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Inbox Placement Rates 2015: Detailed Analysis

Inbox Placement Rates 2015: Detailed Analysis

Beyond • December 31, 2015

A common point of failure for most of the marketers is why their campaigns didn’t succeed. Lack of awareness often costs email marketers in the form of lower open rates and reduced ROI. Every year Return Path does the analysis of inbox placement rate. Inbox placement rate measures the percentage of emails landing in your subscribers’ inbox and not in spam folders or otherwise undelivered. According to “Deliverability Benchmark Report 2015” published by Return Path, one of the five messages sent failed to reach the inbox. Email volume has gone up by 7% from last year, but only 79% of commercial emails lands in the inbox. Moreover, the global inbox placement rate has gone down by 4% compared to 2014. In other words, there are more and more emails but fewer of them reaches the inbox. Inbox placement rate by country The largest drop in deliverability is for the U.S., where inbox placement rate has gone down to 76% compared to 87% in 2014. Not reaching the inbox means one in four emails either go to spam or blocked by mailbox provider. Brazil has shown significant improvement as their inbox placement rate is up by 74% compared to 60% in 2014. Among European countries, only Italy has shown 2% increase from last year. Significant downfall in inbox placement rate was seen for Germany, France and the UK. However, for Spain rate remains unchanged. Australian marketers enjoyed higher inbox placement rate of 88% in 2015. Inbox Placement rate by industry  The report also provided stats by industry and most industries show declined or flat inbox placement rates. However, relationship-based industries such as health & apparel, food and beverage as well as insurance have maintained good inbox placement rates of about 90%. While manufacturing, software and the internet industry have also gained some improvement. Based on mailbox provider Interestingly, the report also revealed that deliverability is particularly worse with Yahoo Mail. Inbox placement rates have dropped by 13% this year and marketers find it tough to reach their subscribers. Gmail has maintained the same rate as emails were routed to the promotion tab. Campaigns that tried to bypass the promotion tab in order to reach the primary tab have often landed to spam folder. Marketers should stop this approach as open rates for the promotion tab have increased up to 20% this year. Why marketers are not making into the inbox? Analysis has shown that most marketers are not aware of the new metrics being considered by mailbox providers. For better inbox placement rates, they must consider these new deliverability rules. Low read rate by the mailbox receiver (26% of campaigns affected) – ISPs have indicated that their filtering decision depends on the percentage of mailboxes reading your email. Sending to subscribers that don’t engage can cause delivery issues. Spam Complaints (21%) – This is the oldest metric used for years and still hasn’t changed. A complaint is recorded every time a user marks an email as spam. In particular, mailbox providers look at complaints from live mailboxes and some feedback methods like Microsoft’s sender reputation data (SRD). Mailing to abandoned inboxes – According to the report, about 19% of campaign face this problem. If you mail to inactive accounts it gives a negative signal to the mailbox providers and tends to fall under into their spam filtering algorithms. Inbox placement rates fell in 2015 from 2014. Possibly because marketers have overlooked the recent evolution. The first step in conducting any analysis of campaign performance is to know how many emails never reach the inbox. By monitoring your inbox placement rate, you get a better understanding of your email campaigns and it gives a reliable platform to optimize your email program.

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Trends in Global Project Management

