Web Strategy – Lars Hilse: Meet the Boss LIVE

Lars Hilse, Founder, Lars Hilse

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Lars Hilse, Lars Hilse Founder reveals his secrets to effective online marketing strategies to MeetTheBoss.

Lars Hilse started his career in the German insurance sector where he specialized in corporate industrial risk and asset management. Relationships he built have stayed with him, and coupled with his use of social media for business purposes, Lars created his eponymous company and independent consultancy firm for web strategy and e-business related processes. Current issues, including website visitor engagement and online reputation management are big business, and Lars is the man with all answers.

In this interview you will found out:
* How web strategy is impacting customer service?
* How e-business processes shape organizations
* The relevance of a solid web strategy

Find more sales & marketing videos from successful business leaders.

Adam
Burns:




Lars
Hilse started his career in the German insurance sector where he specialized in
corporate industrial risk and asset management, and the knowledge of customer
service and relationships he built then have stayed with him providing the
foundation for his eponymous company and independent consultancy, as Johnny
said, for web strategy and e-business related processes. 




 




Besides
his use of social media for business purposes, Lars has a lifelong passion for
the web.
  Current interests include website
visitor engagement, corporate online reputation management and cutting costs of
customer service.
 




 




So,
just to kind of start, I was doing my research.
 
I was here as I have to do for this, and I came across you on – which is
now officially my second favorite website of all time.
 




 




Lars
Hilse:             




It
is really.
  I mean it was a really interesting
interview I gave there.
  It was about
reputation management, but in a more personal context in terms of building your
online reputation, what influences it has on – if you get searched on the web
for
  job purposes, sort of whatever.




 




And
so it turns out that we really got into discussing issues like moving search
results – relevant search results up on top.
 
If somebody Googles your name, obviously, if you're looking for a job, a
recruiter Googles your name that – your relevant profiles show up first as
opposed of some content that you have put up on a blog somewhere or whatever.




               




And
especially also in building your reputation as a professional meaning like blogging
about relevant issues that you experience in your job life simply because it
will increase your credibility and, of course, your value as a – if a recruiter
can read what your professional background is, what your thoughts on things on,
it will be way easier to place you as opposed to they’re not being – not –
where no info available on the web.




 




Adam
Burns:




Absolutely.  So the top of your website, it says, “Nine
out of ten online operations fail because the people in charge were not aware
of what was at stake.”




What
do you mean by that, and can you share some examples?




 




Lars
Hilse:             




Some
examples would be a bit difficult, but the phrase I use there points out that
hardly any organization sees the web as a holistic marketplace.
  They move forward.  They see segments.  They see social media marketing.  They do something here, something there, but
a lot of times, there’s no real strategy behind it.




 




So
the thing about it is that – yeah, like I pointed out, there’s segments which
are delivered, but nobody really has control over what’s being delivered in
terms of content to the web and, of course, about the organization.
  So there’s no continuity there.  It’s just segments, and nobody really puts a
head on it and says, “Okay, I'm in charge of this and that and monitor this and
that.”
  And those of the things I was
referring to in that example.




 




Adam
Burns:         




Is
that – do you think that that is still the case?
  Is that changing?  Some examples, perhaps, you can share where
you think, “They’ve got that right.”




 




Lars
Hilse:             




Definitely
there are a ton of those.
  I mean take
your favorite online portal like – or the biggest ones being Amazon, being
Zappos with the whole product feedback that you get which will encourage you to
make decisions.




 




And
take, for instance, Amazon with their product photos, product videos, Zappos
also with their 360 degree angle product – yeah – product delivery, product
placement, product showoff.
  I mean
that’s kind of like the direction in e-commerce where I think a lot of people
should go as opposed to having them online shop, as some people call it, where
they deploy the products.




 




And
they’re just – they are – with a short description to it if at all.
  Some selection process and that’s basically
it.
  A customer visiting the site is left
alone.
  That’s kind of like what I see as
– yeah – the next thing that’s going to – that the people have to focus on if
they want to deploy products or services online.




 




Adam
Burns:         




Absolutely.  Let’s talk a little bit more about that.  We spoke yesterday, and you said that the
store is there but where are the serving staff.
 
