5 office hacks we can’t live without.

  1. Slack.

We admit it, we’re addicted to Slack. We love this tool and find it essential to our day-to-day operations in the office. Slack is in (very) simple terms is Whatsapp for the workplace. But in reality it’s so much more than that. You can integrate it with your dropbox, Google Drive, set up specific channels for different projects/groups of people and much more.

Oh and their explainer video is just the best, which gets them extra points from us.

      2. Uber Conference

This site is particularly useful if you live in a part of the world where Skype is not available and you rely heavily on video conference for remote meetings. The free version of this allows conference calls and screen sharing, while the paid version allows video calling as well. We do advise you make sure that other participants get the timing of the call spot-on though, otherwise the hold music will drive you crazy.

      3. Weekly debate club

What started as a way for us to make sure we all proactively stay on top of industry news, technology advances and other relevant information has turned into the highlight of our week in the office. From an educational POV, the nature of a debate means that we all have to thoroughly research and really understand the subject matter ahead of the session. This means we’re all reading more, sharing more and having more conversations. (Amazing what a little gamification can do, isn’t it?). What’s more, is that our debate club has evolved into a sacred half an hour of social time where we all leave our laptops and gather round for the discussion. It’s where we really bond as a team, share ideas, shout at each other and have a LOT of laughs.

Image from iOS (6)

       4. Whiteboards

As integrated marketing communications strategists, we often have to navigate a maze of thoughts and ideas before we find our path and for this, we find that a good scribble can often save hours of brain crunching. We’re lucky in our office to have large glass surfaces attached to all the walls on which we can host discussions, write up thought starters or share quotes that resonate with us. But don’t let a lack of surface area deter you – a good old fashioned pen and paper works just as well!

     5. Timesheets

We know. Yawn, right? But seriously, since implementing our time sheet system we find we’re so much more productive cause we can see where our hours are being spent. It also means we have a clear indication of when projects run over and we know we’ve not allowed for enough hours, allowing us to be more efficient in future.

Do you have an awesome office hack that you would add to this list? Hit us up in the comments and let’s swap secret weapons!

Growth Hacking: 5 tips for marketers… and a little inspiration.

Growth hacking has been hot on the lips of digital marketers for while now; it’s a technique that’s easy to understand but a little harder to practice. When a brand “growth hacks”, it delves deep into the world of its audience, to understand its audiences’ perspectives and create products and services around their needs and desires. Brands start by carefully measuring their audience’s feedback, preferences and behaviors, in order to create, trial and augment products and services to better suit the customer. Growth hackers are customer thrill seekers and problem solvers at heart; searching for the subliminal product / market fit, in order to drive business growth and, in its ultimate application, transform category growth.

Growth hacking means taking an experimental, creative and data-driven approach to the way business is conducted. While the approach is often led by marketing, it’s inherently a cross-functional discipline, drawing together many functions of a business, particularly R&D, Marcomms, Sales, Engineering, Production and Distribution, to gear around the customer. There’s also the “small” matter of C-suite buy in 🙂

To the digital marketing natives among us, growth hacking should be like breathing air, it is both the form and function of how we operate. It’s our job to listen to audiences at both a micro and macro level to surface insights that inspire new ways of conducting business. How many times have you listened to your communities and thought “Why can’t my brand just do what the people want?” To growth hack and transform a business in a way that delights both audiences and shareholders is a marketer’s ultimate dream! The secret to a successful hack is internal buy-in, a degree of organizational agility and perception change – stakeholders need to see that marketing isn’t just a cost centre and can meaningfully inform and shape business growth.

So… you lookin’ for a revolution, punk? Here are 5 tips for developing a growth hacking initiative that will help noise things up:

