3 valuable marketing lessons to learn from Pokémon GO!

Online shopping statistics

Almost 21 years since its launch, Nintendo’s Pokémon looks set to transform reality as we know it – again. The augmented reality gaming app already has more than 11 million Android users in the US and more users than Twitter even though it only saw release in the UK less than a week ago.

What’s being labelled as the latest new fad to be experienced by children, teens and even grown adults, is like an eternal Easter Egg hunt with eggs strewn far and wide. But Instead of threatening your waistline, this hunt encourages socialising and improves mental well being, as users collect Pokémon, visit virtual Pokéstops and undertake battles, all through the lens of a smartphone.

All hail augmented reality; the use of technology to superimpose digital creations into the physical world – and it seems to be making itself very comfortable in the business world.

With the cold response to the launch of Google Glass, there has always been some speculation as to whether this type of technology could really be accepted by consumers – Snapchat being one of the only real apps that have successfully dabbled with augmented reality, with its ‘enhanced’ reality selfies. However, what Pokémon GO showcases is how the digital and physical worlds may be able to co-exist through a mobile device.

1. Embracing mobile-first

An odd move by a company that has previously resisted smartphone gaming apps. But it seems they’re now embracing mobile-first… And this presents a great opportunity for marketers.

People are walking around with their eyes glued to their portable screen which means users that you want to reach are ready for a mobile experience that integrates with digital and reality. They are poised and ready to interact with their phone and their surroundings.

2. Creative piggybacking can pay off

Retailers are already inserting themselves into the game by purchasing ‘lures’ meant to attract Pokémon into their establishments, an animal shelter has received a lot of media attention by inviting young players to come and walk real rescue dogs as they join the hunt for Pokémon, it’s even the topic of top brand’s conversations – and it’s working!

Highly engaged players are set to spend more time in the gaming app than on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Whether or not it lasts, the almost manic popularity of Pokémon GO should encourage businesses to think about mobile, and the fact that the best marketing tool is already in your customer’s hands.

3. Digital disruption is happening

2016 is predicted to be a turning point for the mass adoption of next-gen digital and Pokémon GO leads the way for augmented/virtual reality. As the first screen to the real world, Mobile helps brands get the one-to-one, personalised experiences they need with consumers.

Pokémon GO has opened up a new set of doors for any audiences on-the-go. To learn more about our mobile marketing solutions contact a member of our team today on 0345 356 5758.

Now go catch ‘em!

World Emoji Day: Make your customers smile

celebrate World Emoji Day with SMS and Unicode

How do you express your emotions when you can’t find the right words?

As #WorldEmojiDay trended on Twitter yesterday, many of you probably missed it, out enjoying the fleeting signs of the British summer! But there’s certainly something to be celebrated; emojis have turned the corner from silly to serious – and now there’s a precedent for any brand marketer to turn their Emoji game up.

During the annual celebration of the Emoji, many brands from Sky and the BBC through to McDonalds competed for prominence for the brand engagement the colourful visual language offers.

BBC using emojis on twitter

Once known as the emoticon, the little symbols that began as mere happy and sad faces have now evolved into people, animals, vegetables, occupations and household items. If you can’t find an emoji for what you want to say – yet – there will definitely be designers somewhere to fix that problem, with new emojis released periodically.

Psychologists have proven that emojis play a pivotal role in human communication. Detecting tone when reading words in any language, particularly over a text message or email can be difficult.  The emoji and visual clues that they offer for the tone of the message have probably saved countless relationships between humans… Which is why they’re so celebrated!

But what about brands and their customers?

Don’t think that the mere addition of a 🙂 in your bulk text messages will means your business gets more love, but it could help.

35% of consumers report never having received an emoji in a brand message (Appboy), which seems to be a wasted opportunity when you see the conversion rates for Emoji campaigns sent in an email or text message (135% year-on-year).

43% of consumers aged 25-44 years-old think it is fun when brands use Emojis in messages. (Appboy)

People love emojis, 92% of the online population use emojis, and 64% of consumers said they either like or love emojis, and are open to receiving more of them in marketing. It is the perfect opportunity to grab someone’s attention, make your relationship more personal and it’s fun!

