Archive for January, 2011

Questions to ask: marketing automation implementation success

There was a good post by Brian Hansford on how marketing automation isn’t all about features and functions.  He asks ten questions that will help marketers focus on factors that will impact their success with marketing automation.  I add 47 more questions in my recent report for Patricia Seybold Group on how vendors help their customers succeed.  Vendors help their customers succeed in six ways:

  1. Product features the make implementation easier
  2. Implementation services, training and support that respond to customers’ needs
  3. Pre-purchase staffing and implementation recommendations that set realistic expectations
  4. Post-implementation diagnostic and account management services to help customers grow their effectiveness in using the platform and nip problems in the bud
  5. On-going programs that leverage what customers have learned to address problems and identify opportunities for improvement
  6. Sharing what they’ve learned from other customers about skills, processes, and organizational factors that lead to success; using that knowledge to improve products and services.

Questioning vendors in each of these areas will build a base of knowledge that empowers marketers to succeed in their implementations. 

Are there other ways vendors help their customers succeed?

Two more use cases: content curation in marketing

If you read my post on 10 use cases for content curation in marketing and missed the comments, you would have missed two additional use cases that Pawan Deshpande of HiveFire identified:

  • Improving SEO to support lead generation efforts. 
  • Educating and staying in touch with prospects.

I had been thinking of these as benefits of the thought leadership use case rather than use cases themselves.  On reflection, though, it is clear to me that marketers do indeed use content curation for these purposes and may do so without any intention of becoming a thought leader in a topical area.  You’ll see that I’ve updated my report on content curation for Patricia Seybold Group to include these use cases as well:

The marketing audit…who is asking?

Posts on the marketing audit abound.  Some go to great pains to differentiate the marketing audit from the marketing plan.  Others focus on strategy and performance, but give no attention to marketing processes and skills.  To me, the crucial question is: who is the audience?  There are multiple types of marketing audits depending on who is asking.  Each executive has a slightly different question, as follows:

For the CEO:  is marketing effectively setting and driving the short and long-term growth strategy for the company?

For the VP Strategy: is marketing actively and effectively anticipating and responding to changes in the economy, the  industry, competitor activities, sociopolitical actions, and technological opportunities?

For the CFO:  is marketing delivering on its plans and holding itself accountable for its pricing and investment decisions?

For the VP Sales:  is marketing creating awareness, generating leads, nurturing prospects and enabling the sales process?

For the VP Customer Service:  is marketing actively and effectively setting customer expectations, building customers satisfaction and paving the way for repeat business.

For the VP Product Development:  is marketing accurately and fully understanding customer needs and collaborating effectively in translating those into product opportunities?

For the VP Manufacturing:  is marketing providing full and accurate discernment of customer priorities that enable simplification of processes.

For the VP of HR:  is marketing empowering employees with knowledge that makes them emissaries of the company?

For the VP Marketing:  are the right people, processes, and technologies in place and applied strategically to cost-effectively achieve marketing objectives?  Are performance measures tracked, diagnostic metrics analyzed to find improvement opportunities, and a culture of experimentation fostered?

Think about it.  Do you agree?

Sorting through content curation options

Let’s say you are serious about establishing a thought leadership position in an area of keen concern to your customers.  Further, you have the expertise to provide valuable commentary on changes occurring in that area.  But you don’t have the capacity to publish frequently enough to get more than fleeting attention in today’s information-overloaded business world. 

So you are thinking about curating third-party content to  combine with your own pieces.  This will give you an SEO boost, provide fodder for your lead nurture campaigns and (if done right) gradually build your reputation as the “go to” company for insight and information in the content area you’ve decided to “own.”  (Actually, a more reasonable goal is to be one of the top five sites your customers go to for information: Marketing as Media: Are you in the Top 5? )

What next?  There are dozens of content curation tools out there.  Some are suited for personal use.  Others are suited (or priced) for business use.  How do you start your exploration of options?  I suggest you check out my recent report for Patricia Seybold Group.  It provides an evaluation framework, highlighting issues to consider as you review vendors offerings and references ten vendors that have relevant offerings.  Let me know what you think.

What’s missing in this framework?  What evaluation criteria matter to you and why?  Which ones are superfluous and why?  Please let me know.  I’ll be refining the framework over the next several months.

Twelve Use Cases for Content Curation in Marketing


Content curation offers the promise of addressing both information consumers’ and marketers’ challenges in taming the flood of digital information.  But as I look at the vendor landscape it is apples and oranges.  Vendors are solving several different problems.  Here is my take on the twelve ways that content curation is used in marketing.

Demonstrate thought leadership.  Here marketers use curation to become the “go to” site for information on an issue important to their customers.  They lead the conversation by incorporating their own original content and reflecting their point of view while also including important pieces by competitors.

