Three Ways Retargeting Personalizes The Nurture Experience
By Brian Anderson
Personalization is a must-have when it comes to engaging with buyers. While email marketing is an effective tool for reaching prospects that your organization already knows about, new engagement methods — like display advertising — offer retargeting capabilities that can reach the prospects that are not on your company’s radar.
In preparation for an upcoming Bizo webinar that will cover various best practices for implementing “always-on” strategies into your marketing efforts, here are three ways that retargeting can make a positive impact on your personalization capabilities and help add more value to your nurture experience.
1. It Keeps Your Brand Top-Of-Mind
Of all the benefits that retargeting can offer B2B marketers, keeping the company top-of-mind in the eyes of prospected buyers is a major factor.
Retargeting techniques such as display advertising offer companies the brand awareness they need to make a positive (and personalized) impact on prospects at the top of the sales funnel
2. It Educates And Engages Prospects
Retargeting not only offers B2B marketers an opening to engage with prospects early-on in the buyer’s journey, but also offers prospects the opportunity to promote further engagement with educational content.
Educational content engages prospects on topics that personally interest them, while also nudging them further down the funnel towards a possible purchase.
3. It Helps Your Colleagues Do Their Jobs Better
In the end, nothing makes a B2B company run in perfect harmony like good, old-fashioned teamwork. With retargeting tactics in your arsenal, you are helping other departments in the company (like sales and lead generation) do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. The results include highly detailed and qualified leads, and more opportunities to convert sales.
For more info on how retargeting can boost your lead nurture experience, attend the upcoming webinar sponsored by Bizo on March 6th at 1pm ET/10AM PT.
Good News And Bad About Social Media Spending
by Kim Ann Zimmermann, Managing Editor
The February 2014 CMO Survey came out this week, and it was a little bit of good news and quite a bit of bad news, and the bad news was rather shocking.
First, the good news.
The 408 chief marketing officers who took part in the CMO Survey said social media spending is expected to more than double in the next five years — from 7.4% of their total marketing budget to 18.1% by 2019. The survey, which was sent to 4,582 top U.S. marketers between Jan. 14 and Feb. 4, is sponsored by McKinsey & Company, the American Marketing Association and Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.
Now, the bad news. CMOs STILL don’t know if all this social media spending is paying off.
Nearly half (49.2%) of marketing leaders state they do not have proof that social media is helping their performance. Only 15.9% of firms said they could show quantitatively that social media impacted performance, while 34.8% said they have a good qualitative sense of the impact.
"Spending on social media has outpaced its measurement,” said Christine Moorman, a professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and director of The CMO Survey. “As we enter the next chapter in the evolution of this emerging area of marketing, I predict that we will see more companies designing research to give them insights into what is and is not working. CMOs report they spend 3.5% of their budgets on measuring return on investment. This level will increase over time as will the number of companies using experiments and sophisticated econometric models."
I’m sure more than a few CMOs heard from their CEOs and CFOs after this survey was released, indicating that they need to step up their social media measurement strategies. And honesty, I don’t blame the C-suite for putting some added pressure on their marketing teams. I wouldn’t want to admit that my company was spending more money in social, but couldn’t determine the ROI of the investment. Because social media is become an integral part of communication and engagement strategies, it is about time that CMOs have an answer.
Three Rules For Writing Good Survey Questions
By Tonya Vinas, Senior Editor, Content4Demand
Good surveys can produce great content, but surveys themselves are a type of content and so require the same attention to language and writing.
Usually, a marketing team will believe something is true based on customer feedback and sales insight and want a survey to verify the knowledge and serve as a launching pad for a content tract on the topic. Something like, “Employee wellness programs are good for business.”
Let’s assume we’ve landed on this topic and don’t need to ask any demographic questions because we’ve pre-qualified the survey pool. Where do we start?
These three rules provide a good foundation to begin.
1. Start at the finish line. Generally identify the topics of the resulting content pieces. A good way to do this is with a placeholder headline such as: “Employee Wellness Programs Reduce Costs.” This gives you some guidance on what you need to measure and therefore, ask: i.e., How has your company benefited from having a wellness program? Choose all that apply. a. Less Turnover, b. Higher Productivity, c. Lower Health Insurance Costs, and d. Fewer Absences.
