marketing strategy

10 Tips for Building a Marketing Strategy for a Cloud-Based Business

By | Insights

Ads, ads, everywhere. To reach today’s consumer, you’ve got to get creative with your marketing strategy.

In fact, 71% of respondents said ads are more intrusive than they used to be. This means they’re not responding to traditional messaging.

It’s time to get creative to skyrocket your cloud-based business.

Here are the ten top tips to create a killer marketing strategy that’ll set you up for success.

1. Build a Brand

Step one: Create a brand worth remembering.

Your brand is the foundation for all your marketing messaging. It’s what will attract your target audience, give you a competitive edge, and make you memorable.

Here are the six steps to creating a successful brand:

  1. Determine your target niche audience
  2. Define your mission statement
  3. Do market research for your industry
  4. Ignite your brand’s differentiators
  5. Design your brand to match your mission and resonate with your audience

Follow these to a tee and you’ll build a brand worth following.

2. Find a Unique Voice

What’s your brand’s voice?

Define distinct adjectives that describe your brand’s voice. For example, is it:

  • Professional
  • Mature
  • Knowledgeable

Or is it:

  • Casual
  • Approachable
  • Fun

These are just ideas. Whatever you choose for your brand’s voice, make sure it matches the brand you created and your audience will get it.

The point of this is to make your marketing messaging stand out. Remember it’s good to be polarizing — You want to niche yourself down.

3. Create a Content Plan

You’ve heard it before: Content is king. But why?

The fact is, content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing… and generates 3x more leads.

So it definitely needs to be part of your cloud-based businesses marketing strategy.

Content marketing is so effective because it’s informative. Gone are the days of traditional outbound marketing…

In are the days of creating info-rich, stand out content.

Your marketing strategy needs a content plan. Here are the steps to make yours:

  1. Clarify your mission and goals
  2. Identify key performance indicators
  3. Get to know your audience
  4. Figure out where you’re currently at with content
  5. Decide on content types to focus on
  6. Allocate resources
  7. Create a content calendar
  8. Create the content
  9. Distribute and start marketing
  10. Track performance

This is a basic outline of everything you need. The most important thing is to create quality content and be consistent!

4. Be Consistent

If content is king, consistency is queen.

Your audience will need constant reminders of who you are and what you do. The only way to do this is to be consistent in your marketing strategy.

Marketing is about long-term gain — It rarely gets instant gratification or results.

So ask yourself: “How can I put systems in place for sustained consistency, no matter what else happens in my business?”

This might mean incorporating artificial intelligence. It could mean hiring a team.

Whatever solution you choose, make sure it’s going to give you the impact and ROI you need.

5. Focus on User Experience

Consumers are focused on getting exactly what they want in this world of endless options. And they expect you to deliver.

How can you provide as personalized of an experience as possible in your marketing strategy?

Here are the steps to take to ensure a personalized customer experience:

  1. Implement the right technology
  2. Gather as much data from your customers as possible
  3. Use the data to personalize across all marketing channels
  4. Always update and keep gathering data

Personalization is all about listening to the customer and acting on the insights.

6. Leverage Social Media

Let’s get social!

The best way to spread content organically, build an audience, and execute your marketing strategy is social media.

The key question to ask yourself here is: What social media channels are my target audience using?

Then identify what type of content they’re engaging with on these channels.

This will help you choose which channels to use. Then, how to create a content marketing strategy that will work on the platform.

Focus on one or two platforms when you first start your marketing strategy. This will ensure you can grow an audience and not spread your content thin.

7. Create a Feedback Loopback

How will you gather insights from your existing customers?

Make sure you have a feedback loop integrated into your marketing strategy. Here are the three steps to create a feedback loop:

  • Gather metrics. You can do this with surveys via email, on your website, or on social media
  • Learn from the metrics and get insights. This means identifying patterns
  • Apply the knowledge and insights to your marketing strategy

This will ensure you have continuous metrics to use for improving your marketing strategy.

8. Long-Term SEO Development

Search engine optimization will help your marketing strategy long-term by driving traffic to your site.

Naturally, conversions increase when you get more traffic!

To add SEO to your marketing strategy, you’ll need to:

  • Create page titles
  • Do keyword research and planning
  • Create meta tags
  • Submit your websites to directories

This will set you up for ongoing, long-term rankings in search engines to drive traffic to your site.

