Archive for the "Data/Analytics" Category


Using Analytics to Align Sales and Marketing Teams

Using Analytics to Align Sales and Marketing Teams

Supply chain companies are increasingly recognizing the need to align sales and marketing teams through the use of analytics.


Highlights:

  • Sales and marketing alignment can be aided by analytics tools.
  • A content audit can ensure sales has relevant material for every stage of the buyer’s journey.
  • Digital Asset Management Software acts as a unified repository for content and analytics data.

Often, when we first talk to prospects about digital marketing, their sales teams start to get the jitters. There’s a big misperception out there that inbound marketing is bound to make sales teams obsolete – but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, when companies take steps to align sales and marketing teams, their efforts start to pay off in big ways.

We’ve written a lot about how to align sales and marketing, as well as the dangers that crop up when companies haven’t synchronized these departments. That’s not to say that it’s an easy task. In fact, HubSpot’s 2018 State of Inbound report found that a mere 22% of companies report that their sales and marketing relationship is tightly aligned. Increasingly, supply chain companies are finding success using analytics tools to meet the challenges of aligning sales and marketing teams.

Understand your target audience

If you’re on the marketing side, you probably have a picture of your target audience, including multiple specific buyer personae. But how familiar is your sales team with this information? Chances are, sales has knowledge about your target audience that is based as much on experience as it is on the goals your marketing department created.

If the lines of communication aren’t clear when it comes to understanding your target audience, you’re shortchanging both marketing and sales. The sales department needs clear and complete communication from marketing about the type of buyers being targeted. Meanwhile, the knowledge that sales personnel will have accrued from their on-the-ground experience can help shape future marketing efforts.

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To align sales and marketing in their understanding of your target audience, web analytics tools like Google Analytics are extremely beneficial. Use analytics to track user interaction with all your digital assets and build accurate personae that are data-driven. Ideally, analytics can validate and enhance the knowledge that sales teams have built.

Align sales and marketing with content that enables sales in a digital space

One of the most frequent complaints sales teams voice is that they lack relevant materials from marketing. And on the other side of the coin, marketing departments often report that sales teams aren’t clear about their needs, nor do they use the materials they’ve provided.

To get everyone on the same page, perform a content audit to determine which of your existing content matches with each target buyer persona, as well as what content will be most useful to your sales team at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Next, put some analytics in place. You need to know how your content is performing not just from a lead-generation perspective, but from the standpoint of closing deals.

To help you develop a process for evaluating the success of your content and soliciting and incorporating feedback from sales, Digital Asset Management Software is a great resource. Tools like Canto or Bynder can be a synchronized, discoverable repository of marketing assets and their function for sales, as well as help you keep track of your analytics.

Final thoughts

As supply chain companies are increasingly recognizing the need for sales and marketing teams that work in tight alignment, analytics are an invaluable resource for synchronizing efforts across departments. And the possibilities are continuing to expand for what analytics, including artificial intelligence, can do.

Keeping the lines of communication open, and sharing analytics data will help lead to accurate, data-driven buyer personas and an optimally functioning sales team.

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Archive for the "Data/Analytics" Category


Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Manual Content Creation?

Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Manual Content Creation?

Artificial intelligence is reshaping the way we live and do business. But can robots replace humans when it comes to content creation?


Highlights

  • Artificial intelligence is already creating content.
  • Some analysts predict that human writers will become obsolete in time.
  • At least for now, there are aspects of human-generated content that robots can’t replicate.

What used to be a light-hearted, science-fiction version of the future — in which menial jobs would increasingly be performed by robots — has increasingly become a reality. We’ve seen how automation has shaped the supply chain and logistics industries in the past decade. But as artificial intelligence (AI) continues to evolve and reach new levels of sophistication, will something as complex as content creation no longer require human input?

AI is already creating content

In 2016, McKinsey Quarterly predicted that “while automation will eliminate very few occupations entirely in the next decade, it will affect portions of almost all jobs to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the type of work they entail.” Of course, there are jobs that require empathic functions or advanced social skills, which are less subject to replacement by machine learning. But content creation, though it does require original thought and synthesis of complex ideas, is in a greyer area.

The fact is, AI-generated content is already a reality. It shouldn’t come entirely as a surprise. After all, we’ve been writing about marketing automation for a while now, including, for example, chatbots or computer programs that simulate human conversation. According to Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, “In 10 years, the majority of content will be generated by software. In 20 years, humans will wonder why we wasted so much time on content creation.”

