With the onset of coronavirus, our fast-paced world is getting even faster. Everything is available online as more and more businesses join the line of digital marketing. The question has to be asked, what is the future of digital marketing?
If you are thinking about artificial intelligence, you are on the right track. With even more sophistication, modern AI is taking over the world of social media marketing. They can not only fly drones, but they can analyze and solve problems, predict trending futures, and even diagnose certain diseases. It is no surprise that AI will lead the future of digital marketing.
Recent data reveals that approximately 30% of current human labor will be replaced by artificial intelligence across the globe by the year 2030.
Are you worried? Don’t, because if you learn social media marketing skills, you can only profit from this AI development. This way, you don’t have to fall behind, but walk in sync with the future of digital marketing.
With this latest news, over 51% of companies have invested in artificial intelligence. More are planning to join, as well. Here’s how you can walk into the future of digital marketing by using AI technology.
Predict Your Customers’ Behavior
Us humans are not so different from one another. We might be different from people around us, but there’s always a category that a customer falls under. And this is where AIs come into the picture. As a digital marketing tool, AIs can analyze your customer’s behavior and predict the problems they might face in the near future. And accordingly, they can solve those issues even before a user faces them. One great instance of such AI uses is “chatbots.”
AIs, in the form of chatbots, will interact with all your customers. And, with the data collected, any need for guesswork will be eliminated. With the data, you can further direct specific services or products that your customers might like. Furthermore, it categorizes your customers into groups that you can easily identify. It’s a great social media marketing strategy and will help you further your business.
AIs Can Help With Smart Search
All businesses, whatever field they might be in, are ultimately about making a customer’s experience convenient and easy. A smart search is one way of ensuring that your customer doesn’t get lost in irrelevant details on your page. It’s inconvenient and puts a customer off. They might never even return onto the website.
To avoid situations like that, utilize AI technology for the future of digital marketing. Make your search engine smarter by making AI technology gather and use user data. They can display keyword and tag search results. So, even before the user has typed the product, your website will show potential products.
This leads to a much smoother user experience, which is what customers are looking for after all.
A Personalized User Experience Holds A Crucial Place In The Future Of Digital Marketing
As explained before, smooth and personal touch to the user experience is crucial in digital marketing and social media marketing. Given that almost every other business now has an online presence, the competition has gotten even tougher. To stay ahead in the game, you don’t have to work harder, but you need to work smarter.
When you utilize AI, the data collected will help you specific products to potential customers. Seeing that your website has things that they like, they are more likely to stay on your website and even come back regularly.
Over time, such customers become loyal to your brand. And loyal customers are what keeps a business running. It will also help you expand your business, giving you a top spot in the future of digital marketing.
Automatic Marketing Process
The best thing about AI technology is that they don’t just guess, they take into account thousands, and sometimes millions, of user data to analyze what the market is like. And so, their analysis is much more accurate, which gives digital marketing the precision it needs.
Since an artificial intelligence’s analytical prowess is unbeatable, it expands a social media marketing manager’s opportunities to adopt more user-friendly tools. It also gives you more control over your brand’s messages. You can automate emails and messages to users for a number of occasions. It will create a more personal relationship between your brand and the customer. Using this will only help you secure and expand your target consumer base. AI technology can also assess the conversation between you and your customer and predict their future moves.
Social Media Marketing Requires More Website Conversions
We have already told you about the incredible advantages of utilizing AI. It will be like your digital marketing assistant, who helps not just your brand but also your customers. A personalized experience will secure you a loyal base of consumers.
Furthermore, AI technology can help you in other areas of digital marketing. Some of them include social media and other advertisements. Social media platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook are some of the platforms where the majority of digital marketing users stay.
AI takes into account your consumer base’s age demographic, gender, and other personal interests to predict what they would need and be potentially interested in. With more and more people getting smartphones, the future of digital marketing will only thrive.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has only gone to prove that the on-ground marketing and business model is a primitive one. With social media marketing, you can reach the global crowd. And if you understand the ways of digital marketing, you can secure a spot in the future of digital marketing.
Stay active and interact with your consumers through AI. This way, your return for investment will be huge. With the kind of AI technology we have, currently, it does not look like they are going anywhere anytime soon.
Adapt and change is the motto of the future of digital marketing. Learn to control AI into your advantage before it replaces you.
By Uta Allenstein, Oliver Gediehn, Sascha Lehmann, and Dan Singer
Open interactive popupEsports and the next frontier of brand sponsorshipsOpen interactive popupData from Germany and Western Europe indicates that sponsorship of esports can open a valuable marketing channel for brands that know how to use it.
On November 10, 2019, tens of thousands of young fans gathered in the sold-out AccorHotels Arena in Paris while 44 million viewers watched in 16 languages on over 20 platforms.1 Together they witnessed professional athletes compete for millions of dollars in prize money—by playing a computer game. While this is hard to imagine for some CMOs, it is very normal for others, especially millennials and younger generations.
By now, it has become clear that the phenomenon of esports is not just hype but a global industry that is here to stay. Although COVID-19 has temporarily ended in-person esports events, the crisis has shown that their popularity has not just endured but grown. Many leagues are continuing their formats online, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) hit new all-time player records with more than a million concurrent players in March 2020. Additionally, our German consumer survey shows that participation by heavy users—those who play/consume more than once a week—increased by about 30 percent (Exhibit 1).
These examples demonstrate the agility of esports and could position it as an even more interesting channel for marketing leaders looking to rethink their sponsorship portfolio.
For nonendemic brands (those that aren’t part of the esports ecosystem of game developers, game publishers, or hardware manufacturers) considering sponsoring esports, there is good news. While some CMOs of nonendemic brands worry that their sponsorships won’t stand out compared to endemic sponsors, a survey in Germany from December 2019 shows that’s not necessarily the case. Recall of nonendemic brand sponsors in esports has increased over the past ten years and was recently higher (53 percent) than for endemic brands (43 percent).
Our report Esports as a sponsorship asset: What CMOs should know digs into esports trends and insights in Western Europe (which has a 23 percent share of global esports revenue2 ) and is based on McKinsey research on esports globally3 and in the German market in particular.4
1. Esports is big and getting bigger
Esports already has a considerable market size, surpassing many traditional sports in terms of both revenue and viewership. Globally, the industry hit $950 million in revenue in 2019 and is expected to reach $1.1 billion in 2020. Most of the revenue (58 percent) is forecast to come from sponsorships, which grew an estimated 17 percent compared with 2019.5 The esports audience is projected to hit close to 500 million enthusiasts and occasional viewers in 2020. Combined, these numbers reflect more than 15 percent growth in revenue and more than 10 percent in audience size year over year.
Esports differ from traditional sports in many respects, including:
Simulations of “on-the-field” and “on-the-court” sports, like the FIFA or NBA2k video game series, are far less watched than other genres. In 2019, people across the world watched over one billion hours of each of League of Legends and Fortnite on Twitch but only 165 million hours of FIFA.6
New games are continuously disrupting the esports market, and for some, the fan following is immediate. Just nine months after Fortnite launched in September 2017, 125 million people had played, while Apex Legends hit one million players in just eight hours after launching in February 2019 and 50 million players in one month. On April 7, 2020, the closed beta of the new game Valorant launched and was watched for a total of 34 million hours by 1.7 million peak concurrent viewers on this single day.
2. Not all esports fans are the same
Esports fans are a very demanding audience. One of the most important lessons we teach our partners is that they have to connect to esports fans in an authentic way.
Rodrigo Samwell, Chief Marketing Officer at ESL
Who are these esports fans? Age, education, and income demographics suggest that many are about to start jobs with an above-average salary: esports is mostly consumed by young (on average 26 years of age), tech savvy, and highly educated males (over 70 percent),7 making sponsorship an opportunity for a company not only to advertise its product but also to promote its brand as an employer.
The esports audience, however, is not homogenous across games. Brands should assess thoroughly which segment they want to address. In one case, we used artificial-intelligence-driven consumer insights from social-media listening and compared affinity data of esports fans to the overall online population in Germany. This revealed four clusters, in an array that clearly describes distinctive lifestyle interests based on the esports category:
Fans of mature esports (League of Legends, CS:GO) are drawn to self-help products and services and are interested in e-commerce, business, and fast cars.
