As the Cookies Crumble Switch to a Consumer Identification Strategy

The era of cookie-based consumer targeting is essentially over. Because of that, 88% of brands are prioritizing a first-party data strategy. What is first-party data? First-party data is the data that you get directly from your customers, such as their email address, their purchase history, or their website activity on your site. This presents an interesting opportunity for marketers to be able to track on a more personal level: with data that consumers want and are actually willing to share with you.

Today, only 1 in 9 consumers want to share their data because privacy is top of mind. But according to recent studies, 8 in 10 will share for the right reasons because they still want personalized experiences.

(Salesforce)

Personally, I like to see products that line up with my interest and from the stores I know and trust. When companies market to the individual, customers feel more comfortable giving more information to personalize their experiences.

A first-party data strategy is crucial and can take the personalized experience to the next level daily. With personalization driving +40% of revenue, and a subscriber base that is still very privacy-conscious, how does your company still bring ads that are relevant to them? How do we find the sweet spot between privacy and personalization where you are providing content that your consumers want to see? The answer…..

Consumer Identification. Being able to use a Consumer Identification strategy or tactic will help scale your company’s digital revenue by allowing you to identify consumers through your website traffic and collect first-party data to help personalize communications like email and text messaging.

It’s no secret that 95% of the traffic you have on your website is anonymous and you can’t market to those you don’t know. What’s worse, is if you do identify someone, it’s not clear if they are a new customer or if they are an existing customer. When making purchases, not a lot of consumers today create an account and log in; unless you are a big online eCommerce site that started out as a digital bookstore. So, the challenge today is when a user leaves or abandons your site, how do you message those consumers? We can’t send out the same message to everyone. We want to communicate with each individual in a unique way at their preferred channel.

Consumer Identification is one of many blocks that builds the foundation for a more Omnichannel approach. When you utilize a proper Consumer Identification strategy, it allows you to shift your tactics in the most appropriate manner and leverage triggered campaigns as a new customer acquisition engine. With consumer acquisition costs averaging 8%-15%, the sooner you identify, market to, and convert your traffic the better.

There are 5 key things that your company needs to look at to ensure that it can properly identify your web traffic and start identifying those consumers.

  1. Interest Before Permission

Too often we see companies have a pop-up 0.5 seconds after a user hits their site. We need to show our worth and properly position ourselves to encourage someone to give us their information. Having a great user experience will drive sign-ups and purchases. Make sure you are sending the right signals to those that are very cautious about their personal data; show that you care and want to provide them with something that is relevant to them.

  1. Ask

You know the phrase, “you don’t get what you don’t ask for”? So many companies fall into this trap where they miss the opportunity to simply ask for personal information from those who actually want to engage more with the company. You will not convert 100% of the consumers you don’t try and engage with.

  1. Don’t Ask For Too Much

You don’t need their name, email, phone number, gender, height, weight, blood type, maiden name, so forth and so on at the first encounter. The right campaign strategy and a progressive system allows you to collect the information you need to create a more personal experience but gives your customers time to build that relationship with you.

  1. Add Integration Capabilities

Having the right tools is one thing; having them all work together is another. Don’t fall into the trap that buying the latest and greatest “Zero-Party Converter 1000” is going to solve all your problems. Many CRM, CDP, and Commerce platforms offer social media integrations. Connecting the right tools to gain an in-depth understanding of your users will make them far from being anonymous.

  1. Device Identification Codes

Embed tracking codes on your website to gather device information. There’s no way around it. Knowing who’s coming through your doors and which door they’ve entered from is crucial for many different reasons outside of Consumer Identification. Pulling in insights from your web traffic can also help with some of your other KPIs.

Apex Theorem has helped many companies create a Consumer Identification strategy through digital transformation that keeps the consumers top of mind. Starting with our Digital Transformation Analysis, we are able to identify where the gaps are, create a solution around your key enablers, and help identify up to 40% more consumers from your website.  Let Apex Theorem help you with your Consumer Identification strategy today.

