Tag Archives: marketing communications

Targeted Segmentation Through Mobile Marketing

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The mobile is an effective channel to reach out to many users. The mobile devices, including smart phones and tablets could increase the productivities and efficiencies of organisations. For the time being, the mobile applications (apps) are an “in demand” area for research and development. Gartner (2015) anticipated that mobile analytics was going to be one of the latest technologies that could disrupt business intelligence. In fact, the market for advertising on mobile is still escalating at a fast pace. Moreover, there are niche areas for professional growth, as more and more individuals are increasingly creating new applications for many purposes on mobile operating systems.

Recent advances in mobile communication and geo-positioning technologies have presented marketers with a new way how to target consumers based on their location (Camilleri, 2016). Location-targeted mobile advertising involves the provision of ad messages to mobile data subscribers. This digital technology allows marketers to deliver ads and coupons that are customised to individual consumers’ tastes, geographic location and the time of day. Given the ubiquity of mobile devices, location-targeted mobile advertising are increasingly offering tremendous marketing benefits.

In addition, many businesses are commonly utilising applications, including browser cookies that track consumers through their mobile devices as they move out and about. Very often, when users leave the sites they visited, the products or services they viewed will be shown to them again in advertisements, across different websites. Hence, many companies are using browsing session data combined with the consumers’ purchase history to deliver “suitable” items that consumers like. There are also tourism businesses who are personalising their offerings as they collect, classify and use large data volumes on the consumers’ behaviours. As more consumers carry smartphones with them, they may be easily targeted with compelling offers that instantaneously pop-up on their mobile devices.

For instance, consumers are continuously using social networks which are indicating their geo location, as they use mobile apps. This same data can be used to identify where people tend to gather — this information that could be very useful. This information is valuable to brands as they seek to improve their consumer engagement and marketing efforts. It may appear that businesses are using mobile devices and networks to capture important consumer data. For instance, smart phones and tablets that are wifi-enabled interact with networks and convey information to network providers and ISPs. This year, more businesses shall be using mobile devices and networks as a sort of sensor data – to acquire relevant information on their consumers’ digital behaviours and physical movements. These businesses have become increasingly interactive through the proliferation of near-field communication (NFC). Basically, embedded chips in the customers’ mobile phones are exchanging data with the retailers’ items possessing the NFC tags. The latest iPhone, Android and Microsoft smartphones have already included these NFC ca­pabilities. This development has recently led to the use of mobile wallets. The growth of such data-driven, digital technologies is surely adding value to the customer-centric marketing. Therefore, analytics can enable businesses to provide a deeper personalisation of content and offers to specific customers.

The geo-based marketing message or offer is delivered at the right time, and at the right place. The brands that hold customer data can gain a competitive edge over their rivals. Of course, firms will need more than transaction history and loyalty schemes to be effective at this. They may require both socio-demographic and geo-data that new mobile technologies are capable of gathering.

For instance, many mobile service companies are partnering with local cinemas, in response to the location-targeted mobile advertising; as cinema-goers often inquire about movie information, and they may book tickets and select their seats through their mobile app. The consumers who are physically situated within a given geographic proximity of the participating cinemas could be receiving location-targeted mobile ads. The cinemas’ ads will inform prospects what movies they are playing and could explain how to purchase tickets through their phone. The consumers may also call the cinemas’ hotlines to get more information from a customer service representative. Besides location-targeted advertising, the mobile companies can also promote movie ticket sales via mobile ads that arte targeted to individuals, according to their behaviour (not by location). Therefore, the companies may direct mobile-ad messages to those consumers who had previously responded to previous mobile ads (and to others who had already purchased movie tickets, in the past months). Moreover, the cinema companies could also promote movies via Facebook Messenger Ads if they logged in the companies’ website, via their Facebook account. The mobile users might receive instant message ads via pop-up windows whenever they log into the corporate site of their service provider.

It is envisaged that such data points will only increase as the multi-billion dollar advertising monopolies are built on big data and analytics that can help businesses personalise immersive ads to target individual customers. The use of credit card transactions is also complementing geo-targeting and Google Maps, with ads; as the physical purchases are increasingly demanding personalisation, fulfillment and convenience. Consumers and employees alike are willing to give up their data for value. Therefore, the businesses need to reassure their customers through concise disclosures on how they will use personal data. They should clarify the purpose of maintaining consumer data, as they should provide simple user controls to opt in and out of different levels of data sharing. This way, they could establish a trust-worthy relationship with customers and prospects.

