Marketing

Marketing has dramatically evolved in the last 20 years. The rise of digital marketing and the exponential growth in marketing technology solutions are just a couple of things that have brought a new level of complexity—and power—into the hands of marketers. But, as the saying goes, “With more power comes more responsibility.”

Chief marketing officers and their teams are facing greater expectations to demonstrate results across their organization. Marketing investments are under continued scrutiny and organizations are being tasked to perform at higher levels with the same or fewer resources. The bottom line:  today, marketing organizations must demonstrate steadily increasing ROI while achieving higher levels of innovation, and team and client engagement.

So what?

 

Marketing organizations need to bring their A-Game. They must take steps to evolve their stack, processes, and strategy to keep ahead of the curve – and the competition. Wherever you are in your digital transformation, you should ask yourself:

  • Can you demonstrate how your marketing organization is aligned to the company’s strategy and driving real, measurable value for the enterprise?
  • Do you have the means to communicate full cost and ROI transparency to the CMO and business lines, and drive informed marketing decisions?

 

If you’re not confidently answering “yes” to these questions, here are the six steps you can take to build and bring your marketing A-Game:

 

1. Thoughtfully create your marketing stack

The number of marketing platforms has grown at an exponential rate, and it can be hard to know what the right strategy and tools are for your organization. Assess your current stack with these questions:

  • Can you qualify the value you get from each of your platforms and tools?
  • Are there gaps you can identify within your existing stack?
  • Could you possibly consolidate the number of tools you are using?

 

2. Build integrations

Like most companies, you likely have multiple systems of record. But it’s not effective to plan in one system, execute work in another, and host assets and deploy in others. Your holistic marketing story and accurate ROI reporting are critically important. Power your organization’s collaboration with integrations that seamlessly connect your stack to unlock and unify the data that enables these stories.

 

3. Organize your data & insights

Your stack is creating ever more data to manage. But the problem isn’t the data itself; it’s how to organize it in a way that leads to actionable insights. Define a best-fit data strategy for your stack. And with the right visualizations, your organization will be empowered with the ideas to make smarter marketing, business, and operational decisions.

 

4. Examine your existing processes – and do it often

Organizations and your marketing needs will continually evolve. Being comfortable may lead to a miss on an important technological advance that your competitors are employing.

  • Review your processes regularly to re-engineer and optimize them and to ensure they’re as efficient as possible.
  • Refine your organizational roles to maximize new capabilities.
  • Look into custom development options to create new automation opportunities within your organization.

 

5. Make change personal

Tools are only effective if you know how to use them and know why you’re using them. Equip your team with proven approaches and tools that affect lasting change. Discover methods that will influence behavior and allow your staff to understand the value of new capabilities. By encouraging your team to embrace change, you’ll drive operational excellence and create a model for the rest of the enterprise to follow.

 

6. Recruit an expert or find a reputable partner

Ultimately, bringing your marketing A-Game is complicated. It takes time, strategy, investment, and the right guidance to ensure you will have an ecosystem that positions your organization to win. In this process, don’t be afraid to recruit an expert for that industry or employ a technology partner to make strategic recommendations. Create a roadmap that aligns with your objectives, prioritize your specific initiatives and create the ideal marketing ecosystem for your organization. Your team will be able to focus on creativity and innovation, and you’ll watch your ROI (and credibility as a leader) soar.

 

Are you ready to bring your A-Game?

Through multi-city workshops, LeapPoint will provide senior marketing professionals a solution set that enables their organizations to align with corporate strategy and effectively and efficiently deliver value to the enterprise. We’ll showcase how to achieve these outcomes via a robust, intelligently integrated, set of best-of-breed cloud applications that holistically provide for this capability with effective governance.  All with the added benefit of actually making the end-user experience more efficient and effective.

Learn more about the marketing A-Game and register for an A-Game Workshop in a city near you at leappoint.com.

 

 

In today’s marketing landscape, relying on your gut feeling doesn’t work. Instead, sound marketing requires data-driven tactics to make strategic and informed decisions. You can achieve this when you integrate analytics into your marketing. Here’s how:

1. Know your basics

Understand key marketing analytics terms so you can apply vital metrics to reach your marketing goals effectively. Some key marketing analytics terms to learn include:

Leads generated. This is the number of sales leads you produce with your marketing efforts. Sales leads are individuals who are interested in the goods or services you offer and can potentially lead to a paying customer.

