6 Best Practices for B2B Email Marketing

Marketing Cloud

Despite a seemingly endless number of innovative (and very cool) channels available for brands, email remains one of the strongest parts of a cross-channel marketing strategy.

B2B marketing of the past was based on funnel activities that drive demand. Today, it’s all about customer journey and being able to personalize interactions with your brand. Modern B2B marketing is complex. Companies must build trusted relationships while delighting customers with value-added information that keeps them active, engaged and interested in pursuing products and services across channels – and do it at scale.

The key takeaway with B2B email marketing is to create a strategy that delivers appropriate content during each phase of the customer journey, whether it’s an infographic, survey results or product sheets and comparison guides. Here are six tips for B2B to help you build an email campaign that delivers results.

  1. Nail the Right Tone

The tone of an email sets the stage for what’s to come: it’s often the first impression you have to make an impact. With B2C companies, tone is generally designed to grab attention. “Don’t miss this fantastic sale! With a short focus, it’s easy to make the recipient laugh with visually stimulating content or appeal to the “need to know” by piggybacking on current events. There’s a tremendous entertainment factor in B2C email that simply doesn’t exist with information-centric B2B email. And that’s OK, because B2B email marketing doesn’t necessarily need to be visually entertaining or appeal to emotions to be effective.

The right tone for B2B email marketing is more about developing and fostering a relationship – providing a trusted solution for resolving pain points. It’s not necessarily formal, but it must be delivered in a way that the recipient sees the value in each and every email.

  1. Personalize It

For engaging customers, content that’s personalized and relevant wins every time. Luckily, today’s B2B marketer can personalize email easily by using data attributes. Identify people by their name and company – even better, by their role within the company. Personalization also means recognizing where subscribers are in the customer journey using data elements and performance center data if applicable. Identify who they are (a primary decision maker, influencer etc.) and then target them with customized content that they’ll find informative and valuable. Capture attention in a creative subject line or through compelling imagery. If you know the recipient is in IT for example, include an IT-oriented image.

Personalization in email has evolved quite a bit since the “Dear (insert name here)” technique of the 1990’s. In fact, today’s marketer has access to a wide range of technologies and tools for keeping it personalized and pithy while building upon the consumer cross channel experience.

  1. Timing Is Everything

The right timing is critical for B2B email marketing success. Look at the data to identify what makes sense for your customers. Data can help uncover the best day of the week or time of day that’s most effective. While there are differences of opinion as to the best time to communicate through email with customers, relying on analytics and email operational reporting is the most accurate way to collect information to inform your campaign.

Timing also has to do with recognizing where in the customer journey the recipient happens to be to trigger appropriate follow-up email. For instance, if someone downloads a white paper or takes some action that shows interest, a timely follow-up phone call or email sent in response is a smart strategy.

  1. Coordinated, Automated and Cross Channel

The most effective email is coordinated, automated, and cross channel. That means knowing when someone expresses interest by taking some action and being able to follow up that event, but also being able to automate when appropriate. For instance, did they open the email and did they follow up with something else? Having access to this information makes it possible to engage with the buyer in a nurture program designed to keep them moving through the journey – not only with email, but also using additional cross-channel strategies. Doing this at scale is critical for B2B marketing success.

Coordinated, cross-channel campaigns integrate content management with email. Effective email adds value; be sure to create content that reinforces that. Remember, it’s not just text, but visuals and graphics, too. That’s where the story comes together. Effective marketers are not just automating but integrating with a content management system that helps facilitate the whole process, ensuring you get timely content in front of subscribers at the right time.

  1. Keep Messaging On Point

Effective B2B email marketing targets recipients with the right type of messaging, whether it’s sending a newsletter to someone in the early phases of the customer journey or promoting more focused messages to someone in an advanced nurture program. To be clear, messaging can be both broad and targeted depending on where the buyer is in the journey. Early on with limited information available about a recipient, a newsletter may be the best way to go, offering a variety of topics. Once you learn about an individual’s likes, interests, and role in their company, targeted content makes sense.

  1. Measure Success

Finally, while operational-oriented metrics – clickthrough rate, who opened the email, who viewed it, etc. – are still important, it’s necessary to be able to connect the dots between the email being sent, pipeline contribution, or the email and revenue contribution. At Adobe, we look at Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs), and the influence email has on these metrics to inform each campaign.

Conclusion

B2B marketers today are working with multiple channels pulled together around content. They recognize the value in email, while at the same time thinking about mobile or how to integrate with a CRM system. A smart email campaign drives the buyer though the customer journey. And done well, it speaks to the recipient with the right tone at the right time with appropriate messaging that resonates. It’s personalized and it’s a key component of a cross-channel environment. Email is a powerful channel, and one of the most cost effective from an ROI perspective. Best of all, it’s receptive in the marketplace. Recipients have to opt in, and that gives you all the permission you need to communicate to do it well.

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Adobe and Amdocs Transform Digital Experiences Across Telecom

Marketing Cloud

It’s clear that telecom customers are not satisfied with their digital experiences. Fueled by their voracious appetite for digital content, ubiquitous connectivity, and an expanded array of communication services, telecommunications operators have been trying to aggressively drive technological innovation.   According to a 2015 A.T. Kearney survey, more than 60% of the operators interviewed have implemented at least two transformation programs within the past three years.

However, the customer experience has not evolved at the same rate.   Communication Service Providers consistently perform poorly in the Forrester Customer Experience Index ranking in the bottom quartile.   In the US, the American Customer Satisfaction Index reveals that consumer satisfaction with services providers has deteriorated to the lowest level in years.  This is costing Telco millions.

There is a telecom-customer gulf that has to be eliminated. Operators are delivering an increasing number of services across an even broader range of consumption models (inc base, overages, OTT, one-time events).   Meanwhile, customers demand more meaningful, relevant experiences across a broad array of screens and devices.  And according to Temkin Group, even a modest improvement in customer experience generates $370 million on average over three years for   a $1 billion business​.

To help companies respond to these dynamic market conditions and demanding customers, Adobe and telecom software and services provider Amdocs are teaming up to help telecoms deliver personalized experiences for all of their customers across devices.  15 marketing-related industry analyst reports have recognized Adobe in a leadership position, and Adobe Marketing Cloud powers 41 trillion transactions annually for major brands including telecom.  Amdocs is the leader in customer experience solutions and services for the communications industry, trusted by the world’s largest service providers in over 90 countries, and with an unparalleled track record of delivery success.

