The Internet of Things: What It Is, How We Use It, and What’s Ahead

The Internet-connected devices that form the Internet of Things (IoT) are used for everything from environmental monitoring to transportation, but many people are still unaware of IoT or how it affects their lives. An infographic published by WebSiteGuide explains in detail on this subject.

One out of five vehicles will have a wireless connection by 2020, and since 2008 there have been more connected devices in the world than there are people, the infographic points out.

Furthermore, there are more than 4.5 million developers working on IoT applications, so it’s no wonder the market size of IoT topped $917 billion in 2016, according to data the infographic cites.

And with “enough IPv6 internet addresses for every atom on earth…companies can build an endless number of devices that connect to the internet without running out of IP addresses,” the infographic explains.

Internet of Things infographic

 

Four Steps to Maximizing Customer Lifetime Value

Customer lifetime value (CLV or CLTV) is the most underappreciated B2C metric.

“Underappreciated, you say? We measure customer lifetime value, and it’s really important to us!”

Sure it’s a common metric, but why is it important to your business?

Most B2C marketers use customer lifetime value as an input to determine how much is reasonable to spend to acquire a new customer—customer acquisition cost (CAC). But for top-performing B2C companies in the world, CLV is the metric on which business decisions are made.

Here’s why:

  • It’s a faster path to revenue.
  • It’s an easier path to revenue.
  • For both reasons above, it’s a more profitable path to revenue.
  • And, of course, it justifies increased spend on customer acquisition.

Unfortunately, even in a world where it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep current customers, online retailers and other e-commerce businesses are continuing to invest nearly 80% of their digital marketing budgets on customer acquisition, and just 42% of businesses are currently even able to measure customer lifetime value, let alone accurately. Those two stats are more closely related than they seem at first glance.

By simply using some rough approximation of customer lifetime value to justify acquisition spend, companies are focusing on the wrong side of the equation. What they don’t realize is that investing in maximizing CLV is indeed the most profitable—and, increasingly, the fastest—path to revenue growth.

Consider, for example, that for each 1% of shoppers who return for a subsequent visit, overall revenue increases approximately 10%. That means if online retailers retained 10% more of their existing customers, they would double their revenue. Here’s another way of looking at it: Reducing your customer defection rate 5% can increase your profitability 25% to 125%.

Growing revenue by driving up customer lifetime value can also be viewed as the easiest way to do it. Though customer marketing is complex, technology is making it incredibly more manageable and effective. For example, the probability of selling to a current customer is 60-70%, on average, whereas the probability of selling to a new shopper is 5-20%… not to mention returning customers spend on average 67% more than first-time customers!

So if growing customer lifetime value is so fast and easy, why isn’t every B2C marketer talking about it?

The reality is that although increasing CLV is, for most businesses, generally a faster, easier, and more profitable path to revenue, it takes a significant shift away from the traditional marketing focus on volume and a re-focus on the quality of every customer interaction.

Here’s the good news

Focusing in on, and maximizing, customer lifetime value isn’t difficult if you’re committed to it and have the right tools.

So what should you do next? We’ve laid out the four key steps to maximizing CLV:

  1. Unify all your customer interactions in one system of record. This is no longer a luxury; it is a prerequisite to finally achieving customer-centricity, which will in turn unlock your ability to maximize customer lifetime value.
  2. Model your customer lifecycle. Doing so is not as daunting as you think. However, to model your true customer lifecycle, you must tie cross-channel behavioral data together with purchase history details—and do it in real-time.
  3. Leverage customer understanding to engage customers when and where it will be most effective. When you understand where your customers are in their lifecycle and how they are interacting with your brand, you can harness that information to engage customers when and where doing so will be most effective.
  4. Identify the key drivers of lifetime value. Marketers still struggle to tie ROI to non-direct-response campaigns. But today it is not only possible but also critical to attribute revenue to investments like social media. Take it a step further by identifying the key attributes driving customer lifetime value, and double-down on those investments.

What to do next: Become customer-centric

If customer lifetime value is not your top marketing metric, or at least one of the top metrics, you’re missing out on massive opportunity to grow revenue quickly and easily—and profitably.

