Email And Mobile: The Glass Is Still Half Empty
More than 50% of email marketers now optimize or plan to optimize their email offers for mobile viewers. That’s a key result from a recent Experian Marketing Services study, and it raises one big question: Is that number encouraging or exasperating?
I think it’s more the latter. Maybe I’m a pessimist, but this is a case where the glass is half empty rather than half full. There’s no excuse at this point for treating mobile platforms as a secondary concern.
Consider another data point: A June, 2012 Experian study that showed 44% of email opens happened on mobile devices. (Another 28% of opens happened via webmail.) Even that figure probably understates the impact of mobile technology on email; according to a 2011 Google study, for example, 84% of smartphone users were already checking and sending email with their devices.
B2B marketers face special challenges in this area. If you’re not optimizing your email for mobile delivery, there’s a good chance that prospects will associate your brand with lousy looking, badly formatted content. That’s especially true when buyers spend more time considering B2B purchases and nurturing campaigns require a growing number of touchpoints.
If your organization is part of the 50% that aren’t yet optimizing email for mobile devices, are you ready to make this a top priority for 2013?
Applying B2C Concepts To B2B Marketing: Making The Case
Last January, Demand Gen Report published a story that highlighted the trend of bringing B2C tactics into B2B marketing organizations. It’s now a pretty common theme, but it’s also a theme that rarely gets explored beyond a series of very basic guidelines.
That’s why a recent DestinationCRM blog post from Justin Gray, CEO of LeadMD, caught my attention. Justin does a great job of explaining why it’s useful to apply B2C concepts to B2B campaigns today, and he also offers several concrete examples of how to do this in practice.
I think Justin’s most important point, however, is that selling directly to individuals, rather than to generic accounts, is a very powerful marketing concept – even for products where “selling direct” isn’t that common:
Taking the B2C route of offering products or services straight to your buyer can actually work very effectively for your B2B company if it is done properly. Take a company that sells CRM software. Instead of pitching the benefits to the business at large or the marketing team as a whole, tailor your approach to the sales team member whose life would be made easier by the software. He’ll want it—and he’ll do what’s necessary to make sure it gets purchased. Often the decision makers are so far removed from the trenches that they may not see the value in what you have to offer, while those in the foxholes won’t want to pass it up. Go straight to them first, and you’ll quickly find out why B2C campaigns can be so rewarding.
Here’s how Justin sums it up: “When it comes down to it, people don’t buy products based on titles, roles, businesses or fancy pitches laden with marketing copy. They buy based on what a product will do for them.”
Does that seem an obvious point? I think it just appears that way when you see it explained so clearly. In practice, it’s a lesson that a lot of B2B marketing organizations are still working to learn.
Why Your Smiling Face Makes You A More Likely B2B Buyer
Mintigo is a company that analyzes unstructured information, freely available on the web, to identify likely buyers for B2B sales and marketing organizations. The company recently turned its analytical firepower on an unusual source of buyer information: facial expressions.
Mintigo teamed with Face.com, a facial recognition platform, to match the results of one of its clients’ email campaigns against a database of recipient LinkedIn profile photos. Here’s what it found:
A smile has real value. While overall campaign response was 5.3%, the response among smilers was 20%. A smiler was 3.8 times more likely to respond. While only 16% of the prospects were smiling in their LinkedIn photo, 63% of those responded to emails were smiling.
The analysis also revealed that people who “recommend” other LinkedIn members were 4.5 times more likely to respond to the email campaign. On the other hand, it didn’t matter how many recommendations a LinkedIn member received, nor did it matter how many LinkedIn connections they had.
This is the first analysis of its type that I’ve ever seen, and it’s fascinating. We’re already familiar with data-mining services that identify likely buyers based on account-specific traits like installed products or recent purchases, as well as those using conventional demographic or firmographic analysis. This analysis, however, takes things to the next level.
I can’t wait to see how Mintigo and other companies apply these insights to their targeting platforms. And if you want to confound the system, I suppose you could always post a picture of your cat instead.
Marketers As IT Buyers: The Big Shift Has Already Happened
You’ve certainly heard by now the Gartner prediction that CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs by the year 2017. Yet while predictions are fun (and often wrong), what’s happening here and now can have a much bigger impact.
That’s why I want to share a slide from a Gartner webinar that profiles how the typical marketing organization functions as a technology buyer (click the image below for a larger version):
Some of these findings won’t raise any eyebrows; how many of you are surprised that marketing determines the need for the technology it will use? But look at some of those numbers further along the IT buying lifecycle. More than half of the marketers surveyed said their teams already handle final vendor selection, and a third handle the implementation and management.
So basically, a third of the marketing organizations surveyed already call the shots when it comes to selecting, implementing or managing new technology.
This certainly includes SaaS-based marketing technology, of which marketing automation may be the most popular example. But consider this: According to Gartner, half of CMOs now have a capital budget to purchase marketing software.
Given that most SaaS purchases are treated as OpEx rather than CapEx, this tells you just how much the rules of the technology game have already changed for marketers.
One more point: I wrote a while back about the advantages of hiring marketing professionals with strong analytical and data-management chops. According to Gartner, that’s another trend with the wind at its back; many of the CMOs they interview are busy hiring technical staff and creating jobs like Chief Marketing Technologist.
I don’t know what CIOs think of these changes. But it sure seems like they’d better get used to them.
CMOs: Under-Performing Agency Partners Are Living On Borrowed Time
But here’s a finding that stands out: Very few CMOs view outside agencies as strategic partners, and many are downright unhappy with their agency relationships.
According to coverage published in Direct Marketing News, just 12% of marketing leaders say their agency partners are “extremely valuable.” Nearly half, by comparison, say the agencies they work with are “average, underperforming, or not producing at all.”
