Brain Vibe

marketing muses to stay engaged

Are We Really Conducting Integrated Marketing?

I was thinking about the structure of marketing organizations today.  Maybe it was because of Forrester’s point of view on how marketing organizations need to change to serve brands better.  Or maybe it was because it struck me as odd the disconnect between online and offline marketing efforts.  Regardless, there is something drastically wrong with the way we organize our marketing efforts.

In the end, if we have silos in our marketing organizations of online and offline, how is that really serving the better good of driving awareness, engagement, revenue, and customer value?

This divide between online and offline is now becoming more fractured as companies search for ways to transform into social media marketing initiatives.  Digital marketing is now being divided.  There is also the fracture of offline between communications and direct marketing.  We seem to be creating organizations around tactics rather than organizations around strategy.  Having centers of excellence with subject matter experts is certainly important.  Flawless execution in the end gets you to your goals.  Although, why start with the ‘what can be done’ if you don’t know what you are driving to do? This organizational divide of marketing enhances and exposes the weakness in our strategic ability.

Companies that have gotten it right and have leading marketing groups have program offices responsible for marketing and campaign strategies.  They leverage field, creative, and internet marketing organizations as internal agencies and services.  Program offices are the glue managing the value proposition, message, and coordinating the tactical strategies of subject matter experts.  Those companies that market in silos tend to stay in secondary market positions and languish chasing their competition.  One silo gets all the attention and creates a lopsided marketing approach.

It is necessary to grow our organizations and shift to take advantage of new technologies and approaches.  I’m just not convinced that creating organizational silos are the right way to make marketing efforts successful.  It may be the easiest way to get things started and track success.  Yet, in the end, a cohesive marketing organization will get you further.

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Filed under: CMO seat, marketing operations, marketing/advertising, , ,

B2B CRM: The Right Contact Mix for Your Customer Relationship

You’ve spent years gathering contacts into your databases.  You’ve implemented a data quality practice that is now starting to give you a solid picture of your universe.  It is now time to classify your contacts.

Invariably, your database is more than just purchasing/decision maker contacts.  All departments have gathered people’s information depending on the purpose.  It offers a window into your business dealings.  It also offers a window on your ability to market and sell.  Just as you consider vehicles, content, and message to deliver to your database, you also think about who you are reaching and who can be converted.

SOA and MDM initiatives are great because they bring together a full picture of interactions with the customer as well as who is part of those interactions.  But, not all contacts are created equal.  Just as not all customers or companies are created equal.  It is the first thing that is considered when determining targeting strategies.  The size of a database is typically determined based on the silo it is intended to help.  Marketing wants decision makers, finance wants accounts payable, customer support wants end users, investor relations wants analysts and media.  By themselves, these data silos serve a purpose.  Together, they can show a picture of where your awareness, message and brand really are.

A good  test once consolidation of data bases is done, or even within your CRM system alone if it receives lists and feeds from other internal sources, is to classify contacts based on their primary interaction with your company.  Everyone in your database has had a reason to connect.  Bringing these reasons into a standardized category will help determine the value they bring to a marketing program, customer relationship, or evangelist role.  Monitoring the ratios of these groups within a cusotmer relationship and firmographic data can give insight into the ability to grow a relationship, if it is at risk, or there is no relationship and the company serves another purpose.

While as marketers we typically look at the entire size of our database to determine if we have enough contacts to convert to leads, if those leads are weighted towards a low number of companies, or they are not the right contacts, then our efforts can be wasted.  With the cost to acquire customers and contacts expensive, having a mechanism to determine when to purchase lists and how much to purchase will refine the amount of resources and budget needed.  In addition, messaging and engagement strategies can be modified to align to the type of relationship outcome you intend.

So, rather than thinking about personas when you need to target, think about them strategically and as an indicator of the strength of relationship with your customer.