Fans of newer esports (Fortnite, Overwatch) have a distinctive emphasis on personal outward appearance.
Fans of sports-simulation games (FIFA) are highly interested in a wide variety of sports and care about their personal health.
Fans of niche esports (StarCraft II) are interested in literature and gathering knowledge, travel, and using smart devices.
3. Viewership metrics need a close look
When it comes to reaching this audience, however, brands need to understand how to interpret the data. Reports of total audience reach for esports events, for example, are usually directly derived from streaming platforms and are typically inflated. Those numbers need to be evaluated and adjusted to a meaningful measure of relevance to your sponsorship goal. Exhibit 2 illustrates how an initially reported gross reach of more than 1.5 billion impressions was corrected to 2.2 million unique impressions for the desired customer segment (18-to-29 years of age in Germany). While the total relevant reach of traditional sports assets in our example portfolio was bigger, it was also less targeted and therefore less cost effective than the esports sponsorship in reaching this particular audience.
4. Risks exist but can be managed
As with any sponsorship, there are risks. For esports, brands should assess which risks need to be taken seriously and which are common misconceptions.
Authenticity: It is important to have an activation strategy, such as sponsoring an MVP award for best game-play moments, contributing to a game-related giveaway, or providing game-specific analytics. But with esports, authenticity is particularly crucial. While prominently placed sponsors of ESL tournaments are four times more memorable than those without prominent placement, that prominence can backfire if the sponsorship isn’t credible or doesn’t convey a true interest in the esports world.
Industry volatility: Esports is a volatile industry. New game titles, teams, and streamers emerge and fade much faster than in traditional sports. Players join and leave teams just as they do in any other sports, but fan loyalty tends to be with the player rather than the team.
To stay on top of these developments, brands need to have more than just basic esports knowledge. Given the high number of esports fans, it is likely you already have esports enthusiasts on your brand-management or sponsorship team without even knowing it. Involving them will make it much easier to identify new trends, use the right language with your audience, and have an insider opinion on campaign ideas. Individual knowledge, of course, needs to be supported by rigorous analysis of new trends and developments, as well as the actual performance of the assets in your portfolio.
Reputation: Some brands are also concerned that reputational risks could arise with their existing customer base from engaging in esports, especially games that contain realistic-looking violence. However, our German consumer survey showed that not to be the case. Some 90 percent of consumers who know what esports are had positive or neutral views of them. Only 5 percent found the engagement of a brand in esports to be negative. Furthermore, of that 5 percent, fewer than a tenth could accurately name the brand. In contrast, brand memorability is high with the esports enthusiast. Thus, while it’s important to be aware of this kind of potential risk and assess it thoroughly in each specific context, the actual degree of risk doesn’t appear to be significant for the average German consumer.
Esports sponsorship is effective at reaching a young and tech-savvy audience as an additional marketing channel. With minimal setup, a modest investment, and often as few as one to two sponsoring experts dedicated to esports within an existing sponsorship team, brands can quickly develop a pilot sponsorship to build knowledge and credibility in esports.
About the author(s)
Uta Allenstein is a consultant in McKinsey’s Munich office, Oliver Gediehn is an associate partner in the Berlin office, Sascha Lehmann is a partner in the Hamburg office, and Dan Singer is a partner in the New York office.
“Ce n’est pas pour rien que nous aimons les histoires de comeback : nous y voyons notre propre détermination, notre ténacité et nos espoirs. Aujourd’hui plus que jamais, nous avons besoin que ces histoires nous rappellent ce dont nous sommes capables.”
C’est la troisième vidéo que Nikesort pour son mouvementYou Can’t Stop Us. 1 minute 30 avec un message fort, celui d’être unis. Nike appelle à la solidarité, à l’union collectif face au racisme et à la crise sanitaire, à l’égalité homme-femme, mais aussi au soutien des personnes invalides et à la tolérance pour chaque appartenance religieuse et les différentes appartenances sexuelles.
Pour faire valoir ces valeurs, c’est Megan Rapinoe, championne du monde de football féminin, qui narre la publicité de Nike. L’ensemble de la vidéo est scindée en deux avec différents sports et différentes situations. Chaque sport ou situation est mise en relation avec le mouvement cinétique de l’autre sport ou situation. Ainsi, on lit une histoire de la gauche vers la droite en suivant les enchaînements d’images.
On retrouve de grands athlètes dans cette vidéo tels que LeBron James, Naomi Osaka, Eliud Kipchoge, Caster Semenya, Cristiano Ronaldo, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Serena Williams, Colin Kaepernick et Kylian Mbappé.
Une belle initiative de la part de Nike qui offre de merveilleuses images et un magnifique message.
Et bien sur les résultats ne se font pas attendre:
New York (CNN Business)Nike’s latest viral ad is garnering praise online for its message of inclusiveness and perseverance at a time when organized sports have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic.
The video, called “You Can’t Stop Us,” features a split screen stitching together footage of Black, White, Asian and Muslim athletes. Since it launched on Thursday, it has been viewed 20 million times on Twitter alone.It had been viewed more than 11 million times on YouTube as of Friday afternoon and many commenters applauded its themes of diversity, social justice and collectivism”We’re never alone, and that is our strength,” says the ad’s narrator, women’s soccer star and equal-pay activistMeghan Rapinoe. “Because when we’re doubted, we’ll play as one. When we’re held back, we’ll go farther, and harder. If we’re not taken seriously, we’ll prove that wrong. And if we don’t fit the sport, we’ll change the sport.”The commercial juxtaposes disabled and able-bodied athletes as well as male and female competitors in different sports. Throughout the 90-second spot, an athlete on one half of the screen mirrors another on the opposite side move-for-move, as if they are a single person.
The ad also addresses the Covid-19 crisis, showing split-screen images of workersin hazmat suits spraying down stadium seats.That footage is followed by shots of athletes in different sports taking a knee during the National Anthem in protest of police brutality and racial injustice.”We know things won’t always go our way,” Rapinoe continues. “But whatever it is, we’ll find a way. And when things aren’t fair, we’ll come together for change.”
By now, we’ve all heard about blockchain revolutionising just about every industry imaginable. Banking, politics, healthcare… all could technically benefit from the creation of a decentralised digital ledger which tracks and stores information in various places, thus making forgery impossible. Identification is provided through complex calculations, making identity theft virtually impossible, too.
There is however one word which stands out in the description above. Decentralised. Banks, governments, hospitals… these institutions don’t want to see their power curtailed (unless on their own terms). As such, it is likely that we will see some advances in the blockchain space, but it will remain on the fringes of technology, missing the revolution predicted by its (many) fans.
Often mentioned in the same breath as blockchain, cryptocurrencies use the principles explained above to facilitate the exchange of goods and services online (again in a decentralised fashion, which is one of its main appeals).
Sounds fantastic, but there are two big issues with cryptocurrencies :
It’s key appeal (excluding illegal dealings) is that it’s cool and trendy. It was never meant to sustain the attention it got in 2017, and will never recover from the crypto-bros’ unrelenting idiocy. The technology works, there’s just no mass market.
Secondly, its value is VERY subjective (unlike gold, don’t @ me). Crypto-currencies are always either in pre-bubble or bubble territory. Add to that the decentralised aspect that governments and banks will seek to discredit, and you can be sure that it will continue to be a mere toy Chad keeps bringing up at frat parties (there’s always a Chad).
Artificial Intelligence is already everywhere in 2020; it’s just not as fun as we thought it’d be. If you’ve missed the AI train, it can be described as follows : the increase in storage space (cloud), calculation capabilities (chips) and access to massive datasets (e-commerce, social media…) has allowed companies to create statistical models on steroid which can evolve when fed new information.
Not to worry, though, this technology is famously unreliable. For now.
More on Artificial Intelligence here[The Pourquoi Pas], and more on affective computinghere[MIT].
4. AI Cloud Services / Data-as-a-service / AI PaaS
Most great technologies aren’t considered to be revolutionary until they reach the public en masse (forgive my French). This may be one of the reasons there’s been so much disappointment in AI of late. Indeed, only major companies have been able to benefit from automating tasks that once required human input, while the petit peuple is forced to continue using comparatively medieval algorithms. This can in part be explained by a lack computing power within individual households, but is mostly a data problem.
