Technology Featured APAC

Three ways cloud agreements can turbocharge a customer-centric experience

As digital technologies dramatically reshape industries, customer expectations are also rapidly evolving in a hyper-connected environment. In fact, we see the same technologies which are changing customer behavior also enabling businesses to redefine customer journeys. This has led to customers increasingly seeking differentiated experiences built on convenience, speed, and accessibility.

While putting the customer first is not a new idea, many organizations are still trying to crack the code on how to integrate this effectively into the business model. An easy first place to start is cloud agreements. Businesses often focus on digitizing the upfront customer experience however often overlook the process of agreement and rely on paper-based processes that aren’t aligned to customer expectations. Digitizing the agreement process removes the potential friction introduced by needing to print, send, and sign paper documents.

With modern electronic signature tools available, it’s now up to leaders to leverage technology and reorient the business towards customer needs. Here are three ways cloud agreements help to strengthen business touchpoints.

Make customers part of your solution

Delays and miscommunication are the most common risks every business that is not digital-first is exposed to. This incurs unnecessary time and revenue costs to the company, resulting in decreased productivity. Today, where the expectation for convenience becomes the norm, make yourself as easy to do business with as possible which starts with digitizing contracts. 

It’s important to provide full transparency throughout your engagement with each customer from pre- to post-sales. By leveraging cloud agreements, businesses can better accommodate customer needs by tapping into the flexibility and convenience of the system.

This is evident in the financial and banking industry where online contracts and e-signatures have helped global banks bridge the broken customer experience with an end-to-end digitalization of offerings like home loans. As a result, customers now enjoy improved and faster services that are aligned to their expectations.

A frictionless agreement process

A great customer experience starts with a frictionless agreement. We’ve all experienced the pain and frustration of having to print, sign, and mail documents. And it’s not enjoyable, to say the least. So why impose this on your customers? With cloud agreements, you can assimilate your business to the anywhere economy by eliminating manual steps in your processes and focus on service quality.

A robust cloud system that is compliant and reliable is a key part of any business success. The strong technology infrastructure from AI to machine learning that supports cloud services helps to build trust and confidence among customers. Additionally, the greater visibility of agreement processes allows senders to see real-time signing status which removes any customer fears and worries. This makes the customer experience holistic and safe.

A renewed focus on corporate and social responsibility

Providing a superior customer experience doesn’t hinge only on the customer’s benefit—it’s a strategic business decision. Thus, having a modern digital agreement process is also a reflection of your brand and corporate social responsibility. Through automated processes, paper wastage is greatly reduced which minimizes the negative impact on the environment.

As the world is gearing up towards building a green environment, your digital-first mindset of cloud-based agreements will help reduce your carbon footprint. This is critical especially for socially responsible customers, shifting mindsets that the cloud system is purpose- and value-driven instead of focusing on profits.

To be truly customer-centric, technology alone isn’t enough. Organizations must provide customers with a connected and meaningful experience that is supported by cloud agreements. This would make the customer journey easy and memorable for all the right reasons.

This article was written by Andrea Dixon, senior marketing director of DocuSign for APJ.

Main Feature Marketing Southeast Asia

Lifeline to normality: Singaporeans embrace applications but shun poor digital experiences

While Singaporeans have lived through fluctuating restrictions – like Circuit Breaker and heightened alerts – one thing that has remained constant over the last 18 months is the lifeline to normality that applications and digital services have provided. Whether it’s staying connected to loved ones, ordering food and groceries, work, study, or rest, the role that apps play in our lives has never been more prominent.

Tellingly, in the latest report led by Business Observability platform AppDynamics, a significant 95% of Singaporeans reveal that digital services have helped them get through the pandemic in a positive way. It’s clear that as life threatened to grind to a halt with COVID-19 putting the brakes on travel, entertainment, and work as we knew it, apps have enabled us to get on and continue functioning.

For many people, this widespread transition to the online sphere opened their eyes to the many benefits that digital services promise. Be it virtual activities for leisure, or access to essential services, many consumers have found themselves trying something they would ordinarily have never considered before. According to the e-Conomy SEA 2020 report, more than 1 in 3 digital services that consumers started using last year were because of the pandemic.

Realizing that a viable and convenient digital alternative is readily available to the traditional ways of doing things, consumers in Singapore are now likely to continue relying on these options beyond the pandemic. In fact, 83% of people in Singapore have already expressed their intention to use these services even after the restrictions imposed because of COVID-19 have disappeared.

This change in mindset and behavior will no doubt have implications on both consumer expectations, and how businesses must respond – not only in the short run but also in the longer term as we transition to endemic living.