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Filed under: business intelligence, crm, data quality, marketing operations, , , , , , , , , , ,

The Value of Social Media for B2B Purchase Decisions

digital-medium-used-by-us-professionalsUnderstanding how customers decide what solutions they need, which services they need, or what vendor to work with seems to move in peaks and valleys.  With social media on the scene and companies embracing it to get closer to customers, the question is arising again.  The real question is, how does social media contribute to a customer’s purchase decision?

Taking visitors to social media networks or connections to social media marketing efforts into the sales process has thus far eluded marketing.  The answer may be in this recent analysis provided by eMarketer.com.  While GenY is more optimistic about visitation and use of social media activities by US Professionals, Boomers and GenX think that professionals are less inclined.  This is not surprising as other statistics show an age gap.  What is important to realize is that Boomers and GenX are typically the ones making the decisions and holding the purse strings.  If they aren’t using social media to gather information about solutions, services, and vendors their purchase decision is not going to be influenced by what marketers put there.

Another revealing aspect of this study is the individual vehicles and their place in the typical workday.  Social networking, where marketers are looking to develop one-to-one relationships, are not as frequented by decision makers.  The other area to connect directly, internet forums, is also a lagging vehicle.  On the other hand, traditional vehicles such as a news site and personal email are ingrained in everyday behavior.  Social media, as a newer communication and information source, requires change in a decision maker’s behavior.  Other tools, such as mobile devices, were readily adopted due to teh fact that they mimicked and incorporated existing communication methods.  It wasn’t as much of a leap for people to make.  Social media, on the other hand, my be too different from how decision makers gather information or collaborate.

In a world where the journalist is considered a dying breed, across the board responents reconginzed the role they play in a professionals workday.  In fact, the gap is significant when compared to blogs.  This seems to point to a need to value and validated content versus opinion.  Another aspect to consider is that business journals are still able to sell online content and information.  Social media in time may become a trusted source of informtion, but today’s the number indicate that decision makers as designated by generation still rely and trust traditional sources.  Blogs, forums, and networks may still be seens as commentary and biased even is they are produced in journalistic fashion.

As GenY moves up the ranks and GenX further gravitates to social media int the workplace, things will shift.  But, this may still be several years out.   As marketers, we need to consider our audience’s preference for communication and information gathering when leveraging marketing tools that should drive sales.  Social media in business is still an immature source even as the hype has reached a crescendo.    If social media is not used regularly in a workday, it does not have the marketing power to transform engagement into sales.  Purchase decisions are complex and content and engagement needs to happen in a manner that creates trust, credibility, and aligns to the customer decision process.

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Filed under: b2b, marketing operations, marketing technology, networking, social media, social media marketing, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is Twitter an Effective Direct Marketing Tool?

There are many uses for Twitter, but a significant use is to share content.  So, if you are a marketer and trying to get reach and conversion by feeding your blogs, white papers, and event invites through Twitter, what is the click-through rate?  How does it compare to email and direct mail?  Just how effective is it?

Pear Analytics just released a post looking at just that.  Their conclusion is that Twitter only provided a  click-through rate equivalent to direct mail.

… [A] “useful” tweet has the following characteristics:

-a shelf life of about 1 hr 15 min, and then it “dies”
-1 to 2% click-through rate on links

Which means that this is not a whole lot different than direct mail for example, without out the cost of course.

Ouch!  Alright, so it didn’t cost anything except manpower, but it is supposed to be better than direct mail and even email due to the ‘viral’ aspect of being within a social network.  That’s the hype.  That’s what the creative gurus are telling us. 

The issue with Twitter as a direct marketing tool has more to do with the fact that you cannot manage your list.  You may be able to manage your own follower and following list, but ultimately you are relying on the good will of others in the network to get out the message.  The way you manage your Twitter list is different than others manage theirs.

A big factor of success in direct marketing is the ability to slice, dice, and segment for a targeted approach.  It is surgical and scientific.  Even when you purchase lists you account for quality and alignment to your purpose, message, and content.  This simply is not manageable in Twitter if your follower’s networks are built for size rather than quality.  You can at least have negotiate money back if lists your purchase from vendors have quality issues.  But, Twitter lists are free.

