Daniel Burstein

Customer-First Marketing: Use data to make sure the customer always wins

March 17th, 2017
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Every year when I’m in Las Vegas for MarketingSherpa Summit, I find myself on the casino floor at some point. All roads in Vegas lead through the casino.

There’s bright flashing lights and sounds. Lively chatter. General bacchanalia.

Gambling looks like a lot of fun, and many people enjoy it. But other than a few bucks here or there, I don’t partake. Because, as someone who has written about evidence-based marketing for these many years, I suspect the odds are not in my favor.

The house always wins. In the gambler-casino relationship, the casino has the slight edge that, over billions of transactions, generates positive cash flow. This is a business after all, and revenue for the fountains, the curved glass and steel towers, the futuristic trams — it has to come from somewhere.

So when I had a chance to interview Jeff Ma, I wanted his opinion on the customer-marketer relationship. Who has the edge?

The customer and the marketer shouldn’t be opposed

“I think ultimately it’s not a similar thing because the difference . . . this is like honestly one of the things I don’t think people realize — the customer and the marketer shouldn’t be opposed. There’s not a contentious relationship. This should actually be a very positive relationship,” Jeff told me.

“If I were a customer, as long as the marketer had my best intentions, I wouldn’t give a s%&@ if they knew everything about me and all the data about me. As long as they’re not going to harm or use that against me, I want them to have as much information as they can.”

Jeff Ma is currently the senior director of analytics for Twitter, was previously ESPN’s predictive analytics expert, and is perhaps best known for his role on the infamous MIT Blackjack Team. Using creativity, math and teamwork, Ma created a card-counting method that helped the group win millions in Las Vegas. He was the inspiration for the book Bringing Down the House and the Kevin Spacey movie 21.

I was interviewing Jeff because he is a featured speaker at MarketingSherpa Summit 2017 in Las Vegas, and his response was right in line with discoveries from MarketingSherpa’s recent research.

For example, “showing personalized ads based on data about me is invasive” was not a major factor in why consumers blocked online ads.

However, that part Jeff mentioned about “as long as the marketer had my best intentions” was huge. Customer-first marketing was the key difference between how satisfied and unsatisfied customers described a company’s marketing, showing that the intentions behind the marketing play a critical role in the relationship with a customer.

Here are a few more quick takeaways from my conversation with Jeff to help you look at your data through a new lens.

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Courtney Eckerle

Social Media: How to make [the right] friends and influence people [who matter]

March 13th, 2017
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It’s one of those randomly attributed phrases that people throw around in social media: “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

We’ve all probably randomly scrolled past that phrase and ones like it a thousand times. But for some reason, reading that today on LinkedIn got me thinking — why do so many brands just follow the status quo for social media when the space is made so that the user can stand out from the crowd?

There are so many different ways to reach out not only to your customers as a whole, but to maybe even excite a niche crowd. Here are three of those ways:

Tactic #1. Pioneer uncharted platforms — go where competitors aren’t

In navigating the competitive marketplace for high-end jewelry, the team at Brian Gavin Diamonds needed a cost-effective method to help them stand out.

At MarketingSherpa Summit 2016, Danny Gavin, Vice President and Director of Marketing, Brian Gavin Diamonds, discussed how the team wasn’t afraid of going somewhere the competition had yet to explore to do that.

This attitude led them to Vine, a social app that allows for six seconds of looping video clips.

“The natural paths of marketing can be more expensive. We turned to social,” he said. “No one in the jewelry business was using Vine. It was a wide-open playing field.”

There’s a reason no one else had dared — six seconds is not a lot of time to tell a story and sell customers.

The team came up with a four-part strategy to their Vine videos to surpass that hurdle:

  1. Don’t oversell
  2. Be true to the platform
  3. Be timely and relevant
  4. Distill

This Vine video follows that strategy by quickly showcasing what the company can do with the caption: “From idea, to design, to the custom engagement ring of your dreams … Brian Gavin Diamonds is a cut beyond brilliant.”

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Courtney Eckerle

Customer-First Marketing: The argument for sending your customers non-transactional emails in two case studies

March 3rd, 2017
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In a 2016 MarketingSherpa study, we split 2,400 consumers into two groups. We asked half of the respondents to name a company they were satisfied with, and we asked the other 1,200 to name a company they were unsatisfied with.

The most popular response from satisfied customers — 42% of respondents — said that their chosen company’s marketing puts their needs before its business goals.

For unsatisfied customers, the most popular responses — 30% of respondents in each case — were that the company they were unsatisfied with “sometimes” or “seldom” puts their needs before its business goals.

How does this translate into email marketing? Examining the ratio of company-first emails (heavily transactional) to customer-first emails.

