VMEdu and the Way of E-learning

Companies have long known the financial benefits of online training over physical classroom learning. In fact, companies can save anywhere between 50–70 % on training costs by switching to e-learning alternatives. So naturally it was love at first sight for company bean counters and executives; however, humans, or e-learners, clearly were not so impressed.

Early assessments of e-learning iterations were pretty unanimous: they were dry, boring, technically complicated and didn’t satisfy any quality benchmarks. In other words, the courses weren’t top notch, according to Francisco J. Garcia Penalvo, professor at the University of Salamanca who documented the origins and subsequent growth of e-learning in his book, “Advances in E-learning: Experiences and Methodologies.”

“In spite of everything, the growth of e-learning is unstoppable, and every important institution (academic, enterprise, or otherwise) knows about the necessity of creating and developing a department or service specially devoted to this subject. E-learning deserves to be considered as a real revolution, ‘The Globalization of Training,’” Penalvo said.

Many of those early complaints are now in the past as e-learning has matured over the last ten years and evolved into a human-centric learning experience with technology (ironically) aiding the e-learning “revolution” Penalvo speaks of enthusiastically.

Although a reported 20% of surveyed individuals still note technical issues as the main frustration with e-learning, it now appears that technology has caught up with our learning preferences and e-teachers as well as learning management systems (LMS) are tempting more students than ever on a global scale. In 2015, the global market for e-learning was $170 Billion, a staggering increase of $75 billion in five years.

One technology that has allowed tremendous growth in the field of e-learning is the global penetration of mobile phones. At some point in 2016, 2.1 billion smartphones are estimated to be in use around the world. In particular, China, Indonesia and Russia are anticipated to see substantial growth in smartphone usage over the next two years. And in the case of India, smartphone usage is predicted to surpass the U.S. as the second largest user of smartphones in the world by the end of 2016. This boom has opened up a huge population to the opportunity of lifelong learning. This period of intense growth in smartphone use has tracked with the rise in e-learning to such an extent that it has been noted by Ambient Insight Research, an online resource for statistics and information related to the e-learning industry.

The report states “The astonishing growth rates and adoption rates in countries like Laos, Thailand, Uganda, Cambodia, and Ghana are good examples of once-nascent markets that became vibrant revenue opportunities for suppliers in just the last two years (literally “overnight” in the context of a learning technology product lifecycle.)”

One such company offering human-centric learning options at the vanguard of e-learning is VMEdu, Inc. Refined over seven years, the VMEdu Cloud Learning Management System (LMS) offers one of the finest platforms for e-learning currently available globally. The VMEdu LMS is open to anyone, anywhere (in any language) and offers ultimate flexibility for both students and teachers, including mobile as well as hybrid options.

VMEdu is a global leader in adult education through its multiple brands and partner ecosystem. The company has taught more than 500,000 students from 150 countries and 3,500+ companies and has an extensive V.A.T.P. (VMEdu Authorized Training Partner) network of 800+ partners in 50+ countries.

For more information on VMEdu’s e-learning courses, platform and training opportunities, visit vmedu.com.

 

Sources: http://www.smstudy.com/Article/VMEdu-and-the-Way-of-E-learning

“Advances in E-Learning: Experiences and Methodologies,” Francisco J. Garcia Penalvo, University of Salamanca. 2008. Information Science Reference, Hershey, NY.

“Mobile Worldwide Active Smartphone Users Forecast 2014 – 2018: More Than 2 Billion by 2016” Ambika Choudhary Mahajan, Dec. 18, 2014. http://dazeinfo.com/2014/12/18/worldwide-smartphone-users-2014-2018-forecast-india-china-usa-report/

“International E-Learning Market Research Report 2015,” Ambient Insight Research http://www.ambientinsight.com/Reports/eLearning.aspx#section2

“The Top eLearning Statistics and Facts For 2015 You Need To Know” eLearning Industry

The Top eLearning Statistics and Facts For 2015 You Need To Know

How to Perform Market Trend Analysis?