Companies are already personalising their mobile shopping experience based on the user situation and history. Tomorrow’s tourism businesses are expected to customise their user experiences of applications and web interfaces, according to the specific needs of each segment. Big data and analytics capabilities are increasingly allowing businesses to fully leverage their rich data from a range of new digital touchpoints and to turn this into high impact interactions. Those businesses that are able to reorient their marketing and product-development efforts around digital customer segments and behaviours will be in a position to tap into the hyper-growth that mobile, social media and the wearables market are currently experiencing.

References:

Camilleri, M. A. (2016). Using big data for customer centric marketing. Using Big Data for Customer-Centric Marketing. In Evans, C. (Ed.) Handbook of Research on Open Data Innovations in Business and Government, IGI Global, Hershey, PA, USA. https://www.um.edu.mt/library/oar/bitstream/handle/123456789/10682/Using%20Big%20Data%20for%20Customer-centric%20Marketing.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y

Gartner (2015) Gartner Says Power Shift in Business Intelligence and Analytics Will Fuel Disruption. http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2970917

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Corporate Communication, Stakeholder Engagement and Corporate Social Responsibility

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Companies are increasingly dedicating their time and resources to promote their public relations initiatives. Corporate Communication Managers and executives have a wide array of media channels at their disposal. These may  be used to communicate their corporate social responsibility CSR credentials. As a matter of fact, businesses are continuously being scrutinised by media, customers, monitoring groups, consumer forums and blogs (Du et al., 2010).

Very often, businesses disclose their CSR activities through official documents, such as annual corporate responsibility or sustainability reports, media releases, dedicated sections of their corporate websites; as well as in social media pages or groups. CSR communication is produced, translated, and integrated according to the companies’ contexts and their specific reality constructions (Schultz and Wehmeier, 2010).

Companies could use broadcast advertising, including TV and radio commercials. Businesses could also utilise print media (e.g. newspapers, magazines) to disseminate their message to their target audience. Newspaper articles reflect corporate ideas of social responsibilities and assumptions about public expectations, and react herewith to what they perceive as the public’s expectations (Schultz and Wehmeier, 2010). Alternatively, they may use outdoor advertisements such as billboards and signage on brick-and-mortar premises. These traditional media are based on a hierarchical one‐to‐many communication; with a clear distinction between producer and consumer of information. Notwithstanding, there are other communication channels that are not entirely controlled by the company. For this reason, businesses are encouraged to become more proficient in the use of digital media in addition to traditional media to increase their impact of their corporate communication.

Evidently, the internet has reshaped communication at different levels. It has enabled the emergence of a new participatory public sphere that is based on a many‐to‐many communication where everybody can dialogically and publicly interact and collaborate in the creation of content and the definition of the agenda (Colleoni, 2013; Jenkins, 2006). In a relatively short period of time, the internet has become an essential tool for organisational communication (Capriotti & Moreno, 2007a; Stuart & Jones, 2004).

Moreover, in today’s digital era, the engagement between the public and the organisation is one of the main characteristics of the internet (Colleoni, 2013). Many corporate websites already possess a high degree of interactivity; including their ability to disseminate information and to generate relationships between the different publics and the organisation (Capriotti & Moreno, 2007). In the first approach, the level of interactivity is low, and the use of the Internet is unidirectional; as its essential objective is to diffuse information and to try to improve the corporate image of the business. However, in the second approach, the degree of interactivity is high, and the Internet is used to facilitate bidirectional communication and to nurture relationships by allowing dialogue and interaction between the organisation and its stakeholders.

Interactive communication is becoming one of the most important information channels for corporations as it is changing social dynamics (Fieseler & Fleck, 2013; O`Reilly, 2005; 2006). Web-based co‐operation and data exchanges have empowered the communication between businesses and their stakeholders (Buhalis & Law, 2008; O´Riley, 2006, Fieseler et al., 2010). It enables them to engage with online users and to take advantage of positive publicity arising from word-of-mouth marketing and digital platforms. Corporations can maintain legitimacy better as they engage with stakeholders via social media; and take on the gate keeping function of traditional media (Fieseler et al. 2010). At the same time, there are protest actors; who have become more powerful online as they disrupt the corporations’ legitimacy by using social media (Castelló, Morsing & Schultz, 2013; Bennett 2003).

