. Dominating the homepage was IMF chief Christine Lagarde with a very large picture of herself. In imperious language we are told that Lagarde “welcomes the pledge by the G-20 group of advanced and emerging economies to step up efforts to boost growth and create jobs.” 

Is Newly Sold Ektron Merging with EPiServer?

It's hard to separate fact from fiction in the continuing saga of Nashua, N.H.-based Ektron.

But we wanted to share the newest rumor this morning — namely, that the company that just bought Ektron is also buying EPiServer and has plans to combine the technologies.

Company President Tim McKinnon, the guy who runs the day-to-day operations at the web content management firm, told CMSWire today that he doesn't know anything about the alleged merger.

But McKinnon also told us yesterday that Ektron's minority investor — a private equity firm called Accel-KKR was not buying the company — just before a document that refutes that statement surfaced online. You can view it in the story here.

Once Red Hot Ektron Reportedly Sells for Paltry Sum

Privately held companies have it easy: they can vaguely boast of double-digit growth, record profits, strong cash balances and bright futures even when reality seems to suggest otherwise. At least that seems to be the case with Nashua, N.H.-based Ektron.

The web content management firm, which was consistently ranked one of the fastest growing tech companies in New England in the early 2000s, seems to have come to a stunningly disappointing end.

(UPDATE: Ektron confirmed to CMSWire this afternoon that it closed a second round of equity funding with Accel-KKR, but stopped short of acknowledging a sale.

In a conversation with CMSWire's Virginia Backaitis, Ektron President Tim McKinnon claimed the company is profitable and growing — and contended that rumors of its demise are greatly exaggerated.

In a press release issued mid-afternoon today, McKinnon stated that the Accel-KKR investment "provides strong support for Ektron as it delivers upon its vision and mission to provide solutions to customers," and adding that the company is "well positioned for continued growth in 2015."

Greg Williams, managing director at Accel-KKR and a member of the Ektron board, noted in the statement that the private equity firm has been "more than impressed by the momentum, profitable growth in the business and the results the team at Ektron have been achieving."

The press release contains no comments from — or makes any mention of — Ektron CEO and co-founder Bill Rogers.)

Want to Retain Your Customers? Get Personal

Many marketers are stuck in the personalization slow lane. Personalization is no longer a luxury reserved for big players like Amazon but is an expectation. So marketers who want to keep up with the competition must employ a personalization strategy. The good part? It's easier than ever to get on board with personalization. A number of tools exist that will amass customer data for you and provide you with opportunities to tailor your customers' online experience.

But there's one area where personalization can have impressive effects -- customer retention.

Dear Marketers, Thanks for Ruining My Holiday Shopping Experience

2014-04-December-vintage-christmas.jpgMy earliest memories of my late father include heading out to scoop up bargains on the day after Christmas. What, I wondered at the age of four, could be better than buying plastic reindeer and strings of fat multicolored bulbs for 50 percent off — 364 days before you'd ever want to use them?

Nothing, I concluded. It was fun, even exciting, a way to effectively extend the magic of the holiday just a little longer.

And now, through a flurry of ill-conceived marketing, the fun is over. Some Master Marketer who clearly lacked access to a calendar decided that After Christmas Sales would be even better before Christmas. And that triggered a rash of related, equally annoying decisions to accelerate sales of all kinds.

Black Friday on Thursday, anyone? How about Cyber Monday on Saturday? Why don't we just have sales all month long?

But that's not all. After the sales are accelerated, many of them are extended — so all those Cyber Monday specials are still out there on Thursday.

5 Components of a Social Media Policy in a Regulated Industry

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A sound social media policy serves two key purposes: 1. to educate employees on use within and outside a company work environment and 2. to mitigate corporate risk through guidance on process and procedure as it relates to industry compliance and messaging.

For some more heavily regulated industries, the latter becomes extremely important.

Marketer, Meet Commerce Expert

2014-03-December-Meeting.jpgWe've established the importance of a strong collaborative relationship between marketing and IT. As we approach 2015, it's time to highlight another relationship that will become equally important in the year ahead: a strong partnership between marketing and commerce teams.

Commerce experts today are laser-focused on implementing the best platforms and portals to facilitate online transactions safely and securely. Meanwhile, marketers concentrate on telling strong brand stories to increase sales and build customer loyalty. While both teams have similar goals when it comes to increasing a company’s business, their efforts are often siloed. They don’t realize the benefit of integrating efforts closely in order to create bottom-line business impact.

Why Your Fantastic Website is a Flop #KenticoConnection

So you’ve got a stellar website design with copy that virtually sings. So why is it such a fantastic flop?

“Copywriters and designers are often not the users of a site,” said Vita Janecek, online marketing product owner for Kentico Software. This means that their designs and words, while they may look and sound good, may not appeal to your target audience.

So how do you get it right? It’s about going right to the users and asking them what they want, said Janecek, who spoke at Kentico Connection in Boston recently. Early testing can ensure that you’re hitting the mark.

After all, in the words of an old African proverb that Janecek quoted, “Nobody tests the depth of a river with both feet."

What's New in December for Open Source CMS

It's a big day for Skien, Norway-based eZ Systems, which released the latest version of its flagship open source content management system this morning.

The company describes the new release, eZ Publish 5.4, as more agile, more powerful and easier to learn and use than previous versions. Just as significantly, it's the last of the current 5.x generation.

"With 5.4, we’ve carved out a clear path to upgrade to our next generation, which will definitely be a release you should consider upgrading to, whatever your plans are," Roland Benedetti, Chief of Product and Marketing at eZ Systems, noted in a recent blog post.

The next generation platform will replace the legacy kernel with a new kernel and new APIs and advance the Symfony framework introduced in eZ Publish Platform 5.x. It will also offer a new user interface that Benedetti claims will provide "a significantly improved user experience to anyone working with content."

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