All posts in Agile Marketing

B2B Marketing Tips from the Funnelmentals Panel Discussion

Bizo’s B2B Funnelmentals event in San Francisco made for an exciting day; we loved all the insightful presentations and conversations. As co-sponsors of the event, we were invited to participate in a panel discussion on Modern Marketing, and the conversation uncovered lot of great insights; insights we want to share with you.

Bizo has done a fantastic job of summarizing the most valuable learnings from the full event, but we also wanted to answer some of the questions we didn’t get to during the panel. Our own Ryan Abreo has summarized the main insights from the discussion and even included a few bonus questions that weren’t answered Thursday. We hope you find it helpful.

Q: Where is content marketing headed? We’re all swimming in white papers, webinars, blog posts, videos, and Tweets; where should we be focusing our content development energy? What’s next?

With Content Marketing we’re trying to drive engagement, showcase thought leadership, increase brand awareness, support/accelerate the ‘Buyer’s Journey’ and so on; there are lots of objectives.

The biggest challenge we’re trying to overcome is content saturation and therefore prospect atrophy. The important thing then is to provide the right balance of quality and quantity: not too much content or too little, but always relevant. To nail down an efficient content marketing strategy, try to do the following:

  1. Make an impression – Ask yourself: how am I being unique? Ask yourself: is this content I would share with a relevant audience in my social network? Ask: what is my Content Reputation? Ask: is this content high quality and interesting, or mediocre and boring?
  2. Simplify Content Discovery/Curation – people have short attention spans, you have to be thoughtful about getting the right message, to the right person, at the right time, (and increasingly now) through the right channel. You have to combat content saturation with high-value, but “digestible” content.
  3. Mine Internal SME’s – content creation is expensive but there is definitely an “internal expert” within your organization; someone with great ideas but no bandwidth or competency for developing content. Facilitate content creation by making it easy on them.

Q: How has your own “marketing stack” (your CRM, marketing automation, analytics, DMP, and other tools and software) evolved over the past 24 months?

There has been a lot more off-platform, value-add development. The gaps between the services many marketing technologies offer reveal huge integration opportunities. Tools for consolidating the view of the customer and managing leads throughout the cycle will be the next big drivers of growth.

An interesting way to broaden that consideration is to look at the evolution of the entire ‘Sales and Marketing Stack’. The past 12 months have seen a climate of aggressive acquisition: Oracle [Eloqua]; SFDC [ExactTarget]; Adobe [Neolane]; Microsoft extending Dynamics via 2012 acquisitions of MarketingPilot and Social.

For the short term there are, and will continue to be, Apps or Services that extend or improve functionality as we evolve towards a “one platform” system; for now they are still fundamentally different products and services. In the long term, disparate marketing arms like social marketing, automation, CRM, and revenue performance management will be consolidated under one central program, with a slew of integrative benefits:

  • Data Management (one ‘master’ contact and account DB)
  • Closed Loop Reporting
  • Integration Simplification
  • Better Automation, Segmentation

Q: With the rising importance of technology in marketing, how have you changed your marketing organization? It seems that every company’s marketing organization is different. Is there an optimal way to structure our marketing team? Will a best practice organizational template evolve over time?

Modern Marketing exists because there is a Modern Customer. There’s been a rise in technology to support engagement with the Modern Customer, but it’s still valuable to keep a “customer-centred vs. technology-centred” view when considering operational changes to your Marketing Organization.

Yes, you will need technologists to run your technology, but you will also need customer service experts to connect with customers on a deeper level. Best practices are always first practices; this balance of technology- and customer-centrism will help you continue to evolve over time. Two important changes that support this balance are:

  1. Adopting a more Agile Campaign Methodology– really get focused on right message, right customer, at the right time, through the right channel.
    • OREO – “You can still Dunk in the Dark”
      • 15ppl in War Room – Decision Makers, Social Media Team, Web Design Team
      • 15K Retweets, 20K Likes on FB, trending for hours after the game
      • Actionable Insight: Knowing 36% of people “second screen”
  2. Being Clinical about Testing – build your “marketing strategy” from the bottom up with a firm basis in testing. This means WAY more than A/B testing a subject line, evolving away from HiPPO or even conforming to ‘best practices’; it means finding out what works for you based on a rigorous process of hypothesis and testing.
    • Obama’s Digital Team – Crowd-sourced Fundraising for Re-Election Campaign ($500M in Donations). Key Insights:
      • Test – Do not Trust your Instincts
      • Create a Culture of Continuous Testing

Q: What are your biggest challenges right now?

There are several big challenges in Modern Marketing which are really manifestations of the same problems marketing has always faced.

  • Proving Value/ROI – “not getting the most out of our technology investments”
  • Poor relationship with sales/combatting low credibility with Sales
  • Difficulty getting past execution to developing an actual Marketing Strategy
  • Data Acquisition: collecting it, analyzing it, acting on it

A New Cycle of Marketing

Only data-driven marketing teams who work collaboratively can consistently create the ever-changing combination of message and media necessary to attract and nurture modern customers.

