Author: Jon Russo

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 1 Comment

Dashboards – Marketing and Sales – Driving Revenue!

There are several challenges to establish ‘board level’ dashboards that report on marketing activity that tie directly to revenue generation.  Here are 5 tips that I’ve used in creating dashboards for executive level reporting.  (NOTE – LETS TALK REAL TIME IF YOU NEED HELP IN CREATING A DASHBOARD, I HAVE ACTUAL EXAMPLES OF THEM.)

  • With new automation tools like Eloqua and Marketo, from interviews I’ve done with a number of CMOs of B2B companies, a surprising number of teams use Excel to report out on activity despite having capabilities elsewhere. Whether it’s Cognos,, Eloqua, or Excel, the tool really doesn’t matter as long as the data is consistently measured month over month or quarter over quarter.  The trick is to baseline the activity based on current information, especially as a new leader or CMO.
  • Dashboards (or numbers) can sometimes not paint a complete picture as a stand alone entity on campaign effectiveness.  I augmented my quarterly board dashboards with a ‘green, yellow, red’ status indicator on QUALITATIVE indicators in addition to QUANTITATIVE indicators to help paint a more complete picture of actual marketing activity that impacted revenue.
  • Measure global/regional impact and channel impact that marketing had on sourced revenue – in other words, what did marketing contribute and at what cost point by region.   This analysis can be further filtered on a timeframe to close, no different from a sales funnel, where leads are predicted to close. (predictive analytics).  Also, be aware for you global marketers – activity within region should be compared within region and not across regions.
  • Web traffic is worth measuring as is the impact social media has on web traffic.  Social media in and of itself did not contribute to my dashboard foundation, my experience so far is social media (linkedin, twitter, facebook), more of an enabler than an actual converter of revenue in B2B marketing.  LinkedIn seems to be the most relevant here (I plan to create another post on this later).
  • Tracking contacts to opportunities allowed for better tracking of marketing influence/sourced, this is particularly true for those that leverage the campaign module of Eloqua.  This tracking can be further augmented by the Microsoft Outlook plug in leveraging Eloqua.

Dashboards vary with mileage and will change as your company changes it’s needs and growth patterns.  What dashboards have you found to be effective for you?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Revenue through Marketing Automation

Increasing Productivity through Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs)

My experience in this post comes from implementing MAPs in 3 different companies – in one of those companies, the MAP providers (Eloqua, Marketo, Aprimo) were a channel of distribution for us, so I had unique visibility as to their effectiveness.  When a process is followed, time efficiencies can be gained;  skipping implementation steps risks losing significant time to see effectveness.  When investing in these systems, you have to commit as an organization to move QUICKLY else you risk the ‘Ferrari collecting dust syndrome…’

You’ve heard of the brand new Ferrari collecting dust syndrome – someone buys a new car and it collects dust due to lack of use.   This same analogy has been used in investing in what is perceived as expensive marketing automation software to run routine marketing campaigns to accelerate revenue.  Implementation of these systems is very challenging to say the least in larger enterprises – outlining business process, integrating with sales ready tools, identifying KPIs and metrics, getting buy in, etc.  There are several key considerations when evaluating the need to increase productivity through marketing automation efficiency.

1.        Map out your lead flow process from inquiry to close by studying your information, your marketing automation information, and interviewing your key sales stakeholders.  I’ve done this in two different companies and have found stunning results in both the process and in the experience that sales expects from marketing.

2.       Implement lead scoring through progressive form input/dialogue.  The progressive lead scoring will allow only the most qualified prospects deemed worthy a real time conversation (which is more costly than an automated touch).  The idea is to pass only the best qualified along to a telequalifying or inside sales entity.

3.       With the MAP platform, synthesize ALL campaigns to maximize effectiveness, to include SEO (search engine optimization).   It’s no good just to have campaigns for the sake of campaigns.   Some of the MAP platform providers are VERY early in on this process themselves which is somewhat shocking but true!