By combining Amdocs’ digital commerce and care solutions with Adobe Marketing Cloud, telecoms can transform engagement and deliver personalized content like product recommendations and relevant offers to their customers across the web and mobile devices.

Personalizing for an Omnichannel World

We live in an always-on, digital world and expect to seamlessly communicate and consume media experiences across every digital device.   It is imperative to not only deliver services across these touch points, but to provide rich access to account services… and never miss an opportunity to market relevant new offerings.

This growing number of touch points coupled with the proliferation of services has resulted in an ever-increasing range of offer permutations. Rules-driven marketing approaches are not able to address the growing complexity of these services and the dynamic needs of today’s consumers.   Effectively responding requires a data-driven approach with a real-time understanding of where customers are in their current contract cycles, how their behaviors are evolving, and the ability to respond to real-time demand triggers with highly personalized and relevant services.   Automated personalization is used to continuously optimize and refine the experience responding to real time conditions and changing shopper needs.  Business users are able to author and manage these adaptive experiences without IT and have access to Amdocs powerful business capabilities such as a single catalog-based commerce platform to serve any and all services, from traditional to digital services including multiplay, entertainment and content, visual merchandising tools and a telco-ready promotions engine combined with telco-defined process flows for commerce and care transactions. 

Disrupt or be disrupted

Just creating a great omnichannel experience is not enough to win in the hypercompetitive communication service provider market.   As consumption patterns evolve and customers demand access to an expanded range of services and devices, communication service providers must continuously evolve their offerings.  At the same time, operators must fight off a continuous onslaught of disruptive entrants providing substitute services at lower costs.   By empowering line-of-business users with deep insights and experience creation tools, business users can anticipate and react quickly to market shifts and new opportunities.

To learn more, join us at the Mobile World Congress or contact Adobe to understand how we can help innovate your customer experience.

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Adobe Enhances Mobile Experience Offering with Location-Based Personalization, Deep Linking and Messaging

Marketing Cloud

Mobile is big, but mobile is hard. Brands rushed to build apps but underestimated everything else that comes after. The question now is not whether you need a mobile presence but how you create one that delivers tangible value. It’s no longer enough to just be present; experience is the real differentiator. As brands continue the digital migration of their businesses online, mobile will be a primary touch point – one that will transform the way they operate and interact with their users.

Consumers are leading the need for change. Recent data from Adobe Digital Index shows that the average app saw new monthly installs increase only 5% (against an over 25% increase in new available apps). At the same time, 25% of consumers abandoned an app after just one session. Consumer expectation is accelerating faster than the ability for brands to address it, an issue that will continue to compound further.

As the opportunity and the challenges progress side-by-side, a solid mobile strategy will be one rooted in content and data. Adobe is the only company that can help brands take the beautiful content created in Adobe Creative Cloud, and use the capabilities of Adobe Marketing Cloud to personalize the content experience across screens, backed with data insights for precise execution. New mobile capabilities in Adobe Marketing Cloud will allow brands to further refine their digital efforts, engaging customers in ways that delight and retain them.

Mobile Experience Enhancements

Mobile Core Services in Adobe Marketing Cloud provides the tools for teams to optimize the way they interact with users. New capabilities around location-based personalization and messaging, as well as a completely new deep linking solution, will deliver better engagement that seamlessly integrates with existing campaigns:

  • Location-based personalization: One of big values that come with mobile devices is the ability to produce rich, contextual data. As these devices travel with the customer, brands can engage in ways that are highly personalized and valuable for the user. Mobile teams can now act on various location data – including background location data and geo-fence entry/exit events – which can then be leveraged across solutions in the Adobe Marketing Cloud. For instance, a messaging campaign can be triggered when a shopper has entered a geo-fence that a retailer has set up, with a relevant in-store promotional offering. Or, an associate could have your information ready for more personalized service, once they know you’ve arrived. A places database will now also enable brands to pick points of interest qualitatively (a bank might choose all ATMs within a certain location), replacing the need to work through cumbersome number-based coordinates.
  • Deep linking: This is a brand new capability within Adobe Marketing Cloud, allowing mobile teams to define the user experience via deep linking. For instance, if a home goods manufacturer sends a promotional offer for a crockpot, the link should take you directly to the product page within the app if it’s installed; the less steps there are, the better the user experience. New capabilities will allow mobile teams to easily construct decision trees that map out where users go on click. It’s a visual way to map out the most intuitive path from awareness to action.
  • Mobile messaging: Push and in-app messaging can help brands bring users into their app and give them a reason to keep coming back. We’ve seen Redbox drive a 2x increase in physical rentals with this approach, by timing a push at the exact right time. The solutions in Adobe Marketing Cloud will now share the same messaging platform, a common connecting point ensuring that relevant content is delivered based on data insights. Tighter integration will also allow brands to send deep links via a push message based on the users location.

Learn more about Adobe and mobile marketing.

At Mobile World Congress, we also introduced Adobe Experience Manager Mobile to help brands build and manage intuitive, visually appealing mobile applications.

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Announcing Adobe Experience Manager Mobile


Marketing Cloud

Our favorite apps combine rich content with the user experience, convenience, and access to device capabilities that only mobile can offer. But for all the promise and potential of mobile apps, building and maintaining them is an intensely difficult, time-consuming, and resource intensive task.

Today, the solution landscape for producing and maintaining apps is extremely fragmented. There are UI and UX design tools for prototyping. There are developer tools for coding. There are management systems for storing content and assets. There are point solutions for marketing tasks like analytics, targeting, notifications, diagnostics, and messaging. Enterprises that want to create a great app experience and maintain and improve that experience over time are left to stitch all of these solutions together. Involving so many different departments makes it difficult to realize efficient workflows between design, development, marketing and analytics. It’s really hard. And, it’s why most enterprises struggle to create and attract users to apps that are core to their businesses.

More than ten years ago, content management systems were developed to make building and managing websites easier. They moved web development from a bag of disjointed technologies managed by people called webmasters to a highly scalable platform that emphasized user experience over implementation. Look at any website screenshot from a couple of years ago, compare it to the experience today and you’ll see how websites have evolved as a result of these technologies. See the evolution here.

We think that a similar moment is upon us with mobile apps and today I’m really excited to announce a new product, Adobe Experience Manager Mobile, that will allow enterprises to drastically reduce their time to market while making it easier to attract and engage audiences with compelling, actionable content.

