Category Archives: CRM News and Info

Microsoft Dynamics 365: All About Insights

eye 300x141 Microsoft Dynamics 365: All About InsightsAs we resume our Dynamics 365 Deep Dive journey, we focus on Insights. The motto in real estate is “location, location, location.” Let’s see how Microsoft, one of the leaders in applying artificial and machine learning intelligence to their Sales, Marketing, and Service applications, makes a case for “Insights, Insights, Insights” being their new catchphrase.

I commend Microsoft for spurring on the competition by applying very useful technology to customer-facing applications; that being said, the word Insights is a little overdone here. In this blog, we will discuss each of these and its benefits so as to provide you with a more thorough understanding of what it all means.

Let’s see how intuitive Insights can be!

Insights – Powered by InsideView

Insights, formerly known as Customer Insights – Powered by InsideView, provides the Dynamics 365 user with comprehensive company and contact data, timely news and social feeds, along with a substantial network of professional connections that can be used to your strategic advantage during the marketing and selling process to be stay connected, sell smarter, and thrive.

Insights has been on the market for a few years and continues to see improvements. In the most recent version, the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) see significant updates. Here is the improved “card” view:
dynamics 365 insights inside view Microsoft Dynamics 365: All About Insights
The expanded Insights view:
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Social Insights

Social Insights merges Microsoft Social Engagement with Dynamics 365. Social Insights from Social Engagement gives you the ability to analyze social media data to identify emerging trends, be they positive, negative, or neutral, in people’s comments. You have the option of drilling down into data so you can see what people have said, and immediately act on it:
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Customer Insights

The ability to combine data from a variety of sources and generate knowledge and insight are key functions of Customer Insights, a cloud-based SaaS service. What this does is allow you to build a holistic 360° customer view. Customer Insights provides the option to connect to transactional data sources along with customers’ model profiles and interactions. This function enables organizations the ability to create insights through KPIs about their business. In its current version, Customer Insights involves substantial setup and does require an Azure subscription. While this one is still in its early stages, it will be very significant:

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Relationship Insights

The ideal end-goal is to develop personalized, productive relationships with both your customers and your prospects. To achieve this goal, the most recent version of Dynamics 365 constantly analyzes a vast collection of stored customer-interactions in your Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Exchange systems. This allows you to gain a better understanding of your business relationships, enables you to evaluate your activities in relation to prior successes, giving you the ability to choose that next best action:
microsoft dynamics 365 relationship insights Microsoft Dynamics 365: All About Insights
microsoft dynamics 365 relationship insights screenshot 625x445 Microsoft Dynamics 365: All About Insights
Relationship Insights includes four components:

  • Relationship Analytics – natural language processing in visual mode that evaluates the sentiment of email and various communications sent by your customers and prospects. Predictive intelligence scrutinizes signals such as prospect email responses and amount of lead interactions, comparing them to patterns gathered from previous successful sales.
  • Relationship Assistant – actionable cards tailor-made for each user’s specific role. Your sales team, for example, might only see items like scheduled calls, travel itineraries, and due dates for proposals. Whereas, your customer support people would see support tickets, germane emails, and outage notices, with all information prioritized for action determined by relationship health.
  • Auto Capture – automatically track your emails, tasks, and activities while integrating with Microsoft Exchange. With Auto Capture, users can channel external data into Dynamics 365, automatically creating and updating custom records. No code writing necessary. Routine activities like emails and social actions are generated based on rules users specify for their contacts and communications. Custom activities can be created as well.
  • Email Engagement – allows you to track what occurs with your emails once they are sent. It provides these three capabilities:
  • Compose and Send: Send and track opens and clicks of recipients. This feature lets users schedule email sends when business intelligence data shows the period a prospect is most likely to open their email. The feature will instantly set reminders to follow up on unopened messages at the appropriate time.
  • Tracking and Analytics: Get information on how, when, and where recipients engage with your emails. Whether your recipient is reading your messages on the go from their mobile device or bright and early at their desk, you’ll know.
  • Mobile Email Application: Track attachments, view email statistics, and monitor the timeline of your activity all on your smartphone or tablet:
    email engagement with microsoft dynamics 365 625x291 Microsoft Dynamics 365: All About Insights

Organization Insights

Organization Insights (for Dynamics 365 online only) liberates organizations, allowing them to drive end-user adoption, troubleshoot with ease, all while ensuring better performance within their Dynamics 365 instance.
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So, what’s the motto? Insights, Insights, Insights for Dynamics 365!

Join is for our webcast, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Deep Dive, Part 4: It’s all about Insights, Insights, Insights webinar on April 20th as we do a live, deep-dive demonstration of what you can do with these new capabilities.

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CRM Software Blog | Dynamics 365

Customer Feedback Fundamentals: What Do Your Customers Really Think?

blog title getting customer feedback 351x200 Customer Feedback Fundamentals: What Do Your Customers Really Think?

