30 September 2016

Micro-moments: why content is vital

The term, “micro-moments” was coined by Google to describe the intent-driven moments of decision-making that occur throughout the customer journey. These micro-moments present new challenges for eCommerce marketers. Marketers are finding that targeting unique individuals that are moving among devices, places, and contexts is a very different exercise compared with targeting large customer groups based on demographics. According to Google’s research, those marketers that are trying to reach their audiences solely on demographics alone risk missing more than 70% of potential mobile customers. Thus, companies need to figure out how to provide customers with the exact right content in the precise micro-moment when they are seeking it.

Anywhere, anytime content
inRiver Micro MomentsMany customers that have a want or need turn to their digital devices for help. In increasing numbers, the chosen device is a smartphone, with many retail customers using more than one device during their buying journey. Although B2B buyers are often in front of a desktop or laptop computer, they too are also moving more frequently across devices.
Although the size of the screen on a smartphone inhibits the rendering of the same rich product experience that can be experienced on a laptop or a TV screen, smartphones have the advantage of being able to serve up content anywhere, anytime. This means that marketers need to consider where customers are in the buying journey, where they are physically located, and what device they are using when serving up content in real time.

A simple answer to the challenges associated with micro-moments would be to invest heavily in content delivery platforms, such as eCommerce and Customer Experience Management solutions. However, these platforms need a large amount of content to be effective. One image and one single long description just isn't enough anymore. With this approach, all customers will be exposed to the same content regardless of who they are, where they are in the buying journey, when they are looking, the device they are using. This tactic would be like taking the print catalog from the 90’s and publishing it in many places. It increases reach, but it doesn't support the customer’s micro-moment decision-making.

Today’s content requirements
In order to drive the delivery vehicles, we need to provide them with fuel. In this case, the fuel is content. Targeting each customer in their unique micro-moments with the right content adds some new requirements:
  • Content needs to be highly granular so that the right content nuggets can be selected to communicate the most appropriate message.
  • Content should be identified through meta-data and other classifications so that the most appropriate content can be compiled automatically using business logic.
  • More content is needed so that content targeting can be more accurate and precise.
  • Content needs to be of high quality—accurate, consistent, and meaningful.
However, these requirements present additional challenges. For example, speed is an enemy of quality, and when we have less and less time to create content, quality can suffer.

Enabling your content delivery process
So if the answer is to produce more content, with better descriptions, higher granularity, and higher quality, how do we do that?

Throwing more resources at the process—brute force—is the simple answer. However, adding more people to a broken process has not typically proven to be very successful. Rather, working smarter rather than harder is a better approach, assuming that the requisite systems are in place to support the content production process and enable the automatic syndication of the content to all touch points. Therefore, assuming that micro-moments are now a major driver for digital initiatives, a product marketing platform should be the foundation of your content delivery process.

Johan Boström, Co-founder and Evangelist, inRiver

28 September 2016

Tear down information silos to release the power of cross-functional teams

Today, many organizations focus their energy and resources on changing and updating outward facing systems and processes, such as eCommerce, search engine optimization, and merchandizing. This is completely justified, since the speed of change in the marketplace is faster than ever. However, at the same time, the lack of high-quality product content being directed to these outward-facing systems is inhibiting the creation of a great customer experience. The root cause is mostly found on the inside of the organization, evident in a dysfunctional innovation and product marketing process that cannot support the outward facing initiatives. As Jack Welch so aptly noted, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”

Challenges of sharing information
A cross-functional team is a group of people with different functional expertise working toward a common goal. Cross-functional teams are significantly different from teams that are aligned on one functional level and are made up of representatives from a wide array of specialties, each with a unique expertise and opinions. Although this diversity is one of the key strengths of cross-functional teams, it can contribute to challenges in management and efficiency.

According to the Harvard Business Review, cross-functional teams often fail because the organization lacks a systemic approach to information sharing. Different departments often rely on different technologies for collaboration and information management. For example, engineers work in a product lifecycle management (PLM) system to manage product development and engineering drawings. Marketers may deploy a digital asset management (DAM) or a content management system (CMS) to manage digital assets, marketing content, and internal processes. All too often these people and systems are completely disconnected, leaving Microsoft Excel and email to act as the glue. I think that another reason cross-functional teams may fail is because these disconnected information silos cement the organizational silos.

inRiver Team Collaboration
Harnessing tribal knowledge
Tribal knowledge is commonly defined as a set of unwritten rules or information known by a group of individuals within an organization, but not common to others. In most cases this knowledge is still needed by the whole organization in order to produce a quality product or service in an efficient way. The root cause of tribal knowledge is oftentimes found in information silos that result in a compartmentalized organization. However, there is good news. By deploying the appropriate tools and processes, tribal knowledge can be converted into company property in such a way that it can be re-used and re-purposed everywhere.

The need for a single information platform
Having disconnected information silos makes working together in cross-functional teams more difficult. Therefore, to effectively collaborate across departments, an omni-channel organization needs to leverage a single platform for the whole organization—one that supports the cross-functional team process, leverages diversity, and enables teamwork. Successfully implementing such a platform consolidates all the knowledge and capabilities of all the roles in all teams. Most importantly it will support the customer-facing initiatives with high-quality product information, speeding time to market, and reducing cost.

My advice to companies that are serious about creating a great customer and product experience is that they should consider investing in a product marketing hub with support for cross-functional teams—preferably before investing in the customer-facing tools that would otherwise be hampered by the lack of high-quality product content.

Johan Boström, Co-founder and Evangelist, inRiver