Beyond • December 12, 2012

In a collaborative global business environment, companies often reach across borders working with foreign businesses to secure products and services for their own clientele. This is the norm for the 21st century businessman. You can be in Vancouver one day, Brazil another, and with New York as the final leg of your destination. As part of this shift, business has gotten more complex. Professionals are expected to be well-versed in culture, demography and sometimes even languages. This role is even tougher for the independent business owner who has to wear many hats and juggle multiple project goals. It’s an asset to understand how to secure project management needs for this scenario and how those needs and applications differ from country to country. Project Management Practiced by British & Arab Businesses A study points out an interesting difference in behavior exhibited by project managers from Arab countries and the UK. Culturally, project managers from Arabic countries more heavily emphasize Key Performance Indicators, reports, sharing information and an overall communication plan. On the other hand, project managers from the UK emphasize planning aspects such as the use of a Project Management Office (PMO), change management, monitoring, work breakdown structure (WBS), Gantt chart and program evaluation and review technique (PERT). Difference in Project Management Capabilities – Israel vs. Japan There are considerable distinctions in the way project management is practiced in Israel and Japan. It could be attributed to cultural differences or management style. For example, Japanese are known for Six Sigma, Kaizen and Kanban. Japanese project managers measure key performance indicators in terms of cost and quality and strive to lower cost difference between budgeted expenses and actual expenses. On the other hand, Israeli project managers pursue higher performance indicators in terms of customer satisfaction and technical performance. What a Real-Time Application Shows: Through split A/B testing, cluster analysis and user interaction, we observed the following on our own site: Attention Span: Initially, the patterns showed that visitors from European countries have a greater attention span than our US visitors. Impact of Visuals: When we enhanced visual elements (video, images, icons, logos) on Zilicus websites, the attention span of the US visitor improved significantly. Difference in Online Behavior: Users from European countries look for deeper project planning and use of comprehensive features to manage projects, whereas US based users tend to look for task/calendar scheduling and social engagement. Agile or Waterfall: European (UK, Ireland, Netherland, Italy, Sweden) project managers appeared very keen to use agile project management methodology along with the waterfall model, whereas many project managers from North America (US) are either using or express strong interest in using advanced practices in Waterfall methodology. Use of Smartphone: There has been considerable adoption of smartphones to manage project management activities in European countries - especially in the UK, France and Germany. On the other hand US based project managers exhibit significantly higher adoption of smartphones for business management. Adoption of Project Management Software: US based project managers certainly understand the value of information management systems to manage projects; hence adoption of project management tools is very high among North American businesses (not just enterprises but also in small and medium businesses). The next region that represents the highest subscription and adoption of PM tools is the UK followed by Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and Mexico.

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How to Become a Global Leader that Can Drive Global Competition

Beyond • October 1, 2012

“The Jack Welch of the future cannot be like me. I spent my entire career in the United States. The next head of General Electric will be somebody who spent time in Bombay, in Hong Kong, in Buenos Aires. We have to send our best and brightest overseas and make sure they have the training that will allow them to be the global leaders who will make GE flourish in the future.” - Jack Welch, General Electric Chairman and CEO (1981-2001) Though GE has been leading the list of Fortune 500 companies for decades, the concept of global leadership also applies to many small and medium businesses. Economies today are integrated far more than they were even ten years ago, and the impact of cultural, social or economic changes in other countries can affect your business locally. To shield your business from losses and to take advantage of expanding opportunities, your business needs to embrace global leadership. Global leadership is about having a global mindset when managing a business that integrates beyond borders. This includes the following: 1) The Global Business Lifecycle Understand which part of your business has a global application. Do you source material from (or outsource work to) other countries? Where are your customers, business partners, resellers located? And do they in turn deal with different localities? Essentially you need to identify the global elements in your business lifecycle. 2) Travel Requirements If your business partners, customers and/or vendors are located overseas, you need to understand cultural, economic and political systems in these countries. Traveling there and meeting with prospects will give you a better understanding of the framework. 3) Setting up Global Teams Global teams are key to networking across territories. Creating a successful team means integrating workforces on all sides. For example, your domestic team should include members from diverse backgrounds (academic, social, cultural, etc.) who can effectively deal with local business and easily cooperate with your business and culture. 4) Transferring to Foreign Offices General Electric, among others, is known for transferring employees to foreign locations. Cross-border transfers are necessary for global leaders to learn, infuse, integrate and finally lead. 5) Understanding Context Dealing with people from different cultural backgrounds involves elements of complexity and ambiguity. A constant global outlook can help you succeed by teaching leaders to consider context – a skill needed to exhibit and understand diverse behavioral patterns while dealing with different people. Six Leadership Styles The Hay Group has researched and pointed out six leadership styles that fit well within the profile for a global leader, who will need to navigate and use each style when and where needed. A Visionary Leader sets a compelling picture of the future and compels the team to move toward that vision. Essentially, he sells his vision to the employees and then values those employees who work toward that vision. An Affiliative Leader strives to create harmony, building and promoting friendly relations and tends to avoid performance-related face-offs. He/she finds it difficult to deal with situations that involve tough decisions. A Coaching Leader focuses on the long term and engages in activities for the professional development of employees. He helps them in building their career by working with them to identify their strengths, weaknesses and build a career development plan that aligns with the company\'s business goals. A Directive Leader looks for your compliance and not a different way of getting things done. You should use this style during a crisis situation, but in the normal course of business it is not advisable. A Participative Leader is a democratic leader who looks for commitment and fosters creativity. He works with the team and expects employees to participate in building the vision. A Pace-Setting Leader sets high standards of excellence. Typically he likes to lead by example, apprehensive of delegation and he is highly demanding. The important takeaway here is to succinctly understand interdependent aspects of cross-border business needs and how to navigate various leadership styles to get the most out of a diverse workforce.

