Is Social Business the New Frontier for Marketers?
Mahesh reasons that marketers have lost their seat at the top table, frequently relegated from strategic decision making to more tactical promotional and marketing execution roles. The rise of social media and the modern day marketers’ desire to deliver likes, shares and engagement online, has done nothing to raise the profile of marketing at all. It really needs to start conversing at a business / P&L level.
Flipping the Funnel with Joseph Jaffe
Introduction to Marketing Measurement & ROI
I hear this question a lot: what’s the ROI?
ROI being Return on Investment.
A fair question when you’re talking about marketing. Actually it’s something us marketers like to hear. Mostly because it means our clients are thinking of marketing more as an investment and not just a cost. More commonly the question is phrased as ‘what sales are we going to get from doing this?‘
And that’s often where the conversation stalls, because not all marketing is about getting a sale. Particularly when you are selling complex products, such as a professional services, consultancy, or an IT solution.
Anytime your product requires some serious thought by the customer, before (and after) a sale, you have a long buying cycle and need to tailor your marketing and how you measure its success accordingly.
So what does this mean to the man on the street, or your average small and medium sized business marketer?
Primarily it means if you want to measure the success of your marketing, you first need to plan out your marketing objectives.
For example, do you need more sales leads, or do you need to increase the conversion rate of those leads to sales?
If you generally find getting leads the easy part, but actually closing those leads is where you fall down, your measure is not going to be getting more sales leads. You need to identify an appropriate marketing goal before setting your measurement criteria. In this instance, you might focus on improving the sales conversion ratio, not on getting more leads.
With a set of objectives in place, you can actually define a marketing plan, with an appropriate set of tactics and measure. Without first of all defining what the marketing challenge is, you can’t create appropriate objectives, a targeted plan, or sensible measurement criteria.
Of course there are some simple metrics you can employ to help you define if your campaigns are successful too. For example, simply looking at the number of sales leads from a campaign is a starting point. If you want to get a bit more granular with your marketing measurement, here are a handful of suggestions for you to think about:
* I need to get more leads into the top of my sales funnel
* Grow my email marketing optin list by 25%
* Improve click through rates on my email campaigns by 20%
* Increase the click volume and click through rate (CTR) on my Google Adwords campaign by 10%
* Improve my organic search rankings to appear on the first page of Google for 10 target keywords
* I need to move more leads through to the point of sale
* Increase number of event attendees / webinar views by 10%
* Increase volume of contacts receiving email newsletter by 20%
* Improve traffic volumes to targeted web pages by 15%
* I need to close more sales leads
* Reduce unqualified sales calls by 50%
* Increase sales conversion ratio by 20%
* I need to make sure my customers stay customers for longer
* Reduce the number of calls to my help desk by 10%
* Increase traffic to self service forum by 25%
* Improve ticket resolution by 10%
* Increase number of customers buying more than one product / service by 15%
Of course once you have these objectives and measures in mind, you can then define your marketing tactics. To reduce call volumes to your help desk, your tactics might be to add a detailed FAQ page on your website, or train your support staff to ensure queries are dealt with on the first call.
In my opinion you should all start thinking of marketing measures and ROI as more than just a volume of sales leads. Look at your sales cycles, measure where you need to improve, define some metrics, plan and run your marketing and then assess. It’s the classic closed loop:
1. Define marketing objectives
2. Plan your strategy
3. Execute your marketing
4. Measure the impact
5. Feedback and revise marketing objectives
B2B Marketing Buyersphere Survey
If you work in B2B marketing and haven’t seen this webinar yet, shut everything off for 60 minutes and watch this – it will be invaluable for your marketing strategy planning in the next 12 months and beyond.
Some of the core highlights we’ve picked up are:
- In the age bracket of 41+, only 25% of business buyers use social media to inform a purchase decision. Compare this to the age group of upto 30 where the figure is 75%. This has to point to an ever increasing use of social media for business buyers as generation Y takes over. It also highlights the importance of knowing your audience demographics when planning your communications channels.
- There is an increasing trend for buyers to search for information on the web, but this is largely on supplier websites, web search and word of mouth, not social media. In fact trends show between 2011 and 2012 a falling use of Linkedin, Facebook and other social media platforms in B2B.
