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Double Down & Double Up [Hot Takes + Event Highlights]

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Double Down & Double Up [Hot Takes + Event Highlights]

12+ state legislators have introduced bills reining in DEI programs in universities, more than 600 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures, and 1 in 3 DEI roles have been eliminated over the last year. Can DEI continue? It was a resounding “yes” at this year’s ADCOLOR 2023 Conference that encouraged DEI professionals to double down and double up to create lasting change in the face of adversity.

In a dynamic showcase of diversity, creativity, and inclusion, ADCOLOR 2023 brought together industry leaders, visionaries, and change-makers in the DEI space from November 9 to 11 at the JW Marriott LA Live in Los Angeles, California. The theme “Double Down & Double Up,” celebrated professionals at all levels and underscored the ongoing importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the creative industries. Sessions encouraged the consistent amplification of diverse voices, and reminded attendees that what happens in this world is a mirror of our world at large and by changing one, we can start to change the other. Tinuiti was honored to be on the ground at this event, gaining invaluable insights that will shape our future approach to advertising and DEI in the workplace.

In this post, we’ll cover our top highlights and key takeaways from ADCOLOR 2023. These are a sampling of just some of the stand-out moments. 

“Our theme of ‘Double Down & Double Up’ makes it clear that even when there is a regression of support, the ADCOLOR community will stand strong and hold the line for diversity, equity and inclusion. ADCOLOR 2023 will be a safe space for our diverse communities and allies to activate inspiration and continue to push ahead the progress that has been made.”

– Tiffany R. Warren, Founder and President of ADCOLOR

 

Top: Chelsey Codrington, Sr. Director, Client Strategy and Chair of Tinuiti’s Diversity Council, Javier Carmona Program Manager, D&I | Tinuiti, Ronnie D’Amico SVP, Communications | Tinuiti, Jeff Batuhan Chief People Officer, Tinuiti Bottom: Ronnie Dickerson Stewart, Tinuiti’s DEI Leader-in-Residence, Devin Kates D&I Specialist | Tinuiti

ADCOLOR 2023 Sessions: Key Event Highlights 

While ADCOLOR featured dozens of thought-provoking sessions, here’s a select glimpse of those that made the most impact on the Tinuiti delegation.  

Inclusion Drives Impact: Where Marketing and Brands Converge for Real Change

In a captivating conversation involving marketing strategists and partnership leads, Disney’s Jan Coleman, Brittney Todd, and Erica Hansen explored the ways Disney elevated its marketing initiatives and collaborations, using films like “The Little Mermaid” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” to enrich narratives. The objective was to amplify and enhance these stories, fostering a positive impact on interconnected audiences, consumers, and the industry as a whole.

The leaders at Disney highlighted how the emphasis on inclusion extended beyond a business objective. They highlighted how inclusion became a fundamental requirement to ensure that audiences and consumers could see themselves authentically represented on screen.

“The person that is sitting next to me does not look like me and sometimes that’s a good thing so that you can learn from someone that’s different from you. Inclusivity starts with you as the individual and we don’t have to wait until someone tells us it’s okay to be inclusive. I think sometimes we feel discouraged if we don’t get permission from leadership, so don’t ever get discouraged. It starts with you and your passion.” 

– Jan Coleman, Vice President, Global Marketing Partnerships at The Walt Disney Studios

Brick by Brick: Building Equity and Sustainable Growth for Black Women-Owned Brands

During this session, the discussion centered on the challenges faced by black women entrepreneurs in the U.S. Speakers noted that despite 17% of black women in the U.S. launching or running businesses, only 3% see their ventures reach maturity. Amazon facilitated a conversation featuring entrepreneurs such as Tracee Ellis Ross of PATTERN Beauty, Toyin Kolawole of Iya Foods, and Beverly Melbranche of Caribbrew. 

These industry leaders shared practical strategies aimed at fostering long-term success for brands of various sizes… 

  • Consumer Research: Giving consumers what they are actually asking for, not what you think they need as a brand. 
  • Brand Creative & Messaging Alignment: Implementing messaging that resonates with consumers based on diverse voices.
  • Resource Sharing & Investment: Tapping into resources in the market, specifically from other businesses who have done it well and sharing those between teams for amplified growth.

