4 marketing essentials from Google, Facebook and LinkedIn

Today marks the start of our 2014 Digital Financial Services Summit and as a content marketer it’s a personal favorite from our portfolio.

This morning kicked off with Google, LinkedIn and Facebook all talking about their latest developments and it was interesting stuff. It genuinely makes me excited to be working in this field.

There seemed to be some real change in the room from even just 12 months ago. People are really starting to ‘get it’ when it comes to smart, customer centric marketing models but a few key things really stood out.

The linear funnel is dead.

Ok, maybe that’s slightly dramatic but we can’t just move people down a linear path any more. Just like digital in its essence, we’re currently going through exponential growth in the way we service and market to customers. Connecting on a ‘flight path’ now seems more accurate than taking through a funnel.

For example, statistics demonstrate that people on average have taken themselves through 60 per cent of the overall buying cycle by the time they engage with a brand. Using a flight path approach will allow companies to connect across more or those touch points rather than assuming they can be pushed through a linear funnel. It also offers the best chance of being in mind before 60 per cent of the decision has been made.

It’s perhaps these sorts of statistics that drove Barclays Bank in the UK move 25 per cent of their service desks straight into one of the leading supermarkets, Asda.

Content is not.

Content marketing is the leading marketing tactic. It’s been around for years, probably around 150 but in 2014 the barrier is low and the ROI is high.

In Australia, Facebook users who log on everyday (85 per cent of overall users) log on 14 times. There’s a constant hunger for keeping updated and consuming knowledge.

Even on LinkedIn, well known as being a place of job opportunities – Content is currently viewed 7 times more than jobs posts on the platform.

So what’s going to make good content going forward? It’s still the same principle – helping someone and offering value. To tie in with the omni style flight path, and 50 per cent of traffic now through mobile, we’re going to see the rise of Big Rocks. In other words, those big pieces you can slice and dice 5-10 other ways. This generally starts with an eBook, but then splits into articles, videos, webinars, infographics, podcasts etc.

We’ve still got emotions

Many a marketing team is trying to get a grasp on data, targeting, segmenting and creating various different buyer personas. However, some of the most successful marketing campaigns of the year have played more on our emotive sides, a reminder to never forget the powerful impacts a heartfelt campaign can have.

The latest example is the #TDThanksyou from Canadian Bank TD. And yes, I challenge you to watch it without shedding a tear – I failed (6 times). The video with the tagline ‘Sometimes you just want to say thank you’ has had over 10 million views and doesn’t play on any of the features the bank can offer with smart analytics or intelligent services. Nope it focuses on positive awareness and brand reputation, but I tell you what – I’d bank with them!

Mobile mobile mobile

I wish I’d started a kitty for $1 every time the word mobile was mentioned. Mobile has very much become our primary screen and we need to make sure every single landing page is optimized for that.

In any customer centric model, to be with the customer from the start of the journey, there absolutely has to be a massive focus on mobile. It’s about ‘information that moves with you’ – get that wrong and you’ve lost that customer forever.

Drawing on finance as an example, search results show that ‘home loan’ as a term was very much a Monday-Friday search. It completely dropped off at the weekend. However, we’re now seeing a consistent level of search results 7 days a week – this is causing the home lending companies to move into real estate listings to be there on the day as the person is looking at a house – being a mobile tap away from seeing if the buyer will be accepted for funds as the notion pops into their head.

Google are working on a next generation mobile concept for our everyday lives with phones connecting into the internet of things. ‘Project Tango’ (and you can find more here https://www.google.com/atap/projecttango/#project) uses visual cues to map out interactions. The goal of Project Tango is’ to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion.’

Only time will tell the next big trends to make an impact, but no matter what tech occurs, it’s never been more important to start planning for being agile as a business. There are things that aren’t in the market yet, but the only way you can take advantage is to set a flexible working model now.

Last note – Did you know that if you’d have bought 100 bit coins in 2010, they’d be worth 761,000 now!?

Join the conversation @digifinance #digifinance

Facebook on a quest to revolutionize financial services marketing

With 12 million users in Australia, Facebook has developed into a core marketing platform to help organisations achieve their business objectives.

The organisation has been through a bit of a transformation of late, with the initial focus being the social networking customer experience – adding features to revolutionise the way we communicate and share with each other. Now though, the spotlight is well and truly on the business world, to leverage the wealth of information Facebook holds to drive efficiency and experience for financial services.

