Digital Marketing / Social Media

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Marketing Tech Investments: Beyond Silicon Valley

This past week, I facilitated another round table discussion with twenty business to business digital leaders as part of the Marketing Operations Cross Company Alliance (MOCCA) group.   Companies represented ranged from large companies like CA Technologies, SAP, and MetLife, to smaller companies like Talkpoint (acq. PGi) and XLGroup.  We also had a technology venture managing partner join our round table discussion.

One topic of conversation was the recent VentureBeat article citing @chiefmartec Scott Brinker’s landscape of marketing technology.  Scott presented this chart to us in our last meeting so we had context.  We asked the question to the group – ‘are 1400 marketing technology vendors sustainable as an overall market?’

Market expansion responses:

  • The marketing technology company quantity will double (to 2800) because the pace of innovation is moving fast
  • Big companies (Oracle, SAP, SFDC) can’t innovate, therefore big companies will acquire so there will be a need for smaller companies continuously
  • To be competitive today, the advantage in the market is that of speed as value propositions blur – and technology enables that speed edge, so the market will continue to expand to get faster
  • It is a game of arbitrage – once all competitors buy a technology (like predictive analytics), they no longer have that advantage so they’ll seek new technology to go faster
  • Salesforce.com has the app exchange with thousands of companies, marketing is no different with Marketo with Launchpoint

Market contraction responses:

  • Technology has changed so fast, it is starting to outstrip the organization’s ability to respond and keep up
  • I spend my day dodging calls and emails from marketing technology vendors unless that vendor has something really unique I should look at
  • My budget is staying relatively flat, there is only so much technology I can invest in credibly and present to my boss
  • My companies priorities shape how I’m able to absorb marketing technology and we can barely get done what we need to get done
  • I check to see how long a vendor has been in business because I want to make sure they are sustainable for the long term

Based on my own experiences as a head of marketing in Silicon Valley and NYC companies for 10 years and recent discussions with my enterprise clients, I bend toward a market contraction.

  • Some companies will fade away completely and be replaced by newer innovations with the overall pool of companies remaining the same at first, slowly contracting with either exits through larger companies or exits because of lack of revenue.
  • While somewhat obvious, Silicon Valley companies are more likely to be industry leading in terms of their investment threshold for new marketing technologies as they are more apt to pilot/test and risk success;
  • East coast companies are a very different beast both in organizational risk appetite as well as the importance of marketing as part of the sales process.  It is likely east coast companies will need to digest what is in front of them now technology wise and prove ROI on existing investments before getting too far ahead on net new investments.

An area of opportunity is for one vendor to bring order to chaos, by simplifying one interface to get multiple tools to work together properly and coherently.

One thing we all agree on, there is no better time to be an enterprise marketer.

How do you see the technology marketing market shaping up?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

2013: Great Expectations For Marketing ROI

Here is my brief view of what to expect in 2013.

During 2013, organizations will demand significantly more revenue value out of their existing sales and marketing ecosystem investments including CRM, Marketing Automation, and list acquisition purchases.  Non-marketing executives at these firms will demand greater accountability for return on these investments.

 

As a result, marketers will need the ability to execute campaigns with surgical precision and to tie their marketing investments explicitly to ROI. This includes:

 

Generating more qualified leads. Successful marketers can and should claim the lion’s share of leads that close to revenue within their organizations. Focus here on the details: standardizing data fields within CRM and marketing automation systems, for example, is critical to proper segmentation and targeting. Data-driven segmentation is especially critical to executing targeted campaigns and increasing ROI.

 

Optimizing business processes. Many companies use less than 10% of their marketing automation capabilities because they haven’t deployed these tools effectively. That’s why it’s so important to map every aspect of your customer acquisition and onboarding process – from inquiry to close and beyond – to and through your CRM and marketing automation tools.

 

Connecting marketing activity to new revenue. An entire industry has evolved around the ability to measure marketing-sourced and marketing-influenced revenue – and to extend these analytics far beyond what’s available from an out-of-the-box CRM or marketing automation system. It’s hard to overstate the importance of these tools; their power lies in their ability to give executives “one view of the truth” for reporting sales and marketing ROI.

 

Organizations that put together these pieces and execute a revenue-driven marketing strategy will have a far more successful 2013 than those that don’t.

 

What do you think will happen?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Bigger deals that close faster!

