CX Shorts: Let’s talk tech

Next in our CX shorts series, we’re diving straight into one of the key buzzwords around CX: tech. So, who better to talk to than Charlotte Kennett, Global Customer Marketing Manager at Blue Prism, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) provider?

Charlotte has picked up on a key stumbling block in CX: many B2B brands are starting to talk the talk, but few are walking the walk. It’s something the industry is famous for. And for her, tech is the way to fix that.

Take a look at our first CX short, where we hear from Sylvia Jensen about the end goal for a good CX strategy. Look out for our next short coming next week!

CX Shorts: The end goal

The first in our series of CX shorts, we’re asking marketers what good CX means to them and (because true end-to-end CX is a tough ask) how the industry can get there.

After our first #IAMCX event, Sylvia Jensen, VP of EMEA Marketing at Acquia talks about the end goal of a CX strategy. ‘Loyalty’ is the obvious answer, but Sylvia believes there’s a higher goal.

2018 is the year of personalisation

There is new (and huge) potential in personalising our approach to marketing. It increases efficiency and lowers costs, and here at The Crocodile we’re pushing to make B2B marketing personal.

It’s about change, it’s about data, it’s about platforms, but above all it’s about people: fostering real connections and putting the customers back into the very centre of your marketing efforts.

The benefits are obvious. Yet it’s a hugely under-utilised approach – it seems the wave of mass-adoption for B2B brands is still to come. Which means now is the perfect time to rethink your strategy.

The opportunity to expand and make the most of marketing spend is there. For some help getting your strategy off the ground, take a look at our guide. We’ll start you on the road to a truly customer-centric way of thinking, and talk you through a more conversational approach to digital marketing.

Click here to download our personalisation guide

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.

Love them or hate them? New social features to boost your brand into 2018

Popular opinions are sharply divided on many of the big changes and happenings during 2017 in social media. Influencer marketing rocketed, and fake news was fought by Facebook. But what are the major developments of the past year in social platform capabilities that marketers should be aware of? Let’s take a look…

Instagram: Polls, filters and influencers

In 2017, social photo sharing platform Instagram went Face Filter crazy – in a game of catch-up with rival Snapchat. Instagram also enabled users to save and bookmark favourite photos, create multiple-photo posts, and added new desktop functionality. With this constant evolution, Instagram’s popularity continues to grow at a rapid rate, predicted to reach 1 billion users in 2018.

But even more interesting from a B2B perspective, Instagram’s new Business Profiles – its equivalent to parent company Facebook’s Pages – are now being used by more than 25 million marketers. With a handy ‘Contact Us’ button on the profiles, plus invaluable in-depth analytics about the number of impressions and unique reach that each post achieves, it’s no surprise that businesses want a slice of the action, with 80% of Instagram’s 800 million users now following at least one business account.

Influencer marketing is exploding right now on Instagram. Brands of all sizes are forming both paid and unpaid partnerships with influencers to spread their message. In the spirit of enhanced transparency – and with the added benefit of bringing even more credibility to influencer marketing – Instagram rolled out a ‘Paid Partnership With’ tag in June 2017 for posts and Stories.

This year also saw Instagram Stories celebrating its first birthday by adding an interactive poll function – so your brand can now ask customers topical questions and easily share the results. It’s a great way to add more interaction to your Instagram visual storytelling.

Facebook: Smarter Stories, plus more Live and 360° video

Facebook created its own Stories function in 2017 and then rolled out an option to link Instagram Stories to Facebook Stories. The big news for business was that Facebook Stories also opened up to include Pages, allowing brands a new useful marketing tool.

Facebook 360 was also launched in 2017. Over 25 million 360-degree photos have now been posted on Facebook, plus 1 million immersive 360-degree videos.

Pushing forward with Facebook Live this year, it became possible to start broadcasting directly from your laptop or desktop computer, and to add comments to your live broadcasts. A great tool for PR, and experiential events, The Crocodile has used Facebook Live with a number of clients this year, including Volvo Construction Equipment, Swatch, and B2B Marketing – with exceptional results!

