New Study Makes the Case for Data Analysis-as-a-Service Capabilities


New research on data analytics reveals that the majority (63%) of B2B companies polled are frustrated by the amount of time it takes to attain the meaningful reports and data insights they seek to make more informed business decisions. It also revealed that most companies believe data analysis-as-a-service—in which the technology and underlying data science are provided by a service provider—would help address this critical business challenge.

Enterprise application and data management analysis firm Data Intensity this week announced the results of the study, conducted with Researchscape International to gauge the current state of data analytics and what hurdles enterprises have yet to overcome.

Key findings of the research include:

Despite Significant Enterprise Spending on Analytics, Obtaining Meaningful Value from Business Data is a Major Obstacle  

  • Respondents were asked how much they invest annually in current analytics solutions, including systems, people and processes. Results were as follows:
    • More than one in three (36%) said $100,000-$499,999
    • More than a quarter (26%) said $500,000-$999,999
    • One in five (20%) said $1-9 million
  • More than six out of 10 (63%) of respondents said the greatest problem with analytics is that it takes too long to get meaningful reports and analysis from their data.
  • Tied for the second greatest problem, one in three (33%) said data is not accurate, too difficult to make strategic and operations business decisions from, and too difficult to do predictive modeling/forecasting with existing data and data models.
  • Other problems cited include:
    • Can’t get access to existing data (29%)
    • IT doesn’t provide appropriate support for users (13%)

“It’s essential that enterprises build strong platforms for supply chain analytics to better understand their customers and markets and compete on a global basis. The problem is that analytics must constantly evolve to meet demanding data and business requirements,” said Paul Grone, CIO of Totes Isotoner, marketer of umbrellas, gloves, slippers and other weather-related accessories, in a news release. “The findings of this study underscore the challenges that organizations, such as our own, are experiencing each day—businesses need more options for how to solve these problems. It’s much more complicated than just adding more resources to the team.”

The Idea of an Analytics Software and Service Solution Was Highly Rated; Data Analysis-as-a-Service Capabilities Identified as Most Desired Component
In the next portion of the study, respondents were asked a series of questions about the concept of a cloud-based analytics software and service solution. The idea of the solution overall was rated very highly, with 23% citing it “excellent” and 59% citing it “good.”

The survey also asked what services respondents would want the solution to include. The majority (58%) indicated data analysis-as-a-service was most desired. Other services ranked as follows:

  • Data modeling – 47%
  • Business consulting – 43%
  • Dashboard development – 42%
  • Master data management – 36%
  • Mobile data analytics – 34%
  • Merging internal data with external data (industry benchmarks, market demographics, etc.) – 30%
  • System implementations and architecture – 24%
  • Social media data analytics – 24%
  • Extract, transform, load (ETL) capabilities – 21%

Majority Deem an Analytics Software and Service Solution Both Beneficial and Relevant to Their Business
Additional results about the cloud-based analytics software and service solution in terms of value, purchase likelihood, delivery model and purchase options are listed below:

  • When asked how different the solution was from others, nearly three-quarters (73%) surveyed said they considered it to be “very” or “completely different.”
  • The solution was also rated by two thirds (70%) of respondents as “very” or “completely relevant” to their business, along with “very” to “extremely” beneficial to their business.
  • When asked about purchasing the solution, assuming the price was acceptable, the purchase likelihood was quite strong: 27% said “moderately likely,” 45% said “very likely” and 20% said “completely likely.”
  • When asked about the delivery model, 58% of respondents indicated they preferred the method “create custom analytics solution in the cloud,” 43% said “transfer your existing analytics solution to the cloud,” while only 32% said they wanted a “packaged SaaS analytics solution in the cloud.”

“Traditional models for data analysis are hard to buy, use and manage because they require many individual components, disparate solutions and complex architectures, making it extremely difficult for companies to access data and maximize its value,” said John Bostick, president of Data Intensity’s Analytics Division. “These study findings underscore the market need for data analysis-as-a-service, and not a plug-and-play tool, but a custom analytics solution in the cloud that will truly give them the ability to capitalize on their data.”

