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Advertising with LinkedIn – An incredibly valuable addition to your marketing toolbox

LinkedIn is an incredible tool for B2B Marketing. Its Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising feature combined with a Facebook-style profile page offers companies an excellent platform to deliver content to a specific audience, develop brand advocacy and garner interest in your solutions. If you haven’t already set up a company profile on LinkedIn then now’s the time to get started.

The advertising feature of LinkedIn is similar to Google AdWords or Bing Ads, but the clear differentiator – and the reason why it’s so brilliant – is the ability to select LinkedIn members based on some very specific options. In other words, LinkedIn enables you to place your message in front of your chosen target audience. With LinkedIn, you can be more confidant that your audience will actually want to hear what you have to say.

LinkedIn enables you to deliver your message to clearly identified groups of people. Unlike Google, it allows you to use search fields to identify the people from the LinkedIn community whom you wish to reach. A number of audience targeting options are available. You can search for members by region, job title, job category, whether they are a decision maker, whether they belong to particular LinkedIn groups (and therefore have specific interests), and so on.

Google’s PPC platform takes a keyword approach to gauging the ‘interest’ of searchers whereas LinkedIn uses groups. This enables you to search for LinkedIn members who have already declared an interest in a particular topic. A quick browse of the LinkedIn groups relevant to what you want to offer will tell you the membership size.

Because of the nature of LinkedIn’s audience targeting method you can reach people that may be more difficult or expensive to find by using other paid advertising. To set up an ad (or ‘campaign’, as they call it) all you need is some content on a landing page, which could be your website; some ad text, to set your audience targeting options; and to choose your spending preferences. For example, you can start with as little as $10 per day (or 8 GBP), which gives you the freedom to test run a campaign or two and ensures you don’t break the bank.

LinkedIn’s solution is rich in some of the best features adopted by other PPC text and multimedia advertising platforms. You can reach your audience with ads that feature text, images, or video. It’s entirely up to you which option works best. To begin with, try a simple text ad.

When your message is placed in front of the right people, the chances of them taking action increase dramatically. LinkedIn is very much a part, albeit currently undervalued, of the social media revolution that companies have been experiencing during the past few years. Its advertising service delivers quantifiable value in a very short space of time, making it an important asset in marketing. It’s become a key tool that helps us implement marketing programmes for our customers. If you haven’t already discovered how it can benefit you, then get in touch with us and see how we can help.

What would you like your MWC experience to be?

MWC still has much to offer, but finding what you want is increasingly difficult. It’s not an ideal experience and, given that CEM is going to be a significant theme, it’s a shame the industry’s flagship event doesn’t deliver an optimum experience. CSPs have a lot to learn to get the basics right – there are great solutions at MWC, but most really need a lesson in customer experience. They should start at my local!

Mobile World Congress 2015It’s two weeks before MWC. Tickets have been booked, hotels reserved, deposits paid and, in but a few short days, we’ll be off. I’ve lost count of how many times we have been to MWC, but there’s generally something new to explore and it remains a nice place to catch up with people.

But it has definitely lost something. The new location is utterly devoid of charm, it’s in quite the wrong direction and, in many respects, going there has become more of a chore. In that respect, I expect a mixed experience. We are indeed looking forward to catching up with customers and meeting new prospects; we are looking forward to some fun evenings; but while the event has grown in size, it seems to have shrunk at the same time.

Let me explain this paradox. MWC now seeks to address the entire mobile ecosystem. As this has grown, so has the scope of the exhibition, announcements, talks and so on. This means that the parts that are relevant to the average attendee have diminished in relation to the whole. I could probably visit everyone I wanted to within a (somewhat lengthy) day, if it wasn’t for the fact that the event is so distributed. As for serendipitously finding an interesting new company or a novel solution, the chances of that have all but disappeared.

I think it needs re-organising along thematic lines, rather like CeBIT used to be. This hall is for network infrastructure, that for BSS, the other for OSS, and so on – with separate spaces for start-ups and, perhaps, the national pavilions. Sometimes, silos are useful. At the moment, people have to traipse between, for example, hall 2 and hall 7 to meet similar companies, which makes the whole experience somewhat inefficient – and frustrating. How welcome is the first beer of the evening after a hard day tramping between the different halls! If you can get into a reasonably packed tube car back to the centre, that is.

