Guest Post: How to Protect Your Business from Ransomware Threats

Security experts say ransomware looms as one of the top cybersecurity threats in 2018 — and for good reason. Last year, these incidents accelerated exponentially, with mobile ransomware attacks rising 250 percent during the first quarter of 2017 compared to quarter four of 2016.

This trend will continue to gain steam in 2018, with MIT forecasting that hackers will target cloud providers such as Amazon. But while large companies like Amazon have greater resources to defend themselves, smaller businesses without such deep pockets will face the greatest risks. In particular, cybercriminals are broadening their attacks from Windows computers to other devices so that no platform is safe from ransomware threats.

While anyone can be targeted by a ransomware attack, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk. Here’s a look at how ransomware attacks work, how you can protect your business and what you can do to recover in the event you are attacked.

Explaining How Ransomware Attacks Work

So how do ransomware attacks occur? Experts say it’s similar to the way malware can infiltrate systems, but with a twist that hijacks your computer and holds it hostage. Like other malware, ransomware gets on your computer by tricking you into accepting an infected file and then runs in the background without your knowledge. But unlike other malware that steals information, ransomware executes a code that locks your machine so that you can’t use it and then posts a message demanding payment to unlock your system.

Ransomware can get on your system through three main attack methods. The most common is sending you an email with an infected attachment and tricking you into opening the email and attachment. Another method is tricking you into clicking on a link to an infected website or popup ad. A third, less common method involves unscrupulous people leaving an infected USB stick near a business center parking lot in the hopes an employee will pick it up and start using it.

The worst forms of ransomware encrypt your data so that you can’t use your computer unless you pay the ransom to get an unlock code. Typically, if you don’t pay for the unlock code within a set period of time, the ransom fee doubles; then, if you still haven’t paid before the deadline expires, your data gets deleted. Other forms of ransomware, known as scareware, don’t actually encrypt your data, but rather attempt to scare you into thinking they do so that you pay the attacker anyway.

Ransomware attackers usually demand payment in untraceable electronic forms of currency, such as Bitcoin. Paying these fees is no guarantee you’ll regain access to your data. In fact, once you pay, criminals may regard you as an easy victim and target you again in the future.

Preventing Ransomware Hacks

To protect your business against ransomware hacks, there are some essential steps you should take immediately. Your first line of defense is installing an up-to-date antivirus program that runs in real-time on your computer in order to immediately detect and neutralize known ransomware threats. It’s also important to educate yourself and your employees to avoid opening suspicious emails, visiting unsecure websites, or using discarded USB sticks that may contain ransomware.

In the event ransomware does get on your system, another important step to follow is to keep your operating systems and apps updated. Most successful ransomware attacks target vulnerabilities in outdated software, so keeping your software current can thwart many attacks.

Finally, as insurance against a successful ransomware attack, it’s vital to keep your data backed up so that you can recover it without having to pay the ransom. The best way to do this is to schedule automated cloud backups with a secure provider like Mozy, which uses military-grade encryption to protect your backups from hackers.

Recovering from Ransomware Incidents

If, despite your precautions, your business does fall victim to a ransomware attack, don’t pay the ransom; after all, you may not get your data restored — and you’ll only invite future repeat attacks.

Instead, restore your data from your backups, which is the fastest way to recover from a ransomware attack. In most cases, you should be able to restore your data and get up and running again within 33 hours, according to Vanson Bourne. This isn’t nearly as much of a hassle as being down for weeks or not being able to recover your data at all because you didn’t back it up.

Now, if you got hit before you had a chance to back up your data, all is not necessarily lost. In some cases, companies have been able to successfully recover their data due to flaws in the hacker’s attack method. But your best bet is to have backups available in the event you can’t recover your data.

Bear in mind that just because you take preventive measures against a ransomware attack now, it doesn’t guarantee you’re immune to potential attacks in the future. Staying secure against ransomware threats requires ongoing attention to detail and running continuous backups.

