The Future of Personalisation


CDS will be exhibiting at next February’s Marketing Show North.


The personalisation of digital content has grown into one of the hottest digital topics in the last few years, and the technology is now becoming widely available.

At CDS, we work with a number of platforms in this space, notably Episerver’s Content Management System (CMS) and associated tools. In 2016, Enterprise CMS platform Episerver announced its acquisition of Peerius, a leading provider of intelligent omnichannel personalisation in the cloud, accelerating the third wave of smart personalisation technology called ‘autonomous personalisation’.

Since then, the Peerius platform has been tightly integrated with Episerver’s commerce and CMS platforms to become Episerver Personalization.

These are rules-based tools that bring machine learning capability to content management enabling digital managers to personalise search results, product descriptions, calls to action, website content, and navigation.

Google understands that relevance is extremely important to consumers. They have been delivering personalised organic search results since 2004, alongside their paid-for Adwords service. Their business model depends on them getting the right message in front of the right person, at the right time and in the right place, and the Google search algorithms are continually evolving to refine this targeting.

This type of personalisation combined with marketing automation technologies can be a powerful tool for marketers. However, its uptake amongst even the most technologically equipped marketing teams has been somewhat slower than we might expect. The reason for this slow uptake is simple – marketers simply don’t have the time to create and test multiple versions of the same content.

However, the day is almost here when AI can deliver what humans simply don’t have the time to create.

Indix have a product that can create bespoke marketing copy to create product descriptions – entirely written by machines.

And in 2016, a world first for AI writing occurred at the Rio Olympics. The Washington Post reported on 300 events using Heliograf, their in-house AI software. These robot-generated articles were published alongside ones written by humans, and crucially, no-one spotted the difference. Since the Olympics, The Washington Post’s robot reporter has published 850 articles in the past year to cover congressional races on Election Day and many local sports events that would have gone uncovered.

It is only a matter of time before these complex algorithms will be capable of producing long-form marketing copy that is indistinguishable from that created by human copywriters. And marketers; those of us who have invested in the tools to profile, segment and target our customers – will reap the benefits.

In 2015 Rishiraj Saha Roy published research into the automated personalisation of targeted marketing messages, mining user-generated text on social media to create unique copy designed to evoke positive sentiment in specific audience segments. Crowdsourced experiments verified that these personalised messages were almost indistinguishable from similar human compositions.

The moment is approaching where automated content, written by a machine, and AI’s personality profiling tools will converge – meaning that not only will the content we see be produced by an AI, but will, potentially, be uniquely constructed to appeal specifically to you.

Our online behaviour reveals a huge amount about our personalities. Researchers have created an algorithm which can accurately predict personalities simply based on Facebook interactions. And, surprisingly, it knows your character better than your close friends. The team found that their software was able to predict a study participant’s personality more accurately than a work colleague by analysing just 10 ‘Likes’. Inputting 70 ‘Likes’ allowed it to obtain a truer picture of someone’s character than a close friend, while 150 ‘Likes’ outperformed a parent or sibling. At 300 ‘Likes’ the programme was able to judge character better than a spouse.

A personalised experience is nothing new. Google has been personalising search results for many years, and the potential impact of these artificially constructed ‘echo chambers’ were identified as long ago as 2011 – a phenomenon described by Eli Pariser in his 2011 book and TED talk as the ‘Filter Bubble’.

However, 2018 has been the year that the world began to take the power of data seriously, and we begin to understand the power that personalised messages can have on a reader’s beliefs and behaviour. In the wrong hands, these tools can have dangerous consequences, and can even shape world events and swing elections.

Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie stated this in the clearest terms:

“We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons.”

Just because your personal data (hopefully) wasn’t included in the Facebook data mined by Cambridge Analytica, this doesn’t mean that you are immune to its effects. Wylie stated that the data was used to model interactions and behaviour across entire populations, and whilst we all like to think of ourselves as individuals, we are all susceptible to suggestion and bias. In 2017, Facebook supplied to Congress over 3,000 examples of Russian Facebook banners designed to sway American political opinion, all aimed at different slices of American society with the targeting made possible by Facebook’s advertising algorithms. Unpicking who saw what (and when) is a mammoth task for lawmakers.

As marketers, we have a responsibility to behave ethically. Recent GDPR legislation goes some way to protecting customers from unwanted and inappropriate marketing, but personalisation based on user behaviour and anonymised profiling often falls outside the scope of this legislation. There is still a lot of room for sharp practice in our field.

We have a human duty to use these tools and powers with great care, and take responsibility for the messages our robot servants create on our behalf.

CircleLoop Secures Global Integrated Calling Partnership with Zoho CRM


CircleLoop will be exhibiting at next February’s Marketing Show North in EventCity, Manchester.


CircleLoop, the next-generation phone system for business has partnered with Zoho to deliver the benefits of its powerful cloud-based apps, helping Zoho users to supercharge team productivity and efficiency.