4.       Engage your marketing automation vendor early and often in your process flow (Eloqua, Marketo, soon to be Netsuite).  They do have best practice information as does other companies like SiriusDecisions.  You are better off engaging the MAP platform provider directly.

5.       Engage an outside party to help to move things more quickly.  An outside party can take the pressure off difficult conversations and can have the added insight of having been through other operational deployments.

What have you found that works for you?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 3 Comments

Maximize revenue as a goal – Aligning Sales/Marketing

If you read the last post, you saw the importance of tying revenue to results in both sales and marketing.

Let’s dig into some key steps to tie revenue to results:

1.        Adopt common language between sales and marketing on tracing inquiry to revenue – an exercise like this that is NEW to an organization has the potential to be tricky if expectations are not properly set in advance– the objective is not spend oodles of time on the adoption and process portion but to focus on the outcome of why this is needed.  The focus is aligning sales and marketing to measurable, tangible results at day’s end.  With common language, a baseline measurement can be established to make further improvements in and on.

2.       In advance of the above discussion, get buy in with key executive stakeholders on the measurements so baseline measurement is established.  As an example, it would be good to get buy in on the framework of what the outcome will look like in advance of digging into the details between sales and marketing.

3.        Once the framework and language is agreed upon, both sales and marketing can establish measurable goals to be held accountable to.   These agreements can be measured monthly, but the results will likely be in quarterly or half year increments.

4.       Create a lead flow process via marketing automation platforms (Eloqua, Marketo, Aprimo) to drive that delivery effectiveness (this will be the next series of posts).

5.       Avoid speaking in ‘Star Trek’ marketing language/speak in this measurement process – while the establishing of common language is important, it always needs to tie to revenue.  Marketers who talk in their terms (Inquiries, MQLs, SALs) can lose people in translation in companies that may not be familiar with that language.  This is particularly true with non-marketing executives which are typically less analytical in nature and board members who do not operate at the marketing tactic level.

What do you find that works?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Connect B2B Marketing to Revenue!

This is the first in a series of posts of tying B2B marketing result to revenue.  This is the framework for the discussion on how marketing drives revenue for their enterprise organization.

A key aspect for business to business marketing to focus on is delivering activity (sales qualified leads or sales ready leads) that close to actual revenue – ‘revenue’ is language the head of sales, CEO, CFO, and board of directors understand.

But what do I measure as someone in a B2B marketing organization?

Too often, marketing teams and leaders measure their internal impact for the sake of measuring and are not making the direct connection from their activities to revenue either by channel type or geographic region.  Some call it ‘activity’ vs. ‘impact’.  Measuring followers on Twitter, Facebook fans, webviews, etc. while impressive to those in marketing really have no true tie to what non-marketers truly understand – the contribution to revenue.  This is what drives business!

Let’s take an explicit example.  The contribution marketing makes can vary widely by the type of company and it’s distribution channels.  I’ve been involved with companies that marketing has sourced 16% of annual contract value and have seen other companies, particularly SaaS companies sourcing beyond 50% of revenue through their marketing activity.  Benchmark companies like Forrester and SiriusDecisions also have similar percentage contributions for enterprise companies – your percentage will vary on company type, geography, and buying cycle characteristics.

Look for this trend to continue of more revenue getting sourced through marketing – prospects today are spending more time in online communities or researching online their needs before engaging with sales organizations.

To do this kind of measuring, automation fundamentals need to be in place (Eloqua, Marketo, Aprimo), processes need to be installed, and an executive agreement needs to be discussed on outcome.  Our next posting will dig into key steps on how we will tie revenue to results in these areas!