This may not be the case for long. Companies are realising that renting an algorithm gives the double benefit of generating extra revenue from an existing asset, while extracting more data from customers to feed the beast. As such, get ready to witness the rise of AI platforms and marketplaces, which will promise to provide algorithms that specifically match unique customer pain points (chatbots and digital assistants are only the beginning). As devs get automated and join the gig economy, this movement is likely to expand exponentially. This would allow smaller companies, and even individuals, to optimise their day-to-day processes. If that seems harmful to our collective mental health, follow your instincts.
More on AI as a service here [Towards Data Science].
5. Connected Homes / Smart Homes
The trend of artificial intelligence in our homes is already ongoing, and will only accelerate over the next few years. In fact, we’ve already become accustomed to Google’s Nest and Amazon’s Alexa being able to adjust the settings of smart objects within our houses to fit pre-set parameters.
But these two use cases are just the beginning : as with most things internet-related, these services benefit from network effects, and will exponentially gain customer value as functionalities are added. An algorithm that can make a cup of coffee while opening the blinds and increasing the bathroom temperature when it senses someone waking up is a lot more valuable than the sum of three different algorithms doing these tasks.
Of course, connected objects cannot afford to be as laggy as the original iPhone (shots fired) : they must transmit massive amounts of data quickly and reliably. That’s where 5G comes in.
5G is the logical successor to 4G, and achieves much greater speeds thanks to higher-frequency radio waves. Though this seems simple enough, a few terms have to be understood to fully capture the difficulty of implementing 5G throughout the world.
Millimeter waves : this refers to a specific part of the radio frequency spectrum between 24GHz and 100GHz, which have a very short wavelength. Not only is this section of the spectrum pretty much unused, but it can also transfer data incredibly fast, though its transfer distance is shorter.
Microcells, femtocells, picocells : Small cell towers which act as relays within comparatively small areas such as large buildings. This infrastructure is necessary : as highlighted above, 5G transfer distance is much shorter than that of 4G (and struggles to go through thick walls).
Massive MIMO : The ability to transfer and receive much more data than when using 4G, from a wider variety of sources.
Beamforming : all these transfers need to be organised and choreographed. Beamforming does just that. Also, it sounds cool.
Full Duplex : the ability to send and receive data at the same time, on the same wavelength.
The technology will have a huge effect on most industries as it will change orders of magnitude in terms of the speed and quantity of data transmitted, as well as the quality of the connection. It will, among other things, connect autonomous vehicles and drones to the internet, but will also allow major advances in virtual reality and IoT. 5G is therefore not a technology that should be taken lightly.
7. Mega-constellations of satellites / Low-earth orbit satellite systems
Speaking of Internet… Over the next few years, SpaceX plans to deploy up to 42,000 satellites to create an Internet connection anywhere on the planet. The company isn’t alone in this niche: the OneWeb constellation aims to include 600 satellites by 2022, and Amazon has announced plans to launch 3,236 low-orbit satellites to cover white areas.
All this is made possible thanks to the low cost of launching these nanosatellites, which weigh barely a few pounds. A lower altitude would also make managing fleets a lot easier and cleaner.
The deployment in space of so many objects, however, poses problems in terms of interference with other satellite services, increasing the risk of collision and disturbing astronomical observation.
2020 was supposed to be the year of the autonomous car. That’s not worked out quite as expected. The “coronavirus setback” will however not dampen large companies’ spirits, which will continue to update their algorithms to create cars that do away with drivers entirely.
As a quick reminder, it is generally agreed that there are 5 levels of autonomous driving, ranging from “no automation” to “full automation”. Level 0 to 2 require extensive human monitoring,while levels 3 to 5 rely on algorithms to monitor the driving environment. The most advanced autonomous cars on the market (Tesla) are currently straddling level 3 and 4. It is hoped that we can make the jump to level 5 (and full driving automation) by 2025, if not earlier. But the road ahead is long, as issues ranging from ethical dilemmas to statistical headaches still plague the industry.
Even if level 5 is reached, it’s likely that we will never truly replace the cars as we know it, but instead create special roads and spaces for autonomous cars, so that the two don’t mix. Indeed, the car as we know it is so central to our daily lives that changing it may mean rebuilding most of our daily world : parking would become less important, charging stations would change, the ways pedestrians interact with safer roads would be forever altered…
First things first : scientists have been announcing the arrival of the quantum computer for over 50 years. But this time might be it. In October 2019, Google announced that it had achieved quantum supremacy (superiority of a quantum computer compared to a conventional computer on a particular task) by performing in three minutes a calculation which would require approximately 10,000 years on a conventional supercomputer. These figures were challenged by IBM, which estimates that a conventional computer program could have solved it in just 2.5 days.
Quantum computers, where bits are replaced by qubits with superimposable states (ex : a 0 can also be a 1 at the same time), are in theory much faster and more efficient than their older brothers, but tend to suffer from decoherence issues (loss of information). Nevertheless, developing them for pharmaceutical companies, for example, could theoretically lead to major breakthroughs in medicine creation.
More interestingly, quantum computers could easily figure out encrypted blockchain passwords, making the whole thing irrelevant (did I not say earlier that Bitcoin was doomed).
More on Quantum computing here [MIT Technology Review]. You can also take a Quantum computing class here[Qmunity].
10. Genetic predictions
The raw computing power highlighted above can be used to analyse one’s genome and predict one’s chances of getting conditions such as heart disease or breast cancer. If that sounds exactly like the plot of Gattaca, trust your instincts.
Regardless of the risks of genetic discrimination, DNA-based “predictions” could be the next great public health leap. For example, if women at high risk for breast cancer got more mammograms and those at low risk got fewer, those exams might catch more real cancers and set off fewer false alarms, leading to a better treatment rate and lower insurance premia.
It could also lead to the rise of personalised medicine, though the logistics of such a task would likely be a financial and logistical disaster given the current political climate (at least in the US).
More on Genetic predictions here [MIT Technology Review].
Even if a Gattaca-like future does come about from genetic predictions, we might still create a similar situation through straight up genetic engineering. CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene functions. Its many potential applications include correcting genetic defects, treating and preventing the spread of diseases and improving crops.
Editing germs to make new viruses or a “master race” is however a less fun prospect, should this technology get into unethical hands. Either way, I look forward to a time when every man looks like a mix of Tom Hiddleston and Idris Elba.
Thankfully, going genetic is not the answer to everything. Sometimes, some good old ingenuity and robotics is enough to solve our issues.
Slowly but surely, we are seeing more and more natural, artificial, or technological alteration of the human body in order to enhance physical or mental capabilities, often in the form of bionic limbs. As we begin to better understand how the brain transmits information to the body, more and more companies will begin to see the value of improving people’s life (for a steep fee) and descend upon this space.
It’s very likely that beyond the arms and legs augmentations that we’re already starting to see, there will be a point at which the back and the eyes are also augmented. Then, slowly but surely, augmentations will become elective, with interesting ethical implications.
More on human enhancements here[International Journal of Human-Computer Studies]
The Very Exciting Stuff (2030 Technologies)
Though graphene has been over-hyped for so many years, we’re finally seeing something good come out of it. If you haven’t paid attention to the hype, graphene is a byproduct of graphite, which is itself carbon’s very close cousin. It is extremely strong, yet extremely thin, light and flexible (stronger than steel, thinner than paper). Oh, and it also conducts electricity really well.
While the vast majority of data processing for connected devices now happens in the cloud, constantly sending data back and forth can take far too long (as much as a few seconds, sometimes). 5G is a temporary answer, as mentioned above, but there might be a simpler solution : allowing objects to process data on their own (at the”edge” of the eco-system). This would unlock a wide variety of issues in manufacturing, transport, and healthcare, where split-second decisions are key to a variety of process. Even fashion could benefit by creating self-sufficient smart wearables.
As intelligent “things” proliferate, expect a shift from stand-alone intelligent objects to swarms of collaborative intelligent things. In this model, multiple devices would work together, either independently or with human input by grouping together their computing power. The leading edge of this area is being used by the military, which is studying the use of drone swarms to attack or defend military targets, but could likely go much further with hundreds of potential civilian uses.
The technology is nearly available, but as with other developments both above and below, we must first let the hardware capabilities catch up before implementing these ideas.