Sales growth. This is the rate at which your sales increase over time based on your marketing strategies, such as lead generation.

Conversion rate. This is the percentage of your leads who transform into paying customers.

Web analytics. These are the different types of metrics and data that specifically measure online activity from various platforms, including email and e-commerce. You use web analytics to understand how site visitors use the web so you can optimize your web content. Some key terms include:

  • Click-through rate (CTR). CTR measures the percentage of individuals who clicked on your digital ad or call-to-action (CTA) in comparison to individuals who only viewed it.
  • Traffic. Traffic measures the number of visitors that come to your website.
  • Engagement. Engagement typically measures the rate at which individuals interact with your online content and the way they interact with this content. The pages per session, bounce rate and time on page are a few of the several data points that constitute engagement.
  • Open rate. This metric measures the rate at which recipients of your email campaign open the emails you send.

 

2. Push your metrics further with insights

Without drawing insights from your data, it’s challenging to understand their value. Accomplish this by assessing how specific marketing activities impact different metrics. For instance, you can measure the performance between two different CTAs by comparing the changes in the CTR for each CTA. If you notice the first CTA garners a better CTR, then it may be ideal to use the first call-to-action to drive traffic.

3. Track lead sources

You can better integrate analytics into your marketing by tracking the source channels of your leads. This is especially useful for tracking social media sources. Review the source of your leads by measuring the CTR. This can help you better determine where to focus your marketing efforts.

4. Improve the user experience

You can use data to also enhance the site experience users have when they visit your website. For example, you can monitor changes in your bounce rate before and after making a technical change such as removing images that slow down site performance, to determine the effectiveness of the change. If it decreases your bounce rate and keeps visitors on your site longer, it can mean that it’s enhancing the user experience.

5. Craft your strategy around insights

You can’t maximize your data’s potential if you lack effective strategies. It’s not uncommon for marketers to limit their data’s potential by using it to support pre-made decisions. However, it’s key to leverage the potential of data to drive action. You can do this by crafting your strategy around insights. Consider using these tips to build a driving strategy with marketing analytics:

  • Make marketing analytics accessible. Make sure your team has access to your insight and discuss how analytics impacts your marketing goals.
  • Get help. Get a different perspective and ensure you’re capturing data from different angles by leveraging the help of an expert or partner.
  • Test your tactics. Perform tests to determine if the theories or tactics you have are working based on your analytics.

Digital asset management (DAM) software gives businesses a platform for storing, retrieving, and sharing digital content such as videos, photos, audio files, presentations, and images. Instead of keeping files on different computers, businesses can use DAM software to create a centralized library that gives everyone access to the content they may need.

 

How DAM Software Can Benefit Your Business

Before you purchase DAM software, you should learn about some of the ways it can help your business. You should also learn about some of the most popular software options and the features they offer.

 

Organize Your Digital Media

Without DAM, your business doesn’t have an easy way to organize digital media. At best, you can try to keep certain files in one folder. Given enough time, though, people will forget where they saved files. When they need to retrieve them, they end up wasting a lot of time searching for the files they want.

DAM organizes your files in a central location, so you can quickly find the items you need. You can even add metadata to help you find content. Instead of losing your assets, you organize them in a convenient place that the whole team can access.

Improve Workflow

Since everyone involved in a project has access to the files stored in your DAM software, you can reduce redundancies that slow your workflow. The best DAM software has built-in workflow management features that let you track a project from beginning to end. The smoother your workflow gets, the faster you can bring your projects to market.

Manage Rights and License Agreements

You may not own all of the digital media that your company uses, so you need to keep track of each asset’s rights or license agreements. It’s very difficult to manage rights and license agreements when you store media in folders.

When you use DAM, though, the software remembers all of the rights and license agreements for you. That way, you never mistakenly use content that could get you sued for copyright infringement.

DAM Software Scales to Your Needs

Digital media files can take up a lot of space on your computer, especially when you work with audio and video. Cloud-based DAM software can scale to meet your current needs. If you need more memory today because you’re working on three videos, then the software can accommodate that. Tomorrow, when you work on one video, the software automatically scales down.

Once you find the right DAM, you have all of the memory and processing power that you need to finish your projects.

 

The Top 3 Digital Asset Management Platforms

Make sure you review some of the most popular DAM software options so you can choose one with the features that matter most to you.