Customers recognize the investment efforts from brands

Even people who don’t work in technology have witnessed the extent to which organizations across many sectors have innovated over the last 18 months. Launching new services to meet the evolving needs of customers, we’ve seen work and learning go virtual, as have banking, shopping, entertaining, and more. But of course, simply ‘going digital’ isn’t always enough for brands to win the hearts of their customers.

All over the world, we’ve seen organizations that have instead, quickly kickstarted and implemented full-scale digital transformation programs to improve operational processes and deliver apps and digital experiences that meet the needs of their customers. And their efforts have not been for naught. The same study by AppDynamics has discovered that consumers actually recognize and are thankful for the efforts that brands have invested into delivering these apps.

As people sought control and normalcy amid a most uncertain and challenging period, apps have been critical to empowering consumers during the pandemic. Almost 80% of those in Singapore say they are grateful to the brands that have invested in digital so they could access the services that they love. Those that have gone above and beyond with the quality of their digital services have also enjoyed the fruits of their labor, with 75% of people in Singapore feeling more loyal towards these companies.

It appears that creating and maintaining lasting relationships with customers increasingly rests on the delivery of seamless and faultless digital experiences. Brands that can ensure they make a positive impact on the lives of their consumers will have massive opportunities to forge these deeper connections and stay competitive.

Perfection is non-negotiable

As people of all ages across the globe depend on their apps for almost every facet of life, expectations have naturally skyrocketed. In particular, consumers increasingly seek the ‘total application experience’, which in addition to being reliable, secure, and personalized, is also simple, helpful, and fun to use. The bar has been raised forever and brands must now meet these expectations of performance and functionality.

But while consumers are showing more love towards the brands that meet their sky-high expectations with first-class services, tolerance for sub-optimal experiences has hit rock bottom. Indeed, expectations have changed during the pandemic and almost 70% of those in Singapore now expect nothing less than the best and will no longer tolerate poor performance.

As with most tech, digital services are susceptible to disruptions originating from various sources. And while slow loading pages, poor response time, and security lapses are often due to the app itself, other factors like internet connectivity, or issues with third-party plug-ins remain beyond the app owner’s control.

Despite the multitude of possibilities behind an app’s failure or technical disruption, most consumers believe it’s the brand’s duty to ensure their digital service always performs at an optimal standard. To 78% of the consumers in Singapore, it doesn’t matter what causes the poor performance. While external factors like a poor internet connection or weak mobile signal may be to blame, consumers expect application owners and the brands to take responsibility.

Consumers leave at the first sign of trouble

Although encountering problems with digital services is not a new phenomenon – with a majority of people saying they have experienced an issue over the last 12 months, what is increasingly worrying is how unforgiving consumers have become. No longer happy to just ‘try again later’ or continue struggling with an app, consumer patience has waned, and quickly switching to alternatives is now a norm.

Additionally, beyond simply deleting a poor-performing app from their device, consumers are also more vocal, often sharing and amplifying their negative experiences to others. With only one chance to impress consumers, brands and app owners need to go big and do right, as they can no longer afford even the tiniest blips in the digital customer experience.

To ensure issues are discovered and resolved before customers are affected, the ability to conduct full-stack observability that provides real-time insights, for instance, will be critical in today’s digital age. Filtering through the complexity and noise to identify and prioritize fixing issues with the greatest business impact is the only way for brands to create and maintain the flawless digital experiences that their customers have grown accustomed to and will continue to demand.

This article was written by Gregg Ostrowski, Executive CTO at AppDynamics.
Main Feature Technology APAC

Why marketers will prioritize gametech

For generations, gaming has been a cherished pastime across cultures and geographies. It took on a new life with the advent of the console and the internet, becoming more accessible and affordable. We’re now experiencing the next surge in gaming with the industry nearly doubling over the last five years, largely due to a combination of increasing internet access and speed, the proliferation of 5G, and increasing sophistication in hardware and mobile devices. 

As the industry has grown, the technology underpinning gaming has become more powerful. The opportunity has evolved beyond the console, bringing many once fantasy science fiction stories to life, creating a flourishing gaming ecosystem. So as the pandemic forced everyone to stay indoors and find new ways to connect and stay entertained, the growth of gaming has accelerated exponentially beyond prediction.

Convergence of gaming and marketing

Fuelled by the maturity and innovation in marketing and advertising technology, coupled with advancements in machine learning, artificial intelligence, smart devices, and cloud computing, we are now witness to the convergence of gaming and marketing as an opportunity to the current market value of $175B USD this year. The landscape has changed and brands and marketers are looking for new and innovative ways to capitalize on the 3 billion global daily users. 

