BPO Industry and Its Recent Developments
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry is not something which anyone (across the globe) would be unaware of these days. When a consumer makes a local call to order any product in the UK or the USA, he/she will probably expect someone from India or Philippines to pick up the call and process his/her order. This is what you call BPO era in which companies outsource their non-core administrative/back-office processes to call centres based in other countries with primary intention to cut down on cost and maximize profitability.
But, the BPO industry has evolved over a period of time. Not only are repetitive or non-core back-end processes (requiring low degree of skill or knowledge) outsourced, but processes (requiring high degree of skilled knowledge and expertise) are also outsourced to offshore call centres these days. While the prior type of outsourcing would fall under the umbrella of BPO, the latter type would be termed as KPO (Knowledge Process Outsourcing). An example of KPO vendor could be a company handling payroll/accounting department on behalf of another organisation.
Rising Competition For Market Share: A Great Challenge For BPO/KPO Vendors
While India and Philippines are often heard of as key outsourcing destinations, there are other countries (e.g. Malaysia, China, Egypt, Morocco, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Columbia, Poland, Ireland and many more) that have emerged as favourite destinations for outsourcing lately. This trend shows that BPO vendors are mushrooming all over the world, thereby giving rise to intense competition for market share.
“According to Nasscom, in the last five years, India has lost about 10 per cent market share to the rest of the world in the world BPO space, most of which is in the voice contract segment.”
Now, the question arises as to what a BPO/KPO vendor should do to increase its market share and outdo its competitors in the industry. Is there a way for a BPO/KPO vendor to gain competitive advantage over its rivals? Indeed, there is.
Content Marketing: A Panacea For BPO/KPO Vendors That Are Looking To Grow Among Stiff Competition
‘Content Marketing’ is what a BPO/KPO service provider should engage in so as to outdo its competition.
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”- says Content Marketing Institute (CMI).
The purpose of content marketing is to communicate with customers and prospects without pitching any product to them. By way of content marketing, organisations educate their prospective buyers with an intention to position themselves as leaders in their respective fields. Once an organisation has established itself as a leader in a specific area via its content marketing efforts, it starts getting rewarded with business from its engaged group of target audience or prospective buyers or followers.
“If you look at big brands (e.g. Accenture, WNS Global Services, HCL BPO and Convergys) in the BPO industry, you will realize that they all have robust content marketing strategy in place that caters to a number of their purposes ranging from ‘brand awareness’ to ‘ lead conversion & nurturing’ to ‘customer conversion’ to ‘customer service’ to ‘retention’ to ‘up-selling’.”
Various types of content, e.g. Articles, Blogs, Brochures, Case Studies, Podcasts, Videos, Webinars and Whitepapers, are produced by such call centres to engage with their target audience as they firmly believe in the power of thought leadership and content marketing. Hence, production of valuable, relevant and consistent content should be central to the online marketing strategy of your organisation if you are running a call centre that is looking to grow.
Now, you must be wondering what you will need to do in order to implement a robust content marketing strategy for your call centre. Well, you will need to devise a robust content marketing strategy before you can implement it.
In order to work out the most appropriate content marketing strategy for your organisation, you will need to work through the following 7 stages:
Planning is the first and foremost activity that your organisation should engage in. As no organisation would want to waste its limited resources, what you need to do is lay out a concrete plan for creation of valuable and targeted content for your business entity. Please make sure that pieces of content created or produced by your organisation help it achieve its business objectives in broader sense.
“It is imperative that content marketing plan fits in well with business goals of your entity as engaging in creation of content without any purpose would result in nothing but loss.”
The best starting point for you would be to think about a mission statement or work out a business case that clearly explains the purpose for which content is going to be created.
Let’s say that you have jotted down the purpose of your content marketing as ‘generation of new leads’. Now, you will devise such content strategy that aims at achieving the aforementioned goal.
“Not only should the content strategy take into consideration ‘why’ factor of content creation, but also ‘what’ and ‘how’ factors.”
If you are a call center that is looking to grow its client base, you would probably need to do some brainstorming on what pieces of content your prospective clients would be most interested in. Touching on the challenges and needs of your target audience might be a good starting point.