Ask open-ended questions to foster feedback

No matter which tactic you take, you need to invest time in your questions. Write quality, open questions that will elicit meaty responses and uncover what your customers think. Open-ended questions are those that go beyond a yes/no answer – and instead encourage and enable the participant to tell all. Yes, it will take more time to go through the responses – but what they tell you may be well worth it.

What to do with the findings

Once you’ve conducted your research, it’s time to evaluate it.

First and foremost, read it. Really read it. Read between the lines, too. There may be one note buried somewhere in a customer poll that is extremely helpful to you. There may also be things you can immediately disregard. A tactic I recommend is to see what comments keep coming up. Look for the things that customers are telling you over and over. What is rising to the top. Also, be sure to have an open mind when you read.

Once you read and discern, prepare for action. Make a short list of three or four key things you can do, change, or create to help address your customer’s feedback. Prioritize that list and work it in to your project calendar. Then get to work!

Don’t forget to loop back to customers to let them know you’ve heard their feedback, too. For example, issue a press release when you make a change. Write a blog and say “thanks to recent customer feedback, we’ve done X.” Let them know you are listening. A great example of this is My Starbucks Idea. It’s a website that lets the coffee chain’s customers make suggestions. Starbucks also takes the time to tell customers which ideas they’ve greenlit. As a customer, this makes me feel like there is a venue for my feedback. I feel heard. Not to mention exhilarated if my idea makes it through.

These final few points tie into customer lifetime value. By giving customers a venue – by truly hearing their feedback and engaging with them – you help establish a personal connection and potentially long-term relationship with your customers. And that’s the ultimate payoff: You make a lifelong fan.

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Why Plan a Social Media Takeover?

Why Plan a Social Media Takeover 351x200 Why Plan a Social Media Takeover?

Brands spend many years strategically building, nurturing, and growing their social media presence — and for good reason. Social media is the younger and more powerful sibling of “word of mouth,” with 77 percent of customers more likely to purchase a new product when they learn about it from friends or family. After carefully cultivating these channels, however, many brands willingly hand over the keys to a complete stranger for a social media takeover. Why?

The Benefits of a Social Media Takeover

There are many customers who your brand wants to reach, yet capturing that attention is not always easy. Social media influencers have large audiences who are listening, which provides an impactful opportunity to get in front of that audience. Other benefits include:

  • Increased engagement. Strategically selected takeover partners have highly involved audiences. They can create a large sense of excitement and engagement with your target audience.
  • Greater authenticity is established. Partnering with the right person for a social media takeover instantly makes your brand feel more relatable and authentic.
  • Expanded brand reach. You can connect with target audiences who would otherwise have been difficult to reach, with greater authority and influence. This is especially useful when launching a new product or entering a segment that is new to your brand (more on this in a minute).
  • Re-engagement of existing followers. Not all of your social media followers may be engaged. A social media takeover helps attract those who aren’t currently paying attention and generate new levels of excitement.

There are many details involved with planning a social media takeover. Here are four examples of successful takeovers to inspire your efforts.

1. Expanding to a New Social Media Channel

At some point, most brands decide to test new social media channels. Perhaps they’re already active on Twitter and LinkedIn and want to expand efforts to Instagram. Entertainment company Disney was in that situation when they chose to launch a new Snapchat channel. They needed an established partner to launch their project with greater effectiveness, so they looked within the Snapchat space to identify a person with the required clout for a successful social media takeover — and found Mike Platco.

This creative artist is known for transforming selfies into entertaining images featuring costumes, cartoon characters, and comical scenery. Disney recruited the Snapchat influencer to share news about Disney’s upcoming channel and generate excitement and buzz for the brand.

The promotion started with Platco promoting the Disney Snapchat launch on his social media platform, then ended with the influencer hosting a takeover from the Disney Orlando theme park, where he shared images and commentary with his audience.

Key takeaway. Expanding reach to new social media channels is the perfect time to host a takeover. Partnering with a person who is already established in that space helps quickly build an audience and reach people with greater impact.

2. Launching New Products or Services

During your next product launch, consider a strategically timed social media takeover. For example, Mountain Dew was promoting two new flavors in their Kickstart Morning beverage line. The company recognized social media as a powerful medium to spread the word.

They strategically identified influencers, including Jerry Purpdrank, David Lopez, and D-trix. Jerry Purpdrank and David Lopez are top influencers on Snapchat, known for creating highly sharable content and viral videos. D-trix is a former contestant from “So You Think You Can Dance,” and a YouTube star with more than 3 million channel subscribers.

The campaign featured real-time competitions on the company’s Snapchat channel, hosted by the social media stars. Mountain Dew encouraged their audience to participate, and generated brand awareness.

Key takeaway. Use a social media takeover to create awareness about a new product launch. Select influencers who have the attention of your target audience and create a takeover that is strategically and mutually beneficial to all parties.