9. Build Your Website

Your cloud-based business needs a home base on the world wide web.

Build a website that is mobile first and focused on the user experience. This will be the end goal for your marketing efforts.

Driving traffic to your website and sales pages will increase brand awareness and conversions.

But your website needs to be on point and stand out from the competition.

Make sure it’s consistent with your brand, has a great load time, and the copywriting matches your unique brand voice.

10. Keep Testing and Improving

You can drive more sales with data than by staying in the dark. Make sure you have a plan in your marketing strategy to track relevant KPIs.

Remember, the best key performance indicators are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Relevant
  • Industry specific

Be picky when choosing your KPIs. Your marketing strategy will rely on their insights, so they need to give you the information you need.

Next Steps for a Killer Marketing Strategy

You are so ready!

You can now create your killer cloud-based marketing strategy. It’s all about building your brand, paying attention to your audience, and creating an amazing strategy based on feedback.

Still not sure where exactly to start? We’ve got you covered.

Check out our results-driven consulting to get support in building your cloud-based company’s marketing strategy.

gdpr compliance for us companies

What Cloud Providers Need to Know About GDPR Compliance for US Companies

By | Data Governance

Are you a US-based cloud provider and are yet to comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation?

You need to abide by this new directive to avoid hefty fines and penalties.

But your company is based in the US, why should you comply with a European Union law?

Well, most business owners think that they don’t need to worry about the GDPR because their companies are based in the United States. But the truth is that the GDPR applies to every company that does business with the EU or the European Economic Area (EEA).

In this piece, we’ll look at what you need to know about GDPR compliance for US companies. But before that, let’s explain what GDPR is.

What’s the GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation is a new EU legislation that seeks to regulate data collection and security of personal information of the EU and EEA citizens.

Simply put, GDPR is a law that seeks to control how organizations collect, store, process, and use EU or EEA data.

The law was adopted on 14th April 2016 and came into force on 25th May 2018.

Under this new legislation, organizations cannot collect, store, manage, or use personal information of an EU resident or citizen without their consent. The law enshrines certain rights which data subjects have to their information, including:

  • Consenting to the collection, storage, and processing of personal information on a case by case basis
  • Knowing why, where, and how their data is being processed and used
  • Ability to opt out of data collection, storage, or processing at any time
  • The right to have data held by a company changed to reflect the actual condition
  • The right to copy or move personal data from one source to another (data portability)
  • The right to have information deleted entirely

The personal information in question includes names, email addresses, photographs, birth-dates, medical data, phone numbers, and any other information that you can use directly or indirectly to identify the data subject.

GDPR Compliance for US Companies

The GDPR is applicable in the EU and EAA, of course, but it also affects foreign companies that deal with or process sensitive data from EU or EAA subjects–which includes customers, end users, and employees.

This means that US companies that do business in Europe are affected by the new EU law.

Are US-Based Firms Without EU Ties Exempted from This Law?

Even if your company has no direct EU operations, you still need to comply with the EU directive.

Why?

First, the GDPR compliance will make it easy for you to do business with US-based firms that have ties with the EU. Compliance will also incorporate self-governance into the company and reduce regular interventions by the enforcing authority.

Potential clients will also trust your company more, and this will make them more willing to share their personal information with your company.

Abiding by the GDPR will also make it easy for your company to expand to Europe and other regions that are affected by the EU law

The Specific Rules a US-Based Cloud Provider Must Follow

Cloud-service companies should be among the first companies to comply with the GDPR.

To be GDPR compliant, a cloud provider must follow the following rules:

  • Invest in a system that allows data subjects to see and even delete information that concerns them when necessary.
  • Report data breaches that pose a risk to customers to the relevant data privacy supervisory authority within 72 hours
  • Make data policies clear and easy to read and understand
  • Comply with the “privacy by design” principles

Besides, since your cloud service company handles sensitive data on and monitors data subjects systematically on a large scale or has more than 250 employees, you’ll also be required to hire or outsource a data protection officer (DPO).

According to Article 29 Working Party (WP29), a DPO will play the following roles:

  • Educate firms and employees about the new EU law and the protection of personal information.
  • Help firms to address data protection problems proactively
  • Train employees involved in collecting and processing Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
  • Act as the contact point for the firm and the European Union’s data privacy supervisory authority

The DPO should also inform the customers how your firm is using their personal information and the security measures put in place to protect it. The officer manages all processes and records related to data collection and processing.