Understanding Your MarTech Stack

According to Chiedmartech.com’s MarTech 5000, there are over eight thousand technologies in the marketing space today. With so many options out there where do we even start to build a successful Marketing Technology (MarTech) Strategy? Once we do figure out what the perfect MarTech Stack for our organization looks like, how do we use it? My mantra with our clients is, “technology is only the tool in which you use to engage your consumers; without a solid strategy it might as well be a hammer sitting on the table in front of you.”

We have found that 54% of companies don’t use their MarTech Stack to its full potential.

What’s worse is when budgets are being reassessed, the MarTech Stack gets cut deeply. The Omnichannel Marketing Automation system that costs $120K a year is quickly replaced with 3 different tools that now costs $90K a year however, the new solution has decreased efficiency and integrates poorly together.

Why? Because many organizations don’t put together a strategy that takes a more omnichannel / preferred channel approach. We try to bucket everyone into a singular category with the same marketing approach, disregarding customers’ engagement preferences.

When done correctly, that one tool at its full potential could help your company have a more impactful engagement with your consumers rather than miss the mark because you designed an intertwined marketing stack based on budget versus strategy.

Understanding Marketing Strategies, Tactics, and Techniques

A marketing strategy, in its simplest form, can be broken down into three questions.

  • What is my objective?
    • Are you trying to get someone to sign up for something?
    • Are you trying to get someone to buy something?
    • Are you trying to educate someone?
  • What tactics, or approach, are we using?
    • Account-Based Marketing
    • Sales Enablement
    • Field Marketing
  • What techniques am I using?
    • Email
    • Social Media
    • SMS

When asking these key questions, more questions tend to arise. For example:

  • What are my KPIs and how do I measure them?
  • Who is my target audience?
  • What does the customer experience look like?

Having a foundation and an understanding of how your organization wants to go-to-market is critical before buying different marketing technologies to plug into your MarTech Stack. 

Dissecting a Martech Stack

Once you have a strong foundation and understand how you want to engage your consumers, you can start thinking about what tools you need and how they work.

I remember the first time my dad asked me to go get him a 3/4 socket wrench out of the drawer while he was working on his 1972 GMC truck. I had no idea what that was. When he finally helped me find it, he then asked me to take a bolt out with it. I might as well have been holding a stick because I had never used a wrench before.

Similar feelings of uncertainty can arise when we start looking for the best technologies to help engage our customers. We may not know what we are looking for or what “right” looks like. Even after purchasing a tool, we may not know how to use it in the most effective way to convert more leads, boost customer engagement, or drive revenue.

You’ll find many tools can get the job done, but finding the right combination of tools to create effective, efficient, and engaging campaigns is a totally separate discussion.

You’ll want to know the basic categories each tool falls within. The technologies can be placed in six categories and some may overlap.

Advertising & Promotions

These technologies assist in ads and promotions and can be anywhere from print, PR, video advertising, and search and social advertising.

Content & Experience

How do you engage customers and market to them in a meaningful way? By using technologies that help with email, SMS, SEO, Content Marketing and so much more.

Social & Relationship

It’s one thing to blast out content; it’s another thing to understand your customers in a personable way by using tools that include Conversation Marketing and Chat, Social Monitoring, and Customer Success.

Commerce & Sales

Got a product or service? How are you going to market them? eCommerce Platforms and Carts, Sales Automations and Enablement, Retail, Proximity and IoT are only but a few that land in this category to provide a more seamless buyer’s experience.

Data

Who are you marketing to? If you don’t know, you simply can’t. Data is the foundation of a marketing strategy.  Tools like CDPs, DMPs, and Mobile and Web analytics can help create a more omnichannel marketing program and help you meet your customers at their preferred channel.

Management

Marketing theory and execution become a blur if you don’t have a way to manage and track your marketing program. Having tools to help with project management, budgeting and finances can go a long way when you want to make sure everyone in your organization knows how well your marketing program is performing.

Don’t Let it Become a Mess

There is not a single marketing technology that can do it all; but there are many marketing technologies that can do many things. If you’re just starting out or have had your MarTech stack built for years, it can get away from you very quickly. We’ve helped many companies build strategies, MarTech stacks, and campaigns to reach the top of their industries through our Digital Transformation Analysis.

