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Map the customer journey

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Customer mapping lets you watch online customers as they interact with your company, allowing you to see how you meet them, how they react to your marketing, and at which points they become your customer. JOHAN WALTERS, Technical Account Director at Acceleration Media gives a few steps on how to master the customer mapping journey.

In a competitive landscape where the consumer is king, it’s more important than ever to understand how people move from knowing nothing or little about your brand, to becoming engaged prospects, and finally, converting into customers.

Thanks to all the data you are able to collect from digital campaigns and touchpoints, you can gather accurate data about the customer’s pathway to conversion so that you can use it to optimise spending and hone your messaging. Here are five steps that will help you to master online customer journey mapping.

1. Make sure you have right tech in place

To get the data that you need to analyse and report on customer journey activity, you will need to have robust, integrated reporting and analytics tools in place. These tools should allow you to gather customer data from multiple customer touchpoints, such as paid and organic search, display and social media for example, and view it all in an integrated manner as well as drill deeper for more data. Your digital marketing partner should be able to offer you a lot of this technology so that you can focus on the insights from your data rather than on running the technology.

2. Understand what you want to measure

Customer journey maps are a great way to compare your customers’ actual behaviour and interactions with your content and campaigns to the experience you’d like them to have and the actions you’d like them to perform on every step of the journey. But before you can measure this in a meaningful way, you need to draw up clear strategic goals as well as the key performance indicators you will use to measure them. This will help you to optimise at every step of the customer journey so that you can keep customers on the desired path at every point of interaction.

3. The steps before the decision point matter, too

Too often in online marketing, we attribute the decision point to the last interaction the customer had with the brand. They found our Web site via Google and promptly ordered a big-screen television, therefore the attribution goes to search. Customer journey mapping is about tracing their steps back along the way to identify where and how their relationship with the brand grew.

We don’t just want to know when customers completed an action such as buying a product or filling in an online ‚’please call me’ form, but also:

• The point the customer was made aware of the brand or product:

‚Ä¢ When the customer’s behaviour first indicated serious consideration of the brand or product: and

• When we first saw clear intent to convert.

This information will help you allocate your budget wisely and craft your creative and messaging to be appropriate to the customer journey. For example, the awareness journey might begin with exposure to a display ad: consideration might be displayed when the user does a Google search to compare the product or brand with others in the category: and intention when the customer performs a Google search to find the cheapest place to buy the product. By tailoring creative, content, landing pages and paid and organic search terms to your customer’s journey, you can help him reach your destination sooner.

4. Measure and learn with an open mind

Customer journey mapping will produce reams of data for you, and much of it might be counter-intuitive or contrary to what you would like to discover. For example, you might be on the verge of reducing budget for display when you find that a high proportion of the people who converted after a search were exposed to one of your banners. Look closely at the interplay between channels and how they impact on each other. If something seems strange or unexpected, experiment with your placements and creative to see what happens, or do more testing and research to understand what is going on.

5. Optimise, and repeat

With too much data, many marketers suffer from analysis paralysis. Rather try to hone in on the most important stories that the data tells you and use them to optimise your campaigns and strategies. Don’t get lost in the complexity of the data keep bringing it back to what your customers want, need and respond to and the actions you’d like them to perform.

Closing words

Customer journeys today are complex and fragmented, involving offline media as well as some online channels. Often, the journey might be short and simple, but it can also be a long and winding road where we have limited visibility. Mapping as much of this journey as you can as accurately as possibly will give you the ability to visibly improve business performance by improving conversion and spending marketing budget efficiently.

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Prepare for deepfake impact

Is the world as we know it ready for the real impact of deepfake? CAREY VAN VLAANDEREN, CEO at ESET SA, digs deeper

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Deepfake technology is rapidly becoming easier and quicker to create and it’s opening a door into a new form of cybercrime. Although it’s still mostly seen as relatively harmful or even humorous, this craze could take a more sinister turn in the future and be at the heart of political scandals, cybercrime, or even unimaginable concepts involving fake videos. And it won’t be just public figures that bear the brunt. 

deepfake is the technique of human-image synthesis based on artificial intelligence to create fake content either from scratch or using existing video designed to replicate the look and sound of a real human. Such videos can look incredibly real and currently many of these videos involve celebrities or public figures saying something outrageous or untrue.

New research shows a huge increase in the creation of deepfake videos, with the number online almost doubling in the last nine months alone. Deepfakes are increasing in quality at a swift rate, too. This video showing Bill Hader morphing effortlessly between Tom Cruise and Seth Rogan is just one example of how authentic these videos are looking, as well as sounding. If you search YouTube for the term ‘deepfake’ it will make you realise we are viewing the tip of the iceberg as to what is to come.

