Insights

  • Data-Driven Insight on Millennials for Credit Card Issuers

    by David Michaluk and Jim Auer | Apr 21, 2016

    Fact: Brands are obsessed with plugging into the Millennial generation. Despite this, it seems that many established companies still struggle with how to create a meaningful connection with this key audience–financial institutions included.

    As a result, I performed research around the relationship between Millennials and credit cards, to better understand behavior, attitudes and how Millennials select a card, hoping to develop insight that would help financial institutions build campaigns that resonate.

    The big takeaway is that credit card issuers seem to be unsure about how to engage Millennials in their products. As is often the case with what some would consider “bad news,” there is both danger and opportunity in this data: Danger for those companies that fail to change course and engage Millennials, and opportunity for those that can solve the conundrum.

    The stakes are huge.

    Many companies have realized their future is almost certainly tied to their ability to create a connection with this generation.  Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, now represent the largest segment of the population, one-quarter of all Americans. They’re the largest generation in US history, surpassing even the Baby Boomers. And now, they’re entering  their prime spending years.

     Do Millennials even want credit cards?

    For generations, American consumers fueled their spending with credit cards. It’s a system that works; although there are certainly instances of consumers overdoing it, utilizing credit to build a track record while moving into adulthood is a proven way to responsibly increase purchasing power. Credit has been a key component in the United States building the greatest standard of living the world has ever seen.

    However, research shows Millennials seem dubious about the power of credit and credit cards. This has partly to do with the economic landscape of the late 2000’s and early 2010’s when the economy was in decline and the national financial narrative was focused around the debt crisis. Not to mention the 6% increase year-over-year in student loan debt that took place between 2008 and 2012. Your average college graduate now owes approximately $29,400. Millennials have become increasingly weary of inflating their debt and spending money that they don’t have.

    Despite these apparent attitudes, there is likely an opportunity for credit card issuers to break through and secure a significant share of this still uncommitted cohort.

    Let’s dig deeper into our findings.

    Research findings




    We see the overall number of cards increase with age, 25% of Millennials do not even own a credit card, while almost 30% of those aged 34+ have 2 cards. 



    When asked about everyday preference, almost 60% of Millennials said they would use their debit card over a credit card if they possessed one, which presents a large marketing opportunity to change their minds.

    Of the credit cards in their wallet, both Millennials and non-Millennials reach for their Visa first.



    When asked where a credit card was obtained, over 70% of respondents said a bank.

    Millennials and non-Millennials were in agreement with the features they preferred when choosing a credit card: Rewards, APR, and Fees.




    When it comes to Rewards programs, both groups are focused on Cash Back, although it seems far more important to Millennials. 

    Connecting with Millennials

    It is clear that the credit line paradigm is shifting as this new generation enters its prime spending years without leaning as heavily on credit cards as previous generations have. The question is, how can the financial services industry reach this demographic? To answer this question requires examining the efforts of some of the most recognized and successful brands and their strategies to reach Millennials.

    Though not in the financial services industry, Uber has been innovative in its approach to marketing to this group. Millennials are not as interested in cars as they are convenience, so Uber capitalized on this trend and incorporated it into their core service. They offered the easiest way to find a ride from anywhere and a simple way to pay for it via a smartphone, having since become a global cultural phenomenon. Uber knew its target market, focused on convenience and offered a unique value proposition.

    Another example is Coca-Cola, whose approach incorporating sharing, identity, and personalization has resonated with Millennials. The soft-drink giant launched a campaign that printed 250 of the most popular names among teens and Millennials on 20-ounce bottles of Coke. The intended effect was to bond consumers to the brand by personalizing the product: intrigue, engage, and convert. In addition, a website was created to supplement this initiative with fun facts regarding the names on the bottles. The immediate result was a 2% increase in domestic sales and a wave of positive brand sentiments from consumers.

    Conclusion

    To prevent the looming financial service industry pitfall that is low adoption of credit cards among Millennials, companies need to rethink their approach to traditional marketing of their products. Creating experiences in which consumers can participate, shareable content, aligning a brand with a cause, personalization, and convenience are essential to reaching this demographic.

    Methodology

    To collect credit and debit card usage data an online survey was conducted among users of all ages. One thousand responses were collected. The data from the Millennial group, ages 25 to 34, was then compared to the older age groups, 35 to 44, 45 to 54, 55 to 64, and 65+. From this data Trellist was able to answer two key questions: How many credit cards do you have, and what is the most important feature?

  • Whitepapers, eBooks, Sell Sheets, and Case Studies. When and How to Use Them

    by John Miller | Mar 01, 2016

    Is there any confusion in your organization about whitepapers, eBooks, sell sheets and case studies, what they are and how to use them? In case there is, let’s review:

    Whitepapers

    Whitepapers provide authoritative examinations of specific topics or, similarly, an in-depth explanation of an organization’s philosophy on a given topic. A whitepaper typically will be minimally designed and in portrait format. A typical length for a whitepaper is approximately 3,000 words, although this varies.

    Whitepapers are sometimes product-oriented, particularly in the technology industry. Businesses should try not to make the copy in a whitepaper too sales heavy. A standard formula is for the last 10 percent of the whitepaper to be product-oriented.

    eBooks

    eBooks generally aim to be more accessible for the audience than whitepapers. In other words, they are more interactive, and the copy is often less academic and aims for a lighter touch. eBooks frequently include elements such as graphics and links to other multimedia assets. These features would not be included in a whitepaper.

    In terms of tone, eBooks are typically more conversational than whitepapers; however, this can vary depending on your brand voice.

    An eBook contains more design elements than a whitepaper and is often presented in landscape format.

    Sell Sheets

    Sell sheets are typically short (one or two pages), product-oriented marketing pieces. In contrast to eBooks and whitepapers, sell sheets give the business an opportunity to sell a product or service that it offers.

    Sell sheets are typically straightforward in their presentation of the product or service they feature. They are meant to be consumed by the target audience when they are further along the sales funnel; eBooks and whitepapers, on the other hand, can help businesses generate and qualify leads at the top of the funnel.

    Case Studies

    Case studies are examples of a company’s product or service in action. The best case studies focus on a problem that is common to the core audience and how the business created a unique solution to this problem. Case studies should demonstrate a business’s effectiveness and expertise, and how these can work for prospective clients.

    Businesses will often focus on the Challenge-Solution-Outcome template when developing a case study. The length and design of case studies can vary widely.

    Whitepapers, eBooks, Case Studies and Sell Sheets are all part of the Trellist Content team’s offerings. If you have questions about the types of content that could help your business move forward, or need assistance in developing a content marketing strategy, Trellist can help.

  • 5 Questions Your Business Strategy Should Answer

    by Lori Palmer | Jan 20, 2016

    Simply put, business strategy is complex. As a result, some businesses believe they have one, but in fact they’ve confused their mission and vision statements with having a business strategy.

    While the mission and vision focus on an organization’s purpose, values and goals, business strategy is the plan to accomplish those goals in an effective way.

    Specifically, business strategy is an externally oriented view of how an organization is going to achieve its objectives. It helps all the employees at every level in an organization understand what they need to do in order to achieve the business objectives.

     A robust business strategy takes into consideration the organizational structure, strengths, weaknesses, key differentiators, competitive landscape, the geographic location, as well as what customers they want to sell to.

    For a business strategy to be considered actionable, there must be specific targets as well as the means to hit those targets.

    When it’s actionable, employees will be able to see the connectivity of their own work with the strategy, have the right tools and resources to meet objectives, and be trained adequately on any new systems or platforms to be implemented.

    Here are the five key questions to answer when developing a strategy:

    • What are your core capabilities?
    • How are you going to market?
    • How are you differentiated, i.e. how will you win
    • What are the steps you’re going to take to get there?
    • What investments will you need to make?

    When business leaders can effectively answer the above questions, a strategic plan can be formulated.

    This plan can then be cascaded throughout the key functions in the company so they can translate it into actionable work flow, tailored to their roles.

