Archive for the ‘Measurement’ Category

Institute of Direct Marketing Business-to-Business Marketing Conference 2010

Friday, May 21st, 2010

This week’s Institute of Direct Marketing B2B Marketing Conference threw up a few thoughts and anecdotes, as usual. In answering the questions “Why bother with marketing”, Professor Paul Fifield from the University of Southampton suggested that seeking-out and identifying customer value through a number of approaches is they key. One of these approaches includes ensuring the organisation achieves alignment with the market by generating insight and reacting rapidly to it.

The theme of rapid reaction, and what I like to call agility, came up again in the session from Vodafone’s Head of Devices, Online and Campaigns, Deane McIntyre. Referring to the recent ash-cloud crisis, he described the campaign he and his team were able to rapidly put together and execute, thanks to their marketing automation platform and flexible processes. This ability to react is very much what I have in mind when I talk about creating a marketing environment that enables and encourages innovation, rather than leaving Marketing wondering how they’re going to get the job done.

I was also amused by Deane’s comment regarding inserting a degree of opacity around the Marketing process as far as Sales are concerned. “Don’t show Sales the engine,” he said, referring to the processes and systems used by Marketing to run campaigns and generate leads. Whilst transparency is generally the best approach, I’m always saying that, for instance, it’s best not to send Sales all the leads so they don’t get the opportunity to crititise the poor ones. A certain obfuscation never goes amiss… I was less impressed though with his admission that he tended to undertake limited measurement of marketing activity, in favour of “just doing it”. And this from a former accountant!

Matthew Palmer from Deloitte was less sanguine about measurement (as you might expect from a big consultancy), with advice for Marketing on engaging with Finance. This included ensuring budgets are actively agreed together to encourage buy-in and developing easy metrics to demonstrate success. He also suggested explaining why budget is being spent a certain way and linking outcomes to corporate targets – which after all, should be the point of Marketing, right?! In addition, some advice regarding making cuts in spending were he offered, including the avoidance of simply reducing all line items by the same percentage. Instead, examine what really can be done-without and what needs to be retained at full strength, he suggested.

A good day as always and well worth the investment in time.

Following the clues to a successful sale

Friday, January 15th, 2010

One of the common traps into which Marketing often falls is to treat a lead as a one-off event in isolation to anything that has gone before or after. This results in every response from a given individual being treated as a new lead, rather than as a package of interest in a company’s products and services.

But leads are like clues in a detective story. In a criminal investigation, Police are often said to be “following multiple lines of enquiry” – in other words, following-up on leads. These leads, or clues, whilst separate from each other, may all point to the same end result. In our case, this is a successful sale, but by themselves each clue may not be enough to solve the mystery. Whitepaper downloads and webinar attendances may not mean much by themselves, but put together they point to an interest in a specific solution or a particularly pressing need.

This is where good lead management becomes crucial, and where so many software solutions fall short. Many systems treat leads as separate, unrelated events and make no effort to tie them all together and present the evidence as a whole. It’s little wonder then that Sales are driven to distraction with a stream of seemingly trivial clues, whilst not being able to see the big picture. At the same time, vital evidence is overlooked – leads go to waste without being followed-up.

We owe it to ourselves to recognise the short-comings of the tools we have available and address these problems. Otherwise, marketing investment will continue to go to waste and fail to deliver the results expected.

Engagement Marketing And Lead Management

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Spent a very interesting morning at the Silverpop B2B Masterclass in London yesterday. Hitting just the right balance of education and solution selling, there were some interesting presentations and good ideas. I thought it would be worth picking out a few in particular from the opening presentation by  Silverpop VP Will Schnabel. You can view the complete slideset on Slideshare, but here are some highlights.

