By the Numbers: A Simple Guide To Analytics

datablog

Big Data. It’s the new thing. Alright, it’s not so new. But it’s the thing. Even “small data” would seem to be useful. So why are most data not used, even if they are collected?

Have you ever heard about how important it is to put measurement systems in place, and then seen how much time and money is spent implementing data analytics systems, only to find later that people are just not using them? The most common reasons include:

  • Too much raw data – people are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data;
  • Lots of useless data, mixed in with some potentially useful data;
  • Lack of clarity on what the data mean, and what to do about it.

Here are some basic definitions that can really help in making data and analytics useful:

  1. Data (which is the plural of datum) – just raw numbers;
  2. Information – data that has been sorted and organized;
  3. Analytics – trends and comparisons that can be drawn from the information;
  4. Insights – actionable conclusions based on an understanding of what the analytics tell us.

There are several reasons we want to use data, information, and analytics. First, we need to know:

  • what happened? Then, we need to understand
  • why did it happen? Then we need to draw conclusions, such as
  • was this good or bad? Finally, we need to know
  • what can and should we do about it?

Because, in this digital age, we can get overwhelmed by data overload so easily, it is better to start small by asking the above questions in very simple terms. Begin by picking a few key variables, then put the following plan in place:

  1. Instrument your environment (put the tools in place to measure the key variables that you want to track);
  2. Collect the data for a period of time (whatever period gives you enough data to make a reasonable series of analyses and decisions);
  3. Format the data into information that normal people can read (you don’t want to require a Ph.D. in statistics in order to make sense of the information);
  4. Analyze the information for that period (create some graphs, look at the trends, see what the basic information yields);
  5. Develop conclusions (try to understand why the trends look that way, or how come the number of users on mobile devices is lower than you expected, etc. – these are the insights that are the ultimate purpose of having the data in the first place);
  6. Develop a plan of action (create a series of steps that you can take to modify what you are doing so that you can achieve the results you want);
  7. Implement these changes, then go back to step 2 and run the experiment again.

Once we have used this process to create a continuous improvement cycle, we can further develop our analytical skills to predict performance in the future. But that is a topic for another day…..

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ABCs of content marketing and why it matters to brands

mobile-marketer Byline by Dana Drissel, published by Mobile Marketer.

So many people today have a preconceived idea of what content marketing is, but do any of us really know?

Content marketing is creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent information that attracts and retains customers. It is that simple.The primary focus is to build relationships and equip buyers with the knowledge to make smarter decisions, and is not intended to hard sell them.Customers need to know how products or services can add value to their business and drive profitability, which is where the importance of content marketing comes into play. Once defined properly, people need to understand all other factors associated with content marketing in order to use it appropriately.

Who is using content marketing?
According to the Content Marketing Institute, nine out of 10 business-to-business marketers are using content marketing regardless of their company size or industry, while only 77 percent of business-to-consumer marketers are using it. Eighty-percent of those B2B marketers have a defined content marketing strategy in place, but only 35 percent document it. Sixty percent report that they plan to increase their spending on content marketing over the next 12 months, of which they currently spend about a quarter of their marketing budget.

Where, within the marketing strategy, is it most successful?
Did you know that 77 percent of companies list in-person events as their primary tactic for distributing content marketing? Interactive 3D product storytelling applications on touch screens and mobile devices allow customers to create their own buyers journey within a trade show booth, navigating how products operate together in a variety of real-world scenarios to solve their problems. Marketers can better tell their product or solution story in a branded user environment by incorporating consistent marketing messages within these interactive digital experiences via relevant notes and sales materials.

Based on the Content Marketing Institute’s latest survey, social media still lead the way with 92 percent of individuals surveyed leveraging it as part of their content marketing strategy, while 83 percent use enewsletters and 81 percent use articles on their Web sites. Within that social media statistic, 63 percent of participants rated LinkedIn as the most effective social media platform for publishing content marketing.

Why are marketers investing in new content marketing?
Traditional marketing is becoming less powerful, interesting, accessible and useful to companies and prospects. Traditional static marketing content such as videos, collateral and presentations fails to truly engage the customer and prevents them from being an active participant in the buying cycle. Customers want to choose specific topics and information that pertain to their business challenges and, most importantly, drive that experience.

If customers are reading, comprehending and interacting with the meaningful content created, then it will elevate their experience and provide greater knowledge retention, which translates into increased usage and sales. Creating that emotional connection to a company or product will not only draw in customers, but will also keep them coming back for more. Therefore, interactive content is becoming the primary method of attracting customers because it allows them to navigate through relevant materials and explore as in-depth as they deem necessary.