Meaning that companies spend a lot of time driving customers to their
site but perhaps not enough time on the experience when those customers arrive.




 




What
needs to be done, and then particular relevance to our audience, to this event,
how can social media help that?




 




Lars
Hilse:             




Social
media can, through the simplest means, give you feedback about your products
and about the product placement that you do in terms of the product
description, putting the little five star rating thing below it. 




 




Did
you find this information useful?
  Yes,
no and grade it by stars.
  So those are
the things – the initial things, I think, that could really help out, below
every page on your website having this feedback form – not limiting it to
logged in users or whatever, but actually giving everybody the opportunity to
rate and say, “Okay, I found this valuable,” or, “I didn’t find it
valuable.”
 




 




So,
that after amount of time, after a certain amount of data has been acquired,
you can go ahead review the content and redeploy it simply because the
description, sometimes that you give as an organization, is obvious for the
people working with it but not really for the customer.
  So that’s a lot of time where –




 




There
are a lot of times that the content gets misconceived and is just
misplaced.
  And that’s just the reason
where I think the initial step would be a content rating system – the number
one thing.
   




 




 Number two would be going into a more advanced
level, and that’s just where my perception of the market is is just a more
customer centric approach to the web.
 
Getting back to your example, everybody’s driving the social media
marketing channel, the Energizer bunny running through the city.
  Everybody come to our store. 




 




You
get to the store.
  You’ve got your 20
aisle high warehouse with merchandise in but nobody there to sell it.
  So that’s what I conceive to be the place for
proactive customer engagement where you just have real time analytics of the
people on your site seeing which page they’re looking at for which amount of
time and then having the opportunity to directly engage with the customer by
opening up a chat window on their screen.




 




I’ve
actually done this a few times in a few models, and the conversion rate is
magnificent simply because sometimes people will have questions out of the
content, and that’s the thing where I think people feel picked up and say, “Okay.
  I can directly engage with somebody, and
they’re even doing it proactively.
  I
don't need to click the chat button.”




 




But
I can just open a window on somebody’s screen and say, “Listen, you looked at
this and that page for five minutes.
  How
can I help you?
  Do you have any further
questions that I can answer?”
  And actually,
that’s a pretty nifty tool which I’ve had magnificently good experience with.




 




Adam
Burns:




So
it’s suitable for all business models, I would imagine.
  It must be – for people on sites which
handles a lot of traffic.
 




 




Lars
Hilse:             




Well,
if you see it that way, for all industries, no, of course not.
  You have to evaluate whether a process like
that is feasible, of course, first of all.
 
Speaking process like that, in terms of cost reduction is, of course, magnificent
because a call center operator that gets called up can handle one call at a
time, but if you’ve got somebody monitoring the site, getting alarms when
there’s an interested person on the web – a conceivably interested person by behavioral
marketing standards, that you go ahead and engage with them.




 




And
you can, as a chat operator, you can engage with up to 20 people at a time
delivering information simply because there’s a lag because the people have to
type.
  They have to digest the
information while a call center operator can handle one person at a time.
  You know?


So there’s a cost benefit there as well if you drive people in that
direction.
  Plus, of course, the
instruments of that direction are fairly new, and so those organizations
implementing it right now will have the a-ha effect on their side.
 




 




So
that’s definitely the way I see it. 




 




Adam
Burns:         




Interesting.  You talked about the rate – this thing – I
don't know if anybody read.
  There was a
Business Week article perhaps we can dig up, and Sean can Twitter it – about
Amazon – when Amazon added the do I like this function.
 




 




I
think it was responsible for something like 1.3 billion in sales which is a
phenomenal driver.
  So –




 




Lars
Hilse:             




Of
course –




 




Adam
Burns:         




Yeah




 




Lars
Hilse:             




And
then the other things Amazon implements exceptionally and successful are buy a
package to increase sales.
  Buy this one,
and get that one and that one for $25.00 instead of $75.00 or – yeah – having
customers who bought this also bought that product.




 




Of
course, that’s also – that’s only viable if you – or only doable in that case.
  If you have information about the customer,
to a certain extent, if you monitor what they’re doing on your site, what
they’re looking at so that you can profile them, actually, while they’re there.




