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B2B Marketing: How good data can solve big problems

October 27th, 2011

Problems in your marketing can be tricky to identify. They might seem isolated, but they can also have a single root cause.

Brian Carroll, Executive Director of Applied Research, MECLABS, believes a central problem for many B2B marketers is a lack of effective data.

“Everything connects to your data,” Carroll said. “Your data represents relationships, and that’s the hub.”

Carroll touched on this issue at the MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2011 in San Francisco this week. He described how seven of the most common problems that B2B marketers face have their roots in poor data optimization. We’ll go through each of these below.

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Email Relevance Kaizen: 4 categories of data beyond the email database

July 19th, 2011

We reported in MarketingSherpa’s 2011 Email Marketing Benchmark Report that the biggest challenge marketers’ face is targeting recipients with highly relevant content. I do not foresee this moving out of top tier of challenges due to the complexity of reaching a unique subscriber with the exact information they need to help he or she succeed

Crafting an email message that connects with the reader at the moment he or she choose to open the email is difficult. Nevertheless, the alternative of sending irrelevant emails puts a brand’s image, reputation and subscriber relationships at risk.

Relevancy is #1 Challenge

Today, some 70 million US consumers access their email inboxes through a mobile device, and subscribers’ bottomless appetites for multi-tasking, whether it be on a phone, tablet, or laptop during office meetings or in front of the television, make it impossible for companies to capture a reader’s full attention. To break through the clutter, email messages must be easy to engage with, relevant and clear.

A company that sends timely email messages with pinpoint accuracy will not only stand out from the competition, but may be the only brand to make it to their subscribers’ inboxes.

Webmail clients Hotmail and Gmail are using engagement metrics (open, delete, reply, etc.) to determine when and where email is delivered. B2B marketers also need to keep these trends in mind when planning their email campaigns. HubSpot found that 88 percent of email users do not have a separate work and home address. Many employees like to use webmail addressesto have the ability to share larger files over corporate email.

To meet customers’ rising demands for relevant and engaging communications, marketers can focus on three key elements:

  • Content
  • Segmentation
  • Time

All three are essential. If one element is missing, the email can become irrelevant to the reader. Let me show you a recent first-rate email series that fell just short of the goal for my family.

Moving beyond a single data point for determining relevancy

A year ago, my wife joined the Chuck E. Cheese’s email club to receive coupons and free tokens for our kids. In exchange for her email address and dates of our children’s birthdays, we receive emails twice a month promoting their latest coupons or specials. The emails nicely tie into holidays, school calendars, or kid activities, like receiving a bonus of tokens for cleaning their rooms.

As you might expect, with the information of my children’s birthdays, Chuck E. Cheese’s sends a few emails leading up to the big day. About thirty days before my son’s birthday we received this email with the personalized subject line “[Parent’s name], Get 100 Bonus Birthday Tokens for [Child’s name].” I did not speak with Chuck E. Cheese’s, but from the numerous party invitations my kids have received from their classmates starting in preschool, these emails are very successful at enticing parents to book birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese’s locations.

The week of my son’s birthday, my wife received an email with the subject line “Happy Birthday to [Child’s name] from Chuck E. Cheese’s..” The principle message was to wish my son a happy birthday and encourage us to stop in and play some games with complimentary tokens.

Close behind and at the top of the email was the copy “Haven’t planned a party yet for [Child’s name]? No worries, it’s never too late to reserve a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Last minute walk-in parties are always welcome, so come on in and celebrate!”

As you might agree, these are excellent emails containing personalized and relevant information, and are delivered at appropriate times leading up to a child’s birthday.

So why did they fall short of relevancy for my family? Well, I guess you would classify us as outliers; we planned our son’s birthday 90 days out at an indoor gymnasium. (Full disclosure: Chuck E. Cheese’s does send half-birthday email cards, but we are not that organized, and yes, in the copy, Chuck E. Cheese’s promotes walk-in half-birthday celebrations).

I am confident Chuck E. Cheese’s identified two groups of parents/guardians with their internal sales data: a profile of party purchasers that plan within 30 days and another that plans the week leading up to the event. Combined with the child’s birthdates collected during email registration, Chuck E. Cheese’s sends highly relevant and targeted communications with these two types of buyers.

Moving forward, Chuck E. Cheese’s may choose to expand their email program to cater to “overly-organized” parents. An email message sent 90 days prior to the celebration, with more highlights on specific cake, food, and party favor options may appeal to this customer profile who enjoy delving into the details of the planning process.

Mining for data

For marketers, the quest for relevancy and engagement is not complete until a one-to-one relationship is established. Due to budget and resource constraints, this is an unrealistic goal for most companies. That should not discourage marketers from moving towards one-to-fewer, even if their budget doesn’t allow for a true one-to-one relationship to develop. Remember, with each successful email campaign targeted to a select customer profile, brands can expand their reach and look at new segments of their customer base to exploit, such as outliers like my family.

To do that, organizations need to go beyond traditional demographics like birthdates to understand their customer’s motivations. I do not think you would ever want to have an email preference center with a checkbox to identify your customers as an early bird, prompt, or fashionably late party planner. But that doesn’t mean such valuable information is out of your reach.

