Google defines the zero moment of truth, or ZMOT, as the decision-making moment of online shoppers.
Here’s how the process that leads to ZMOT is described on the e-book’s landing page:
Today we’re all digital explorers, seeking out online ratings, social media-based peer reviews, videos, and in-depth product details as we move down the path to purchase. Marketing has evolved and modern marketing strategies have to evolve with the changing shape of shopping.
Jim describes this process as something that “changed the rulebook” on “where marketing happens, where information happens, and where consumers make choices that affect the success and failure of nearly every brand in the world.”
That is a pretty bold statement, but as practicing marketers, you probably have to agree that digital marketing and the power that consumers (for B2C marketers) and clients (for B2B marketers) have in terms of finding the information they want, and not necessarily what you want them to see, has been a true game-changer.
Here are the elements of ZMOT:
Not surprisingly for an e-book published by Google, Lecinski says that ZMOT happens online, usually started by a Web search via Bing, Google, Yahoo!, YouTube or another search engine
It happens in real time – any time of the day or night
The consumer is in charge and pulling information, not consuming a pushed message
It’s satisfying an emotional need of the consumer
The conversation involves many parties: the customer, marketers, friends, strangers, websites and experts
This handbook is full of great and actionable email advice, but Jeff particularly pointed me to the section on providing new subscribers with explicit expectations on what, when and why they will receive email after opting in.
Since it applies equally to B2B and consumer marketers, I wanted to share those tips and tactics with you, along with a fourth email element — privacy.
Here is the set-up straight from the MarketingSherpa handbook:
The time spent researching and developing eye-catching and memorable promotions that attract new subscribers is an enjoyable process for most marketers. However, equivalent effort and energy needs to go into reassuring the potential subscriber that your company is reputable and trustworthy. This is because after you have caught the consumer’s interest, and they are listening attentively, the new subscriber needs to feel safe to exchange their email address for a “special” offer.
Setting expectations right from the start of the relationship will reduce anxiety in the registration process and enable you to collect more qualified leads. Taking the time to inform new subscribers of what you will deliver yields more long-term subscribers. Adding a “join my mailing list” box with just a space to type in their email addresses will not effectively communicate expectations.
When you first started in marketing, your first thought might have been — I’m going to create the next “Got Milk,” “Think Different” or “We Can Do It!”
Of course, after a career of KPIs, lead nurturing and discount deadlines, it’s easy to lose that sense of wonder and forget about the power of creativity, or as Jason Falls calls it … the “Holy Smokes!” factor. At the end of this blog post, I’ll show you how one marketer brought that creativity to a campaign that sought to capture children’s attention through learning in an era when video games and Facebook compete for their attention.
But first, let’s explore the “Holy Smokes!”
Several weeks ago, I attended Explore Dallas Fort Worth, a one-day workshop/boot camp on digital marketing that was a great experience both professionally and personally. I recently had the chance to speak with Jason Falls, CEO, Social Media Explorer, and co-host of the Explore event that will occur in five cities across the United States this year.
Jason told me that sometimes marketers lose track of the essential point of marketing — persuading someone to take an action, an idea that ties into my recent blog post about conversion.
He says, “Even in public relations, sometimes you’re trying to persuade a legislature to go a certain way, sometimes you are trying to persuade the general public to have a certain opinion about your company. It’s not always about making someone buy something.”
To accomplish this, Jason suggests taking the “Holy Smokes!” approach for any activity, from writing a speech, to producing a video, to writing ad copy. He says the idea is anytime you are engaged in marketing, you want your audience to consume the message and think, “’holy smoke,’ this message is: incredible, sad, awesome, beautiful, intelligent, informative or some other declarative response.”
Ideally, they will think, “Holy smokes, I have to share that with my friends,” he explains.
One thing I really enjoyed at Email Summit 2012 was being able to walk around and talk to the email marketers of the world about the tactics they’re using. For example, I learned about marketers’ experiences with sales and marketing automation for small businesses over breakfast and European privacy regulations over lunch.
If you weren’t able to attend (and even if you were), I hope this blog post can serve as a proxy for that experience. During some of the general and breakout sessions at Email Summit 2012, we conducted a live poll using Acxiom technology where attendees could text to vote. (Full Disclosure: Acxiom was an Email Summit 2012 sponsor.)
In this blog post, I’ll share some of these results, along with some resources to help you act on these tactics.
Please keep in mind that I don’t intend this data to be regarded as statistically valid, rather view it the way you would anecdotal information you would attain from networking.
There are many validity threats, including the fact that the sample we surveyed (Email Summit attendees) is likely a skewed sample and much more active and experienced than the average email marketer since they invested the time and money in attending Email Summit. So the average email marketer is even less likely to be using these tactics.
That said, let’s jump right in …
How are you deploying mobile in your marketing strategies for 2012?
What do you think will have the biggest impact on email marketing in 2013?
At the MarketingSherpa Email Summit, we focus on what really works. However, sometimes you have to look past what is already proven, gaze into the crystal ball, and try to make strategic decisions today to position your company for the opportunities (and threats) of tomorrow.
