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Bridging the gap: How marketing and sales can break down the technological walls between their departments

30 second summary:
Sales and marketing functions can often feel like ‘frenemies’ – blaming each other when things don’t go to plan, and undervaluing the other’s contributions.
Disputes between the two divisions are often centered around one key thing: unqualified leads.
If each team is doing its own thing using incompatible tools and executing disjointed strategies, then operational gaps widen, and corporate dysfunction follows.
Technology such as Sales Engagement Platforms (SEPs) can help to bridge operations and build alignment.

From the outside looking in, many would presume sales and marketing departments go hand in hand, and that they have shared visions and goals.  In the most successful B2B organisations, this is often the case.
However, for others, sales and marketing functions can often feel like ‘frenemies’ – blaming each other when things don’t go to plan, and generally undervaluing the other’s contributions.
Amid the pandemic, their working relationship has taken on new significance, as the face-to-face aspect of the sales process has largely been replaced with video calls. Marketing must now offer greater support in qualifying and nurturing leads and can be the difference between an effective and a failing sales operation.

At the same time, sales must realize that marketing teams now have less tactics at their disposal, with traditional elements of the marketing mix such as in-person events now made redundant amid the shift to digital.
Ultimately, sales and marketing should be working towards the same goal: securing business and helping their company grow. However, silos between the two departments often restrict them from doing this effectively, and this lack of alignment ends up hurting corporate performance.

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In this piece, I’ll dig into the main source of disconnect between the functions and how technology can help to resolve this by sparking synergies between these revenue-focused operational teams.
Unqualified leads
Disputes between the two divisions are often centered around one key thing: unqualified leads. Too often, sales blame marketing for sharing unqualified leads that are not strategic, putting the onus on sales to identify why each lead is relevant through lengthy conversations that span the course of the quarter.
As the B2B industry moves more and more towards an account-based marketing (ABM) model, not having qualified leads is becoming an ever-bigger pain point for sales.
Leads need to be qualified in the sense that marketers, sales development reps (SDRs), and account managers all agree that these leads are worth pursuing, and that they have a high probability of converting.
This helps salespeople to avoid wasting their time. Besides, they are already often stereotyped as being reckless in their approach, trying to sell products to people that are clearly not interested or the right target audience.
Working with qualified leads would help change this perception, and provide sales teams with an opportunity to open up meaningful conversations with prospects so that they can offer the right services and close deals faster.
Sales and marketing teams need to work together to hammer out a mutual understanding of lead qualifications, and then ensure they’re aligned on the tools they use to make these come to fruition.
Use of technology
If each team is doing its own thing using incompatible tools and executing disjointed strategies, then operational gaps widen, and corporate dysfunction follows.
This is where the use of technology comes in.
Many businesses are likely to already be using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms and marketing automation to accelerate outbound and inbound efforts, but few are likely to be using Sales Engagement Platforms (SEPs). These are dramatically transforming the mechanics of sales and marketing.
SEPs are not meant to replace CRMs and Marketing Automation software. Instead, they are designed to bridge operations and build alignment.
SEPs can integrate seamlessly with existing tools to automate the data collection, analysis, and outputs required to get leads through the pipeline and ensure that everything follows the right tempo. This saves marketing ops time and allows the sales team to tune into their real talent – turning leads into cash.
Sharing customer data
Without using a SEP, the only way to get customer data from one team to another is to pull it out manually, hand it off, and then manually input it again. This takes a lot of time and leaves a lot of room for error, which is inefficient and insecure.
This creates a disconnect that means data is trapped in different tools which aren’t communicating properly. SEPs break down these barriers between departments, connecting tools and allowing the necessary parties to access the data they need.
By having all the data together in one place, businesses can use analytics and A/B testing tools to tune the best messaging to suit the needs of each of their verticals, and then communicate the results to people within the organisation. This, in turn, allows for a more targeted, account-based approach with unique, personalized messaging for each account.
Appropriate lead response
If a prospect shows interest, they expect to get a response from sales or marketing almost instantly. Any delay can kill a sale, and traditional processes do not allow for speedy responses or a speedy transition between marketing and sales.
An SEP ensures the correct rep is notified at the correct time to contact the lead.  It also enables them to personalize the initial emails using data they have collected, which sets up triggers that put prospects in the correct automated sequence based on their activity.
This ensures there is no lag between interest and contact, enabling a frictionless buyer journey.
Perfectly timed messaging
Timing your message and touchpoints is key throughout the customer journey, as you want the prospect to get the response at a time that they will see it.
Machine learning, a key part of SEPs, can be used to optimize this and allows organisations to send perfectly timed, personalized messages and sequences.
One example is when reps get an out-of-office reply: machine learning can be used to process this and schedule a personalized email for the second they get back. This allows the salesperson to better manage their time and work on each lead in the most efficient manner.
The best sales and marketing departments act like the winning team of a F1 race: perfectly timed, perfectly tuned and everyone knowing their roles. But this can only happen if they’re empowered with all the necessary components: the salesrep as the driver, the marketing team working at the speed of light as the pit and engineering crew, and the SEP as the engine.
Tom Castley, VP of Sales for Outreach UK, heads the London office and has 20 years of experience supporting sales organisations in Europe’s tech space.