We’ll do this by reviewing two case studies featuring marketers who decided to dedicate significant time and effort into producing an email send where the goal wasn’t to drive revenue.

Case study #1: Marriott International

“It felt like we had the opportunity to really do something that was much more member-centric, and really use all the data that we’ve got on our members and present it to them in an interesting, fun way that they might not expect from us,” Clark Cummings, Senior Manager of Member Marketing, Marriott International.

Clark said that in the interview for his published case study for MarketingSherpa, where he was describing Marriott’s Year in Review campaign.

That send — which was non-transactional in nature — helped triple the December average of revenue per message delivered and contributed to making Marriott’s Q4 of 2014 the most successful fourth quarter in three years.

The Year in Review campaign led with a video that summarized several of the Marriott-specific highlights of 2014. This video was customized to each Rewards member.

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Courtney Eckerle

Marketing Technology: Choosing an email service provider to fit your needs in 4 steps

February 24th, 2017
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As one of the most commonly outsourced services, an ESP (email service provider) can be a great asset to a marketing team. Choosing the wrong one, however, can slow projects and inhibit email creativity, as well as cause issues with subscribers.

Finding the best ESP for your company means more than just wandering out into the marketplace with a wad of cash. It’s about understanding what your team — and your customers — uniquely need from the email marketing channel.

Many of the case studies I produce for the MarketingSherpa email marketing newsletter deal with an ESP switch, in differing variations. Usually, I’m writing about a stellar campaign that was produced after a marketing team broke free from the constraints of an ill-fitting ESP.

If the search for an email service provider is done correctly, it should be labor intensive. Which means you don’t want to have to do it very often.

Step #1: Perform an audit on the processes and workflows you currently have in place

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Courtney Eckerle

Content Marketing 101: How to write compelling content in five tips

February 16th, 2017
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Picture your ideal customer deciding where to spend his or her time and energy. They want something good for even a small time investment. Your headline, emphasizing value, gets their attention. They invest a click and continue reading.

That is the ideal scenario. But once your customer has clicked through to your full content, that’s when the real battle begins. How do you make it so impactful that not only do they read the whole thing, but they actually stay on your page and continue through the funnel?

Tip #1. Never bury the lead

We all know abstractly that people are busy, with a lot of other content competing for their attention. But when it comes time for pen to hit paper (or fingers to tap keys), many marketers don’t know where to begin.

There’s no need to be mysterious — tell them why they’re here and why they should stay. For example:

Why you’re here: You’re trying to find some marketing content motivation and/or tips.

Why you should stay: I have four additional tips coming (and boy are they good!), honed from years of writing over 2,000 pieces of (mostly) successful content for MarketingSherpa.

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Daniel Burstein

The Future of Advertising: What Wharton learned from 200 marketing leaders

February 10th, 2017
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The world is moving away from a standard view of advertising. Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, advertising was fairly easy to identify. But what is it today? And what will it be tomorrow? These are the challenges that have been facing the advertising and marketing industry for at least the past decade.

What should advertising be in the future? How do we get there? And, most importantly, who can answer these questions?

The Wharton Future of Advertising Innovation Network

So in 2008, Catharine Hays teamed up with Wharton’s SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management, founded the Future of Advertising Program at the Wharton School, and began assembling what would be a team of 200 advertising, marketing and academic leaders at organizations ranging from Facebook and Google to Tsinghua University and NPR.

hays 3Research from this who’s who of the advertising and marketing industry ultimately informed the publication of Hays’ book (with co-author Jerry Wind, Director, SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management), Beyond Advertising: Creating value through all customer touchpoints.

In the book, she provides a perfect summation of the challenges facing our industry: “This book is for those who recognize that tremendous and far-reaching changes continue unabated in the field of advertising and marketing.”

Catharine’s research intrigued us, and I’ll be interviewing her on stage at MarketingSherpa Summit 2017 in Las Vegas.

As we prepared for that session, we chatted about these challenges, and I wanted to share a few of the lessons I learned from that conversation about her research.

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Courtney Eckerle

5 Inbound Marketing Hacks Your B2B Company is Missing Out On

February 6th, 2017
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There’s a common misconception that B2C marketers get to have all the fun. Learn how to kick off your B2B marketing shackles and grow your business with these five inbound marketing hacks, taken from six proven case studies with your peers.

Hack #1. Cannibalize your content

When it comes to content marketing, robbing Peter to pay Paul isn’t going to get you fired. It might even get you promoted.

If robbery and cannibalism harsh metaphors for you, consider it recycling. Saving your marketing team’s environment one piece of content at a time.

