Cyber Support not top of mind for Australian CEOs

Cyber Security CEO C SUITE

Since the Australian Privacy Act’s introduction 30 years ago, the dramatic evolution of technology has created extraordinary changes, challenges and opportunities in the way personal information is collected and used in Australia.

When asked specifically about cyber security threats, the majority of CEOs are only moderately (31 per cent) or somewhat (34 per cent) concerned. In terms of measures taken to protect data, nearly half of CEOs (44 per cent) do not use cyber security experts and just 19 per cent of CEOs outsource all cyber security management to specialists.

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The new KPIs for modern businesses

From Twitter to SnapChat, many of the most recognisable corporations in the world are making virtually no profit. Square, FedEx, and Amazon aren’t just industry giants; they also weren’t able to make a dollar for five years. That hardly makes them unsuccessful businesses — rather, key success measures have changed. Organisations across all industries are finding that they need to develop their reach before moving into profitability and that, indeed, they may not be moving towards traditional monetisation schedules at all. It’s possible for an organisation to make money for shareholders without making money for itself — and it’s also possible for a business to grow dramatically without income.

 

Customer Satisfaction and Brand Reputation

Customer satisfaction is one of the most critical success factors for a business — and for good reason. It takes time to build faith with your customer base, while losing faith can be accomplished overnight. Profit can be built internally, but turning around the public perception of a brand takes a good deal of outreach. A business must be focused on meeting customer needs and managing how its brand is perceived by its customers. A single , from Qantas to McDonald’s. Mitigate this potential damage by keeping track of public sentiment, and by measuring customer satisfaction following interactions.   

 

Company Culture and Employee Retention

Do your employees work hard for your business? Are they likely to stay with your business or do they already have one foot out the door? Employee culture and satisfaction is a key component to the longevity and sustainability of a business. Employees are more likely to achieve high productivity when they find meaning in their work, feel their contributions are valued, and feel their job utilises their strengths and talents. Moreover, high employee churn ultimately leads to high costs and poor customer care.

A satisfied employee won’t just be more productive, they will also work to improve their organisation through innovation. They will go above and beyond for customers and management, and will therefore be able to improve upon the company’s overall reputation. 

 

Knowledge Management

When it comes to a scientific study, the study itself is only as important as the accuracy of its data. Studying company success is no different. If you cannot successfully manage and analyse your data, you won’t be able to determine whether you’re moving toward or away from success. Knowledge management systems are designed to track and analyse indicator metrics, thereby making it easier for an organisation to learn about itself. Without appropriate knowledge management, a business cannot know whether or not it is truly successful. 

Knowledge management comes from internal discipline, processes, and continually evolving strategies. Businesses must be willing to audit their knowledge management processes, adjusting it as they go. They must be able to utilise their performance metrics across all levels, from employees and management to logistics and shipping, and must be able to create real and actionable conclusions from their reporting. 

 

Digital Return-On-Investment and Customer Acquisition

Twitter, Facebook, and even Uber — the key to their success isn’t measured in profitability, but rather in customer acquisition. These businesses may not be making tremendous profits, but they are scoring revenue, by managing their advertising return-on-investment and by expanding aggressively into new markets. This is quite a different world than what the C-suite may be accustomed to.

Businesses today need to consider not only their revenue streams but also their potential for supporting new growth. As they continue to expand, they also push out the competition. Sometimes breaking even is all they need to do; in fact, some businesses like Uber are willing to operate in the red for some time with the knowledge that they can outlast the competition. 

This is where customer acquisition becomes important. As long as a business is acquiring customers it is building value. Customers themselves have value, as it is possible in many ways for the customer to become the product.

 

Social Media and Brand Awareness

Modern organisations rise and fall based on their social media presences. A social media presence can suddenly bring a business back from the brink of death; as well, it can close the casket on a thriving business that has taken a highly visible misstep. Social media is everywhere; information about businesses can propagate like a flash fire. It’s your job to make sure that information about your business is positive, and that if anything goes viral, it’s marketing.

Brand awareness, in and of itself, is a measure of success. A highly recognisable company name has intrinsic value, even if the company has not reached profitability. Investors will look upon a business favourably if it has built out its influence in this way. There are many businesses that have been able to build their social media reach and brand awareness while still being pre-revenue.

Modern organisations are looking at a substantially different landscape than before. They must be willing to measure success differently, in a world in which businesses are often building value without building their financial performance. By exploring alternative methods of success scoring, businesses can focus on what they do best — building value for their shareholders.

 

TEC: The Executive Connection

Disruption is going to continue occurring, and business is going to change dramatically even in the next ten years. Mentorship and connections with colleagues can help in navigating this difficult terrain. With The Executive Connection, you can connect with like-minded individuals throughout the world, learning about trends, and growing as an executive with the advice and direction of others. 

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The top 6 areas CEOs need to explore in 2018

It’s not your imagination: business is changing at a much faster pace than ever before. What was once considered market disruption is now commonplace — and CEOs are finding it necessary to evolve quickly. It’s time for all CEOs to revisit old strategies and explore new opportunities, investments, and trends. With that in mind, here are some of the most important areas CEOs need to consider in 2018.

TEC Dec 2017 CEO Confidence Index Report

 

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1. Artificial intelligence and machine learning

AI and machine learning are starting to become widespread, showing extensive growth throughout 2017. Through AI and machine learning, businesses are able to automate and streamline their business processes, reducing the amount of necessary workforce they need as well as potential errors or bottlenecks within their operations. Companies such as Coca-Cola Amatil have been able to improve their market share by using AI in their business analytics.