A market trend analysis is an analysis of past and current market behavior and dominant patterns of the market and consumers. An important aspect of conducting a trend analysis for an organization is to obtain insights on the market scenario, consumer preferences, and the macroeconomic environment.

Marketing research methods, such as surveys, interviews, and observations of consumer behavior, help in understanding the trends and behavior in the market.

Trend analysis is a subset of the PESTEL Analysis—an examination of the Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, and Legal implications of the market as they relate to consumer trends. This analysis provides an all-round perspective of the external factors that impact the business.

While determining future objectives for a product or service, trend analysis is used as a basis on which future market projections are made. Market trend analysis involves analyzing the following areas:

  • Trends in Consumer Needs and Behavior—A business that is able to identify a specific trend in changing consumer needs and behavior may be able to cater to these needs and project higher growth rates.
  • Shifts in Consumer Perception of Value—Trend analysis involves timely analysis of consumer needs and positioning of the product or service in the consumer’s mind. An aspect of a product or service, which would at one point in time have contributed to the consumer’s perception, may later lose value if the competition replicates it. For example, if Shop A in a particular town was the only department store providing free home delivery for customer orders, it may hold a better perception in the consumer’s mind due to this additional service. However, if competitors start providing the same service, the value perception for Shop A would likely decrease.
  • Trends in Industry Cost Drivers—Businesses need to be aware of changes in composition of the cost drivers and also innovations that lead to lower cost alternatives. Companies that are able to find better alternatives, which are more economical or offer additional features, can gain a competitive advantage and achieve higher objectives.
  • Change and Evolution of the Industry—Companies continuously analyze trends in terms of product innovations, competitor product features, and new operation and delivery methods. Such analysis helps the business stay ahead of the curve to understand changing market trends and project objectives accordingly.

Trend analysis is a very common strategic tool for understanding the market maturity (i.e., whether the market is in a growth or decline stage) to gauge future market potential and the overall position of a business in the market.

Since market trend analysis involves understanding past market behavior and expected future market innovations, a major effort in conducting trend analysis is dedicated toward collecting relevant data. The authenticity of this data determines the accuracy of the projections, which subsequently impacts the objectives set for a particular product or service.

To read more articles about sales and marketing, visit www.smstudy.com/articles

Paying Attention: A New Metric for Advertising on Mobile

Since the demise of newspaper’s great hegemonic grip on advertising, news media minds have been banging their big brains together, trying to come up with ways that not only monetize their content, but also generate some of the sweet ad revenue they used to have the luxury of enjoying. This is, of course, much harder in the infinite space and freedom of the Internet. (limited space and information gatekeeping was a true friend to print news.)

It’s been a bit of a slog and news outlets have been in “trial and error” mode for a while and still haven’t quite gotten it fully figured out. That being said, over the last year or so, user trends have been offering great nuggets of insight that are changing the way marketers and news sites are adapting to trends in mobile news consumption.

The landscape for mobile news outlets was important enough to make it to the front page of The Pew Research State of the Media 2015. What was the big deal? That 39 out of 50 legacy news outlets get more traffic from mobile devices than from desktop computers!

Full list (stats provided by comScore)…http://www.journalism.org/media-indicators/digital-top-50-online-news-entities-2015/

In the digital-only “newsscape,” a similar trend was noted.

The report states, “similar to the larger list of top 50 digital news entities, just a minority of these digital-only sites, 11 in all, had audiences that spent more time with them via a mobile device than a desktop.”

Here’s the complete list of digital native sites… http://www.journalism.org/media-indicators/digital-top-50-digital-native-news-sites-2015/

This preference for mobile news consumption is only mildly tempered by the fact that longer times were spent on news sites when being read on desktop computers.

Nevertheless, it matters.

Believe it or not, tracking consumer behavior has been one of the main problems with news outlets and marketers alike when considering ad dollars for mobile. Now we know that people are preferring their mobile devices for their news both while in on-the-go situations as well as in the down time of “Netflix and chill” moments.