  • Marketing extends further into the pipeline – in the past, potential customers would pick up the phone and ask for a sales rep to come round to explain your products. Now, the savvy purchaser reviews your products online, reads whitepapers and case studies, seeks references and gains an understanding of your product sector. These are all areas where Marketing is now required to deliver, so that by the time Sales are called in, the prospect is in a much more advanced stage of the purchase cycle. As such, Marketing must rise to this challenge and fulfill an education and sales preparation role, ahead of an actual buying conversation. Crucially, this also means “plugging the leaky funnel”, where prospects fall out before they get to the point of Sales engagement due to poor materials and general lead management.
  • Data capture – take web visitors through a sequence of data gathering steps rather than a one-off capture of everything you can think to ask. Responders will be turned off by very long forms with lots of questions, so ask for additional information at every interaction to build up a picture. It was suggested in the session that there probably isn’t a magic number of fields or forms to optimise this process – it may be unique to your business – so some experimentation may be required. And on the subject of data capture, don’t allow yourself to be locked into backend data processing requirements (such as field layouts), if it doesn’t suit the information you actually need. Also, consider utilising data capture techniques, the likes of which I’ve written about previously.
  • Lead scoring – this is a key element of lead qualification, using various criteria to determine the value of a lead and the appropriate next steps. These criteria can be grouped into three areas: demographic (contact role, type of organisation etc), “BANT” or the actual position of a prospect to buy, and activity (website downloads, event attendees, information requests). These techniques should be built into an overall lead scoring mechanism appropriate for your business to judge what is passed to Sales, and what remains within Marketing for ongoing nurturing.
  • Lead maturity model – a useful way to assess your own lead management sophistication, this four stage model suggests the areas that should be addressed for best practice lead management. Incorporating both demand generation activity itself, together with lead handling, it’s a valuable benchmark for your own activities. (Take a look at the slides for more details.)

In all, a worthwhile morning aimed at helping marketing secure one outcome in particular – “revenue velocity”, or increasing the rate at which an initial lead is converted to a sale, which must rank as a top priority for all marketers.

Discipline and touch control

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

A point raised at the IDM Emerging Digital Trends seminar the week before last, a recent conversation and an article in the April issue of Database Marketing magazine all highlighted an issue I thought worth recounting here.

Presenting on the use of web analytics, David Walmsley, Head of Web Selling at John Lewis talked about customer segmentation and tailoring communications based on behaviour and purchase history. He made the observation that by creating such segments, messaging content and frequency could be tailored appropriately to recipients, increasing relevance and effectiveness.

Separately, I was speaking to the former head of database marketing at a US Mid-Western publishing company. He recounted the tale of having finally made inroads with his marketing campaigns colleagues in persuading them to adopt a segmentation strategy. This was aimed at helping to reduce the over-touch problems they were facing, where some individuals were receiving as many as one email per day, such was their volume of activity. This of course lead to drastically falling response rates, as the blizzard of email simply went ignored. (Interestingly, even opt-out rates weren’t that high, such was the level of disengagement among recipients). “We need to improve targeting and reduce touch volume”, said my exasperated contact.
“No problem,” came the response, “we’ll just stop emailing the bottom, least valuable segment – that should cut volume by 10%!” The observation that this would make no difference to the top segment (those receiving an email a day), went unheeded…

In his piece in Database Marketing, Warwick Beresford-Jones wrote about “optimisation”, making the point that a given individual can be contacted only so many times before they become unresponsive, and that those touches should be used wisely to achieve best value. “Without optimisation, your best customers are generally over-contacted and you second and third best customers are under-contacted,” states Beresford-Jones. “There is a point in the year when you actually start to annoy your best customers and this impacts directly on campaign profitability.”

Back at the IDM seminar, David Walmsley highlighted this temptation of sending “one extra” email to the top segment when the weekly sales numbers aren’t quite reaching target. I asked him how this temptation should be avoided. “It takes discipline,” suggested Walmsley, adding that taking a short term approach ultimately leads to lost value within your customer base. How should this discipline be engendered though, and in particular how can pressure from senior management in tough trading conditions be resisted?

The answer, as Beresford-Jones amply illustrates in his article, is to have the numbers to hand to support your case. This means being able to demonstrate the return from a given piece of activity and ideally the campaign cost savings made by reducing segment sizes whilst maintaining targeting focus. Point to falling response rates (and opt-out rates where appropriate) as evidence that contact fatigue has set in.