Many industries are still exploring how artificial intelligence and machine learning can fit into their business structure. At the same time, more advanced and robust AI and machine learning solutions are being released. Many organisations will never need to develop their own AI system, but instead will take advantage of third-party resources that include it within their offerings.

2. Freelance workers and virtual office spaces

From Amazon to Apple, many businesses are now embracing the remote worker.  Businesses are now finding talent from all over the world, as technology has made it easier for businesses and employees to operate effectively from anywhere. With cloud-based document storage and communication suites, businesses can operate virtually almost entirely.

For employees, remote work has proven to be more accessible and attractive, and thus the employers who offer remote work are often able to procure better talent. For employers, remote workers reduce the overhead for the organisation and make it easier for them to scale up as needed.

3. Social responsibility and inclusiveness in company culture

Organisations are now taking proactive steps towards social responsibility. In the wake of the #MeToo movement and many high-profile harassment cases, many businesses have taken an active role in developing internal policies meant to reduce harassment and discrimination.

In 2017, companies ranging from Uber to Tesla were accused of discrimination in the workplace. These accusations have taken a significant toll on these companies, both in terms of legal fees and public perception. Social responsibility is now being explored in terms of risk management and prevention, to better understand the contributing factors, and minimise overall risk.

4. Automation of tasks and robotic workforces

From industrial robots to virtual ones, organisations are now transitioning towards increased automation. Task automation increases productivity, reduces risk, and positively impacts an organisation’s bottom line. Businesses are able to capitalise on automation to improve their scalability and reduce their overhead.

5. Digital marketing and global analytics

Even many local businesses are tapping into the advertising potential of digital marketing. With the increased ability to pare down to a specific audience and geo-target a specific region, digital marketing has become the primary solution for businesses trying to reach out. Both on a B2B and B2C level, it’s become necessary for organisations to boost their digital marketing to continue bringing in traffic and interest.

At the same time, organisations now need to explore their advertising analytics to determine whether their strategies are effective. Analytics may combine technologies from artificial intelligence or from machine learning to find information on which strategies are and aren’t working.

6. Managing cybersecurity threats and risk management

According to our latest CEO Confidence Index report, cybersecurity threats are now a major concern for CEOs. Yet, 37% of organisations surveyed by The Executive Connection do not have
a cybersecurity strategy that is documented or communicated to executive leaders. Download the full report to find out the challenges faced by Australia CEOs today and where their focus will be for 2018. CEOs are going to have to react to this increase risk if they are to mitigate risk for their organisation. In 2018, CEOs are going to need to take some additional steps towards improving their security. This may include running security audits or investing in next-generation cybersecurity solutions.

Many organisations will also be investing in cybersecurity insurance, to reimburse them for the costs associated with a data security breach. The cost of a data breach often amounts to millions.

Where are you focusing this year?

Ultimately, 2018 is about new, emerging forms of technology, and integrating this technology into current business workflows and strategies. It’s also become a more culturally conscious world, in which businesses are required to be empathic, morally conscious entities, and a brand identity has to evolve its own social and environmental awareness. Depending on industry, CEOs may want to look towards updating both their organisation’s technologies and their company culture.

Being a CEO changes from year to year, and there are a tremendous number of potential missteps. In order to make the right decisions, you often need well-educated, qualified advice. TEC can help. Through our monthly meetings, you can reach out to a number of CEOs, professionals, and entrepreneurs, who have also been updating their techniques and their operations. Contact TEC today.

 

TEC Dec 2017 CEO Confidence Index Report

 

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The employee retention strategies used by Australian CEOs

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32 percent of CEOs now believe that talent is harder to retain. Businesses are now competing for the top talent, both acquiring it and retaining it. CEOs must focus not only on obtaining staff but also retaining them. Not only do talented employees add value to the organisation, but the costs of rehiring and retraining employees can be considerable. Replacing an employee costs, on average, six months of salary for the position in question. Investing in employee retention can be an excellent way to improve profitability.

To that end, CEOs are attempting to make their businesses more attractive to their employees. Their strategies include:

  • Improving training

Many employees find themselves leaving otherwise fulfilling positions because they feel that they don’t have any opportunities for growth. Improved training along with a transparent process for promotions can give an employee goals to consider. 33 percent of CEOs believe that improving training will lead them to the right path towards drawing the right talent.

  • Adding benefits

Benefits can be added as an employee gains seniority to reward them for their loyalty. Employees with the company for a long time could be rewarded with additional vacation days, health benefits, or flexible working hours. 32 percent of CEOs are adding benefits, compared to 17 percent who are increasing wages.

  • Increasing wages

A regular increase in wages is often necessary to keep the best employees, especially in industries where they may be considered by competitors or where salaries are advancing quite quickly. Salaries aren’t the only way to retain employees, but a lack of salary increase can make employees feel undervalued even if they otherwise enjoy their work.

  • Company culture

Employees often find it easier to work with a business if they identify with its culture. Businesses should establish their company culture quickly and make it a point to invest in employees that are a good fit.

  • Acknowledgement

In addition to salaries and benefits, there are many employees who simply want to be acknowledged for their contributions to the business and their hard work. Setting up employee reward systems and regularly acknowledging employee input will show employees that they are appreciated by the business and that their work is not going unnoticed.

A business that is able to retain its employees will have lower churn and a greater sense of stability. Not only will it reduce its hiring and training expenses, but it can build upon employee knowledge to develop more innovative and well-optimised business processes.

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Does paying the price lead to winning the war for talent?