The current main idea behind micro-chips (which are made from an array of molecular sensors on the chip surface that can analyze biological elements and chemicals) is for tracking biometrics in a medical context. It has also seen use cases emerge within the smart workspace technology ecosystem. It could however have a much wider appeal if customers decide to put their trust into it (such as banking — imagine never having to bring your wallet anywhere ever again).
Unless everyone suddenly agrees to let their blood pressure be monitored daily at work, this type of tracking is likely to remain benign in the near future. One might nevertheless imagine them becoming fairly commons in hospitals.
For those wanting to go even smaller than micro-chips, allow me to introduce nanorobots. Currently in R&D phases in labs throughout the world, nanorobots are essentially very very tiny sensors with very limited processing power.
The first useful applications of these nanomachines may very well be in nanomedicine. For example, biological machines could be used to identify and destroy cancer cells or deliver drugs. Another potential application is the detection of toxic chemicals, and the measurement of their concentrations, in the environment.
Do you want your great-grand-kids to know what it’s like not to despise the sun? Then forget about all the above and concentrate on Green Tech : the science of making the world liveable. Because so much is being done in this space, we will avoid the details, and refer to better sources :
The issue with most of the above is that they tend to work well in theory, but their adoption cost is incredibly high, as they often struggle to scale. As much as we’d like to see all of them being implemented yesterday, the road ahead is still long.
In a fuel cell, hydrogen combines with oxygen in the air to produce electricity, releasing only water. In itself, this isn’t new, as this principle was discovered in 1839; up until a few years ago, this idea was not profitable enough to allow for their large-scale use.
In fact, there are still some issues with the technology, as it’s easy to store a small amount of energy (hence its use in the space exploration industry), but incredibly hard to do at a larger scale.
See you in 2030 to see if we’ve solved these issues.
I’ve tried it : lab-made meat smells, looks and tastes just like meat (beyond the odd uncanny-valley-like taste). The only things that change : healthier food, no antibiotics, no growth hormones, no emission of greenhouse gases and no animal suffering.
Above all, this is a gigantic market that whets the appetites of industrialists. After targeting vegetarians, they’ve realised that it’s much easier and rewarding to market these products to flexitarians (back in my days we called them omnivores).
By 2030, 10% of the meat eaten in the world will no longer come from an animal (allegedly). The principle is there, the technology works… all that’s left to see is if it will be widely adapted.
Technology has a tendency to hold a dark mirror to society, reflecting both what’s great and evil about its makers. It’s important to remember that technology is often value-neutral : it’s what we do with it day in, day out that defines whether or not we are dealing with the “next big thing”.
Brussels burgemeester Philippe Close (PS) beantwoordde maandagavond voor de zevende keer live vragen op Facebook. Daarmee is hij in België een pionier. “In het licht van de huidige pandemie wordt de vraag hoe je groepen aanspreekt die je niet of nauwelijks via de traditionele media bereikt natuurlijk des te prangender”, zegt sociale media-expert Ike Picone (VUB).
Het was een naar eigen zeggen teleurgestelde Brusselse burgemeester die maandag om twintig voor zes plaatsnam voor zijn beeldscherm voor een Facebook Live. Close zei er alles aan gedaan te hebben om de Zuidfoor te kunnen laten plaatsvinden. Maar door de heropflakkering van het coronavirus en de extra maatregelen kon hij niet anders dan de foor schrappen. “Moeilijke beslissingen nemen in het belang van de volksgezondheid is mijn job”, zei de burgemeester, wiens blauwe kostuum en goudkleurige achtergronddecor het plaatje een ietwat presidentiële, ‘Macroniaanse’ allure gaven.
Sinds het begin van de coronacrisis en de confinement die daarmee gepaard ging, richt burgemeester Close zich bijna elke week rechtstreeks tot de inwoners van zijn stad. In Facebookvideo’s rond de Vlaamse en nationale feestdag (37.000 kijkers versus 31.000), wegpiraten (14.400 kijkers) of de heropening van het Atomium (13.800), maar ook al een 7-tal keer via Facebook Lives.
In die interactieve gesprekken kunnen burgers via chat rechtstreeks hun vragen aan de burgemeester stellen. De sessies zijn beperkt tot maximaal 50 minuten. Close belooft echter alle vragen of bekommernissen die niet aan bod kunnen komen, later via privéberichten te beantwoorden.
En dat gebeurt ook effectief, zegt Closes woordvoerster Maïté Van Rampelbergh. “Daar staat de burgemeester op. Altijd binnen de week ongeveer. We hebben een social media manager die in functie van het dossier overlegt met de experts op het kabinet, om te bepalen wie best kan antwoorden.”
“Als je de meerderheid van de bevolking wil bereiken zit die niet meer op de traditionele media. En dat begint stilaan door te dringen in de politiek”SOCIALE MEDIA-EXPERT IKE PICONE (VUB)
Close begon met de livesessies om “burgers ook tijdens de coronacrisis de kans te geven vragen te stellen en ze te beantwoorden”, zegt Van Rampelbergh. “De sessie van maandag stond al een week gepland, maar bleek uiteindelijk toevallig goed getimed, zo net na de Nationale Veiligheidsraad en de beslissing om de Zuidfoor niet te laten doorgaan.”
Een paar medewerkers zaten ook maandagnamiddag buiten beeld aan zijn zijde. Zij filteren de meest relevante berichten eruit, zodat de Brusselse burgemeester zich kan concentreren op de antwoorden. Nederlandstalige vragen worden ook in het Nederlands beantwoord. (Lees verder onder de afbeelding)
Close is met de Lives een pionier in de Brusselse en eigenlijk ook Belgische politiek. Maar hij is zeker niet de enige politicus die het directe digitale contact met de burger heeft ontdekt. Minister Bart Somers (Open VLD) deed het ook al, en op internationaal vlak houdt bijvoorbeeld Braziliaans president Jair Bolsonaro elke week een live-uitzending.
“Het is sowieso een trend dat politici nieuwe media gebruiken om een rechtstreekse relatie met de burgers te onderhouden”, zegt Ike Picone, assistent-professor media en journalistiek aan de VUB, gespecialiseerd in sociale media. “Maar bij de meeste politici gebeurt dat het duidelijkst in verkiezingstijd. In die zin gebruikte het Vlaams Belang ze bijvoorbeeld digitale kanalen om een bepaald publiek te bereiken.”
Dat andere publiek bestaat in eerste instantie uit jongeren, zegt Picone. “Zij maken veel meer gebruik van de ‘zijdeur-toegang’ tot het nieuws, dat ze niet rechtstreeks via nieuwswebsites of kranten oppikken, maar via zoekmachines of de sociale media.”
“Ik kan me inbeelden dat in het diverse Brussel daarnaast bepaalde bevolkingsgroepen wel de nieuwsmedia uit hun land van herkomst volgen, maar de lokale kranten en zenders niet. Ook die groepen missen politici dus als ze hun aandacht focussen op traditionele krantenartikels of tv-reportages, terwijl ze wel via sociale media te bereiken zijn. En daar speelt Close nu op een goede manier op in.”
Uit onderzoek van voor de coronacrisis weten Picone en zijn collega’s dat deze vorm van interactie fel geapprecieerd wordt door burgers, als ze op een oprechte en consequente manier wordt opgevolgd. “Ik hoop dat Close geen loze belofte deed rond het beantwoorden van alle vragen, want dat kan burgers heel erg teleurstellen.”
Geen experiment meer
Rechts-populistische politici, zoals Bolsonaro, hebben een voortrekkersrol gespeeld in het aanwenden van de livevideo’s, zegt Picone. “Zij zagen dat ze zo hun boodschap rechtstreeks zonder tussenpersonen kwijt konden, dat geen cordon sanitaire hen in de weg staat.”
“Door rechtstreeks te communiceren, kunnen ze scherper uit de hoek komen. Maar nu begin je te zien dat deze livegesprekken onderdeel worden van de politieke communicatiestrategie van beleidsmakers. Het wordt er een integraal onderdeel van, het is niet zomaar een experimentje meer.”
“Magnette en De Wever spreken elk hun eigen achterban toe, Els Ampe wilde via Facebook Lives kiezers voor zich winnen, maar dit is toch een ander verhaal”SOCIALE MEDIA-EXPERT IKE PICONE (VUB)
De ‘zijdeur-toegang’ tot nieuws wordt volgens Picone immers alsmaar belangrijker. “In Vlaanderen gebruikt intussen 70 procent die, en gaat nog maar 30 procent rechtstreeks naar nieuwswebsites, journaals of kranten.”