The survey was conducted from February to March 2015, and was completed by more than 200 B2B respondents in a variety of roles, including C-level executives, directors and vice presidents, across industries such as IT, general management, finance, sales, marketing, operations and human resources.

Source: PR Newswire; edited by Richard Carufel

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Marketers Need to Stop Interrupting!


Marketers need to stop interrupting

As consumers tune out banner ads and fast forward through commercials, brands need to refocus their marketing priorities and shift resources to non-interruptive methods, said Tom Gerace, CEO and founder of marketing and storytelling firm Skyword, at the company’s recent annual content marketing and brand storytelling conference, He reminded the gathering that stories—not advertisements—move people to action.

“As marketers, our job is not to hawk products or services to our customers. It’s to inspire them down a path different from the one they planned when they awoke this morning,” Gerace said to a room of 300 attendees from leading brands across the world, including, IBM, New Balance and Hewlett Packard, according to a news release.

He said that as the impact of commercials, display ads and other traditional advertising methods continues to decline, marketers need to find new ways to inspire and connect. Gerace urged marketers to show audiences new possibilities for living better, fuller lives and disrupt their thinking through storytelling.

“Story is core to our nature,” he said. “It’s been around for 35 thousand years, and it has helped us avoid danger, form community, and survive.”

In his speech, Gerace offered digital trends and how brands can embrace original, sustainable storytelling to differentiate themselves.

Moving Beyond Interruptive Advertising

“The interruption model is dying,” said Gerace, summarizing studies that suggest its decreasing effectiveness. In the past five years, surveys show that 75% of consumers DVR to skip ads and 60% experience “banner blindness,” while digital banners ads now generate a mere 0.10% click-through rate. “As marketers, we need to learn to become a valuable resource rather than an annoying distraction.

Ad-free Content Becomes the New Normal

“The good news is, story consumption is skyrocketing,” said Gerace, referencing
the rapid growth of paid content subscription services. Netflix boasts 62 million paid subscribers who watch 10 billion hours of programming each quarter, and millions more sign up every month. HBO Now provides another ad-free, over-the-top option, which is expected to serve 15 million subscribers by year-end. Increasingly, people are paying for ad-free content. Gerace urged marketers to pay close attention to these trends and to align their strategy with the way their audience prefers to seek out and consume content.

Marketing Budgets and Resources Do Not Reflect Changing Consumer Behavior

“People are voting with their wallets, every day, for ad-free experiences,” he said, “So naturally, we should be shifting our ad budgets to something else, something that will reach these millions of people more effectively,” he said. Gerace went on to show how major brands continue to spend tens of billions of dollars every year on digital and media ads. However, a select few have found a more impactful alternative by telling well-crafted, original stories.

To Succeed, Brands Will Embrace Storytelling as a Core Practice and Push Its Boundaries

Gerace went on to identify the key strategies for creating customer connections through storytelling. “What is the difference between a terrible story and one that we love? A lot of us believe that just because we have heard a good story, we can tell one. But there is a craft to good storytelling.”

New Infrastructure, Process, and Creative Partners Will be Key to Telling Stories at Scale

Gerace urged attendees to prioritize moments over revenue, and establish a storytelling mindset throughout their organizations. “You need to build the infrastructure required to make great storytelling a sustainable business process…this requires building a foundation that allows you to tell great stories every day in different languages, countries, and channels,” he said.

Gerace also shared how Skyword is positioned to be the best place for original, sustainable storytelling. He noted that the company announced the launch of Skyword Video, a new solution that enables marketers to manage video strategy, workflow, and production from one place. In February, the company launched Skyword Global, which includes the internationalization of the Skyword Platform and access to in-country writers, videographers, and editors.

