Category Archives: Advertising

Let’s chat about chatbots

Chatbots are the topic of conversation in various industries at the moment, yet there are still people out there completely unaware of what exactly they mean for everyday life and society. Hence, we’re chatting about chatbots.

If you don’t know by now…

Chatbots are defined as computer programs designed to simulate conversations with users via the Internet through voice recognition technology. It’s AI technology designed to ask and/or answer our questions, as the user.

Surely you’ve heard of Siri (Apple), Cortana (Microsoft), Alexa (Amazon) or Google Assistant (obviously Google) by now? They are all integrated examples of chatbot technology in our everyday lives. Not everyone is a fan of Siri and the technology can, at some times, be frustrating especially if you have to repeat yourself five times for her to pick up what you’re trying to ask.

But there will never be a time where everyone in the world is happy with what’s available. So, if you still want to take a contact centre support course, the rise of chatbots shouldn’t stop you. There will always be a market for actual human to human interaction.

Their direct influence

Chatbots are already making their way through various industries in big and small ways that have a direct influence on us as users and on the companies that have adopted its technology. Here are a few examples:

  • Insurance: Allstate Business Insurance in America incorporated ABIe (a chatbot) to relieve traffic from the call centre and is able to handle thousands of queries from both agents and consumers directly.
  • Finance: Capital One Financial (also in America) has Eno – the balance-checking, payment-making, credit-card-informing, text-message chatbot. It only communicates via text.
  • Hospitality: Marriott International makes use of chatbot technology in Facebook Messenger and Slack (soon WeChat and Google Assistant as well) and allows for rewards members to research and book their trips.
  • Therapy: There is a chatbot out there that you can have conversations with and build a relationship through Facebook Messenger. Well, a relationship in the sense that Woebot, as you talk to him, gets to know you and your moods better. Woebot changes the way people think about therapy and is available 24/7 to chat, give expert advice, share a quote or crack a joke.

There are more examples, but that should be enough to give you an idea of where and how chatbot technology can have a direct influence on you. Well, it’s not too surprising seeing as they were designed to directly interact with us, but if you weren’t aware of it before, you are now.

Chatbots affecting the future

The content marketing and market research industries are going to be greatly affected by chatbots in the near future.

  • Personalisation of content based on trackable user behaviour through interaction
  • Humanising chatbots with personalities will better the user experience
  • Increased brand engagement stimulated through user-bot interaction.
  • Chatbots retrieve direct user insight in an unobtrusive manner
  • Quick and direct way to interact with the brand
  • Additional/external applications are not necessary for interaction making it convenient for users

The future of marketing is all about messaging and interacting with a user in a way that is convenient and not intrusive. A way where they have a choice to partake in the marketing campaign – by means of conversation.

Companies making the move

A lot of people are on the move to better their customer’s experience with their brand, so much so that the experience is beginning to rely less on the actual product conversion and more on the process of bringing them to that conversion.

Coca-Cola is one of the larger brands preparing for a digital future. David Godsman, Coca-Cola’s chief digital officer, says “It isn’t about changing digital experiences but also about helping customers make decisions in a more effective manner. It’s about an operational transition.” And the transition he’s talking about? Oh, just some talk about chatbots and AI vending machines.

Starbucks has also dived into the chatbot-pool with a “bot-barista” from which customers can order and pay for drinks remotely. Other companies include Pizza Hut, Mastercard, Sephora and Spotify, mostly through Facebook Messenger and Twitter.  

How you can do it too

The market and customer improvement opportunities with chatbots are incredible developments for any company that values their customer experience, which should be every company. If you were wondering, it is possible for you to make the most of it too.

Some places you can look at to help you create and test your bots are The Bot Platform, Chatfuel, Engati (through a 10-minute process), ChattyPeople and ChatScript (considered “next-generation” and was awarded for having the most human-like AI).

The internet can help take your business to all the places you’ve been struggling to get into by the click of a couple buttons. The process to use technology is never as complicated as the process to create the technology was and that should be comforting in a world of constant technological innovation.

Why marketing is important in business

question-mark-2492009_1920What is it that makes marketing such an important asset in business ventures? Why should companies focus on growing their marketing department? Product, price, place, and promotion are the four Ps of marketing. Anyone who has completed marketing courses will know this. These four Ps are why you need marketing strategies in your business today.

Sets sales

Product specifications are being marketed to a selected target audience through chosen promotional channels. This is bound to set your sales numbers on a steadily increasing route. This is the department that makes known who you are as a business, what you offer and how you can meet their needs as a potential consumer.