- People are using social media more for conversation and engagement and not for static content. Does your social media strategy account for this or are you using social to broadcast marketing messages?
- At different stages of the buying cycle people use different sources of information to make informed decisions. At the early stages of need recognition white papers lead the way, but as you get closer to the point of purchase, twitter and other word of mouth marketing platforms are more impactful.
- 85% of buyers work from a PC or laptop, but 13% now view online content on a smartphone of tablet computer. This is a trend we can only see increasing and all new websites must be designed with this in mind.
I’m sure if you watch this excellent webinar you will pick up some real nuggets for your own marketing planning too.
The Marketing Planning Workshop
I had the pleasure last night of delivering another marketing planning workshop with friend and colleague Phil Szomszor. We were speaking at the Social Media Engagement 3.0 (SME 3.0) workshop organised by Bernie Mitchell at Moore Stephens‘ offices in London.
This is the second time we’ve put this session together for Bernie. It essentially revolves around the idea that SMEs could and should be much better at planning their marketing. Why do we all think it’s OK to simply start doing, what happened to strategy?
We work with a volunteer company (in this instance Set Square surveyors) to crowd source elements of their marketing plan. We had great feedback from the last edition of this event and so far people seem to have enjoyed last night’s session too (feedback via Bernie’s survey appreciated),
Here are the slides for those of you who’d like to review what we discussed.
Phil and I will be doing this session again later on in the year. If you’d like to volunteer your business, simply drop me a line.
How to Ensure Your Marketing Data is Fit For Purpose
It’s staggering how much data is collected by marketers in both consumer and business environments. But what’s even more surprising is the way in which that data is managed, or as is often the case, mismanaged. With data driven marketing as prevalent as it is today, it’s vital any marketing data collected is treated as an asset and not an afterthought.
A well managed customer database will ensure your marketing campaigns achieve the highest possible return on investment. It always surprises me how often we are asked to run an email or telemarketing campaign, only to be delivered a set of data in an Excel spreadsheet full of erroneous data records and questionable opt-ins.
What steps can you take to ensure your data is of the quality you need? Here are some handy tips for ensuring your marketing data is fit for purpose:
1. Create a Data Policy
This sounds like a fairly basic step, but simply setting up some ground rules for your business to follow on data capture will help. Include a standardised set of mandatory data fields for each record, along with a standard format, such as always separating first name and last name, or inputting the correct format for a post code. Make sure everyone understands the importance of recording permissions for each record.
Create a central database in which all customer records are kept. Creating a single version of the truth for every contact will help you to manage the relationship with your data and effectively segment for each marketing campaign.
2. Manage Permissions (Carefully)
Data protection is not a nice to have, it’s essential. You must manage carefully the data you hold on each contact and the permissions you have to use that data. Make sure you are compliant with the Data Protection Act and check your data against the relevant preference services for each market in which you operate – for example in the UK check the Telephone Preference Service for both consumer and business numbers.
3. Cleanse & Enhance
All marketing data has a limited lifespan. People change roles, change companies, move house and of course even pass away. Make sure your data is regularly cleansed and enhanced to ensure you aren’t wasting valuable budget and resources contacting gone-aways, or damaging your brand by marketing to the deceased. A data bureau will be able to help with both cleansing or enhancing your data to fill in any gaps, or you could employ a telemarketing agency too.
4. Share Securely
It seems to be a fairly regular occurrence that a government official, or a bank employee, leaves a laptop in the back of a taxi and with it gives away a raft of customer data. Make sure when you share data outside of your organisation, with suppliers or partners for example, you observe some best practices. No more emailing Excel files, or sharing data on USB sticks – keep it all encrypted, or use a secure online solution to manage the process of sharing data.
5. Segment your Contacts
If you want to optimise your marketing data, you need to be able to effectively segment it. In days gone by it has been enough to segment based on demographic, but you can now be much more specific and create ever more targeted segments and campaigns. Digital communications make this process much more cost effective too, whereas segmenting too tightly with a print campaign can have a dramatic impact on costs. Think about identifying your most valuable customers and treating these as a separate segment. However you plan on segmenting your database, you clearly need to be collecting the right data in the first instance.
