Research-Based Advice for Women Working in Male-Dominated Fields

HBR.org
2019-02-13T15:00:16Z

The effects of gender bias can be both explicit and subtle.

2019-02-13T19:20:45Z

We have to take control of our daily habits.

2019-02-13T19:46:19Z

Youngme, Felix, and Mihir debate Medicare for All and ask whether the U.S. healthcare system is broken. They then offer quick takes on everything from Amazon’s latest HQ2 news, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s influence, Marie Kondo, the toy industry, Spotify’s aggressive push into podcasting, and more!

Business.com
How Do You Manage a Globally Distributed Team?
Wed, 13 Feb 2019 07:00:00 -0800

In a competitive talent acquisition market, having a globally distributed team offers companies the benefit of working with the best individuals across the world. With today's talent demanding flexibility, it is but a matter of time until a globally distributed team becomes a necessity and not just an option.

However, some companies find that managing a distributed team is fraught with challenges. This is likely due to a lack of proper processes and inadequate preparation. While the benefits of a distributed team are aplenty, firms need to be sufficiently prepared to leverage them. Here are five best practices to help you manage your remote or globally distributed workforce.

1. Formalize your remote work policy.

To begin the transition process, you should announce the transformation of your company into a “distributed team.” It is important that in the eyes of all stakeholders (internal and external), this change is apparent and that it comes from the top management. This communication needs to be formalized and should cover the basics of how the company plans to execute the transition. A few questions to immediately address:

Are there going to specific office locations across the world? Are all roles available for remote working? Would there be fixed work times? How is the team going to maintain an inclusive culture? What are the communication channels to be used?  2. Enforce communication guidelines.

An aspect that immediately gets impacted in a remote work situation is internal communication. Since interactions are fully digital and not in-person, placing the right structures becomes paramount.

Firstly, the tools for various channels of communication -- chats, email and video calls -- should be chosen and shared. Further, guidelines need to be placed around the correct mode of communication for each situation. For example, chats or calls should be used for time-sensitive actions, emails should be used for long pieces of communication involving multiple parties, and so on. If possible, an even more detailed procedure list would ensure conversations are perfectly organized.

Other best communications practices include:

Having frequent standups to assess progress and identify challenges Holding regular video calls within teams, including team-building sessions, so that everyone can connect and put a face to the people they interact with on a daily basis Organizing town halls to reinforce company values, recognise individual achievements and define the company’s future goals  3. Maintain detailed documentation.

Meeting notes, spec docs, project briefs, ideation, policies, etc., should all be documented extensively. Keeping detailed documentation removes any possibility for misalignment and allows for immediate rectification of miscommunication. Moreover, if there are any questions or doubts around the points that were discussed and agreed upon, one can simply go back to the docs at any time.

4. Build high engagement and garner feedback.

Working from remote locations can be liberating. Your team members can each follow their own ideal work style. However, they may also feel alone and disconnected from the rest of the firm. Hence, it is critical for the company to ensure high levels of motivation and create a sense of belonging to the organisation amongst employees.

Having adequate channels of communication does address this in a major way, but it is also important to have non-work gatherings. Even work sessions shouldn’t be limited to the immediate tasks at hand, but need to include trainings.

Further, success of the measures taken by a company are validated only through feedback by its employees. Therefore, regular one-to-one feedback sessions and anonymous surveys can help take the pulse of employees and accordingly inform course-correction initiatives. 

  5. Host annual off-sites.

Finally, if a company can afford it, an annual gathering should be organized where co-workers can meet each other in person. Such an environment gives everyone an opportunity to socialize and acquaint themselves with the individuals they work with every day. This fosters better work relationships, resulting in easier interactions and better productivity overall. 

Prepare your company now

With the concept of distributed teams growing steadily and the gig economy becoming an integral method of achieving a company’s goals, building the capability of managing such a workforce has become very critical. Work on it in the present, so that you can be prepared for the future of work -- a fully distributed team!

Key Email Marketing Phrases You Need to Know
Wed, 13 Feb 2019 08:00:00 -0800

Despite all of the technology we have at our fingertips, people still love using email as a reliable source of communication for both friends, family, and businesses. How popular are emails exactly? The Radicati Group researched email habits from 2015 until now, and they have some bold predictions. It’s being predicted that by the end of 2019 there will be 246 billion emails sent out per day.

This jaw-dropping statistic should tell you a couple things. First, it’s clear that there is a huge opportunity for marketers to reach out to their audience via emails. Second, it’s also clear that in this space, only the most knowledgeable will succeed. For this reason, it’s vital that you understand some key email marketing phrases so that you can make the most of your next big campaign.

We are here to break it down and explain some of the key terms used in email marketing so you can start pulling in leads as soon as possible.

Editor's note: Looking for the right email marketing service for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

 
Click-Through Rate vs. Open Rate

The first phrase you should know is click-through rate. Your click-through rate is the number of people who actually clicked through and followed your link or image within your email. This is different from the open rate, which is the number of people who simply opened the email.