Bynder

Bynder excels at giving users access to templates that make it easier for designers to complete projects. Since Bynder uses the AWS cloud, the software can scale to your immediate needs. As your business grows, the software will grow with you. Finally, Bynder has a built-in, customizable workflow feature that lets you improve efficiency and track each step in a project’s progress.

Aprimo

In addition to storing digital media, Aprimo can automatically approve each step of a project. Assuming that the software approves terrific content, you should see your efficiency improve significantly. Aprimo also benefits from its ability to connect to other systems, including Adobe Creative Cloud, eCommerce, and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

Adobe Experience Manager Assets

Adobe Experience Manager Assets makes it easier for colleagues to collaborate. The collaboration feature should help improve your office’s efficiency. Adobe Experience Manager Assets also stands out for its AI insights. The software will review your content and tell you where you get the best ROI.

Many DAMs will let you try a demo before you purchase. Explore your options, find one that works well for you, and get your DAM life in order.

Recently, Adobe announced its 4.75 billion dollar purchase of Marketo – an investment that should move Adobe into a B2B marketing leadership position. Already a powerhouse in the marketing industry, Adobe Experience Cloud is setting the stage for domination with this purchase, but the real question remains – will you benefit?

Adobe Experience Cloud

Adobe’s Experience Cloud was launched in 2017, with the company rebranding its Marketing Cloud as one of three sub-clouds – the other two being Adobe’s Analytics Cloud and Advertising Cloud. Some of the most impressive features of Adobe Experience include the Visitor ID service, which is vital to core operations and integration ability, Dynamic Tag Manager, which supports tools for Adobe functions as well as Nielsen and Google, and Device Co-op, which is a device graph that promotes understanding of customer behavior. Adobe Experience Cloud is relatively new but has already established itself as a competitive player in cloud computing.

Marketo

Marketo is a SaaS marketing automation platform that B2B marketers find essential in building campaigns and making sales strategies operational. Sales reps use the system to understand business prospects’ behavior, while marketing executives use it to link marketing investments to the sales process and revenue generation. Marketo offers software features that allow lead management, lead scoring, mobile marketing, and website personalization, among other features. Marketo has positioned itself as a leader in B2B marketing automation, a position that Adobe Experience Cloud can only enhance.

What’s in it for you?

Since Adobe acquired Marketo rather than a company with their own CRM to push, you will continue to be able to connect any significant CRM to the platform. This means that users will benefit from having all the Adobe tools at hand without being forced to make a major, and possibly disruptive, CRM switch. Joining the Adobe Experience Cloud adds powerful, advanced capabilities to Marketo. Leveraging the market-leading platform allows Marketo to enhance its strengths in mobile marketing and personalization while taking advantage of industry-leading analytics- an area in which Marketo customers have felt frustration in the past. Marketo’s B2B users will also benefit in several ways, including through its personalization engine. These Adobe tools will particularly help B2B shops that have some B2C features in their business. Marketo was already working to strengthen this aspect of their business, the Adobe purchase immediately sends them to the head of the class, leapfrogging over their competitors.

The purchase of Marketo by Adobe Experience Cloud promises better service for users of both services. Adobe Experience has the B2C market handled with numerous easy-to-use tools that can only enhance Marketo’s B2B prowess. The combination of these marketing powerhouses means that you can have the best of both worlds, keeping your favorite functions while gaining even more effective marketing features for your clients’ use.

Only time will tell the exact impact of this purchase, but you and other people in the industry have every reason to expect better service all around. The combination of these two industry leaders promises to give you groundbreaking platform power.

Unlike the traditional or “waterfall” method of software development, the agile approach does not treat analysis, design, coding, and testing as discrete phases in a development project. Agile has quickly become the standard methodology as businesses see the many advantages of adopting a more flexible approach to software development.

With testing integrated into the development process from day one, agile development often leads to higher quality products, as well as reducing risk. However, making the switch from waterfall to agile can be tricky. Many development teams end up awkwardly straddling the fence between the two approaches, which can make it difficult to effectively manage resources.

To root out any bad habits that carried over when your development team made the switch from waterfall to agile, look out for these warning signs that your team isn’t as agile as you think.

1. No sprint retrospectives

sprint retrospective is a meeting that occurs after a one-month development sprint. Usually held once a month, this is an opportunity for teams to discuss what worked well in the sprint, what could be improved, and what the team will commit to doing differently in the next sprint.

