AI reforms the undercurrents of modern marketing

In today’s world, AI and its offshoots are beginning to transform how we market products and services.

A little bit of AI will go a long way in augmenting your marketing efforts, and yes, AI and its applications are relevant even to small and medium sized business, not only the large corporations. Let’s take a look at how you can use artificial intelligence to augment your marketing capabilities.

What we mean by AI in this context

First things first, let’s get this out of the way: when talking about using AI in your marketing efforts, we don’t mean some futuristic invention not known to mankind. Rather, we’re talking simple applications of AI, including machine learning, that work with automation to substantially improve your marketing processes and turnaround times.

Specifically, we’re focused on how machine learning and automation can combine to provide you a complete overhaul of your segmentation, messaging, and communication strategy.

Machine Learning

Let us consider for a second how most companies market today. Consumers are receiving an unprecedented number of emails from companies. Reasonable people make reasonable efforts to set up filters to sort out desirable messages from unwanted ones.

Yet, companies keep sticking to their guns, in the hope that at least a small percentage of the emails might generate a response. That someone might click the proverbial link to generate traffic, views, make purchases, etc.

And despite the seemingly ‘personalised’ nature of some of these messages, such as just starting off the email by naming the individual receiving it, doesn’t mean you are sending a message customised for that individual’s needs.

So how do you stand out from the crowd?

Automate customer segmentation based on behaviour

Machine learning is the most effective and accessible form of AI available to us today. It is essentially where the system is fed loads and loads of data about the consumer, and learns to make sense of the data over time.

Mr. A buys a coffee from Starbucks at around 10am and 3pm every weekday. That is data. Can I make my offers and discounts via my mobile app to send notifications around the same time with deals from coffee shops around Mr. A’s office?

Ms. B keeps checking out winter clothing on my shopping website regularly. Is it worth alerting her to a sale that offers 50% discount on winter clothing, instead of sending her a repeat generic ‘on sale’ message whenever there is one?

This type of analysis and targeting can be done by humans – if you employ thousands of them for the sole purpose of segmenting and customisation. With an intelligent system, however, this job becomes much easier, resource-efficient, and cost effective. Feed data, rules, templates, etc into the system, and over time it learns to become incrementally accurate at predicting customer needs and addressing them.

The outcome for your business and your customers will improve as you don’t have to spam thousands of people every day to attract them to your product or service. You can target a minimum number of customers based on their behaviours for maximum output. This also means cost savings in the medium to long term, as you shave off the precious cents that you pay to send each message. You also increase the likelihood your marketing is impactful and reaches a large portion of your intended audience whose eyes don’t glaze over when they see your message.

AI has its benefits for small and medium sized businesses

It’s not just for the big players out there. Your business, however big or small, can use AI in some form to improve your marketing performance. Look for marketing automation systems that offer machine learning as a core capability. Such products come with a central ‘brain’ which drives the impact the system has on your marketing efforts over a period of time. They can analyse terabytes of data to pick a conducive target customer base, and customise and deliver high-impact marketing. Depending on how deep your pockets are, the market offers a range of cloud-based, piecemeal or wholesale solutions to suit your needs.

In pursuit of marketing excellence

Artificial Intelligence systems haven’t yet reached the dizzying heights we have come to expect of them, but there is no doubt that they will get there eventually. Current AI capabilities, including machine learning, provide practical application to our daily lives and our businesses. Marketing is no exception to this. Augment your marketing efforts with AI-driven systems, and your marketing performance will receive a significant boost. Machine learning will significantly improve customer segmentation, targeting and personalisation, and leave you with happier customers and more profit to show for your efforts.

Balancing new and existing players in the iGaming industry

The gaming industry continues to evolve, and with technological advancements it has moved from centralised game parlours, betting shops, and casinos to decentralised betting in your home or from your smartphone.

In a decentralised world, it is increasingly harder for iGaming operators to compete effectively and to turn a profit. Adding new players while retaining existing ones is a balancing act that not many operators seem to be getting right. It is a delicate balance, and can significantly impact revenues.

Types of iGaming operators

The growth-share matrix gave us a solid foundation on market performance and product portfolio management for any sort of company. In short, a company needs ‘stars’ that can assure the future, ‘cash cows’ that provide the funds to build towards that future, and ‘question marks’ that could eventually become stars, as current stars turn into cash cows and then ‘dogs’.

The same can be said within iGaming, however with iGaming there is the added factor of differentiating between new and existing players, and tailoring marketing efforts to have a healthy mix. Research has repeatedly identified the following 4 strategies that are used by companies, including iGaming operators, to handle the delicate balance between signing up new players with maintaining existing ones.

