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I'm currently undertaking a project where I ask people what multichannel marketing is.
Part of the time I wonder if it's a distraction or even a siren, beautiful but dangerous to pursue.
Many a company has been successful through conservatism or even through making bold decisions about how a customer can't engage with the company - think of GiffGaff choosing not to have a call centre but rely on online communities for support. Think of Primark refusing to sell online.
These are my definitions. They're ordered in increasing sophistication. Definition five represents the holy grail and I think we all know the very few companies we suspect have achieved some form of it (nada).
NB: The whole thing is complicated by the differences between comms and commerce, size of business, number of audiences, product or service sold and provided etc. But I thought I would nail my colours to the mast.
Social media plays such an important role in publishing that sharable and fun interactive content is now the way to elevate a piece from 'buzzy' to 'viral'.
Buzzfeed and The Guardian have proved masterful at this (for different reasons) but there are plenty of other publishers and organisations getting in on the act.
Here's just a few of them..
To some extent, the pros and cons of marketing automation are two sides of the same coin, similar to deciding whether to keep a boyfriend or girlfriend and writing 'decisive' in the 'for' column and 'controlling' in the 'against'.
There's definitely a feeling of 'how far can we take this' within marketing. What started out as triggered emails is fast turning into a conversation where machine learning pops up fairly often. Automation won't just be about doing the grunt work of comms, it will also be about spotting trends and creating content.
Whether this day will come and how soon is up for debate. For now, I thought I'd set out clearly the pros and cons of marketing automation.
Let's start with the bad news..
Consumers love it when a company's mask slips. They jump on perceived proof that businesses are all in it to rip off the customer.
PR snafus such as Sainsbury's recent inside-outside poster are a good example of this phenomenon. Social media goes crazy.
In recent times, the move to enhanced service, partly stimulated by the commercial internet, means the mask has further to slip (but it still can). Companies aim to be transparent and friendly with customers on an increasing number of marketing and comms channels, but mistakes still occur.
Marketing automation is one area where brands must be vigilant, lest the wrong message be sent or the right message at the wrong time.
So, here's a roundup of some ways in which marketing automation can go wrong, in social, ecommerce, email and advertising.
It occurred to me that amongst the Econsultancy blog team we certainly have our favourite companies as far as digital ambition and execution are concerned.
So I'm simply going to round up some companies that have done good things on this front and see if our readers get annoyed by any omissions or, indeed, inclusions.
So, here are 18 digital trailblazers. A lot of them are involved solely in ecommerce but not all of them.
N.B. I've deliberately excluded agencies and what I think of as tech companies, though that distinction is a little difficult to make in some areas.
How do you create content that gets heard from within the maelstrom of online media?
Well, consumers are looking for trusted and credible sources of information. Partnering with influencers who already have the ear of a community can be a way to create trusted content and get it shared by the right people.
Do download the report to read in full, but first I thought I'd pick out my favourite tips.
The stats we've seen this week continue a trend for the past year.
There's lots about advertising, lots about mobile and plenty about where the two collide. Other highlights include the dreaded 'millenials' and their economic outlook and some interesting insight into the state of mobile in MENA specifically.
As always, if these stats don't sate your hunger, head on over to the insights and data in our Internet Statistics Compendium
Customer experience is about relevancy.
Many providers of services are finding that generational relevancy is a new factor they need to consider and one that likely requires a good deal of investment.
It's not prudent to avoid investment and hope that being a second or third mover will keep your digitally-demanding customers just sweet enough.
The fact is, if you improve the customer experience without even changing the service you provide, customers will be happier. They'll think they're getting more for their money and they are.
I'll give an example. First UK Bus introduced mobile ticketing in spring 2014. There's an mticket app on which tickets can be bought, stored and activated. For those of you not in the regions of the UK, these buses were often cash only (smart cards, similar to London's Oyster, are yet to be rolled out).
Here's why this mticketing works and why more companies should be moving sooner.
I've kept this list simple and it's a fairly accurate idea of what I use day-to-day.
I didn't use any of these tools when I started working on the Econsultancy blog. I'm still not an advanced content creator but I do have some small tricks up my sleeve.
Take a look at this list of tools to aid you in your image, video and text travails.
Manchester City is at the forefront of digital in the footballing world.
What City does very well in this new iPad app is to create an experience that's about football (duh!) and content and is enjoyable to use. It befits the sport and should please the fan.
Plenty of rival apps don't allow you to watch highlights (without paying) and don't put enough effort into editorial, preferring to concentrate on monetisation.
Let's take a closer look at the City App.
The clunk is nothing to do with being clunky.
A clunk is, as defined by Ashley Friedlein, a door clunk, a design detail within the user experience that lends a user satisfaction. It could be called a micro-interaction. The clunk is feedback, it's often skeuomorphic.
I had fun using the few apps on my iPhone 4S to find some features that embody the clunk. Some of them are pretty simple but see what you think and please add your own.
NB: I'm aware that my header image is a door closer (designed to avoid the clunk).