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The B2B eCommerce Opportunity and Growth Beyond Agile – CommerceNow ’19 Part 3

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: marketing is all about the customer. Unfortunately, that maxim can be easy to forget when you’re bogged down in the day-to-day of implementing eCommerce systems or managing agile sprints. But for all your hard work to pay off, you really need to stay focused on the customer. These recent CommerceNOW sessions covering eCommerce and growth may help you develop new strategies for making customer needs your top priority.

 

Maximizing the B2B eCommerce Opportunity: Don’t Be Afraid to Get Messy

 

In this session, Anna Talerico, Chief Operating Officer at Linux Academy, covers everything from measurement to compensation to goal setting. She started out by pointing out a reality that’s too often ignored: the buyer journey is messy! In contrast to often-shared images of a perfect funnel progressing from awareness to consideration to purchase, buyers make many detours along the way and don’t have a perfect path to becoming customers.

 

Different types of businesses may have different business models and complicated sales environments, but they all they need to focus on one thing: sell the way your buyers want to buy. Here are three easy steps to help you start selling for buyer needs, not internal processes:

 

  1. Define your lanes: Who works what deals? What deals can be sold which ways? Even in a complicated sales environment that involves selling online up to a certain number of seats, sending POs through Zendesk, fielding inbound and outbound calls and more, you can control and define how you sell your product for each kind of deal. Make sure to answer questions like who gets paid on a deal, who gets credit for expansions and renewals or how to transition deals to customer success.

 

  1. Document the ground rules. Once you’ve defined your selling lanes, write down the details—now! Too many companies operate on institutional knowledge about how deals work, leading to confusion and people working at cross-purposes to chase a commission. The more clearly you define and document lanes, the more likely you are to succeed—and the better prepared you will be to scale.

 

  1. Look for loopholes. What deals don’t fit in the system? In one company, salespeople were sending deals over to the eCommerce system to close and then grabbing credit for them, because deals were easier to fulfill that way. They weren’t following the process, but still got commissions! Find and close loopholes like this.

 

  1. Evolve as needed. No matter how good your initial “lanes” are and how well you document them, they won’t be perfect! Make sure they change as your business does. Evolve the processes in line with your team to ensure continued success.

 

  1. Sell the way your buyers want to buy. Don’t force them into anything—make it easy for them every step of the way.

 

Once you start recognizing the messy reality of the buyer’s journey and prepare to handle it, you may be ready to improve your product or service offerings to drive additional growth. Here’s how to do that—by going beyond agile.

 

 

Growth Beyond Agile: Focus on the Customer

 

Andre Morys, cofounder of konversionsKRAFT, discussed the recent hype around A/B testing, growth culture and experimentation—and where the hype falls flat. He shared the top 1% of growth principles that were consistent across 500 global experiments conducted by GO Group, a group of optimization consultants.

 

The Top Growth Principles You Can’t Ignore

  1. Give people a relevant reason to buy. Speak their language, not yours.
  2. Use herding and scarcity: funnel buyers to channels where scarcity exists.
  3. Make people feel good when the going gets tough—add a “you qualify for free shipping” message in checkout, for example.

 

Why are these are winning principles? Because they start with human behavior, not marketing departments. Too many marketers think about templates and tracking pixels rather than people and behavior. Leading with tactics will never win: lead with the customer instead.

While these principles are globally applicable, you’ll need to build out your own experimentation engine to find similar principles that work for your company. You can do that by getting started with an agile approach to growth.

 

What Does It Mean to Be Agile?

 

Agile has clearly taken off: the methodology has been widely adopted, with colorful sticky notes and cool illustrations available even on stock photo sites. But there’s way more to agile than feel-good sticky notes and cute drawings.

A lot of people are involved with agile processes, and agile means that product gets shipped more often, but it doesn’t always mean that the product gets better. Quality often rests with the product owner (PO). A good product owner will produce good product; a “bad” one will build a bad one. This means that agile alone is not enough—an agile team can build a product with a poor customer experience.

 

To ensure that agile works for your customers, not against them, have your company (including your PO!) adopt these three tasks to produce growth:

  • Analyze customer problems
  • Prioritize work (throw away irrelevant ideas!)
  • Validate learnings (with a quantitative framework)

 

The growth equation: analyze x prioritize x validate = growth

                                               

Start to move from thinking about features to thinking about customer needs. You’d be surprised to discover how many features are not designed with the customer in mind. In addition, when testing, don’t just test, test the right thing. Work on understanding customer needs through interviews, behavioral studies and more. Don’t stop your research after just a few interviews. Find out how customers really feel. And get angry about customer problems! When their problems drive you, you’ll succeed.