One mistake most companies make in the time of a recession is to cut marketing funds and efforts. Instead of cutting it off completely, rather downscale and be smarter with regards to your marketing efforts and platforms. Consumers may be spending less money during this time but they are still spending money nonetheless. Use that motivation to keep pushing your value product offers and focus more on your already-loyal consumers. You will be one of the few companies with your name still being spoken about.

Marketing makes your business known and without it, your client base would only consist of family, friends, and passers-by.

Builds brand identity and business reputation

Marketing is a platform to build your brand identity, your name is out there and people know what you’re selling, but now it’s time to get to know who you are as a business. It’s important to understand that you are people selling to people. Regardless of how huge your corporate company is, consumers are reassured by the fact that there is a human being on the other side of the line. Social media marketing and profiles is a great way for clients to get an idea of what goes on behind the scenes and can put faces to the names that sign off on their email conversations.

Marketing makes it possible for you to let clients know what your values are as a company and lets you show them how you live them out through your business and offerings. In this way, it helps build your business reputation and helps customers feel comfortable in what they are supporting by choosing to do business with you. It also gives potential customers the insight they need to make the brand switch or give your business a try.

Clever competition

In a world of competitive markets, even the marketing efforts of competitor companies can help you. Marketing is important to stay updated with where the marketplace values lie and, in turn, you can adjust and redirect your marketing strategy accordingly.

When advertising against competitors, keep it fun (not detrimental to the brand of another company) and keep it smart. Make use of the advertising slots in their Facebook and Youtube video campaigns and use their social media profiles to create a target audience segment based on their followers. All’s fair in open advertisement placement.

Channels communication

When it comes to advertising and mass media marketing, there isn’t a lot of room for two-way communication. You are directing data at your target consumer and they just have to take it in. With the rise of social media platforms, there is now the opportunity for consumers to talk back.

Making marketing inclusive means you can better understand what it is people want, need and demand. In turn, you can use this to make sure you are the company they turn to. Tell a story and start a conversation with social media marketing. Encourage comments and sharing and you will have consumers valuing your interaction and you will be gaining ideas for future campaigns and product upgrades.

Inspires innovation

Lastly, marketing is important in business because it inspires innovative thinking. Marketing is an ever-adapting department that needs to be able to manipulate all types of updatable medias and harness the power of whatever is #trending on a weekly or even daily basis. New ideas are constantly sought after to make your business stand out above the rest and bring the edge that consumers are looking for.

Marketing makes the consumers eye-line stop on your product sitting on the shelf instead of browsing over it to land on the more recognisable brands. Marketing is undeniably important in business and you don’t want to find out what your business would be like without it.

How the digital age affects marketing

online-marketing-1246457_960_720There are many students studying marketing diplomas or degrees. There is a good reason for that. In recent years, marketing has become a desired qualification by employers especially as traditional advertising exercises have fallen short of the desired effect. This is likely due to the marketing framework shifting from being a one trick pony to a layered approach with a multitude of options for exposure and customer acquisition.


Purchasing power is now in the hands of the customer and only companies who have shifted their marketing strategies into the digital realm can expect the success they desire. Furthermore, the digital marketing strategy employed must be focused on garnering traffic, reach identified customer pools and bring about conversions.


A marketing qualification has become virtually vital


In fact, many professional people decide to do their MBA in marketing as it gives more insight into running a business. This is because, while brick and mortar stores will always exist, actually converting someone into a customer requires you impressing them, assuring them and engaging with them online. What’s more, a marketing qualification increases your skillset in such a way that it all can be used in various industries and designations. Often entrepreneurs, consultants and department heads have a marketing qualification somewhere in their history. Furthermore, those who decide to follow the path straight into marketing find themselves in an environment that is ever changing. The current role of marketing manager in any company requires someone who is happy to be in a diversified role that will keep anyone on their toes. And this is because marketing has become a volatile space that never stops shifting.


Over the past 10 years we’ve definitely changed how we do marketing


Because of the digital age, traditional marketing courses have turned into digital marketing courses and this means something entirely more complex than what we’re used to. When studying digital marketing, you study digital media, online strategy, social media strategy, web analytics, search engine marketing and so on. You have to learn about and be adept at much more than before because digital marketing is simply bigger than traditional marketing. Companies have to market their products to a much wider audience because the online community is global. In fact, because of digital marketing courses and being able to do a digital marketing based MBA, brand new types of companies have come about. Ecommerce and Mcommerce are burgeoning industries now and even the most impoverished countries have a high rate of online customers.