Here’s some more detail on what it offers:

Leverage Content for Mobile

For what seems like forever, brands and enterprises have struggled to efficiently leverage their assets for multiple downstream digital channels. Adobe Experience Manager Mobile treats apps as a first class citizen in the multi-channel content experience, allowing marketing managers and creatives to populate apps with existing content through template-based authoring.   For companies who want to deliver content from other sources to their apps — whether from other CMS systems, product databases, ERP or CRM systems or any other content source — we offer flexible and open APIs.

Build and Extend Apps

Adobe Experience Manager Mobile allows brands to rapidly create apps for iOS, Android and Windows. Using intuitive design tools and frameworks, designers and marketers can quickly create beautiful screens and nuanced navigational structures, all backed by native working code. This results in rapid time to market to beat today’s inefficient workflows by 50-70%.

No rapid prototyping tool, however, is going to give an enterprise everything they need to produce a mission critical app. Adobe Experience Manager Mobile makes it possible to extend native apps with real-world functionality via Apache Cordova. This means enterprises can devote development resources to extend applications to access device sensors, local storage and all the other mobile components that make apps sing. We will be delivering the first build that provides this extensibility layer at Adobe Summit.

Centrally Manage Apps

Enterprises that struggled to manage websites years ago face a similar problem with apps today. Because there wasn’t software for managing web content from a single source, departments, divisions and global offices went off and built their own decentralized websites. Same with apps today. With Adobe Experience Manger Mobile, we offer a unified dashboard to not only manage apps created with the product, but to manage existing native or hybrid apps as well.

Engage, Measure and Optimize

Today, in order to integrate critical marketing services into mobile apps, you need to integrate with point solutions and maintain those solutions APIs and SDKs over time in your app. Contracting with multiple solution providers (analytics, targeting and notifications for example) only adds to the complexity, time and cost.

Adobe Experience Manager Mobile comes with critical marketing services from Adobe Marketing Cloud so you don’t have to worry about integration points and ongoing maintenance let alone contracts from multiple vendors. As an example, customers can get up and running with Adobe Analytics within minutes of logging into their accounts for the first time, and we will integrate more Marketing Cloud services in the coming months.

Watch this video to learn more about how Experience Manager Mobile works:

Putting it all together:

So, what kinds of apps can you create with this new product? The answer is any app that mixes compelling content with app functionality. To get more details on how Adobe Experience Manager Mobile can apply to specific needs of industry verticals see our solutions briefs for financial services, retail, manufacturing, healthcare, media & entertainment, consumer services, and travel & hospitality.

Experience Manager Mobile is ideal for line of business owners and marketers who are trying to solve specific problems like distributing critical information to sales teams, providing employees with instant access to training materials, giving customers up-to-the-minute quotes and order statuses, delivering meaningful brand experiences to consumers and more.

Here are just a few examples of the kinds of apps you can create with Experience Manager Mobile:

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Customers migrating from DPS will find familiar out-of-the-box development workflows and a whole lot more: asset management, content creation, and app extensibility using Cordova plugins. To answer other questions and for details on what happens to DPS, please see our blog and FAQ to learn more.

We believe Adobe Experience Manager Mobile will revolutionize the way enterprises build and manage mobile applications, and we’re excited to show you more. Whether you’re an existing DPS customer or exploring Experience Manager Mobile for the first time, be sure to check out these events to get an even deeper look at the product.

Webinars:

Get detailed product information and a demo of the workflow on March 17—learn more and sign up here.

If you’re an existing DPS customer, attend our webinar on March 1 for a complete overview of the added capabilities available when you upgrade to Experience Manager Mobile—sign up here.

Adobe Summit

If you’re planning to attend the Adobe Summit, be sure to sign up for our many sessions where you’ll see live demos and hear how customers like Hartford Funds, Black Diamond, Dupont and Under Armour are using Experience Manager Mobile.

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4 Trends Marketers Should Watch At Mobile World Congress

Marketing Cloud

A recent global survey of more than 4,000 consumers showed that 92% of millennials considered the smartphone to be their primary device. Even when those in the 70+ category were asked, 67% answered the same.

Whatever demographic, brands have to engage with users that are not only mobile-first, but also increasingly mobile-only, particularly in countries like China and India.

As much limelight as device makers and telecoms get at Mobile World Congress, marketing and advertising are becoming focal areas, as well. This year, Feb 22-25 in Barcelona, we see tracks dedicated to everything from mobile analytics to ad blocking.

Here are some of the big trends:

Location-Based Marketing Means More Than Ads 

Beacon technology came out to great fanfare when it was introduced around 2003. Since then, it’s gotten a bad rep; personalized ads and discounts can be effective, but they are one of many possible use cases. Having access to contextual data allows brands to be more creative.

For example, a clothing retailer could install a large display in their store, which changes depending on who’s walking by it. Shopper A might see a cocktail dress; shopper B might see a pair of shoes. Or, an app could enable shoppers to take pictures of clothing and accessories on those around them and suggest similar items in the store.

These user cases already exist, either in practice or demo form. They enable brands to blend physical and digital, identifying the specific experiences that provide value for their audience. In the above survey, 67% say they would use their smartphones in conjunction with physical shopping sometimes or often.

Internet of Things: Close, But Not Quite 

IOT lays out the possibility of an interesting future, one where everything is connected but invisible. Even though the experiences will be transformational, most of the ideas are still pies in the sky.

Much of the technology needed to enable the Internet of Things is already available. For brand marketers, it’s not a matter of capabilities, but elimination and curation. Having the possibility of putting your app on a wearable doesn’t mean you should; for some brands, it makes a lot of sense. For others, it’s pointless.

Bringing your brand into IOT requires that you accept that the first few tries will likely be failures. Similar to mobile, iteration is the new innovation here. Marketers should deliver the minimum viable experience and run a series of experiments; see how users respond and hone in on the hero features.

Mobile Analytics: Human Intuition, Informed by Data 

Analytics is an example of technology being in front of what consumers think they want, or expect. We’ve evolved from data visualization all the way to artificial intelligence and predictive capabilities. As commentators postulate on the possibility of a machine takeover, the human touch will be the most important factor.

The risk with mobile analytics is lack of subjectivity. If customer Andy’s daughter helps her father order all of his clothing online, an algorithm might tag Andy as a 19-year-old female millennial. Consumers are only one bad experience away from deleting you off their phones.