Societies are currently undergoing a fundamental transformation toward globally networked societies (Castelló, Morsing, & Schultz, 2013). Unsurprisingly, the public relations and corporate communications of business have benefited of social networking software (Etter, Morsing, and Castello, 2011; Pressley (2006). Of course, these technological advances also have consequences for CSR communication; as companies can reach out to stakeholders in a more interactive way. In a similar vein, the use of social networks have offered the businesses new forms of interactivity and enable them to address the CSR information toward a variety of stakeholders (Isenmann, 2006). A powerful stakeholder group, the consumers serve as an informal yet highly credible CSR communication channel. In particular, the power of consumer word-of-mouth has been greatly magnified given the popularity and vast reach of interactive communication.

Companies such as Stonyfield Farm and Ben & Jerry’s have been benefiting from consumer ambassadors who raved, in the virtual world, about their social responsibility endeavours. For example, one consumer wrote enthusiastically about Ben & Jerry’s butter pecan ice cream and its support for an educational foundation, ‘besides the great flavour that the Ben & Jerry’s Butter Pecan Ice Cream offers you, a portion of the proceeds go to the Tom Joyner Foundation . . . [that] provides financial support to students attending historically black colleges and universities’ (Associated Content 2008). Companies can be proactive in using social media to engage consumers to be their CSR advocates.

Timberland, a company that is known for its environmental stewardship, launched the Earthkeeper campaign in 2008 to recruit one million people to become part of an online network designed to inspire real environmental behaviour change. As part of the Earthkeeper programme, Timberland launched an innovative global network of online social networking tools, including a strong Facebook presence, a YouTube Earthkeeper Brand Channel and a richly populated Earthkeeper blog, as well as an Earthkeeper product collection which serves as the pinnacle expression of the company’s environmental commitment (CSRWire 2008). Through this campaign, Timberland not only effectively communicating its sustainability initiative, but also engaging consumers to spread the word about this initiative and, importantly, the company’s involvement in this initiative.

Fieseler et al. (2010) suggested that communication through social media is dynamic in relation to traditional media. The global diffusion of social software like blogs, RSS feed, wikis, electronic forum, social networks have facilitated companies to attract prospects and consumer groups. Social media have the technological potential to speed up communication processes (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010) and to increase direct interaction, dialogue and participation across organisations and various audiences (Colleoni 2013; Schultz et al. 2011). Such interactive communications are referred to as “viral” because ideas and opinions spread like epidemic diseases through the network via word‐of‐mouth and are perceived as highly trustworthy sources (Colleoni et al., 2011; Schultz and Wehmeier, 2010).

Accordingly, social media has transformed the communicative dynamics within and between corporations and their environment.  Social media networks are effective monitoring tools as they could feature early warning signals of trending topics. These networks may help business communicators and marketers identify and follow the latest sustainability issues. Notwithstanding, CSR influencers are easily identified on particular subject matters or expertise. For example, businesses and customers alike have learned how to use the hashtag (#) to enhance the visibility of their shareable content16 (Some of the most popular hashtags comprise: #CSR #StrategicCSR, #sustainability, #susty, #CSRTalk, #Davos2016, #KyotoProtocol, #SharedValue et cetera). Hashtags could be used to raise awareness on charities, philanthropic institutions and green non-governmental organisations. They may also help during fund raising events. Hence, there are numerous opportunities for businesses to leverage themselves through social networks as they engage with influencers and media.

The ubiquity of Facebook and Google Plus over the past years has made them familiar channels for many individuals around the globe. These networks have become very popular communication outlets for brands, companies and activists alike. These social media empower their users to engage with business on a myriad of issues. They also enable individual professionals or groups to promote themselves and their CSR credentials in different markets and segments.

Moreover, LinkedIn is yet another effective tool, particularly for personal branding. However, this social network helps users identify and engage with influencers. Companies can use this site to create or join their favourite groups on LinkedIn (e.g. GRI, FSG, Shared Value Initiative among others). They may also use this channel for CSR communication as they promote key initiatives and share sustainability ideas. Therefore, LinkedIn connects individuals and groups as they engage in conversations with both academia and CSR practitioners.

In addition, Pinterest and Instagram enable their users to share images, ideas with their networks. These social media could also be relevant in the context of the sustainability agenda. Businesses could illustrate their CSR communication to stakeholders through visual and graphic content. Evidently, these innovative avenues provide sharable imagery, infographics or videos to groups who may be passionate on certain issues, including CSR.

Moreover, digital marketers are increasingly uploading short, fun videos which often turn viral on internet. YouTube, Vimeo and Vine seem to have positioned themselves as important social media channels for many consumers, particularly among millennials. These sites offer an excellent way to humanise or animate CSR communication through video content. These digital media also allow their users to share their video content across multiple networks. For instance, videos featuring university resources may comprise lectures, documentaries, case studies and the like.