Zoho is a leading single cloud platform, which allows businesses to acquire and manage customers using its marketing, sales and customer support applications. Its CRM software is an online Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system for managing sales, marketing & support in a single system. Zoho requires integration partners to meet a stringent set of prerequisites in order to secure approved Marketplace status.

Now available in the Zoho Marketplace, CircleLoop allows businesses to finally say goodbye to the complicated phone systems of old. Delivered in the same way as other cloud-based software such as CRM, email and accounting platforms CircleLoop provides instant, self-service control of all phone numbers, users and features in a delightfully simple, no-contract model. Its powerful Zoho integration hugely improves team productivity, internal communication and  collaboration whilst also helping to reduce unnecessary contracts and costs.

“Today’s businesses are expected to deliver a much higher level of customer service,” said Mani Vembu, Chief Operating Officer of Zoho. “With powerful easy-to-use tools at their disposal, employee productivity and customer satisfaction increase. By integrating Zoho CRM and CircleLoop, we ultimately facilitate more sales, increased efficiency and higher customer engagement for our customers.”

The new CircleLoop-Zoho integration helps businesses to drive better customer service and reduce unnecessary admin time with automatic logging of call activity, notes and recordings, along with immediate identification of inbound callers and click to call directly from Zoho CRM.

Co-founder of CircleLoop, Damian Hanson, added: “Since we launched CircleLoop we’ve experienced significant demand from the Zoho community for an integration so it’s been a high priority development for us as we continue to challenge the telecoms market with new technology and fresh thinking. Our Zoho integration delivers clear productivity benefits for forward-thinking companies and we’re excited to be listed as an approved app in Zoho’s Marketplace”.

To learn more about the CircleLoop-Zoho integration and access an extended 14 day free trial, Zoho users can get started at www.circleloop.com/zoho


About CircleLoop
CircleLoop is a next generation cloud-based phone system for business which runs in powerful desktop and mobile apps with no need for additional phone hardware. It’s packed with smart features such as call recording, transcription, integrations and analytics and delivers huge flexibility and productivity benefits when compared to traditional phone systems. CircleLoop is UK-based and the technology has been built from the ground-up. Learn more and start your free trial at www.circleloop.com/zoho

About Zoho
Zoho is the operating system for business—a single online platform capable of running an entire business. With apps in nearly every major business category, including sales, marketing, customer support, accounting and back office operations, and an array of productivity and collaboration tools, Zoho is one of the world’s most prolific software companies. In 2017, Zoho introduced the revolutionary Zoho One, an integrated suite of applications for the entire business. For more information, please visit www.zoho.com

The Social Media Marketing Anatomy


Halston Marketing will be returning to Marketing Show North for their second year next February.


As the end of the second decade of the 21st century steadfastly approaches, online audiences have never been more digitally diverse and demanding.

It’s no longer enough to have an array of semi-active social media profiles to build a brand. It isn’t 2010 anymore, meaning a company can’t get away with simply having an online presence to back up their physical existence. The digitisation of business is well and truly locked-in.

For marketers, creating a social media strategy has never been more complex. Once you think you’ve got all the right pieces in place, it requires an objective look to see that it might not work for another audience.

Like a rubix cube, securing your strategy can become jumbled.  

As of 2017, only 30% of millennials engage with a brand on social media at least once a month. Elsewhere, however, 60% of baby boomers will scour social media for promotions; and 7 out of 10 Gen Xers will likely purchase a product from a brand they follow. With three key active audiences to target, you have to think wisely about the footprints in the digital sand you make.

Firstly, it’s important to remain simple but impactful: stick to achievable goals. It’s enticing to go for gold by signing up to every social media platform on the Web, but that isn’t necessary. Use your target audience to determine relevant channels – are you a B2B marketer or business? LinkedIn is the best bet. Are you hoping to grab younger audiences? Twitter and Instagram will work great. And if you’re up-to-date with trends, you’ll know that Facebook is best left for the Baby Boomers.

Once this is completed, your first step should be to build a brand, tone of voice and brand awareness. Optimise your profile images, cover photos, bios and add a unique mission statement; don’t forget to compare this to your competitors. Your account should look professionally-made and tailored to what your audience will want to see.

Audiences want to know that you’re invested in, and an expert in, your chosen industry. If the skeleton of your social media channels is its aesthetic, then the muscle is content. Whether it be site blog posts, images and videos, industry news or engagements with followers, this is the meat of your strategy and will infuse your channels with life and build brand strength.

The great part about social media marketing is that there are accessible tools readily available that will monitor your success. By identifying key performance indicators (KPIs) such as reach, click-rates, shares, mentions and conversion, you can see what does and doesn’t work. This leaves room for optimisation, progression and an overall marketing win.

Exhibition Fright Show!


Imageco will be exhibiting at next February’s Marketing Show North.


As marketing teams and trade show attendees are aware, it’s undeniably important to have a visually engaging, informative and intriguing exhibition stand as an integral part of your marketing mix.

They’re invaluable for exhibitions, events and other places to showcase your brand. On the other hand, there’s nothing more unappealing than an exhibition stand gone-wrong. It’s vital to understand what not to do in preparing for your debut or return visit to an exhibition to avoid giving your clientele a fright this October.