3. Targeting Personas with Greater Impact

Clinique and Sephora wanted to reach their customers and engage them with greater results, so the companies turned to social media. They decided to partner with top fitness and beauty influencer Hannah Bronfman to create a co-branded Snapchat marketing campaign. The influencer promoted both brands by sharing images and videos that reviewed favorite Clinique products that were sold on Sephora.

A similar takeover was planned for Estée Lauder’s Instagram account. Model Hilary Rhoda took over the account and posed in various places throughout New York City, spotlighting the company’s Bronze Goddess makeup collection. During the takeover, she offered a giveaway for the first five people who successfully guessed her location. Through this effort, the influencer boosted customer engagement and drove more people to the brand’s social media account.

Key takeaway. Look at the personas that your brand and products serve. What social media channels do those customers engage with and who is influential in that space? Partner to create fun content that will not only capture attention, but also showcase the personality of your brand.

4. Celebrating a Milestone

Milestones are a great time to plan social media takeovers. They help brands move away from a highly corporate approach of celebrating brands (e.g., “we’re proud to celebrate 50 years in business”) and focus instead on what that milestone means for the customer.

For example, clothing company Madewell carefully selected five influencers, including Stephanie Sterjovski and Bethany Marie, to promote the company’s signature tote through their @ToteWell campaign. During the campaign, the company used these influencers to reach over 1 million targeted customers through the high-quality content they produced for the takeover campaign.

Key takeaway. Social media takeovers provide an opportunity to frame celebrations in a way that benefits the customers through access to influencers they already know and trust.

5 Tips for a Successful Takeover

Whether you’ve planned a takeover in the past or need suggestions for planning that very first campaign, here are five tips that will help ensure that your next takeover is a success.

  1. Determine the brand objective. What do you hope the takeover will achieve for your brand? Do you want to reconnect with the existing audience, grow your audience, or generate leads? Define clear goals up front to more accurately focus efforts.
  2. Find the right person. For example, let’s say you’re marketing for a technology company focused on IoT. What influencers are talking about IoT in that space? You can also hold an employee takeover where you provide an “inside look” through the eyes of employees. Or an HR takeover, where that department posts job opportunities and real-time updates and content. Match the right person to your strategical goal.
  3. Share expectations and guidelines. Social media takeovers should be mutually beneficial to everyone involved. It’s also important to share your expectations and guidelines up front with your chosen partner and ensure that everyone is strategically aligned. For example, how many tweets, posts, or pictures do you expect daily during the takeover? Do you have a “wish list” for content? Share these items with the chosen partner.
  4. Promote the takeover across all accounts. For example, let’s say you’re hosting a Twitter takeover. Promote the event through Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and all other social media avenues in which your brand participates, to expand its reach.
  5. Measure the results. Using the objectives that you defined up front, determine whether the social media takeover succeeded. For example, perhaps you want to grow your social media following by 20 percent. Did that happen? Or perhaps through a giveaway featured in the social media takeover, you want to generate 1,000 new leads. Other metrics can include total mentions of hashtags across social channels, or leads captured.

Next Social Media Takeover: Make It a Success

Social media takeovers can be nerve-wracking and fill you with doubt and worry about the outcome. But the results from these takeovers are usually excellent, as your brand’s reach, engagement, and perceived authenticity soar.

However, as with most new marketing strategies, it’s important to test and fine-tune campaigns. Try different types of influencers, such as established social media influencers, employees — and even customers. As a result, you’ll determine which approaches work best with your target audience and start engaging with them in newer and more powerful ways.

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ProsperWorks Adds In-App Comms to its Google CRM Solution

ProsperWorks, which provides CRM for Google’s G Suite business tools, last week announced the addition of in-app cloud communications functionality.

crm google ProsperWorks Adds In App Comms to its Google CRM Solution

The new features are available through a custom integration with
RingCentral, which provides enterprise cloud communications and collaboration solutions.

The integration lets users make, receive and log calls without leaving the CRM solution. It provides them with information such as callers’ contact details, past interactions and deal status, and it eliminates the need to take manual notes.

Users also get activity and goal reports.

“The analytics a company can glean from call activity can be indicative of deal closure probability, customer interest, service issues and other factors,” noted Cindy Zhou, a principal analyst at Constellation Research.

“The challenge with CRM has been a lack of data entered,” she told CRM Buyer.

84383 620x177 ProsperWorks Adds In App Comms to its Google CRM Solution

Users with active RingCentral Office accounts can log calls and corresponding notes in ProsperWorks through voicemail.

“These new functionalities were an incredibly important focus to implement,” said ProsperWorks CEO Jon Lee.

“At the end of the day, we have a simple mission, which is to help businesses sell more efficiently,” he told CRM Buyer. “The ability to make and receive calls and log notes from directly within our CRM delivers immediate value to the user in terms of productivity and efficiency.”

The integration “is a logical next step to provide greater customer value and increase usage of ProsperWorks’ CRM solution,” observed Constellation’s Zhou.

Other cloud-based communications providers already have or are developing, call activity integration into CRM, including 8×8’s Virtual Office for Salesforce, she noted.