The next placeholder headline might be a deeper diver: “Wellness Programs Reduce Turnover.” Now you have more questions to ask: What are your top three workforce challenges (turnover would be one of the choices)? What was your employee turnover in the past 12 months? What was it in the 12 months prior to having a wellness program? What is your average turnover cost per position?
Move on to another sub-topic, and another, and soon you’ll have a batch of questions to consider for the final survey. The questions don’t have to be perfectly written yet. The language and grammar can be refined once you’ve narrowed down your list to the final questions.
2. Build in redundancy for verification. These days, it’s easy to think something is happening when in fact it might not be. Just because a topic is trending on social media doesn’t mean it’s an actual trend that translates into better sales or profits.
One way to check foundational assumptions is to ask the same question in different ways. This takes some skill with language but if you are working from a premise that must be quantified, it’s a good idea to quantify it more than once. For example, you could take the attrition question in a different direction and ask, Based on your employee satisfaction surveys, what are the top three non-compensation benefits that long-term employees value most (wellness programs would be one of the choices)?
3. Get out of your own head. Survey questions need to be written for maximum clarity and inclusiveness. Using jargon, trademarked names and business catch phrases can work against you. You can always explain your company’s differentiators in the content-tract pieces, which will be more targeted and specifically branded. To get there though, you’ll need a wide dock to take in the content raw materials, which are the survey responses. Don’t narrow the opening with unfamiliar language.
Getting survey questions right is a precursor to creating great content from survey results. Keep the end in mind, verify critical assumptions with redundancy and use welcoming, familiar language. Following these three rules is a great start to a great survey.
A Few Thoughts About The Coming Content Marketing Apocalypse
By Matthew S. McKenzie
There’s been a lot of speculation lately that the end Is near for content marketing as we know it. Call it what you want: a bubble, a backlash, a shock, or some term I can’t repeat here.
But apparently, if you’re relying on content marketing, it’s time to start hoarding canned goods and boarding up the windows.
I’ve come across at least two recent blog posts that illustrate the trend. They’re both worth reading, but here’s the gist of the problem as they see it. First, from Mark Schaefer’s post on content shock:
Like any good discussion on economics, this is rooted in the very simple concept of supply and demand. When supply exceeds demand, prices fall. But in the world of content marketing, the prices cannot fall because the “price” of the content is already zero — we give it away for free. So, to get people to consume our content, we actually have to pay them to do it, and as the supply of content explodes, we will have to pay our customers increasing amounts to the point where it is not feasible any more.
Rand Fishkin makes a similar point in his post about “content fatigue” (with a nod towards Schaefer’s post). He’s got a great graphic that sums up the problem nicely:
I agree with this position — at least to a point.
If you’re selling burritos or energy drinks (to use two examples Schaefer singles out), content shock is a plausible concept. There’s a tremendous amount of content in play in the consumer space, and most of it is of very low value. Consumer brands are going to have some long, hard conversations about the benefits they’re getting from content marketing. Not everyone will fail, and certainly not everyone will quit, but the challenges are apparent.
In the B2B market, however, it’s a very different story.
Your customers and prospects are tasked with solving business problems. Their jobs depend on their ability to solve these problems. If your B2B content marketing is targeting the right audience, and if your content is addressing the buyer’s needs, then your buyers will recognize and respond to the value of this content.
Today’s B2B buyers also conduct more extensive research — about their business problems, possible solutions, and vendor options — than ever before. We know these buyers wait longer before engaging with vendor sales reps. And we know exactly what they’re doing with that time: finding and evaluating the information they need to make buying decisions. The right content, at the right time, is inherently valuable to these buyers.
I’m not saying that the B2B market gets to play an automatic “get out of the apocalypse free” card here. In some ways, the stakes are higher: The state of the art for B2B content involves content that reflects a deep understanding of your buyers. You can’t afford not to engage your buyers with content, but you also can’t afford to use content marketing that’s sloppy, pushy, poorly timed and irrelevant.
Here’s a final thought: Best-in-class B2B marketers don’t have to guess at the value of their content. They track and measure that value through every step of the buyer’s journey. They have hard numbers to tell them what works and what doesn’t. If you want to create an apocalypse-proof content marketing strategy, that’s an important piece of the puzzle.