“Als je de meerderheid wil bereiken zitten die niet meer op de traditionele media, en dat begint door te dringen in de politiek. En in een crisis als deze wordt het vraagstuk hoe de bevolking te bereiken natuurlijk des te prangender.”
Als de livegesprekken om politieke beloftes of verwezenlijkingen draaien, dan mist de gebruiker natuurlijk wel de filter van de kritische journalistiek, zegt Picone. “En die hebben we in een democratie toch ook graag.”
Maar Close is een politicus in functie, een burgemeester, en reageert in zijn livevideo’s vooral op vragen of klachten over het gevoerde beleid. “En dat is boeiend om te zien”, zegt Picone. “Ik ken daar niet veel andere voorbeelden van in België. Magnette en De Wever spreken elk hun eigen achterban toe, Els Ampe deed het eerder om kiezers voor zich te winnen, maar dit is toch een ander verhaal.”
“In het licht van de huidige pandemie lijkt dit toch veel meer ingegeven door het verlangen om groepen te bereiken die moeilijk bereikbaar zijn. Dat de burgemeester van Brussel daarin het voortouw neemt, valt toe te juichen. En daar speelt de persoonlijkheid van Philippe Close wellicht ook een rol in.”
‘Isn’t a frictionless experience a good thing?’ – you might be asking. Whilst areas of friction in the digital experience can become a barrier and cause drop-offs before conversion, they aren’t the most impactful element contributing towards your customer base. Over 90% of our behaviours and beliefs are driven by emotions. They dictate not only how we respond to things, but also how we remember them.
Think about something you do very often, like driving home from work. Now imagine something that would make that irritating, like if one of the roads had potholes. You won’t enjoy that experience and will probably complain about it because of the friction you didn’t expect. Now imagine the same experience, but frictionless, as you expect it to be. A smooth road to drive home on wouldn’t annoy you, but you also probably wouldn’t tell someone how smooth it was when you got home. It met your expectations and blended seamlessly, forgettably, into the background.
So how do customers remember their experiences?
Your customers don’t remember the entire sum of satisfaction felt at all stages in a digital experience. As humans, we don’t have the brain capacity to hold all of that information. Instead, what your customers do recall is how they felt at the emotional peak and how they felt at the end. It’s that unboxing joy when your online purchase arrives and there’s a handwritten note or an unexpected free sample inside too.
This is aptly named Peak End Theory. It’s important to remember an emotional peak could be negative or positive, whether you intend it or not. This is the crux of why removing the friction in your digital experience won’t necessarily differentiate your brand. Without an emotional peak, customers are less likely to return or recommend you to others.
How do I introduce an emotional peak?
There are two different ways you can go about this. You can begin by identifying where your customers already respond most positively in your user experience and look to enhance that. For example, when your customers first receive a product or book an experience, excitement and anticipation will be high – think about how you can elevate these emotions by going above and beyond expectation in your user experience.
Alternatively, you can uncover the key emotions and behavioural biases at play throughout the experience and identify a suitable opportunity to leverage these, introducing a completely new emotional peak. For example, most of us have a significant emotional connection to parting with money – it’s why some brands remove the visual cue of the pound sign next to prices and why it feels easier to spend greater amounts with card payments than it does with actual cash. Online payment could be a great opportunity to invoke a positive peak in the user experience for ethical brands who commit money to bettering society or the planet. By leveraging ‘social proof’ and ‘singularity effect’ to deliver instant emotional gratification, customers can experience an emotional peak by realising their spending is part of a tangible, positive change.
An opportunity to introduce a memorable peak doesn’t always need to stem from a point in the user experience where your customers are already in a positive mindset. You could identify when they’re in a negative mindset with low expectations, for example when a booked experience needs to be cancelled or a purchase hasn’t arrived. These are great opportunities to delight your customers when they don’t expect it, transforming their experience in a positive, memorable way (often referred to as the service recovery paradox).
Some car brands, including Audi, deliver on Peak End Theory by ensuring the user experience of buying a new car doesn’t end when customers have paid. They send customers tailored updates as the car is being built, like short videos from the factory processes, which elevate the heightened anticipation of receiving the new car. Much Better Adventures, an adventure holiday company, exceeds customer expectations of the category by offering trip postponements that honour the original price. It’s a digital interaction that has delivered emotional peaks for many customers during the Covid-19 pandemic, despite the website functionality not performing seamlessly on mobile.
Forget why your customers tell you they’re loyal
Creating emotional peaks isn’t a ‘nice to have’, it will pay off long-term. The traditional idea of building brand loyalty is grounded in logic and rationale, such as the quality of the goods or the fairness of the price. But as David Ogilvy said, “people don’t think what they feel, don’t say what they think and don’t do what they say”. What this boils down to is the fact that you want to be focussing on how your customers feel, not what they tell you is their reason for acting or engaging. It also leads to the argument that you should stop trying to build customer loyalty and start building habits powered by context and emotions.
The cycle is relatively simple. Emotion drives customer behaviour. Customer behaviour is reinforced by emotional gratification (Peak End Theory), causing repeat behaviour and perpetuating a habit. Now who doesn’t want a habitual customer base?
Four tips to connect with your customers’ emotions
1. Experiences over conversions – Your customer’s goal when they arrive on your site may be to purchase your product, but marketers can’t rely on that outcome to deliver the emotional peak. Your competitors can deliver that gratification too. Focus on the emotional connection in your unique user experience.
2. Empathy over sympathy – Words are emotionally loaded and each one you choose matters. Sympathy says – ‘I see this has happened to you’ – it doesn’t inherently show that you care. When coming from a brand, a sympathetic tone is prone to missing the mark and can be misconstrued as patronising or fake. An empathetic stance will resonate more, by saying, ‘I feel that with you’.
3. Authenticity over projection – Projecting claims of what you value, believe in or care about will ring false if customers see you acting in contradiction. Communicate authentically in your user experiences and act on what you say is important.
4. Relationships over user journeys – The end of the journey is often forgotten. Many user experiences don’t end at conversion and this is a great place to enhance an emotional peak. Your customers will remember how an experience ends.
Brands that can address the emotional context of customers and cultivate connections based on how their customers feel, rather than think, are far more likely to build habits and keep their customers coming back.
5 predictions for Peloton and the future of digital fitness
Will Apple finally buy Peloton? (Source: Medium.com)
Last september, CNBC analyst Jim Cramer referred to Peloton’s upcoming IPO as, “the kind of thing that will be exciting for today, tomorrow. And then I think we’re going to look back and say, ‘What were we thinking?’”
Flash forward to July 2020, Peloton’s stock has more than doubled since its IPO and the company has shifted from a luxury bike producer to an exercise lifeline bought by Americans earning $75,000 or less. Thanks to social distancing brought on by COVID-19, the entire fitness industry is rushing to pivot to a Peloton-like model with streaming classes and connected equipment at home.
What does this hastily digitized industry look like now? And where is it going?
The digital fitness industry has actually existed for a long time. Video programs like Beach Body and Insanity brought boutique fitness home, while apps like Strava and Nike+ connected communities to run together and track their performance. Video workouts actually date back to the 1950s, when Jack LaLanne, often described as “The Godfather of Fitness” shared guided exercises over black-and-white TV programs. Actress Jane Fonda brought video workouts mainstream with her top-selling workout tapes in the 1980s.
Today, the difference is the level of adoption of digital fitness, and the level of integration across different products.
There are two main elements needed to enter this rapidly evolving market: content, and the means to distribute said content. This can be as simple as you uploading a workout regimen on YouTube, or Barry’s Bootcamp launching its own direct-to-consumer streaming service. The ease of entry means that new participants are likely to emerge. Meanwhile, current leaders are focused on grabbing market share while consumers are still adapting to the new reality of fitness at home.
