Taking digital experience to the next level

We are delighted to welcome Shimpei Okumura to our gang. He joins us from John Brown Media as Digital Art Director, having built a fantastic portfolio across fashion, lifestyle and finance brands.

This strategic appointment looks to boost our digital design team as the agency continues to push the importance of great digital experiences in the B2B industry.

Chris Tongeman, Creative Director at The Crocodile says: “In B2B there is no shortage of content being created, but what is often lacking is the craft and finesse skills required to take something to the next level and differentiate through the quality of experience. Shimpei will be a great addition to our talented team as we look to create higher value conversations with our clients’ customers.”

Gemalto explores digital ID at Mobile World Congress

At The Crocodile, we’re excited about how mobile provides a great platform for brands to get personal with their customers in real-time. So every year we look forward to learning about the latest technologies revealed at Mobile World Congress. MWC is the world’s largest annual gathering for the mobile industry, and the global focus for every kind of mobile innovation. Over 100,000 people attend the five-day event in Barcelona, while millions worldwide follow the in-depth media coverage.

In 2017, the big mobile trends highlighted include AI, mixed reality, Internet of Things, zero UI and 5G. However, an increasingly vital issue in the mobile world is around identity, security and trust – how can individuals and organisations prove they are who they claim to be?

That’s why our client, digital security leader Gemalto, wanted to make a big splash at MWC with its new mobile ID verification solution – and turned to The Crocodile for a fresh video-based campaign exploring the topic. The solution allows banks and other service providers to easily sign up new customers via mobile and online channels – while maintaining vital trust and security around customer identity. The ID verification challenge to ‘Know Your Customer’ in a digital world is one that Gemalto is uniquely qualified to address.

The Crocodile has created a series of videos featuring ‘Emma’, a busy mobile-empowered millennial, who discovers how Gemalto’s ID verification solutions make it quick and easy to get started as a new customer. The videos integrate live-action performances with green-screened CGi environments and animation, to convey the seamless customer experience Gemalto’s technology enables. The new campaign launches to coincide with MWC 2017, and looks set to ‘verify’ Gemalto’s leadership in the mobile security arena.

Check out Gemalto’s ID verification campaign

Read Gemalto’s MWC blog

INRIX gives The Crocodile the green light

INRIX is leading the way in urban mobility improvement. The Seattle-headquartered company combines the Internet of Things and one of the world’s most comprehensive global traffic databases to provide a range of analytics, connected car, parking and traffic solutions.

The insights and vast datasets INRIX has are used in products such as Roadway Analytics, an on-demand, cloud-based analytics suite that helps city authorities and strategic roadway operators to optimise decision-making and planning. It also produces the high-profile annual Scorecard report, the largest study of its kind, that analyses the impact of congestion on over 1,000 cities around the world.

The Crocodile has been appointed by INRIX to develop campaigns across INRIX’s technology stack, including automated, nurture campaigns using Pardot and Google paid media. We’re delighted to be working with a company at the cutting edge of its industry and looking forward to helping INRIX achieve even greater success in the future.

Make 2017 Real-time + Personal – download the paper

By 2018, organisations that excel at personalised customer interaction online will outsell slow-to-act rivals by more than 30%*.

Many marketers already agree that personalisation represents the future of digital marketing. However, most are still struggling to get aboard the ‘one-to-one’ at scale train. This paper is a guide to unlocking the potential of Real-time + Personal to deliver sustainable growth and results.

It’s an approach that can transform your brand into an authentic and trustworthy guide along an omni-channel customer journey – forging deeper relationships and more impactful conversations.

Unlock the potential — download the paper

(*source: Gartner report: “Technology overview for customer journey analytics”)

B2B Awards 2016: Winners with real-time marketing

We like to sing when we’re winning and at The B2B Marketing Awards 2016 we were in full song with Standard Life as we scooped Category 7: Best Use of Social Media for Adviser Voice – The Budget 2016.

This is especially satisfying as the campaign required Standard Life to try a new technique, in a short time frame, and trust in the combined team to deliver.

Susie Logan, Head of Marketing Standard Life sums this up brilliantly:

“The Budget 2016 campaign had a fantastic outcome for Standard Life – both in terms of creating differentiation in the market by delivering great experiences, engagement and sustainable relationships, and using a completely new approach of real-time marketing and user-generated content.

