Lifting the digital curtain on dance

by Rachel Turner

Digital transformation conversations are part of our everyday here at The Crocodile, and increasingly so of late with many of our enterprise clients. Introducing innovation and creativity – enabled by technology – can really shake things up, and ambitious marketers are up for it. An organisation on the front foot of such an approach is the Royal Opera House, and they’ve got it so right.

Years of dance school have fuelled my love of ballet, and since hanging up my pointe shoes there’s no greater pleasure for me than watching professional ballet live. It’s an expensive hobby as good seats tend to shock the bank balance, but there’s nothing like being present in a theatre amongst such talent. Until now…

The Royal Opera House’s annual Live Cinema Season is a game-changer. Through the power of technology, they’ve expanded beyond their Covent Garden bricks and mortar to bring live theatre and dance to the masses.

Last night, watching three short ballets as part of a centenary celebration for the late composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein, live at my local cinema, it struck me how far they’d gone to ensure that what was lacking in Opera House ambience was made up for by pretty much EVERYTHING else.

Exclusive interviews with choreographers, costume designers, and set designers, and engaging host (Oré Oduba), behind the scenes footage, unrivalled views…. Even a digital version of the coveted hard copy programme was available with added films, articles, photos and exclusives to bring you closer to the production.

During the intervals, live tweets were shown on cinema screens, and immediately after the production, social posts went live encouraging online reviews and feedback, with #ROHbernstein featuring as one of the top 10 trending hashtags in the UK.

A Crimson Hexagon review of the last 24 hours on Twitter shows 1,000 uses of the hashtag, across 37 countries.

All of this demonstrates a carefully planned and exceptionally executed approach by the Royal Opera House to broaden its reach and to appeal to a different demographic, through increasing accessibility via technology. In addition to affluent theatregoers, more frugal (and digitally native) dance lovers can share their appreciation of the art in real-time.

The customer experience, of course, is key, whatever you’re marketing. Personally, I think the Royal Opera House has nailed it on multiple levels. They’ve expanded their product offering, without compromising the experience of their traditional customer – no mean feat in an industry so rich in tradition and heritage. Delivering a feeling of exclusivity to both theatre and cinema audiences is impressive; doing it simultaneously is a masterclass in marketing, and digital transformation in particular.

What lessons can we learn from this in B2B?

  • Tradition and heritage can embrace digital. Technology elevates products, services and marketing.
  • Accessibility is all-important. Make it easy for your customers to reach you, engage with you, buy from you, have a conversation with you.
  • Think customer-first: existing and prospective. Sometimes these can be complimentary. They may want the same things, but in different ways. Technology could make this possible.
  • Innovation doesn’t mean re-inventing the wheel. Look for opportunities where integrating technology can add value.

A bloody good customer journey

Our Head of Customer Engagement, Matt Garisch, describes his recent experience of giving blood.

Sat planning my next tattoo, I suddenly found myself focussing on a rather different type of needle, and considering giving something back instead – by donating blood.

It’s not every day that an organisation makes me stop and re-evaluate my life choices. In this instance, it was the NHS’s Give Blood appeal.

Somewhere, somebody customer obsessed, thought about how to get people to donate, and keep them coming back for more, by using a clever mix of channels, technology, and a focus on customer experience to evoke an internal conversation in the recipient – in this case me!

Everything from the booking process online, the Give Blood app, the experience in the donation centre, and the follow-up (which was the thought-provoking icing on the cake for me), altogether created an awe-inspiring customer experience. They did their job so well, that it made my behaviour, dare I say it, predictable!

Here’s the journey they took me on:

  1. I decided I wanted to donate – so downloaded the app via a link in a tweet by the Give Blood appeal.
  2. I was offered a convenient appointment – signing up with no fuss.
  3. The experience on the day was great – the waiting room wasn’t full of awkward Londoner strangers, catching each other’s eye and quickly looking away. On the contrary, there was a feeling of camaraderie amongst us.
  4. I left feeling happy – I’d done a great thing and was proud of myself.
  5. I received a thank you message – an unexpected text message thanking me for donating, stating that my blood type would be updated on the app, along with my next potential date to donate.

And, I assumed that would be it…

However, about two weeks later, I got a further text from the service. My blood had been given to a named London hospital that day – wow!

Now, it may not be much, but that last message stopped me in my tracks. It had instantly made the whole process real for some reason. Donating is not something I did a few weeks ago, but now that I knew that it was actually being put to some use, and I knew whereabouts, this immediately created a flurry of internal dialogue around my choices of whether to donate again in future.

How is this relevant to B2B?