Our Digital Transformation Analysis service begins and ends with your customers in mind. With our flexible evaluation process, we create a proprietary roadmap that optimizes your current marketing efforts and innovates your organization’s future state. To understand where your organization is, take our free Capability Maturity Model quiz and see how we can help your company grow to new heights.

Article written by: James Luck, Managing Director of Theorem, div. Apex IT, [email protected]

Using ML & AI to Drive Marketing

Introduction

So what exactly is machine learning and artificial intelligence? In short, like other analytical tools, ML and AI transform data into knowledge. ML scours vast amounts of data to uncover an insight exposed in patterns and aims to identify the rules that seem to govern the data, then apply that learning to the query, and provide a model that can then be applied to other datasets.

In order to identify these rules, the algorithms in the model must learn from the inputs. Hence, the term Machine Learning. Artificial Intelligence, on the other hand, allows computers to discover underlying patterns in data without human intervention or explicit programming instructions, as such AI is considered “self-learning”.

For complex tasks and larger datasets, it is now possible to let a machine develop its own solution to a problem, whereas humans would find it impossible to detail all of the scenarios. In short, ML and AI leverage huge computational power in order to process vast datasets in real-time, resulting in an analysis that is way beyond human capabilities.

Advantages

An obvious advantage of ML and AI is the ability to handle large and diverse data volumes with speed and accuracy. As business data volumes grow, with current data output at nearly 250,000 Billion pages of text per day, applied models can scale without diminishing performance. And as the data changes, with mixtures of structured/unstructured from multiple varieties (i.e. images, text, financials, voice), ML and AI can adapt without any human involvement. ML and AI can identify trends, patterns, and insights that an analyst could never observe, so the performance gains over non-assisted analytics is immeasurable.

Strategy

ML and AI strategy allow businesses to stay ahead of their competition by analyzing customer, product, and industry trends as they are developing and solving complex problems before they fully materialize.

Organizations that continuously invest in AI can increase their competitive strategic advantage, and are well-suited to receive the benefits from other ML and AI-enabled performance multipliers.

Website SEO
Thanks to years of knowledge sharing from SEO practitioners, SEO analysis, and on and off-page practices, ML can now automate many SEO processes including tracking hundreds of ranking indicators and identifying variables such as tags, metadata, page types that can drastically increase the visibility and ranking of business websites.

Social Media
With literally billions of active users, social media management is a requirement for any business. AI can help by automatically responding to critical reviews or complaints, maintaining trend awareness, identifying neglected and/or new opportunities (i.e. keywords, audiences), and mining the wealth of direct customer data posted each day that demands 24/7 attention.

Chatbots
One of the more popular AI applications used today are chatbots, which are always “live”, improve customer service, eliminate wait times, provide up-to-date product information, and help answer customer questions – all while building an ever-expanding dataset through the analysis of responses and threads.

Insights
AI can create valuable insights for a business by parsing through content from news sources, relevant blogs, or thousands of customer interactions across multiple channels, and focusing on a multitude of variables, such as sentiment, which can provide valuable insights into customers’ feedback, relevant trends, and churn risks.

Personalization

Personalization is where the popularity of ML and AI all began. The poster child for this is Netflix, beginning with its recommendation engine for its movies and tv shows. Then its AI algorithm started serving up custom visuals to each customer, enticing them to try new offerings. For Netflix, utilizing AI for deeper personalization means more screen time, which translates to renewed subscriptions and increased revenue.

Prediction
Predictive analytics has been a powerful tool since the 1940’s, but now with AI, marketers can analyze millions of customer interest variables, social interactions, and website touch-points in order to provide insights that are way beyond the abilities of analysts. This includes predicting the most profitable segments with greater accuracy and speed than traditional methods.

Optimization
AI and ML have unparalleled optimization capabilities. In short, they help marketers reach more prospects with a lot less work. For example, they can significantly reduce manual work when creating an ad campaign, while simultaneously auto-optimizing its performance. For content marketing, models can optimize content for SEO, prioritize gaps, and automatically create product descriptions, tweets, and emails in less than a second.

Automation
When marketing automation took off in the 1990’s, newer technologies began to take advantage of the features in CRM and email platforms. Now, AI can inject the power of intelligent decision-making to automate every element of complex, large scale campaigns in order to dynamically serve an individual with accurate messaging at every touch point – transforming prospects into lifelong advocates.