In conclusion, Gerace reminded the audience of the enduring power of storytelling, even in an industry defined by change and innovation. “In this age of information saturation, it is more important than ever that we focus less on selling our products and services and more on creating true, authentic relationships with our audiences through stories.”

Source: PRWeb; edited by Richard Carufel

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Does Big Data mean big money? Most companies now actively working on Big Data projects


Managed public cloud provider 2nd Watch recently released survey results showing that most companies are actively working on big data projects and have dedicated significant dollars to their efforts. The online survey, conducted the first two weeks in May, included 500 IT and business executives in the United States.

According to the study, nearly 60% of companies are currently engaged in a big data project, while 20% say they will soon begin one. The business leader driving these projects is firstly the CEO (32%) followed by the CIO (25%) and line of business managers (18%).

Thus far, big data has not translated into big money. The majority (34%) of companies polled are spending just $50,000-$100,000 on their big data initiatives, and nearly one fifth (18%) are spending more than $100,000. Top areas for spending and research include supporting social media and digital marketing initiatives (26%), followed closely by improving internal processes and operations (25%).

To address the unique needs of big data deployments, the majority of participants (71%) report that their company is considering purchasing or has already adopted a new data warehouse. Companies are experiencing several limitations with their current relational database systems including scalability (22%), maintenance (22%) performance (22%), cost (17%) and access (16%). Established enterprise vendors dominate customer preferences for new database technology, with IBM the most popular choice (38%), followed by Oracle (31%) and HP (24%).

Cloud infrastructure companies however are ramping up their offerings in database and analytics management. AWS for example has been making waves with its Amazon Redshift data warehouse service, which AWS CTO Werner Vogels recently described as the company’s “fastest-growing service ever.” Gartner, according to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service report, meanwhile has said that database as a service products like Amazon Redshift are key differentiators for cloud IaaS providers. Amazon Redshift is highly regarded for its power, speed, security, low cost and ease of use. Airbnb, Nokia and Pinterest are among the name brand customers known to be using Amazon Redshift.

“Our research shows that big data has moved from market hype to valid competitive strategy for the largest companies, with support from the very tops of their organizations,” said Jeff Aden, EVP of Marketing and Strategic Business Development at 2nd Watch, according to a news release. “That said, some companies are still wrestling with outdated infrastructure and a lack of internal expertise when it comes to initiating and completing big data projects. 2nd Watch which recently achieved the AWS Big Data Competency, are working hard to help companies overcome these issues, and we firmly expect the pace of big data projects to accelerate in the coming months.”

Additional findings include:

Top business hurdles to implementing big data: Organizational silos (21%), lack of money (21%) lack of consensus on goals (16%) and lack of executive support (16%).

Top technical hurdles to implementing big data: Data quality issues (21%), outdated infrastructure (20%), lack of internal expertise (18%), governance and security challenges (17%), silos of data and legacy apps (12%) and too much data (10%).

Top drivers for big data plans: Identify new areas for business growth or product strategy (33%), identify areas for operational efficiency and cost savings (28%), to better understand customers and improve customer experience (25%)pressure from business executives to mine data (13%).

Leading technologies companies will invest in to prepare for big data: Networking and servers (24%), databases and storage (23%), cloud services or infrastructure hosting (19%) analytics software (18%) and integration software (15%).

Source: MarketWired; edited by Richard Carufel

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Lindsey Graham candidacy draws yawns on Twitter; Cruz, Bush get most mentions in June


The race for the 2016 Republican Party Presidential Primaries is heating up alongside the weather, with more than a dozen candidates now having thrown in their lot.

The most recent candidate to declare — other than the super-famous Donald Trump, whose hair probably gets more mentions on Twitter than your average federal politician — was Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal on June 24.

(Despite a rash of tweets yesterday disparaging Jindal via the #bobbyjindalissowhite hashtag, these made up a very small percentage of our dataset as most tweets containing this hashtag did not use Jindal’s official handle).