    To be successful, a good strategy requires good execution. Here are five red flags that either the strategy or its execution may not be effective:

    • Revenue or profit margin erosion
    • Departure of key people
    • An inability to bring products to the market at the pace customers expect
    • Losing market share
    • New entrants to the market

    To address these red flags, business leaders should look at their strategic plan as well as how they are executing the plan. Evaluating the current state of key differentiators, market conditions, the competitive landscape and customer needs will shed light on areas where the plan could be strengthened or where additional investment needs to be made. Creating and executing a successful business strategy isn’t easy. It requires focusing on what truly matters.  However, done well, it is what separates the good companies from the great ones.

  • Think Like a Journalist to Reap the Benefits of Content Marketing

    by John Miller | Jan 11, 2016

    For businesses accustomed to traditional marketing approaches, a shift to content marketing is not always easy. Great content marketing efforts require a somewhat different mindset — that of a journalist.

    A journalist’s approach to audience and storytelling provides a useful model for content marketers. Three aspects of journalism are particularly useful for organizations to adopt if they want to make their content marketing initiatives successful.

    Be an advocate for the audience.

    News outlets know their audience — and they strive to cater to it. That begins with putting the audience first, every day. Identify the needs of your audience and integrate them into a content-fueled strategy. In this fashion, a business can build trust and engagement with its customers, leaving them feeling that they are understood and well served. With customers in control of the buyer’s journey today, this sense of trust is often necessary before a sale can occur.

    Know what makes something newsworthy.

    Before producing any content, or developing a strategy for producing content, a business should understand what makes a piece of information newsworthy for its audience. There are five basic considerations:

    Significance. Always consider the significance of a piece of information: How many people or companies are affected? What is the potential impact? Taking this into consideration will help keep a content marketing focused on what matters most to the audience.

    Prominence. Content featuring important people and players in the business’s industry can help grab the attention of the target audience and establish a sense of authority and credibility for the content itself.

    Human interest. Emotion is a key component of great storytelling. Often a connection can be created with an audience by focusing on how a person was helped, rather than the virtues of its product or service. Creating an emotional bond can ultimately strengthen the relationship with the target audience.

    Timing. Content should be timely and based on the latest industry news and information, rather than on a report that is no longer a focus of conversation.

    Proximity. It depends on the industry and the business, but geography is often important. If the target audience is in a given geography and there is an event in that place, it makes sense for the company to create content that takes advantage of this proximity.

    Mind the details.

    When a journalist sets out to report on a story, his or her first mission is to find out who, what, when, where and why. This ensures that the story will provide a comprehensive look at the subject at hand. It also provides necessary as context.

    Good journalists and news outlets attract and retain readers. Attracting and retaining customers with content marketing is not such a very different task.

    If you have questions about the types of content that could help your business move forward, or using content marketing to connect with customers, let us hear from you. We can help.

  • REI #OptOutside Blazes New Trails on Black Friday

    by Chris Wallace | Dec 21, 2015

    The words Black Friday have come to mean very different things to different folks. For many retail execs those words are deeply ingrained, translating roughly to: The Most Important Day of the Year. To shoppers, those words increasingly conjure up nightmares of stampeding deal seekers and rock-em-sock-em grandmas duking it out over the bargain bin. Possibly worst of all, for retail workers on the ground, it means leaving the Thanksgiving table earlier and earlier each year to work extended hours in that cauldron of consumerism.

    Now imagine a world where Doorbusters are replaced by The Great Outdoors. That’s the future that REI CEO Jerry Stritzke and his leadership team envision with their radical #OptOutside campaign, which launched in October and built through Black Friday. In a move that scuttles retail dogma, all 143 REI locations were closed on Black Friday 2015 with a message on their doors, web site, and social profiles to get outside and enjoy nature. Instead of joining their point-of-sale counterparts in the trenches, all 12,000 REI employees will receive a paid day off.

    This campaign, baffling as it may be to retail traditionalists, speaks to an emerging corporate ethos that places the values of customers ahead of short-term dollars, focusing instead on brand integrity and lifetime value of the customer. To be clear, it is a great PR stunt if nothing else. But more importantly, it shows a willingness to adapt to a changing marketplace ahead of the curve. It takes courage (some would say hubris) to fly in the face of convention and abandon a top ten sales day. Still, emerging results appear positive[1] and potentially indicative of a broader trend we will explore.

    In Social Business practice, we use both research and social data to re-examine tried-and-true business practices in order to find and exploit competitive advantages and unearth new ways of measuring success. For the retail sector in 2015, this means taking a sober view on the possibility that we are witnessing the beginning of the end for that most hallowed holdover from 20th Century retailing. It also means formulating a clear plan to fill that void.

    To start, let’s look at some high level indicators of campaign performance:

    • Volume - #OptOutside was mentioned on social media and the web more than 106,000 times over Thanksgiving Weekend, with Twitter and Instagram comprising 94% of those hashtag mentions. 
    • Reception - Sentiment was largely positive, confirming that the campaign aligned well with the values and wants of the overall REI audience. Those posts with negative sentiment frequently expressed criticism for a 3rd brand, comparing them to the #OptOutside movement. This is not to say REI was not without it's critics.

              largely positive sentiment

    • Engagement - The vast majority of mentions were attached to user generated photos or videos of outdoor activities.  This constitutes a much deeper level of individual activity and brand engagement than (for instance) a campaign whose key metric is garnering “Likes” or "Follows".

      The rise of social as a mature medium has given a platform and a voice to the pervasive consumer resentment surrounding the bloating of Black Friday. In November 2014, Bankrate.com analyst Jeanine Skowronski told CBS Moneywatch, "Black Friday, I think, has a pretty bad rep now. People see the horror stories, they see the long lines. The casual Black Friday shopper of yesteryear is reluctant to go and brave that, largely because they don't have to."

      In an attempt to extend the holiday shopping season earlier each year, retailers from Macy’s to Home Depot began staged rollouts of holiday decorations and promotions prior to Halloween, drawing ire and exhaustion from many consumers. Social Listening reports and other sources of business intelligence confirm this backlash, leading many retailers including Staples, Gamestop, Costco and others to close their doors on Thanksgiving. REI, however, is the first to abandon Black Friday itself.

       

      Perhaps unsurprisingly, the National Retail Federation (@NRFnews) reported a marked decline in Thanksgiving Weekend spending between 2013 and 2014. Early numbers for Thanksgiving Weekend 2015 indicate a similar year-over-year decline in terms of aggregate dollars spent.[2], largely owing to lowered Average Spend figures. 

       

       Year Total Est. Shoppers   Average Spend  Total Avg. Spend YoY Delta in Spend 
       2013  141,000,000  $407.02  $57,389,820,000.00  
       2014  133,700,000  $380.95  $50.933,015,000.00 11.25% 
       2015  151,000,000  $299.60  $45,239,600,000.00 11.18%

      Always-on retailers like Amazon.com and Zappos have conditioned consumers to expect doorbuster discounts and great customer service 24 | 7 | 365 by delivering exceptional customer experiences. Combine this trend with an established backlash in consumer sentiment and shopping habits, and an ultra-competitive landscape between Black Friday and Cyber Monday – the prospects for Black Friday success begin to fade considerably.

      While it is unlikely that retailers will completely abandon Black Friday in the near future, they should currently be considering alternatives to the one-upmanship and media clutter of advertising over Thanksgiving weekend.

      As an option, retailers can choose to spend 2016 creating an alternate plan:

      Generating business intelligence around your brand, products, and competitive landscape from social, web, CRM and other sources

      Focusing resources on re-aligning their brands with the values and sentiment reflected by customers and prospects

      Creating brand-centric shopping holidays that appeal to that core audience

      Shifting key metrics from only sales figures toward those that help evaluate customer experience and ensure the lifetime value of the customer

      The lesson to be learned from REI: By avoiding the cross-cancellation that occurs during ultra-competitive periods like Black Friday, retailers have the opportunity to free up resources to rewrite the rules, and ultimately create unique sales holidays tailor-made to their individual brands - at any point in the year - with the ability to own them outright.

      REI’s Stritzke told CBS This Morning, “While the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we hope to see you in the great outdoors.”

      Have the courage to find your Brand’s Great Outdoors.