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 2 Comments

Revenue Traction = Sales+Marketing Alignment


To maximize a company’s revenue result and customer experience, B2B Sales and Marketing teams need to align around similar objectives.  Recent trends point to both sales and marketing are getting increased scrutiny for the following reasons:

  1. Suspect to prospect to deal close time has increased significantly these last two quarters compared to quarters past due to the economy.
  2. ROI is demanded in all investments – Marketing is an investment (typically 5-7% of revenues of B2B companies >$500M  – or expenditure if you are a CFO  )

In most B2B companies that are $50M+ in revenue size, there are typically separate heads of marketing and sales, thus leading to an increased chance that marketing is disconnected from the sales process, sales people, or customers.   Consequently, marketing could celebrate their own ‘lead quantity’ which is handed off to sales versus the actual impact marketing makes on actual revenue.  So what approach could sales and marketing better work with one another in this economic environment?

  • A pipeline commitment: Marketing needs to take a more active role getting involved with the traditional sales pipeline.  With better sales pipeline visibility (ala, marketing needs to create the right programs to accelerate deals in the later stages of the pipeline.  Specifically, competitive positioning talking points to best arm the sales organization, references of positive customers, or business case tools (Alinean, Mindseye Analytics) that help meet net new objections in the latter part of the selling cycles.
  • A Marketing SLA (service level agreement) between the head of sales who is the primary internal customer and her marketing counterpart, initiated by the marketing leader:  Sales should demand lead quality SLA—how many leads and under what conditions are a lead considered a keeper by a sales organization?
  • Deal autopsy—figure out how deals become deals (both wins and the rare losses companies experience).  What programs are impacting the selling cycles, what messages, what ROI tools?  Once this feedback is gained, test drive what are the winning concepts with a prospect to calibrate feedback.  The resulting information becomes the genesys of a deal play book to help calibrate new sales efforts.

It’s all about sales and marketing effectiveness in our new economy!  What have you found effective to push your revenue cycles and why is that effective for you?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 1 Comment

Accelerate Revenue NOW: Be a Student of the Game


While President Obama was across town in Tempe, Arizona giving a commencement speech emphasizing how to keep studying beyond school, I attended the annual SiriusDecisons Best Practices Summit for Sales & Marketing leaders (see Twitter) in sunny Scottsdale, Arizona.   My objective in attending this year’s conference was to study and gain a more complete understanding of how to best drive new revenue in a challenging economic environment–by either  driving existing prospecting opportunities or net new opportunities–and then listen to what marketing programs make a visible impact in accelerating revenue in these areas.  In attendance with me were sales and marketing leaders fromOmniture,  Cisco, Symantec, Ilumina, PerkinElmer, Pitney Bowes, IBM, HP, BlueCoat, Cox, Ariba, McAfee, SAP, Aspect, and Juniper among others.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been a Sirius customer for nearly 6 years and have attended a number of their annual conferences.  In this time, I’ve worked with them to help drive my revenue stream at iPass where as head of marketing,  we nearly quadrupled revenue to $200M – Sirius helped benchmark other company performance and helped my team embark on an aggressive field marketing strategy to support the growth.

Here are 10 key takeaways from the Summit of LEADING SALES AND MARKETING ORGANIZATIONS…these organizations are:

1.  innovating around marketing structure to leverage assets and impact sales productivity (function of company size and channel strategy)
2. leveraging technologies focused on sales enablement and pipeline transparency/analysis (function of investment in sales + marketing automation)
3. applying marketing resources across the entire opportunity life cycle, driving close collaboration between sales and marketing (marketing operations plays a key role here)
4. mandating marketing ROI, which sharpens measurement and drives greater alignment with sales (seems obvious in this economic environment, surprising # of companies work in progress here).

5. leveraging new marketing technologies to increase reach and quality, decrease costs and measure results (social media helps in this regard)

6.  blazing a trail with social media, and linking reputation and demand creation activities (see my prior posts here on this topic)
7. enabling sales via a progressive approach to building sales playbooks (start in increments, prove that it works, then grow it)
8. architecting their channel programs using three lenses: supplier-to-partner, partner-to-customer, and supplier-to-customer
9. optimizing the entire demand life cycle (nurturing leads becomes more important-every lead counts)
10.closing the enormous marketing skills gap created by new marketing technologies and requirements (new technologies creates new opportunties)

Statistics prove that organizations that have embraced an integrated sales and marketing approach vastly outperform (revenue and profit) than those that have not.   To get this synergy, Marketing needs to drive a closed loop lead system that has a specific hand off and visibility to sales with the right measurement mechanisms in place.   Both Sales and Marketing should have joint visibility to the sales pipeline (ie prospects at various stages of the sales funnel).    The benefit to sales in sharing pipeline visibility is becoming one of those firms that wildly succeed versus a marginally performing organization.