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How to Build Work Environment Awareness in Multiple Offices

Beyond • August 20, 2012

Companies will often languish for half a day at some mandatory employee seminar for sexual harassment, sensitivity training, team building or some other perceived necessity. Though these subjects are of course important, they rarely affect the day-to-day dynamics of any marketing team. With increased globalization, diversity and a higher frequency in remote teams, the priority really rests in creating a heightened awareness of an employee’s work environment. Take the real life case of an unnamed Japanese company with a satellite office in California. A distinct difference between the Japanese and American business mannerisms, expectations and cultures left the two sides disconnected and created a divided work environment. The marketing department within that company reflected deeper fissures, with each one of the four employees presenting a starkly different ethnic and cultural background that could not work cohesively on campaigns. While companies can benefit from the cultural richness, those that do not strive to create work environment awareness are left with a weakened internal structure. Additionally, when the team had to ping back to the Japan office, they were often faced with project misunderstandings and obstacles that could have been avoided through simple measures and basic training. Below are a few tips to help enhance the work environment of distributed project teams: Facilitate Better Communications Use all possible channels effectively to communicate. You can use email, sharing project files, phone calls, conferences & collaboration tools. Gain Cultural Knowledge and Use It to Your Advantage Understand the time zone differences; know local holidays, cultural events and celebrations, gestures. Build Trust You need to build trust factors in project team members. Regularly talk to them and address their concerns. Inspire and Motivate Motivate team members by praising them in conference calls for their work, inviting them to host important meetings and sharing positive customer testimonials. A system of rewards and mentorship always works best since it gives employees a better measure of a reward. Delegate Work Responsibilities among Dispersed Team Members Help them in understanding the co-dependency - that other team members are dependent on their work. It builds sense of responsibility and accountability. Realize and Address Issues that Arise in Scattered Working Conditions Do not ignore issues raised by team members. You need to address those pro-actively. It also helps you to gain their trust. Foster Open Culture Regularly engage with your team, facilitate an atmosphere of collaboration and cooperation, share information transparently and regularly with the team. Prepare Sound Processes to Manage Project Deliverables on Time Clearly outline the process to deliver a project outcome for each team member. Let them understand what to do in case of escalation, customer request, new task/project assignment, communication etiquette, which entities are sharable and what is confidential, etc. Conduct Global Project Management Training Arrange training to help them understand project management practices, processes specific to your organization/department in details and build their confidence in working with a global team. Share these processes at a central location accessible to everyone. Be Accessible As a project leader, you have to be easily accessible to your team members. You can be their guide/mentor. Arrange regular calls/meetings.

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How Your Company Can Benefit from Fragmented Tasks & Virtual Teams

Beyond • August 2, 2012

Mark, a development manager at Sensio Inc., was looking at a team calendar for next month and noticed there were multiple high priority project deliveries slated. He knew his team could deliver confidently and on time. Four years ago, his entire team was located in the New York office. As the company grew, they set up satellite offices in Bangalore, London and Sydney. Paul, Mark\'s boss, insisted he include the Sydney office in the projects managed by Mark. While Mark wasn’t comfortable with a remote team, he went ahead and did what was asked. He soon after realized the huge benefits of having a distributed team, including: Increased team diversity in skill, culture and academic background. He found clients preferred the expanded skill sets, and as a global company they were able to offer more targeted services per region. Improved turnaround time. By the time Mark would come back to the office the next morning, the Bangalore team would have completed half of the prescribed workload. Increased savings attributed to reduced travel cost, wage differences per region, etc. Trends in Distributed Task Management Even though distributed task management is seeing increased favorability among companies, it is in fact an age old idea. From battles throughout history to the most basic cogs in the foundation of news coverage, one truth has been due to distributed task management: What one person can do, a team can do better and faster. Today, distributed work management has been adopted through virtual teams. With globalization ensuring world economies are closely integrated, most organizations are left with no option but to facilitate a distributed work environment – often through virtual teams. Of course, there are benefits as well as limitations to this form of management. “Fragmented Tasks” Benefits: Access to diverse professionals with different skills, and different cultural experiences. The advantage of hiring cost-effective talent. Opportunity to closely work with multi-location customer base. Ability to provide quick turnaround time. “Fragmented Tasks” Limitations: Potential communication barriers. Cultural barriers. 3 Rules for Strategizing Virtual Teams If you are going to work with a geographically dispersed team, you’ll face time zone challenges, varied communication challenges and cultural challenges. The latter will need to consider any language barriers, working habits, working hours, etc. As a project manager, your job is to tackle these challenges and use them to your advantage. First, distribute project tasks to team members whose expertise/skills can be utilized in the best possible manner (e.g. your London-based designer provides incredible designs, your Bangalore-based architect has just the right style for this project, an international event in Sydney is perfect for a trending article written by your Sydney-based content writer, etc.). Second, take advantage of team members from different time zones so delivery can be done at the earliest or most optimal way (e.g. your London-based UI designer provides the new design by his evening, the Sydney-based content writer picks up the design & provides content by his evening, the Bangalore-based developer implements the UI design & content during his working hours). And finally, customers in other countries can be approached in the best manner if you consult your local staff about gestures, manners and local policies.