“It’s been very hard differentiating myself as a black woman in America but one of the things that I notice is that when we ask the right questions and get the right answers, we’re able to achieve that success. How do we get in touch with our customers in the right way? 2.7M businesses are black female owned. If you are in a position of power, call those around you to be a part of it, do that. It’s diversity equity and inclusion, people do the diversity and inclusion, but it’s the equity that fuels the inclusion.” 

Tracee Ross

– Tracee Ellis Ross, Award-winning actress, producer, and CEO/Founder at PATTERN Beauty

Hidden Battlefield: Unearthing Safety Crisis in DEI Work

Lois Castillo, Head of DEI at Basis Technologies; Ronnie Dickerson Stewart, Tinuiti’s DEI Leader-in-Residence & Founder & Principal, Oh Hey Coach; Soon Mee Kim, Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer, Omnicom Public Relations Group, and Aisha Losche, Chief Diversity Officer at Draper sat down for an important panel discussion delving into the challenges faced by DEI practitioners, highlighting hidden dangers, systemic hurdles, and the often-overlooked mental health outcomes stemming from their work. The session emphasized the need for updated industry standards, leadership responsibility, and proactive measures to address and mitigate these risks.

A significant focus of the discussion was on the uncomfortable aspects of DEI work that practitioners typically endure in silence. The session provided insights into a playbook, listed below, of strategies to establish allyship and safety nets, especially in the face of online harassment and real-life threats that contribute to burnout… 

 

  • Educate other departments about your role and involve them in DEI efforts, emphasizing that DEI is a collective responsibility, not confined to one person or team. Recognize the importance of seeking support and accessing necessary resources.

 

  • Gain a comprehensive understanding of the current and future requirements of your work in DEI.

 

  • Review and redefine your job responsibilities by clearly delineating what you are paid to do, what you are asked to do, and what you need to do. Embrace the assignment with confidence, holding your head high.

 

  • Assess the security measures required for your role and familiarize yourself with the existing company policies that support DEI efforts. Advocate for necessary changes or additions to enhance your support.

 

  • Recognize that mutual support is a crucial resource in DEI work. Acknowledge the potential isolation and weightiness of the role, emphasizing the need for a network of trusted individuals around you.

 

The session’s bottom line conveyed a powerful message: DEI professionals are not alone in their challenges, and the importance for organizations to prioritize the well-being of those dedicated to taking care of their people in the realm of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“People in positions of power need the audacity to reset the room.” 

ronnie dickerson

– Ronnie Dickerson Stewart, Tinuiti’s DEI Leader-in-Residence & Founder & Principal, Oh Hey Coach

 

Tinuiti Team at ADCOLOR 2023

Left to right: Jeff Batuhan Chief People Officer, Tinuiti, Devin Kates D&I Specialist | Tinuiti, Ronnie Dickerson Stewart, Tinuiti’s DEI Leader-in-Residence, Chelsey Codrington, Sr. Director, Client Strategy and Chair of Tinuiti’s Diversity Council, Ronnie D’Amico SVP, Communications | Tinuiti

Dismantling Disinformation: How to Reframe and Refocus DEI Efforts

Brands committed to inclusivity and DEI practitioners are in a perpetual struggle against misinformation surrounding equity and inclusion. During this session, industry leaders advocated for winning strategies to counteract this challenge, such as reshaping language to secure executive buy-in and investment, transforming “inclusion” from a source of inspiration into a tool for growth, and setting enduring, consistent goals.

They encouraged DEI professionals to ask the question, “What is your company doing internally to reflect the image you are showcasing externally? How are they matching?” 

“Don’t ask for permission to do it, ask for the power to do it.”

Smith

– Adrianne C. Smith, SVP and Senior Partner, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at FleishmanHillard

Raise the Volume: Why Amplifying Diverse Voices is Good for Business and Culture 

In this panel session, Scottie Beam, Joe Hadley, Kristin Jarrett, Sylvia Obell, and Jazmine Settles,  discussed the impact of sustained support from brands on diverse creators. The conversation focused on empowering underrepresented talent and implementing strategies to broaden audience engagement and profitability, all while ensuring that external voices align with internal commitments to equity and inclusion. 

