Some Good Trade Show Advice

December 13, 2011

Despite the fact that trade show attendance is going down and there is less money in your marketing  budget for attending physical events, if you do have to go to one you’d better make it worth it.

I like how Vanessa Nornberg described in an Inc.com article a few tips to make your trade show profitable:

  1. Buy a booth you can afford
  2. Strategically organize your booth
  3. No chairs
  4. Eliminate distractions
  5. No smart phones
  6. Leave laptops at the hotel
  7. Choose the booth staff wisely

Add those to my previous 12+ tips for trade show success and you’ve got yourself a great checklist for planning your next event! 😉

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Are You Spending Enough on Online Marketing?

November 3, 2011

Although the level of marketing spend doesn’t usually correlate to marketing effectiveness, it is useful to know how others in your industry or other companies of similar size are spending their money on marketing.

Forrester Research has recently released a study, “Benchmark Your Interactive Marketing Maturity“, that aims to give you some metrics to figure out whether you are putting your money on the right marketing tactics.

Five Benchmarks

According to Forrester, you should take a look at the following:

  1. Annual interactive marketing budget: this involves branching out from the pure email marketing tactic and looking at mobile, tablets, and the like.
  2. Share of advertising budget dedicated to interactive marketing: shift the money from the typical print and TV ads and invest in online channels.
  3. Percent of interactive budget earmarked for emerging media: invest in new technologies and start trying out channels before your competition does.
  4. Size of interactive marketing teams: unless you have people dedicated to interactive marketing, not much will get accomplished.
  5. Number of agencies leveraged for interactive support: it is difficult to find an agency that can do it all, so typically you will have to use a couple or more.

Comparing Your Numbers

Sure, knowing the benchmark metrics help a little but what are the numbers? If you’re a small company then the report won’t be of much help because it breaks down the survey respondents into those with less than $1 billion in revenues, $1 billion to $9.9 billion, and those of $10 billion and more. In other words, is a good benchmark for the big guys.

So if the survey finding that the median of annual interactive marketing budgets is $7.19 million leaves you thinking “if I only had 10% of that!” don’t despair. It is still interesting to see the percentage of allocation for each type of interactive initiative and then compare to how your own company is doing. If nothing else, serves to start a conversation about where the marketing money should be spent.

Using the Benchmarks

There are many ways in which you can analyze and use the report:

  • Look at company size and compare with your own budget. Bigger companies will allocate more resources, and depending on what you sell the online venue might require a bigger piece of the pie versus those that need to rely mostly on traditional channels to reach their audiences.
  • Your business goals should determine priorities. The purchasing process your buyers follow, your overall business objectives and competitive positioning should be taken into account when comparing what others are doing.
  • New is good, but be careful. Sure, interactive marketing and new shiny toys are great, but beware of untested tools and tactics. In other words, test, test, and test some more before jumping in.
  • Get the right skill set. Which means, hire the right people with the right skills to manage the programs you plan on investing in.
  • Use agencies wisely. Big and smaller companies need to really assess the role agencies play in their overall marketing strategy and what types of agencies are appropriate.

Measure Yourself (Free!)

Luckily, Forrester has created a free online tool based on their study results that allows you to plug in your numbers to get a high-level comparison based on benchmark data.

It’s worth trying out: Forrester Benchmarking Tool


Email Adoption High But Lacking Best Practices

June 14, 2011

Email Marketing MailboxA Forrester Research “How US Maketers Use Email” Report sheds some light into the use of email by B2B and B2C companies. Author Sarah Glass states:

Email is the most mature and most widely used interactive marketing tool

According to the report, adoption of email marketing is high, with 88% of  B2C companies already using email and 10% planning to use before December 2011. In the B2B space, adoption at 71% is also very high but different from their B2C counterparts, 16% of B2B companies don’t plan on using it within the next 12 months.

Best Practices in Email Marketing

Maybe a surprising finding from the research is that despite high adoption, marketers at B2C and B2B companies still don’t use best email marketing practices such as cleaning the database, letting users select what products and services they want information about, and running welcome routines for newly registered users.

Despite email’s prevalent use, interactive marketers still don’t do all they can to get the full value out of their email efforts – Sarah Glass, Forrester Research

Marketing Budgets and Email Effectiveness

The report says email budgets will stay flat in 2011, but 43% of email marketers expect email effectiveness to increase over the next three years. Other channels are also expected to gain in terms of effectiveness, such as:

  • Social Media (blogs, podcasts, widgets, discussion forums)
  • Mobile (ads, applications, MMS, SMS)
  • Online Video

Getting More Out of Email

The report concludes with some advice for email marketers to get more out of their programs, suggesting them to:

  1. Invest in Analytics
  2. Clean Email Data
  3. Prioritize Relevance Over Rich Media
  4. Detect Devices Used to Access Email
  5. Embed Social Media Into Email Content

Download the Report

The Forrester Research Report can be downloaded for free thanks to Neolane.