1. Running in place

These are operators that rely heavily on new acquisitions making upwards of 90% of their player base. In contrast, only about 10% are existing players.

Marketing spend in acquisitions is understandably high in these situations. Any effort to encourage existing players to spend real money aren’t necessarily effective, so as such operators seem to be ‘running in place’. While there is a frantic pace for the iGaming operation to keep up, this doesn’t result in significant uptick in their revenue.

Reasons for this could be:

  • It’s a new operator and is in its ‘question mark’ phase, requiring capital investment with an eye on the future.
  • Marketing efforts for acquisition aren’t focused on the ‘right’ type of new players such as those who will stick with the operator and continue to spend (‘active players’).
  • Too many acquisitions, indicating too much spend not balanced with organic revenue growth from existing players.

2. Rising stars

These are the iGaming equivalent of ‘rocket companies’. Healthy revenues, coupled with growth at breakneck speed. The key for these operators is that most of them earn 30% to 60% of their revenues from existing ‘active’ players, indicating the operator has succeeded in engaging existing players effectively and thus establishing a foothold in the market.

The other underlying reason is that getting loyal players to try new games and promotions is easier and cheaper. Unfortunately, not every ‘running in place’ operator is guaranteed the opportunity to become a rising star someday. It requires a combination of a unique iGaming product, an effective acquisition strategy, cost management, and staying ahead of the competition.

3. Top performers

Top performers have reached their full potential. An overwhelming number of these operators derive more than 70% of their revenue from existing players, which is the direct result of effective player engagement and low player churn.

They have also learnt to acquire the ‘right’ type of new player, meaning they have a tried-and-tested acquisition strategy that optimises marketing spend. This will keep acquisition costs minimal while continually adding new players to their brand.

Top performers have essentially reached full potential for the iGaming product in question. Implying eventual decline is inevitable, however for the medium term, they’re generating significant revenue at low cost, resulting in a great bottom line. As such, these operators are at the liberty to innovate and use their ‘cash cow’ products to experiment with other ‘question mark’ and ‘star’ products.

4. Legacy operators

These operators usually have a long history in the industry, notably online counterparts of established land-based casinos or online brands that have been around forever. They are still making a lot of money, and derive close to 90% (or more) of their revenue from existing players. They cost less to run, and continue to add to the operator’s reserves.

However, legacy operators often find it difficult to grow any further, with new acquisitions only contributing to about 10% of revenue. The product appears to be nearing the end of its life cycle, meaning existing players could be about to jump ship. If they do, this will drag the revenue numbers down.

The operator in this instance, needs to prepare for the eventuality of either revamping the iGaming product or rebrand it, and launch an aggressive acquisition campaign to revitalise their player base. Sometimes, legacy operators simply choose to retire certain categories of products and switch their focus to a particular type of game, such as slots, card games, or sports betting only.

Next best action

Any operator in the iGaming industry will in due time pass through these four stages (sometimes reiterating them) until it becomes a legacy operator. However, with a suite of products in their portfolio, an operator can work on retaining existing players and switching them to other products or upgraded versions.

The strategies used to keep a healthy balance between sustaining the influx of new players and increasing the lifetime value of existing ones need to be recalibrated for every phase of a company’s growth. This should be an ongoing process that occurs in every department of the organisation, and which leads to the implementation of different approaches that help maintain a mix of new and existing players, while providing a way for retaining and switching players as the market evolves.

Helping SMEs keep pace with customers

In an increasingly automated and highly-connected world, it is not easy being a small or medium sized enterprise – you need more than just a simple CRM application to remain competitive.

Yes, you need to look for a fully integrated CRM and ERP system which helps you streamline your business from pre-sales all the way to after-sales service.

Your customers hold more power than they ever have

Nowadays your customers exercise significant control over the buying decision with more information, more knowledge, and more choice than ever before. They can go online and find the best deals at the click of a button. Social media alone offers a wide variety of in-depth information about products and services, as well as ratings and reviews of businesses like yours that provide these products and services.

So how do you differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack? By knowing your customers and their needs better, and before your competition does.

A CRM solution which is integrated with cloud ERP will set you apart from your competition. You will have critical customer information including past purchases and service history at your fingertips. Add to this mobile CRM and ERP functionality, and your ability to customise products to specific customer needs increases immensely.

You don’t have to build a solution of your own

With a wide range of choices available for ERP solutions, you don’t have to invest time, resources, and money to write code to satisfy your business needs. Configuration options allow you to pick and choose the services or features that fit your business, and shed those that don’t. Such configuration helps you acquire a lean ERP solution without the bloatware, while addressing the key challenges for your business. Solution providers now offer cloud-based solutions that allow you to add on more access and functionality as and when necessary. Scalability becomes implicit and effortless.