Twitter: Character-building experiences

In 2017, Twitter turned eleven years old – and decided it was time for an interface makeover, such as turning square profile pictures into circles and repositioning tabs, toolbars and sidebars.

The update was mostly cosmetic.

However, 2017’s big development on Twitter was the increased character allowance for each tweet – from 140 to 280 characters. This was a major long-awaited change for consumers and brands alike, and probably one of the biggest social media news items of 2017. The move followed criticism that it was not easy enough to tweet, and was seen as part of Twitter’s masterplan to attract new users, increase growth and compete with other social platforms. While Twitter currently has 330 million active users, this is a relatively small user-base – Instagram has 800 million, and Facebook over 2 billion users.

The good news for marketers? While it’s still early days, some preliminary research indicates that tweets longer than 140 characters get more engagement. Analytics company SocialFlow has reported that people are liking and retweeting longer tweets almost two-times more than shorter ones.

LinkedIn: Generating leads and leading generations

The big LinkedIn news for B2B this year was the introduction of Lead Generation Forms, allowing users to opt-in to your offer with just one click. According to, AdWeek: “marketers have reported that using the lead gen forms have helped lower their average cost per lead by more than 20%”.

Another major step forward for LinkedIn was the rolling out of native video capabilities this year, allowing B2B marketers the chance to stream live video to a professional audience.

The Crocodile was an early adopter, joining the LinkedIn closed video beta trial for client the London Stock Exchange Group.

All in all, 2017 has been an exciting year for social media, and an interesting time for B2B social marketing. Keep your eyes peeled for our next blog – about hot topics to watch out for in social media in 2018.

No prizes for second place…

Turns out that’s not quite true. This year team Standard Life and The Crocodile scooped ‘Runner Up’ trophies for our ‘Step Ahead With Confidence’ SME workplace pensions campaign at both the B2B Marketing Awards and the Social Buzz Awards.

At the B2B Marketing Awards we won silver in the ‘Best B2B Lead Generation and Nurture’ category and at this year’s Social Buzz Awards, we were runners up in the ‘Best B2B Social Media Campaign’ category.

Truth is, we don’t rate coming second and as much as we like to see a new trophy in the boardroom, silver isn’t good enough. It is however industry recognition that collectively our thinking, craft and execution are up there with the very best in key categories.

You can expect us to find another gear in 2018 as we push for the top spot. Game on!

Jason Talbot
Managing Director

Croc Robyn up for WIM Award

The Crocodile’s Head of Social Media, Robyn Pierce, has been nominated for a Women In Marketing Award. The award for Contribution to Marketing recognises women who have contributed significantly to marketing as a result of the work they have achieved for their organisation or for the industry as a whole.

Robyn is arguably one of the most accomplished social media practitioners in the UK. She has built The Crocodile’s social media division from scratch, fulfilling her role as an entrepreneurial, commercially accountable department head in a busy agency, and in the process building an enviable roster of global clients.

“I’m very fortunate to work with a lot of talented people – both agency and client side,” says Robyn. “WIM provides an important source of support and inspiration for women in the profession and I’m excited to join their ranks.”

Commenting on the nomination, The Crocodile’s managing director, Jason Talbot, adds: “Being an early pioneer of B2B social has given Robyn a unique perspective. She’s passionate not just about the techniques and technologies, but about challenging perceptions and evangelising the possibilities.”

The WIM Awards ceremony takes place on Thursday, 16th November 2017 in Soho, London.

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.”

The Crocodile goes 360° with Blend Media

The Crocodile has been appointed by Blend Media to optimise its digital marketing strategy.

Blend Media provides an end-to-end content solution to make the creation of 360˚ video content and immersive campaigns quick and easy for brands, agencies and publishers. With the goal of lowering the barriers to entry the solution includes a drag and drop editor, a large catalogue of premium 360˚ videos and distribution solutions that help to quickly and more easily create engaging formats.