Because it’s your top customer metric, you need to be focused on not merely improving it but, rather, maximizing it. Channel-centric approaches to marketing and analytics limit the potential of customer lifetime value. The proliferation of marketing technology and point solutions has caused customer data to be more fragmented than ever, making it difficult to understand cross-channel behavior and engage customers when and where it will be most effective.

If you take no other step, take step 1

The most important step—because all others depend on its being done well—is step 1. The careful unification of customer data across channels and devices is a prerequisite to doing the other three steps well.

Every customer interaction must be resolved at the customer level (e.g., Jim opened email A, added product B to cart on Web browser, researched products C, D, and E using the mobile app, and ultimately bought product D in-store) to make advanced lifecycle segmentation, customer engagement, customer-centric analytics, and cross-channel attribution possible.

Originally written by Zaius

The Problem with Closing Sales

Becoming a top producer in sales is not a knowledge issue. It is a consistency issue.

If you were consistently doing the things you already know you should be doing, your income and career would already be exceptional. But little things seem to get in your way, and although you temporarily make some changes for the better, after a short time you find yourself falling back into your old routine. You can’t seem to make the changes stick.

For example, you know you need to make more calls to your customers. You even do it for a few days, but before long you stop making the extra calls.

You know you need to slow down your sales process and take more time with your prospects before recommending solutions. And you do just that on the next couple of leads, but before you know it you are hurrying through the process again and “dropping off proposals”.

You know you need to do a better job of finding new customers. You even spend a couple of days prospecting like there is no tomorrow, but after the initial burst of activity you quickly revert to your old ways of waiting for someone to call you.

You know you need to spend more time with your prospects explaining why your product and service is better than your competition. You even have a couple of great calls, but soon you are back to matching your competition’s low price and complaining that no one cares about quality.

You know you need to study and implement a sales process to grow your company. You even look into a new sales training program, but ultimately you decide to wait. So your sales staff continue to flounder and “wing it”, burning lead after lead.

Like I said: It’s not a knowledge issue. It’s a consistency issue.

This is what I call “The Conundrum of Human Nature” – knowing what you need to do to create wealth and prosperity in your life and business and not doing it.
Most sales professionals know what they need to do to build a prosperous sales career. The question is whether or not they are doing those things on a consistent basis. The people who are making the most money don’t know anything the people making the least money don’t know. They may, however, be doing a few things on a consistent basis that you are not.

Knowing what you need to do to succeed in sales is simply not enough to create wealth and prosperity. Unless you take consistent action towards what you want and do what you know you should be doing, your true potential in sales will remain just out of reach.

Originally written by Weldon Long

Aligning Selling Skills with the Sales Process for Better Results

What’s more important: developing selling skills or following a sales process? This question has become much more amplified as sales organizations continue to implement CRM systems with a pre-defined sales process (or more accurately sales pipeline stages), and are trying to figure out how to align their sales skills training with their pipeline methodology.

The good news is that better selling skills and consistently adhering to a sales process are not mutually exclusive, and both are critical to improving sales performance. So it is fairly intuitive that if you could integrate these two, you could have the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, life isn’t quite that simple. In most sales organizations, there are top performers who have great selling skills but little regard for process, and lower performers who adhere to process but have poor skills.

In order to effectively scale a sales organization, it is crucial to integrate selling skills with the sales process. This eliminates confusion for the sales team, and allows sales managers to more effectively manage the sales pipeline and coach their reps on selling skills.

One time I spoke with a client who impressed me with their thought leadership in this area. Based on the implementation of a new CRM system, they made sure that their sales training captured what selling skills were most applicable for each pipeline stage and went through a detailed mapping that aligned selling skills with each stage of their sales process.

By integrating skills and process, sales organizations enhance the quality of their sales training programs and make it much easier for sales managers to reinforce key skills within the context of their sales process. Managers can now better analyze the sales pipeline and assess how selling skills are accelerating, or potentially impeding, opportunity advancement.

Originally written by Norman Behar

4 Compelling Stats That Prove Email Marketing Is Alive

If you still buy into the idea that email marketing is moribund, you may therefore be missing out on the chance to grow your business. To help convert you, here are four compelling statistics that underline the true value of email marketing in the digital age:

1. Email Marketing Delivers an Estimated ROI of 4400%

While it is easy to be dazzled by the diversity and real-time nature of integrated social media profiles, it is important to remember the core metrics of any successful marketing campaign.