In addition to your email database, mining all of the in-house data found inside CRM, sCRM, web analytics or financial software systems may be beneficial. When you begin, search four categories of data; endemic, transactional, behavioral and computed.

Endemic data is data unique to a particular record. Examples are contact and demographic information commonly collected during registration or  in a brands preference center.

Transactional data consists of data captured during any transaction a customer has with an organization. Financial software is the most common source of transactional data, but transactional data can also encompass a subscriber’s IP address.

Behavioral data is perhaps the most actionable of all database information and can come from a wide variety of both online and offline sources. Website clicks, email opens, calls to customer service, and redemption of coupons at store locations are all examples of behavioral data.

Computed data is the outcome when one or more variables are used to create a third variable.

For example, the variable of “number of miles from a retail store” is computed data, and is the difference of the distance between the customer and store’s address.

Mining these four types of data will uncover insights into your customers and understand the steps they take to make a purchase. At MarketingSherpa, we recently launched our annual Email Marketing Benchmark Survey to identify the barriers that exist in preventing subscriber engagement and the best practices to increase the velocity and accuracy of email communications. I encourage you to participate to help us learn more from marketers like you who are in the trenches, battling for relevancy every day. In exchange for your valuable time, we will provide you a complimentary copy of our Special Report: CMO Perspectives on Email Deliverability.

Related sources

Email Deliverability: How a marketing vendor with 99 percent delivery rates treats single opt-in lists vs. double opt-in lists

Email List Growth: Finding low-cost and no-cost ways to grow your database

Email Marketing: Three lessons learned at the MarketingSherpa Email Marketing LEAPS Advanced Practices Workshop

New Chart: Most effective email list growth tactics

Email List Growth: Finding low-cost and no-cost ways to grow your database

July 1st, 2011

A common challenge we’ve heard at our Email Marketing Workshops is that marketers want to know how to effectively grow their email lists. This was true at the Seattle and Boston workshops, and I expect it will continue through Washington, New York, San Diego and Austin.

One tactic we describe is how to leverage existing channels between your brand and your audience to grow your list. Marketers can study how their audiences receive information from their brands and test adding an opt-in request to those channels.

For example, the New York Public Library used its transactional emails to grow its list. The library already sent automated emails to remind patrons that books were due. The marketers tested a simple addition to these emails:

“Get the latest NYPL news and events. Sign up for our newsletter at: [shortlink].”

This two-sentence request increased the library’s opt-ins by 120%.

More than transactional emails

I really like the above example. It shows how a simple idea in an existing channel can grow a database at nearly no cost.

Your company is not likely to be a library, but this idea extends beyond late notices for books. I saw another example while flying to our Email Workshop last week.

Delta In-Flight Email Opt-in

I took this picture on a Delta flight from Memphis to Seattle. I was poking through the touch-screen personal television at my seat and noticed, lo and behold, that Delta wanted my email address. As you can see in the second sentence, the page does a good job of emphasizing the value I’ll receive by handing over my information.

Here’s the next screen:

Delta In-Flight Email Registration form

I am not very sharp on the history of in-flight televisions, but I assume these screens were not installed solely to collect travelers’ email addresses. Instead, I assume that the opt-in request was added later at the suggestion of a clever email marketer. This is another example of a company leveraging its existing channels of communication to build its list.

Look for relevant audiences

In our Email Marketing Workshop, we spend the first half of the list-growth section emphasizing the importance of list quality and how it can be improved. We really hammer on the point that the size of a database is not as important as its quality.

For example, a large database that is loaded with disinterested subscribers is not going to help your marketing nearly as much as a smaller database with subscribers who are interested in your content and offers. You want high-quality subscribers who enjoy receiving your emails and clicking your links.

One way to help build a quality database is to invite only relevant people into your email program. The two examples mentioned above do just that.

  • The New York Public Library’s transactional emails reached people who had books checked out. These people had visited the library, so they might have been interested in receiving news about the organization.
  • Delta reached people in-flight on a Delta plane. These people were travelers, and they traveled with Delta, so they might have been interested in receiving offers and updates from the airline.

So when you’re looking to your existing channels to help grow your list, be sure to test the channels that reach the most relevant audiences for your email program. You don’t want to invite just anyone into your database. You want to build a high-quality list.

Related resources:

Email Marketing LEAPS Advanced Practices Workshop

Members Library — Growing Email Lists with Social Media: KFC’s Facebook tool adds subscribers

New Chart: Most effective email list growth tactics

Maximizing Email List Growth: How the New York Public Library drove a 52.8% lift in newsletter subscriptions

Email Marketing: Three lessons learned at the MarketingSherpa Email Marketing LEAPS Advanced Practices Workshop

B2B Marketing: Building a quality list

Social Media Measurement: Moving forward with the data and tools at hand

April 29th, 2011

Social media measurement is in its early phases, and marketers need to decide whether to parse the social media cacophony, much like a radio astronomer, gathering as much data as possible to discern the signs of life or selectively focus on a small, but sufficiently meaningful set of metrics.

The word “sufficient” can span a wide spectrum, and determining what is sufficient is perhaps the question that marketers must answer.

In some sense, you really don’t have a choice. How much data you can afford to collect and analyze is limited by your organization’s budgetary and human resources. If you are not already collecting enough data for “big” analytics (”Approach 1” that I described in my last blog post), it makes sense to get the most out of what you have now relatively quickly, and in the process learn what additional data you need.

