marketing, technology

Defining the Customer Journey

Gartner predicts by 2018, those organizations that excel in personalization will outsell companies that don’t by 20%.

In today’s information age where the Internet rules, marketers are scrambling to keep up with ways consumers can now engage with a brand. Consumers are investigating new products online, they are reading reviews in real time and are actively engaging with the brand well before making the actual purchase. To a marketing professional, these are customer touch-points. Each point is simply a step along a path that a customer will make before the purchase of something, be it a product or service.

If the brand is notable and already established, brands like McDonalds, Best Buy, Microsoft, to name a few, then consumers already have preconceived notions of what the experience should be before making the purchase. Companies competing in today’s marketplace must acknowledge expectations and introduce delightful experiences into the buyer’s journey if they want to remain competitive.

buyerjourney

How do we start?

It starts with a persona. Understanding who your buyer is and then personifying them. Personas give the company a much richer picture of their customers so that they may be able to tailor a memorable and effective experience. Personas are usually derived from a combination of the following types of data:

  • Demographic – Defined by population based on geography, income, level of education and other attributes.
  • Psychographic – Focused on values, opinions, interests, aspirations, attitudes and lifestyles.
  • Ethnographic – Information gleaned from surveys and studies conducted by watching subjects in their daily routines and capturing what isn’t explicitly reported.
  • Transactional – Insight from a customer’s history with the brand, including first and third-party purchase histories and post-sale service records.
  • Behavioral – Captured data through engagement with websites, mobile devices and other media outlets.

Once you have your persona(s) defined, take the time to carefully identify all key business moments your persona must take when interacting with your brand. List each key moment including buying decisions and begin to prioritize them. Fully flesh out any opportunities that may not exist today but could be implemented to enhance the experience. Start to design your buyer experience by mapping each moment along a timeline.

It may be helpful at this stage to create stories. Stories help paint the picture of what the persona wants. Stories can be used to find missing business moments along the way. I find it’s always insightful to share your stories with someone outside of your circle as it offers up different perspectives and could encourage innovation in your process.

In the end, your customer journey will be defined by your personas (the profile of your customer), their stories (a picture of what the customer truly wants), and a map of business moments (points where your brand will delight).

Once your journey has been defined, evangelize it to the rest of the business. This offers the awareness and transparency of customer motives. This also is a vital step in the continued success of the customer journey. Success can be achieved short term but cannot be maintained unless the customer journey grows and evolves.

http://www.erinalbertson.com

Advertisements
marketing, technology

Your Brand; Your Identity – 10 Tips

Brand Business ConceptTop 10 tips on how to put yourself out there:

  1. Know your audience. Who do you want to reach? Who will listen? Envision your ideal audience for your message and put yourself into their shoes. What do they want to know?  You can tell them. It’s your destiny!
  2. Build a strategy. Nothing screams success like a well formulated game plan. Take some time to think through your strategy. Build up a project plan with detailed steps necessary to reach your goals.
  3. Construct a calendar of events. Define your content and lay it out on the calendar. Situating tasks for each day to deliver your message will be an important step to stay organized and on track.
  4. Speak authentically. Be yourself when conveying your message. No one likes someone who tries too hard. Keep it real and keep it simple. If using complex vocabulary is not normally your thing, then don’t start just because you may want to sound smarter. You’ll end up only pushing your audience away because your words won’t seem natural.
  5. Weave in the personal. Emotion is a powerful source of truth and can create instant connections with people. Use it to tell your personal story and capture the hearts of your audience.
  6. Focus. This can be tough. Your message must be clear and concise. There is only so much brain space and time you have before your reader loses interest.
  7. Use powerful headlines. You have only seven seconds to make a great impression when meeting someone. Headlines work the same way. They are the bits of information we use to judge whether we want to pursue something more. Get over the hump by using inviting, captivating headlines that draw the reader in.
  8. Make your content easy to read. Your reader should be able to glance through your material and understand the main points without having to do further research. Include bullet points, headings, numbered lists, etc. to achieve this.
  9. Include a call to action. Give your reader a purpose. What do you want them to do with the information you’ve put out there? Provide additional links  for further information or offer up images, a sign up form, etc. to provide your user with another opportunity to interact with your brand.
  10. Finally, go the extra mile. Be helpful. Start by answering any possible questions you think your audience may have. Discuss your products and/or services further or even offer a feedback loop so your audience can contact you for suggestions on improvement.