Air on the safe side; humans and technology are meant to work in concert. Good data should inform your best intuition and when you’re wrong, be humble enough to take another look at the numbers and make the changes.

Ad Blocking is Giving Brands Good Feedback 

The expansion of ad blockers from desktop to mobile was accelerated with the introduction of Safari on iOS 9. Consumers embraced the change because it provided a better experience. Some ads have become so obnoxious (and resource draining), that the trade-off for free content no longer sticks.

For publishers, this is a form of user feedback. Consumers are taking more ownership of their browsing experience and every ad blocker install is a vote for change. If bad ad experiences are causing users to flee, a good ad experience can help decelerate the trend.

There are some guiding principles: (1) Balance ads and content (2) Enure security risks are mitigated; an ad–induced virus guarantees you’ve lost the customer; (3) Optimize ads for speed and lessen the impact on computing resources. (4) Ask for feedback and see what’s working.

This article was originally published on Media Post.

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Dynamic Tag Management and the User Experience

Marketing Cloud

When Adobe acquired Satellite in 2013 and rebranded the Tag Management System as Dynamic Tag Management, we stated that DTM has the capability to truly revolutionize the way marketers tag their web properties and deliver personalized experiences to consumers. Internally, we called out three specific reasons for adding DTM as a no charge, added value feature to the Adobe Marketing Cloud family of solutions:

  • Increase the rate of digital marketing adoption
  • Solve the industry problem of tag management with an industry-wide solution
  • Elevating the conversation to more than just tag management

As part of those mandates, I like to provide real-life use cases as well as commentary from DTM developers, which might help you in managing the implementation of DTM and governing the data gathered by this fantastic solution. With that in mind, take a look at our conversation with Michael Helbling, analytics practice lead at Search Discovery (the creators of Satellite), who sat down to discuss our three reasons to offer DTM and more. We talked about the work his team has done with clients before and after the Satellite acquisition, and what Dynamic Tag Management has meant to customers.

Before we talk about the DTM solution, can you tell us briefly about your role at Search Discovery and your experience with DTM?

As analytics practice lead, I am responsible for our analytics solution and [its development] team. This includes our go-to-market strategy, client delivery, and team development. I have been using Adobe DTM (formerly Satellite) for just over three years. I was fortunate enough to lead the first ever implementation of Adobe Analytics for a client using what is now Adobe DTM. Our team uses the tool on an almost daily basis, working with clients to deploy and manage their [native] analytics solutions as well as other digital marketing activities through Adobe DTM. It is amazing to see in such short time what has been able to be accomplished leveraging this platform.

Let’s walk through the three key points called out in John Mellor’s original DTM launch post, and get your perspective on how DTM has addressed those points with your clients.  

1. Increase the rate of digital marketing adoption

This is the fundamental use case of Adobe DTM. It has always been at its core a mechanism for digital organizations to streamline deployment and usage of digital measurement and marketing technologies. Our clients consistently get speed and efficiency from using DTM. This frees us up to help them focus on data they can trust, the ability to quickly refine that data, and the ability to use the data in ever more creative ways. In a world where becoming more data driven is a necessity

2. Solve the industry problem of tag management with an industry solution

Adobe DTM is unique in its ability to exist in the context of an organization like Adobe and still be able to easily handle any tag and any pixel from from any vendor. At Search Discovery, we have had the opportunity implement and manage Adobe DTM for more clients than anyone else, and we have yet to find a tag or measurement solution that cannot be deployed by Adobe DTM. It is truly a universal solution meant to address any need in any context.

3. Elevate the conversation to more than just tag management

I have long maintained that putting a tag on a webpage is a fairly mundane activity. Many organizations developed systems for managing this aspect of marketing technology long before tag management was a thing. But one thing that DTM does better than any other solution is promote and provide a bridge for real collaboration between marketing and IT. The best and most successful digital organizations are the ones who are solving that problem. For large and small enterprises this can take the shape of governance and making sure there is a well-defined path for how technologies become integrated with the digital experience. In Addition, DTM provides the ability to iterate more quickly and take advantage of the segmentation and personalization features providing a much more rapid growth and response to increased customer understanding. Every client we engage with at Search Discovery we are attempting to move beyond the tags to help solve the problems of becoming more data driven. Adobe DTM is an awesome tool because it makes the deployment of tools and technologies an easily solved aspect of the underlying problem set.

Given your experiences with DTM how much time/money/heartache have clients saved using DTM?

It is incalculable. In some cases, deploying Adobe Analytics went from a painful six-month back-and-forth process to a well-defined three-week process.  Even more encouraging for marketers is not just how much money you will save, but how DTM can dramatically increase the value of your digital experiences. Things like real time segmentation, ease of data integration between tools, and the ability to deploy tests and customized experiences rapidly. What we are really excited about is how our clients are using Adobe DTM to grow their businesses. Over 40 percent year over year in one case. Adobe DTM is an enablement technology. It starts the engine, and savvy technologists and marketers are finding ways to hit the gas pedal in extraordinary ways.

Looking back over all the time you have worked with TMS systems in the past, is the market where it should be in the understanding and maturity levels with Tag Management?

Given that the concept of tag management as a stand-alone solution is less than eight years old, the adoption and maturity rate is astounding. That being said, I am never content to say that our work here is done. There are organizations that will always be out on the cutting edge, and there are those that will wait until the solution set is more proven and stable. If I were to place TMS on the Gartner hype cycle, I would say that in this very short time we have put tag management on the “slope of enlightenment”. At Search Discovery we believe that the appropriate use of data will fundamentally transform an organization.  Our passion is to assist our clients in that transformation, and Adobe DTM has been a great vehicle for that purpose.

Are there some more challenging uses cases that you’ve encountered that DTM has been instrumental in solving?

Adobe DTM was unique in the space for recognizing that the most valuable measurement often happens within the interactions on the page and not necessarily the traversal of them. Adobe DTM led the way in building a very robust event tracking capability. This makes Adobe DTM an ideal solution for handling the frameworks of the modern web like Angular, Backbone, etc…

Beyond mobile applications (Read here for a better understanding of the challenges faced by all tag management vendors) the better question might be is there a use case that DTM hasn’t been instrumental in solving? There has literally never been a time when we have had to go back to a client and say; sorry this just isn’t possible with the tool. If you are reading this, and you have heard that before we need to talk.