I spend a significant amount of time in digital photography, and my friends often ask me for advice on what camera to buy as they are getting more “serious.” My answer is always the same—first, get the most out of the camera you have. Once you start appreciating what your camera lacks, then you can start thinking about investing into those specific features.

In the same sense, getting started is critical. Reading blog posts will not give you a concrete sense of social media (SoMe) measurement until you get your own hands on a monitoring tool—even if you start by  manually listening to conversations using RSS feeds, Twitter, Google Alerts, and the like.

Second, you need to clearly identify your objectives. In our own research project on SoMe measurement with Radian6, I am leaning toward focusing on best practices for specific scenarios—e.g., a Facebook company page—to deal with manageable amounts of data and produce results on a realistic timeline.

So for those not quite ready for “big” analytics, let’s take a look at a quick start approach…

Approach 2: A microscope, not a radio telescope

Commit to a set of metrics you’ll be accountable for, and stick with them. This is a far more pragmatic approach that does not require that every kind of data is available to be measured. If it appears that this approach is not scientific, that is not the case. While focusing on a smaller number of metrics does not paint the whole picture the way that the first approach does, trending data over time can be highly valuable and meaningful in reflecting the effectiveness of marketing efforts.

Taking into account the marginal time, effort, and talent required to process more data, it makes economic sense to focus on a smaller number of data points. With fewer numbers to crunch, marketers armed, for example, only with data available directly from their social media management tools, can calibrate their marketing efforts against this data to build actionable KPIs (key performance indicators).

During Social Media Week, NYC-based Social2b’s Alex Romanovich, CMO, and Ytzik Aranov, COO, presented a straightforward measurement strategy rooted in established, if not venerated, marketing heuristics, such as Michael Porter’s Value Chain Analysis. Their core message is to appreciate that different social media KPIs will be important not only to different companies and industry segments, but “these KPIs also have to align well with more traditional metrics for that business – something that the C-Level and the financial community of this company will clearly understand.

Alex stresses that “the entire ‘value chain’ of the enterprise can be affected by these metrics and KPIs – hence, if the organization has a sales culture and is highly client-centric, the entire organization may have to adapt the KPIs used by the sales organization, and translated back to the financial indicators and cause factors.

This approach should immediately make sense to marketers, even without any knowledge of statistical analysis.

Social2B focuses not only on the marketing, but also on the customer service component of SoMe ROI, and here is Ytzik’s short list of steps for getting there:

  1. Define the social media campaign for customer service resolution
  2. Solve for the KPI and projections
  3. Apply Enterprise Scorecard parameters, categories
  4. Solve for risk, enterprise cost, growth, etc.
  5. Map to social media campaign cost
  6. Solve for reduction in enterprise costs through social media
  7. Justify and allocate budget to social media

An important element here is the Enterprise Scorecard—another established (though loosely defined) management tool that is often overlooked even by large-scale marketing organizations. Given the novelty of SoMe, getting it into the company budget requires not only proving the ROI numerically, but also speaking the right language. Ytzik’s “C-level Suite Roadmap” might appear simple, but it requires that corporate marketers study up on their notes from business school:

  • Engage in Compass Management (managing and influencing your organization vertically and horizontally in all directions)
  • Define who owns the Web and social media within the company
  • Identify the enterprise’s value chain components
  • Understand the enterprise’s financial scorecard

Again, no statistics here—it is understood that analysis will be required, but these tools will put you in a good position when the time comes to present your figures.

How to get started

Finally, I wanted to get as pragmatic as possible to help marketers get started and not get stuck in a data deluge. Here are Social2B’s top 10 questions to ask yourself before you scale your SoMe programs:

  1. Is my organization and my executive management team ready for social media marketing and branding?
  2. Does everyone treat social media as a strategic effort or as an offshoot of marketing or PR/communications?
  3. Where in the organization will social media reside?
  4. Will I be able to allocate sufficient budget to social media efforts in our company?
  5. How will social media discipline be aligned with HR, Technology, Customer Service, Sales, etc.?
  6. What tools and technologies will I need to implement social media campaigns?
  7. Will ‘social’ also include ‘mobile’?
  8. How will we integrated SoMe marketing campaigns with existing, more ‘traditional’ marketing efforts?
  9. How much organizational training will we need to implement in integrating ‘social’ within our enterprise?
  10. Are we going to use ‘social’ for advertising and PR/Communications? What about ‘disaster recovery’ and ‘reputation management’?

Related Resources

Social Media Measurement: Big data is within reach

2011 Social Marketing Benchmark Report – Save $100 with presale offer (ends tomorrow, April 30)

Always Integrate Social Marketing?

Inbound Marketing newsletter – Free Case Studies and How To Articles from MarketingSherpa’s reporters

Social Media Measurement: Big data is within reach

April 28th, 2011

Should marketers wait for a grand unified theory of social media ROI measurement, or confidently move forward with what they have available to them now?

This question has been at the forefront of my thinking, as we proceed with MarketingSherpa’s joint research project with Radian6 to discover a set of transferable principles, if not a uniform formula to measure social media (SoMe, pronounced “so me!”) marketing effectiveness.