If your team does not hold sprint retrospectives, you are missing out on a valuable opportunity to change work processes in order to improve the quality of the end product. Holding no sprint retrospectives means that problems persist throughout the development process, exposing your business to the risks of waterfall methodology.

2. Long stand-up meetings

Many people resist adopting agile methodology because they think they will spend too much time in meetings. While it’s true that agile development involves a daily stand-up meeting, these should be kept short to avoid eating into everyone’s work time. In fact, the name stand-up comes from the idea that people should literally stand during these meetings so they have an incentive not to let them drag on too long. To avoid stand-up meetings overrunning, have someone with good facilitation skills lead the meeting.

3. Improper product backlog management

product backlog is a list of all the work that needs to be done for a particular product, ordered to prioritize the most important tasks. Sometimes, backlogs can become so large they are difficult to work with. In that case, you need to break the backlog down into short-term and long-term items to make it easier to manage.

4. Failure to deliver product increments after each sprint

One of the principles of agile is that working software is the primary measure of progress. If your team does not deliver a product increment after each spring, that is a warning sign that you are slipping back into waterfall methodology.

5. Urgent tasks that interrupt workflow

When you use the agile approach, your workflows should be regularly adapted to prioritize the most important tasks. If urgent tasks frequently come up and throw your workflow into disarray, that is a sign that the team hasn’t done enough planning to anticipate the upcoming demands of the project. This might be because they are hanging onto waterfall ways of working, such as setting out a roadmap at the beginning of the project and failing to reassess it often enough during sprint retrospectives and daily stand-ups.

Your audience is distracted by the constant noise of the daily routine. Every moment of every day is filled with information that is loud, boisterous, and consuming. In the constant battle for attention, screaming ads and neon visuals saturate your audience’s gaze for the sole purpose of transforming that brief attention to sales conversions. The marketplace is thirsty for any sort of competitive advantage and, right or wrong, the loudest voice is typically the most common marketing instrument.

So how do you create consistency, boost your brand recognition, and prevent your story from becoming just another face in the crowd? A cohesive, well-organized approach to your marketing is the best way to achieve those goals. One that leverages the insights and power of integrated technology platforms to understand target consumer segments better, implement a personalized approach that speaks to individual affinities, and forms enduring bonds between the brand and customer.

Integrated Platforms Create Consistency

An integrated marketing platform is a streamlined technology solution that caters to every stage of the marketing process, from strategizing and design to implementation and metric analysis. It’s an end-to-end, one-stop-shop that maximizes efficiency and effectiveness through seamless integration of data, innovation, and thought. In simpler terms, think of an integrated platform as a car that carries all the stages of the marketing process in a single vehicle. That vehicle is tasked with transporting those marketing components along the customer’s journey to arrive at the same destination — an impactful, successful campaign. If each of those passengers were to take separate vehicles, the likelihood of latencies in the process dramatically increase.

Traditionally, marketers have relied on different components from independent vendors, each of which might have done a tremendous job at their specific tasks but, as is often the case with segmented technology, those components don’t communicate well with one another. In the digital landscape, where margins for error shrink by the day, those traditional models are prone to information silos and communication gaps — detours and potholes forming along the customer’s journey. Naturally, such inefficiencies don’t lend themselves to the flexibility and foresight demanded by a modern, digitally-driven campaign. The segmented, disparate components of those traditional marketing pipelines can lack the free-flowing data and ideas needed for an agile campaign that can pivot on a moment’s notice and continually gauge impact. Integrated platforms, however, afford brands that seamless marketing required to successfully engage the modern consumer, creating a smooth, consistent, unified approach to the entire breadth of a marketing campaign.

The Bigger Picture

While each stage of the marketing process — strategy, testing, bidding, distribution, metric analysis — benefit individually from an integrated platform by shared data and effective communication, it’s the bigger picture that gains the most impact. It’s not the loudest voice that will provide the most significant engagement, conversions, and ROI for an enterprise. Instead, it’s the personalized touch running throughout a brand’s message that forms connections with the audience. In fact, 71% of customers now prefer customized ads and campaigns that speak to their unique interests and passions.

An integrated marketing platform gives brands and agencies the tools needed to create and maintain that personalization. With so many audience segments, each with unique and widely-varying affinities, information silos can be the death knell for companies wanting to engage at the individual level. Thankfully, as powerful as the particular components of an integrated platform is with their designated responsibilities, the platforms themselves are greater than the sum of their parts. In such a crowded and competitive environment, use integrated technology to tell a compelling story rather than the loudest one. Your campaign ROI and bottom line will thank you.