Whether you’re marketing a new addition to the menu at your restaurant, your latest Summer bikini collection in store or want to collect feedback on service with a simple “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”, you can.

But emojis aren’t just about marketing.

For those too lazy or “hungover” to pick up their phone, Dominos have created “emoji orders” where users simply text the emoji pizza icon to their local Dominos who will then make up the user’s favourite order, based on previous visits, to your doorstep.

Yesterday Barclays released their financial-service-themed emojis for World Emoji Day which signals a new market is opening for the language – not just for the financial sector but emojis for those more difficult conversations where a loan is needed or money needs to be repaid.

In the wake of the American presidential election, The Huffington Post has also now ramped up its competition against other news publications by appealing to mobile-first consumers by including an emoji keyboard which puts a more humorous spin on the election.

While sometimes silly and usually fun, the emoji isn’t as easy to overlook as it once was and might just be changing the way brands, consumers and people interact.

(more…)

Preparing for Data Protection reform, post-Brexit

Post-Brexit and Data Protection Reform due to the GDPR

Just over two weeks have passed, and many businesses are still trying to address the elephant in the room: what happens now, post-Brexit?

From a data protection perspective, here’s what we’ve discovered. As most business owners are aware, an EU regulation (the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR), was due to replace the UK’s Data Protection Laws, starting May 2018.

So what impact will the EU referendum have on the UK’s data laws during a period in which the UK will be negotiating its EU exit? In short, there’s no certainty.

However, there is plenty that your business can do to prepare for the most likely outcome.

Following a statement from the Information Commissioner’s Office at the close of last week, we do know that that clear laws and safeguards are needed more than ever in a growing digital economy and it is likely the ICO will be presenting the view that the reform should still go ahead.

Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, stated:

“With so many businesses and services operating across borders, international consistency around data protection laws and rights is crucial both to businesses and organisations and to consumers and citizens.”

“The ICO’s role has always involved working closely with regulators in other countries, and that will continue to be the case.”

Esendex is a part of this growing digital landscape and we recognise the importance of compliance. After all, even in the aftermath of Brexit, the UK will not be without a Data Protection law – our Data Protection Act will also need updating to effectively meet the business needs of companies processing personal information in the 21st century.

A separate statement by the ICO replicates that sentiment:

“We still think our plan of what guidance to expect and when remains useful. This is because once implemented in the EU, the GDPR will be relevant for many organisations in the UK – most obviously those operating internationally.”

So what can your business do to prepare?

We’ve broken it down into five key takeaways:

1. Knowledge and understanding

If you may have employees within your company who are unaware of the Data Protection reform, or fundamentals of the UK legislation itself, it could cause compliance risks. Raise awareness of the current UK legislation and consider the implications that the GDPR could bring. Irrespective of EU membership uncertainty, leaving preparations until the last minute could see your business suffer.

2. Compliance and consent

How is your business collecting, storing and recording data consent? There are references to ‘consent’ and ‘explicit consent’ in the GDPR. How does your business define consent: is it implied, opted-in or inferred from inactivity? If you can’t demonstrate that consent has been given in the first instance, it’s time to start looking at your processes for obtaining it.

3. Data storage

If you can’t track or find where your data came from or with whom you are actively sharing it, across departments or with third parties, then an information audit is necessary. The GDPR looks set to reinforce both privacy and accountability.

4. Third parties

Data storage also ties in neatly to third party sharing. If you are sharing your customer’s data with third parties, to process the data you have collected on your behalf, are you aware of how they will achieve this? Esendex offers complete transparency in our data protection practices; we will never interfere with your customer’s data or adopt it for our own use. Our ISO 27001 accreditation also gives you assurance that the information we process for you is handled securely. Investigate the processes of those with whom you share data to ensure they maintain your standards, the standards of UK legislation and potential EU reform rules.