As I have written previously, some of the popular measurement guidelines provide a degree of comfort that comes from having numbers (as opposed to just words and PowerPoint® slides), but fail to connect the marketing activity to bottom-line outcomes.

To help think through this, I spoke with several practitioners to get some feedback “from the trenches” during SoMe Week here in NYC. With their help, I broadly defined two approaches.

Approach 1: Brave the big data

Take large volumes of diverse data, from both digital and traditional media, and look for correlations using “real” big-data analysis. This analysis is performed on a case-by-case basis, and the overarching principles are the well-established general statistical methods, not necessarily specifically designed for marketers.


  • The methodologies are well established
  • There are already tools to help (Radian 6, Alterian, Vocus, etc)


  • Most marketers are not also statisticians or have the requisite tools (e.g., SAS is an excellent software, but it comes with a premium price)
  • Comprehensive data must be available across all relevant channels, otherwise the validity of any conclusions from the data rapidly evaporates (Radian6 announcement of integrating third-party data streams like Klout, OpenAmplify and OpenCalais in addition to existing integration with customer relationship management (CRM), Web analytics, and other enterprise systems certainly helps)
  • In the end, it’s still conversation and not conversion without attribution of transactional data

If the volume of data becomes overwhelming, analytical consulting companies can help. NYC-based Converseon does precisely that, and I asked Mark Kovscek, their SVP of enterprise analytics, about the biggest challenges to getting large projects like this completed efficiently. Mark provided several concrete considerations to help marketers think through this, based on Converseon’s objectives-based approach that creates meaningful marketing action, measures performance, and optimizes results:

  • Marketers must start with a clear articulation of measurable and action-oriented business objectives (at multiple levels, e.g., brand, initiative, campaign), which can be quantified using 3-5 KPIs (e.g., Awareness, Intent, Loyalty)
  • Large volumes of data need to be expressed in the form of simple attributes (e.g., metrics, scores, indices), which reflect important dimensions such as delivery and response and can be analyzed through many dimensions such as consumer segments, ad content and time
  • The key to delivering actionable insights out of large volumes of data is to connect and reconcile the data with the metrics, with the KPIs, and with the business

How much data is enough? The answer depends on the level of confidence required.  Mark offered several concrete rules of thumb for “best-case scenario” when dealing with large volumes of data:

  • Assessing the relationship of data over time (e.g., time series analysis) requires two years of data (three preferred) to accurately understand seasonality and trend

–   You can certainly use much less to understand basic correlations and relationships.  Converseon has created value with 3-6 months of data in assessing basic relationships and making actionable (and valuable) decisions

  • Reporting the relationship at a point in time requires 100-300 records within the designated time period (e.g., for monthly listening reporting, Converseon looks for 300 records per month to report on mentions and sentiment)

–   This is reasonably easy when dealing with Facebook data and reporting on Likes or Impressions

–   However, when dealing with data in the open social graph to assess a brand, topic or consumer group, you can literally process and score millions of records (e.g., tweets, blogs, or comments) to identify the analytic sample to match your target customer profile

  • Assessing the relationship at a point in time (e.g., predictive models) requires 500-1000 records within the designated time period

Understanding the theoretical aspects of measurement and analysis, of course, is not enough. A culture of measurement-based decision making must exist in the organization, which means designing operations to support this culture. How long does it take to produce a meaningful insight? Several more ideas from Converseon:

  • 80% of the work is usually found in data preparation (compiling, aggregating, cleaning, and managing)
  • Reports that assess relationships at a single point in time can be developed in 2-3 weeks
  • Most predictive models can be developed in 4-6 weeks
  • Assessing in-market results and improving solution performance is a function of campaign timing

Finally, I wanted to know what marketers can do to make this more feasible and affordable. Mark recommends:

  • Clearly articulate business objectives and KPIs and only measure what matters
  • Prioritize data
  • Rationalize tools (eliminate redundancy, look for the 80% solution)
  • Get buy-in from stakeholders early and often

In my next blog post on this topic, I’ll discuss an approach to SoMe measurement that trades some of the precision and depth for realistic attainability—something that most marketers that can’t afford the expense or the time (both to learn and to do) required to take on “big data.”

Related Resources

Social Media Marketing: Tactics ranked by effectiveness, difficultly and usage

Always Integrate Social Marketing?

Inbound Marketing newsletter – Free Case Studies and How To Articles from MarketingSherpa’s reporters

Social Marketing ROAD Map Handbook

The Data Vs Creativity Debate: Is successful marketing driven by analytics or art?

January 20th, 2011

The answer from one marketing automation vendor might surprise you.

During an interview with Kristin Zhivago, President Zhivago Management Partners, for a Sherpa B2B article, Guided by Buyers: Four tactics to create a customer-centric sales and marketing strategy (members’ library), she mentioned that marketing has undergone a sea-change in focus from 80% creative and 20% logistics in the past, to today where those numbers are exactly flipped. I recently had the chance to speak with Phil Fernandez, President and CEO Marketo, and a 26-year Silicon Valley vet with a present and past riddled with marketing software companies. I guessed this “80/20 rule” was a topic right up his alley.

We covered a wide range of marketing subjects, and in passing I mentioned the 80/20 rule presented by Zhivago and Phil immediately offered his opinion on the topic. We didn’t want to sidetrack our talk at the time so I told Phil we’d get back together and revisit his thoughts. This quick interview is the result.