When should new content marketing be developed?
In a 2014 survey, conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, marketers were presented with a list of 28 content marketing initiatives and asked to indicate which ones they were “working on now” versus “plan to begin working on in 12 months.” Marketers reported that they are working on an average of 13 initiatives now — and are planning to begin working on an average of eight new initiatives this year.

Sixty-nine percent of marketers surveyed said they wanted to “create more engaging content” while 86 percent of businesses said they were also looking for ways to repurpose this content across new platforms such as mobile devices, tablets, Web and touch screens within the next 12 months without recreating or reformatting it in any way.

How will content marketing become more engaging?
The evolution of technology will make content marketing even more engaging because it creates an added layer of interactivity and involvement. One way that marketers are targeting customers and creating this engagement is by using drip-marketing campaigns via marketing automation tools. Drip marketing is a sequence of prefabricated email messages that are sent to contacts based on what their previous actions were, as well as the customer’s needs, interests or preferences. Essentially, they are “choosing their own adventure story” by clicking on the content that will solve their business challenges.

New innovative marketing platforms take interactive product marketing content and make it available cross-platform via mobile devices, tablets, Web, laptops and touch screens. Prospects can now encounter the same information and engaging experiences everywhere, while corporations can save significant time and money by creating content once and deploying it seamlessly without recreating it or reformatting it for multiple platforms.  CONSUMERS CURRENTLY have the ability to interact with photo-realistic 3D products, view integrated marketing messages, engage with collateral, explore product options, and run virtual animations demonstrating product workflow and processes, all on mobile devices.Customers are able to freely explore marketing content applications, which creates a unique personalized user experience allowing them to navigate wherever they please.

Overall, it does not matter what business you are in, content marketing is essential.

 

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The Buyer’s Journey: Marketing & Sales Roles

We have a great deal of research now about how B2B buyers travel through a specific process before they ultimately purchase. As sales and marketing teams adapt to this new world order, what roles should they play at each stage of this journey?

1. Recognize that it’s the a problem-solving journey – “buying” is a means to an end. The first step in solving any problem is admitting that you have one. When sales and marketing teams understand that this is not a “sales cycle” or a “sales process” or a “marketing funnel” then they have shifted their focus to the customer. The customer is only going to buy something if it helps them solve a problem – so think of their journey as a problem-solving process. Focus your time, energy, and resources on helping them solve the problem.

2. Deliver very specific content and services at each stage of the journey. Don’t send the same content or information to the buyers when they are progressing through their journey. At each stage, they need something specifically relevant and targeted to what will help them then and there. The same case study is not necessarily useful when buyers are just figuring out the scope/extent of their need and also when they are doing a vendor selection.

3. Play a different role at each stage of their journey. Marketing and selling in a complex solutions-oriented world requires that the people involved be able and willing to play the role best suited to the customers’ needs. At one point, being an industry expert is very useful (early on) and at another a facilitator of technical answers (later).

Here is a quick reference guide for marketers and sales people in working with prospects at all phases of their journey:

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Check Out The New Standard In Medical Marketing At RSNA 2014

RSNA gears up for its 100th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting, where medical imaging professionals go to see the best and latest science, education, and technology.

One exhibitor to take note of is Kaon Interactive, who provides interactive sales and marketing applications to help companies expand their marketing reach, create a consistent interactive customer experience, and accelerate the sales cycle.

Visit us at booth #3677 and learn how Kaon’s solutions are CREATED ONCE and are ACCESSIBLE ANYWHERE, ANYTIME on iPads, laptops, websites, mobile devices, and Kaon’s v-OSK touch screen appliances.

Come by booth #3677 for an exclusive look at the hottest innovations in interactive marketing and receive 25% off your first 3D Product Model!

 

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Virtual Racks Provide Endless Hardware Configurations

tmcnet  Byline by Dana Drissel, published by TMCnet.

Marketers of rack-based products have a very difficult task set before them: Differentiating a fragile, intricate piece of equipment, which often looks identical to competitor products and needs to be ‘powered on’ to effectively demonstrate.

Most of the challenges facing the manufacturers of these products are often not immediately visible to the outside eye, but to those tasked with demonstrating and selling rack-based hardware, are all too familiar with these ongoing difficulties:
•    Lack of product inventory
•    Globally disperse multi-lingual sales teams and channel partners
•    Expensive shipping and drayage costs (tradeshows/sales meetings)
•    Difficulty showing multiple rack configurations
•    Hard to communicate product feature/benefit differentiation

Fujitsu (NewsAlert) Network Communications, Inc., has many outbound marketing efforts, including exhibiting in over 80 globally dispersed events per year. For inventory control purposes, products must be ‘rented’ for use from internal departments. These expenses add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. In a 10×10 booth, a single rack weighing approximately 700 pounds was typically brought to the show.