Digital fitness players differentiate themselves in two ways, with connected equipment and ‘celebrity’ instructors:
Connected equipment: This is your Peloton bike, Hydrow rower, or Fitbit smart watch. The investment in connected equipment drives loyalty (if you buy a $2,500 Peloton bike you’ll probably use it) but it also offers an incredible value proposition to customers. Instead of just watching a video workout, owners of connected equipment have a sensory experience, as well as a raft of fitness statistics to personalize their workout and encourage them to reach a new personal best. Mirror, a digital screen that plays workout videos in your home, can track your heart rate and offer real-time, personalized encouragement to users during a workout via its heart rate monitor.
Celebrity instructors: Attractive personalities and physique combined with encouraging coaching is key to attracting and retaining users.The Sweat with Kayla program (which raked in $77 Million in 2018) is built off the celebrity of one Kayla Itsines. Peloton has managed to turn its portfolio of instructors into quasi-celebrities known on a first name basis. The insight that good instructors drive demand for classes compelled Peloton founder John Foley to start the company after he struggled to get into classes with his favorite instructors. Today, Peloton’s instructors are carefully selected for their potential star power and ‘relatability.’
Mapping the connected fitness sector
With content and distribution as the main elements, and connected equipment and instructors as additional differentiators, you can start to map where each digital fitness player operates:
At the top in End to End Providers you have Peloton (which has both the connected bike and recently introduced treadmill, plus a popular no-equipment streaming service), and Equinox’s soon-to-be-launched Variis, which combines an enviable portfolio of brands including Equinox, PureYoga, and SoulCycle onto a digital platform, as well as a SoulCycle bike and its bevy of beloved fitness instructors.
Wall Devices Mirrror and Tonal offer a similar breadth of workouts to Peloton and Variis, but these platforms have yet to turn their instructors into celebrities. Their future success or demise may hinge on their ability to select and promote their fitness coaches.
Digital streamers include Netflix-like video-streaming platforms Obé, Fiit, and Beach Body OnDemand.
At the bottom, ‘Peloton for x’ includes Peloton-like competitors for specific verticals, including Hydrow (rowing) and Fight Camp (boxing).
In the middle is where things get interesting. Different players are beginning to partner to offer different elements of the value chain (e.g. boutique gym 1Rebel offering connected classes on Technogym equipment), while fitness influencers and cult brands like Les Mills are carving out their own digital audiences.
Where is the digital fitness industry going? Predictions for the future 🔮
1. Peloton will continue to expand and dominate
If you liken the streaming wars to the fitness wars, Peloton is similar to Disney, while the rest of the players are Netflix, Hulu, Peacock and everyone else. By this I mean that Peloton has the widest set of assets (physical and digital), and these assets are self-reinforcing.
Consider Disney’s model. Disney can pay $4 billion for Star Wars simply because they can monetize Star Wars more efficiently than anyone else. Each dollar spent on Star Wars turns into a movie franchise, a theme park, a Disney+ tv show, live entertainment, and merchandise.
Now consider Peloton. Peloton has the strongest IP in the digital fitness sector with their raft of celebrity instructors. They have the in-person experience with their bike (and upcoming equipment), as well as physical studios. They have the Disney+ equivalent of digital content with their Peloton digital app (no bike required) and enviable 1 million+ subscribers. They’re also expanding to merchandise with their clothing line. And, they’re building out global events with their recently announced ‘Pelothon.’
Like Disney, every incremental piece of content that Peloton creates can be monetized far more efficiently than any competitor. A Peloton video is an in-person class, it’s a live-streamed class, its an on-demand class, and it’s an opportunity to sell clothing and merchandise. In the future, Peloton branded workouts could become in-person fitness courses (à la Tough Mudder) and hotels (à la Equinox).
2. A great bundling of boutique brands onto a single platform
In-person boutique gyms like Barry’s, Orange Theory, and Fhitting Room have all rushed online as a way to survive the pandemic. However, to access these classes, a customer has to have a subscription to each of them. Previously, I could drop into a SoulCycle class on Monday and a Barry’s class on Tuesday. As brands develop their online audiences, there will be a demand for a single online subscription to aggregate these classes.
Similar to how DoorDash and Deliveroo aggregate restaurants onto one delivery platform, aggregators will arrive to assemble boutique fitness brands into one place. Classpass is a likely choice here. The top brick & mortar studios like Barry’s tended to avoid paying Classpass fees because they could fill their classes on their own. However, online is different. There are unlimited seats (or bikes) in an online class, meaning every additional booking is pure profit. In that case, it makes sense to pay Classpass for extra bookings. In fact, COVID-19 may prove to turn Classpass into the profitable aggregator it always hoped to be.
3. Players will expand to offer a full wellness package
Fitness brands are expanding to offer more than just workout content. Peloton is breaking into mental health with a selection of meditation classes. 1Rebel offers beauty treatments at some studios. And Lululemon’s $500M purchase of Mirror points to using Mirror content to push Lululemon leggings. As digital fitness players grow, they are likely to continue to offer their captive audience a selection of adjacent categories like fitness clothing, workout equipment, beauty treatments, and nutrition.
In the not-too-distant future you may see a line of Peloton high-performance meal kits, Classpass partnerships with Headspace and Calm, and personal training platforms that also offer life coaching and therapy. An Equinox dating app may not even be too far off.
4. Acquisitions by Big Tech
It’s unlikely that the captive audiences held by digital fitness players have gone unnoticed by big tech (namely, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Netflix). There are a few potential moves by big tech to capture their piece of the fitness market (and the customer data):
Apple acquires Peloton: There are supply chain synergies here (both Peloton and Apple produce beautiful tablets) but the real synergy here is the audience and data. Peloton and Apple both target the same middle-to-high income, design-minded customer. As Apple pushes further into health with its Apple Watch, and further into digital content with Apple+, Peloton is a perfect acquisition target to offer high-end health and content to a customer base Apple is already working to lock into its ecosystem. Peloton’s sleek design and Apple-like studios don’t hurt.
Google splits YouTube into its own fitness platform: Google is already a big player in the digital fitness space by way of YouTube’s fitness content and its acquisition of FitBit. Google could easily push YouTube’s top workout content onto its own app, and connect this with Fitbit data so customers can track their performance during a workout. A connection to Google’s health arm Verily may soon follow.
Amazon acquires digital fitness streaming players Fiit or Obé and rolls it into Amazon Prime: Digital fitness streaming services are a perfect fit for Amazon, as they offer the opportunity to target the sale of fitness products and nutrition directly to customers who are consuming fitness content.
5. Celebrity instructors as customer acquisition
As discussed above, celebrity instructors are one way for fitness platforms to differentiate themselves. However, celebrities are not IP in the same way HBO owns Game of Thrones. Celebrity instructors can easily move platforms, and bring their loyal audience with them. As Google prepares to launch its own Youtube-fitness streaming service, it may look to poach Peloton’s Cody Rigsby to headline the launch. Celebrity instructors will become a strategy to pull in audiences. Could an NFL Mahomes contract be on the horizon?
A customer journey map is a visual representation of every interaction between you and your customers. Proper customer journey mapping can make a huge difference in conversions and help you create a more customer-centric marketing strategy.
Customer journey mapping starts with identifying your user personas. This way, you’ll know exactly which customer segment to market.
Next, you identify and map out every touchpoint or experience along the customer journey. This will help you learn and later predict customer behavior and buying decisions.
Chief content writer, Connie Benton guides you through the customer journey mapping process outline with some great examples and tools to help you.
When it comes to building a robust marketing strategy, most beginner entrepreneurs have nothing to start off with except expert advice they find on digital marketing blogs, let alone the idea of customer journey mapping. While this alone will last you a long way, ultimately, you’re borrowing experiences from somebody else’s business, not building on your own. This is why large corporations spend so much on big data and analytics.
But it’s not just the corporations that do that. According to OnePath, 67% of SMEs spend over $10,000 a year on analytics. Why do they pay this huge price?
The answer is simple. You can only go this far using somebody else’s analytics. At some point, you should start gathering and interpreting data yourself. Without this, you can’t possibly expect to understand your thousands of clients.
If you’re looking for a point where you can start, you can postpone getting into behavioral segmentation and other advanced analytics, and follow a strategy that can yield great results on a shoestring budget. Create a customer journey map. Here’s all the information and tools you’ll need to create one.
How to create a customer journey map
A customer journey map (CJM) is exactly what it sounds to be. A map of the path that a customer makes from their decision to make a purchase or any other action, to successfully making it. Here’s an example of what it looks like from the NNGroup.
