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Digital News & Analysis

So You Want to Be an Online Community Manager?

2014-11-November-Flock.jpgBecause I write a lot about online communities and online community management, I've had people ask me, “I’d like to make a career change into community management. Where do I start?” The first thing I tell them is that I’m not a community manager. But I quickly follow by saying that I work with community managers and that they’re the target audience for much of the content I develop.

That Anonymous Visitor Is Your Next Great Customer

2014-10-November-Fake-Mustache.jpgPersonalization is critical to your business -- we can all agree on that. But when it comes to rolling up our proverbial sleeves and getting down to getting personal, the conversation veers into choppy waters. Why? It’s a simple enough notion.

Compare digital personalization tactics to the local corner store from decades ago. Remember the butcher who held the special cut of meat for a favorite customer? Or the clerk who knew I wanted the next comic book in the series? That was personalization in the pre-Internet days but, even though the landscape has changed dramatically, the rules really haven’t. We, as marketers, just have infinitely more to work with -- and even greater demands than a pound of sirloin.

Analyzing Social Media? You're Doing it Wrong

2014-10-November-Chatter.jpgThe days when brands had complete control over their positioning are long gone. Consumers can now impact the shaping of a brand, particularly through social media. Brands follow what consumers are saying, where they are saying it and how deeply certain themes permeate the overall conversation on social media -- but taking action from this information isn’t as easy as it seems.

Brands often count numbers without understanding context. They focus too much on one channel while ignoring all others, or fail to gauge the collective opinions of the crowd. Instead they focus on a few overly positive or negative mentions, and stay too caught up in the moment to observe trends over time.

Each of these faux pas is easy to commit, and every one of them can have profound consequences. But it doesn't have to be that way.

What the French Taught Me About Customer Service

2014-10-November-Bread-Shopping.jpgBefore moving to Paris, I heard horror stories about how rude the French were and readied my family for the difficulties we would experience. But during my four years there, I came to see the French as the purveyors of the best and worst customer service I ever experienced.

France is a country where customer service is an economic imperative as they claim title to being the most visited country in the world with more than 85 million annual visitors and with tourism representing 10 percent of GDP. The French government has tried several campaigns to promote great customer service to increase tourism.

That's only half the battle. Being the right customer and adjusting expectations is what transformed my customer experience in France, and created new levels of loyalty for me with companies large and small alike.

What's New in November for Open Source CMS

It's been a, well, interesting month for free and open source content management systems (CMS) communities.

Thousands of websites running Drupal, one of the world's most popular open source CMSs, may have been compromised by a "highly critical" security flaw. But Imperva, an IT security firm, claims attacks against WordPress, the world's most popular CMS, are even more prevalent.

Jahia named the ever mobile Kevin Cochrane — the former CMO of Mindjet, the former CMO of Open Text and former vice president of digital marketing at Adobe — to its board of directors. But no one, including Cochrane, has yet addressed his abrupt departure from Mindjet. Could Cochrane be planning to relocate from San Francisco to take up an office and deeper role with Jahia in Paris?

Ghost, a relatively new CMS created by John O’Nolan — former deputy head of the WordPress user experience team — continues to wow critics who, for obvious reasons, keep comparing the platform to WordPress. O'Nolan, meanwhile, who funded the project with a $300,000 Kickstarter campaign, just keeps creating. His recent efforts extend to creating a company culture. We'll let him explain: 

We’re very much trying to choose our culture and make it one that we’re proud of. We encourage open and frank debate, but always with civility. ... Recently we also published a set of clear community guidelines. The crux of it is pretty straightforward: Don’t be a dick."

With that in mind, let's take a look at what's new in free and open source CMS this month.

Your Content is a Promise to Your Customers

The content an organization publishes online is increasingly contributing to how customers regard that organization’s brand. 

How to Become a Best-In-Class Content Marketer

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B2B marketers with documented content marketing strategies consider their organizations more effective at content marketing, and can better track ROI over those with verbal or no strategies, according to the latest research by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). 

And although an encouraging 83 percent of B2B marketers have a content marketing strategy, only 35 percent have it written down, which means that a majority of those surveyed are missing out on the benefits that come with being a Best in Class B2B Content Marketer, the research revealed.

The study, 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America, was sponsored by Brightcove and conducted in conjunction with MarketingProfs.