So what will tomorrow bring? Let’s take one extra spin on the email marketing carousel of progress and take a look at what your peers think will have the biggest impact on email marketing in the near future.
In-line Video (15 respondents, 10.7% of respondents)
Social Data/Content Integration (48, 34.2%)
Privacy Legislation (29, 20.7%)
Dynamic Content (48, 34.2%)
As you try to peer over the hill for your own marketing efforts, here are a few resources that may help:
While researching an upcoming consumer marketing case study about SquareTrade, a provider of extended consumer electronics warranties that tied a referral program to the release of the latest iPhone, I had the chance to speak with Angela Bandlow, Vice President Marketing, Extole, a consumer-to-consumer social marketing company that creates social referral programs. (Note: You can sign up for the Consumer Marketing newsletter to receive the case study on SquareTrade once it’s published.)
Social referral programs allow companies to tap into their customer advocates to promote their brands, products and services by getting those customers to share within their social networks. These programs then track the shares through to the conversion, whether that is a sale, an opt-in or a coupon redemption.
Extole recently conducted research on 20% of its customer base with an average data collection length of 45 weeks, and this research uncovered some interesting data points on social sharing among different companies.
What to measure when tracking social sharing
“If you think about a referral program, it’s a little different in terms of what you would measure than a standard marketing program,” Angela explains.
She offers a few areas to track with referral programs:
How many of your customers are participating in your program? These people are called “advocates” at Extole.
Of the people participating, how many people do they share with, and through what marketing channel — email, Facebook, Twitter, personal URL (PURL), etc. This metric is important because it shows the “amplification” of the message or call-to-action.
The number of social shares is the multiplication of the number of participants and the amount of sharing.
Clicks-per-share, or in other words, the rate of clicking with the social shares from your customers.
“You see a different rate of amplification across social channels versus email,” says Angela. “Email is always going to be a one-to-one share.”
Extole’s research found in aggregate its clients get 3.49 shares per advocate. In other words, everyone participating in a referral program is sharing with almost three and a half friends. On the high end, some advocates share with as many as 12 friends.
Here is a breakdown of some of the data points across several channels:
The largest percentage of advocate sharing is through email, and those shares get a 21% open rate, 80% clickthrough and 17% conversion (the highest conversion rate of any channel), which breaks down to .17 clicks per share.
Facebook shares average 1.24 clicks per share, but the conversion rate is only 1.21%.
Twitter actually averages 6.81 clicks per share, which creates the highest amplification rate of any channel.
Click to enlarge
This research also found an overall average of 42% clickthrough rate through social referral programs and almost five friend clicks per share for highly performing programs.
Angela also offers a couple of examples from different clients:
A video rental service company gets the majority of its shares through people who get a personal URL and share it through various channels through cutting and pasting. This referral program includes an incentive offer of a free one-night rental for the customer advocate and a first night free rental for the friends.
Extole has found that amplification is improved when the effort involves an incentive.
A food delivery service gets 70% of its shares through email and another 15% via Facebook. On Twitter, that company gets almost nine clicks for each tweet.
“We’ve always known that word-of-mouth marketing was very powerful, and converted at an estimated three to five times higher rates than other channels,” states Angela. She adds this research puts some data behind the marketing power of letting your customers drive conversions through their social networks and communication channels.
But read a little further, and things get curiouser and curiouser (to paraphrase Alice in Wonderland). You see that turnover in the marketing department is a problem, especially in large organizations:
CHART: HOW SIGNIFICANT IS TURNOVER IN YOUR COMPANY?
Click to enlarge
If turnover is a problem now, in an unsure economy, what is it going to be like when the economy starts picking up stream and marketers have more job options? It gets worse; the vast majority of companies have no career path for marketers. And it doesn’t matter if you are in a small company or a large one:
B2B and other lead nurturing marketers are beset with challenges. Many are struggling to improve nurturing, scoring and alignment with the sales team, but they have a laundry list of questions.
I received 21 questions from the audience in recent a webcast for the American Marketing Association, “The One-Two Punch of Effective Lead Engagement: Accurate Lists and Powerful Content”(a replay of the webcast is posted below). Yesterday, I answered nine of the questions in a post on the B2B Lead Roundtable Blog. Today, I am answering 12 more below.
Questions on content
Q:When your sales team consists of medical reps who sell to doctors and show up at their offices twice a month, how do you nurture? Especially considering doctors aren’t Internet savvy?
A: I disagree doctors aren’t Internet savvy; there are social networks for the medical community that engage a quarter of a million physicians. That said, equip your sales team to ask for each doctor’s preferred means of communication: email, video, executive summaries, reports, etc. It could be a simple questionnaire.
Q:Should we consider paying outside subject matter experts to develop educational content?
A: Leverage internal experts first to build authority. But be sure the content you’re sharing will be valuable even if the prospect never buys. If your content doesn’t meet that standard, then you’ll want to think about using third-party experts to fill the gap.
Q:If you keep sending your contacts repurposed content (although the same information), won’t they be annoyed? Wouldn’t they prefer fresher info?