Joe Hadley, Global Head of Artist Partnerships & Audience at Spotify, noted that you can’t support black, brown, or queer artists if your executive team isn’t reflective. He noted brands to be deliberate in budget placement, ensuring it goes beyond typical areas. Hadley also highlighted the importance of breaking historical patterns and showcasing diverse voices where they may not be expected.

The discussion delved into creating equity programs within brands, emphasizing the necessity of having the right leaders to empower the right people in the right rooms. Settles emphasized the importance of an “always-on” mentality, placing diverse creators at the center of campaigns and utilizing platforms to fill white spaces and close gaps.

The panel also provided “Green Flags” for working with partners, emphasizing honest and direct communication, understanding the audience, and addressing imposter syndrome. The significance of diverse agency partners was stressed, with a call to ensure diversity not only within the company but also among agency representatives, as they play a crucial role in representing brands.

“Hire people and agencies who are also very diverse – don’t just make sure your company is diverse but also your agency partners because they represent brands – you have to have like minded partners to learn from.” 

scottie beam

– Scottie Beam, Podcast Host, Media Personality, Radio

Bridge The Gap: How to Increase LGBTQ+ Engagement in Advertising & Branding 

Marketing leaders discussed GLAAD’s latest research  around the current sentiment of brands investing in campaigns related to the LGBTQ+ community. The panel, featuring Meghan Barterly from GLAAD and Ravleen Beeston from Microsoft Advertising, delved into the study’s findings, offering unique insights into the evolution (and lack thereof) of LGBTQ+ representation in advertising.

Key points from the discussion included the industry’s fear of potential boycotts for including LGBTQ+ content and that one-third of the industry reported having no budget specifically allocated to target the LGBTQ+ community. GLAAD cited specific concerns often heard from brands: featuring the LGBTQ+ community doesn’t have enough value to include in campaigns compared to the risk and backlash they may face , featuring transgender and non-binary people will detract from messaging; potential risk of lawsuit was too high.

The main takeaway emphasized the need for executives to have tools and support, particularly from partners like GLAAD, to effectively engage with and represent the LGBTQ+ community. While recognizing the business growth opportunities, the panel stressed the importance of focusing on case studies to showcase the value of such engagements.

“Executives need tools to help them do the work and they need support from partners to show the work that drives value and business growth – show them the case studies.”

meghan bartley

– Meghan Bartley, Director of Agencies, Brands, and Engagement, GLAAD

“We’ve been a leader in DEI policies and resources for our employees for 30 years – companies need fundamental policies and strategies to drive systematic change.”

Beeson

– Ravleen Beeston, Regional Vice President, Microsoft Advertising, UK, Microsoft 

Conclusion

“Let’s make the pledge to harness the power of our collective, to push forward even when the road is bumpy, to double down and double up.”

– ADCOLOR 2023 

The 2023 ADCOLOR conference highlighted the enduring importance of DEI in advertising. This year, the imperative to double down and double up on DEI conversations is more vital than ever, emphasizing that DEI is not a passing trend but a critical part of our industry. The call is clear—to come together, renew our commitment, and engage in conversations that lead to substantial investments in organizations and brands to drive fundamental changes for a more inclusive and equitable future.

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The marketing lifecycle: An overview

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The marketing lifecycle: An overview

Remember when digital marketing was simple? Create content, throw it over the wall, hope for the best.

Note that we said “simple,” not effective.

To be effective is more complicated, and this keeps accelerating. There are so many options, so many channels, and so many audiences, that effective digital marketing requires a term to which people often react strongly—

Process.

Very few people inherently like the idea of “process.” It brings forth visions of rigidity and inertia.

But there simply has to be a framework in which to produce and publish effective marketing assets. Without this, you have nothing but chaos from which productive work gets done accidentally, at best.

How did it get this way for the enterprise? How did things become so interconnected?

  • Marketing isn’t a point in time, it’s an activity stream. It’s a line of dominoes you need to knock over, roughly in order. Lots of organizations do well at some, but fail on others, and thus break the chain of what could be an effective process.
  • Marketing activities overlap. It’d be great if we could do one thing at a time, but the marketing pipeline is never empty. Campaigns target different audiences at the same time, and new campaigns are being prepared as existing campaigns are closing.
  • Marketing involves a lot of actors at vastly different levels. There’s your content team, of course, reviewers, external agencies and contractors, designers, developers, and—of course—stakeholders and executives. Each group has different needs for collaboration, input, and reporting.

