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PODCASTS ARE A GROWING OPPORTUNITY FOR BUSINESS

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PODCASTS

by Ben Anderson, Sound Rebel

 

Nowadays, the way in which people consume television programmes has changed dramatically, with the rise in popularity of on-demand services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Now TV.

Until the recent warnings to stay home, the number of people listening to live radio had been dropping steadily and the same trend is expected to pick back up once the crisis has settled. Meanwhile, podcasts have become increasingly popular, with almost a quarter of 15 to 34-year-olds listening regularly, according to recent RAJAR data.

Podcasts are a set of digital audio files that are made available for people to listen to immediately or download for later use. Following a consistent and familiar format, these podcasts encourage users to subscribe, so they can engage with each instalment as soon as it comes out.

Currently, some of the biggest brands in the world are using podcasts to communicate with an engaged and captive audience, while enhancing their own brand awareness by sharing important company information.

 

Projecting your authority

Podcasts are used for a variety of purposes, whether it’s sharing information about new products, company updates or general industry-related insights. Some podcasts may only be suitable for the ears of employees due to the nature of the content.

Incorporating podcasts into your marketing strategy offers numerous benefits for your business and there’s never been a better time to get started.

Acting as a platform for your business to share its experience and expertise, these podcasts offer a different alternative to the written word, allowing you to present personality and enthusiasm for what you do.

Regular podcasts offering information, opinion and new ideas for discussion help establish you and your business as a leading authority, to be trusted by customers and new prospects alike.

Inviting similar respected individuals from within your business or from across your sector to help create the podcasts, will only add to your credibility and generate further trust from the audience, whilst expanding the number of likely listeners.

 

Building a stronger connection

Hearing people present sector news or discussing topics creates a stronger connection with the audience than them simply reading the information on a web page. When your podcasts are regular, listeners recognise your voice and presentation style, hopefully finding it a pleasant experience.

Listening to you explain in person helps the audience better understand your values and the way you run the business. You become a companion voice, a source for interesting news to be listened to whilst they undertake other tasks; unlike video or reading, which requires their undivided attention.

And if you’re good, there is the added benefit of your podcast being recommend to others who may be interested in what you have to say and sell.

In a survey conducted with 300,000 podcast listeners in the US, around 63% of respondents indicated they had bought what the host had been promoting, which demonstrates the power of podcasts to positively influence the buying decisions of the audience.

 

Creating a memorable podcast

A podcast may be relatively easy to produce, but the content is critical to the success and longevity of your activity. The mechanics are easy enough, requiring just a good microphone connected to your computer to make the recording and a way of editing the finished sound files.

However, whilst it is often lauded as a DIY project, it is easy to make a podcast that only you want to listen to and professional producers will enhance the quality of the output considerably.

The producer is also helpful for handling the transition between speakers, asking the questions, requesting clarification of unclear points or jargon and ultimately editing the hours of chat into a professional and efficient 25-minute sector specific podcast that thousands will enjoy.

The content can cover current events, changes in the sector, news specific to your business, a discussion around sector-specific topics, trends, legislation etc., but it must be interesting to the target audience and delivered in short sections.

 

Content is key

Thirty minutes on a single topic might bore the average listener, it’s easy to break the topic up into pieces and deliver several podcasts that revisit the subject. It’s also good to point listeners to your website if you have more detail on a topic, like a guide or catalogue they can download.

You don’t have to be funny or try hard to entertain. You just need to use your experience and imagination to deliver short bursts of interesting chat or discussion, in a professional manner, with the content tailored to your audience. And the more you do, the easier it will become.

Once finished, you can start promoting your podcast to increase its exposure to a larger audience. You would need to make the podcasts available on a variety of distribution channels, or enlist the help of a podcast producer, who will know the best channels to choose.

If you want to talk in detail about sensitive information only for your employees, perhaps explaining strategic decisions, or current lockdown policy, a private podcast can be created and a link emailed to specific recipients – it can be password protected if necessary.

 

And finally…

Remember, your podcasts can be tailored to meet the unique requirements of your business, whether you prefer to follow an informal or structured format is up to you.