Conclusion

Ransomware attacks can easily worm their way into your system by tricking you into opening a suspicious email, clicking on an infected link, or using an infected USB stick. Fortunately, you can prevent ransomware attacks by avoiding these sources of infection, running an up-to-date real-time antivirus program, keeping your operating systems and apps updated, and backing up your data. Scheduling automated data backups is the best way to recover your data if you do fall victim to an attack.

 

About the Author:

Roy Rasmussen, coauthor of Publishing for Publicity, is a freelance writer who helps select clients write quality content to reach business and technology audiences. His clients have included Fortune 500 companies and bestselling authors. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, business coaching, social media marketing, and career planning.

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Guest Post: Prospering in the E-Commerce Market

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There are many e-commerce stores popping up right, left and center. The online market is like “Perfect Competition” described in economic studies; in perfect competition, there are no barriers toand exit and no single player can influence price. It is very easy to set-up an e-commerce store but with thin margins and cut-throat margins it is very difficult to survive and prosper in this segment. Many e-commerce stores are closing down, and yet at the same time, new big players like Walmart are entering into the market by purchasing websites like Jet.com in multi-dollar deals! Amazon is continuously expanding and is now currently pushing to capture a greater market share in India. The market has potential but only for the most determined. For the small players right now, it is especially a daunting challenge, as the market is in consolidation stage and most of the big players are combing and pushing slower businesses out or buying them out.

So the point comes what can you do for success in the e-commerce world?

  • Digital advertising is the key to success

You need to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in online advertising, for it may look easy but it is actually quite challenging. Thanks to the advent of traditional Google ads will no longer cut it. Also charging your credit card on Facebook is also quite the expensive option and you cannot just rely on Facebook alone. So what do you do? You keep abreast of latest trends, for example right now Video ads are one way of getting around ad blockers.

Besides ad-blockers, video ads make more sense. Video consumption across devices has increased thanks to falling data charges in most countries and increasing smartphone and internet penetration.

  • Look inwards

Right now the e-commerce market is cut-throat. You can only maximize margins to a certain level. To stay competitive against giants you need to cut every possible cost. You need to look inwards and see where you can save money. Find a cheaper toll-free number, a cheaper shipping service or find ways to save on packaging. Negotiate better credit periods and see your bank charges and negotiate for each and every cent you can. It is difficult but every cent saved helps to add towards the bottom line.

This is especially a must for start-ups, often being helmed by fresh graduates who also have to worry about paying off their student loans. Every strive and profit you make out of your business not only helps you scale but also helps to get your personal finances in order avoid problems like delayed student loans.

  • Keep track of customer satisfaction rates

Customer satisfaction rates are often treated like a fire putting exercise. They often come into the limelight once sales start to fall. By then, restoring customer satisfaction and restoring goodwill lost becomes an uphill task. All businesses heavily rely on customer satisfaction thus one should keep a constant track it. Monitor your total sales and then draw up a meaningful sample that represents the whole population. Follow up with this sample and understand the customer satisfaction levels. Also keep a good track on customer reviews. Pacify disgruntled customers fast because they are the ones who are more active at commenting on public pages.

 

About the Author

Rachael Everly is an undergraduate student who loves to write on the topics related business, finance, technology and education. Follow @RachaelEverly for further updates

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Dr. Natalie’s Research Agenda and Published Research

If you are wondering what I have been up to lately, I thought I would put all the research I have published  into one place. Here’s a list of Dr. Natalie’s completed and published research and soon to be published content! It ranges from IOT, Analytics, Big Data, Customer Experience, Leadership, Organizational Change Management, Storytelling, Collaboration, Digital Transformation, Social Selling, Social Media, the Cloud, Marketing, Sales, SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, DaaS, AI, Machine Learning, Innovation, Social Networks, Social Media Monitoring, Mobile, Customer Service and Customer Success Management….and a few things in-between…

IOT (The Internet of Things), Innovation, AI, Machine Learning, Analytics and the Cloud

• The Algorithm of You: How IoT Transforms and Differentiates Customer Experience: Using the Internet of Things to Boost Revenue and Deliver a Brand’s Personalized Promise