Here in Australia, Paul McCroy joined the Facebook team 12 months ago and his role as Head of Travel and Finance tasked him with the objective to build a team that can work closely with financial services to use Facebook. Paul explains: “It started with the team we created. We’ve hired a group of people to really understand the problems industry is faced with; we have people who worked in finance now working for us. It’s a constant focus to understand the problems faced by industry and build our Facebook platform to solve those problems. From there we want to work closely with financial services here in Australia to help them use Facebook in the best way possible.”

Whilst some of the big four were initially sceptical about the potential threat of Facebook in the financial services arena, the social networking giant has insisted they want to grow new users and enhance experience, rather than create banking services of its own.

Mobile

There’s a huge focus on mobile and it’s clear to see why. Digital advertising overtook traditional advertising for the first time last year, drive mainly by the onset of mobile. With 10 million active daily users and 85 per cent accessing via mobile devices – it’s easy to see where the potential lies for many a marketing team. Paul explains:

“Digital has overtaken television and mobile is the new upstart. Facebook became a mobile first business two years ago, transforming from desktop. Here in Australia, there’s a higher mobile percentage than any other developed country. Facebook represents an opportunity to take advantage of the fact that more people are consuming media on mobile phones.”

It’s this drive to mobile that’s seen a surge in app development over recent years, with the finance industry among the top performers for app engagement, providing customers with ease of access like never before. But with many banks allocating huge resources to develop their own assets, is there really any need to tap into the Facebook pool? Paul explained where the potential lies:

“One of the immediate benefits is the opportunity to capitalise on the trend. Mobile Banking was developed to service the customers where they are. It is also the most cost efficient way to service customers and has been quoted by Mckinsey as 1/8 the cost of servicing via the call centre.

“One in every five minutes on a mobile phone is spent on Facebook properties. When you want to speak to people who are on a phone, Facebook is where you should go. Our biggest growth area is banks taking their apps to our platform and promoting their advert in front of their customers. Customers then go and install that app unit. In terms of results, we’re the most cost effective for getting apps installed – 30 to 40 per cent of app installs come from Facebook.”

“Phase two is where the banks have people with the app installed, but they’re not necessarily engaged. We have developed a tool that helps with app engagement. Essentially, once it’s installed, you continuously re-engage them so that they use it as a utility. By them frequently engaging on the app, it takes the pressure off the contact centre and service channels, so the overall experience has been a success.”

Easing data concerns

There are some real alarm bells that often get triggered thanks to some serious spotlight on large data companies like Facebook and Google. Naturally an integrated banking service would lead to some data concerns, an area Paul insists is at the core of that they do:

“We don’t give anybody data. We have 12 million Australian users who do a lot of things on our platform. What we do is provide a targeting interface to enable advertisements to people that fit their interest behaviour. That data is never given back to an advertiser, it stays with us. Our primary goal is privacy. We’re one of the largest data companies the world has and will ever see. Everything we do is about keeping our site secure. It works well with banks, as it’s exactly the same as what they do. Whilst some people see data as a problem, we see it as a really nice fit.”

 Driving experience and efficiency

The team at Facebook are already seeing results creating unique experiences by targeting the right people, with the right content, on the right platform.

“When it’s done well, the conversions are huge. There are key challenges facing industry right now – efficiency, scalability and profitability.

We know certain media channels are becoming more expensive, every company in the world wants to achieve their goals in a more efficient manner. Where in the world is there more scale and engagement than Facebook? Our users are very engaged and it’s a huge opportunity to reach your customers and prospects at scale.”

Paul will be speaking at Digital Financial Services 2014: “I want to impart some of that knowledge to the audience and provide real life examples. A big thing we want to bring is what we see trending and how we can work with you to capitalise on some of those trends. We’ll also take a look at what we’re developing in the future.”

Visit www.digitalfinancialservices.com.au or follow @digifinance for more information on the event.

View the full interview with Paul here: http://youtu.be/t196-WP4_8U

Low cost marketing innovation – 4 essentials to success

It’s tough to be a marketer. It’s hard to allocate cash for innovation, but at the same time rapid consumer behaviour changes and increased competition make it a bit tricky to stand out.