It’s not all about well-edited scripts or carefully crafted questions, but about researching the topics carefully, agreeing what’s to be covered and then talking with friends as you would in the pub, not the boardroom – it’s where the authenticity comes from.

Everyone involved can be in a separate location, which at the time of writing makes podcasts the perfect tool for bringing people together to create memorable content that an engaged audience will find truly valuable, particularly when it comes to buying decisions.

 

Business

THE ACCELERATION TOWARDS A MOBILE FIRST ECONOMY

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By Brad Hyett, CEO at phos

 

Over the last year, we have seen a big shift towards contactless payments. Fuelling this has of course been the coronavirus pandemic, which has made the public hesitant to handle cash due to the health concerns.

As multiple national lockdowns forced physical stores to close, and customers demanded easy, cash-free payment options, merchants had to quickly adapt. The result? An increased provision of pay and collect services.

In the UK alone, 83% of people use contactless payments according to data from the Office of National Statistics.

So it’s vital that merchants are equipped with the most efficient payment solutions, as the UK heads towards a mobile-first economy.

 

Proliferation of contactless payments

In 2020, 90% of UK card payments were contactless. This equates to an increase of 12% on the year prior, despite the total number of payments made falling by 11% from 2019 to 2020. Moreover, the affordability of smartphones has increased significantly over the last decade. And it’s estimated that 84% of UK adults now own one.

We’re Seeing merchants embrace more efficient and cost effective payment methods in response. While physical payment terminals are often too expensive for many small businesses, software point of sale, or SoftPoS, enables merchants to turn hardware that they already own – i.e. their mobile device – into a point of sale terminal.

With merchants increasingly adopting these innovative technologies, contactless payments will continue to gain popularity among the general public. In 2020, 13.7 million people in the UK either didn’t use cash at all or only used it to make a single purchase. That’s double the same figure from the previous year.

 

Changing consumer demand

Now more than ever, consumers are aware of how innovative payment solutions can add efficiency to their daily lives. As such, consumers now demand better payment services, including reduced queuing times, checkoutless stores, and bespoke loyalty schemes.

Businesses such as Mercedes offer an end-to-end digital car purchasing service, so customers can go through the whole car purchasing journey from the comfort of their own home. This includes car deliveries, financing, insurance and more.

Meanwhile, eCommerce giant Amazon has started trialling checkoutless ‘Go’ stores, speeding up the shopping experience by eliminating the queuing process altogether. The days of waiting for a table at a restaurant are also over, as more people have grown used to booking in advance.

Hence, it’s important that we empower small businesses to remain competitive and provide them with the payment solutions to meet customer demand.

 

Global transformations

The digital payments revolution isn’t slowing down anytime soon. By 2026, only 21 percent of transactions will be made using cash.

The US might have been slow out of the gate, but it’s starting to see increased adoption of mobile payments. In-store mobile payments grew by 29% in the States last year alone.

This growth was primarily fuelled by Gen Z-ers and millennials. Latest projections show that there will be 6 million new mobile wallet users by 2025, with millennials accounting for 4 million of this figure. These two generations, the former in particular, have grown up with mobile banking.

For most Gen Z-ers, their first foray into financial services was with a challenger bank like Starling or Monzo. These banks are able to offer online features such as ‘split the bill’, fee-free withdrawals abroad and much more to cater to the modern financial needs of the younger generation.

The Middle East experienced similarly sharp increases in contactless payments. From 2019 to 2020, there was a 200% growth in contactless transactions. This shift towards a mobile-first economy in the region was inevitable; the pandemic merely accelerated this shift. A recent study showed that 80% of people living in the Middle East planned to continue using contactless payments post-pandemic, with speed and security being the main draw.

 

The future is mobile

As parts of the world now start to come out of lockdown, there’s an openness to new solutions and a widespread acceptance of new technologies.

It is now a case of when, rather than if, we’ll see a permanent shift to cashless in the future. For businesses, embracing digital innovation will be key to remaining competitive and keeping pace with consumer demand in this fast-changing payments landscape.