As we look back over the last few years at the amazing success of Dynamic Tag Management, a key piece in the Adobe Core Services offering, it is special to be a part of a process and solution that is being used by nearly 3,000 companies and drives more than 2 Billion Adobe Analytics transactions every day.   More than just these great adoption numbers is how DTM and the rest of the Adobe Marketing Cloud have helped companies make great strides in governance, efficiency, and improve that data collection at the first millisecond of interaction with the users in order to deliver the right personalized message to drive conversions.

Additional Resources

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5 Ways CRM Data Benefits Your Marketing Strategy

Marketing Cloud

There seem to be a lot of misconceptions in marketing around CRM, or customer relationship management systems. Many think a CRM system is just a technology to manage sales leads or just a database of sales contacts. It’s actually both, and when integrated with marketing automation, it can be much more of an integral part of your sales and marketing strategy. Here are five ways incorporating a CRM system benefits you

1. Increased Awareness

One of the main functions of a CRM system is to provide visibility of where leads are in the funnel, as well as raising awareness of sales and marketing activities. Your CRM can alert your sales team to upcoming marketing initiatives, such as an upcoming email campaign or marketing event. Even more than that, it can alert sales team members to important actions your customers have taken. If they have registered for an upcoming webinar, your sales team might want to send them personalized reminders to attend. Alternately, your team may only want to reach out with a phone call if the customer attended. Whatever your outreach strategy is, it cannot happen properly without a well-maintained CRM.

2. Enables Automated Alerts

To make the system even more seamless, it is possible to create triggers and alerts within your CRM. These ensure the appropriate team member can be notified every time a particular action happens. For instance, if you want someone who subscribes to your newsletter to receive a touch-base call one week later to see how he or she is enjoying it, you can create automated alerts that notify the appropriate team member to make that call. This type of functionality helps ensure that the wealth of information inside your CRM becomes actionable. The benefit is increased visibility into leads across both sales and marketing, which can accelerate the sales cycle.

3. Ensures Consistent Messaging

In addition to being able to reach out to customers at appropriate intervals, a CRM also provides you with the input you need to ensure your messaging is consistent. If someone already subscribes to your newsletter, there is no need to continue inviting them to do so. If they have begun regularly attending your webinars, it is somewhat of a faux pas for your sales team to call inviting them to attend. Knowing which messaging works for which clients based on their past and current behaviors is important. Without this ability, you can end up sending your customers mixed messages. The more targeted your content is, the more value that content will be and the more likely a lead will engage.

4. Provides Holistic Customer Insights

Once your sales and marketing teams are accustomed to entering accurate and useful data into a CRM, they can start to acquire a more robust understanding of your customer. Sure, maybe a customer attended your webinar. However, when the sales team followed up, they found out the customer hated the webinar and never wants to attend anything like it again. This kind of insight can help all future engagements with the client, as you can turn off the indicators that might invite them to similar types of events. This insight provides us with the context that simple behavioral data — the act of attending a webinar — does not offer. As a result, a CRM can increase engagement and accelerate sales cycles.

5. Increases Customer Engagement

Once you have the elements above in place, you should begin to see increased engagement from your customers. You may be wondering why that is. Simply put, you have begun listening to and understanding them through the data you have compiled in your CRM system. This makes them more likely to receive the types of messages that will resonate best with them, which in turn leads to increased engagement. Increased engagement then leads to increased likelihood of conversion, which leads to customer loyalty, future spend, becoming a customer advocate, and so on.

Synchronizing your data between CRM and marketing automation will help you optimize customer insights. While it can take time to create a shared repository of data between sales and marketing, you’ll gain the ability to understand your customer’s actions and preferences better than ever before.

If you take the time to make this transition now, you will have the added benefit of being ready for whatever technological advances are coming in the future. Ultimately, a well-organized CRM system offers your organization a wealth of benefits both now and in the future.

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How Do I Choose the Right Content for Content Amplification?

Marketing Cloud

With today’s focus on customer experience, smart brands are looking for ways to boost content marketing strategies for stronger relationships with potential customers. Yet time and money spent creating in-depth, well-articulated content is just the beginning. The best content in the world is meaningless if no one is paying attention to it.

The days of using ad-hoc tactics to promote content are over, and savvy brands are employing content amplification strategies to place valuable information in front of the right people at the right time. Moving your content from publication to distribution seamlessly requires a plan. What does it look like, and how do you choose the right content for amplification?

Content Amplification Explained

With tons of amazing content available today, businesses looking to differentiate are pursuing content amplification to get their messages in front of the right people. That means sharing content beyond the initial publishing source and in some cases marrying it with social advertising for increased reach and engagement. Blogs, articles, infographics, web pages and other content assets that have already been published are placed strategically onto a variety of social media sites and other high-traffic networks, improving impact and reach. Bottom line? Content amplification done well puts your best content in front of the customers you want to reach.

Choosing the Best Content to Amplify

Your challenge is to boost valuable content that will have the most impact on business goals. So how do you choose the right content to amplify? Keep in mind while consumption metrics like social shares are important, making the right selection requires looking a little deeper to reveal underlying reasons why content is being shared in the first place. Is it funny? Is it making a major business announcement? Determining why content performs well and then mapping those insights back to business goals is a first step in choosing which content to amplify.

Without identifying the “why” behind a successful piece of content, you could be putting money into something that’s not actually achieving any real purpose – besides getting a laugh, for instance. Supporting content that furthers brand messaging and resonates with your audience is key. Find content that performs well organically, but has meaning. Then promote it beyond organic reach through paid campaigns.

Social advertising can help build your audience with a goal to expand your reach to potential customers who haven’t necessarily experienced your brand. Keeping content tied to brand messaging with a clear call to action (CTA) is critical. Whether it’s a whitepaper to download, a video to learn more about the business or a blog to read, content needs to be meaningful to those that consume it while at the same time providing information about your business.

Assess Content Performance

Data is essential to marketing success, and the right performance indicators can help you maximize amplification efforts. Use these indicators to recognize content worthy of amplification:

  • Time Spent on Page – A key metric for understanding the behavior of people who come into contact with your content, time spent on page helps identify what readers find useful. Particularly with long form content, a lengthy amount of time spent on the page assumes people are reading it all the way through as opposed to sharing quickly or browsing and dropping off. Amplifying valuable content is the goal, and time spent on page is a key metric.
  • Page Views – Another great consumption metric, page views helps you measure reach, offering a baseline of sorts for comparing the performance of different types of content and identifying trends over time.
  • Social Shares – Social proof indicators like shares and comments serve as evidence that content is valuable and people like it, but shouldn’t be the end all be all to your success metrics.