There you have it. Five tips for effectively managing your marketing data and delivering ROI from your data driven campaigns. Please be sure to share any advice or best practices you observe in the comments below.
Marketing Planning Workshop at TAGTribe’s SME2.0
On Wednesday we delivered a marketing planning workshop at TAGTribe’s SME 2.0 meeting. Working with Phil Szomsor from Citigate Dewe Rogerson we planned the session around Able Power, a London based energy brokerage firm which has spent the last 18 months proving it’s business model and is now looking for growth.
Kudos to Darren Jones from Able Power for opening up his business as a live case study. We hope you get a lot from the exercise.
The idea behind the session was to do something different i.e. not a pure play slide deck presentation, but where the whole TAG community would get something of value. I hope we have achieved this and certainly some of the feedback so far suggests it was a good exercise.
Just in case I need to reiterate the benefits of planning your marketing rather than picking ad-hoc opportunities – aside from avoiding the headless chicken trap – they include:
- Easier to manage the performance of your marketing
- Focus on tactics that are driving a return on investment
- Better control of your budgets, or helping you to set a budget in the first instance
- Reduce your costs (and increase profits)
- Maintain sanity!
Anyway, enough of the waffle, here are the slides from the night as many of you requested.
Segmentation is the Easy Part
I blogged recently about email marketing, listing some critical factors for successful campaigns. One of those factors was segmentation, which is a word often used by marketers, but frequently not put into practice.
I won’t name and shame, but many times I have heard smart marketers wanting to send a product specific email campaign to ‘all emailable contacts’. The word spam springs to mind.
But of course email is not the only tactic where segmentation is required to drive up marketing effectiveness. In fact this applies to any outbound marketing, whether communication related, or indeed product, price, place… you get the idea. Effective segmentation applies across the marketing piste.
There’s a nice blog from Andrew Dalglish over at Circle Research that introduces this in more detail for B2B segmentation in the SME market. Andrew introduces a four step framework: Narrow, Segment, Profile, Apply, and relates this to Sage, a leading IT brand. You could do a lot worse than taking on board his ideas here.
At the very basic level Andrew suggests narrowing your criteria to focus on one customer segment – SMEs in his example. The clever part is taking that segment and profiling it further by behaviours such as consumption patterns, or motivation and preferences.
Another approach might be to segment your customer base around a particular product and align to where they are in the sales funnel / buying cycle.
For example, prospective clients for an IT system at the ‘awareness’ stage are likely to be more responsive to communications with broad product comparisons, than those at ‘action’ stage – who are more likely to respond to detailed technical specifications.
Of course, you need to be careful not to put the cart before the horse here. I’m assuming you will have identified a market need for your product or service in the first instance i.e. the very first phase in any segmentation exercise.
Effective segmentation should actually be the easy part. Crafting the product, setting the price point, getting the distribution and communications channels aligned to your segment, those surely are the more challenging parts.
Are there Gaps in your Content Based Marketing Strategy?
We ran a marketing workshop for an agency client earlier this week to which we invited the UK marketing team of a major client. The day featured a range of speakers covering telemarketing, social media strategy, online engagement, lead generation and a competitive analysis session, among other discussions.
I won’t go in to any detail as the content belongs to the client, but one of the most interesting sessions for me was around content based marketing strategy. If you’re leading with a content based strategy, you should first of all map out and align your content to where your customers are in the buying cycle.
It seems fairly obvious, but I wonder how often this is completed?
Those who are early in the buying cycle are more likely to want broad product comparisons, benefit pieces and general thought leadership. Those at a later stage and nearing a purchase decision, particularly for complex products, are more likely to be looking for detailed technical specs or ‘how to’ instructional based content to help define a clear path from purchase decision to product installation.
Of course, it’s worth considering the post purchase phase of the buying cycle too. What content can you make available to reduce dissonance and after sales support and of course open the door for upsell / cross sell opportunities?
Content based marketing is increasingly seen as a key strategy in the battle for client attention. Make sure you don’t leave any gaps in your content plan.