In addition to the presentations, I found value in Alinean, one of the many participating vendors given their ability to help provide prospects with a clear TCO/ROI proposition (more on this later.)

This event was well worth the time and money investment for any attendee;  if you are debating about attending or sending a sales or marketing leader next year, do not hesitate.  The ROI is proven based on money saved on not making mistakes and money gained by being a ‘student of the game’ –by studying the best practices of how to best accelerate revenue NOW in a challenging economic climate.

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Where is the digital marketing puck going?


Recently, I spoke with a division CEO of a B2B company that earned the majority of its revenue online.  In this conversation, I anticipated that the business would be very savvy on the usage of all digital tools to grab revenue.  The CEO had a background in areas other than marketing so naturally the first set of questions that she prompted turned to how we could grow the business using social media tools (she honed in on Twitter).   Knowing who my audience was for this discussion, here is how I framed my message to inform her about the impacts of digital marketing:

  • Map out a long-term prospect and customer contact strategy based on content that is relevant to their needs: Social Marketing is tactic that is to be integrated with other campaigns (email, webinars, podcasts) to drive demand/revenue without over fatiguing or over touching a prospect or customer.   There seems to be too much press excitement and hype around tools like Twitter—those single tools alone are ineffective to drive revenue; the key for success is weaving all these digital tools (Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos) correctly (tagging, linking, etc.) with relevant messaging to maximize the effectiveness of campaigns. A stand alone social media strategy, like a stand along blog that does not link in any way to the business, will not drive revenue or search engine results.
  • Blog for revenue impact, not to check the box for the C level audience. Not a surprising observation, but a large percentage of B2B companies do not use a blog or it is relegated to ‘one more activity on the plate’ so it gets little care and feeding.   If a blog has the right content for the right audience, the results in search engine optimization (SEO) will improve which will drive revenue.   The idea is to create and shift the game in blogging to relevant, community based engagement versus the spray and pray broadcast advertising messaging that you might see on Twitter or Twitter combined with blogs.  The right combination of activities of domain naming, blogging, building links off the *relevant* blog,  twitter, linkedin, will drive the right search engine optimization result – the blog drives SEO:  SEO drives revenue into the business.
  • Play offense, not defense.  Know where the puck is going, not where the puck has been:   ‘My buyers do not use social media based on a customer survey we just did,’  was the correct assertion of this CEO. You are right, that was how these buyers previously purchased their goods and services.  Yet the puck is moving very quickly in another direction as the importance of word of mouth purchasing increases with new ways to talk about the product of companies.   Forrester sees digital marketing a major driver  in B2B purchasing decisions.    Conversely, let’s look at the same situation from a different view—Domino’s, Amazon, and other B2C companies who are early adopters of digital marketing may have played too much defense on their unique digital media strategy.  Based on this approach, there is a significant REVENUE and brand risk for not playing the game versus playing the game.  In these companies, the CEO is likely now asking the CMO ‘what exactly is our integrated social media strategy?’   This stance is too defensive for a CMO to succeed with the business leaders.

The game is early in digital marketing yet it is a changing and evolving landscape.  Now is a great time to build the right foundation for companies to extend to new revenue channels leveraging digital marketing strategies and tactics.

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Do your customers REALLY use Twitter?


Adage recently published an article that challenged whether the majority of customers were paying attention to Twitter and asserted that marketers should not rush to make judgments based on the minuscule percentage of customers that are actually using Twitter.   The article implies a B2C focus and does not specify if B2B is included in this analysis.