Effective Content Amplification

Defining performance goals at the beginning of a content amplification strategy makes it easier to promote to identified metrics. Besides, this is also where accountability lies. With social advertising, the ad type often is defined by the goal. With Twitter for example, it’s possible to design an ad that reflects tweet engagements, website clicks, conversions, video views or app downloads. Setting the right performance goals from the start helps align your amplification strategy with intended outcomes.

Clicks on an image are not the same as website clicks, and having clear performance goals defined ahead of time can clarify these outcomes. Without the right goals defined, a tweet could perform well but may not deliver the success you’re looking for, whether it’s link clicks, engagement, etc. Without context, it’s difficult to determine performance, even if the numbers look great.

 

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More Than Getting to “Buy:” Optimization in the Retail Industry


Marketing Cloud

Christi2The retail industry has a unique opportunity when it comes to testing, optimization, and personalization. On every retailer’s mind right now are brick-and-click considerations, the upcoming holiday season, mobile and social trends, and the Internet of Things, and retailers are constantly expanding and evolving their strategies to gain greater consumer engagement and boost conversions. Christi Terjesen, a principal consultant with Adobe Target Consulting, chatted with four Adobe retail optimization experts on the trends and best practices they’re seeing in the field—and what to expect in the future.

What are the biggest opportunities or challenges in the retail industry right now?

Amy_Lam_Nov_2015Amy Lam, Digital Optimization Consultant: It seems people think that, for the retail industry, mobile is the greatest opportunity. We’ve all heard so much about mobile and being in the era of mobile—and I get it. We know the mobile audience is growing in general and for retailers. But I’m not convinced the retail space is really using mobile effectively. I always recommend seeking data to show if prospects are really buying on mobile phones or just researching.

JessieDoeckJessie Doecke, Digital Optimization Consultant: Retailers must invest in the data they own and really understand the customer and noncustomer behavior that is device agnostic versus device specific. I think it’s critical to understand that data evangelism and visibility across the organization is the foundation of a successful optimization program. It’s not just about communicating wins—it’s about identifying real starting points and benchmarks to understand the big opportunities to test, and to continue to understand how those tests are moving the needle in the long term.

Richard OtoRichard Oto, Digital Optimization Consultant: One of the challenges we see a lot of the time is that companies are trying to dictate or force how consumers act with their mobile app. But we can’t force those assumptions on our customers. We need to allow them through testing and optimization to determine what activities are most relevant to them on their mobile devices.

 

Amy: And where, exactly, is mobile in terms of all of the customer touch points? Where does mobile sit? And where do ALL touch points sit?

Richard: Mobile spans vertical and horizontal; it touches multiple channels and teams. Companies need to identify ownership between marketing, product, IT, etc. It’s important to identify ownership of the various portions of the site so that they’re able to create and execute on a strategy.

Jessie: The biggest challenge I’ve seen is the wealth of data retailers have that they may not be fully utilizing, to target and serve relevant content, and support user needs and functions across devices and touchpoints. This could be for a number of reasons, whether from constraints related to development resources, solutions owned, limitations with data warehousing or a lack of strategic alignment across business units and teams. The opportunity to leverage this data to increase conversion and drive customer loyalty is limitless but there must be a general consensus for the strategic vision across departments and resources to support this opportunity.

So it’s about understanding how your website and how your app are being used by customers, possibly in conjunction?

Amy: It’s not just about your website for acquisition purposes. Say a customer goes into a store and is looking for a trench coat. One way she can shop this retailer is on its website. Maybe she does research before to see the latest trench coat colors. Then, when she gets to the store, she really likes the green coat, so a salesperson comes over and uses the store’s app to find her size. There are so many different touch points ultimately influencing the customer’s purchase. It’s not just about the website or mobile app. And, yes, there are plenty of opportunities, but also plenty of challenges. As a retail executive I would be trying to think about how to make all of these pieces fit together and make the entire experience consistent and cohesive and, at the same time, a fantastic experience. I want the customer to not just make this purchase but to come back and buy shoes, too, for example.

And before going too far you can test to see if your hypotheses are correct?

Amy: Right.

Richard: So backing up to the question of the biggest opportunities and challenges, I’d say data availability is both an opportunity and a challenge. There’s more and more data available for customers—second party, third party, different platforms. My clients struggle with how to identify what’s needed, get it into their systems, and make sense of it to scale personalization programs. What I see with mobile is that people are so focused on what we can do and they get into these fringe use cases, focusing on very hard data integrations. This really bogs us down and prevents us from effectively using our time. But we need to increase velocity, too. Time is our most scarce resource. Every time we aren’t running tests or campaigns we’re not learning and not identifying future opportunities. So going back to the biggest challenge, I’d say strategizing a long-term plan then focusing on scalability.

How can retailers do that? Is it setting clear direction to the people on their teams—what they should go out and look for, for example? What can retailers do here?

Richard: I would find the data sources that are readily available and perhaps even built-in. Very simply, Target and Analytics detect geolocation, previous site activity, current site behavior. Start there. Some sources are easier to get in and some are harder. It’s crawl/walk/run. Don’t start more complicated then you have to.

Matt-LowdenMatt Lowden, Digital Optimization Consultant: I keep coming back to personalization. With mobile, everything has to be data driven and, second, I think everything needs to be loyalty focused which relies heavily on convenience. I think about the best mobile experiences I’ve had and the brands I purchase from. No one wants to browse around and shop forever on their phone. Those sites that I’m loyal to I have a profile with, they know what I like and when I’m ready to go in and purchase something they know who I am, they offer it up, they have my credit card on file or use Apple Touch ID so I can pay fast and I’m out. Brand loyalty, personalization and streamlining the mobile process—those are three things that, if you can focus on and build out, you’re going to have a great mobile experience.

Amy: Look at the data aspect, too. You really have to know your consumers, too. If you have the data but can’t interpret it and get to the core insights on what resonates with your audience, then you aren’t really tapping into the resources available to you. Tap analysis help if you need more support combing through the data.