But the technology ecosystem hasn’t fully kept up with the exponential growth in gaming, nor has expertise evolved to provide clear, strategic entry points for brands to authentically connect in this new interactive universe. Leading MarTech and AdTech companies are now looking at the gaming universe, seeking to understand how they can capture and grow their piece of the virtual pie and get in on the next big wave of marketing and entertainment. 

The next generation of marketers and technologists are building a new landscape for gaming technology, so-called Gametech. New infographics reminiscent of the familiar Lumascape are now in circulation, highlighting the emergence of new businesses with relevant gaming technology dedicated to PC, console, or mobile devices. 

Overcoming gaming marketing hesitancy 

It has been referenced that brands and marketers are hesitant to invest their budgets in this arena. Claims range from tenuous means to measure campaign effectiveness, to not enough understanding about the medium, to let’s just throw some of my traditional media budget into a streaming platform and see what happens as a strategy. 

This stems from a knowledge gap for both marketers and their agencies, and that trusted advisors and genuine gaming specialists are a small group. Beyond the upskilling and education, there also remains a gap in the connection to audience and inventory marketplaces. 

Marketers, publishers, and their agencies must be able to access and activate through their DSP and/or SSP of choice. The challenge for some of these platforms is they currently lack the right integrations to support features unique to gaming behaviors and buying methods. The technology must adapt to the intricacies and adopt features like new buying types in order to tap into the market and scale with programmatic. 

Combined forces driving game technology 

Modern marketing and advertising are powered by machine learning and real-time access to audience segments, creative and inventory via private or public marketplaces. For gaming, the way to gain traction and scale is by leveraging the maturity and speed of these existing technologies combined with dedicated operational support for the new interactive ecosystem. 

What the industry needs are businesses that aren’t focused on building the game itself, but genuinely understand how audiences engage with interactive formats and create opportunities that are true to the playing field without disruption. That means campaigns suited to the universe – or metaverse – in which the players reside, as well as in the form of ad monetization, measurement, and analytics to market analysis with a deeply rooted understanding of creativity fuelled growth. 

Gametech providers must support marketers to understand how best to approach gaming, supported by research and insights. Data solutions must be available to activate through leading data marketplaces, DSPs, and SSPs. The right strategy and access are not complete without real-time measurement tools to inform in-flight performance and campaign effectiveness. 

Industry legends from programmatic to traditional sports are combining learnings and the best of breed technology built for the fourth industrial revolution into the digital age. Platforms that can provide some or all of these solutions will carry brands into the next phase of Gametech and gaming marketing. 

Double down on the future of Gametech

Brands, publishers, agencies, and platforms should be paying attention to the opportunity powered by Gametech. Gaming is ingrained in our modern-day culture, across geographies, demographics, economics, psychographics, etc. – all you need is internet access or a mobile phone.

But with great access and power comes responsibility – and children are a part of the gaming community. Innovation in Gametech has brought to light increased safety measures. In-game advertising enables marketers to choose what they define as brand-safe environments, empowering parents to feel secure in the activities their children engage with online. 

Leveraging the power of data and insights combined with programmatic media buying methodologies, Gametech solutions enable addressability and harness the benefits of an increasingly sophisticated use of machine learning, smart software, and technology. 

With the gaming market nearly doubling over the last five years and forecasted to grow to $217.9 billion by 2023, more of the marketing pie is going to shift into gaming. And the gaming universe is just getting ramped up, with more opportunity to be uncovered at the convergence of gaming and commerce. Fashion companies, sports icons, and music stars alike are bursting into the metaverse offering everything from live concerts, runway fashion shows, merchandise and apparel, and more. 

Together, this presents a greenfield for creative innovation to connect the right brands and services to the right metaverse, game, or stream, with the right strategy, at the right time. 

Only Gametech expertise can take you there. Are you ready? 

This article is written by Indy Khabra, Co-Founder and CEO of Livewire.

Platforms Featured APAC

The next phase of hypergrowth in esports

The gaming industry is going from strength to strength with continuous growth on a global scale. With investments of over $60 billion in the first half of 2021, it has already almost doubled the total amount in 2020. With innovation taking center stage, many will be looking towards further opportunities in commerce to secure future growth as the industry once again prepares to level up. 

Over the last 18 months, events quickly transformed how the global community communicated with friends, shopped, and interacted online. People of all ages were responsible for a spike in digital gaming activity in a world where we all became players. But global audiences are not just playing games; they are increasingly consuming more gaming-related content via live and recorded streams of games across multiple platforms.