Some of the best business advice boils down to this: “Always understand the big picture.” You might be asked to do one specific thing in a process, but make sure you understand the context of that specific thing—where does it fit in the larger framework? Where does it get input from? How are its outputs used?

In this article, we’re going to zoom out for an overhead view of how Optimizely One helps you juggle the complete marketing lifecycle, from start to finish, without letting anything drop.

1. Intake 

Ideas are born everywhere—maybe with you, maybe with your staff, maybe with someone who has no connection with marketing at all, and maybe from an external source, like an ad agency or PR firm. Leading organizations have found a way to widen the top end of their pipeline—the start of their content marketing funnel—and take in more ideas from more sources.

Good ideas combine. Someone has one half of an idea, and someone else has the other half. The goal of effective collaboration is to get those two pieces together. One plus one can sometimes equal three, and more ideas mean better ideas overall. Creativity is about getting more puzzle pieces on the table so you can figure out which ones fit your strategy.

How do you manage the flow of ideas? How do you make sure good ideas don’t get dropped, but rather become great content? The only way to publish great content is to get ideas into the top end of the pipe. 

 

Optimizely One can streamline and accelerate your content intake using templated intake forms mapped to intelligent routing rules and shared queues. Everyone in your organization can know where content is developed and how to contribute to ideas, content, and campaigns currently in-process. Your content team can easily manage and collaborate on requests, meaning content development can become focused, rather than spread out across the organization. 

2. Plan

Campaigns don’t exist in a vacuum. They share the stage with other campaigns—both in terms of audience attention and employee workload. Leading organizations ensure that their campaigns are coordinated, for maximum audience effect and efficiency of workload.

Pick a time scale and plan it from overhead. What campaigns will you execute during this period? In what order? How do they overlap? Then, break each campaign down—what tasks are required to complete and launch? Who owns them? In what stage of completion are they in? What resources are required to complete them? 

Good marketing campaigns aren’t run in isolation. They’re a closely aligned part of an evolving body of work, carefully planned and executed.

 

Optimizely One provides comprehensive editorial calendaring and scheduling. Every marketing activity can have an easily accessible strategic brief and dedicated workspaces in which to collaborate. Your content team and your stakeholders can know, at a glance, what marketing activities are in-process, when they’re scheduled to launch, who is assigned to what, and what’s remaining on the calendar.  

3. Create 

Good content takes fingers on keyboards, but that’s not all. 

Content creators need frameworks in which to generate effective content. They need the tools to share, collaborate, structure, stage, and approve their work. Good content comes in part from tooling designed to empower content creators. 

Your content team needs a home base—the digital equivalent of an artist’s studio. They need a platform which is authoritative for all their marketing assets; a place that everyone on the team knows is going to have the latest schedules, the latest drafts, the official assets, and every task on the road to publication. 

Content creation isn’t magic—it doesn’t just appear out of the ether. It comes from intentional teams working in structured frameworks. 

 

Optimizely One gives your editors the tools they need for the content creation process, AI-enabled editing environments for fingers-on-keyboards, all the way through intelligent workflows for collaboration and approvals. Authors can write, designers can upload and organize, project managers can combine and coordinate, stakeholders can review, and external teams can collaborate. All within a framework centered around moving your campaigns forward. 

4. Store 

Leading organizations look at content beyond its immediate utility. Everything your content teams do becomes an incremental part of an evolving body of work. Content doesn’t appear and disappear; rather, it continually enlarges and refines a body of work that represents your organization over time. 

Good creative teams remix and transform old ideas into new ones. They can locate content assets quickly and easily to evolve them into new campaigns quickly. They don’t reinvent the wheel every time, because they lean on a deep reservoir of prior art and existing creative components. 

Digital asset and content management should store content in a structured, atomic format, allowing your organization to store, retrieve, organize, and re-use marketing assets quickly and easily. 