• Digital Disruption: The Blind Spot That Could Sink Your IoT and CX Initiatives

• The Internet of Things Improves Customer Experience in Retail Supply Chain

• The As-a-Service Economy: CX and IOT Mean You Have to Deliver Great Experiences- Upcoming

• Customer Experience IOT in the Automotive Industry-Upcoming

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Digital Transformation: Customer Engagement, CRM, Innovation, Customer Experience, Customer Service, The Cloud and Analytics

• ROI Of Customer Service & Customer Experience

• How to Measure Customer Experience: Performance Management Maturity-Upcoming

• Case Study: Elaine Turner® Brand and Oracle Commerce, Marketing and Customer Service-Upcoming

• The Need for Inspiring Leaders to Orchestrate Customer Experience Initiatives-Upcoming

• Experience Management: How to Deliver Integrated Customer Experiences

• How Rackspace Creates the Next-Generation Customer Experience

• The ROI Of Agile Customer Care: Reduce Training and Easy To Add Channels

• Digital Imperatives for Omni-Channel Retail Customer Experiences

• Nine Pillar Of Successful Self-Service for Digital Customer Engagement

• 6 Pillars of e-commerce Customer Engagement

• 9 C’s of Customer Engagement – Delivery and Communication Styles: Channels, Content and Cadence

• 9 C’s of Customer Engagement – People Centric Values: External & Internal Culture, Community, Credibility

• 9 C’s of Customer Engagement – Right Time Drivers: Context, Catalysts, Currency

• How Delta Uses Microsoft Dynamics and Avanade to Create Next-Generation Customer Experiences

• How Microsoft Dynamics CRM Improves Productivity at Trek Bicycle

• Delta Uses Microsoft to Transform Flight Operations and the Customer Experience

• New Belgium Brewing Creates Great Customer Experiences Using Microsoft Dynamics

• Beyond Journey Maps, Delivering Mass Personalization at Scale

• The State of Customer Service and Support Evolves 

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Social Media, Customer Service, CRM, Analytics, Innovation and the Cloud

• How General Motors Using Social Media To Listen To Customers and Sell Cars and Deliver Service

• The ROI of Online Communities: Online Communities Provide Value Beyond Call Deflection

• Why Top Marketers Create Branded Social Networks for Customer Engagement

• The State of Customer Service and Support Evolves 

• ROI of Social Customer Service- Upcoming

• The Customer Service Playbook for Integration of Traditional, Digital, Social and Mobile Customer Service Strategies and Technologies-Upcoming

• Mobile Customer Service-Upcoming

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Digital Marketing, Analytics, Innovation and the Cloud

• Should the Chief Marketing Officer Oversee the Whole Customer Experience?

• Data-Driven Marketing Campaign Optimization

• VentureBeat: Should the CMO Run the Whole Customer Experience?

• Executive Brief: Can Brands Keep Their Promise?

• Oracle Moves Its Focus from the CIO to the CMO

• How to Staff the Team for Effective Content Marketing

• The State of Marketing 

• Marketing Funnels Are Dead, What’s Next?

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Digital and Social Sales; Commerce, Innovation, Analytics and the Cloud

• How Sales Leaders and Sales Reps Can Create a Social Selling Organization: Convert Average Sales Teams into Top Performers Using Social Networks

• Five Approaches to Drive Customer Loyalty in a Digital World

• The Modern Sales Experience

• Continuity of Customer Experiences Drives the Future of Commerce

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Customer Success Management, Analytics, Innovation and the Cloud

• The State of Customer Success Management

• Gainsight: Customer Success Management for a Post-Sale, On-Demand, Attention Economy

• ServiceSource: Customer Success Management for a Post-Sale, On-Demand, Attention Economy

• Bluenose: Customer Success Management for a Post-Sale, On-Demand, Attention Economy

• Totango: Customer Success Management for a Post-Sale, On-Demand, Attention Economy

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If you are interested in learning about any of these reports or research, a speech or webinar on any of these or related topics, please reach out to me here!

