We addressed a few questions in the webinar. The transcript and the video are presented here:

 

 

 

Our business getting leads but facing to convert in sales due to competitor lower prices, so we can convert these leads in sales.

You have to think differently. Competing on pricing alone is not a sustainable strategy. There could be various reasons for your challenge,  no. 1 maybe you are not able to delineate the reasons for your products high prices, no. 2,  maybe you are targeting the wrong audience set, no 3  maybe your features or components that make the product expensive are not really relevant for people.  So you need to revisit all these 3 pointers.  Plus you should also have a realistic benchmark. Whenever you are selling at a price point which is higher than the average MOP, you should be ready to sell volume.

Second, your marketing communication, your landing pages you overall strategy should be different than the volume seekers which are your competition. You need to demonstrate the value of your product- which means that your communication and the process of engaging people should also be such that only those who prefer value remain with your communication till the end of the funnel, rest all will leak out of the journey.   And after that you get less but much more qualified leads with a better chances of conversion.

 

I am a small brand and compete with various large brands in my market, but my products has a few unique features and is cheaper to operate how can I generate quick demand

Understand that your buyer is getting a huge volume of communication from your competition and if you add to it, you will be lost in clutter. Second, your competing brands can invest more than you in advertising and hiring better sales people.  Third they have an equity which you don’t have presently.

Given this situation, you need to do the following:

  1. Search for a niche- don’t play the entire market, rather look for a niche where the big players are not paying attention to.
  2. Create conversation opportunities in this niche-  see you need to compensate for the lack of brand equity by investing in opportunities to collaborate or converse with your buyers.  find out what is the problem of this niche, what are key challenges, and then create low investment opportunities- like webinars or an interactive simulation where your buyers can see themselves growing through your
  3. Invest in profiling your audience set- invest in market research to find ownership of your buyers and ageing of their ownership- then selectively to a few you can target for demand generation and the rest you can engage and nurture

I am writing B2B content for many years, but not much benefit came my way. How to benefit from B2B Content marketing? How to do it the right way?

Create rational expectations- and right metrics.  Then create content accordingly and judge which areas are working, instead of having a blanket thinking that my content doesn’t work.

Create a content structure in consonance with the stages of buyer experience, buyer challenges and buyer stages

Invest in high quality content creation.  There should be meat into it, even if the production quality is not great

Involve people from your team or experiential influencers in creating content. Involve people who are passionate about a given subject, that helps you bring in genuineness.

Stop creating content for search engines

 

What is Thought leadership and how to create it?

If you can provide deep insights into your buyer’s problems and challenges- that created thought leadership.  It’s not easy and hence the volume of this content is less. However with the help of digital you can collaborate with customers and influencers to create thought leadership content.

It’s not about your product.  It’s about the industry and it’s pain points. It’s about inspiring people. So invest in research and collaboration.

 

Watch the full webinar here:  https://www.bigmarker.com/dotconverse/The-Transformation-of-B2B-Marketing-with-Digital?utm_bmcr_source=atomthought

 

Marketing is transforming and how.  We see 2 major transformative changes- the attention fragmentation of consumers’ and their changing buying decision journey.   The webinar, below, delved deeper into these phenomenon.

We addressed a few interesting questions from the attendees of the webinar, and tare presenting the transcript as takeaways below:

 

Given the engagement stage of buying journey is very critical , what % of our budget should be spent in this phase?

OK, so there are two important learnings from the presentation:

  1. It’s prudent to invest money on creating experiences for users at every stage. So what we are saying is that you should focus on what kind of experience is needed in a specific stage and then allocate a budget accordingly. Do not make it watertight by stage- rather focus on experience needed and then spend what is necessary to create that experience.
  2. We have to collect  a lot of data to be able to understand the impact of experience on consumers.  We need to observe if creating positive experiences, results in the flow of users from one stage to next better than earlier or not. This will give us a conversion rate (and a lift in conversion rate) by funnel stage. And then we can see how much each stage contributes to the final conversion or sales.   Now, you can attribute a clear cost of conversion by stage and can attribute a cogent budget.

This is the reason why modern marketers need to invest in  data and skill sets to create experiences.  (Our media expenses should be less in general, and investment on people & skills, data and experience creation should be more)

 

What are the Key metrics or KPIs for marketing RoI that we should  consider?

See, Key metrics or KPIs will depend on your goals for a specific campaign or goals for a specific journey stage, or goals of a certain product line etc.

