EvanWood_Blog_image2By Evan Wood

If you have had any exposure whatsoever to marketing and business strategy in the last few years, you are likely familiar with (if not entirely clear on) the term ‘customer engagement’.

Fueled by the proliferation of digital technology and generation of vast quantities of consumer data, customer engagement refers broadly to the notion of collecting and using this data to create more relevant customer experiences, to increase engagement, and ultimately, to drive higher revenues.

EvanWood_Blog_imageAnd while this direction might make you feel more than a little overwhelmed (and possibly skeptical), the reality is that it’s here to stay. Global consulting firm McKinsey & Co. states that organizations who use data and analytics in their strategic decision-making increase productivity and profitability by 5-6%, while showing a 15-20% increase in their return on marketing investment.

In an increasingly competitive, complex, and—in some instances—commoditized business environment, those are numbers that are difficult to ignore. And that applies to business-to-consumer (B2C) as well as business-to-business (B2B) environments.

Nevertheless, data-driven marketing and customer engagement remain highly challenging for many organizations to plan, design, and effectively execute. Whether suffering from a lack of internal resources and particular skillsets or the inertia of departmental ‘silos’, businesses face a raft of obstacles as they grapple with trying to get closer to their customers to realize the full lifetime revenue opportunities available.

Are you ready, strategically and organizationally, to approach customer engagement effectively? Consider the following 5 key steps and success factors for capitalizing on this growing strategic requirement.

Data Management & Analytics

The foundation of customer engagement strategy is to first understand your data assets.

  • What information do we have and where is it being stored?
  • Is the information we have enough to act on or do we need to collect other data (or access it through a third party)?
  • Are we doing the proper data analysis to ensure we’re generating insights and intelligence to inform our decision-making?

Proper data management and analysis will underpin all effective customer engagement, and is therefore critical to success.

Strategic Ownership

Customer engagement is not a tactic. It is an organization-wide strategy that requires not only buy-in but leadership from senior management.

A senior level executive must ‘own’ and be accountable for defining what the engagement strategy looks like (including objectives), how it will be implemented, and importantly, how it will be measured.

In many organizations, this executive is the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) given that they tend to be responsible for customer and channel communications.

The Right Talent

Much has been written lately about the need for the right skills and resources to effectively implement a data-driven marketing strategy.

Positions which did not exist a few years ago (data scientists and marketing technologists) are now in high demand, since they help to bridge the departmental and functional gaps between IT, analytics, and business/marketing strategy.

Whether hired internally or as third-party resources, organizations need to find the right blend of skillsets required to collect, manage,

interpret, and apply the data. Establishing these competencies in a separate and distinct ‘centre of excellence’ is also a best practice, though this can depend on a variety of factors including the organizations’ size and strategic requirements.

Leveraging Technology

The advances in technology, including cloud services, have greatly enhanced the ability for marketers to harness the value in customer data. In fact, noted research firm Gartner stated that by 2017, marketing departments will spend more on technology than IT departments.

Yet while the technology exists to collect, manage, normalize, and visualize data, it should not be regarded as the solution to customer engagement. It is an ‘enabler’ and a tool.

Data analytics and being able to apply business intelligence to strategic application remains very much a human function.

Data Privacy & Security

With data as the new ‘currency’ in the world of marketing and engagement, consumer trust, privacy, and data security have never been more important.

It is incumbent on organizations to use customer information with integrity and transparency, and only as expected by the customer. Anything to the contrary can quickly put the relationship in jeopardy with potentially widespread implications (think ‘social media’).

Pivotal Contact is a Toronto-based data and analytics-driven engagement marketing firm. We drive incremental revenue for clients through full-service loyalty programs, particularly for B2B organizations. Evan Wood is the President of Pivotal Contact, he can be reached at ewood@pivotalcontact.com and 647-827-1230.

www.pivotalcontact.com

Celebrate the first day of spring by adding plants to the office.

The Power of Plants in the Workplace
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There is no denying the office products (OP) industry is entering a critical phase in its history. Evidence suggests many traditional OP items are in decline, while newer products are experiencing an increase in demand. E-commerce is firmly established and online stores like Amazon and eBay continually challenge traditional OP wholesalers and dealers.

Mergers, acquisitions and downsizing continue to plague the OP sector. Even the biggest organizations, once thought unshakeable, have now switched to survival mode! Yet still, industry analysts are saying, too little too late. Where does that leave the OP industry? What critical decisions do leaders need to make right now in order to not just survive but thrive?

To stay competitive and relevant within the industry, senior executives must measure and re-asses their strategies against industry trends and analysis. With this in mind, we invited speakers to the Total Office Trade Conference who will challenge you to explore the possibilities and opportunities in this new office products landscape, and inspire you to view your business with a different perspective.

Total Office Trade Conference

KEYNOTE SPEAKER [am]: David Chilton, The Wealthy Barber and Dragon’s Den

Known for his entertaining and practical keynotes, David offers realistic advice for personal finance, business strategy, investment, and having the confidence to pursue goals and overcome mistakes and obstacles.