5. Individual rights

Do your current processes cover the rights of individuals in terms of data access in reasonable requested formats or procedures for erasing data held?  How easily do your current systems and processes enable you to handle individual data requests? Data portability is one aspect of the GDPR that you may want to action.

To learn more about our security standards or about any of our products or services contact our team on 0345 356 5758.

What’s the point of the Net Promoter Score metric?

This is something Esendex have been digging into recently, as (full disclosure!), gathering Net Promoter Score data is one of the key functions of our SMS Surveys product. We weren’t sure what the Net Promoter Score was, how to get started, or what the data was useful for – so, if you’re in a similar position, read on!

What is the Net Promoter Score?

The Net Promoter Score survey asks your customers one question:

“Using a 0-10 scale, how likely are you to recommend this business / brand to a friend or colleague?”

You can use the results of this survey to judge how loyal your customers are compared to other businesses in your field, how satisfied they are with your products or service, and, in turn, get an indication of your potential growth.

Calculating your Net Promoter Score

A score of 0-6 is considered to be a detractor. They’re not likely to recommend you, so you can infer that they’re not particularly happy with your products, or loyal to your brand.

A score of 7-8 is regarded as passive. They’re happy enough, but not so much that they’re not vulnerable to being poached by a competitor.

A score of 9-10 is a promoter. They are likely to recommend you, and so you can reasonably conclude that they are highly satisfied with your products/services, and likely to continue to do business with you.

How to collect the data

We experimented with SMS and email/online survey software to gather NPS data for Esendex.

SMS Surveys: highly effective for NPS data collection, as they’re likely to be seen, and very easy to respond to with a 0-10 selection.

Email / Online Surveys: not as effective, as the email has to first be opened, then clicked-through, then the survey completed, but it does have the advantage of being cheap.

We’ll write up the results in more detail in the near future, but for us, SMS was the most effective method of surveying customers.

What is your Net Promoter Score telling you?

You can use your current NPS data as a benchmark, and then seek to improve it over time, and/or you can compare your company’s performance to the competition.

Net Promoter Score Industry Benchmarks

The above graphic shows the average NPS by industry. If you search online, you’ll find many more examples, most of which are more complicated in that they show the range of responses and the average. Our data came from NPS Benchmarks which accrues data from 54 different countries, and 48 industries.

Your Net Promoter Score is not a per cent (%), it can range from -100 to +100 – but you’ll need to apply the context of your own historical score or your peers’ scores for it to be meaningful.

Look out for our white paper on this subject coming soon, where we explore the attitudes to the survey (and the platforms used to deliver it) across the world, and what that means for your brand.

Download and share our full Net Promoter Score infographic here.

‘Bot’ can I help you with today? Esendex has its own chatbot

As a leader in business communication, it’s fitting that Esendex is an early adopter of new tech in this space – becoming one of the first 11,000 companies to launch a bot on Facebook’s Messenger platform.

While the scope of bots is fairly broad, from news on demand and medical advice through to life-coaching, our web team decided to start off with something relatively simple in nature, but one that serves a great purpose for automating the more traditional queries that we get from our Facebook followers.

The Esendex Facebook bot enables users to interact with us to find the simple information that may be required, with just one word, without the need to navigate our site.

bot-example-2

We recognise how important it is to be able to engage and communicate with our customers on the channels that they use every day, from Mobile and SMS through to Email and social media. It’s all about Multichannel messaging and we want to help you get it right. (more…)

On ya bike: Esendex totals 1,675 miles at Cycle Live

Esendex Cycle Live team

Just some of the Esendex team

There were a few sore bottoms in the Esendex office on Monday morning after the Esendex team managed to clock up an incredible 1,675 miles at Cycle Live’s Great Notts Bike Ride on Sunday.

Nottingham’s 35th annual mass participation ride saw more than 4,000 riders take on one of five routes on Sunday, opting to ride 25, 50, 75, 100 or 125 miles. We decided to not only sponsor the event, but also tackle the routes ourselves.