I agree. It’s not enough to just know customers are 24–45-year-old females. You have to know how often they shop and why, for example. Are they looking for suggestions or just want the jeans they need right now? Are they here to browse the latest styles?

Amy: My question is always why? Why do they shop with your brand? Because of familiarity? Because they know you have the right cut of jeans, for example, that fits your body type? Is it something else?

Are there ways to get there besides just asking?

Amy: I always go back to the qualitative studies like UX studies, surveys, and product reviews. What I’ve seen be very successful is the coupling of qualitative and quantitative. I think the quantitative is a mixture of observing what actually happens that, perhaps, consumers can’t quite articulate in the qualitative studies and, of course, testing. It’s sometimes a challenge to find the resource or build the skill set to get to those insights marketers need.

Matt: There’s also marrying the in-store and mobile experience—what Amy’s saying informs that in a lot of ways. We’re seeing businesses go out of business because of the mobile effect—people shopping on their mobile phone while they’re at the store. Customers are showrooming with Amazon and other lower cost providers. I think, Amy, what you’re getting at is quantitative/qualitative—why are customers loyal to you? Why would they appreciate being in the store versus shopping online? Maybe it’s being able to try things on, for example. But then it’s using mobile to drive there. We’ve tested using brand loyalty and discounts and things like that and, more and more, the successes are with mobile.

Jessie: This requires that a retailer step out of the shoes of a retailer and into the shoes of their customer. What makes their brand or product different from the customer’s perspective? Have you tried to shop your own site, app or store? If so, what could have been better about your experience? Now put your retailer shoes back on and ask yourself (and your team)—what are we doing to better position the primary reason why our customers shop with us and what are we doing to make their experience better? Now take a good look at your demand data to see how this translates to site, app and store behavior, and your shipped data to see where further opportunity lies to take advantage of channel affinities, product purchasing combinations and subsequent purchasing trends. Taking these steps should give you quite a bit of insight to pinpoint both bigger opportunities as well as low-hanging fruit.

So organizationally we need to break down the silos because our customers aren’t buying in silos—and maybe they never were.

Matt: I agree. One example I read recently was about a “virtual dressing room” and consumers could be in a dressing room with an article of clothing in a particular size—if they need a different size it was complicated. You had to change back into your clothes, find a new size, lose your dressing room—it was annoying. With this mobile app you could request a new size or color and have it brought to you in your dressing room. That’s a perfect example of marrying in-store and mobile to drive loyalty. Marketers should be thinking how to complement other channels.

Amy: If you have a retail store it’s a huge advantage. People are coming and interacting with products in your store. They’ve already gone to your store—they already have an interest. Capitalize on that!

Matt: Yes—and there are so many opportunities to do this. Brands are building apps with geolocation targeting. That’s so out of the box these days. There’s also beacons and opportunities to push special notifications to people near your store. It’s just more breaking down of silos.

I also think there’s a real relationship between online and brick and mortar. There’s the notion that if I order online and it doesn’t fit I can take it to a store and swap out instantly. Or if one doesn’t have a size and the other does, perfect. That’s a complementary relationship.

Matt: I see it more and more. I shop online and at checkout have the option to have it delivered in a few days or pick it up at the store near me.

Right—there could be a mixture of in-store and online happening all of the time, with the same customer. Add mobile and there’s a new dimension entirely.

Amy: I love what you said—it doesn’t have to be competitive. Often when I work with retail clients they don’t see it that way—it feels competitive. But it shouldn’t be. I see so many testing examples that involve online interactions but, ultimately, yield valuable information that the stores could benefit from. That gives every platform a boost.

Jessie: The benefit from integrating online and brick and mortar fulfillment options goes both ways. For example, shipping windows around the holidays are definitely a seasonal concern for most retailers to keep up with, and it’s becoming more common for companies to use retail stores as a ship-to-store delivery option or as a secondary warehouse of sorts to backfill primary distribution center bottlenecks. At the same time, brick and mortar can utilize online as a secondary method of fulfillment when their own inventory is cleared out. The result is that the retailer collects additional sales and both channels benefit. The problem is that the adoption of these opportunities can delayed for a number of avoidable reasons that really just equate to the perception that each channel is competing with the other. For example, who gets the credit for the sale for each scenario, how should commission be structured for brick and mortar fulfillments, or even just concerns related to product sell-through and replenishment. These shouldn’t be blockers to expand the avenues a customer has to purchase. Getting the brand and the product to the customer is what matters because it’s what acquires and retains loyalty, and ultimately keeps a company in business.

Amy: So how can one brand look at all of these channels and connect them to the same customer? I ordered on the site, picked up in-store—and picked up something else—and then accessed the brand’s app a few days later. If I were a retailer I would love to have that level of information and, from there, have it inform my personalization strategy.

Matt: And that goes back to brand loyalty. We’re working on solutions that will marry a profile across all devices. If you can convey the value of becoming a member of that brand site or community, then people will authenticate. You’re ID’ing yourself and it makes it easier for brands to convert you. Brand loyalty isn’t the only way, but it’s a good process and it’s very powerful.

Amy: Brand loyalty is nothing new for retail brands. But how it’s translated now is different. Now they say, “oh, we know this segment has specific ways to interact with our brand,” and can go from there. I can see this evolving even more fully in the future.

Agreed, brand loyalty now includes ease of use across the different channels of customer interaction and through customer experience optimization and personalization retailers can help maximize that loyalty.

Thanks to Christi for moderating this roundtable and to the team for lending their insights and strategic thinking. The retail industry is definitely unique in the digital marketing and optimization landscape, setting trends for the other verticals to follow. We’ll continue to tackle some of the shifts and growth opportunities in the industry in the coming weeks and months.

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Smashing Through the Conversion Rate Optimization Glass Ceiling

Marketing Cloud

Last week I touched on what I believe should be digital marketers’ key priorities for 2016: conversion rate optimization (CRO), content personalization, and the mobile app universe. These are, hands down, the most pivotal topics right now and the ones that could yield the greatest impact on your business no matter what you do. Get it right and you’ll be in a prime position to knock it out of the park this year. Let yourself and your business grow stagnant or, even, plateau and you’ll wind up no better off in 12 months—or, worse, you’ll lose out to some of your competitors who prioritized pushing the envelope in 2016.

The first area to dig into? Conversion rate optimization. It’s good to start here because, In many ways, CRO is a foundational piece of content personalization and mobile apps, the other two game changers this year. Think about it: if you break digital marketing down to its most basic components, what have you got? An end goal of making the most of customer journeys and experiences.