 

Ready to learn more about eCommerce success? Check out more presentations from CommerceNOW.

mail-header-commerce-now-19v2

 

The Impact of PSD2 and SCA: Ordering Flows and Exemptions

We introduced readers to the Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) and Strong Customer Authentication (SCA), 3D Secure 1 (3DS1) and 3D Secure 2 (3DS2) in a previous blog post – What is PSD2 and What Does Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) Mean for You? My colleague Stefan covered what the revised directive means for business in Europe, how it will impact online shoppers and merchants at a high level, and how merchants should prepare for SCA compliance. In this article, I’m going to dive a bit deeper into the impact of the revised directive, specifically for 2Checkout merchants selling into Europe and their European clients.

 

Just to clarify at the outset: As a 2Checkout merchant selling into the EU, you are covered effectively for all PSD2 and SCA-related compliance issues, regardless of your location or the business model you are employing, whether it’s Merchant of Record (MOR) or Payment Service Provider (PSP). Still, you are surely interested to find out how the ordering flows are changing and how your shoppers will be impacted. Here are some points that might help. Remember also that if you are a merchant outside of the EU selling with a PSP model, SCA will not apply to your transactions.

 

What Was the Original 3D Secure Purchase Flow?

 

As a quick reminder, in 3DS1, once a customer enters the card details to make a payment, they are redirected to a 3D Secure page provided by their issuing bank (this is NOT controlled in any way by the merchant or 2Checkout). The authentication usually implies that the customer enters a static password or a code she receives via SMS on her mobile device.

The main problem with this process has been the redirect itself, and the fact that the page and the whole process were not optimized for today’s smartphones. According to previous tests we’ve run, 3D Secure 1 had a drop-off rate of 5 to 15% at the checkout, especially in countries where authentication wasn’t widely adopted by issuing banks.

 

PSD2 pic

 

Differences in User Experience between 3D Secure 1 and 3D Secure 2

 

As hinted above, 3DS1 has a clunky user interface and, on top of that, it looks suspicious and can make customers feel less secure, leading them to abandon the checkout. The good news is that 3DS1 will slowly become history and 3DS2 will be the new kid on the block in the EU.

 

3D Secure 2 – The Frictionless Flow

 

The additional good news is that 3DS2 comes along with frictionless authentication. What does that mean? Well, more data will be sent to the cardholder’s bank, who can then use this information to complete the authentication in a “frictionless” manner, without additional shopper input. This is probably the biggest difference between 3DS1 and 3DS2.

When we say “more data,” we mean 100+ data points sent to the cardholder’s bank to assess the transaction risk. If the customer’s bank believes it to be a safe transaction, the customer goes through the frictionless flow in which she has nothing left to do and the payment is sent for authorization and capture of funds. If you are using the 2Checkout hosted or inline ordering engines, we’ve got you covered and there’s nothing you need to do. If you are using our APIs, we recommend collecting more customer data to facilitate the frictionless flow.

 

3D Secure 2 – The Challenge Flow

 

If the frictionless flow is not possible because there is not enough information, or the information available triggers the need for authentication, the order goes through what is called the “challenge flow.” Another major improvement in user experience with 3SD2 is related to this flow. More precisely, 3DS2 is designed to embed the challenge flow directly within web and mobile checkout flows, without requiring full page redirects. If a customer authenticates on your site or webpage, the 3DS2 prompt appears by default in a modal on the checkout page (browser flow).

 

Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) requires banks and card issuers to authenticate their customers by using at least two independent elements between what a customer knows (such as a password or a pin), what she owns (a smartphone or token), or what she is (fingerprint, facial features). Any combination of the two will ensure the SCA requirements are met; failure to authenticate results in a declined transaction. The benefit is that 3DS2 offers more flexible ways to authenticate, in line with SCA requirements. Banks can now offer innovative authentication experiences through their mobile banking apps (sometimes referred to as “out-of-band authentication”). Instead of entering a password or just receiving a text message, the cardholder will now be able to authenticate a payment through their banking app by just using their fingerprint or even facial recognition. We expect many banks to support these smoother authentication experiences with 3DS2.

 

So, to conclude, the authentication process provides a better user experience, is mobile ready, embeddable, and more user-friendly, with static passwords replaced by tokens and biometrics. The improved user experience of 3DS2 is important, as this new regulation will most likely require authentication on European payments more often than before, which means the UX improvement can help reduce the negative impact on conversion. In order to prevent this, an integrated and up-to-date payments engine is key to maximize conversions. This is what 2Checkout also offers. Keep reading to see how.