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Optichannel: Winnable marketing strategy for pharma

30-second summary:
Optichannel consists of omnichannel marketing and contextual messaging.
Optichannel approach helps build a stronger relationship between Physicians and brand.
To be present throughout the wholesome journey of a Physician, a Pharma brand must go beyond the physical world to online in a far more effective manner, adopting newer methods and approaches.
Pin-pointed messages at the appropriate time through a suitable channel is the strategy what makes a winnable strategy for Pharma brands.

Marketing to Physicians had long been done through the traditional ‘offline’ way. Face-to-face interaction of sales representatives with doctors to increase brand awareness and ultimately push them to conversion was considered by pharma companies the only ideal solution. But it was THEN.
THEN – at a time when digital was in nascent stages and still making inroads. Now, over years digital has disrupted traditional mediums of branding and marketing. Consumer marketers adapted to new ways of reaching out to their target audience, balancing between the time-tested marketing  channel of offline and the new fast-growing medium of online.
While they were quick to adapt to the changing marketing dynamics and benefited significantly out of it, pharmaceuticals lagged behind in switching to the popular course of digital.

Expanding the digital footprint
Though pharma brands are now taking cognizance of the power of digital, embracing the medium by them is yet slow. Pharma marketing campaigns would remain inconclusive in the absence of thought-out digital campaigns.
Physicians are becoming digital savvy. To be present throughout the wholesome journey of a Physician, a Pharma brand pharma must go beyond the physical world to online in a far more effective manner, adopting newer methods and approaches.

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Optichannel approach to make the most
Pharma companies moved from single channel communication to multi-channel communication and have been implementing it in their campaigns.
However, time is apt to shift focus from multi-channel communication to omnichannel communication to match pace with the emerging physician landscape, where now there are multiple layers of engagement, touch points and interactions owing to digital.

Single-channel communication > Multi-channel communication > Omnichannel communication

However, omnichannel approach would work best when the communication is contextual. So, the best approach for Pharma marketing is one step forward:

OPTICHANNEL: Omnichannel + Contextual

From just spreading the word via many possible channels to Physicians through the multi-channel strategy, it is far more important today to provide Physicians the same experience on every platform – whether offline on online – while being contextually relevant.
This overall coherent experience of optichannel approach helps build a stronger relationship between Physicians and the brand.
Pharma brands must also focus on making communication more sharp and crisp in view of the ever-increasing digital touch points of Physicians.
Pin-pointed messages at the appropriate time through a suitable channel is what a winnable strategy would be. That’s what precision targeting is all about in digital. Also because Physicians’ attention span is less, heavy content pieces do not serve the purpose of grabbing their attention anymore.
What’s best: Contextual communication or multiple sub-campaigns?
To achieve best results via the omnichannel approach, what can Pharma brands do to amplify the impact of each online interaction? Could it be contextual communication along digital journey of Physician or multiple sub campaigns to take the physician down the conversion funnel?
Here, both the approaches are appropriate and valid. Digital conversation with a Physician needs to be looked upon exactly in the same way how physician interaction looks like in the offline world.