A: Research suggests it takes at least seven to nine interactions for a message to be remembered. If you have a complex offering, your audience will appreciate you breaking it down and presenting it in a variety of ways so they can better understand it. We have to look at our content from our customers’ point of view, not our own. Don’t be afraid of repetition — embrace it.
Q:What’s the right amount of emails with video versus straight emails?
A: You need to know your audience and how they prefer to consume content. Test and measure.
Questions on tactics
Q:My team has auto-communications that go to prospects once a week for eight weeks, and we have a team of callers that supplement this. Do you believe this will help nurture/re-engage older leads?
A: It could. Here are some thoughts and ideas:
Nurturing is about building a relationship based on trust to continue a conversation. It’s not just about sending irrelevant information that could cause prospects to emotionally unsubscribe.
Examine the cadence of your emails to determine if once a week is too frequent. Nurturing is a marathon, not a sprint. Nurture them at least the length of your sales cycle.
Look at your results. How many opt-outs do you have? What are the call-to-lead conversion rates? How many opens and clickthroughs are your emails getting? The key is measurement.
Q:How do you know which marketing tactic attracted your customer? Email? Direct Mail? Print? TV?
A: That’s a challenge every marketer faces in the complex sale. The answer depends on whether you’re measuring first touch or last, and if you’re focused on gathering names or closing the deal immediately. Leverage your CRM to capture every touch point: Have they attended a webinar, downloaded a whitepaper, or registered for a newsletter? All of these actions contribute, so measure all of them. Make sure your CRM allows you to track multiple campaigns.
Q:What is the best way to treat leads from a purchased list versus inbound leads?
A: Your answer can’t be quickly summarized, in fact, a book could be written on the topic. However, these blog posts will help:
Q:Any thoughts on lead engagement for B2C versus B2B?
A: In B2B, more people are involved in the buying decision, but, ultimately, people buy from people and the lines between these groups have blurred. MarketingSherpa will soon release its first-ever lead generation benchmark report that includes feedback from more than 1,900 B2B and B2C organizations on their lead generation challenges. In the meantime, here are some resources:
Very few of us, especially marketers, know what next year or the year after will look like. Things are constantly changing and progressing with new approaches, better analytics and a greater level of sophistication in our industry.
The good news, while those aspects continually evolve, there are a few things you as an individual can do to ensure a productive and prosperous marketing career. They may seem obvious, but consider them carefully because your choice will mean the difference between a rewarding and frustrating career.
First and foremost, according to research I conducted for the 2012 Executive Guide to MarketingSherpa Marketing Personnel, 80% of marketers take assessments to identify key competencies and personality traits. (An assessment is an examination, test and/or survey(s) that measures specific behaviors, values and/or skills that provide insight into an individual’s abilities and capacities.)
However, what comes next is disappointing … our study also showed that less than half of the assessments were actually used (by companies) to help ensure you are in the right marketing position. So, if you work for one of the companies not using assessments, your career satisfaction and success is entirely in your hands.
“People don’t pay for average.” — John C. Maxwell
And neither do marketing departments.
While you may enjoy multiple aspects of the marketing process, if you really want to excel in your career, you must ask yourself: “Which aspects do I enjoy the most and which am I best suited for?”
The reality is that you may be fairly competent in several areas, but no one is good at all of them — plus, each area is growing in the level of sophistication so rapidly that it is easy to quickly fall behind the learning curve. So what do you do?
Obtain a copy of your assessments and make an appointment with your manager or HR specialist who had those tests run. Identify what you want to learn about your behaviors, strengths and weaknesses before the appointment that apply to the field of marketing you most enjoy.
Have the individual go through the results with you thoroughly. Ask questions during the process. Yes, you will hear a lot of things you already know, but it is essential you see your competencies from another’s paradigm, not just your own. Let them identify your strengths and weaknesses based on the data.
Use the comments you obtain from the debrief session to help you develop a plan.The plan should consist of:
How to use your strengths in your present position
How to reduce the weaknesses that might inhibit your professional growth and development
Try to codify what developmental resources you will need to obtain, either through or outside of company resources
Assign priorities and time frames, then implement your developmental process. Do not wait on a manager or HR to do this for you. You may have to wait a long time for other’s help.
B2B marketing has always been complicated, and has only become more complex over the last few years thanks to evermore empowered buyers, new technologies, a difficult economy and growing international organizations that make navigating potential buyers and influencers in target companies harder by the day.
So, I sat down with Jen Doyle, Senior Research Manager, MECLABS, for a look at her recent discoveries from her 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report to see what marketers are telling us about these challenges …
Here are some of the research discoveries Jen and I discussed in the video, along with the source charts: Read more…
A steady diet of fresh data helps marketing teams invest wisely and reach the right person, with the right offer, at the right time. It’s almost like food for your strategy, giving it strength.
But like food, data needs skilled hands to process it. You cannot pull a potato out of the ground and call it dinner, and you cannot track unique visitors and call it marketing.
You need a data chef, better known as an analyst. This person will help you take the unprocessed fields of grain in your database and turn them into Fettuccini Alfredo. Big companies have been doing this for years.