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B2B Marketing: What are the biggest B2B opportunities for 2012?

January 5th, 2012 1 comment

Now that 2012 is upon us, we wanted to share what marketing thought leaders and practitioners have identified as some of the biggest B2B opportunities for the upcoming year.

If you’re familiar with MarketingSherpa research, I must warn you that, in this case, the data gathering was completely unscientific. MECLABS A/V Specialist Luke Thorpe and I simply wandered around the networking event at MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2011 in San Francisco, and thrust a microphone and camera into the face of every willing participant.

Many speakers and attendees were kind enough to put their drink down, pick up a mic, and share insights with you. Here are a few of our favorites …



 

So what’s on the horizon for B2B marketing in 2012?

  • (00:38) Jay Baer, President, Convince & Convert, and author of “The Now Revolution,” discusses multimedia for B2B
  • (1:34) Tracy DeMay, Marketing Manager, CenterBeam, talks about leveraging social media
  • (1:53) Ge Moua, Senior Demand Generation Manager, Unify, shares her thoughts on the importance of tools
  • (2:23) Beth Toeniskoetter, Product Marketing, ReadyTalk, thinks deciphering which new technologies to invest in is key
  • (2:39) Tony Doty, Senior Manager, Research & Strategy, MECLABS, reminds marketers of the importance of segmentation
  • (3:21) Pamela Markey, Director of Marketing and Brand Strategy, MECLABS, sees a huge opportunity for content in this new year
  • (3:42) Karen Hayward, EVP and CMO, CenterBeam, urges marketers to slow down so you can go faster
  • (4:30) Kristin Zhivago, President, Zhivago Management Partners, and author of the book “Roadmap to Revenue,” wants you to pick up the phone and interview customers
  • (5:00) Michelle Mogelson Levy, Associate VP, Marketing Programs, ECI Telecom, discusses revenue marketing

 

Related Resources:

B2B Marketing: Top “Aha moments” of 2011 from your peers

B2B Marketing: 7 tactics for implementing marketing automation from a fellow brand-side marketer

Social Media Marketing: Why B2B marketers need to care, by the numbers

MarketingSherpa’s B2B Summit 2012

B2B Summit 2011 DVD Combo

Content Marketing: Web-based tool to help email marketers

January 3rd, 2012 3 comments

Editor’s Note: Since MarketingSherpa recently formed an affiliate partnership with ClickMail to help the value-added reseller of ESPs get more attention for its nifty ESPinator tool, we thought it might be worthwhile to rerun this blog post to give you ideas for using a Web-based tool in your own content marketing. (Original publication date: Feb. 22, 2011)

Content marketing goes well beyond publishing whitepapers and blogs. Your company can provide videos, slide decks, webinars and even Web-based tools — like ClickMail’s ESPinator.

ClickMail pairs companies with email service providers (ESPs) and helps them establish effective programs. For years, its marketers have published a blog and an annual PDF guide on how to select an ESP.

“We’ve always felt that we had a clear view of the strengths and weaknesses of the various ESPs,” says Marco Marini, CEO, ClickMail. “From that, we evolved into an annual guide on selecting the best one. It’s completely vendor-neutral. It doesn’t talk about any vendors at all, just what the factors are.”

The ESPinator is the next step in that strategy, Marini says. Launched in early 2011, the tool asks users a series of questions and suggests up to three ESPs that are well-suited to their needs.

“Every vendor at a trade show says their solution is the best. There truly isn’t a best solution. It all depends on what your specific needs are,” Marini says. “There are more than 30 ESPs in the tool, and we don’t have a relationship with the vast majority of them. So this is truly more for the email marketing audience.” Read more…

Most-Tweeted MarketingSherpa Blog Posts of 2011: Top social media tactics, email marketing testing, and more

December 29th, 2011 No comments

It’s that time of year again … time to look back and reflect on what we’ve learned. For the MarketingSherpa blog, we wanted to focus that reflection on what you, our readers, valued most in 2011. So we created our top posts list from the number tweets you shared for each post.