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Innovative, Customer-Facing Applications that Create Great Customer Experiences

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guest Post: How Digital Technology Is Transforming Customer Data Collection

Digital business is increasing the potential monetary value of data, but most companies aren’t leveraging this valuable resource. Smart devices, mobile technology and social media are increasing the volume and variety of customer data available at an accelerated rate, turning data brokering into a multibillion dollar business while simultaneously making data more affordable than ever. General information about consumers is now available for about $0.50 per 1,000 people, estimates the Financial Times. Read on for the trends that are transforming data collection and the tools that smart companies are using to turn data into profit.

Internet of Things

One of the biggest technology trends is the increasing presence of smart electronic devices, a trend known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Earlier stages of the Internet were centered around personal computers and then mobile phones, and now the Internet of Things includes all sorts of smart devices, from smart houses to smart TVs to smart cars, watches and clothes.

All these devices collect data that is centered around the consumers who use these devices. This enables businesses to organize their market research and advertising efforts around the totality of data as well as individual uses, a trend known as marketing personalization. The Internet of Things means that the data collected can conceivably be used to personalize ads they see in their car, at work and while shopping.

Location-Based Data

The Internet of Things forms a digital mesh that enables consumers and their data to be pinpointed by location. Smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Note5 are GPS-enabled, allowing marketers to collect data on their location and deliver personalized messages that appeal to customers at specific locations.

One of the emerging applications of this is beacon marketing, which identifies when customers are entering stores to deliver customized coupons, discounts and other special offers. For instance, Hillshire Brands saw a 36 percent increase in brand awareness and a 20 percent increase in purchase intent by using beacon technology.

Context-Sensitive Data

Data collection is becoming more context-sensitive. For instance, a webpage that displays well on a desktop screen needs to adjust to be viewable on a smaller mobile device screen. This means that the site needs to collect context-sensitive data about the viewer’s device and screen size.

Another context-sensitive use of data is retargeted advertising, when information gathered on one device follows users as they use other devices. For instance, Yahoo recently added a feature to its Gemini ad marketplace that enables advertisers to send retargeted ads to customers on websites, apps and Yahoo interest categories based on their browsing behavior.

Social Media Data

One of the most important data collection sources is social media. CMS Wire reports that 90 percent of the data available today was collected over the past two years and 80 percent of it came from social media use.

Social sites are seeking to capitalize on this, with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google and YouTube all introducing buy button features last year. In 2016, social media brand engagement and buying will drive data collection, predicts Brandwatch.

 

About the Author

Roy Rasmussen, coauthor of Publishing for Publicity, is a freelance copywriter who helps small businesses get more customers and make more sales. His specialty is helping experts reach their target market with a focused sales message. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, business coaching, social media marketing, and career planning.

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Lessons Learned from the Digital Hollywood Panel

The Digital Hollywood Panel was comprisized of Brian Popowitz, Jessica Hasson, John Bohan, Christopher Puga and Johnny Miller. When I asked them if they could only leave the audience with a few 1-3  thoughts, what would they be, here’s how they responded:

Brian Popowitz

1) Black Box. I’m in the business of working with musicians to aggregate an audience, build affinity between the audience/artist, and monetize the affinity an artist has with their audience. Social media has completely transformed that linear funnel and it what I dedicate each day of my life to work on.

2) Hoping for a magic bullet or virality is not a social strategy. Panoptic conversation will be replaced with more personalized conversation through social media. Influence is power.

Christopher Puga

1) Have a Voice – Not so long ago brands did everything possible to stay away from public opinion. platforms like twitter and Facebook have changed that. Not even 10 yrs ago some brands would consider it a luxury to not feel the need to comment on social issues. It’s the brands that you see now, like Oreo, Netflix, etc that look at this as an opportunity… an opportunity to build a deeper relationship with their customers and even move ahead of their competitors.

2) Plan for the Moment – Would you be surprised if I said the Oreo, dunk in the dark was not a random lucky post by accident? In fact, it was strategized and planned months in advance. They had a series of images ready to post given the situation. Some obvious like holidays and some subjective. how they won was by planning for the moment and being prepared to join the real-time conversation regardless of what happens in the world. So the lights went out in the super bowl and just like that, you have an award winning tweet and something that marketers will remember forever.