Between constantly segmenting audiences and affinities, finite ad spend, a crowded marketplace, and distracted consumers inundated with a wall of advertising noise, marketers have their work cut out for them. Establishing and maintaining robust engagement and conversions levels — as well as the accompanying ROI — can be a daunting task if a brand doesn’t have a deliberate, well-organized strategy steeped in analytics. Fortunately, the very same digital technologies that have helped create such a fickle, segmented, and congested marketplace also provide marketers effective solutions to cut through the clutter, identify their target audience, and deliver an impactful message that generates the ROI they crave. With these analytics-driven best practices and tools, marketers have a variety of solutions at their disposal to inform and refine their marketing strategies, realize that ROI, and gain an enduring competitive advantage that can be budget-friendly and effective.

 

Find the Right Stack

Much of marketing is a repetitive series of steps that, while beneficial when conducted thoroughly, can also drain already limited supplies of time and resources. Of course, every dollar spent on such routines, no matter how integral they are to the process, has a direct impact on your ROI. Therefore, virtually any source of gained efficiency will lift those metrics and have a cascading positive effect on your campaign. Ad stacks that streamline everything from ad bidding and A/B testing to analytics and retargeting give marketers compelling solutions that can enhance performance and lower overall costs if adopted appropriately. Once implemented, these tools can free team members to work on more value-added responsibilities that would otherwise mire them in vital but arduous, time-consuming tasks. Ad stacks lend convenience to your efforts, giving your marketing process a focused and precise sense of direction that eliminates inefficiencies and, thus, boosts your ROI.

 

Use Insightful, Focused Metrics

In the age of big data and predictive analytics, marketers don’t lack for information to propel their message. The problem, however, is the volume of information itself. Just because a wide variety of metrics can be automatically created, tracked, and analyzed doesn’t mean that they necessarily should. Despite the significant boost to overall efficiencies afforded by automated technologies, an overindulgence in metrics that don’t ultimately add value to a campaign can hamper ROI through diluted efforts, a lack of focus, and failure to keep an eye on the proverbial prize. Marketers should be especially cautious against such overindulgence, avoiding vanity metrics that don’t contribute true meaning and insight into a marketing message. Instead, they should concentrate on analytics that positively affects a campaign and increases ROI. While any particular brand and agency might have different key metrics given their unique market position, industry, or goals, certain metrics tend to be more ubiquitous than others — aside from ROI itself, of course — including PPC, lead ratios, conversion rates, and a handful of others. Likewise, use the proper metrics in the most insightful context possible to keep a campaign on track and maximize ROI. While campaign results are essential to measure in gauging total effectiveness, metrics add the most value when they are used to steer a message throughout a campaign, not merely provide data points in hindsight. Integrating real-time performance data into key metrics will inform a campaign and reveal necessary changes to be made as the campaign evolves.

 

Experiment With Your Approach

Extending the previous best practice a bit further, utilizing your analytics platform and the key metrics it generates can be extremely beneficial to tailor your message in the most advantageous way possible. Thankfully, analytics in the digital age has rendered the traditional, laborious process of A/B testing antiquated and nearly extinct with the prescient insights of real-time data and a robust ad stack with an abundance of analytical capabilities. As your campaign progresses and evolves, continue to measure for impact using a variety of combinations of creative, copy, distribution channels, and any other critical components. In doing so, your analytics platform will reveal which particular combinations yield the most significant results, allowing you to pivot your campaign towards any direction that will maximize engagement, conversion, and the resulting ROI.

Organizations need agility to craft and distribute useful marketing messages that can convert in a highly segmented, fickle marketplace. With seemingly countless marketing solutions now available, the advent of the ad stack – both independent and platform-based – is in full swing. Of the many different options available, an innovative solution from one of the digital environment’s older and well-established names is leading the charge for comprehensive, flexible, vertically integrated marketing suites that is redefining the industry – Adobe.

Adobe’s Marketing Cloud at a Glance

Available on a subscription basis with several optional components that range in specialty from Adobe’s creative foundation to analytics platforms, campaign management tools, and social media integration, Marketing Cloud aims to be a one-stop shop for organizations needing a comprehensive solution without relying on different vendors.

Using the universal Adobe interface as the basis for most of the component UIs, Adobe takes full advantage of its popularity to create an immediate sense of familiarity between the user and the many different parts available within the platform. Perhaps more importantly, however, organizations can choose which of those components are necessary for their specific needs, not forced to subscribe to unneeded functions that would increase costs and complexity.