 

Optimizely One gives your content team a place to store their content assets, from text and rich media. Content can be archived and organized, either manually, or by using AI to automatically extract tags. Content can be stored as pure data, free from presentation, which makes it easy to re-use. Your content team will always know where to find work in progress, media to support emerging campaigns, or assets from past campaigns. Brand portals make it easy to share assets with external organizations.

5. Globalize 

Business happens all over the world in every language. To effectively compete around the world, your content needs to be globalized. 

Globalization of content is a holistic practice that affects every part of the content lifecycle. Words need to be translated, of course, but you also need to consider cultural globalization—images and symbols that might change—as well as globalization for numbers, currency, and time zones. Going even deeper, you might have to make design changes to accommodate things like differing word lengths and the flow of text. 

Beyond simply changing content, your work process is affected. When does translation happen? Who is authorized to order it? Who can perform it? How do you bring external translation companies into your internal processes, and how does this affect the flow of content through your organization?  

 

Optimizely One helps you manage the entire globalization process, whether it’s done in-house or automatically via one of our translation partners. Your customers can be served content in their language and culture, and you can carefully control the alternate, “fallback” experience for languages not yet available, or when you’re not translating all of your content.  

6. Layout 

Some experiences need to be visually composed from a palette of content and design components. Designers and marketers want to see exactly what their content looks like before they publish. 

In some cases, this is easy—everyone should be able to see what a web page looks like before it goes live. But what about your mobile app? What about display advertising? A social media update? 

And what happens when you’re modifying content based on behavior and demographics? If you want to see how your web page will look for someone from California who has visited your site before and already downloaded your whitepaper on their iPhone…can you? 

Content no longer leaves your organization on a single channel. Composition and preview is always contextual—there is no single, default experience. Leading organizations want full control over their visual presentation and they know that they need to see their content through the eyes of their customers.  

 

Optimizely One provides the tools to visually compose experiences across multiple channels and can preview that experience when viewed through the personalization lens of whatever demographic and behavioral data you can dream up. And this works regardless of channel: web, email, display advertising—everything can be previewed in real-time. 

7. Deliver 

Content can’t do any good unless it can reach your customers. You need to publish your content to them, wherever they are, which means having the flexibility to push content into multiple channels, in multiple formats. 

A consumable piece of media is an “artifact.” Your content is the idea and message that make up that artifact. Leading organizations develop their content separate from any concept of an artifact, then transform it into different formats to fit the channel that will spread their message most effectively. 

Sure, make a web page—but also push that content to your mobile app, and into your social networks. Broadcast a text message, and an email. While you’re at it, push the information into the display panel in the elevators. Let’s be bold and broadcast it on the TV screens that play while your customers fill up with gas. 

The key is delivery flexibility. The world of content delivery has changed remarkably in just the last few years. It will no-doubt change more in the future. No platform can anticipate what’s coming, so you just need the flexibility to be ready to adapt to what happens. 

 

Optimizely One provides complete delivery flexibility. Our systems store your content separate from presentation, and allow multiple ways to access it, from traditional websites to headless APIs to connect your content to mobile apps or other decoupled experiences. Your content can be combined with internally-stored content or third-party content to provide a seamless “content reservoir” to draw on from all of your channels. 

8. Personalize 

Throughout this lifecycle, we’ve moved from content, to artifacts, and now on to “experiences.” 

One person consuming an artifact—reading a web page, listening to a podcast, watching a video—is an experience. Just like one piece of content can generate more than one artifact, one artifact should enable thousands of experiences. 

Technology has advanced to the point where all of those experiences can be managed. Instead of every customer getting the same experience, it can be personalized to that specific customer in that specific moment. 

You can do this using simple demographic or technographic data—perhaps you cut down the information and make your content more task-oriented when you detect someone is on a mobile device. However, the real power comes when you begin tracking behavior, consolidating information about your customers, and giving them specific content based on what you’ve observed. 

Leading organizations have a single location to track customer behavior and data. For every experience, they know exactly what this customer has done, how they’ve interacted with the organization, and they can predict what they’ll do next. Content and artifacts will morph themselves to fit each individual experience. 

 

Optimizely One connects both customer behavior and demographics along with the tools to activate that data to affect your customers’ experiences. Our platform allows you to track customer behavior and match that with customer demographics—this includes behavior tracking for customers you can’t even identify yet. Based on that behavior and stored data, editors can modify experiences in real-time, changing content and design to match to what each individual customer is most likely to respond. Or let the machine do the work, with personalized content and product recommendations. 