3) Don’t be Afraid to Fail – New features roll out weekly. New platforms pop up and with them come new potential customers. New ways of communicating spark out of nowhere. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Tweet with an emoji, start a periscope account, test Facebook live video, live tweet a TV show. start an AMA with an exec or special guest. Don’t be afraid to fail, but if the returns aren’t there, then fail fast. Only 17% of fortune 500s are on Pinterest. This is a powerful platform that is perfect for brands that want to connect with their customers.

John Bohan

I’m fascinated and energized by the state of the advertising industry today. Many people claim advertising is dead, and there’s no doubt it has changed dramatically in recent years with new challenges emerging daily. Advertising as we knew it is dead. Good advertising is no longer about selling. It’s about inspiring. It’s no longer about brand stories. It’s about people stories. Social media is the single most effective way for brands today to make real connections with real people.

1) Think, talk and act like your customers by gaining a deep understanding of your CUSTOMER ARCHETYPES (read our “bluepaper” here). You have to meet people on their terms in marketing today, and genuinely care about improving the quality of people’s lives. It’s not about your WHAT…it’s about tapping into their WHY.

2) VIDEO, VIDEO, VIDEO. It’s estimated that mobile video will account for 75% of total mobile data traffic by 2020. Facebook is making major moves to champion video and it’s already proving to be highly effective for brands and publishers. From Facebook 360 to Facebook LIVE (hailed as the future of TV – exploding watermelon, anyone?), new video tools allow people to get even closer to the brands, movies and media they love.

3) THE MESSENGER MATTERS – If you want more customers, get more friends.  Brands touting their own services and capabilities through one-way messages fall silent in the forest.   No one cares and people are tired of being sold to constantly.   But they do like and buy from brands that are recommended by their own friends or people that they trust.

If you want people to listen to your message, the person telling your story matters.   Build quality networks of influencers that connect with your different archetypes and provide these advocates with turnkey, engaging ways to spread your story in authentic ways (see Storytelling vs. Story Starting).

Jessica Hasson

CEO and Founder of PulpPR. I am passionate about this panel because it has been a powerful learning experience understanding the psychology behind social media, and what companies like Facebook are doing to improve their platforms accordingly. These changes are what ultimately impact the future of marketing and public relations, and we must learn and adapt from them if we are to be successful.

1) Take advantage of the wealth of social media resources available to you: social networks, marketing tools, etc. – most of which are free or of low cost to your business. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from these resources.

2) Keep on top of the latest social media trends: Experts are constantly studying the psychological impacts of social media. Read up on these types of studies often to better understand how you can efficiently target customers through social media.

3) Analyze your results, often: The only way to improve upon your past efforts is to analyze them, and figure out what went wrong or what did well. As Einstein has stated: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Don’t be insane.

What these people who are in the field actually doing digital and social media, interfacing and engaging with customers are telling us is that the customer is in charge of the message and that it’s time to shift the way things are done.

@DrNatalie, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Customer-Facing Applications that Create Awesome Customer Experiences

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Honorees Announced for the 2016 Marketing Hall of Femme!

Direct Marketing News is honored to announce the 2016 Honorees to the Marketing Hall of Femme! These incredible women have storied careers, take risks, and push the industry and their companies forward with their edgy marketing strategies. On April 8, 2016, we’re celebrating all of their outstanding achievements and more.

New this year, the event features a Leadership Summit in addition to the Awards Luncheon. Attendees will meet the 2016 Leading Ladies, hear the first-person narratives behind their success stories, and attend educational sessions that explore the challenging yet rewarding roles of female leaders in the marketing industry today.

Introducing 2016’s most influential women in marketing:

marketing2 marketing marketing3

Learn more about the inspirational event that is the Marketing Hall of Femme:
Click here to read about previous years’ honorees and keynote speakers, view video interviews, and more.