What Happens If a US-Based Company Doesn’t Comply with the GDPR?

According to the EU, non-compliance could lead to penalties or fines of up to 20 million euros. Some violations could also result in criminal charges that could lead to a jail term.

The EU is unlikely to start imposing these fines and penalties right away. Why?

Well, the interpretation of the new EU law is still vague, and this makes it hard for most organizations to know for sure if they comply.

The EU is more likely to go slow at first and focus on large corporations, but you shouldn’t take chances.

Tips to Stay on the Safe Side?

Here are some tips that can help US-based cloud providers prepare for GDPR compliance:

Understand the Law

The first step to compliance is to understand what the General Data Protection Regulation is all about and how it affects your company. This way, you can implement the necessary changes with confidence.

Audit Data

US companies also need to learn more about the data they have: who collects it, where it’s located, who can access it, and how much personal information they have.

Auditing data will help the US cloud providers come up with reliable systems that will keep a lid on sensitive data.

Give Customers Control

US companies should introduce new policies and regulations that make customers feel that they’re in control of their data.

These companies should also introduce new systems that allow data subjects to define they can use the data they collect.

Commitment to the GDPR Compliance

US company owners should not let the DPO and the compliance department do all the work.

Everyone in their organization should be aware of the implications of the EU law. This will make the compliance process smooth.

Wrapping Up

The General Data Protection Regulation will affect all organizations, corporations, public authorities and individuals that do business with the EU. Therefore, you should ensure your cloud-service company is GDPR compliant.

Our comprehensive guide and essential tips on GDPR compliance for US companies will certainly make the process easy and successful.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or are in need of GDPR consulting.

Meet Open-i Advisors at Toronto’s infra//STRUCTURE Summit

By | Announcements
This week, members of the Open-i Advisors team will be attending the first infra//STRUCTURE Summit, an exclusive Internet infrastructure industry event in Toronto hosted by our good friends and partners at Structure Research.

What to expect from infra//STRUCTURE?

infra//STRUCTURE (June 13 to 14, 2018) will bring together executives from across the Internet infrastructure ecosystem – cloud, managed hosting and data centre – for high-value networking and a frank discussion about the industry’s status and future directions.
Structure Research analysts are thought leaders in this industry, producing insightful qualitative research about the Internet infrastructure industry and where it’s headed. Our quantitative “by the numbers” approach benefits from staying updated on these trends and we look forward to learning from Structure Research and bringing our own skills and expertise to the table.

Meet us there!

Want to meet with Open-i Advisors during infra//STRUCTURE Summit? Contact us today! We’d be happy to talk with you about the industry and your specific needs.

Prepare for GDPR with our SecurePrivacy Scan for Hosting & Cloud Companies

By | Announcements

The General Data Protection Regulation “GDPR” was enacted to deal with the handling of personal data of European Union residents. The two-year implementation phase ends Friday, May 25th 2018. As of that date, everyone handling EU citizen data needs to be compliant.

If you collect, store, process, or handle data containing personally identifiable information (PII) about  persons in the EU, you need to make sure you are compliant. You’ll need to explain what you’re doing with the data you’re collecting, and likely need to change some of your data collection practices.

Open-i Advisors’ data consultants are ready to help you arrive at a plan for perpetual compliance with the privacy requirements under both GDPR and the e-Privacy directive.

Step one is a GDPR scan provided by our partners at SecurePrivacy that you can use right now for free.

Take Your Free SecurePrivacy GDPR Assessment Now!

It’s a self-serve wizard that you can use right away.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We take that info, along with information we gather about your internal data mapping, and we manage the process for you.

We even partner with a legal team focused on GDPR and e-Privacy Directive compliance, so if you’re looking for a holistic solution we can provide that as well. Open-i Advisors helps you save time and money by packaging up everything you will need to hand off to legal counsel so that they can address your needs in as low cost a manner as possible.

The full process includes the following stages:

  • Initial Compliance Check
  • Data Discovery – External
  • Data Discovery – Internal
  • Final Compliance Check
So, check out this exciting technology from SecurePrivacy and contact us so that we can help you take complete control over your data and compliance.