       

      [1] Source: Trellist Social Analytics Team, powered by Sprinklr 

      [2] Source: National Retail Federation - Thanksgiving Weekend Shopping Survey, Prosper Insights & Analytics, 2013 - 2015

  • Innovating Loyalty Rewards with Wearable Tech

    by Primus Poppiti | Dec 21, 2015

    It was only a matter of time until the trendy wearable tech we use to monitor our daily activities started to impact our shopping carts. Just as Philosopher Alain de Lille is quoted as saying that, "one thousand roads lead men forever to Rome," so do one thousand Fitbits and Jawbones lead companies in the healthcare industry to better consumer insight data. In this case, though, the consumer is actually benefiting, and you can too. 

    I have been wearing a Fitbit since June 18, 2013 (because it knows) and it remembers how many steps I’ve taken every minute of every day since then, plus several consultations worth of physical data and vitals. All of this is considered Big Data. In 2012, the market for wearable technology reached $8.5 Billion and it is predicted by HIS Inc. that by 2019 over 230 Million devices will have sold, earning $32 Billion in revenue.  All of this wearable tech records a new cache of consumer information companies and researchers would love to get their hands on. That’s not a surprise, but what does surprise me is that my Pharmacy also wanted the details from my Fitbit.

    I’m a member of Walgreen’s loyalty card program, branded “Balance Rewards;” you need to be a member to get the “discounts” and points (free money). What separates this from typical loyalty programs is that Walgreens will give me points on my card for all the steps that my Fitbit records throughout the day.  The cache of data on my wrist can be converted to real cash in my pocket!

    Here's how it works

    It starts with giving Walgreens access to Fitbit. So, I login to my Walgreens account and through a Fitbit interface, the convenient API that exposes its data to Walgreens, I confirm my Fitbit credentials and voila! Walgreens gives me 250 points for signing up and each month downloads my steps from Fitbit and gives me 20 points per mile.

     Fitbit founder James Park noted previously in an interview that Fitbit users were walking an average of 6000 steps per day, which amounts to 3 miles, a potential 90 miles per month. At the going rate this would generate an active loyalty card member just under 2000 points in a given month. Every 5000 points is worth $5, redeemable for Walgreens purchases. Walgreens introduced Fitbit integration in June 2013 but didn’t stop there.  Walgreens now provides other points for daily weigh-ins and rewards tasks completed on other types of devices

    The Walgreens strategy

    Walgreens has produced a number of interfaces for Wearables, Mobile Apps, and other devices to collect your statistics. Currently, they have connections to 16 Mobile Apps on Android and Apple and 32 Devices in the Health and Lifestyle category. Users can link multiple devices to their accounts and earn respective rewards. They even award you “badges” similar to other health oriented Apps that give you bragging rights on Social Media, if you’re into that sort of thing. 

    Walgreens is currently the leader by Rx sales in national drug store chains. In terms of rewards programs that integrate with wearable tech, none of the other pharmaceutical chains have followed suite, but I suspect they will. There is too much value in this consumer data to pass up. These devices and Apps know an enormous amount about our personal health statistics, and consumers are willing to share that data for a price. But the story doesn’t stop there - someone else wants your data.

    The WebMD data triangle

    The popular website and self-proclaimed “Symptom Checker” WebMD has taken steps toward capturing your data too.  In June 2014 WebMD marked the launch of their App called “Healthy Target,” which provided an opportunity for customers to set goals where WebMD would provide information, inspiration, and motivation to achieve these goals. Simultaneously, WebMD announced its data integration with Fitbit and other personal health tracking devices. Over time, the number of integrations increased and the site now advertises that it has integrated into over 30 Apps including the iPhone’s Health Kit, a data exchange hub on the iPhone devices. Though primarily a heath research and publication company, WebMD now boasts as the largest health App on the market.

    Fast forward a year later. This August, Walgreens announced that it has partnered with WebMD. Via their App, Walgreens now integrates with WebMD’s Healthy Target, though Walgreens has rebranded the tool as “Digital Health Advisor, powered by WebMD.” The company has been aggressively advertising its new feature to its members, no doubt an attempt to promote the Walgreens App as the ‘one stop shop’ for health and fitness. Efforts like these are raising more questions about the future of wearable tech data and which companies are interested in analyzing, integrating, or even purchasing this information.

    A Big Deal for Big Data

    Big Data can be defined as the mixture of structured and unstructured data from multiple sources in enormous volume, too large to analyze with traditional tools. To add to the complexity, many of the data sets are interdisciplinary, having had the individual sources “married” together to show patterns or theoretically provide new insight. In the case of wearable tech and Walgreens, the data is being exchanged between companies, and the insight then used to provide a service. These transactions are not yet governed by any emerging standards, nor are the data sets themselves.

    Traditionally, researchers used self-reporting surveys, which were highly inaccurate, to record physiological data like calorie burn, daily activity, and sleep patterns. Wearable tech has revolutionized this process by removing the human element, reporting on precisely the correct data as it records throughout the day. For years, teaching and research hospitals and sites like WebMD have been utilizing existing survey data to perform predictive analysis and gaining consumer insights.  The wearable tech revolution has opened the proverbial flood gates, and for the first time unprecedented levels of accurate physiological data have become available.

    Consumer health Big Data is an untapped treasure trove for interested companies. If researchers began coupling the physiological data with other types of data like socioeconomic data or consumer healthcare statistics, they could quickly find themselves answering questions about the effects of lifestyles previously impossible. Questions like, “does sleep impact health or economic situation?” or, “How much should we be walking each day compared to the Fitbit’s 10,000 step default setting?” Similarly, insurance companies could leverage this kind of information to make controversial risk analysis decisions. Daily behavior combined with medical history, minding the legal barriers, would be invaluable for risk aversion.

    Take a moment to think about the scale of the sample size. If projections are correct and before the end of the decade the estimated 230 million devices find their way onto the wrists of consumers, Fitbit and consumer health tech companies could perform comparative analysis and discover health trends related to human lifestyle on a scale greater and over a series of time longer than any before.

    Knowing this, it feels a lot less like a bracelet glued to a pedometer with an electric prodder.  Shouldn’t I be getting more money for my data?

    Concluding thoughts

    Personally, wearing a Fitbit has changed my daily health decisions for the better. And, I admit, it has also made me a little compulsive. I check on my step count several times a day and I’m obsessed about being on the top of the chart with my Fitbit friends. My friends, family, and I compete each weekend in the “Weekend Warrior.” In rare cases this has required jumping on the treadmill at 10pm to assure I reach my daily goal. I won’t even go to the bathroom without it on, because that’s wasting steps! It has to be charged at all times, especially Friday night in preparation for the Weekend Warrior challenge. No excuses!

    The clear value here is that companies have found a way to engage my likeminded, consumer counterparts and turn our proactive engagement with health and lifestyle trends via wearable tech into an opportunity to save where we shop. Not only this, but the program adds tangible reward and a sense of achievement to personal goal setting. Walgreens is clearly a leader in the area where wearable tech meets rewards, their partnership with WebMD only increasing the value of the service they provide. The trend has now been set and it will be interesting to watch the next industries use and make sense of this big, big data.

  • A Quick Guide to Snapchat and Periscope

    by John Miller | Aug 17, 2015

    New social media platforms are appearing everywhere, making it difficult for businesses to identify where they should spend their time and resources. One important consideration in making the assessment is understanding which forms of social media have, and are likely to maintain, a broad reach.

    Two newer mobile social media platforms have emerged that appear to have sizeable user bases and some staying power: Snapchat and Periscope.

    Snapchat allows anyone – or any business – to post photos and videos to their followers. The trick is that what is posted will disappear 24 hours later. Periscope enables the livestreaming of video so that it can be shared with other users in real time. Let’s consider the potential of both of these offerings in more depth:

    Snapchat

    Snapchat, launched in 2011, and originally named Picaboo, enables users to take photos and videos and share them with followers. Users can enhance their photos and videos with emojis, various types of filters, and a drawing function. After 24 hours, the content disappears.

    About 150 million people use Snapchat every day. It is especially popular among millennials. Perhaps Snapchat’s best-loved feature is “Stories,” which allows users to string together images and videos throughout the day, creating a public slideshow. The feature is popular enough that Instagram recently rolled out a very similar version of the same video capabilities.