As a B2B CMO, I disagree with the intensity one should pay attention to tools like Twitter for the following reasons:

1.  A CMO’s job is to connect the outside world ideas back to internal reality, and sometime this customer feedback is the direct feedback needed at an executive level;  it is an absolutely critical data point to carefully monitor and critically consider.  Too often the ivory tower approach is taken on service delivery capabilities and a direct customer pipeline of feedback is important to consider and not to discount as ‘one loud customer’ or a ‘disgruntled customer’.  These same customers are sometimes the very seeds of the next generation of innovation.  Twitter provides the forum for CMOs to interact with customers in new and different ways than ever before.

2.  In our current economic environment EVERY CUSTOMER INTERACTION counts as I’ve said before.  Twitter provides an early warning system ahead of the customer calling your CEO to complain or worse yet, the customer abandoning your product and thus cutting your revenue and eventually your job.  Twitter gives an instant feedback mechanism–and when questions go unanswered, the 91% of B2B decision makers according to Forrester that are on the sideline are observing the no response approach in Twitter–and that is crushing in a sales cycle in this environment not to be listening attentively.

3.  CRM companies see the value in Twitter– has plans to integrate Twitter according to their Cloudforce tour which I attended in NYC last week – according to the product lead from, this integration is in its very nascent stages but will soon be available via an API that allows trending of information to occur, so every customer instance via Twitter is logged.  So if sees potential value here to log customer interactions as they occur, so should your company.

While I agree with the premise that not every customer reaction merits an abrupt change in overall marketing strategy, tools like Twitter are absolutely essential to the success of the CMO in connecting the customer experience to the service or product offer.

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 2 Comments

Should B2B CEOs and CMOs care about Social Media?

Why social media is relevant to B2B CEOs and CMOs

What an interesting week.  I met with a CEO of an established B2B software firm interested in having his company more involved in social media, met with a B2B CMO colleague dabbling in social media on behalf of his company, and listened to Scott Monty of Ford Automotive present at DigiDays on Ford’s innovative B2C social media strategy (which I’m quite impressed with to say the least–B2B marketers, this is a case study worth observing).  From those discussions, here are 3 Reasons why I believe social media has become more relevant for the C level audience based on actual B2B data on sales and customer experiences.

1.   Branding opportunity:  I recently met with a software company specializing in helping CMOs do their job more effectively.  Ironically, they are  unable to use their company name and identity in social media tool Twitter because someone else took their unique name ahead of them (maybe a competitor?)   What happens if malicious or false information is disseminated via this new identity owner, think of the brand risk and damage control.  Better to play a strong offense NOW rather than waiting to play a defense.   Grab those ever important product or service line extension names BEFORE you go to market if posible–either your PR agency and/or marketing communications head should be leaning into this at the CMOs direction.

2. Given the current economic climate, some buyers are grouchy yet every customer connection counts.  As an example, a CMO colleague of a successful SMB  $50M+ company personally contacted every disgruntled customer he found complaining on Twitter and used the tool as more for understanding customer issues and did not use it selfishly for demand/pipeline advancement (defense instead of offense!).   This was a great case of observing, listening, then responding and an engaged two way dialogue like I mentioned in my last post.  The risk in pushing a product or view ahead of engaging customers is tuning out an audience.  This CMO effectively built a rapport.

3.  Now that the financial Q4 surprises are behind us and fiscal 09 planning is either in progress or behind us, CEOs have now got permission from their board of directors that  financially speaking, ’09 will look nothing like ’08.  Consequently, now is the time for smart companies to take prudent risks with social media (see my earlier post on how B2B companies were using Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook) to further their business objectives.  Each company will need to prudently invest as it is likely to cost internal cycles of people to create the right content or do the right monitoring of social networks to get the maximum benefit from these networks–this work should be done internally, not externally, though one has to weigh the cost/benefit analysis relative to other priorities.

comScore posted a note that Twitter’s February traffic was up 55% over January.  This other link is an excellent analysis of the growth trajectory of Twitter and reinforces the importance of why CEOs and CMOs must take social media tools like this in consideration in the next generation of marketing to their customers and prospects.