By listening to our customers, being innovative, organised and capable of applying a focused and purposeful real-time model, we dominated during a key event over the competition with a share of voice of 85%.

We assembled the key ingredients of customer understanding, data, technology and people, and then used our creativity to join these together in a way that delivered better experiences for our customers. Thanks to The Crocodile we won a ‘Superbowl’ moment with a relatively discreet budget.”

Read the full case study for a best example of b2b social media marketing.

The uncomfortable truth about marketing automation

Let’s get one thing straight – Marketing automation is awesome technology. As a tool to support the development and progression of leads; as an enabler between marketing and sales functions; and as a rallying point for results-focused marketing activity, marketing automation is where it’s at – and no buts.

But…. Let’s not forget that much of the marketing automation buzz in the market is generated by the platform vendors themselves. Clever, innovative, persuasive software specialists they most certainly are; marketing people with the job of making it work under the pressure of today’s KPIs? Er, no.

So while the vendors are pouring honey in our ears and whispering sweet nothings about SQLs and nurture flows, pause for a second to consider ten all-important truths.

Mildly uncomfortable they may be, but together they should offer busy marketers a more pragmatic perspective on the reality of marketing automation and how to make a success of this powerful platform.

1. Your platform is not a strategy

It’s software. Pure and simple. Marketing automation can help define your approach to marketing and provide an activity framework of sorts, but it’s no substitute for having a robust plan.

2. Marketing automation does not generate leads

Campaigns generate leads. Marketing automation brings methodology and science to a process that still requires full strategic, creative and planning legwork. There are no shortcuts to effective lead gen!

3. It doesn’t connect your marketing and sales departments

It takes actual people, committed to an effective sales and marketing partnership, to sit down and plan a new, results-driven vision. Marketing automation is a great enabler, just don’t forget the humans!

4. Global is a big ask

The global marketing automation option can work, but don’t underestimate the role of data, process, training and hands-on regional implementation. It will take time, patience and (ideally) local support from agencies that know their stuff.

5. Reporting comes first, not last

Begin your new marketing automation-enabled strategy by defining exactly what you want to be able to report, and work backwards to build your lead nurture programme. Don’t just jump into marketing automation and assume ‘good things’ will come out the other end.

6. If it‘s non digital, it’s a non starter

Marketing automation isn’t magic. The only way to incorporate touches from direct mail, events or telemarketing is through a digital link or by human input.

7. Bad content can kill you

Too many marketing automation projects crawl along on a diet of mediocre, all-about-me content. It’s vital to invest the time, budget and expertise needed to deliver a winning content portfolio.

8. Marketing automation best practice: Approach with caution

We need to be very careful about swallowing the line that marketing automation is a straightforward DIY job if you just follow the manual. You will almost certainly require expert support with selection, implementation and activation.

9. It’s automated, not automatic

The brilliance of the software is the ability it gives you to experiment, adapt, test, push what works and learn what doesn’t. Don’t be reticent, and don’t be frightened of diving in and exploring.

10. Marketing automation might not even been the answer…

There are plenty of automated email broadcasting tools (often cheekily defining themselves as marketing automation) that offer simple lead scoring plus a few other bolt-on goodies. You may not need to go the whole marketing automation shebang to get the solution that’s right for your business.

We know the pressure of working with stretched budgets, limited resources and pressure from the C-suite to deliver. We also know your marketing automation platform and lead nurture strategy can be up and running cost-effectively (and hitting your KPIs) if you take a marketing-led, holistic approach.

Find the right agency to support you (preferably one with an end-to-end marketing automation capability), and together you can make measurably magnificent marketing. Now that’s the truth.

Full guide (PDF)

5 things project managers could learn from Behavioural Economics

Planning and process are great, but so often digital projects fall behind or go over scope or over budget. It doesn’t matter how experienced team members are, how well project managers plan, things can always slip behind.

At The Crocodile our Project and Account Managers use wash ups and evidence-based planning to work out scales and timings plans, but bias (or optimism) tempers previous evidence: “we can do it better this time”.

By nature quite rational characters, PMs and AMs often don’t account for the irrationality of team members, and the ever-present “unforeseen circumstances”.

Illusion of validity

We consistently overestimate our ability to interpret and predict outcomes based on our previous experience – essentially, we’re overconfident. If this happens at every level of a project – planning/scoping/design/build/QA etc – it accumulates a potentially huge amount of error in time/cost estimates.