Who Gets to Play

The integration is available to users who have a premium or enterprise RingCentral office account or are on the ProsperWorks business plan.

It doesn’t need any other software installation. It runs within ProsperWorks and integrates seamlessly with a RingCentral desk phone or desktop app.

“VoIP and mail integration are two key areas that help sales automation players drive increased sales productivity — more time selling — while increasing the fidelity and detail of information captured in CRM systems,” said Rebecca Wettemann, VP of research at Nucleus Research.

“We find sales people that spend more than 8 percent of their time entering data in CRM are not optimizing their time for actually selling,” she told CRM Buyer. “This integration will help bring them to optimal.”

Major CRM solution providers like Salesforce offer VoIP integrations through third-party plugins and marketplaces, ProsperWorks’ Lee said, but “these options are simply bolted on, poorly designed, and require installation and setup.”

This is also true for other CRM solutions that have tried to integrate with Google’s G Suite, he said, noting that ProsperWorks’ integrations “are truly native in that they were built from the ground up to integrate with G Suite — and now RingCentral.”

The Opportunity for ProsperWorks

Salesforce, Microsoft and Oracle dominate the more-than-US$ 20 billion CRM market, but “the modern workforce is changing,” Lee remarked, and “these giants are slow to adapt.”

ProsperWorks therefore sees “a tremendous opportunity to capture a significant market share over the next few years, especially with small to mid-market businesses,” he said.

These companies “just don’t have the time, resources or budget to implement and maintain larger, more complex CRM systems, and they’re already making the switch to collaborative productivity software like G Suite,” Lee noted.

Burgeoning Competition

Insightly, Solve, Zoho, Agile and Salesflare are some of the other companies offering CRM solutions for G Suite.

“A number of emerging CRM players have taken advantage of the economies of cloud to deliver cost-effective CRM solutions for sales, marketing and service,” Nucleus’ Wettemann observed.

It’s possible that other players will jump on the G Suite bandwagon, as the apps’ popularity with businesses has increased, but “we’ve already got a major head start in regards to our experience and our close working relationship with Google,” said Lee. “In fact, we’re officially recommended and used by Google.”
end enn ProsperWorks Adds In App Comms to its Google CRM Solution

Richard%20Adhikari ProsperWorks Adds In App Comms to its Google CRM SolutionRichard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology.
Email Richard.

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Is Content Marketing Killing Your Customer Conference?

Is Content Marketing Killing Your Customer Conference 351x200 Is Content Marketing Killing Your Customer Conference?

I consistently hear from clients and colleagues how hard it now is to drive attendance to annual customer and user conferences. Many vendors do everything under the sun to entice customers to sign up, yet these events still suffer from below-goal attendance and a hit to the bottom line.

Why is this? Many of us remember when customer conferences were all the rage in the early-to-mid 2000s. Customers hungered for the vital information and vendor connections conferences gave them—needs that weren’t met in other ways at that time. So vendors raced to launch inaugural annual conferences, despite the years it usually took to break even on them.

So what’s changed? And what does this mean for the future of customer conferences?

I see three main reasons for this shift:

A fractured target audience for technology products.

Before, software was sold via perpetual license to an IT buyer—purchasing decisions on these high-priced, technical applications weren’t trusted to non-technical users or departmental leaders. At the same time, IT was often the application user, too—not just the buyer. So vendor user conferences were designed for a specific, succinct demographic and psychographic segment: information technology professionals.

But then trends like Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and the consumerization of IT changed the tech landscape in a myriad of ways. As far as targeting users and buyers, though, they really mixed things up. The buyers aren’t necessarily the users. They aren’t even usually the day-to-day admins.

Also, thanks to SaaS’s common freemium model and easy-to-use apps, any employee can introduce an application into a company’s technology environment (barring integration and security policies that might be in place, that is). And with consumerization of IT, some companies even encourage this behavior.

As a result, line-of-business leaders from departments such as marketing and sales now influence technology buying—and renewal—decisions more. And their information needs and interests—essentially the reason why one attends a vendor’s customer conference—differ greatly from IT.

So, while IT is still very much involved in the buying process for most technology purchases and very much a target for event marketing, focusing solely on IT in today’s world means you exclude the critical, non-technical buyers, influencers, and users who could introduce, advocate on behalf of, or approve/veto your technology at any point during the buying cycle.

Customer conference competition and fatigue.

It seems nearly every vendor with revenue of at least $ 50 million offers its own customer conference. Vendors deluge end users and administrators with conference invitations, often competing for the same attendees. Recipients face a confusing flood of invitations, most promising the same vague benefits for attending one conference over another.

At the same time, many employees can only attend 1-2 conferences per year due to budget and schedule restrictions. They’re challenged to do more with less and make the most of their technology investments, yet most struggle to find time to step away from the office to do just that. And, if they do find time, the vendor has just one chance to deliver the relevant, compelling information the employee desires, or risk losing their attendance forever. So vendors are under intense pressure to make their conference more compelling, fun, and affordable than others.