  1. Start with data-fueled insights, backed up with examples: Growth hacking isn’t an assumption, it’s premised on known information conveyed by customer data. Use the wealth of first, second and third party data that’s open to you. Form use cases and user personas premised on market examples that are representative of your findings
  2. Make decent business cases: Notice the plural here? Don’t just get stuck on one good idea. Get used to (rejection) writing compelling, succinct business cases. Keep it simple, but do your best to include the opportunity, the mutual benefit, the risk, cost, tech, timescale, measurement frameworks, operational and organizational impact and capability. Granted, you may not have full visibility over this, however it can be top line and seek input… which takes us to our next point:
  3. Gather your allies: Start with those who are most likely to understand where you’re coming from, such as your R&D and sales people, for instance and search for allies throughout the organization: a friendly face in distribution could be a killer addition to your renegade growth hacking team.
  4. Allocate a budget for experimentation: September is soon upon us and we’re gearing up for 2019 planning. Now’s the time to allocate a budget for marketing innovation. It doesn’t have to be big… but enough to conduct some monitoring, market testing, customer segmentation, outreach and trial.
  5. Prepare to be challenged: Similar to digital transformation initiatives, of which growth hacking is a natural cousin, expect people to be resistant to change. It’s human nature. Don’t be dismayed, all you need is a small green light to set your idea fly! Remember, all those detractors will become the initiative’s biggest advocate once they small success. Again, it’s human nature.

Need a little inspiration?

Let’s take a look at some of the best examples of growth hacking, to give you a bit of context and hopefully inspire you:

  1. The WIN/WIN.

Dropbox increased their signups by 60% by using growth hacking techniques to grow their customer base and augment their product to better suit their customers needs. In their early start-up years they experimented with many different hacking techniques and were recognized at The Webbys and The Crunchies for their results. One of their most successful initiatives was their “Refer a Friend” through which they were able to exponentially grow their customer base. Existing customers were offered 500mb of extra storage for every friend they managed to recruit via the link, the incentive worked both ways as the new joiners also received the same bonus. By offering the same incentive to the new user, they are encouraged to pass on the message further and so the growth continues. Essentially Dropbox was able to get its existing customers base to take charge of the marketing to potential customers, at very little cost. In addition to this, the referral process has much more credibility than traditional advertising as users were more inclined to trust information that comes from someone they know. 

2. INSPIRED BY HUMAN NATURE.

For our second example we’re going to club Gmail and Hotmail together (so controversial, we know). Both used classic characteristics of human nature, namely curiosity and belonging, to attract their audiences.

Hotmail launched in 1996, with “PS, I love you, get your free email at Hotmail.” This curious tagline, punched on the base of emails, sparked global virality… and the rest is history.

Gmail’s 2004 launch was same same but different; it launched by releasing invites to 1,000 tastemakers and granted them permission to refer friends. A gmail invite became the hottest invite in town – we remember the mad scurry to get said invite, it was a digital social status *thing*!

As you can see, successful growth hacking often comes about from leveraging the nature and behavior of audiences and working with them so that all parties involved benefit. And while everyone’s talking the technique up, wouldn’t you agree that listening to your customers needs and acting on them to drive business growth is simply common sense*? We certainly think so.

Please share with us your thoughts and experiences on growth hacking.

*And yes, we are more than well aware of “that” Henry Ford quote and guess what? He never said it!

Image credit: Bruno Cervera / Unsplash

In Arabic: 2018 Media and Marketing Trends across Content, Technology and Data. PART 3: DATA

Data is the flavor of the month

توجهات الإعلام والتسويق على صعيد المحتوى والبيانات والتكنولوجيا في عام 2018. الموضوع الثالث: البيانات

 لقد بات مجال البيانات والإحصائيات أمراً في غاية الأهمية بما يتعلق بمجال التسويق والذي لطالما اتسّم بالتطور الدائم. إذ شهد مجالنا علاقة غير معروفة ومحددة مع علم البيانات خلال السنين القليلة الماضية، فقد كانت البيانات الحل الأمثل لتحديد وقياس الأشياء دون معرفة المعنى الحقيقي حولها. وبالتأكيد فإنّ مجال البيانات يشهد عدداً من التطورات التي تجعلنا نتنبّأ بالعديد من الابتكارات الفريدة التي سيعرّفنا عليها هذا العلم. وقبل الحديث المفصل عما يحمله مستقبل هذا المجال، دعونا نتعرّف على أبرز ما يلوح في أفق علم البيانات في عام 2018.

القياس في مجال غير معروف.

