Archive for Frank Cavallaro


6 Content Marketing Trends for the Supply Chain in 2019

6 Content Marketing Trends for the Supply Chain in 2019

As content marketing continues to increase in popularity, here are six trends to consider when planning your 2019 strategy.

A recent article by Forbes on content marketing notes: “As recently as a few years ago, marketers handled content mostly as a side project. It was more of a bonus than an essential role — something you did when you had time because it took a backseat to more traditional marketing projects and responsibilities. That’s changed.”

Boy, has that changed. The content marketing industry is expected to be worth more than $400 billion by 2021.

The 2018 report from the Content Marketing Institute shows just how prevalent content marketing is, and how essential it has become to creating brand awareness, educating your audience, and building credibility and trust with your customers.

Supply chain & logistics marketers: Trends to watch

So, where is content marketing headed in 2019? Content marketing budgets are still on the rise, and supply chain and logistics companies are increasingly seeing the value in moving to an inbound marketing strategy driven by original content.

These are the six notable trends to consider when planning your 2019 content marketing strategy.

1. Video

Video is currently the most popular form of content being consumed online today, and video marketing will continue to have substantial value in 2019.

Smart supply chain marketers should start the new year by developing a visual storytelling strategy that offers consistent delivery of valuable content.

What’s your best bet? Be helpful and teach your audience something worthwhile to them.

2. Chatbots

The rise of chatbots – automated computer programs that simulate human conversation in messaging apps – is expected to continue in 2019. Business Insider recently reported that the number of people on messaging apps surpassed the number of users on social networks!

Business Insider recently reported that the number of people on messaging apps surpassed the number of users on social networks! Click To Tweet

Chatbots are just one of the ways artificial intelligence will shape the content marketing landscape in 2019, but their ability to drastically increase customer engagement puts them on the short list for a major trend to watch in the coming year.

3. Voice search

Voice search is becoming an increasingly prevalent means of attaining information. Statistics vary, but it’s expected that anywhere between 30-50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. A recent report by NPR and Edison Research found that the rise of smart speakers is substantially changing consumer routines and purchasing behavior.

A good content marketing strategy for 2019 should consider how your customers might use voice search in your industry, and what you can do to maximize your content’s ability to respond.

4. Long-form content

I love this one, because it harkens back to humble beginnings of content marketing and the desire to put informative, quality content in front of a targeted interested audience.

Long form content – white papers, case studies, and lengthier blog posts e.g. – will have a resurgence of renewed appreciation in 2019. Why? Because many industries, including supply chain and logistics industries, are saturated with tons of mediocre short form content. People are increasingly looking to weed through it all for substantial quality posts from trusted sources. In addition, search engines will favor longer posts in results rankings.

Cheers to 2019 being the year of quality over quantity!

5. Brand ambassadors

We wrote about brand ambassadors as we headed into 2018, but they are worth mentioning again as we look forward to 2019. Brand ambassadors are employees that influence the B2B buying decisions of others, and they are an often-overlooked resource with more traditional marketing tactics.

Peers and colleagues are the third most influential source of information for business to business (B2B) purchasing, right behind online searches and your website! And there’s nothing more credible than a friend who speaks highly of their company’s product or service.

Definitely consider how you can help make brand ambassadors out of your employees in 2019.

6. Market Influencers

The final trend to watch in 2019 is influencer marketing, a form of marketing which focuses on influential people rather than the market as a whole.

Basically, marketers identify individuals who might have influence over potential buyers and create marketing campaigns and activities around these influencers. In many ways, this works similarly to a brand ambassador, where a single person influences their network of friends; in this case, however, the market influencer has a large network and a lot of “friends” who listen.

Influencer marketing will be a huge trend in marketing for 2019, and it would be worth considering who might be an influencer in your industry in the coming year and what your company might do reach them.

So, there you have it. As we head into 2019, these are the trends to watch and plan for in content marketing space.

The B2B buying climate is growing longer and more complex, and content marketing is so effective throughout the entire sales cycle if it’s done well.  The end of the year is a great time to revisit your marketing strategy and make any necessary changes for the coming year.

Best wishes in the year ahead!