Esendex team at Cycle Live

Chief Technical Officer, Alex Lea was the only one brave enough to take on the 100 miler, while CEO, Geoff Love, Chief Financial Officer, Simon Baker and Software Ops Lead, Jonathan Relf took on the 75.

Even though Sunday’s weather forecast remained typically British, more than 30 Esendex staff turned out to tackle the suitably named “Maid Marian,” “Robin Hood”, “Friar Tuck,” and “Little John” routes and thoroughly enjoyed it, soaking up the wonderful sights that Nottinghamshire’s countryside has to offer.

Esendex text message reminder and alertEsendex were on hand to provide text messages to participants containing those all important numbers required for emergencies and support throughout the duration of the event. Events director Nik Edmonds highlighted just how important SMS was to the smooth-running of Cycle Live, commenting:

“The use of SMS this year was genuinely a lifesaver.”

“We had to get the critical numbers present in all of our literature out to all participants via as many means as possible, with SMS being by far the most effective.”

He added: “The fact people could keep the numbers stored in their phones via SMS, and then just hit to call them if required, was a massive benefit!”

While many of the purple team may still be feeling sore, we’re all soaking up the huge sense of achievement the completion of the ride has bought – some of us are already preparing for the next.

Are you managing or coordinating an event? Want to know how text messaging could help? Contact a member of our sales team today on 0345 356 5758.

Awards season comes early at Esendex

Tuesday 14th June 2016 was a bit of an exceptional day for Esendex, featuring not one, but two Awards dinners! The first celebrated Esendex’s position on The Sunday Times BDO Profit Track 100 league table, which ranks private companies in the UK with the fastest growing profits.

Paul Eagland, Managing Partner-elect of BDO LLP, commented:

“Businesses like yours will play a leading role in creating a ‘new economy’ that benefits the entire nation.”

Three of our directors, pictured below, accepted Esendex’s award and enjoyed an evening of fine dining, world-class speakers and networking in the process.

Paul Burton, Paul Gardner and Simon Baker of Esendex

L-R: Paul Burton, Paul Gardner, Simon Baker

Meanwhile, at a black tie event held at the Birmingham Council House, our CEO Geoff Love was attending the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year awards ceremony.

Geoff was surprised to be nominated for this award, as he doesn’t consider himself to be an entrepreneur in the ‘high-risk, high-stakes’ sense… Nor is Geoff the founder of Esendex, which is the classic interpretation of an entrepreneur, but he absolutely has steered Esendex to our commanding position in the business messaging market.

Geoff was instrumental in identifying and developing Esendex’s values, which are the cornerstones of our success: passion, innovation, ownership and integrity.

Paul Spencer and Geoff Love

Paul Spencer and Geoff Love

Our congratulations to the ultimate winner of the award, Marg Randles and John Woodward of Busy Bees, and a little self-congratulation to the Esendex team for embodying our values, and being exceptional on a regular basis!

3 ways to stem the tide of energy company complaints

Lightbulb

Utility Week today reported that one in six (17.4%) of dual fuel customers is now with an independent supplier, a growth of 9% each quarter since 2015.

This follows Cornwall Energy’s analysis that 2015 saw the highest number of households switch energy suppliers since 2011, and 40% of those migrated to independent suppliers. It’s been facilitated by recent Government reforms; in 2010 there were just six energy suppliers, but by 2015, there were 31.

This has been widely regarded as a positive move by industry commentators and the public:

“The Big Six have repeatedly failed to deliver a decent standard of service so it’s no wonder customers are starting to leave them in droves.” – Richard Lloyd, Which?

But are the smaller energy suppliers able to deliver where the ‘Big Six’ failed?

Well, maybe it’s not quite as easy to satisfy customers as it might have appeared. Uswitch recently reported that almost four million energy customers were overcharged in 2015, with the most common reasons being:

  • The wrong tariff being applied (36%)
  • Incorrect fees applied (31%)
  • Using the wrong meter reading (27%)
  • Setting inaccurate Direct Debit amounts (24%).

Fortunately for consumers, the Citizens Advice Bureau publishes an energy supplier performance league table every quarter, comparing how energy companies rank on handling complaints from best to worst.