    Businesses on Snapchat

    Disney, Taco Bell and Acura are a few of the notable companies using Snapchat. Just about all the major North American professional sports teams also have Snapchat accounts. Individual athletes successfully use personal Snapchat accounts to give fans behind-the-scenes updates on their lives. Prominent business leaders like Gary Vaynerchuk, Mark Suster, and Justin Kan have also used Snapchat to grow their personal brands.

    Periscope

    Periscope, a video livestream mobile app, describes its mission as allowing one “to discover the world through someone else’s eyes.” Owned by Twitter, Periscope launched in 2015 and quickly accumulated more than 10 million users.

    When a user logs in, he or she can find live broadcast streams from people he or she knows, or search for others based on subjects of interest. There is also a chat function that allows users to post comments and interact with other users in real time. Once the live streamer stops his or her live broadcast, the replay is available for 24 hours. Periscope posts can be accessed via Twitter.

    Businesses on Periscope

    Doritos, Nestle and Red Bull are among the major brands using Periscope to bolster their brand messaging, most typically by running contests and promoting events in which they’re involved. GE has used Periscope to provide a “peek behind the curtain” at some of its facilities, helping to demystify and humanize the company.

    Any business might leverage Periscope and Snapchat to livestream conferences or presentations, or to create stories that heighten engagement with its audience. There are many more potential applications as well.

    If you’re interest in learning more about Periscope, Snapchat, or other innovations in social media that might be employed to support your business, let us know. We are ready to help.

  • Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365 as a Learning Ecosystem

    by Jennifer Kenderdine | Jul 29, 2015

    microsoft 365 and sharepoint as a learning ecosystem

    Our post was published in a recent issue of Learning Solutions Magazine...

    Benefits of Microsoft SharePoint as a Training Tool

    Microsoft SharePoint is one of the most prevalent, effective and extensible content collaboration solutions utilized across a range of industries. Users appreciate the security, control, accessibility, business integration, ease of use and the wealth of tools integrated into their SharePoint intranets and extranets. Because SharePoint is robust as both a content management system and a collaboration tool, it's easy to imagine the benefit it could bring as a natural training resource. Since it is already integrated into many businesses, SharePoint is especially valuable as a tool to implement training when a Learning Management System (LMS) is not in place, when the investment in an LMS is costly, or when there are other limitations to implementing an LMS within the business environment. Typical limitations of a traditional LMS include awkward user interface functionality, challenging content management tools, and compatibility for limited content types. Unlike most LMS’s, SharePoint is an extensible collaboration platform, so it is very well suited to be leveraged as a learning ecosystem.  

    Selecting a Learning Ecosystem for a Blended Learning Approach

    What is a learning ecosystem? A learning ecosystem is a hub for collaboration and learning. It contains learning content as well as other tools for learners, instructors and business units. Often, additional tools include ways for learners to interact by posting questions, conducting discussions and gathering feedback. Learning content can be accessed and assignments can be uploaded. Instructors can add pertinent content through a blog or send out information via email. In short, it’s a virtual classroom. Because SharePoint includes tools that match the needs of an ecosystem, it’s an obvious choice.  

    An effective learning ecosystem creates a learning environment that meets the needs of the adult learner. Addressing learner needs can be accomplished by using a blended learning approach, allowing students control over their learning, and providing social interaction. It can be a challenge to find a platform that can support this environment. SharePoint’s built-in Out of the Box (OOTB) features support the learning ecosystem without creating the need for additional modifications to the platform.

    What Adult Learners “Expect” from a Learning Experience:

    • That it mostly be Learner-directed (I should be able to do this/find this information myself)
    • That it acknowledge and build on the Learner’s experience and prior knowledge
    • That they will learn what they need to know and be able to deal with real life situations that are contextual
    • That it be learning that is life-centered, task-centered or problem-centered

    Creating the Ecosystem

    STEP ONE
    The first step in developing an ecosystem in SharePoint is to take an inventory of your content. In order to be sure everything is accessible, it’s important to understand what is compatible with this platform. For example, SharePoint is compatible with any Microsoft file (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Visio). SharePoint will also support several video file types such as AVI, MPG, MP3, MP4, OGG and WMV. PDF files, which are universally accessible and cannot be easily edited, are also frequently used.
    As part of your inventory process, you should first make a list of all of content and file types and who, in general, will be using it. Make sure to consider all of the ways you want to communicate or involve your learners. Will you need notifications, email, a scheduling system, contact information? It is helpful to make a list of things you need the ecosystem to support. Then, talk to the SharePoint expert in your organization to see how it can be used to create a custom learning ecosystem that matches those needs.

    STEP TWO
    Once you determine what files you will add to the ecosystem along with your general minimum requirements, you will need to decide how you can use SharePoint as your virtual classroom. It’s best to work with a SharePoint administrator or developer to establish the user and functional requirements up front. You may also want to consult a user interface designer to make sure the home page and navigation are intuitive and easy to use. 

    As part of the requirements-gathering process, you should establish who will need access to the content and types of access they need; this is a foundational step in the development and curation process and key to how SharePoint works best. Levels of access may differ depending on the type of content, what the user is going to need to do with the content and how much they should have access to. You can work with your SharePoint expert to determine the roles for access and what level of access applies to each. Think of this as a process where you are sorting the content into buckets, where each bucket contains content that is relatable to a particular user group. Rules are put into place to determine who needs to see what content, and how they should be able to interact with it. The groups will likely include learners, instructors, administrators of the site (and possibly administrators of the content) and the business leaders. 

    STEP THREE
    SharePoint supports adding new content and allows for collaboration through several built-in features.

    SharePoint Libraries and Lists: As you build your ecosystem, there are many ways to add content to the SharePoint environment.  Document libraries can house Microsoft Word or text files, as well as accommodate Excel and PowerPoint files. Excel spreadsheets can also be integrated into a SharePoint list so each row of the spreadsheet becomes a separate item in the list. You can place videos and other media content into an asset library. Understanding what types of lists are available to you in SharePoint and how they can be used is very valuable during the setup process.

    SharePoint Collaboration Features: One of the great advantages of the SharePoint platform is its multitude of built-in collaboration features. Some of the features that can be leveraged for your ecosystem include: Announcements that can be forwarded to email, calendars for tracking important dates, discussion boards for learner interaction, blogs for instructor-added content, libraries for accessing content and uploading assignments, lists of links to web resources, surveys for feedback, contact lists for curriculum and more. It’s even possible to create a library for completed assignments that tracks delivery (due date), includes assessments and allows comments to be added. The learners would then be able to open their corrected assignments, receive their assessments and read feedback from one location.
    Using SharePoint’s OOTB features gives users enough functionality to develop a successful learning ecosystem with a short deployment time and low maintenance cost. There are, however, opportunities to modify SharePoint based on your unique learning needs.

    Customizing SharePoint

    While SharePoint’s OOTB functionality is robust enough to develop and implement learning and training programs, it can also be customized to add features. This type of customization, including design, build and integration, typically requires a more experienced developer. 

    Here are some common learning ecosystem requirements that may need custom solutions or other tools: 

    • Testing, scoring and reporting (Captivate has built-in tools that can be leveraged)
    • Learner progress reports
    • Performance tracking
    • Web/page analytics (SharePoint’s OOTB version includes basic page analytics)

    Ongoing Maintenance and Efficiencies

    After you’ve successfully deployed a learning ecosystem through SharePoint, it’s important to keep the content up to date. Edit the content regularly so it remains evergreen and usable, and move older content to an archive location (library, list or folder). Consideration should be given to content that is out of date and will not be reused, but be cautious about deletion because deleted files are not recoverable. A SharePoint expert can help you develop an overall maintenance plan for your ecosystem. To efficiently build upon your learning ecosystem, your current site can also be saved as a template so it can be reused for additional topics, courses or groups.  

    Often times, there are few outlets inside companies for learning content, and platforms are dictated by the IT department. With the prevalence of SharePoint as an intranet, workflow tool and more, using it for all of your learning needs keeps it accessible and makes it easy for users to consume your content.

  • Five Ancient Secrets to Impactful Public Relations

    by Bryan Evans | Jul 03, 2015
    ancient secrets to public relations

    Our post was first published by PR Daily...