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As companies look towards improving their profit pictures, many CEOs are considering the adoption of leading talent. Talent reduces the cost of business processes, improves customer satisfaction, and perhaps most importantly — drive innovation. But procuring the right talent isn’t always easy. CEOs in 2018 are considering:

  • Higher wages

Higher wages aid in employee retention, which reduces training costs. Higher wages may also lead to the hiring of better talent — and since 23% of CEOs are considering higher wages, it may become a way to remain in step with the competition. Nevertheless, higher wages can also be seen as throwing money at the problem, and ultimately, may not actually retain talent. Higher wages don’t necessarily lead to a better working environment, which is a critical aspect of employee acquisition and retention.

  • Social and online channels

Networking is one of the leading ways to find top talent, as many talented employees are not actively looking for new positions. Word-of-mouth, active social media channels, and industry-related groups can provide the business with excellent leads on talented professionals who may be interested in new opportunities.

  • Additional and non-traditional benefits

If companies cannot compete based on salaries alone, they can compete in terms of benefits. Traditional benefits such as retirement funds and medical plans can make a substantial difference when employees are comparing positions. Non-traditional benefits such as flexible time and work-from-home can attract those looking for work-life balance.

  • Advanced training

Modern employees are looking for ways to build upon their careers. Advanced training and seminar programs add to their value as employees, not only making them more useful to the business but also drawing in the most motivated and driven employees.

  • Employee referral programs

Employees can often identify talented individuals who would excel in a working environment. Many times, they have already established a network with others in their industry. An employee referral program can bring these talented individuals directly to the business with limited time invested.

38 percent of CEOs believe that hiring is getting harder. A formalised talent management process can make it easier for businesses to attract and secure the right talent. With increasing wages and benefits, CEOs must also consider their cost-benefit analysis, identifying each hire’s direct value to the organisation. Through a structured talent management process, CEOs will be able to identify and secure the employees most beneficial to their organisation’s bottom line.

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Using social media to improve customer engagement

Facebook, Instagram, and — of course — LinkedIn. From connecting with colleagues to finding old friends, social media provides a valuable and ubiquitous role in our daily lives. But it isn’t just about personal communication; it’s also about connecting with consumers. 88% of businesses are now using social media for marketing. LinkedIn, Yelp, Facebook, and even Instagram now play a vital part in connecting customers directly with brands. By using social media strategically, companies can not only increase general brand awareness but also customer retention and engagement.

Choosing the right platforms

Social media platforms change year by year. Platforms such as Vine shut down, while Twitter radically alter their platforms with continuous feature upgrades. Each platform has a different core demographic and is useful for different industries. To create an effective social media campaign, you need to understand the different platforms available and select the most appropriate one for you.

  • Facebook. Restaurants, bars, and nightlife venues frequently find their customers turning to Facebook first — and it’s easy to see why. Creating and promoting events on Facebook is an easy way to get in local traffic. But Facebook pages aren’t just for food and drink service; nearly every business should maintain at least a Facebook page where reviews can be posted.
  • Yelp. Yelp has easily become the go-to for customers looking for businesses in their area. Customers will look for everything from general contractors to retail outlets on Yelp and posted user reviews have become extremely important.
  • Google Places. Google Places is extremely well-integrated with the Google Maps service, and consequently having reviews and your business information up is extremely important. For example, when customers search using the keywords “interior painting near me” or “sports good stores,” they’ll often be directed to Google Place information.
  • Instagram. Instagram is popular with restaurants, shopping outlets, and recreational facilities; anything that will give you fun and engaging pictures. Whether your business runs outdoor excursions or sells antique jewellery, Instagram can be a great way to quickly increase brand awareness through solid, unique content.
  • Pinterest. Pinterest tends to have an artsy audience focused on cooking, crafting, fashion, and other creative pursuits. Businesses that are either selling creative products or selling hobbyist supplies will find Pinterest extremely useful.
  • Twitter. Twitter is rapidly becoming a go-to place for business-related information, as well as one of the first places that many customers look to for customer support. Because of that, Twitter is now becoming non-optional for many larger businesses.
  • Tumblr. Companies that want to reach out to a more youthful demographic would do well to consider Tumblr, as the platform is commonly used with demographics aged 15 to 25. Other platforms, such as Facebook, are primarily focused on the 25+ audience.
  • LinkedIn. With nearly half a billion users, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional and business networking platform. It is a vital networking tool that also aids in both customer retention and talent acquisition, making it a critical component in every company’s overall networking strategies.

It’s not possible for most businesses to run comprehensive advertising campaigns on all of these platforms. Instead, companies need to drill down and identify which platforms their customers are using the most. Youthful, modern brands may find their core audience on Tumblr and Instagram, whereas B2B companies may want to focus on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Optimise each channel

It’s easy enough to automate your marketing so that content is replicated across all platforms — but it’s usually not the best strategy. Every platform and its audience is different, and consequently content has to be optimised for each channel.

Word limits, hash tags, embedded links, image filters, and more are all different across platforms and impact how users may interact with your content. Content on Twitter or Facebook may have vastly different hashtags than content on Instagram or Pinterest. Similarly, some types of content such as video or images may be better suited for other platforms.

Building a strategy

  1. Develop your social media goals. Is your organisation attempting to build brand awareness? Increase sales? Bring in website traffic?
  2. Investigate platforms. Which platforms are more likely to be of use to your organisation? How can they be integrated together?
  3. Create a content calendar. Use an automated system to schedule your posts and connect your chosen social media platforms.
  4. Set the tone. When posting to and interacting on social media, put your content first — and avoid being overly promotional.
  5. Build relationships. Social media isn’t a one-way street. Build relationships by interacting with customers one-on-one.

Analyse and optimise

It isn’t always possible to have the correct social media strategy right out of the gate. Instead, you’ll need to analyse your audience behaviour and optimise your strategy to their needs. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which posts are garnering the most interest? Try to take advantage of popular content by promoting it and following up with similar posts.
  • When do we get the most interaction? You may find scheduling your posts at different times and days of the week will get better reactions.
  • Where are our followers coming from? By identifying the sources of your followers, you can see which platforms are most useful to your strategy.
  • How many followers are we retaining? If followers are frequently leaving, you may not be delivering the content that they expected.