 

3D Secure 2 – The Exemptions

 

SCA has some options to improve conversion by leveraging what are called “exemptions.”  The first one refers to low-value transactions, i.e. less than 30 euro for one-off transactions. Another exemption refers to low-risk transactions, which are determined by a real-time risk analysis performed by the 2Checkout system and transmitted to the issuing bank, which will allow the exemption.

 

Although in general an issuing bank will allow, for example, a low-value transaction to go through a frictionless flow, it can happen that based on the pre-shared risk parameters from the merchant, the bank’s transaction analysis system may decide SCA is still required. This cannot be controlled by the merchant or the payments provider. To prevent SCA in such cases, it’s important to share as much data around shopper account information, the customer herself, and the environment she is utilizing. There are approximately 145 possible parameters to share with the banks, out of which a handful are mandatory.

 

Another very important exemption refers to recurring transactions, as long as the charge is made for the same amount, for the same payee, and the same recurring cycle. In our subscription-based business, we see a lot of recurring transactions where the individual transactions share similar characteristics. However, they are related to a higher-level mandated Customer Initiated Transaction, called a CIT. By setting up a proper SCA-based mandate with the associated issuer, an issuer ID is supplied for the follow-up transactions. These transactions are considered Merchant initiated Transactions, or MIT.  The MIT transactions are out of scope for SCA.

 

Other more exotic exemptions are whitelisting and secure corporate payments. Whitelisting is where the customer grants the merchant/ payment provider access to her account to debit it. To our knowledge, a very limited set of issuing banks have made this capability available. Also out of scope of SCA are items like prepaid cards, mail/ telephone order (MOTO) transactions and one-leg out transactions (i.e. where one of the players – either of the payer or the payee – is based outside of the EU). To manage these, we are utilizing an up-to-date Bank Identification Number (BIN) database to identify issuers based outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) or transactions that use anonymous cards.

 

Exemptions are key for better conversions but are challenging to manage. It is our task as a payment provider to build an ordering engine that adapts and optimizes the use of these exemptions.

 

Transition Period – 3D Secure 1 Fallback

 

Until all issuing banks are up to speed with 3SD2 (and no, not all will be ready by the September 14 deadline), for each European online transaction, behind-the-scenes payment providers like 2Checkout will have an automated check in place to see if the issuing bank supports 3DS2 or not. If they do, we’ll go through the new 3DS2 process flow. If the issuing bank of the card holder is not yet ready with 3DS2, they will still be obliged to have 3DS1 in place in order to comply with SCA mandates. In such cases, your end-customer will be presented with the legacy 3DS1 experience through a redirect. This will actually be tough on payment providers that didn’t support 3DS1 flow before (since it wasn’t that widely adopted by the banks), as they will have to develop support for both models to avoid taking the hit from authorization declines from banks that won’t be ready with 3DS2. Luckily for 2Checkout, this is not an issue since we already had 3DS1 support in all our ordering engines and APIs.

 

3D Secure 2 Flow Examples

 

Now that the basics are covered, here’s how it will look when a customer decides to buy your products, services, or plans with 2Checkout’s support in place.

When a customer initiates an online transaction and submits her payment information (Step 1 of the purchase flow), 2Checkout will check with her issuing bank (Step 2, behind the scene), who will flag transactions that can proceed with the frictionless flow. As a result, in the next step (Step 3), the customer will see the Payment Confirmation or the Thank You page, once the payment is authorized.

 

PSD2 pic

Example of a «frictionless flow» when exemptions are applied.

 

If, however, the issuing bank decides that the information provided doesn’t qualify for an exemption, they will send 2Checkout the request to initiate the challenge flow and ensure that authentication takes place. From the end-customer’s perspective, this will mean that a modal window or pop-up will open with the message from her issuing bank, prompting her to authenticate through her mobile banking application (Step 2 in the image below).

 

PSD2 pic

When exemptions are NOT applied, the transaction goes through the «challenge flow». Steps 1 & 2.

 

The next steps of the purchase (Step 3 and 4) happen within the mobile banking application. The design and flow on the actual banking app is something that each bank designs and controls – what is being depicted below is a sample mockup from a bank that implemented a biometric authentication (through fingerprint). Once the authentication is completed, the transaction can be authorized, the “approve this payment through your banking app” pop-up disappears, and the customer is presented with the payment confirmation page (Step 5).