In a notable example of AI creating content, the Washington Post developed “Heliograf,” a bot capable of generating short reports for readers, to aid in the coverage of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. When it was first developed, Heliograf could update readers on game outcomes, including when medals were awarded. Since then, it has written over 850 articles, including updates on high school football games and automated earnings coverage. Even now, the Washington Post uses Heliograf to supplement the work of its human writers — and has no intention of replacing them.

Natural language generation

Before we get further into the nitty-gritty of whether human content writers are doomed to obsolescence, let’s take a step back and take a look at the main function of AI when it comes to content creation. Natural language generation (NLG) is how we describe AI that can produce logical, coherent text.

“Natural language generation is a software process that automatically turns data into human-friendly prose,” writes Laura Pressman of Automated Insights. It’s important to recognize that while NLG can create content, it can’t do so without being fed data and a templated format. Essentially, when given data and a format, NLG can output content that reads as if it was written by a human.

Why we still need humans

It’s staggering what AI can produce when it comes to convincing, effective content. But even as technology becomes smarter and more sophisticated at creating content, humans haven’t been replaced just yet.

While it’s true that content marketing should be data-driven, studies are also increasingly showing the value of intangible creativity — the kind that can’t be generated by an algorithm — in the marketing sector and beyond. Click To Tweet

Proponents of fully AI-driven marketing argue that the kind of creativity required to produce effective content marketing can all be boiled down to numbers. While it’s true that content marketing should be data-driven, studies are also increasingly showing the value of intangible creativity — the kind that can’t be generated by an algorithm — in the marketing sector and beyond.

The memories, emotions, preferences, and frailties of human writers allow for the possibility of creativity and connection that AI can’t replicate. Yes, content marketing is about data. But there’s no substitute for the way a human brain can create language and ideas that connect and resonate with another human brain.

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Archive for the "Data/Analytics" Category


4 Examples of AI for the Supply Chain

4 Examples of AI for the Supply Chain

With the power to drastically increase efficiency in all areas of the supply chain, it’s important brands are exploring the benefits of AI. Here are four examples of how AI can benefit your supply chain.


Highlights:

  • It’s estimated that supply chain firms could gain $1.3 to $2 trillion a year from using AI.
  • Machine learning has the ability to quickly discover patterns in supply chain data by relying on algorithms and constraint-based modeling to find the most influential factors.
  • The increasing popularity of chatbots is making it harder to ignore how AI is helping shape not just the daily logistics but also the B2B marketing landscape and operational procurement for supply chain industries.

Artificial intelligence is not simply affecting supply chain management, it is revolutionizing it.

With the power to drastically increase efficiency in all areas of the supply chain, McKinsey estimates that firms could gain $1.3 trillion to $2 trillion a year from using AI in supply chain and manufacturing.

Here are 4 examples of AI and how it’s changing supply chain management for the better.

1. Autonomous transport

There’s nothing more exciting than the field of autonomous transport for SCM. We’ve all known for many years that driverless trucks have major potential to affect supply chain management and logisitics.

We aren’t there yet – and “anyone employed as a driver today will be able to retire as a driver” —  but if autonomous trucking can be developed to its potential, the technology would effectively double the output of the U.S. transportation network at 25 percent of the cost.

The conversation is no longer simply talking about vehicles on the road either. Google and Rolls-Royce recently partnered to build autonomous ships too.

2. Final-mile delivery route efficiency

One doesn’t have to have a driverless vehicle, however, to use AI to optimize delivery logistics.

For example, in the “devilishly complex”  task of delivering 25 packages by van, the number of possible routes adds up to around 15 septillion (that’s a trillion trillion).

That’s where route optimization software and AI-powered GPS tools like ORION — which UPS uses to create the most efficient routes for its fleet — are making their mark.  With ORION, customers, drivers and vehicles submit data to the machine, which then uses algorithms to creates the most up-to-date optimal routes depending on road conditions and other factors.

And there are also other autonomous entities out there besides cars, trucks, and ships. Robots using LIDAR technology are now being used to deliver items in crowded city environments. For example, Marble’s robots deliver medicine, groceries, and packages, and they also track their routes and the condition in order to continuously improve delivery for the next time. Additionally, last-mile solutions with drones continue to be explored due to their ability to move quickly and bypass almost all ground-level obstacles.

3. Demand forecasting, particularly for warehouse management and SCM strategy

Machine learning has the ability to quickly discover patterns in supply chain data by relying on algorithms and constraint-based modeling to find the most influential factors. This ability to find data patterns without human intervention has applications in EVERY aspect of SCM, but demand forecasting is a particularly influential component beneficiary.

