WhatsApp Business: What The New App Could Mean For B2C

B2C (Business to consumer) engagement usually requires a certain amount of understanding between brand and stakeholder. Often a campaign is centered on a consumer concern like WIIFM or “What’s in it for me?”

“Whether B2B or B2C, good marketing essentials are the same. We all are emotional beings looking for relevance, context, and connection,” said Beth Comstock, GE Vice Chair.

Instant messaging juggernaut WhatsApp recently debuted their consumer-focused Business App, targeted at small businesses and their clientele with the aims of enabling the 1.3 billion loyal WhatsApp users worldwide to connect with companies a lot easier.

“People will know that they’re talking to a business because you will be listed as a Business Account. Over time, some businesses will have Confirmed Accounts once it’s been confirmed that the account phone number matches the business phone number,” WhatsApp said in a statement.

The business app also allows users to create a standard business profile boasting a “quick replies” feature which saves and reuses frequently sent messages.

Probably the most useful aspect of the new application is the messaging statistics element, giving access to insights such the number of messages sent, read and received.

So far, it’s available solely on Android in Indonesia, Brazil, Italy, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the US but a global release is expected in the next month. No word yet on when it will appear on iOS.

WhatsApp isn’t the first messaging service to create a system specifically with e-commerce in mind, Chinese-owned competitor WeChat already hosts 10 million official business accounts for 980 million monthly active users. In this case, however, WhatsApp is arguably more universal. Time will tell how much of a ripple it will create in the B2C universe, but until then we have a few predictions.

Consumer engagement

B2C messaging is quickly becoming an asset to most brands and is seen as a personalised way to communicate with the modern consumer. Most marketing strategies consist of a multi-screen system of promotion and engagement. So what will the debut of WhatsApp Business mean for the way a company connects with their clientage?

“WhatsApp is an easier medium to access for all age groups compared to emails, besides, it’s extremely easy for emails to get lost in all the chaos that a 2018 inbox is,” writes blogger Prateek Malpani. 

This implies that using a medium like WhatsApp can only bring customers, closer. According to Braze, “the longer that a customer goes without engaging with your brand, the less likely they are to be retained.” Ease of access to consumers through a community messaging system such as WhatsApp will more than likely create an environment of interaction.

Strengthen small businesses

The app is targeted at small businesses which can’t usually afford a large-scale promotional campaign. As such the app may just put smaller enterprises on par with the giants. B2C-infused technology is desired in certain corners of the world, more than 80% of small to medium businesses in both India and Brazil use WhatsApp to communicate with customers, claims a Morning Consult study.

WhatsApp Business

For now, WhatsApp is trying their hand in the smaller enterprise arena, but the plan is to eventually roll out to large sectors such as airlines and banks. The Facebook-owned company is set to monetise the growing B2C trend, and we think they just might blow it out the water.
Via: WhatsApp, Business Insider, Braze, Blue Leadz. 

A Brief Look At Blockchain Tech And The Online Marketplace

blockchain and marketplaces

Oxford University, the esteemed British institution which has been in existence for over nine hundred years – now has a blockchain course. You know you’ve made it when Oxford takes notice. Bitcoin’s distributed ledger system has arguably become a standout result of the cryptocurrency craze (fans include notorious Bitcoin hater and J.P. Morgan CEO James Dimon) and is beginning to branch out, taking its talent for distributing data and funds, elsewhere.

Online marketplaces could be a good place to start, even with their reliable business models. Hubs like Amazon and eBay are full of data and online interactions that would work well with a blockchain system. Though both companies show a general distaste for the idea. Despite seeming impenetrability regarding efficiency – one pain point sticks out in even the largest of enterprises and that’s security concerns. 

Securing the market

Facebook faced pushback when its marketplace came under scrutiny in 2016 for lax security within seller and buyer relations. Mostly due to a lack of a built-in payment system and no record of interactions between parties, allowing those with unsavoury intentions to slip through the cracks. However, supporters of blockchain tech think the set-up could alleviate these woes in P2P networks like Facebook or Etsy.

With a blockchain powered marketplace, personal information isn’t required, claims Ruby Garage.

“Since a blockchain-based marketplace removes intermediaries, all transactions are traceable on a public ledger, demonstrating a high level of security and transparency.”