http://www.erinalbertson.com

art, Personal

Art To Take Away The Pain

fridakahloI recently attended the Frida Kahlo exhibit at The Dali museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. Words cannot express how her artwork moves me. It’s almost as if you can feel the pain. And the pain is so compelling and awe-inspiring that you cannot look away. Her art seems to beg the question of a desire for pain in order to transform into something more profound, balanced and pure. As if the pain was meant to be a part of the transcendence.

If you are not familiar with Frida Kahlo, a brief background update can be found here. Or you can check out her biography Hollywood style by watching the movie, Frida. It’s playing on Netflix these days. I really liked the movie and thought Salma Hayek did a fantastic job. It’s worth the watch.

At the age of 18, Frida was in a horrible traffic accident and it is from that experience her life of pain and art began.

frida2Frida’s work and life presented at The Dali include several of her more well-known pieces as well as numerous photographs from her life. This is what I find most fascinating about the exhibit. The photographs. Those are the ‘real’ moments. Glimpses into reality and truth. It’s probably why I’ve always been drawn to the photographic art versus art paintings. The imagination can paint wonderful images but they are a stark comparison of an actual moment in time, which often offers up something more perverse and meaningful.

As I looked through the photographs in the exhibit I began to see a common thread. Frida did not smile much. Perhaps her tumultuous marriage with the artistic philanderer, Diego Rivera, or the constant pain from her accident and the isolation of it all drove her sorrow. I could feel it. It was palatable as I reviewed the images. I was moved with emotion.

If you are unfamiliar with Frida Kahlo give her work a view. It’s beautiful, weird, full of pain and emotion and will surprisingly uplift you in the most unassuming way. With her use of color and imagery to describe her world, you too will be transcended.


the-two-fridas

fridaart1

kahlo_deer

http://www.erinalbertson.com

technology

NEXT-GEN DATA SECURITY

securitycommunityTo understand what next generation security may mean to us in the future, we must understand what it means today. Let’s boil the term security down.  What are we trying to secure? Data, right?  In today’s digital age, the evolution of 1’s and 0’s dominates the way we manage our lives, our finances, our businesses, and lately with the adoption of big data, we now allow the data to make decisions for us. Maintaining the integrity of the data, now ruling such a significant portion of our lives, could then be determined a top priority. We don’t want to go off making poor choices because we got the facts wrong. Ultimately, data security is simply the understanding and recognizing of the link between mastering data and protecting it.

idc-logoAccording to an IDC survey conducted, “84% of US Consumers expressed concern regarding the security of their PII (personally identifiable information) and 70% told IDC that their concern is greater today than just a few years ago.”

IDC goes on to explain just how much demographics can play a factor in preconceived notions of data security.  IDC finds that younger consumers, those aged 18-35, demonstrate a higher concern than the slightly older 36-50-year-old counterparts. So, we can see an uptick in a risk-adverse generation of users. These are the same consumers that will contribute to the adoption of new technology being pushed across all market sectors. It will be important for companies to maintain trust between those users and their data if they want to remain relevant.

iotMore devices are connected to the Internet than ever before. From our smart phones to our smart watches and fitness apps, to our smart homes, the rising phenomenon of the Internet of Things proposes security concerns alone. Per a new report from the Ponemon Institute, IBM, and Arxan, a staggering 80% of IoT applications and 71% of mobile applications are not tested for vulnerabilities raising more concerns for data security.