We’re still not yet hitting the full promise of what marketing 2.0 could be delivering on.  In an informal poll of 3 CMOs of B2B companies with revenues from $50M to $5B, I asked about their progress with new revenue acquisition effectiveness around gaining bigger deal sizes with decreased sales cycle time by leveraging effective marketing automation deployments and other inbound techniques of marketing.  The findings mirror what MOCCA (Marketing Operations Community) reported in January 2012 in a webinar survey of over 200 companies – on balance, companies that invested in marketing automation platforms experienced better (and more) leads at a lower cost per lead, not yet bigger deals that closed or a faster close time.

How do you get better conversion and more effective utilization out of your technology investments, specifically around your marketing automation platform?  Here are 3 suggestions:

  • Data – I use the ‘sight on the rifle’ analogy with data.  If your rifle sight is off by the slightest, you’ll miss your target by a mile when you go to shoot at it.  The single biggest area which is most often misunderstood by executives is the integrity of your company data.  Without complete data (contact names, phone numbers, email addresses), sales teams invest an inordinate amount of research time to get the right information.  (see previous post on the cost of this).  There have been tools that have improved ascertaining some of this information (LinkedIn plugin to salesforce.com, Data.com, InsideView, RainKing, etc.) to start down this path.  However, even the tools in and of themselves do not solve for data integrity issues of appending, cleansing, and preventing duplications at the contact or account level.  With the right up front planning, sales effectiveness can be increased.
  • Buyer cycle knowledge – a surprising number of organizations way underestimate the need to build out content around their buying cycle.  First, organizations miss on understanding the ‘moments of truth’ of how their buyers actually buy and when buyers leverage digital technology to buy.  How they can get a better understanding here is through surveys, customer forums, and unpacking previously won deals to piece together successful elements.  The second area they miss out on is targeting the right content at the right time in the cycle.  As an example, Rackspace does an exceptional job of targeting end of funnel conversion by leveraging LinkedIn recommendations by clients such that other potential clients can see what their friends purchased.
  • Metrics/Reporting – probably the trickiest area of all and at the nexus of data, process, and content.  Without the other pieces in place, marketing ROI is a myth.  The vendors in the space are happy to sell you their capabilities which are either set up leveraging very specific use cases or require a fair amount of care and feeding to get operating correctly.  It will take people energy and an excel template to get the right data reported out on but without doing this, you won’t know what areas to improve in.  Veracity always comes into question when data is formatted outside of CRM systems, so be prepared to identify all assumptions in data gathering and use those assumptions consistently.

How have you improved your processes in getting bigger deals with shorter sales cycles?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

MOCCA DC – Trends in Marketing Operations

Marketing Operations as a B2B discipline is rapidly growing.  As one data point that supports its growth, we had our largest attendance to date for today’s MOCCA meeting in Washington DC with Andrew Gaffney and Amanda Batista of Demand Gen Report covering recent readership survey results on trends in marketing measurement, changes in b2b buyers, and shifts in content preferences.  Rather than rehash the survey results which are available on DemandGen’s website, here are 4 key takeaways from our hour long question and answer session that followed the presentation:

Content:  this area was the theme and background of DemandGen, so it was not a surprise to hear this topic come up.  We spent considerable time discussing the pros and cons of webinars, both live and recorded, and came to the conclusion they are a worthy, cost effective tactic to consider as part of the overall marketing mix.  With today’s integration in marketing automation platforms, there are more benefits reporting wise to use webinars versus in years past.  Video is also a tactic that can be repurposed toward mobile devices and non-mobile devices.  There were a few audience members who suggested that having  4 videos of 5 minutes each were more powerful than one 20 minute video and easier for a buyer to digest.

Data Warehouse:  this is an emerging area for enterprise companies that are trying to do data manipulation and more sophisticated reporting.  B2B companies are realizing a shortcoming of their CRM systems and marketing automation systems in terms of lack of data reporting flexibility.  Thus, they are looking to front end load their systems with a data warehouse that interoperates with disparate data sets and can do sophisticated reporting through easier manipulation of data.