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9 Trends in Project Management Software

Beyond • June 20, 2012

Do you know what the new top competition to airline companies such as American Airlines, British Airways or Singapore Airlines is? If your guess is some other airline company – think again. These companies are facing considerable competition from collaboration software like WebEx, GoToMeeting, Skype and so on. New technology has forever changed business conditions. They’ve enabled executives to opt into cost-effective collaboration tools rather than spending the time and money to physically shift human resources from one place to another in order to execute business transactions. In short, the business dynamics are changing. As estimated by Forrester research, the market for project and portfolio management software has grown over $2.8 billion in 2011. But to really observe the changing dynamics in this space, you have to start by looking at the top trends observed in project management software. 1. New Collaboration Demands Companies are realizing the importance of collaboration. It extends beyond the core team to include your partners, vendors, customers, and in each instance, as your network grows, both parties can see the benefits. The project management tools that enable collaboration are gaining vital importance. 2. Expanded Project Management Roles If you are a seasoned project manager, you will certainly realize this difference. Gone are the days when project management software was the exclusive territory of project managers. The new generation of project management tools are designed for team usage, and you get much better results when your entire team actively engages in the project’s progress. 3. The Social Media Effect Many of us are using Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. The influence of these sites has changed what users expect from software as well. Though software has to be simple to get started (and intuitive, to continue to be relied upon), new project management software is expected to be more engaging than ever. So don’t get surprised if you see an activities feed in your project management tool. 4. Desktop vs. Online Desktop-based applications are being replaced by web-based solutions. Web-based solutions founded upon cloud technology don’t require installation, administration or maintenance. All you need to use an online project management tool is a reliable internet connection – which you can access from anywhere these days. 5. Mobile Application To date more than 25 billion mobile apps are downloaded from the App Store and more than 9 billion mobile apps are downloaded from Android Market. Today’s project management tools also offer apps, so it’s not surprising to see senior management and project team members using smart phones and tablets to update and keep tabs on projects. 6. Paid Licenses vs. Monthly Subscriptions You have the option of using cloud-based applications, which offer lower monthly subscription fees versus legacy software that requires paid in advance licenses. On-demand cloud based applications have already gained popularity simply because of the cost benefit. 7. Integrated Tools Working with different systems for project planning, document management, issue/ticket tracking, risk management and timesheet tracking has been tedious. Businesses are realizing the benefit of using one integrated software and umbrella solution instead of individual systems that fracture your progress by requiring users to tap into different software to manage one project. 8. Cross Domain Integration Many project management software vendors are offering integration with Google Documents, Dropbox and other similar storage services. Some PM tools integrate with invoicing and accounting solutions. 9. Use of Open Source Tools and Technologies The open source movement gained momentum because the tools and technologies (like Apache, Tomcat, Jboss, Hadoop) created by the open source community have significantly saved the cost of building software applications. These technologies have also enhanced performance and scalability.

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How to Control a Derailing Product Launch

