Friday Jun 27, 2014

What’s Holding You Up: No Chief Marketing Technologist

The marketing world has had to absorb several truths over the past 5 years.  Technology is changing, fast, for both consumers and businesses. Marketing now finds itself leading the entire customer experience, at every touch point. And technology is creating capabilities and driving KPI accountability in this enormously expanded endeavor. Keeping up has been a crushing challenge. Good luck doing it without a Chief Marketing Technologist.

What is a Chief Marketing Technologist? And how does that fit in with the frequent calls we’ve heard for greater CMO/CIO collaboration? The CMT might be the best way for the CMO to get that collaboration done. The best could address every complaint Marketing has about IT (not responsive, not willing to innovate, not agile enough, etc.) and every complaint IT has about Marketing (don’t understand the importance of compliance, don’t understand security needs, don’t even speak the language, etc.)

Gartner discovered 67% of marketing departments plan to up spending on tech activities over the next 2 years. 61% are increasing capital expenditures on tech, and 65% are raising budgets for tech service providers like the Oracle Social Cloud. That’s good news, and it makes sense, but managing all that is a real bear.

Many a business has lost much valuable time trying to change internal roles and areas of expertise by sheer force of will, ignoring the deep differences between marketer-types and technology-types. You don’t have the luxury of time to burn anymore. A person with the existing newly-highly-marketable hybrid skillsets of tech and marketing can put you in the fast lane.

And by the way, you can call them whatever you want to; Chief Marketing Technologist, Chief Digital Officer, Captain Big Data, Big Tech Cheese…as long as they take command of the most needed tasks in marketing today.

  • Making sure marketing tech addresses business goals
  • Be an effective go-between/translator between Marketing and IT
  • Evaluating and choosing tech and 3rd party providers
  • Brainstorm or curate new digital methods/opportunities
  • Encourage experimentation and innovation
  • Make sure requests of IT are reasonable
  • Make sure IT policies are adhered to
  • Help in explaining activities to others in the C-suite
  • Ensure Marketing staff has proper training in the tools

If you don’t have a Chief Marketing Technologist, or someone competently filling that role, that’s an awful lot for a CMO or CIO to take on in addition to their other required talents and responsibilities. The likely outcome is that things will not move forward with the speed and vigor required to keep up with the changes tech and changing behaviors/expectations demand.

But get it right, commit to that area of expertise, and you’ll put real distance between you and your competition. Gartner found orgs with a CMT-type person will spend 11.7% of their revenue on marketing, compared to 7.1% for those that don’t. They’ll spend 30% of their marketing budget on digital, compared to 21% for those that don’t. They’ll spend 9.8% of their marketing budget on innovation, compared to 5% for those that don’t.

In other words, investments get made when there’s something in place that warrants putting gas in the tank. Leave the confusion in place, and what CEO can summon the confidence to facilitate modern marketing? As the Tech Guys Who Get Marketing say, a Chief Marketing Technologist is “critical to keeping the left brain and right brain from blaming each other about why the body keeps tripping instead of sprinting through the 100m at record pace.”

@mikestiles @oraclesocial

Tuesday Jun 24, 2014

Wait, What? Social Customer Service Has to Work?

There goes Oracle again, trying to make life easier for brands that are trying to make customers’ lives easier.  This time it’s about customer service, and from everything we’ve learned about social customer service, it’s one of the prime reasons people connect to brands on social at all.

Oracle has an agreement to acquire LiveLOOK. Already an integrated part of the Oracle Service Cloud, over 100 Oracle customers are using it for real-time visual collaboration, co-browsing, and screen sharing. You can see how that plays into customer service.

Let’s say I’ve got a problem. (Don’t get smart with me, this is just an example). I can try to describe what I’m experiencing to a customer service agent who may or may not get what I’m saying, then try to figure out what they’re telling me despite what I see on my screen. OR…we can connect and show each other on-screen what we’re talking about. Easier. Faster. More efficient. Less frustrating. More productive.

Because the Oracle Service Cloud is part of the Oracle Customer Experience Cloud, which includes Commerce, Sales, Service, Social and Marketing clouds, we’re talking about an opportunity for competitor-crushing customer experiences from the first to the last touch-point. Of course, brands have to seize that opportunity, especially in social customer service.

And so far…eh.

Interest in social selling is high. Interest in social serving, not so much, although it’s better than it was. Brands have learned they must be where customers are, and customers are on social. They know a non-form letter response is expected, and sooner than what’s considered “normal” in corporate-land.