As a direct competitor to similar platforms from both digital titans like Google and Yahoo as well as ad stacks from specialized vendors, Adobe’s Marketing Cloud shines with its ability to seamlessly combine immersive, engaging, customized creative with the distribution channels most impactful in reaching a highly segmented audience with wide-ranging affinities. Its analytical tools allow organizations to track results in real time, measuring effectiveness through the ever-important metrics needed to inform and guide the campaign amongst a crowded and complicated marketplace.

Although a streamlined and efficient ad stack solution for any organization requiring a considerable degree of vertical integration, those that are unfamiliar with the classic Adobe UI face a steep learning curve that, while in no way too great of a barrier to prevent proper implementation and usage, can be somewhat overwhelming at first. With an abundance of training materials available as well as outstanding customer service, however, Adobe’s Marketing Cloud should always be on the short list of options for organizations in search of a potent ad stack that blends utility with convenience, power with flexibility.

Is Adobe’s Marketing Cloud Right for You?

As compelling a solution as Adobe’s Marketing Cloud can be for most organizations; it’s not the only solution available. In fact, when an organization is in need of a new ad stack platform, the decision should always begin with a choice between a comprehensive, unified platform and an independent ad stack built of several best-in-breed vendors that are market leaders in specific functions but don’t necessarily work well in conjunction with one another.

Simply put, organizations must choose between a high degree of convenience and efficiency versus maximum ability. For instance, if an organization needs a comprehensive analytical platform that specializes in isolating and analyzing nuanced metrics, they might be best served to build an independent ad stack built around a specialized analytics platform. In this case, while a vertically integrated solution like the Adobe Marketing Cloud is abundantly useful and more than adequate for the vast majority of organizations, it’s analytical abilities might fall short of this highly specialized need.

For organizations looking for a combination of power and convenience, the Adobe Marketing Cloud is writing a new ad stack narrative, one that effectively addresses nearly all of the marketing needs for the majority of companies within the marketplace. Organizations no longer have to choose between ability and efficiency.

Salesforce released its Einstein platform to the public in Spring 2017, giving the average user access to powerful CRM with promised AI predictive analytic powers. The release came with a tidal wave of hype, promising revolutionary changes to marketing departments. Companies have had time to implement Einstein for a period of months, so accurate reviews are in. Experts believe that Salesforce Einstein is an excellent tool with a number of useful analytic uses. While it isn’t entirely stand-alone, the basic platform does more than simply complete data-based applications. Einstein probably deserves about 80 percent of the original hype. As stats go, that’s not bad.

The Hype

Salesforce hailed its own product by announcing that “The world’s No. 1 CRM is now the world’s smartest CRM . . .” The company also emphasized Einstein didn’t need the major customization that other similar platforms required because it contained “state-of-the-art algorithms built directly into the Salesforce Intelligent Customer Platform . . .” You get the picture. What was already a premier product would now usher marketing into the promised land of predictive data, and ultimately, finalized sales, enchanted customers, and home-grown marketing gurus.

The Reality

Salesforce Einstein Analytics Platform costs $75 per month per user, approximately the same price as Adobe Creative Cloud, which features Adobe Sensei. For that reasonable price, you get many features, including advanced sales and service apps. You can use them to analyze data from any source up to 100 million data rows, according to Salesforce. You can also create your own custom apps and dashboards and have access to all the online training you need. The platform isn’t as advanced as others, but it provides an advantage to companies without their own data geniuses on staff. It takes time to set up and manage effectively, despite the rosy predictions on the Salesforce site.

AI Capacity

Some experts say that Einstein doesn’t include actual “cognitive computing” (AI) but instead uses machine learning (ML). However, the company’s partnerships with Watson and other industry leaders provide Einstein users with impressive analytic power. For marketing departments, the pertinent question isn’t “Is this ‘real’ AI?”, but “How does it help us do our jobs?”

The machine learning allows the program to study data and determine, for itself, how to predict the future. Einstein constantly analyzes new data and makes model adjustments, determining what tasks you need to address next in your marketing efforts. Einstein can tell you which sales prospect is “most likely to close” and also sort a mailing list according to who’s most likely to open your email.

Einstein goes way beyond simply organizing data. It can, on a daily basis, make your sales department more efficient and effective. Whether it’s defined as actual AI probably won’t affect you or your employees.