CXOs look at Business growth as one key metric. Within business growth they look at market share growth, mindshare growth, satisfaction growth and profitability growth

However as you go down the hierarchy the metrics should become more granular.  At the end of the day as a marketing leader, you should be responsible for high level metrics- that’s where your value add is.  However you should look at granular metrics to understand what’s causing a lift and or decline in growth.

You should create a metric funnel. At the top of this funnel should be high level metrics and as you go down the funnel- define metrics for each layer of hierarchy, responsibilities and platforms or marketing areas that they handle. The top of the funnel is more strategic and bottom is more tactical, campaign based, platforms based, seasonality based etc.

 

When we do demand generation, we get a lot of leads, but how do we determine what’s a good lead?

So, net net, if my sales guy just has to pick up a phone, call the lead and the lead converts easily- then that lead is great!

But that’s easier said than done, and in real life it doesn’t happen that way most of the time.  The reason is our ignorance- where we look at all types of leads with one standard perspective and expectation.

If a lead has shown interest, and we have been able to collect correct contact and demographic data- it’s a good lead. But unless we attach intent and stage level data- it’s not a great lead.

Once we understand at which stage of buying this audience is and what exactly is the intent – then we can take appropriate steps and create expectations of how soon can this lead convert and what do we need to do till then.

We also need to understand that our target audience follows a journey and then at an opportune time fills up a lead form.  Leads forms are not filed on impulse. Hence it’s imperative for brands to capture intent and hand hold audience over time, and transition them towards a final lead capture of form fill.

 

While consumer attention is getting expensive for advertisers, should brands focus on creating communities?

The focal point should always be user experience. If the journey stage demands advertising, so be it, if it needs touch point experience, let’s invest there. So as I said earlier, let’s not create watertight compartments. If there is a clear rationale of who would be part of the community, what experience will this community deliver and if the context and importance of this experience is justified, we should invest in communities.  But lets not forget that metrics or brand expectations should also be in syn with experience objectives. An advertising objective will be quite different than community objective. While advertising is easy relatively and more direct and transactional, community experience will be tough to manage, long term and very less transactional in nature.

 

Please click here to access the 5 Stages of Consumer Experience Infographic and keep tuned in , for our announcements about our next set of webinars.

 

Ever since 2010, Analytics has found its way in the Gartner Top trends of the year in some form or another.

This is indeed a great feat and signifies public interest and curiosity in analytics. But unlike other technologies, analytics does not seem to mature and move out from being just a trend!  So what’s happening here?

 

 

A few days ago Amazon invested into a 2-year-old autonomous tech development company Aurora that is ed by ex-Google and Tesla executives. Amazon is the largest investor here.

Amazon is also testing a robot called Scout!
It’s a six-wheeled autonomous delivery robot that delivers packages door to door in the neighbourhood.

Why is Amazon doing this?

 

Before we understand this, let’s take appreciate that Fulfilment is one of the key strategic needs of any commerce marketplace.

We discussed in a few of our earlier episodes of digitalDNA about how e-commerce marketplaces are investing in logistics, supply chain and offline integration.

Amazon, for example, has aggressively been building out its warehouse network to the point that it now has warehouses within 20 miles of nearly 50 per cent of the U.S. population.

But at the same time, fulfilment expenses also bleed the marketplace the most, again, in case of Amazon about USD 34B was spent on fulfilment in 2018 (against a new revenue of USD 232B, that’s about 15% of net revenues gone only in fulfilment expenses)

The fulfilment costs have doubled from 2016 to 2018.

 

amazon-shipping-cost

Now given that Amazon’s Prime business is worth over USD100B, and the fact that the consumers have become accustomed to almost free and lightning fast deliveries, Amazon and other com marketplaces do not have a choice but to find alternatives.

McKinsey predicts that autonomous deliveries will slash retailers’ shipping costs by 40%.

At the same time, it’s also important to understand that Amazon is fast expanding into new areas like groceries or prepared food delivery, where the dynamics of fulfilment are diverse.

Look at this chart to understand how Amazon can face competition in future:

 

Amazon-Competition

One can observe that Amazon will face competition in future from Logistics companies like DHL as well as from contemporaries like Walmart who are partnering with Google’s self-driving cars already for deliveries and of course the upcoming startups in the e-com marketplace space.  (Check the Chart in the above video)

Given this situation, Amazon’s is deploying this 2 pronged strategy to counter all present and future competition:

  1. Network-driven fulfilment and logistics, which are connected by various warehouses and are connected with diverse technologies like drones, robots and autonomous vehicles
    2. Own as much as possible of this fulfilment network. That is why unlike Walmart, Amazon is investing and not just partnering into autonomous vehicle technology.