Often when we talk about customer journeys, it’s usually a straight line on a diagram which leads to some positive benefit for your organisation. The flaw (as it is with most things in this world) is the human element. You cannot predict, or encourage, the reaction you get from someone. Or can you?

Customer journeys do not begin with web pages, events (virtual or physical), emails, or social channels. They start in the mind, beginning with a conversation as a person works through a problem.

Have you thought about the conversation you want your customer to have when they are not engaging with your brand? Customer analytics platforms like Thunderhead and Kitewheel can show you the path, and (much like ABM theory and frameworks) they are useless, unless you look at how you fundamentally influence the decision-making process. Through using multiple channels that manage the ongoing conversation, you can minimise the chance variable in the decision tree.

And how can you break through the noise to positively influence their decision? Well, 97% of decision-makers say they have a preferred vendor before they go into a pitch process, according to a new study entitled Group. Mind. Set. How Group Dynamics Impact Business Decisions – conducted by B2B Marketing.

The point of the journey

Customer journeys are not a straight line. Spanning multiple channels, they start way before you have intentionally turned your marketing sights on them.

So, if my experience is anything to go by, and the journey I’ve been on influenced the chance variable in my internal dialogue, the stage has already been set, and I have made 92% of my decision already.

Only time will tell what the most likely conclusion will be. Let’s connect and I’ll let you know the outcome.

Charity: Proud to support 21&Co

It’s 21st March – Happy World Down’s Syndrome Day! #WDSD18

Now, I’m guessing you may not fully understand what Down’s Syndrome is and isn’t, let alone know it was #WDSD18. It’s something that has been covered a lot in the press over the last few years with the focus being on pregnancy screening. Unfortunately, not much coverage has focused on raising awareness or educating people on what Down’s Syndrome is.

In my own family, when we were diagnosed during pregnancy, all we had to go on was this big devastating label that told us our child had no hope. This was then further compounded by the NHS attitude to the diagnosis – the implied ‘sentence’.

Like many parents, our first instinct was to protect our baby. We don’t want to hear the odds: if he has a chance, we’re fighting for him. We have never looked back.

Fortunately for us there was 21&Co with an exceptional team of volunteers lead by Tatty Bowman and Louise Beattie. This is an organisation of a few parents who have children and still find the time to run speech and language classes, offer council, advice and organise fun days. They do this every day, every week, all year for hundreds of parents and their kids when they have nowhere else to turn.

They help people find perspective and gain a degree of control with this vast spectrum that is Down’s Syndrome. They help people understand that it’s not a disease but the addition of an extra chromosome – number 21. And ultimately, they teach that Down’s Syndrome is different in every case: it’s as varied and different as any child is from another. And the lives that these kids lead are as individual as they are: some are at university, some setting up businesses and some with a wider range of things to contend with.

For my wife and I we have Jude, big brother to Caolán. In his 3’s he’s a little rascal; he’s mischievous and hugely curious. He loves nursery, his brother, dancing and is nuts about books. For us he’s simply a little boy, our Judalicious!

On World Down’s Syndrome day please challenge your assumptions and do your part to support diversity and inclusivity.

Better still why not spare £21 for 21&Co and make a donation to support their brilliant team? If you’re an organisation and can give more drop me a line

by Jason Talbot

The difference diversity makes

Here we are in 2018 and we still need to educate the world on the merits of diversity.

Happy International Women’s Day!

At the risk of being over-simplistic, businesses that have a knack of spotting talent and nurturing it tend to thrive. Talent is not a gender, an age, a sexual orientation, or – dare I say it – a disability. Talent is talent.

Living in digital or IoT times, one could argue this has never been more necessary. I believe it’s critical to have a varied outlook so as to stand a chance of connecting with the world on a daily basis. Spoiler alert: the ‘world’ is varied and so requires a varied and balanced outlook – common sense surely?

At The Crocodile we have a talent-first policy.  This has resulted in a team from over 5 countries, multiple ethnicities, a female bias inclusive of top roles as Department Heads and Partner. We believe that diversity and a balanced perspective directly impact performance.

If you need a bit more persuasion, don’t just take my word for it, take a look at some factoids:

  • Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
  • Case study: Facebook. They have over 75 nationalities in the International HQ in Dublin. This is because they realise when they’re trying to speak to 1.86 billion people worldwide, they need to have diverse talent and multiple voices so they can scale globally and engage locally.
  • Also, when considering a potential employer, 61% of women look at the diversity of the employer’s leadership team, so diversity is also important for securing your future workforce.

We’re proud to celebrate International Women’s Day today and recognise just how necessary diversity is to businesses and the wider world. But diversity should (of course) be on all of our agendas, no matter what day it is.


by Jason Talbot

What the click is in store for PPC this year?