Internal costs for this rack were in the range of $2,000 per show, not including shipping, drayage, handling and space requirements (not to mention the risk of damages), totaling thousands more. For larger events, which might call for eight racks, internal rental costs could easily exceed $18,000 per show.

There is also the dilemma of product prototypes, which are often really too precious to be on display. Yes, the company is using the trade show to stimulate the interest of its prospects, but should they really risk the potential for loss or damage of their only working model while moving it to and from the event?

Even if the product is one of many, and it arrives at its destination intact, it must still be powered and possibly air-conditioned. Electricity costs can be exorbitant; especially when you consider cooling requirements for something like the Fujitsu rack in the example above. Just 220V (possibly five products requiring 24A each) would cost nearly $3,000 to run for only one show.

Those challenges are only the tip of the iceberg, when considering that for most direct and almost ALL indirect sales teams, accessibility to this hardware is very hard to attain due to lack of inventory. Many times only armed with collateral, generic looping videos and perhaps a sales demo kit, they are expected to differentiate the various unique benefits of their products and solutions. Showing various product configurations and network solutions without a visual is no easy feat—and PowerPoints, pictures and product fact sheets fail to truly engage the prospect.

While showcasing these servers, switches, routers and other pieces of hardware may seem like an impossible task, many innovative product marketers are turning to virtual 3D product demonstrations (which look and behave like the actual product) to show and differentiate their products anywhere, at any time. Instead of bringing physical racks to trade shows and events, virtual racks containing interactive 3D product models (which look and behave just like the actual products) allow prospects to ‘look under the hood’ to see what makes each product unique. The virtual racks allow organizations to quickly and easily demonstrate multiple rack-mounted configurations, showing how the various hardware pieces work together as a larger solution.

“It is impossible for me to take a 7- foot server rack that weighs 1000 lbs and put it on its side to show how it works. When we talk about connecting hardware systems to the racks, there is no way to show multiple options and demonstrate how the products could connect and function, unless I get on scaffolding or a ladder. With 3D product models I can launch the demonstration and show how it bolts and connects, and I can do that right on the show floor at a moment’s notice” said Tony Walker, Former VP of Marketing, Legrand Data Communications (News -Alert)

These virtual rack demonstrations not only radically change sales meetings and marketing events, but they provide one of the first interactive, captivating sales enablement tools for channel partners and VARs.

“The vivid graphics and up-to-date virtual 3D product demos have enhanced our ability to train our internal sales teams and engage future prospects in the converged space. It is also financially smarter for us because we no longer have to purchase expensive demo hardware that quickly becomes obsolete” Renae Johnson, National VP of Cisco (News Alert)Solutions at Logicalis stated.

The virtual rack is capable of showing 3D products from different manufacturers, giving resellers and OEMs the ability to customize a solution that incorporates the hardware and most relevant products for a customer’s particular needs. Attaining physical products for all global sales teams has never been logistically and economically feasible, but with interactive 3D products and virtual racks, equipment can now be in the hands of anyone and everyone who needs it.

Additionally, the digital nature of these product demonstrations makes them far more responsive and up-to-date than any other sales and marketing tool. PowerPoints, demo boxes, shells of products, and printed collateral quickly can become outdated, as soon as one product feature, function or design is modified or updated. 3D product models, and the sales crib notes that accompany them, can be updated to reflect all product changes in real time, immediately becoming available to the field to provide the most accurate information.

By enabling companies to better communicate unique product differentiators without physical hardware present, major B2B manufacturers cut costs and increase efficiency while providing a more captivating and memorable customer experience. Virtual racks are forever changing how telecom and networking and IT equipment providers demonstrate their products and solutions, by allowing endless unique configurations at all Sales and Marketing meetings.

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Chief Marketer: TOP 4 CONTENT MARKETING TRENDS FOR 2015

CMKlogo2Byline by Dana Drissel, published by Chief Marketer

Content marketing has been a top priority on every marketer’s brain for the past year. It is the standard of marketing that successful companies utilize due to the downfall of traditional static marketing, which fails to deliver as technology changes. According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), nine out of 10 B2B marketers are actively utilizing content marketing, regardless of their size or industry. Here are four trends that those 91% of marketers will begin implementing within the year.

1.) More Engaging Content

In 2015, the evolution of technology will make content marketing even more engaging because it allows for an added layer of interactivity and involvement. Put away your static collateral and boring PowerPoint presentations, because interactive content is becoming the primary method of attracting new customers.