 

PSD2 pic

When exemptions are NOT applied, the transaction goes through the «challenge flow». Steps 3-5.

 

Now, authentication will not always go smoothly. The customer might not have her mobile device close by, or there might be an issue with the bank application or the mobile internet connection. In such situations, it’s best to have an alternative solution in place and offer your end-customers the chance to finalize the purchase by using either a different credit or debit card or by choosing an alternative payment method such as iDeal, SofortBanking, or SEPA direct debits. Within the EU, alternative payments will be an interesting alternative to card payments. Do not be mistaken, they already have strong customer authentication embedded in them, but the difference is that their users are well-accustomed to those flows, ensuring high conversion rates. Another payment method that can be used as an alternative is PayPal.

With 2Checkout, this process is handled through a retry page that allows the customer to choose from other available payment alternatives to complete the purchase.

 

PSD2 pic

When the transaction goes through the «challenge flow» and authentication fails. Good practice is to offer an alternative payment method and continue with the purchase.

 

As mentioned above—and it’s so important that it’s worth repeating—recurring transactions are treated as exemptions, as long as the charge is made for the same amount, for the same payee, and the same recurring cycle. Even though subscription renewals are exempted, and we ensure they are flagged as a Merchant Initiated Transaction (MIT), there is a chance that some issuing banks will still require SCA to complete the recurring payment. The end-customer, therefore, needs to be brought back in session to complete authentication.

 

In order to tackle these use cases, we help our merchants with dedicated email notifications sent out to inform and collect SCA from end-customers. If 3DS2 verification is needed and your customer isn’t prompt in authenticating a transaction, then the bank will decline the payment. In such cases, it’s essential we communicate this to your customers by sending them 3DS2 email reminders bringing them on-session to complete the verification needed.

 

PSD2 pic

When a recurring transaction does not go through as an exemption, the customer receives a message asking her to authenticate in order to continue the subscription.

 

PSD2 pic

Once «in session», the customer can proceed with the 3DS2 authentication and the recurring transaction can continue uninterrupted.

 

PSD2 and SCA Impact – Final Thoughts

 

As a wrap-up, it’s worth noting that we’ve upgraded our checkout pages (both hosted and inline) to support the new European directives. We’ve also included the new 3DS2 protocol into our APIs and payment pages in a way that is designed to keep changes for merchants at a minimum, and minimize the impact of SCA on checkout conversions.

 

The first issuing banks are already gradually supporting 3DS2, but the whole changeover process will still take some time. Therefore, 3DS1 and 3DS2 will exist side by side as standards until further notice, and we expect both will be accepted by banks and card issuers for a while longer. Our platform was designed to detect whether authentication is needed, and, depending on what the card issuer supports, either use 3DS2 to authenticate the customer or fall back on 3DS1 when the new version isn’t yet supported by the respective bank.

 

We believe successful handling of exemptions will become a key component for building a first-class payments experience that minimizes friction. We also expect there will be differences in how national regulators and even individual banks will support exemptions and we are building solutions to help manage this complexity for you.

 

PSD2 pic

 

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about this and dive deeper into use cases for possible feature impacts, view our webinar on “All you need to know about PSD2 and Strong Customer Authentication if you sell online” and read more resources and our FAQs on the 2Checkout dedicated PSD2 landing page.

Attract Customers and Close More Deals with Social Selling

Cold calling can get frustrating at times. Not to mention it has been less and less effective for years now, as sales reps and experts can easily confirm.

There’s a report that says 92% of buyers say they delete emails or voicemail messages when they come from someone that they do not know. That means you’re left with a mere 8% of buyers who will listen to your cold-call pitch.

In light of this discouraging news, sales people may need to use a new approach to generate leads and gain new customers. A focus on social selling is one possible approach that may be more effective.

 

What is social selling, anyway?

 

Social selling is about using your social networks to find, engage, and nurture the right prospects, build trusted relationships, close more deals and make a profit.

 

Social selling

 

People often mistake social selling with social media marketing or social media advertising. While these are the responsibility of the marketing department, social selling actually falls in the hands of the sales department.

Sales teams should use social selling to educate their prospects and provide value by answering their individual questions and explaining aspects they are curious about.

It’s a completely different approach from the old sales model, which involved impersonal activities such as cold calling and sales demos. The average cold calling appointment rate is just of 2.5%  and, as pointed out earlier, 92% of buyers say they delete emails or voicemail messages that come from someone they do not know.