At MediaMiser, we’ve already used our social media analysis tools to explore the impact of declaring your candidacy early: As we showed last April, Ted Cruz raked in more attention than he’s gotten in his Twitter lifetime after being first to declare on March 23.

So today we ran a share-of-voice analysis of June’s Twitter volume for each candidate not named Trump — his celebrity status makes any comparison a bit unfair, don’t you think? — to see which way the social winds are blowing this month.

We’ve also indicated who declared their candidacies in June (for the record, it’s Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal and Lindsey Graham), as these candidates typically receive a bump in popularity upon declaring.

From our analysis, Ted Cruz is still the candidate to beat a full three months after his candidacy declaration.

gop chart

Jeb Bush also had a strong showing this month, while Marco Rubio and Rand Paul aren’t far behind. After that, candidate popularity drops off significantly with June declarees Rick Perry and Jindal rounding out the top six.

In fact, of all candidates to declare in June, Lindsey Graham was the only one not to finish in the top six — instead tallying a second-last total mention count. And although social media mentions obviously don’t translate into votes, that’s not a good omen for his campaign.

Finally, George Pataki, the former New York governor, was dead last in mentions with less than one per cent of all declared candidate mentions. That’s despite declaring his candidacy just a few weeks ago (in late May). Poor George.

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Consumers to brands: “the louder you scream, the less we care”

advertising message

Let’s face it: although its effectiveness has been more than proven, traditional advertising has never been very popular—bland, repetitive messaging forced upon us at nearly every juncture, from interrupting our favorite TV shows to gigantic roadside billboards all over the highway, have turned promotional messaging into a reluctantly accepted “necessary evil” of society. But in this modern age of personalized, targeted messaging, what was once merely annoying has become downright unacceptable for today’s consumer, according to new research.

A recent survey from marketing software and solutions provider Marketo of more than 2,200 consumers worldwide finds that 63 percent of respondents are highly annoyed by the way brands continue to rely on the old-fashioned strategy of blasting generic ad messages repeatedly. The poll found that the two things brands should do to make advertising more appealing to their audiences are to 1) show ads less often, and 2) make the content personalized and relevant based on consumer behavior across other channels and interactions.

In addition, 78.6 percent of consumers said they are only likely to engage with a brand using coupons or other offers if those promotions are directly tied to how they have interacted with the brand previously. This can include sending offers via email, mobile or social media after they have visited a brand’s website or tailoring communications based on products viewed or purchased. The poll was conducted in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Australia.

These results are proof of the challenges that companies face when trying to consistently engage their customers across a wide range of digital channels. For years, campaigns have been crafted in isolation, often designed in silos with a specific digital channel in mind. For example, messages delivered to a consumer through a digital advertising campaign on Facebook often are not at all connected or consistent with her prior interaction with the company’s website, emails, or other programs.

As a result, it has been difficult for companies to have a two-way conversation with individuals with a single brand voice no matter where they are. To make matters worse, customers—flooded with thousands of marketing messages per day—have become increasingly frustrated with brands’ inability to connect with them based on their interests, likes or dislikes.

Advertising is no longer a tool solely for attracting a buyer’s attention, but to nurture them through the buying process by delivering the next right message at the right time. The challenge today is for brands to tailor their digital advertising to an individual’s behavior, allowing the messages to be customized based on the actions a person takes across a variety of channels, making it part of a single, consistent conversation.

Source: PR Newswire; edited by Richard Carufel

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The next wave in PR? Using emojis to communicate with your media audience

Ivy Lee invented the press release in 1906. It hasn’t changed much in 110 years — until now.

OMG, have you seen what Chevy just did?! 😯

On June 22, the automotive giant took a genius step toward engaging the coveted Millennial and Generation Z demographics when it issued a press release written entirely in emojis.