Three Ways B2B Marketers Can Benefit From Gamification
By Brian Anderson, Associate Editor
The concept of gamification is something I’ve always associated with B2C companies. The thought of enhanced customer engagement — which can be beneficial for both the customers and the company alike — seemed like a more valuable business option for B2C companies compared to B2B companies.
However, after attending a recent webinar titled Leveraging Gamification Across The Customer Lifecycle In Communites & Beyond, my eyes were opened to three rewarding benefits that B2B marketers gain from gamification.
1. Rewarding User Behavior = More User Behavior
When it comes to B2B companies incorporating gamification into their marketing strategies, the engagement and conversations within the community provide data that becomes extremely valuable when making business decisions.
Gamification lets community members “play off their natural competitive nature,” according to Liz Courter, Community Manager at Marketo, and also allows members to “play off their desire to showcase their accomplishments and expertise.” In return, this motivates members towards being proactive within the community — and the more proactive the community, the more data your company collects
2. Rewarding Brand Advocates Eases Community Management
Whether it is B2B or B2C, brand advocates provide great insight — to the company, as well as your customers — about your product and what you have to offer. The amount of support advocates provide when keeping the community in check, along with making sure every question or inquiry is answered, keeps the community support consistent and of the highest quality.
For instance, Marketo selects 50 customers who are extremely active within the community as its “Champions” on an annual basis. Rewarding the ones “who are doing so much in your community” with titles that highlight the person’s knowledge of your company — and various other incentives — keeps the engagement consistent while also saving your company time and resources that can be used differently, according to Courter.
3. Gamification Accelerates The Customer Lifecycle
In the end, the overall goal is to “have more [companies] adopt your product,” Courter explained. The more engagement and conversation there is in the community — along with a system which makes members “want to become experts” in your community — the more of an opportunity you have to quickly find and retain potential customers.
While having an active and engaging community has its perks, your strategies will not last long if you cannot prove how big of an ROI your gamification efforts will create. During the webinar, Courter highlighted data found in a Badgeville case study that showed the company achieved a 97% renewal rate for its products in 2013. The ability to articulate your successes in a way that the top execs will understand will prove how much of a return your gamification strategy will provide to your company.
To view an on-demand version of the webinar, click here.
BrightInfo: Content Recommendations Made Simple
By David M. Raab
This post originally appeared on the Customer Experience Matrix blog.
I spent much of last year writing about Customer Data Platform systems and have reviews on tap for a half dozen more. But I thought I’d start out 2014 with something different, just to show I’m not totally obsessed. Although, as you’ll see shortly, there’s a CDP angle to this story as well.
It should be fairly easy for BrightInfo to access external data sources, since the necessary changes are unrelated to its core technologies of semantic analysis and recommendations. Most companies today could probably use the system as it stands, since they lack a centralized customer database or policies to coordinate customer treatments across channels. BrightInfo already lets users override the purely algorithmic recommendations by specifying that some content will be shown in all circumstances, that other content will never be shown, and that recommendations will appear only on specified pages. Sophisticated marketers might want more refined controls, such as limits on how often the same content is offered or recommendations based on expected response value rather than the simple click rate. But BrightInfo is targeted at small and mid-size businesses, which are less concerned with such refinements.
BrightInfo officially released its product last September, after about a year of development. The underlying semantic and recommendation technologies came from sister company Softlib Software, which uses them for automated service and knowledge management and was founded in 2004. Pricing is published on the BrightInfo Web site and is free up to 1,000 visitors per month, $89 per month up to 5,000 visitors, and $224 per month up to 15,000 visitors. The system has several dozen clients.
To summarize, then: BrightInfo provides a very simple, very low cost way to increase engagement with Web visitors by making targeted content recommendations. It’s worth knowing about because traditional recommendation engines are often harder to deploy and more expensive.
But what’s the CDP angle? It’s not simply that BrightInfo is an example of an application that could use the customer data in a CDP to make more accurate recommendations. It’s actually a somewhat deeper question of where the recommendation functions belong in a CDP-based architecture. I’d argue that recommendations should be part of the central platform, so they can be used to coordinate treatments across all touchpoints. In other words, it’s probably wrong to imagine BrightInfo as an application that attaches to a CDP and uses its data to improve Web and blog results. Rather, in an ideal world, BrightInfo’s technology would be used within the CDP to generate recommendation that the CDP itself feeds to all applications. This is pretty theoretical and largely irrelevant to BrightInfo itself, which is targeted at companies that don’t have a CDP in the first place. But as marketing technology continues to evolve and more companies have CDPs, or centralized customer databases by any other name, it’s important to understand how the pieces should fit together.