A surprise that opens a debate

Phil’s answer was more than a little shocking coming from a marketing automation guy, and not an agency, since he sells data and logistics … or so I thought. Read on to find out what the CEO of Marketo thinks about the art of marketing versus the science of marketing.

His response opens a debate on the state of marketing today — is it more data- or creative-driven? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments section.

During our conversation a few weeks ago, I mentioned that Kristin Zhivago told me marketing once was 80% creative and 20% logistics and data-driven, and now that number has flipped to where logistics and data make up 80% of a marketer’s world and creative is only 20%. You strongly disagreed. Tell me why.

Phil Fernandez: At Marketo, we obviously evangelize marketing automation and analytics as critical components to drive significantly better marketing performance and ultimately greater revenue growth. I regularly advise corporate management to embrace a more metrics- and data-driven sales and marketing culture – what I like to call “hard marketing.”

So it may come as a surprise, especially from the CEO of a leading technology company that builds products for marketers, that I fundamentally disagree with the premise that marketing has flipped to a world where creative is only 20% of the craft of marketing.

There is no question that the sophisticated marketing automation and analytical solutions available today, such as Marketo’s, are imperative for successful marketing. However, it is incorrect to suggest that the adoption of technology solutions has made creative less important. In fact, I’d argue that the creative side of marketing is more important than ever! Why? Two reasons, one tactical and one strategic.

Tell me more about why the creative side of marketing is more important than ever.

PF: First, we need to look at how marketing automation (“MA”) tools are changing the job of the marketer. In particular, MA solutions help the marketer to implement a key new business process called Lead Nurturing. In Lead Nurturing, it is the job of the marketing professional to engage across channels and develop a relationship over time with each and every prospective buyer for their product or service. They work to educate the buyer, to assist them in their independent research, and to stay top-of-mind for that magical moment when the buyer is ready to make a decision.

And what is the single most important factor in implementing an effective Lead Nurturing program? It’s content. If a marketer is going to stay in touch with prospective buyers over time, helping to educate them and build trust and awareness, the marketer must deliver a stream of compelling, persuasive and brand-reinforcing content. Effective Lead Nurturing initiatives need a continuous stream of new content to stay fresh and relevant, and the most common reason why MA initiatives fail is a company’s inability to create enough content to build a trusted relationship with prospective buyers.

What defines an effective marketing automation system?

PF: The goal of effective MA solutions needs to be to make it fast and easy to do the logistics and data-driven parts of the job and then fade into the background, so that the marketer has the time to focus on the critical process of creative development.

More strategically, the relationship between buyers and sellers has fundamentally changed with the emergence of the Internet, Google, and more recently, the whole world of social media. The buyer has taken control of the process and only “listens” when and where he/she wants. And we all know that the Internet and social media world is a pretty noisy and chaotic place. This shift has greatly elevated the need to break through with creative, compelling content and big ideas – it’s the only way to get buyers to listen.

As a result, the art of marketing (communicating your brand, creating awareness about your unique value proposition and creating marketplace excitement through big ideas) is even more important today than it was a decade ago. If your message and/or content are not resonating with potential buyers, they will purchase from competitors who have done a better job of connecting with them in a relevant, timely and compelling way. That’s why our own marketing team at Marketo spends a lot of time focusing on our brand strategy and developing “magnetic” content via our blogs, webinars, “Definitive Marketing Guidebooks,” videos, events, and yes – advertising.

So both automation tools and the creative side of marketing are important …

PF: Keep in mind, automation and advanced analytics provide marketers speed, precision, and powerful insights into revenue performance. They can even go as far as predicting the amount of revenue a marketing campaign will generate. However, it’s the creative that inspires someone even to consider what you are selling in the first place, and eventually (if you did your job effectively) to buy. Automation and advanced analytics such as we offer at Marketo, give a marketer more productive time to spend on developing compelling creative that will generate the greatest impact. By balancing the “science” of marketing with the essential “art” of the craft, successful marketers are able to accelerate predictable, expanding revenue across the revenue cycle.

Then, what do you think is driving the argument?

PF: As much as anything, it’s probably a factor of today’s technology-driven business environment, where there is an expectation that the right technology can solve pretty much anything. More broadly, since the Industrial Revolution, we have been conditioned to the idea that science and technology replaces the arts and crafts culture that came before it. And in lots of areas, like precision manufacturing, this has been true.

But the world of creating revenue is different. The art of marketing and the art of sales remain very much alive. The good news is that there is a tremendous amount of synergy to be had when companies get this right and the art and creative elements of marketing and sales are combined with hard science and technology that Marketo and others have created. It can seem like the Holy Grail to companies looking to generate more revenue more predictably.

Related Resources

Find Phil’s blog at Revenue Performance

B2B Marketing: What to look for in 2011

Lead generation: Real-time, data-driven B2B marketing and sales

Inbound Marketing: Invest in content to generate leads

Lead Nurturing and Management Q&A: How to Handle 5 Key Challenges (Members’ library)

photo by Jennifer R.