But primarily—I believe content marketing is responsible.

Before, users and IT/application managers attended a vendor’s annual customer conference to get the information they needed to successfully deploy, integrate, use, expand, and manage the vendor’s application. This was their once-per-year chance to get detailed instructions and face-to-face help on how to make the most of their substantial investment. And let’s face it—IT staff back in the day didn’t get to leave the office much. An all-expense-paid getaway to a warm-weather vendor conference didn’t take much convincing.

Today, marketers—and the tools they use—are getting better and better at identifying and fulfilling their audiences’ specific interests and needs on an ongoing basis. Purposeful, persona-based content marketing can feed a near-constant stream of relevant information, helpful tools, and best practices to aid everyone involved in the buying, implementation, usage, and ongoing management of technology tools.

Thanks to content marketing, your audience no longer relies on a single event—your customer conference—for their ongoing technology education. So, unless you demonstrate that your conference serves more than just that basic need, attendee targets may have a hard time justifying their attendance at your event.

This is today’s reality, but it doesn’t have to be a harsh one. Content marketing doesn’t have to spell doom for your customer conference. By modifying your approach, you not only can keep your conference relevant—you can actually make it thrive. Here’s how:

  • Be uniquely relevant to everyone.

Take the time to create custom conference content appealing to each different persona using your technology, for example, target a range of people, from non-technical end users to IT administrators. Figure out what truly matters to each role, the specific business problems they face that your technology helps address, and what information they need that would compel them to attend your event over others they might be considering.

Once they arrive at your event, fulfill your promise by giving each role/persona interesting sessions that prove to be relevant and meaningful to them. Offer them networking and learning opportunities where they can connect with other people like themselves, in similar roles, who face the same challenges.

Effectively and properly serving the needs of all of these different roles and segments takes a lot of work. But the payoff is worth it. And there are different ways to do it. Some vendors create conference agendas featuring a different track for each role they target (IT, marketing, sales, etc.); others split their single conference into smaller, separate conferences targeting different roles/personas. There are benefits to each approach—do what works best for your audience and your company.

  • Focus on customer connections and customer stories.

Consistently receiving high ratings in post-conference surveys are the activities where customers meet, interact with, and learn best practices from each other: case study presentations, “birds of a feather” dining tables, customers-only networking hours … you get the idea.

So give them more of what they want—pack your conference agenda with as many of these activities as you can. Allow for and encourage attendees to meet and interact with each other. Coach customer presenters to really dig into the meat of their projects in their presentations—what they did, why they did it, what did they consider but decide against (and why), what lessons did they learn along the way, what would they do differently, what kind of ROI are they achieving, and so on.

In a nutshell, don’t merely regurgitate straight-up product or company information that’s easily found and understood online, no matter how interesting you think it might be. At your conference, give attendees value they can’t get anywhere else.

  • Think and act holistically, and timelessly.

No longer can you consider your conference a standalone annual event. Rather, your “annual conference” needs to morph into a continuous two-way conversation you maintain with each and every customer. By providing more value more often, you more easily and naturally sustain a long-term symbiotic relationship with an individual who is then more inclined to actively participate in any conferences you offer.

In this model, content marketing becomes the strategy for how you provide—via both online and offline interaction—the most relevant information to each persona on an ongoing basis, based on feedback continually received from them. Here, content marketing melds seamlessly with your online customer communities and customer marketing efforts, giving your customers a unified knowledge base and experience with which to interact.

When undertaken as mutually exclusive endeavors, content marketing definitely competes with—and even threatens—annual user conferences.

When viewed as peers, content marketing can, for example, help you identify topics most likely to entice people to register for your conference—the highest-rated, most-shared or most-commented on blogs, white papers, webinars, how-to articles, etc.

But when engaged as two complementary strategies supporting the same goal—fostering a long-term, mutually beneficial, two-way customer relationship via both online and offline means—content marketing and customer conferences can feed each other the critical insights needed to provide continuous value for users throughout their customer journey with you.

Do you have any tips for creating customer conferences that people are eager to sign up for? Share them here!

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Marketing Car Sharing & Mobility 2.0 | Ep. 15 Rethink Podcast

Marketing Car Sharing Mobility  351x200 Marketing Car Sharing & Mobility 2.0 | Ep. 15 Rethink Podcast

What are Your Promotion Channels?


How do you communicate that to your different audiences? Because it seems traditional car advertising is done on big TV commercials and stuff like that. What are the marketing tactics and strategies – our audience tends to be marketers, and so this is what they’re curious about – how would they get their message out if they were marketing? If they were in charge, how would they be doing it?