Social selling, on the other hand, is all about educating prospects via social media about how your company can help them achieve their goals and ultimately grow their business.

It’s important to remember that even in B2B, people don’t buy from companies, they buy from people. Behind every website, there are decision-makers who have a say on what products or services are being sold and acquired.

 

Is social selling really effective?

 

A study from LinkedIn shows that over 76% of buyers say they feel ready to have a social media conversation and over 62% of those B2B buyers are more likely to respond to salespersons who connect with relevant insights and opportunities.

What did the salespeople say in the same study?

Nearly 73% of salespeople using social media outperformed their sales peers, and 54% of social salespeople have tracked their social selling back to at least 1 closed deal.

Before we get to the DO’s of social selling, let me quickly share some important DON’Ts:

 

Social Selling don'ts

 

  • Infrequent logins. Social selling should be an ongoing activity, and you should monitor conversations daily and engage with your prospects regularly.
  • Not actually making the connections. Ok, you’ve logged in, scrolled a bit, read some headlines and you’re out. That won’t do it. Selling is about building relationships, not spending the most time on social media or having the most LinkedIn connections.
  • Pitching strangers. Don’t connect with a potential customer for the first time and hit them straight up with a sales pitch. Social selling is about nurturing prospects and building connections over time. Otherwise, you’re just going back to cold calling.
  • Engaging with prospects before doing any research. You should learn as much as you can about a prospect before you engage in any sort of interaction. Check out their online profiles, see what they like doing, what they read, what they’re passionate about. This will help you personalize your outreach.
  • Only sharing sales material. Try to be helpful by sharing content that your prospect will find useful and educational, especially if she is only in the first stage of the buying process.

Make sure you keep all of these DON’T’s in mind before creating your social selling strategy.

 

How to make social selling work

 

Now let’s get to the fun part: the DO’s. Assuming you already know who your ideal buyer personas are (and if you don’t, check out this article to learn all about buyer personas), here are some tips on how to make the most out of your social selling journey:

 

Optimize your social profiles

 

You should start by making your name and profile picture consistent across all the networks on which you’re present, to avoid confusion. After all, there can be more than one person online with the same name.

Cater your bio to each social network’s audience. Twitter descriptions are limited to 160 characters so you should use them wisely. Focus on sharing insight into what you’ll be talking about on Twitter, cross-promote other relevant branded accounts such as the company you work for, and include hashtags that your prospects may follow.

 

Rand Fishkin

 

In contrast to Twitter, LinkedIn allows you to add more information about yourself. You can add a short and catchy headline about how you help, add a summary about your overall professional experience, mention your higher education degrees, list your specific professional experience, add skills and endorsements, and so on.

Add your social networks to your email signature, business cards, and PowerPoint presentations.

 

Fish where the fish are – find the best networks

 

Join social conversations that are relevant to you and your business. LinkedIn is the go-to platform for B2B while Twitter is more customer service oriented, great for fast communication. YouTube can also be extremely useful as consumers nowadays often compare and review products by viewing its videos.

You might want to consider choosing a mix of the platforms where your current audience is spending time.

 

Social media

 

Don’t forget that you can find and share discussions on your social feed, on groups (Facebook, LinkedIn) and from searching hashtags related to your industry or product.

 

Research prospects’ needs before engaging

 

Take the time to learn as much as you can about a prospect before you engage with them.

Monitor everything your prospects write, read their bios, check any updates to their profiles, and analyze their connections. Basically, collect as much information as you can.  This will facilitate future engagements that are thoughtful and strategic.

 

Linkedin social selling

 

Did you know that LinkedIn can give you instant notifications when your prospects join? Rather than relying on manual searches for that type of prospect, you can set up a saved search. Make sure to make it as specific as possible by using the Advanced filters, to get the best results.

Another great LinkedIn tool is Sales Navigator, which allows sellers to import contacts from Salesforce. It then provides you with a detailed report on these prospects’ activities and can also recommend new leads based on its findings.

Twitter allows you to build lists (which are kept private) and segment them based on different criteria, like active accounts you’re working on, decision-makers, or current clients, or based on the funnel stage, so you can personalize your approach every time.

Another way to make sure you’re connecting with the right audience is by joining specific groups where your prospects also belong. Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, Twitter chats, Quora and so on will help you get a better picture of what issues your prospects are dealing with and what questions they have.

 

Be yourself

 

Drop the sales pitch. Try to be as helpful as possible in a genuine way; the pushy approach can scare prospects away.