It’s all about how pharma brands can make the communication relevant and consistent through-out different stages of AIDA model; very similar to what happens outside the pharma world i.e. in the consumer marketing space.
Physicians today have widespread digital footprint. While reaching them through sub-campaigns via relevant touchpoints, it is important to mould the communication as per the nature of the platform so that the messaging while being consistent remains contextual. Only that adds real value.
By aligning offline and online messaging and tweaking the communication basis information and data generated through digital campaigns from time-to-time, Pharma brands can also improve remarkably the face-to-face relationship between Physicians and sales representatives.
In an hypothetical situation, Homogesic- a brand known for fever and pain, how this digital journey in an omnichannel approach looks like:
Target speciality: GP & CP
Campaign objective: Increase awareness and visibility to right audience at right places

Number of brand exposures is the key for Physicians to identify and relate with a brand. Thus, reaching out to them in both offline and online space is absolutely essential while making sure the messaging at all times is contextual.
That’s why an optichannel approach is the best way to win over Physicians.
Kamya Elawadhi is the Vice President, Customer Success at Doceree, the first global network of Physicians-only platforms for programmatic marketing. She can be reached at [email protected].

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Seven UX ideas to improve your ecommerce sales

30-second summary: 
Follow these seven amazing ideas to boost your online sales and improve your ecommerce user experience.
Chatbots and better navigation should be a must for any ecommerce site to provide a higher quality experience.
To build a good relationship with your buyers, be always transparent. Include trust seals, reviews, and clear pricing to show that your store takes financial security seriously.
Don’t force users to perform a lot of undesirable actions on the site if they want to purchase a product. Use guest checkouts and mobile optimization for customer convenience.

All we need is conversions, and retailers around the globe keep developing new and new ideas to increase the rates and make site visitors buy. Some of them are really innovative, and some of them are controversial, to say the least, but it doesn’t mean that the best techniques can’t be distinguished. Building a good ecommerce user experience is significant for any business that wants to achieve high results.
Ecommerce UX takes a crucial role in creating a superior customer experience. Considering this fact, personalization can generate more sales, and customers are 40% more likely to spend more than planned when they get a highly satisfying personalized experience.
That’s exactly what we are going to discuss today — the killer user experience ideas that can explode your ecommerce sales and improve the online shopping experience. So, if you want to find your website’s weaknesses and turn them into your main strengths, you’re definitely in the right place.  

1) Improve customer service with chatbots
Do you know that over 40% of consumers don’t really care about who is providing support as long as it is high-quality assistance? Otherwise speaking, they completely tolerate chatbots if they solve their problems. For many business owners, it’s a perfect solution to use chatbots for some reasons:
A great opportunity to cut costs by 30%;
Automate customer service;
Answer over 80% of common visitors’ questions faster;
Human agents can focus on more challenging and demanding tasks;
Support a 24-hour business availability;
Gather feedback from potential customers;
Offer discounts, content, and other deals.
Getting a chatbot in 2020 makes sense not only due to the benefits above but also because they become more and more common.