Technology Can Help Humans Sound Human

2014-07-November-Free-Hugs.jpgIs it too much to ask a customer service rep to sound human and, more importantly, to treat the person on the other end of the line as a fellow human?

It may sound like a simple request, but too often the forces in the customer service universe can easily undermine an organization’s efforts to deliver an exceptional, personalized experience.

Getting Personal with Big Machines

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When we think of personalization of service through analytics, the first thought that likely comes to mind is retail applications or consumer goods.

But what about industrial equipment, especially heavy equipment? The way we service big machines is undergoing a renaissance, thanks to the same technology we use to enhance the consumer experience.

Will Big Data Analytics Fuel Dell's Renaissance? #DellWorld

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Michael Dell and friends are rocking Austin, Texas this week. The company best known for making “made to order” personal computers and servers has a boatload of well-established customers and the “freedom to be bold,” now that it a private company, said Michael Dell, the company’s founder and CEO.

When we hear the word Dell, the first words that come to mind are probably not big data, advanced analytics, machine learning or hybrid cloud.

But if you’re a business analyst who needs the powers of a data scientist, but doesn’t have immediate access to one …  or an enterprise that wants to leverage big data and advanced analytics to improve customer relationships and such … Dell may be your ticket. We kid you not.

How Big Data Can Make You a Better Marketer

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Big data is everywhere these days. Among other things, it's created some big expectations for marketing — especially when it comes to mining information. And while it may have the potential to change the game when it comes to data driven marketing, the reality is that it has yet to fully deliver due to a myriad of marketing methodologies clogging the funnel.

What does this mean?

Let’s back up for a minute. Before we can tap the results of big data, we need to examine the perspectives that are used to fill the funnel — growth and sales — and think about some of the fundamental shifts that are taking place. Then we’ll more clearly understand how big data fits in.

An Experience Design Primer - Service Design, UX, CX, DevOps

2014-05-November-Volcanoes.jpgA small eruption emerged on Twitter in response to my article that covered the Adaptive Path acquisition. At the root of it was a conversation about the differences and overlaps between user experience (UX) and service design. Patrick Quattlebaum, managing director at Adaptive Path and esteemed former colleague sat down with me to see if we could suss out the overlaps and distinctions between each approach.

The Danger of Believing in a 360-Degree Customer View

2014-04-November-Out-To-Sea.jpgWhen you’re at sea, you take navigation very seriously. The 360-degree arc of the compass is the tool by which you take a bearing and understand where you are going, especially when you’re out of sight of land. It’s a constant number that relates to the compass -- both the magnetic and gyroscopic compasses, if you’re on a ship.

It also refers to the way lookouts report the things they see -- always in relation to the ship, with the bow of the ship representing 0 degrees/360 degrees. Having a 360-degree view of what’s out at sea with you is critical to avoiding hazards, collisions and other unfortunate events.

In the context of CRM, that metaphor is frequently employed. Every vendor likes to claim that its application provides a 360-degree view of the customer, implying that no bit of customer information affecting selling, loyalty, support or marketing is not captured.

That metaphor is imperfect at best. And I’m not saying that because I spent six years at sea as a bosun’s mate.

Listening Makes Technology (and Stuff) Work

2014-04-November-Listen.jpgMeg Bear, group vice president of Oracle Social Cloud, uses an interesting term when she discusses the role of listening in the customer relationship: humility. That doesn't come up often when discussing enterprise software, but Bear stands behind it as being a catalyst for a customer-centric business.

“Customers are trying to tell you what they want -- they’re giving you breadcrumbs. With humility and listening, you’ll be on to the right thing,” said Bear during a presentation at last month's Pivotcon.

What Celum's CEO Thinks About MarTech, E-Commerce, Retail

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If brands want to reach their target customers, perhaps they should pull up a chair with Michael Kräftner to see the errors of their ways.

As Kräftner told his audience at Celumium — a presentation that his company, Celum (pronounced SELL-‘em) hosted in Chicago last week — a customer has to recognize a brand 17 times before he or she remembers it. 

Now think of all the 27 million pieces of content, including images, words and jargon, that are shared each day and seen by customers (a statistic Kräftner shared during his presentation) — and you get the feeling that information overload is as much of the problem as brand consistency.

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