Historically, even in the most advanced organizations, the division of marketing responsible for lead generation efforts has had a rather fragmented process. Leads are generated from marketing activities such as events, pay-per-click and other targeted audience sources, but delays exist in getting these leads over to the team responsible for outbound, follow-up messaging. At some point, these leads need to be handed to a sales function after being matured and qualified through nurturing efforts. This sales function can be a person (as in many B2B cycles), or an ecommerce portal, often seen in direct B2C products sales. Pressure to follow-up in a timely and personalized manner has driven the requirement for automation technology to assist.

The underlying concern with the current methodology is the disjointed environment in which it is expected to thrive. Nurture campaigns and other similar initiatives are under pressure to constantly innovate and resonate, but little support exists to enable a ‘quest’ for this utopia. In order to succeed, it is critical to create an environment where large teams can work collaboratively to achieve the ever-changing, required message and media combination to truly attract and nurture customers.

A major contributor to this problem is how technology has been introduced to assist the process. The abundance of marketing technologies has created a need for job roles within the organization focused specifically on system implementation work. These system deployments, integrations and general configuration changes within those systems are generally driven by a separate group of people from those who have a focus on the message and medium. Further, strategically, these activities are largely driven by suggested configurations (‘best practices’) developed by software vendors holistically for a broad set of users across many companies and industries.

Secondly, the results data which is produced by campaign initiatives is generally stored, but rarely used. Again, the disparate roles and skills required to manage and analyze this data vary widely from those who develop messaging and content. The most successful organizations are often mid-market and have found a small group of ‘growth hackers’ and ‘full-stack marketers’ who can embrace all of these skills. The truth is that these people are very rare and larger enterprises are not able to retain and scale their efforts around these unicorns. Even as the skills of the traditional marketer evolve, the need for focus and scale is critical for large enterprises, rather than evolving, scalable strategies based on specific marketing goals.

new-marketing-cycle

In this situation, it is unrealistic to expect that truly personalized, relevant messages can be delivered to an audience on a regular, ongoing basis – but the customer demands (and deserves) this level of interaction. Individual attempts can be successful, due to extraordinary people and teamwork, but even those groups cannot be expected to repeat their feats time and time again. As soon as a competitor’s message can resonate more than another’s, market share will begin to shift.

A simple shift towards cohesion of marketing efforts can have a significant impact. Marketing leadership must change the environment to support the ongoing efforts made by marketing teams:

  1. System implementation efforts must be driven initially by best practices, but then evolve to be influenced and driven by the need to scale successful campaign efforts across product lines, channels and geographies.
  2. Campaign planning must include hypotheses that are proven (true or false) and these results must be shared and accessible globally. This data along with traditional KPI’s must be leveraged in future campaign planning to avoid duplication of efforts.
  3. Marketers need to be empowered to experiment and innovate in controlled environments in order to ‘bubble’ up the most successful attempts.

Ironically, these changes often present themselves as a cost savings to an organization. For many, it immediately becomes a value add. Consider the enterprise with marketing efforts occurring across multiple product lines and customer geographies. These customer audiences are usually very similar and can be influenced by the same ideas. Yet, since no mechanism exists to support collaboration across the marketing groups, successes are not shared and assets, efforts and failures are reproduced. Further, without an understanding of what is working for everyone, systems are not regularly ‘tuned’ to support them. The system changes are instead driven by standardized best practices that no longer resonate with the buyer and are already being improved upon by a competitor.

Building a cyclical process and allowing these three functions to continually feed each other is the hallmark of an innovative marketing group. With every effort, regardless of outcome, the organization learns and enables itself. This combined learning then serves as a foundation on which to experiment. Even in the case of successive failed attempts, a marketing group would be more empowered than ever to plan the next campaign towards success. The company would be truly ‘listening’ to their audience. In turn, their systems evolve to enable the data, workflows and assets of a campaign to be widely reused, and brands would move one step closer to being truly customer driven.

The Changing Role of Marketing Technology in 2014

Foundational systems emerge encouraging a focus on people and data.

The past eighteen months have seen a considerable investment in the marketing technology space. From large software acquisitions to public offerings, many are attempting to grab a piece of this fast growing industry with considerable market space still up for grabs. Continue reading →

How To Develop a Strong CMO-CIO Relationship

Teamwork will never be an underrated skill in business, and the ability to collaborate has only become more valuable with the uncovering of big data. Marketing and IT are quickly merging into an entirely new industry that requires the skills of both teams in order to make sense of all of the information that is coming this way.

But the Chief Marketing Officer and the Chief Information Officer are also two positions that have held very different responsibilities, so how do you bring the two portfolios together?  Here are some quick ways to build up a working relationship between your CMO and CIO:

-          Transparency: Make sure that you’re keeping each other in the loop.
-          Share Your Space: The more time you spend together, the more you’re going to learn how to work with each other.
-          Align Your Tracks: Always be aware of the direction that you’re both going in – you want them to come together so that you can both move forward without any collisions.
-          Friendship and Trust: The more you like the people you work with, the more supportive and trusting you are.

See our full article on how to improve your CMO and CIO relationship here.

Agile Marketing – A New Approach to Marketing

Agile Marketing

Agile marketing, as defined by Experian, is the ability to adapt or refocus marketing effort quickly and successfully in response to changes in customer behavior, market conditions and business direction to benefit market share.  The key principles of agile marketing focus on creating remarkable customer experiences, responding quickly to change, and stronger alignment with business leaders and sales departments. Agile methodologies shape the way modern marketers approach their strategies and campaigns.   Continue reading →