9. Experiment 

No matter how much you know, customers will always surprise you. The right answer to persuading your customer to take an action might be something you’re not even thinking of. Or, you might have an idea, but you’re not confident enough to bank on it. And let’s face it—sometimes, you just love two different ideas. 

Wouldn’t it be great if you could publish more than one thing? 

You absolutely can. And you absolutely should.

Leading organizations let go of the idea that an experience is bound to one version of an artifact. Don’t just write one title for that blog post—write three. Publish them all and show them randomly. Let your customers tell you—by their next action—which one was the right one to use. 

Experimentation allows you to try new things without the inertia of re-considering and re-drafting all your content. Ideas can go from your mind to pixels on the screen quickly and easily, and you can see what works and what doesn’t. Try a new title, or next text on a button. Does it give you better results? If so, great, keep it. If not, throw it away and try something else.

Refine, refine, refine. The idea that you publish content in one form and just hope it’s the right one is a set of handcuffs that can be tough to shake. But the results can be impressive.

 

Optimizely One allows you to quickly create and publish multiple variations of content and content elements to any channel. You can separate your content into elements and try different combinations to see which one drives your customers to move forward in their journey, then automatically route more traffic through winning combinations. You can manage feature rollouts and soft-launches, enabling specific functionality for specific audiences in any channel. 

10. Analyze 

The key to a learning and evolving content team is a transparent and unflinching look into what happens to your content after it’s published.

Analytics need to be considered in the context of the entire content domain. What content performs well but has low traffic? What content is consumed often but never moves customers down their buying journey? Customer behavior needs to be tracked carefully, then used to segment customers into audiences, based on both your content team’s observations and insights provided by AI. 

 

Optimizely One offers complete behavior tracking and content analysis, showing you what content works, what content doesn’t, and what your customers are doing during every step of their relationship with your entire digital estate. 

Juggle the entire lifecycle 

“Publishing myopia” prevents most organizations from truly benefiting from the power of their content and marketing technology. Too many ideas are undercut by an obsession with the publish button. We rush content out the door and just throw it over the wall and hope it lands. 

Within that mode of thinking, great ideas get trapped under the surface. Great content is delivered to only one channel in one language. Great experiences never see the light of day because content exists in only one form. And every customer sees the same thing, no matter how their own experience might benefit from something else. 

Remember: the marketing lifecycle is a series of stages

Each stage builds on the last and allows content to grow from a random idea your team takes in from the field and turns it into a spectacular multi-channel experience which rearranges and modifies itself to fit each customer. 

Juggling all of the steps in the marketing lifecycle can be done, but it’s easy to lose the forest for the trees and get too myopic about individual steps in this process. Leading organizations step back, consider the entire cycle from start to finish, and make sure their ideas, their products, and their messages are enhanced and strengthened in every step. 

 

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Comparing Credibility of Custom Chatbots & Live Chat

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Building Customer Trust: Comparing Credibility of Custom Chatbots & Live Chat

Addressing customer issues quickly is not merely a strategy to distinguish your brand; it’s an imperative for survival in today’s fiercely competitive marketplace.

Customer frustration can lead to customer churn. That’s precisely why organizations employ various support methods to ensure clients receive timely and adequate assistance whenever they require it.

Nevertheless, selecting the most suitable support channel isn’t always straightforward. Support teams often grapple with the choice between live chat and chatbots.

The automation landscape has transformed how businesses engage with customers, elevating chatbots as a widely embraced support solution. As more companies embrace technology to enhance their customer service, the debate over the credibility of chatbots versus live chat support has gained prominence.

However, customizable chatbot continue to offer a broader scope for personalization and creating their own chatbots.

In this article, we will delve into the world of customer support, exploring the advantages and disadvantages of both chatbots and live chat and how they can influence customer trust. By the end, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of which option may be the best fit for your business.

The Rise of Chatbots

Chatbots have become increasingly prevalent in customer support due to their ability to provide instant responses and cost-effective solutions. These automated systems use artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) to engage with customers in real-time, making them a valuable resource for businesses looking to streamline their customer service operations.