Microsoft Word - 0828-Chevrolet-Cruze-3-Million.docx

Expanding on the idea of content marketing—creating content that is highly relevant and valuable to attract and retain engaged consumers—Chevy has created a release that not only sparks interest but, quite literally, speaks the language of its audience.

Chevrolet has taken a traditionally tedious medium (tedium?) and created a PR pro’s dream—something worth looking at, talking about and sharing. When was the last time a media advisory about a car got anyone talking, anywhere, ever?

It seems Chevy has, after jumping headfirst into the emoji-for-brand-marketing wave. Right now, it’s making a serious splash.

The press release itself isn’t saying anything all that remarkable, even if you can figure it out (here, take this). But that’s not the point. What it has done is gotten attention, and what’s the point of a press release these days if not simply to get attention?

A release like this gets people talking, as evidenced by all the chatter on social about it (#ChevyGoesEmoji). There have also been 50+ online news stories published on it from June 23 to 24, according to MediaMiser software—and who ever publishes a story to talk about a press release?

Despite the difficulty of gleaning any tangible information from it, it’s doing a hugely impressive job of reaching (the right) people, much better than a typical press release going on about the usual tired car stuff.

It’s all about making it simple to ‘drive’ user engagement (sorry). And though it isn’t the first brand to employ emojis in a marketing effort (Oreo, GE, PETA, and IKEA already have, to name a few), this one feels different. It just kind of feels 💡 ➡ 😀 .

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Companies are exploring new platforms and using social media more confidently


A new 2015 international study of social media use by associations conducted by global association management and communications company Kellen, and international research consultancy ComRes, has found that organizations are exploring new platforms and showing greater confidence in their abilities to use social media effectively.

Key Findings in Europe and the U.S.

The survey results indicate that trade associations, professional societies and other nonprofit organizations on both sides of the Atlantic increased their use of photo- and video-sharing platforms significantly over the past year. Instagram usage by U.S. organizations rose by half (29% up from 19%) and YouTube usage increased by 9 percentage points from 64% to 73% over the previous year. While EU organizations have been slower to adopt visual media sharing channels, YouTube usage was up by a third (52% up from 40%)  and Instagram showed a seven-fold increase (from 1% to 7%).

Organizations are increasing their use of paid digital such as Google ads and sponsored posts on Facebook and Twitter, with U.S. groups leading the way. More than one third (36%) of U.S. associations are promoting their organizations through paid media, compared with only one fifth (21%) of organizations participating in the survey in the EU. The most popular uses of paid digital are to promote organizations’ content (58% in the U.S., 60% in Europe) and to attract people to events (67% in the U.S., 66% in Europe).  The ability to target and quickly launch digital advertising has also led organizations to use paid digital for issues management.

“The data we collected confirms that the organizations that get the most benefit from social media are those groups that measure their efforts and learn from the findings,” said Peter Rush, chairman and CEO of Kellen, in a news release.

Overall, social media use is maturing as evidenced by associations becoming more strategic and as a result, seeing greater success and satisfaction from their social media efforts. For a series of organizational goals, 79% of EU associations said social media was effective versus 73% of U.S. survey participants. One example of effective social media use is in Europe where associations are harnessing the power of social media to amplify their voices and influence policy-makers and key opinion leaders, far more than in the U.S. Every EU Commissioner is now on Twitter, gathering insights and information, which presents a key opportunity for trade associations there to connect with policy makers and influencers.

“Measurement data is becoming easier to acquire and this, combined with social media listening, can help organizations interpret the mood, reaction or public perception of entire industry sectors. This can serve as a powerful trend indicator or early warning system for associations,” said Jared Degnan, director of digital strategy for Kellen, in the release.

China: Fast Growing Economy Equals Exploding Social Media Growth

With more than 600 million Internet users and a 45% social media penetration rate—compared to 85% in the U.S.—China has vast social media growth potential. Despite strict government controls over social media use and the blocking of most western social sites, the average social media subscriber in China spends 90 minutes per day mostly on homegrown social platforms such as Weibo and WeChat. In 2014, the volume of social sharing increased 65% in China.