As the world begins to open back up, interest in gaming and esports continues to dominate headlines. The arrival of 5G is creating more opportunities for esports companies to scale as mobile-first nations such as China and Southeast Asia continue to thrive with millions of new fans entering virtual arenas. But how can esports companies scale quickly enough to meet the demands of their audience? 

Have the right people

Gaming is one of the fastest-growing industries and market environments. But it’s people who drive the heart of every business in this space. The most successful esports companies attract the best talent and investors to help realize their vision. But, identifying and developing this talent and creating a working culture that empowers every individual to be the best version of themselves is the easy part. Then, just like in video games, it’s keeping the momentum going and grinding through tasks where many fail.

Every esports player knows that if you don’t selflessly help others, look out for your teammates, or work together, you won’t get very far. Video games have taught us that although you might move forward faster alone, you can achieve much more in a group. There is no room for egos in business either, and the right people by your side combined with a growth mindset will result in many successful joint missions where objectives and goals are achieved.

In our virtual, physical, and digital lives, everybody is faced with grinding through cumbersome work that at the time feels unrewarding. But you need to dig deep and pull together to unlock hypergrowth. There is a strong argument that convincing brave, driven, and entrepreneurial-minded people to join your winning tribe requires leadership, communication, teamwork, and negotiation skills learned through playing video games. Once again, it’s people and teams that learn from each other that create the magic, whether online or offline.

Pivoting until you find your path 

No start-up journey is clear-cut from the start, and nobody could have predicted that Zoom would be worth more than the world’s seven biggest airlines or that videogames would generate more revenue than movies and music combined. Elsewhere, many traditional companies are attempting to pivot to esports, which can be both a blessing and a curse. 

For example, large traditional sporting events realized that their global fanbase of millions could never fit inside a sporting arena. So how do they keep their fans engaged? NASCAR was one of the first to pivot to esports, with its iRacing series attracting one million viewers per event. As the lines between traditional sport and esports begin to get blurry, it can create tremendous opportunities and challenges in equal measure for the industry. 

It’s important to remember that YouTube would have become a video dating website without the pivot, and Instagram would have become a location-based game. In the same way that multiple lives in video games give you another chance to try a different approach, opportunities will always come your way on your mission to locate hypergrowth in your esports company

The universe will provide us with many opportunities to change and try something new. So, don’t waste these chances and always take advantage of the opportunities on the continuously evolving path that lies ahead. Most important of all, remember that the game is never over.

Explore the map

Don’t be afraid to go on side-missions if an exciting opportunity lands in front of you as long as you stay on track. By contrast, if you remain in the same place, you will quickly run low on resources or discover new ways to broaden your horizons.

By exploring one’s map, one can navigate unchartered digital waters to help design a plan. Blueprints involve finding esports teams with a strong community and solid foundation in each of the markets it operates in. With this foundation in place, they can be accelerated to become household names and compete among the region’s top teams. Additionally, partnering with brand ambassadors and content creators can take them to the next level with strategic partnerships, sponsorships, and content distribution across multiple channels. 

The gaming industry has come a long way since its days of being on the fringes of popular culture. However, both gaming and esports are right at the heart of mainstream entertainment. By bridging the gap between the gaming world and the brands challenged with creating awe-inspiring content, it is hoped that we can take engaging experiences for esports and gaming fans to the next level. 

One of the most significant growth opportunities in the industry is driving commerce by delivering physical and digital products. Having a clear game plan to navigate these challenging times has resulted in the hypergrowth of many industries, and gaming is no exception. But at the heart of everything is people. From every employee to every member of a gaming audience, it’s about how we all use technology to create powerful and authentic ways to connect with people. 

This article is written by Tim Roemer, COO of Ampverse.

Main Feature Marketing APAC

How to integrate sport into your marketing in an authentic and inclusive way

For the past two weeks, sports fans around the world have been glued to their TVs cheering for their country at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. With the action continuing on 24 August with the Paralympic Games, the opportunity for businesses to remain connected with their customers on a topic that resonates with so many — sport — should remain front-of-mind.

Whichever industry you’re in, the feelings of celebration and togetherness the Olympics and Paralympics evoke are common themes which unite and engage communities and customers the world over, and this sentiment doesn’t end with the closing ceremony.