Mobile:  this area remains an enigma for b2b marketers (my data points extend beyond this session with the CMOs of both Cisco and Xerox confirming this same data).  Contrary to what is happening in the market, marketers are just not yet ready to think about rendering b2b campaigns in mobile, either through their marketing automation platform or through companies like Litmus Technologies.  One company mentioned it was beginning to source 15% of its lead flow (not web traffic) from mobile devices yet the majority were not optimizing campaigns or content specifically toward mobile devices.  There are likely too many other competing priorities for marketers to be focused on, thus crowding out mobile for the moment.  Everyone knows they should be doing it (like working out at a gym), but few actually do it.

Reporting:  the majority of companies were at the early stages of connecting marketing investment to new revenue struggling with both systems as well as cultural – cultural meaning does marketing ‘source’ revenue or do they ‘influence’ revenue.  The theory models would suggest marketing does both, but not every culture absorbs that methodology.

We didn’t have time to cover it, but data and its accuracy seems to be the next hot topic for MOCCA to talk about.  What areas in marketing operations are you seeing that is hot?

 

 

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

LIKE: new SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall

Yesterday in the 106 degree Arizona weather, we received a needed waterfall – SiriusDecisions unveiled their upgraded view of the latest demand waterfall model at their annual conference.  With an array of color codes and arrows, the new direction is spot as it accounts for revenue sourcing across all elements of the business rather than taking a more myopic view of just what marketing does for the business for net new revenue.  It is no longer the ‘marketing waterfall’ but the ‘business waterfall’ in the 2.0 approach.

 

Here are my views of the new structure and why it is positive:

  • At an executive level, one should be measuring the velocity and cost of the source of leads converting to new revenue, regardless of the source (inbound, outbound, teleprospecting, sales).  According to Adobe’s 2012 CMO report, fewer than 20% measure their ROI on marketing, this framework will help contribute to defining the ROI element.
  •  At a more tactical inquiry level, a senior marketer needs to make a more intentional decision around resource allocation across inbound and outbound marketing mix and tactics.  When the demand creation model was created 10 years ago, social media (LinkedIn as an example) was less prevalent than that of today).
  • The model highlights the importance of the teleprospecting function in accepting, qualifying leads, and generating leads – this function’s importance is often underestimated or routinely outsourced without thinking through strategic revenue implications.  (See previous post here).  It’s the toughest job in the business in my opinion.  By explicitly calling out outbound teleprospecting accountability, a key skillset for account executives, sales leaders should welcome this new framework as it also spells out a clearer career path for teleprospectors.
  • Within the marketing qualification step, by putting more accountability within teleprospecting to ‘accept’ the leads rather than work all leads by marketing, the chances of marketing dumping several unqualified leads onto sales is further reduced.

There are nuances depending on the type of business that the model may need to be tweaked for – specifically around channel partners or other 3rd party mechanisms that generate revenue though the idea and flow should largely be the same.   Also, what’s not discussed is how to implement this kind of waterfall depending on the current stage of current processes – it will take an organization a committed period of time, so phasing and testing should be key to implementation. Lastly, I’ve surprisingly found a number of organizations, particularly larger ones, dancing around the conversation of ‘sourced’ vs. ‘influenced’ revenue, with some larger companies driving in one direction or the other rather than looking at both.   As SAP CMO @jbecher tweeted from the audience yesterday, ‘culture eats strategy’.  Specifically, one needs to be aware of the rigor and thoroughness this model represents and the willingness of the company to absorb the model.

It is critical for companies to do this kind of measuring to improve performance.  It is the right thing to do.

What are your views of the model?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Mobility: Raising Campaign Effectiveness

There are 3 key steps in raising email campaign effectiveness via mobile devices.

Mobility is playing an increasingly important role in reaching prospective customers for companies.  Studies show and my own recent customer data indicate that 9% to 30% of email (not necessarily campaign) views are done on mobile devices and that mobile traffic is rising VERY fast – one would expect campaign performance to follow in that same range.  However, companies on the B2B side are missing strategies  to reach these mobile devices – a key question to ask is, ‘are the campaigns sent actually viewed by an end user?’  Consequently, campaigns not optimized for mobile devices may not get viewed due to poor display or performance – no conversion means no revenue and that is a conundrum to avoid.

To my surprise, some of the B2B marketing automation toolset vendors in my studies do not have a deep level of mobile capability– in fact I have found a few vendors that have no ability to check the rendering (display) of email campaigns on different platforms, different email clients, or different devices.  Consequently, what may look really great to a creative marketer may make no sense to an end user, and therefore no conversion happens!