Theorem
Not sure what your strategy should look like? Or maybe you don’t have the time or bandwidth? Then connect with an Apex Theorem Marketing Acceleration Advisor. We’d be happy to discuss a customized ‘next level’ strategy with you, and show you where you stand on our proprietary Capability Maturity Model (CMM).

Article Written By: Jonathan Bonghi, Marketing Strategist at Apex IT, [email protected]

Marketing Automation Trends for 2022 According to the Pros

Marketing automation software automatically manages and streamlines processes within digital marketing campaigns. These can include email marketingsocial marketing, live chat, website monitoring, and lead scoring. Automation helps marketing teams do more with less and provides various business benefits, including improved return on investment (ROI) and lead quality. Here, several experts weigh in on marketing automation trends for 2022 and beyond.

When more capabilities are automated, marketing automation becomes more effective

One thing’s for sure—as automation technology evolves, so do marketers’ capabilities and expectations. Jonathan Bonghi, the marketing strategist with digital transformation solution-provider Apex IT, sees the future of marketing automation like this: “With the assistance of AI, marketers will be able to automate their omnichannel marketing and predictive analytics. Marketing automation will become the foundation of the new digital transformation revolution. Organizations that have a well-defined strategy and make investments into robust data management will be the big winners.”

Marketers can create authentic insight-driven engagements through marketing automation

Knowing how and when to use customer insights to your advantage is critical. Jonathan McClure, director of analytic and strategic services at Oracle Marketing Consulting, understands the value marketing automation delivers through insight-driven customer engagements.

“Marketers are at the point where it’s easy to surface insights via machine learning and AI, then act quickly through a fully automated and seamlessly orchestrated cross-channel experience. Tools like Oracle Infinity IQ and Oracle Eloqua Marketing Automation pick up on behaviors and patterns and allow marketing programs to harness that data and use it to send the right message to the right person at the right time in the right channel.”

Marketing automation empowers sophisticated customer acquisition

Marketing automation has changed how brands deliver value to customers and elevated the type of value they can offer. According to Sherene Hilal, SVP of marketing and business operations at Bluecore, a company that helps retail brands convert casual shoppers into long-term customers, “As more industries adopt autonomous technology, there’s increased pressure for AI applications to convert business intelligence into critical business actions. Discounts will become a thing of the past, or at least less of a go-to tactic. Brands will begin replacing blanket discounts that don’t keep shoppers around for long with unique offerings based directly on customer insight, as well as their unique selling points.”

Marketing automation that incorporates AI better determines future behavior

Companies that embrace AI and machine learning will gain a long-term competitive advantage. Konrad Feldman, cofounder and CEO of advertising technology firm Quantcast, agrees. “With AI and machine learning, marketers can gain insights in real-time and at scale, providing them with the ability to understand their audience better, what they need, and where they’re looking for it, empowering marketers to create better online experiences, improve business performance, and build brand trust. If a marketer or advertiser is not using AI-driven solutions to enhance their campaigns, they’re missing out on insights, new audiences, and productivity gains.”

 

Ready to stay ahead of marketing automation trends with the right tool?

Learn how Oracle Eloqua marketing automation can help you maximize campaign results in the years ahead.

 

Article written by: Waynette Tubbs, Director of Content Marketing, Oracle Advertising and CX with some insight from Jonathan Bonghi, Marketing Strategist at Apex IT, [email protected]

Understanding your Digital Transformation Capability Maturity Level

The way we use technology is changing daily, which can prove to be challenging for many marketers to keep up. How you engage your customers becomes a living organism that needs to be nurtured and analyzed daily. While great products and services with satisfied customers can still see revenue growth from word of mouth, new digital avenues for marketing and advertising reign are the keyways to engage new customers.

Positive reviews online can connect your brand to new groups, while dissatisfaction can spread like wildfire through social channels. We must make every effort to monitor our brand, create a personal experience for our customers, and inform the masses about our product or services.

How do we do this when there are just not enough hours in the day? How do we effectively monitor, nurture, and communicate today, but pivot with the constant changes of the digital age? The answer is with Digital Transformation.