According to the latest iStock Visual GPS research, 75% of people in ANZ stated they want to develop daily wellness and exercise routines. Search data across iStock by Getty Images, a leading ecommerce platform providing premium visual content to SMBs, SMEs, creatives and students around the world, shows that terms such as ‘outdoor fitness’ and ‘exercise at home’ have increased by 1225% and 760% respectively over the past twelve months.

Based on the insights, here are the four things businesses can do to effectively use sport in their marketing campaigns to drive greater engagement among their customers.

  1. Ensure your visuals are relatable 

Not everyone can be Ariarne Titmus or Peter Bol. About 68% of people in ANZ want companies to celebrate diversity of all kinds, and yet 62% still do not feel represented in media and advertising. So remember to be inclusive in your visual choices and avoid relying on visuals of toned, young athletes. Ensure you are also including intersectional identities such as body shapes, types, sizes, abilities, age and gender. 

How to integrate sport into your marketing in an authentic and inclusive way

Around 18% of Aussies and 24% of Kiwis live with some form of disability, and 27% of the ANZ population are aged 55+, so think about the range of exercise and fitness on offer, from wheelchair basketball, to senior yoga and running buggy groups. Sport and exercise can be both an individual and group activity, so it’s important to consider visuals of both.

  1. Celebrate togetherness

Sporting events such as the Olympics, Paralympics, The Ashes and Australian Open bring people together – virtually or in person – to celebrate, enjoy each other’s company and cheer on their favourite athletes. The Visual GPS research shows that 84% of people in ANZ look for ways to celebrate the good things in their life. This could be as simple as showing how we are celebrating having a meal or drinks together at home with our family, partners or housemates.

How to integrate sport into your marketing in an authentic and inclusive way
Photo: Trade

Consider visualizing the ways in which people are connecting virtually and celebrating sporting successes with loved ones from afar. The same research highlights that this is incredibly important to people, with 82% of people across ANZ finding that technology helps them feel connected to others. 

  1. Consider fitness more holistically

In Australia, the priority most valued during the pandemic was personal health and wellbeing, followed closely by the health and wellbeing of family. Attitudes to ‘wellness’ have changed, with 94% of people in ANZ believing it is equally important to take care of themselves emotionally as well as physically. When thinking about fitness, consider it holistically and include the benefits it can have on people’s emotional wellbeing. Use visuals which show the emotional rewards people get from sport and exercise and encourage physical health in the making, rather than the results of exercise on physical appearance. 

How to integrate sport into your marketing in an authentic and inclusive way

Connect authentically with supportive depictions of mental health, and include visuals which represent a broad spectrum of proactive self‑care moments, from a video yoga class at home, to a walk on the beach, to a Zoom call with friends, or sharing a healthy meal with family.

  1. Get back to nature

International travel bans and limits on time allowed outside the home have meant Aussies are exploring their own backyard. Searches on iStock for ‘outdoor living’ and ‘Australian nature’ have both increased by 144%, reflecting how people are reconnecting with nature and finding inspiration and restfulness in the outdoors.

How to integrate sport into your marketing in an authentic and inclusive way
Photo: View Productions

When selecting your visual content, consider the different ways in which people are embracing the outdoors and moving freely through landscapes and uncrowded spaces. Visualizing the mindful ways in which people are engaging in outdoor activities will resonate well with your customers of all ages.

With the continued impact of the pandemic, sports present an opportunity for businesses, regardless of industry, to connect and celebrate with their customers. 

This article was written by Kate Rourke, head of creative insights for Asia Pacific at Getty Images and iStock.
Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

This is the most effective marketing strategy when appealing to chief information security officers

Singapore – When it comes to marketing strategies, thought leadership content may not be looked to as the most reliable, with its nature not necessarily one to be said as a ‘hard sell’. 

For one, thought leadership content banks on the bulk and credibility of content rather than, say, the impact and swiftness of creative copy. Thought leadership would also of course at the onset, require thought leaders, and this alone takes a process to establish or develop; however, when it comes to chief information security officers (CISOs) as consumers, the persuasion of thought leadership may be stronger than it is given credit for. 

According to research by Code Red, a global PR-communication security network, which surveyed 52 IT security decision-makers in Singapore, about 46 percent of CISOs in the country claim to have used thought leadership content when making a final decision to appoint a cybersecurity company. 

Furthermore, even if a deal has already been agreed on, thought leadership remains a paramount guide, with 38 percent of the surveyed CISOs increasing their business with an existing supplier because of strong thought leadership. 

According to the study, 83 percent of CISOs in Singapore would pay a premium to work with cybersecurity vendors that are simply thought leaders. 