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 3 Comments

B2B, Social Media, and ‘old school’ CEOs

In the last few weeks, I’ve carefully studied best practices of business to business companies leveraging social media, and have also studied B2C social media successes to use as a framework to evaluate B2B companies. My analysis includes studying Forrester analysts who seem to ‘get it’ (current and past), reading Groundswell (and meeting Josh face to face when his book came out), and doing one heck of alot of observing online and offline of leading global ‘Tweeters’. I’ve recently tracked metrics of 6 companies over the last few weeks to see how their social media strategy has evolved over time and have found some interesting results. These results are of companies that help marketers market (keeping names out to protect the innocent), so I am starting with a unique subset of companies but ones that should have a vested interest in seeing social media succeed in the long run in the B2B segment.

I have a premise and ask that you challenge my thought process (it’s all about continuous improvement!). I believe in today’s marketing world, business to business marketers are woefully unprepared for the tsunami of digital marketing techniques and do not know how to effectively market in this new, one to one marketing environment. This social media approach, when integrated with other aspects of marketing, absolutely change the game on how businesses interact with customers, prospects, analysts, and employees, yet the game changer is mired down for a variety of reasons.

Over the last four weeks, I analyzed 6 B2B companies specializing in marketing–4 of 6 had blogs, 4 of 6 were actively using Twitter via their brands vs. their employees, 2 of 6 used Facebook effectively, and 3 of 6 had some mention on linkedin. Here are the tools they used:

1. Blogs–the savvy are realizing these are ‘must haves’ to successfully compete in organic google search optimization and to maximize the amplification other social media tools like twitter provide.

2. Twitter–in B2B companies that leverage the brand of the company, Twitter is the fastest growing medium to amplify blog content; on average, the companies I studied are seeing 20% growth week over week for 4 weeks in their followership base. Average user 31 years old, with North American and Europe demographic.

3. LinkedIn–in B2B companies, very little growth within the specialized ‘Groups’ function, under 2% growth week over week. It was very easy to join ‘exclusive’ groups on Twitter, the owners rarely screened me out (what if i were a competitor?) That said, the average user is 41 years old and likely a decision maker.

4. Facebook–varying popularity, no conclusion of data exists based on sample set. The question in my mind that remains is how effective is Facebook, generally thought of as a way to reach former high school and/or college colleagues, to reach a business level decision making audience with average user age of 26 years old.

That said, as I survey other B2B companies outside this subset of 6, I see a couple major factors slowing social media business adoption down:

1. ‘Old School’ CEO mentality… While very good CMOs take risks and put themselves out there, CEOs are not rewarding innovation without a clear ROI–and consequently have not placed any value on a newly emerging communications medium (Sun Micro, Apple, and Zappos the exception). CEOs are typically not ‘digital natives’ (ie born into an environment where they think online) unless they have a technical proclivity, and it is a rare CEO who has that bent and can also talk financials. Social media, while new, has not yet proven and demonstrable ROI in the B2B world (I’ve found very little information on this topic, please educate me if you see differently), but it has promise when integrated with other aspects of marketing.

2. Time: with marketing budget cuts galore, everyone being asked to do more with less, no one has the right time to pick their heads up and see how effective social media really is to market on a one on one basis vs. traditional alternatives. Consequently, an agency, like a PR agency, might get the extra bandwidth to help out with blog content population and blog amplification through Twitter, but that agency is likely responsible for other things for that same company.

3. Lack of two way dialogue or meaningful conversation. Are customers actually acknowledged and heard or is it more of two sets of one way dialogue–vendor pushing product, customer complaining about the product, and the two never cross? I see the latter.

4. Disparate strategies–some leveraging blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, but the strategies are islands, not tied together with search engine optimization, so therefore ineffective at days end.
We live in exciting times!

The b2b company that can overcome the CEO objections to keep trying something new, the CMO who can convince his/her channel partners and head of sales the value of this level of interaction, and the companies that can integrate social media will be the winners.

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