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How Marketers Can Thrive in the Post Digital World

Eric Yale Forrester DSPHX

When I first heard Eric Yale from Forrester suggest at the Digital Summit conference that we live in a post digital world, I have to admit. I thought he was a bit nuts. Or just being sensational.

I was wrong.

If you’re thinking the same thing, here’s a rundown of what Eric said to provide some clarity.

In today’s marketing world, it is increasingly important for brand and consumer interactions to be frictionless, anticipatory and immersive. This is what customers expect and in a post digital world, it’s what brands need to deliver.

To understand what this means for marketing, Eric suggested that there are three fundamental reasons we are “post digital”.

First, customers are entitled. With the proliferation of digital devices, customers have huge expectations from brands. The evolution of this expectation is centered in the growth of always addressable customers – that is, customers who use more than three devices from multiple physical locations to connect with a brand. These customers expect to see the right message in the right place at the right time. In 2011 it was 51% of US online adults and in 2016 that number has grown to 67%.

Second, the digital distinction has dissolved. It’s no longer about what’s digital and what’s not.

With 59% of consumers using mobile phones while shopping in a retail store, companies are beginning to experiment in ways that integrate mobile with physical. For example, digital dressing rooms in brick and mortar stores.

Third, digital insights fuel business strategy. Digital insights are being used to inform marketing as well as overall business strategy across the enterprise.

For example, Royal Caribbean’s digital bracelet streamlines onboarding and allows payment at stores on the ship. And John Hancock uses private Fitbits that collect data which can affect customer insurance pricing.

So, what does post digital marketing look like?

Eric says it’s about doing what you say – making good on your brand promise online and offline. It’s about making sure the customer has a great experience across the spectrum. It’s about a shift in thinking.

Think of it this way: Instead of wondering what media you should buy, think about how you can solve customer problems. Or, instead of thinking only about what offer will drive a customer purchase, think about how you can reduce the stress of your customer’s decision process.

This shift in perspective is important because legacy marketing manners don’t work any more:

  • 85% of consumers say advertising has little or no influence on their decisions
  • 43% of marketers still don’t know what marketing actually works

To change your mindset, you have to think about what marketing actually is and reimagine the marketing function and your role within it. Also, think about how you participate in the rest of your company.

To break it down, Eric, offered three rules for post-digital marketing:

  1. Be human. Use empathy to understand your customers and their experience. Be anticipatory in your efforts to serve customers and solve their problems.
  2. Be helpful. Focus on solving problems for your customers, not just selling products. For example, Staples turned the Easy Button into an app you can easily talk to to order office supplies. OpenTable is smart enough to send reminders to book a reservation for Valentine’s day before the Super Bowl.
  3. Be handy. Understanding and optimizing the customer experience is key to a frictionless solution. For example, Marriott launched their app for mobile check-ins and added the ability for hotel guests to make front desk requests from the app. After evaluating the most frequent types of calls to the front desk,  they made it possible to easily accomplish those asks through the app – from toiletries to more towels.

Eric says the post digital world is already here – even if you’re still in the midst of digital transformation. A post-digital perspective might require a new mindset from legacy thinking, but with core rules like “be human”, “be helpful” and “be handy”, I think we can agree they are fundamental and certainly doable for most companies.

Eric Yale @ericyale is Senior Consultant, Marketing and Strategy Practice at Forrester.

If you are in the Los Angeles area April 4-5th, be sure to check out the next Digital Summit conference (#DSLA)

Beverly Jackson of MGM will be giving the opening keynote and there will be a lunchtime interview keynote with Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple. For my part, I will be giving a closing keynote about the future of influencer marketing. There are many other top notch speakers presenting as well from Facebook, Pinterest, Google, LinkedIn, BET Networks, Adobe, Forbes, The Economist, AOL, BMC Software, MIT, Wells Fargo, The Onion and many more. Digital Summit is a can’t miss conference.

Check out the DSLA website for the full agenda.

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The post How Marketers Can Thrive in the Post Digital World appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers

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Traits B2B Influencers

Marketers are still asking, what is B2B influencer marketing? Here’s a definition I’ve been using over the past 5 years or so:

B2B influencer marketing is activating internal and external subject matter experts with engaged networks to advocate and co-create content of mutual value that drives measurable business goals.

As the groundswell around influencer marketing rises and becomes a normal part of the B2B marketing mix, the volume of information and misinformation on the topic also increases.

