Measure, Test, Analyze, Rinse and Repeat

Step Eight of Ten Steps To Marketing Relevance
Learn from experience, and share the lessons

In our last installment, we discussed steps to integrate a Marketing Automation System (MAS) with the Sales process.  To get your company to see the value of your marketing process, you will need to conduct continuous grass-roots training.  But your executives need a different type of evangelism: data.  The good news is… with a MAS, you can prove ROI like never before.

You don’t always get much time to make your point, so do it as effectively and rapidly as possible by speaking in numbers, the language executives understand.  And it helps to have an elevator pitch as well.  When I’m trying to get an executive’s attention, I say, “Did you know that marketing-generated leads have an 88% close rate once they are converted to an opportunity?  That’s 18% higher than any other lead source, including our traditional referral leads.”  That usually gets their attention!

Then be prepared to dig into the data with them, emphasizing that marketing and sales are all part of an integrated revenue-producing pipeline.  As with any audience, pictures help.  Here are a few generated by Marketo.  The left shows channel ROI on an investment-to-success grid.  The right shows a customer sales journey (each interaction leading to the win).  Of course, you’ll need all the supporting data at hand, but don’t underestimate the value of good graphics.

Measure Test Analyze Report

As with Sales evangelism, you’ll need to continuously remind management of Marketing’s worth.  Unfortunately, many are old-school and think of Marketing as an “arts and crafts” cost center.  You can change their mind by continuously measuring, testing, analyzing and reporting on Marketing’s value.  Get your data and get going!

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Are Brands Dying?

Do you agree that Brands are rapidly losing value in our information society?  In the February 17 issues of The New Yorker, Financial Page contributor James Surowiecki’ writes, in his article, “Twilight of the Brands,” about the theories of Itamar Simonson.  In his book, “Absolute Value,” Simonson postulates that brands used to serve the purpose of helping us to choose a product or service when we had no information.  Now, the Internet and social media have given us a wealth of information to aide our every purchase decision.

According to Surowiecki and Simonson, “If you’re making a better product, you can still charge more, but if your product is much like that of your competitors, your price needs to be similar too.  That’s the clearest indication that the economic value of brands– traditionally assessed by the premium a company could charge–is waning.”  They conclude by stating that a company is now only as good as their last product and brands have never been more fragile.

Hold on now… I would argue that Brands still retain their original function — at least for certain types of companies.   The B2B service companies I’ve worked for, many of whom go to market through independent sales organizations, resellers, dealers and other channel partners, need a strong reputation/brand in order to gain any recognition and rise above the competition. In a commodity business, the brand may be the only thing that allows a company to charge more than the lowest price.

There are, of course, many ways to build a B2B brand — and content marketing that demonstrates thought leadership is one of the most effective (see my previous blogs).  But not supporting your brand is like asking for a level playing field.  Wouldn’t you rather have the advantage of a reputation for being a trusted advisor?  Wouldn’t you rather charge a premium for that expertise?  I believe that smart B2B companies understand that brands still serve as proxies for quality.  Do you agree?

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Integrating With the Sales Process

Step Seven of Ten Steps To Marketing Relevance
Your MAS must be linked to your CRM and other sales tools – and your sales force must understand how it all works

In our last discussion, we discussed the value of implementing a marketing automation system (MAS).  But like any tool, a MAS only works well if used well.  In order to reach the goal of continuous revenue performance management (a Marketo term), your company’s management and sales force must understand and embrace the system’s functionality.

Here is Forrester’s view of the marketing maturity journey, which shows how marketing and sales evolve together.Forrester's Mktg Maturity Model

To get to the Predictor stage (or continuous RPM), I recommend the following integration
stages:

  • Stage 1 – Make the Business Case      
    • Leadership – Sell the vision/future state with a scenario-based story (describe how a customer might find, connect with and purchase from your company through the tool)
    • IT – Work through processes, procedures, charters, documentation, approval tiers, security certification, risk & compliance, etc.
  • Stage 2 – Start Contributing
    • Provide email marketing, landing pages, forms, campaign design, SFDC tools, lead nurturing, reporting/analytics, automated campaigns, etc… the word will spread
    • Make sure all Marketing staff understands and are singing off the same sheet
  • Stage 3 – Evangelize
    • Provide reps with grass-roots training on why marketing-sourced leads are valuable and how to work them with the integrated MAS/SFDC tools
    • Provide sales leadership with staff and account-level activity reports
    • Provide executives with performance overviews & metrics
  • Stage 4 – Prioritize
    • Figure out how to manage all the work you’ve created for yourself!