لطالما كان تعريف مسألة قياس نجاح المحتوى أمراً عُضال. إذ تُثبت البحوث الرقمية أهمية الفيديو كأهم عناصر المحتوى الحالي والمستقبلي، ولكن ما نزال نشهد صراعاً وجدلاً كبيراً من مختلف الرائدين في هذا المجال بالنسبة لتحديد معايير قياس ونجاح ذلك. وقد تمّ بالتأكيد اتخاذ عدداً من الإجراءات لتحسين هذا المجال كتشكيل المجالس المحلية والحصول على حلول متكاملة من شركات خارجية والقيام بإحصاءات خاصة مستقلة حول هذا القطاع. وعلى الرغم من كل تلك الجهود، إلا أنّها لم تتمكن من حل المشكلات التي تعاني منها العلامات التجارية. كما وحاولت العديد من الهيئات الخاصة بهذا المجال في نقاش وإيجاد حلول تلك المشاكل، ولكن يكفي الاطلاع على كتيب إرشادات قياس مرات الظهور للفيديو الرقمي، والذي سيُثبت بأنّنا لا نقوم بالتطوير والتسارع بالشكل الكافي. ولا بدّ من أخذ ذلك الموضوع بعين الاعتبار في ظل غياب أهم رواد هذا المجال كفيس بوك وأومنيكوم. وقد بات المجال مفتوحاً لبعض مؤثري ذلك المجال كنستله وإتش بي، ونتوقع بأنّ العلامات التجارية الأخرى ومختلف شركات الذكاء الإعلامي والرقمي سيلحقون بذلك الركب، عوضاً عن المنصات الرقمية بحد ذاتها. وذلك بغية تحديد معايير قياس تهم القطاعات المختلفة على حدى عوضاً عن المعايير القديمة والغير مجدية.

ارتفاع تأثير المعلومات المحددة والمقيدة.

لقد بات موضوع الحصول على البيانات بالمجان للعلامات التجارية أمراً في غاية الصعوبة مؤخراً، إذ أصبح مجال استحواذ البيانات أمراً في غاية الأهمية للناشرين. إذ يشدد قانون هيئة حماية البيانات الأوروبية على خصوصية معلومات المستهليكن. ويبدو الأمر في غاية الأهمية نتيجة لغفلة وتجاهل العلامات التجارية والمؤسسات والمطورين لهذا الموضوع والذي يمس بالسمعة، كما ويتعلق بمسائل قانونية ومالية. وحسب نصائح إحدى مستشاري الإعلام القانونيين في منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا، فيونا روبيرتسون، لقد بدأ ظهور وتقييد المنصات الرقمية كنتيجة غير مباشرة لجهود قانون هيئة حماية البيانات. فعلى المنصات الرقمية مضاعفة جهودها لتقديم خدمات مجانية ومميزة للمستخدمين مقابل السماح باستخدام معلوماتهم وبياناتهم الشخصية من قبل تلك المنصات. إذ أصبح توفير بيانات ومعلومات مستخدمي تلك المنصات بالمجان أمراً أشبه بالمستحيل. إذ يسعى قانون هيئة حماية البيانات إلى حماية معلومات المستخدمين، مما يحفز العلامات التجارية لشراء تلك البيانات بشكل رسمي من المنصات الرقمية مباشرةً. كما ونتوقع بأنّ العلامات التجارية ستكون أكثر تميزاً في الإنفاق الإعلامي مع تزايد طلبها على نوعية بيانات مميزة، والتي يصعب الحصول عليها من قبل الناشرين المغمورين.

وفي حديث مع السيد بوجا بانوم، المدير التنفيذي للموقع التكنولوجي، بليس، أوضح بأنّه يمكن اعتبار فهم واستيعاب الجمهور ومعرفة كيفية الوصول إليهم كالأهمية الكبرى للمسوقين قبل البدء بالصرف الإعلامي. ويجب استهداف الجمهور بشكل عميق يعتمد على مؤشرات وبيانات دقيقة. ووضّح على الرغم من أهمية الحصول على بيانات المستخدمين، إلا أنه يجب التمتع بالشفافية والصراحة مع العلامات التجارية حول تلك البيانات والعائد على الاستثمار. ويجب على العلامات التجارية أن تزيد من مصداقيتها حول مصادر بيانات المسخدمين وأهمية ذلك في تحقيق العائد على الاستثمار، وهذا هو الأمر الذي يجب أن تعمل عليه العلامات التجارية والمسوقين في عام 2018. وسيكون لمشاركة تلك البيانات بين العلامات التجارية وشركائها أهمية كبرى في التسويق والحملات الرقمية في عام 2018، مما يساهم في معرفة وتحديد أهمية نوعية البيانات المختلفة.

الإنسان والآلة…ظهور لتوأم رقمي جديد.