While each social platform has its own unique environment and voice, you should stick to your true self, whether it’s friendly, fun, or trustworthy, and remain consistent across networks.

If you create and maintain a strong professional brand you will most probably receive more interest from prospects, as it shows you are a professional and active participant in your industry.

 

Post quality content regularly

 

You should strive to provide valuable content for your connections and followers on a regular basis, in order to build their interest and gather more interactions.  Sharing content, ideas, and opinions is all that social media is about in the first place, so always give more than you receive if you want to be successful.

You should create your own curated online newspaper for specific accounts using Paper.li/ Feedly. These are great websites that will help you find fresh content to share further.

 

social media sales

 

You can use tools such as Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule those posts in advance to save time and make sure you reach all time zones that are of interest to you. Certain types of content work better for certain days of the week or times of the year, making this scheduling especially helpful.

Also, it is very important to align your social selling efforts with your marketing team’s agenda. Always be aware of the arsenal of content the marketing team has, including blog posts, eBooks, webinars, datasheets, etc.

Share the success of your existing customers. Find case studies, success stories, and client testimonials and share them in a way that shows your genuine excitement for them, rather than relying on a “look what we did for you” approach.

 

Constantly nurture and provide value

 

Interact with your connections regularly, and not just to push them for the sales.

Did a prospect make a post about needing advice or help with something? Go on and offer your expertise and help them solve a problem. Did they just launch a book, or has their company launched a new website? Congratulate them on their success. Offer to introduce them to someone that could provide advice, introduce them to groups, or link them to discussions about which they might not know.

Spend at least 10 minutes each day to:

  • Accept connection requests and even send a personalized thank you to prospects who requested them
  • Respond to new messages
  • Check notifications and alerts
  • Follow new prospects
  • Check news and conversations
  • Engage: Like a few pieces of content, comment on some others, and share what’s worth sharing.

Add value on a consistent basis so you can become a trusted resource in your industry.

 

engaging on social media

 

While keeping your eyes on the brand new shiny prize of gaining new customers, don’t neglect your existing customers on social media. Don’t forget that it’s six times more expensive to win a new customer than to retain an existing one. Take time to ask them questions, nurture relationships, and make them feel valued.

 

Track Results

 

No social selling strategy is perfect, which is why you should constantly assess results and compare them against efforts.

Start by collecting insights on your social selling activity; see what type of posts and activities perform the best.

  • What time are posts getting the most interactions?
  • Is there a particular style of post or piece of content that is performing better than others?
  • Are LinkedIn users more engaged and receptive compared to Twitter users, for example?
  • How many LinkedIn replies to messages have you received?

Also, for LinkedIn users, the platform produced the first-of-its-kind social selling measurement called The Social Selling Index (SSI). It measures how effective you are at establishing your professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights, and building relationships.  I would say it’s a pretty good place to start in order to see how effective your activities have been, at least at a general level.

 

social selling index

 

Sales people can also ask their marketing team for data they’ve received from Google Analytics. You can see where a visitor comes from when first entering the website, and what triggered them to fill in a form or choose to sign up. Don’t forget to track the links to your website that you want to share on social media using the URL builder, to make it easier to track, sort, and analyze content and to link it back to something that you accomplished as a sales person.

 

Last but not least, you should exercise patience when it comes to expert social selling. Results don’t happen overnight. Use tools to measure results for a better understanding of what is working, but don’t forget that patience and commitment are key.

 

Have you tried social selling before? Care to share your thoughts, experience, or ideas?

The Fine Line Between Personalization and Spam – How to Get Mobile Advertising Right

When it comes to mobile advertising marketers have never had more control over how they reach their audience. As a marketer, you have access to a wide range of tools for personalizing marketing content.

 

But with so many options for reaching the right audience and so many ways to communicate your brand message, marketers are constantly walking a fine line between delivering the kind of personalized experience many users are coming to expect and spamming people in ways that are perceived as creepy or intrusive.

 

personalization

Source: pixabay.com

 

This guide will help you create personalized mobile ads that resonate with your audience without spamming people.

 

The benefits of a Mobile-First strategy

Most digital marketing works on the principle that the main point of contact users have with your brand online is through desktops and laptops, with people accessing your content from their home or office computers.

 

Mobile First Approach

Source: altexsoft.com

 

But the world of digital marketing has been completely transformed and we’ve entered a new era of mobile dominance.