All is not lost. We can once again get our creative juices flowing without breaking the bank (sorry…). I recently took a look at the world of Financial Services and it’s safe to say a few obstacles need to be overcome; the allure of the non-banks and a heck of a lot of expectation from the customer.

With that in mind I recently caught up with Simon Clarke, Head of Online Banking Suncorp.

Simon and the team have a clear focus: “We’re delivering our new core banking capability. It is a major strategic initiative for us and will enable a new generation of customer experience through our simpler and more agile platform.”

“At more of a group level, we are constantly looking at ways we can improve the customer experience across our key areas of banking, life and insurance. We want to ensure that customers have a consistent experience no matter what product they have and touch point they engage us from.”

The team have a smaller budget than the major banks, encouraging (sometimes forcing) Suncorp to think outside the box to build and optimise customer experience. This approach can often far outweigh consultation and reading through insight all day.

So how exactly are they doing this? Here’s Simon’s recipe to success:

Sweat the small stuff

“Post GFC, innovation has been always associated with research and development. But in more recent times, people and customers have come to realise that innovation isn’t always about the newest technology or gadget. It’s often just tapping away to remove a step or part of a process.

“We often find in banking that we build, design, rebuild and redesign technologies very quickly due to tech improvements and resilience. But we often neglect to review the process which the technology facilitates. That often leads to a slick looking application underpinned by a very long, frustrating seven-step process to do something that should only take two.

“We have a goal in which we constantly go through customer journey maps and ask: ‘Does that need to be there? Is it just because it’s always been there?’ As we optimise our websites, online banking platforms and mobile channels, we have the opportunity to challenge and improve the process. We also blend with user experience design so every word, click or tap culminates in a simple, easy to use engagement.”

What to do today: Innovate incrementally. Start with a small pain point with your product, system or process. Pull it apart and put it back together 2% at a time. Overtime, these 2% add to 20% very quickly and culminates in achieving high customer satisfaction at low cost and risk.

Mix it up

“We often find it amusing the costs that come out of delivering innovative technology or simply keeping up with customer demand. All of our banking platforms are designed and built in-house.

“This allows for very tight ‘product teams’ to form with a mix of business and IT people to take a challenge, sketch it, design it, user-test it, build it, secure it and get it out the door within a few days. We have feedback forms that are monitored and answered by product owners so every idea, complaint or comment goes straight to the person who can make a decision and execute on that idea or fix that problem.”

What to do today: Speak constantly to your team to understand roadblocks and attack them one by one to form a lean, effective team. Take the time to also listen to your customers. They should influence and be a part of your strategy and execution, not just an end user.

Look past the fancy reports

“From a design and UX perspective, again we use the same tools that a small business might to perform UI online tests, surveys and lab tests using basic video conference equipment.

“Some of these tools can cost $150 to run and the feedback and insight we get is amazing compared to a $10,000 report. We love using these ‘guerrilla tactics’. From an execution side, it allows us to try a lot of new things and if some don’t hit the mark, there isn’t a swollen budget sitting at the other end.”

What to do today: If you need insight, there’s plenty of it out there for free. Form an idea, build it out with creative and knowledgably colleagues and put it to the test. Learn fast and do it cheap. If the idea doesn’t hit the mark, gather your learnings and put it towards your next opportunity.

Persist

“Having a ‘fail fast and learn’ culture can be difficult to achieve and persist. But with the right attitude, enthusiasm and decision-making capability, we can strive to build the easiest-to-use websites and online banking platforms and see the effects through direct feedback.

“I think the biggest challenge is building the right culture and acknowledging that innovation doesn’t need to be cutting edge development. Simple touches each day accumulate to building an innovative model that customers can appreciate each time they engage us.”

What to do today: Build a safe working environment that allows your staff to thrive in generating and testing ideas. Isolate risk adversity so that it is managed but not impacting your ability to innovate and drive user experience.

Join Simon at Digital Financial Services 2014, he’ll be delivering the Case Study ‘Banking Channels at Speed through Lean Innovation’.  Visit www.digitalfinancialservices.com.au or tweet @digifinance

In a crowded marketplace, is it eBay’s time to shine?

If there’s one organisation that knows about rapid online growth, it’s eBay.

Founded in 1995, eBay Inc. connects hundreds of millions of people around the world every day, empowering them to explore new opportunities and innovate together. eBay’s entire business model is about helping Australian businesses succeed – enabling commerce wherever that may be. As the lines between online and offline continue to blur, eBay Inc works in partnership with retailers to help them stay relevant to their customers in the new retail environment.

