Our Points Of View On Sales & Marketing

Thought Leadership

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

Who owns the contact data?

“3 out of every 4 commercial businesses believe that they are losing as much as 73% of revenue due to poor data quality”…Experian – QAS. U.S. Business Losing Revenue Through Poorly Managed Customer Data


A common issue I see in enterprise companies is the ‘perceived’ ownership around ‘data’ amongst sales and marketing – specifically I see marketing underestimating the value of clean contact data and overestimating sales ownership of contact information.  CRM systems like Salesforce.com and others have been around for 10+ years and many larger enterprises have a Salesforce admininstrator, reporting into sales, responsible for the policies and procedures within their company’s CRM System.   So naturally, marketers tend to say ‘contact data is a sales problem.’  I disagree.  Data Integrity is a business issue.  Marketing needs to take a more active role in data ownership and data quality around the contact level – and the need is acute if all contact level data is housed in the CRM system as it is likely the marketing organization is not digging in their CRM system as often as they should be.

With more B2B companies leveraging the capabilities of marketing automation vendors to do batch and blast email among other tactics, suddenly, the contact information has become very relevant to marketers – clean contact data means more conversions which means more revenue.

A variety of issues cause the data to be bad or incorrect.  With this in mind, marketing can take a business leadership  position by inspecting data samples or sets– to then present to the heads of marketing and sales on what the quality is. As an example, either sales or marketing should reports to analyze the following areas:

  • Complete a Country Code analysis
  • Look at Duplicates (even Leads that duplicate Contacts or Accounts)
  • Verify and enrich address data (data appending)
  • Compare external data to CRM data for accuracy
  • Run Reports on fields, test to see how often fields are used
  • Analyze all or a subset of your records for verification

With this information in hand, a leader will have a more precise understanding of the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.  Better data = better campaigns = better conversion which makes for the right business mix.

What have you found successful in your data analysis?

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 3 Comments

Leveraging your Salesforce.com investment

As you’ve seen in previous posts, customer needs and revenue trajectory dictate technology decisions for the companies providing services.  As mid-sized companies contemplate how to get their sales teams more productive and get revenue quicker, they have a variety of marketing automation choices – Pardot, Infusionsoft, and now Marketo.  After listening to Marketo’s newest offer and watching a detailed demo, and contrasting it to the capabilities that some of my clients have, I am really impressed with Marketo’s offer.  I am not compensated by them in any way nor by any other marketing automation vendor.  Here’s why I’m impressed:

  • After studying a variety of models at high and low ends, the integration with Salesforce.com is key.  Marketo has perfected a native connection that makes it easy for companies to do this integration.  From my client experiences and my own, other automation systems lack in this area.  They’ll claim they have the functionality but it isn’t as clean as that of Marketo’s.
  • At $750/month,  it’s competitive with other offers – but what’s nice is if the company grows and has more need, there is no rip and replace needed in this cloud based solution.  A configuration change is needed in the cloud.  Now while I’ve not actually deployed this Spark software, it is my sense that with the upgrade, more business processes will be needed to be defined.  This is a category of ‘good headaches to have’.  The other lower end solutions do not have this capability.  This makes Marketo an ideal ‘try before you buy’ scenario.
  • Ease of use – the 4 step process makes this system incredibly easy to use so for a marketing shop with few or limited resources, this is definitely a solution to be aware of.
  • On the fly lead scoring which enables more leads to flow to sales depending on definition criteria.

Some other things to be aware of regarding Spark:

  • Marketing campaigns only get measured on first touch, not last touch or multi touch like the ‘Marketo Classic’ offer has.  This may impact how one allocates their marketing budget.  First touch allocation is common in about 45% of companies according to numerous industry surveys.
  • There is limited PURL capability or personalized URLs which are more prevalent in the ‘classic’ version.
  • There is a limit of 30,000 emails per month.
  • Emails are sent through Marketo – not through your company.  Email deliverability rates are high for Marketo but it’s an area to pay close attention to that not many in the industry know or study.

I think this move for Marketo is the right move and wish them luck tackling this new market.

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Sales & Marketing – Your Prospect Database

 

Your prospect database is like a sight and scope on a rifle. If the sight is set on your rifle correctly, you’ll hit your revenue target easily when you squeeze the trigger to execute on your inside sales and marketing efforts.  If the site is off by the slightest amount, as you shoot your weapon (ie try to get revenue), you’ll miss your target.

Several issues contribute to poor data quality – technology, executives, segmentation, and processes. Let’s dive into each.