When UK consumers are asked what is the most important device used to connect with the internet most people (48%) say it’s smartphones, with laptops and desktop computers collectively taking second place. In the US more than half (51%) of web browsing time comes from mobile.

 

By 2025 over 72% of people are expected to access the web solely by their smartphones. And what’s more, worldwide growth in eCommerce is largely driven by mobile, which accounts for 58.9% of all eCommerce sales.

 

Adapting to the new era of mobile dominance

To win in the era of smartphone dominance you need to adopt a “mobile-first” strategy.

Rather than seeing mobile as just one of the ways to reach your audience, you should think of it as the primary way to reach your audience. Your digital marketing design should all work to serve this purpose.

 

For starters, you need to have a website that is fully responsive, which means that it adapts to suit the device by which it is being accessed.

The primary question about your website should be, does it work on mobile?

It’s no longer acceptable for mobile to be an afterthought, it has to be fundamental to the way you think about advertising.

 

The user focus is shifting to mobile

Smart brands are realizing two crucial insights:

  1. The user experience (UX) is an essential element when it comes to selling your products and selling your brand
  2. The UX focus needs to pivot towards mobile devices.

 

So what are the most effective ways to reach your audience via mobile?

There are two main planks to a solid mobile-first marketing approach.

These are… mobile ads and push notifications.

 

Mobile ads

When it comes to mobile ads it’s all about creating content that resonates with your target audience and that is relevant to the context in which they are delivered.

For example, promoted tweets need to work in the context of the unique features of Twitter, taking into account the way content is created and consumed and the language and etiquette of the platform.

 

This is true with any other social media platform that you are advertising on. They each have their own formats for content, their own hidden rules of behavior and their own sets of user behaviours and expectations. Get these wrong at your peril!

 

There is of course much more to mobile advertising than social media, with channels like:

  • Email
  • Apps
  • Websites and progressive web apps (PWAs)
  • SMS
  • Etc…

To use each channel effectively you have to understand the context of each one.

 

Push notifications

The second big way to reach people on mobile is through push notifications.

Users have to subscribe to your push notifications via your website or app (this happens by default with Android, but requires an opt-in via iOS).

 

Push notifications

Source: appinstitute.com

 

People don’t want to get random notifications, they want to get predefined content.

So when you motivate people to sign up for push notifications you have to let them know what they will get when they subscribe.

Amazingly, most sites and brands don’t personalize push notification opt-ins, so if you do this you will get solid results and be a step ahead of the competition.

 

A survey by Localytics found that 49% of people prefer push notifications to be based on their own stated preferences rather than on their in-app behaviour and that these preference-based notifications would encourage them to use the app more.

 

preference-based notifications

Source: info.localytics.com

 

There is a fine line to walk between personalization and intrusive spam.

The Localytics results also show that users are often split on whether a certain form of personalization would encourage them to use the app more or less.

 

For example, despite 32.5% of users reporting that apps that track in-app behaviour and deliver content based on that would make them use the app more, nearly the same amount of people (29.2%) said such personalization would make them use the app less.

 

The best way to get around this problem is to make sure that users can choose how their mobile experience is being personalized, for example adding an opt-in screen to your mobile app asking how users would like push notifications and marketing content to be personalized.

 

The importance of mobile personalization

To get the right balance between personalization and creepy “they know too much” reactions from users, expectations, and context are key.

Mobile marketers who get this balance right are reaping the rewards.

 

90% of marketers say that personalization is a significant contributor to profitability, according to Google. And it’s not just marketers who believe personalization is important. 61% of people actually expect brands to tailor their experience to their preferences. What’s more, 46% of consumers prefer to use their smartphones for the entire journey from research to purchase.

 

Context and personalization

The mobile app Drippler is designed to analyze the hardware and OS of your smartphone and deliver users useful tips, tricks and app suggestions. It also analyzes the content users read in-app and tracks other in-app behaviours to provide a highly personalized user experience. It is a hit with users and has had over 5 million downloads.

 

Ad Context

Source: techglimpse.com

 

Drippler gets personalization right because its data and behavior tracking is relevant to the service it is providing; troubleshooting your smartphone to help you get the best out of your mobile experience.

If a weather app acted in the same way it might feel intrusive because it wouldn’t be providing a level of personalization that is appropriate for the context. So when it comes to personalization, context is king.

 

How to personalize mobile ads without spamming people

Mobile marketing offers a wide range of channels through which to engage your audience, from search display ads, to in-app ads, video ads, social media promotions, SMS, push notifications, geotargeting, QR codes, and more.