My POV: Of course it would be to say that we need more women in technology. That’s it. I will keep it simple. And to congratulation all the amazing women named here and that work in the world of technology every day! You are my heros.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research
Covering Cloud and IoT That Drive Better Business Results and Awesome Customer Experiences
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Adobe and Google Partner to Create a Better Mobile Experience

What is the mission of Adobe?  To change the world through digital experiences.  The pace of change in how consumers engage with content is accelerating. So their mission is more relevant than it has ever been before. Consumers expect to connect with content immediately no matter where they are or what they are doing. In the personal, always-connected mobile world we now live in, the inability to deliver the right experience to the right person at the right time directly impacts engagement and the consumer relationship.

Why Did Adobe Partner with Google? Adobe has partnered with Google, alongside many others in the technology and publishing industries to support the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project and help solve the problems that are adversely affecting the mobile web experience –  namely the slow speed at which content loads and understanding audience engagement with mobile content. AMP will enable content to load instantaneously and provide a better mobile web experience for all.

What will Adobe Analytics Be Able to Measure? It will be able to measure the reach and impact of AMP experiences for publishers, while providing blazing fast speed for mobile web user experiences. For publishers, Adobe Analytics has become a fundamental part of understanding audiences, creating loyal viewers, and monetizing content, and Adobe is committed to making sure that publishers have access to the best data possible. A better mobile user experience means more browsing and content discovery for users, and quality revenue streams for publishers.  Additionally, Adobe Analytics will enable publishers to link up AMPs with their existing web data for deeper cross-channel audience understanding, and integrate this insight directly with the rest of Adobe Marketing Cloud for content and advertising optimization.

Adobe Analytics customers interested in getting started, you can download their How to Guide now: Adobe Analytics for Accelerated Mobile Pages Project

@Drnatalie petouhoff, VP and Analyst, Constellation Research Covering Customer-Facing Application

 

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IoT Leadership Forum Helps Customers Digitally Transform Their Business

Is IoT Relevant to Today’s Companies? Today’s enterprises span a spectrum of engagement when it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT). Some are beginning an exploration around IoT, some are actively implementing new capabilities to build for the future and some are well along in their deployments with expansive plans for transforming their business. Wherever an enterprise is with their use of IoT, they can benefit from expert insight to help them accomplish their goals.

How Can Companies Learn About IoT, Cloud Computing and Creating Awesome Customer Experiences? For large enterprise customers with complex environments, IoT implementations bring both challenges and an abundance of opportunities to transform their business. To help customers on their journey, we began hosting the Azure IoT Leadership Forum on our Redmond campus last May. The forum is part of their broader approach to partnering with customers on IoT, and is a great place to both learn from Microsoft experts and hear from other leading companies on how to realize the value of IoT.

Who Attends These Forums? At the second IoT Leadership Forum they  welcomed significant leaders in the IoT space. More than a dozen Azure IoT customers from several industries attended the two-day session to learn from special guests and the executive team. Participants included 3M, Caterpillar, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Mitsubishi Electric, Rockwell Automation, Rolls Royce, Sandvik, Schlumberger, Schneider Electric, ThyssenKrupp, Weir Group and Grundfos.

What Were The Sessions About? The sessions covered numerous topics but shared a common goal: Helping customers with best practices in making IoT solutions a reality, looking past the hype and learning from right-sized examples. They spoke about the new Azure IoT Suite and how it dramatically accelerates time to value in IoT. Tim Mallalieu described how the Azure Customer Advisory Team (AzureCAT) takes a hands-on approach to helping companies in their IoT journeys and offered best practice advice. There were also expert consultants, including Geoffrey Moore Consulting, The Boston Consulting Group and The York Group. Kurt DelBene who joined the sessions along with other Microsoft execs, all of whom shared insights and lessons learned in IoT.

What is the Most Prevalent Theme in the IoT Forums? Throughout the event, one of the most prevalent themes that emerged was the disruptive role IoT is playing in business already. Whether it is dramatic increases in operational efficiencies, big reductions in costs or enabling entirely new business models, it’s clear that organizations across industries must “disrupt or be disrupted” as IoT technology continues to create new waves of innovation.

Though each customer who participated is in a different phase of its own IoT journey, they all shared a common goal of unlocking new business value through this exciting new technology wave. As entire industries use IoT to transform themselves, they will continue to provide collaborative two-day sessions to arm customers with the best-in-class technology, deep insights and best practices to help them succeed.