 

Digital Transformation

So, what is Digital Transformation? Digital Transformation is the ability to create or modify business processes, customer experience, and market requirements: the overall revision of business in a digital era is Digital Transformation.

It helps change the way our organization operates by taking advantage of advanced processes and workflow automations.

Digital Transformation uses algorithms and data to create unique, automated journeys that bring value to customers and your business. We have found that 80% of organizations that have a digital transformation program see increased profits. (SAP Center for Business Insights)

Understanding Capability Maturity Levels

By using a Capability Maturity Model as a foundation, organizations can build their strategic and tactical marketing capabilities rapidly, narrowing their gaps and capitalizing on their strengths. A Capability Maturity assessment becomes a guide for companies to connect all teams (Marketing, Sales, Services) and processes to enhance customer engagement in a single defined roadmap and collaborative workflow. Not understanding one’s Capability Maturity level and gaps can lead to a stagnant marketing program; or worse, a dissatisfying customer experience.

Over the years we have found that…

40% of companies do not have a Digital Transformation program in place to create an agile plan that allows them to pivot effectively with the constant changes in the digital marketing world.​

More than 54% of companies are not using their current Marketing Technology stack to its full potential. ​

Most companies believe that digital transformation will disrupt their current marketing program.​

On a scale of 1 (Novice) through 5 (Guru) most organizations’ overall marketing programs are a 2-2.5 and they don’t know how to progress to greater heights.

What is your Digital Transformation Capability Maturity Level?

At Apex Theorem, we use our Digital Transformation Analysis to help companies understand their Capability Maturity level. Our Digital Transformation Analysis service begins and ends with your customers in mind. With our flexible evaluation process, we create a proprietary roadmap that optimizes your current marketing efforts and innovates your organization’s future state.

Our award-winning Marketing Acceleration Advisors create systematic, proprietary solutions that convert more leads, boost customer engagement and drive revenue by defining, implementing, and optimizing your digital transformation program.​

Take our free Level 1 CMM quiz  or contact us to learn more about how Theorem can help you enhance your Marketing program using advanced Digital Transformation Methods.

 

Article written by: James Luck, Managing Director of Theorem, div. Apex IT, [email protected]

How Strategy Accelerates Business

Unfortunately, most businesses today bypass the disciplined process of strategic planning which can set a clear light on quantifiable benchmarks for stakeholders, partners, and customers. Many times, management plans are just a combination of past business experiences, anecdotal market knowledge, and intuitive decision-making.

However, to succeed, every organization needs to invest in a comprehensive marketing strategy to grow and prosper.

Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all. And strategy is not just performing campaigns. A real strategy begins with auditing current efforts and using the findings to discover what pieces are working, what pieces are missing, and if you’re heading towards success. It then morphs into an approved roadmap that marries channels and tactics to technologies to achieve short and long-term goals.

Process
The first step of any business strategy process is the discovery stage. This is where your team really begins to understand what you’re trying to accomplish, what’s necessary to get you there, and what to look at differently. The next stage is to identify areas to optimize and any new areas that you should focus on. This helps eliminate any potential missed opportunities. Formulating this type of cohesive strategy allows you to then reach your target audiences more effectively on the platforms they prefer. Between the 5,000 ads that the average person sees every day, it’s imperative to stand out. And if you aren’t reaching your customers where they are, another company will.

 

Marketers

For many, marketing is a necessary but separate activity from the primary work of the business, a task added to the end of the business process to communicate the availability of products or services through advertising. In other words, marketing is a set of tactics that occur after everything else is complete.

But as marketers, it is our obligation to keep an eye on evolving consumer trends and the social, economic, and political factors that drive them. We are expected to be agile, which means that we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. The market is ever on the move, and you ought to move with it by keeping your ears on the ground. Revamping your marketing strategies will ensure that your marketing efforts are ahead of the curve, whether it’s automating communications, exploring new channels, or optimizing through emerging technologies.

Digital

It’s hard to believe that over 47% of marketers have no digital strategy at all, according to SmartInsights.