This post originally appeared on EBN Online.

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Social Messaging Platforms: Why Your Supply Chain Company Needs to Pay Attention

Social Messaging Platforms: Why Your Supply Chain Company Needs to Pay Attention

With a growing shift toward social messaging platforms, your business needs to find a way to incorporate these apps into your content marketing strategy.

Feel like giving yourself a pat on the back for finally getting a handle on how to effectively use social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Twitter in supply chain marketing? Well, you might not want to celebrate just yet.

In the constantly changing world of online connection, social messaging apps are the new social media. The top four social messaging platforms have overtaken the top four social media networks in terms of monthly active users.

The increasing popularity of social messaging platforms means your business needs to consider how to incorporate social messaging apps into your marketing strategy if you want to continue to best meet your costumers.

Here’s what supply chain businesses need to know about social messaging apps — and why to use them in supply chain management.

What’s a social messaging platform?

Social messaging platforms are exactly as they sound. They are applications that allow people to easily and quickly connect with friends, family, and businesses for personal and professional conversations. They are basically email’s hip, smart, stylish grandchild. Sending text, photos, multimedia files, and even making voice calls are all available options.

Let’s take a closer look at the top four social messaging apps to gain a better sense of what they can do.

  • WhatsApp. The enormously popular WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, is the most used social messaging app in the world with more than 1.5 billion users. Easy to understand and designed for smartphones and tablets, users can send text messages, photos, voice recordings and videos and even make voice calls over the internet. And guess what? It’s all free. In addition, WhatsApp lets users set a status for their contacts to see without having to message everyone, use the map function to communicate location info with someone, and share files from a phone or computer. 
  • Facebook Messenger. Facebook has its own messaging app too, and it’s just behind WhatsApp at 1.3 billion users. This social messaging app builds on Facebook’s user network but the message functionality was separated from the main social networking app a few years ago. Users can send messages and exchange photos, videos, stickers, and audio files, and they can react to other users’ messages too. You can also make free voice and video calls through the app.
  • WeChat. With nearly 700 million users, WeChat dominates in China and is making a serious push for global reach. WeChat provides users with free mobile instant messaging, video and voice calls, group chat, and multimedia messaging with images, video, audio, stickers, and more.
  • Viber. Viber is another free messaging app that works between phones, tablets, and computers. It currently has 400 million users. Users can send texts, stickers and emoticons, photos, voice and video messages. Viber also has a feature called Communities, which are public chat channels where the user can like and reply to messages in group conversations. It also has a built-in QR code scanner and, like WhatsApp, the ability to share your GPS location in conversations.

Why move to social messaging platforms?

If you’re questioning why to move toward one (or more!) of these four social messaging apps, here’s the short answer: because your customers are.

If you're questioning why to move towards a social messaging app the answer is that supply chain businesses can use these platforms to deliver content, engage with customers one-on-one, and offer superior personalized customer service. Click To Tweet

The longer answer is that supply chain businesses can use these platforms to deliver content, engage with customers one-on-one, and offer superior personalized customer service, all of which result in high-quality relationships and leads. And with the successful rise of chatbots in supply chain marketing, this kind of interaction is more feasible than it may initially sound.

If you need more reasons, don’t just take my word for it. Consider these 10 graphs that show why your business should gravitate toward increasing your social messaging presence.

Social messaging apps for the supply chain

So, which social messaging app is best for the supply chain? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. These are the top 4 platforms where your customers and potential customers are spending time, so this is where you should meet them.

But we all know that “doing it all” isn’t always feasible. So, in order to get the most from your time (and budget!), make sure to take the time to choose the best social messaging app for your marketing needs.

Ask these important questions:

  • Who is my target audience?
  • How will the app add value to my target audiences?
  • How do I want to deliver my content?
  • Do I want to use more than one app?
  • How frequently will I be marketing on the app?

These questions can help you find the social messaging apps that will work best for your marketing campaign and start connecting with customers in a more personalized way.