Banking with blockchain

Outside of the marketplace model, banks are also jumping aboard the blockchain train, seeing its potential for eliminating fraud issues. In 2015 Santander announced the launch of an app for transferring funds internationally, initially using staff as guinea pigs in the hope of releasing it into the world one day.

“This transition, if it finally happens, is going to take a long time, and the chief reason is simple: legacy bank infrastructure and the tens of billions of dollars that have already been spent on building that infrastructure,” wrote John Whelan, blockchain lab director at Banco Santander.

A decentralised marketplace presents the appearance of a good idea in theory but blockchain technology is still in the early stages of development, and like we mentioned, many significant influencers aren’t quite on board, despite enthusiasm from crypto-boosters like Ethereum cofounder Joseph Lubin.  “Apple seems to be largely uncaring and unaware. Google is making investments, but it’s not clear that they have a lot of activity going on. Amazon, we’ve not seen that much, so we’ll see.” Lubin told Fortune at an event in New York last year.

The Soma model

Still, smaller blockchain marketplaces are emerging. Soma, a Finnish-based digital platform using blockchain tech aims to create an online marketplace where users can buy and sell safely within a P2P network. Goods and services are represented by “cards” which allows for a totally transparent system.

“Users are encouraged to engage in actions that will benefit other members and the community as a whole by rewarding such actions with Soma Community (SCT), a cryptocurrency designed to incentivise the members of the decentralised community to perform value-adding services and act as a fast, secure and cost-effective way of compensation,” writes Soma on their website.

It seems that a move towards implementing blockchain into digital marketplaces is a definite possibility, regardless of big enterprises’ disinterest. Only time will tell how it grows but if the end goal is a safer and happier online community, then who can resist that?

Via: Fortune, Think Money, Coinbase, Ruby Garage, Forbes. 

The Underestimated Value Of Conversational Data

Taking a buyer from browsing to highly engaged is the goal of most marketers out there. Increased customer engagement represents a revenue increase of 23% for a brand, but in the age of tech-savvy prospects utilising multiple channels, how do you keep them coming back?

Of course staying ahead of the technological curve is a priority, according to Marketing Tech, “a survey of Fortune 500 marketing professionals carried out by LiveWorld, 52% of respondents thought that advances in technology would allow them to engage in meaningful two-way conversations with their customers.”

However piquing the interest of a buyer is something that requires a strategy of both personalisation and modern tech, which is where the often undervalued power of conversational data comes in. Conversational data is an indicator of how a brand’s customers are engaging with a conversational interface, be it chat, text or call.

Its value lies in the fact that it analyses real-time interactions – “with conversational analytics, for example, you can single out a target demographic or user to see whether they’re talking to a bot or application, then view every step of the conversation as it’s happening,” says Chatbots Magazine. It’s a key segmentation tool, enabling a brand or marketer to understand their buyer base on an intimate level. Thanks to data pioneers like Google, any business from large enterprises to small startups can access this bounty of information, evening the commerce playing field.

The Google Analytics Shift 

By far, a leader in the data game. The platform is now integrated into more than half of the websites on earth. It’s also altered how many marketers perceive their purpose — taking them from brand developers to keen data analysts and innovators. Google has done more for the planet than just bring us the Google Doodle. It has also brought the buyer to the forefront.
Where Google Analytics particularly stands out is in its endeavours to create an omniscient view of the customer journey, providing concrete evidence of their digital path, using Analytics 360 which includes features like enterprise analytics, tagging, site optimisation, data visualisation, market research, attribution, and audience management. Google claims to consider the current multi-screen environment that both marketers and their pool face.

Check out more about Freespee’s Google Analytics integration here. 
Despite this reputation, It has been accused in the past of disregarding offline channels and providing inaccurate information that, none-the-less, marketers have come to rely upon.

“Rightly or wrongly, the startup world cares mainly about direct-response metrics — and that is reflected in the “Goals,” and “Events” triggers in Google Analytics,” wrote TechCrunch contributor Samuel Scott.

Thanks to its recent collaboration with CRM platform Salesforce, that critique is now somewhat silenced. Whether naysayers like it or not, by the end of last year, “tablets and smartphones comprised 87 percent of the globally connected device market,” meaning that to keep ahead of the pace requires an understanding of the online sphere and a greater focus on the customer’s say so, especially concerning their interactions with the brand both online and offline. Google seems to be onboard with this by coveting the data gleaned from those buyer encounters and with this partnership, there is no doubt that ‘offline’ conversational data, namely call data, is aimed to become a hot commodity.