When your social media team creates a cool and valuable infographic, don’t just let it die after it moves down the Facebook wall. Shock some electricity into it, call it reborn, and send it out in an email send. Build a blog post around it. Heck, build a white paper around it and drive downloads.

A great example of this tactic is what SAP was able to do in building a full complement of industry-specific white papers, infographics, blogs, surveys, presentations and email promotions for its 19 industries.

While the customer-focused team at SAP wanted the content to be specific to each industry, within that industry, they wasted nothing and converted information to appeal to people’s different preferences for digesting information.

Read the full case study: Inbound Marketing: How SAP drove 9 million impressions with targeted content campaign

Hack #2. Remember that you’re talking to a person, not an entity

When developing campaigns, remember that while you technically cater to businesses, you’re actually talking to one, or maybe just a handful of people.
In other contexts, they’re B2C consumers, and are beginning to expect that type of human-to-human communication from you as well.

Take Nextiva, a cloud-based communications company, that deals with companies that range from “your local mom and pop shop to fortune 500 companies with thousands of employees,” according to Max Anderson, Video Producer, Nextiva.

The company dedicated itself to stellar customer service as a way to set it apart from competitors, which they found difficult to do over the phone. So Nextiva decided to break the barriers of traditional B2B customer service and began recording personalized videos.

1 customer responses

“In today’s digital age, it has become increasingly hard to provide a level of face-to-face interaction, and we have found that our video responses have helped bridge that gap,” Max said.

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Courtney Eckerle

How a Healthcare Software Company Used Behavioral Marketing to Exceed Lead Targets by 400%

January 30th, 2017
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As marketers, when we hear the term “personalization,” we’re conditioned to think, “Hello [recipient name], I really looking forward to sharing with you some ways that [company name] can best serve you.”

Though these methods may have increased opens and clickthrough a decade ago, they are no longer capable of working magic on their own. In short, customers have figured us out.

We all know that email can be effective at driving demand. The challenge is knowing exactly how to craft our emails in such a way that they are immediately relevant to our prospects.

How deep should you segment? How do you figure out the right message to send to each segment?

In this interview at MarketingSherpa Summit 2016, Jeremy Mason, Director of Demand Generation, SCI, will discuss his takeaways from how his team redefined their primary buyer personas and launched a triggered email nurturing program based on prospect depth, role, readiness and behavior.

SCI Solutions, a Seattle-based company that offers software to hospitals and other medical facilities, is faced with an impossibly crowded marketplace. The contact information for every buyer is easily available, and open rates across the industry are less than 1%.

To combat this, Jeremy and his team combined the most effective aspects of persona-marketing and trigger-based marketing to create a truly individualized behavioral marketing plan. Read more…

Courtney Eckerle

Trust Your Customers to Raise Their Hands: How to use non-gated content to more than double high-quality leads

January 20th, 2017
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Challenged to measure ROI on every program and hit a certain number of leads per month, some marketers make potential customers fill out forms to get access to gated content.

Instead of forcing form fills, Chris Keller, Vice President of Marketing, Health Catalyst, and his team set their content free in order to increase shareability and lead quality while more than doubling leads during a three-quarter period.

“We’re trying to be the non-marketing marketing group,” Chris said. “We’ve taken a controversial approach to educating the market.”

For Health Catalyst, a healthcare analytics company, aggressively educating customers was a key aspect of its strategy to deliver a high-growth pipeline of leads. However, in a crowded healthcare IT market, Health Catalyst wanted to establish leadership, not generate cold leads.

This led the team to take a different approach: as few lead forms as possible. Because they wanted a pipeline of sale-ready leads, they put their trust in prospects to raise their hands when they were ready.

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Courtney Eckerle

How PR Newswire created a customer-centric demand gen engine

January 13th, 2017
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In today’s digital landscape, the buyer is in control and is more sophisticated than ever before. In fact, according to Forrester, 93% of B2B buyers prefer to transact online when they have decided what to buy.

After publishing this week’s B2B case study featuring cyber security firm SecureWorks’ transformation of its demand generation, I realized how vital a clear, built-out purchase path can be for both marketers and consumers.

With that, I decided to reach back to a Media Center Interview with Ken Wincko, SVP of Marketing, PR Newswire, who spoke at last year’s MarketingSherpa Summit on the topic.

 

To effectively engage and target buyers, Ken and his team developed a sophisticated buyer-centric go-to-market approach that employs tailored content aligned to key segments and personas across the entire customer lifecycle.

It starts, he said, with recognizing that customers have options and that it’s very easy for them to make choices on their own.

“What we’ve really focused on is becoming buyer-centric, and to focus on [buyers’] core informational needs,” he said. “What are their challenges? Where are the opportunities for them?”

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