Today’s technology enables an end user to enter in multiple variations of a company name or contact affiliation.  Salesforce.com fields for a company name may include variations on company names such as I.B.M., IBM, and International Business Machines.  Consequently, data duplication issues may exist as a result.

Executives often overlook the importance of database health.  The technology is new, inbound marketing and inbound selling is also an emerging area in terms of importance, so as these two areas collide, it sometimes can be counterproductive.  Prospect databases are typically owned by marketing – yet when marketing struggles to measure its own value via metrics, this metric is not always considered enough or relevant to make it a key performance indicator.  What gets measured gets improved upon so no measurement means high risk.

Segmentation is often overlooked by marketers relative to database size and quality.  If a sales and marketing element agree on what a ‘perfect prospect profile’ looks like, how many of the prospect database actually fit the description of the target?  How wide is the overall contact or total available market for contacts?  Dun and Bradstreet 360 can help solve this type of concern primarily for North America market segments;  globally, data is much more challenging to segment.

Processes are also missing at the tactical level.  People often change companies within the prospect database.  Is there a strategy to ‘retire’ dead prospects, or does the company keep marketing to those prospects until the point where the company renders its email campaigns ineffective?  Is there a process to monitor the database quality at the tactical marketing level to ensure the site of the rifle is constantly fine tuned?

This element of marketing is one of the least ‘sexy’ or glorified for those that are non-analytical or are big into branding.  Yet the branding, the marketing campaigns, and the PR can be rendered ineffective efforts if the database is not healthy.

What have you found to work effectively for your database?

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?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Executives + Technology + You = Results

In the B2B world, Executives and teams that master the art of technology in the revenue acquisition process fare 5x better than those that do not according to research from SiriusDecisions – this post is to help executives better communicate and understand what your teams face with their new technology investments in Salesforce.com, databases, and marketing automation.  It also helps those doing the technology work in these areas on how to better communicate with their executive team. Based on an informal poll of 6 B2B global companies, executives want and demand ‘more’ faster and cheaper yet they have no fundamental understanding of the complexity of their own data and lack an understanding of technology.  On the working side of salesforce automation, database management, and marketing automation, the workers that are knee deep in the technology process often say how out of touch their executive leadership is with ‘data reality’.  Those that bridge the gap will recognize more revenue quicker and cheaper than those that are unable to recognize and effectively bridge this gap.

To best avoid this grand canyon gap between executive knowledge and the workers involved in this technology, here are a few approaches that could work:

  • Roadmap with achievable technological milestones – set realistic expectations BEFORE investing in technology because the tendency of executives is that if you buy something shiny and new, it should pay off immediately which is an incredibly incorrect assumption yet it is how they operate.  Often times there is a significant lag between purchase time of a new revenue generating technology and actual results.  Technology is never a silver bullet.  People are the silver bullet. People make the technology work.  People drive process.   It’s best to have the people set the executive expectation as to what to expect and when
  • Benchmarks – workers and leaders should actively seek outside benchmarks (ala SiriusDecisions) or actual ‘live people’ testimonials from other companies who have experienced similar implementation challenges so it’s not just your own viewpoint when explaining to an executive why a technology integration is taking as long as it is against the ‘more’ quicker/cheaper executive standard.  Often times when executives hear from other data points outside their own company, it’s additional validation for them.  Outside 3rd parties can take the heat off you yet effectively bridge to an executive in communicating this gap.
  • Metricswhat does your Executive know about your prospect database, which is the lifeline to future revenue for the company? Does she/he understand it’s relevance is to the target market, what old names are vs. new names are, what a stale database is, what opt in or opt out is?  Executives understand metrics and KPIs.  Workers – you need to translate the health of your database into consistent, understandable executive metrics – the risk of poor data is like a bad sight on a rifle – if your rifle sight is off by an inch, you’ll miss your target by a mile.  If your data is bad, it won’t matter how many people you have on your sales and marketing team, it won’t matter what technology you have to nurture contacts – you have to have a discipline around an area that likely never sees sunlight in your organization.

I see this process as a journey, not a destination as technology is always changing, thus giving people new opportunities to learn and apply their learnings to their company and to their prospect’s buying cycle.  What experiences have you found helpful?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Implementing Executive Change: 4 Risks/Opportunities – B2B CMO view

Executives are paid to take calculated risks and make decisions.  Recently, I spoke to an officer of a $1B company seeking to make some large changes across their company, specifically by repositioning the marketing organization toward a strategic contributor to the revenue generation capability.  Within this situation, this company was considering significant process and technology augmentation – and realizing there were so many priorities to focus on without clarity on what to focus on first.  In 5 companies I’ve talked to in the last few weeks, this situation of a marketing team and leader not knowing where to focus first is extremely common in all sized companies!  Everyone wants to make quick, visible change and not risk the huge time commits for larger change.   In preparation for the conversation, I outlined 4 risks in making this kind of transition.  Specifically, achieving true marketing ROI, Process, People, and Technology.  I’ve summarized this below bolding the largest risk areas.