In fact, we have already seen deepfake technology used for fraud, where a deepfaked voice was reportedly used to scam a CEO out of a large sum of cash. It is believed the CEO of an unnamed UK firm thought he was on the phone to his boss and followed the orders to immediately transfer €220,000 (roughly US$244,000) to a Hungarian supplier’s bank account. If it was this easy to influence someone by just asking them to do it over the phone, then surely we will need better security in place to mitigate this threat.

Fooling the naked eye

We have also seen apps making DeepNudes where apps were able to turn any clothed person into a topless photo in seconds. Although, luckily, this particular app has now been taken offline, what if this comes back in another form with a vengeance and is able to create convincingly authentic-looking video?

There is also evidence that the production of these videos is becoming a lucrative business especially in the pornography industry. The BBC says “96% of these videos are of female celebrities having their likenesses swapped into sexually explicit videos – without their knowledge or consent”.

recent Californian bill has taken a leap of faith and made it illegal to create a pornographic deepfake of someone without their consent with a penalty of up to $150,000. But chances are that no legislation will be enough to deter some people from fabricating the videos.

To be sure, an article from The Economist discusses that in order to make a convincing enough deepfake you would need a serious amount of video footage and/or voice recordings in order to make even a short deepfake clip.

Having said that, In the not-too-distant future, it may be entirely possible to take just a few short Instagram stories to create a deepfake that is believed by the majority of their followers online or by anyone else who knows them. We may see some unimaginable videos appearing of people closer to home – the boss, our colleagues, our peers, our family. Additionally, deepfakes may also be used for bullying in schools, the office or even further afield.

Furthermore, cybercriminals will definitely use such technology to spearphish victims. Deepfakes keep getting cheaper to create and become near-impossible to detect with the human eye alone. As a result, alt that fakery could very easily muddy the water between fact and fiction, which in turn could force us to not trust anything – even when presented with what our senses are telling us to believe.

Heading off the very real threat

So, what can be done to prepare us for this threat? First, we need to better educate people that deepfakes exist, how they work and the potential damage they can cause. We will all need to learn to treat even the most realistic videos we see that they could be a total fabrication.

Secondly, technology desperately needs to develop better detection of deepfakes. There is already research going into it, but it’s nowhere near where it should be yet. Although machine learning is at the heart of creating them in the first place, there needs to be something in place that acts as the antidote being able to detect them without relying on human eyes alone.

Finally, social media platforms need to realize there is a huge potential threat with the impact of deepfakes because when you mix a shocking video with social media, the outcome tends to spread very rapidly and potentially could have a detrimental impact on society.

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A career in data science – or your money back

The Explore Data Science Academy is offering high demand skills courses – and guarantees employment for trainees

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The Explore Data Science Academy (EDSA) has announced several new courses in 2020 that it says will radically change the shape of data science education in South Africa. 

Comprising Data Science, Data Engineering, Data Analytics and Machine Learning, each six-month course provides vital digital skills that are in high demand in the market place.  The full time, fully immersive courses each cost R60 000 including VAT. 

The courses are differentiated from any other available by the fact that EDSA has introduced a money back promise if it cannot place the candidate in a job within six months of graduation and at a minimum annual starting salary of R240 000.

“For South Africans with drive and aptitude, this is the perfect opportunity to launch a career in what has been called the sexiest career of the 21stcentury,” says Explore founder Shaun Dippnall.

Dippnall and his team are betting on the explosive demand for data science skills locally and globally.

 “There is a massive supply-demand gap in the area of data science and our universities and colleges are struggling to keep up with the rapid growth and changing nature of specific digital skills being demanded by companies.  

“We are offering specifically a work ready opportunity in a highly skills deficient sector, and one which guarantees employment thereafter.”

The latter is particularly pertinent to young South Africans – a segment which currently faces a 30 percent unemployment rate. 

“If you have skills in either Data Science, Data Engineering, Data Analytics or Machine Learning, you will find work locally, even globally. We’re confident of that,” says Dippnall.

EDSA is part of the larger Explore organisation and has for the past two years offered young people an opportunity to be trained as data scientists and embark on careers in a fast-growing sector of the economy.  

In its first year of operation, EDSA trained 100 learners as data scientists in a fully sponsored, full-time 12-month course.  In year two, this number increased to 400.  

“Because we are connected with hundreds of employers and have an excellent understanding of the skills they need, our current placement rate is over 90 percent of the students we’ve taught,” Dippnall says. “These learners can earn an average of R360 000 annually, hence our offer of your money back if there is no employment at a minimum annual salary of R240k within six months.

“With one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world – recently announced as a national emergency by the President – it is important that institutions teach skills that are in demand and where learners can earn a healthy living afterwards.”

There are qualifying criteria, however. Candidates need to live in close proximity (within one hour commuting distance), or be prepared to live, in either Johannesburg or Cape Town, and need to be between the ages of 18 and 55. 

“Our application process is very tough. We’ll test for aptitude and attitude using the qualifying framework we’ve built over the years. If you’re smart enough, you’ll be accepted,” says Dippnall.

To find out more, visit  http://www.explore-datascience.net.

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