Lead generation: Real-time, data-driven B2B marketing and sales

November 10th, 2010

My first job was on a bond trading floor at a Wall Street investment bank. It’s impossible to overstate the impact of innovations in computing and telecommunications on the financial markets in the 1980s.

Within a decade finance was transformed from a clubby, old-boys’ network to a 24-hour global trading system.

With that revolutionary shift a new currency of success emerged: the ability to gather, interpret, and react to new information in fractions of a second – real time.

Today, no financial professional would ever consider making a transaction without understanding where the markets are trading right now and what’s happening in the news at that precise moment.

It has taken a quarter century. But in fields like marketing and public relations, the impact of the real-time revolution in finance is finally beginning to be viable for any organization.

Real-time lead generation

Here is just one aspect – a data driven real-time website with an email component – of what the instant environment offers:

As a buyer visits your Web site and registers for a webinar, an alert is triggered on the salesperson’s real-time dashboard, providing details about the buyer based on the page that person is visiting. The alert notes that the person downloaded a white paper a few days ago.

In fact, the alert is flagged as high priority because that combination of actions (white paper download plus webinar registration) is highly indicative of a propensity to buy.

The alert automatically pulls up information on the buyer’s company. Are they already a client? Have others from this company visited the site before? What do third-party information providers say about the company? News stories from Dow Jones or Bloomberg appear along with a company snapshot from an information supplier like Hoovers.

Even the buyer’s LinkedIn and Twitter profiles appear. And all of this happens in real time.

The system then automatically creates an email that can either be sent automatically, or reviewed by the salesperson first and then sent right away.

In the emerging real-time business environment, where public discourse is no longer dictated by the mass media, size is no longer a decisive advantage.

Speed and agility win.

But you need an infrastructure, much like a Wall Street bond trader, to play in this new world.

Let’s look at a B2B example to see how this works. This is an example I’ve written about before on my own blog, but I want to delve into it deeper than I ever have before for the MarketingSherpa audience, and give some actionable advice you can use to improve your email marketing, and marketing in general.

Imagine a huge company announces it is to acquire one of your competitors. It hit the wires five minutes ago.

What would you do right now?

Not tomorrow. Now.

How about writing a blog post about it in real-time? And then how about sending an email right away to all of the contacts in your database who you know are customers of your competitor?

That’s what Joe Payne, CEO of Eloqua did when Oracle announced the acquisition of Market2Lead, a company that is also in the marketing automation arena.

I’m on the Eloqua advisory board and was having dinner with Joe, other advisory board members, and the Eloqua management team on May 24 in San Francisco when this went down.

Joe checked his BlackBerry and saw that the announcement had just been made.

The Oracle announcement contained only a North Korea style one-paragraph announcement. So Joe realized that there was a tremendous opportunity RIGHT NOW to write a blog post and define what the announcement meant.

In his post, “Oracle Joins The Party,” published a few hours later, Joe said (in part): “I expect Oracle’s entry to make a major difference in the attention paid to this sector. It’s going to open marketers’ eyes, and, as a result, expand the market. This is exactly the type of movement this industry needs. You see, the potential market for lead management systems is less than 10 percent penetrated.”

Eloqua’s CEO now owns the soundbite!

Can you see what Joe did? Oracle announces an acquisition but provides almost no details. The media is hungry for something to say and someone to quote. Bingo, a Google search pops up Joe’s post and now reporters, analysts, and bloggers have an authority to cite in their stories.

As a result of this real-time market commentary, Eloqua became an important part of the resulting stories in InfoWorld, Customer Experience Matrix, PC World, Customer Think, etc.

Now, when people want to learn about this transaction, they find Eloqua in the discussion. If you’re an analyst coving the market category or an existing customer of Market2Lead or are evaluating marketing automation platforms, Eloqua becomes someone you should consider.

Now is when the email kicks in. The marketing team at Eloqua queried their prospect database for any company in the sales cycle that was either an existing or potential customer of Market2Lead. Each of those people then received an email which was sent from the email address of their sales rep, pointing out the real-time blog post that Eloqua’s CEO Joe Payne wrote. These emails were customized by the sales rep:

Subject: Transition program

Hi Jim ,

I wanted to check in because I see you are using Market2Lead. It’s been quite an exciting week for Market2Lead and Oracle with the acquisition announcement. No doubt Oracle’s arrival at the party will bring increased attention to the sector. You see, as an early adopter of Marketing Automation, you’re one of the less than 10% of organizations who are recognizing the value it brings to your business.

Not surprisingly though, we’ve had a lot of calls over the last few days from many nervous clients as Oracle only acquired Market2Lead’s Intellectual Property (IP), not their customer contracts. As the leader in marketing automation, Eloqua is interested in helping you transition to a platform that will allow you to continue to do great marketing. We are offering Market2Lead clients a transition program consisting of a free SmartStart onboarding program and a six-month, money back guarantee on all subscription fees.

The Eloqua team is committed to helping you make a smooth transition.

Let me know when you have 10 mins to chat. You’re not alone!


Sales Rep Name Here


Amazingly, this Eloqua email was often the first that the customers of Market2Lead were hearing that their vendor had been acquired. Again, Eloqua owned the sound bite because they were first.

Many of those sales prospects then contacted their sales rep to learn more and soon deals started to close. The first signed customer as a result of this effort was Red Hat, a Market2Lead customer who chose to switch to Eloqua resulting in a $250,000 deal.