This will give Amazon a cost advantage as it scales up plus pre-empt new competition, as the entry cost would be too high, as also open up a new area of monetization- it would offer deliveries services to other marketplaces and local retail outlets, retail chains and even offer integration services to logistics companies.

So expect Amazon to be a top logistics company in the coming future apart from a leading commerce marketplace.

Within 20 seconds of the kick start of Alibaba group’s annual 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, TOTAL GMV of gross merchandise value surpassed USD155 millions,  in 2 minutes it crossed USD1 Billion and the day closed with over USD30b of gross merchandise sales value.

Now, Just let that sink in, appreciate the number of users, transactions, customer care calls and emails and maybe hundreds of terabytes of data generated at an unimaginable speed.

Singles day is a clear example of success with data.

Data by itself is of little use, and Big data even more useless, unless you leverage High-performance computing to process this data, use analytics tools and AI to get actionable insights and deliver action and impact.

Alibaba’s TMall, B2C e-commerce marketplace with top brands and over 600m users have an abundance of data on consumer buying habits and sellers’ marketing strategies and decided to put this data to use in 2017.

And as a result, Tmall Innovation Centre (TMIC) was started as dedicated research and development (R&D)

Some of the world’s top brands like P&G, Johnson & Johnson, Mars, Samsung and the likes have partnered with TMIC to create new products and variants for China based on consumer transactions and behavior captured on the platforms.

Let’s look at 2 examples of how TMIC used data to help sellers and brands. Listerine is a well-known brand but it was facing difficulty in cracking the Chinese market, where the users reacted poorly to its antiseptic formulation. 

So, Johnson and Johnson worked with TMIC to learn that Listerine’s target audience—young Chinese women—prefer mouthwash with fruit and floral flavors. As a result, Listerine debuted two new products in China during Alibaba’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, or Singles Day.

Similarly, TMIC and MARS chocolates worked together to find that Chinese consumers would be willing to Try chocolate with some spice AND LAUNCHED SNICKER- SPICY IN CHINA.

From its debut in Mid 2017 till mid-2018, sales of snickers spicy surpassed USD1.4m

Not just with the big brands, but Alibaba repeated this success with smaller brands as well.  The watch division of TMall studied consumer behaviour of users and invited young watch designers from the Alibaba ecosystem to create and launch 17 new designs on the singles day.

So, Alibaba group is using data in 3 ways here :

  1. help sellers sell more, both small and large
  2. help brands develop new products
  3. speed up R&D, innovation and go to market.

Now, the story of new retail will be incomplete without Artificial Intelligence or AI.

In the words of Jack Ma DATA AND HPC are the mother and father of ai.

So, AI helps Alibaba ecosystem in 5 major ways:

 

  1. Recommendation system-  Alibaba has developed a software called “E-commerce Brain,” which uses real-time online data to predict consumer wants, and the models are constantly updated for each individual through AI to take into account purchase history, browsing history and online activities. Now, this recommendation system also works across digital kiosks and magic mirror installed offline in delivering consistent user experience.

2.  Customer care- Any common queries and questions asked are automatically redirected to a computer system called Ali Xiaomi (Ali Assistant). Other than answering frequent questions and delivery status, it can help users find the right products when provided with a text or voice description or even a photo. It is said that during singles day sale- the chatbots handled 95% of the customer service queries. 

3.  Pervasive Personalisation-  what if each brand and seller on a commerce platform could personalise its store as per individual users based on their taste & preferences?  Of course a rise in conversion rates, and that’s what is exactly happening here

4. Supply chain & logistics- from predicting what products will sell more, appropriate pricing strategies, inventory preparation to best route and transportation for deliveries- for online and offline sellers – just about everything a seller could want.

5.  Security – Face recognition coupled with pattern mapping and predictive analytics is already helping secure the marketplace and install more confidence in users.

So, this was the story and strategy of Alibaba which is slated to revolutionise and transform retail as we know, and everything that we have observed and discussed in these 2 episodes  point to just one thing- Alibaba is focused as hell on improving and unifying consumer experience and helping sellers be more innovative, efficient and profitable.

That’s what we call as NEW RETAIL

What is Blockchain?

In 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto (pseudonym for one person or maybe a group of people) conceptualised the distributed blockchain. It would contain a secure history of data exchanges, utilise a peer-to-peer network to time stamp and verify each exchange, and could be managed autonomously without a central authority. 

Let’s make it simple:

Have you ever used Google Docs? If yes then Blockchain can be, in a layman’s term, be construed as being very similar to Google Docs.