A new dawn is rising and the transformation of the digital landscape is changing. With new technology comes new threats, next generation data security will look to evolve from a data-centric solution to an extended, distributed networking solution which leverages many endpoints, multi-layer authentication, data tokenization, masking, and data loss prevention. We are already starting to see the expansion of this platform in financial industries with the increased adoption of Blockchain technology.

As the technology learns to advance, so will the rise of the cybersecurity professional. Job postings in the cybersecurity field have increased over the past 5 years, up 74%.

Digital transformation efforts are underway at most companies looking to deliver more value to their customers, but it does not come without the next generation costs to rise against new data security challenges presented.

http://www.erinalbertson.com

Personal

Here I Go Again…

122446088It’s been a long time since I dusted off the old blog here @WordPress. A couple days ago I picked up the pace on my more familiar blogging style with my typical tech posts, but today, on a more personal note, I’d like to take a moment to breathe it all in and reset. So, here I go again out into the ether.

February 2, 2017: “You could be standing on the cusp of a new venture and be in deep discussion about which direction to take in order to move forward.” –Aquarius daily horoscope from AstrologyZone by Susan Miller

Funny thing about horoscopes is that they either are punctual or not. I can’t help but take my chances, so I continue to check. Maybe I’ll find inspiration in the mystic. The aforementioned daily horoscope brings a smile to my face as it could not be more poignant on a day like today. As the old adage states, “Times they are a changing.” Yes, they sure are. And they are changing at such a rapid pace it’s almost deafening. Could it simply be that I’m getting older and my life is more consumed than ever with responsibilities and daily tasks? Very possible. Most assuredly even. But in these agile times, it is important to take a step back and breathe it all in.

Unfortunately, most of us, myself included, become bogged down in the daily grind and we tend to forget how important these little moments of pause can make not only to our internal wellness but for the betterment of others we surround ourselves with. See, I truly believe what we put out there, we receive back and therefore I must always be aware of my words, my actions and what they might mean to others. This is a daunting task that requires vigilance and diligence. I am not always successful and that’s OK. We must reconcile to pick ourselves up and move on. Ultimately the world goes on and so must we.

I am on the cusp of a new venture, how did my horoscope know? I am in a deep discussion with myself of how I move forward. What’s my direction? It is still unclear to me. I will press on and continue to put myself out there. You cannot stop me for I am a formidable force. I will continue my journey and I hope you will come along. I am sending my love for it is all I can give.

http://www.erinalbertson.com

technology

BIG DATA SUCCESS STARTS FROM THE TOP DOWN

ceo-big-data-strategyWhat is big data? Big data is defined as extremely large data sets that can be analyzed to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions.

Why is big data becoming an important factor in today’s digital business? Data by the numbers is quickly becoming the basis for competition in today’s agile marketplace. Analytics becomes a crucial way for companies leading big data initiatives to do business better by enhancing their customer experience, leverage strategies to innovate and increase the quality of products and services.

Gartner’s article, 100 Data and Analytics Predictions Through 2020, states, “By 2020, contextual predictive data streams — and the proprietary algorithms behind them — will be a top three service provider differentiator.”

Investments in big data require hefty investments not only in the technology to support it, but also the personnel resources necessary to organize and disseminate the value gathered. Companies wanting to achieve success and glean ROI, big data initiatives must warrant a strong relationship with corporate strategy. Big data leadership must start with the CEO. Top down is a proven, effective way to drive the organization to the intended vision. Think about it like this: big data is the cart and corporate strategy is the horse.

Motivation and inspiration are also the keys to success and often the CEO is the one who will advance the charge. Big data and managing business decisions based on numbers versus that good ole’ gut feeling proposes a difficult balancing act where we go against those natural instincts and trust the data instead.  This can often cause conflict with ideologies, but if the CEO is driving the vision, it will be hard to dispute. It will be imperative that the CEO is walking the walk and talking the talk. He or she must be the primary user and repeatedly show value of how analytics are supporting the corporate agenda to win business in the big data and analytics game.

http://www.erinalbertson.com