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For example, banks are going to automate up to 90% of their customer interaction using chatbots by 2022. It is highly likely that in a few years they will become a must for any commercial website, and no wonder — more and more customers are looking for immediate 24/7 customer support. 
Anyway, if you have qualified and responsible human agents, there is no need to fire them because the future is already here. Restructuring the process can be great for any business: delegating routine tasks to chatbots and challenging tasks to people is a win-win.
Fortunately, you can find lots of great chatbot platforms available on the market that can help you automate customer interactions and marketing tasks. 
2) Get rid of navigational lags
Unclear website navigation may be losing your customers. The research has shown that if 10 people visit a regular conference call platform with standard navigation options like Features, Platform, Services, Solutions, and try to find the same piece of content on the website, they will all make different navigation paths.
To be honest, this is a common situation for many websites. People often prefer to follow standard labels. Instead, you need to be super clear and super specific — that’s how you can help customers find what they need before they leave. 
Messy site architecture, site speed, or the lack of a search bar – all of these drivers can lead to navigational lags on your websites. The more difficulties your visitors experience, the more likely they will leave. 
Make sure that your navigation options are clean and clear. Conducting a detailed technical SEO audit is always a great way to scan all of your website pages and get actionable insights on any issues that may appear. This approach will help you reduce the number of navigational lags and build an efficient experience on your website.
3) Display trust seals
Everyone knows that shopping online is riskier than shopping offline. If you want to show that your business takes financial security seriously, you need to increase the best sense of trust when people buy online. That’s where you can use your trust seals to increase trustworthiness and sales on your checkout page. 
However, there are a few important things to consider. First, not all seals are effective. They work well enough only if they are recognizable and associated with safety. So, adding a random trust seal is probably not the best idea. 
A study by Baymard revealed how Americans treat particular trust seals. According to the results, Norton, McAfee, TRUSTe, BBB Accredited, Thawte were the most recognizable and the most trusted seals. 
Don’t try to display your trust badges all the time, as it can have the opposite effect. Customers are likely to ask themselves: “Why does this website show this to me all the time? Maybe, it’s trying to scam me?” and they can bounce. If you want to make sure that you’re going to add effective trust seals, do an A/B test and choose the best option. 
Tip: Consider including a disclaimer about the security and encryption of buyers’ credit card information.
4) Include all fees upfront
It all depends on what you expect from your buyers. Do you want them to make one purchase and leave for good, or maybe turning most of your site visitors into loyal customers seems a better idea? If you like the second scenario more, a transparent pricing policy is all you need to provide the best customer experience and keep them coming back. 
There are different reasons why a lot of companies don’t want to show their prices.
For example, one of my clients prefers to follow this strategy because it’s difficult to say how much their services will cost and all client cases are different. But if you have clear and understandable pricing for products or services, make sure to include all retail and shipping prices upfront.
As a result of all this, you can build a good relationship with buyers that leads to a successful customer experience.
5) Include reviews of satisfied customers
Adding customer reviews is always a win-win. You know that online reviews can significantly affect your conversions. When people look through the testimonials of satisfied customers, they are more likely to make a buying decision. But there’s an even more powerful tool than testimonials.
Today a lot of ecommerce sites find it worthy to feature customer-generated content like ratings and product reviews. On Amazon, many of us won’t purchase without looking at the review section. Moreover, “review” related search queries have a high search volume and conversion potential. 
For instance, if a user is looking for “best camera for streaming reviews”, he needs something intentionally that can result in a conversion. No matter what your traffic and rankings, you can still increase your ecommerce sales by using this simple tactic.
Consider that including tons of positive but fake reviews is a bad step to take. Even the negative reviews should not be deleted — just respond to them politely and try to draw attention to the positive aspects. 
6) Use a guest checkout process
Making customers create accounts on your website before a purchase is a widespread sales tactic among ecommerce businesses. In most cases, marketers use their emails to send out business promotional newsletters. But let us suppose that buyers don’t want to waste time proving their contact information before making a purchase. All they need is to buy your product online with no strings attached. 
Consider that 23% of customers are ready to abandon their online shopping cart if they have to sign up for accounts before buying your goods. So, if you don’t provide an opportunity to buy something without completing registration, you will kill conversions. Consider that your website makes it possible to browse or purchase without handing over an email address. 
7) Provide a great mobile experience
Providing a user-friendly mobile ecommerce UX can encourage 77% of online shoppers to buy from businesses whose mobile apps or websites help them make quick purchasing decisions. I mean that all retailers should focus on the mobile experience and try to provide an omnichannel customer experience through different devices.
Make sure to optimize your website for mobile and use responsive design. Get rid of any kind of a mess (unnecessary words, unnecessary visuals, pop-ups, etc.) and simplify your mobile interaction form. It’s also important to keep your content short and informative for a mobile audience. All this takes time and effort, but the result is absolutely worth it. 
Bottom line
Ecommerce user experience is an ongoing process that takes some time, effort, and money. But the more you invest, the more sales you will get.
I hope that these seven UX ideas can give you a clear idea of how to improve your website to explode your sales and keep your customers coming back to your store. I know that not everything will work well for you, but it’s up to you to test them to figure out whether they work for your business.

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