    The practice of public relations is not what it used to be. In the past, great care and effort went into wordsmithing and pitch development. For example, when Julius Caesar handwrote his compelling pitch in 50 B.C., his vivid portrayal of military exploits convinced the people of Rome that he was the best candidate for head of state. And when Cleopatra combined her fluent command of the Egyptian language and mathematics as a communications tactic, she improved relationships and restored economic stability in ancient Egypt. Today, the tides have changed as digital public relations professionals attempt to recreate this dynamic.

    In 2015, news can be spread further, faster, and more directly than any other time in history. The digital revolution – even over the past decade alone – has forever altered the practice of public relations. While some have yet to embrace the new rules of digital outreach, others have lost sight of the time-tested art of engagement that has been on display since antiquity. Perhaps the ability to strum the chords of human emotion through words and execution has gotten lost in the tombs of digital technology.    

    If you dig deep enough, you’ll find some interesting clues from the past that mirror what an effective public relations strategy should look like today. Want proof? Below are five essentials to successful public relations efforts that began in ancient times.

    Establishing Your Point of View

    In Greece, during the 5th Century BC, the Sophists were among the first to establish the idea of a point-of-view (POV). Sophists used philosophy and rhetoric to teach excellence to young statesmen and nobility. Some believed to have the answer to any question. Today, we define POV as an outward-looking view of an industry. We may not have all the answers, but with the increasing number of highly-circulated news outlets, opportunities for media inclusion are everywhere – and the audiences are everywhere. But, in order to take advantage of this environment, you must have a POV that speaks to multiple media targets across a variety of digital and traditional outlets. The Sophists certainly had a distinct POV on a number of issues facing mankind. But today, your stance on important issues and challenges affecting your industry is critical; it sets the tone for every media opportunity, speaking engagement and self-authored publication. After time, it becomes infused with your brand. 

    Delivering Persuasive Communications

    Perhaps one of the biggest voids afflicting today’s marketer is the inability to persuade. Aristotle was a master at persuasive communications – particularly in his ability to develop compelling arguments. Every communication succeeds by its ability to inspire devotion in others. From the dawn of language to today’s ultra-fast technology culture, words have always mattered. But today, many public relations professionals have replaced persuasive arguments with messages that go to everyone but reach no one. We have the ability change the entire mood of a nation through words. They are powerful and often misused.

    Communicating through Storytelling

    Julius Caesar created the first public newsletter for citizens that featured fascinating stories about his military and political victories.  In Peter Guber's book, Tell to Win, he discusses how storytelling will always be about the ooh’s and aah’s, not the 0’s and 1’s. According to Gruber, stories have always been igniters of action, moving people to do things. But only recently has it become clear that purposeful stories - those created with a specific mission in mind - are absolutely essential in persuading others to support a vision, dream or cause.

    Dodging the Spin Zone

    3rd Century BC philosopher Socrates believed in the “No Spin Zone” and that communications should be based on true accounts. Whether it’s rising competition for content placement or yoga-like flexibility with truth-bending tactics, public relations experts are often forced into a dark corner between authenticity and fabrication. Today, traditional “spin doctoring” is being eviscerated by a more open and transparent approach to marketing aimed at building trust in an increasingly complex digital world. If you lie, you will be found out. Establishing an environment of open public feedback and response is the new evolution of public relations.

    Getting Intimate with Your Target Audience

    During the late 25th century BC, Ptahhotep – an ancient Egyptian official and author – believed in targeting the specific interests of the audience. Today that translates into understanding your media channel’s target readership. Whether the goal is to be a part of a dialogue that potential customers are reading or to deliver a more controlled message through a third party publication, you need to know your target in an intimate way. The reality is that a large percentage of your media coverage may have little value to the end user because it’s more promotional than it is helpful.

    Through the course of time and with the advent of sophisticated online communications, one thing remains certain: we can all learn a thing or two from the past. When it comes to public relations, it’s more important than ever that we reach back before we pull forward.

    Want to explore more on PR, contact us at brandingandmarketing@trellist.com.

  • 10 Ways Social Listening Can Help Your Business

    by Neil Dougherty | May 13, 2015

    how social listening can help your business
    Neil's post was originally published by Social Media Today...

    Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. When it comes to social listening technology, there's plenty of it. And there's no shortage of tools available to get the job done, from free options like Google Alerts and Social Mention, to more robust platforms that organize conversations into smart dashboards or streams (like Sprinklr - a Trellist partner and leader among social listening platforms).

    Of course, the technology is only as good as the social listening strategy that informs it. Without an approach that sets out to achieve business goals - and ultimately create a better customer experience around your brand - businesses often strike out at being productive social listeners.

    To help you start thinking about the next steps in your social strategy, we've crafted a simple Top 10 list of compelling reasons to use social listening. 

    1. Gain competitive intelligence

    The smartest brands are using social listening for competitive intelligence. With the right guiding strategy and measured inputs, social listening can provide a dashboard view of content revealing your competitors' tactics, activity, customer engagement, and overall sentiment. 

    2. Improve existing marketing efforts

    Let's face it, people share just about anything on social media these days. Including what they do or don't like about marketing and advertising practices. Select social listening tools like Sprinklr allow you to understand these preferences and tag them back to CRM to give the customer more of what they want and less of what they don't. 

    3. Fix problems or flaws

    There are countless stories of the power and virality of social sharing pointing out a critical shortcoming in a product or service offering. Apple's #bendgate late last year, during its iPhone 6 release, comes to mind. Better to know and respond early, then to find out too late and suffer.

    4. Improve customer service

    While most social customer service resolutions are handled by monitoring owned accounts, you can also listen and learn about what customers want or what they're frustrated by outside of your company's social channels, then offer the element of surprise and delight with a solution that eliminates the issue. Think of it as an alternative acquisition strategy. 

    5. Find new customers

    Generating new leads and turning them into lifelong customers is critical for every business. By adding a layer of social media-driven intelligence based on keywords and queries important to your business, you'll be able to track the right conversations and introduce your product in a casual, meaningful and timely way.

    6. Pinpoint influencers and empower advocates

    It's important to know who likes you, even if they're not @ mentioning you. Social listening lets you follow the share path - so you can connect with influencers and advocates as an additional outlet to help you achieve short- and long-term goals. 

    7. Recruit better talent

    With a heavy focus on using social listening for marketing, business may fail to notice its power for recruiting. They shouldn't. Monitoring conversations, blogs and other communities can be a gold mine for talent acquisition teams.

    8. Design and innovate

    Using social listening for research and development is possible and scalable. For some businesses, it can help streamline the need for expensive studies and focus groups. We see a tremendous future for R&D using social data points mined from listening. 

    9. Improve your content marketing game

    Social listening queries lead to conversations, which often come with content attached to them. If you're serious about providing the best content possible to your audiences, social listening can be a reliable informant and strong addition to your content curation strategy.

    10. Anticipate opportunities

    If a competitor falls short, you need to know about it. Listening programs position you to swoop in and save the day. Or in some situations, put more heat on your rivals.

    Like the famous line from the 80s earworm “The Living Years” by Mike and the Mechanics states, “you can listen as well as you hear." Businesses will quickly find that listening (not just hearing) is as critical as talking in social. With the right strategy and tools, social listening can enable these 10 things and a whole lot more. 

    To learn more about our approach to social listening and our suite of social business services, contact me at ndougherty@trellist.com or message Trellist on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. 

  • Corporate Storytelling: Coming to Your Emotional Rescue [As seen on Content Marketing Insider]

    by John Miller | Apr 10, 2015

    Truth: Logic rarely spurs action.

    And yet, more and more, we (marketers) are focused on metrics. We rack our brains trying to figure out how to move prospective customers logically through the sales funnel. We create content based on algorithms and probabilities.

    And while doing this, we wish and pray that we can have a monstrous breakthrough success, the kind of overnight sensation that Malcolm Gladwell or Jonah Berger might write about some day.

