Last week, we explored some of the latest terms trending in sales and marketing in 2015. Some may have felt lost in lingo limbo, but most probably learned a thing or two about the emerging myriad of strategies and products available for businesses today to reach customers. Knowledge is power. But that doesn’t mean that a company should adopt every strategy, product and approach. Quite the contrary. When it comes to sales and marketing, it is different strokes for different folks. What works for one company may not have any value for another business. The goal is to be discerning. While early adopters embrace every trend, haphazardly trying each new thing, and late bloomers wait until a marketing strategy is thoroughly vetted and ubiquitous before even dipping a toe in the water, both extremes can be dangerous. The key is to be knowledgeable of all the approaches exist and determine what might work best for a particular business in a particular industry.
With that in mind, here are a few more 2015 trending terms to add to the sales and marketing vocab. Responsive web design. Adaptive web design. QR Codes. Click fraud. H2H. Nueromorphics. Media agnostic. Advertainment (not related to Advertorial, a much older but still useful marketing term referring to an article (instead of an ad) that is written to inform but with a slant/bias). Twinternship. mCommerce. Here’s what they mean.
Responsive Web Design (RWD) and Adaptive Web Design (ADW)
While not really new this year, these are still fairly unknown terms. And, even if some have heard these terms, many don’t understand the difference between them. They aren’t interchangeable. Yes, both terms are related to the accessibility of websites on various devices other than the standard desktop or laptop screens, such as on tablets and smart phones. While similar in their goal, the approaches are different.
Responsive website design starts with the primary task of incorporating CSS3, media queries, the @media rule, and fluid grids that use percentages to create a flexible foundation upon which designs are built. These key points, as well as the use of EMs, flexible images, flexible videos, and fluid type, allow the responsive website to adapt its layout to the viewing device, user agent, and environment. In other words, it makes whatever is on the page fit nicely and read-ably, according to the size the screen. No more need to stretch pages in order to read microscopic text.
Content layer = rich semantic HTML markup
Presentation layer = CSS and styling
Why does any business owner need to know this technical stuff? Because websites that are neither adaptive nor responsive are already being ‘punished’ by Google in rankings conducted by anyone doing a search using a cell phone or tablet. Any business who wants their website to be found by people using a cell phone or tablet needs to update its coding to either AWD or RWD asap or fall off the search cliff into the bottomless pit of search results. i.e. Do you want your company website to appear on page 1 of a Google search for your service or on page 10,569? So it’s important to know the difference between the two options for recoding.
QR or Quick Response Code is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode). A barcode is a machine-readable optical label that contains information about the item to which it is attached. It consists of black modules (square dots) arranged in a square grid on a white background, which can be read by an imaging device (such as a camera, scanner, etc.) and processed using Reed-Solomon error correction until the image can be appropriately interpreted. The required data are then extracted from patterns that are present in both horizontal and vertical components of the image.
Storing up to 4296 characters, QR Codes are internationally standardized under ISO 18004, so a QR code is a QR code all over the world. They’ve been very popular in Japan for decades, started being used in the EU and UK a few years ago, and are now gaining ground in North America. QR Codes are more useful than UPC barcodes because of their fast readability and greater storage capacity. Applications for QR Codes include product tracking, item identification, time tracking, document management, and general marketing.
The QR code became the focus of advertising strategy because it provides a way to access a brand’s website more quickly than by manually entering a URL. Beyond mere convenience to the consumer, the importance of this capability is that it increases the conversion rate (the chance that contact with the advertisement will convert to a sale), by coaxing interested prospects further down the conversion funnel with little delay or effort. It brings the viewer to the advertiser’s website immediately, where a longer and more targeted sales pitch could lose the viewer’s interest. Besides the obvious applications in the marketing and retail, QR codes can also be very useful operationally in streamlining information for companies in finance, law, real estate and accounting.
Click fraud is the practice of artificially inflating traffic statistics to defraud advertisers or websites that provide venues for advertisers. In a common pay-per-click advertising model, advertisers pay a fee for each click on their link. Since some industry segments have costs-per-click of several dollars, by using automated clicking programs (called hitbots) or employing low-cost workers to click the links, fraudsters create the illusion that a large number of potential customers are clicking the advertiser’s links, when in fact none of those clicks will lead to profit for the advertiser. Click fraud scammers take advantage of the affiliate programs offered by some websites, such as Google and Yahoo! Search Marketing. Scammers sign up for the affiliate programs, agreeing to provide further exposure to the advertising in question and receiving a portion of the pay-per-click fees in return. The perpetrators then place the ads on websites created solely for purpose of fraud that actually don’t have any real traffic. Once the ads are in place, the hitbots or workers generate large volumes of fraudulent clicks, often in a very short time period, for which the scammer bills the owner of the affiliate program.
Most people have heard of B2B — business-to-business – marketing such as an accounting software company marketing its products to CPA firms. Then there’s B2C – business-to-consumer — marketing in which a company markets and sells directly to customers, such as a lender marketing its mortgage programs to homebuyers. But what is H2H marketing? That focuses on the idea that actually all marketing, whether to business or consumers, is actually a person selling something to another person… whether the person selling works independently or for a business, and whether the person buying it is buying it for himself or for the company where he works. It is all human-to-human interaction, and thus all sales and marketing should also be H2H.