يُعتبر التوأم الرقمي إحدى أهم النتائج المتوقعة لاندماج انترنت الأشياء وتطور الآلة. إذ يمكننا اعتبار التوأم الرقمي كنسخة افتراضية عن الأشياء الملموسة والعمليات والأنظمة التي تعتمد على البيانات للفهم والتعلم والمنطق والنتبؤ. ولعلّ مجالي الطيران والسيارات هما السباقين عند حديثنا حول هذا الموضوع، وهذا ما يتمثل في الحصول على الإحصائيات والمعلومات بشكل مباشر كضغط الإطارات والحرارة والسرعة وذلك بغية تحسين الكفاءة.

ومع الظهور الواضح لمفهوم التوأم الرقمي في مجال البيانات والمعلومات، فإنّنا سنرى قريباً ما يُدعى بالخيط أو السلك الرقمي. إذ سيسهم ذلك المفهوم في تعريفنا بسياق وترابط البيانات ببعضها البعض. كما وسيوضح تسلسل البيانات وتاريخها، مما سيساهم في توفير خطط ونقاط عملية للاستخدام الجاد والبناء لتلك البيانات. وحسب توقعات موقع غارتنر، فإنّ ما يقارب نصف الشركات الصناعية ستقوم باستخدام التوأم الرقمي مع حلول عام 2021.

كما ولا بدّ من الإشارة إلى تواجد تقنية التوأم الرقمي منذ عقود، وذلك من خلال بعثة أبولو 13. وقد أدى استخدام تقنية التوأم الرقمي إلى إنقاذ البعثة آنذاك.

 

 

نشكركم على قراءتكم لمقالاتنا حول توجهات الإعلام والتسويق في عام 2018، ونتطلع لآرائكم واقتراحاتكم حول هذا الموضوع في موقعنا .

2018 Media and Marketing Trends across Content, Data and Technology. PART 3: DATA

Data is the flavor of the month

Skidding around the door like a late, naughty school-kid, comes our third post on Data Trends for 2018. Get in here, you scallywag!

Data science and its marketing is a subject that is here to stay, which to us, is refreshing in an industry too often full of whimsy and subjectivity. Over the past few years, however, our industry has developed a twisted relationship with data. At times we’ve seen it as a silver bullet, overplaying our hand, measuring “things” just because they can be measured without objectively interpreting the meaning or impact of what we’re doing; hello, fan count! Then there’s the bright, new shiny stuff in the world of emerging data trends that is cooooool. But first, we need to wind our way through the woods of regulation to get there. So let’s talk first about what’s around the corner and then reward ourselves with the awesome shiny toys of the future.

Measurement in a mire

It’s well known that we have an ongoing issue in terms of measurement; for example, while research says that online video is the present and the future, the major players can’t align on industry-wide benchmarks as they relate to it. Sure, action is being taken – internal councils are being formed, third-party integration solutions and independent industry audits are being conducted… but a lot of it is simply sound and fury, given that the actions aren’t necessarily solving the brand owner’s problem. Industry bodies such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Media Ratings Council (MRC) have been active in trying to progress discussion but you only have to look at their recent Digital Video Impression Measurement Guidelines, released in October 2017 for public discussion, to see that we’re not making progress fast enough. When you don’t have major media players such as Facebook and Omnicom at the table, there’s a telling sign. Also – notice the narrowing of the title? Now, major players, such as Nestle and HP are going out on their own; we predict that others will follow and that solutions will come from the brands and media intelligence firms this time, rather than the platform players, establishing metrics that matter to their business rather than industry-agnostic measures of old.

Walled gardens rise as a butterfly effect takes hold

There’s no way of putting this mildly: the free ride for brands on digital media – particularly as it relates to data acquisition is well and truly over and the stakes are rising for publishers.  The EU’s General Data Protection Law (GDPR) brings consumer protection firmly into the limelight. What’s worrying is how many brands, agencies and developers have their eyes closed to it but to do so is dangerous from a reputation, legal and financial POV. Why? Read our previous post for background, with advice from MENA media legal eagle, Fiona Robertson.