    Well, it ain’t gonna happen if your nose is down in a spreadsheet. Because emotion, not numbers, is the gasoline that fuels marketing awesomeness. Yes, it’s true that you can’t ignore the numbers, but you also can’t be a slave to them. There are a lot of marketers out there who are slaves to the numbers. And I think it’s because they’re afraid to trust their emotions; it’s safer to hide behind the numbers.

    When I was a kid, one of my heroes was basketball Hall of Famer Julius “Dr. J” Erving. He was Michael Jordan before Michael Jordan, able to jump from the foul line and dunk. He was cool. He had style. You’d think it was always easy for him because of his awesome athletic talent. But Erving once told an interviewer that the key to his success was that he “dared to be great.” Think about it: How do you know if you can dunk from the foul line if you’re afraid to ever try? How do you become great without the courage to risk failure?

    And yet, a lot of corporate content is decidedly not courageous. A courageous content strategy needs to focus on developing emotional stories. Yup, it’s story time.

    There’s plenty of evidence that emotion-driven stories work, helping brands connect to customers. Our brains are wired for stories; we’ve been telling them to each other for thousands of years. They spark the brain. Really. Researchers have found that stories have the power to fire neurons, get us excited, and get us to feel emotion. When our emotions are engaged, we’re far more likely to be spurred into action (like buying), and we’re far more likely to remember the story and to retell it.

    Of course, to make that happen, you need to be compelling. This is easy if you’re talking about energy drinks, less so if you’re selling ERP software. But it’s not impossible. The key is to find the emotion.

    Hint: It’s not on your spreadsheets, and it’s not on those text-filled, bullet-point-riddled PowerPoints. Even with something as dry as ERP software, there is a human element to be found: Was the warehouse still able to deliver the product because the cloud-based ERP kept business flowing smoothly despite the massive power outage? Did the fact that it was up and running enable heroic action on the part of the warehouse workers? Now you’re telling a story people will remember. Now you’re firing their emotions.

    Utilizing a story structure enables you to embed facts within the narrative, which makes those facts much stickier. The story gets the neurons firing, and the facts become memorable because they’re attached to a great story.

    Creating a great story isn’t easy. Stories, even corporate stories, require drama. And most executives don’t like drama. They prefer a nice, smooth ride -- a rosy picture that doesn’t provide any ammunition for naysayers and competitors. That makes a certain amount of sense. It’s safe. But it’s boring, and ultimately it limits your success.

    To create great content, you need to dare to be great.

    That’s how you win.

    mediapostlogo
     
    John's post was originally published by Media Post Publications - Content Marketing Insider. To learn more about how Trellist can empower your content marketing, reach out to us, at info@trellist.com.

  • 46 Million Reasons to Pay Attention to Omnichannel

    by David Michaluk | Apr 07, 2015

    Sprinklr – the world’s most complete enterprise social technology – just announced a whopping $46 million in new funding at a valuation of more than $1 billion, bringing the company’s total venture funding to $123.5 million. This is significant news because it corroborates the increasingly important role of omnichannel as an integrated marketing and technology strategy.

    For better or worse, your customers are everywhere. So, reaching them on one or two channels is no longer a sustainable model. Smart enterprises are finding new ways to bridge the divide between digital and marketing to create a truly unforgettable customer experience across every possible channel.

    It makes sense for Sprinklr to receive this funding since social sits central in a true business strategy, bringing marketing, recruiting, communications, customer service, and public relations together in a way that was likely unheard of 10 years ago.

    paying attention to omnichannel marketing

    The $46 million for Sprinklr sends a message to the industry that positive customer experiences can’t happen in a vacuum. This is a particularly loud message as brands continue to struggle to engage customers in today’s multifaceted digital and brick and mortar landscape.

    The truth is: every enterprise could use some help strengthening customer experiences across today’s complex marketing environment. Engaging customers today requires a seamless approach to the market and a customer experience that transcends every channel. It’s all about serving the specific needs of customers in a consistent way.

    Money may not be able to buy happiness, but it can buy industry trends. Companies should recognize that this funding news is also likely a prediction about the future of marketing; and companies that are too slow to evolve now could face brand extinction down the road.

    To learn more about how Trellist can help you build an effective omnichannel strategy, reach out to us, at info@trellist.com.
  • Can HALO and Master Chief save Microsoft and Internet Explorer?

    by David Michaluk | Mar 24, 2015

    A few days ago, Microsoft made it official – it is killing off the Internet Explorer brand. The move is understandable, as IE is a brand with baggage and bad connotations for a significant portion of the Internet surfing public, who saw the browser as slow and outdated.

    Soon – the thinking is sometime in April – Microsoft will introduce a new browser with a new brand.

    And what will they call the new browser? As Microsoft CMO Chris Capossela said, “we have to name the thing.”

    This is no small matter. The brand Microsoft chooses will be front-and-center for millions of its customers. This is an opportunity for Microsoft to send a message that it’s no longer your grandfather’s gateway to the Internet; that’s hip and cool.

    So where will they turn? Here’s my guess: Halo.

    Halo is the wildly popular XBOX game which Microsoft just happens to own. The brand equity it carries is significant. Check out this snapshot of global search queries, comparing Internet Explorer to Halo.

    Can internet explorer be saved

    The spikes in Halo search traffic are when new games were released. That changed in December, when Halo seems to have permanently passed IE in search popularity. Clearly, this brand has strength.

    Halo fans have long complained that Microsoft has milked Halo as a cash cow; well, now they’re milking the brand.

    Over the last year, we’ve seen them dip into the world of Halo to borrow the game series’ brand equity for naming new initiatives. In the 2nd Quarter of 2014, they named the personal assistant on Windows phones Cortana, after the artificial intelligence character in Halo. And they mined Halo’s brand equity again more recently, naming the new browser initiative Project SpartanSpartan is a super soldier program in Halo.

    So maybe we’ll soon be off-roading through the Internet in Microsoft Warthog, blasting through social channels via Microsoft Wraith, or screaming across digital pathways on Microsoft Banshee.

    We won’t know the precise new brand until it’s announced, but it seems clear that Microsoft has every intention of leveraging the Halo brand to manufacture goodwill and connect with a younger, tech-savvy audience.

    For us gamer geeks, it’s pretty cool. And from a branding perspective it’s smart business – changing the conversation and creating a new context in which to operate.

    For more insights into brand development and digital analytics reach out to us at info@trellist.com. 

  • 6 Considerations Before You Build A Mobile App

    by Primus Poppiti | Mar 20, 2015
    6 considerations before developing a mobile app

    It’s no secret that, after years of predictions, we have reached the era of mobile Internet. In 2014, comScore, a leader in digital big data, reported that more than half (52%) of digital media consumption is through mobile apps.

    That means that if your organization is forward-thinking, it’s very likely considering deploying a mobile app to better reach your customers. However, it’s important to stop for a moment and think strategically; building an app for the simple sake of building an app, can do more harm than good.

    With that in mind, here are five strategic considerations to think about before you launch that mobile app project:

    1. Know your customer.

      Customer profiling is a critical first step in this process. An organization must understand its audience before it starts to build something with them; after all, the point of an app is, at some level, to increase engagement with customers. You need to understand what they do on their smartphones. What are their media consumption habits and behaviors? Additionally, it’s important to know basic demographic information such as age, gender and geography. As you dig deeper, a picture of their lifestyle begins to emerge. This enables you to build the use case scenario for how they’re going to use your app.
    2. Know your device.

      There is a significant difference between mobile phones and tablets. A mobile phone is typically used for tactical tasks – the user is going to one or two screens, posting something to a social network, answering email or taking photos. Tablets are a more leisurely device, which allow the user to consume more content. And, of course, the introduction of so-called “phablets” (larger smartphone devices) has blended these two arenas. You need to consider what information you want to present to the audience, and therefore, the best device for displaying your content.
    3. Craft your features.

      A successful app is a mobile tool, not simply a reiteration of content that can be found elsewhere. The features on your app need to provide value to the user. It’s vitally important to consider the feature set that will work best for your users. We recommend doing some prototyping. Get real customers to start to test the app, use it and provide you feedback. There are a number of tools you can use to make this happen.
    4. Be interactive, and be short.