Actually, the evangelism never really ends.  There are always new people joining the company, and salespeople who haven’t taken time for training.  Keep explaining how the MAS and CRM work together – and how it helps them win.  Tell scenario-based stories, show the tools in action, get tactical, present the numbers … the goal is to get Sales to
see Marketing as part of their pipeline – the partner that is sending them highly-qualified leads and equipping them to close the deals.  Only when Sales and Marketing hold hands does the whole process come together.

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Implementing a Marketing Automation System

Step Six of Ten Steps To Marketing Relevance
MAS are critical for generating leads, measuring productivity, and demonstrating value

In the first five installments of this series, we covered structure, content and channels.  Now let’s talk technology…. specifically marketing automation systems (MAS).  These new tools, including Marketo, Eloqua, Silverpop and others, are a game changer.  Having implemented all three, I can tell you that they go a long way towards making Marketing a science rather than an art.

At it’s core, a MAS is an email tool.  But it’s so much more:

  • a lead management and nurturing sysytem
  • a campaign landing page development tool
  • a CRM (i.e. Salesforce.com) utility
  • an analytics and reporting tool
  • a way to prove ROI

At my current company, we use Marketo for all these things and have effectively created a continuous pipeline from inbound lead though the sales process and beyond.  Marketo provided this “marketing maturity journey” slide, which corresponds to our experience pretty well.  Like many companies our size, we’ve mostly transitioned out of traditional marketing, have implemented and integrated demand generation systems, and are working daily to integrate sales and marketing efforts.

Marketing Maturity Journey

With a MAS, all stages of the funnel are measureable, and management begins to depend on those numbers — and see Marketing’s contribution. Getting to the nirvana of a continuous RPM system is going to take time while all the old dogs learn new tricks.  But the journey is as important as the destination.

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The Age of the Customer

I recently listened to a Forrester webinar, and wanted to share these two slides from it…

First, we’ve all heard this, but the landscape has changed shape with the digital revolution.  Now it really is all about the customer.
A new era - ForresterSecond, marketing’s role has become increasingly about embracing the new paradigm, using digital channels to break through the clutter, understanding customers better via their data trails, and transforming the customer experience on a transaction-level basis.
4Mktg Imperatives - ForresterThe age of the customer has transformed Marketing out of necessity – and vice versa.

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Remember: It’s About Revenue

Step Five of Ten Steps To Marketing Relevance
Don’t Get Caught Up in Making Nice Marketing…It’s About Making Money

How many of you know marketing managers who get lost in the weeds?  Every team I’ve seen has members who get so caught up in making nice deliverables and campaigns that they forget to keep their eyes on the revenue ball.  You can learn from them.  Before diving into a project, ask yourself, “Will it make the company money?”

Office space

As we covered in a Be a Thought Leader, the way to a customer’s wallet is to make effective, information-rich targeted deliverables that prospective buyers will value.  Danny Turnbull, Managing Director of gyro Manchester, put it this way in a 5/9/13Forbes article, “We live in an age where information is currency. If you create something of value for the end-users, they will pay it forward.”

Inbound equals customers

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And, as we discussed in Think Omni-Channel, it pays to use inbound channels that earn prospects’ attention.  According to HubSpot, inbound marketing costs 62%less per lead than traditional, outbound marketing, and have a higher close rate.

Marketing author and speaker Guy Kawasaki says, “If you have more money than brains, you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing.”

I don’t know about you, but I think my time is valuable.  If you give me the gift of information where I can find it when I’m looking, I’ll pay it forward.

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Think Omni-channel

Step Four of Ten Steps To Marketing Relevance
Be There With Relevant Content When & Where Your Clients Are Looking For It

Earned Media

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Even if you create relevant content, customers aren’t going to just appear.  You have to put that content where they are when they are looking for it.  Earned media is the most credible, and therefore the most effective.  If customers learn about you through social channels or media mentions, they might seek out your owned media – and maybe even pay attention to your paid media.

content mktg usage

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According to Marketing Profs, social media has become the most popular content marketing tactic because it is earned media.  Published content – like articles, eNewsletters, and blogs – comes next.  But all content, whether posted on owned real estate or not, works best when attention is earned… when readers post about you and other sites link to yours. (Plus it improves your search engine rankings.)

Another way to look at it… your new marketing mix should be about making it easy for your customer to find your content.  Spend less on pushing out messages on traditional channels.  You probably won’t reach customers when they’re ready anyway.  Instead, pull your readers by placing content all the places they might look when their researching and receptive.

Think omni-channel

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And as we learned in Step Three of this series, if you keep at it – using all those inbound channels wisely – you’ll not only catch the attention of prospective buyers, you’ll generate leads and revenue.  Ultimately you’ll create loyalty by becoming your customers’ education source and trusted partner.  It’s a food-chain that puts dinner on the table.