The advent of web analytics tools like GA has arguably done more to help than hinder the ecosystem, though some would disagree with its intention. Still, the way in which we communicate continues to elevate and technology seeps into our every day. Hopefully with Google’s help, the monetary power of conversation will continue to rise in value.
Via: TechCrunch, Chatbots Magazine, Marketing Tech, City Segment

The Google/Salesforce Collab Brings Omnichannel To Life

Creating a singular data pool containing the entire online to offline customer journey is something big brands struggle to achieve (a topic we touched on in a previous blog). However, the multinational tech giant that is Google seems to have discovered the last piece of the omnichannel puzzle and is intent on closing the loop in attributing offline sales — taking CRM platform Salesforce along for the ride.
After announcing their official partnership in November, Google and Salesforce released the first of many integrations to come this week. “Sales pipeline data from Sales Cloud (e.g., leads, opportunities) can now be imported directly into Analytics 360. So any marketer in a business that manages leads can see a more complete view of the customer’s path to conversion and quickly take action to engage them at the right moment,” wrote Google in a press release.
This collaboration is a way to gain a foothold in an arena previously ventured by Google competitor Microsoft, “This partnership offering gives customers another choice in the market and is targeted towards the traditional Adobe – Microsoft buyer,” Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research told TechCrunch.

Forging A New Digital Path

In this day and age, understanding the motives of a customer as they move from touchpoint to touchpoint is a brand’s ultimate goal. However, most brands see significant disconnects between their online properties and local stores, so when the data doesn’t quite add up they see wasted marketing budget.
In fact, “eConsultancy reports that 66% of all companies believe that the siloed data within their organisations prevents them from making the most effective use of their marketing,” according to The Drum.
Connecting the dots in the digital path usually involve deterministic or probabilistic matching using data onboarding platforms like LiveRamp. The omnichannel identity resolution provider generally uses people-based data to help brands reach consumers.
What could set Google and Salesforce’s partnership apart in this instance is the use of Analytics 360 which will provide a more complete picture of the conversion path through the integration of Big Query, Google Cloud’s enterprise data warehouse.
The emergence of this trend means brands will have to lean closer to implementing their omnichannel strategy to keep up with the competition. Something Google definitely seems in favour of but with a different strategy to LiveRamp.

The Omnichannel Debate

Some say it’s too open-ended, others think its development isn’t happening fast enough, and that legacy tech-reliant brands are holding back the pace. The debate over “omni-channel” is ongoing, but with Google’s backing, it should start finding its way into the mainstream tout suite.

What is omnichannel? The term “is what’s used to define how retailers are using technology to become customer-centric and creating a seamless… experience for consumers between the mobile, the web and brick-and-mortar channels,” says
Buyers of the future are changing how they shop, that fact remains. More than half of shoppers use multiple channels when placing orders over £100. Therefore, It’s safe to assume that a cohesive experience is expected across all touchpoints.
With an array of Google and Salesforce integrations coming our way aimed at just that, 2018 could be the year we bring it all together. Stay tuned.
Via: TechCrunch, Google, The DrumPYMNTS.

A Short Explanation Of Dynamic Phone Numbers

analytics - dynamic phone number

Simply put, dynamic call numbers allow companies to track all inbound calls to their business. They are unique phone numbers assigned to each visitor, displayed ‘dynamically’ on the brand website or in a digital advertising campaign. It’s a handy tool that allows marketers to see how their marketing activity, including advertising, is affecting inbound call volume and measure ROI (Return On Investment). Brands can see a visitor’s complete contextual history – including the source and medium that led them there to the page and even the page from which they decided to reach out.

How Does DNI Work?

Standardly, one line of javascript is added to the website or app, which serves a unique number to each visitor as soon as they arrive on the site. Once a visitor has perused the site and chosen to call, the javascript connects the two phone numbers.

Why It Works

A benefit of using Dynamic Numbers is knowing exactly how successful marketing campaigns like paid search (SEM) and social media are in driving calls and ultimately, benefiting a brand’s bottom line. DNI provides real-time data which can allow businesses to better track where their funds are making the most significant impact. It can also record a customer’s collective communication history with a brand based on one number which remains consistent throughout. No matter who they converse with or the size of their team.