It may be a cliché to say that the marketing landscape is an ever-changing one, but it certainly is true. As marketers, it’s really important for us to look to the future and see how we can improve, aligning with the constant advances in tech. And looking at the emerging trends in the ad world, this year looks to be an exciting one!

With that in mind, here are our PPC predictions for this year:

1) The importance of personalisation

We’ve all heard the well-known phrase ‘personalisation, personalisation, personalisation.’ No? Well it’s certainly key to us here at The Croc, and to marketing in 2018. People are individuals, so we should treat them that way. And when you start on the road of truly personalised content, the scope for inventiveness and creativity increases tenfold.

Personalisation also results in a huge uplift in lead generation when compared with non-personalised content. Inbound marketing platform, HubSpot, estimates this to be as much as a 42% uplift. On top of this, personalised web experiences get double the engagement and response.

However, personalisation in itself is a two-step process. To tailor content, we need to know the audience that we are marketing to. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning is set to help with this, but more about this later.

There are, of course, many ways in which we can tailor our content and messaging. It can be done via geography, intent, industry vertical, or even a person’s position within a company. Focusing marketing resources on target accounts is, of course, account-based marketing (ABM), and it’s now more important than ever. According to US marketing company Wordstream, over 70% of B2B marketers are ramping up their programmes with the likes of ABM platform DemandBase.

With a smaller set of target accounts you can then track the effectiveness of a campaign more easily, align your sales and messaging perfectly to your specific targets, and see a very clear ROI. From here, the next step is in actually creating the content. Good personalised content listens to its audience and their needs.

When sales and marketing resources are concentrated on a clearly defined audience, we can deliver relevant and personalised information that people will be receptive to and genuinely interested in, and so give a better overall experience.

2) Machine learning and market automation

AI seems to be all people are talking about right now, but it’s largely from a speculative point of view. That’s going to change. Yes, a machine has written a book and is able to beat humans at chess, but it can be utilised in a far more practical way. Machine learning is here, and we will soon be using it in our day-to-day marketing.

We can use machines to learn about customers on an individual level. This will work practically in terms of assisting customers and, in detecting and adapting to shifts in customer interests.

Google’s Smart Bidding is a useful example to bear in mind, particularly in terms of optimising campaign strategy in real-time. Here, machines work within defined targets for the cost per action (CPA), return on advertising spend (ROAS), or other key performance indicators (KPIs). The result is, of course, an enhanced cost per click (CPC) bidding strategy as a whole. It is able to factor in an enormous amount of data, such as the precise time and location of the individual auction, and so can gather relevant information that we can use to deliver the best results.

Put simply, it’s efficient. Machines are able to process far more information than whole teams of people. Time is saved, but far from the machine overthrowing the human, it will ensure that your teams have time for creative tasks and producing excellent campaigns, free from hours of labour-intensive data processing. The intelligence that is gathered can improve both existing and future strategies. Used in this way, technology doesn’t take power, it empowers!

3) Better audience targeting

For the very first time in online marketing, a solid keyword strategy just won’t be enough on its own. But this shouldn’t be damning, but liberating.

At The Croc, we integrate targeting into our marketing strategy. For example, with clients, Linux Professional Institute and AppDynamics, we looked very specifically at the types of audience who downloaded a guide. This told us that they were engaged and actively searching for information: effectively ‘in-market’. By looking at characteristics such as age group, gender, and content they have interacted with, (overlaid with CRM data of existing customers) we were able to serve ads to reach people that were most likely to engage with the content.

Of course, there is more to learn about a customer than simply what they may have clicked on, say, in the last hour of browsing. Equally important is how long someone has spent on the page. Have they pogo-sticked and bounced off the page, or spent time immersing themselves in the content? If it’s the latter, then you have found that top tier audience. You can remarket to them, yes, but also bid higher. We can create marketing plans based on activity and actually understand and nurture the people we are speaking to.

For example, if someone has recently bought a phone, they may need insurance or a contract, and we, as marketers, are able to guide them with this purchase. This is essentially what tools such as Google’s Custom Affinity Audience allow us to do. Ultimately, better targeting stops ads from being simply background noise, and elevates them, making them relevant, interesting, and able to shift in real-time to the specific demands of an individual. Marketing and ads can then operate in terms of a conversation, rather than a loudspeaker.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of what’s on the horizon for 2018. Another thing to look out for is the use of video marketing. When the typical organisation publishes 18 videos per month  (which looks a lot like the production schedule of a blogger a few years ago) it’s clearly on the rise. Video content engages audiences and it is a really interesting area to bear in mind. Stay tuned to our blog for an in-depth look at emerging and upcoming video trends for 2018, coming soon.