Indeed, cybersecurity companies have a lot to learn from this insight. Not only is it an effective tool in building trust among potential customers, it’s that it also presents as a reliable way to manage retention among consumers, showing to be influential in every stage of the customer buying life cycle among CISOs.  

The effectiveness of thought leadership may be owed to the sophisticated nature of both the consumer and the vendor of this situation, with cybersecurity naturally being a complex product. The study just further proves that cybersecurity vendors ought to treat such type of content as a whole funnel tactic, rather than just top-line awareness. 

Studying further on how CISOs locate trusted thought leadership content, the research found three key approaches they use: independent research using keywords, reviewing content shared by friends or family, and reading trade media publications. 

“This ‘trusted triangle’ is the gateway between thought leadership and its target audience,” said Code Red. 

The study found that 73 percent of CISOs in Singapore measure credibility based on whether the content provides detailed information on the subject that they are interested in, with the same volume of respondents – 73 percent – confirming that IT and cybersecurity trade media is their preferred format of content.

Robin Campbell-Burt, CEO at Code Red, comments on the findings, “Thought leadership is a fundamental prerequisite for successful marketing campaigns, and the report findings are testament to that. Establishing yourself as an industry thought leader is no mean feat as it takes effort and persistence, but those who commit themselves to this marketing approach will gain an important competitive advantage and build value for stakeholders in their own business.” 

Main Feature Marketing APAC

Omnichannel retail strategies in the era of connected experiences

Retailers across the globe were already facing challenges engaging with the increasingly digital consumer when the global pandemic hit. The sweeping lockdowns and movement restrictions only made the problem worse. Analysts predict that more than 100,000 stores will shut down by 2025 in the United States alone and retailers across the globe are experiencing disruption in the way they’ve connected and engaged with consumers in the past. 

The only way to thrive in this environment is to take a connected retail approach through omnichannel engagement. Retailers can no longer remain purely online or offline players and need to stay in step with customers across multiple touchpoints. This also means brands need to rethink their engagement and communication strategies to acquire, engage, and retain customers in this context. In the process, they must ensure that every touchpoint delivers a consistent, convenient, and continuous experience to the customer.

According to IDC, an omnichannel experience can improve the customer’s lifetime value (LTV) by 30% and customer retention by 90%. These experiences are vital to recognize user behavior across multiple channels. They also magnify user actions to grow ‘micro-conversions’, the ‘wow’ moments that nudge shoppers towards a purchase, such as following a brand on social media or adding an item to the cart or wishlist. At the same time, connected experiences can highlight critical user moments to lower drop-offs.

For example, if you were in a physical store and couldn’t find the staff to help you with questions about an item, eventually you might put it back on the shelf and leave. The same can happen online if brands are not present for these moments. Finally, connected experiences allow for relevant, personalized communications across channels and a boost to LTV through loyalty programs.

A connected experience is more than just having multiple channels of communication. Gartner defines a connected experience as one during which customers can shop without any channel limitations. Customers can choose their preferred channels for purchase; how they’d like to pay; and how they’d like to obtain the items. 

How can retailers create this kind of unified experience and transform brick and mortar customers into digital ones? 

Before retailers start implementing a connected customer journey, they need to have a clear blueprint of how to implement it and assess preparedness. A one-size-fits-all approach could fail. A connected experience strategy can be divided into three stages: crawl, walk, and run. 

Crawl: The most basic stage where foundation building happens. This is where brands and retailers understand the things that work best for customers such as typical user events and the triggers for them. The key objective in this stage is to initiate communication with customers. An example of this in practice could be sending a personal message to thank someone for following you on social media and sharing a link to your website. 

Walk: With the triggers identified and messaging refined, the next stage is to connect the dots across channels. Steps in this stage are creating separate messages for acquisitions, retention, and engagement across each channel; knowing what action you want the customer to take and selecting the trigger for it (e.g., a push notification); and developing an alternate plan in case the customer proceeds in a different direction. 

Run: This is when retailers begin to focus on long-term relationships. You should now be in a place to better leverage data to trigger personalized campaigns. If you are seeing strong engagement, now is also the time to introduce a loyalty program and collect feedback post-purchase. Examples of these activities could be focused campaigns for special occasions; unique offers and incentives based on past purchases; or offering promotions that can be redeemed at nearby stores.

Once you know how to build a connected customer journey and the stage you are in, the next step is execution using engagement workflows. It’s crucial to have workflows mapped across the customer journey, i.e., from micro-conversions (link clicks/page visits) to macro conversions (purchase). 