A perhaps unintended consequence of the GDPR laws is the rise of the walled garden, aka closed platforms. Platforms will now have to work harder at providing truly compelling, free services in exchange for audiences to provide them with personal data. No way will they be giving customer data away for free anymore. While GDPR is designed to protect its audience, it means an increase in advertising investment from brands seeking personalized customer interaction and validated audience data from platforms. Expect brands to be a lot more discerning about their media spends, a lot more demanding when it comes to data quality and unfortunately… for the smaller publishers to suffer they don’t get their ducks in a row. Throw in the universal uptake of ad-blockers and the repeal of net neutrality (which we are still in denial about) and you can see just how well-protected these walled gardens will be.

We asked location tech firm, Blis’, Managing Director Puja Pannum to weigh in. “Understanding audiences and where to reach them is a marketer’s number one priority before their first dollar is spent, and with more and richer data, targeting capabilities naturally improve. While it’s an absolute priority to protect consumer data, it is also beneficial [for vendors] to be transparent with brands about ROI and footfall data. But to do that, it needs to go both ways,” said Puja. “Brands need to be as transparent and open about their analytics and data sources, like loyalty card data and Google analytics, as vendors are about ROI. Currently, this is the only missing element in end-to-end transparency, something players on both sides should be striving for. In 2018, promoting the sharing of these kinds of data will help brands and their chosen partners build campaigns on more data sources and benefit from a holistic view of what’s working versus what’s not.”

Human + machine gives birth to Digital Twins

One of the more interesting aspects to come from the fusion of Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning is the Digital Twin. A Digital Twin is a virtual replica of physical assets, processes and systems which uses data to enable understanding, learning, reasoning and prediction. The aviation, aerospace and automotive sectors are the leaders in this field, whereby real-time analytics of critical aspects (such as tyre pressure, temperature, distance and speed) have been used to optimize efficiencies.

Where Digital Twin technology starts to get really interesting is in the area of predictive modeling and future-proofing, where we’ll start to see not just the what but the why, generated by the emergence of the “Digital Thread”. The Digital Thread is the contextualization or connectedness of data, informed by the integration of large and multiple data flows, both real time and historical, leading to actionable information – such as establishment of digital twins being able to accurately predict a range of outcomes at scale.

Gartner predicts that by 2021 around half of large industrialized companies will be using Digital Twins. All this said, Digital Twin technology has been around for decades – were it not for Digital Twins, the Apollo 13 mission may well have been doomed – it was this practice that enabled them to mirror how they could rescue the mission when it ran into trouble. Without Digital Twin technology, there would be no Mars rover Curiosity! Take a look at the video below, to see how curiosity, technology, ingenuity and data join forces to make miracles!

Thanks for reading our 2018 trends across content, technology and data. Please feel to drop us a line and let us know what you’re thinking about in this realm and of course, we welcome your feedback too!

 

Why You Can’t Afford To Operate In A Marcomms Vacuum

Guys, we need to get it together.

Here is a truth; everyone in this industry, no matter whether they’re client side or agency side wants to do great work. Everyone. Whether on a grand or small scale, we all want to do work that moves the dial and inspires action.

Lately however, I’ve been reading posts, mostly on LinkedIn, with people from agency land emotionally wilting. Feeling lost, miserable, their work feeling futile. I was quite taken aback by some of the discussions; they were coming from heavy hitters – some very well-established international industry types and they were utterly lamenting. Why? Budgets are being cut. They can’t get their work through. Struggling to find meaning, that sort of thing.

Client side, it’s same-same-but-different. I recently had a senior regional brand owner,  sit at my kitchen table on a sunny Saturday morning to discuss how she just felt like she was spinning her wheels. Internal alignment was a nightmare, managing her many agencies felt like herding cats, budgets had been slashed and she just didn’t feel that she could move the dial. And how on earth could she keep herself and her people up-to-date with everything that’s going on in the digital world?

This gig is tough at the moment, on a number of levels. We all know that. There is a little silver lining however: challenging times can be a strangely inspiring and produce quite incredible work. It forces people to spring into action and get it together; to think sharply and make the best of the resources they have.

In this environment, collaboration is key to success. In this crazy, hectic, sometimes bonkers world of acronyms, algorithms, and addressability, you simply can’t go it alone. There’s too much to know and too many opportunities to miss out on. In this feature in Campaign Magazine, we talk a little more about our thoughts on this and the role that we play in helping agencies and brand owners work in a more cohesive manner. Have a read and we invite you to share your views: http://campaignme.com/2017/09/10/112856/bravo-romeo-story/