From in-depth research and previous experience with international call centres, following motivations for ‘outsourcing’ were discovered. BPO/KPO vendors could produce content around the following list of outsourcing motivations in order to generate leads:
- Greater process efficiency and effectiveness
- Capitalizing on disruptive technologies such as mobile, social and analytics
- Competitive advantage over rivals through outsourcing
- Driving innovation
- Changing the mix of skills, expertise and capabilities
- Expansion into new regions
- Integration of supply chain
- Anticipating/responding to technology and market shifts
- Enabling predictive modeling using customer data analytics
- Disaster recovery
After you have answered ‘why’ and ‘what’ factors, you need to decide on ‘how’ the desired content is going to be published. The options would include whitepapers, case studies, blog articles, podcasts, videos, brochures etc. Hence, strategic combination of all the available options would conclude the ‘how’ factor of your content strategy.
The second stage is related to understanding the audience who will consume your content.
“Tailoring your content to suit the taste of your target audience is very important as it helps engage with them better. After all, engaged audience is what your call centre needs in order to prosper and generate new leads.”
So, how are you going to understand your audience? Well, you need to create persona of your target audience who you will be creating content for. Below given is an example of ‘Persona’ which was created for an international BPO firm as part of its content marketing plan until not too long ago:
Using a properly defined persona (as has been explained above), you would always remain focused and create valuable content for your target market in a consistent manner.
Storytelling is what you are supposed to engage in next. Planned content needs to be drafted in the form of stories.
The stories should not appear like sales pitches. Rather, such stories should reveal the big ideas that you represent, or the distinguishing experiences that you create.
“The stories, which you tell about your brand, should be properly structured and drafted with a view to building long-lasting relationships with your customers/prospects/target audience.”
You could resort to Brand Hero’s Journey Chart (given below) to spell out stories about your company’s brand/call centre.
As you have some nicely-drafted stories ready to be shared with your target market, you need to move a step further and work out a robust channel strategy. Please note that selection of distribution channels would depend on the content strategy that you had worked through in the very first stage of planning.
If your content strategy meant to generate new leads, you would probably resort to Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing (Pay-per-click) and Email Marketing for the same.
“As a call centre that is looking to grow its clientele, you should ideally try to integrate all the available digital marketing channels to produce the best result, i.e. generation of new leads in bulk.”
(i) Search Engine Optimization
If you have not optimized your website for major search engines (such as Google, Bing and Yahoo), you should resort to search engine optimization (SEO) techniques (both on page and off page) to get your website ranking up the order on search engines in an organic manner.
As stated by Digital Marketing Institute (Ireland), SEO is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results.
Although SEO process takes long period of time to produce visible results, yet it will be wise on your part to invest into it as such investment will reap tangible financial benefits for your organization after your website starts ranking against certain highly searched and relevant keywords.
(ii) Search Engine Marketing
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is another way to gain access to your target audience on search engines. Unlike SEO, you have to pay for being visible on search engines, in case you choose to go ahead with SEM.
It could be said to be one of the very cost-effective methods of advertisement as advertiser has to pay on pay-per-click basis, meaning you (as an advertiser) will only pay when someone has clicked on your ad and landed on your chosen landing page as a result of the interaction/click. But, if it is not executed properly, this cost-effective method might turn into a very costly affair for your organization.
The famous PPC (Pay-Per-Click) options are Google Adwords (Google Search Network and Display Network) and Bing Ads (Yahoo and Bing Network).
“Everything from ‘keywords’ to ‘ad groups’ to ‘engaging ad copies’ to ‘strong call-to-action’ to ‘landing pages’ to ‘budgeting’ to ‘bidding’ to ‘scheduling’ has to be thought through in order for a PPC campaign to work in favor of your BPO/KPO organization in an effective manner.”
You could also exploit contextual targeting and re-targeting options provided by a number of websites in order to generate new leads. While Google Adwords Contextual Targeting, Clicksor, Pulsepoint, InfoLinks, SiteScout, Bidvertiser are examples of those websites that provide contextual targeting options, Adroll, Google Adwords Remarketing, Chango, Criteo, Bizo, Retargeter, Rocket Fuel are examples of re-targeting websites. Please note that payments for contextual targeting and re-targeting options might be based on CPC (cost-per-click) or CPM (cost-per-thousand-impressions) or CPA (cost-per-acquisition).
In addition to the above-mentioned options, you could use Whitepaper Syndication Service Organizations, such as Netline Corp., CMP Technology, CNET Network Business, Find White Papers, IDG Connect etc., to promote whitepapers with a view to generating new leads.
(iii) Email Marketing
If you are part of B2B world, you must be aware of the fact that every lead does not convert into sale in the very first instance.
