Does video e-Learning really work?

Online learning has evolved tremendously over the last decade, and as technology has helped us learn through new channels, it has also developed new challenges that some argue put learners in a passive role and reduce interactivity. In a recent article, eServe spoke with a few digital specialist and e-learning companies to look at how effective videos are in the training and educational process.

Included in the article, Chris Hood shared some thoughts, “true video learning should be developed out of content the viewer truly desires to learn. If the desire to learn is genuine and the materials are something the viewer is interested in, the impact is much stronger,” says Hood who also adds that incentives such as bonuses or rewards can also make video learning more effective.

The article outlines 7 techniques to get the most out of your video content, but these strategies aren’t solely designed for e-learning. Any video content depends on capturing the attention of the viewer and making it memorable enough to be interacted with and shared. In marketing, your video strategy and personalization strategy should always consider how to create engaging user experiences and meaningful content.

Head over to the article, and see which of the methods you can use to improve your video marketing. If you need help, contact us and we’ll get you started in the right direction.

5 Tips to help Personalize your Customer Experience

In today’s marketing world, personalization is extremely important. Companies such as Netflix and Facebook have spent millions in recent years to create experiences for users that are unique to them. The video game industry has leveraged personalization by selling skins and customization frameworks that allow players to adapt the game to their own style, and original content that allow players to explore worlds on their own terms. However most businesses struggle with developing personalized experiences due to technology constraints, time or money. Lucky for you, these are all myths!

Here are a few ways that you can personalize your organization’s website like they do, without breaking the bank.

1. Start with knowing who they are
You won’t be able to get anywhere without first knowing who is visiting your site. Whenever possible, be sure to capture simple items like user email addresses, names, and if possible, demographic data like age, location, or industry they work in. You can also dive deeper into your data to find out what browser they use, if they are accessing your site by a mobile device or on their desktop, and what do they do when they are on your site? Most of this information can be tracked through Google Analytics for free, or use a more indepth experience solution like HotJar. Any information will help you begin personalizing the customer’s journey.

2. Personalize at a high level
As simple as it may seem to write “Hi Chris” on a webpage, the experience goes much deeper towards making a new customer feel special. Implementing Call-to-Actions around what you know about a user can take the user experience a step further. But don’t solely rely on the data you know about the user. You should use all data you have available such as time of day, where the user came from, and specific pages the user visits. This changes your simple message above to a more complex personalized message like “Good Morning Chris, glad you found us on Twitter. Here are some new shoes for you to look at today.” Plugins such as Duda on WordPress can help with this process, and create easy to implement personalized experiences.

3. Make adjustments
Be sure you are testing your website’s personalization points, and tracking what has the best results. A/B testing using services like Google Optimize will help you create more engaging experiences with your customers. Setting up testing and tracking is simple, and only requires that you create different messages, web pages, or call-to-actions. Once you have 2 different user experiences setup, Google Optimize will display one experience to 50% of your traffic, and the other 50% to the second user experience. Now sit back and see what your customers engage with the most, then make the adjustment permanent.

4. Staying up-to-date on tech
We can not avoid the continuous transformation of technology. Business activities must stay up-to-date to leverage tech’s impact with customers. If your users expect to engage with you in a specific way, and you are unable to meet that expectation, you may lose that customer. Being familiar with technologies your customers use will help you craft unique personalized experiences with those technologies. Be proactive in your research. One strategy would be to start with the personalization elements you want to see on your website, then find technologies that help you achieve that user experience. Along the way, you’ll learn about new tools, and stay up-to-date on technology trends and usage.

5. Consider the offline experience
Although at times it may feel as if we all live online, we clearly know we still spend a substantial amount of time offline and unconnected. Don’t limit your marketing and personalization strategies to only digital. Refresh your perspective on the entire customer journey and include both online and offline experiences. Extend the conversation, and engagement beyond your website with traditional marketing elements that build true relationships. Then drive those experiences back to your website in a personal way that converts and transforms your customers into influencers.