The Challenges in Adoption of Marketing Technology

May 3, 2011

A recent webinar hosted by Neolane, “Crack the Code – Getting C-Suite Buy-In for Your Marketing Tech Purchases” had a very interesting presentation by Suresh Vital from Forrester Research.
Based on a recent report on Marketing Technology Adoption for 2011, the findings of their research shed some light on the challenges we face when it comes to marketing technology.

The Goal of Marketing Software

The need for marketing software comes from the necessity to better understand customer behavior across multiple channels. Companies need to be able to track and measure customer interactions from a reliable source and that has driven a lot of the recent interest in Marketing Automation and Customer Intelligence technologies. The goal is to make use of cross channel marketing strategies to target the customer at the right moment and influence purchase decisions.

Not a new trend, but rather a need that has ben greatly amplified by the prevalence of social media channels which in turn is making companies look for technology solutions. Without solid customer data, cross channel strategies become increasingly difficult to implement.

Marketers as Technologists

According to Forrester’s research, data driven marketers are divided about technology investments. 53% of Customer Intelligence professionals (those who own the customer data and are responsible for customer analytics) consider themselves as technology leaders while 47% said they were technology followers.

While personalities play a role, I think corporate policies and the marketing leadership play a big role in shaping up how marketing technology is brought into the company.

Mobile technologies were also a clear trend for 2011, having the majority of marketers saying they are planning on using or increasing the use of mobile marketing technology. Improving customer experience across channels was also top of mind.

Technology and the Marketing Budget

Technology accounts for 10 to 14% of the marketing budget, according to the research. Marketers are starting to play a strong role in defining the needs and in the selection process when it comes to purchasing marketing technology. This is a shift from the traditional back-seat marketers take for software purchases, typically letting the IT department decide.

27% of marketers say they are the final decision makers

Adoption Problems with Marketing Technology

A surprising finding was that the most important criteria for selection of marketing technology is cost, quickly followed by functional alignment.

82% of respondents say cost is number one factor in deciding marketing technology

This means marketers are settling for solutions that are more economical as long as they match most of their needs. Those solutions that praise themselves for being the all encompassing [fill in the blank] for marketing may be surprised to find out that they are losing deals to lesser competitors simply because of pricing, but that’s not all they should focus on.

As part of the adoption issues, the research found out that the top three barriers for using marketing technology are:

  • 49% Cost
  • 47% Uncertain ROI
  • 40% No Budget

This makes sense. With markeeting budgets still being threatened due to economic uncertainty, marketers are pressed to justify their purchases and show ROI. New tools on the block (social media monitoring and others are the likely candidates) may have a tough time showing solid ROI, therefore their purchases being delayed. Vendors should therefore really work with their customers and prospects in trying to justify the purchase. Marketers also need to work on their justifications and their business cases to make senior management understand why a technology can help the company especially when Facebook, Twitter, and other channels are still a mystery for most corporate executives.


Why Sales and Marketing Don’t Get Along

March 24, 2011

Talk to marketing mangers and sales managers about their biggest complaint and you will likely hear “They don’t follow up on leads!” from the marketing guy and “Their leads suck!” from the sales guy. No news there. But why is that this fight on lead quality continues?

According to a recent chart published by MarketingSherpa (below), 80% of marketers don’t spend time qualifying leads before sending them to sales.

B2B Lead Qualification Requirements

What information is required before leads are passed to sales?

It is interesting that back in 2009, MarketingSherpa had published a chart showing the key challenges marketers faced and “generating high quality leads” was the top one. Sales keeps insisting on receiving better leads, marketing knows that is an issue, but still they are not delivering. In their “CMO Perspectives on B2B Marketing Automation” this challenge for high quality leads is shown as having increased from 69% in 2009 to 76% in 2010.

A Gartner Group presentation on allocation of Marketing Budgets for 2011 showed that the top three marketing priorites for this year are:

  • Acquire new customers
  • Improve customer retention
  • Support sales including lead generation programs

If the budget is there, then maybe more companies will be able to finally put some technology in place to help with lead quality, more specifically marketing automation with the goal of improving lead quality. Because the solution to the disconnect facing marketing and sales today is to fix the “lead problem”, once leads are better qualified the two organizations can be friends again.

 


B2B Marketers Hold Off on Killing Traditional Media

October 22, 2010

And so from the looks of it, according to the latest chart from MarketingSherpa, traditional marketing venues such as trade shows and advertising are still in play today and will be for the next year. Their latest study points out that “The majority of B2B organizations are increasing marketing budgets for inbound marketing tactics, including social media, virtual events and webinars, SEO and PPC”.

But, more interesting is that the majority of B2B Marketers are not planning on changing their marketing budget allocation for traditional marketing tactics. Also interesting to note that telemarketing as a budget item will also remain a key part of the budget, which shows outbound lead generation is still a strong component of most marketing plans.


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