In addition, we appear to be in a “mobile ad desert” where despite a rapid increase year over year in mobile advertising spending, there’s still a gap between advertising dollars spent on TV and other marketing channels and those spent on mobile. It seems that marketers haven’t quite picked up on the huge leap mobile viewership has taken. As an example, Adobe Digital Index reported in July 2015 that media has risen by two hours a day over the last five years, but advertisers have been slow to respond.

The article states, “Just as internet advertising once experienced a lag between the number of unique users and advertising spend, a gulf now exists between the growing amount of time consumers spend viewing content on mobile devices and the relatively small investment brands are making in the channel. But it’s just a matter of time until the numbers match.”

When confronted with new information, a new approach is often required. And this positive mobile news usage data begs for new solutions.

One of the more interesting examples of calculating an accurate measure was put forward by the Financial Times. The FT has switched to a time-based metric, one that places attention front and center in their value assessment. Other news outlets are also recognizing the truer value of an attention-based metric, as well. I’ve begun calling this the “after the fold” ad as it appears when I’ve stayed on a story long enough to show I’m committed. This strategy bets squarely on the contents ability to hold attention. And so far, so good.

Although various solutions abound, no silver bullet has yet been discovered (and perhaps never will). Serious impediments to accurate metrics (and hence, the flow of ad dollars) include bots that inflate the numbers and the easy accessibility to, and preference for, ad-blocking. This trend is particularly noted among millennials.

But even so, a new approach based on time as opposed to volume (number of clicks) could be the way forward for news outlets. Getting a handle on what they have to offer marketers may be the thing to lead news outlets out of the red and back into the black.

For more on sales and marketing, visit smstudy.com.

 

Sources:  http://www.smstudy.com/Article/paying-attention-a-new-metric-for-Advertising-on-mobile

The Pew Research State of the Medial 2015

http://www.journalism.org/2015/04/29/state-of-the-news-media-2015/

“How mobile metrics fall short for news outlets and advertisers,” James Breiner, July 13, 2015 https://ijnet.org/en/blog/how-mobile-metrics-fall-short-news-outlets-and-advertisers

“Is Digital Advertising Ready to Ditch the Click?”  Michael Sebastian. September 29, 2014. http://adage.com/article/media/digital-advertising-ready-ditch-click/295143/

“ADI: Advertisers Must Prepare To Follow Increasing Eyeballs On Mobile Video,” June 21, 2015. http://www.cmo.com/articles/2015/6/21/adi-advertisers-must-prepare-to-follow-increasing-eyeballs-on-mobile-video.html

“When Will Mobile Marketers Move Beyond Basic Measurement?”  June 15, 2015 http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Will-Mobile-Marketers-Move-Beyond-Basic-Measurement/1012600?ecid=NL1001#sthash.B8b4GxdM.dpuf

Brand Perception

Brand perception refers to how prospective and current customers react to seeing or hearing about a company`s product or brand and how the company is perceived within the market. Leading organizations spend millions of dollars to create their most important intangible asset as it can be a decisive factor in the purchase funnel. Be it commodities or niche products, a positive brand perception always gives an edge against competitors.

Brand perception is not an outcome of a single interaction between the company and the customer but is created over a number of interactions before and after a purchase or even when no purchase is made. The various types of interactions include, but are not limited to, visiting the company`s website, visiting its stores or offices, meeting an employee, talking with customer support, experiencing or trying a product, or viewing an advertisement. Hence, companies try to control as many avenues of interaction as possible so that they convey an integrated message.

All organizations need to keep a tab on how their brand is perceived by the customers-both existing and potential. One of the prevalent ways to measure brand perception is to conduct surveys. Major metrics that are used to quantify the results of these surveys are:-

Brand Recall:- This metric is an indicator of how many customers or prospective customers mention a brand when a relevant cue is provided to them. Generally, respondents are asked unaided recall questions like Please name all the car brands you can think of, before being asked aided recall questions in which specific prompts are provided like Are you aware of brands A, B, C, and D?

Higher unaided recall is expected for established organizations as they already have a Brand Name and if their Marketing Campaigns are successful then the respondents should remember their brands without any further prompts. For upcoming brands it is better to set higher aided recall targets than unaided recall targets as they are still trying to establish their brand.