Warehouse management and SCM strategy rely heavily on correct supply, demand, and inventory-based management. Forecasting engines with machine learning offer an entirely  new level of intelligence and predictive analysis of big data sets that provides an endless (and constantly self-improving) loop of forecasting, overhauling the way we manage inventory and the way we create new strategies for our industries.

4. Chatbots for marketing and operational procurement

The increasing popularity of chatbots is making it harder to ignore how AI is helping shape not just the daily logistics but also the B2B marketing landscape and operational procurement for supply chain industries.

A chatbot is 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.  Mimicking a human conversation, chatbots currently allow for increased customer engagement through messaging app technology that isn’t yet saturated with marketing. They are just one of the many ways to integrate AI and marketing.

There’s so much more than these 4 examples to consider when discussing AI and the supply chain: prediction of delivery arrival times to the warehouse and to the customer,  cargo sensors, automated purchasing, financial applications…the list literally may be endless.

Choosing what to focus on for this article, and more importantly, for all supply chain and logistics businesses, is a tough decision, but one thing is clear:  in the “arms race” to leverage AI in SCM, some will come out on top and some will be left behind.

This post originally appeared on EBN Online.

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Archive for the "Data/Analytics" Category


Top 5 Automation Posts 2018

Top 5 Automation Posts 2018

Implementing automation can help supply chain marketers become more efficient and more successful in earning and converting leads. Here are our most-viewed automation posts of the year.

Automation is changing the way supply chain marketers do their job. When properly executed, automation can drive efficiency and reduce time spent on repetitive tasks, freeing up marketers to focus on other priorities.

Marketing automation is the process of using software to complete repetitive marketing tasks designed to nurture sales leads, personalize marketing messages and content, and — in the process — save marketers time and effort. Supply chain marketers are using marketing automation to streamline processes and increase qualified leads.

Jumping into marketing automation can be overwhelming. Utilizing the right software and knowing where to implement automation into your marketing processes will help nurture leads and get you back to more pressing tasks.

Utilizing the right software and knowing where to implement automation into your marketing processes will help nurture leads and get you back to more pressing tasks. Click To Tweet

Here are our top automation posts from 2018 that define how automating your marketing processes can help your efforts.

Top 5 automation posts 2018

1. Our 6 Favorite Marketing Automation Tools for Supply Chain and Logistics Marketers

The term “marketing automation” refers to a variety of tools used to automate the process of personalizing leads’ interactions with your business. The sheer variety of these tools can sometimes be overwhelming — so we’ve pulled a few of our favorites in the categories of email workflows, social media scheduling tools, and customer relationship management. Read full post

2. Increase Leads by 451% through Marketing Automation

Automation is changing today’s supply chain, and not just because robots and autonomous vehicles are scooting around warehouse floors. Supply chain marketers can use automation to drive efficiency and improve our success rates. Read full post

3. Marketing Automation: Social Media Scheduling Tools

Managing your business’ social media accounts might sound like a simple task — a fun one, even. But once it falls on your plate, it won’t take you long to realize: it’s a lot of work. Social media scheduling tools can make your job much easier — and improve your bottom line. Here are some of our favorite tools and some helpful tips for using them. Read full post

4. 5 Tips for Using Automation in Email Marketing

Marketing automation can help you provide more personalized experiences for your prospects through email. It can also save you a significant amount of time, as you won’t have to create individual emails each time a particular prospect takes a particular action.

But not everything can, or should, be automated or scheduled in advance. As you begin to incorporate automation in email marketing, here are 5 tips to get you started. Read full post

5. Marketing Automation: CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

Integrating marketing automation into your CRM strategy can improve efficiency, streamline workflows, and make communications more consistent. Here are a few examples of how CRM and marketing automation can work in tandem. Read full post

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Top 5 Analytics and ROI Posts of 2018

Top 5 Analytics and ROI Posts of 2018

Here are our most-viewed blog posts from 2018 about analytics and ROI, including articles about how to calculate your marketing ROI and competitive benchmarking.

Content marketing is increasingly popular in the B2B sector. In fact, 91% of B2B marketers used content marketing as a part of their strategy last year. But marketers still struggle with proving the return on investment.

Evaluating your analytics gives you valuable insight into what’s working (and what’s not) with your content marketing strategy. But 47% of B2B marketers reported not measuring content marketing ROI. And of those marketers, 86% sited lack of knowledge, time, and convenience for reasons why their company doesn’t calculate ROI.