Where Can You Learn More? Check out the IoT home page to learn more about Microsoft’s vision and how IoT is already transforming business for their customers.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research
Covering Cloud and IoT That Drive Better Business Results and Awesome Customer Experiences
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The 2016 Marketing&Tech Innovation Awards

DMN and The Hub have combined forces this year to present the Marketing&Tech Innovation Awards, which honor the most innovative strategies, platforms, and people in marketing today. I was thrilled to be a judge in this year’s selection. The winners will be announced on March 10th, but take a peek at the finalists below and let me know who you think should win!

 

Case Study Categories

Analytics Innovation

evolve24
Sales Predictions Using Social Conversations

Experian Marketing Services and Golfsmith
Analytics for the Holidays

Grapeshot and Sawyer Studios
Lila & Eve

Merkle
Connected Attribution Solution

Visual IQ and BuildDirect
Marketing Attribution Solution Implementation

Content Marketing Innovation

Aflac
One Day Pay

gen.video
How Scalable UGC Video Content Catapulted Crest Pro-Health HD to #1

New York International Auto Show
Virtual Tour

Stein IAS
The Digital Marketing Maturity Campaign

Verifone Media and Aria Resort & Casino
Verifone Media helps Aria Resort & Casino Enhance Tourist Engagement on the Vegas Strip

Email Marketing Innovation

Experian Marketing Services and Finish Line
Finish Line: College Fleece Program

Experian Marketing Services and Delta Air Lines
Delta’s Flight Cycle Program

Merkle and Samsung
SUHD Product Launch

Merkle and Marriott
Marriott Drives App Engagement Through Email

netCORE Solutions Pvt. Ltd. and Reliance Life Insurance Company Ltd.
Connecting the Dots and Humanizing Email Experience See Faster Email-to-Sale Conversions

Mobile innovation

Event Marketing Strategies and Nationwide
Nationwide: Make Safe Happen Safety Experience

FORENSIQ
Mobile Ad Fraud Study – Mobile Device Hijacking

Harte Hanks and Samsung Mobile
Samsung Note 4 Product Launch with Harte Hanks  

Stein IAS and Key Technology
Mobile Virtual Reality Experience

Omnichannel marketing innovation

Experian Marketing Services and American Eagle Outfitters
Reserve, Try and Buy: An Omnichannel Shopping Experience

FordDirect
ConsumerConnection

RedPoint Global and Xanterra Parks & Resorts
Xanterra Parks & Resorts – A Journey to One-to-One Marketing Excellence

Belk Inc., iCrossing, and Kenshoo
Driving Triple-Digit Increase in Conversion Rates

WIT Strategy and Selligent and Extra Space Storage
Selligent/Extra Space Storage

Social innovation

Grey Global Group and Volvo Cars North America
Volvo Interception

LEWIS Pulse
#Trending: Raising the Bar on Cross-Channel Social Media Coverage for Events

Plat4orm PR and Metia
Microsoft in Health

Principal Financial Group
See Your Retirement

W2O Group
Nothing can be perfect

Platform Categories

Most Innovative Analytics Platform

Brandwatch
Brandwatch Analytics

Experian Marketing Services
The Intelligence Manager of the Experian Marketing Suite

Fluid PR, Inc.
AppsFlyer

Merkle
Citizens Big Data Platform

Origami Logic
Marketing Signal Measurement Platform

Most Innovative Customer Experience Management Platform

MaritzCX
MaritzCX Platform

Epsilon
Epsilon’s Agility Loyalty

Influitive

Kitewheel
The Kitewheel Customer Journey Hub

Qubit
Qubit Visitor Cloud

Most Innovative Integrated Marketing Suite

Act-On Software

Blanc & Otus
Oracle Marketing Cloud

Blueshift
Blueshift Segment-of-One Marketing Automation

Experian Marketing Services
The Experian Marketing Suite

Salesforce
Salesforce Marketing Cloud: Personalize and Optimize 1:1 Customer Journeys