You can create a customer journey map for most processes that involve customer decisions and use this map for different purposes. A detailed map of going from the latest stage of the sales funnel to making a purchase can be used to improve conversions. A map of making purchases after the initial conversion will help you increase customers’ lifetime value.
For now, we’ll concentrate on the basics and look at how to create a general customer journey map that covers a customer’s path from being interested in your product to making a purchase. It will help you improve your overall marketing strategy.
The first thing you’ll need to do is to set the frame of the customer map, where it should start and where it should end. Since we’re making a general map that covers the whole funnel, let’s set the start at being interested in the market, and the end at making the first purchase.
The most important thing, though, is to find the right path to trace. Most businesses have different types of clients that have different journeys. Let’s start by defining your user personas.
1. Define user personas
Needless to say that a user looking for online shopping websites will differ from someone in search of the best online business ideas. That’s why defining user personas is so important for successful customer journey mapping.
Before you trace the customer’s journey, you need to have an idea of who’s making that journey. To do this, you need to know at least these four core data sets about your customer:
Demographic information (for example, age, gender, country)
What problems do they solve with your product
What do they value from the product
Where do they get information
With these points, you’ll be able to learn more about the customers themselves and their journey. Here’s how you can gather this information.
Tools to use
Pop-up surveys (Hotjar or similar)
Email surveys (MailChimp or similar)
You can easily gather the most basic demographic information on your leads with the sign-up form. When they’re registering on the website or grabbing a freebie, ask them to fill a bit more than their email address, and you already have a decent database. While you’re at it, you can also gather employment information, which is extremely helpful if you run a B2B company.
If that’s not an option, gather that data with Google or Facebook analytical tools. You can also get an insight into what your users are interested in by looking up Affinity Categories in Google Analytics.
Most likely, you have not one but several main demographics. Look for the largest age and sex groups and run Affinity Category reports on them. You may find that say, men and women in their 30s that buy from you have different interests on average.
The answers to why people buy from you and what do they value the most can only be inferred from user surveys. Do it via pop-ups or send surveys to your newsletter subscribers.
That said, these are just the basic tools that will cover most needs. Feel free to use any advanced analytics tools at your disposal.
2. Identify touchpoints
Once you know who your customer is, it’s time to begin tracing their path towards the purchase. You’ll need to track the touchpoints they have with your brand as they go through every step of the sales funnel.
Asking them how they ended up on your website may not be the perfect idea as a lot of touchpoints will be forgotten before the purchase. Here’s how you can do it more efficiently.
Tools to use
Lead scoring software (HubSpot or similar)
Let’s start by looking at the off-website touchpoints. These are the touchpoints that lead a customer to your website: social media, ads, blog articles in Google search, and other similar online portals. You can gauge these easily by looking at where the traffic comes from in the Google Analytics panel.
Don’t forget to add UTM markers to different links you leave around the web to make sure you’re getting the full picture.
You can also get an approximate picture by including a question like “How did you find us” in your sign-up forms. However, this only shows the bottom of the funnel, and won’t provide the full picture.
The idea behind it is to award more points to actions that lead to conversion. You can use this system to first track what actions do lead to a conversion.
This way, you’ll know what set of actions a potential buyer performs on the website. The other method to learn is to use the ‘Reverse Goal Path’ in Google Analytics.
This tab lets you take a goal from your campaign and see what actions did a person who ended up converting did on the website. This shows you the majority of the on-site customer journey.
3. Draw the map
Now you know who your customers are and what set of actions do they perform before making a purchase. All you have left to do is to actually draw the customer journey map.
You can do it whatever way you want, just make sure it will always be handy for future use.
Tools to use
Drawing tool of choice: A piece of paper, an online mindmap, Photoshop, or any such platform that you’re comfortable using
Start with defining the user persona for the map you’re drawing. Since different user personas may have different journeys, you may need to draw several maps.
For now, let’s assume your customer is a 25 to 35-year-old male or female who owns an online store and is looking for SaaS software to help run it. Let’s call them Jessie since it’s a good gender-neutral name.
Start with what drives Jessie to make the purchase. Point out their motivation in this search. Then, track their behavior off-site. Maybe they search for the product reviews online or see several ads before they finally click on one of them.
Follow their path on your website based on the data you received from website analytics, and end the journey on their first purchase. Make sure to state how many users leave at a certain touchpoint and do not covert further.
There you have it, you’ve successfully created your first customer journey map. Now, let’s dig into how you can use it to improve your marketing efforts.
1. Search for insights
No customer journey map is complete without the insights, or potential opportunities for improvement, as noted in the map above. Gather your team if you haven’t already, and brainstorm the opportunities for improvement that you can infer from the map.
There’s no single way to go about it and it all depends on the situation you have on the map. For instance, if you see that a particular touchpoint has a conversion rate far below the rest, it’s probably something you should address.
Do more research on it, come up with a hypothesis as to why it underperforms, and try to improve it.
2. Improve messaging
Your customer’s motivation to make a purchase is a huge factor in how they decide what company to stick with. If you find that what your customers are looking for is not what you advertise, it’s a clear sign you should improve it.
3. Focus tangential interests
If you’re doing content marketing, your findings from the ‘Affinity Categories’ could be of good use. Some users can discover your product while reading articles on topics connected to it. For instance, Jessie’s journey to discovering a SaaS tool they need may have begun from reading an article on SMM.
Look up the data on affinity categories, and you can add a few more topics to your content marketing arsenal.
4. Focus on high-converting channels
While we’re on the topic of content marketing, customer journey mapping also allows for figuring out what marketing channels work best. Look at what channels are the most prevalent in the first half of the customer journey and figure out why they work best.
From then on, you have two options. You can either try to fix the channels that do not bring you enough customers or double down on the ones that already bring you the best ROI.
5. Improve on-site conversion
CJM provides some of the best analytics on the on-site actions of your customers. This gives you an opportunity to see what exactly are your customers doing on the website before they convert and improve the whole process.
This goes far beyond just improving the touchpoints you have. You can also change your on-site conversion strategy and add new touchpoints.
For instance, you may notice that people who grab freebies or attend webinars convert much more than regular visitors. You may start including these converting assets in pop-ups, or on the bottom of your blog posts.
If the issue is that your sales reps can’t keep up with the number of customers, you may need a sales funnel software to automate some of the tasks and work with bigger loads.
Improve every business aspect with customer journey mapping
A customer journey map is a tool that helps you visualize so much data about your customers and their path to conversion. Create a map that reflects how customers really do, not what you think they’re doing, and you can see all the mistakes your business does in attracting them further to conversion. Gather the data continuously and update the map to see how customer behavior changes, especially during unusual situations like a pandemic.
But it doesn’t stop there. You can improve most business processes that involve customers taking a set of actions towards a goal with a customer journey map. All you have to do is to set another frame and go through every process in this guide again.
This way, you can improve anything from increasing viewership on your blog to reducing customer churn.
Connie Benton is a chief content writer, guest contributor, and enthusiastic blogger who helps B2B companies reach their audiences more effectively. You can find her on Twitter at @ConnieB34412379.
Bain’s benchmark survey of life and P&C insurers identified the top decile in premium growth, profitability, innovation and customer loyalty. These leaders have made the most progress in four critical areas—although all insurers still have a long way to go.
The leaders use digital assets and channels to put customers’ priorities front and center. Digital helps them gain a cost and underwriting advantage.
Among this elite group, better customer outcomes and more efficient operations also stem from an advanced innovation agenda and innovation culture.
The leading companies have figured out how to deal with their legacy IT—not necessarily remove it—in order to reap value from data and analytics.
Despite extensive transformation plans pursued by many major insurance companies, progress has been slow for the industry over the past few years.