It’s important to know this term because you need to know who is following through after they open your email. If your click-through rate is low, but your open rate is high, then that is usually indicative of a problem within the email copy. Since the subject line got the potential customer to open the email, something in the copy is keeping them from following through on your link.

What is an average click-through rate?

A study titled Email Insights and Reporting says a healthy click-through rate is around 15 percent. If you’re slightly below this you’re not doing bad, but there is room for improvement. On the other hand, if your percentage is above 15, great job! People are not only opening your emails but also interested in your proposition.

Split Testing

Another important term you should learn is split testing, also known as A/B Testing. This phrase is applied to website and social media campaigns, but it’s vital to email marketing, too.

A split test is when you create two separate adverts, email copies, or other promotion and introduce it to two groups of customers. The goal is to see which method gets better results through sales and conversions.

For example, you may want to set up an email split test where you send one email to half your lead list offering 20 percent off their purchase if they buy in the next 24 hours with a limited time code, and offer 10 dollars off a purchase to the other half of the lead list. Now you sit back and see which offer does well. Once the data starts coming in you’ll be able to refine your process and give your customers what they want and expect from your emails.

One case study by OptinMonster revealed that a split test that started on-site that resulted in email subscribers landed a company a whopping 158 percent increase in conversions. Those are results worth keeping in mind.

Hard Bounce and Soft Bounce

The next two phrases are hard bounce and soft bounce. Basically, both phrases describe the same thing but for different reasons.

A soft bounce is when you send out an email to your subscribers and some come back, but it’s usually only temporary. The most common reason the email gets kicked back is that the user has a full inbox or currently isn’t accepting new emails at this time. Your email service provider will typically try to resend soft bounces in an attempt to reach the intended subscriber.

On the other hand, a hard bounce is an email that comes back and absolutely cannot be delivered. There are three common reasons for this issue.

The account doesn’t exist The account was shut down The domain is incorrect

When a hard bounce occurs there is little you can do to solve this problem. You may want to consider removing these emails from your subscriber list since one hard bounce usually means every email you send is going to get kicked back. You can save your resources and focus on customers who will receive, and potentially act on, your emails.

Conclusion

As you get more familiar with your email marketing campaign, you’ll begin to expand your knowledge on the different terms involved in this branch of marketing. There are quite a few that cross over, such as split testing being applicable in three big areas of marketing. 

There’s no doubt that you’ll start to learn more marketing phrases on your journey to success. Keep your mind open and absorb everything like a sponge. The more you know, the better chance you have at one day owning your own online empire.

 

MIT Sloan Management Review
Wed, 13 Feb 2019 14:56:02 +0000

Megan Wharton is an excellent sales assistant. She’s been at her job only a few months, but she’s easily the best person at qualifying promising leads on her team. Megan has a remarkable knack for chatting with potential customers over email, and knows exactly what to write to get prospects talking with a salesperson. While her counterparts disqualify leads after a few attempts, she keeps pushing. To top it off, she’s never taken a sick day in her career and is an employee any team would be lucky to have.

There’s a catch — Megan’s not a real person. She’s an artificial intelligence program designed to help B2B marketers qualify leads. As Megan illustrates, even though a lot of chatter around AI may be “hype,” in marketing, it’s becoming a practical tool in the near-term. Eighty percent of B2B marketing executives believe AI will revolutionize their field in the next five years, and a recent survey of marketers identified AI as the technology they are most likely to implement by 2020.

Marketing departments are always constrained. There’s never enough time, manpower, or money. To push back against such constraints, companies are beginning to rely on AI solutions like Megan to enhance their B2B marketing capabilities. AI marketing products can act as a force multiplier. Imagine being able to fill your headquarters with thousands of brilliant marketers, expertly analyzing massive amounts of data and providing actionable insights that increase the productivity and efficiency of your existing marketing team. That is what AI can deliver to B2B marketers.

Despite AI’s potential, marketers acknowledge they aren’t ready for this technology. Marketing executives identified AI as the trending technology they were least prepared to handle. Moreover, only 13% of marketers stated they felt very confident in their knowledge of AI.

While many companies are still investigating AI solutions, several top organizations have already taken the plunge. A recent Salesforce report found high-performing companies are more than twice as likely to use AI as underperforming companies. Soon AI integration will become a necessity for running modern marketing operations. In addition to AI chatbots, there are many AI applications marketers can wield. Here are five actionable ways marketing teams can begin using AI to improve business outcomes.

Lead Scoring and Predictive Analytics

Lead scoring generates some of the biggest excitement around marketing and AI. This interest is likely due to substantial lead-handling obstacles in the existing system. A company might get 10,000 leads in a month, but which of those leads will result in actual sales? Marketing teams can analyze their existing customers and prospect base using AI, identify prospects most likely leading to sales, and then prioritize efforts. AI services also help companies uncover look-alikes, or companies with the same characteristics as existing B2B customers.

Organizations are also incorporating predictive analytics into lead scoring. These AI tools look at signals, or details such as customers’ IT environment, recently purchased services, or where they are in the buying process, to help determine a given prospect’s intent — whether they are in the consideration phase or ready to make a purchase. Companies can use such predictive analytics to target their marketing at prospects, based on where they are in the buyer’s journey.