At The Crocodile we try to remember that each team member will most likely be underestimating the time and cost needs of their area, and factor that into each project step.

Planning fallacy

Daniel Kahneman, the godfather of behavioural economics, says, “the existence of a plan tends to induce overconfidence”. When planning the steps that are required to complete a project, we tend to foresee that they will all run typically, and therefore structures times and costs accordingly.

But what if one step behaves atypically? Or two?

The longer and more involved the process, the greater the probability that something will behave atypically. And that probability increases at a greater rate than our intuition would predict.

So plan in contingency time, and then double it. We try to make this explicit to our clients, as well as the additional budget that may be needed – they are just as susceptible to the “but we have a plan” mind set as we are.

Confirmation bias

You’ve made your project plan; you think you’ve factored in the planning fallacy; you look back at the evidence of past projects to support your projections – but you will likely be working with with evidence that mostly supports your already finely tuned scope and estimate and will minimise the importance of evidence to the contrary.

We encourage team members with different perspectives and from different disciplines to look at our timings and scope of work. We want to have a wider range of views from people who will be better placed to challenge our biases.

Rationality

Generally Project Managers assume that we are rational beings, and our team members will act accordingly. But that doesn’t take into account procrastination, making tea, creative blocks, sick children, toasters setting off the office fire alarm, and of emergency change requests late in the day…

All of these things happen in some shape or form through the project lifecycle, and we try to take that into account when planning project timings. At every step/project phase we plan in some buffer time accordingly – and likely twice as much overflow as we think we might need.

Process/positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement about abilities increases performance, so it’s better to plan for short bursts of activity with regular reviews. We respond better to outcomes today than those we know are coming tomorrow. This could be one of the reasons behind the success of Agile development methodology.

At The Crocodile our Project Managers lay out regular, often daily, milestones and reviews at the start of the project, making sure they are clearly communicated to the team so they know what to expect and what to work towards.

But even armed with this awareness of behavioural tendencies we’re still likely to fall prey to them.

Communication and constantly challenging assertions are the best way to allow for bias. Most of all we should keep process flexible to fit the team and the circumstances rather than trying to change the team to fit the process.

Content management systems are for content, not marketing

Over the past 15 years, in roughly reverse chronological order, I have worked with the following content management systems (CMS):

Adobe ECM, Kentico, Terminal Four, Fatwire, Drupal, Perch, Alterian, Episerver, Typo3, Squiz, Umbraco, WordPress, Immediacy, Morello, Rhythmyx, Tridion, RedDot, DotNetNuke, Contensis, and Plone.*

And that’s ignoring the other platforms that sometimes try to do content management, but aren’t inherently built for that purpose (Sharepoint, Hubspot, Magento, etc).

I’ve used all of these as an admin or editor, and for nearly all of them I’ve been involved in the development of new websites. So from that experience I can roughly put them into one of 2 categories:

  1. CMS built by and for developers to play nicely and experiment with, that try hard but ultimately fail to offer a good user experience
  2. CMS built for big organisations to satisfy IT, security, marketing and procurement requirements, that are over-engineered, over-complicated and never seem to deliver against promises

Who’s actually using your CMS?

Now, the very obvious issue here is that not a single CMS is built to address the needs of the real every day user, the web editor or manager.

In larger organisations especially, IT and/or marketing are often the route to procurement, so complex technical infrastructures, digital asset management, email marketing, and marketing automation are what’s being sold nowadays, with the art of content management being forgotten.

In contrast, the web editor or manager has one key concern: updating the website with new content that helps deliver against the objectives of the business, while keeping the web presence in good order. Typically, this means adding new pages, blog posts, uploading images and video, and occasionally restructuring a page or even the whole structure of the site.

The limits of a Content Management System

By their nature you have to build templates into a CMS for them to work, which means editable areas have to be defined.

Yes, there are platforms that give you flexible drag and drop style templates and widgets that promise you endless flexibility, but at the end of the day there is still a coded template behind it with limitations and restrictions – want to change the size of your hero image? Want a new template with a pull out quote? Got a load of images from an event but your gallery doesn’t handle different proportioned images well? The list goes on.

These are the real problems the modern web manager has to deal with and content management alone can’t solve them.