Let me explain how.  When you create a Google doc and want to send to a group of people, you just share the doc with everyone.  Everyone can have access to that specific doc and can edit simultaneously.  Everyone can see who edited and what was edited.

It’s like a shared ledger (or doc) and all parties can see the latest edits and who did the edits

To further understand, take the example of Wikipedia,  no one single entity controls the information contained there, yet all of us have access to and can edit the information.  If false information is recorded, the community of users can interfere can correct the information.

So at any given point in time, all of us have access to synced and distributed information and it is impossible for one or a few people to take control and put incorrect information

So, does it imply that Blockchain and Wikipedia are technically the same?

No.

Wikipedia has a master copy or a master file which is stored on a central server.  Every amendment is actually made on this server.  So, if 1 million people edit or create information on Wikipedia, then all this is done on a central server, on one master file, and all users see this final file.

   

   

But in case of Blockchain, every client/user will have an independent copy of that file, each updating the record independently, with the most popular record becoming the de-facto official record in lieu of there being a master copy.

Let’s relook at the key concepts:

  1. Blockchain keeps a record of all data exchanges — this record is referred to as a “ledger” and each data exchange is a “transaction“. Every verified transaction is added to the  ledger as a “block
  2. It utilizes a distributed system to verify each transaction — a peer-to-peer network of nodes
  3. Once signed and verified, the new transaction is added to the blockchain and cannot be altered

Cryptocurrencies are just one application that uses blockchain technologies. In our next blog, we will take a look at other applications and specifically how blockchain can be used in marketing.

Here’s a video that you may want to watch:  

 As a parting note, here’s some food for thought-  if 51% of a peer-to-peer network validates an otherwise invalid transaction, it will still get approved and get added to the ledger by nature of how the validation process works. It may be unlikely, but is indeed one of the major security flaw that might have a potential for exploitation in the future.

  

  

  

  

   

At the recent Broadcast India exhibition in Mumbai, we witnessed various brands installing ipads at their stalls, so that users could browse and get the information they seek.
We saw this FAILING at least in 3 ways:
1.   The ipads got automatically got locked, hence even if a user wanted to use it , he/she was not able to do so
2.  At some places we saw that the installed ipads,  belonged to a company employee- and the emails and other data were publically accessible, and apart from posing a security risk it also lends an unprofessional imagery of the brand.
3.  Somewhere, a printed brochure was scanned and put up in digital format. This is a big blunder because online navigation and information search are different than print consumption of content.  If a random user browsed a few pages on ipad and left,  the subsequent user would find it immensely difficult to find his/her way back to home page or to any other desired page.
All these FAIL the purpose of digital integration and then as professionals, we lose motivation to invest our time and money in further such integrations.
So, digital integration with events or retail should be:
1.  Conspicuous & Inviting-   It could be the design, it could be the size, it could the position in the store. The Digital device should attract and motivate people for usage. Due to this, Your brand can get an upper hand in terms of noticeability at the retail level
2. Engaging: a multitude of information in various formats (videos, images, shop) and various ways to interact- chat-up. share, send to email, zoom-in etc. The more people are engaged, the more are the chances of a sale.
3. Accessible–  think, how can an old person access your information, how can one access it in low light, what’s the screen size, what’s the height of podium, language, voice interaction etc.
4. User-Friendly– easy to navigate and, easy to operate, use of icons and images,.for faster and efficient use.

At dotConverse, we believe that It’s not a fight between digital & brick & mortar.  Future of retail is multifaceted. The marketers need to understand and leverage the power of each medium intersected with consumer lifecycle. Talk to our retail commerce experts to design a digital integration and growth story for your brand.
Featured image source: reflectsystems.com

Let me begin by stating that in my opinion, FB globally has not caused any major set back to any dominant player yet. ( I am talking about the likes of Craigslist and Gumtree etc.)

Even in India, I expected it in vain,  to be a notch better than other players as also improved from its initial launch state.  (Read my article on the launch on Facebook Marketplace in India, published in YourStory in 2016 here).

Taking you back in time- while the large classifieds players in India advertised heavily on TV, which built awareness, but did nothing to create traction (categorization, valuation, content richness, trust, serendipity, c2c focus, etc. are key pillars that build network effect, but unfortunately none of the two top players did anything significant on these fronts), hence while we see a large footprint for the big classifieds players in India but the actual usage is very low.