With the shift toward messaging apps, your business needs to find a way to do the same. But however you plan to incorporate a social messaging app, here’s a final word of caution: you aren’t a friend, and you aren’t family. Be engaging, be helpful, be available. Just don’t be intrusive. The 2018 Sprout Social Index shows that people are still using social media primarily for connecting with friends and family. As businesses consider how to use messaging apps to deliver content and engage with leads, it is very thin line between getting into your costumers’ hearts or getting under their skin.

This post originally appeared on EBN Online.

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Why Inbound Marketing is a Better Strategy Than Outbound for Supply Chain

Why Inbound Marketing is a Better Strategy Than Outbound for Supply Chain

The supply chain is increasingly seeing the value of moving to an inbound marketing strategy. Here’s what’s at the core of the change to inbound marketing.

Traditional marketing in the supply chain uses an outbound strategy. We’ve all done it. Taking out ads in trade publications. Sending direct mailings. Cold calling.

These types of approaches fight to get your brand name in front of prospective customers, hoping to get a marketing message that resonates in front of the right person at the right time.

Inbound marketing is different

Inbound marketing is different. It’s, well, confident. It showcases your industry merit rather than trying to convince people of it.

With inbound marketing, you publish relevant, informative content where your audience already is – your website, related social media, and other online industry channels – to add value at every stage of their buyer’s journey.

Prospective customers come to associate your brand with industry expertise. When they are ready to buy, they think of you. That’s an inbound content marketing strategy.

Why the supply chain is shifting to inbound content marketing

The supply chain is increasing seeing the value of moving to an inbound marketing strategy. What’s at the core of the change to inbound marketing?

On a theoretical level, it’s recognizing that your business has more to offer than its primary product or service. This is so very important. You also have a team of extremely knowledgeable industry experts with unique and informed perspectives.

But switching to an inbound content marketing strategy is also about recognizing that your customers want much more from you than just your product. The business to busienss (BtB) buying climate is growing longer and more complex, and customers today are demanding value outside the sales funnel. Traditional outbound marketing accomplishes neither of these.

Switching to an inbound content marketing strategy is about recognizing that your customers want more from you than just your product. Customers today are demanding value outside the sales funnel. Click To Tweet

Why inbound marketing is better for the supply chain

If that didn’t convince you, put simply, inbound content marketing is just more effective for four main reasons:

  1. Cost. Inbound marketing is typically less expensive than outbound. Hubspot reports that each sales lead costs approximately 61% less for organizations that employ an inbound strategy versus those that focus on outbound marketing.
  2. MeasurabilityMeasuring your success with inbound marketing is considerably easier. For example, you’ll never know how many people saw your billboard, but you can measure exactly how many people read your blog post.
  3. Longevity. Digital content is often evergreen – meaning it’s forever relevant – and older posts that need an update can be easily optimized. Essentially, content lives forever and continues drive traffic long after you publish it. In fact, at Fronetics, about 80% of our traffic comes from posts that are 6 months old or older.
  4. Targetability. With inbound marketing, you only expend resources on prospects that are already looking for information about your industry, products, and services, making inbound marketing a much more targeted approach for your lead-nurturing efforts. Less expensive, easier to measure, lasts longer, and represents a more targeted approach? Seems like a no-brainer. But what’s the catch? Well, executing a good inbound content marketing isn’t easy, and it generally takes at least six months to yield results.

Executing a good inbound content marketing strategy

Done well, inbound content marketing is extremely effective. A good content marketing strategy is about understanding the questions and concerns that are particular to your customer base and about offering quality information and analysis that answers those needs.

The role of content in the supply chain and logistics industries is to grow brand awareness and customer engagement, increase lead generation and nurturing, and establish your company as an industry thought leader in the minds of your prospective customers.

An inbound marketing strategy helps you become more than just another business to customers. You can become a valuable resource for everything related to your products, services, and industry as a whole. Which is precisely what your potential customers are currently expecting from your supply chain and logistics business.

This post originally appeared on EBN Online.

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What Does Automation Mean for Supply Chain Marketing and Sales?

What Does Automation Mean for Supply Chain Marketing and Sales?

Automation has two major benefits for supply chain marketers: it drives efficiencies and improves success rates in earning and converting leads.