We try to do an interesting mix. You’re right, BMW is known for great commercials, beautiful cars, and that sort of traditional, almost stereotypical, automobile advertising. Beautiful people driving beautiful cars in beautiful places. And, again, it goes back to that aspiration idea that I just mentioned. We just released the new 5 series. We hired Clive Owen; we literally made a short film. And if you watch that film ‒ please go find it and watch it, because we end up blowing up cars. There are helicopters, and there are special effects, and there are bullet holes in the car, and it’s an action film in about 15 minutes. It’s amazing.

I don’t have that budget. I’m part of BMW. Remember, let’s go back to this: I’m a startup with a rich German uncle. That rich German uncle does not give me an unlimited marketing budget. I can’t just go buy customers. I’m just like any other startup in that respect. For us it is a combination. When we launch in a new city, we tend to do more things like out-of-home advertising and really trying to build awareness where people are, whether that’s near transit hubs, or near places where there are people who maybe are already used to using other forms of transportation and aren’t relying on their car every day. We look at how do we reach out to people via radio ads, maybe in a city, and try to be local.

Beyond that, we do a lot of digital. We’re doing more and more targeting of people who fit the profile. Say maybe they’ve liked or they’ve used mobile ads, maybe they’ve got other apps that fit into this mobility services category on their phone, and we’re really trying to find those people and introduce them to what we’re doing at ReachNow, and tell them why we might be something to fit in with their transportation needs. Because our competition is the other services you might think about. In Seattle, we just kicked off our own ReachNow ride service. It’s a pilot. But it’s a single app integrated with our car sharing app, and it means you can find a car and drive it yourself, or you can hit a button and I’ll send a professional driver in an X1 or a 330 to come pick you up and take you where you want to go, similar to services like an Uber or Lyft.

I’m competing with those guys. I’m competing with the other car sharing services. I’m competing with walking, and biking, and busing, and driving your own car. All of those are substitutes. And I’ve got to find a way to convince you that, for what you need in the moment, this is the right solution for you. And I think that’s something we’re working really hard to do.

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Three Key Changes to the Digital Compliance Landscape, Including GDPR

Three Key Changes to the Digital Compliance Landscape Including GDPR  351x200 Three Key Changes to the Digital Compliance Landscape, Including GDPR

Meeting compliance standards is an important part of any marketing campaign. These rules are meant to protect consumers from fraudulent business practices, false promotional information, and infringements on privacy rights.

Being in compliance will protect you, too ‒ by helping you keep your reputation of integrity and saving you from fines and legal trouble.

Keeping up with changes in the digital compliance landscape is crucial, particularly in this year, as 2017 is shaping up to be time of significant evolution in privacy and digital compliance globally.

There are major initiatives that you will need to be aware of to ensure you remain in compliance and stay on top of important changes. Let’s review three of the major pertinent privacy issues that should be on your radar:

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The GDPR is the new European Union law that will become effective in May 2018. This legislation replaces the existing EU Data Directive, and it’s the most significant change in European privacy law for 20 years.

The GDPR will propose new obligations on any business that handles data on EU citizens, independent of where the business is located, so if you are marketing to EU citizens you are required to adopt the GDPR. There are many issues to consider for ensuring GDPR compliance, and these regulations may have a far-reaching effect on your company’s operability.

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) of the UK has complied comprehensive information pertaining to obligations and preparedness with the new law. Here’s a good place to get up to speed and start your preparations.

Privacy Shield Framework

As the replacement for the Safe Harbor program, the Privacy Shield program has grown tremendously since its inception. The EU-US and Swiss-US Privacy Shield Frameworks were designed by the US Department of Commerce and the European Commission and Swiss Administration. They’re meant to provide companies on both sides of the Atlantic with a mechanism to comply with data protection requirements when transferring personal data from the European Union and Switzerland to the United States in support of transatlantic commerce. 

Act-On has successfully obtained Privacy Shield certification, and we support the principles and frameworks of this important compliance initiative. You may want to consider applying for certification if your business model supports EU-US data transfer.

The US Department of Commerce provides an overview of the program here.

Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) – Private Right of Action

A major mile stone under CASL will become effective on July 1 of this year. It gives individuals and organizations the right to institute a “private right of action” before the courts against parties that don’t comply with CASL.

Companies found to be violating the message rules under CASL may be penalized by a fine of up to a maximum of $ 1,000,000 per day.

For more on CASL compliance, visit this informational website from the Government of Canada.

As the compliance landscape continues to evolve, please take the time and review how these important changes may affect your marketing practices. Proactively seek legal counsel on any issues that have an impact on your company’s functionality to help ensure that your business has a smooth and productive year.

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OpenMethods, Next Caller Join to Streamline Call Routing

OpenMethods, which offers an omnichannel optimization platform that lets companies integrate their telephony platforms into Oracle CRM, on Tuesday announced integration with
Next Caller’s Advanced Caller ID database.

contact center OpenMethods, Next Caller Join to Streamline Call Routing

The integration will let contact centers on the Oracle Service Cloud use real-time contextual data for more than 500 million landline, mobile and VoIP numbers to personalize and simplify their agent and customer interactions.