While it’s tempting to try to save a few pounds on your exhibition stand, it can work to your detriment to go for cheaper options. There’s nothing that can turn away a potential client like a cheap exhibition stand that slowly begins to dismantle itself over the course of the day. There are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t print your banners and posters on A4 paper, stuck to the wall with clear tape, but poor taste is the main one.

By leaning towards bespoke, expertly designed and built banners or other stand equipment, you can solidify your brand’s aesthetic and stylishness. In addition, your purchases are completely sustainable because of their reusability. It’s a solid investment to make that has plenty of pay-offs. The time, money and energy that is funnelled into these investments is visible on the final product. However, even with a professionally-made stand on show, those that have had no obvious planning put into their visuals can appear even worse.

Signage crammed full of information has the potential to send a messy message – when littered with contact details, copy about the business and other superfluous type, it’s possible buyers won’t stick around for long.

The solution? Be bold. Make relevant cuts and only give the most simplistic, straightforward information its spotlight on your stand. Once you’ve selected the essential information to be put on your banners, ensure you haven’t sent it to the printers without a good proof-reading. Disorganisation really shows through in other aspects of your exhibition, too.  For example, never assume an event organiser will provide what you need. Pre-emptively organise your stand’s necessities down to the minor details.

Lastly, treading away from the design and preparation elements of your stand, it’s important to lead with your best foot forward. Never leave an exhibition stand without a number of your best employees manning the fort.

Buyers and executives don’t want to be lured by a perfect stand to find a ghost town. You’ll need your most alert, enthusiastic and motivated staff in the field – quality staff will collaborate well with a quality stand.

Using Micro and Mega Influencers: A B2B Strategy


Halston Marketing return to Marketing Show North next February. The article below was written by Georgia Halston and originally appeared on the Halston Marketing website.


The ‘art’ of influencer marketing is rife within the B2C world, especially within FMCG, specifically, food and drink, health and beauty, consumer electronics and the experience market.

But this art is nothing new; often we think of the rise of bloggers, vloggers and social media influencers to be the inauguration of this endeavour but it was in fact in the very first celebrity endorsements in the consumerist euphoria during the golden age of advertising that set the standard.

Keeping this in mind, let’s not box influencer marketing off as a frivolous ‘Instagram pursuit’, designed to encourage millennials to spend more money on achieving an equally Instagram-worthy lifestyle.

Influencer marketing, at its very core is simply leveraging the authority of an individual or group to raise the profile of a brand, product or service – which is why it’s more than relevant within the B2B arena.

Since we can assume there are no fair arguments to the above point, let’s move on to the difference between the scale of influencers and how you can use both to bolster your marketing efforts

Mega

Mega influencers are the key voices within certain industries. If it’s an individual, it’s usually someone who has created innovation or disrupted a sector in some way. They’ll generally have a healthy online following and their livelihood may revolve around their online presence or attendance to high priority events.

A potential difference between B2C and B2B influencer marketing, is that you may also look to benefit from being associated with brands as well as individuals and raise your company authority. Simply by being perceived as stablemates alongside trusted and authoritative names is a solid strategy, especially if you’re a startup.

Collaboration

As we know, in B2B, collaboration is the lifeblood of marketing, relationship building and new sales leads. With mega influencers, it may be a little more difficult to create in-depth content pieces, mainly due to time constraints. What you may be able to do is:

Outreach to mega influencers and ask them for their opinion on a certain topic, you can use this in your onsite content marketing to authenticate points within your own blogs and news

Attending events – if you’re planning on holding an event, reach for the stars when it comes to your list of speakers, with mega influencers you should consider what’s in it for them

Offer your time and expertise – if you have expert knowledge in a certain area, why not offer your work to mega influencers to use in their own case studies and comms. This works particularly well with high level partners and supplier brands, becoming a case study for a globally renowned brand is no bad thing

Micro

Unlike hugely popular influencers with enormous social followings, micro influencers tend to have more of a grassroots appeal.

Micro influencers are usually individuals who are well versed in a certain topic, their passion and insight is what drives interest and initiates perceived gravitas within certain industries.

Cohort Culture

You should learn to capitalise on the growth of Cohort Culture. This term is especially pertinent within startup circles, where advice and support is the currency of the land, but no matter the size of a company, penetrating a captive audience at a grass roots level will build trust and ultimately spread your company’s reach. In planning your micro influencer strategy, you should consider:

Your target audience – where do they hang out, online and off, how can you get in front of them by associating your brand with trusted individuals on the ground?

Look at your business strategy – is your plan for growth regional? If so, it’s important to get in touch with local event organisers and influencers to seek opportunities in collaborative activities

What are your target sectors? – Again, reflect on your business strategy and really pinpoint the industries you’re looking to target over the next year. Research who the rising stars are within these sectors and outreach to them to find out how your brand can be aligned

It’s important to consider any scale of influencer marketing within your strategy, there are benefits of working with both mega and micro influencers. It will completely depend on the size of your business, the industries you’re targeting and the plans you have for growth.