But look, if customer service is tough to do really well with call centers, responding on social to customers’ needs en masse, but personally, and in as close to real-time as possible, is a tall order. Some argue brands shouldn’t even try it, that people on social with problems should get routed elsewhere. And a NICE Systems study found phone is preferred for customer service by 88%, with Millennials the least interested in using social for it.

Hm. Is that because that’s how people want to get customer service, or because their experiences with social customer service to date have been so poor it’s regarded as an undesirable channel for it?

However, you won’t want to be too quick to forfeit the positives of social customer service. A BI Intelligence report says social customer management doubles the percentage of sales leads that result in actual sales, relative to traditional CRM approaches. McKinsey says 71% of consumers who got good social service are likely to recommend the brand to others. In other words, do it right, and there are payoffs.

Doing it right means:

  • Satisfying the customer’s hunger for a true advocate inside the brand.
  • Having expertise from all lines of business represented on the social care team.
  • Customer-centricity or bust. How would you handle the interaction if it were your mother?
  • Using the right tools. Without a hot social management and listening platform, you don’t have a chance.
  • Customers being able to count on you for an eventual answer. People have HUGE abandonment issues.
  • Being clear (and public) about what you did for them.
  • Making it happen on mobile as cleanly as on laptop or desktop.

We look forward to our expanded integration of LiveLOOK’s technology and know that it will lead to even more winning customer service experiences for Oracle customers.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial

Friday Jun 20, 2014

Your Paid Social Marketing is Feeling Lonely

There was a time not long ago when a lot of thought leadership articles talked about the need for the cooperation and integration amongst departments in the enterprise (not happening at breakneck speed by the way).  Now, apparently a call is also needed for paid marketing efforts, including paid social marketing, to also not be walled off from each other.

I suppose wherever there are limited dollars and multiple paid options, there will be little tugs-of-war to see where the money lands. But just as CMO’s and CIO’s have benefits to reap from working in tandem, so too do paid ad options.

Here at Oracle Social, we have several inaugural paid social platforms integrated into the Oracle SRM, one of them being Kenshoo. They wondered how adding Facebook ads to paid search campaigns would affect performance and cost. So they ran a campaign with Experian to foster online applications for their credit reports.

After a couple of weeks of exposing different US audiences to different Facebook ads spending totals, they saw a 19% average jump in total conversions for those that saw the Facebook ads vs. those that only saw the paid search ads. For those who did see Facebook ads, average cost-per-acquisition was down 10%. Why? Our friend conversions!

In fact, conversions kept going up as Facebook ad spend went up. Naturally, they eventually found a “sweet spot” at which the most benefit was being harvested for the least expense. But the point is that any belief one paid marketing tactic has no affect on the others, that multiple types can’t leverage each other toward the same goal, is wrong.

Adweek has commented that we are in the "paid" chapter of social’s evolution. All that means is the social networks need revenue, so paying-to-play to the audiences we brands spent years and dollars amassing is the order of the day. The good news is, it works.

Social brings reach, targeting, retargeting, user sharing, social big data, location…all kinds of things that drive critical relevancy to ad messaging. These abilities in social ad products will only continue to grow. Using paid social to give your content a fighting chance to win organic validation and thus, benefit search results, is becoming standard practice. Such worthy content is even being called “the new SEO.”

So if that’s the case, Kenshoo’s findings shouldn’t startle us very much. Kenshoo’s Chris Costello points out, “There are only so many people searching for things. Running Facebook ads can not only get more people to search, but they can make the search ads work better by instilling brand preference in searchers and driving them to convert at higher rates.”

A Visu survey shows marketers are increasingly “getting it,” orchestrating paid social with not just search, but with their entire menu of digital and traditional media choices. Putting paid social marketing in its own box presupposes customers are only exposed to one paid media choice during a purchasing journey. Kenshoo’s Aaron Goldman says nope, they don’t distinguish between channels, and this study proves brands that think like customers and don’t force paid social to go it alone will see cross-channel rewards.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial

Tuesday Jun 17, 2014

Social Listening: Okay, What Is It I’m Supposed to Listen For?

When Jay Leno was first being considered by NBC for host of the Tonight Show, legend has it he literally hid in a closet so he could overhear executives weighing the positives and negatives of him vs. David Letterman. Leno intuitively knows the value of social listening.

Who wouldn’t be curious about what people, in honest and unguarded moments, are saying about you? Who hasn’t wanted to be a fly on the wall? Today, social listening makes these things possible for brands. It’s a power you don’t want to leave untapped. But what exactly should you be listening for across social and the Internet at large?