OpenMethods integrates interactive voice response and telephony data into the CRM package call center agents use, saving customers from repeating who they are and why they’ve called, which can take about 30 seconds.

However, many calls are from prospects or customers who don’t have data in the CRM, noted OpenMethods CEO Gerrit Lydecker.

“In these cases, Next Caller helps identify these prospects and customers utilizing their databases and tools,” he told CRM Buyer.

The integration “will help decrease overall time-to-resolution and improve the customer service experience,” said Cindy Zhou, a principal analyst at Constellation Research.

“The value is in the [Next Caller] data and the ability to augment customer records in the CRM for richer analytics and correlation of services data to sales opportunities,” she told CRM Buyer.

What the Integration Entails

Typically, a call comes into a contact center through the interactive voice response system. Customers input their account information and the reason for their call, which then is routed to an agent, who often uses a CRM package, OpenMethods’ Lydecker said.

“The IVR and telephony data doesn’t get passed through, leaving the agent to once again ask for the customer’s account information and why they called,” he said, but OpenMethods integrates the IVR and telephony data into the CRM, saving customers about 30 seconds.

The integration lets contact centers on Oracle CRM use OpenMethods’ PopFlow Studio to quickly integrate Next Caller’s data and tools into the CRM package to repopulate data from the caller, automate workflows, and pop up the appropriate screens, said Lydecker.

Deploying the integrated solution in production takes a few weeks, but some OpenMethods customers “realize an ROI immediately,” he added.

Call center agents are trained to handle data from their existing CRM. There’s no learning curve required for agents to manage data that comes from Next Caller, Lydecker pointed out.

Oracle CRM customers are likely to benefit tremendously, suggested Ray Wang, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

Oracle “has an extensive base from its acquisition of Siebel,” he told CRM Buyer.”These are the toughest and gnarliest use cases of CRM in the contact center.”

Possible Privacy Issue

Contextual information provided by Next Caller’s Advanced Caller ID includes a caller’s name, address, income, demographic breakdown, fraud potential and social profile.

That may raise questions about privacy, long a bone of contention for digital marketers. The issue has gained importance in the wake of the EU’s
scrapping of the U.S. Safe Harbor agreement in 2015.

“The information Next Caller provides is already publicly available,” noted Jeff Kirchick, the company’s VP of enterprise sales.

“Next Caller aggregates this data in real time using an algorithm that accounts for the veracity of different sources,” he told CRM Buyer.

However, data sets like Next Caller’s Advanced Caller ID database “are pulled together from all manner of sources unrelated to identification and authentication,” said Steve Wilson, a principal analyst at Constellation Research.

“It’s highly unlikely that individuals ever had a chance to consent in any meaningful way to having their information surface in different call centers,” he told CRM Buyer.

The data does raise privacy concerns, said Michael Jude, a program manager at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan.

However, “it’s hard to argue that a person can disclose his life history on a social site,” he told CRM Buyer, and “then is allowed to contest its use.”
end enn OpenMethods, Next Caller Join to Streamline Call Routing

Richard%20Adhikari OpenMethods, Next Caller Join to Streamline Call RoutingRichard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology.
Email Richard.

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McDonald's Puts Mobile Ordering to the Test

McDonald’s on Wednesday began testing new mobile ordering and payment functionality at 29 of its restaurants in Monterey and Salinas, California.

customer experience McDonald's Puts Mobile Ordering to the Test

It will expand the pilot to another 51 restaurants in Spokane, Washington, on March 20.

The company will run multiple pilots to gather customer feedback, work out any issues that arise, and streamline integration with its IT systems before rolling out its updated mobile app to nearly all 14,000 restaurants in the United States — as well as 6,000 others in Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Australia and China — by the end of the year.

Improving the Customer Experience

Providing mobile ordering is part of a global growth plan McDonald’s unveiled on March 1, which hinges on improving the customer experience. The updated app will track a customer’s location, allowing customers to place orders anywhere and ensure their food is fresh when they get it.

“You want to make sure that orders are correct and delivered on time — that stuff that’s supposed to be hot is hot, and stuff that’s supposed to be cold is cold,” Beagle Research Principal Denis Pombriant told CRM Buyer.

The mobile-ordering functionality likely will contribute positively to the customer experience, remarked Holger Mueller, a principal analyst at Constellation Research, because “when you order fast food, you want to order fast, pay fast and eat fast.”

The Trend Toward Mobility

Demand for mobile ordering in the restaurant industry is “experiencing explosive growth,” noted Cindy Zhou, a principal analyst at Constellation Research. For example, Panera Bread, an early adopter of mobile app ordering, has projected its digital sales to hit US$ 1 billion this year.

Constellation has found that about 30 percent of U.S. adults aged 65 or older have a smartphone, and “they are moving towards mobile device ordering for the convenience and selection,” Zhou told CRM Buyer.

Take Starbucks’ mobile ordering app, for instance. It “worked so well that they had a problem filling orders,” Mueller told CRM Buyer. There were long queues at the pickup counter.