Borderless Platforms for Digital Transformation

All businesses, no matter their size, are composed of different departments, each with distinct yet overlapping responsibilities. The ability to effectively establish processes that allow for these different departments to collaborate can make or break a business. Did you know that 30 percent of employees believe that there is poor collaboration in their organization? And that a stunning 96 percent of executives list the lack of collaboration as one of their biggest downfalls?

Failure to enlist appropriate collaborative processes and tools can lead to high employee turnover as well, stalling progress within departments and increasing costs in recruiting, interviewing and training.

No matter what business model your company uses, collaboration is a key component. However, as remote work becomes more common, successful collaboration becomes more important in order to keep things running smoothly.

Founder and CEO of PGi, Boland Jones, defines two categories of collaboration technology: synchronous (real-time) such as conference calls or asynchronous (near-time) such as virtual offices and collaborative tools. Enlisting a combination of these two types of tools make for effective communication that enhances productivity.

Here are some borderless technologies you can use to improve your business’ collaborative efforts:

Virtual offices – Virtual office platforms offer a lot of benefits. They give employees the opportunity to communicate with each other, share documents and media files, comment and assign tasks in one spot, basically recreating an office environment in digital form. Tools like Slack allow you to organize your business’s communication into segments so that only team members who are working on a specific project will receive messages about it. It allows for group and private messaging and face-to-face video calls. Drag-and-drop file sharing and the ability to get all your notifications within Slack as well as the easy syncing across your devices make it a popular collaboration tool.

Mobile applications – Approximately 80 percent of employees use more than one device to finish tasks at work. The importance of mobile as a collaborative and communication platform make it a useful tool for businesses. Many companies develop their own in-house apps in order to maintain control over the flow of company information and to prevent potential leaks. An app that enables messaging and document sharing helps create a digital trail and makes for a more seamless internal communication system. Apps can also be used to communicate more effectively with clients and other company stakeholders, providing a convenient point of contact. For example, Kaiser Permanente uses an app to monitor patients and conduct virtual consultations.

Virtual meeting platforms – Keeping in touch with your remote team or setting up a client meeting can be done through applications like GoToMeeting. GoToMeeting allows you to schedule upcoming meetings and send out recordings of the meeting so everyone can have a record of it, including those who couldn’t attend. It mimics a live meeting by including a virtual whiteboard for brainstorming and the ability to share keyboard and mouse control with other attendees.

Project management tools – Tools that allow your teams to track project progress can improve productivity and give team members access to the same information in real time. Trello is a tool whose simple structure creates a virtual corkboard. Members can create “cards” with specific tasks for different projects, message team members, comment and keep track of a project’s progress from start to finish.

After selecting collaboration tools for your business, provide simple training programs to ensure your team members understand how to use the features and also help them make the most of each tool. Implementing these borderless platforms can greatly enhance in-house communication, productivity, and enhance collaboration no matter where your employees and customers are located.

The Billion Dollar Podcast with Kim Komando

We are super excited that Chris Hood was interviewed for one of Kim Komando’s podcasts this week. Chris along with Marcos Polanco covered a wide range of topics including the evolution of the iPhone, digital transformation, product development and technology innovation. Here’s a quick synopsis of the episode, and the full show is now available online, or iTunes.

The billion dollar podcast: Success secrets from today’s top tech innovators – Part 2
We may not know for sure what the next billion dollar idea might be, but I can tell you this – it will take a leap of faith, a little luck, talent and charisma to bring it to fruition. In part 1 of this Komando On Demand series, you heard that high profile people initially laughed at the idea of the iPhone, which is now wildly successful. Such is the tale of many of our world’s brightest ideas. In this final part of the Billion Dollar Podcast, I will introduce you to pioneers and entrepreneurs who didn’t get their big break until their 50s and 60s. Listen to my free podcast for inspiration and wisdom from some of history’s greatest minds.

