Archive for April, 2011

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. 

5 Reasons for Low Adoption of Marketing Technology and How to Move Forward

Many of the technologies that comprise the marketing technology ecosystem have been around since before the shift to customer control of the buying process, a shift that has made technology essential to marketers.  Hence, low adoption rates of marketing technologies can’t be explained by lack of availability of appropriate solutions.  Progress has been slow for five major reasons:

  • An evolving marketing technology ecosystem, in which capabilities of dissimilar elements often overlap.
  • The time required to develop a culture of experimentation.
  • The gaps in process knowledge and skills needed to both chart the path and execute the tactics of this new marketing.
  • All the usual budget constraints, organizational silos, and accountability questions that have plagued marketing for years.
  • Lack of, or delayed, IT support.

Moving forward in this mostly uncharted territory requires important business skills: the leadership to work effectively across functions in the organization, the knowledge to plan a technology strategy, the judgment to reengineer processes and train/recruit the right team, the focus to engineer activities to support business objectives, and the analytical skill to keep finding ways to improve outcomes.

Marketing has, in many companies, fallen into an almost Rodney Dangerfield position in the executive suite: they don’t get respect—and perhaps they haven’t been earning it. Start today to make marketing a legitimate business function in your company.

Top Two Areas of Struggle in Marketing Automation Implementation

So you’re in the market for a marketing automation platform.  You’ve gone through the Step-by-Step Guide to Selecting a Marketing Automation System by David Raab.  He takes you from defining your requirements to making a decision and then (Step 7) directs you to “Invest in Deployment.”  Good advice.  Better advice:  start investing in deployment well before you choose a platform. 

When you succeed with marketing automation, you win big, but when you fail to achieve the revenue increases, cost reductions, and increases in accountability and agility (as a third of implementations do), you are probably only using a small fraction of the platform functionality.  You got stuck early in your implementation because you shied away from the fundamental transformations needed in order to market effectively to today’s customers. You spent the money and maybe put your career on the line. The results aren’t there. No one is happy.

When you look at the advice — and there is plenty of it — on how to succeed in marketing automation, it looks like a laundry list for the marketer who has little else to do.  The key question is:  WHERE DO YOU FOCUS?

I’ve started to explore that question with major suppliers of enterprise platforms for B2B marketing automation and show in the chart below the skills, processes and organizational practices at which less successful customers struggle the most.  Four out of the five suppliers reporting to date say their less successful customers come up short in:

  • Lead management processes
  • Clear objectives, performance measures and metrics

These are NOT practices that marketers can come up with in a flash AFTER selecting a platform.  The objectives, in fact, should come FIRST.  The work with sales on lead management processes takes time to build understanding and explore needs and viewpoints.  Take a look at the illustration below (courtesy of Patricia Seybold Group and McKittrick Associates) and think about implementation before you get deep into selection. 

Your thoughts?

Struggles for Less Successful Marketing Automation Implementers

Top Struggles for Less Successful Marketing Automation Implementers

Source:  Upcoming report from Patricia Seybold Group and McKittrick Associates. Suppliers reporting were: Aprimo, Eloqua, Marketo, Manticore, and Silverpop.  More to come.

Segmentation key to content marketing

Gary Angel recently wrote a great post on Segmentation for Digital Analytics Done Right. He  points out that to properly understand a visitor’s web behavior you must understand who they are and what they are trying to do.  Are they customers or prospects?  If customers are they going to the site because they have a support problem or want to buy something more?  Only after you know the who and the why can a change in a metric, such as visitors, be properly interpreted.  More significant, he makes that case that for  the intersection of each visitor type and each visitor purpose, the marketer must determine the appropriate performance measure.  Make up a matrix with visitor types on the left and visitor purposes across the top.   Then think about each cell in that matrix:

  • What is your objective for that visitor and visitor purpose?
  • What do you want the visitor to do next?
  • What is the relevant performance measure?
  • How do you talk to that person?
  • What content do you provide?

This is exactly how a content marketer thinks.  Who (buyer persona) and why (stage of buying cycle) drive the content agenda, conversion objective and performance measure.  But for content marketers there is more.  For each cell in that matrix, there is a time dimension: for instance, a prospect may build awareness of their need over a period of two months.  During that time the marketer stays in touch with a nurture program. Response-driven nurtures bring further segmentation to bear.

It’s no wonder we need technology.  Have you connected the dots in your web site, content marketing, and lead management programs?  What is holding you back?

How do you involve your experts in social media?

Marketers need to “know their customers so well that the product or service sells itself,”  as Peter Drucker said. But marketers aren’t subject matter experts on issues their customers face.  From whom does the customer want to hear? Not the marketer.  The customer wants to hear from the experts.   

A company’s key subject matter experts are short on time and may not have an inclination to blog or engage online with customers.  How does a company productively involve their experts in online discussions?

A company called ConnectedN has an answer.  ConnectedN is a Software-as-a-Service curation platform focused on making social media engagement feasible for busy professionals, particularly those in enterprises that adhere to strict guidelines for pre-publishing approval. Pricing is $350 per month per user. This includes a brand-compliant microsite that sits on the customer’s Web site for publishing curated content, the aggregation and routing software that finds relevant social media mentions and routes them via email to appropriate experts and reviewers, as well as newsletter distribution and social media publishing capabilities. 

Combining content curation with workflow management and an email-based user interface addresses two factors that limit many companies’ engagement with social media: the time required of experts and the volume of content needed to maintain a consistent presence. Third-party content provides the impetus for expert commentary, draws search engine traffic, and enables regular publishing to social media platforms and newsletter subscribers. Pretty nifty.

ConnectedN’s singular focus on getting busy subject matter experts directly participating in social media reminds me of the revolution that took place in print publishing when editors first sat in front of electronic workstations. Editorial control was the prize that motivated editors to sit at a keyboard, perceived then as a stigma. Having a voice in far-reaching conversations, without becoming a slave to the Web, is today’s prize.

Read more about ConnectedN in this new report from Patricia Seybold Group:  ConnectedN’s Content Curation for Social Media Engagement.

Need a quick news fix in a speciality area?

If you haven’t taken a look recently at Eqentia’s portal with its 12 channels for business, 17 for technology, 4 for social media and many more, it’s worth a browse.  Eqentia curates news into all these channels and most of them are available to the public for free.  Now they have upgraded the user interface and it looks terrific.  You can even create your personal news stream and selectively subscribe to updates. 

There’s also more to Eqentia than the free stuff.  You can use their technology to curate the topics that interest you. Whether you curate to grab competitor intelligence, stay up to date on developing issues in your industry or to create more content for engagement with customers, Eqentia’s content curation platform is worth a look. 

I’ve written more about the platform for Patricia Seybold Group.  You can find the report here.  Or check them out yourself.  Let me know what you think.