 




And
of course, this is not feasible for somebody in the financial sector.
  You know? 
Somebody that just bought the private liability insurance going ahead
saying, “Okay.
  You want – by the way,
you should put your motor insurance with us as well because other people have
bought it.”
  They’ll be, “Bullshit,” but
other than that, you’ve got fairly good chances and several channels to go
ahead and say, “Okay.
  Let’s look at
other products.
  Let’s profile the
user.
  Let’s use that to our advantage to
increase sales to make the platform more efficient.”




 




Adam
Burns:         




Now
we’re back in the – my own personal trickiness of trying to pronounce
names.
  Euron – I apologize, because I
believe you're in the room, I may get your surname wrong.
  Bass, I'm going for Tweeted from this event
that three things keep popping up: listen, focus and never forget we’re all
human social media.
 




 




                Michael Donnelly said yesterday
that social media was about building sustainable relationships, and I know that
you’ve written – I’ve mentioned just now proactive website visitor engagement.
  How do these things drive your vision of the
web in 2010 as a very sort of customer relationship driven thing?




 




Lars
Hilse:             




Customer
relationship management is something I put a lot of focus to simply because I
believe that you have this – specifically, this quote with building sustainable
relationships requires a system that can keep track of which interaction has
taken place with a customer.




 




               




And
that context, of course, also that you have to monitor what the customer is
doing.
  Build relationships between
customers.
  If you have a call and – from
customer XYZ in reference to customer ABC, his contacting you – you can build a
relationship between the two so that you can actually gather intelligence which
will definitely also increase the value of the company should it ever go out
for a merger acquisition.
 




 




The
more intelligence you hold about the customers, the more valuable the company
is.
  So that’s another interesting
aspect.
  Coming back to the whole
question there, the whole social media aspect, I think, is definitely very,
very interesting from marketing but also on an internal communication
basis.
 




 




Meaning
that you can crowdsource the organization’s brains for
  - let’s say you have a marketing department
putting up a campaign, and before it goes live, getting the feedback of people
inside the organization before you actually roll it out.




 




Number
two would be that you can gather information about things going on in the
organization.
  Drive more – for instance,
find out – I gave – I mentioned that in a speech yesterday, if you're willing
to implement a social media strategy on several platforms, and you’ve got
specialists in house that you may not know about.




 




There
can be somebody in the janitor’s closet locked up for three years, and they’re
actually a crack on Facebook.
  So why
would you want to hire somebody from the outside if you’ve got them inside to
suck their brains out because they know the organization.
  They know the processes.




 




And
if you hire somebody from externally, you're going to have to work them
in.
  You're going have to let them
experience the corporate culture, etcetera, etcetera.
  So both ways, there’s definitely a room for
social media and – yeah.
  And that’s just
my take on that.




 




Adam
Burns:         




For
sure.
  I hope that nobody here actually
has a janitor locked up in a closet for three years.
  Although like – just to maybe that one.  So quick question.  What would be your top tips, do you think,
for integrating social media into business operations?
  So top three things.




 




Lars
Hilse:             




Top
three things.
  Would be, of course, the
personalization of putting the people in front of.
  There’s a magnificent example of that taking
place in the social media world.




 




The
marketing VP of Plaxo in California, John McCrea, who does a magnificent job on
being present on the web, which makes it – what makes it really stunning is
that he’s really a key level executive taking time to sleuth around on the web,
answer questions of people and whatever not which
  makes it, per se, pretty impressive. 




 




If
you get contacted by the marketing VP if you have an issue with Plaxo, that’s
pretty mind blowing for a lot of people that somebody like that’s listening to
you.
  So that would be number.




 




Everybody
having their personal profiles up, keeping profiles, of course, for the
executives of the organization on the web so that they can be engaged with – of
course, a lot of them will not have the time to answer, but you can put
somebody behind it.




               




Putting
those profiles up on Linked In, Facebook, etcetera just to get the visibility
and to personalized the organization a bit.
 
Putting faces to it.  Making it as
the quote said – all humans.
  Making the
organization human again.
  Not hiding it
behind a big sign, behind a strategy or whatever.
  So that’s the kind of thing I see as number
one.




 




Number
two, of course, would be the whole Twitter thing, the whole corporate online
reputation management.

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