Yet creating one is a critical component in marketing, since most prospects are constantly connected via their smartphone, laptop, or desktop. A strong digital strategy has many benefits, it can help you leverage automation technologies, utilize predictive analytics, and increase customer lifetime value by understanding your customers way beyond just analytics. Designing a strategy usually begins with a complete Digital Transformation Analysis. So, whether it’s testing out new digital tools, targeting new audiences, or trying a new tactic—without a clear strategy, it won’t be a cohesive experience, and you won’t stand out from the crowd. It doesn’t matter if you have a digital marketing degree or tons of experience, without a clear strategy you will easily underestimate a lot of things.

Benefits

In short, a solid strategy helps outline a clear path to strategic goals and establishes a unified vision that is aligned with every department.

To design one, you need to determine what success looks like and create your strategy around it to help you get there. One of the biggest benefits to a good strategy is the ability to track ROI, ensuring that you can support the operations behind your plans.

For example, you can avoid time and resource wasting, such as different parts of a marketing department purchasing different tools or using different agencies to accomplish similar marketing tasks. You can eliminate such costly duplication with an effective strategy. You can also avoid the risks that come with disintegration, this occurs when marketing is accomplished in silos. If your digital marketer sits in the IT department, it is a disaster just waiting to happen.

 

Theorem

Not sure what your strategy should look like? Or maybe you don’t have the time or bandwidth? Connect with an Apex IT Theorem Marketing Acceleration Advisor. We’d be happy to discuss a customized ‘next level’ strategy with you and show you where you stand on our proprietary Capability Maturity Model (CMM).

 

 

 

 

Blog post written by:

Jonathan Bonghi
Marketing Strategist
Theorem, div. Apex IT
[email protected]

 

Your Email Program Has Been Ghosted

In a world where email is still one of the most effective digital marketing channels, marketers should make sure they pay attention to every metric they can to ensure they are creating content that engages their subscribers. What if I told you that there is a metric that isn’t so easy to see? It’s there, but not always as clear as the ones you are seeing in your everyday reports. Before I dig too far into this, let’s look at one metric that NO ONE wants to see but we monitor it very closely to make sure our email program is not turning away our subscribers. I’m talking about unsubscribes.

We’ve all heard it. We’ve all seen it. We all want to prevent it. Keeping an overall unsubscribe rate below 0.5% is the goal, right? If you have unsubscribes, you need to pay CLOSE attention and analyze why subscribers are hitting that button. Some companies use double opt-ins to make sure that the quality of their list is filled with actual subscribers that actually want their content. Most marketers try to make compelling content that keeps the subscribers engaged. We all try to ensure that we personalize and tailor our emails to the individual. With all the work you are putting into the email program you’ve kept the unsubscribe metric low, but don’t pat yourself on the back just yet.

We need to look at something else. The unsubscribe metric is becoming more outdated and is not a true measurement that indicates the percentage of users who have opted-out from your email program. We need to look at the new unsubscribe metric that isn’t initially on every out-of-the-box report. You need to look at the subscribers that have ghosted your email program.

I’m not talking about how your email program may be haunted, even though it could if you don’t pay attention. I’m talking about a new-age definition: to end a personal relationship with (someone) by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication. Simply put – disappeared. In today’s fast paced world, everyone wants everything 10 seconds ago. Most subscribers don’t even have the time to open your email, scroll to find your unsubscribe button and then click it. It is so much easier to leave you on unread and let your email just waste away in the inbox, piling up for months sometimes years. Eventually they’ll select all and delete. This doesn’t help you when you are looking at your reports.

The good news is that you can see this, but it’s going to take a little effort. There are some tools out there that can identify subscribers that haven’t engaged with your brand in a certain number of days. With some platforms, you may have to write some code to find this yourself. No matter what, you must be aware of this group of subscribers, but you don’t want to classify subscribers as inactive too early. However, you don’t want to go too long, either.

Unlike those subscribers that have unsubscribed, you still have a chance with this audience. Segment them out from your normal communications and create campaigns tailored to winning these subscribers back. Don’t push too hard or you’ll find that they may just find that unsubscribe button after all. Apex IT has experts standing by to help you identify these subscribers and create campaigns to engage them in a more meaningful way to remind them why they subscribed in the first place. Reach out us to get started today!

Article written by James Luck, Managing Director, Theorem, div. of Apex IT, [email protected]