Over the years, the web editor/manager has evolved to be a predominantly editorial and marketing function, with limited technical skills. The assumption is that CMS platforms alone can fulfill all their needs, but the truth is all they are really good at is maintaining the status quo, updating basic content and publishing new content of a fairly fixed generic format.

Plan to develop

The only way to solve all these problems is to understand what you want your website to be and how you want it to evolve, and then plan for that, because you WILL want it to change at some point.

To achieve this, businesses would do well to look at how publishers manage their websites. Knowing they need to constantly develop engaging and innovative content to stay relevant, they form strong multi-disciplinary teams to support the publishing function, with in-house UX, design and development skills.

The BBC has its own CMS – it built a bespoke one just to be sure it was right – but if there’s a story to tell using video, infographics, or whatever, the Beeb has designers and developers on hand to do that, because it’s just not something that you can standardise.

This is something every business should plan for. Your content will change – you won’t just have new press releases getting churned out forever. Your content management system will need someone to help you make those changes.

So, my 3 top tips for picking a CMS are the following:

  1. Pick a CMS that your web editor likes using and won’t make them scream at their monitor on a daily basis
  2. Pick an open source one, because it’ll be free, simpler to use, and you won’t struggle to find developers to work with it
  3. Make sure you have either an ongoing relationship with your agency, or your own in-house developers, so you can plan for change and act upon it.

And most of all, please, please, don’t pick a CMS just because it comes with a load of bells and whistles. Pick it because it manages content well.

* A final note

This asterisk is here just to make you read all the way to the bottom. And in case you were wondering, the best of all these CMS I have worked with was Immediacy, which is sadly now long gone. Sure it was a bit crashy and fatally slow for very large sites, but editors loved it – simple, understandable and – with the basic licence – unencumbered by other unnecessary features.

The B2B Marketing Awards 2016 – in it to win it!

Here at The Crocodile we like to think of ourselves as versatile, problem-solving partners that can help give our clients an edge. We don’t see everything in competitive terms…just most things!

So being shortlisted today for four awards across three diverse categories in the 2016 B2B Marketing Awards underlines the extent of our capabilities and plays to our desire to win – both for ourselves and our great clients.

The nominations

This year The Crocodile had four campaigns shortlisted in three different categories:

The Croc’s MD Adam Wooff commented:

“It’s tough to get a nomination in the B2B Awards, and genuinely difficult to achieve four or more. Only a handful of agencies made that grade, including The Crocodile.

I love the fact that we are being recognised for strategies as diverse as real time marketing, social media-led lead generation, social listening and digital platform development to support an international sales initiative.

It’s a great illustration of the breadth of our skill set and the vitality and inventiveness of the B2B sector right now. Well done to our talented people and visionary clients!”

Frazer Nash 3D approach to lead generation

When we were asked create a lead generation program for cutting-edge metal 3D printing innovator Frazer-Nash, all of us tech geeks got very excited. This is an uber-cool technology area right now.

Frazer-Nash is an engineering firm with a distinguished heritage in motorsport and aerospace. Today, they are applying the latest metal 3D printing technology within their business – and want to offer this capability as a service to a wider range of customers.

After Frazer-Nash appointed The Crocodile earlier this year, we worked closely with them to understand the complexities of ‘metal additive manufacturing’ technology, and helped them develop a GTM proposition for their unique combination of modern 3D automation with precision-finished craftsmanship.

The result is a cost effective digital lead generation campaign – which includes a highly optimised and responsive landing page for ongoing SEO and PPC run by The Croc, a compelling case study, an explainer video to bring their unique and cool proposition to life, and ongoing PR aircover.

Check it out now at www.frazernashAM.com.

Aryzta Americas’ digital food catalogue

The Crocodile’s latest project for ARYZTA – one of the largest bakery companies in the world – called on our digital expertise to scope, design and build an online platform to showcase the range of ARYZTA Americas’ foods available across North America.

We’re a bunch of digital geeks and foodies so working on a project that tickled our tech taste buds (with lots and lots of cookies!) was a dream come true. In response to the brief, we baked up an online food catalogue good enough to eat.

The catalogue was built with complex logic and sophisticated functionality to enable users (ARYZTA teams across North America) to search for specific food types in a broad range of categories. SAP data integration also enabled us to streamline the build, inputting vast quantities of ARYZTA’s data efficiently.

Sadly for our sweet teeth, we didn’t sample all 100 products but our waistlines are grateful.