So what has digital marketing changed?


For one, customer service is now a completely different space. Customers can now engage constantly with the brands they want to interact with. No matter the time of day or night, customers can reach out and expect a response with hours. That’s because the digital age means that the customer never sleeps and customer service has become a point of competition amongst companies.


Also, the bigger organisations and smaller companies can now compete against each other because the average customer doesn’t need their service provider or product manufacturer to be an enormous brand in order to be trusted. Customers place their value on a high level of engagement, quality content, user-friendly websites that are optimised for mobile and so on. You see, your company no longer has to have to have an enormous advertising budget to reach and retain customers. In fact, starting out, social media is the perfect free medium on which to gain exposure. Plus, many marketing gurus have consistently said that a company without any social media presence falls short by comparison to their counterparts and competitors who do make use of social media platforms. Of course, having an enormous budget for marketing and advertising strategies does help. It can assist greatly when looking to target a very specific audience with a very specific campaign but having no budget at all no longer means you’re out of the race. Free exposure online will still reap immense benefits and rewards.
Of course, digital marketing has changed many things in the digital age. There are many articles that provide a breakdown on the exact changes. We’ve only looked at a few key changes and with the quick advancements of technology lately, digital marketing will continue to develop and keep us all on our toes.

How turnstiles and other security barriers will save you during Christmas

Christmas is a few short weeks away and shoppers are preparing for it. As a business person, you need to be more prepared than anyone, as late shoppers’ desperation will take them anywhere and everywhere. The festive season is always filled with enormous numbers of shoppers, often more than any other time of year. People often take their leave days to spend with family, but it also might be the first time they’ve even had an opportunity to shop. Thus, you shouldn’t view all shoppers as merely being late, in terms of procrastinating. Instead, you should recognise that there might be these mitigating factors for their desperate attempts to bring joy to their loved ones through gifts. To help reduce problems, both for yourself and the horde of shoppers, you should consider interventions that can help manage crowds.

What is crowd control?

As Lavi Industries points out: “When crowds are ‘controlled’ everyone can enjoy themselves and a business or event can be more successful.” After all, in order to reach customers to help them, you need to know where they are, listen to them and so on. If all you encounter is noise, shouting and desperation, everything will be a mess. Order helps everyone, including customers though they may feel otherwise.

The difficulty is how to enforce order amidst this chaos. You have to rely on staff, who can become overwhelmed. It’s ideal, then, when hiring to look for those who are capable of handling themselves in tense situations, which is what every holiday season tends to be, especially in busy places like malls. Indeed, as the American National Retail Federation notes:

“For stores that do not have dedicated security or loss prevention staff, the on-site store team is
often tasked with coordinating, planning, staffing and executing the event. These staff
members provide retail companies with outside expertise and know-how that can be beneficial
in emergency situations. However, this arrangement can also pose some challenges. It’s
imperative for retailers to provide clear lines of communication, access to a top-ranking loss
prevention executive who has key decision-making capabilities and a store manager with
access to local law enforcement and the mall/property management company.”

But people can only get you so far. You must consider other interventions.


One of the most popular forms of crowd control, often used in the largest stadiums in the world, are turnstiles. Turnstiles are so popular there’s even a Turnstile band. What matters to you however is what a turnstile does. This is a mechanical gate that turns horizontally, allowing for individual entrance and exits, making for free flow of people. A turnstile gate can become your most important asset in managing a large crowd, since it prevents them from flooding in en masse.

In this way, people basically control themselves, since they cannot simply force their way through. Instead, they must operate carefully and thoughtfully. This slows down flow, which makes movement easier.

Staff training

As noted, staff will often be essential. They will need to help customers faster and get them to tills and out the door. You should assist not merely by handling tills yourself, but by training your team in advance. Staff should know who to call, where products are, how to answer common questions and so on. Obviously, by virtue of being staff, they should already be trained in these. However, everything will be turned up to eleven so they must work faster and be able to react quickly.

One of the most common problems during the festive season is an increase in customer complaints. As Elaine Allison, a consumer expert, notes:

“From buying gifts, food, alcohol parties and everything in between, we all need the extra time and strategies – including the staff who are working during the rush. Most people are not on their regular clock and they are getting pushy and cranky out there. This includes service staff in any of those industries that won’t breathe until about January 5th.”