The ease of executing online communications is such that over-touching, even with the best of intentions, is all too easy. Even the pushiest retail sales person would be unlikely to follow you around the store asking every few steps whether you wanted to buy something (certainly not at John Lewis!). Yet that’s what our customers’ inboxes can feel like at times. A little discipline never did anyone any harm and this is no exception.

Institute of Direct Marketing Business-to-Business Marketing Conference 2008

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

A few observations on the recent Institute of Direct Marketing Business-to-Business Marketing Conference. The theme of the day very much revolved around the merits of social media and Web 2.0 in a business marketing context. Don Peppers, of Peppers and Rogers Group, suggested three trends for business marketing, including the growth of social media, involving customers and staff; the key opportunity being to leverage advocacy, providing tools, such as presentations or white papers, to make it easier for supporters of your product or brand to spread the word. Other trends, he said, include the increasing prevalence of products as services, making them harder for competitors to copy and the growing importance of content, and its development and management, in marketing messages.

His comments on lead nurturing also struck home with me, suggesting that prospects be treated like customers and highlighting the importance of creating a relationship building engine with a long term vision. Resist the boardroom call for short term results and build for the long term, we were implored! I very much agree that ongoing, regular communications with customers and prospects alike is crucial to attaining and maintaining “share of mind”, building awareness and building a profile of your recipients through data collection.

Although the story of the JCB diesel land speed record attempt was a little heavy on corporate self-congratulation (and didn’t contain much on social media), I did take away one key message: play to your strengths. JCB wanted to highligh their core competency of engineering prowess, which they demonstrated by smashing the previous record for the fastest diesel powered vehicle. What are your organisation’s unique strengths and how can you demonstrate them to your target market?

Whilst not making explicit reference to social media, London Business School’s Brett Cunningham did in essence highlight the importance of creating an environment for the exchange of ideas and co-operation. LBS have coined the term hotspot (in the non wi-fi sense) to describe the buzz of energy and innovation that is created when the right people come together to solve a problem. How better than a Web 2.0 approach to making this possible?

The panel debate was all about social media, and its relative merits when compared with pay per click advertising. The motion that social media will become as important as PPC was carried, although I think the overall concensus of the delegates was that PPC would still be important, but simply another string in the bow of marketers. Arising from the debate were suggestions that social media may have wider scope for lead generation than PPC, but it’s difficult to target and measure; PPC is good at traffic generation, but is not very discriminating and offers little brand experience. “Consumers will continue to search,” Don Peppers had earlier told us, but don’t overlook the importance of social to the up-and-coming ranks of business buyers and marketers. It’s going to be second nature to them.

Beamed in from the West Coast USA, Laura Ramos of Forrester Research shared her thoughts on social media and experimentation in business to business marketing. Her key takeaway was that knowing your buyer’s social media behaviour profile helps set a successful social media strategy. Whilst many traditional tactics underperform against expectations and are failing to engage decision makers, the importance of one to one contact in generating demand is being recognised. Forrester have developed a Social Technographics methodology for use before setting strategy, based on understanding the buyer’s behaviour and that impact of Web 2.0 on their purchasing process. Take a look at www.forrester.com/groundswell.

The day was closed out by the ever entertaining Rory Sutherland, archetypal chief creative at OgilvyOne, who controversially put forward the idea that an obsession with measurement might be holding back innovation. Even I can agree with the sentiment, but at the end of the day, Marketing has to be able to demonstrate return on investment if it’s to be taken seriously. The “medium is the message” he said and the delivery mechanism determines success. Make sure you’re talking to people in the right way, appears to be his point, otherwise it doesn’t matter what you say.

As always with events like this, a few nuggets of thinking and ideas were thrown up during the day to take back to our offices and put into practise, making it a day well spent. Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention, you can catch my own contribution (and the rest of the day) during another panel discussion. Enjoy!