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Empathy: The Missing Link in Fintech Marketing

I was once talking shop with a fellow content marketer when she said something that tickled my ears:

“I can tell the difference between marketing from an empathetic person versus someone who has tunnel vision around business results.”

Mind-blowing, right? The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized I could tell the difference too. Some marketing copy — whether it’s an ad to go buy a hamburger or a report on why Blockchain will revolutionize the healthcare industry — really “gets it”. Then, there is marketing copy that does not.

You’ve probably seen the difference, too. Some marketing copy is evocative, rhythmic, to-the-point, and resonant. Other copy is bland, wordy, and flat. The thing is — creating a solid story arc and proper tone — requires a marketer to have the ability to put themselves in the buyer’s shoes and to understand the buyer’s experience.

Turns out, this translates in a big way when it comes to business results.

Why B2B Fintech Needs Empathy

We know that emotional connection in B2B marketing is important. That notion is tightly coupled with the idea of empathy in marketing. In both cases, B2B fintechs face compound challenges in connecting with prospective buyers:

Brand credibility has not yet been established
Fintechs face the inertia of the known when it comes to convincing buyers to take a chance on an unfamiliar or unpredictable product/solution (Trust)
“Fintech” is still a new concept to many prospective buyers, calling for increased education around the problems to be solved and new solutions that can solve them.

Emotional connection is the conduit for this connection, but emotional connection also requires an empathetic mindset. Unfortunately, many businesses stray away from the notions of emotion and empathy for fear of being unprofessional or “soft”. The problem with that logic is that businesses selling to other businesses are just people selling to other people. When we lose sight of this, we become less effective at selling. We look at it as selling instead of remembering that we are looking for people who need our solution and giving them the information they need to make the right decision.

Empathy in Fintech Marketing Yields Results

It’s easy to think that, as marketers, our goal is to deliver page views and downloads and subscriptions and sign-ups for demos. That’s largely how we’re evaluated, so it’s easy to fall into this one-track mindset. In reality, our goal is to create messaging and stories that will resonate with our target audience in a way that is helpful to them. Because when we’re helpful, we make it easier for the sales team to do its job. When we’re helpful, we attract page views, downloads, subscriptions, and sign-ups. When we’re helpful, we’re simply giving people what they want: a solution.

This all sounds lovely in theory, but what does it look like in action?

Be Human

Great storytellers draw upon their own experience to create a connection with their audience. Tapping into our own unique experiences enables us to relate to others. Building those experiences into marketing stories that are relevant to buyers is an entertaining way to educate prospects. We can offer prospects information wrapped in human experience that people understand and connect to.

In fintech marketing, that means weaving “people stories” into content to bring your solution to life. While technical specs and data and stats can frame how your service or solution works, people are more apt to understand this from a human perspective. Frame the problem and the solution in a way that taps into the human side of points, challenges, frustrations, and motivations.

Use Appropriate Tone & Voice

Find a tone and voice that works for your business and your audience. The key is to find the right balance between extremes. Start by not taking yourself too seriously. Yes, sounding authoritative can be important at times. But you shouldn’t overuse this one. Find a way to add some personality and to build your business’s voice. Aim to find a voice that brings your mission and values and culture to life.

On the flip side, don’t overdo it. If your tone tends toward the “fun & playful” side, you may need to dial it back when presenting information on certain topics or via certain media or on certain channels. The best presentation is usually a hybrid of your unique and personal tone tempered by the preferences of your audience and the nuances of different channels/media types/topics.

Use Data to Drive Empathy

The scientists in the room are cringing right now. “You can’t measure empathy. What metrics do we track?” This is true; however, you can use the data you have to execute tests based on well-founded hypotheses.

Start with audience personas to figure out where your visitors are coming from (geographically as well as referral sources), which types of articles they viewed the most, and how long they spent on different pages of your site. This information can be used to inform the types of sources from which they gather information, the types of topics they may be researching, and some demographic information. All of this can be used to understand the psychology of your target buyer and to inform the content you create for them.

Also, conduct keyword research to understand what pain points are causing the most anxiety for your buyers. In real life conversations, you listen to the person you’re in a conversation with to get a sense of where they’re coming from. Online, we “listen” through social listening/monitoring and keyword research to tap into people’s desires and motivations and curiosities. We then take that information and fill the gap with meaningful content that addresses these things. Use the data and insights you have to inform your marketing and to paint your content with empathy.