Mobile messenger app WeChat has flourished with the proliferation of smartphones in China and is now nipping at the heels of leading social media platform, Weibo. Video sharing is on the rise here, too, with the launch of channels such as Meipai and Sight.

Associations seeking to reach stakeholders via online channels in China are advised that embedded social media on their websites, such as Twitter feeds, will be affected by local Chinese regulations. Organizations experience better website accessibility if the site is hosted on local servers based in China. Familiarizing the association’s social media team with the diverse functionalities and audience interaction tools of Chinese social media platforms and with the local language will aid greatly in online engagement, according to Steven Basart, Manager China for Kellen.

Download the complete 47-page report here

The Social Media Impact Study for Associations 2015, released by Kellen marks the third consecutive year the company has partnered with ComRes to measure and analyze social media use by trade associations, professional societies and other nonprofit organizations. The report includes the results of an online survey of 439 organizations in the U.S. and Europe conducted by ComRes; qualitative findings gleaned by Kellen through four focus groups in Brussels, New York City and Washington, DC; an update on social media trends in China; case studies from around the world, and insights into the impact and future of social media.

Source: Kellen; edited by Richard Carufel

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5 ways to ensure successful data-driven marketing


Marketers love data. In a survey by GlobalDMA and the Winterberry Group, 77% of marketers are confident in using data-driven approaches to drive growth and better customer experiences.

The biggest drivers of increased use of data-driven marketing include:

  • 53% – A need to be more customer centric
  • 49% – Maximize effectiveness/efficiency of marketing investments
  • 33% – Gain more knowledge of customers & prospects
  • 24% – The growing availability of audience data
  • 20% – A need to align with digital consumer preferences

Where are these data efforts being focused?

  • 69% – Targeting of offers, messages and content
  • 52% – Data-driven strategy or product development
  • 49% – Customer experience optimization
  • 44% – Audience analytics / measurement
  • 44% – Predictive analytics

Data should fuel every aspect of your marketing initiatives. And there’s a LOT of data out there.

However, this is where many marketers get tripped up.

It’s not about collecting every piece of data available. It’s about collecting the right data that can be used to create meaningful interactions with your customers.

Here are 5 essential steps to becoming a truly successful data-driven marketer:

1. Centralize Your Data

Being data-driven means you must have a way to access your data. And not just bits and pieces of it, but the full picture. The data that truly tells a story about your customers and prospects – a 360-degree view.

As consumers interact with your brand, each of these touch points must be integrated into a marketing database. In addition to this internal or 1st party data, additional 3rd party data should also be included for a more robust profile of your customers.

Adding additional 3rd party demographic and firmographic data establishes a more comprehensive customer and prospect profile. This includes demographic data, such as age, health interests, marital status, net worth, occupation, religious affiliation, and more. Demographic data may include annual revenue, D&B credit rating, legal code, number of employees, primary business address, SIC, and years in business.

A data solutions provider will perform the following functions to ensure important customer details are integrated and remain current:


data quality steps

2. Add Unique and Hard-to-Find Data (HTFD) Sources

Data is everywhere. The number of unique data sources out there is larger than any one organization can wrangle. And make no mistake – these big data sets are the source of competitive advantage for companies across all industries.

Finding the right information from today’s huge data ecosystem is a hurdle that more than one marketer has yet to cross. Yet when these data sources are added to a marketing data mix, marketers can take the concept of being data-driven to entirely new levels.

Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) is a service approach in which unique and Hard-to-Find Data (HTFD) assets are sourced and structured from this Big Data universe. DaaS delivers a constant stream of qualified prospects, including your own customers, who are actively searching for what you are selling.

Distinctly different from list buying, these data sources are a highly customized marketing asset versus disconnected, one-time use prospect lists.