When you think about automation in the supply chain, you probably don’t immediately consider marketing and sales. Perhaps you envision robots scooting around warehouse floors, or maybe you think of applications in billing, compliance reports, or order auditing. However, advances in automation have impressive implications for marketing and sales in the supply chain as well.

Automation has two major benefits for supply chain marketers. Like all automation, it drives efficiencies, allowing your team to devote more time to other core competencies. What you may not know, however, is that it also improves success rates in earning and converting leads. In fact, HubSpot reports that businesses using marketing automation to nurture leads receive a whopping 451% increase in qualified leads.

New trends in marketing automation – particularly those which function more like artificial intelligence – can streamline and improve your marketing and sales efforts. Here’s how.

Integrate marketing automation into your CRM strategy

Integrating marketing automation into your customer relationship management (CRM) strategy may not be the first thing that came to mind, but the two work beautifully in tandem.

An integrated approach will take all three of the following areas to the next level:

  1. Track behavior. Automation lets you go far beyond basic demographic data, seeing things like what pages your prospects are visiting, what types of content they’re interested in, and where they are in the buying cycle.
  2. Send targeted messages. You can use the behavioral information collected by your marketing automation tool to create and send targeted messages that are customized to your prospects’ interests and stage in the buying cycle. This means your prospects will find your messages more relevant and engaging.
  3. Establish clear ROI. Establishing a clear link between marketing efforts and sales is a constant thorn in the side of most marketers, but new advances in automation make measuring ROI a little clearer. Creating a campaign in your marketing automation system maps it back to your CRM, so you can correlate closed deals directly with the campaigns that created them.

Basically, combining CRM with marketing automation can give you more organizational bandwidth, more precision in your messaging and lead nurturing, and more measurable value in your campaigns.

Create targeted messages with email workflows

There’s no area in which marketing automation is more helpful than in the creation of automated but extremely pertinent email workflows to your sales leads.

Based on the information you have about your leads and/or their engagement with your website, email workflows trigger a series of pre-determined highly-relevant emails at designated intervals, inviting them to take action and helping them to move down the sales funnel.

Email workflows do require considerable work upfront as you consider individual buyer profiles, their place within the buyer’s journey, and what timely and relevant information will advance them. But thoughtful well-designed email workflows can translate to substantial time savings and increases in lead conversion later.

More marketing automation: Social media scheduling tools & chatbots

Two other areas in which automation is making a big splash in marketing and sales are social media scheduling tools and chatbots.

The targeted approach of email workflows increases their chances of being read, but I don’t need to point out that – no matter how perfect your email might be – people are still buried in emails. On average, office employees receive 121 emails per day. Only around 20% are opened, and click-through rates are even lower.

On average, office employees receive 121 emails per day. Only around 20% are opened, and click-through rates are even lower. Click To Tweet

So, in addition to email workflows, the newest trends in automation are social media scheduling tools and chatbots. Both of them can make your job much easier — and improve your bottom line.

Social media scheduling tools

Social media scheduling tools, like those offered by HubSpot and Hootsuite, let you plan and schedule content across your social networks.

For example, HubSpot’s comprehensive CRM and marketing platform includes the ability to automatically post to social media when you publish content, as well as in-depth analytical tools for determining the best time to post to social media platforms. You can also monitor social mentions and link your social media activity with larger marketing campaigns to determine ROI.

Hootsuite lets you keep track of various social media channels at once. It also helps you perform brand monitoring, letting you know when you brand is mentioned, and what your customers are saying.

As you can imagine, using a social media monitoring tool can greatly improve efficiency, cutting into the sometimes-seemingly-endless manual hours spent on social media monitoring and posting.

Chatbots

A chatbot is s a computer program that simulates human conversation using auditory or textual methods. It communicates with your customer inside a messaging app, like Facebook Messenger, and is similar to email marketing without landing in an inbox.

Chatbots are the latest trend in marketing, and their increasing popularity is making it harder to ignore how artificial intelligence is helping shape the content marketing landscape. It’s certainly timely. Business Insider recently reported that the number of people on messaging apps surpassed the number of users on social networks!