Liz Miller, VP of the CMO Council, says the underlying problem is a lack of strategic vision:
“Marketers are saying, ‘We asked them for a lead-generation strategy, and they gave us a lead-generation campaign,’” Miller says. “[CMOs] are tires of having to pay several divisions of the same agency to get a patch work of disparate, loosely driven programs. Agencies are overselling and under-delivering.”
It sounds like this should be a wake-up call for agencies that can’t or won’t step up and address “the vision thing” for their clients. If just 1 in 10 CMOs is truly satisfied with their agency partners, you don’t have to look very hard to see a big opportunity for more forward-looking competitors.
Marketing Analytics Drive Big Benefits For Fortune 1000 Companies
A recently published academic study offers strong support for companies looking to step up their investments in marketing analytics.
The Penn State Study included responses from 212 senior executives at Fortune 1000 companies. Those that increase their use of marketing analytics see an average 8% improvement in their return on assets, and the most aggressive analytics initiatives show a return of up to 21%.
In terms of net income, that’s a return of anywhere from $70 million to $180 million.
“Our study provides a strong rebuttal to executives who believe that information gathering and analysis result in excessive delays and ‘analysis paralysis,’” says Dr. Gary Lilien, cofounder and Research Director of the Institute for the Study of Business Markets at Penn State’s Smeal College. “On the contrary: when analytics is deployed with strong support from key executives, organizations thrive in competitive industries and react well to today’s customers, who frequently change their product preferences.”
There are two caveats here.
First, the authors noted that a separate 2009 McKinsey study showed only 10% of the respondents using marketing analytics in a meaningful way. That’s a lot of money being left on the table due to inaction.
Second, the study lays out some qualitative guidelines for a successful marketing analytics strategy:
- Employ marketing professionals with strong analytics skills.
- Deploy a sophisticated IT infrastructure.
- Create a culture that is able and willing to apply analytics to decision-making processes.
Other experts are also encouraging marketing organizations to hire team members with strong analytical chops. We’re big fans of that idea, and these findings show why that’s the case.
Email Marketers Paying Less For B2B Lists In 2012
The Worldata Fall 2012 List Price Index tracks the cost of renting or purchasing a variety of list categories. While a number of list categories got cheaper this year, the biggest change was a 8.6% decrease in the cost of permission-based B2C email lists.
B2B lists also came down in price almost across the board:
- Permission-based small business email lists fell by 3.5%
- Permission-based medium and large business lists fell by 1.6%
- Permission-based international email lists fell by 3.2%
If you’re not so big on permission-based marketing, then B2B email list costs actually held steady or even climbed a bit during 2012.
It’s no secret why consumer lists got so much cheaper this year: The 2012 election cycle released a tidal wave of consumer email addresses onto the market. It’s not as clear why business list costs fell, given a recovering economy and (presumably) higher demand. It’s possible that more companies are renting their lists in order to raise additional revenue.
3 Reasons To Ramp Up Your Holiday-Season B2B Marketing Efforts
‘Tis the season to be marketing…or is it?
Actually, we notice that a lot of companies cut back on their B2B marketing activities this time of year. It’s an understandable trend: Team members scatter, Q4 budgets begin to wind down and executives focus on the year ahead.
But are there some missed opportunities here? I think so. Here’s why.
First, consider that a time of year when most B2B companies take their marketing and advertising down a notch might be the perfect time for you to buck the trend. You’ll get increased visibility compared to your competitors, and you just might get a stronger ROI on your campaigns.
Second, does it really make sense to miss an opportunity to influence your customers’ crucial buying decisions during the first quarter of 2013? If we’re serious about getting ahead of longer buying cycles, then this is precisely the time when you should be launching campaigns aimed at driving 2013 revenue.
Finally, this is a good opportunity to build brand awareness by lightening up a bit and having some fun. Clever, lighthearted holiday-themed communications go over well with many prospects – as long as you emphasize “light” and steer clear of any religious or cultural red-flag messages.
Your own B2B marketing budgets might be tight, and it can be a challenge to run campaigns at a time of year when your team may be short-handed. But with a bit of creativity – and, of course, the right marketing technology mix – you might convince Santa to drop a big box of red-hot holiday leads down your sales team’s chimney.
Technical Skills For Marketing: How Much Is Enough?
Here’s a fascinating question: How much technical knowledge does a B2B marketer really need to get the job done?
A recent article on BostInno.com covered a debate on this topic. On one side, uTest CMO Matt Johnston asserts that marketing needs “to have ownership over its own tech stack” – to the point where engineers are actually a core part of the marketing team.
On the other side, Ben Katz, CTO at Gazelle, thinks that technology needs to stay largely with the IT organization; marketers should recognize what they need in functional terms, but they don’t need a deep understanding of the enabling technology.
I’ll share my own biases here: I started my career as a tech journalist, and I’m extremely comfortable with the IT world. Having said that, I don’t see how any B2B marketing organization can achieve its full potential today unless it understands how and why technology can serve its strategic goals.
Consider one hot topic today: Marketing analytics. Is this really a field where a busy IT organization is going to understand the shift towards revenue-based metrics, recognize the underlying technology priorities (e.g. closed-loop reporting; integration between marketing automation and CRM) and offer effective solutions?
Maybe they will. Certainly, we’d all like to work with an IT organization that can serve as a really visionary trusted advisor. But most of us don’t have that luxury.
So I’ll take Matt Johnston’s side in this argument. I especially like this piece of advice he offered:
Johnston talked about hiring people who have two out of the three competencies: analytical, creative, technical. Even if you’re a great writer and unbelievably creative, to be hired at uTest you need to tackle data or technology. Or, ideally, both.
I think this is what the future looks like for top-tier marketing organizations.