Using dynamic numbers also improves the visibility a brand has over the customer’s journey from research to purchase. Often one call (or any one touchpoint) won’t close be the final sale, so dynamic numbers offer an opportunity to connect every touchpoint by recording the user’s online behaviour post conversation. This data can be retrieved in future conversations brand teams have with that user, enriching their experience

The SEO and Call Tracking Myth

There was a misconception that dynamic number insertion or call tracking would hurt a brand’s SEO clout. This just isn’t true, when done correctly DNI is more beneficial than harmful to SEO.

“The problem is that the call tracking industry has traditionally done a very poor job of educating marketers about what correct use of call tracking actually is,” writes Search Engine Journal.

The initial confusion came about thanks to NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number). Google likes these elements to be consistent across all channels, having multiple numbers can confuse the algorithm. However, this only applies to directories and has nothing to do with on-site DNI. In that regard, companies are just fine and dandy.

Word to the wise though, sprinkling call tracking numbers throughout the internet’s directories will definitely harm SEO and hurt a brand in the long run.

“As long as a precaution is made to make certain your tracking number doesn’t get scraped by Google, or some other authority, tracking numbers are totally fine,” writes Adam Steele via Search Engine Journal.

There is no denying that DNI is helpful for both ends of the purchase. On the company side, it produces a bounty of data that reveals the intricacies of the customer journey. From the customer’s perspective, it can greatly reduce the time it takes to find what they are looking for from a brand.
Via: Search Engine Journal

The New Psychology Behind Customer Service

Humans are complicated; this fact becomes even more obvious when they are thrown into a ‘situation’ with customer service (any conversation with customer service is initially perceived as a situation). The pressure that comes from needing a problem solved, is akin to outing a raging flame, according to blogger Seth Godin. “Customer service (whether you’re a school principal, a call center or a consultant) can’t begin until the person you’re working with believes that you’re going to help them put out the fire on their head.”

The psychology behind every customer interaction points to the fact that decision making is almost always an emotional event. Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio discovered that those with damage to the emotional centre of the brain were unable to make simple decisions. His research concluded that every choice we make has a bunch of feelings behind it.

Therefore with this understanding, customer service interactions should be smooth sailing — once a brand ensures that every step an interested party takes is a positive one. But it’s not always that seamless, because like we previously mentioned — humans are complicated. It’s not always easy to predict what will make them happy.

The phenomenon of customer service began in the eighteenth century when folks started saving copper coins to give to merchants in exchange for goods. Contact with customer support primarily consisted of face-to-face interactions. It wasn’t until 1894 that phones were added to the mix. It was a simpler time.

These days, however, the playing field is much more technologically dexterous and so are people’s expectations. 

The Self-Talk Method

Tackling the issue of customer satisfaction means coming up with inventive ways to draw them in. One useful tactic begins in their heads.

Heard of self-talk? It’s something we ALL do on a regular basis; our inner voice is one that silently prefaces everything we say out loud and speaks when we can’t find the audible words.  

Finding a way to address a customer’s inner voice and encouraging them to speak to themselves about a product could turn a consideration into a lead.

“If you can get customers to say it to themselves, by thinking, they’ll make quicker decisions,” writes Tagove.

Promoting self-talk could mean taking the human element out of it, because whether we want to admit it or not, speaking to a neutral chatbot takes the pressure off of reciprocating in a conversation with another person. It also allows time for inner thought.

A New Generation

Such a process fits well with the upcoming generation’s needs, only 29% of millennials like talking on the phone to customer service. While their desire to speak through chat has risen by 9%.

Self-talk and self-service are looking more and more like the future of customer interaction, and constantly evolving tech is eradicating legacy procedures. Gone are the days of copper coins and switchboards, today’s customers require less friction.

Via: Aspect Blog, Seth Godin, Tagove, User Like. 

What Do Real Estate Customers Want From Their Call Experience?

Cold calling potential customers in real estate is quickly becoming an old and wasteful practice, discovered that only 5 – 10% of those contacted pick up the phone. To combat this trend, connecting to a fruitful market these days may require an intimate understanding of their needs.

The real estate market in Europe will see a difference in priority this year, “from real estate as a financial asset, to real estate as a product and more significantly, to real estate as a service,” according to Price Waterhouse.

With that in mind, considering the ‘industry as a service’ could mean disrupting the traditional model and aligning with customer service more than ever before, many firms are moving forward into the future by adapting this focus into emerging technologies. In some instances, even removing the need for a human agent entirely and creating a custom and seamless experience specific to a user.