Beyond • April 30, 2012

Your CEO has already announced that your company will launch its new offering nationally and you are responsible for the national marketing campaign. You realize that it\'s not going to happen as smoothly as planned since the necessary arrangements still aren\'t completed. This essentially means that there are clear symptoms of product launch getting delayed. What would you do in such a situation? Consider the following tips to control a derailing marketing campaign and get it back on track. Here\'s a list of strategies on what to do; some are mutually exclusive, others are all-encompassing, but each is a prime tactic for combatting and minimizing product delay: Go back to the drawing board & work out potential but necessary arrangements that need to be completed before discussing with vital stakeholders (CxOs, distributors, partners, key customers). Rework the internal budget, perform near-reality/feasibility checks, rework & renegotiate the timeline for internal arrangement to cover up lagging areas. Discuss & negotiate with stakeholders (sponsors, customers, partners, etc.) about existing arrangements, possible budget extensions (in resources or money), or delayed timelines. Scope of the campaign: Think of tweaking/reducing the scope of your marketing campaign (if project stakeholders agree). If a full rollout is impossible, is it feasible to launch the core product/offering first and make accessories available subsequently? Launch the product locally or in selected states (or for selected customers) initially. Once the product availability issues are addressed, the product can be launched in other states (or to an expanded customer set). Inspire the team members, or member. It is almost inevitable that each team assembled will have a particularly influential team member - or members - who go above and beyond or, even better, inspire & entice others to do the same. If one member is truly outstanding, or covers for shortages or slippages, offer them incentives (tangible & intangible). Teams that do pull together and achieve the impossible need to be rewarded accordingly. Alternatives/Replacements: If the execution of your marketing campaign depends on sub-contracted work or some other agencies and their work is falling behind, have a backup in mind (perhaps the runners up for the initial roundup of contractors). Get a buy in from higher management. Before your marketing campaign gets into a fix, make your higher management aware of the progress. They may assist you with better interest of the organization in mind. Ask for more resources. If all else fails, it’s time to add more team members or more money. You cannot complete the campaign with the budget or crew you have and you simply need more. Figure out the cost-benefit analysis of meeting the timeline vs. the cost of deploying more resources so as to speed up the execution of the campaign.

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Business Strategy: Professional Project Risk Management Tips

Beyond • March 28, 2012

All projects start off with an enthusiastic churn. Budgets are established, timelines are set and tasks are delegated. Yet somewhere along the lines the ends seem to fray, at best, and at worst the project completely derails. According to Standish Group’s CHAOS Report, 31% of projects get cancelled before completion and 52% of projects’ costs shoot up to 180+% of their original estimates. For business owners and project managers facing failures or set backs, it’s critical to first understand why this happens and then work to limit project failure. Unfortunately, there are no cookie-cutter answers. If you want your project to succeed, you need to ask why it could fail. Successful project management requires performing pre-mortem project analysis to limit failure if not offset it completely. The best way to do this is by practicing risk management – a process that identifies all the factors that will threaten the success of a given project - and then tackling those factors during planning. Project delivery also has certain costs associated with three primary constraints: time, quality and resources. A change in these parameters after the start of the project can affect project scope and in turn affect the project delivery – and it can also lead to disgruntled clients. It’s in the best interest of an organization to minimize the uncertainty in project delivery (delay, over-budget, cancellation, etc.) – all of which are risks if left unmanaged and unplanned to the finest degree. 8 Tips to Manage Risk and Avoid Project Delivery Setbacks If you’re well-equipped to tackle risks, you can limit (if not avoid) project delivery setbacks – starting with these key tips: Identify and record risks in a risk register. Determine the likelihood of a risk. Determine risk consequences. Prioritize risks. Identify strategies to avoid the given risks. If it is not possible to avoid the given risks, identify strategies to reduce their impact. Assign resources in accordance with a risk response plan. Monitor, review & close the risk. What Your Project Manager Needs to Know While many leading companies contract independent professional project managers to oversee the process and manage internal teams and contracting parties, you can vet your manager or designate a team member by equipping them with the skills they’ll need to make sure your project delivers above and beyond expectations. Transparency: Involve relevant stakeholders, be transparent with them & ensure accountability. Encourage team members/customers to highlight and register risks, which are easy to tackle if they are noticed early on. Make sure that you clearly and regularly update stakeholders about the risk’s status, severity, course of actions and delegation. Process: Make risk management a systematic process by identifying, analyzing, tracking, controlling, delegating and communicating risks. Balance: Understand that risk management is an art as well as a science. While tackling risks, the judgment of assessing and building a response plan in its subjective part is an art, but the systematic and repeated risk management approach with set of guidelines can evolve as a science. Like project planning, risk management is a continuously evolving process. Communication: Ensure the communication is clear and frequent. Bad news only gets worse if it’s suppressed. Alignment: Align your risk management strategy with project objective(s). As you create/execute a risk response plan (be it to mitigate, avoid, transfer, accept risk or create a contingent plan), make sure you align all these actions with project objectives and the objective(s) of your organization. Resources: Use the right software tools to help you get the job done. If you are not using the right software, your risk management strategy is dependent upon error-prone people rather than calculable science.

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