STEP 1 – Inventory how large your mobile audience is.  Tools like Litmus, polling subscribers, adding a link to your campaigns specific to a mobile version to see how it works, adding a mobile option to the subscription page, looking at your Google Analytics statistics are just a few ways to start.

Step 2 – Optimize content for the device experience– flash does not usually work on all mobile devices.  Studies show that 70% of mobile searches are within 1hr of need, compared to 1 month on the desktop. Mobile users have different priorities, operate in a different context, have more distractions and less time.  Litmus may be a good solution here as well.

Step 3 – Measure campaign performance. Companies like ReturnPath which is more on the B2C side versus pure B2B has tools like Campaign Insight and Campaign Preview, when combined allow an end user to see which campaigns are working and why in addition to checking for rendering.

There are other strategies that can augment mobile devices such as an SMS strategy, though that kind of advertising is specific to a mobile phone vs. a tablet device.  Take a measured approach when considering a campaign strategy that reaches mobile devices.  What strategies have you found effective?

 

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Marketing ROI through automation

There are 3 system components to getting effective marketing ROI leveraging marketing automation:  Content, Process, and Data.  Think of ROI as a 3 legged stool – the automation (seat) is supported by 3 legs of Content, Process, and Data.  The stool falls over if any one element is missing.  Let’s dive in.

 

Content:  Must be relevant for the segment of audience we are going after, and built to keep the segment engaged over a period of time.  Lead nurturing, or the art of keeping in front of a prospective buyer with their permission is the key stage leveraged here.  The example I use in presentations is think about the JetBlue or other airline emails you receive at home – the content is relevant as the emails focus on your local airport and they keep in front of you on a regular basis even when you are not considering an airline purchase.

Process:  Can vary depending on organization size and structure and is most acutely needed when handing off sales ready leads to the sales organization from the marketing organization.  Processes need to be built for the ‘not now, maybe later’ buyer where sales has a clear disposition path of these inquiries.  Processes need to be considered a ‘system’, not a ‘handoff’ – the prospect to customer conversion experience must be seen as one whole, not as two parts with a handoff.

Data:  Quality makes the difference between good conversions and so-so conversions.  This area is often overlooked, particularly around field integrity and processes that eliminate duplication in entries.  In some clients, I’ve seen up to 60% bad data in their database.  Marketing campaign effectiveness is directly proportional to database quality.

When these three areas are tackled, marketing ROI can be measured and improved upon.  Focusing on just one of these elements risks not getting the right return – leads that are hung up in bad processes can not be fixed with good content or good data.  Think of ROI as a system and not as individual pieces and you’ll be on the right road of success.

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

The First 100 Days: Insights and Lessons

Velocidi’s Salon Series, a quarterly series that aims to address the top-of-mind issues for CMOs, included a talk led this week by Margaret Molloy.  Our topic was The First 100 Days: Insights and Lessons featuring Maryam Banikarim, CMO of Gannett  Co. Inc. with about 50 other executive audience members.  Maryam talked candidly about the challenges she faced as she transitioned a 100 year culture into the digital age.   After Maryam’s talk, we broke into subgroups and talked about digital challenges CMOs face going into 2012.

Here were the leadership take aways from Maryam on the onboarding process:

  • No silver leadership bullets in leadership. Frequently expectations are for a new CMO to be the savior or offer up a ‘silver bullet’ strategy.  As emphasized in Jim Collin’s latest book, it usually is a series of smaller steps that get a company to success (ala Southwest Airlines succeeding in a tough competitive environment.)
  • Emphasis of building the right team, either externally or internally – you are only as good as your team, and as hard as it is, those that are not ready for change need to exit the organization.  Select the hungry, driven people.
  • Be relentless when selling executive level change in a culture that is not geared for change.
  • As a CMO,  be direct, authentic, honest, speak your mind, and keep building organizational bridges
  • Move the conversation forward – use phases like ‘We’re all in this together’.

Digital take aways from our sub group break out session:

  • Lead by example on the digital front – all marketing leaders should be running ‘experiments’ or ‘tests’ (some called it fail fast, I’m looking more optimistically!) with multiple digital technologies – some marketing teams have been mandated to tweet and/or blog.
  • Community is important to gain acceptance – build internal constituents from the C-Suite (ie CEO) and also keep an eye on how the external community is perceiving your brand on the digital front.
  • Tie digital technologies to business impact – important to show business progress on all levels.