We’d love to hear what you think. Contact Us to let us know, and share the podcast through social media with anyone you believe is interested in technology, marketing and innovation!

30 Chrome Extensions for your Digital Marketing

Pagezii connected with 30 digital marketing experts to find out what their favorite Chrome extension is and how they use it to enhance their marketing efforts. The idea behind the article is “to help every Marketer in their day-to-day tasks.” What’s great about the list is that it’s never ending.

Our own CEO, Chris Hood contributed to the list with his favorite extension, Oddshot. With the amount of work we do in the video game and entertainment industries, capturing quick clips to share on social media is a necessity.

Today’s world is video-centric. So one of my favorite digital marketing chrome extensions is OddShot. It allows you to capture and share highlights of anything you find online. It’s a great way to capture and share quick media clips that can be used in your social media marketing.

If you’re looking for help managing your SEO, AdWords, Tags, Analytics, Social Media or daily productivity, there’s an extension that could save you a ton of time. Here’s just a few that are on the list.

Head over to get the full list of digital marketing chrome extensions, and if you don’t see your favorite, ask to have it added.

Why you Must Add Video to your Marketing Strategy

Last year we shared some insights with Nicholas Bodell in a series he wrote about the importance of video in your digital strategy. No we wanted to look back and see if our strategies have changed within a year.

In 2016, Wyzowl found that 61% of businesses stated they currently use video as a marketing tool, and of that, 2/3rds were not using video in 2015. It was also predicted at that time 60% of all mobile data in 2020 would be video. So where are we today?

A year later, 63% of businesses are using video as a marketing tool. That’s an increase of 2%. Out of those businesses, 82% of businesses feel video is an important part of their marketing strategy. But the real change comes from what businesses plan to spend on video. In 2016, 67% of these businesses recognized that they would increase spending on video marketing, whereas in 2017, 82% of businesses will increase spending.

Our CEO, Chris Hood, commented:

The number one trend in digital marketing for 2016 is content marketing. Although blog posts, or image promos across social media is the easiest, it’s not necessarily the most effective. In our connected world today, mobile access and improvements in speed, bandwidth, and service, video is a more effective means to communicate with customers and should be integrated into every company’s digital strategy. With video natively playing in Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram, we no longer are focused solely on YouTube to distribute video content. More so, this substantially helps your mobile visitors find and interact with your products. Instead of attempting to read a lengthy blog piece, or flip through quick images, videos can easily be streamed on a mobile device when a visitor is on the go.

These same strategies still apply today. As Wyzowl also identifies, 79% of consumers would rather watch a video to learn about a product, than read text on a page. As more consumers navigate towards video clips, businesses investing in video marketing will start to see huge returns. So where does video fit into your digital strategy? To learn more about how video can be used to grow your business, contact us to discuss your project.

3 Steps for Online Content Development

Content development is not as scary as it may sound. In fact developing unique content to be used online is much easier than you’d expect. As you’ve probably heard, ‘content is king,’ and the seemingly endless need for fresh content is a demand facing everyone with an internet presence.

This need is particularly true if you have an online business that you want to grow. Here are 3 easy steps you can use to locate, develop, and distribute any content online.

Search for content to write about
Your first step is to located sources of information to gather and organize into usable content of your own. The best way to conduct your content research will be to start with current trends related to your organization. What are people talking about, and how can you convert that into the interests you can share with your company?

There are several online tools you can use to check for current and popular trends. By simply entering keywords related to your business, you can quickly find the most recent content trends. Here are few tools you can use to find topics to write or talk about.

a) Tiny Suggest – which uses Google Suggest
b) Google Trends – current News and search stats
c) Google Keyword Planner – Find popular keywords to leverage
d) Twitter – Real time trending conversations
e) SpyFu – What words are your competitors currently using?

Using the results you find from the above tools will not only help you define your content, it will also help your content stand out as being relevant and valid.