And to say social media marketing dominated this year’s most-tweeted Sherpa blog posts would be an understatement. But it’s not surprising marketers have social marketing on the brain as we found more than two-thirds of organizations increased their social marketing expenditures in 2011, according to the MarketingSherpa 2011 Social Marketing Benchmark Report.

Without further ado, here are your top 11 Sherpa blog posts for 2011 along with a brief (140 character of less) description of the post from your peers …

Read more…

Content Marketing for B2C

December 23rd, 2011 1 comment

This week’s consumer marketing newsletter article wrapped up 2011, and featured four B2C trends to watch in 2012: the mobile marketing channel, local search, online privacy and the new features in pay-per-click advertising.

These choices were based on the 80 (give or take a few) interviews with consumer marketers that my reporting colleague, Adam T. Sutton, and I conducted over the past year. One B2C trend that received serious consideration, but didn’t make it into the article, is content marketing.

Sure, content has its place in any overall marketing strategy, but I’ll bet when many marketers hear “content marketing” as a channel, they think B2B – whitepapers, lead nurturing campaigns, third-party validations within specialized industries, etc.

In fact, content is becoming an important part of consumer marketing efforts.

I’m going to present several case studies and how-to articles from this past year that illustrate just how important it truly is. (Note: MarketingSherpa articles often feature numbered tactics. In this blog post, I’ll call out several specific tactics within linked articles.)

  Read more…

Content Marketing: Statistics are not engaging stories

December 20th, 2011 3 comments

What if I told you 42% of U.S. cell phone owners used their phones to fight boredom? Who cares, right? It’s a factoid. It should pass through one ear and out the other.

But, let me tell you about a completely fictional teenager named Jamal. Jamal wakes up every day at 6:00 a.m. and eats breakfast while checking his phone. He plays Angry Birds on the school bus, and checks his Facebook page in the bathroom during class.

“I use it when I get bored,” Jamal says. “Most of my friends are the same way.”

This little anecdote adds life to the stat. It shows us that 42% is not just a number on a screen. It represents something real.

Read more…

B2B Marketing: 7 tactics for implementing marketing automation from a fellow brand-side marketer

December 15th, 2011 No comments

In the B2B marketer’s toolbox, marketing automation software is more like industrial equipment than a simple screwdriver. It’s a capital investment, and it does some serious heavy lifting.

There are many automation vendors out there with a wide range of price points and features to fit the needs of marketers of all size of prospect list and complexity of sale. One thing that remains the same across all these options is there are some key elements to fitting marketing automation into any sales cycle that every marketer should keep in mind.

Jason Striker, Digital Marketing Manager, ICM Document Solutions, presented “Marketing Automation for Misers – Strategies for implementing an effective automation program on a tight budget” to the audience at the recent MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2011 in San Francisco, and he offered a solid blueprint for doing just that for marketers with any budget size .

Here are seven tactics Jason gave our Summit attendees that I’d like to share with you:

  Read more…

Holiday Marketing: 3 last-minute ideas to boost conversion

November 22nd, 2011 1 comment

The holiday shopping season is upon us – the proverbial golden goose for consumer marketers. I’m sure you’ve planned thoroughly throughout the year, and just have to focus on how to execute, execute, execute in these last remaining days before December 25 rolls around.

But, it’s too late to make impactful changes to your plans, right?

Right?

Well, I’ve been listening to one of those “challenge the model” books on tape (you know, the ones that tell you, “Burn the status quo! The only rules that exist are the ones we impose on ourselves!”). So, I’m understandably pretty worked up. All the same, I say we take on this beast. Let’s try to make a few last-minute shifts and move that needle.

If you can spare a minute away from your daily transactional data, let’s brainstorm a few last-minute ideas to help you get an extra bump in sales this holiday season (and I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section, as well). After all, anything’s possible. As long as you commit.

- Read more…

Email Marketing: How to sprinkle subscribers with a well-timed welcome in 5 steps

November 18th, 2011 2 comments

As a native New Englander, I’m accustomed to swings in climate conditions. However, this past month’s weather pattern offered something different. More than 16 inches of snow fell in late October, causing my children to trick or treat in their snow boots. A week later, the temperature reached the low 70s, as if Mother Nature gave homeowners one last chance to clean up their yards before winter settled in.