Retailers need to carry out a series of activities to engage customers throughout their journey, from the time they register on an app or website to the time they add items to a wishlist or complete a purchase. However, the journey doesn’t end here. The process must be repeated for each new or existing user, every time they become active on your app or website. 

Best practices for creating engagement workflows include analyzing micro, ‘intent-rich’ moments to create connected journeys; segmenting by tags, events, and actions; creating workflows by deploying user event and activity conditions, and setting touchpoints using the most suitable channels for each customer segment and the point they are at in their purchasing journey. 

With some insight into how to create workflows for the different stages that customers might be in, it’s time to implement. Before retailers begin, they should keep the following in mind for the best chance of success:

Set KPIs and goals based on workflow rationale: No two customers are alike. If one is in the onboarding stage, another is in the retention stage, so each workflow will need to be measured by different key performance indicators (KPIs). For example, your goal for onboarding customers could be to increase first-purchase transactions. On the other hand, your goal in the engagement phase could be to nudge customers to purchase again. The goal for the customer advocacy workflow could be to collect more feedback from customers. Focused KPIs for each of these goals will allow for better planning.

Delegate to team members: Although the marketing workflows automate processes, some functions should be delegated to team members to improve the campaign’s outcome. For example, different team members can monitor different campaigns and deliver actionable insights on how to meet goals. When team members know exactly what they need to focus on, there is less confusion and more clarity about how to achieve the desired outcomes of the campaign.

Revise workflows with a similar rationale: Remember to review campaigns periodically – weekly, monthly, and quarterly- to measure performance. Customer needs may change during the process of implementing the workflow and you can revise your workflows to integrate any new insights that you gain that could improve the outcome of your campaigns. You can also do an A/B test to know if a campaign performs well before implementing the workflow completely. However, ensure that the revised workflow does not disrupt the customer experience in any way. As is the goal with all customer interactions, it should be hassle-free and frictionless. 

The digital era has placed even more emphasis on the customer experience. Gone are the days of customer service with a smile. Today, retail customers want clear communication and control of their shopping experience. For retail brands, this means that there is more pressure than ever before to deliver crisp, rewarding, and connected experiences. Taking a comprehensive approach to your digital outreach strategy and investing in the tools that streamline this process will ensure your success in the near term and beyond.

This article was written by Saurabh Madan, general Manager for SEA and ANZ at MoEngage.

MoEngage is an insights-led engagement platform built for marketers and product owners looking to bolster their customer engagement. With AI-powered automation and optimization, MoEngage enables brands to analyze audience behavior and engage consumers at every point of the purchasing journey.
Main Feature Marketing APAC

Reasons why manufacturers, distributors won’t sell online

The internet and social media transformed the way we do business where conducting transactions online has become the ‘new normal’ for buyers and sellers. However, there are manufacturers and distributors who are still reluctant to list their products and services in online marketplaces which is now a necessity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic may have forced some companies to set up their own e-commerce operations or sell their products in marketplaces. But most marketplaces they know are designed for retail and are not capable to handle business-to-business transactions. Purchasing officers want the best prices for their procurement requirements, but you can’t attract them with rebates, vouchers, or free delivery.

We’ve been talking to manufacturers and distributors who shared with us the common reasons why they remain reluctant in getting listed in online marketplaces. Below are their common responses:

• They don’t want to upset their existing clients.
• They have a tight-knit distribution channel.
• They already have a dedicated sales team.
• They are afraid of the competition.
• They don’t want to disclose prices.
• They think it’s costly.

They don’t want to upset their existing clients. Some manufacturers would argue that they don’t need online marketing because they already have a strong business relationship with their clients for the long term. They think that disrupting the process might break that relationship. Marketplaces, on the other hand, can improve that relationship by providing more transparency and efficiency.

They have a tight-knit distribution channel. Like the relationship manufacturers have with their customers, they also have a close relationship with their logistics provider that runs like clockwork. Marketplaces can be configured to select which logistics provider they prefer and can offer tools that can provide more efficiency in the supply chain. While B2C marketplaces have a few logistics partners, B2B marketplaces are more flexible and can be integrated with any logistics partner selected by the supplier.

They already have a dedicated sales team. Sales representatives are a channel for customers – but it’s not the only channel. Distributors can easily expand their reach by bringing their business online. And even before potential customers would meet with sales rep, they will do some research online.

They are afraid of the competition. Marketplaces are a great tool for competitor research. Manufacturers shouldn’t be afraid to be compared with their competitors. Buyers now are more informed and will be able to tell which suppliers have the best products with better prices.