Which brings me to another point. One of the headline topics this year is going to be “Customer Experience Management”. For the last couple of years, there has been a huge emphasis on big data (subject to definition…) but now vendors are turning more and more to practical applications for this information. We saw many of these at TMW last year but, with VoLTE on everyone’s lips, we should see the more people addressing specific use cases for their CEM solutions with the intention of showing how operators will deliver excellence to go along with this essential new service.

That’s great but let’s not forget that we have a long way to go. I cannot remember the last time I had a good experience with either my broadband or mobile provider. Acceptable is about as generous as I can be. They did their jobs, eventually, but neither of them has delivered an exceptional service that made them memorable to me. In this context, I wonder where they think they will begin to implement improvements? We talk about CEM, but every encounter with the provider is part of the overall experience.

Let’s give a parallel. When I walk into my local, the staff greets me. They know what I want to drink and are often pulling my preferred pint before I have even reached the bar. There are occasional drinks ‘on the house’. There is conversation, when circumstances allow. We know each other’s names. In other words, from the moment I enter to the moment I leave, I have a great experience. I am not, by the way, a high spending customer – but I am a loyal one and I am a (reasonably) frequent one.

Is this kind of service too much to ask? Is my local just as a local should be, or is superior to any other I could choose? I don’t know, as I have no particular incentive to choose another.

When I go to another establishment somewhere else, then my expectations are different – I basically expect the product to be acceptable and everything else can follow from that. The right product is simply a starting point. This is the position in which most CSPs find themselves today. They (generally) offer a reasonable product but they may:

Make it difficult to buy Make it difficult to obtain support, when you need it Fail to recognise you when you have cleared their security questions Hide behind data protection legislation Resolve your problem, but in a lengthy and frustrating manner Make it difficult for you to leave

Despite their investments so far, in call centres, optimised routing, CRMs and so on, most CSPs still do not connect things properly. We’ve written repeatedly about having to pass multiple security checks when making an enquiry, with a lack of visibility of information volunteered from one agent to the next. It’s all very well thinking how big data analytics can enable new applications but most CSPs struggle to deliver excellent services today. It’s all very well thinking that CEM solutions can make a difference (some will, some won’t), but ambitions to realise such investments should be tempered by the fact that most CSPs are starting from a very low threshold. The bar is not set high and, to be successful, CSPs shouldn’t aim for the moon, but rather to raise the bar incrementally.

CEM is a hugely important topic. We expect many announcements from CSPs regarding their investments in solutions that promise to help them deliver a better experience. Many of these solutions are indeed excellent, but CEM is not just a product. It’s a discipline that requires a holistic approach, across processes, departments and services.

It means, for example, that CSPs need to think about quality, not just cost. Is outsourcing your call centre really a good idea if it takes three times as long to explain an issue? Is your self-service IVR working properly if it has more than three levels and still directs you to people who can’t actually help? How does one CSP that acquires another, both of which have shaky reputations for customer service, address this fundamental point or will it even bother, given that the acquisition makes sense for other reasons and is driven by accountancy, expediency and strategic gaps?

So, with this in mind, I have several expectations for my MWC experience. First, I would like the organisers to pay attention to the experience of visitors – many of whom are paying large sums for the privilege. Make it easier for me to find new things. Organise it better, rationalise the structure and ensure there is adequate transport to and from the site. Remember, it’s a bottleneck and most people simply want to get to and from the rest of the city. At the same time.