I’m constantly amazed at what real-time communications can do. Had Eloqua waited several hours to act, the moment would have been lost.

An immensely powerful competitive advantage flows to organizations with people who understand the power of real-time information.

Here are some things you can do right now to get started:

The most important thing is to develop a real-time mindset – an attitude that recognizes the importance of speed. It is an approach to business (and to life) that emphasizes moving quickly when the time is right. Developing a real-time mind-set is not an either/or proposition. I’m not saying that you should abandon your current business-planning process. Nor do I advocate allowing your team to run off barking at every car that drives by. Focus and collaboration are essential. The smart answer is to adopt a both/and approach, covering the spectrum from thorough to nimble. Recognize when you need to throw the playbook aside, and develop the capacity to react quickly.

The first priority to implement your mindset is to listen to bloggers, analysts, journalists, and others who talk frequently about you and your business. To find these voices, start by checking the search engines (Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and so on) for all the relevant keywords and phrases you can think of: your company, customers, competitors, prospects, product categories, buzzwords—whatever you can think of. Use specialized blog search engines like Google Blog Search, IceRocket, and Technorati to find bloggers interested in subjects related to your business.

Develop guidelines that permit people to communicate at speed. Develop an effective code of real-time communications and proactively embed it throughout your organization. Train it, demonstrate it, discuss it, and review it until this becomes second nature to everyone. Have your people internalize it as deeply as the instincts that tell them when it’s safe to turn left at a traffic light (or right if they’re Brits). This is fully possible. IBM’s code is called Social Computing Guidelines. The IBM guidelines include all manner of helpful instructions. Be who you are; be thoughtful about how you present yourself in online social networks; respect copyright and fair use laws; protect confidential and proprietary information; add value; don’t pick fights; and don’t forget your day job. But the single most important guideline in the IBM document is this: Speak in the first-person singular. In fact, I think that speaking in the first-person singular is essential to understanding what we’re really talking about here.

To support real-time business, you need technology infrastructure every bit as sophisticated as a financial trading floor. When well-integrated into an appropriate technology backbone, real-time data work together to feed the dashboard that your marketers, PR professionals, salespeople, and executives use every day.

Fortunately for organizations like Eloqua that operate in real-time, not many people are using these technique yet.

When everyone else is pitching the media using traditional methods and sending plodding emails pitching product when it suits them, why not frame the discussion with your own well-placed commentary and alert prospects by email.

Editor’s Note: David Meerman Scott will be the featured keynote speaker, sponsored by ExactTarget, at the MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2011 + Awards & Expo in Las Vegas, January 24-26, and all attendees will receive a copy of his latest book, Real-Time Marketing & PR.

Related Resources

Email Marketing Manager: Look past campaigns to boost your career

B2B Marketing: Marketing automation helps with lead nurturing and management

Email Summit ’11: Tackling the Top Email Challenges with All-New Research, Case Studies and Training

Blogger Video Sharing Data

November 6th, 2009

Knowing which bloggers are most likely to embed or link to a video can help focus your pitching strategy. Take a look at a new report from social media business intelligence provider Sysomos to find out which bloggers are sharing videos.

Sysomos analyzed over 100 million blog posts from July to September 2009 to measure bloggers’ video sharing. The report breaks down the bloggers’s demographics and the services they use.

Below is some U.S. data from the report. Check out the full report if you want more detail and international data.

– U.S. Market Share
o YouTube – 81.6% of bloggers use YouTube to embed or link to video
o Vimeo – 10.6%
o Dailymotion – 1.8%

– Top U.S. Cities for Video Sharing Via Blogs
o New York, NY – number one worldwide
o Los Angeles, CA – number six worldwide
o Chicago, IL – number 10 worldwide

– Top U.S. States for Video Sharing Via Blogs
o CA – 19.0%
o NY – 10.9%
o TX – 5.4%
o PA – 5.0%
o FL – 4.8%

– Age of North American Bloggers who Embed Video
o 20 to 35 – 62.7%
o 35 to 60 – 25.9%
o 13 to 19 – 9.5%
o Over 60 – 1.9%
o Under 13 – 0.0%

Worldwide, males (60.33%) are more actively sharing video through blogs than females (39.67%). The most active days are Tuesday, Wednesday and Monday, respectively. The most active hours are 11 a.m. to noon, followed by noon to 1 p.m.

If you’re making viral videos, this data helps show who is most likely to share them on a blog. You can use it to help guide your pitching strategy, and possibly help decide if viral video is the right strategy for your audience.

Customer Data via Twitter

October 23rd, 2009

Twitter’s rapid growth this year has given the micro-blogging service a reputation as a powerful way to reach and research consumers.

I recently interviewed Craig Greenfield, VP, Search and Performance Media, Performics, about his team’s Twitter use. They use it to help promote Performics’ marketing services, as well as enhance their clients’ campaigns and research.

Here’re six ways Greenfield sees Twitter contributing to his team’s success:

#1. Improved natural search

– Content promotion – A simple tweet with a short URL link is enough to drive traffic and capture more links to content, and in turn, help search rankings.

“Depending on who re-tweets our links and how they do it…we tend to see a snowball effect that results in more and more valuable SEO links,” Greenfield says.