Some examples include:

3. Apply Analytics to Identify Your Best Customers and Prospects

Customers are rich resources of information. With data-driven strategies in place, companies can answer crucial marketing questions:

  • What do my customers look like?
  • What products have they purchased, and what is their purchasing behavior?
  • Who are my best customers and what will keep them loyal?
  • What is the best way to reach my customers and prospects?
  • What patterns may indicate unhappy customers and how can I mitigate attrition risk?

New technologies and user-friendly analytical tools enable marketers and business-users to quickly find the answers to these questions within their marketing database.

For example, a furniture marketer can pinpoint their best customers by analyzing information such as product purchases. When rich demographics are also added to the mix, the highest performing furniture groups can easily be determined among customer segments. Perhaps living room purchases are highest among your customers between 45-60 with a household income between $75,000 and $99,000.

With an understanding of your best customers, the same criteria can then be applied to find your best prospects. By using an analytical solution with mapping capabilities, you can easily map out your best prospects by zip code or view those who live within a close proximity to your store location.

Analytics can be used to identify a variety of opportunities, such as sales trending by store location, which customer segments are most ideal for cross-sell and up-sell offers, or which marketing channels are most suitable to reach specific customer segments.

4. Market to Consumers with Targeted Campaigns

As we know, consumers want to be targeted with the right message at the right time and through the right channel.

When data drives campaigns, the results speak for themselves. In a study by BlueKai, 78% of marketers say data increases conversion and acquisition and 71% say it enables the delivery of more relevant messaging to more finely segmented audiences.

Marketers are often heavily reliant on IT to access data in a format that can be used. And as IT priorities shift, procuring lists can sometimes take weeks.

With a marketing database and analytics solution in place, your customer and prospect records can quickly be exported for targeted marketing campaigns – without the involvement of IT.

5. Analyze Marketing Performance to Maximize Effectiveness

As you become more adept at data-driven strategies, it’s important to continually analyze marketing performance to maximize effectiveness and optimize ROI.  As business goals shift or new data patterns emerge, marketing initiatives must also change. Marketers must smartly use metrics to prove the value of being a data-driven organization and to demonstrate marketing’s contribution to overall business growth.

Marketers today need to have experience with the technology, tools, and the mind to leverage data and analytics. By embracing a data-driven mindset, data has the potential to fuel every aspect of your marketing success.

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‘The challenge’: the new gold standard in charitable campaign marketing

fearless challenge

When the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge ran like wildfire through social media, it revolutionized the way charities thought about advertising. Countless Facebook mentions and $115 million in donations later, it showed non-profits there were alternatives to the marketing mainstays of tear-jerking appeals and even newer techniques like shockvertising.

Responding to that global tidal wave, the Canadian Cancer Society recently launched its second annual Fearless Challenge in which participants don’t just step, but leap —sometimes literally— outside their comfort zones to help raise awareness and money.

The concept is simple: “take the fear out of cancer by facing your own fears.” To participate you need to pick something that scares the daylights out of you, set a target amount, campaign for dollars and when you reach that goal, (ideally) document your fright and click share.

If you need help pinpointing your worst nightmare, the society’s website has suggestions that run the gamut of terror, mortification and self-sacrifice: eat bugs, skydive, hang out with a clown, read from your diary or—the most horrifying—give up social media for a week.

Campaigns of this nature are forging a new frontier in marketing: instead of asking the public to simply share a piece of content, they are making them the content creator.

When it works, this approach has a longer shelf life than the typical viral advertisement because the audience is directly involved with—and excited about—the message. The cause becomes personal, while the dialogue evolves and endures.

The Fearless Challenge has all the hallmarks of what could be an internet sensation: celebrity backing? Check. Social media-friendly content? Check. The uniquely human desire to experience thrills at others’ expense? Check.

It hits all the same notes as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge—high impact, shareable, seasonable and franchiseable. But will it be able to replicate its success?