Enterprise-wide collaboration becomes a breeze

An integrated CRM and cloud based ERP system enables the seamless flow of customer data and product information throughout the sales and service process. Your employees can collaborate with each other effectively. Pre-sales, acquisition, servicing, and operational teams will have access to the most up-to-date information at any given point in time. Achieving the best outcome for your business, your employees, and your customers becomes a far easier task.

Customer retention is easier with effective post-sales servicing that can tap into the customer’s history. This allows for customised service offerings tailored to specific customer situations. Mobile ERP enhances this experience with on-the-go capabilities, putting business critical information in the hands of your field staff.

Dashboards provide clarity

Complete integration comes with a clear advantage – you can generate integrated dashboards that provide streamlined access to information. Furthermore, your staff has role-based access to dashboards which provide them with the information they need to deliver effectively. Ultimately, the sales team can manage forecasts, collaborate on quotes, and track results in real-time.

By creating dashboards that cover key deliverables for each discipline from pre-sales to servicing to returns and refunds, you can monitor your business performance online. Empowered with real-time information, you will be able to direct your business operations better, making iterative adjustments to your operating model and streamlining workflows daily.

Hear it from the experts

In a recent study commissioned by Acumatica, the research team identified the top three challenges for SMEs as follows:

  • Growing revenue
  • Attracting new customers
  • Maintaining profitability

Being an SME in a world that sees more and more consolidation every day is challenging enough. Add to this that growing revenue, increasing your customer base, and turning profit are now more challenging than ever while you also try to keep costs down and your existing customers in-house.

Their recommendations are clear – optimise processes that connect your business end-to-end with your customers. Mobile, cloud based ERP systems integrated with a complete CRM solution will provide your business the best chance to compete effectively.

Take your CRM related ERP requirements seriously. Consider solutions that are modular and allow you to use the features most relevant to your business. Give your team the best tools to succeed. Arming your business with a vertically integrated ERP solution will help you raise your competitiveness to a whole new level.

5 reasons why a mobile CRM platform is the best solution for field sales reps

Constantly bouncing between warehouses, retail outlets, trade shows and the like, sales reps spend most of their time outside the office. Therefore, it’s critical for them to access important sales and order information at any time and anywhere.

Enter Mobile CRM. A mobile CRM platform give sales reps the ability to close sales and make orders from any mobile device. The days of using the office computer to find customer data or use CRM software are soon to be gone. The future is CRM mobility which allows customer and product information to always be at sales reps’ fingertips.

Here are 5 reasons your B2B sales reps need a mobile CRM app:

1.    Staff convenience and reduced costs

Leverage mobile CRM’s BYOD (bring-your-own-device) capability to benefit both management and staff. This capability translates into field staff being able to work from a convenient and familiar device that gives them instant access to product and customer data at all times – be from the office or on the road. It also cuts down on implementation costs, as companies don’t have to worry about buying new devices and training their employees to use them.

Likewise, it’s easy for management and staff to use a mobile CRM platform on their mobile phones and tablets, as typically it runs as a native app on all operating systems. In addition to allowing access to the same features as the desktop version, the mobile platform also brings together unique mobile features like GPS functions, the camera, and other productivity apps.

2.    Fully functional in offline mode

Sometimes sales reps who are out of the office and on the road or in the warehouse end up in areas where mobile internet coverage is patchy to non-existent. Not to worry though, the function of a mobile CRM platform isn’t the only reason they are so readily accessible and easy to use – the platforms can also work in offline mode.

This allows sales reps to access important information for answering customer questions and making sales, even in the absence of an internet connection. This feature is a potential lifesaver for field reps who must visit and conduct business in places where internet connectivity isn’t a given.

Learn more about the Pepperi Mobile Sales Platform

3.    Increase field staff productivity

Sales reps will thank you for switching to mobile CRM because one of its many benefits is that it streamlines their workflow. Gone are the days of having to rely on paperwork – sales reps and back-office staff alike can now maintain and access all their data using a single platform.

This has other hidden benefits, too. By serving as a uniform platform for centralised sales and ordering information, mobile CRM solutions reduce the possibility for human error, making employees and the system they work in more efficient overall.

Another time-saving feature of a mobile CRM platform is the ability to have staff send messages to one another and keep track of their daily activities, thereby reducing almost entirely the need for telephone calls and emails between employees. This should allow sales reps to spend more time making sales and less time fixing communication errors.

4.    Boost average order size

By now we know that a mobile CRM platform enables sales staff to maximise their sales by accessing product information and answering customer questions from anywhere, at any time. But astonishingly, on top of helping sales reps increase the volume of sales they make, a mobile CRM platform also helps increase average order revenue.