Optimize your content for search
After collecting the information you need to pull it together into a flowing and readable format. This is when you have the opportunity to improve your SEO by organizing and optimizing your content for search engines and marketing impact. Carefully select keywords that highlight your content’s message, draws focus to a specific topic, and can easily be used in your headings. Be careful though, overusing keywords or phrases can also disrupt the natural flow of your content and generate a negative impact on your search results. Focus your keywords to strategic areas; page title, headers, and the first and last paragraph of your blog post.

Distribute your content everywhere
When considering the best channels to distribute your content, you need to decide whether you want to use this content in articles, press releases, blog posts, an eBook, or perhaps an infographic. There are many types of content you can produce, but the choice depends on what suits your needs the best. Using multiple formats and distributing your new materials across social media, your website and through email will have the biggest impact for your business.

Your ability to continually create and circulate unique and relevant content is critical towards gaining exposure and maintaining an online identity. This is especially true for an online business that maintains a constant need for fresh content in order to grow and prosper. By implementing these 3 easy steps, you’ll always have an ample supply of interesting content to help generate leads, and grow your business.

Customer Centricity – the Heart of Digital Transformation

Customer centricity is not a new concept. Until they changed their slogan in 2014, Burger King had been telling customers to “Have it your way” for 40 years. Harry Selfridge, the founder of Selfridge’s department store, coined the phrase “the customer is always right” in 1909. Focusing on pleasing the customer is nothing new. What’s changed are the tools we use to do it.

We live in the digital age and the rate of digital change is a challenge for all organizations to keep up with. This transformation is at the heart of creating experiences that meet the expectations of your customers. We have access to highly specific bits of information on our customers that can provide us with valuable insights on what they like. But how exactly do we make effective and profitable use of all this information? That’s the challenge.

Is it really that important? Can’t we just focus on delivering a great product? Yes, you can. However, if your competitors also offer great products and have put in the legwork on customer experience, guess where your customers are going to start migrating to? Smart companies put the customer in the middle of their products and experiences. It’s simple math: the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent, but only 5-20 percent for a new prospect. Not only that but happy customers generate up to 14x more sales than customers who don’t have a positive experience on your website.

So what actions and attitudes can businesses adopt in order to make their company more customer centric? Here are some tips:

1) Create a customer centric mantra and shout it from the rooftops. Bringing customer experience to the forefront of your business’ mission is essential to making the adjustment to customer centricity. Find a phrase that expresses how your company plans to best attend to its customers. Ritz-Carlton chose “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.” Spread your phrase throughout your contact points with customers, but, even more importantly, ensure that it’s not just talk by bringing your staff onboard. Make customer centricity a part of your staff training and make sure it’s clear what a priority customer experience is for your brand. Take a cue from Zappos, a brand that’s famous for its customer centric culture. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh says “Even if a person is great at their job, even if they’re superstar at their job, if they’re bad for our culture, we’ll fire them for that reason alone.”

2) Hold your IT staff dear. Being a data analyst or a data scientist has been labeled “The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century” specifically because of the pressure for businesses to harness their data in order to spin it into gold. But it turns out it’s not so simple. 63 percent of businesses say that user experience improvements are important to their digital strategy but only 30 percent of businesses are able to execute those improvements. Some of the biggest challenges to customer centricity are:

  • Data silos that inhibit the coordination and sharing of data
  • Lack of data management software
  • IT staff not skilled enough to analyze data
It’s not enough to buy a fancy data management program. Those programs are far from one-size-fits-all nor do they run on autopilot. Without an expert IT staff onboard to dedicate their time to analyzing how to improve your customer experiences, such as figuring out where users tend to click away why they abandon their carts, what marketing works best with which demographics, how to streamline customer service across all channels, then the programs may not show positive ROI. Working closely with your IT staff on creating a customer centric culture is a big step towards success and transformation.

