Survey results: marketing automation drives improved business results

A March 2011 survey conducted by Patricia Seybold Group and Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) found a correlation between leadership in data-driven marketing and increased sales productivity as well as improved market share over a two year period.  Pretty exciting results!

Digging deeper into technology factors affecting their success, we found that more than half the data savvy marketing organizations have had a technology strategy and roadmap in place for more than a year, compared with only 12% of the other marketing organizations in the survey.

Chart from Data-Driven Marketing Survey

We also found that the data savvy use more kinds of marketing data in more ways.  Significantly, the uses achieved through the capabilities of marketing automation systems, such as determining which leads are sales ready, predicting campaign effectiveness, and segmenting markets for targeting campaigns, stand out among those that the data savvy use but others don’t use.  We see this finding as further validating the importance of marketing automation systems in driving improved business results.

Look for the survey report later this week at the Patricia Seybold Group site.

The Role of Context in Curation: B2B Marketers Take Note

Every B2B marketer should read Arnold Waldstein’s thoughtful post entitled, “Context, not content, is king.”  The context he describes is exactly what B2B marketers need to provide in their content curation.  He points out that, “Few of the curation platform players seem to understand that content without dynamic context is really neither interesting nor that valuable.”

Waldstein talks about, “finding groupings around information needs” and the tremendous opportunity for business to invigorate new groupings relevent to its products/services.  This is the challenge for the B2B marketer:  pick the topics/issues that keenly interest a particular audience and provide a point of view that keeps bringing them back.  The point of view adds the value.

Marketers who use curation to establish a thought leadership position can’t stand on the sidelines, just aggregating and selecting relevant content.  That’s like saying, “I know what’s going on.”  By contrast, being a thought leader means you are saying, “I know what’s going on, what’s coming down the road, and here’s what it means to you.”

A lot of Waldstein’s post refers to the role social voting is having on curation:  if a lot of people like something, some consider it more valuable.  He doesn’t.  Neither do I.  Social (i.e., friendships) can’t provide the context that adds value.

Why Marketers Invest in Technology: Survey Results

Survey results:  investment in technologyIn today’s B2B buying environment, marketing can not be effective in driving demand, building brand, or charting strategies for future growth without technology.  There are hundreds of reasons why marketers should invest in technology but I am more interested in what marketers report as their reasons. So, in a recent survey conducted by Patricia Seybold Group and ITSMA, I asked.

First a few details on the 107 survey respondents:

  • Large B2B companies (half over $1 billion in revenue)
  • Half from companies that primarily sell services; half from companies that sell products and services
  • Marketers all managed one or more marketing functions in their companies.

The top four reasons these marketers invest in technology are to:

  • Improve efficiency
  • Make marketing investments based on data
  • Hand better quality leads to sales
  • Obtain greater understanding of prospects and customers to improve offers, products, services

Those who had made much more investments in technology for longer periods of time didn’t have significantly different reasons.  In other words, the leaders haven’t moved on to focus on new horizons.  They are continuing to invest to improve efficiency, accountability, sales productivity, and customer understanding.

If you are a marketer just beginning to invest in technology, you face a tough game of catch up.  Data keep pouring in that correlate technology investment with data-driven marketing and correlate data-driven marketing with greater improvement in market share, lower cost of sales, and higher sales velocity. If you are just starting out you do have the benefit of learning from others’ mistakes…so take full advantage of the research on implementation success.  There is no time to waste.

Visibli displays your identity when you share links

I first saw this used by Eqentia, a curated site that, per best practice, displays a thumbnail of an article and then links the reader to the original article.  It is a bar, what visibli calls an “engagement bar”, about a half inch thick that sits at the top of your screen and carries the brand identity of the referring site (and, of course, links back to the site).  

An alternative approach, used by Adobe’s curated site,  www.cmo.com, is much less preferable.  On that site, when you click on a story you want to read, a window to the referring site pops up and you can read the original story.  However, you can’t navigate elsewhere in the site you’ve been referred to.  You are captive on the CMO.com site.  Very annoying for those of us who like to follow up to get to know a blogger better or navigate to their other stories on a topic. 

The possibilities with visibli go beyond retaining your identity when link sharing. Think about trying different offers.  It introduces a whole new dimension to link sharing that I am just beginning to get my head around.  Let me know what you think.