Thus, you should expect one cranky person to encounter another, as a desperate customer meets obstacles and staff who are overwhelmed by the numbers around them. You must establish protocols, such as having a senior member on staff available at all times. Don’t ever let it escalate to the point where a customer makes a public display and vows to never return. Instead, isolate the customer, speak softly and assure them any problem will be solved. Sometimes, all customers want is someone in some position of power to hear their complaints – they don’t particularly want a solution right now, as much as they want a sympathetic ear to hear their frustration. Be prepared to play therapist!

By taking these kinds of precautions, you can create a smooth transition from the normal year into the festive one.

Top marketing tips for 2017

Every business wants to stand out from others. If a company is noticed more easily, it can draw attention and therefore customers, leading to profits and success. Being the best is meaningless if no one knows about your business.

With today’s technology, standing out is both easier and harder. This is due to the wealth of tools available, letting more people engage in smart ways to raise brand awareness – but this also means stiffer competition.

No wonder some companies are considering such drastic steps as artificial intelligence (AI), to help manage their marketing. CMO investigated these very recent developments, especially since they stem from some of the biggest tech companies in the world:

“Recent months have seen technology providers such as Salesforce, Oracle and Microsoft bring new AI-based technologies to market, promising to derive insights and improve conversions by mimicking the processes of the human brain in software. Salesforce, for example, is rolling out its Einstein AI technology to provide functions such as product recommendations within the Commerce Cloud, email content recommendations within its Marketing Cloud, and predictive forecasting tools for sales managers with its Sales Cloud.”

This ties in to wider considerations of what marketing trends can teach the modern business, to help broaden their appeal and reach greater audiences. These are some top marketing tips for business in 2017.

Document everything

It’s important to focus on tracking buyers’ behaviour. This lets us see how they got to their eventual purchases, what tipped them and so on. Of course, that depends on them reaching our site in the first place. But, once they’re on, it’s important that we know their movements, using tracking software.

But documenting isn’t enough, we also need to interpret the data properly. One of the most important lessons taught in marketing courses is knowing how to interpret a user’s behaviour. With more data in our hands, we have more basis on which to make informed conclusions. This is also the very data that AI can help manage in future.

Think wider

The world has become more connected thanks to the Internet. This is why we can do marketing courses online, gaining insight from all over the world. Whether we’re studying marketing courses in Egypt or marketing courses in London, there’s a universality to these ideas that lends itself to wider thinking. But, far more interesting, is to glean insights about particular populations and their behaviour.

For example, what matters to the average Londoner or Egyptian citizen might differ when it comes to certain categories of interest, such as sports or entertainment. Payfort, for example, points out that most Egyptian shoppers are under 35 years of age and its female shoppers do most of the online purchasing. Last year, the Royal Mail Group researched how the average UK shopper operated:

“86% of non-grocery shopping budget is now spent online, up from 80% in 2014, and the average spend is increasing. Consumers spent an average of £287 per person online in the last three months vs £274 spent online in the same period in 2014.”

Given our move toward online sales, it’s important we do not limit our research to only a few locations – we should be looking wider, tapping into what unites and differentiates shoppers around the world.

Social media

Everyone by now realises the importance of using social media for business. Not only does it provide legitimacy, but it also allows us to engage with customers. Indeed, social media can lead directly to sales, since we can announce deals, answer questions and so on, all of which leads to customers making a purchase.

However, in 2017, marketing experts have suggested we expand further. As Forbes’ Jayson DeMers notes:

“People are also starting to demand social media as a conduit for more vicarious experiences. It’s no longer enough to post your sentiments about an event; you have to show your users what it’s like to be there. You can do this with things like live video, 360 images and recordings, and even just more real-time posting. The idea is to make your users feel like they’re a genuine part of the experience, as it’s unfolding.”

New technology

As we already noted, marketers have shown an interest in AI as a means to help them deal with enormous amount of data. Yet, it’s not only the future technology of AI that is being regarded within marketing. Augmented reality and virtual reality are in homes all over the world and the average consumer is able to engage with new forms of interaction.

Jay Shemenski examined what these new technologies could mean for brands:

“In all of these applications, VR, AR, and 360 are giving brands opportunities to create remarkable experiences that are pushing the boundaries of content as we know it. But it’s important to remember that novel tricks will not build and nurture audiences. Instead it’s the enhancement of stories and value these technologies enable that is so powerful.”

Of course, they can only enhance content that is already good – they cannot themselves conjure up quality on their own. These are merely platforms, but it remains dependent on marketers to use them in innovative, creative and positive ways.

In the end, the trends that matter for 2017 are concerns we’ve had throughout 2016. Now is the time to reflect on what we can do to enhance these goals, making our businesses stand out in the years to come.