Advantages of Chatbots

24/7 Availability

One of the most significant advantages of custom chatbots is their round-the-clock availability. They can respond to customer inquiries at any time, ensuring that customers receive support even outside regular business hours.

Consistency

Custom Chatbots provide consistent responses to frequently asked questions, eliminating the risk of human error or inconsistency in service quality.

Cost-Efficiency

Implementing chatbots can reduce operational costs by automating routine inquiries and allowing human agents to focus on more complex issues.

Scalability

Chatbots can handle multiple customer interactions simultaneously, making them highly scalable as your business grows.

Disadvantages of Chatbots

Limited Understanding

Chatbots may struggle to understand complex or nuanced inquiries, leading to frustration for customers seeking detailed information or support.

Lack of Empathy

Chatbots lack the emotional intelligence and empathy that human agents can provide, making them less suitable for handling sensitive or emotionally charged issues.

Initial Setup Costs

Developing and implementing chatbot technology can be costly, especially for small businesses.

The Role of Live Chat Support

Live chat support, on the other hand, involves real human agents who engage with customers in real-time through text-based conversations. While it may not offer the same level of automation as custom chatbots, live chat support excels in areas where human interaction and empathy are crucial.

Advantages of Live Chat

Human Touch

Live chat support provides a personal touch that chatbots cannot replicate. Human agents can empathize with customers, building a stronger emotional connection.

Complex Issues

For inquiries that require a nuanced understanding or involve complex problem-solving, human agents are better equipped to provide in-depth assistance.

Trust Building

Customers often trust human agents more readily, especially when dealing with sensitive matters or making important decisions.

Adaptability

Human agents can adapt to various customer personalities and communication styles, ensuring a positive experience for diverse customers.

Disadvantages of Live Chat

Limited Availability

Live chat support operates within specified business hours, which may not align with all customer needs, potentially leading to frustration.

Response Time

The speed of response in live chat support can vary depending on agent availability and workload, leading to potential delays in customer assistance.

Costly

Maintaining a live chat support team with trained agents can be expensive, especially for smaller businesses strategically.

Building Customer Trust: The Credibility Factor

When it comes to building customer trust, credibility is paramount. Customers want to feel that they are dealing with a reliable and knowledgeable source. Both customziable chatbots and live chat support can contribute to credibility, but their effectiveness varies in different contexts.

Building Trust with Chatbots

Chatbots can build trust in various ways:

Consistency

Chatbots provide consistent responses, ensuring that customers receive accurate information every time they interact with them.

Quick Responses

Chatbots offer instant responses, which can convey a sense of efficiency and attentiveness.

Data Security

Chatbots can assure customers of their data security through automated privacy policies and compliance statements.

However, custom chatbots may face credibility challenges when dealing with complex issues or highly emotional situations. In such cases, the lack of human empathy and understanding can hinder trust-building efforts.

Building Trust with Live Chat Support

Live chat support, with its human touch, excels at building trust in several ways:

Empathy

Human agents can show empathy by actively listening to customers’ concerns and providing emotional support.

Tailored Solutions

Live chat agents can tailor solutions to individual customer needs, demonstrating a commitment to solving their problems.

Flexibility

Human agents can adapt to changing customer requirements, ensuring a personalized and satisfying experience.

However, live chat support’s limitations, such as availability and potential response times, can sometimes hinder trust-building efforts, especially when customers require immediate assistance.

Finding the Right Balance

The choice between custom chatbots and live chat support is not always binary. Many businesses find success by integrating both options strategically:

Initial Interaction

Use chatbots for initial inquiries, providing quick responses, and gathering essential information. This frees up human agents to handle more complex cases.

Escalation to Live Chat

Implement a seamless escalation process from custom chatbots to live chat support when customer inquiries require a higher level of expertise or personal interaction.

Continuous Improvement

Regularly analyze customer interactions and feedback to refine your custom chatbot’s responses and improve the overall support experience.

Conclusion

In the quest to build customer trust, both chatbots and live chat support have their roles to play. Customizable Chatbots offer efficiency, consistency, and round-the-clock availability, while live chat support provides the human touch, empathy, and adaptability. The key is to strike the right balance, leveraging the strengths of each to create a credible and trustworthy customer support experience. By understanding the unique advantages and disadvantages of both options, businesses can make informed decisions to enhance customer trust and satisfaction in the digital era.

