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To Personalize or to Be Authentic
August 26, 2015
You might ask what the difference is between personalization and authenticity in CRM, and the answer is subtle. For a long time I have said that we overemphasize personalization when what customers really want is authenticity. However, examples are hard to find, especially with our current culture's strong emphasis on personalization and the tendency to give authenticity quizzical looks.
Spredfast Gets Something to Shout About
August 25, 2015
Spredfast last week announced its acquisition of Shoutlet, a social data aggregator. Shoutlet has been a "huge innovator" in the social CRM space, said Spredfast CEO Rod Favaron. "With this acquisition, Spredfast gains that technology as well as the team that built it. It's a game changer. ... Customers will have more ways to understand their audiences and impact the customer journey."
Back to School
August 20, 2015
It felt like back to school this week at the CRM Evolution show in hot and muggy New York. The first week or two of the school year is always like that. Though it still feels like summer vacation, you know you have to get focused, because the first exam will be here before you know it. Cramming begins almost immediately, because there seem to be a lot of new ideas percolating.
Full Circle's 80-20 Rule
August 14, 2015
I recently talked with Bonnie Crater about changing her company's name, and something really struck home. Crater is CEO of Full Circle Insights, and I've known her since her days as an executive at Salesforce. As I was listening to Crater, I recalled that old aphorism, often attributed to John Wanamaker, that half an advertising budget is wasted, but we just don't know which half.
Salesforce Extends Marketing Cloud to Instagram
August 7, 2015
Salesforce has extended its Social.com, Active Audiences and Social Studio marketing tools to Instagram. These tools let marketers buy and manage advertising, publish content, participate in and review discussions with customers, resolve customer service issues, and analyze conversations. Marketers already are using these tools on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube.
Are Your Spreadsheets Leaking Money?
July 21, 2015
We all use them. They're the default system for listing and tracking things. And no one -- except, maybe for that one weird guy in finance -- really likes them. I'm talking about spreadsheets. Whether it's Excel or Google Sheets or some other lesser-known variation on the theme, a lot of spreadsheets are created every year. There are at least 1 billion users of Excel in the world.
Wrangling Big Data: When in Doubt, Think Like a Customer
July 13, 2015
As businesses gain new insights about the power of data, they're discovering new sales and marketing tactics that go far beyond what previously was possible. It's not just big data and a technology-driven revolution -- it's also a shift in attitudes about data's place in sales, its role as a guide or reality check, and its ability to fuel new processes that drive greater sales performance.
Customer Experience Is Everyone's Department
July 6, 2015
Customer experience is more than the act of trading money for a product or a service. It's the experience leading up to that, and the experience customers have with what they've purchased, all the way until they stop using it. Why is it, then, that the concept of "customer experience" seems to exist primarily in the marketing department? Marketing is but a small part of what makes an experience.
The Art of E-Commerce Site Search
July 6, 2015
Providing an effortless shopping experience is a key driver to the success of any e-commerce business. E-commerce search is a big factor in this experience and when done right can provide a significant competitive advantage. An effective on-site search experience leads to higher sales and increased customer loyalty. A substandard search experience can lead to the permanent loss of a customer.
CRM's New Era
June 24, 2015
It recently occurred to me that CRM has come full circle in a fundamental way. I was never a fan of labels like "CRM 2.0" or "Social CRM" or whatever else came along, principally because those monikers didn't signify anything new in doing business. Certainly you could make a case that those names described some new attributes for the traditional set of apps but that just invites a "so what?"
Salesforce Fluffs Up Next-Gen Marketing Cloud
June 18, 2015
Salesforce introduced its next-generation marketing cloud at the Salesforce Connections digital marketing event held in New York this week. The new release has enhancements to Journey Builder that let companies work with the customer journey across sales, service, marketing, custom apps and more. Salesforce also announced the addition of LiveRamp, LiveIntent, Neustar and Viant to Active Audiences.
Correlation, Causation and CRM
June 17, 2015
If you read a lot, like me, you might notice almost daily there's a new study that contradicts some earlier research. Something causes cancer -- then it's good for you. You know the drill. What's going on here? Do we simply not know what our research is saying? Can nobody correctly interpret the data? None of this would mean much to CRM if not for the advance of big data and analytics.