47% of B2B marketers reported not measuring content marketing ROI. And of those marketers, 86% sited lack of knowledge, time, and convenience for reasons why their company doesn’t calculate ROI. Click To Tweet

This year, Fronetics examined new analytics tools and numerous ways to calculate ROI — within the context of supply chain and logistics operations, as well as how these methods can be used to improve overall marketing performance. Here’s a look at our most viewed analytics and ROI posts in 2018.

Top 5 analytics and ROI posts

1. The Art of Measuring Podcast Success

Podcasts are an increasingly popular content medium, but measuring their performance is difficult. Here are some tips for measuring podcast success in spite of the challenges. Spoiler alert: it’s an art, not a science. Today’s busy professionals are increasingly driven to make their “down time” more productive and engaged. The popularity of podcasts rises every year, with more than 50% of American homes now classified as “podcast fans” by Nielsen. Read full post

2. Top 10 Social Media Analytics Tools

Analyzing your social media performance is critical to a successful marketing effort, especially in light of recent changes to Facebook’s News Feed. You need the tools to determine what’s working and what isn’t, as well as the best time to post your content for your target audience. At Fronetics, we use a variety of tools to measure social media success. Here are our 10 favorite social media analytics tools. Read full post

3. 4 Metrics to Measure the Impact of Content Marketing on Brand Awareness

A successful content marketing strategy strengthens the relationship between brands and their target audiences. And brand awareness is a key component to any successful content marketing strategy. Ultimately, the more aware audiences are of your brand, the more likely they are to buy your products or services. Read full post

4. Use These Metrics to Benchmark Marketing Performance against Your Competitors

Competitive benchmarking is the process of comparing your company’s performance against that of your competitors. You can use various metrics to benchmark what these businesses are doing better than you are and where you have the edge. Benchmarking marketing performance is an important step in the process of evaluating the success of your content marketing strategy. Read full post

5. Infographic: 4 Ways to Measure Blogging ROI

Why do you blog? It seems like a simple question, but the answer has a huge impact on the content you produce and the outcome of your efforts. As with all aspects of your business, you should give the return on investment of your content marketing efforts ample attention. That is especially true for blogging ROI, if generating new business is indeed one of the reasons you blog in the first place. Read full post

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Why Content Marketing Depends on Metrics

Why Content Marketing Depends on Metrics

Finding, analyzing, and using the right metrics effectively is crucial to a successful content marketing strategy.

Accountability and showing a solid return on investment is everything when it comes to ensuring that your business is allocating adequate resources to marketing. And let’s face it, too many executives think that marketing is, at best, about supporting sales or, at worst, a department that exists to paste logos onto coffee mugs.

Writing for Marketo, Content Marketing Specialist Bryson Runser points out that as an “informed marketer, it’s your duty to infuse credibility into your organization by way of meaningful metrics that tie directly to your top and bottom line.” While the C-suite famously cares nothing about internal marketing metrics like Facebook likes or click-through rate, metrics are crucial to the success of marketing the supply chain. Not only that, effective use of metrics is the best way to establish the function and importance of the marketing department within your organization.

Effective use of metrics is the best way to establish the function and importance of the marketing department within your organization. Click To Tweet

Numbers don’t lie

One of the main aspects of the “crisis of accountability” is a problematic view of what marketing is: “if marketing leaders insist that marketing is an art and not a science,” Runser writes,” then the department will remain isolated from other groups.” Establishing that content marketing is not only dependent upon data, but can also be measured, is key to changing that perception.

“Marketing must be able to justify their expenditures as investments in revenue and growth,” writes Runser. Of course, it’s partly a chicken-and-egg issue, since getting to the point of being able to talk about expenditures in this way does require investment from the top of your business.

We know that measuring the impact of content marketing can be tricky. But it’s not impossible. The first step is determining the right metrics to track. For more detailed ideas and analysis, check out this post, which details how to determine and use metrics to measure the impact of content marketing on brand awareness.

Why are you reporting?

Collecting and reporting on marketing ROI can feel like you’re spinning your wheels and collecting meaningless data. But it’s crucial to keep metrics focused on the main goal: to enable you and your business to make decisions that improve your marketing efforts. “This is the difference between backward-looking measurement and decision-focused management,” says Runser.

Data for the sake of data doesn’t do any good. Data should be used to shape insights, which in turn informs priorities and actions for your business. We’ve written before about the danger of vanity metrics, which have no bearing on your bottom line but can give you an inflated sense of success.

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of meaningless data collection, especially when marketers are often struggling to prove their worthiness to the C-suite. But using metrics to improve marketing’s performance will go a long way towards winning over executives. “[B]y aligning data measurements with your company’s strategic objectives,” Runser writes, “it will be easier to allocate resources by revenue impact.”

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