Nurture leads.  Educating and staying in touch with prospects through the sales cycle requires a large volume of good quality content to share. Incorporating third-party content conserves resources without sacrificing quality.

Cultivate a community.  This extends the thought leadership objective (above) by enabling customers to interact with each other and the curator.

Keep current on critical issues.  Create knowledge bases for groups within a company (i.e., product development, marketing, IT).

Gather competitor intelligence.  Assess web and media mentions of and actions by competitors.

Monitor brand activity.  Assess web and media mentions of their own company and brand.

Support mission.  Become a valuable reference site for a constituency in organizations that have information dissemination as part of their mission.

Reduce costs.  Enable editors in an existing publishing operation to handle more topics and/or complete work faster.

Manage social media participation.  Identify new content relevant to customers.  Enable the right person to respond appropriately or lead discussions in social channels.

Capture and repurpose social media mentions.  Identify user-generated content that supports the objective of a web page (e.g., product reviews, endorsements).  Publish it on that page.

Build advertising or sponsorship revenue.  Draw eyeballs of customers in order to sell advertising or sponsorships to companies that serve those customers.

Different use cases drive many of the variations in functionality of content curation platforms.  Are there other use cases you have used/observed?

How to tell if your marketing department needs a digital marketing makeover

  1. Have one value proposition and message you send to multiple buyer types
  2. No/little evidence to support value proposition
  3. Drip campaigns regardless of target’s response (on, off rather than behavior/response driven)
  4. Don’t track who is looking at your website, what they are doing and incorporate that data into profiles.  Don’t use progressive profiling on the site to gather information.
  5. Don’t use information collected about visitors to serve content that is most likely to interest them
  6. Don’t know your buyers digital behavior and have strategy to engage online:  Where are buyers hanging out on the web? Who are their key influencers ? What devices do they use? What preferences for video, email etc?  How are you inspiring communities of buyers?
  7. Don’t have a marketing database integrated with CRM system and a means of making it easy for sales to access and make sense of the behavioral data marketing has collected.
  8. Don’t have a closed loop lead management system with behavioral as well as demographic lead scoring implemented
  9. Haven’t adopted a process of test and refine (landing pages, offers, emails, lead scoring, segmentation) and acquired the tools to make this easy to do.
  10. Haven’t moved the culture from one of intuition to one of experimentation.
  11. Don’t know the information buyers/customers need at each stage of the buying cycle and how they prefer to receive it.  Haven’t developed relevant content to address those needs.
  12. Don’t know what is being said about your company on the web.
  13. Haven’t implemented self-service repositories a) for customers and b) for prospects.
  14. Aren’t measuring end-to-end performance, don’t know relevant benchmarks, don’t gather metrics to that can provide insight into ways to improve. 
  15. Aren’t optimizing marketing spend…moving resources in response to returns obtained
  16. Aren’t meeting regularly with sales to review revenue and sales forecast, identify problems, successes and brainstorm solutions.
  17. Aren’t sharing marketing forecasts with the CEO/CFO and sales VP
  18. Aren’t getting CFO signoff of your justifications of marketing spend
  19. Can’t easily make changes in website, create microsites, create landing pages.
  20. Aren’t collaborating with customers in creation of new products, improving current products.
  21. Aren’t implementing campaigns consistently over multiple channels (including offline).
  22. Aren’t working your SEO hard.
  23. Haven’t thought about social media management as a process.

What would you add to this list of symptoms?

Digitally empowered marketing

In last fall’s survey findings from the CMO Council and Accenture (The CMO-CIO Alignment Imperative) the CMO Council specifies five components of  “digitally empowered marketing.”  The five points are well taken and got me thinking about what it takes to achieve digital empowerment.  My thoughts are shown below in bold after each of the Council’s five points.

1.  Delivering personalized and relevant experiences to customers through whatever channels and whatever format they most value.  This requires marketers to know much more about the buyer, the value provided,  and the information needed at each stage in the buying process.  For many it’s time for a refresher in core marketing skills.

2. Achieving consistency of communications and brand experience across both digital and offline channels.  This requires effective governance of the marketing function and alignment of communications across the organization. 

3. Having the capacity to track and respond to customer behaviors across every point of interface.  This is the marketer’s dream and impossible to envision without implementation of streamlined, repeatable processes and effective use of technology.

4. Becoming a more data-driven, measurable, and transparent function where strategies, campaigns, and budgets are based on verifiable insight into markets and customers.  Data is verifiable.  Insight is supported by facts but multiple interpretations are still possible.  Marketing must make a fundamental shift from “understand and act” to “hypothesize, test, evaluate, modify actions, repeat.”

5. Having systems and processes with the agility and flexibility to respond to changing customer preferences.  Multiple functional areas must collaborate to establish systems and processes focused on the customer and then to recognize customer changes and implement the adaptations needed.

These are all steps toward greater accountability and improved customer focus.  It’s better marketing regardless of digital empowerment.