Part of my Fall family chores is to empty water from the irrigation lines to our lawn sprinkler system.

In MarketingSherpa’s Email Marketing Strategies Workshop, I use the analogy that automated lawn sprinklers systems are very similar to automated email campaigns. I admit that I would in no way have a green grass if I did not have a sprinkler system set to water the lawn every Tuesday and Friday. If I used a hose and sprinkler set, I would most likely be reactive and only water when I noticed the grass turning brown. I’d also be inconsistent on the length of time I watered my tiny meadow.

With the irrigation system, I can select the day, time of day and duration of the water. It works so well that I save time and money, and I can set it and forget it.

 

Automated emails for higher open rates

I don’t recommend you “set and forget” automated emails, but they are similar in their efficiency, as these campaigns are triggered to be sent on defined sets of rules based on dates, events or behaviors.

Because of their timing and relevancy, automated campaigns achieve higher open rates than traditional email messages. In fact, in the 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, we discovered 43% of marketers found emails sent based on triggers to be very effective, leading all other tactics including segmentation based on subscriber behavior and use of loyalty programs.

The research also found 80% of organizations sent automated emails, with automated messages making up an average 22% of the overall email volume. The chart below shows the most popular automated email messages sent by marketers.

 

Chart: Manners matter most with automated email messages

Q. What type of automated, event-triggered, lifecycle email messages does your organization deploy? 

Click to enlarge

 

Read more…

Social Media Marketing: Analytics are free and plentiful, so use them

November 15th, 2011 7 comments

For years, the debate on social media marketing centered on ROI. Marketers asked themselves “How can we measure the impact of social media?” “What’s the ROI on Twitter?” “How do we know if LinkedIn is worthwhile?”

Thankfully, those days are behind us. Data is available from tools both paid and free. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, not every marketer has taken advantage, as you can see in the chart below from Adobe and Econsultancy, which we pulled from The Social Media Data Stacks e-book.

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Click to enlarge

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Five of the six metrics listed above have a greater number of marketers saying they’re important than the number of marketers tracking them. This is like saying it’s important to eat right and exercise while eating chili cheese fries and canceling your gym membership. It just doesn’t make sense.

But don’t worry — we have you covered. Here is a list of free tools you can use to start measuring each social media metric.

- Read more…

B2B Marketing: Combating a shrinking deal size

November 10th, 2011 No comments

Every time I look through the new 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, I find something interesting or useful from this research based on 1,745 surveyed marketers.

 

A B2B marketing challenge

Yesterday, I actually came across a chart I find disturbing:

Click to enlarge

 

Hopefully your deals aren’t moving to the left side of this chart. As you can see, compared to last year, the average B2B deal is declining. Deals under $10,000 have increased (with deals under $1,000 up 100%), and all deals over $10,001 are down.

Similar to the data point that the smallest deals are increasing the most, the largest deals – over $250,000 – are down by the largest percentage.

Yikes.

Part of this is likely attributed to the ongoing economic difficulties. Some larger B2B purchases are perhaps being put off until the financial outlook is better. Although, our research found one reason for this decline:  the economy is causing B2B companies to feel pressure to accelerate their current pipeline and get deals closed.

The problem with this strategic response is that now B2B companies are competing on price instead of value and are offering promotions that result in overall smaller deal sizes as well as including fewer products and services in the deal so it’s a simpler sale.

Another data point from the report also supports this research – compared to 2010, the average length of sales cycles in 2011 was much shorter.

Comparing 2011 to 2010, cycles of:

  • Less than one month, up 15%
  • One to three months, up 4%
  • Four to six months, down 2%
  • Seven to 12 months, down 7%
  • Over one year, even

One common reason for a shortened sales cycle is the deal becomes less complex. For example, Sales might work harder to close multiple one-year licenses to meet their quota instead of taking the time to nail down the all-you-can-eat enterprise license agreement. Read more…