The most obvious of these metrics is profit, as marketing must effectively mobilise your target audience while translating into a positive ROI.

In this respect, there is evidence to suggest that email is the single most effective medium for marketing your business. According to studies, email marketing delivers an average ROI of 4400%, with a $44.25 return for every single $1 spent.

Much will depend on your execution, of course, with the use of personalisation and informative, dynamic content central to optimising the ROI of your email campaigns. Mobile optimisation is also a key consideration, especially with more than 55% of all emails now accessed through a handheld device.

email-marketing-stats1

 

2. There Will Be 4.9 Billion Active Email Accounts by the End of 2017

Of course, the delivery of an inflated ROI means little if you are unable to reach a large or motivated audience through your chosen marketing channel. This is why social media marketing has proven so popular during the last seven years, with Facebook alone now boasting 1.71 billion active users each month.

Email can more than match this, however, with a total of 4.9 billion email accounts expected to be active across the globe by the end of this year. This will represent an increase of more than one billion since 2013, and it highlights the growing popularity of email as a core communication channel.

So while you will still be required to target specific demographics through email marketing, the sheer volume of individuals who use email on a daily basis enables you to maximise the amount of consumers that you reach within each segment. With the use of personalised content and in-depth consumer data, you can also optimise the number of leads that are successfully converted across your audience as a whole.

3. U.S. Consumers Interact With an Average of 11 Brands Through Email Each Day

By itself, the revelation that U.S. consumers interact with an average of 11 brands through email each day means relatively little (even though this is a trend that is repeated across the globe).

When placed into the correct context, however, it offers yet another compelling reason to prioritise email marketing in the year ahead. Consumers only interact with an estimated nine brands through Facebook on a daily basis, and eight through the popular Twitter platform. This underlines the fact that customers have become increasingly receptive to branded communications through email, particularly as the security measures and filters utilised by major platforms such as Gmail and MSN have improved over time.

Not only this, but email has also benefitted from the emphasis that brands have placed on content marketing during recent times. After all, companies have looked to refine all aspects of their content in the quest to get higher on Google, with the need to create in-depth, personalised and topically relevant copy more pressing than ever. These principles have also been applied to email, which in turn has allowed brands to engage customers and convert them more effectively.

To capitalise on this further, strive to customise your email content to include the name of each recipient. Beyond this, ensure that your calls-to-action are placed above the fold and not overly promotional, as they should offer a natural hook and relate seamlessly to the nature of the content.

4. Email Marketing Was the Single Biggest Driver of Black Friday Transactions

We have already touched on the potential of email as a profitable marketing tool, and this was nevermore evident than during  Black Friday in November 2015. In fact, email marketing accounted for a staggering 25.1% of all sales that were completed on Black Friday, while the rate of e-commerce transactions also increased by 16.1% during the same period.

This is a statistic that supports the impactful nature of email marketing, and more specifically its unique ability to generate and convert a relatively high number of leads. With a growing number of consumers now receptive to branded emails, carefully crafted and well-timed communications can have a significant influence on real-time customer behaviour (the below example underlines this, as it was a real-time promotion targeted at customers during a typically quiet Thanksgiving evening).

Email-marketing-stats2

This not only means tailoring personalised email content that is relevant to specific events and consumer holidays, but it also demands a precise approach to the timing and the presentation of your correspondence. Specific consumer demographics are more likely to access their emails at different times, for example, while 43% of respondents under the age of 30cite design and layout as the most important conversion factor.

Email Marketing Lives On

So there you have it; four statistics which make compelling (and not to mention interesting) arguments for the use of email marketing to reach your audience!

With the data on your side, is there really anything stopping you from building your email list with confidence and improving your ROI?

Article originally published at Mailjet

10 Things You Need to Be Doing on LinkedIn Today

Many are familiar with LinkedIn as a way to display a professional identity and resume, or as a platform to engage with your professional network. But few are aware of the many benefits LinkedIn offers as they relate to your bottom line.