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MARKETING

The Rise in Retail Media Networks

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A shopping cart holding the Amazon logo to represent the rise in retail media network advertising.

As LL Cool J might say, “Don’t call it a comeback. It’s been here for years.”

Paid advertising is alive and growing faster in different forms than any other marketing method.

Magna, a media research firm, and GroupM, a media agency, wrapped the year with their ad industry predictions – expect big growth for digital advertising in 2024, especially with the pending US presidential political season.

But the bigger, more unexpected news comes from the rise in retail media networks – a relative newcomer in the industry.

Watch CMI’s chief strategy advisor Robert Rose explain how these trends could affect marketers or keep reading for his thoughts:

GroupM expects digital advertising revenue in 2023 to conclude with a 5.8% or $889 billion increase – excluding political advertising. Magna believes ad revenue will tick up 5.5% this year and jump 7.2% in 2024. GroupM and Zenith say 2024 will see a more modest 4.8% growth.

Robert says that the feeling of an ad slump and other predictions of advertising’s demise in the modern economy don’t seem to be coming to pass, as paid advertising not only survived 2023 but will thrive in 2024.

What’s a retail media network?

On to the bigger news – the rise of retail media networks. Retail media networks, the smallest segment in these agencies’ and research firms’ evaluation, will be one of the fastest-growing and truly important digital advertising formats in 2024.

GroupM suggests the $119 billion expected to be spent in the networks this year and should grow by a whopping 8.3% in the coming year.  Magna estimates $124 billion in ad revenue from retail media networks this year.

“Think about this for a moment. Retail media is now almost a quarter of the total spent on search advertising outside of China,” Robert points out.

You’re not alone if you aren’t familiar with retail media networks. A familiar vernacular in the B2C world, especially the consumer-packaged goods industry, retail media networks are an advertising segment you should now pay attention to.

Retail media networks are advertising platforms within the retailer’s network. It’s search advertising on retailers’ online stores. So, for example, if you spend money to advertise against product keywords on Amazon, Walmart, or Instacart, you use a retail media network.

But these ad-buying networks also exist on other digital media properties, from mini-sites to videos to content marketing hubs. They also exist on location through interactive kiosks and in-store screens. New formats are rising every day.

Retail media networks make sense. Retailers take advantage of their knowledge of customers, where and why they shop, and present offers and content relevant to their interests. The retailer uses their content as a media company would, knowing their customers trust them to provide valuable information.

Think about these 2 things in 2024

That brings Robert to two things he wants you to consider for 2024 and beyond. The first is a question: Why should you consider retail media networks for your products or services?   

Advertising works because it connects to the idea of a brand. Retail media networks work deep into the buyer’s journey. They use the consumer’s presence in a store (online or brick-and-mortar) to cross-sell merchandise or become the chosen provider.

For example, Robert might advertise his Content Marketing Strategy book on Amazon’s retail network because he knows his customers seek business books. When they search for “content marketing,” his book would appear first.

However, retail media networks also work well because they create a brand halo effect. Robert might buy an ad for his book in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal because he knows their readers view those media outlets as reputable sources of information. He gains some trust by connecting his book to their media properties.

Smart marketing teams will recognize the power of the halo effect and create brand-level experiences on retail media networks. They will do so not because they seek an immediate customer but because they can connect their brand content experience to a trusted media network like Amazon, Nordstrom, eBay, etc.

The second thing Robert wants you to think about relates to the B2B opportunity. More retail media network opportunities for B2B brands are coming.

You can already buy into content syndication networks such as Netline, Business2Community, and others. But given the astronomical growth, for example, of Amazon’s B2B marketplace ($35 billion in 2023), Robert expects a similar trend of retail media networks to emerge on these types of platforms.   

“If I were Adobe, Microsoft, Salesforce, HubSpot, or any brand with big content platforms, I’d look to monetize them by selling paid sponsorship of content (as advertising or sponsored content) on them,” Robert says.

As you think about creative ways to use your paid advertising spend, consider the retail media networks in 2024.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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