June 22nd, 2017 by Sam Del Rowe

Apptentive, a provider of mobile customer experience software, recently released the 2017 edition of its Mobile Customer Engagement Benchmark Report. The report states that adoption of personalized mobile communication strategies is rapidly accelerating, and presents several findings based on analysis of over 5,000 apps of Apptentive customers.

According to the report, brands are embracing open dialog with customers, as evidenced by a 56 percent increase in two-way customer conversations via in-app chat. Additionally, interactions with mobile customers increased by 33 percent from the 2016 report, and an average of 63 percent of mobile customers respond to brands’ communication outreach. Nevertheless, the average company is interacting with just 12 percent of their app customers, suggesting that significant improvement is needed.

“Brands who focus on the customer experience understand the importance of connecting with customers—and mobile is the nexus,” Robi Ganguly, co-founder and CEO of Apptentive, said in a statement. “Proactively talking to more customers on mobile has a snowball effect: you build relationships with customers, gather insight that informs your product roadmap, and get feedback that accelerates improvement, thus creating a more customer-centric experience across channels. These benchmarks will help you identify where your mobile experience needs help and where you excel.”

June 19th, 2017 by Oren Smilansky

Research from Velocify and the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP) reveals that the average “high-growth” sales organization has 10 technologies in its stack, and that 83 percent of those organizations use five or more on a regular basis. This comes at a time when there are 450 companies offering sales-specific software, with 100 of those 450 releasing their capabilities in the past year.

The report, titled “The Evolving Sales Technology Landscape: Riding the Wave to Revenue,” is the result of a survey that sought responses from 400 enterprise-level sales professionals to determine what their organizations were doing to keep up at a time of rapid innovation, when automation is on the minds of businesses of all sizes and industries.

And, according to the study, 79 percent of participants are under the impression that automation is already replacing the routine daily activities of most sales organizations. Three quarters of the participants feel that half of the activities sales teams spend their time on today will be automated in less than 10 years’ time.  

The organizations were also asked to classify technologies according to what they felt was “imperative” to the sales stack, as well as which tools they planned to invest in in the coming years. Number one on the list of “must-have” tools was pipeline management, with 59 percent saying it was imperative; in second was email automation and tracking, with 50 calling it imperative; 42 percent said lead distribution and call management tools were highly important.

Web and social prospecting are also seeing rising interest, with 71 percent of respondents planning to increase adoption in the next few years. About two thirds of respondents indicated that in the near future they would up the use of email tracking and automation, as well as marketing automation.

As far as cutting edge technologies go, respondents are optimistic that they will be of use. 72 percent found that virtual reality is (or will be) beneficial to their teams, in less than 10 years. 88 percent felt similarly about chatbots, and 55 percent said that holographic images would find an application.

“Despite the dizzying number of sales technologies out there, it is more important than ever to get educated about and embrace new technologies,” Bob Perkins, president and founder of the AA-ISP, said in a statement. “The perfect storm is brewing, an evolving buyer expectation for a remote relationship, an inside sales team more [equipped] to meet buyer needs, and technology that supports the digital way of selling.”

“Technology, such as mobility, data analytics, artificial intelligence, and virtualization, will continue to grow in impact and importance, transforming sales organizations at an exponential rate,” said Matt Reid, vice president of marketing at Velocify, in a statement. “Those organizations that ride the wave of automation, fully utilizing core technologies and experimenting with new technologies will set themselves up for long-term success.”

A key to long term success, the report finds, is end-user adoption. When asked what was most important to a new technology initiative, 48 percent of participants said that driving adoption was the top factor in gaining ROI. Training was second, followed by ease of use.

June 12th, 2017 by Oren Smilansky

One often cited advantage of the subscription economy is that it puts power into the customer’s hands, allowing him or her to decide, on a monthly or yearly basis, whether or not a service is worth the ongoing investment. If a software or service–say, something like Netflix or Hulu– isn’t living up to the user’s expectations, that customer can choose to opt out by canceling the scheduled payment before the next billing cycle.