Second, if our industry can’t deliver a better experience at its premiere event, why should we think that CSPs can or will do any better? CSPs can and should invest in the CEM delivery and enabling solutions on offer, but they won’t be effective unless they have thought things through from the perspective of the customer. What do customers really want? Not much, generally speaking:

A product that works that’s easy to buy Simple, quick and efficient service when it doesn’t The ability to return it and go elsewhere if they get frustrated
Occasional, relevant special offers – either things for free or discounts on others

Of course, there’s lots more that could be added, but that would be sufficient to get started. Get these basics right and you will build loyalty – to which you can add all kinds of exciting new things. The fact is, MWC as an event, like most CSPs, fails to deliver the basic experience, let alone a superior or enhanced one. Unlike my local. It’s still worth going to, but that’s largely because there isn’t a real alternative. It’s become a monopoly, which is why we spend so much time helping our customers find more amenable niche events to exploit. Perhaps people should spend more time in a pub. They might learn something. Cheers!

Asserting a role in M2M – what’s an operator’s place?

Many M2M services require only minimal or passive involvement from operators. Despite this, many operators see a clear opportunity to drive new revenue from M2M applications and services. But their role will not typically be as innovators for the services themselves, but rather as key stakeholders delivering the variable orchestration and assurance capabilities such services will demand.

Work on eHealth services provides a clear indication of how this might play out, with operators being a key stakeholder, supporting application providers in highly focused consortia. We expect to see much more activity in such applications in 2015, but operators need to realise that their role lies in being a key supporting enabler to the providers of critical applications across different verticals and form appropriate partnerships to capitalise on M2M opportunities.

It’s clear that momentum is growing in the M2M and IoT market. While we remain a long way from the dramatic numbers some have forecast, we can all recognise that M2M and IoT applications have gone mainstream and are beginning to impact our lives. But with uncertainties still surrounding the value of such services, the role of the operator remains uncertain. Are operators going to drive the market place or do they have a relatively limited place in the value chain?

At this year’s Service Delivery and Innovation Summit in London, we attempted to answer some of these questions, based on our experience of a specific vertical within M2M markets that has attracted considerable attention: eHealth.

There are many thousands of M2M services and a huge array of potential applications that can be enabled. Essentially, anything that can be monitored or anything that can, actually or potentially generate data and be controlled from another location can be connected to form an M2M service. For each such service, there are both common and unique requirements.

Now, if you are an operator, common requirements are probably not all that interesting – they are suggestive of low value services and commoditised capabilities. But unique requirements are rather more interesting, as these suggest that some tuning needs to take place in order to ensure that the service is delivered successfully.

It is these services that demand more of an active role from operators. Variable requirements, particularly where data can:

  • Have different packet sizes, depending on media
  • Have different levels of priority that change according to circumstances, events or alarms
  • Need to be forwarded to different monitoring systems and control centres, according to events

Of course, the list is not exhaustive, but the point is that for certain applications, dynamic elements need to be considered which create the need for active and dynamic service delivery and assurance systems – which operators with control of network assets are able to manage, unlike pure OTT providers. One example is eHealth monitoring. A system that is set up to monitor heart rate in a patient must be able to do more than simply forward data to a monitoring system. If there is a change in the observed rate beyond a stipulated threshold, then the priority with which such data is sent to relevant observation systems will change.

While this suggests that operators can play a major role in the orchestration, delivery and management of data from more critical M2M services, it still doesn’t imply that they should take the lead. However, work undertaken by our friends at ISPM in eHealth trial projects shows that operators will be key stakeholders in the necessary ecosystem. But the leadership will probably stem from specialists in the provision of the applications themselves.

That is, there will likely be consortiums of key stakeholders, driven by the needs of the application. Thus, in critical eHealth applications, for example, the operator is required to ensure that the conditions for meeting dynamic and variable data transmission, forwarding and delivery, with variable priorities, are met. An applications that sends alerts to people to tell them that the milk in their fridge has passed its sell-by date is, while useful to some, not particularly interesting to operators. But critical or highly variable and sensitive applications are.

In this context, operators need to play a key supporting role to innovators that develop such applications. They need to be able to deliver the variable orchestration, assurance and transport capabilities that will enable them to flourish, but they will not necessarily be the lead actor. Operators will sometimes take the lead; at other times, they have a minor role to play. But there are many, many potential applications which will depend on the ability of operators to provide differential service capabilities to other stakeholders – in other words, in the M2M world, operators are absolutely essential to ensuring the performance of certain services, but they must work with other stakeholders as part of consortia to ensure their success.