Find the value in social media engagement

Through social media, you can effectively build your customer relationships and increase customer engagement — but it does take a lot of work. With no one-size-fits-all solution, each business must find their own path. Your social media strategy will depend on a lot of factors, including your organisation’s industry and its primary audience. But once you’re able to develop a solid social media strategy, you’ll find yourself connecting and engaging with your customers more directly.

Modern businesses are finding that the way that they do business and market is changing very quickly. From recruiting brand ambassadors to improving brand awareness, companies must always be cutting edge if they want to remain competitive. With the rise of new digital trends, many CEOs, entrepreneurs, and managers may find themselves needing advice and guidance. At TEC, we provide world-class mentoring from an experienced and successful network of professionals from different industry sectors. If you want to build connections, enhance your business or get help in navigating the ever-changing corporate landscape, contact TEC today to get started.

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Creating a company culture: Lessons form Consolid8

Consolid8 is an accounting firm that was originally built on the experience Managing Director Tanya Titman developed providing management accounting solutions. From that basis, Tanya realised there was a significant need for greater financial literacy among business owners, a focus she believes is a great differentiator for the business. There’s also been a focus on cloud accounting solutions, a fact that has seen the company recognised by Xero for its contribution to the industry.

However, Consolid8 hasn’t just made a name for itself in the way it serves its clients. The company is in the unique position of offering subsidised onsite childcare for its staff – a model that other businesses have expressed their desire to replicate. The childcare facility has provided challenges to the firm over the years, but it is well-established as a key part of Consolid8’s culture. The ongoing benefits it provides Tanya and her team have been well worth the effort.

The challenge: Balancing business ownership with a young family

In the last practice Tanya worked in before starting Consolid8, trying to look after two children (there are now four in her family) meant she experienced challenges often associated with being a working parent.

“[When] having a baby and running a business, you don’t get to take six months off or 12 months off and just enjoy motherhood. It’s like business, it never stops,” Tanya began. “I went through the challenges of trying to look after a baby while balancing that with work, and it was really, really hard.”

“At the end of it I thought ‘no woman should have to go through this’, so when I went out on my own from day one I set up the on-site childcare.”

Tanya approached the inclusion of the childcare facility with no real strategy, but a desire to make it happen so other women could avoid the stress of what she went through. This resolve was put to the test even before the facility’s doors opened. It was originally meant to be a joint venture, but the day the centre was to open was the day the GFC hit, so the other business pulled out.

The solution: Creating a family-friendly working environment

Tanya’s experience in an industry that wasn’t able to offer the flexibility working parents desired was a key catalyst for the on-site child care centre. Women across the accounting sector were being discouraged from coming back into the workforce after having children, leaving them to make the tough decision between their children and their career. At Consolid8, that’s not a choice they have to make.

“Amongst my peers and people I’ve gone through uni with, there’s some amazing talent and I’ve seen them rise really quickly through various firms and do amazing things and then they’ve had a child and it’s all come to a grinding halt because they weren’t offered any sort of flexibility,” Tanya explained.

“If I can present these amazing women with an opportunity to bring their kids to work or have their baby with them and be able to be breastfeeding and not have any of the barriers to being in the workforce… no one has to make the choice between work or family”.

Unfortunately, the process of setting up a child care centre wasn’t as simple as it sounds, especially as Tanya was essentially a pioneer for this model of creating an on-site variant. One of the core decisions concerned whether the centre could be government-funded without incurring significant amounts of red tape.

“If we were to become a fully licensed childcare facility, we could access government funding but to do that essentially we’re becoming a commercial childcare centre, and there’s a whole lot of regulation and a whole lot of requirements for that that made it cost-prohibitive,” Tanya says.

The results: An engaged workforce and a defining culture

The effects of the on-site child care centre have been wide-reaching, and influence more than just the working parents that bring their children into Consolid8 each day.

“A graduate can come on to our team and know they’ve got a lifelong career here if they want it, and they’ll never have to make that choice,” Tanya says. “I’ve had some of my male team members come on board and be able to bring their children to work so that their wives can go back to work.”

Most importantly, the centre is shaping Consolid8’s culture and changing the way staff engage with each other, while also attracting the next generation of employees.

“The parents that are on the team are very connected because their children are growing up together in child care.”

“The talent we get is incredible and we have a lineup of people wanting to come on board,” Tanya notes. “In an industry that is really quite competitive for great staff, it means that we have the edge over many of the larger firms because they can’t match what we can offer in terms of that work/life balance.”

Tanya’s desire to challenge herself while developing Consolid8 led her to TEC, where she finds she is able to be influenced by people from business outside the accounting industry. Importantly for Tanya, the group isn’t just there to congratulate her on what went well but rather exists to question and challenge her – and each other – for the purposes of improving the business and her role within it.

Australian SME Outlook: Confidence Index Highlights Q3 2017

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According to the Confidence Index report, CEOs are exceptionally confident in the domestic economy and expect to see an increase in both sales and profitability in the year to come. This optimism is likely to have a direct impact on the market and will drive the strategy for many Australian businesses in 2018.

Sales revenue and profitability are leading targets.

By 2018, 76 percent of CEOs believe they can increase revenue while 73 percent believe they can increase profitability. However, this change isn’t being seen as driven by price increases. If revenue and profitability are to be improved at the same price points, companies will need to expand into new markets, grow their operations, and innovate. A potential barrier to this may be the increasing difficulties in both acquiring and retaining top talent.