Messaging automation is the new email automation, and it can work for supply chain and logistics industries too. Chatbots currently allow for increased customer engagement through messaging app technology that isn’t yet saturated with marketing, and your brand will also appreciate the ease of tracking and segmenting your customers through chatbots.

Marketing automation is for the supply chain

Automation isn’t just for the warehouse or the finance and billing department. It’s also for this crazy constantly-changing world of marketing in supply chain and logistics industries. Marketing automation can make a big difference in your marketing and sales efforts.

Integrating automation with your CRM strategy, creating targeted email workflows, and the newest advances like social media scheduling tools and chatbots can all add up to major time savings and substantial increases in lead conversion rates.

This post originally appeared on EBN Online.

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Are the Robots Winning?

Are the Robots Winning?

Automation in manufacturing can help create more, better paying jobs. But two leading economists have examined real-world data and concluded that the robots may be winning after all. Is it true?

Last year I wrote about artificial intelligence (AI) and the potential loss of American jobs. At the time, I thought; “Yes, people will lose jobs — that is inevitable. Automation, however, will create many more.”

Automation would create leaner, more efficient operations. Efficiency facilitates new market opportunities and business growth, which in turn would allow for expansion and job creation.

It felt like a good argument! And I wasn’t alone. If one looks at media coverage from last year, one can find plenty of references to “beating the robots.”

There was a palpable feeling, an energizing hope, that automation would, in fact, ultimately create more, better paying jobs. And these new jobs wouldn’t be the low-skill positions of their pre-automation predecessors, but rather higher-paying opportunities operating new technology and supervising automated processes.

In a paper last year, two of the most respected researchers on the subject said it was likely that increased automation would create new, better jobs, so employment and wages would eventually return to their previous levels.

It all seemed positive.

This year’s news

But wait. The same researchers — Daron Acemoglu of M.I.T. and Pascual Restrepo of Boston University — published an updated study that has gained a tremendous amount of attention. It was covered in-depth by the New York Times, with the title: Evidence That Robots are Winning the Race for American Jobs.

Sadly, their study appeared to be the first “to quantify large, direct, negative effects of robots.”

In referencing the difference in prognosis from last year to this year, the NYT article noted that the older paper was “a conceptual exercise” and the new study “uses real-world data — and suggests a more pessimistic future.”

I thought, I’m going to have to write a new article. It was tentatively titled, “I Take It Back: The Data Says the Robots May Be Winning.”

But as I sat down to write, something just didn’t add up. How did all this jive with the latest employment news? Only days ago, unemployment rates hit 3.9%, a rare low, mimicking rates we haven’t seen since 2000.

Taking in the whole picture

As I looked further into the study, I found that it covered 1990-2007, a lengthy but rather unique time in our economic history. The years from 1990 to 2007 saw a dotcom boom and burst. (Just for reference, unemployment rates rose sharply in 2009 and 2010, but have been on a steady decline since then.)

The robot vs. man study said that robots were to blame for up to 670,000 lost manufacturing jobs between 1990 and 2007. I’m not arguing with the study.

But they then go on to conclude the following: The numbers will rise because industrial robots are expected to quadruple. And from where I sit in 2018, I simply don’t see the facts to support that assumption.

Let’s look at manufacturing specifically. Are machines and automation blowing up the manufacturing sector? Well, yes and no.

Certainly manufacturing jobs have had a sharp decline over the last 20 years; that’s undeniable.

But since 2000, their percentage of the overall job market has held generally stable between 8 and 9%. And current employment statistics for 2018 show increases in the manufacturing sector.

Now, I’m not suggesting manufacturing jobs are “roaring back” by any stretch. But a positive trend line is … well … positive. The prognosis of a “pessimistic future” just doesn’t seem widely supported yet by the facts. Time, as always, will tell.

Of course, economists warn that employment rates aren’t the whole picture. While they may mimic that of 2000, they warn that the economy isn’t the same and that it is concerning that wages have been slow to rise even though unemployment has fallen.

From what I see now, however, I still feel optimistic that AI and automation will create leaner, more efficient operations that will, in turn, create new (even if different) jobs. To me, it still looks like the ones winning from the increasing technological advances in the manufacturing industry are, in fact, we humans.

This post originally appeared on EBN Online.

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