Unlike Zappos, whose core business was built on customer service, and Amazon, where shoppers can log on and find virtually anything at a clear, set price. At eBay, customer service was at the mercy of sellers.

The giant online marketplace has quickly stepped up to the mark, re-shaping its core business to evolve the customer experience by aligning it directly to the overall business goals.

eBay.com.au offers brands, retailers and sellers of all sizes a complementary channel to reach more customers and drive sales. “We are focussed on providing retailers with a high traffic sales channel to complement existing stores, websites, social and mobile channels. eBay is a marketplace – and we do not compete with sellers on our platform – rather we are committed to developing innovative solutions that help merchants turbo charge their online and mobile presence.” Explained Cathal Murphy, Director of Customer Experience at eBay Australia and New Zealand.

According to Roy Morgan research, 7.3 million unique visitors come to eBay.com.au in an average one month period. Reaching this vast audience has become an important part of many Australian retailers’ multichannel sales strategy.

“The business grew and expanded rapidly. As a result, customer experience wasn’t our biggest strength in the beginning. Over the last couple of years, the company is more aligned throughout the organisation to the customer experience. It’s part of our whole evolution cycle,”

I recently caught up with Cathal to find out exactly how this is working in practice.

Overall strategy

As a company matures, there’s more focus on the customer experience and retaining existing customers. The key thing is to put the customer in all decisions made within the business.

We’re ensuring that everybody, across the whole organisation, has some shared goals and objectives. Everything we do needs to be on brand, ensuring that the customer has a voice at the table when the decisions are being made. Product, marketing, PR – all decisions made will be based around that customer voice.

Finding the silent sufferers

The ownership is on the people that look after the customer experience side, to bring the customer to life in the business.

We’ll do that through the stories that we tell, bringing customers in, using our online network, and organising customer events. It’s the on-going communication around customer experience and the customer journey.

We get a lot of input from the customers that contact us, but that’s a very low percentage of our overall user base. One of the things we’ve been working on is expanding our listening posts, so that we’re not just making decisions on the customers that do contact us. It’s starting to look at how we can understand and interact with those customers that never contact us – could they be silent sufferers?

It’s those customers who might encounter a problem, give up and never use eBay again. We want to hear about those experiences. Customer visits, going to where our customers are, running focus groups, monitoring our social coverage and really putting ourselves in the shoes of the customer by using the product ourselves – it all helps.

We’re trying to really look at our organisation to find those pain points and challenges, and leverage that information to see if there’s anything we can learn. Overlay that intelligence with the data we have and we can start to identify weak spots and areas requiring our focus.

Acting in the middle ground

The nature of our business is quite unique. Our buyers and sellers communicate with each other and we’re often not privy to that. Our role, particularly with our sellers, is to ensure they’re communicating effectively and delivering a standard of customer service that matches our values.

If we see that a seller has low communication ratings on their feedback, we’ll work with them to really analyse and identify what they’re doing wrong. At the end of the day, even though that communication isn’t directly with us, it’s a reflection on our brand so we want to improve that where possible.

Engage early for business growth

Another focus for us is early engagement to truly understand who our customers are – how can we support them and how can we enable them to be successful?

With our sellers, we’re trying to move away from just being reactive and responding to an issue when they get in contact. Instead we’re going to put triggers in place to help identify potential issues or opportunities earlier.

We can then reach out, educate, coach and mentor our sellers, helping them to grow and scale their business.  In turn, that’s going to create better experiences for our consumers. It’s one of the areas where we’ve invested a lot.

Consumer expectations are constantly changing. Many sellers need somebody to mentor them and coach them about how they need to adapt to remain competitive.

Sometimes, the service they were offering two or three years ago might just not be competitive any more and they’ll need to change their business model. That’s where we have a large role to play, being a mentor and coach for them.

If at first you don’t succeed…

The root of excellent customer experience is in your employees. I’m always pushing my team to look at how we can be bolder and more creative around the customer experience. Let’s do the experiments, let’s do tests, let’s measure the ROI. But ultimately, let’s not be afraid to push the boundaries and try new things.

Several organisations just don’t take enough risks. It’s something I really encourage in my team – it’s ok to fail.

I think the question that we need to ask ourselves is: Are we failing enough? If we’re not, it probably means we’re not being bold enough or being creative enough.