      Look at the features, and look at the time users are spending. Generally speaking, mobile apps need to be tactical in nature. Remember, this is not a book, and it’s not a movie. Part of the reason for this is bandwidth considerations, but more importantly, it is the bandwidth of the people you’re targeting, i.e., their attention span. You have to tailor app content to this reality.
    5. Allow for user customization.

      One size does not fit all. Different people consume information in different ways. The best apps provide users a lot of options to do things the way they want, when they want it. You have to acknowledge the consumer’s mindset, and allow them the opportunity to select the information they see and the rate at which they’re going to consume it. This is a matter of timing and volume.
    6. Make it human.

      People want to feel that the message is being directed to them. They enjoy that personal feeling, and they expect it on their devices. For instance, “I just did something, why didn’t the app say thank you?” If it was a person, the person would’ve said thank you. The app should speak to the user as if it’s a human. Your mother was right – being polite can help you win friends.
    Interested in learning more? Contact us at enterprisetechnology@trellist.com.
  • SharePoint 2013 Delivers Data to Any Device

    by Jennifer Kenderdine | Dec 12, 2014

    sharepoint 2013 across all devices

    Mobile device use is increasing at a staggering rate—one look around just about any setting will confirm this. People are more connected than ever, and by 2018, Internet traffic from wireless and mobile devices will surpass traffic from wired devices1. Because of this, IT architects must consider all of these mobile devices and their users when planning environments that will deliver and exchange critical business data.

    But how do you push critical data with rich, dynamic, interactive content to the challenging (read small) scale of the mobile universe? That’s where Microsoft SharePoint 2013 enters the scene. SharePoint 2013 is the constantly evolving tool for collaboration, document management, sharing and publication of data, business process creation, web content delivery and more.  While the last release, SharePoint 2010, presented some challenges to responsive web design, SharePoint 2013 has made it much easier for web designers to brand and design their sites. These new capabilities enable you to create user friendly interfaces across the panoply of mobile operating systems.

    The Increasing Need for Mobile-Friendly Data

    Much of the current workforce is roving—they access documents on the go, use tablets to sell products and services to customer, and are finding that laptops are burdensome tool used solely when in the office or at home. If you’ve made critical business data available to this workforce-on-the-move, your organization needs to acknowledge this trend and design sites for easy reading and navigation while keeping resizing, panning and scrolling to a minimum. Your SharePoint content must be more mobile device friendly: available and convenient for your workforce and customers no matter what device they bring to the table.

    Building a Dynamic Solution for Every Device

    Deploying a strategic solution to render the SharePoint sites across devices without losing functionality and content can be done using new web design techniques.

    • Apply responsive web design principles to provide an optimal viewing experience across devices. The responsive design methodology, when planned correctly, provides a single design approach (a single master page) versus multiple designs for each device. Develop the SharePoint design keeping mobile first in mind and utilizing the pillars of responsive web design:keep the design fluid (I.e. a grid system), integrate use of flexible media, and use media queries. When used properly, the elements in the page rearrange themselves to fit the current resolution as the browser window is resized from desktop, to mobile, and back again.
    • Build to the design, not to the device. The site’s functionality and content should be the same, regardless of the size of the screen.
    • Leverage web designers and consultants who are a crucial component for a successful SharePoint implementation. The person with the right skillset will understand how to employ HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript/JQuery libraries and other web tools to create a responsive design for your SharePoint sites through branding, page layouts and web parts/apps.

    Though deploying your responsive web design requires several new considerations, it provides a single, easy to manage solution for the “bring your own device” dilemma. Users will have access to the SharePoint content across their devices and the information is truly at their fingertips. With easier access to this information, productivity increases, SharePoint adoption is higher and users are more satisfied. This leads to an increase in ROI.

    The Opportunity with SharePoint 2013

    SharePoint 2013 natively supports many mobile browsers, and much of the web tooling that designers use regularly can now be leveraged within the SharePoint 2013 framework. The support for responsive web design, integration of universal web technologies (JavaScript/JQuery libraries), and design tools like Dreamweaver and Web Expressions continues to evolve and grow, giving businesses ever-increasing opportunities to leverage the growing mobile workforce and customer base.

    Trellist can help you deliver your critical business data to users, no matter what device they’re using. Learn more about our experience with SharePoint from this client success story. Then, connect with us on Twitter @trellist and reach out to us at info@trellist.com.

    1 Source: Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2013 – 2018 http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/service-provider/ip-ngn-ip-next-generation-network/white_paper_c11-481360.html

  • How Content Marketing Fuels The New Buyer’s Journey

    by John Miller | Nov 10, 2014

    the new buyers journey

    Scribewise, a division of Trellist Marketing and Technology, develops and executes content marketing strategy and solutions.  Scribewise is an outsourced newsroom that creates smart content to fuel marketing initiatives.  Trellist acquired Scribewise in 2014 to expand its wide range of marketing and technology services; leveraging its other powerful divisions and digital business values, Trellist boldly delivers intelligent business solutions.

    You’ve likely heard the phrase content marketing over the last couple of years. Maybe you’ve embraced the concept. Or maybe you’re perplexed by what people are talking about.

    First, let’s define exactly what we’re talking about when we use the term content marketing: content marketing is the creation and distribution of journalistic, audience-focused material that helps people do their jobs or live their lives.

    So why is that important?

    The New Buyer’s Journey

    It’s important because of today’s increasingly digital buying and selling environment. Today, the customer is in control of the relationship. The buyer’s journey has completely shifted over the last decade, and now it is incumbent upon marketers to engage with prospective customers before they’re ready to buy. Think about your own buying experience, and how often you turn to the Internet before you start shopping.

    Where the buyer once took a straightforward path to making a purchase, it is now far more complex, and conducted completely at the whim of the buyer. Today, the education phase of the buyer’s journey is conducted at whatever pace the buyer chooses. They seek information whenever, wherever and however they want. The challenge for brands is to deliver the buyer useful information in a multitude of ways.

    When those prospective customers are searching, they’re looking for an organization they want to do business with. We can buy goods and services from anywhere in the world – down the street, London, Hong Kong – wherever. That means the battle to win the customer is fiercer than ever before.

    Where Content Marketing Comes In

    And high quality, journalistic, audience-focused content can help you win that battle. By delivering great content into the marketplace, a brand begins to garner attention, engage the audience and build trust. A content strategy feeds consumer desire to seek information and form opinions. It begins to create a deeper-level relationship with the audience.

    Of course, this isn’t easy to do. A brand that launches a content marketing strategy is committing to become a publisher. Being a publisher is quite different from traditional marketing efforts. Ongoing content creation requires talent, dedication and relentlessness.

    But there’s more to it than that – suddenly, your team will be charged with creating a constant river of content, which requires creativity at a fast tempo. For those accustomed to logical, linear processes, the content creation “process” might be a shock to the system. As they say, people who enjoy sausage and news should never witness either being made. And here’s the scary secret about content creation – it has to be chaotic. At the heart of it, content marketing is a creative process, and it can’t be tamped down too much by process.

    This is why we founded Scribewise, and why Trellist acquired us. Scribewise is an outsourced newsroom that helps our clients set and execute their content strategy. Together, with Trellist’s powerful marketing and technology services, we can deliver effective results that produce a real ROI.

    For the brand, it can be hard work. But the rewards are significant. Closing a sale with a prospective customer that has already engaged with your content becomes almost a formality – you’ve already demonstrated your thinking and approach and created a relationship based on trust. Research backs this up – one study shows that content marketing saves 13% in overall cost of a business lead, and that content-driven organic search outperforms outbound marketing by a 14:1 ratio1. Another study shows that B2B firms with blogs report 67% more business leads2. And on and on it goes.

    Content marketing works. The time to dive in is now… before your competitors do. Check out the infographic below to travel The New Buyer's Journey. And follow us on Twitter @trellist or, connect with us via info@trellist.com.
     
     
     
     
    1Hubspot - The 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Annual Report
    2
    http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/5807/How-Many-Posts-Does-Your-Business-Blog-Need-to-Grow-Leads-At-Least-20.aspx

  • 3 Keys to Surviving the Age of Social Disruption

    by Chris Wallace | Jul 28, 2014
    surviving the age of social disruption

    Without question, social technologies rank among the most disruptive trends in business and culture in the 21st Century. So disruptive, in fact, it could prove to be an “extinction event” for businesses too inflexible or slow to evolve.