David M. Raab, long-time marketing technology consultant and analyst. He is Principal at Raab Associates Inc. The blog is named for the Customer Experience Matrix, a tool to visualize marketing and operational interactions between a company and its customers.
Three Ms to Strengthen Your Lead Gen Efforts For The New Year
by Meagan Eisenberg, DocuSign’s VP of Demand Generation
Many business owners and marketers tend to find difficulty running lead generation campaigns despite spending a lot of money driving traffic to their websites. Here are three tips to enhance your lead generation program going into 2014.
1. Mine for social gold. The ability to market to partners as well as your competitors’ followers and customers is a great power that can be harnessed through social platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn. These platforms are a marketers’ goldmine because accounts are self–maintained, dramatically increasing accuracy of their personal information. Companies like Social123 give marketers the specifics they need, like phone numbers, titles and email addresses, so we can effectively connect and nurture a relationship into a sale.
2. Maximize LinkedIn. LinkedIn Sponsored InMails are a great low-noise channel to reach B2B targets. Because LinkedIn is a peer-to-peer network, a message from a peer is less intrusive than a cold call from some random company. The trick is to have sponsored InMails come from customers who are “peers” to your targets.
3. Modernize your lead scoring. Traditional lead scoring models typically covered a dozen attributes like firmographic and engagement data. ”Lead scoring 2.0” addresses thousands of attributes and adds predictive analytics by harnessing big data held in other services and databases as well as fields in your CRM platform. Companies like LatticeEngines and Mintigooffer next gen lead scoring models and insights.
Meagan Eisenberg, DocuSign’s VP of Demand Generation, is responsible for generating worldwide demand.
2014: The Rise of Content Intelligence
by Damon Ragusa, President, Idio
It’s always tempting to make bold declarations at this time of year. But they rarely hold up. Here’s a more subtle prediction for the next business cycle: Content marketing will blend into and then take a leading role in two of the most important areas of marketing.
Which two? First, it will make sense of so-called Big Data in the area of content marketing. Second it will use content to drive the customer experience. That new mix will be called content intelligence. If 2013 has been the year of content marketing, then 2014 will be the year of content intelligence.
Let’s break it down a bit, because like all subtle predictions, the nuances are what matter. Let’s talk about making sense of Big Data in content first. Marketers we speak to are still struggling to connect their content marketing efforts to meaningful KPIs. Efficiently generating content and constantly publishing is one thing, driving tangible business results is another, and most would say they are a long way from fully integrating content marketing with the obsessive measurement programs seen in Big Data rich areas such as digital advertising.
I would argue that the only way for content marketing to remain a top priority is for marketers to have the ability to define what is working versus what is not. Working means driving tangible results. Working can and must be measured. Content marketing, meet Big Data.
This brings me to customer experience. In 2014, content marketing will also merge with the customer experience function. Today, content is still underutilized as a powerful tool to propel the customer experience. Content is everything on the web page, in emails, in social streams, in app and on. It’s the words, the ads, the images and the brand. It’s the promotions, customer reviews and videos. If a consumer goes to a financial services company for retirement advice and sees low-interest mortgage loans, you don’t need an analytics team to know that will not be a positive customer experience.
Having data that can inform and predict each interaction for every customer will dramatically improve the overall the customer experience. Deriving meaning from each and every interaction will naturally lead to a better customer experience and content will be front and center as a way to provide this meaning. In this process, the role of content shifts from marketing to intelligence — intelligence on each customer’s preferences, likes, and interests via the content they consume.
Lastly, the content marketing process will be automated. Just as much of the world of digital advertising is now served automatically and its price is set in real time, the world of content is headed in the same direction. While it will be produced and consumed by humans, it will be served, measured, and optimized by algorithms and computers.
Damon Ragusa is President of Idio, a content marketin platform vendor. Ragusa is a software and analytics executive with experience across a wide range of functions serving the marketing organization.