Developments in audience targeting and segmentation, as well as data tracking and artificial intelligence, give us unlimited possibilities for mobile ad personalization.

 

But that also means there are many, many more ways to spam people than ever before, and it’s never been easier. For many marketers, this temptation is too hard to resist, but it’s a counterproductive strategy that will ultimately drive people away from your brand and make it extremely hard to build up a loyal customer base in the long run.

 

So here’s a list of spammy things to avoid…

Sending too many messages – there needs to be a solid rationale for each marketing message you send. Ask yourself why you’re sending a particular message. If the answer is ‘because I can’ you’re probably sending spam.

 

Sending irrelevant content – despite the many ways it’s possible to personalize mobile ads many brands still send irrelevant content rather than taking the time to segment their audience. You should only send content you believe will resonate with your audience segments.

 

Sending useless information – every piece of content you send to your audience has to have some practical value for them. Sending updates about how brilliantly your company is doing may be a tempting flex, but does your audience really care? There’s a difference between saying, “look how brilliantly we’re doing,” and “because we’re doing so well we’d like to offer you a special discount…”.

 

Ignoring communication preferences – different people like to be contacted in different ways. SMS might be really convenient for some people and incredibly intrusive to others. So you should ask users about their communication preferences and always respect those preferences.

 

communication preferences

Source: uxdesign.cc

 

How to improve your mobile advertising

Making improvements to the way you execute mobile marketing is a solid way to avoid spamming people.

As a general rule of thumb, the more care and attention you pay to the kind of content you create and how you distribute it the less spammy your marketing behaviour will be and the more effective your mobile marketing will become as a result.

 

Here are some tips on how to avoid mobile spam by improving your mobile advertising strategy…

 

Diversify content creation

Too much of the same thing becomes boring, and in the marketing world, too much of the same thing becomes spammy.

So make sure you actually take the time to create a range of content for each of your mobile marketing campaigns.

 

Marketing guru and entrepreneur Garry Vaynerchuk argues that brands need to be creating upwards of 100 pieces of content a day to take advantage of the new era of marketing, an era that has been shaped by the proliferation of user-generated social media content, an era where people expect meaningful communication of ideas and values, not the digital equivalent of junk mail.

 

Garry Vaynerchuk

Source: slideshare.net

 

Bring value to your audience

In the old days of marketing marketers essentially said this to their audience:

“Hey, if you buy this product you will get all this great value!”

 

But today’s model doesn’t work like this. You need to instead be saying this to your audience:

“Hey, this piece of content is packed with stuff you’ll find really valuable, check it out!”

 

Can you see the difference between the two approaches? One offers value upfront and one promises value if users buy. Offering value upfront wins all the time.

 

Once people engage with your content (and they’ll only do this if they like it!) they have entered your sales funnel and you can then start weaving your calls to action into your content to nurture your leads on their customer journey. But the era of opening with a hard sell is basically dead. Instead, a series of soft sells should be offered to your audience to get them in the mindset to buy your products or services.

 

Properly segment your audience

The best way to make your mobile marketing campaigns more effective is to send relevant content to targeted audiences. The way to target your audiences in a relevant way is to create audience segments based on data you collect from your users. Once you’ve segmented your audience you can then only send relevant content to people. This will make your ads far less spammy and make them more effective.

 

Be smart about personalization

To go about personalizing your mobile ads in the right way you need to start with a solid foundation of content. You should clearly present personalization options to your audience upfront. This could be the first screen they see when they download your app, or part of your signup forms when you capture user data.

 

You should also make sure your notifications clearly explain what users will get from them. For example:

“To give you the best user experience this site would like to send you notifications based on your browsing history.”

OR –

“Sign up to push notifications to get the latest offers relevant to you!”

 

If users know how you are personalizing their experience and they’ve signed up to it then they won’t feel like you’re intruding on their privacy. It’s as simple as that.

 

Personalization is the future, spam is the past…

We’re in a new world where the user experience is the most vital marketing asset you can create. It’s essential that mobile advertising puts the user first, and understands and respects their expectations and preferences.

 

To get mobile personalization right we have to understand the principles of informed consent, managed expectations, and clear, open communication. Once we start on this basis we find ourselves in a position to take advantage of sophisticated mobile personalization strategies that will deepen your relationship with your audience and provide the maximum value and inspiration on their customer journey.

 

About the Author

This is a guest post by Izaak Crook, the Head of Marketing at AppInstitute, a SaaS App Builder platform that allows anyone to create their own iOS and Android app without writing a single line of code.

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