Purple Bricks

London-based online platform Purple Bricks offers the full services of a regular brokerage for a flat fee of around £2300, allowing a lead to either sell, rent or buy a property from beginning to end, all online. To do this, Purplebricks offers features such as professional photography, a 3-D virtual tour, plus listing the property on all real estate websites.

This strategy goes hand in hand with the results of a recent survey conducted by CEB (Gartner) Global which discovered that 57.7% of customers want to do things themselves. Additionally, If they run into an issue that they are unable to solve and reach out to a company, 59% hate being transferred more than once by a customer service line.

A Change In Tactic

Cumulatively, it seems that what a real estate customer wants from their contact experience is a personal, yet fast process. The statistics support this, when real estate firms text their clients instead of calling them, they see 90% of those contacted both opening and responding to texts within 5 minutes.
The right software can also be a game changer, finding the right tech that can segment a database by customer demands and allow the agent (whether virtual or flesh and bone) to know precisely who they are talking to could put a dent in high call abandonment figures.

“In general, the real estate market is being disrupted by many people, and I think that many of us, as a company, we expect a lot. We are going after the same war,” PurpleBricks US competitor Reali CEO Amit Haller said to CNBC. “We want to change things for the consumer.”

Changing consumer experiences doesn’t necessarily mean throwing out the old model. It’s more about integrating new technology that can adapt to the needs of your buyer base. In this climate, what customers need more than anything is an easier route to attaining a property, with clear communication through the whole process.
Via: PWC Global, BoomTown!, CNBC, CEB(Gartner).

This Is An Online Marketplace’s Biggest Challenge

Digital marketplaces, both big and small, face a common problem – the chicken and egg quandary that comes with high demand from both buyers and sellers. Behemoths like eBay, Facebook and Fiverr each tackle their own challenges when it came to both inciting and maintaining activity on their forums. In fact, a few well-known brands even faked it till they made it.

“Services marketplaces put up fake projects to show activity. Steve Sammartino talks of how he seeded by essentially buying the initial items himself and renting them out (though he refers to it as “Inventing Demand”, when actually he was seeding supply,” writes Pipes to Platforms.

However, once the deception springs a significant audience of both buyers and sellers, segmenting and maintaining a smooth purchase process to meet revenue targets takes a certain level of finesse.

The problem with having too much of a good thing is that it is very easy to tip the scales, especially on the buyer side of the agreement. “Buyers who are unhappy with the product or service one of the sellers provides will typically direct their ire toward the marketplace, instead of the respective seller,” claims Entrepreneur.

Sometimes its the seller who causes the ripple, if a once-faithful seller leaves a marketplace, the vast buyer base they accumulated is then left aimless without a place to land.

No marketplace wants to leave their brand at the mercy of their seller’s reputation.

A Few Solutions

The common denominator in every instance usually involves balancing the ecosystem by taking a closer look at CX for both buyers and sellers. Automotive marketplace TrueCar saw a share price “nosedive from $24 in August 2014 to $4 in 2015,” due to an alienation of their sellers according to Yapstone. “Losing dealerships meant fewer choices for the consumer and higher prices for car buyers in the TrueCar network. Ultimately everyone in TrueCar’s marketplace ecosystem – buyer and seller – felt the burn.”

Fortunately, TrueCar learned from this slip-up and introduced changes to their seller relationships, including dealerships in their advertising. Their share price rose back to $21USD in 2017. 

Buyer-wise, CX is more multifaceted and involves building both trust and expectation. Both of these facets can be improved through reliable communication. If a buyer knows that their queries will be received and dealt with in a personal manner, it reflects their overall ethos which can lead to iron-clad loyalty.

Giant marketplace eBay found a way to fix this issue by igniting a 7-day call service for top buyers and sellers in 2009. According to AdAge, the brand saw an increased net promoter score and more activity from top buyers than ever.

Today, eBay has found a way to maintain expectations. “Companies like Alibaba and eBay are successful because they have been able to communicate to buyers that when a product or service defect exists, it is the factory or seller, not the platform, that is responsible,” writes Entrepreneur.

Overall, the chicken and egg problem will always be a bee in the bonnet of marketplace growth, but the evidence suggests there are innovative ways around it, sometimes all it requires is a bit of synergy.

Via: Yapstone, Pipes to PlatformsVentureBeat, AdAge, Entrepreneur.