Social networks like Twitter are great to keep high quality leads and customers close and then leverage to build your databases through early stage outreach.    When new leads do come into your social network, check for quality as this will tell you if your viral channel is high quality as well.  Then, If social network connections meet a threshold for quality, migrate to your central marketing database for lead nurturing.

 

 

Filed under: customer relationship, data quality, marketing operations, marketing technology, metrics, networking, social media, , , , , , , , , ,

Driving Marketing Effectiveness and Efficiency from Within using Social Media

I wonder if the real value of social media for B2B marketing is not the external use to drive sales and customer relationships, but to improve marketing capabilities and become more efficient.

In 2007, the company I worked for set up a social network and everyone was commanded to create a profile and connect with our fellow marketers.  The reason behind it was that we were expanding the team to China and it was a way that our new collogues could feel integrated with the marketing groups in the US and Europe.  It was all very ‘friendly’.  To be honest, I groaned and only created my profile because I was required.  For me, personal life is not what I wanted my marketing leadership to see or the people that worked for me.  My profile was tame to the point of boring.

It goes to show that they didn’t really get the value.  Outside of the fact that it was a requirement to share you personal self, there was a real missed opportunity to drive marketing effectiveness and efficiencies.  

Improve Effectiveness through Sharing

Each quarter regional and program teams were required to review campaigns and programs.  For several weeks marketers prepared their slides to show what was working, what didn’t, and next steps.  These were long conference call sessions where people presented and we all listened in.  Mostly, unless you were involved in the program or campaign, your phone would broadcast the meeting while you worked on what ever it was you had to do.  Not a lot of value there.

Social media would have provided the perfect platform to post presentations and create forums for questions and discussions on how to apply what was learned to other sectors of marketing.  Discussions on the calls were limited to those that were involved which was required for time sake.  But, using Twitter or micro-blogging on a social network would have provided key points to marketers to read as well as offer the ability to shoot over questions.  Reviews didn’t have to merely operate within the allotted time slot and webcast, they could be extended, shared, and saved for all to learn from later.

Create Efficiencies in Project Management

Any major project conducted was stored within an internal project management and knowledge management solution called ProjectLink.  All documents and images were posted there along with managing the change/revision process.  These project environments were huge, messy, and primarily acted as a glorified shared folder.  You had to dive into files to truly understand the project and there was no conversational stream to provide insight or background on why something was decided upon.

Setting up a project group using social media could alleviate workflow, sharing, and archiving problems by containing project management.  Instead of using email and IM, forums and micro-blogging could provide the communication streams.  Content could still be stored, but it would also have notes and comments attached for review and reference of other team members or other marketers.  A big benefit is that it could also provide a platform to share assets and content across marketing projects and groups to re-use and re-purpose allowing for reduction of duplicative work.

Efficient Workflow with Other Organizations

Marketing was a pretty silo’d organization.  While there was a significant amount of conversation with sales and product management, the reality is that in the end, marketing would go off and do their work.  Even in the hand-off process at the lead management stage, the CRM system controlled the process and created a wall of sorts between marketing and sales.

Opening up the door between marketing and key stake holders in other organizations is what social media is made for.  As marketing might share amongst themselves in a social network, they could invite others to their groups or set up new groups to facilitate relationships.  In the sales process, key accounts could be manages through a joint relationship between marketing and sales through asset and content sharing and communication support.  Hooked in with conversations that marketing is having with customers would add significant value to closing business with social media.

Efficient and Effective Marketing Operations

Marketing needs to consider how social media from an internal perspective can help them be effective and efficient internally.  Today, too many forms of communication, and silos within the organization drag down ROI. Implementing social media capabilities will spread knowledge, drive operational efficiency, and break down walls between marketing and other organizations.

Filed under: crm, marketing operations, performance management, , , , , , ,

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