The evolution of digital in the last few years has drastically changed the way that we as professionals communicate, educate, and buy and sell products. More than ever, companies have the ability to reach out to more customers through social media and better articulate their value proposition and product strategies. It is estimated that  “67% of a buyer’s journey is now digital.” (SiriusDecisions). But what does that exactly mean? Sometimes it’s not so much about doing digital marketing as it is about marketing effectively to a digital world. But how?

One powerful vehicle to leverage is LinkedIn. Many are familiar with LinkedIn as a way to display a professional identity and resume, or as a platform to engage with your professional network. But few are aware of the many benefits LinkedIn offers as they relate to your bottom line.

Heather K. Margolis of Channel Maven Consulting talks online engagement and the 10 things you need to be doing on LinkedIn right now to ensure your customers are finding the right information and closing deals.

The LinkedIn Partner Profile Countdown:

10. Update your profile – Start with the basics. Make sure your title is up-to-date, since your title speaks to your prospects. Let this be your 30-second elevator pitch to get people intrigued.

9. Increase your connections – Did you know you can sync your email contacts to drive more targeted connections? Source your connections and give them a reason to connect.

8. Join groups to make new connections – Be a thought leader, share valuable content with groups that make sense.

7. Check up on your connections – Are your connections celebrating a job anniversary? Birthday? Know what they’re up to and in turn make sure they know what you’re up to. Attention to detail quickly turns into trust.

6. Check who views your profile – Tap into your LinkedIn metrics. Prospects could be at your fingertips, why not connect?

5. Review LinkedIn Pulse – LinkedIn Pulse is a smartphone application that delivers personalized news powered by your professional world and has proven to be a great way to receive information that suit your needs.

4. Launch a Long-Form Post – Understand what content is appropriate to share with your audience. What are some of their pain points that you can help solve? How can you target and engage the audience you’ve already connected with? A long-form post is a great way to do this and ask for feedback or participation.

3. Think about Sales Navigator – Find prospects based on certain keywords, company location, size of business, industry, function, etc.

2. Check out Slideshare – Gain exposure for what you do. You never know if your next big prospect could be viewing your content.

1. Engage, engage, engage – Engage better with your customer audience.

Feel like there are still more to discover? VMware has partnered with Channel Maven Consulting to create 15 bite-sized videos to help you navigate your social demand roadmap. Visit the Marketing Resources section of the Partner Demand Center to view these insightful videos, learn marketing best practices and download toolkits to help build your business.

Article originally written by Abigail Lee 

Lead Management: 5 Ways CRM Software Converts Leads Into Opportunities

Without the ability to accurately track and manage sales and marketing campaigns, are you really doing all you can to nurture your leads and optimize your sales pipeline? A lead is a person or business that may have the potential to do business with you—perhaps even be your biggest customer ever. Maintaining consistent lead management is a critical component of your sales pipeline.

What is lead management?

Lead management is a set of philosophies, technologies, applications and best practices designed to turn leads into customers. Lead management is accurate tracking of all customer and prospect data acquired through marketing and sales activities. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is your gateway to efficient lead management.

Here are five reasons why:

Data-Driven Lead Intelligence: CRM applications provide a comprehensive picture of your leads. The prime advantage of data-driven lead management is stronger sales and marketing productivity—and a more streamlined and controlled sales pipeline—thanks to leveraging intricate lead data capable of helping you to better convert your leads into your customers.

Robust Marketing Analytics: Providing an analytical view of each lead, CRM software automates the process of managing, tracking, marketing and selling to new and existing customers. CRM lets you create, track and manage marketing campaigns effectively. Whether it’s outbound calls, email marketing or social media campaigns, CRM automates the process and provides data-driven results to accurately measure—and improve—marketing efforts.

Interactive Monitoring & Reporting: CRM solutions provide you and your sales team with the tools and information required to close sales faster and monitor sales performance. Interactive dashboards simply daily tasks and activity management with intuitive functions that monitor opportunities, manage calendars and appointments, engage with key social media channels and manage all key accounts, from one place. With point-and-click reporting and geographical representations, you can select from a diverse display of reports, create new reports using wizard-based report tools and easily filter out the data you don’t want to see. Even gaining a comprehensive, real-time view of your sales performance at any moment is easier, with CRM tools consolidating forecast information quickly. With automatic reporting delivering deep sales insights, lead management performance improves.