“According to Hubspot, leads need be nurtured consistently as nurtured leads have 23% shorter sales cycle.”
Hence, an email lead nurturing strategy is a must for organizations to nurture their leads and keep them moving up in the sales pipeline with various relevant and valuable pieces of information. Have a look at the below-given email lead nurturing flow-chart that was designed for an international BPO lately:
To keep track of which lead stands where in the sales pipeline, you should use any good CRM software such as Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics or SugarCRM. A CRM system makes your job very simpler by helping you organize, track and manage information about all of your customers/prospects/leads.
By integrating CRM software with a feature rich third-party electronic mail delivery and management system such as MailChimp or AWeber, you can deliver right messages to the leads at the right time. Consistent delivery of relevant and valuable pieces of content via email would result in more and more leads moving into sales funnel, thereby increasing the overall clientele and revenue of the organization.
Once you have worked out content strategy, persona of target audience and channel strategy, you need to bring everything together and make it work for your organization. This stage of content marketing requires you to operationalize everything you have done before.
Please follow the chart below to find out four phases of content marketing process:
In order to deliver on these phases, you need to ponder upon and choose your content marketing team very carefully as the right team would take your content marketing plan into the right direction.
Although your content marketing team would have a basic editorial calendar to follow for publishing content, you might want to make use of content production tools (e.g. Compendium, Contently, DivvyHQ, InboundWriter etc.) to turn your BPO/KPO into a publishing machine.
After you have a streamlined process for content marketing in place, you need to go out and share your content with your audience/customers via various social media channels.
As a BPO/KPO vendor, you might want to share your stories across Twitter, LinkedIn, SlideShare, WordPress and YouTube.
Share your content like a leader in your industry with all the people you are connected to across all the aforementioned social media platforms.
After you are done with sharing, you should be ready to listen to and respond to the conversations around your content in an appropriate manner so as to create engaged community of relevant people on your chosen social media platforms.
Although ‘Measurement’ has been mentioned as the last stage of content marketing journey in this article, yet it should be an on-going process for your organization. If you learn from your mistakes quickly, you will be able to succeed fast. Nevertheless, measurement is not as easy as it seems.
“According to Content Marketing Institute, 33% of B2B marketers and 41% of B2C marketers find their inability to measure as a significant challenge in their content marketing journey.”
Using the available measurement tools, you can measure just about anything. But, the question is if you actually need to measure every parameter/criterion. The simple answer is a big ‘NO’.
“Measuring everything would not only consume your precious time and resources, but it would also confuse you to a great degree.”
Usually, content marketers use whitepapers for lead generation purposes. But, they are hardly able to measure anything beyond number of downloads. Below given is a list of key performance indicators that such content marketers should try to measure with the measurement tools they have access to:
Unique Visits – This is measured to find out how many individuals have viewed your content within a given period of type (generally, it is a 30-day window). It is a good indicator of your content’s reach.
Geography – This is measured to find out where exactly (in terms of geographical boundaries) people are engaging more with your content. This information enables you to allocate your budget on the basis of where your targeted and engaged audience is based.
Mobile Readership – This is to be measured with a view to optimizing content for mobile platforms. If more than half of your readers access your content using a tablet or mobile, you need to invest into responsive designs that optimize your content according to the device accessing it.
Bounce Rate – Bounce rate is a measure of how engaged your audience is with your published content. Keep a close eye on this metric in order to produce more and more engaging content.
Time-Spent – This metric needs to be measured for the same purpose as bounce rate.
Page Views – Co-relation between unique visitors and page views should be given due importance, and hence measured to understand the engagement level of your audience with regards to various pieces of published content.
Comments – Keeping an eye on comments (in relation to your content) on social media platforms can give you ideas about attitudes and pain-points of your customers and prospects. This will help you produce more customized and meaningful future content for your audience.
Social Sharing – This metric needs to be measured to find out how popular your content is amongst your readers. If your readers like your content, they will share it with others on social media platforms, thereby helping you reach more number of people who might be your prospects going forward.
Conclusion: A Sound Content Marketing Strategy Is A Must For BPO/KPO Vendors
Long and short of everything (mentioned above) is that you (as a BPO/KPO vendor) need to devise and implement a robust content marketing strategy for developing your business, increasing your market share and gaining competitive advantage in this fast evolving digital era.
In the end, it is hoped that you would benefit from the aforementioned content and succeed as a leader in your industry after implementation of a sound content marketing plan.