When Being First Isn’t Best

Other restaurant chains, notably Domino’s and Starbucks, took an early lead in providing mobile ordering capabilities to their customers.

McDonald’s may have wanted the early adopters to grapple with the new technology first. CEO Steve Easterbrook reportedly has said that it’s better to be right than to be first to market.

“Starbucks saw a decline in customer satisfaction and their stock dipped about 4 percent last quarter because of issues around long lines and in-store congestion resulting from mobile ordering,” Zhou noted.

“McDonald’s is what we call a ‘fast follower’ at Constellation,” she remarked. “Not being the first to market gives them an opportunity to gauge consumer demand for the service and ensures they avoid some of the mistakes others have made.”

Being first to market can provide a competitive advantage, though, depending on the strategy hammered out by management.

Execution is key. The Panera Bread 2.0 app, which offers rapid pickup and fast lanes, “has led to excellent customer reviews, with over 6,000 4.5-star user ratings on the iTunes App Store,” Zhou pointed out.

“Service is important, but so is engagement,” Pombriant observed. “If you can find a way to engage better with your customers, they’ll overlook small failings.”
end enn McDonald's Puts Mobile Ordering to the Test

Richard%20Adhikari McDonald's Puts Mobile Ordering to the TestRichard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology.
Email Richard.

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Analytics and Workflow

There’s a big difference between B2C and B2B analytics that no vendors seem to be addressing, and it involves the consumption model. I recently spoke with K.V. Rao, founder and chief strategy officer of Aviso, an analytics company focused on sales, and his unabashed opinion is that “if you’re trying to expose insights and make things consumable, you have to address workflow.”

He made a very good point — especially for buyers who may be having trouble figuring out what they need. The analytics decision process runs through digital disruption (am I being left behind?) to big data (what do I do with it?) to analytics and machine learning (same stuff, right?).

At this point in a client discussion, I usually ask people to tell me the kind of information they want to get before thinking about products, but now I think this might be jumping the gun. Before asking what kind of information you want, it would be an excellent thing to better understand what processes or workflows you’re trying to influence.

The Right Questions

For example, we all want to sell more, and we’ll try almost anything to do it — but that opens a big can of anacondas. What part of the marketing and sales process do you want to influence or spiff up?

Is the problem quantity or quality of leads? Do your reps get stuck in one part of the sales cycle? Are renewals off? Do your customers up and leave without warning? We could go on, and there are analytics tools that can help with all of that — but you need to get the diagnosis right first.

Workflow may not be the first thing that comes to mind when considering analytics, but it might be the big silverback gorilla sitting in the corner. Workflows are vastly different in the B2C world than in a B2B situation. Simply put, when dealing with consumers, analytics aims squarely at aiding customer decision-making in the moment, so as Rao pointed out, “the workflow is almost non-existent.” Good point, and not at all what decision-makers in the enterprise encounter.

Strategies and Tactics

Consumers are trying to figure out whether or not to buy, and that’s rather binary. On the other hand, enterprises buy by committee and need to develop information from whatever data they collect, so their need is for long-term information to build a purchase case.

Marketing, sales, service and support all might benefit individual users through analytics for in-the-moment tactical decision-making, but only to the extent that they already are working on organizational goals and not making individual choices.

IBM and Salesforce recently introduced a new partnership based in part on their respective analytics tools, Watson and Einstein. There’s great interest in how these two will work together productively, without stepping on each other’s toes. The evolution of this relationship will say much about the future of analytics generally.

As I see it, and as the companies strongly hint, Watson will be important for providing strategic situational information, while Einstein will support the tactics of a vendor-customer interaction — in CRM, at least.

As examples, the companies suggested Watson providing retailers with weather forecasting information that easily could be applied to better understanding the traffic pattern to expect for the day. Einstein, on the other hand, would be responsible for understanding data about customers’ past purchases, new requirements, upsell and cross sell potential and more.

The Human Factor

Retailers had all of this in mind for a very long time before Watson and Einstein — and they coped with it, though not always well. As Mark Twain is supposed to have quipped, “Everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” And as a great retailer, John Wanamaker supposedly once said, “Half of my marketing budget is wasted. I just don’t know which half.”

So the different roles of analytics are intended to solve those and similar problems — but before they do, we still need to get a handle on the workflow we’re trying to influence. That’s still a job for the human mind, as is the most important decision of all: whether to accept an analytics-driven recommendation or make a decision to rely on additional information that the genius software is not privy to.

For instance, even with a great weather forecast it’s probably still vitally important for a retailer to know if there’s a parade coming through downtown at noon.
end enn Analytics and Workflow

Denis%20Pombriant Analytics and WorkflowDenis Pombriant is a well-known CRM industry researcher, strategist, writer and speaker. His new book, You Can’t Buy Customer Loyalty, But You Can Earn It, is now available on Amazon. His 2015 book, Solve for the Customer, is also available there. He can be reached at

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