Today, you hardly see their ads on TV, because that strategy just did not work, and put not just a huge dent in their balance sheets, but also deflected serious users from repeat -usage.  The profitability that large classifieds players show today- is largely because their expense on TV is now saved. (But scaling up now, is a huge issue now for them)

Most players in India, even after a decade, do not seem to be showing traction from more than 5% of internet users. FB already has a base of about 250m+ users in India.  These users can be mobilized very fast use to FB Marketplaces (translating potentially into 40%-50% of internet users in India)


FB has the potential to disrupt  OLX sooner than Quikr (Read my article on Disruption Of Indian Classifieds here)

However, there are some serious issues that FB needs to address RIGHT NOW, to induce an explosive growth, and wipe out the competition.

Observations about the Facebook Marketplace: 

It is still an immature product, and I cannot sense much traction:  for e.g.
1.  Many products are selling at Re1/- + many products have put a misleading price (e.g. one seller has advertised a baby cot at Rs 11,11/- but on sending the message the price was revealed as Rs 4,500/-)
2.  The location is by default New Delhi for anyone posting from any part of NCR.  The default periphery for many items is 60Kms, which is very wide.  
(This is also because of lack of volumes in localities)
3.  Very few filters – a terrible experience searching for any item.  For example, if you are searching for a car, there is no way you can search basis color or engine or make etc.
4.  Message on WhatsApp– is a good feature and can expedite response time from sellers + increase  propensity to message by potential buyers
5. Most of the items are from B2C, and that’s where FB has to understand Indian market and also focus on individual buy and sell
6. Searching products is a pain.  The map is underutilized and good only for directions
7. FB needs to find a way to integrate Marketplace in users feed, to get maximum traction (without contaminating the feed)
8. Categorization– Bicycle is under ‘hobby’, musical instruments is under ‘Entertainment’???
9.  I can see people accepting payments on PayTm here,  this is the time for FB to activate its own payment and wallet and use an escrow system to grant more trust and power to the platform.

FB could show a great traction if it focuses on:
A)  Micro Businesses and Individuals and the likes of  following categories to start with:
1. PGs, Rentals
2.   Fashion & Accessories
3.   Hobbies –
4.  Home Furnishing etc.   (Instead of the usual, Jobs, services and real estate)

It clearly appears that FB is taking this too lightly, with not a good enough product.  They have a golden chance to wipe out all competition and take a winner takes all position in the potentially the largest classifieds market in the world- India.

A large part of my article here, has also been published in Entrackr, with my permission. You can read it here:

Thus far, the marketing function was responsible for delivering consumer experience. This was justified because there were limited consumer interaction opportunities available, and of them, most were controlled by marketing (retail, e-commerce, events & exhibitions, some part of customer support etc.).
However, given that today, the consumer experience depends upon not just the interaction or touch points but also from the volume and analysis of data that gets generated out of business to consumer interaction and consumer to consumer interactions.
Due to this, digital technology should be used to integrate various functions and units of an organization so that the organization gets a better view of the consumers, their own processes as well as behavior insights so that a consistent experience and value can be delivered to the consumer
So, digital transformation, transforms your people, business processes, business models, the culture and focuses on, more innovation- all by integrating digital technologies across the board
WHY IS DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION NEEDED?
Hilton took about 100 years to become what it is now, one of the largest valued chains of hotels in the world. How much time did AirBnB take to create a similar value? Less than a decade!
An average S&P 500 company would stay there for about 60 years in 1958.  This came down to just 11 years in 2011. And Today? Perhaps every 15 days the S&P 500 companies are being replaced
According to a report by Forrester, 50% of the revenue of surveyed companies, will come from digital BY 2020.
So, once again, digital transformation IS NOT just using AI, chatbots, and IoT, it goes beyond this to focus on new ways to do business and create value.
For e.g. General Electric’ transformed it’s heavy manufacturing products- Locomotives and Jet turbines into a software services business through its ‘Digital; Twins’ initiative.
Today GE builds a digital twin of each physical asset that is installed anywhere in the world, and constantly monitors variables like location, temperature, service records, functioning etc. and integrates with machine learning and algorithms to receive predictions and alerts faster and hence proactively respond better.
Understand the concept of Digital Twin in another way from the perspective of Philips Healthcare:

This information becomes richer by getting information from cohorts ( such as a fleet of jet engines) and hence the organization and GE can get various insights based on a collection of data from various assets.
THE DOTCONVERSE 3 Cs OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

  1. Culture- Includes People, Change and Innovation attitude with digital
  2. Continuum– Includes business processes and transformation through digital technology
  3. Consumer- includes new business models and a unified view of customers across the organization leveraging digital

So, we can start by asking a simple question: – What are we going to do to exceed customer expectation at each level of its journey?

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