Blend Media also runs the largest 360˚ videos page on Facebook globally: Facebook.com/360vidz

The Crocodile’s team will be working closely with Blend to shape the go-to-market strategy and execution plans across search and social media.

This is a really exciting space and we’re looking forward to helping Blend drive their next stage of growth!

Check out some of Blend’s content at www.blend.media

 

Image courtesy of Blend Media Creator – William Briscoe Photography

Exchanging success with LSEG win

The Crocodile has been appointed by one of the most iconic brands in finance.

The financial services regulatory landscape is constantly evolving. The upcoming MiFIR deadline will require those firms affected to work with trusted partners and implement effective technology solutions, in order to stay compliant and get ahead of the regulatory curve.

UnaVista is the leading transaction reporting platform from the London Stock Exchange Group that enables financial institutions to meet the requirements of MiFIR and other associated regulations, and also benefit from a suite of LSEG’s solutions and its impressive ecosystem.

The Crocodile has won a five-way pitch against some B2B agency heavyweights, to be appointed a roster agency for the London Stock Exchange Group, and to develop a new campaign to promote UnaVista to those organisations affected by MiFIR. It’s another great win for the agency at the start of the year and we are delighted to be working with one of the world’s most recognised and admired financial services brands.

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.

Taking it personally

We all know that personalisation represents the future of digital, however most of us are still struggling to take a firm grip of one-to-one. We’re getting lost in a deluge of tactics, channels and platforms, which makes it hard to maintain a top level perspective.

If we can only fly above the turbulent air of marketing noise we emerge into a calm consensus about where we should be directing our efforts towards personalisation going forwards:

• Providing an integrated experience for customers
• Finding opportunities to engage with them in real time
• Treating customers as real people – seeing the person not the persona
• Building sustainable relationships to create long-term loyalty
• Personally I also still crave BIG IDEAS but maybe that’s just showing my age?

The idea of real-time and personal can transform brands into authentic and trustworthy guides along the customer journey.

Being in the moment

In the real world, every conversation is personal – and they’re mostly in “real time”. The magic of real-time and personal marketing is the ability to be genuinely conversational. Transforming momentary insights into content that’s useful and relevant because it’s tailored both to an individual and a particular circumstance.

(And just in case you were wondering, sticking someone’s first name in a mass email isn’t personalised marketing. Sorry).

Ultimately it’s about the ability to tailor imagery, products, offers and response mechanisms to the particular needs of the individual and the moment. As marketers it requires us to be at the top of our game: experts in what we do and able to pull a number of skill sets together. It requires creative imagination and craft – strategy, data and technology will only take you so far.

I’m geeky and I know it

In the past, simply getting the data was a big deal. Now many of us have to deal with too much of the blinkin stuff – we’re literally drowning. (The idea of data lakes makes me laugh. Man overboard!).

Luckily we have access to amazing technologies that enable us to tame the flood and use it to power our real-time and personal ambitions. Data management solutions can provide real-time data for immediate campaign optimisation and triggers. Marketers can tie anonymous audience data with known customer data across channels and devices to achieve complete and connected customer profiles. Don’t even get me started on predictive analytics.

It’s really, really cool stuff. There’s no avoiding tech and data going forwards, not new news I know, but you need to recognise where you sit on the technology curve before you can fully understand your ability to win in real time. I’m just saying.

Dream BIG

Intrepid marketers are increasingly investing time and energy to unlock the potential of real-time and personal to deliver growth.

It relies on the premise that to provide great experiences, we must know the individual and provide marketing, products and services that fit them and their needs in the moment and at scale. For many marketing departments it is an ongoing transformation journey using technology, data and creativity to ultimately make their marketing more, well, human.

Take steps to realise this opportunity and trust me – your working day, your planning cycles, your momentum will capture the imagination of the rest of the business.

Finally…

Embrace your instincts. Don’t fear failure. We’re in marketing for crying out loud – enjoy it!

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)