Eqentia’s bar has this identifying information the left:  Visibli engagement bar on left

and this on the right:Eqentia's Visibli Engagement Bar Right

7 not 3… actions for marketing automation implemenation success

04/28/2011 Comments off

Jeff Ernst from Forrester has just come out with a new report, “B2B Marketers must Prepare Better for Marketing Automation,” that raises a critical issue but doesn’t go far enough.  He points out that marketers, “… need to prepare for the use of the technology by having 1) a lead-to-revenue process model to automate; 2) content to support the message and responses; and 3) a marketing organization that is ready to support the technology.” 

Without question this is true.  But there is more.  As I described in my post earlier this week, there are seven priorities for B2B marketers considering marketing automation and all of them should be started before a system selection is made.  In rough order of priority, the seven steps are:

  1. Establish clear objectives, performance measures, and metrics
  2. Agree on the end-to-end lead management process
  3. Have a champion in senior management
  4. Improve the sales-marketing relationship
  5. Develop a process for lead scoring and updating lead scoring
  6. Build skills in segmentation and targeting
  7. Develop a content strategy and plan

The five steps that the Forrester report didn’t mention are critical to success.  Moreover, all seven should be substantially underway before a marketing automation system is purchased. 

Making a purchase decision before moving forward in these seven areas sets unrealistic expectations for the implementation process.  In fact,  many marketers have been overwhelmed by the pressure from management to deliver the results promised, while at the same time implementing the process and organizational changes needed to succeed.  

If you are interested in this topic and want to read more about implementation readiness, check out this report. 

Three Ways Data-Driven Marketing Improves Performance

Data-driven marketing and sales performanceAccording to a survey just completed by ITSMA and Patricia Seybold Group, today’s B2B marketers recognize the importance of data-driven marketing.  So what?  Well, now we have statistically significant findings supporting that view. 

Data savvy organizations outstripped the others in “significantly or somewhat” improving their market share, average time to revenue, and sales costs per order dollar over the last two years.  That’s hard data that associates leadership in data-driven marketing with market and sales performance increases.  While we found no such relationship to revenue or profitability, that may come in time as marketing data gets more widely used in organizations.

There is a thoughtful post by Neil Mason republished in ClickZ this week on this subject.  His title: The price of light is less than the cost of darkness.  The cost of darkness (i.e., not knowing information gleaned from the data) is getting higher.  As more companies invest in the technologies, processes, and leadership needed to excel at data-driven marketing, the harder it will be to compete if you haven’t adopted new practices. 

The ways that marketing organizations get data savvy, is the topic of an upcoming webcast by ITSMA and Patricia Seybold Group.  It answers the question, “what does it take to become a data savvy marketing organization?” and addresses survey findings on technology, processes, organization, and more.  Mark your calendar for May 17, 2011 at 11 a.m.  Complimentary for ITSMA members. Register here.

If you want to learn more about the results and can’t make the webcast, send me an email.

7 Steps to Success with Marketing Automation

Nobody wins when marketing automation system implementations don’t yield expected results. Yet it happens so frequently that some industry observers predict slow adoption of this important technology because of implementation problems.

Recent research by Patricia Seybold Group and McKittrick Associates shows that there are more than 20 skills, practices, and organizational practices important for a success implementation.  While suppliers, consultants, and marketers have amply documented what needs to be done and often how to do it, the extent of the changes that may be needed makes if hard to focus on what to do first.  Unfortunately, many turn to system selection as their first step. 

Views of five suppliers, representing more than 2000 marketing automation implementations, show remarkable similarity and point to seven steps to success with marketing automation.  Significantly, all seven can be substantially underway before  selecting a system.  In rough order of priority, the seven steps are:

  1. Establish clear objectives, performance measures, and metrics
  2. Agree on the end-to-end lead management process
  3. Have a champion in senior management
  4. Improve the sales-marketing relationship
  5. Develop a process for lead scoring and updating lead scoring
  6. Build skills in segmentation and targeting
  7. Develop a content strategy and plans

The suppliers indicated that these are areas in which a) their less successful customers struggle most, b) their more successful customers excel, and c) experienced customers continue to face difficulty.  Yet marketers can, and should,  begin making the changes within marketing and between marketing an other stakeholders before selection of a system. 

More information is in the full research report, available for download at no charge. 

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