It’s absolutely fine to fail.

Next level customer experience

We’re going to keep evolving and working to better understand our customer’s needs. Segmentation is going to be key in offering a differentiated customer experience.

It’s really understanding who our customers are and what their needs are, and then providing them with an experience that matches those needs

It’s also about how we move faster and how we move quicker, because competition is heating up. We need to be very agile around decision making, and be able to debate, decide, and deliver.  And we need to be able to really create an environment where it’s okay to fail.

Interested in more case studies around customer experience? Check out our 7th annual event

Is bitcoin really the future of payments?

There’s no doubt that virtual currencies have grown over the last few years, digital and mobile wallets are providing platforms to take new currencies mainstream.

Bitcoin has captured the attention and imagination of the tech community at large over the past few years and its momentum shows no sign of slowing. We’re seeing more and more stories hitting the headlines of big value purchases using Bitcoin. There’s no doubt it’s a currency gathering pace and beginning to catch the interest of financial institutions and payment providers.

Ahead of his presentation at the Future of Digital Mobile Payments, I caught up with Mat Holroyd, the founder of BitPiggy, a fixed rate exchange for Bitcoin. We spoke about how Bitcoin has the potential to tap into new markets and how virtual currencies are going to be central to the payments landscape in the future.

How’s the Bitcoin landscape been evolving? Where does BitPiggy come in?

The businesses surrounding Bitcoin were in the beginning largely trading and mining focused, with a trickle of retail merchants who accept Bitcoin showing up continuously over time. As merchants and interest has grown, businesses that copy what you see in the finance and money world have started to show up. For example, Bitcoin based businesses that perform similar roles to PayPal and banks. As interest has grown further, entrepreneurs are gravitating towards copying the big businesses that have been successful in the non-Bitcoin economy, such as Amazon and eBay.

BitPiggy is a simple fixed rate exchange for Bitcoin, mimicking the kind of service you get from little corner store currency exchange (except all online). From that it has morphed into services like Bitcoin-related consulting and general IT support (like email), which can be paid with currency or Bitcoin. A new area I’m getting involved with is offering publication services for developers in countries with strict capital controls. Developers can get paid in Bitcoin as opposed to expensive alternatives. I also tried to launch a Bitcoin-backed debit card, but was pushed back by the regulators.

How do you think Bitcoin can start to break out of its niche audience, where do the opportunities lie?

One of the key markets where decentralized virtual currencies could see huge wide adoptance is among the world’s unbanked people who nevertheless own a smart phone. Statistics vary but something like 50 to 70% of the world’s population does not have a bank account, and of those billions of people, large numbers of them (e.g. in Africa) have smart phones.

In addition, there are compelling reasons for people who have traditional bank accounts to use Bitcoin.

There’s fluctuating value with Bitcoin – do you think that puts businesses off?

Sure. Bitcoin is very new, and like any new technology (or even new money for that matter);there is risk in getting involved early. That said, there are services to reduce risk for retail merchants, as an example who are interested in accepting Bitcoin as payment but don’t want to hold onto Bitcoin.

Where can the benefits really be seen for using Bitcoin over other forms of currency?

Bitcoin has several aspects that make it compelling compared to national currencies. Probably the biggest one is that Bitcoin is decentralized, meaning that anyone can use it without having to get approval first and it is not possible for anyone to prevent anyone from doing what they want with their money. There are no forms to fill out like with a traditional bank account, there are no capital controls, there no age requirements, no country restrictions, no address requirements. Basically no requirements besides a computer or smart phone.

Another benefit of Bitcoin is the low inflationary nature of the money supply, which should cause price deflation over time, like gold.

What’s the future, where’s your focus from here to get the buy in of a pretty tech savvy Australia?

There are many exciting things happening in and around the Bitcoin world. For instance, there are many virtual currencies that are taking the Bitcoin idea and running with it. There are people trying to make Bitcoin more anonymous, and there are people who have taken the decentralized nature of Bitcoin and applying it to things like messaging.

I don’t have much of a focus on Australia per se, as I think there are bigger opportunities overseas. That said, the recent decision by the Reserve Bank of Australia to cut interest rates to historic lows, causing the AUD to drop -5% compared to USD highlights the benefits of a decentralized money like Bitcoin: no one can arbitrarily decide to devalue your money.