Drop the Ego

In the end, it’s about pivoting from reliance on what you know to intentional marketing initiatives that ask “how can I help?” Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and think about what you might need or want to make your life easier. Use that as a starting point for building out effective, data-driven fintech marketing campaigns. It will take some digging, a bias toward action, and a softening of the ego — but it’s not rocket science (unless you’ve created a P2P app that works in space :). When you strive to understand your customers, you’re better able to connect with them. Connection fosters trust and makes you a more “likable” brand among prospective buyers. And guess what: people buy from people they like.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Content Rewired blog.

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What’s Happening in Inside Sales in 2020

 

geralt / Pixabay

As we settle into the deepest part of winter and even temperate climates are feeling a drop in the mercury, let’s heat things up with a look into what we can expect in inside sales in 2020 and beyond.

First, expect companies to continue to embrace the role of inside sales. As the traditional sales force of field reps contracts, inside sales hires are growing at a rate of around 15% annually. We’re also seeing greater hybridization as more field reps are spending almost half of their time selling remotely. Inside sales continues to prove to be a cost-effective and more easily scalable resource.

But from our perspective, the biggest change may not actually be a change at all, but rather a maturing of the market. A lot of trends are coming together to create a better environment for buyers and sellers working together remotely.

Specifically, technology continues to enrich remote selling, which, in turn, makes the customer experience more fulfilling and the vendor experience easier. In fact, technology and data-driven insight into customer needs may finally be bringing John Naisbitt’s Megatrends vision for high tech, high touch into reality.

Let’s briefly explore some areas that support the maturation of inside sales and high-tech, high-touch sales: technology, experience, data and integration.

Technology Supports Remote Selling

It’s fair to say that technology is taking the remoteness out of remote selling as it optimizes every aspect of the buyer’s journey and the seller’s outreach.

For buyers, faster Internet speeds allow for enriched content that they use to research products and services. Based on the buyer’s demographics, firmographics and phase in the buying process, companies can easily tailor a rich library of whitepapers, case studies, videos and podcasts to specific buyer needs. Buyers see the right information, at the right time.

Video conferencing turns a phone call into a meeting that can bring together decision makers—even if they are spread out across the country or around the world.

Real-time product demonstrations and remote screen sharing enables buyers to interact with digital products online while discussing them with the inside sales rep. As augmented and virtual reality become more mainstream, reps will be able to demo an even wider range of products. Imagine taking a virtual walk through new office space or seeing a new suite of furniture shown virtually in your existing office.

As newer tools like click-to-call instantly put buyers in touch with reps, companies will rely increasingly on their force of well trained, highly professional inside sales reps to answer questions and shepherd buyer relationships through to close the sale.

From an inside sales rep’s perspective, customer relationship management (CRM) systems remain their most essential tool. CRM enables sales teams to collaborate, managers to stay on top of business and customer-facing employees in other departments to share one prospect/customer record. Mobile and cloud-based CRM are making customer data available from anywhere.

Most explosive, however, are the advances in artificial intelligence. While not poised to replace inside sales reps, AI can take on most repetitive tasks and routine administrative chores. Within the next two years, AI adoption is expected to grow more than 150% and boost sales productivity, especially in the areas of prospecting and outbound sales.

AI can provide inside sales with greater insight into a prospect’s propensity and readiness to buy and even recommend the optimal time to make a phone call.

The High-Touch Experience

Expanding and heightening the buying experience is no longer just talk. Technology is enabling companies to walk the walk. Take chatbots. These automated communication platforms employ natural language processing, semantic parsing and AI-based automatic planning. They are available 24/7 to answer buying questions, quickly resolve problems, provide assistance in emergencies and even find human help when necessary. This is a critical advancement as Millennials and Gen X move into executive and decision-making positions. These younger generations expect a high-touch experience that accommodates their preferences for on-demand collaboration.

And not only meetings and sales calls but conferences and tradeshows are becoming virtual events. As development and delivery costs decline, companies can support more specialized activities, and buyers enjoy even more highly specialized information being delivered to them.

But it’s not all one-sided. Inside sales reps, too, are enjoying a better experience. The same technology that brings decision-makers in many locations together makes it easier for reps to keep the buying process moving forward. With one call, they can address the group, answer everyone’s questions in one call and resolve many points of disagreement.