Brand Loyalty:- This metric is reflected by how many customers purchase a brand repeatedly. It indicates the commitment that customers have towards a brand and is the basis of a strong relationship between the brand and its customers. It can be measured by asking questions regarding purchase of other brands in the past like Have you purchased any other brand of packaged milk in the past 3 months or future purchase intention like Which brand of packaged milk are you considering to buy next. Another way to measure brand loyalty is to examine customer response to situations where the preferred brand is unavailable. Respondents are given various options like I will buy another brand which is available, I will go to another shop to search for my preferred brand, I will buy another variant of my preferred brand etc.

Share of Mind, Share of Heart and Net Promoter Score are some other metrics used for measuring Brand perception. These metrics can also help in identifying competitors and their brand perception.

 

To know more visit – http://www.smstudy.com/Article/brand-perception

Back Talk Can Be Good for You; Customer-Centric Differentiation and SMstudy

“I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you…”

– Allen Ginsberg, “A Supermarket in California”

When potential customers “wander in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans,” what sets your product apart from all of the others on the shelf? What makes buyers begin following you?

Is it the need that you meet? Or the value proposition you offer? Is it your product’s packaging? Or placement on the shelf? Is it the reputation of your company that shines a special spotlight on your offering?  If your answer is, “Yes,” then you’re ready for a trip into the sometimes puzzling world of creating a product’s differentiated positioning. Grab your cape, Alice; you never know what you’ll run into down the rabbit hole.

A well-planned and executed differentiated positioning of a product sets it apart and attracts buyers. The process of creating a differentiated positioning “involves creating a positioning statement that clearly articulates, in a succinct sentence, how the company wants the customers in its selected target markets to perceive its products,” says Marketing Strategy, book one in theSMstudyGuide series.[1]

In our previous article, “What Turns a Ford into a Lincoln,” we looked at the use of features to set one product apart from another, to make it attractive to targeted market segments. This same list of features is used when writing the positioning statement. In this blog we consider the influence of the target segment itself and customer feedback on preparing that “succinct sentence.”

Once your company has completed the process of selecting a target segment, it will have “detailed information…, such as specific wants and needs, customer personas, segment size, and so forth,” according to Marketing Strategy. The company then can “analyze the target segment information to determine areas where it has, or can, create a competitive advantage when positioning its products.”

Where does a company get a clear statement of the “specific wants and needs” of their potential customers? From customer feedback, of course. “But, they’re potential customers!” someone is saying, “How can we get feedback from customers that aren’t customers, yet?” There are ways down this rabbit hole.

One way is to use industry benchmarks and Key Performance Indicators (KPI). “Comparing the company’s performance against industry benchmarks and KPIs helps prevent a company from focusing its positioning efforts on creating differentiators that are of little importance to customers in the industry,” the SMstudyGuide says. Your potential customers will have significant similarities with others in the targeted segment for similar products.

Closely related to benchmarks and KPIs, are existing marketing research reports. Your company or an industry group may have already conducted research that is relevant. “This research can help identify the best possible product features and associated product positioning based on how purchase intentions vary with changes to particular product characteristics. Furthermore, analyzing customers’ attitudes toward competitors’ products provides additional insights into how well the positioning strategies of competitors are working, and whether there are some gaps in their positioning that the company can exploit,” says the SMstudyGuide.

Another way is to talk to your company’s present customers. “No one can articulate your strengths better than your clients,” writes Cidnee Stephen in her article “How to Differentiate Your Business from the Competition.”[2]

As the SMstudyGuide puts it, “Understanding the customer experience and obtaining customer feedback about a company’s existing products (a concept referred to as the “Voice of the Customer”) helps a company to determine the positioning of its products. Such customer feedback includes improvement suggestions, compliments, and complaints.” Your company has probably been collecting feedback of this nature through post-purchase surveys, product registration processes, and the “Contact Us” tab on its website. This data is usually reviewed through a product or service improvement filter. Now is the time to look at that data with a filter emphasizing positioning.