Learn more about omnicommerce (omni-channel + mobile payments) and the omniconsmers of the future (18-34 year-olds who expect omnicommerce soon).

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The ‘Omniconsumer’ of the Future

I recommend taking a moment to read “Vantiv Profiles the ‘Omniconsumer’ of the Future” at RetailCustomerExperience.com … because it contains a lot of interesting facts about the 18-34 consumer and what they expect from mobile payments.  And because it’s part of the work I do for Vantiv.  Likewise, you might enjoy this TIME piece on Omniconsumers, which references my research at the end.

Vantiv Insights - Omniconsumer WP

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For the last two years I’ve focused on making Vantiv a thought leader in the payment space…keeping our clients and prospects up-to-date on current issues and emerging trends. (It also builds our brand, generates leads, and gives the sales force content.) Each year I work with our research partner Mercator Advisory Group to conduct primary research on payment trends in the U.S.  Based on surveys of consumers and a series of qualitative interviews with payment industry experts, we issue quarterly educational campaigns designed to help readers understand the changing payment landscape. 

Our newest thought leadership–the subject of the RetailCXP.com article–focuses on “Mobile Payments and the Omniconsumer of the Future”.  The 18-34 omniconsumer is tech-savvy and eager for value-added mobile payments that allow seamless payment across channels.  Young consumers want a consistent experience across all online and retail channels, and are willing to give their business to the provider who delivers best.

There’s lots more to learn. Visit Vantiv.com/research today to see the 2012 and 2013 campaigns based on customer experience research.  Whitepapers and webinars are the core of the campaigns, but you’ll find infographics, fact sheets, videos and more.  Enjoy!

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Create a Robust Content Marketing Program

Step Three of Ten Steps To Marketing Relevance
Don’t Underestimate the Value of Content Marketing

In my last post, Be a Thought Leader, we discussed why thought leadership sits at the pinnacle of content marketing.  Now let’s back up and look at content marketing as a whole.  What exactly is it?  The Content Marketing Institute says: “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

MktgProfs content marketing goals
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More and more, organizations are using content marketing to drive customer action and achieve corporate goals such as brand awareness, customer acquisition, lead generation, and customer retention.

Many effective content marketing programs are built around primary research on customer experience in an industry.  But research and content development are not cheap, so companies shifting budget there. 

MktgProfs content marketing budgets

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According to Marketing Profs’ 2013 B2B Content Marketing Report, the average spend is now 33%, up from 26% two years ago.  Marketing Profs also reports that companies rated as “highly-effective” content marketers spend more money across more channels, tailor content to customer profiles, and plan to do more of those things. 

As we all know, companies don’t shift budgets this way without anticipation of ROI.  Content marketing is becoming a mainstream marketing approach because it works. While I can’t reveal proprietary data, I can verify that the content marketing programs I have created for my employers have shown >400% ROI in the first year, have become part of brand and sales scripts by year two, and have started significant contract conversations by year three.  In my experience, it pays to have your story straight.

Posted in B2B Marketing, Content Marketing, Customer Experience, Customer Experience Research, Thought Leadership, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Be A Thought Leader

Step Two of Ten Steps To Marketing Relevance:
Know Your Customers and Be Their Trusted Partner

In my last post on Structuring For Success, we talked about new roles in the modern marketing organization.  Many companies are recognizing that content is more than just “copywriting,” and they are creating new positions to focus on it.  What they understand is what Larry Weber, author of Marketing to the Social Web, puts so succinctly, “…People don’t want to be sold to. What people do want is news and information about the things they care about.”  They want thought leadership.

Thought leadership allows a company to build its brand, position itself as an industry leader and build “trusted partner” relationships.  But in order to work, it has to be built upon an understanding of customers experience, pain points, and interests.  This is why many companies are also investing in Customer Insights roles.  Through research, analysis, and interviews they prepare content managers to develop insight-driven content relevant to key customer profiles.  As Peter Drucker put it, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customers so well that the product or service fits and sells itself.”

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Forrester classifies content this way: the more educational and problem-solving the content is, the greater impact it will have on potential buyers.  Thought leadership sits at the pinnacle of content marketing because it has the most potential to affect customer behavior.

The thought leadership program I run for my company is effective because it speaks to financial institution and merchant concerns about payment methods.  The series helps them understand where traditional form factors such a credit and debit cards are holding market share and where emerging methods such as mobile payments and prepaid cards are gaining traction.  The program offers education without a sales pitch, and positions the company as a thought leader in the space… one that clients can trust to help them plan ahead.

Ardath Albee, author of Emarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, puts it this way, “By publishing content that shows buyers you understand their problems and can show them how to solve them, you build credibility.”  If your company wants to earn credibility and trust, consider being deliberate with content marketing.

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