Enterprise Collaboration: CRM solutions drive employee productivity and knowledge exchange with social-style collaborative tools, including peer-to-peer learning and employee engagement. Mobile access, an increasingly critical functionality in business productivity software, grants your team 24/7 access to vital customer information, schedules, projects and history. The better your business collaborates to serve, market and sell as a unified entity, the better your lead nurturing performance.

True Lead Understanding: CRM stores data about all leads and creates lead reports that show you the components that make up your leads and how your leads best fit into your sales pipeline. CRM solutions allow you to customize your lead reports, all the while providing you with automated, end-to-end lead tracking designed to manage leads accurately through your sales pipeline. You can even automate your follow-up activities for greater efficiency in cultivating and nurturing lead relationships. CRM automates the way you acknowledge, manage, analyze, market and sell to your leads—total lead relationship management.

Originally written by Angela Nadeau

Twelve Things to Consider While Networking Online

  1. Have a plan. Understand what you want to get out of your online networking time and what you have to give to it.
  2. Upload your address book. This step will allow you to grow your networks faster. Larger networks lead to more opportunities.
  3. Realize the importance of being interested over being interesting. Networking isn’t only about what’s in it for you. It’s about what I can do for you, what you can do for me and what we can do together.
  4. Ask good questions. Social networking is really all about conversations. One of the best ways to engage others in conversation is to ask questions.
  5. Be interested in helping others. Without a healthy interest in the well being of others, any networking will be a total waste of your time.
  6. Make connections. Know two people that need to meet? Introduce them. Networking sites like Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook make this very easy to do.
  7. Shine the light on others. By helping to spread the word of others you actually help spread your own word as well.
  8. Spend time working your online network daily. It doesn’t have to be all day, and it shouldn’t be overwhelming. But you do need to make a consistent effort on this.
  9. Alter the time you are online. Most people are creatures of habit and are online at the same time everyday. If you want maximum exposure, mix up the times so different people are seeing your message.
  10. Upload a photo. People do business with people. Having a photo online makes you human, accessible and more interesting. This is true regardless of how bad you think the photo is.
  11. Find another medium by which to connect- Can you meet them in person? Do so. If not, pick up the phone. It’s great to connect online over keystrokes, but it’s also important to do voice to voice or face to face networking.
  12. Get started. There isn’t a reason you can conceive that would exonerate you from doing this. Online networking is the most important thing to hit the internet thus far.

Article originally written by Terry Bean

5 Essential Elements to Include in Every Sales Pitch

Effectively closing sales is the bread and butter of your business. Here’s how to hit a home run every time.

Elements of a successful sales pitchAccording to researchers at the University of Florida, 20% of all salespeople make 80% of all sales (also known as the 20/80 rule or the Pareto principle), which makes securing a spot in that top 20% crucial to running a competitive and profitable business. As such, a great sales pitch is key, but perfecting the art is an ongoing endeavor. Here are five essential elements to keep in mind as you hone your craft.

1. Striking Out

First and foremost, ditch the the “sales pitch.” Instead, think: sales conversation. Rather than a desperate bombardment of information (some of which will hopefully stick), a sales presentation should be a sales conversation, says Jacquelyn Smith of Forbes. Doing so immediately shifts the dynamic from a one-way, listen-to-what-I’m-selling fastball to a collaborative, solution-building home run (pardon the baseball analogies). Art Sobczak, President of BusinessByPhone.com, encourages framing your conversation  as a “recommendation” so your prospective buyer knows that it’s a dialogue, not a monologue.

2. Preparation

To further facilitate collaboration, comprehensive preparation is a must. Possessing a deep well of knowledge about your buyer not only gives you an air of credibility, it also helps you develop a nuanced and highly targeted presentation. Every buyer is different, so gaining an intimate understanding of their particular needs will allow you to clearly communicate the specific benefits that your services will afford them.

To that end, developing a solid list of questions for your potential buyer is critical. Thoughtful and specific inquiries show that you’ve done your research and that you’re invested in solving a problem. This builds trust and positions you as a potential business partner, rather than simply a vendor. The golden equation, according to sales coach Wendy Weiss? Talk 20% of the time, and listen the other 80%.