3) Invest in omni-channel customer service.
One big challenge for a lot of businesses is keeping up with real time. Many customers expect to be able to reach out to a business and get a reply at any time of the day or night. That used to be easier when people used call centers, but today customers use a wide variety of channels such as social media, text, live chat, voice call, email and more. A successful omni-channel service provides a seamless customer service experience across all channels so that a customer can start a conversation via social media and continue it with live chat without having to repeat information. It’s the perfect combination of convenience and service. In order to succeed at omni-channel:

  • Hire trained and professional customer service staff to attend customers
  • Be aware of customer expectations of response times (for example, 42 percent of customers who contact a company via social media expect a response in an hour or less)
  • Make sure that there’s a smooth transition between channels by employing the skills of your rock star IT staff
Becoming customer centric is a process that involves an attitude adjustment as well as a technological adjustment. Embracing both will give your company’s customer experience a significant makeover.

How can we help your organization improve customer engagement? Let us create customer centric experiences for your business. Contact us to begin!

Fueling a Culture for Digital Transformation

There’s no doubt that the pressure of rapidly evolving technology has affected business culture. The speed at which changes are being adapted is increasing, which means that businesses who embrace a less top-down culture and open up to more collaborative and creative forms of entrepreneurship are in a position to be more successful. That’s because, the majority of business leaders aren’t IT buffs and need the buy-in of their entire teams as well as the assistance of outside resources in order to implement better practices that adapt to new technologies.

This is true for all sectors: marketing, product management, customer service, human resources and more. Customers expect businesses to make use of data to offer them personalized advertising. They expect to be able to reach customer service representatives on social media, SMS and live chat and, in a culture where the internet doesn’t sleep, they also want instant replies. They expect to be able to interact with your business on their mobile phones with the same ease and speed as on their desktops.

Consumers also expect their favorite brands to keep up with technological evolution and to offer something new, cool and competitive. This becomes increasingly difficult to deliver in a world where the process of concept to product takes time, during which new technologies are emerging that may challenge the utility of your product-in-progress. Product leader and IoT expert Daniel Elizalde advises product managers that “Technology is moving at light speed. There are so many new trends that it is hard to keep up. But we must. Otherwise we run the risk of releasing a product that will soon be obsolete.” Never before has the term “forward-thinking” been so apt or so essential. Interestingly, Elizalde also advocates for “build[ing] a PM tribe” by collaborating and sharing information with other product managers in this relatively new profession where there are no handbooks or rules and where “knowledge lies with practitioners.”

of Millennials say that sub-optimal application performance affects their ability to achieve their personal best, compared with just half of Boomers.
– Nimble Storage

Even markets as traditional and conservative as finance are seeing a revolution with the rise of Fintech. From 2014 to 2015, Fintech grew from an already impressive $12 billion startup industry to a $20 billion dollar startup industry, a 66 percent increase in just one year. What makes Fintech successful is that it’s driven by the principles of convenience, technology and democratization. Fintech offers customers alternatives to traditional banking with applications that put the power of decision and information in their hands. Services like Transferwise allow customers to transfer money across borders at a fraction of the cost of a traditional bank and all with just a few taps on their mobile. Companies like Acorn, and Nutmeg, online investment apps that make the days of walking into a physical bank to talk to an investment advisor in person seem antiquated. These services open financial knowledge to a wider spectrum of people, changing the model of exclusivity that many traditional banks are built on.

Technology isn’t just pushing changes in products and services. It’s also changing internal practices. As the millennial generation starts to round out its adult years, it soon will account for 40% of the workforce in the United States. That means businesses will soon be primarily staffed by employees widely characterized as both technologically savvy and extraordinarily ambitious. Polls and studies on millennial work ethic and values continuously point to their desire to “grow in their jobs” and “become leaders”. Millennials also tend to take a holistic approach to their jobs, they want to know how they fit into the context of the entire structure rather than being content to be cogs in a wheel. Mentorship and professional evolution are some of their core values.