But, as I can attest to from personal experience, it gets harder and harder to keep track of the different services the more they pile up, and things can quickly become a complicated mess. (More than once have I signed up for a complimentary month of Hulu, only to realize, maybe four months later, that my credit card had been charged repeatedly for an inactive account.)

This isn’t just a problem in the B2C world. For businesses–especially those on tight budgets–it is also a growing area of concern, which is why several startups have formed to help businesses oversee their various SaaS accounts. Among these are Meta SaaS, Cleanshelf, and Cardlife. The goal of these services–which, yes, you also have to pay for on a monthly or annual basis–is to help businesses monitor the activity and usage associated with each of their contracts, and decide which of them are and aren’t paying off.

An interesting idea, and no doubt useful to companies who hold a portfolio of technologies, but it also raises a question: Will these SaaS management providers recommend that users cancel their own services if they fail to deliver?

June 8th, 2017 by Sam Del Rowe

93 percent of firms are discussing, planning, or already taking action around combining advertising technology and marketing technology, according to a study conducted by Forrester on behalf of people-based marketing platform LiveIntent.

The study surveyed more than 100 senior business-to-consumer marketers from organizations representing verticals such as retail, financial services, travel, and automotive. 42 percent of marketers cited internal silos as the biggest barrier to converging advertising and marketing technology. However, less than a third of respondents cited cost and integration as problematic when combining the two technologies. Additionally, 89 percent cited email as the most important channel to begin with when bringing the two together.

“While we’re just beginning the journey to marry two often disparate platforms that really do similar functions, we’ve never been more bullish in helping brands and publishers be more present with their customers,” Matt Keiser, CEO and founder of LiveIntent, said in a statement. “As we move towards less of a reliance on cookies, marketers need to reshape the way they drive their customer memory to achieve an entirely new level of connection and resolution, and there is not a better way than utilizing the deterministic value of email. It’s never played a more critical role in getting marketers to bridge ad tech and mar tech, extending accuracy, reach and frequency of messages on a one-to-one basis.”

June 1st, 2017 by Sam Del Rowe

Brick and mortar retail is here to stay but requires a digital refresh, according to research conducted by Morar Consulting on behalf of payment technology company Adyen. The study surveyed 2,000 people ages 18 to 55, and found several major benefits to shopping in stores: 86 percent of people prefer going to a store to manage exchanges or returns of items purchased digitally, while 60 percent identified seeing, touching, sampling, and trying on items as the top reasons for in-store shopping. Additionally, 33 percent said that they enjoy shopping as a social activity, and that that social aspect was one of the top reasons they enjoy doing so in a store.

Retailers need to deliver unified commerce experiences that seamlessly blend elements of in-store and online shopping, the study suggests. 78 percent of people want to buy or reserve products online before going into a store, 69 percent prefer to browse solo as opposed to using sales associates for assistance, and 54 percent want loyalty program information automatically tied to their credit card even when they are shopping in a store. Furthermore, 59 percent of people expect mobile payment to be ubiquitous in two years, 53 percent see augmented reality or virtual reality showrooming becoming a norm in five years, and 34 percent want, within the next 12 months, the ability to skip checkout lines by being automatically charged for items.

“There are things that people enjoy about shopping in stores, and brick and mortar retail isn’t going anywhere,” Roelant Prins, chief commercial officer at Adyen, said in a statement. “There are also things that people enjoy about shopping online though, and it’s not as simple as just taking what works online and applying it to the physical world. It’s about creating a unified experience, where the best parts of online are merged with the best parts of in-store to give shoppers exactly what they’re looking for. We’ve seen first hand that retailers are rolling out these solutions, and our goal at Adyen is to help these retailers deliver on the promise of Unified Commerce and set an example about what it will take to succeed going forward.”


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