Business by the Numbers: StackPath CEO Lance Crosby on Data-Driven Business

By | Business by the Numbers

Welcome to Business by the Numbers, our new blog series where we talk to some of the most influential people in the cloud, internet infrastructure and web hosting industries about the role data analysis plays in their organization.

We wanted to lead off this series with an interview with Lance Crosby, former CEO of SoftLayer and now head of StackPath, a next-generation intelligent and secure web services platform. Crosby has been a huge proponent of using a data-centric approach to validate gut business decisions, and that there are always data points to track if you know where to look.

Here’s our Q&A with StackPath CEO and Chairman Lance Crosby:

Open-i Advisors: Lance, you’ve got an amazing track record of industry successes including founding SoftLayer (which IBM later made the core of its cloud business) and your more recent creation of StackPath. Can you give us an example of how data helped challenge an assumption or gut reaction when it came to a business decision?

Lance Crosby: It’s all about the data and you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Listening to one’s gut is important when starting a new business, but I am a strong believer in using data to validate what the gut is saying.

There are numerous examples of when we used data to validate assumptions.  One that comes to mind is while at SoftLayer, we gave HostGator rates that generated a lower margin than other customers. This may seem counterintuitive to making money but my gut told me that HostGator’s’ size would drive economies of scale and drive higher overall EBITDA. I had a feeling that would be the case, and the data verified that.

Another example, also at SoftLayer, is customer churn. We all know that unhappy customers are more likely to leave, but thanks to data we learned that customers with a support ticket that wasn’t resolved within 7 interactions were 72% more likely to cancel their services. It became a company initiative to satisfactorily fix all customer issues in 6 interactions or less which allowed us to retain customers and garner the stellar customer service reputation that SoftLayer, and now StackPath, is known for.

OiA: Some aspects of a business are easy to measure while others seem difficult or impossible to track. How do you track business operations that don’t seem to have obvious trackable data points?

LC: It’s true that some things are easier to measure than others, but everything has data points you can track. Every single activity, process product, or service can be measured. Financial measurements are often the easiest to measure, operational measurements are more complex, and performance measurements are even more complex and partially subjective, but if you can define it, you can measure it. You may have to change your language and get super-specific about the KPIs (key performance indicators) that are most important, but once you do that you can measure it.

As an example, at StackPath part of the way we measure sales performance is using lead and lag indicators. Lead indicators are activities and lag equals results. So using sales as an example, say a sales rep makes 100 calls (lead indicator) and ends up with 10 sales (lag indicator) as an average, we now can reasonably predict results and adjust lead indicators accordingly.

OiA: Are high-level company-wide metrics enough or is it important to get more granular data? How do you decide when and where to drill down?

LC: Company-wide metrics are nice as they provide an overview of how the company is doing in general. For example, if we have 100 employees, and we do $1M in revenue, the metric is $10k per employee. But it is important to drill down by department, product, etc. to know WHY the company is doing as it is doing and to be able to make adjustments as necessary.

StackPath has dozens of teams and hundreds of people across the US and internationally. I want to be able to know what is going on with any team at any location at any time so drill down on everything because you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

OiA: What KPIs in general do you find most valuable and why?

LC: General metrics are generally useless. The more specific you can make them, the better. At StackPath, in general, the KPIs I find most valuable are:

  1. Profit: This might go without saying, but profit is one of the most important performance indicators to help me determine how we’re doing as a company.
  2. Customer projections: especially with our content delivery network (CDN) business, it’s important for us to know when our customers are going to need more bandwidth so we can serve up content to end-users with high performance and low latency. Analyzing their resource demands and usage patterns helps us do this.
  3. Real-time average weighted costs of megabits per second (Mbps): Speaking of PoPs, we track daily, weekly and monthly averages in real time for network ops and price planning.
  4. Sales by region: we are building a highly scalable platform of core services at the cloud’s edge. Knowing how sales are going by region helps us determine locations of and enhancements to our next point-of-presence (PoP).
  5. Employee satisfaction: A lot of times, companies focus on all the things I just listed, but forget about one of the most important KPIs of all – employee satisfaction. Happy, loyal staff work better. They help boost both productivity and morale. While one of the harder KPIs to measure, it is worth the effort to provide ways for employees to ask questions, share their concerns and ideas, and to provide feedback.

OiA: Is more data always better? How much data should a company collect and keep? And since obviously security is a concern of yours – what are the security implications of holding this data?