Most Innovative Mobile Marketing Platform

BLANC & OTUS
DoubleDutch

Comunicano, Inc.
FollowAnaytics’ Enterprise Mobile Analytics Platform

HookLogic
The HookLogic Platform: Powering Mobile Ads with Attribution Data, Anti-Ad Blocking, and Awesome Results

Button
Button

Swirl Networks, Inc.
Swirl Network’s Beacon Marketing Solution

Most Innovative Social Media Platform

500px
500px, photo sharing’s underdog, swings big in 2015

Sprout Social

Tracx
Tracx Social Business Cloud

Stars of Martech Categories

Content Marketing Scribe
Cassandra Jowett, Senior Content Marketing Manager, Influitive

Craig Vore, Insights Manager, Strategy & Optimization, Outsell

Denice Surjan, Senior Marketing Manager, Experian Marketing Services

Dr. Maruthi Viswanathan, Managing Director, RxPrism Health Systems

Steve Sachs, CEO, OneSpot

Data Scientist

Christopher S. Penn, Vice President of Marketing Technology, SHIFT Communications

Jonathan Smalletz, Lead Analyst, Merkle

Stacey Hawes, Senior Vice President, Data Solutions, Epsilon

Digital Ace

Chad Blodgett, Senior Vice President of omnichannel, Rakuten Marketing

Tuomas Peltoniemi, President, Asia, Digital Arts Network

 

Marketing Technologist

Emad Georgy, SVP & Global Head of Software Development & Product, Experian Marketing Services

Francis Wallinger, Chairman, Alchemetrics Ltd

Gwendolyn Lefevre, Vice President, Marketing Operations & Digital Marketing, Bottomline Technologies

Programmatic Prognosticator

Amy Good, Adaptive Media Investment & Technology Lead, Nestle Purina Pet Care

Lewis Gersh, CEO, Founder and Chairman, PebblePost

Victor Wong, CEO and cofounder, PaperG

Social Strategist

Michael Rusten Gabriel, Marketing Manager, Envision Creative Group

Stephanie Capouch, Social Media Manager, WP Engine

 

For more information about the finalists and the event, click here.

 

@Drnatalie, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Customer-facing Customer Experience Capabilities – People, Process and Technology

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The Year of the Customer: Research Points to the New Focus Must Be The Customer

Over the years I’ve covered Marketing, Sales, Customer Service and Support, Customer Success Management – all of which end up providing the brand or company the ability to deliver on a promise and make good on that promise or somewhere along that customer journey or do something that creates an unpleasant experience and drives the customer away from the company and to a competitor. We’ve known for over 25 years, its less expensive to keep current customers happy and continuously buying from a brand, yet companies are still not getting the value in perpetual customer experience. What I mean by that is that – it’s not just one experience that matters. Its every single interaction – and from the customer’s point of view. But it’s not that simple. It’s every single interaction from every single customer – perpetually.

Often people have argued with me whether social / digital makes a difference in customer service and customer loyalty. If you consider the 1-9-90 rule — which means that 1% of the population posts, 9% respond and 90% just lurk or read what the 10% posted — there are literally millions, if not billions of people who have read posts by that 10%. And even though that 10% is the tip of the iceberg of the total customer population, they are very influential. Consider that a good percentage of that 90% reads what the 10% writes. They could read about how horrible a brand’s products and services are, and without even engaging with them, a brand could make the decision to never buy from them. And consider if this is the case, there will be companies that look up one day and their customer base is gone and they will wonder where it went. It went to your competitors.

I thought I would provide a list of the research I’ve been working on – just to give you an idea of the various things I think about and where I see the world going. One of the best things about being an analyst is that you get to see the world from a collected set of experiences – from vendor briefings, conferences, speaking engagements and advisory – and you start to see patterns and that helps to shape your point of view on the world. Truthfully, while there’s some things changing, it’s still should be a customer-focused world. No Customers, no business. It’s that simple.

Here’s some of my thoughts on these topics below. @drnatalie

VP and Principal Analyst, Covering Marketing, Sales and Customer Service and Customer Success Management to Create Great Customer Experiences

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