They don’t want to disclose the prices. B2B companies have a different pricing model which can vary for each customer. Unlike retail marketplaces like Lazada or Shopee where prices have to be shown, B2B marketplaces are better at handling wholesale pricing and can be negotiated.

They think it’s costly. Traditional marketplaces can be costly because they rely on commission and transaction fees. Modern marketplaces are shifting to a subscription model that provides suppliers better tools at a lower cost.

This article was written by Jeff Clarenz Turla, Co-founder and CTO of Burket.

Burket (business + market) is a platform to connects buyers and suppliers, digitizes procurement, and facilitates business-to-business (B2B) transactions.
Main Feature Marketing APAC

Why genuinely enthusiastic customers are still the best marketers for your brand

Customers are now finding the call of the ordinary as most trustworthy and genuine as opposed to celebrities who attracted brand limelight of the era gone by.

Imagine you go to a shop to try a new coffee variant recently launched by a fairly well-known brand. You come home, try it and are overjoyed with its taste and aroma. What is the next thing you do? Make another brew or share your joy with your family? Perhaps both.

For most consumer brands, the simple act of sharing your experience about a product for its quality, sales service, or price point makes case for a massive marketing opportunity. It is not new to realize that people do business with people and buy products from brands they trust. So when you give a high-five to a brand, the noise moves across the room, making others tempted to trust your first-hand feedback and buy the same product on their next visit to the supermarket. The distinct way to grow any business is to make your customers chatter about your product.

Voice of the common man

Think gossip is negative. Well, indeed it is not. It is as crucial as our voice on things that matter. In the seeds of gossiping lie humanity’s power to bond with others socially, influence decisions, foster life-long friendships and create powerful communications. This was unique to homo sapiens that allowed the species to cooperate with strangers and helped them gain an edge on the animal kingdom.

Gossip is one of the unheralded foundations of our species and its survival, concludes Yuval Noah Harari in his best-seller Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Consumers were always leaders of opinions, sometimes in whispers and at other times aloud.

The times we are going through provides a very fertile ground for consumers to use opinion to manoeuvre market trends. The numerous social media platforms give consumers access to share their gossip with the world at large, influencing purchase decisions and changing the purchase funnel from linear to circular.

An active customer is uniquely positioned to give brands social proof on their superior product or service, getting more interested customers and benefiting the brands with good returns. These customers or brand advocates are in no way forced to speak highly of any brand and this gives them true power to speak what is best in a brand.

The strength of such brand advocates lies in their authentic enthusiasm to endorse a brand and it is because of these truths that people trust their reviews and pay close attention to words. Eight in ten customers (83%) believe that trust is the first emotional metric that influences brand loyalty, according to the 2019 Deloitte study ‘Exploring the value of emotions-driven engagements’. Just as the world’s strongest brands are built upon a few core sets of truth, the same thing can be said about powerful brand advocates.

Times of trusted advisors

Traditionally, brand advocates have always been popular superstars with a mass appeal. But changing consumer sentiments showed a shift towards user-generated authoritarian content that has appeal to a targeted audience, making way for the rise of internet celebrities–they are none other than you and me with expert knowledge of industry product types and ability to spin a convincing tale of her own experience with the brand.

The power of storytelling in marketing cannot be emphasized any further. New-age influencers are compelling storytellers pushing the brands they endorse by the sheer force of their belief and the fan followers they possess. They are not just loyal to brands but actively champion their products to influence the buying habits of others. And that is why influencers are the most valuable customers that a company can have.

These are the same people who got an opportunity to broadcast their water cooler conversations on their social media handles. Not all of them have a follower count in millions but what they lack in reach, they make up with their intimate personalization of the brand. When these netizens recommend a product on Instagram, their words seem as genuine as those from a friend.

Call for meaningful conversations

These digital natives have emerged in interesting times. They are nudging brands to take a step back and focus on quality and service of products to drive conversations rather than mindlessly putting their money in large-scale paid marketing campaigns.

Brands are forging strategic partnerships with influencers to change buying habits of whole communities. But once brands orchestrate the social talks, it shakes the very foundation of trust and authenticity that had actually made these netizens’ murmur effective.

To have customers become cheerleaders, brand managers are tasked with finding innovative ways to delight buyers and nudge them to become advocates. It is only when advocates create buzz out of a genuine desire to underline a brand’s product or service can they be called truly trustworthy.

Asif Upadhye director at SPRD
This article is written by Asif Upadhye, director at SPRD.

Stories.PR.Digital is a public relations firm in India that provides brands reputation management, thought leadership, and corporate communications, as well as content, media tracking & digital influence.