 

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HOW MERCHANTS CAN IMPROVE THE ONLINE PAYMENTS EXPERIENCE

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By Alan Irwin, Senior Director of Product at Global Payments UK

 

The dramatic increase in online shopping over the past 18 months has encouraged many businesses to invest in developing their omnichannel shopping experiences. The reasons vary – some are keen to capitalise on the trend of older shoppers migrating towards ecommerce and some are trying to make up for loss of sales in brick-and-mortar stores during the pandemic. It is also true that many businesses are shifting their models to sell direct to consumers to avoid high marketplace fees and are therefore building their ecommerce channels for the first time.

The checkout experience is arguably the most important and delicate part of the ecommerce transaction, as it can make the difference between a happy customer likely to return, and a shopping cart abandoned out of frustration and confusion. A survey from March 2020 suggested that 88% of online shopping orders were abandoned, i.e. not converted into a purchase. A seamless, customer-centric online payment experience is therefore critically important in ensuring completed transactions. But with so many payment providers available, what should businesses be looking for when trying to keep friction to a minimum?

 

Keep clicks to a minimum

Less touchscreen interaction equals less abandonment. Adapting the payment page to fit any device and supporting popular mobile digital wallets like Google Pay ensures a seamless, stress- and hassle-free checkout experience for the customer and keeps clicks to a minimum. Friction can present itself in the most minor features – for example, when the customer is navigating the payment form, the appropriate keypad should be shown to the customer when required. It’s much easier to enter a card number using the dial pad instead of switching between QWERTY keypad layouts.

Simplifying online forms with autofill and tokenisation also significantly reduces friction at checkout and shortens necessary time taken. Ensuring checkout forms are tagged correctly for “autofill” is a great way to offer customers a single-click to input the payment, shipping, and billing data that they have stored in their browser profile. Similarly offering a guest checkout option will help convert customers who are in a hurry or looking for a one-off purchase. This can also be achieved by offering to store the payment details (called ‘tokenisation’) for express repeat and one-click purchases.

 

Make it easy to understand

A tailored payments approach can increase both domestic and international global sales. By offering a checkout experience in the customer’s language, the option to pay in their currency of choice, and use their preferred method of payment (whether it’s PayPal, Alipay or card), businesses can build loyalty quickly and put customers at ease. It is equally important for merchants to ensure they always display simple direction and information about next steps to instil confidence and prevent customer drop-off. The customer should be informed of what is happening at every stage in the process, for example, whether they will proceed to SCA (Secure Customer Authentication) next or go straight through to completion.

In addition, validating forms in real-time means merchants can highlight potential errors to the customer early on, and payment providers should provide this functionality. This could be an invalid expiry date, an incorrect digit in the card number or incorrect CVV number based on card type. When issues are only flagged at the end of the process, this forces the customer to go back through the steps to figure out the error. Real-time signposting of problems removes this potential friction and reduces the potential for a declined transaction.

 

Ensure seamless security

Merchants should work with a payment partner who offers the right blend of security and compliance management without it coming at a cost to the end-to-end checkout experience for the user. Instilling trust and security in your checkout flow while utilising the right solutions to drive seamless authentication flows will increase customer confidence and help prevent drop-off.

The greatest level of security and control comes from either utilising hosted payment fields that the
merchant can natively integrate into their checkout flow, or a hosted payment page where they can
manage the look and feel. Showcasing your brand on the checkout page with trust signals and logos also adds to building trust with the customer.

Staying ahead of regulations is also important. Secure Customer Authentication (SCA) will soon be mandatory in the UK for all eligible digital transactions, and this doesn’t have to be a friction-full process. Tools like Transaction Risk Analysis (TRA) and Exemption Optimisation Service (EOS) can quickly score transactions and drive exemptions where there is the right blend of transaction risk.

 

The devil is in the details

These three rules for successful ecommerce checkout experiences may seem straightforward, but it is important to apply them at a micro level. It can take only one minor point of friction to cause a customer to abandon their cart, and this will inevitably be replicated across other similar customers. It is critical to identify friction points early on and anticipate customer needs throughout the process. Discussing these points and any opportunities to improve customer checkout experience with your ecommerce team and payment provider is an important first step towards ensuring your entire shopping experience remains competitively seamless and loyalty is won. It may be that your payment provider cannot address them, in which case it could be time to move on in order to stay competitive.

 

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