    Consumers (whether B2C or B2B) have built expectations for brands on social that mirror the way that they interact with their friends and counterparts. These expectations cause consumers to be drawn to, and ultimately choose, brands that actively engage with them socially.

    Socially mature companies make the investment to understand the complexities of their consumers and use that information to improve their products, services and brand interactions.

    This requires brands to be present and active in channels their customers prefer. It requires real time, on-demand listening and engagement, and making that information shareable and actionable without porting around spreadsheets. It means all internal touch points participate in social on some level - from customer service to marketing to investor relations. 

    Essentially, brands are forced to move from DOING social to BEING social, and this movement is happening right now.

    According to Dion Hinchcliffe of the Dachis Group, the number of global companies that have truly and fully mastered social integration across their operations numbers in the low hundreds[1]. The importance of doing so is apparent however. He explains we are, “witnessing a steady and inexorable rise in social business adoption over the last five years.” 

    This means that now is the perfect time to begin planning your social road map and seize on a fast-mover advantage in your marketplace.

    What separates socially leading companies from lagging ones? How are these leaders approaching the challenges and reaping the benefits from opportunities presented by the era of social disruption?

    It helps to look at where industry norms will be in 5 years to create a roadmap to becoming fundamentally social by re-configuring 3 key factors: People, Processes and Technology.

    To help our clients understand these 3 key factors and address these challenges, Trellist launched a dedicated Social Business Division to provide consulting, design and development for clients looking to integrate social across teams, divisions, locations and business functions.

    We've also partnered with Sprinklr - the single "most powerful technology" in the social space (Forrester's Wave Reports). The result: an alliance that spans every need of every forward-thinking, large- to medium-sized organization seeking to implement social on a global, integrated level.

     

    3 Keys to Surviving Social Disruption.


    Don’t be the disrupted. Be the disruptor. If you are a champion for social in your organization, and are interested in taking the right steps toward becoming social at scale, Trellist is ready to help you meet the challenge head on. Engage with us; we're listening.

  • iBeacons Beckon

    by Jim Dixon | Mar 24, 2014

    ibeacons the new product by apple

    iBeacons are all the rage right now and rightfully so. “What the heck is an iBeacon?” you ask. Great question. If it wasn’t obvious by the “i” in the name, iBeacon was introduced by Apple and is a new proximity-sensing technology based on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) – also called Bluetooth Smart. It was heavily promoted by Apple at its iOS 7 keynote last September.

    And while iBeacon is technically a protocol that allows developers to use the technology in their applications, the term “iBeacon” has been quickly adopted to refer to physical devices (about the size of a coin or medallion). At their core, these devices are simple. They are BLE transmitters that have a sole purpose: to help establish proximity. In conjunction with a BLE-equipped smartphone, a mobile app can listen for a signal. If a signal is detected, proximity can be established. Once proximity is established, an action can be triggered. This is where the abounding possibilities begin.

    One of those possibilities is indoor navigation. Sure, the vast majority of mobile devices in today’s world are equipped with GPS, and while GPS is fairly accurate for establishing a general location, it can’t tell you that you’re on the second floor, in apartment 209, of a 5-story building. 

    Ever heard of Total Wine & More? Total Wine is a retailer of fine wines, beer and liquor. However, this isn’t your typical spirits store — it occupies a space the size of a supermarket. For wine enthusiasts, this translates to a massive selection of wines from all over the planet. This massive selection also presents a big problem: “How do I find that $10 bottle of 2007 Vina Eguia Rioja Reserva without having to flag someone down?”

    Here’s how it would work. Assume Total Wine has a network of iBeacons installed throughout their store. A customer enters the store and pulls up the 2007 Vina Eguia Rioja Reserva on the Total Wine app. The customer presses the “Take Me to It!” button and voila, they’re presented with in-store navigation that takes them to the exact position of the bottle.

    Or consider this example. You’re traveling and have a connecting flight to catch. Your first flight was delayed and now you have 20 minutes to make it from Terminal A to Terminal E or you’re going to be stuck in Vegas for the night (okay, so there are certainly worse cities to be stuck in). Some might say that 20 minutes is plenty of time…if you know where to find Terminal E. Luckily, the Las Vegas airport is equipped with iBeacons. You pull out your trusty Airport Navigation app and using signals from the iBeacons, you’re given real-time, turn-by-turn directions to the terminal and gate. And you make the flight with a few minutes to spare. 

    As with any hyped technology, there’s always the question of adoption. What makes iBeacons any different than other tech fads? First, they’re based on BLE, a technology that is nearly ubiquitous among smart phones (and other electronic devices) made within the past three years. Second, because BLE has been around since 2010, and Bluetooth more generally since 1994, there is a well-established standard and the hardware is cheap. Third, BLE has a range of up to 50 meters, much greater than that of competing low-power wireless technologies. Finally, and possibly most important, BLE consumes power at an extremely low rate. This results in improved battery life for BLE-equipped devices like smartphones and tablets, and allows iBeacons to run up to two years on a standard watch battery. 

    While there have been a number of technologies over the years that have attempted to truly bridge the physical and digital worlds with some success (think QR codes and NFC), there hasn’t been a technology quite like iBeacons. Its ubiquity and versatility set it apart from competitors, giving marketers and technologists an exciting new method for communicating with customers. Retail, manufacturing, healthcare, tourism and a plethora of other industries have a great opportunity to connect like never before.

    Look for iBeacons to become a catalyst for just-in-time communications and a valuable link to on-demand mobile content. Retailers big and small, as well as businesses whose customer experience is dependent on smooth logistics, would be smart to begin using these little wonders.

    If you’d like to talk more about strategies for bringing together digital and physical experiences, including the use of iBeacons, drop us a line via info@trellist.com

  • Social Media is So 2012

    by Chris Wallace | Nov 19, 2013

    four keys to social business

    When did your organization make the move from practicing Social Media to practicing Social Business? In most cases, you can’t say when it happened. But it has.

    The more important question is: What are you going to do about it?

    Separating the concept of Social Business from Social Media is not about semantics or buzzwords. It’s an acknowledgement that Social Media impacts many areas and disciplines within your organization, and a concerted effort to account for this trend across the organization.

    Oddly enough, this understanding is frequently arrived at as a result of the law of unintended consequences. 

    Most companies decide that the best way to test into social media is in Marketing and PR. The reasons are easy to understand, the benefits are transparent, and it feels like a low risk/high reward proposition. Often they launch their blog, set up their Facebook and LinkedIn Pages, begin generating content and driving their audience to it – all good things in the realm of marketing. 

    Then something interesting happens: The instant that first social mention appears which your marketing department is incapable of responding to; the first time that your social media team is aware of product feedback before your R&D team is; when Customer Service becomes aware of a dissatisfied customer through social instead of the phone lines, you've graduated to Social Business. Congratulations. 

    With this step come an entirely new set of business challenges to deal with. Very quickly, new levels of coordination become critical, content generation becomes a focus, roles such as the Community Director become central, and a proper portfolio of social management tools become vital.

    These examples represent the 4 key aspects that we examine when developing Social Business strategy for clients: Structure, Methods, Resources, Software. This infographic is intended to shed some light on a topic that many of our clients are asking about. 


     
  • Creating Dynamic Content That Gets People Talking

    by Renee Cohen | Aug 20, 2013

    creating dynamic content for your audience
    Henry Ford said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

    I’d say his statement is only partially true. When the rules are changing around you, if you continue to do what you’ve always done at some point your efforts actually become less effective.

    And the rules have changed. Social media has turned digital marketing into a set of sound bites. With decision makers having to sift through more and more information, how do you stay above the noise?

    By being mindful of what’s working in this age of social sharing, you can transition your traditional media (white papers, research reports, and case studies) into dynamic, engaging content and interactive experiences. By upping your content marketing game, you’ll begin to stimulate deeper conversation and drive more awareness of your solutions earlier in the buying cycle.

    Check out the infographic below for more thoughts on creating engaging, dynamic content. And follow us on Twitter @trellist or connect with us via info@trellist.com.

    How Dynamic is your Content