Various AI platforms allow marketing teams to track prospects across multiple touch points, and then use predictive analytics to assess how likely they are to buy. Those interactions take place in a variety of settings. A prospect can visit a booth at a trade show, visit a company website, watch a webinar, or read a marketing email. AI platforms also follow a prospect’s behavior to monitor the buyer’s life cycle on third-party sites and across different devices, such as a work computer, mobile phone, or tablet.

Like the numerous prospect touch points, purchasing decisions are also a multifaceted aspect of buyer behavior, because they usually have multiple stakeholders. A Gartner study found the average number of people involved in B2B purchase decisions is 6.8. To account for various stakeholders, AI lead-scoring services track the behavior of numerous employees and give marketing teams a comprehensive view of an organization’s place in its buying journey.

Automated Email Conversations

AI clearly can affect spotting the best leads and predict imminent sales, but another key area for marketing teams is effectively responding to customer emails. Conversica, a Bay Area startup with clients like Microsoft and Oracle, is one of the leaders in providing automated email solutions like the Megan Wharton persona. Conversica’s software reaches out to all inbound leads via email and engages them in a two-way conversation, by sending emails that read as though they were written by a real person. According to Conversica, 35% on average of all leads reply to its humanlike automated sales assistant.

Such authenticity is important. As AI becomes more mainstream, companies using the technology will be at major risk if they can’t secure trust and engagement from their customers. Conversica’s software uses AI to analyze customer responses and determine the intent of the lead. According to Conversica, one customer found that the software could understand a prospective buyer’s email responses and respond appropriately to 99% of them. Conversica keeps the conversation going, using an approach the company calls “pleasantly persistent” — relentless follow-up via email or text. Once the lead signals an intent to buy, the marketing group passes the prospect to the sales team.

While working with Conversica, Epson saw its customer response rate increase 240%, and the number of qualified leads rose by 75%. Those numbers are particularly meaningful considering Epson receives as many as 60,000 leads per year.

Customer Insights

AI products have also become increasingly adept at analyzing unstructured data like images, video, and audio. Chorus is a startup offering an AI software solution for audio analysis of recorded sales calls with prospects. Its AI software transcribes and analyzes call content, and provides insights on how to better serve customers and increase workforce productivity. Marketing teams using such AI tools can reshape their messaging based on insights from real customer conversations. If prospects begin mentioning a new competitor, the marketing group can create sales collateral to help the sales team fend off this new threat. Marketing teams can also shift paid media strategies to address new competition.

Other AI companies, such as Affectiva, are working on solutions to measure tone and sentiment in a person’s voice. It’s easy to imagine how this technology could be applied in this case — marketers will know precisely when prospects are enthusiastic or disinterested on sales calls.

Personalizing With Data

Until recently, the amount of personal data marketers knew about prospects was relatively limited. Marketers could only segment potential clients into broad categories involving organization, location, and industry. Today, AI products allow for deeper personalization through massive data gathering. Marketing teams can then deliver messaging that addresses the particular needs of their individual customers.

AI can also analyze entire industries to gain personal insights. The process includes inspecting the website and the online employee presence of every company in a given market, such as auto manufacturers. By gathering a tremendous amount of customer information and internal data, AI products give marketers deep insights into each company in the space. This approach works on a scale that was once inconceivable. Rather than trying to market to a health care company, with the help of AI-assisted data gathering, companies can fine-tune their targeting — for instance, a biotech company in Seattle with 5,000 employees that recently announced a major acquisition and will need help merging its IT infrastructure.

Once insights about individual customers are in hand, companies can also deploy a deep level of personalization in their marketing approach. AI products can evaluate all relevant content created by a marketing team, such as web pages, blog posts, and emails, and indicate the ideal material to display to a customer at each point in their journey. When prospects click on a link in a marketing email in this scenario, they are shown a dynamic landing page specifically designed to appeal to them.

Content Creation

AI can even help with content creation, just maybe not in the way marketers hope it can (at least, not yet). Many marketing leaders may wish for AI programs that can write compelling content for customers such as blogs or newsletters. Unfortunately, these types of solutions are not yet ready for prime time. Current AI solutions, such as Conversica’s automated emails, still lack the creativity to construct the engaging narrative that blogs and newsletters require. Despite this, AI can still assist marketing teams to create content, by automating basic tasks and reducing overall workload for teams. Companies can use AI products to improve their marketing emails by creating subject lines and calls-to-action that generate the most customer clicks.

There are a few situations where AI programs can create acceptable narrative content. Those conditions require copious amounts of data for the AI solution to use. For example, by ingesting the play-by-play data from a football game, an AI program can generate a relatively simple recap of the contest. So if marketers have a tremendous amount of information and data, they may be able to use AI to evaluate the information and develop relevant content for something like a short blog post on the company website.

Implementing one or several of these AI marketing solutions will ensure marketing teams are set up for AI success and help companies reach business goals. Predictive analytics and automated email messaging can advance your AI strategy, and when combined with customer insights, data personalization, and AI content creation, your company and marketing team can scale an AI strategy to support your broader business initiatives.

No comments