Someone praising you or a competitor:

You’re going to want to engage the rave to help amplify it if it’s about you. If it’s about a competitor, you want to know their strongest features.

Someone having trouble finding, getting, or using yours or a competitor’s product:

It reveals there’s a kink in the happy customer process, a frustration-maker you should fix if it’s yours and exploit if it’s a competitor’s.

Someone debating whether or not to get yours or a competitor’s product:

Don’t jump in to sell them! Offer to answer any remaining questions about your offering, and incentivize.

Someone having a general problem your product helps solve:

Often, people won’t mention brands, but will cry out about a pain point your product could help solve. You’re listening for people to rescue.

Mention of your brand or a competitor by an influencer:

Influencers aren’t just media & big bloggers, they’re also the people who engage most with you or in your area of expertise.

Someone trying to directly reach out to you or a competitor:

If they go to the trouble and you ignore them, you do crazy brand damage. If your competitor makes this crucial mistake, jump on it and offer help from YOUR brand.

Reaction to campaigns and branded content you’re running:

Don’t double-down on a campaign or content people find immensely ignorable.

A hot topic it makes sense for your brand to tap into/comment on:

But you better be careful. Many brands have been severely burned while attempting this.

Opportunities to step in and serve others:

NOBODY minds a brand inserting itself and bringing its power to a worthy cause.

Mentions of valued customers or partners:

You want to be their biggest public cheerleaders, so engage their stuff and share it.

Overall brand sentiment trends:

You shouldn’t wake up one day shocked by how many people don’t like you. It happens over time, so get ahead of the curve.

Location and activity cues:

Oh, you’re near our ice cream shop and complaining about the heat? Here’s a coupon and directions.

Research & development, crowd-sourced product and feature ideas:

Real-world users of our products see them differently and have different experiences with them than we do. We should probably pay attention.

Listen for top employment prospects in your field considering their options:

You can find them first and get the best people just because you were actively looking for them.

Listening is an ongoing, always-on affair. This can’t be for curiosity’s sake, be ready and able to act on what you hear. And if your social listening platform can’t keep up, YOU can’t keep up. We’re talking about a heavy lift of big data, filtering, multiple languages, the ability to establish meaning and intent, etc.

Oracle’s Reggie Bradford points out, “Social listening helps companies tune in to what customers are saying and respond in real time with messages that better reflect their here-and-now sentiments and interests.” Don’t stay tuned out.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: David Ritter,

Friday Jun 13, 2014

Big Data for Social Requires Fast Data…So Oracle Did That

We know the goal.  Acquire big data, then use it to deliver just the right messages to customers and prospects at just the right time, in just the right place, in just the right way. Easy, right?

Of course not. If it were easy, all brands would be on their game, delivering these perfect and profitable customer experiences every day. If I had been browsing guitar amps lately and I was near a guitar store this weekend, I’d get a social message to the effect of, “Hey, we saw friend x recommended brand y guitar amp to you. Swing by and we’ll give you 20% off on it. Rock on.”

That kind of experience rarely happens to me (maybe because I don’t play guitar). For those to happen, social big data, combined with other public and enterprise data, needed to “learn” what I was seeking and which brand I was leaning toward due to peer-to-peer recommendation.

Then, it had to retain and “know” that info so that when a real-time location signal came through, that knowledge could be tapped and leveraged to create and deliver the message before the moment is lost. It not only requires big data, it requires fast data.

All social marketing ecosystems are not created equal. Few are capable of the size and speed of data gathering, processing, filtering and delivery that makes a social enabled enterprise even possible. A social marketing platform that can tap into the kind of size and speed Oracle can serve up would position you exceptionally well against your competition.

On June 10, Larry Ellison announced the Oracle Database In Memory Option, an add-on to the Oracle 12c database that super-boosts real-time analytics and transactional workloads. How much of a super-boost? Real-time analytics queries that are 100x faster and online transaction processing that’s twice as fast. It’s possible because your most important info can be held in dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) for instant access. And data can be stored in both the columns needed for analytics and the rows used for transactions.

Big data that lags behind the customer’s speed of life doesn’t do you much good. They’re out there right now, researching and buying on mobile. Half of all local searches are performed on mobile. eMarketer estimates mobile commerce sales should go over $113 billion by 2017. Mobile use continues to explode and digital payments are only getting easier to do.

The future of the enterprise is this: a massive shared customer data pool continuously pulling from multiple data sources, available to all business functions for insight and action in perfect alignment so customer interactions aren’t carried out in department silos, generating metrics that inform against varied business goals and can be turned around for real-time, on-location customer engagement and conversion. Wowsers.

