Thursday, October 30, 2014

Make Customer Success Part of Your DNA

By Jeb Dasteel and Amir Hartman

We are without a doubt living in the age of the customer. Today’s customers have more control of the procurement process and are more demanding and knowledgeable than ever. They are being given greater responsibilities, and are more aware of how their purchasing decisions affect their organization’s bottom line.

Winning in this new age-of-the-customer economy will in large part be connected to your ability to quickly anticipate their needs and deliver measurable business outcomes to your customers.

How does that happen? By enabling your customers to very quickly deliver measurable business outcome to their customers—and in every other way advance their business objectives. In other words, we believe “customer success” must become part of your organization’s DNA, and it should influence every customer interaction you have.

Does your organization truly care about customer success? Can your customers articulate how you help them create measurable business outcomes? These are just some of the questions you need to ask to find out whether you can “walk the talk.” If you can answer the following five questions with a strong “yes,” you’re well on your way.

•         Do your account teams truly understand your customers’ business and what’s top-of-mind for their executives?
•         Does your team know how their customers measure their own success—and how they measure your success in working with them?
•         Do the majority of your customers look at you as a strategic partner and trusted adviser?
•         Does your organization have a repeatable and scalable process for measuring customer value delivered?
•         Is the vast majority (more than 75 percent) of your sales and marketing content focused on customer business outcomes versus product and solution features?

By making customer success an integral part of your ongoing agenda, you’ll be in a great position to thrive in the new age of the customer.

Jeb Dasteel is Oracle’s senior vice president and chief customer officer. Amir Hartman is co-founder and managing director of Mainstay, and an international best-selling author.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Is Content King? Measuring the ROI of Content Marketing Programs

Key terms: content marketing, ROI, Web traffic, return-on-marketing
The world of marketing is evolving once again as sellers shift from traditional product-centric pitches to sophisticated customer-centric content that appeals to the most pressing concerns of buyers. There is a good reason for the change: According to Forrester Research, 62% of senior-level business and IT decision-makers find that much of the marketing materials they receive from vendors are useless. In fact, almost 60% say they usually scan the materials and then “throw them in the trash.”
Yet many organizations still market the old way: randomly bombarding customers and prospects with generic brochure-ware, product pitches, and banner ads. Increasingly this strategy is falling short. Marketing materials are routinely ignored, and companies continue to miss critical customer-growth and return-on-marketing targets. Marketers must move beyond traditional models or face tougher management scrutiny or worse.
The failure of traditional product-centric marketing has spawned a new approach called content marketing. The idea is to create consistently valuable, relevant content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action. When done right, content marketing matches the company’s message with the buyer’s needs during each step of the selling process  —from generating awareness to building qualified leads to closing sales.
In recent research by Mainstay, [] we found that content marketing yields better results — more traffic, leads and customers — in today’s multi-channel, social-mobile world. More and more, buyers want to be informed, educated, and even entertained about topics that genuinely interest them. Less appealing are all the unsolicited product pitches and company ads devoid of relevant content. As the VP of marketing for a multi-billion dollar scientific equipment maker told us: “Content is king.”
Among the eight companies studied, Mainstay found that the move to content-based marketing – as well as solutions that automated this function – drove:
• 133% increase in return visitors to their Website
• 253% increase in online engagement (downloads, blog reads, etc.)
• 200% increase in email open rates
• 75% increase in Web traffic
• Six-fold revenue lift from content marketing activities
• 30% reduction in asset production cycle time

Ready to transform your marketing? Mainstay believes content marketing should be a cornerstone of your strategy in the new social-mobile era.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Why Brands Need to Manage Their Digital Place Identity

Key terms: digital place identity, social media, mobile devices, local marketing
The nearly universal use of mobile devices and social media has dramatically changed the habits of consumers – especially when they need to search for, discover, and visit local businesses. Increasingly consumers seek out businesses online, pinpoint their locations on digital maps, and decide where to go based on what they find out from social media outlets like Facebook, Google+, Yelp, Foursquare, Instagram, and many more.
Consumers have eagerly embraced the mobile-social paradigm. Currently nearly half of all adults in the U.S. access real-time, location-based information with smartphones and other devices. An estimated 30% of social media users own at least one account that shares their physical location while posting content. And some 15 million consumers — about 42% of all social media users — engage with their favorite brands through social media.
All of this is changing the way brands equip and manage their local brick-and-mortar businesses. More brands are paying attention to the mix of geo-data and social-media content that is tied to each place of business – what has been called the “digital place identity” for each storefront. Any brand can optimize their digital place identity, which in the new social-mobile era is one of the most valuable assets a business can own.
In fact, in a recent study [], Mainstay found that brands that invested in technologies to modernize their local digital identity were handsomely rewarded. These companies – from national restaurants to retailers – leveraged solutions that ensured accurate geo-coding of their storefronts, so nobody got lost or frustrated finding the business. The solutions also rooted out brand-tarnishing rogue and redundant social media pages, and generally made it easy to monitor and “curate” the social media conversations surrounding their local places of business.
As a result, these brands are seeing more positive social media postings and reviews; they are boosting their search-engine-optimization (SEO) rankings; and -- best of all – they are driving more foot traffic and revenue into their storefronts. What’s more, the solution is saving them money because they can manage the whole process centrally without adding staff and overhead costs. Mainstay believes that modernizing your digital place identity is swiftly becoming one of the most important ways to amplify and enrich your brand and thrive in the new social-mobile world.