It’s a Data-Driven World

Customer data remains the coin of the realm. And better tools for managing and analyzing vast amounts of data to provide sales with greater knowledge about their customers and prospects. Sophisticated data insight is more than a competitive advantage. It’s the most highly valued currency within sales departments.

Data-driven insight is helping inside sales better segment markets and target prospective customers with highly tailored solutions that speak directly to key issues, needs and pain points.

An initial conversation that once might have been a fishing expedition, in 2020 is an informed discussion of problems, solutions and next steps. Inside sales reps are equipped to engage customers better and close more sales than ever.

And it doesn’t stop with the initial sale. With data-driven insight, inside sales reps can maintain and tailor the experience, ensure continuing satisfaction and build deeper relationships with every customer. This becomes critical to the bottom line as companies focus on customer retention and lifetime value. It also enables reps to drill more deeply into companies and turn an individual buyer relationship into a focus on buying groups throughout the organization.

Of course, with customer and prospect data comes responsibility. Expect ongoing efforts to protect data and comply with consumer consent laws, such as GDPR and California Consumer Privacy Act.

Better Integration Makes Everything Work

In any field or industry, once advancements reach a critical mass and start to overwhelm the user, something needs to be done to make it more manageable. Finally, after years of seeing the technology stack grow increasingly unwieldy and big data explode to the point where many companies could effectively use only a small percentage of the data at hand, we’re seeing advancements in integration.

Better integration of tools, platforms and data will continue to support the growing role of inside sales. And the remote sales experience will feel as natural and basic as the face-to-face meeting did in the 20th century…and probably better.

Using dashboards, advanced integration tools and sophisticated data management, an all-in-one customer data platform will give inside sales a more unified profile of each customer and prospect. In the hands of a skilled and highly professional inside sales rep, each customer’s experience becomes more unique, more useful and more rewarding.

In 2020, inside sales is more important than ever. Its cost-effectiveness and scalability were early benefits. Today, as the technology, data management and improved integration deliver an enhanced experience to buyer and seller alike, remote sales may actually surpass the traditional face-to-face sales call.

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Building a Data Driven Business Now

The world around has changed. In this time of massive uncertainty we need to optimize our efforts and create ways to do things more efficiently with the resources we have at hand. In a bid to build the future we must start with the present.

Data has emerged as one of the most efficient ways to weigh your efforts and build a sustainable business practice that keeps improving.

The Truth in Numbers

The reason behind this is simple, numbers don’t lie, math is considered a universal truth – meaning numbers have the power to point you in a factually correct direction.

An example of this is, say you are looking to launch a new product; but while you are doing that (researching ways to bring your product to market) you need to define a sizeable target population and run a comprehensive (structured, semi-structured, unstructured) marketing research on your target population. This is done correctly helps you determine consumer wants, needs, and desires around your anticipated product.

This sort of fact-checking and data-driven intelligence can help you bridge any gaps that may have an impact on your product’s success. But becoming a data-driven firm is not just about performing a one-off marketing research activity, it is about understanding which touchpoints can help you accumulate data and tapping into those inlets to create opportunities to learn.

Data in Your Company DNA

To build a truly data-driven company, you must build systems that help you plug and play with data that your company produces. An example of this can be, say you are a company that operates a freight forwarding business, your vehicles must produce massive amounts of data with respect to your routes, driver behavior, fuel and idle time, etc. Telematics is an interdisciplinary term that merges telecommunication, vehicular technologies (GPS, Navigation systems), informatics – to produce tangible data that can help build vehicular efficiency, reduce breakdowns and accidents, etc.

Another example could be of a firm that relies heavily on inbound traffic through its call centers (say an e-commerce firm) without proper CRM systems in place to record, manage and maintain the regular data that flows into your organization you will never be able to eliminate inefficacies that exist within your systems.

Starting Today

To become a truly data-driven firm you must first:

1) Put your best people on identifying data points that exist in your firm

2) Understand which physical and digital systems can be built to start collecting that data

3) Weigh your options (in terms of vendors/systems that can evolve your current business practice), costs that will be incurred to become data-driven, overall impact it will have on your business

4) Build a plan of action that works for you (does not overstretch your resources)

5) Execute your plan (this is not easy and you need to stick to your vision – make sure your people understand what you are trying to do; so they don’t end up becoming barriers to entry)

The journey to becoming a data-driven firm is not easy, it is a gradual and at times costly endeavor. But the reward of having real-time data in front of you and being able to make proactive business decisions is something you will never be able to live without. Good luck!

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