They also want companies to offer them the technological tools that foster such evolution. In fact, 77 percent of millennials feel the lack of optimal technology prevents them from achieving their potential at work (as compared to only 50% of baby boomers who felt that way).

As CH Digital founder and digital transformation consultant Chris Hood noted, “Business and technology is converging. Individuals who understand them both will be extremely successful.” That’s why the US’s top business schools are focusing more and more on technology. Those students running off to the Technology Club meeting at MIT, Stanford, Berkeley-Hass, Wharton, Kellogg, Duke’s Fuqua and Harvard Business School aren’t IT students, they’re MBA students. MBA programs are staying relevant by fostering the union of business and technology with cutting edge technological courses and resources.

Businesses who develop a culture that embraces the adaptations necessary to compete in this new landscape characterized by digital optimization and human collaboration will reap the benefits. Those who insist on maintaining business as usual will fall behind.

Digital Transformation Starts with Embracing Change

Making major changes is never easy for any business. But the costs of change usually bring their own rewards. In the case of digital transformation, advances in the way we use data, how we relate to each other via social media, and our rapid adaptation of mobile and connected devices all mean that businesses are being obligated to adopt new processes in order to keep up. Organizations who embrace these changes also see an opportunity to leverage these advances in their favor.

Changes are being made both internally (within the workplace) and externally (customer relations and marketing). As technology evolves, customers have different expectations of how they can interact with businesses. Today, they want to be able to use their mobile devices to research, shop and receive customer service support. In fact, mobile is so important that in 2015, Google started taking into consideration a website’s mobile-friendliness when determining its page rank. That means that businesses who haven’t adapted their sites for mobile compatibility have fallen in the rankings, making it more difficult for customers to find their business in a Google search. But mobile-friendliness doesn’t only affect your search-ability. A poorly designed mobile site means trouble for business when you consider that 61 percent of mobile users won’t revisit a site they had difficulty accessing while another 40 percent will go to a competitor’s site instead.

Another area that’s seen a massive digital transition in recent years is customer service. Call centers are being replaced by omni-channel support, a form of customer service that offers a variety of platforms (live chat, text, social media, video chat and more) to choose from. The key to omni-channel is integrating all of those customer service platforms to offer a seamless experience that allows the customer to switch channels without ever having to repeat information. Businesses who have invested heavily in omni-channel have reported as high as 89 percent customer retention rate. As customers become more accustomed to the choice and convenience omni-channel offers them, they’ll be less satisfied with businesses who don’t offer such services while those who step up will be reaping the rewards in customer retention.

We are now in the age of personalization with information on customer preferences, demographics, location, purchase history and behaviors being curated to offer more and more personalized and targeted marketing. That’s because our access to data has also seen an exponential increase with our ability to collect data quickly and to apply it effectively having evolved significantly. Personalization is an effective marketing strategy with 66 percent of consumers affirming that personalization affects their decision to purchase a product. As the speed and accuracy of data synchronization increases, personalization will only become more important.

Internal processes are also improved by the adoption of new technologies. The rise of remote work, is a great example of how companies who embrace digital transformations have been able to thrive. In 2015, 45 percent of American employees did some type of remote work. As the traditional office landscape changes and remote work becomes more common, communication tools are more important than ever. Programs that allow for collaboration on projects from disperse staff members, file-sharing, texting and messaging, in-company social media platforms, virtual staff meetings and more all make it possible to run successful remote businesses. Here are some tools that you could check out. In case you’re wondering, it’s not just tech companies that have aced the remote team business model. Ignition Law, a law firm startup that uses an all-remote team has had enormous success, servicing 200 clients in their first year? By employing qualified lawyers who want to work remotely, they’re able to cut costs by up to 60% of competing law offices. How’s that for embracing change?

As our world becomes more and more data driven, businesses who spearhead digital transformations will be making their way to the front of the pack as industry leaders. Where do you want your business to be?

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