Will you be able to handle that coming big data volume as well as the need for speed?

@mikestiles @oraclesocial

Tuesday Jun 10, 2014

Why I Love the Social Management Platform I Use

Not long ago, I asked the product heads for the various components of the Oracle Social Cloud’s SRM to say what they thought was coolest about their component. And while they did a fine job, it was recently pointed out to me that no one around here uses the platform in a real-world setting more than I do, as I not only blog and podcast my brains out, I also run Oracle Social’s own social properties.

Of course I’m pro-Oracle Social’s product. Duh. But if you can get around immediately writing this off as a puff piece, there are real reasons beyond my employment that the Oracle SRM works for me as a community manager. If it didn’t, I could have simply written about something else, like how people love smartphones or something genius like that.

Post Grid

I like seeing what I want to see. I’m difficult that way. Post grid lets me see all posts for all channels, with custom columns showing me how posts are doing. I can filter the grid by social channel, published, scheduled, draft, suggested, etc. Then there’s a pullout side panel that shows me post details, including engagement analytics. From the pullout, I can preview the post, do a quick edit, a full edit, or (my favorite) copy a post so I can edit it and schedule it for other times so I don’t have to repeat from scratch. I’m not lazy, just time conscious.

The Post Creation Environment

Given our post volume, I need this to be as easy as it can be. I can highlight which streams I want the post to go out on, edit for the individual streams, maintain a media library that’s easy to upload to and attach from, tag posts, insert links that auto-shorten to an orac.le shortlink, schedule with a nice calendar visual, geo-target, drop photos inline into Twitter, and review each post.

Watching My Channels

The Engage component of the Oracle SRM brings in and drops into a grid the activity that’s happening on all my channels. I keep this open round-the-clock. Again, I get to see only what I want; social network, stream, unread messages, engagement by how I labeled them, and date range. I can bring up a post with a click, reply, label it, retweet it, assign it, delete it, archive it, etc. So don’t bother trying to be a troll on my channels.


Social publishing and engaging 24/7 would be pretty unrewarding if I couldn’t see how our audience was responding. Frankly, I get more analytics than I know what to do with (I’m a content creator, not a data analyst). But I do know what numbers I care about, and they’re available by channel, date range, and campaigns. I’m seeing fan count, sources and demographics. I’m seeing engagement, what kinds of posts are getting engagement, and top engagers. I’m seeing my reach, both organic and paid. I’m seeing how individual posts performed in terms of engagement and virality, and posting time/date insight.

Have I covered all the value propositions? I’ve covered pathetically few of them. It would be impossible in blog length to give shout-outs to the vast number of features and functionalities. From organizing teams and managing permissions with Workflow to the powerful ability to monitor topics (and your competition) across the web in Listen, it’s a major, and increasingly necessary, weapon in your social marketing arsenal.

The life of a Community Manager is not for everybody. So if the Oracle SRM can actually make a Community Manager’s life easier, what’s not to love?

I invite you to take a look at and participate in our Oracle Social Cloud social channels!




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@mikestiles @oraclesocial

Friday Jun 06, 2014

6 Ways to Modernize Your Customer Experience

If customers have changed, if the way they research and shop have changed, if their expectations have changed, if their ability to act on dissatisfaction has changed, but your customer experience has NOT changed, what was once “good enough” may now be crippling.

Well, the customer has changed, and why wouldn’t they? You’ve probably changed too in your role as consumer. There’s more info available, it’s easier to get, there’s more choice, you’re more mobile, you’re more connected, it’s easier to buy, and yes, it’s easier to switch brands if experiences don’t meet your now higher expectations.

Thanks to technological advances, we as marketers can increasingly work borderline miracles. But if we’re still not adamantly adopting customer centricity, and if we aren’t making the customer experience paramount amongst business goals, the tech is wasted. A far more modern customer experience is called for. Here are 6 ways to get there:

1. Modern Marketing:

Marketing data is aggregated and targeted to the right customers, who are getting personal, relevant communications. In return, you’re getting insight that finally properly attributes revenue to your marketing efforts.

2. Modern Selling:

Demand is being driven across all channels with modern selling tools. Productivity is up thanks to coordinated communication and selling, and performance is ever optimized using powerful analytics.

3. Modern CPQ:

You’re cross-selling and upselling more effectively since reps and channel partners have been empowered with the ability to quickly, automatically generate 100% accurate, customer-friendly quotes complete with price controls and automated approvals.