Product piloting and conducting focus groups are two additional ways to collect feedback on a product or service that is not yet in wide distribution.

Our trip seems to use product and company differentiation interchangeably. Does that make sense? Down this rabbit hole, it does. The two are membrane on membrane close. The differentiated positioning of the company as a whole should guide all positioning of the company’s products and services.

Does this article say it all about creating differentiated positioning? Absolutely not! In fact, the part of our treatment of this topic will discuss using SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats).

As good as back talk can be, so can a good SWOT across the backside … or at least, across the corporate office!

(Jim Pruitt, VMEdu staff writer contributed to this article—especially the rabbit hole allusion.)

For more interesting and informative articles on sales and marketing, visit SMstudy.

[1] The SMstudyGuide is available at http://www.smstudy.com/SMBOKGuide.

[2] Cidnee Stephen. “How to differentiate Your Business from the Competition.” Bplans; Starting a Business Made Easy. Retrieved on 4/5/16 from http://articles.bplans.com/how-to-differentiate-your-business-from-the-competition/#.VwLfWKs56mM.linkedin

Out with the old, in with the new

photo-1458862768540-8b091824fe2d-755x487-20 years ago people had to be convinced to use the Internet. How often did we hear the question, “What would I use it for anyway?” It’s comical to think that people needed to be convinced to use the Internet considering nowadays people can’t survive without it.

The first smartphone was released in 1992 by IBM. It was considered a smartphone because of its virtual assistant capabilities, but the smartphone of today is light years more advanced. The timeline is a little blurry, but many would say that the first actual smartphone was the Sidekick, released in the early 2000s. Smartphones in existence prior to the Sidekick were for corporate professionals, but the Sidekick advertised to a younger market. Teenagers no longer had to wait until they got home from school to sign on to AIM to speak to their friends, the capability was right in their pockets!

In the last 15 years the smartphone technology has increased rapidly. According to Monica Anderson at the Pew Research Center 68 percent of adults in the United States use a smartphone. 88 percent of 18-29 year olds own a smartphone while only 78 percent of the same age group own laptops or desktop computers. As the use of smartphones increases there is less of a need for a laptop or desktop computer. And why would you need one, when a smartphone is just a smaller computer?

Mobile technology has been advancing at a very fast pace. The average American uses a smartphone to view product reviews, make price comparisons, and find information about products while they are shopping in-store. With consumers increasingly using technology on the go, a company’s Digital Marketing Strategy must be designed to take full advantage of this consumer trend, especially in consideration of a recent study released by the Daily Mail stateing that smartphone users check their phone 85 times per day on average.

Google coined the term Micromoments for all the times smartphone owners use their device. This could be to a simple check of a notification that popped up from a news organization or using the phone to check reviews before purchasing a product. Companies must capitalize on these moments if they are looking for consumers. The trick is to ensure customers and potential customers have access and are able to land on a company’s mobile version of their website when they are using their mobile devices. So, businesses must ensure that they have a mobile-friendly website.

The following factors will ensure a company’s website has the right design for their consumers:

Usability and Design – Organizations with established large scale websites have recognized the growing need for compatible tablet and mobile-accessible content and have implemented updates to their websites to reduce and streamline content and website size in order to be more suitable for mobile-accessible devices. Nevertheless, this approach is sufficient only for sites that provide static, one-way dissemination of information. As more customers demand interaction via mobile devices and tablets, the usability of these updated sites could diminish.

Performance – The advent of these devices has also provided companies with an opportunity to gather more personal data from their users, and in turn, push relevant, context-driven content. Such mobile-optimized content must load quickly on mobile devices to ensure that the performance expectations of consumers are met.

The rapid rise in smartphones, tablets, and Internet-enabled wearable devices has led to a shift in web design approaches, with web development for these devices becoming a much higher priority than it has been in the past. The advancement of technology only brings more opportunities for businesses and consumers, so join in!