Confidence in the economy will influence operational strategies.

CEOs confident in the economy and in their own profitability will be more likely to expand their businesses, purchase inventory, and invest in assets. In so doing, they will also be strengthening the economy and improving upon the very same market factors that they are relying upon as indicators. CEOs in 2018 are likely to continue investing in growth and expansion as their confidence increases.

CEOs should be aware of the bright outlook in the Australian economy and the consequences of current perception. Many companies are likely to begin expansion now, which may increase competition in certain sectors. As CEOs will be more willing to take risks, all businesses will need to improve upon their own fundamentals to remain competitive. CEOs looking towards improved profit and revenue will also need to create a strategic plan to work towards this growth.

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The guide to marketing metrics that really matter

It’s easy for a business to become overwhelmed with the sheer amount of marketing data that it has collected. But marketing data isn’t just “data”, it is critical to improving and directing a marketing strategy. Just as logistics and shipping analysis is necessary for fine-tuning business operations, marketing data is necessary for identifying potential opportunities and points of failure. But because every business is different, the metrics that are important to a particular strategy may also differ. Companies need to be knowledgeable about different types of metric if they are to isolate the ones that are relevant to them.

 

Audience metrics

  1. Visits to the website

In terms of audience metrics, there are two important ways to count visits — total traffic and per user. Total traffic encompasses the number of individuals visiting your website. Services such as Google Analytics can even show you real-time dashboard results regarding how many users are active right now. Total traffic should always be trending upwards year-on-year. Often, the per user visits may be more important. Analytics services can also track how many times an individually recognised user has visited your site. This shows how much of your audience you are retaining. Customers average six to eight connections with a brand before conversion.

  1. New sessions

When a user visits a website, all of their activity is considered to be a “session.” The amount of new sessions is an effective metric to assess your brand awareness – Is this increasing over time? For growth campaigns, new sessions can be used to track the performance of outreach initiatives. More new sessions mean an expanding audience, while a decrease can indicate a plateau in market saturation or a loss of interest. Sessions can be combined with other metrics — such as how long the user stays on the site, how many pages they visit, and whether they come back.

 

Behaviour metrics

  1. Sources of traffic

Where is your audience coming from? Search engines, advertising campaigns, the monthly newsletter, social channels and direct links will all be recorded under sources of traffic. If your website is being primarily accessed through search engines, then your SEO campaign is healthy and working. If your website is being primarily accessed through social media accounts, then your social media campaigns are working. Your “sources of traffic” analysis tells you which components of your marketing strategy are most effective — and which components need more work.

  1. Bounce rate

Sometimes users may reach a website and then immediately leave it without taking a further action. This can happen for a variety of reasons — the page was slow to load, the content was something they did not expect, they did not like the design of the website or they simply became distracted. Regardless, a high bounce rate generally indicates that something has gone wrong.

 

Campaign performance metrics

  1. Conversion rate

The conversion rate is often the most important metric in a marketing campaign. Conversion is commonly used to refer to a user making a purchase; converting from a user to a customer. But that isn’t the only type of conversion. Conversion rates can also be used to track newsletter sign ups, contact us forms, brochure downloads, or free trials — it all depends on the strategy. Many campaigns focus primarily on increasing the conversion rate, which means paring down to users that are most likely to convert, and attempting to secure more of these users.

  1. CTR

Click through ratings are used to track when customers interact with links, whether through blog links, email marketing, or paid ads. If customers aren’t clicking through, they aren’t converting. This could mean that the marketing copy and design is not engaging or is not reaching the right audience. A low CTR generally indicates the need for a clearer or more compelling call to action.

  1. Customer acquisition cost

Customer acquisition cost, in its simplest form, is the amount that you spend on marketing divided by the number of customers gained. How much is the marketing team spending to acquire one customer? By tracking customer acquisition costs, you can optimise your strategies to make the most out of your advertising dollar. If you have multiple campaigns working at once, it may be difficult to isolate the cost of each individual strategy. In these situations, split-testing and granular tracking of each separate campaign may be necessary.

  1. Social media and content engagement

Likes, shares, follows and comments all show positive levels of engagement. These metrics are used to assess what content best works with your audience. As with high levels of traffic and recurring sessions, social media engagement improved the odds that users will convert, in addition to extending brand identity and general brand awareness.

 

Long-term marketing metrics

  1. Customer lifetime value

Customer lifetime value is calculated by averaging the amount that a customer will spend with a business throughout their entire relationship. For each customer, there is both the cost of acquisition and the cost of retention. Lowering these costs and increasing customer spending will increase revenue. Low customer lifetime value may indicate that a company is not effectively retaining customers.

  1. Net Promoter Score

Net promoter scores, measured on a scale from -100 to 100, indicate the willingness of current customers to refer others to a business. Essentially, it is a metric that reflects word-of-mouth reputation. Net promoter scores are solid indicators of customer loyalty. Low net promoter scores may indicate that a business needs to improve its products or its customer service.

Depending on your individual marketing strategy, you may use only a few of these metrics — or you may use nearly all of them. Your campaign may be focused on building awareness, improving revenue, or both. Regardless, a solid understanding of the metrics available is the first step towards creating a well-rounded and well-optimised strategy. By consistently tracking the right metrics, your organisation will be able to compare different initiatives and improve upon them. But that also requires experience and knowledge. At TEC, individuals are able to reach out to peers who are exploring and discovering the same marketing strategies and advancements. Contact TEC today to learn more about the benefits of an on-demand and exclusive peer-to-peer executive network.