Don’t miss this opportunity to be inspired by a true entrepreneur and industry leader.
Register here: http://bit.ly/1lDmDH0

KEYNOTE SPEAKER [pm]: Thomas Schinkel, OP Industry Advisor, Thomas Schinkel & Associates

Back for the second year due to high demand, Tom has been an adviser in the office products industry for over 20 years. He has worked with manufacturers and resellers on cross-border acquisitions at various intervals. He has also assisted owners of office products companies with their exit planning strategy, quarterbacking the entire process on behalf of owners and coordinating the activities of sell-side teams of experts.

View the full speaker line-up here.

Total Office Trade Conference

Mobile Security

March 4, 2014 — 1 Comment

This year marks the 10th anniversary of what is believed to be the world’s first mobile virus, Cabir. With the rise of business practices such as Bring Your Own Device [BYOD], businesses need to take mobile security seriously.

Why You Should Care About Mobile Security

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

 

The Total Office Trade Conference is covering the most pressing issues facing Office Products [OP] vendors and resellers. From technology to data to marketing to social media to growth strategies—what do you need to know to keep your business thriving?

View the full speaker line-up

google canada, Total Office Trade Conference

Chris Hodgson, Sector Lead, Retail and Technology, Google Canada

The future is here: Are you ready to meet it? 

What are the key technical changes facing the retail and consumer environment? How do businesses keep up and stay competitive in a changing world? Google Canada will provide the answers to the most pressing questions leading companies are asking.

 

 

 

Microsoft Canada, Total Office Trade Conference

Dave Rodgerson, Senior Industry Business Development Manager, Microsoft Canada

 

Consumer adoption of new technologies

Today’s new technologies have changed not only the customer experience, but also customer expectations. Microsoft Canada will explore how consumers are embracing new technologies and the effect this is having on the shopping journey.

 

 

 

Why Attend

  • Find out how major trends are impacting businesses
  • Get the know-how to move departments and organizations forward
  • Learn how to better manage your business and serve your customers with real customer insights and data
  • Prepare yourself and your business for the changes ahead and don’t get left behind

TOTC 2014 will host keynote and breakout sessions on April 28 and table top displays April 28-29.

QUESTIONS?
Email events@copa.ca or call 905 624-9462 ext. 223

Workplace Romance

February 12, 2014 — Leave a comment

With over 40 percent claiming to have dated someone from work, chances are that either you or one of your employees will end up in a “workplace” romance. Most companies have a policy in place around dating; beyond the policy, here are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind:

Relationship Status Clarification
Both parties need to be on the same page as to the seriousness of the relationship and where it is heading. Typically this conversation might happen around the third or fourth month of dating but in a work situation it needs to happen sooner. You should also discuss how you would handle a break-up. How would you treat and work with each other if things didn’t work out?

Be Honest
If someone asks you about your relationship, be honest and tell the truth. Your colleagues probably already know or have guessed something is going on, and at some point the truth will come out, so it’s best not to lie. Once you both have decided your relationship is long term you should consider revealing it to your colleagues. Again, it is about maintaining trust and being honest.

Work Socials and Behaivour
Public displays of affection are never okay in a work setting. It’s unprofessional and annoying, so keep your googly eyes and giggles to yourselves. Never have closed door meetings. When attending work socials make sure you mingle with your peers.

More tips and advice on how to navigate an office romance:

How Do You Feel About Office Romance?

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

1. Evernote

Evernote is hands down the best note-taking app currently available, and it keeps getting better with every update. You can use Evernote to categorize your content [documents, thoughts, recipes, images] separately or in any combination, and you can also add notes, link to calendars, share information with a team and across all of your devices.

evernote

 

Price: Free

Available: iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows, MAC

 

 

2. Pocket

The best app for bookmarking and managing links available! When you stumble across interesting content but don’t have the time to read it, you can easily save and categorize the content with Pocket. The app syncs across all of your devices so you can read or watch stored content whenever and wherever you choose.

Pocket

 

Price: Free

Available: iOS, Android

 

 

3. Any.do

A simple and sophisticated task-management app with all of the functionality you need to keep on schedule. With its recently added calendaring app, as well as time and location reminders, Any.do will help you knock everything off your to-do list for both home and work.

AnyDo 

Price: Free

Available: iOS, Android, Chrome

 

 

4. Asana

Asana is a collaboration app that allows you to manage tasks, deadlines, and priorities by assigning projects to specific team members. Featuring a clean and user-friendly interface with the ability to add comments and receive instant email updates and notifications, Asana has the right tools for your teamwork-based projects.

Asana

 

Price: Free

Available: iOS, Android, Chrome

 

 

5. MailBox

Lastly, our personal favourite – Mailbox. Though currently only available for the iPhone and iPad, we feel that due to its soaring popularity, the app will soon be available for all mobile devices. With the goal of “zero inbox”, this unique approach to organizing your mail will have you flying through your mailbox, “snoozing” email for a later date, categorizing email and getting to the urgent emails that need your attention.

MailBox 

Price: Free

Available: iphone, ipad