This goes to the concept that “people do business with people they know, like and trust.” John Q consumer bought a briefcase at Sears in Dallas, Texas. But actually John Q did not buy a briefcase from Sears. John Q bought a briefcase from Esther, the cashier who works the register at Sears. And Sears did not buy that briefcase from L.L. Bean. Tom, the purchasing manager for Sears, bought the briefcase from Michael, the Sales Director at L.L. Bean. And L.L. Bean did not manufacture the briefcase. A team of people who work in production — cutting, stitching, assembling and packaging the briefcase — at L.L. Bean actually made the briefcase. Each step of the way, actual people were involved in converting pieces of materials made in Maine to a briefcase that John Q will use for years to come. There is a human behind every item made and sold and every decision to purchase.
The concept of an H2H marketing approach isn’t just gushy feelings and sappy stories. It also benefits to a company’s bottom line by communicating trust and safety, developing long-term customer relationships, increasing word-of-mouth, online and offline recommendations, and connecting people through storytelling. It also helps increase listening and responding to changes in customer demand.
Neuromorphic chips are computer chips that mimic brain-like functionality to make computers smarter. However, they are fundamentally different to conventional chips in that conventional chips can process lots of data, but can’t really think. Neuromorphic chips are designed to mimic the electrical spikes generated in the brain as it responds to sensory information. This means they can operate in the ‘parallel’ way similar to brains. They learn as they go, without relying on human instruction. They are also much more energy efficient than conventional chips. With development of this technology still in its infancy, the goal is for neuromorphic chips to replicate the way the brain processes information and responds to sensory stimuli — including visual and auditory — and make decisions based on patterns discovered through probabilities and associations.
So how will this be applicable to sales and marketing? There are an infinite number of triggers – real and virtual – which could be used as the start point to grab a potential customer’s attention and kick off a narrative. On a day when it is snowing, the neuromorphic chip in a smart phone might perceive the weather and make recommendations on what attire to wear. It might ‘remember’ that the last time it snowed, you purchased a wool scarf and it can research nearby places having sales on boots, thermals and coats. It can suggest places for lunch that have hot soup. It might make suggestions of roads to take to work that have a track record of fewer accidents during ice and snow storms. The key thing here is that these activities or destinations to visit would be ‘decided’ upon by the neuromorphic chip learning and arriving at logical conclusions, rather than a pre-compiled list of variables unleashing pre-determined content. Given that the chip can “see and hear”, it could make recommendations based on things the customer has seen and heard in association with past specific experiences. Clearly, the more a business is able to feed the sensory data the chip is receiving, the more it is able to influence the suggestions made to the customer. Expect to see and hear a lot more about neuromorphics in the months and years to come.
Media agnostic is a term meant to denote communications planning that favors no medium, channel or discipline over another – until a proper analysis or strategic exercise helps determine the best ways to engage the right consumer. It means the planning doesn’t favor let’s say print over digital, or Twitter over LinkedIn, or paid search over organic search. The word agnostic is used to convey doubt or skepticism about one approach over another, thereby keeping all options open. It is a term used by some to avoid the strategic heavy-lifting of finding the right mix of marketing channels for any given goal or strategy.
Advertainment is the use of various forms of entertainment (television shows, movies, songs, video games, etc.) to promote products or brands. An example would be product placement in a film, such as the placement of Federal Express in the storyline of the movie, Cast Away, or the placement of American Airlines in the storyline of the movie, Up in the Air. The term advertainment is a portmanteau (combining of two words to create a new word) of advertising and entertainment.
Twinternship or Brand Advocate
Another portmanteau combining internship and Twitter, a twinternship is an internship in which the intern is charged with using social media to drive attention to a company and its products. A twinternship is usually an unpaid, temporary position in which a “twintern” uses popular social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter, to publicize products and promotions for a business. Twinterns usually work as a part of a company’s marketing or communications team. Twinternships have gained popularity as a cheap and relatively easy way to communicate a company’s brand with younger, tech-savvy consumers. If a business needs to do more or do a better job reaching Millennials and iGenners, think Twinternships.
mCommerce is the use of wireless handheld devices such as cellular phones, tablets and laptops to conduct commercial transactions online. The increasing adoption of eCommerce has provided a strong foundation for mobile commerce, which is slated to be on a very strong growth trajectory for years to come. The rapid growth of mCommerce is being driven by a number of positive factors – the demand for applications from an increasingly mobile customer and consumer base; the rapid adoption of online commerce thanks to the resolution of security issues; and technological advances that have given wireless handheld devices advanced capabilities and substantial computing power. Businesses that want to remain relevant and accessible to their customers must look at developing applications and adopting online design that is user-friendly to mobile devices.
It’s a Wrap.
Smart business leaders should avoid chasing the ‘trend du jour’ and seek a more calm, thoughtful and holistic approach to marketing strategies, both online and off. And the savviest marketers will keep an eye on the latest strategies embraced by other industries in order to spot new, creative applications for reaching their own audiences. That’s what will give a company an edge over its competitors.
Quote of the Week
“Speak to your audience in their language about what’s in their heart.” Jonathan Lister
© 2015, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.