Likewise, a mobile CRM platform has the benefit of letting reps define unique discounts and up-sell and cross-sell promotions for each customer – and because discounts tend to drive customer purchases, they allow employees to negotiate larger orders.

5.    Enhances customer service

By streamlining the order registration process, a mobile CRM platform allows sales reps to spend more time doing other, equally important tasks. For example, customer and product information accessed through the mobile platform enables reps to answer customer questions on the spot, and provide better product advice to the customer.

This is achieved by providing sales reps with visibility into customer purchase history, keeping track of order statuses, observing purchasing trends, and ensuring there is enough stock of in-demand items available.

What this all boils down to at the end of the day is sales reps who appear to know their products like the backs of their hands. With so much information at the their fingertips it means fewer mistakes, faster order-taking, and thorough knowledge of customers. This ultimately puts your customers at ease, as they know they’ve come to a company that is customer-centric. See how the Pepperi Mobile Sales Platform can help increase efficiency and revenue for your field sales team.

4 key components of ERP software for your wholesale distribution business

ERP solutions for manufacturing or retail operations don’t always cover the needs of wholesale distributors.

Two of the most crucial parts of your distribution channel are the wholesalers and distributors. Forming an intrinsic link between manufacturers and retailers is of a great importance to the whole supply chain, but this doesn’t mean that they get the level of specialist recognition that they require from software vendors.

These days, there are quite literally thousands of different software solutions out there which are designed with the needs of manufacturers and retailers in mind, yet the needs of the wholesale and distribution industry seem to have been somewhat left behind.

Wholesalers and Distributors

The business of wholesalers and distributors is to sit somewhere between manufacturers and retailers in the supply chain. To put things simply, a wholesaler is responsible for fulfilling orders that come from the retailer, via an inventory that is acquired in bulk from other industry suppliers.

A distributor acts as a sort of intermediary while offering additional services such as added product value, promoting sales of the product, and processing any returns.

The reality of the industry is that the distinction between wholesalers and distributors is a little blurred, and there are often overlaps in the services offered and the tasks carried out for each. A good example would be that there are times when a wholesaler will provide distribution services, and there are times that a distributor will provide wholesale services. This has resulted in many companies choosing to call themselves “wholesale distributors” in an effort to bring the two areas of the industry together in synchronicity.

An ERP for manufacturing or retail-only purposes, usually doesn’t cover the needs of either the wholesalers or the distributors, as it requires in-depth functionality that is not usually a requisite in the manufacturing and retail industries. As such, there are four main areas of business that every ERP for wholesalers and distributors should consider.

Learn more about Acumatica ERP

1. Distribution Process Management

This component can be divided into an additional six areas as follows:

  • Distribution Requirement Planning (DRP) which is a planning engine that is designed to handle the specific needs of wholesalers and distributors.
  • Sales Management which automates customers’ orders and status tracking and provides management of complex pricing agreements, support for returns, and inventory allocation processes.
  • Purchasing Management which manages the purchasing of raw materials, partly finished, and completed products as well as tracking contract compliance of suppliers.
  • Quality Management is the set of actions or the process that ensures a company produces and then delivers top-quality products. A company must comply with national and international regulations, as well as internal requirements for quality control.
  • Customer Relationship Management is the way in which campaigns, leads, sales force automation, customer service, and support are handled and processed.
  • Barcoding and Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) are very important parts of the ERP. All products must be packed properly and labelled with barcodes to ensure an efficient movement through a supply chain.

2. Supply Chain Management (SCM)

SCM is the way in which all business operations between every part of the supply chain is managed for optimum efficiency. ERP for wholesalers and distributors aim to provider a much more in depth SCM functionality than a standard ERP.

In particular, it should cover these four key areas of the supply chain: Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), Transport Management Systems (TMS), Global Trade Management (GTM), and Supplier Relationship Management (SRM).

3. Retail and E-commerce

In order to sell goods and services to business and clients, a company needs an effective retail and e-commerce software solution. A truly comprehensive software solution should include Web-Based Multichannel Commerce and Retail POS software.

4. Back Office Operations

While back office operations can include a vast number of different components, there are three areas that are particularly applicable to a wholesale and distribution company. These are:

  • Financials application – this manages the financials and resources of an organisation including reporting, accounting, payments, budgeting, risk management, etc.
  • Contract, rebate, chargeback processing – these are particularly important to wholesale and distribution companies as such companies often need to manage multifaceted contracts as well as a complex network of buyers and sellers. 
  • Human Resources – HR applications are needed to manage personnel, benefits, payroll, health and safety, and employee self-service.

If you are in the business of wholesale and distribution, you really should be considering these four key components when you are looking for an effective ERP solution. Find out how Acumatica ERP can take your wholesale distribution business to the next level.

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