One way that marketers are targeting customers and creating this engagement is by using drip-marketing campaigns via marketing automation tools. Drip marketing is a sequence of prefabricated email messages that are sent to contacts based on what their previous actions were, the customer’s needs, interests, or preferences. Essentially, they are ‘choosing their own adventure story’ by clicking on the content that will solve their business challenges.

Immersive interactive storytelling gives companies a means to strategically orchestrate an agile selling environment, empowering their customers to uncover the true value of a product/solution, while creating an emotional connection. This added level of engagement allows users to circumnavigate relevant materials and explore as in-depth as they deem necessary. Customers are now engaging with content and becoming part of the selling narrative by having the ability to influence the outcome and choose their own journey as they explore consistent marketing messages.

2.) Enhanced Levels of Personalization

Personalization will continue to make strides in 2015, especially with the continuing development of marketing automation tools that create more unique and relevant customer engagements. With an abundance of those tools available, companies can directly target customers based on specific needs/wants, which in turn helps marketers push specialized content to them. If customers are reading, comprehending and interacting with the meaningful content created and sent to them, then it will elevate their experience and provide them with greater knowledge retention, which translates into increased usage and sales. With 78% of the most successful marketers creating more content than they did a year ago, it only makes sense that the popularity of marketing automation will keep pace.

3.) Reusable Content

In a 2014 CMI survey, marketers were presented with a list of 28 content marketing initiatives and asked to indicate which ones they were “working on now” versus “plan to begin working on in 12 months.” Marketers reported that they are working on an average of 13 initiatives now — and are planning to begin working on an average of eight new initiatives this year.

69% of marketers surveyed said they wanted to “create more engaging content” while 86% of businesses said they were also looking for ways to repurpose content across new platformswithin the next 12-months, without recreating or reformatting it in any way.

Similar to responsive design, new marketing platforms are finally allowing for interactive content to be created once and deployed everywhere (mobile devices, tablets, desktops, websites, touch screens, etc.) This gives companies the ability to create one cost effective ‘user driven’ piece of content that can address multiple constituents within the buying ecosystem, across multiple selling environments (sales meetings, websites, trade shows, briefing centers, training, etc.). Same brand, same message, same value story.

4.) Utilization at In-Person Events

Did you know that 70% of companies list in-person events as their primary tactic for distributing content marketing? Interactive 3D product storytelling applications, on touch screens and mobile devices, allow customers to create their own buyer’s journey within a trade show booth, navigating how products operate together in a variety of real-world scenarios to solve their problems. By incorporating consistent marketing messages within these interactive digital experiences (via relevant notes and sales materials), companies can better tell their product/solution story in a branded user environment.

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Video is Out, Interactivity is In

Four things that videos CAN’T do [that Interactive Applications CAN]BLOG

  1. Allow for quick and easy content updates. Both technology limitations and the nature of a sequential video make it extremely difficult and expensive to alter content once created, often requiring a full reshoot.
  1. Operate across all platforms, without requiring additional add-ons (e.g. flash players in iPads.) Often times, videos have to be redeveloped or reformatted to play on multiple hardware devices, making the initial production cost very hefty.
  1. While watching a video, prospects aren’t able to choose their own journey as information is presented sequentially. Customers can only replay what they already watched, allowing a user very little freedom in terms of consumption.
  1. Cannot easily engage or allow customers to interact because videos are a one-way conversation, as they do all the talking in the demonstration, not the user. Interactive applications put customers ‘in the driver’s seat’ to navigate content based on relevance to their business needs and interests, creating a more targeted buyers journey.

Interactivity allows for engagement, relevance, and real-time content updates that give
marketers the ability to identify, customize, and deploy the right message to each stakeholder in the sales cycle, making them more educated buyers.

Companies like Kaon Interactive help provide solutions to the things that videos cannot by giving B2B companies a way to fully immerse their customers into an engaging sales experience. This can be accomplished by offering virtual 3D product demonstrations and interactive storytelling applications, displayed on mobile devices, tablets, laptops, websites, and touch screen appliances. The interactive 3D product models (which look and behave exactly like the products) allow prospects to interact with products from every angle, explore features and benefits (open doors, change components, demonstrate workflow processes, etc.), and control their own personalized experience based on individual preferences.

Interactive product storytelling helps companies visually communicate even their most complex value story by orchestrating a guided sales tour where customers can navigate relevant messages, presentations, collateral, and more to discover how a product/solution will aid in resolving their unique business challenge.

Why sit on the sidelines watching a video, when you can be an active participant? Imagine the endless possibilities of reusable interactive cross-platform content, which allows marketers and the sales team to generate engaging experiences ONCE and deploy them EVERYWHERE without being redesigned.

Don’t miss out! It’s time to join the ‘interactive’ revolution and use 3D applications and interactive storytelling to more efficiently reach your target audiences.


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