This contribution suggests that corporate communications managers and executives are in a position to amplify the effectiveness of their company’s CSR communication efforts. They are expected to create relevant content and to engage with stakeholders through different marketing communications channels.

 

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Filed under Business, Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility, CSR, digital media, Marketing, Stakeholder Engagement

Unleashing Shared Value through Content Marketing

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Companies have to deal with different stakeholders’ opinions, attitudes and perceptions about their behaviour. They need to strike a balance in satisfying numerous stakeholders’ expectations. Businesses can’t please everyone. However, they should try to engage in fruitful and collaborative working relationships with external stakeholders, as dialogue often leads to improvements in mutual trust and understanding. Continuous communication also translates to benefits for the businesses’ reputation, its brand image, customer loyalty and investor confidence. Companies cannot afford to overstate or misrepresent their Corporate Responsibility (CR) initiatives. Although, they often manage to control their internal communication paths, it is much harder to control external media. As a result, it has never been more necessary to turn the businesses’ stakeholders into potential advocates for both the cause and the company. This can happen if CR realms are a good fit for the businesses’ mission and vision. It is advisable that CR communications reflect the ethos of the practicing organisations. Therefore CR (and sustainability) reporting should be clear in their intentions, with specific and relevant information featuring the companies’ credentials, and how stakeholders will benefit.

CR behaviour is directed at the organisations’ stakeholders comprising human resources, suppliers, customers and the community at large. Well laid down policies and initiatives are usually communicated through formal statements in annual reports as well as through corporate websites. CR reporting cover areas like training and development opportunities for employees, employee consultation and dialogue, health, safety and security issues and also measures for work-life balance. Apparently, business organisations are increasingly pledging their commitment for more innovative environmental investments. For instance, energy and water conservation, waste minimisation and recycling, pollution prevention, environmental protection as well as sustainable transport options. These sustainable practices bring strategic benefits such as operational efficiencies and cost savings. Several empirical studies (including mine) have indicated that discretionary investments in CR, whether they are driven from  strategic intents or from ‘posturing behaviours’ often result in improved relationships with internal and external stakeholders. The rationale for societal engagement is to anticipate third party pressures, lower the criticisms from the public and to minimise legal cases through compliance with regulations.  

CR should not be merely presented as goodwill or as a philanthropic venture. It should be featured as a realistic business case for stakeholders. This shared value proposition requires particular areas of focus within the businesses’ context. Yet, at the same time it looks after the society’s wellbeing. This notion contributes towards sustainability by addressing societal and community deficits. Presumably, shared value can be sustained only if there is a genuine commitment to organisational learning, and if there is a genuine willingness to forge relationships with key stakeholders, including customers and employees. Free publicity and informal word of mouth can either bring supportive or damaging effects. There is scope for businesses to foster strong relationships with particular community and marketplace beneficiaries. Such stakeholders can possibly serve as a buffer against potentially negative and harmful reviews. Recently, companies are increasingly focusing their attention on content and inbound marketing. In a nutshell, content marketing necessitates an integrated marketing approach through different channels of communication with stakeholders. This has to be carried out at all times. Many local businesses are becoming proficient in their customer engagement. They realise that this marketing approach brings customer loyalty, particularly if the business is delivering consistent, ongoing business propositions. In a similar vein, inbound marketing tactics also draw customers to businesses. Successful businesses are continuously coming up with informative yet interesting, original content through innovative marketing and interactive methods such as blogs, podcasts and social media networking, enewsletters et cetera. Online content comprise refreshing information which tell stakeholders how to connect the dots. It goes without saying that corporate internet sites are serving their purpose. The general public is continuously presented a better picture of the companies’ communications; containing the latest news, elements of the marketing mix endeavours and marketing fads. It transpires that content marketing has become a valuable tool for CR communications. Businesses who make use of the right content to explain their CR behaviours will gain a competitive advantage relative to others. On the other hand, stakeholders have become acquainted with businesses communicating their motives and rationale behind CR programmes. CR practices provide a good opportunity for businesses to raise their profile through their laudable behaviours.

At times, businesses can obtain decent coverage by third parties, especially media enterprises who are renowned for their sense of objectivity. Strategic communications help to improve the corporate image of firms, leading to reputational benefits and rapports of trust with stakeholders. This short contribution suggests that content and inbound marketing can be successfully employed for CR communications and to enhance customer and employee engagements.

DrMarkCamilleri.com

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Times of Malta

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