Other Features

Salesforce offers other advanced features. For instance, your company can also use the Product Identification feature to manage inventory and improve sales potential. In addition, the Brand Detection feature helps your marketing department learn more about customer preferences and offers tools to refine sales campaigns. The technology also offers features that increase customer satisfaction. Visual search employs visual filters that let consumers find products that meet their needs. They can also take product photos and find out where they’re available.

Nuts and Bolts

Salesforce touts Einstein as a way to democratize AI. You don’t have to have your own data scientist to join the marketing analytic revolution. It’s not as simple as subscribing to the service, however. While many features are packaged in easy-to-use Cloud applications, customizing it for your particular company takes a little work and some online training. Yes, it’s pretty easy to use, but like any platform, it requires study and practice, particularly on the part of admins to fully use it. You have to build a model for your business and also refine your data so you get the best results. In short: Excellence in, excellence out.

Company Success

Salesforce boasts a number of high-profile success stories, and these online testimonials pack a punch. Companies such as Adidas, AWS, US Bank and Farmer’s Insurance are on record praising Salesforce offerings.

Kone, a leader in escalators, elevators and moving walkways, used Salesforce Einstein in conjunction with IBM Watson to build a customer-centered company in lieu of a hardware-centered one, allowing them to thrive around the world. They attribute much of their recent success to the Salesforce platform.

The Bottom Line

Salesforce has been a wildly successful Cloud Computing, CRM-based company for some time, but their addition of Einstein to their customer offerings has enhanced their business and made AI (really machine learning) more available to the those who aren’t data experts.

Einstein is not the most advanced platform you can choose, and you may need to pair it with Watson or add other Salesforce products to reach the productivity level that you desire. Still, experts in the industry rank it pretty high as a tool that helps most marketing departments. Will it unleash marketing magic on its own? No. But it will give more power to your marketing efforts. For companies looking for predictive analytics, Einstein is worth a try.

Blockchain is a pretty popular buzzword these days. The sudden boom of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin brought a lot of attention to the technology. Blockchain is much more than just a buzz, however, and it’s becoming very apparent it has the power to change the way business is done in nearly every industry — from banking to SEO.

What Is Blockchain?

It’s a complicated technology, but essentially a blockchain is an immutable, decentralized ledger. That means that instead of a sole third-party record keeper, every party to a blockchain would have a record much like a spreadsheet. As transactions occur, the spreadsheets are simultaneously updated. If someone falsifies data on their spreadsheet, the blockchain would notice the discrepancy from the majority of the records and nullify the bad data. Because it’s nearly impossible to alter the data on all the ledgers, a blockchain is a very secure way to verify and move or exchange assets. It also creates a permanent trail from start to finish. That trail can guarantee the legitimacy of key aspects of SEO — determining if web traffic is human or bot, detecting black hat methods much more easily and reducing the staggering amount of money lost to digital ad fraud.

Link Building

Link building has long been an important part of SEO. That doesn’t mean the same tactics that applied in the 90’s can work today. For example, it’s possible to see some ranking boost from blog comment linking, but those look more like spam every day and their weighting is significantly less than it used to be. Natural link building has long been the most effective strategy. Blockchain will make it way easier for the major search engines to detect and penalize any website they catch buying paid links. Though it’s discouraged today, enforcement is difficult and under-utilized.

Verified Data

User interaction data matters a lot. It’s helpful to your marketing team and necessary for web crawlers to rank your site. That data can be diluted by bot traffic and hurt your rankings. Implementing a blockchain solution can verify human traffic and separate it from the bots, giving you better insights and higher rankings. Paid digital advertising is full of fraud because it’s currently impossible to tell if an ad was clicked by a human or bot. Blockchain technology is a very viable solution to this multi-billion dollar a year problem by connecting advertisers directly with verified potential customers.

Keyword Research

It’s difficult to determine just how a keyword plays out in different settings. The results vary across devices, location, users etc. With a token incentive, keyword research could utilize background space on thousands of devices to create an in-depth aggregate of data-heavy results.

 

While the full impacts are still uncertain at this junction, it’s not likely to be long before technology leaders start to leverage blockchain as a means for securing and processing interactions as much as they do transactions. And that means that you, as a marketer, have a whole new ballgame to learn. Thankfully, it’s likely to be one that rewards good SEO habits and practices, stamps out bad, and works to create a more democratic playing field.