LC: I always like to tell people to “be a data hoarder” and to store all the data you can afford. You may not use it today, but it could prove invaluable in the future.

Security is a major concern of mine – that’s why I founded StackPath. Unfortunately, every day there seems to be another breach and more data is compromised. The StackPath platform is an integrated response to a fragmented problem created by too many individual, appliance-based, bolt-on security solutions. It’s time to give businesses internet services that have security built in, not bolted on, so they can be reliable guardians of their data.

 

Please post a comment to this blog, and also let us know who we should interview next in our Business by the Numbers series.

OiA Sunday Reading List #8

By | Sunday Reading

In the age of Cambridge Analytica what are reasonable data norms?
TechCrunch

While it’s usually best to just sit back with a bucket of popcorn and watch reality business drama unfold, I was surprised by the severe reactions insinuating Facebook’s eagerness to profit at the expense of its users’ data, creating paranoia around data analytics and equating data driven targeting to an underhanded practice of mind control.

Why Data Driven Sales Teams are the Most Advantageous
Dataconomy

Your sales teams must come forward to encourage and nurture these leads, and turn them into paying and profitable customers. Many businesses that receive plenty of website traffic may still complain about lack of sales. That being said, data-driven sales teams are thriving. So what’s the difference?

Riding A Rocket Of Awesome To Data-Driven Success
PYMNTS.com

Before Rockets of Awesome Founder and CEO Rachel Blumenthal had a thriving business — her subscription service for children’s clothes — she was a mom with a problem: There is no such thing as being done with clothes shopping for kids. No matter what anyone does, no matter how hard anyone tries, children are in the annoying habit of constantly growing.

3 Barriers To Data Quality And How To Solve For Them
Forbes

Today, 80% of marketers say audience data is critical to their digital advertising efforts. Additionally, the same research noted that another 53% have increased their annual spend on data-driven ads. As audience data’s importance continues to grow for media buyers and sellers alike, concerns over quality have dramatically increased.

OiA Sunday Reading List #7

By | Sunday Reading

We’ve been talking about GDPR a lot lately, and we launched a new GDPR service to help companies in the cloud and hosting space get ready.

So, it’s little wonder that we’ve also been reading a lot about GDPR, and how companies and industries will work after GDPR has become a reality. If this reality seems too far away, a company like Open-i Advisors can not only help you get GDPR ready, but also help you take full advantage of it throughout your company as you get more data-driven.

Check out these great articles about the post-GDPR world:

Post-GDPR, Clients Will Own Data And Agencies Must Get Creative
AdExchanger 

GDPR is changing the advertising industry. Client control over their own data will shift a lot of the common ways ads are run. Getting ahead of this change can put you ahead of the game. Learning how to interact with clients and potential clients in a post-GDPR world is vital to your company’s survival.

How Big Data Can Make a Big Difference in HR
Knowledge@Wharton

This is an overview of the book The Data Driven Leader. While not specifically related to GDPR, it focuses on how being data driven can assist companies in making positive HR decisions. We’ve been reflecting on how the digital privacy transformation that’s coming with GDPR can translate to every single department, even HR.

It’s time to become data-driven (or die)
ITProPortal

People keep saying that now is the time to get data driven, or you’ll suffer the consequences. They are saying the same thing about GDPR compliance. Our answer? Combine the two. Take the lessons of the power of big data, and choose now as the moment to start to take control of your data, both for growth purposes and GDPR focused ones.

New Whitepaper: Improving Your Domain Business & Driving More Sales with Data

By | Insights

Want to know how to use domain data to drive more domain sales but don’t know where to start? You need to read this new whitepaper from Open-i Advisors and DomainsBot which provides crucial insights and practical suggestions.

Learn how to:

  • Use competitive analysis to discover new opportunities
  • Build realistic personas with data to improve your customer experience
  • Spend your marketing dollars more effectively
  • Drive loyalty and retention with reactivation campaigns
Domainsbot-openiadvisors-domain-whitepaper

Transform your domain business by putting data at the root of it.

Download the Whitepaper Now

OiA Sunday Reading List #6

By | Uncategorized

This week, Open-i Advisors launched our own GDPR consulting service. Here’s a short reading list to end the week on, with a few GDPR themed articles we find fairly interesting.

4 Marketers Share How GDPR Will Shake Up Brands’ Data Strategies