4. Modern Commerce:

You’re leveraging data and delivering personalized, targeted digital experiences to everyone. You’re attracting more visitors, and you’re able to scale and keep up with the market and control the experience.

5. Modern Service:

You’re better serving your customers by making it easier for them to engage with your brand, plus you’re lowering your costs by increasing agent and tech support efficiencies.

6. Modern Social:

You’re getting faster, deeper, more accurate insights from social and turning content around faster, which then goes out to the right people at the right time in the right place. You’ve also gotten proactive in your service, and customers love that.

For far too many brands, the buying journey of Need, Research, Select, Buy, Use, Recommend across the multiple connect points of Social, Mobile, Store, Call Center, Site, Ecommerce is a disconnected mess. Oracle’s approach to CX is to connect every interaction your customer has with your brand, avoiding the revenue losses lousy customer experiences bring.

How important is the experience to customers? 94% are willing to pay more of their hard-earned money to have better ones, while a meager 1% say they get the good, consistent experiences they expect.

Brands, your words aren’t as loud anymore, so your actions as they relate to customer experience are going to have to do the talking.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: Julien Tromeur,

Tuesday Jun 03, 2014

Bad Spot to Be In: Playing Catch-up with Mobile Advertising

You probably noticed, there’s a mass migration going on from online desktop/laptop usage to smartphone/tablet usage.  It’s an indicator of how we live our lives in the modern world: always on the go, with no intention of being disconnected while out there. Consequently, paid as it relates to mobile advertising is taking the social spotlight.

eMarketer estimated that in 2013, US adults would spend about 2 hours, 21 minutes a day on mobile, not counting talking time. More people in the world own smartphones than own toothbrushes (bad news I suppose if you’re marketing toothpaste). They’re using those mobile devices to access social networks, consuming at least 17% of their mobile time on them.

Frankly, you don’t need a deep dive into mobile usage stats to know what’s going on. Just look around you in any store, venue or coffee shop. It’s really obvious…our mobile devices are now where we “are,” so that’s where marketers can increasingly reach us. And it’s a smart place for them to do just that.

Mobile devices can be viewed more and more as shopping facilitators. Usually when someone is on mobile, they are not in passive research mode. They are likely standing near a store or in front of a product, using their mobile to seek reassurance that buying that product is the right move. They are the hottest of hot prospects.

Consider that 4 out of 5 consumers use smartphones to shop, 52% of Americans use mobile devices for in-store for research, 70% of mobile searches lead to online action inside of an hour, and people that find you on mobile convert at almost 3x the rate as those that find you on desktop or laptop.

But what are marketers doing? Enter statistics from Mary Meeker’s latest State of the Internet report. Common sense says you buy advertising where people are spending their eyeball time, right? But while mobile is 20% of media use and rising, the ad spend there is 4%. Conversely, while print usage is at 5% and falling, ad spend there is 19%. We all love nostalgia, but come on.

There are reasons marketing dollar migration to mobile has not matched user migration, including the availability of mobile ad products and the ability to measure user response to mobile ads. But interesting things are happening now.

First came Facebook’s mobile ad, which let app developers pay to get potential downloads. Then their mobile ad network was announced at F8, allowing marketers to target users across non-Facebook apps while leveraging the wealth of diverse data Facebook has on those users, a big deal since Nielsen has pointed out mobile apps make up 89% of the media time spent on mobile. Twitter has a similar play in motion with their MoPub acquisition.

And now mobile deeplinks have arrived, which can take users straight to sub-pages of mobile apps for a faster, more direct shopper/researcher user experience. The sooner the gratification, the smoother and faster the conversion.

To be clear, growth in mobile ad spending is well underway. After posting $13.1 billion in 2013, Gartner expects global mobile ad spending to reach $18 billion this year, then go to $41.9 billion by 2017. Cheap smartphones and data plans are spreading worldwide, further fueling the shift to mobile. Mobile usage in India alone should grow 400% by 2018. And, of course, there’s the famous statistic that mobile should overtake desktop Internet usage this year.

How can we as marketers mess up this opportunity? Two ways. We could position ourselves in perpetual “catch-up” mode and keep spending ad dollars where the public used to be. And we could annoy mobile users with horrid old-school marketing practices. Two-thirds of users told Forrester they think interruptive in-app ads are more annoying than TV ads.

Make sure your brand’s social marketing technology platform is delivering a crystal clear picture of your social connections so the mobile touch point is highly relevant, mobile optimized, and delivering real value and satisfying experiences. Otherwise, all we’ve done is find a new way to be unwanted.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: Kate Mallatratt,


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