Sources:

Victoria Woolleston, “How Often do You Check your Phone?” October 26, 2015.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3294994/How-check-phone-Average-user-picks-device-85-times-DAY-twice-realise.html

Brad McCarty, “The History of Smartphones,” http://thenextweb.com/mobile/2011/12/06/the-history-of-the-smartphone/#gref

Jason Duaine Hahn, “The History of the Sidekick: The Coolest Smartphone of All Time,” September 11, 2015. http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2015/09/history-of-the-sidekick

Monica Anderson, “Technology Device Ownership,” October 29, 2016.http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/10/29/technology-device-ownership-2015/

For the original post visit : http://www.smstudy.com/Article/Out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new

Branding America and SMstudy – Part One

Presidential candidates want to unite America, make it strong again, give it a future to believe in, balance its budget and pass its dream onto the next generation. Each, in his or her own way, paints a picture of what’s wrong with America, but which of them grasps what is right about America, what its value proposition is to its citizens and to the world? Which one has a real grasp of its brand?

A recent commentary by Merrie Carole Powers in The World Post [1] compared candidate Donald Trump as a brand to America as represented in the Declaration of Independence—arguably the quintessential statement of America the brand.  This got us at SMstudy thinking about America the brand. What does the Declaration tell its citizens and the world about its brand?

A concise definition of branding states that it “is the process of creating a distinct image of a product or range of products in the customer’s mind. This image communicates the promise of value the customer will receive from the product or products,” according to the SMstudy® Guide: Marketing Strategy.[2]

So, what distinct image of America comes readily to mind? For many the dominant image is the American Dream. Every presidential candidate mentions the American Dream, and their versions range from the ability to achieve anything through hard work and determination to having a job coupled with raised wages and health for people and their surroundings.[3]

What image springs from the pages of the country’s cry to be itself, to be independent?

In her brand analysis of Trump-the-Brand, Powers used the “unique positioning, clearly defined purpose, truly held values, an authentic personality and a compelling message” elements of a strong brand. Marketing Strategy says that a product’s or service’s value proposition is crucial to its branding. We’ll use several of these to consider Brand America in the Declaration of Independence.[4]

The Declaration’s preamble is well known to many—having had to memorize it at some time during their school days—and it is the place to find the introduction of America’s brand image. In its first sentence the brand begins to take shape unassumingly—almost off-handedly as mere conditions for actions that follow—“it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…”  The Brand claims for itself “the separate and equal station” “among the powers of the earth” “that the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” says it has the right to. That’s a strong positioning statement, even if it is not unique for countries.

The Brand has a great purpose: to “assume … the separate and equal station,” that is, to step up and take possession of equality among the nations of the entire world.  It is an ennobling purpose. Kouze and Posner said in their work The Leadership Challenge that one of the best practices among successful leaders was the ability to inspire “an ennobling vision of the future.” People want to follow a leader that can do this. And they want to be identified with a brand that does this, too. Perhaps, this is one brand element that explains why so many people emigrate to America.

In Part Two of “Branding America and SMstudy,” we’ll look at Brand America’s compelling message and alluring value proposition.

(Jim Pruitt, educator and staff writer for VMEdu, Inc. contributed to this article.)

For more informative and thought-provoking articles on sales and marketing, visit http://www.SMstudy.com.

[1] Powers, Merry Carole. (4/1/16) “Donald Trump vs America: Side-by-Side Brand Analysis.” The World Post. Retrieved on 4/4/16 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/merry-carole-powers/donald-trump-vs-america-a_b_9592180.html

[2] A Guide to the Sales and Marketing Body of Knowledge, also referred to as the “SMstudy® Guide,” is a series of books that provide guidelines for the Sales and Marketing of products and services. It is available at SMstudy.

[3] Ted Cruz says that he and “his entire family have been blessed to live the American Dream — the idea that anyone, through hard work and determination, can achieve anything. And he is committed to ensuring every family has that same opportunity.” For Bernie Sanders, the American Dream includes an “economic agenda that creates jobs, raises wages, protects the environment and provides health care for all.” These quotes come from the respective candidate’s website.

[4] All quotes from the Declaration of Independence come from “the Charters of Freedom” collection of the U.S National Archives at http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html.