Inbound marketing: A new way of marketing

63 percent of businesses now report that generating traffic and leads is one of their top marketing challenges. A few decades ago, it was commonplace for consumers to rely on advertising that was sent to them — television and radio advertisements, physical mailers, and even billboards. In the early days of the Internet, marketers sought to replicate the impact of this type of advertising through pop up ads, banner ads, and interstitial ads.

But very quickly, an entirely new way of marketing has emerged — inbound marketing.

In inbound marketing, customers are targeted with great content so they are directed to the business themselves, given that it can provide them with the information and insights they need.

 

What is Inbound Marketing?

Commercials, physical mailers, and magazine ads are all forms of “outbound” advertising. Companies send these highly promotional advertisements to customers with the express purpose of getting them to commit.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is marketing that promotes great content and makes it available to customers in a way that points them back to the company. Inbound marketing encompasses corporate websites, social media accounts, blogs, and other content repositories. Inbound marketing is notable primarily because the consumer is entirely in control of the whole interaction. Brands give them the data they need so they can choose the brand themselves.

Let’s check out how inbound marketing works when buying a car.

Decades ago, consumers were fed with various advertisements for local car dealerships — this is how they got to decide which dealership to go for and select from the cars they have available.

Today, a consumer is more likely to google different car models first before deciding on what car to buy for themselves. They will then do an independent research on car dealerships available in their area, read online reviews to check for trustworthiness and reputation, and then check if they have the car of their choice available.

To appropriately capture inbound marketing, modern companies need to be aware of both buyer personas (representatives of their key demographics) and buyer journeys (the process of purchasing that a buyer undergoes). Learning more about your buyers personas and supporting them as they go through the buyer journey is a key way to improve conversion and engagement.

 

The stages of Inbound Marketing strategy

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Attract: In an inbound marketing strategy, the goal is to attract consumers at the very first stages of the buyer journey. When looking for new products and services, 65 percent of smartphone users search for relevant information first — regardless of where it comes from. In real estate, a real estate agent may want to attract buyers who are looking into home financing or sellers who are looking into remodelling a home for sale.

Convert: Once you’ve successfully attracted the consumer’s attention, the need to promote great content is essential to drive them to convert. Through a great content strategy, marketers will want to showcase how their product is superior to others. From the scenario above, a real estate agent can do this by establishing trustworthiness and authority through timely and valuable content.

Close: Marketers are often only able to directly engage with consumers when closing. All content must be tilted towards a clear and concise call to action. The call to action directs a consumer further along their buyer journey, ultimately leading to closing a deal. Using the same example, a real estate agent would urge ready buyers and sellers to connect with them directly.

Delight: With consumers given more control, retained customers have become even more important. After closing a sale, marketers need to get in touch with their clientele to make sure they have everything they need and check if they were fully satisfied with the process. By driving customer loyalty, you ensure repeat business.

 

Channels used for Inbound Marketing

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Social media: Consumers enjoy interacting with brands directly. Social media accounts can be used to distribute content, engage with consumers, and actively respond to any questions and concerns.

Blog posts: Blogging is an effective way for companies and professionals to build up a repository of great content. 53 percent of marketers report that blog posts are their top inbound marketing strategy.

Word of mouth: Consumers often ask friends and family for advice when looking for big ticket purchases. In fact, 64 percent of marketing executives believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing. An effective word-of-mouth strategy nearly always come from previous clientele.

Search engine optimisation: Consumers need to be able to find a business to interact with it. When consumers have questions in mind, SEO directs them to the right answers. An SEO campaign relies upon keywords and high-quality content to promote brand and businesses.

Online video: There are many third-party platforms dedicated to online video, which provides a mix of social media engagement and an engaging video content.

Email marketing: Consumers are often interested in further information from brands and companies they trust. Signing up for an email newsletter provides consumers the opportunity to learn more about the brand and in turn, gives companies direct access to consumers on a regular basis.

 

Building an Inbound Marketing strategy

There are many types of inbound marketing strategy — and different types of strategy work well for different companies, industries, and demographics. Building an effective strategy that is universal and can be used in a massive scale is impossible. Everything needs to be tailored to the customer’s needs. Marketers, instead,  need to ensure that they have a strategic plan and that they are able to adapt to this plan as needed.

A marketing plan should consist of a clear goal, solid metrics, and methods of optimisation. Goals may range from improving engagement to building sales revenue, depending on the company’s current advertising strategy. Metrics must be directly related to goals to track the performance of the strategy and optimisation must be completed on a regular basis to ensure that the strategy remains effective.

 

Not sure whether your business is in need of an inbound strategy?

  • Do you use your website to sell your product or service?
  • Does your target audience use the internet to research topics related to your product or service?
  • Do you want to expand your customer base beyond your company’s geographic location?
  • Do you have expertise to share?

Marketing is continuously evolving and businesses need to keep up in order to stay relevant. CEOs, entrepreneurs, and high-level professionals must be well-versed in these new marketing strategies if they are to survive the technological disruption and consumer revolution that is to come. Modern consumers are now looking to make more intelligent choices on their purchases, giving tech-savvy companies an opportunity to grow and an opportunity to outpace slower competition.

But when something as intrinsic to a business as marketing strategies change, there may be a myriad of other adjustments that need to be made as well. Consulting with other key stakeholders within your industry is one of the best ways to learn how to adjust your strategy and avoid common pitfalls.

TEC provides access to a strong peer-to-peer network of executives, entrepreneurs, and professionals that offer peer-to-peer consulting on the massive changes that are impacting businesses today. Contact TEC now to find out more. 

How to receive feedback when in a senior position

As CEOs or managers, you can benefit from constructive feedback. Everyone has areas in which they need to improve, and listening to others can impart valuable information, even if it’s only regarding how others perceive them.

Top leaders — those performing in the 83rd percentile — ask for feedback the most frequently. Upward feedback incorporates feedback from employees in managerial reviews; it gives critical information regarding your relationship with employees. There is no doubt that feedback from employees and colleagues are helpful, but this doesn’t stop the fact that CEOs and managers often receive less feedback and have greater difficulty accepting that feedback.

Major sources of feedback for those in a senior position

Subordinates, colleagues, the board of directors, and even internal measurement systems can all be sources of feedback for you. But all of these sources of feedback are not the same. It’s important to understand how these sources can be best used and how they may sometimes be skewed either negatively or positively.

  • Subordinates. Subordinates are some of the most familiar with your performance because they work directly with you. That being said, they may conflate your performance with management as a whole. Some of their complaints may directly relate to their work rather than relating to your personal leadership style.
  • Colleagues. Colleagues have a significant amount of interactions with an individual but may not be truly objective. In order to continue a solid working relationship, colleagues may be hesitant to offer negative feedback, even if they are assured it would be confidential.
  • Board of directors. A board of directors see the results of your managerial style and can only give you feedback on your chosen business strategies. Because they aren’t privy to day-to-day operations, they may not be able to give accurate criticisms. When an organisation is doing poorly, they may see this reflecting upon you.
  • Internal measurement. Internal measurements such as those provided by enterprise resource planning solutions can give direct information regarding your productivity and success but may not be otherwise accurate, especially in relation to soft skills.

You need to use all these avenues of feedback to create a complete picture of your performance. This is why it becomes important to court feedback from multiple sources as it’s the only way to obtain a full and complete picture of both yourself and the current managerial environment.

Scheduling one-on-one meetings

One-on-one meetings are often the most effective way to get detailed feedback from employees and other colleagues. Though they may at first be hesitant to share any reservations, once they begin talking, you can then explore the issues in detail. Positive feedback also helps, as it can become easier to identify an employee’s or colleague’s values and what matters most to them about their working environment.

For employees, a one-on-one meeting gives them the chance to air out any of their concerns. In many cases, employee concerns can stem from a lack of transparency; they may not understand why processes are in place or the decision-making process behind these processes, as it has never been explained to them. Employees are also heavily involved in the day-to-day processes of an organisation and may see issues that are simply invisible from a CEO or management perspective.

For colleagues, a one-on-one meeting will often reveal how working better together would look like. There may be issues that are not apparent to you as your colleague may operate in a slightly different space and have an emphasis on different aspects of the business. Together, you and your colleagues can find solutions that benefit the business as a whole.

Getting anonymous feedback

Understandably, much of the challenge related to one-on-one meetings involves a hesitance to give direct criticism. Employees are often fearful of their jobs while colleagues may be worried that they will create a combative working environment. Some may not have any work-related concerns but may simply feel that it’s overly stressful or impolite.

Anonymous feedback can resolve some of these issues. Through anonymous surveying tools — such as Survey Monkey or Google Forms — employees and colleagues can evaluate individuals without having to attach their name. In an ideal scenario, this gives them more room to be honest and direct.

However, it’s also not without some issues. In close working environments, it can be impossible to give anonymous feedback without implying who gave it. Because of that, the feedback may be vague enough that it isn’t useful. At the other end of the spectrum, anonymous feedback can embolden certain members to give unnecessarily harsh feedback. Though this feedback may still have a core of truth, it’s important not to take it to heart.

Finding the right approach

Often both types of feedback can be necessary to create a well-balanced picture of your own performance as a leader. But you need to take some time to educate employees regarding the type of feedback that you’re looking to acquire. An emphasis should be on providing constructive feedback; rather than simply stating things that you’re doing right or wrong, employees should focus on how they would like things to be and whyThis gives you actionable information to work with.

Some structure to feedback can be desirable — such as asking employees to give you feedback on specific areas of your leadership: communication, decision-making, efficiency, and interpersonal skills. Employees are more likely to give useful feedback if they’re aware of the areas that you are seeking to improve and the type of feedback you desire.

Additionally, it can be important to separate yourself from the rest of the business and its management. Be specific about needing feedback regarding yourself and your own performance, rather than management as a whole. Otherwise, it can be too easy for both colleagues and employees to conflate you with the business itself and its processes.

When in doubt, ask direct questions, such as the following:

  • How can I better support you and facilitate your work?
  • Is there anything that I am doing that disrupts your work?
  • Have you received enough feedback regarding your work and your position?
  • Are you being given the opportunities to use and develop your skills?

If there are certain areas in which you want to improve, you can also ask your employee to keep an eye out for them. Some examples include the following:

  • Am I appropriately delegating work?
  • Do you ever feel as though I am micromanaging?
  • Are there tasks I give that you feel are unachievable?

Taking steps towards improvement

Whether or not you believe that the feedback was valid or useful, it’s important to acknowledge that it’s been received, understood, and — above all — valued. Whether feedback is negative or positive (and whether you believe it’s accurate or inaccurate), the process of giving feedback is something that you should encourage or reward.

Of course, once you’ve acquired that feedback, you need to process it into action. Feedback has to be assessed — both individually and as a whole. If there are areas that are frequently coming up, such as a lack of communication, then these are issues that you need to work on. If there are issues that are only coming up with a single employee, you may need to assess your professional relationship and whether the feedback may be valid or may be an idiosyncrasy of the individual.

Ultimately, collecting feedback not only gives you the opportunity to grow as a professional, but it also improves an employee’s relationship with the business as a whole. Through meetings with both employees and colleagues, you can develop relationships that are built on trust and work towards making them more functional and efficient. Remember: negative feedback doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing something wrong; it could mean you’re doing something that isn’t effective for that particular individual.

Collecting feedback doesn’t always mean engaging with employees and colleagues, either. You can also get input and advice regarding your feedback from others who are experienced within your field. Mentorship and peer-to-peer exchange is an excellent way to get more insight into your performance as an individual. Contact TEC today to join a highly qualified, experienced, and professional network of leaders across the globe.

4 types of stress: Do you know what is causing yours?

Globalisation, managing a business in a VUCA environment, and an increased feeling of isolation have made being a CEO more difficult than ever. In fact, two-thirds of CEOs are currently struggling with stress and exhaustion. But they don’t have to be. CEOs need to work harder to rise above it, identify the cause of their stress, and proactively manage it.

As a leader, stress can impact both your mental and physical health. It can also lead to poor decision-making and inefficient work. If you want to be the best that you can be, you need to control your stress effectively and ensure that it doesn’t control you.

This process begins with a better understanding of stress, how it originates, and how you can mitigate it. There are four major types of stress: time stress, anticipatory stress, situational stress, and encounter stress. Each of these has its own nuances, drawbacks, and even benefits.

1. Time stress

The clock is ticking and there’s no way you’re going to be able to accomplish everything that you need to do. As deadlines loom ahead, you start to wonder whether you’re even capable of fulfilling the duties of your position.

Time stress involves the pervasive feeling that there’s never enough time in the day. This type of stress tends to occur as deadlines approach. CEOs are responsible for a tremendous number of deadlines, and realistically they can’t all be met. A CEO may find that they simply cannot achieve all their goals, and this can lead to feelings of failure.

But time stress is also one of the easiest types of stress to handle as it’s related to something tangible and immutable. Though you can change your habits, there’s nothing you can do about time itself. Because of this, being realistic about your goals is one of the most critical aspects of relieving time stress.

  • Brush up on your time management skills. You may not have enough time because time is simply slipping away unnoticed. Pay attention to how you’re spending your time and work to optimise it.
  • Delegate your tasks intelligently. You may actually not have enough time in the day, especially if you have been trying to handle everything yourself. If a task can be handed off, it should be.
  • Be realistic about what you can and can’t do. Don’t take on too much. Part of being a leader is ensuring that you aren’t put in the position of over-promising and under-delivering.

The more control you have over your time, the less stress you’ll experience. After all, you’ll already know what you can and can’t do, and you’ll be able to avoid over-booking yourself. Here is an article on how to effectively delegate tasks in order to free up time in your day.

2. Anticipatory stress

The new expansion seems to be going great, but there’s no way of really knowing until the doors open. Are you going to be prepared?

CEOs may begin to experience stress before a major event, especially if the results are uncertain. This is natural; it’s that fight-or-flight instinct kicking in before an upcoming ‘battle’.

Since you don’t know what you should prepare for, all you can do is wait and worry — and that, in itself, can become damaging. Anticipatory stress is one of the most insidious forms of stress because it can be constant. After all, there’s almost always something new around the corner. Anticipatory stress also conveys no true benefit: worrying about a situation that you can’t change doesn’t help.

  • Prepare yourself. The better prepared you are for upcoming events, the less you will have to worry about.
  • Be confident in your decisions. Though you may not always be able to make the right decision, you should be able to make the best-informed decision. You are, after all, still human.
  • Focus on tangible actions. Rather than worrying, look for something that you can investigate or improve. This allows you to take control over the situation in a functional way.

3. Situational stress

All the data is gone, and the backups are nowhere to be found. Could this spell the end for your business?

Even the best-prepared leaders will occasionally face an emergency. The emergency above — data loss — has happened to nearly a third of all organisations at one point or another. This type of stress is generally blended with panic, and that can lead to exceptionally poor decision-making. Emergency situations often require immediate action, and they can have devastating consequences. CEOs will often feel under pressure to quickly make the right decisions to steer their business out of danger.

  • Take a breather. Even in an emergency, you need to take the time to think things through; otherwise, you could simply compound your problems.
  • Seek out advice. A knowledgeable mentor or experienced business partner may be able to reframe your perspective and give you some useful tips.
  • Remove yourself from the situation. If it’s a specific environment that is triggering your stress, remove yourself from it to fully consider your options.

4. Encounter stress

It’s that time again — downsizing. You know that it’s part of running a business, but that doesn’t make the meetings any easier.

CEOs need to deal with people, and not all of those dealings are pleasant. From employee reviews to firings, there can be many social encounters that are less than pleasant.

CEOs may feel stress when approaching negotiations, dealing with angry customers, or having to censure their own employees. Encounter stress can also simply arise from having to be in constant contact with many individuals, as having to be social and ‘on’ all the time can be exhausting. This can lead to a feeling of brain drain and impact a CEO’s ability to work.

  • Remember to make time for yourself. It’s important to get some alone time in every day so you don’t always feel as though you’re performing your duties as a CEO.
  • Develop your emotional intelligence. Learning more about why people feel a certain way and how you can have positive interactions with them can help put you back in control.
  • Don’t take it personally. You can’t please all the people all the time; learn to accept the fact that sometimes people will walk away unhappy.

Ultimately, you aren’t going to be able to eliminate all the stressors in your life — but you can turn them to your advantage. CEOs need to be extremely mindful when managing their stress levels, as stress can come from all four corners at once. A little bit of stress is motivating, but a lot of stress can lead to poor decisions and negative social interactions. As long as you can identify why you’re feeling stressed, you can work to alleviate that stress.

A supportive network of peers and mentors can help a great deal. For the most part, stress is unnecessary; it only serves to cloud the mind. Through TEC, you can access a supportive CEO peer-to-peer network where you can learn stress management techniques from other leaders. Sign up for TEC today to begin building a path to better decisions.