Situation

Risk

Opportunity

Improve measurement system for  Marketing ROI Cultural sensitivity to process overhaul and alignment; CEO/GM/Sales change management Changing Marketing to strategic business contributor (revenue, new sales, new customers) from ‘Arts & Crafts’ department
Improve process Underestimating commitment required for lead flow, content, data integrity, cross functional coordination Cleaning up processes to maximize marketing contribution to bottom line
Improve people skills Underestimating new skillset needed Retool existing people to compete in 21st century
Improve technology Silver Bullet mentality at Executive levelRelying 100% on outside vendors to guide on journey/pitfalls as they rely on self serving models or cookie cutter approaches Leveraging technology instead of people to drive revenueOperational experience in vendors

Of the four risks, achieving marketing ROI through executive alignment is the single biggest risk.  Specifically, the clearer one is on the single objective of the newly repositioned organization (ie  source revenue to X%, predict what sourced revenue will close, drive faster conversion by Y% on sales cycle by enabling sales, upsell existing clients, etc.), the higher probability the organization as an entire entity will succeed.  It is critical to understand the overall business objectives and where the new revenue will come from – get out of the marketing box and understand profitability by region, by channel, and by product.  Study the reports that are seen at the executive level, know how sales teams are compensated.  The other risks around Process, People, and Technology are tactics that typically fall behind the first objective.  Too often marketing leaders get sucked into the latest technology trends (which are constantly changing thus adding to the confusion), wrapped around their own proprietary language (MQLs, SQLs, etc) and then thrust the proprietary language upon sales or the rest of the organization, or have marketing team members that are not keeping current with the latest and greatest technology.

Change is never easy for any organization.  How have you been able to successfully implement change?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Mobility Enterprise Trends via Gartner

Today I attended Gartner Group’s Mobility/Security seminar at the Harvard Business Club in NYC by @mobilephillip and others – I attended because as  a marketer, it’s important to understand where the puck is going and mobility is where it is headed (plus I have a mobility background).  There were about 100 people representing a variety of enterprises struggling with how to best address the needs of the mobile user.  When one thinks back even 5 years ago, iPads, iPhones, Droids and other technologies were either pre-birth or at their very infancy.  With the adoptions of these new platforms so rapidly, users are struggling with corporate IT policies that are non-mobile friendly as well as enterprises are struggling with strategies to securely lock down the information on these mobile devices.  The mobile devices are marketers dreams in that they now have a way to target very specifically what a user needs or does.

Beyond new technology areas that are expanding for companies like Sybase, McAfee, and others, here were my key take aways from today’s discussion:

  • There are over 2B phones and mobile devices today;  over 80% of new phones sold globally are Smartphones
  • US refresh cycles (ie replacing mobile phones) are on a two year rhythm, whereas in Asia they either have multiple phones or replacing every 6 months to a year
  • In 5 years, Android will be THE operating system with 50% market share;  of the 6 operating systems today, it’s the FASTEST growing operating system.  This is worthy of marketing/sales attention.
  • iPhone (iOS) will have a difficult time penetrating above 25% market share due to manufacturing capacity issues (chipsets among others).  Meaning, this technology may be better B2C suited than B2B.  What’s new news is the capacity constraints of manufacturing.
  • iPhone (iOS) will be challenged to successfully penetrate the enterprise as their updates to software typically involve iTunes, not over the air updates
  • Blackberry Enterprise Services are most deeply penetrated in the enterprise.  (BES as commonly referred).  Recently, Blackberrrry announced it will support other devices other than Blackberry’s on the server, however, it looks like the press release is more vapor than reality
  • Android is the least secure mobile device with high risk of data loss should a device get misplaced or lost;  3rd party applications are almost always needed with Android
  • Apple iOS yesterday announced a free instant messaging service (MobileMe – what is new is the ‘free’ element), which hits at the heart of carriers who make millions off SMS/MMS platform services.  The enterprise opportunity will be class of services in messaging.
  • Younger generations expect enterprises to be ‘mobile ready’ yet they are not;  ironically, my feeling is colleges are not ‘mobile ready’ and do not cater to the mobile generation.

What are you seeing with mobile devices in your enterprise?