Their January-March 2016 report showed that of the worst performers, eight out of 10 were small suppliers.

“Some suppliers have again proven they’re effective at dealing with customer complaints while others lag far behind.” – Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice Bureau

It appears that the smaller energy firms grew too quickly, without the resources in place to handle large volumes of customer complaints. The quick fix? More contact centre agents, with Extra Energy hiring over 150 new customer service staff.

That doesn’t address the cause of the complaints, however.

From personal experience, we’ve identified three ways in which energy suppliers could improve their communication to customers, and in doing so, stem the tide of billing errors which lead to complaints.

Don’t rely on email…

…When requesting meter readings, for example. Emails fall through the cracks, and the volume received means that even if your message is seen, it’s likely to be forgotten. A well timed SMS or automated voice call is less easy to dismiss, and considerably less expensive than sending an engineer round!

Pick your moments

Receiving a ‘please provide a meter reading’ message on a Monday at 11:47 AM is unlikely to result in immediate action. A CRM system tied to your communications platform should enable you to identify the best time to contact people based on their age and occupation, improving the likelihood that they’ll be home and able to supply the data.

Leverage smartphone use

Equally important is that your web page, to where customers are directed to enter meter readings, is mobile optimised. Customers need to be able to see, clearly, which fields on your form relate to which dial on the meter, and to be able to complete those fields quickly and easily from a mobile.

Can Esendex help?

We work with some of the best performing energy companies in the country, and have over 10 years’ experience delivering intelligent multichannel communication strategies that deliver an exceptional ROI. Call us on 0345 356 5758 to talk to our Utilities team.

5 years of Gold Partner status with Vodafone

Esendex Vodafone Gold Partner

L-R: Paul Gardner, Esendex; Sarah Edwards, Vodafone; Duncan Rose, Esendex

Esendex has been awarded Vodafone Gold Partner status for the 5th year running!

This recognises the high standard of customer service Esendex provides for our customers, both in terms of sales and technical support, and further strengthens our partnership with Vodafone.

Our direct connection with the Vodafone network means our customers’ messages are delivered reliably and quickly, essential attributes for Esendex’s discerning user base.

We’ve forged a close relationship with Vodafone over the past five years, sharing their commitment to innovation and integrity. Thanks to Sarah Edwards for delivering the award – here’s to the next five years!

A first birthday with a difference – Give Blood

First birthday Blood Donor Centre Nottingham

Left to right: Stacey Smith, Ryan Bowden, Sophie Stanley, Sam Wessel & Debby Walsh

Today a few members of our team popped down to the Nottingham Blood Donor Centre, the second largest of its kind in the UK, with a specially made cake to help them celebrate their first birthday!

It’s estimated that only 4% of the UK gives blood and that more than 6,000 blood donations are required each day to treat patients across England (Give Blood).

Having given more than 30 donations collectively as a group since the centre first opened last May, Esendex have been one of the most supportive businesses over the past 12 months, the most recent of which was in April.

Customer support advisor Debby Walsh usually takes on the reins as the organiser and has already set up the next round of donations.

She said: “Booking as a group at the centre is so easy and we felt it a great idea to encourage group participation for moral support.

“The staff are great, and I even get to find out where my donation ended up with the addition of a text message – such a nice touch!” – Debby

Centre Manager, Sophie Stanley and Marketing Coordinator, Neil Simms were on hand to receive the cake and thanked the team for their support over the 12 months.

“We are very proud of our centre in Nottingham and humbled by the difference our donors make to the community. We look forward to continuing our fruitful partnership with you.” – Neil

Technical Manager, Sam Wessel added: “With the donation centre being so close by, giving blood is easy and convenient, and it’s an amazing feeling knowing I’m helping someone who needs it. It’s a great way of paying it forward.”

The next Esendex blood donation is set for September, and we can’t stress enough how important the difference giving blood can make. It’s simple to book an appointment and register online.

A vital part of our healthcare system, and saving lives each day: we wish the Nottingham Donor Centre a Happy 1st Birthday!