Another GREAT session by @MargaretMolloy and the @Velocidi team!

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

CMO Roundtable @Velocidi

Along with 35 others, I participated in a terrific CMO roundtable hosted by digital agency @Velocidi moderated by @MargaretMolloy in NYC.  @JeffreyHayzlett, the recent head of marketing for Kodak and current head of The Hayzlett Group, was our guest speaker for heads of marketing in a variety of B2B and B2C companies.  Velocidi is the next generation digital agency leader in NYC with global offices and definitely a company to keep an eye on what’s happening next in the digital marketing space.

The topic of conversation was CMOs – what are the key issues we face and was based on some research Jeff had completed.  He had several areas that were important to consider as part of his research and he prompted breakout sessions to validate (or not validate) the research based on our own experiences.  In our breakout session, we had 4 takeaways that were mostly business oriented vs. marketing tactic oriented:

  • Be accountable to ROI – this was a reaffirmation of the research findings, though there was some side debate about ‘just because something could be measured, doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to get measured’.   There was also some side debate about the actual connection to some activity to meaningful results as there is not always a 1 for 1 correlation.
  • Be the steward of change and growth – swing for the fence when culturally appropriate.  The visual of ‘swing for the fences’ seemed to resonate well with others.  Although there was some debate about the degree a company could change, there was no debate that the CMO had to be the steward of the process.
  • Have courage in making tough decisions.  Whether it be people that work for the team or with the team, this element seemed to be a really important area for those that were responsible for implementing change in the organization.
  • Plan for a 3 month to 12 month horizon rather than do an extended planning process.  Technology is changing too quickly to plan beyond this time frame.   Be prepared to adapt people and processes for this planning horizon – there was a published article in Marketing Week that reaffirmed this view.

It was an excellent conversation.   What have you found in your experiences?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

B2B Freemium: Benchmarks & Key Questions

Recently, I had a dialogue with a colleague in Silicon Valley who asked me about my experiences with B2B Freemiums as she thought through new distribution models for her product.  It made me reflect for a moment about some of my more recent experiences about giving away an aspect of my product in the hope of getting more revenue.

Let’s assume we can tie the Freemium to actual revenue production – meaning the systems are built to track and trend that soon to be customer activity from download of software to close of revenue.  With no systems in place, you may as well nix a Freemium strategy in terms of measuring its success!

In my experience, a large majority of my inbound unqualified inquiries (meaning people with interest in my product offer) came from the Freemium offer, although the product offer itself had more B2C characteristics than a traditional B2B sale.  My conversion rate was in line with industry rates that appear to range from 1% to 13% depending on the source.  Here are 5 examples I dug up that could be considered a B2B benchmark for Freemiums:

  • Evernote 5.6% conversion rate on their two year user cohort, but note that the conversion rate on new users is much lower, likely SMB or consumer users.
  • Logmein 3.8% conversion rate, likely SMB users.
  • Heroku 1-2% ratio of paid-to-free users when it was about 50,000 apps in size
  • MailChimp –13% of users paying.  Having competed against MailChimp, their users are likely SMB and consumers.

So let’s say you had 2,000 inquiries/month, of which 2.5% used a Freemium at an average sales price of $10k/month – $500k/month revenue = $6M/yr on a very reduced customer acquisition cost if customers are able to buy via the web.

So that’s pure math…but let’s ask 4 key questions as you develop your B2B Freemium strategy:

1.  Will your buying entity see value in a freemium?

Companies are not as price sensitive as individuals. How large is your average selling price and your buying entity?  In the examples above, I do not have clear average revenue metrics, but by experience, an upper limit of value was in the $30k/yr range or lower – which may be in line with many cloud based applications.

2.  Can you get away with low acquisition and support costs?  Meaning, no support!

3.  Can you use the freemium as a low cost inquiry or cost of acquisition vs. traditional means?  If one were to look at customer acquisition costs, sales cold calling is very expensive/ineffective, targeted marketing less expensive, freemium is the least expensive.

4.   Companies do not virally spread a freemium offering and word of mouth is key.  How will you get others to talk about your freemium outside your community?  Freemium is all about scale, so you’ll need to assess the potential customer segment size for such an offer.

I think it is definitely worth testing the Freemium concept in a B2B environment.

What has your B2B Freemium experience been?