One of the most popular questions people also ask about B2B influencer marketing focuses on what makes a good business influencer? By now we all know that popularity alone does not make someone influential. It’s certainly important, it's just not the only thing.

As B2B marketers mature in their understanding of the role influence plays and how the dynamic of brand content co-created with industry experts plays out with customers, they begin to realize that other factors matter. Topical relevance matters of course as well as resonance of the topic amongst an influencer’s community.

B2B Marketing Influencers

The intersection of individual expertise, how well that expertise resonates with followers and the size of network creates a baseline of characteristics when evaluating whether a certain influencer might be a match.

But there’s more than that. Understanding what makes a great influencer is both art and science, soft and hard skills. The success of identifying, qualifying and engaging influencers is also directly tied to how they will be engaged and to what end.

Some people reading this might think that influencer marketing isn’t the magic pill some are playing it up to be. There’s a reason for that, because it’s not magic. It’s more like alchemy.

The reality is, there’s no one formula for the perfect B2B influencer, but there are some common characteristics that B2B brands should look for in varying proportions according to what’s important to a program or activation. I call those characteristics:

The 5 Ps of B2B Influence

Proficiency - In B2B marketing, the vast majority of those considered influential possess deep expertise in the field they work in. This is a significant difference from many B2C influencers who are often self proclaimed as influential with clever media creation skills.

As B2C influencer content and engagement tactics evolve, some are crossing over into B2B with a trickle of opportunists successfully creating influence amongst B2B audiences not solely for their expertise, but for a combination of adept social media content creation skills and some expertise. B2B marketers who do their due diligence will be able to filter accordingly.

Popularity - While network size is not the only thing, nor is it the most important thing, it is definitely a metric to consider. Some marketers swing in the direction of ignoring audience size altogether because of lower engagement rates with popular influencers. This is simply foolish. All things being the same, I’ll take 2% engagement of an influencer with a million followers over 2% from someone that has 1,000 followers.

What matters is how network size factors in with the type of influencer you need. For example, popular influencers aka “brandividuals” are often best for top of funnel content. Niche domain expert influencers are better for middle and end of funnel content. Engaging a brandividual and expecting conversions is just naive.

Personality - If you’ve worked in B2C influencer marketing and been exposed to all the characters there, B2B is going to seem a bit dry. Now there are some colorful characters in the B2B influencer community, no doubt. But personality is often a trait that needs to be uncovered when you’re working with some types of business influencers.

The good news is that savvy influencer marketing practitioners know how to plant the seeds that can grow and blossom within an otherwise introverted influencer. You don’t need them to be a colorful character, ripe with personality per se, but you do want them to connect with the passion they have with their craft and how their expertise can help others be successful.

Publishing - Content is the media that conveys the ideas of influence and while B2B influencers are not expected to produce the same types and quantity of content as in B2C, it is ideal when there’s a platform where the influencer publishes. At a minimum, that would be social networks but to be a B2B influencer, it’s most likely that also includes articles contributed to publications if not research, books and presentations.

Promotion - The value a B2B influencer brings beyond adding expertise and credibility to brand content is the ability to share what they helped create with their network. Trust of brand content is at a low, especially with advertising. Customers yearn for authentic content and the right kind of influencer collaboration can give them that, delivered via the influencer’s own distribution channels. That means social networks for course but also potentially blogs, email newsletters, podcast, LinkedIn Live, contributed articles or columns in industry publications.

I know some people reading this are thinking there could be even more P’s like being Prolific, Persuasive or Passion. Yes, there could be so many more but we have to draw the line somewhere! It's important to be able to manage the data and insights necessary to factor these characteristics into selection, qualification and engagement.

Some of these traits will not fully reveal themselves until you work with an influencer on a few content activations. Others will fluctuate over time and that is normal. It's important to understand that influence is a temporal thing. It is not fixed or permanent. It’s important marketers realize that before they disengage an influencer in the short term due to lower performance. The same goes for high expectations after great performance.

Organic influencer engagement is a little dynamic and what you don’t spend on paid influencers like an ad buy you will (in part) need to invest in relationship management, education and even tips that will help the influencers be more effective.

B2B brands with high influencer churn or low performance often apply “ad buy” perspectives to a what is actually a relationship driven effort. Mismatched expectations are not helpful for anyone, so think about the 5Ps as you evaluate and nurture your influencer community. Consider where of each your ideal influencers need to score on the 5 Ps in order to be a good match for the kind of activation you have in mind.

When there’s 5P alignment, there's happiness: for customers, influencers and your B2B brand.

The post 5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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