The interesting thing about CRO is that it’s been around forever. When weren’t you trying to convert customers? But that doesn’t mean the conversation hasn’t grown and evolved. If you’re still playing in the old CRO sandbox you’ve probably leveled off or, even, seen your successes taper. I wouldn’t be surprised if, as a result of waning successes, you’ve moved on to other initiatives.

But we need to reset the conversation. We need to redefine what it means to “convert” someone. And we need to make sure that you, your brand and marketers everywhere recognize the new CRO path to success, and the multiple platforms, touch points, and considerations it entails. Here’s where to start.

Being Truly Data Driven

Adobe’s latest Digital Optimization Survey showed a clear split between the top 20 percent of successful conversion companies and the remaining 80 percent: the highest performers align testing with decision making. “The survey results,” the report explains, “show that companies who shift to a culture that embraces optimization to make decisions increase conversion 100 percent.” One hundred percent.

That shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who’s elbow-deep in optimization. Today’s leaders are the ones who are using data religiously. They know what their audience and its segments look like right now, in real time. And, equally importantly, these marketers and brands embrace that even their most valuable consumer segments could change, shift and evolve overnight, even.

But for digital marketers on the optimization forefront, this isn’t a cause for concern—they’re deeply data-driven and, no matter how the consumer landscape looks in a few months, weeks or hours, even, they’ll be ready to pull in new profiles, drill down on the latest metrics and unearth the most valuable segments at that moment in time. It might seem intuitive enough but, surprisingly, nearly half of companies don’t have any real plans in place to scale their data-driven marketing initiatives.

To do this well brands need a companion to all that data. Today’s CRO relies on this vital data being woven into the DNA of your brand, as well as through various organizational niches. From my end I see the massive differences in those brands who have data companions and those who don’t. Companies that tap Adobe Target versus Target and Adobe Analytics have very different experiences because the latter has a companion to the data. By bringing together Target and Analytics you can choose from rich segments and slice and dice to your CRO delight—people who spend X dollars perform this way, while those who spend Y engage this way. It’s multidimensional, it’s highly actionable and it’s always at your fingertips. Integrating a data companion gives you the flexibility to reach up and out, to be nimble, to automate, to segment even more deeply. It’s having the data and using it—and doing it all in real-time, with incredible impact and efficacy. It’s the ultimate one plus one equals three. CRO ceiling smashed.

Here’s the challenge many organizations face, though: they’ve got the data and, maybe, they’ve even got the analytics machine raring to go. But then the magic happens after the fact, or by a team that doesn’t have the keys to the proverbial kingdom. By having key pieces, people or next steps too far removed from the conversion epicenter, you’re missing the mark—or, minimally, not making the most out of the data you’ve got. Gartner estimates, “85 percent of Fortune 500 organisations will be unable to exploit Big Data for competitive advantage.” As Forbes explains, that “means only 15 percent will be…using Big Data and analytics to uncover new insights and deliver a sharper competitive edge.” It’s, simply, not good enough—remember, CRO falls in the all-important need-to-have bucket, and that means Big Data jumps in right alongside. Not just having but actually using for the greater good . ..yours and your consumers’.

Dodge the Blind Experiment Trap

If you aren’t tapping into data effectively, blind experimentation is likely an issue holding back your CRO—and that’s a major misstep. Saying you “do CRO” but blindly poking around in a testing tool just isn’t good enough in this new conversion world order. Think about your own testing and experimentation efforts. Are you utilizing the numbers, being smart and strategic, and launching every test eyes wide open? Or is there some level of blind guessing and experimentation still happening? Guess now, analyze later won’t hold water when it comes to driving conversion value.

Adobe Target has taken great strides in this area and, now, is able to test elements within your entire campaign. Based on options that emerge from the rich data you’re already collecting, Target can pull in metrics from other solutions as well as critical success benchmarks to both test and deliver optimized experiences. Maybe it’s digging into fall out rates at one stage of the journey and conversion rates in another and identifying ways to do more of what’s working and ease up on what’s not—and, more importantly, unearthing the gems from those experiences that can inform other consumer touch points along the way. It’s a unique approach that turns valuable insights into actionable information and, with it, improves CRO—and, even better, it mitigates risk in a big way.

Stop Siloing

Adobe’s view of the customer and his journey is simple, holistic and looks at interactions as continuation of one ongoing conversation that starts with the first touch. By taking this approach we’re able to optimize a series of successful experiences that shepherd customers through the journeys we want them to take. Remember, conversion isn’t just the path from A to B—instead, it’s something marketers and brands need to observe across multiple engagement modalities, in most cases, to get a truly clear picture. If you aren’t thinking about CRO through this kind of a lens then you’re still stuck in yesterday’s definition of “conversion” and, as a result, you’re likely smacking your head against the CRO ceiling.

This is definitely an optimal approach to improving CRO and one that it’s essential to benchmark your brand against. Are you taking this same 360 view of the customer, or are you focused on the touch points and individual moments in time, and optimizing accordingly? If it’s the latter remember this: consumers don’t care about your channels, how they accessed your brand or the device they were using this time or that time. They see your brand—Brand X—as one experience in their minds. And, more importantly, they see it as an experience they can jump into and out of as needed. Ignore cross-channel movement or silo her experiences and you’ll no doubt curb your CRO efforts—if you don’t recognize her when she pops up somewhere else and can’t keep the positive momentum from your last engagement, she’ll likely abandon in favor of a brand that sticks with her through every twist and turn.

The industry has, effectively, re-benchmarked itself when it comes to CRO, and we’re coming up against seemingly sky high hurdles as result—hurdles that, in most cases, have left the industry a bit paralyzed. But that doesn’t mean we’re done with CRO. Far from it, in fact. Getting over this hurdle, though, isn’t going to be about fighting our way through—the brands that will ultimately be successful in the CRO game are those that can take a good, hard look at what can be done to shift, realign and keeping pushing ahead. They’re the brands that know CRO is a need-to-have, not a nice-to-have. They’re the brands that can be data-driven, acknowledge the conversion journey everywhere it takes place. And they’re the brands that can redefine what “conversion” means even when it doesn’t fit in the neat, clean little box we’ve assigned to CRO. Decide where you fall and get ready to dive in. We’ll be there to sprint right alongside you, every step of the way.

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