3. Present Solutions

Once you’ve done your research, asked questions, and begun establishing a relationship with your potential buyer, it’s key to demonstrate that you have the unique power to solve their specific problems — especially those  problems they didn’t know they had in the first place. Showcase your in-depth knowledge of the buyer’s challenges, and then clearly outline the ways your product or service will address them. This is also a good time to toot your own horn with testimonials and a comparison of your products or services to those of your competitors.

4. Tell a Story

Storytelling is a quintessentially human, deep-seated part of our condition. This is probably why the most successful sales presentations tell a story — stories are more engaging and memorable than a simple display of facts and figures. They help your prospects truly understand the real-world value of your product or service.

5. Follow Up

This final (and luckily, straightforward) step is perhaps the most crucial. 80% of deals are clinched in the follow-up, so it’s imperative that you maintain consistent and deliberate contact with your prospects until you’ve gotten a definite “yes” or “no.” Securing a definitive commitment after making first contact — even if it’s just the promise that they’ll consider your product or meet with you again — lays the groundwork for the vital follow-up.

And with these tips in hand, you can be confident that every sales pitch will be a home run.

Aritcle originally written by Ken Sterling

The Source of Your Motivation

Motivation is a tricky thing. Some believe that motivation is like a fire that needs to be consistently fed fuel or the fire will die out. Others view motivation as nothing more than a state of mind that is a result of an external event. Still others feel that motivation always a temporary emotion and that no one should rely on being motivated to accomplish desired tasks, since motivation is so fickle and fleeting.

And there are others who seem to have an endless supply of motivation. Often times, these individuals reveal no external signs of what many would recognize in a motivated person, yet they accomplish desired outcomes and goals time after time.

Are these people gifted or have they found a secret source of motivational energy that they need only tap into to keep their “fires” burning? The answer is much closer than you think.

Internal and External Motivation

Those who feel that motivation is like a fire, a mindset dependent on external events or a temporary emotion are “externally motivated.” This means that they draw motivation from outside of themselves. They rely on others to “pump them up,” or look to inspirational speakers/books/events to charge their motivational fire.

Those who are “internally motivated” are not dependent on anything outside of themselves for a source of motivation. External events may change their approach but have no effect on their motivational levels. They set their minds on their vision and draw from internal resources to provide a life-long supply of fuel to keep their motivational flames burning. While their flames may not always be raging infernos, they are always burning and can be increased by a simple decision.

Why the Difference Matters

Think back to the last time you set a goal. At first, your motivational levels were probably quite high. As you started taking actions intended to make your goal your reality, your motivational levels probably began to wane. Perhaps you experienced some resistance or someone you respected suggested that you focus your energy on a “more worthwhile endeavor.” As time passed, you began to justify why your once important goal really wasn’t in your best interest and you rationalized your justification with what others told you or how people or events responded to your efforts.

If this sounds at all familiar, the reason you lost your motivation (and, therefore your chance to reach your goal) is that you were looking for your motivation outside of yourself. When you are externally motivated, you can be further motivated or lose your drive entirely by what others say to you or by how you “perceive” how others will respond. When your perception or experience is not what you expected, your motivation leaves you wondering why you ever set the goal in the first place.

If, instead, you were internally motivated, external events would be seen not as mandatory course corrections but as feedback. This feedback would be weighed for its validity and then either discarded or used to further define your intended outcome. When you experienced setbacks, you will draw from your internal motivation to push through the setback: knowing that you have 100% of the responsibility for determining in your goal is realized or forgotten.

The Key to Success

I have a unique gift of having access to some very successful people. I also made the decision several years ago to study the science of achievement and am constantly seeking distinctions to both improve my life and the lives of my clients. Recently, I asked a very successful entrepreneur a simple question: “What is the most important and determining factor that decides whether or not someone will be highly successful?” Though I tried to clear my mind while waiting for him to answer, I found myself assuming that he would answer “strong work ethic” or “having a clear vision.” Instead he answered that the most important trait of highly successful people and the factor that made him the success that he is, was “being internally motivated.”

Internally motivated people draw from their vision an endless supply of motivation. This motivation carries them through challenges, times of doubt and through events that would make most people fold up their tents and go home. Internal motivation is not affected by the opinions of others but only by the authentic dreams, intentions, goals and desired outcomes of those pursing great success.

Where does your motivation come from?

Originally written by Thomas Phelps