Customer loyalty, as measured by the Net Promoter Score®, has inched up, but the loyalty leaders among traditional incumbents have not changed much. Expense ratios have remained flat. Many digital tools and channels still are not easy and convenient for customers to use. Innovation also lags, as illustrated by the low share of connected devices provided by insurers, relative to technology companies and automakers (see Figure 1).Figure 1
Most connected devices used by insurance customers are not provided by the insurer
Looking at the largest firms, the relative market shares of some leading incumbents have eroded, and multinational carriers no longer cluster as top performers in total shareholder return. Traditional scale by premiums or assets still matters, but increasingly will require capitalizing on data and analytics to create a competitive advantage.F
Enter the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent economic turmoil that have, first and foremost, taken a terrible toll on human health, household finances and business activity. For the insurance industry, the crisis has had some specific effects. Notably, Covid-19 creates an imperative to accelerate digital tools and channels, because of extensive work-at-home adoption, cost pressures and changes in customer behavior. Many customers who did not previously interact digitally have now gone online for shopping and other activities, making it easier for insurers to drive digital adoption. The crisis also catalyzed some insurers to quickly mobilize cross-functional teams and adopt new ways of working. Now many insurers are looking to accelerate digital and cost agendas.
To gauge how well the industry was positioned before the pandemic, Bain & Company benchmarked 104 retail insurance executives in life and property and casualty (P&C) in the US, UK and Australia. We identified insurers that are setting the pace—the 10% of companies that achieve above-average premium growth and profitability, and also outperform on innovation and customer loyalty. These leaders have built critical capabilities in four areas that position them well for a post-pandemic environment.
1. Using simple, digital processes to put customers first
Many customers struggle with their insurer’s digital channels, with problems ranging from incomplete information on the website to a slow or complicated process. Leading insurers fare better in this regard. They have made more progress on delivering a digital experience built on simplicity and convenience.
These leaders have invested ahead of the curve in state-of-the-art digital assets. For instance, they are 1.7 times more likely than other insurance companies to have a cutting-edge website and customer service portal. They are 2.8 times more likely to offer instant online approval or rejection of an application for auto insurance. And they have broader digital offerings, including video (see Figure 2). Figure 2
Leading insurers experiment more with the latest digital tools, such as online videos
The leaders use data and customer feedback to refine their interactions in ways that appeal to customers. For example, they are twice as likely to have simple products and effortless customer episodes—all the activities that customers and the provider perform to fulfill the customer’s needs. To that end, they have recently redesigned 61% of their episodes and have scheduled the rest for redesign soon (see Figure 3).Figure 3
Leading insurers cut through complexity by offering a proposition marked by simplicity and ease of use
AIA’s concerted efforts on increasing digital engagement with customers, for instance, have helped the company improve its Net Promoter Score from a laggard position six years ago to above average in markets such as Australia and Malaysia. In turn, AIA’s strong growth has put the company near the top of performance in Asia for five-year total shareholder return.
2. Using digital to build cost and underwriting advantage
To survive in a low-interest-rate environment, insurers will need to use digitalization to further reduce costs. The leaders are already reaping the benefits of connected data and automated underwriting. Roughly 90% of leaders in the survey are using advanced data such as connected devices. And they are almost four times as likely as other companies to employ fully automated risk assessment. Some 29% of the leaders issue new policies immediately, vs. an average of three days for all respondents.
In claims, they differentiate volume from value, by digitizing and automating high-volume tasks and using human expertise for high-value decisions: Our survey found that 57% of the leaders have advanced claims triage, but fewer than one-third of leaders have deployed fully automated loss adjustment.
Covid-19 has accelerated the push to automate. For example, Suncorp in Australia automated processes previously handled through an outsourcer after losing that workforce to Covid-19 lockdowns. Fast, tactical short-term automation projects allowed Suncorp to function despite losing the majority of its business process outsourcing. In one case, a team spent a weekend setting up a bot to handle the large volume of financial hardship and relief requests from customers.
Another recent example comes from State Farm in the US. Prior to the pandemic, State Farm handled only 15% of auto claims virtually. The company quickly shifted to claims management based on smartphone photographs and has reached a level of 99% virtual inspection along with favorable customer satisfaction.
Lower policy application costs and claims handling costs, and better customer outcomes, go along with advanced operations. Auto insurers with automated risk assessment have an average 31% lower cost per policy application. P&C insurers with omnichannel first-notice-of-loss processes have on average 46% lower handling cost per claim (see Figure 4).Figure 4
P&C claims costs drop when companies reduce the number of employee interactions
The leaders also deliver self-service at scale: All of the leaders have more than half of customers using self-service. But when customers do need contact centers, the leaders integrate more multimedia capabilities (see Figure 5).Figure 5
Self-service at scale, complemented by multimedia capabilities in contact centers, characterizes many leading insurers
Progressive has pioneered the use of digital technologies to become more efficient, being the first US carrier to offer online policy quotes and a 24-hour claims service. Technology is part of what has allowed Progressive to achieve a low expense ratio (20.5% in 2019) and a high return on equity.
3. Embracing innovation and executing faster
Better customer outcomes and more efficient operations also stem from an advanced innovation agenda among the select group of leading insurers.
The innovation edge relies on several characteristics. Leading companies are 4.2 times more likely than the rest to have their IT team and business teams collaborate closely and effectively, and 2.4 times more likely to collaborate effectively with technology firms. That adds up to 83% of leaders having a culture of innovation and achieving a broad ownership of innovation in the firm (see Figure 6).Figure 6
The leading insurers have strong sponsorship and broad ownership of their innovation agenda
These firms have committed to Agile ways of working, which helps them introduce products and features to the market in a faster time frame. Close to 90% of the respondents get a new product to market in less than six months when deploying Agile at scale.
To maintain this level of innovation and speed, the leaders are 1.8 times more likely to have the right people with the right skills in the right positions. In addition, they are 2.4 times more likely to have flexibility to reallocate funding for IT, as opposed to employing annual fixed-budget cycles.
4. Working around legacy IT to reap the benefits of new technologies
Every major insurer has to contend with legacy IT, and leading companies have figured out how to deal with their legacy—not necessarily remove it—in order to reap value from data and analytics. For instance, they are 2.2 times more likely to have real-time data processing capabilities, and twice as likely to apply artificial intelligence or machine learning at scale.
They have an average of six advanced applications of digital technologies today, whether to improve customer outcomes or apply automation throughout the value chain, including compliance and portfolio management. Some 63% of the leaders deploy a modernized architecture, and 75% of them mostly or entirely use the cloud.
New technologies sit at the heart of new business models. Leading insurers thus aggressively pursue businesses with promise for the future, as 83% have launched a separate digital attacker company.
Consider PingAn, which spends at least 1% of annual revenues on R&D, especially around AI, blockchain and cloud computing. The company uses AI, for instance, in speech robots for customer service, for screening job candidates and for initial reporting and loss assessment in auto claims, so that 95% of auto claims can be handled within 10 minutes.
Further, PingAn built the first licensed online insurance company in China, in a joint venture with Tencent and Alibaba. That digital attacker, named ZhongAn, sells small, simple policies and has pushed the boundaries on speed and innovation, whether to take new products to market, issue new policies (32,000 per second at peak times) or launch one-click claims service.
Such advanced technologies have helped propel PingAn to be a leading insurance firm globally on five-year total shareholder return.
Choosing your battles
Although the top decile of insurers have an advantage over other firms at present, they still have a long way to go in each area of digital leadership.
As insurance companies consider their next moves during these tumultuous times, one lesson from past crises is clear: The situation calls for step change rather than incremental change, because economic crises rearrange the competitive board.
Headed into the global financial crisis a decade ago, a group of almost 3,900 companies worldwide posted double-digit earnings growth, on average, according to Bain analysis. As soon as the storm hit, performance diverged sharply: The winners grew at an 8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) during the downturn, compared with –2% among the losers. What’s more, the winners locked in gains to grow at an average 22% CAGR during the recovery while the losers stalled at 0%. The gap continued during subsequent years.
Achieving a successful step change will entail a number of coordinated steps:
Set bold digitalization and cost targets to accomplish in the next year what previously would have taken five years.
Identify and redesign the customer episodes that matter most, such as research and claims.
Turn data and analytics into a source of competitive advantage, working around legacy IT if necessary.
Radically reduce cost through automation and self-service, while improving employees’ skills for high-value interactions.
Consider launching a digital attacker as a platform for new growth.
With the cost pressures and the shift in customer behavior caused by the Covid-19 crisis, the future is arriving sooner than insurance companies anticipated. Accelerating their digital efforts along the lines described here will raise the odds that they can emerge from this crisis in winning positions.
Net Promoter®, Net Promoter System®, Net Promoter Score®, NPS® and NPS Prism® are registered trademarks and service marks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.