To get involved, click here (and if you are more of the safety-in-numbers type, feel free to sign up as a group).


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The State of Influencer Engagement: Online Influencers Are Key to Increasing Brand Visibility—and PR Should Take the Lead


84% of Marcoms Professionals Use Influencer Engagement Strategies

The evolution of company PR outreach to online influencers such as bloggers, social media users, online journalists and other experts is showing many signs of maturity—in fact, this growing influencer engagement trend has been reaffirmed for the current year: According to new research from software provider Augure, 84% of marketing and communications professionals surveyed say they use influencer engagement in their campaigns—an increase of 24% compared to 2014.

Furthermore, 81% of those surveyed considered influencer engagement to be effective or very effective for meeting their objectives, while 74% of those surveyed want to increase (33%) or maintain (41%) the budget allocated to influencer engagement activities.

Influencer Engagement: The Most Effective Brand Building Strategy

Influencer engagement is particularly effective for increasing brand visibility and equity—93% of communicators consider it effective or very effective for meeting this objective. The report includes surprising new objectives that are more centered on generating business such as lead generation (75% of those surveyed claim to have attained results through their influencer engagement strategy) as well as building customer loyalty (effective or very effective for 76% of those surveyed).

Other results related to the effectiveness of influencer engagement online:

  • Industries where influencer engagement is most effective are healthcare, fashion, cosmetics, energy, tourism, education and in non-profit associations.
  • Influencer engagement is plays a prominent role in SMEs, or small businesses with less than 50 employees, where 85% of those surveyed consider it to be effective or very effective.
  • Identifying the most relevant influencers for the brand strategy in question is considered the main challenge for 75% of those surveyed; getting influencers’ attention is a challenge for 69%; and having the right performance indicators to measure the effectiveness of campaigns is a challenge for 53% of the professionals surveyed.

Content is “King” in Influencer Engagement Strategies—and Twitter is the “Queen Bee” Platform for Launching Them

Content is once again considered the star when working with online opinion leaders. When asked which they considered the best scenario for working with influencers, 67% of marcoms pros mentioned content promotion. Content creation (co-writing blog posts, webinars, whitepapers, etc.) came in joint second place along with product launches for 59% of those surveyed.

Worth noting in this second annual report is the appearance of SEO as one of the most advantageous scenarios for working with influencers (for 23% of those surveyed).

In terms of platforms, Twitter (68%) is confirmed as the best channel for influencer engagement campaigns. Blogs take second place (54%), followed by Facebook (51%), although the latter takes first place in the U.S. Surprisingly, LinkedIn is down in sixth place, with 20% of professionals using it in their influencer engagement strategies.

To Pay or Not to Pay Influencers

Marketing and communications professionals who have carried out campaigns with online influencers defend once again this year (they did so in last year’s report) that monetary payment was not among the main motivations for influencers—55% of those surveyed consider that gaining visibility and reaching new audiences are what influencers seek; 45% believe influencers’ key motivation is to create quality content for their audience; monetary payment, meanwhile, takes fifth place (24%).

However, 31% of those surveyed say they always or frequently pay influencers they work with, this figure increases to 54% for Americans.

In terms of content, events are considered to be the best format for working with influencers for 70% of professionals; followed by guest blog posts (69%) and video content (44%). Press releases are relegated to last place with only 26% claiming to use them for influencer engagement.

Heads of PR Lead Influencer Engagement Strategies

While the current trend is for press relations and communications departments to fuse with digital and online marketing, according to 28% of those surveyed, the heads of PR should be in charge of influencer engagement at companies. Joint second place is taken by community managers and CEOs (according to 17% of those surveyed). The latter takes on this role particularly in small and medium-sized businesses.

Augure recently released this second report on the State of Influencer Engagement with the participation of over 600 communications and marketing professionals from the U.S. and Europe. Download the complete report here.

Source: MarketWired; edited by Richard Carufel

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