Veeva Injects Fresh Blood Into Pharma CRM
June 15, 2015
Veeva Systems last week introduced several new CRM products for the pharmaceutical industry at its 2015 Customer Summit in Philadelphia. Veeva CRM Suggestions offers recommendations on the best action and right channel for the next customer interaction. It's designed to accelerate the transition to a new multichannel model. All Veeva CRM customers will get this tool automatically in the fall.
What Buyers Want
June 12, 2015
Technology is giving companies an unprecedented view of their customers: demographic data; buying preferences; behaviors that signal the intent to buy; and analyses that enable them to develop expectations about how customers are likely to act during the buyer-seller relationship. Those abilities are new, and they hold a lot of promise. However, customers have changing expectations as well.
Dodging Disorganization: Showing Sellers a Sharper Image
June 4, 2015
Despite vendors' claims, CRM is not all about technology. Technology helps it scale, but CRM is really a discipline. It's the discipline of creating relationships that benefit both buyers and sellers. CRM is really great at organizing the data that makes it possible to build relationships. However, many things that aren't driven by your CRM technology can have a major impact on relationships.
5 Modules That Will Rock Your Business
June 3, 2015
Zuora two weeks ago announced its first acquisition, Frontleaf, and a new product, Z-Insights. This marks an important moment for both Zuora and what it has called the "subscription economy." The subscription economy has spawned a culture in which people have been conditioned to expect subscription-like performance from all their vendors -- even the conventional ones.
Message for Marketers: Always Be Engaging
June 1, 2015
In sales, we know customer retention is critical for success in the subscription economy. For many tech companies in the SaaS space, it takes three years to break even. In insurance, which has toiled in the subscription economy for more than a century, the average break-even time is an incredible seven years. Because of that, sales compensation is starting to change.
Making the Most of Micro-Moments in the Customer Journey
May 26, 2015
The mobile advertising race is on. Google has to scramble to stay ahead in the volatile mobile ads market, because it has been losing ground to Facebook, suggested Pace University marketing professor Larry Chiagouris. Google is "valued at a high multiple, based on its current market share, and cannot afford to give away any market share," he noted.
Order Taker, Meet Undertaker: What Sales Pros Must Do to Survive
May 21, 2015
Within a few years, 1 million B2B sales roles will be eliminated, according to a recent Forrester Research report. That's 20 percent of them gone, thanks to the evolution of technologies like self-service and customers' increasing desire to avoid the hassle of speaking to sales reps. Personally, I think that's a bit overstated -- or rather, a mischaracterization of an ongoing trend.
If You Build a Structure, Sales Enablement Will Come
May 18, 2015
There's a lot of devalued sales jargon out there, but the phrase that makes me wince the most is "sales enablement." First, it's misleading -- there are lots of things that equip sales people to close deals, but when people say "sales enablement" they usually mean content, portals, playbooks and on-boarding. That only "enables" part of the sale. Second, most companies are abysmal at managing it.
Customer-In, Not Seller-Out: 5 Realities of the Customer Journey
May 11, 2015
I was doing a little reading about the concept of the customer journey. I have distinct opinions about it, and I was looking for things that might challenge or validate those ideas when I stumbled across a blog post from a major CRM vendor that got my goat. The post proclaimed that 2015 was "the Year of the Customer Journey!" Really? This year? What about the many years before this?
Satisfying Customers in the Digital Transformation Era
April 29, 2015
Customers are changing the rules of business. They are well informed and well connected, and they have high expectations. Business success in the digital world depends on individuals who make recommendations based on their personal experience. These customers expect a seamless and consistent experience, regardless of which device they are using. They demand intelligent digital interactions.
Marketing's Next Act
April 28, 2015
Marketing continues to heat up as the next big thing in CRM. It's so big that I can see it splintering in multiple ways to accommodate all the permutations that are suddenly possible, thanks to big data, analytics, and a determination to get beyond using marketing technology as a glorified accounting system designed to limit "losses" due to marketing. You can't win by limiting your losses.
Sleek Ad Tailoring for Online Apparel Shoppers
April 21, 2015
Consumers are on board with the concept of buying apparel online. Especially in this era of free returns and nifty sizing tools, buying clothing and shoes off the Web has become mainstream. However, some advertisers have been slow to respond. While most of us have at some point been served ads displaying items we browsed the day before, dynamic creative has the power and potential to do much more.

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Targeted advertising...
Gives me the creeps -- I hate it.
Is really helpful -- I like the personalization.
Is effective -- it makes business sense.
Is irrelevant to me -- I use an ad blocker.