– Keyword research – Through Twitter’s search and the team’s proprietary tools, they are able to mine Twitter’s data to look for new keywords related to their client’s products.

#2. Capture paid-search opportunities

Twitter helps Greenfield’s team monitor trends in consumer interest. By tracking non-branded industry keywords (such as ‘jeans’ and ‘shirt’ for clothing retailers) they can see both positive and negative reactions to new brands, styles or features.

#3. Reputation management

Twitter is one of many social media sites that Greenfield and his team uses to monitor consumer sentiment around brands and products.

By using software to identify statements about a company or its products, the team is able to see whether consumers are talking about the company in a positive or negative light and respond appropriately.

#4. Landing page design

Greenfield’s team started mining conversations on social media outlets like Twitter to develop new landing page designs. They monitor conversations related to a brand or product and create a “tag cloud” based on the feedback. The team references these groups of text when brainstorming new ideas for landing pages, he says.

#5. Driving direct sales

Threadless, a tee shirt design and retail company, and one of Greenfield’s clients, has attracted more than 1.2 million followers to its Twitter feed and uses Twitter to generate sales, Greenfield says. Threadless tweets about promotions and content, and typically includes a URL link to their website.

#6. B2B lead generation

Greenfield and his team use their Twitter feed to update followers on:
o Company news
o Blog posts
o New whitepaper downloads
o Monthly webinars

The last two items are often used for lead generation, making Twitter one of several ways the team increases their pool of qualified leads for sales.

SherpaBlog: B-to-B Marketing Numbers: Where Did Sherpa Get Data?

July 21st, 2008

Thanks for all of your questions before and after our teleseminar, ‘B-to-B Marketing: Top 10 Quick Fixes’, last week. More than 100 Sherpa readers wrote in, and I and our senior reporter Sean Donahue are preparing answers to post with our compliments on Sherpa by next week.

In the meantime, I wanted to address one particular query which came up a few times: “Where specifically did Sherpa get that B-to-B marketing data?”

Here’s the answer on a slide-by-slide basis, along with a hotlink to a PDF of the slides, so that you could review the charts again if you’d like. I understand that many of you may be sharing this data with your management team, and so this question is of high concern.

Slide #3. Internal Search Counts
This example is based on’s own internal reports of traffic using the search box on our site. We happen to power our search with technology from Visual Sciences, but this type of report is fairly basic and should be available no matter which search technology you use.

Slide #4. High-Quality Leads Generated by Events
Sherpa surveyed 1,038 B-to-B technology marketers in April 2007, asking them about the quality and quantity of leads they received from typical events in the past year. We’ve run this survey annually for five years, and the data on this point is highly similar every time. I feel safe in considering it fairly “evergreen.”

Slide #9. Drop Registration Barriers
These two funnels were created based on aggregated numbers rather than on one particular study or on a single marketer’s Case Study. We reviewed hundreds of Sherpa Case Studies, dozens of Sherpa B-to-B Summit presentations, and five years of extensive surveys of B-to-B marketers and their prospects. These numbers represent the trends evident across all this material. Your own campaigns naturally will have different numbers, but we’re fairly sure that the overall result will be the same: barriers significantly decrease audience.

Slide #11. Typical Lead Database Breakdown
I consider this pie chart to be one of the most critical ones in the presentation. It’s one I strongly suggest every B-to-B marketing department build using their own internal data. Your numbers will inevitably be different because everyone’s business is unique. However, based on Sherpa Case Studies and Sherpa B-to-B Summit Presentations, I’m absolutely sure that your pie will break into the same types of slices.

You’ll have some sales-ready leads – probably in the 5%-12% range if you’re anything like the hundreds of marketers I’ve spoken with. You’ll have a slightly larger group of mid-term leads – prospects who could be sales-ready with a few weeks or months of nurturing. Your largest group will probably be the long-term leads – prospects who have months or even years to go before they are sales-ready but who will either reach that point some day or become a key influencer to the sales-ready crowd. And last, you’ll have some duds – the number often depends on how many students and competitors are in your field.

The specific dollar values we put in this chart were based on assumptions of 10% of nurtured leads converting to being sales-ready, and 35% of sales-ready leads converting at an average $95,000 sale. Obviously, your numbers will vary widely. The important thing is that you know what your pie looks like, and you can assign your own numbers to it. Then, use that pie to convince management to let you spend more time and perhaps budget on nurturing activities!

Slide #13. Telemarketing Timing
These telemarketing results is data presented by MIT Professor Dr. James Oldroyd and Inside Sales’ Dave Ellington at Marketing Sherpa’s B-to-B Summit in October 2007. They detailed study data across lead-qualification telemarketing for hundreds of clients as well as Case Study data for Franklin Covey. Your own telemarketing data will vary; however, the trend will almost certainly hold true. The longer you wait to call an inbound lead, the less positive the result will be. And “too long” might be a matter of just a few hours.

The key to all these slides: You need to start measuring these factors for yourself. In fact, these measurements may be just as or more useful for your marketing programs than the sorts of measurements – email open rates and cost per lead, for instance – that dominate your current marketing reports.

I hope this was helpful and I look forward to answering the rest of your questions by next week! In the meantime, here’s a hotlink to the presentation PDF as well as a transcript from the actual event: