By Amy Hawman

Counteract the End of Year Doldrums with a Fresh Look at Your Marketing Horizons

If you’re a marketer working in a company that doesn’t support a big holiday rush in business, December can seem like a dead zone. Who wants to launch a new campaign or publish new content when your audience is focused on holiday parties, gift giving, and travel plans?

The more relaxed business environment leading up to the holidays might be the perfect time to challenge yourself to think creatively, evaluating new opportunities and creating a breakout work plan for 2016 that will have you running into the office with a spring in your step on that first Monday of the new year. Here are several steps to consider to support your end of year evaluation process.

1. Review the marketing tactics that won in 2015 and check out the predictions for 2016.

This is the time of year when every thought leader is providing a retrospective of the year and/or making their bets for 2016. Leverage these lists and articles to stimulate ideas for new approaches and tactics you might not have considered. These lists may also reinforce your commitment to key programs you’re already using but may want to expand. For example, CloudPeeps just reaffirmed the importance of email, and BuzzSumo summarized 23 winning content-focused tips from Inbound 2015.

2. Evaluate your marketing technology stack and schedule some demos.

These days, the MarTech universe is overwhelming, which may be a barrier to adopting anything. But don’t let the chaos dissuade you from employing the technologies that best support your strategy, needs, and business maturity. The ultimate cheat sheet provides a clear approach to understanding and evaluating some of the key marketing technologies for all businesses. Once you have your own tech short list, identify the top tools within each category of interest and schedule some demos to see them in action.

3. Coordinate with your sales team to create a collaborative technology plan.

Much as we all like to think “marketing is not sales,” more and more, our two functions need to work in concert to maximize business success. That couldn’t be more true when it comes to the sales stack, which has to play nice with the marketing stack, otherwise leads can be dropped somewhere along the way. (And isn’t Influitive a marketing solution anyway?) The line of demarcation is getting fuzzier and fuzzier, and honestly who cares where the line is if the key tech for your business is somewhere in the gray area. Get aligned and chart out some sensible investments for your company as a whole.

4. Revisit your personas and the buying process.

In the end, it’s all about customers — acquiring, converting and retaining them — so make sure you understand your target customers and their buying process. You may want to consider updating your personas if you don’t currently employ an evergreen process. If so, HubSpot has some super helpful templates and tips for generating and maintaining robust personas. And don’t forget the design of your customer experience — there’s a lot of discussion these days about making sure you account for the emotional elements of how your customers perceive their business relationship with your company and your brand. Make sure you understand all aspects of your customer, and if you don’t, think about gaining that insight as a key priority in 2016.

5. Consider creating a marketing experimentation schedule or plan.

If you haven’t yet been bitten by the agile marketing bug or drunk the Kool-Aid on growth hacking, you should at least familiarize yourself with these concepts and the value that they’re attributing to taking a higher velocity, incremental, frequent testing approach to building marketing programs and success. Maybe these techniques are too far from your current organization’s DNA, but it’s helpful to understand if there are elements you could use to increase the velocity of your current team or positively impact your results.

6. Think outside the box.

Are there totally new techniques or ideas that you’ve seen but didn’t think about rigorously because you initially thought they might be too untested or too difficult? Now’s the time to revisit the new or different just to make sure you aren’t leaving a valuable opportunity on the table. Perhaps the idea is a small one, like fielding a multi-channel quiz to drive lead capture or trying some humor in your content mix, or perhaps it’s a larger initiative like building a webapp for viral acquisition or launching your website in a few additional languages to take advantage of the growing trend towards globalization. Even a small step outside your comfort zone might yield bigger than expected results, so gather all the facts and determine what resources you’ll need to give your new idea a try.

Don’t get too distracted by the fun going on outside the office — remember to have some fun at work, too, learning, exploring, and charting a new course for the new year.

Support Documentation: Job #1 for Localization?

You’re a software or mobile app provider and you’re thinking about developing localized content to enter international markets for the first time. That’s great! But which pieces of content do you start with? Oftentimes, the task of translating support documentation seems like it would be far down the priority list, well behind translating your marketing website or product interface. The thing is, that prioritization could be totally wrong. Localizing your support materials might be the most important information to translate as a first step to cement your global growth.

Does this seem counterintuitive? Let’s look at some data and examples to understand why this just might make sense for your business.

The Case for Making Support Documentation Top Priority for Localization

First, let me share an anecdote I heard recently at a localization conference I attended. Another attendee from a large, well-known software provider* shared her company’s experience with the decision process for initiating localization projects. (*I was not able to make personal contact with this attendee, nor did she provide blanket permission to share her story officially, so I am omitting the company identification, but trust me, you’ve heard of them.)

Her company had not localized the user interface to one of its key products, only offering it in English. A few years ago, when the company started thinking about whether to localize the product and for what markets, they dug into the details around their users’ experience, and they realized they already had a large base of international users. Their product was powerful enough and their interface simple enough that many non-English speakers were adopting it despite its lack of a locale-specific interface.

But that’s where the good news ended. The company also realized they had a customer support issue on their hands. Multiple international users’ forums had sprung up online to answer questions from the users who had no way to get adequate support directly from the company. That meant users were depending on the quality delivered by other users who spoke their language, rather than the official, vetted documentation from the company itself. So that’s where all the company’s localization efforts began — with customer support materials.

We see a similar prioritization in the results of our 2014 Localization Benchmark survey. Among the organizations surveyed (all of whom are at least thinking about localization) the content that rated as the second highest priority for localization was Documentation / Knowledge Bases. This prioritization is also consistent with the finding that the number one benefit of localizing is delivering a better user experience, noted by 51% of respondents.

Customer Service — A Critical Element of the Customer Experience

It’s important not to lose sight of customer service’s strategic importance to your business. According to the 2015 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report, 68% of US consumers stopped doing business with a brand due to poor customer service. Selling excellent products to customers at the right price through their preferred channel isn’t enough in and of itself to create a robust customer experience with your brand. How you provide customer service must be top of mind to fully satisfy customers because in today’s competitive landscape, it’s not about not meeting, but exceeding customer expectations.

This same study also reports that 90% of consumers surveyed globally expect companies to have an online self-service support portal or FAQ. So if you’re planning on delivering an exceptional online experience for customers around the world, you must have the support aspects of your business ready from the start. Providing online support through localized content is no longer an option, but a must.

Preparing for Localization Before You Begin

In much the same way that customer service design is now an integral part of the go-to-market strategy, planning for localization can no longer be an afterthought. A product development approach that anticipates localization tasks smooths the process when you are ready to go global. If you’ve already implemented a solution like the one from Zendesk that helps your U.S. customers help themselves, you can easily leverage that solution internationally via the Transifex Sync Zendesk App, easing the process of meeting customers’ high expectations in each market that you enter.

If you’re interested in seeing how the Transifex Sync Zendesk App works, schedule a personalized demo with one of our team members, and you’ll be one important step closer to achieving your global growth objectives!